The UK ISP BT has become the first of the major broadband providers to trial their own DNS over HTTPS resolver, which encrypts Domain Name System (DNS) requests.
This is response to Firefox offering its own choice of encrypted DNS resolver that would effectively evade BT's current unencrypted DNS resolver which allows the UK government to monitor and log people's internet use, block websites that are
considered 'harmful'; snitch people up to the police for politically incorrrect comments; and snitch people up to copyright trolls over dodgy file sharing.
However BT's new service will allow people to continue using website blocking for parental control whilst being a lot safer from 3rd party snoopers on their networks.
BT have made the following statement about its experimental new service:
BT are currently investigating roadmap options to uplift our broadband DNS platform to support improvements in DNS security -- DNSSEC, DNS over TLS (DoT) and DNS over HTTPS (DoH). To aid this activity and in particular gain operation
deployment insights, we have enabled an experimental DoH trial capability.
We are initially experimenting with an open resolver, but our plan is to move a closed resolver only available to BT customers.
The BT DoH trial recursive resolver can be reached at https://doh.bt.com/dns-query/
Twitter's updated terms commencing from 1st January 2020 will formalise throttling and shadow banning of content
The idea of a shadow ban is that someone is banned but they don't know they've been banned because they keep posting, but no one sees their content.
Twitter's new terms of service state that the company may limit distribution or visibility of any
Content on the service.
This new line of text suggests that Twitter will legally be able to start throttling (intentionally suppressing or hiding content) or shadow banning (intentionally suppressing or hiding a person's content without their knowledge) posts on the platform
from the start of 2020. The full updated sentence now reads:
We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you.
Twitter's current terms of service with no reference to content throttling or shadow banning
The former head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), former 'eSafety Commissioner', Alastair MacGibbon, has told the House of Representatives Standing Committee On Social Policy And Legal Affairs looking to age verification for online wagering
and online pornography , that any form of online age verification would require a biometric component. He said:
I think biometrics -- with all of the problems associated with biometrics, and they are not a silver bullet -- is the only way you could really have an online system.
A scenario relying solely on Home Affairs' Face and Document Verification Services to provide proof of age would not work on its own, due to the ability for children to be able to take, for instance, a driver's licence and verify it
with the system.
What will be harder for the child is to get my face in front of the camera and use it for the purposes of proof of age, he said on Friday.
I'm not advocating for it to be used as such ...BUT... it could be used as a way of saying, 'This face that's now in front of this camera is attached to a driver's licence and a passport in Australia, and that person is
over the age of 18'.
He was not very sympathetic to porn viewers who may end up being victims of hackers, fraud, identity crime, or blackmail. He added
Australians need to accept that there is no such thing as a completely secure connected device, that there will be failures, and everything in life is about balancing value and risk.
You do run the risk that Australians who have a privacy concern will be forced into darker parts of the web to avoid online verification and that will be an unintended consequences any such scheme.
Well with an 'eSafety Commissioner' like that, I think Australian internet users should be getting a little bit nervous.
Amazon has come under fire for selling T-shirts glorifying the death flights of Chile's military dictatorship in which leftwing opponents of the regime were dropped from helicopters in an attempt to hide their murders.
More than 3,000 people were killed or forcibly disappeared during Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship. It was revealed that at least 120 of them were later thrown to their deaths from helicopters into Chile's ocean, lakes and rivers.
light of such atrocities have become popular among the US far right, and were openly on sale on Amazon with slogans such as Free Helicopter Rides.
Chilean author Diamela Eltit told the Guardian:
It is unbearable for people like me who had to endure that time when people were thrown alive into the sea from helicopters. This is not only hurtful, it is also of incomprehensible cruelty. It shows how the worst part of humanity can
be absorbed by the market and transformed into an object of consumption..
Most of the garments have now disappeared from the website.
The head of TikTok is reportedly planning a trip to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with lawmakers who have harshly criticized the app over its purported ties to the Chinese government and concerns over censorship and privacy.
This appears to be the first visit that the TikTok chief, Alex Zhu, has been called to account for the short video-sharing platform. TikTok has become an oft-discussed target among those in the US government, who recently opened a national security
investigation and have questioned how close the relationship is between the platform and its China-based parent company, ByteDance.
TikTok has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times globally, an indicator of its rapid rise as a platform -- especially loved by teens -- for creating and sharing short videos and launching the latest viral memes across the internet.
TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny over ties to its parent company, a $75 billion company based out of China called ByteDance. TikTok has consistently defended itself by asserting that none of its moderators are based in China, and that no foreign
government asks the platform to censor content. However when pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong earlier this year, TikTok was curiously devoid of any hints of unrest, and videos instead documented a prettier picture.
Pinterest and The Knot, the two most popular websites for wedding inspiration and planning, have now decided to do away with plantation weddings. These seem to be the US equivalent of weddings at stately homes in the UK. Except of course that many of the
US homes, especially in the south, have a historic connection to slavery.
At the pressure from of campaign group known as Color of Change, both Pinterest and The Knot have started cracking down on all the plantation wedding venues which were once slave plantations.
The Knot hasn't banned any plantation venues from the
platform, but has restricted hw they can describe themselves by introducing new guidelines. The chief marketing officer of the wedding planning website, Dhanusha Sivajee, said that plantations can no longer use language that glorifies, celebrates, or
romanticizes Southern plantation history.
Pinterest has taken things to the extreme by completely restricting any content around plantation weddings and is also said to be working on going as far as de-indexing Google searches relating to the website's content about plantation weddings. A
Pinterest spokesperson said:
Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things. We are working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them
Instagram is actively considering bringing in gambling app-style full identity verification in the name of preventing underage children joining.
Vishal Shah, Instagram's head of product, said the social media site would not take asking new users to submit proof of age off the table as it looked at ways to tighten up how it verifies users' ages.
His comments come as Instagram announced it
would now start asking all new members to give their date of birth when signing up. The social network also said it would soon start using the date of birth users had given on Facebook to verify ages on Instagram.
Currently, Instagram asks if new users are over or under 18, and then only asks for a date of birth for those who say they are 17 or younger.
Parent company Facebook said:
We understand not everyone will share their actual age. How best to collect and verify the age of people who use online services is something that the whole industry is exploring and we are committed to continuing to work with
industry and governments to find the best solutions. Nobody will have their date of birth publicly displayed on their Instagram profile.
It seems that Netfllix has been stealing a march on the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) by using a joint BBFC/Netflix rating system for Netflix users in Ireland.
Back in March 2019 the BBFC agreed on rating system with Netflix such that Netflix would determine age rating for the programmes and films using the BBFC guidelines. The BBFC has just a quality control role to ensure that Netflix is following the
It is reported that these age ratings are now being reused for Netflix users in Ireland. And Newstalk has beein inquiring if the IFCO is happy with this arrangement.
The IFCO responded saying it has no legal remit on non physical product in Ireland. However Ger Connolly, the director of film classification, said:
I do intend to engage with Apple TV and other providers to examine if there is a mechanism to cooperate for the benefit of Republic of Ireland residents.
We know there's a difference between real-world violence and scripted or simulated violence -- such as what you see in movies, TV shows, or video games -- so we want to make sure we're enforcing our
violent or graphic content policies consistently.
Starting on 2nd December, scripted or simulated violent content found in video games will be treated the same as other types of scripted content.
What does this mean for Gaming Creators?
Future gaming uploads that include scripted or simulated violence may be approved instead of being age-restricted.
There will be fewer restrictions for violence in gaming, but this policy will still maintain our high bar to protect audiences from real-world violence.
We may still age-restrict content if violent or gory imagery is the sole focus of the video. For instance, if the video focuses entirely on the most graphically violent part of a video game.
Online freedom in Russia is getting worse and worse and the latest laws being considered by the Russian Parliament look set to lead to a further deterioration.
MPs are currently pushing through legislation that would force all computers and mobile devices sold in Russia to come with a series of pre-installed applications which would pose a massive threat to users online security and privacy.
Now the Russian Duma (lower parliament) is considering a law which it claims would protect Russian technology against competition from overseas tech companies.
But protectionism is the least of the Russian people's concerns if this law makes it onto the statute books. Compelling devices to come pre-installed with domestic apps offers the Putin regime a wonderful opportunity to spy on every single Russian
internet user and punish those who deviate from its exacting regulations.
In October last year, an Indian court had ordered the government to reinstate its earlier ban on 827 porn websites including PornHub and xVideos. Porn companies initially put up a fight, launching mirror URLs such as pornhub.net after pornhub.com
became inaccessible. But a few months in, major internet service providers Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio also started blocking out the mirror URLs tool.
However Indians haven't been taking the censorship lying down. Mobile downloads of virtual private network (VPN) apps in India grew 405% to 57 million in the 12 months starting October 2018, as analysed by London-based Top10VPN, a website that reviews
The vast majority of users in India are using free VPN services, which are in effect not free--they often fund operations by selling user data. But the use of paid VPN services remains limited in India.
But not all Indian users have caught on to VPNs. Nearly half of the visitors of the banned websites have merely shifted to other adult content sites that aren't blocked in the country, such as RedPorn and SexVid, according to research from the
analytics firm SimilarWeb.
I always wonder if this response is one of the reasons why age verification for porn was cancelled by the British Government. The security services surely didn't want vast numbers of people to start using VPNs. They needed the AV services to be easy
and safe enough for porn users to be willing to use. And in the end most of the methods on offer were anything but.
Singapore's new law designed to counter fake news is now fully in effect. It allows the country's government to issue corrections of information that it deems to be false, and fine those publishing it up to an equivalent of $730,000 and send them to
prison for up to ten years.
Singapore is now attempting to apply the new legislation globally, by ordering Facebook to correct a post made by a user in Australia. This is one of the points the critics of the legislation have been making ever since it was passed in May -- that it
will likely be used to stifle freedom of expression not only in Singapore but also beyond its borders.
The law, officially the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, is described as one of the toughest in the world -- while the order dispatched to Facebook marks the first time Singapore has attempted to directly influence a social
media platform and content hosted on it.
The supposed 'fake news' in the first invocation of the law involved improvable claims in argument between the government and a government Singaporean critic now based in Australia. It seems unlikely that Facebook can substantiate or arbitrate the
actual truth of the claims.
In this case, Facebook has added a correction notice to the disputed post saying:
Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.
Hundreds of porn stars and sex workers had their Instagram accounts deleted this year, and many say that they're being held to a different standard than mainstream celebrities.
I should be able to model my Instagram account on Sharon Stone or any other verified profile, but the reality is that doing that would get me deleted, says Alana Evans, president of the Adult Performers Actors Guild and one of the
leading voices in the battle that adult stars are waging to stay on the platform.
Ms Evans' group has collected a list of more than 1,300 performers who claim that their accounts have been deleted by Instagram's content moderators for violations of the site's community standards, despite not showing any nudity or
They discriminate against us because they don't like what we do for a living, Ms Evans says.
Just last month WhatsApp sued an Israeli surveillance company, the NSO Group , in a US court. The case alleges that the messaging platform was compromised by NSO technology, specifically to insert its signature product -- spyware known as Pegasus -- on
to at least 1,400 devices, which enabled government surveillance (an allegation that NSO Group rejects ).With Pegasus in their hands, governments have access to the seemingly endless amount of personal data in our pockets. The University of Toronto's
CitzenLab has found the Pegasus spyware used in 45 countries.
The global surveillance industry -- in which the NSO Group is just one of many dozens, if not hundreds, of companies -- appears to be out of control, unaccountable and unconstrained in providing governments with relatively low-cost
access to the sorts of spying tools that only the most advanced state intelligence services previously were able to use.
The industry and its defenders will say this is a price to pay for confronting terrorism. We must sacrifice some liberty to protect our people from another 9/11, they argue. As one well-placed person claimed to me, such surveillance
is mandatory; and, what's more, it is complicated, to protect privacy and human rights.
All I can say is, give me a break. The companies hardly seem to be trying -- and, more importantly, neither are the governments that could do something about it. In fact, governments have been happy to have these companies help them
carry out this dirty work. This isn't a question of governments using tools for lawful purposes and incidentally or inadvertently sweeping up some illegitimate targets: this is using spyware technology to target vulnerable yet vital people whom healthy
democracies need to protect.
The European Commission is struggling to agree how to extend internet censorship and control to US messaging apps such as Facebook's WhatsApp and Microsoft's Skype.
These services are run from the US and it is not so easy for European police to obtain say tracking or user information as it is for more traditional telecoms services.
The Commission has been angling towards applying the rules controlling national telecoms companies to these US 'OTT' messaging services. Extended ePrivacy regulation was the chosen vehicle for new censorship laws.
But now it is reported that the EU countries have yet to find agreement on such issues as tracking users' online activities, provisions on detecting and deleting child pornography and of course how to further the EU's silly game of trying to see how
many times a day EU internet users are willing to click consent boxes without reading reams of terms and conditions.
EU ambassadors meeting in Brussels on Friday again reached an impasse, EU officials said. Tech companies and some EU countries have criticized the ePrivacy proposal for being too restrictive, putting them at loggerheads with privacy activists who back
Now doubt the censorship plans will be resuming soon.
Nigerian lawmakers have proposed legislation that would hit Internet users with steep fines or jail time for spreading what authorities decide is 'fake news'.
Under what is known as the social media bill, which the Nigerian Senate advanced last week, police could arrest people whose posts are thought to threaten national security, sway elections or diminish public confidence in the government, according to
the draft text.
Authorities could also cut the Internet access of those that violate the regulation.
Nigerian social media users are widely condemning the new internet censorship proposal.