Teenagers under the age of 16 could be banned from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and email if they don't have parental permission, under ludicrous last-minute changes to EU laws.
The European Union is on the verge of pushing through new censorship
laws that would raise the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16.
It would mean that millions of teenagers under 16 would be forced to seek permission from parents whenever signing up to a social media account, downloading
an app or even using search engines. No doubt this will either lead to a ludicrously expensive rubber stamping exercise that won't get taken seriously or otherwise kids will be forced to lie about their age. Inevitable tantrums and family tensions will
surely do more harm than good.
The law, due to be negotiated between member states on Tuesday, would cause a major headache for social media companies. Almost all major social media services, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and
Google, currently have a minimum age of 13, in compliance with European and American laws.
Once laws are agreed, they are due to be voted on by the European parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee on Thursday before being
ratified by the parliament itself in the New Year. Countries would then have two years to implement the law. Failing to comply with the new legislation would mean fines of up to 4pc of a company's turnover - tens of millions of pounds for the biggest
The EU has dropped its ridiculous idea to
require 15 year olds to get parental permission before being allowed to access social media.
The EU lawmakers were bombarded with criticism of the incompetent idea.
Anti-bullying charity The Diana Award last night criticised the move. In a letter to MEPs, the charity wrote:
Children aged 13 and above have long accessed online services; an artificial and sudden change to this
threshold will likely result in many children between the ages of 13 and 15 lying about their ages in order to continue accessing online services -- rather than asking their parents to consent.
This development would make it far
more difficult for online services to offer children age-appropriate guidance and tools to ensure a safe and privacy-protective experience online.
It seems that the ludicrous EU idea for 15 year olds to get parental permission to join Facebook etc was not quite
dropped as previously reported.
In fact negotiations ultimately maintained the concept of 16 as a digital age of consent, but allows member states to opt-out from the requirement to raise the digital age of consent from 13 to 16. Of course
this now has potential to cause confusion due to the way the internet functions across borders. Would a 15-year-old in one country find that his use of social media became illegal as he crossed the border into another?
Thailand's Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda has responded to public criticism and scrapped the dreadful idea to include occupation and salary details on people's ID cards.
Social media exploded on Saturday after the military ruler, prime minister
Prayut Chan-o-cha, suggested that inclusion of wage and occupation data should be included on Thai ID cards by 2017.
Today, however, General Anupong clarified that such information would only be included in an internal ministry database. He
claimed that use of the data would not violate people's rights and the extra information was somehow being collected solely for the name of the public interest.
Human rights advocates opposed Gen Prayut's idea, calling it an invasion of privacy
and violation of basic human rights. They argued people's salary and occupation were personal data and should not be displayed on ID cards, even to electronic readers. The disclosure of such sensitive information could spur discrimination and put people
at risk of exploitation by criminals.
Gen Anupong said minimal additional funds would be needed to collect salary and occupation data, as only surveys were required, not the production of new ID cards or reader systems. Gen Prayut on Monday said
minimum-wage earners would remain exempt from taxes, but their incomes would still need to be recorded.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released Privacy Badger 1.0, a browser extension that blocks some of the sneakiest trackers that try to spy on your Web browsing habits.
More than a quarter of a million users have
already installed the alpha and beta releases of Privacy Badger. The new Privacy Badger 1.0 includes blocking of certain kinds of super-cookies and browser fingerprinting -- the latest ways that some parts of the online tracking industry try to follow
Internet users from site to site.
EFF Staff Technologist Cooper Quintin, lead developer of Privacy Badger said:
It's likely you are being tracked by advertisers and other third parties online.
You can see some of it when it's happening, such as ads that follow you around the Web that seem to reflect your past browsing history. Those echoes from your past mean you are being tracked, and the records of your online activity are distributed to
other third parties -- all without your knowledge, control, or consent. But Privacy Badger 1.0 will spot many of the trackers following you without your permission, and will block them or screen out the cookies that do their dirty work.
Privacy Badger 1.0 works in tandem with the new Do Not Track (DNT) policy, announced earlier this week by EFF and a coalition of Internet companies. Users can set the DNT flag -- in their browser settings or by installing Privacy
Badger -- to signal that they want to opt-out of online tracking. Privacy Badger won't block third-party services that promise to honor all DNT requests.
EFF Chief Computer Scientist Peter Eckersley, leader of the DNT
With DNT and Privacy Badger 1.0, Internet users have important new tools to make their desires about online tracking known to the websites they visit and to enforce those desires by blocking stealthy
online tracking and the exploitation of their reading history. It's time to put users back in control and stop surreptitious, intrusive Internet data collection. Installing Privacy Badger 1.0 helps build a leaner, cleaner, privacy-friendly Web.
The Hamburg Data Protection Authority said that Facbook could not force users to replace pseudonyms with real names, nor could it ask to see official identification.
The order came in response to a case where a woman complained to the watchdog after
Facebook blocked her account, requested a copy of her ID and unilaterally changed her name.
Authorities of Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands are now all working together to investigate the privacy policies of Facebook.
Facebook claims that because it has its European offices in Ireland then Irish law should govern its service. Buy Germany courts unsurprisingly disagreed and ordered that German laws applies in Germany.
Like so many of his friends and colleagues across the world, we were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Caspar Bowden, the British privacy activist and co-founder of the Foundation
for Information Policy Research (FIPR).
Among a community filled with perceptive advocates for a better future, Caspar Bowden stood out as one of the most prescient and the most determined. With a far-reaching knowledge of both
policy and technology, he was frequently years ahead of his contemporaries in identifying upcoming issues, and never hesitated to transform his own life and career to better meet those challenges.
Caspar was a key figure in the
British fight for the right to encrypt in the 1990s Crypto Wars. As a technology adviser for Scientists for Labour, he successfully convinced Britain's Labour party, then out of power, to adopt a civil liberties platform that was strongly pro-privacy and
But when Labour attained power in 1997, its leadership turned its back on the party's own election promises. Instead it began drafting a potentially catastrophic law that would have mandated compulsory crypto
backdoors in the UK. Caspar leapt from internal lobbying of the Labour party to co-found the Foundation for Information Policy Research, a non-partisan thinktank that intellectually dominated the opposition to Labour's new policy. What eventually became
the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) would have been a far worse law without Caspar's constant interrogation of its drafters, and behind the scenes lobbying for better language, oversight, and an abandonment of backdoors and key escrow as a
After RIPA passed into law, Caspar joined Microsoft as its Senior Privacy Strategist. From 2002, he worked within the corporate sector to improve user privacy. His experiences at Microsoft gave him the insight and
later authority to warn others of the dangerous weaknesses of the United States' legal protections for non-U.S. persons.
When he left Microsoft in 2011, he once again became an independent voice, warning others that they were
sleepwalking into a surveillance state. He had surmised what Snowden's leaks ultimately confirmed: that the NSA was using the United States dominance in hosting new cloud services to spy with almost no legal limits on the rest of the world.
Instead of a single political party or the British establishment, he now began to educate and inform the European Union about how its member states and citizens were being treated by the U.S. intelligence services, and how they could fight back. From
this broader stage, his reputation as a deeply knowledgeable expert on surveillance spread across the world.
Caspar frequently had the frustrating experience of seeing his most pessimistic predictions disregarded as alarmist, only
to turn out to be true all along. His final illness came just as Britain's Prime Minister once again made the call to eliminate strong encryption and insert dangerous and futile backdoors by force of law. Caspar passed away before he had the chance to
see victory in this new, old, battle, but he left us with over twenty years of piercing analysis and compelling arguments to continue his work. It's now up to us to fulfill his wishes in compliance with the high expectations he always expected and lived
The law that the NSA used to authorize its collection of vast amounts of information about the telephone calls of ordinary Americans is no more. It's likely a temporary reprieve though.
The Senate let three provisions of the Patriot Act expire:
Section 215, the section the government uses to collect phone and other business records in bulk, the Lone Wolf provision , and the roving wiretap provision. Section 215 now reverts to its pre-Patriot Act form , which doesn't permit any
collection of financial or communications records, and requires the Government to provide specific and articulable facts supporting a reason to believe that the target is an agent of a foreign power.
All indications are that this lapse will
be temporary and that the Senate will soon pass the USA FREEDOM Act, which has small but important improvements over the now-lapsed section 215 and important additional transparency to the secret FISA court. USA Freedom passed the House with overwhelming
Senate rules allow a final vote, which only needs a simple majority of 51, to occur early Tuesday morning. It's not clear whether any amendments will be offered and we'll keep watching on EFFLive and keep you posted as this saga
But tonight, this is a historic baby step. We should all pause and for us at EFF who've been fighting mass surveillance since 2006, take a moment to smile.
A senior policeman is preparing the way for state snooping to be ratcheted up into 'private space'.
Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty starts with the bizarre assertion that Islamist propaganda on the internet and social media is influencing children
as young as five. Surely if children so young are showing signs of extremism, then one has to suggest that family background and culture is the more likely basis. But it's probably not politically correct to suggest this. It's a long standing general
tenet of propaganda that 'outside sources' should be blamed, not the people involved, a theme that is carried throughout Chishty's piece.
Chishty said children aged five had voiced opposition to marking Christmas, branding it as haram . He
also warned that there was no end in sight to the parade of British Muslims, some 700 so far, being lured from their bedrooms to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) propaganda.
In an interview with the Guardian, Chishty said there was now a need for a move into the private space
of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier. He said this could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer, which could be because the
store is sometimes mistakenly perceived to be Jewish-owned.
Chishty said friends and family of youngsters should be intervening much earlier, watching out for subtle, unexplained changes, which could also include sudden negative attitudes towards
alcohol, social occasions and western clothing. They should challenge and understand what caused such changes in behaviour, the police commander said, and seek help, if needs be from the police, if they are worried. Chishty said:
We need to now be less precious about the private space. This is not about us invading private thoughts, but acknowledging that it is in these private spaces where this [extremism] first germinates. The purpose of private-space
intervention is to engage, explore, explain, educate or eradicate. Hate and extremism is not acceptable in our society, and if people cannot be educated, then hate and harmful extremism must be eradicated through all lawful means.
Asked to define
private space , Chishty said:
It's anything from walking down the road, looking at a mobile, to someone in a bedroom surfing the net, to someone in a shisha cafe talking about things.
Update: Google and Whatsapp will be forced to hand messages to MI5
Google, Facebook and other internet giants will be forced to give British spies access to encrypted conversations of people of interest under plans expand snooping powers.
New laws will require Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, Snapchat and
other popular apps to hand messages sent by their users to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
The new power is to be included in a new Investigatory Powers Bill which will overhaul the ability of the spy agencies to intercept communications.
announced in the Queen's Speech, will revive the so-called snoopers charter but is much wider than previous planned.
The security and intelligence agencies are complaining that encryption facilities around many online conversations are now
so sophisticated to crack.
Under the proposed new powers, the spy agencies will be able to obtain a warrant from the Home Secretary that will oblige an internet companies to break down its encryption protection and allow access to communications.
Google has struck a private settlement deal with Max Mosley over images that show the ex-Formula One chief having private fun with sex workers.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Mosley and Google had agreed to end the lengthy legal row in
Germany, France and the UK.
But terms of the deal between the two parties were kept secret. It's also unclear whether Google agreed to censor access to the material.
In 2013, Google was ordered by a French court to remove links to nine
images of Mosley cavorting with prostitutes, none of which were pornographic. At the time, Google claimed the ruling was troubling and argued that it had serious consequences for free expression .
And indeed the right to free speech
has now given way to the right to not be offended, especially when the demand is backed up by violence. So now Google may as well give in to the demands for censorship as everyone else has anyway.
A committee of the British Parliament has proposed legal reforms to Britain's intelligence agencies that are mostly cosmetic and would do little to protect individual privacy.
In a report published on March 12, the
Intelligence and Security Committee acknowledged that agencies like MI5 collect, sift through and examine millions of communications. Most of this is legal, the committee said, and justified by national security. It proposed a new law that would tell
people more about the kind of information the government collects about them but would not meaningfully limit mass surveillance. That is hardly sufficient for a system that needs strong new checks and balances.
As things stand
now, intelligence agencies can monitor vast amounts of communications and do so with only a warrant from a government minister to begin intercepting them. Lawmakers should limit the amount of data officials can sweep up and require them to obtain
warrants from judges, who are more likely to push back against overly broad requests.
The parliamentary committee, however, did not see the need to limit data collection and concluded that ministers should continue to approve
warrants because they are better than judges at evaluating diplomatic, political and public interests. That rationale ignores the fact that ministers are also less likely to deny requests from officials who directly report to them.
The committee's acceptance of the status quo partly reflects the fact that Britons have generally been more accepting of intrusive government surveillance than Americans ; security cameras, for instance, are ubiquitous in Britain. But
the committee itself was far from impartial. Its nine members were all nominated by Prime Minister David Cameron, who has pushed for even greater surveillance powers.
The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood writes:
Imagine your children playing with a doll that records everything they say and transmits it all to a corporation which analyzes every word to learn all of [your child's] likes
and dislikes. That's exactly what Mattel's eavesdropping Hello Barbie does.
Unless we take action, it will be in toy stores this autumn. Kids using Hello Barbie ' aren't only talking to a doll, they are talking
directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial. It's creepy--and creates a host of dangers for children and families.
The Wi-Fi-connected Hello Barbie uses an embedded microphone to record children's
voices--and other nearby conversations--before sending them over the Internet to cloud servers. From there, Mattel's technology partner ToyTalk processes the audio with voice-recognition software. During its Toy Fair 2015 product demonstration,
Mattel said it will use this information to push data back to children through Barbie's built-in speaker.
Hello Barbie's eavesdropping capabilities take technology to an even more troubling level. Children naturally reveal
a lot about themselves when they play. In Mattel's demo, Barbie asks many questions that encourage kids to share information about their interests, their families, and more--all of which could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market
unfairly to children.
deal follows an investigation by the regulator. Similar reviews are continuing elsewhere in Europe. It is understood that Google will seek to strike a similar deal with other European regulators.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found
that Google was too vague when describing how it uses personal data gathered from its web services and products .
Google will also provide unambiguous and comprehensive information regarding data processing, including an exhaustive list
of the types of data processed by Google and the purposes for which data is processed .
Among other clarifications, Google will have to include information about who may collect anonymous identifiers - which are similar to cookies - and
the purposes to which they put that data.
It will also be made to ensure that passive users are better informed about the processing of their data . The ICO defines passive users as people who use Google, but who are not signed in. Jump
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