Technology Companies Demand Changes to US Surveillance Laws
AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo have demanded sweeping changes to US surveillance laws, saying that current legislation was a threat to their business interests because “people won’t use technology they don’t trust”. “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual – rights that are enshrined in our constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for change”, read a letter signed by the eight companies. “We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide”, it added, alluding to the information brought to light by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. Specifically, the technology companies want the NSA to be barred from indiscriminately gathering data from individuals. “Governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of internet communications”, says the companies’ new list of principles.
Thai PM Dissolves Parliament, Calls Snap Elections
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the country’s parliament on Monday, calling snap elections in an attempt to defuse the anti-government protests across the country. The protesters want the prime minister to leave because of her links to her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup and went into exile instead of serving a jail term for corruption. “From this minute onwards, all Thais have taken power back for the people”, said protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. He called the current government incompetent and corrupt and said his people would elect the new prime minister, though polls suggest voters would again back Shinawatra. The army, which has staged 18 coups in the past 80 years, said it does not want to get involved and would only try to mediate between the two camps.
Leader’s Powerful Uncle Publicly Purged in N.Korea
Images broadcast on Monday by North Korea’s state media confirmed the downfall of Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the main architect of his fast-track grooming as designated heir to Kim Jong-il. Jang was arrested and pulled by soldiers from his seat at a party meeting, and was later described by the official KCNA news agency of being “ideologically sick and extremely idle and easy-going” as well as of leading a “dissolute and depraved life”. “By abusing his power, he was engrossed in irregularities and corruption, had improper relations with several women, and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants”, said a statement released by the KCNA, adding that Jang “used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party”. Analysts see the public humiliation of Jang as a demonstration of authority by Kim, but also as a potentially dangerous signal of instability in the Pyongyang regime amidst suggestions of infighting among the country’s top bureaucrats.
Rare Riots Break Out in Singapore
The first riot in four decades broke out in the tightly-controlled island state of Singapore on Sunday night, with 27 people arrested after police cars were overturned and burned in the Little India area of the city. The disturbances began after a bus ran over an Indian national at a street corner in the area, killing him. Nearly 400 foreign workers took to the streets after the accident, clashing with police and emergency workers and injuring at least 18 responders before the situation was brought under control. Singapore Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said the violence was “intolerable and wanton” and “not the Singapore way”. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the authorities would deal with the rioters “with the full force of the law” and that “whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive and criminal behaviour”.