NEW YORK (AP) — Domestic digital spying on ordinary citizens is an international threat that will only be slowed with measures like a proposed international treaty declaring privacy a basic human right, Edward Snowden said Thursday in a video appearance at a Manhattan forum.
“This is not a problem exclusive to the United States. … This is a global problem that affects all of us,” Snowden, the one-time National Security Agency systems analyst, said in his brief remarks from Moscow via video link. “What’s happening here happens in France, it happens in the U.K., it happens in every country, every place, to every person.”
The key question, Snowden added, is: “How do we assert what our rights are, traditionally and digitally?”
Snowden gained notoriety in 2013 for leaking details of the once-secret U.S. surveillance programs. He fled to Russia, where he was granted asylum despite demands by the United States that he return to face espionage and other charges.
The global advocacy group Avaaz organized the gathering to promote the so-called “Snowden Treaty.” Countries who signed would be required to curtail surveillance of phone calls and online activity, and also agree to provide sanctuary for people who expose illegal domestic spying.
The forum was timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly. Organizers have said diplomats have shown interest in a draft of the treaty, but have declined to name what nations they represent.
The NSA’s collection of American phone metadata has been deeply controversial ever since Snowden disclosed it to journalists. President Barack Obama sought, and Congress passed, a law ending the collection and instead allowing the NSA to request the records of U.S. domestic phone customers as needed in terrorism investigations.
A succession of decisions in federal courts in Washington and New York have at various times threatened the constitutionality of the NSA’s surveillance program, but have so far upheld the NSA’s amassing of records from phone companies.
A website promoting the proposed treaty calls the NSA surveillance programs “a direct contravention of international human right law.” It adds: “Protecting the right to privacy is vital not just in itself but because it is an essential requirement for the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression, the most fundamental pillars of democracy.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virtual reality is taking a few steps closer to the mainstream with Samsung unveiling a headset that brings the technology to its latest smartphones at half the price of its previous model, Facebook launching support for 360-degree video, and online video services like Netflix and Hulu jumping into the format.
The announcements at a developers conference in Los Angeles for virtual reality technology company Oculus represent attempts to push the platform beyond a video-gamer-focused niche.
Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who cut a deal to buy Oculus for $2 billion last year, told some 1,500 conference attendees Thursday that virtual reality is “the next logical step” in online sharing after text, photos and video.
“In just a few years, VR has gone from being this science fiction dream to an awesome reality,” he said. “And now we all here have a chance to change the way we play, communicate and collaborate.”
Zuckerberg showed off a promo for the upcoming “Star Wars” movie showing a speeding vehicle zooming over the desert landscape of fictional planet Jakku. Users can look around in any direction using their mouse as the video is playing.
Samsung said its new virtual reality headset will be 22 percent lighter and cost $99, half the price of its previous model. The Gear VR, which requires users to insert the latest version of a Samsung smartphone into the headset, will ship in November.
Netflix content is available to be viewed in Oculus or Samsung headsets starting Thursday, while Hulu said it would also bring its app to the Oculus platform where users can stream 2-D content as well as an original virtual reality short film called “The Big One,” from YouTube star Freddie Wong’s RocketJump production company. A Hulu launch date wasn’t announced.
Meanwhile, Oculus said it would begin a certification program so consumers can look for a sticker that will identify which computers support its Oculus Rift headset, which is due to come out early next year. Asus, Dell and Alienware will have certified models that cost less than $1,000.
Facebook’s 360 video announcement: http://bit.ly/1KC86mf
NEW YORK (AP) — Edward Snowden appeared in New York via video to launch a campaign promoting an international treaty to protect privacy.
The former National Security Agency systems analyst appeared from Moscow via a video link Thursday at a forum in Manhattan on the so-called “Snowden Treaty.”
Advocates say the treaty would curtail mass surveillance of phone calls and online activity.
Snowden called the surveillance a global problem that affects everyone.
The treaty also would give international protection to people who expose illegal domestic spying.
The gathering coincided with the United Nations General Assembly. Organizers say diplomats have shown interest in a draft of the treaty. But organizers have declined to name which nations the diplomats are from.
Snowden faces charges in the U.S. for leaking details of the once-secret surveillance programs.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Cellphone videos and a witness will help exonerate suspended Rutgers University football star Leonte Carroo of a domestic violence charge, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney William Fetky appeared with Carroo at a court hearing where a woman Carroo is accused of attacking Sept. 12 was seeking a permanent restraining order against him.
“All of the evidence will show that she is not the victim. She is the aggressor,” Fetky said.
Carroo, 21, has pleaded not guilty to an assault charge related to domestic violence. Authorities alleged he slammed the woman he once dated onto concrete after Rutgers lost to Washington State.
The woman received injuries on her hip, hands, elbow and head.
Fetky said a friend of Carroo’s will testify that he, not Carroo, knocked the 20-year-old woman to the ground and put a hand on her outside the Rutgers athletic training facility in Piscataway.
The lawyer said the videos show that Carroo’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Maria Vega, was attacked by the woman and Carroo grabbed Vega to get her out of the fight.
Outside court, the woman said the attorney’s statement was false and she didn’t provoke the attack.
Vega; her father, Juan; and Carroo’s mother, Lavern, were charged Tuesday with simple assault and disorderly conduct related to the fight.
Carroo, who is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, was suspended indefinitely from the football team but remains a student at Rutgers. He is scheduled to appear in Piscataway Municipal Court on Oct. 1.
The arrest of the senior captain came after six current and three former Rutgers players were charged with a series of violent crimes.
The team’s coach, Kyle Flood, also was suspended for three games and fined $50,000 for improperly contacting an instructor regarding a grade of one of the players.
The court hearing on the restraining order was adjourned until Oct. 6.
HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii spear fisherman who was bit in the leg by a tiger shark off the coast of the Big Island swam to shore and then filmed a video of his deep wound as he was being carried away on a gurney.
“I just got attacked by a tiger shark,” an exasperated Braxton Rocha, 27, of Kapaau, Hawaii, said in the shaky video posted to Instagram. The footage pans down the man’s body to a gaping gash in the middle of his left leg.
“Love you, brah,” a friend standing near him says. “Love you too, brah,” Rocha replies before the clip ends.
A 13-foot-long tiger shark bit Rocha’s leg Sunday afternoon as he spearfished off the northern tip of the Big Island, officials said. He swam to shore after the attack, and his fishing companion called 911, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a press release.
Rocha was flown by helicopter to a hospital for surgery. His condition was not immediately known.
State officials said they did not close beaches because the attack happened in a remote area off Upolu Point. It had rained heavily, and they warned people not to go into the ocean afterward because murky water can attract sharks.
Follow Caleb Jones: https://twitter.com/CalebAP
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian security forces disciplined eight officers on Sunday after the clubbing of a teenage boy by security forces was caught on video.
The security forces were preventing dozens of protesters from reaching an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday. The video showed protesters throwing stones and bottles and then several officers beating the boy.
The National Security Forces said that four senior commanders were suspended from their duties and will face “disciplinary measures.” Another four officers were sentenced to three months in prison.
The beating video circulated widely on social media and sparked criticism of the Palestinian leadership and demands to punish the officers. On Sunday, dozens of protesters gathered outside the security forces’ station in Bethlehem and threw stones, injuring nine officers, according to the security force.
Palestinian security forces have limited powers in the West Bank but are often tasked with holding protesters at bay in areas where they operate.
Also Sunday, Israel placed an Iron Dome rocket defense battery in the southern town of Sderot, where a rocket launched from Gaza exploded on Friday, damaging a house and a bus.
Tensions have spiked between Palestinians and Israelis recently over a Jerusalem site holy to both Jews and Muslims. Clashes between Palestinian protesters and police have erupted in Jerusalem and several rockets have been fired from Gaza.