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  US politicians take aim at Russian social media adverts...

Politicians need to face up to their own failure to look after the jobs and prospects of people and not blame their unpopularity on silly distractions like Russian propaganda


Link Here 20th October 2017

US SenateFacebook and Google, along with other online publishers, may soon be required in the US to disclose funding for paid political ads.

Two US senators, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner, proposed a bill called The Honest Ads Act to extend the funding disclosure requirements for political ads on TV, radio, and in print, to online ads. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the US House of Representatives.

Under these disclosure requirements, traditional media has to produce and reveal lists identifying organizations that have bought political adverts. If the Honest Ads Act is passed into law, top online sites, from Facebook to Twitter, will fall under these requirements, too.

The bill is an attempt to respond to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election through social media.

Facebook , Google , and Twitter have all said they sold politically-oriented ads to accounts linked to Russia. Facebook has characterized the ads it sold as amplifying divisive social and political messages.

If the bill becomes law, the rules would require digital platforms averaging 50 million monthly viewers to maintain a public list of political ads purchased by a person or organization spending more than $500 cumulatively on such ads, on a per-platform basis. And it would direct digital platforms to make all reasonable efforts to prevent foreign individuals and organizations from purchasing domestic political ads.

 

  Better safe than sorry...

Twitter bosses consider expanding the scope of material to be censored


Link Here 18th October 2017  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
twitter 2015 logoThere was plenty of strong language flying around on Twitter in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Twitter got a bit confused about who was harassing who, and ended up suspending Weinstein critic Rose McGowan for harassment. Twitter ended up being boycotted over its wrong call, and so Twitter bosses have been banging their heads together to do something.

Wired has got hold of an email outline an expansion of content liable to Twitter censorship and also for more severe sanctions for errant tweeters. Twitter's head of safety policy wrote of new measures to rolled out in the coming weeks:

Non-consensual nudity

Our definition of "non-consensual nudity" is expanding to more broadly include content like upskirt imagery, "creep shots," and hidden camera content. Given that people appearing in this content often do not know the material exists, we will not require a report from a target in order to remove it.

While we recognize there's an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it's nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually. We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.

Unwanted sexual advances

Pornographic content is generally permitted on Twitter, and it's challenging to know whether or not sexually charged conversations and/or the exchange of sexual media may be wanted. To help infer whether or not a conversation is consensual, we currently rely on and take enforcement action only if/when we receive a report from a participant in the conversation.

We are going to update the Twitter Rules to make it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable. We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation.

Hate symbols and imagery (new)

We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, hateful imagery, hate symbols, etc will now be considered sensitive media (similar to how we handle and enforce adult content and graphic violence). More details to come.

Violent groups (new)

We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause. More details to come here as well

Tweets that glorify violence (new)

We already take enforcement action against direct violent threats ("I'm going to kill you"), vague violent threats ("Someone should kill you") and wishes/hopes of serious physical harm, death, or disease ("I hope someone kills you"). Moving forward, we will also take action against content that glorifies ("Praise be to for shooting up. He's a hero!") and/or condones ("Murdering makes sense. That way they won't be a drain on social services"). More details to come.

 

 Update: Unacceptable...

56 European human rights groups call on the EU to abandon its disgraceful law proposal requiring the pre-censorship of content as it is being uploaded to the internet


Link Here 17th October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states

EU flagArticle 13: Monitoring and filtering of internet content is unacceptable. Index on Censorship joined with 56 other NGOs to call for the deletion of Article 13 from the proposal on the Digital Single Market, which includes obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights.

Dear President Juncker,
Dear President Tajani,
Dear President Tusk,
Dear Prime Minister Ratas,
Dear Prime Minister Borissov,
Dear Ministers,
Dear MEP Voss, MEP Boni

The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organisations.

Fundamental rights, justice and the rule of law are intrinsically linked and constitute core values on which the EU is founded. Any attempt to disregard these values undermines the mutual trust between member states required for the EU to function. Any such attempt would also undermine the commitments made by the European Union and national governments to their citizens.

Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights.

Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services. Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens' communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business.

Article 13 contradicts existing rules and the case law of the Court of Justice. The Directive of Electronic Commerce ( 2000/31/EC) regulates the liability for those internet companies that host content on behalf of their users. According to the existing rules, there is an obligation to remove any content that breaches copyright rules, once this has been notified to the provider.

Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users' content, which contradicts the 'no general obligation to monitor' rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended ( C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

In particular, the requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. If internet companies are required to apply filtering mechanisms in order to avoid possible liability, they will. This will lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content and limit the freedom to impart information on the one hand, and the freedom to receive information on the other.

If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply it and we can expect such a rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice. This is what happened with the Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC), when EU legislators ignored compatibility problems with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In 2014, the Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive invalid because it violated the Charter.

Taking into consideration these arguments, we ask the relevant policy-makers to delete Article 13.

European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Access Info
ActiveWatch
Article 19
Associação D3 -- Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
Association of the Defence of Human Rights in Romania (APADOR)
Associazione Antigone
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
Bits of Freedom (BoF)
BlueLink Foundation
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
Centre for Peace Studies
Centrum Cyfrowe
Coalizione Italiana Liberta@ e Diritti Civili (CILD)
Code for Croatia
COMMUNIA
Culture Action Europe
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
epicenter.works
Estonian Human Rights Centre
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Frënn vun der Ënn
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Index on Censorship
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Internautas
JUMEN
Justice & Peace
La Quadrature du Net
Media Development Centre
Miklos Haraszti (Former OSCE Media Representative)
Modern Poland Foundation
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
One World Platform
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
Open Rights Group (ORG)
OpenMedia
Panoptykon
Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)
Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Rights International Spain
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
Statewatch
The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia (RTKNS)
Xnet

 

  Impure thoughts...

TorrentFreak explains that VPN providers who log the IP addresses used by their customers leave their customers unprotected from the authorities


Link Here 17th October 2017
purevpn logoAfter several days of radio silence, VPN provider PureVPN has responded to criticism that it provided information which helped the FBI catch a cyberstalker. In a fairly lengthy post, the company reiterates that it never logs user activity. What it does do, however, is log both the real and assigned 'anonymous' IP addresses of users accessing its service.

In a fairly lengthy statement, PureVPN begins by confirming that it definitely doesn't log what websites a user views or what content he or she downloads. However, that's only half the problem. While it doesn't log user activity (what sites people visit or content they download), it does log the IP addresses that customers use to access the PureVPN service. These, given the right circumstances, can be matched to external activities thanks to logs carried by other web companies.

If for instance a user accesses a website of interest to the authorities, then that website, or various ISPs involved in the route can see the IP address doing the accessing. And if they look it up, they will find that it belongs to PureVPN. They would then ask PureVPN to identify the real IP address of the user who was assigned the observed PureVPN IP address at the time it was observed.

Now, if PureVPN carried no logs -- literally no logs -- it would not be able to help with this kind of inquiry. That was the case last year when the FBI approached Private Internet Access for information and the company was unable to assist .

But in this case, PureVPN does keep the records of who was assigned each IP address and when, and so the user can be readily identified (albeit with the help of the user's ISP too).

See the full explanation in the article from torrentfreak.com

TorrentFreak sums up:

It is for this reason that in TorrentFreak's annual summary of no-logging VPN providers , the very first question we ask every single company reads as follows:

Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user/users of your service? If so, what information do you hold and for how long?

Clearly, if a company says yes we log incoming IP addresses and associated timestamps, any claim to total user anonymity is ended right there and then.

While not completely useless (a logging service will still stop the prying eyes of ISPs and similar surveillance, while also defeating throttling and site-blocking), if you're a whistle-blower with a job or even your life to protect, this level of protection is entirely inadequate.

 

 Offsite Article: Stitched up...


Link Here 14th October 2017  full story: Crap Internet Blocking...Cheapo automated filters are not up to the job
blocked logo Websites about crochet being blocked by negligent ISPs. Courtesy of the blocking checking website, Blocked.org.uk

See article from blocked.org.uk

 

  Copyright Isn't a Tool for Removing Negative Reviews...

EFF reports on a US court case an attempt to misuse copyright law to silence free speech and bad reviews


Link Here 13th October 2017

Electronic Frontier Foundation At EFF, we see endless attempts to misuse copyright law in order to silence content that a person dislikes. Copyright law is sadly less protective of speech than other speech regulations like defamation, so plaintiffs are motivated to find ways to turn many kinds of disputes into issues of copyright law. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected one such ploy: an attempt to use copyright to get rid of a negative review.

The website Ripoff Report hosts criticism of a variety of professionals and companies, who doubtless would prefer that those critiques not exist. In order to protect platforms for speech like Ripoff Report, federal law sets a very high bar for private litigants to collect damages or obtain censorship orders against them. The gaping exception to this protection is intellectual property claims, including copyright, for which a lesser protection applies.

One aggrieved professional named Goren (and his company) went to court to get a negative review taken down from Ripoff Report. If Goren had relied on a defamation claim alone, the strong protection of CDA 230 would protect Ripoff Report. But Goren sought to circumvent that protection by getting a court order seizing ownership of the copyright from its author for himself, then suing Ripoff Report's owner for copyright infringement. We filed a brief explaining several reasons why his claims should fail, and urging the court to prevent the use of copyright as a pretense for suppressing speech.

Fortunately, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed that Ripoff Report is not liable. It ruled on a narrow basis, pointing out that the person who originally posted the review on Ripoff Report gave the site's owners irrevocable permission to host that content. Therefore, continuing to host it could not be an infringement, even if Goren did own the copyright.

Goren paid the price for his improper assertion of copyright here: the appeals court upheld an award of over $100,000 in attorneys' fees. The award of fees in a case like this is important both because it deters improper assertion of copyright, and because it helps compensate defendants who choose to litigate rather than settling for nuisance value simply to avoid the expense of defending their rights.

We're glad the First Circuit acted to limit the ways that private entities can censor speech online.

 

 Update: Virtually useless...

Egyptian ISPs block VPN traffic using deep packet inspection


Link Here 13th October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites
openvpn logoThis summer, the Egyptian government started to block access to news websites. At last count, it had blocked more than 400 websites. Realising that citizens are using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to bypass such censorship, the government also started to block access to VPN websites.

In addition to this, ISPs have started using deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques in order to identify and block VPN traffic. Egypt blocked the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN protocols in August. However, until now OpenVPN, worked fine. This allowed ordinary Egyptians to access the uncensored internet.

On 3 October, however, the situation changed. It was reported on reddit that Egypt has now blocked OpenVPN as well. It seems that ISPs are using DPI techniques to detect OpenVPN packets.

For more about circumventing this latest censorship see excellent article from bestvpn.com

 

 Extract: To those who lead a double life on social media, eg to keep a bar life separate to a family life...

Facebook seems to have developed a nasty capability to connect across their two lives, no matter how careful they are


Link Here 13th October 2017

Facebook logoLeila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them.

Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).

Her "real identity"--the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics--joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook's "People You May Know" recommendations, Leila (a name I'm using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

Despite the fact that she'd only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people--and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them.

Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again.

See the full article from gizmodo.com

Facebook denies it, but maybe the most obvious explanation is that Facebook is somehow inferring connections from the proximity of people's phones.

 

 Updated: If only people could be force fed with official propaganda news, all would be right with the world...

Karen Bradley proposes that social media companies should pay a new tax to fund a new propaganda education unit to warn of the dangers of non government approved internet content


Link Here 12th October 2017
karen bradleySocial media companies look set to be hit with a new tax to pay for schemes to raise people's awareness of the dangers of the internet and to tackle what the government considers their worst effects.

Web firms will have a chance to give their views on the levy being proposed by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley in a public consultation.

Among the options proposed in Bradley's internet safety green paper is an industry-wide levy so social media companies and service providers fund schemes that raise awareness and counter internet harms.

The Independent understands that the Government is interested to see what action the private sector takes first -- with a voluntary funded approach possible -- before imposing any new levy on firms.

Offsite Analysis: For the forthcoming 'Digital Charter'

12th October 2017 See  article from ispreview.co.uk

Broadly speaking the new paper , which will help to form a foundation for the Government's forthcoming Digital Charter , doesn't include much that would concern internet access (broadband) providers. Instead it appears to be predominantly focused upon internet content providers (e.g. social networks like Facebook).

For a good analysis of the Government's green paper See  article from ispreview.co.uk

 

  The End Game for European Upload Filtering Approaches...

The EU is considering forcing websites to vet uploaded content for pirated material. Of course only the media giants have the capability to do this and so the smaller players would be killed (probably as intended)


Link Here 11th October 2017

european commission logoIf you've been following the slow progress of the European Commission's proposal to introduce new upload filtering mandates for Internet platforms , or its equally misguided plans to impose a new link tax on those who publish snippets from news stories, you should know that the end game is close at hand. The LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee is the last committee of the European Parliament that is due to vote on its opinion on the so-called "Digital Single Market" proposals this Thursday October 5, before the proposals return to their home committee of the Parliament (the JURI or Legal Affairs Committee) for the preparation of a final draft.

The Confused Thinking Behind the Upload Filtering Mandate

The Commission's rationale for the upload filtering mandate seems to be that in order to address unwelcome behavior online (in this case, copyright infringement), you have to not only make that behavior illegal, but you also have to make it impossible . The same rationale also underpins other similar notice and stay-down schemes, such as one that already exists in Italy ; they are meant to stop would-be copyright infringement in its tracks by preventing presumptively-infringing material from being uploaded to begin with, thereby preventing it from being downloaded by anyone else.

But this kind of prior restraint on speech or behavior isn't commonly applied to citizens in any other area of their lives. You car isn't speed-limited so that it's impossible for you to exceed the speed limit. Neither does your telephone contain a bugging device that makes it impossible for you to slander your neighbor. Why is copyright treated so differently, that it requires not only that actual infringements be dealt with (Europe's existing DMCA-like notice and takedown system already provides for this), but that predicted future infringements also be prevented?

More importantly, what about the rights of those whose uploaded content is flagged as being copyright-infringing, when it really isn't? The European Commission's own research, in a commissioned report that they attempted to bury , suggests that the harm to copyright holders from copyright infringement is much less than has been often assumed. At the very least, this has to give us pause before adopting new extreme copyright enforcement measures that will impact users' human rights.

Even leaving aside the human impact of the upload filter, European policymakers should also be concerned about the impact of the mandate on small businesses and startups. A market-leading tool required to implement upload filtering just for audio files would cost a medium-sized file hosting company between $10,000 to $25,000 per month in license fees alone. In the name of copyright enforcement, European policymakers would give a market advantage to entrenched large companies at the expense of smaller local companies and startups.

The Link Tax Proposal is Also Confused

The link tax proposal is also based on a false premise. But if you are expecting some kind of doctrinally sound legal argument for why a new link-tax ought to inhere in news publishers, you will be sorely disappointed. Purely and simply, the proposal is founded on the premise that because news organizations are struggling to maintain their revenues in the post-millennial digital media space, and because Internet platforms are doing comparatively better, it is politically expedient that the latter industry be made to subsidize the former. There's nothing more coherent behind this proposal than that kind of base realpolitik.

But the proposal doesn't even work on that level. In fact, we agree that news publishers are struggling. We just don't think that taxing those who publish snippets of news articles will do anything to help them. Indeed, the fact that small news publishers have rejected the link tax proposal , and that previous implementations of the link tax in Spain and Germany were dismal failures , tells you all that you need to know about whether taxing links would really be good for journalism.

So as these two misguided and harmful proposals make their way through the LIBE committee this week, it's time to call an end to this nonsense. Digital rights group OpenMedia has launched a click-to-call tool that you can use, available in English , French , German , Spanish , and Polish . If you're a European citizen, the tool will call your representative on the LIBE committee, and if you don't have an MEP, it calls the committee chair, Claude Moraes. As the counter clicks closer to midnight on these regressive and cynical copyright measures, it's more important than ever for individual users like you to be heard.

Update: Delayed

11th October 2017. From OpenMedia

openmedia logo With only 48 hours notice we received word that the vote had been delayed. Why? The content censorship measures have become so controversial that MEPs decided that they needed more work to improve them, before they would be ready to go vote.

There's never been a better time to call your MEP about these rules. This week they are back in their offices and ready to start thinking with a fresh head. The delay means we have even more time to say no to content censorship, and no to the Link Tax. With so many people speaking up, it's clear our opponents are rattled. Now we must keep up the pressure.

Call your MEP now

 

  Score to settle? Give us a call...we'll send the boys round...

An online hate crime reporting centre is being set up so that easily offended people can order police action against their critics and mockers


Link Here 10th October 2017

police npcc logoHome Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national hub to tackle online hate crime.

It will be run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) with the aim of ensuring that online cases are managed effectively and efficiently.

The hub will receive complaints through Truevision, the police website for reporting hate crime, following which they will be assessed and assigned to the local force for investigation. Specialist officers will provide case management and support and advice to victims of online hate crime.

Its functions will include combining duplicate reports, trying to identify perpetrators, referring appropriate cases to online platforms hosting relevant content, providing evidence for local recording and response, and updating the complainant on progress. It will also provide intelligence to the National Intelligence Model, the police database that gathers intelligence on a range of crimes.

The Home Office said the hub will ensure all online cases are properly investigated and will help to increase prosecutions for online hate crimes. It should also simplify processes and help to prevent any duplication in investigations.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected.

The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse. With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished.

The hub is expected to be operational before the end of the year.

 

  Amber Rudd under fire for demanding more extreme internet censorship...

The trouble with politicians claiming that censorship is the answer, is that when the censorship inevitably fails to solve the problem, they can never admit fallibility, and so their only answer is to censor more


Link Here 5th October 2017
amber ruddHome secretary Amber Rudd used her keynote speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester to announce new laws, which would see anyone caught repeatedly watching extremist content on the internet to face up to 15 years jail.

At present laws prohibiting material that could be useful to terrorists only apply to hardcopy or downloaded material . They do not apply to material that is not actually in one's possession.

Security and digital rights experts have dumped on the home secretary's proposal for the new laws, calling the move incredibly dangerous. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said:

This is incredibly dangerous. Journalists, anti-terror campaigns and others may need to view extremist content, regularly and frequently.

People tempted towards extremism may fear discussing what they have read or seen with anyone in authority. Even potential informants may be dissuaded from coming forward because they are already criminalised.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said:

This shocking proposal would make thoughtcrime a reality in the UK. Blurring the boundary between thought and action like this undermines the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system and will criminalise journalists, academics and many other innocent people.

We have a vast number of laws to tackle terror. The Government's own reviewer of terror legislation Max Hill QC has said repeatedly that we need fewer, not more. A responsible Home Secretary would listen to the evidence -- not grandstand for cheap political points at the expense of our fundamental freedoms.

In terms of how people would be identified -- it's hard for us to say without seeing more detail about the proposals. It's likely identifying people would mean intrusive surveillance measures like those in the Investigatory Powers Act. In terms of enforceability -- it's likely to be really difficult because so many people will be caught up who have a legitimate reason and will then run that defence.

Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the security think tank RUSI, told BuzzFeed News that Rudd's proposal lacked specific detail and ran the risk of criminalising parts of some newspapers:

The risk is that [Rudd] runs into the same problems as her predecessor, Theresa May, did in 2015, when she sought to ban 'extremism', Joshi said. These are broad and nebulous terms, and they require very careful definition in order to avoid curbing legitimate free speech.

Otherwise we would risk criminalising some of the material that appears in certain mainstream newspaper columns.

Amber Rudd also decided to bang on about prohibiting encryption, even rather haplessly admitting that she did not understand who it worked.

Again campaigners were not impressed. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, noted:

Amber Rudd needs to be realistic and clear about what she wants. It is no better saying she wishes to deny criminals the use of encryption than to say she wishes to deny them access to gravity. And if she succeeds in pushing them off major platforms, terrorists may end up being harder to detect.

Lib Dem Ed Davey also weighed in:

Encryption keeps us all secure online. It allows businesses to operate and thrive securely. Any weakening of encryption will ultimately make us all less safe. For if you weaken encryption, you run the risk of letting in the bad guys

But this Conservative government can only see things in black and white -- ignoring the realities of technology. The Home Secretary's key note speech called on tech giants to work together and, with government, to take down extremist content faster than ever before. My party completely support her in that mission. The only way we will defeat this scourge is to band together -- exchange information, invest in new technologies and present a united front.

 

  Who'd want to be a part of a country like that?...

Catalonian voters weren't only brutalised by Spanish police they were also attacked by Spanish internet censors


Link Here 3rd October 2017

Spanish flagThe ruthless efficiency with which the Spanish government censored the Internet ahead of the referendum on Catalonian independence foreshadowed the severity of its crackdown at polling places on October 1 . We have previously written about one aspect of that censorship; the raid of the .cat top-level domain registry . But there was much more to it than that, and many of the more than 140 censored domains and Internet services continue to be blocked today.

It began with the seizure of the referendum.cat domain, the official referendum website, on September 13 by the Guardia Civil (Spanish military police), pursuant to a warrant issued by the Supreme Court of Catalonia. Over the ensuring days this order was soon extended to a number of other and unofficial mirrors of the website, such as ref1oct.cat , ref1oct.eu , which were seized if they were hosted at a .cat domain, and blocked by ISPs if they were not. (The fact that Spanish ISPs already blocked websites such as the Pirate Bay under court order enabled the blocking of additional websites to be rolled out swiftly.)

One of these subsequent censorship orders, issued on September 23 , was especially notable in that it empowered the Guardia Civil to block not only a list of named websites, but also any future sites with content related to content about the referendum, publicized on any social network by a member of the Catalonian Government. This order accelerated the blocking of further websites without any further court order. These apparently included the censorship of non-partisan citizen collectives (e.g. empaperem.cat ) and other non-profit organizations ( assemblea.cat , webdelsi.cat , alerta.cat ), and campaign websites by legal political parties ( prenpartit.cat ).

On Friday a separate court order was obtained requiring Google to remove a voting app from the Google Play app store. Similar to the September 23 order, the order also required Google to remove any other apps developed by the same developer. Those violating such orders by setting up mirrors, reverse proxies, or alternative domains for blocked content were summoned to court and face criminal charges . One of these activists also had his GitHub and Google accounts seized.

On the day of the referendum itself, the Internet was shut down at polling places in an effort to prevent votes from being transmitted to returning officers.

Throughout this unrest, a group of activists sharing the Twitter account @censura1oct has been verifying the blocks from multiple ISPs, and sharing information about the technical measures used. All of the censorship measures that were put in place in the leadup to the referendum appear to remain in place today, though we don't know for how much longer. The Spanish government no doubt hopes that its repression of political speech in Catalonia will be forgotten if the censored sites come back online quickly. We need to ensure that that isn't the case.

 The Spanish government's censorship of online speech during the Catalonian referendum period is so wildly disproportionate and overbroad, that its violation of these instruments seems almost beyond dispute.

 

 Update: Hate speech and anything else the authorities don't like...

New law comes into force in Germany requiring social media to delete 'hate speech' within 24 hours


Link Here 2nd October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany flagGermany's new internet censorship law came into force on 1st October. The law nominally targets 'hate speech', but massively high penalties coupled with ridiculously short time scales allowed to consider the issues, mean that the law ensures that anything the authorities don't like will have to be immediately censored...just in case.

Passed earlier this summer, the law will financially penalize social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, if they don't remove hate speech, as per its definition in Germany's current criminal code within 24 hours. They will be allowed up to a week to decide for comments that don't fall into the blatant hate speech category. The top fine for not deleting hate speech within 24 hours is 50 million euro though that would be for repeatedly breaking the law, not for individual cases.

Journalists, lawyers, and free-speech advocates have been voicing their concerns about the new law for months. They say that, to avoid fines, Facebook and others will err on the side of caution and just delete swathes of comments, including ones that are not illegal. They worry that social media platforms are being given the power to police and effectively shut down people's right to free opinion and free speech in Germany.

The German Journalists Association (DJV) is calling on journalists and media organizations to start documenting all deletions of their posts on social media as of today. The borders of free speech must not be allowed to be drawn by profit-driven businesses, said DJV chairman Frank 3cberall in a recent statement.

Reporters Without Borders also expressed their strong opposition to the law when it was drafted in May, saying it would contribute to the trend to privatize censorship by delegating the duties of judges to commercial online platforms -- as if the internet giants can replace independent and impartial courts.

 

 Offsite Article: An army of at least 2 million internet censors...


Link Here 2nd October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
chinese armies In a glass tower in a trendy part of China's eastern city of Tianjin, hundreds of young people sit in front of computer screens, scouring the internet for videos and messages that run counter to Communist Party doctrine

See article from japantimes.co.jp

 

  Hateful censorship law...

European backs off from EU wide laws forcing social media websites to remove content as specified by state authorities


Link Here 30th September 2017
european commission logoVera Jourova, the EU's commissioner for justice, is resisting calls to follow Theresa May's censorship lead and legislate to fine internet companies who fail to take down anything deemed hate speech.

Vera Jourova condemned Facebook as a highway for hatred, but the former Czech minister said she was not yet ready to promote EU-wide legislation similar to that being pursued in the UK, France and Germany. I would never say they [the UK, France and Germany] are wrong, but we all have the responsibility to react to this challenge with necessary and proportionate reaction, she told the Guardian.

In Britain, May is demanding that internet companies remove hateful content , in particular that aligned to terror organisations, within two hours of being discovered, or face financial sanctions. Under a law due to come into effect next month in Germany, social media companies face fines of up to £43m if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.

The commission is instead offering further guidance to internet companies about how they improve their record by complying with a voluntary code of conduct drawn up last year and so far adopted by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

 Updated: Censorship max...

China's internet censor hands out maximum fine to companies not censoring enough


Link Here 28th September 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

emblemofchina logoChinese internet censors have handed down maximum fines to the operators of three major social-media platforms in the country for failing to deal with pornography, violence and other banned content on their sites. The affected platforms are Baidu's online forum Tieba, microblogging site Weibo and Tencent's massively popular social app WeChat.

The Cyberspace Administration of China issued a notice saying the companies were fined for failing to fulfill their management duties in dealing with pornographic and violent content, as well as information that promotes ethnic hatred.

Separately, Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp seemed to be functioning properly after it earlier appeared to have been blocked again on the mainland.  However WhatsApp was totally blocked again a few days later.

In recent months, China has raised the pressure on the country's internet space in what some say is an attempt to exert control in the lead up to the Communist Party Congress next month.

Update: Weibo recruits an army of snitches

28th September 2017 See  article from sixthtone.com

Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo has said that it wants to hire a team of social media vigilantes to help identify and stamp out supposedly 'inappropriate' online content. The company said the scheme was designed to strengthen supervision of netizens and to more effectively rid the platform of what it referred to as pornographic, illegal, and harmful information.

Those selected for what appear to be part-time roles will be compensated for their efforts if they achieve certain monthly targets, such as reporting at least 200 valid cases of inappropriate content. These supervisors will be given VIP membership, paid 200 yuan ($30) in online credits, and may qualify to receive a special orange electronic badge displayed on their Weibo accounts.

For social media sleuths whose prowess at sniffing out undesirable content ranks them among the company's top 10 supervisors, the rewards will be even greater, potentially including Apple smartphones and laptops.

Weibo said it was introducing the program in response to guidelines issued by the Beijing office of the Cyberspace Administration of China. On Monday, the same office announced that it had fined Weibo and other online platforms for neglecting to prevent users from spreading pornographic content and ethnic hate speech.

 

 Update: Facebook in the middle...

Censorship is becoming a little political in the struggle between Russia and the US


Link Here 27th September 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logoRussia will block access to Facebook next year if the websites refuses to comply with a law requiring websites to store personal data of Russian citizens on Russian servers so as to facilitate state snooping. Russia's internet censor, Roskomnadzor, told reporters that either Facebook abides by the law or the social network will cease to work on Russian territory.

Roskomnadzor blocked Russian access to LinkedIn last November as a result of the social media company being found guilty of violating the same data storage law. Since then, foreign internet companies have been under pressure to comply or risk losing their service in the country. Twitter has told Roskomnadzor that it aims to localise the personal data of its users by mid-2018. Companies including Google and Alibaba have already complied .

Meanwhile on the other side of the iron curtain, Facebook said it will turn over to the United States Congress Russian-linked ads that may have been intended to sway the 2016 US election. The social network revealed that it identified around 500 fake accounts with ties to Russia that purchased $100,000 worth of ads during the campaign, as well as $50,000 ad purchases from Russian accounts.

We support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

 

 Update: Korean government blasts Tumblr...

Tumblr rejects 22,000 censorship requests from South Korea's internet censor


Link Here 25th September 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in South Korea...Repressive new internet censorship law
tumblr 2012 logoSouth Korea's internet censor made a large amount of censorship requests to the social network Tumblr but these were turned down on the grounds that the 'offending' posts did not actually violate Tumblr's policies.

Tumblr received 22,468 requests from the Korean government from January to June to delete posts related to prostitution and porn.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), the country's internet censor, sent 30,200 requests to several internet companies to delete posts related to prostitution and porn. Requests to Tumblr accounted for over two-thirds, totalling 22,468. By comparison, Twitter received 1,771, Instagram 12, and Facebook 5.

Tumblr rejected the requests to censor adult content saying that it had no physical presence in South Korea and was not subject to local laws. It also said it allows wide-range freedom of expression on its service. The company also said posts reported by KCSC didn't violate its policy.

 

 Offsite Article: 68 Things You Cannot Say on China's Internet...


Link Here 25th September 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
China flag An article outlining many of the new censorship rules restricting internet content creators

See article from nytimes.com

 

  Nowhere to hide...

Facebook to snoop on users' location whilst out shopping


Link Here 24th September 2017
Facebook logoFacebook is tracking what shops you visit offline to target you with ads online. Facebook has brought in new tools for advertisers that will tell businesses whether you've been to one of their real-life shops or at least for those stupidly sharing their location with the Facebook app.

Select businesses that are eligible for store visits reporting can now also create custom audiences made up of people who have recently visited their store, Facebook said in a blog post. Some of the companies already involved in this are US department store, Macy's and fast food shop KFC.

Facebook is not the first tech company to track the whereabouts of its customers offline in this way. Google's Store Sales Measurement scheme allows the tech giant to track customer credit-card transactions -- both online and within brick-and-mortar shops.

 

 Update: So what are the chances that this will have any measurable effect on terrorism?...

May calls on website services to remove terrorist content within 2 hours


Link Here 21st September 2017  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

2 hour timerTheresa May is to urge internet companies to take down extremist content being shared by terrorist groups within two hours, during a summit with the French president and the Italian prime minister.

Home Office analysis shows that Isis shared 27,000 links to extremist content in the first five months of the 2017 and, once shared, the material remained available online for an average of 36 hours. The government would like that reduced to two hours, and ultimately they are urging companies to develop technology to spot material early and prevent it being shared in the first place.

The issue is of particular concern after last week's attack on a London Underground train at Parsons Green, and follows a British thinktank report, which found that online jihadist propaganda attracts more clicks in Britain than anywhere else in Europe.

Extremist material is shared very rapidly when it is first published in what experts call a starburst effect: more than two-thirds of shares take place within the first two hours, so reducing the amount of time the material is visible can drastically squeeze the number of users who see it.

A government source noted that once an internet user has shown interest in extremist content, the web giants' algorithms keep pushing similar material towards them online. We want them to break the echo chambers, he said.

 

 Update: Peaceful religion banned in China...

Euphemisms for criticism of islam are banned by Chinese social media


Link Here 21st September 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Weibo logoAllegedly Islamophobic terms used by Chinese Internet users to stigmatize Muslims have been censored by authorities on Chinese social media amid a backlash against national policies considered overly favorable to Muslim minorities.

Searches for green religion and peaceful religion , often used by Internet users to refer to Islam and to circumvent censorship of online speech, showed no results on China's Weibo microblog. Posts containing the phrases cannot be posted for violations of Weibo's complaints related rules. Worse insults against Islam are also blocked in Weibo's search engine.

Discontent and fears of Muslims have been on the rise on China's Internet in recent years. There is unease at Chinese authorities' discrimination policies in favour of ethnic minorities, especially Muslim groups.

To achieve national unity and social stability , ethnic minorities including Hui and Uyghur people enjoy favorable policies including receiving extra points in China's college entrance examinations, more lenient family planning policies and securing a certain ratio of positions in government. The favorable policies are aimed at helping ethnic minorities who lag behind in economic and educational development. They are intended to accelerate development toward greater ethnic unity, Xiong said.

 

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