Tag Archives: EFF

South Africa Votes to Confiscate White-owned Land Without Compensation

Cape Town, South Africa— On February 27th, the South Africa parliament voted to launch the process of amending the country’s constitution in order to begin confiscating land from white farmers without compensation.

Reuters reported that the motion was brought by the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which controls 6 percent of parliament, and was supported by the ANC, which controls close to two-thirds of the parliament. The Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the African Christian Democratic Party voted against the measure, according to News24. The motion, proposed by Marxist opposition leader Julius Malema, passed by a 241 to 83 vote.

“We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land,” Malema said, adding, “It is about our dignity. We do not seek revenge… all that our people ever wanted is their land to which their dignity is rooted and founded.”

While whites are reportedly a minority— roughly 8 percent of the South African population— they still own around seventy-two percent of farmland, according to a 2017 government audit.

The controversial Malema has been steadfast in his commitment to operationalizing this policy, but has previously made contentious statements, such as telling his supporters in 2016 that he was “not calling for the slaughter of white people — at least for now.”

With a general election coming in 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his first national address two weeks ago, appealed to the ANC’s core electoral base, stating that he’d work to hasten the transfer of land from white farmers to black ownership. Polling has indicated that Ramaphosa faces virtually no threat of defeat from opposition parties; however, a News24 report claims that he does face a threat from within his own party if he were to oppose the populist proposal of white land confiscation.

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa said would continue to pursue expropriation of white farmland without compensation, but reiterated that it should be done in a manner that preserves food security and agricultural production.

“The (African National Congress party) unequivocally supports the principle of land expropriation without compensation,” ANC rural affairs minister Gugile Nkwinti said. “There is no doubt about it, land shall be expropriated without compensation.”

With tension rising in the wake of the recent moves toward land expropriation, on Thursday, Ramaphosa said he wants to engage in discussion about land expropriation to avoid panic but aims to resolve the issue of racial disparities in property ownership “once and for all,” Reuters reported.

A similar land expropriation initiative in took place in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, who led the country to independence from white minority rule. Prior to the summary land expropriation of white-owned farmland, Zimbabwe was known as the “bread basket” of Southern Africa. Zimbabwe ultimately ended up needing food assistance in the wake of the land grab— with millions of suffering from food shortages.

A report for The Straights Times explained how the expropriation scheme devastated Zimbabwe’s export business:

While the farms were meant to be given to black families, though, many wound up in the hands of Mugabe’s close associates, and within years a large number had fallen fallow because their new owners had no background or interest in farming.

Leader of the Freedom Front Plus party, Pieter Groenewald, warned that uncompensated land confiscation could have “unforeseen consequences that is not in the interest of South Africa.”

Deputy chief executive of civil rights group Afriforum, Ernst Roets, noted that the move toward uncompensated land confiscation violated agreements that were made in the wake of apartheid. “This motion is based on a distorted image of the past,” he said. “The term ‘expropriation without compensation’ is a form of semantic fraud. It is nothing more than racist theft.”

Democracy Alliance member Thandeka Mbabama agreed that the wrongs of colonialism need to be fixed, but said land confiscation without compensation “cannot be part of the solution,” adding that the motion is a political diversion from the ANC’s failures regarding land reform and is a “lie peddled by the ANC, who fears being outflanked on the left by the EFF.”

The motion will be referred to Constitutional Review Committee, which will report back on the issue by August 30.

Lawsuit Forces DEA to Destroy Millions of Americans’ Phone Calls

In December, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch celebrated a victory after their lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration led to the conclusion of a program monitoring Americans’ phone calls overseas. The DEA also told the court that a database storing millions of Americans’ collected phone records has been destroyed.

The EFF and Human Rights Watch filed suit in April after USA Today reported that the DEA had been secretly and illegally collecting billions of records from phone calls placed to hundreds of foreign nations. After an 8 month battle, HRW agreed to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit after the U.S. government assured the organization that the mass collection of data had ceased and the only database with billions of phone records had been purged. The DEA made the promise under penalty of perjury.

A federal judge previously forced the government to respond to questions from HRW regarding the data collection program. The government attempted to convince the judge that there was no reason to rule on the legality of the program since it had already ended and the data had been deleted.

New details about the program were released through the government’s discovery responses. The government’s responses show that the DEA’s database was allegedly only searched when the government had “reasonable articulable suspicion” that the number was associated with an ongoing criminal investigation.

The DEA also says that call records older than two years were regularly deleted and the program reportedly went “off-line” in August 2013. As of January 2015, the DEA claims that the bulk database had been deleted, including any temporary files.

Despite the destruction of this single database, the U.S. government continues to monitor the activity of innocent Americans through a host of other programs and agencies.

As the EFF notes, “the government still retains some illegally collected records, and they’ve admitted as much.” This data collection includes gathering of phone records by the NSA under Section 702 of the FAA and under EO 12,333. Still, the EFF sees the outcome of the lawsuit as a win for privacy.

“Nevertheless, the end of the NSA’s domestic bulk collection and now the confirmed end of the DEA’s program represents a significant step forward in curtailing some of these abuses.”

What are your thoughts? Do you believe the DEA has stopped monitoring calls to foreign nations? Leave your thoughts below.

New Malware Tool Aims to Detect Government Surveillance

EFF, Amnesty International Back Effort to Stop Surveillance

by Jason Ditz, November 20, 2014
Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other groups are throwing their weight behind a new open-source software malware detection project called Detekt.

Unlike the more all-purpose antivirus and anti-malware programs, Detekt centers around detecting and warning end users of surveillance malware of the sort known to be used by government.The revelations of NSA surveillance last year by Edward Snowden has brought new attention to the problem of government surveillance, and nations across the planet are using malware utilities to spy on civilians. The Detekt program was developed by Claudio Guarnieri, who has previously developed other programs related to the analysis of malware. Detekt is designed only for Windows-based computers, which of course are the most commonly used and subsequently most commonly targeted.

Detekt is available at resistsurveillance.org, and the source is available at github. The program’s authors warn it may not detect the newest revisions of government surveillance malware, but that it may help weed out some of the most common.