Hacker Claims He Controlled The Outcome Of Mexico’s Election

We hear stories and watch movies about hackers, from the news that large companies like TalkTalk have their information accessed to hacking lottery terminals, we’ve heard it all. That was until a hacker who’s currently in jail has come forward saying he was even responsible for rigging the outcome of Mexico’s election.

Amongst his claims of controlling the outcome of Mexico’s election, Andrés Sepúlveda, a known hacker currently serving a 10-year sentence in prison for hacking Colombia’s 2014 presidential election, claims he was paid to ensure that Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) candidate won the country’s election back in 2012. Claiming to have hired a team of hackers he states that his team installed malware on the routers at the PRI main opponents headquarters, giving them access to emails, campaign schedules, and speeches before they were even complete.

Sepúlveda claims that using hand-written accounts and 30,000 twitter bots he used the obtained information to adjust the playing field, giving the PRI candidate the upper hand. If that wasn’t enough, Sepúlveda states that they used fake 3am calls from rivals to help dissuade voters on the eve of the election.

Noting that some of the candidates he has helped over the year may not even be aware of his actions or the illegal methods used to obtain their upper hand, Sepúlveda now works on behalf of the government to help “track and disrupt drug cartels” as well as using his twitter skills to identify ISIS recruits on the social media site.

With a full account of his tale, Bloomberg has shared Sepúlveda’s story and have tried to validate what they can, including an anonymous source who “substantially confirmed Sepúlveda’s accounts” regarding the political consultant Juan José Rendón.

The “Political Machine” Lets You Run For President

The various campaigns from hopeful candidates aiming to be the next president of the United States feels as if it has been going on forever, from Donald trump and his controversial views to Hillary Clinton and her private email scandal, it really feels like Groundhog day. Hoping to harness the political interest is a games developer by the name of “Stardock Entertainment” who has both developed and also released a game by the name of “The Political Machine”.

Below is a summary of the key features of this game along with a selection of screenshots,

  • Mudslinging – Use your power and money to purchase ads and influence voters.
  • The game has over a dozen political candidates – Play as one of the several pre-made candidates like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
  • Scandals – the game includes such real-life scandals as email hacking, affairs and also natural disasters.
  • Custom built candidates – Create your own custom front-runner and race for the White House.

Below is the first screenshot, as you can see, it’s not the most high-tech game in the world in terms of graphics, although it does capture Donald Trump.

The next screenshot is below and conveys how your chosen political figure will perform in terms of how many votes will be gained and also who will win each state.

Below is a trailer video to convey the style of this game,

The specifications for this game are below, if your thinking of running this title then it should be pretty straightforward.

  • Operating System – Windows 10 / 8 / 7 SP1 / Vista SP2
  • RAM –  1 GB RAM
  • Graphics – 64 MB DirectX 9.0c 3D Video Card with Pixel Shader 2.0 Support
  • CPU –  1 GHz Processor
  • Hard Drive Space – 1 GB HD space
  • Sound Card – DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound card

The game is priced at $7.49 and is available through Steam, Stardock themselves and also a digital download.

GCHQ Given Consent to Spy on Politicians

There has been a great deal of criticism directed at GCHQ by privacy advocates regarding the data collection of citizens. Despite being morally outrageous, the body defended their actions and claimed it was within the confines of the law. In addition to these powers, GHCQ can snoop on members of Parliament but there is a legal ambiguity due to the Harold Wilson Doctrine. The original document directed the security services to opt out of phone tapping for MPs and Peers. As a result, various politicians have attempted to use this document and oppose GCHQ’s legal role to observe their data.

However, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) dismissed these concerns and reiterated GCHQ’s legal right to listen into the communications of politicians. Clearly, some parliamentary members are quite upset and feel GCHQ’s behavior infringes on their civil liberties. While I am completely opposed to the widespread snooping scheme, why should politicians evade the law while ordinary citizens are monitored? Arguably, politicians have closer links to sensitive data and could leak it to other countries.

Whatever the case, it seems GCHQ’s powers have been legitimized further and the UK’s big brother society continues to be on the rise.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Pirate Party Leading Opinion Polls in Iceland

Iceland has historically been an anomaly within the Nordic region, leaning politically more to the right than its neighbours Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden – countries that favour social democratic governments – but after being decimated by the global recession in 2008, the island’s citizens started to shift left. In 2009, Iceland elected the world’s first openly gay Head of State, but Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir’s Social Democratic Party was ousted in the follow-up election by a coalition of the conservative Progressive and Independence parties in 2013.

The country’s recent swing back to the right seems temporary, however, with the current coalition haemorrhaging support. Instead of the tide turning the way of the Social Democratic party, though, there has been a massive surge towards the Pirate Party.

Iceland’s Pirate Party currently has the support of around 35% of voters, according to the latest Gallup poll, putting the Pirates ahead of both coalition parties combined, which collectively has around 33% support (11% for the Progressive Party and 21% for the Independence party).

The Pirate Party was born out of the Pirate movement – the same ethos that birthed infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay – that emerged around a decade ago in Europe. It is marked by its strong left-wing stance on maintaining civil liberties and human rights, while opposing oppressive copyright laws, state surveillance, and capitalist influence over governments. If voted into power, The Pirate Party supports granting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum and citizenship.

Does the Pirate Party have a chance of taking power in Iceland? It’s too early to say. The next Icelandic election isn’t until April 2017, and a lot can change in two years, but this staggering and unexpected swing towards the Pirate Party could point towards a more progressive future for the habitually conservative country.

Thank you Daily Kos for providing us with this information.

Australia’s Philistine Prime Minister Doesn’t Take Coding Seriously

Bill Shorten, the leader of Australia’s opposition Labor, last week announced that should his party win government it would introduce coding and digital technologies lessons into primary schools as a “national priority”. “Coding is the literacy of the 21st century,” Shorten said. “Under Labor, every young Australian will have the chance to read, write and work with the global language of the digital age.”

Earlier today, Australia’s current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was asked by Shorten whether he supported plans to teach kids to code. Abbott responded by mocking the idea, bizarrely conflating teaching children a skill with forcing them into work:

“Let’s just understand exactly what the Leader of the Opposition has asked. He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? Seriously? Seriously?”

Obviously not. Who would take plans to teach children a valuable modern skill and equate that with child labour? But Abbott’s incredulity stems from an overt hostility towards information technology, an opinion that he has expressed before. This is what Abbott had to say about social media:

“I’ll leave social media to its own devices. Social media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media. You wouldn’t report what’s sprayed up on the walls of buildings.”

It’s astonishing that such a Luddite has risen to a position of power in one of the largest mixed market economies in the world. I wonder how Abbott thinks that wealth is sustained.

Thank you CodeHire, ITNews, and The Age for providing us with this information.

US Government Seizes Kim Dotcom’s Assets Again

German web entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, as a businessman, politician, and world-ranking FPS player, is like a real-life Buckaroo Banzai. Unlike Banzai, however, Dotcom does not have friends in the United States government which, for the second time, has seized the New Zealand-based MEGA owner’s assets, worth millions of dollars.

The US government has won a civil foreclosure case against Dotcom, which has separated the mogul from around $67 million-worth of assets, including cash, property, luxury cars, jet skis, high-end appliances, and his art collection.

Dotcom told the New Zealand Herald that he feels cheated, since he was not entitled to defend himself against the foreclosure. He said, “By labelling me a fugitive the US court has allowed the US government to legally steal all of my assets without any trial, without any due process, without any test of the merits. The asset forfeiture was a default judgement. I was disentitled to defend myself.”

The foreclosure case relates to the on-going legal action against Dotcom over his former file-sharing site Megaupload, through which Dotcom was accused of breaching copyright, piracy, racketeering, and money laundering. Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload defendants are due for a hearing in June which may see them extradited to the US on criminal charges.

Source: New Zealand Herald

Hilary Clinton Wants to Make Her Emails Public After Controversy

Hilary Clinton, who is currently under scrutiny for not using an official government email account, has said that she wants to release all of her emails to the public. Clinton has caused controversy for using a private email account rather than an official government one for government matters. She believes releasing her emails may settle concerns about transparency.

She informed people of her decision via Twitter, saying that her emails will be released as soon as possible. The State Department later released a statement in response to Clinton’s Tweet, suggesting that it may take some time to review the supposed 55,000 emails already handed over.

“The State Department will review for public release the emails provided by Secretary Clinton to the Department, using a normal process that guides such releases. We will undertake this review as soon as possible; given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”

Clinton broke the rules by setting up a private email server registered to her home – a significant difference to others who have breached such protocol, often because they simply made the mistake of undertaking official business via a personal webmail account. In this case, Clinton went above and beyond the rules, something that we as of yet don’t have a reason for.

Source: The Verge

Jeb Bush Purposely Publishes Private E-Mails On His Website

Potential Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush, brother of George W. Bush, has done something really quite damaging. In the spirit of “transparency”, Bush thought it would be a good idea to essentially leak the social security numbers and other private details of thousands of people online. Obviously he didn’t think of it like that – the intention was to publish all of his e-mail communications for the sake of openness. But of course, that was a very bad idea.

Before Bush pulled the e-mails, some managed to download them, search through them, and they found some rather interesting things. Things that could be potentially damaging for quite a few people. Those details included Social Security numbers, but those are probably the least concerning details leaked. As The Verge points out, many e-mails were those from individuals asking Bush for help with personal issues, such as those concerning finances, legal trouble and the health of themselves and even their children.

So what initially seemed like quite a substantial gesture towards political transparency, has certainly backfired, and become a political nightmare.

Source: The Verge

22 People Vetted Mitt Romney’s Tweets During 2012 Election

We all know how social media has become the go to form of marketing for many organisations, including politics of course. But we also know how this can go completely wrong, when something goes out that shouldn’t have for instance.

There are many examples of this, with a most recent one being the case of the British Labour politician who felt compelled to resign over her Tweet mocking a white van and England flag outside someone’s property. A simple quip that cost that politician her job. So it’s no surprise that in the race for the White House, some politicians feel compelled to ensure nothing goes wrong. In Mitt Romney’s case, that meant a team of 22 people approving every single tweet that was posted to his account during the 2012 election.

In a paper called Seizing the Moment, by Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill, analysis of both Obama and Romney’s social media accounts revealed that every single tweet posted from Romney’s personal account had to be vetted by all of those people.

“Romney’s digital team had to go through an extensive vetting process for all of its public communications, meaning that the temporal workflow of the campaign did not match the speed of social media,”.

It’s no surprise that this had a negative effect on his Twitter output. Social media is often all about being spontaneous, something traditional media outlets are not.

Source: The Verge

Kim Dotcom to Bring Internet Party to US

Kim Dotcom has announced that his political party will be launching in the US next year.

The Internet Party has existed in Kim’s native New Zealand for a while now, but hasn’t really had much political success, failing to gain a seat in their Parliament. The party is really the political epitome of Kim – they propose the legalisation of cannabis, free higher education courses, and of course a freer and more libertarian internet. Kim made the announcement in a series of tweets, declaring that he will be “Hillary’s worst nightmare in 2016” and that he’s only managing the party’s publicity (probably remotely, considering the US wants him behind bars).

Source: Engadget 

Collecting Nude Photos a “Fringe Benefit” for NSA Employees, Says Snowden

Edward Snowden is back once again with his catalogue of “you’ll never guess what the NSA are doing” quotes. This time revealing that nude photos which were intercepted by the NSA are often passed around the offices by their younger employees as a “fringe benefit”. In an interview with The Guardian, Snowden revealed this image sharing trend when asked which specific examples of American surveillance had troubled him.

“You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. “They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records. Now, in the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense, for example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation – But they’re extremely attractive.” said Snowden.

“So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker and their co-worker says: ‘Oh hey, that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom and sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by other people. It’s never reported. Nobody knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak.” he added

“The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communications stream from the intended recipient and given to the government without any specific authorization without any specific need is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in a government database?”

It’s really just adding insult to injury, not only are people’s rights being violated by such heavy surveillance anyway, but they’re being further abused for personal gratifications. This new revelation is just adding further troubles to reports such as the one of an NSA employee reading private communications of a former girlfriend on his first day of the job. It’s bad enough that people have this power, but to then use it so wastefully is even worse.

Thank you Independent for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Falkvinge.

Sculptor Sends Message To Czech President Prior To Parliamentary Election

All over the world people regularly express their discontent towards the politicians and people ruling their nation states. Most of the time this comes in the form of televised political debate, politicised writings in media publications and even in music or song writing. However, a Czech sculptor-cum-artist has decided he has a better way to express discontent towards the president of his country, Miloš Zeman, and what a great idea he’s come up with! The 45 year old artist, David Cerny, has built a huge purple hand firing a middle finger in the direction of the Czech seat of government – Prague Castle (Pražský hrad). The controversial stunt has arrived just a few days before the early Czech parliamentary elections are due to take place.

David Cerny commissioned the piece in response to his anger that the current president supports a post election plan by the left wing social democrats to form a minority government, with implicit support from communists.

This finger is aimed straight at the castle politics,” Cerny told the New York Times. “After 23 years, I am horrified at the prospect of the Communists returning to power and of Zeman helping them to do so.

“Our president is just another reason not to live in the Czech Republic,” the artist told The Prague Post in September. “The political system here is not good, most people know that.”

Image courtesy of Reuters/David W Cerny, Information via RussiaToday