Internet News

 2016: May



  Betting on a state monopoly...

Quebec starts censoring online gambling sites to protect its monopoly on betting


Link Here 29th May 2016
loto quebec logoQuébec's government-run lottery agency, Loto-Québec, is forging ahead with a plan to block roughly 2,200 online-gambling sites following last week's passage of the controversial Bill 74, which authorizes the state-run lottery to compile such a blacklist and to assess heavy fines against the province's ISPs in case of noncompliance.

The province's censorship plan, which has been heavily assailed as being unconstitutional and in direct violation of Canada's federal communications laws, is likely to face stiff legal challenges in the coming weeks and months. Bill 74, which is actually Québec's omnibus budget legislation, proved to be the vehicle through which Québec's lottery forced through the changes it desired -- a way to eradicate competition. 

Whether a blacklist will be delivered by Loto-Québec to the province's ISPs in June, with an accompanying order to enforce the new law, remains uncertain. Loto-Québec is early in a 30-day period in which it is mandated to draw up the blacklist's targets, meaning that attempted domain blocking won't begin, at the earliest, until the latter half of June.

Loto-Quebec weakly claim that blacklisting needs to be done as a "public health" service for Québec' citizens. Of course, Loto-Québec hopes to get healthier as well... financially, that is. Loto-Québec openly admits that this is all about the dollars; as of now, the official Québec lottery is estimated to have only 10% of the province's "real" online-gambling market, and the lottery is willing to go the "Great Firewall of China" route to get the remaining 90% and thus the online monopoly it craves.

 

 Commented: More suffocating EU legislation...

Revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD)


Link Here 27th May 2016  full story: AVMS...EU law on internet video censorship

european commission logoA new legislative proposal amending the AVMSD has been adopted by the European Commission on 25 May 2016. The reform brings the Directive in line with the new realities. Share A media framework for the 21st century

Viewers, and particularly minors, are moving from traditional TV to the online world, while the regulatory burden is much higher on TV. The Directive therefore introduces flexibility when restrictions only applicable to TV are no longer justified. At the same time, it ensures that consumers will be sufficiently protected in the on-demand and Internet world. This is done while making sure that innovation will not be stifled.

The idea is to achieve a balance between competitiveness and consumer protection.

What's new?

The main new elements of the proposal are summarised below:

  1. The Country of origin principle (COO)

    COO is a cornerstone of the Directive . It will be maintained and facilitated by:

    • simplifying the rules which determine the country having jurisdiction over a provider,

    • establishing an obligation on Member States to inform about what providers are under their jurisdiction and maintaining an up-to-date database to ensure transparency,

    • clarifying cooperation procedures between Member States regarding permissible limitations to COO.
       

  2. Commercial Communications

    The proposed modifications aim at reducing the burden of TV broadcasters while maintaining, and even reinforcing those rules seeking to protect the most vulnerable. For example, the revised AVMSD:

    • maintains the strict 20% limit on advertising time, but gives broadcasters more flexibility as to when ads can be shown,

    • it allows more flexibility in putting product placement and sponsorship,

    • it encourages the adoption of self- and co-regulation for the existing rules seeking to protect the most vulnerable (alcohol advertising, fatty food, minors, etc.).
       

  3. Promotion of European works

    The proposed modifications aim at enhancing the promotion of European works by:

    • allowing MS to impose financial contributions to providers of on-demand services established in other MS (but only on the turnover generated in the imposing country),

    • putting on-demand players under the obligation to promote European content to a limited level by imposing a minimum quota obligations (20% share of the audiovisual offer of their catalogues) and an obligation to give prominence to European works in their catalogues,

    • low turnover companies, thematic services and small and micro enterprises are exempted from these requirements.
       

  4. Prohibition of hate speech

    The grounds for prohibiting hate speech will be aligned to those of the Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia ( Decision 2008/913/JHA ). This prohibits incitement to violence and hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to sex, race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
     

  5. Protection of Minors

    The proposed modifications aim at simplifying the obligation to protect minors against harmful content. It now says that everything that 'may be harmful' should be restricted on all services. The most harmful content shall be subject to the strictest measures, such as PIN codes and encryption. This will apply also to on-demand services.

    Member States shall ensure that audiovisual media service providers provide sufficient information to viewers about harmful content to minors. For this purpose, Member States may use a system of descriptors indicating the nature of the content of an audiovisual media service.
     

  6. Platforms

    Video-sharing platforms will be included in the scope of the AVMSD only when it comes to combat hate speech and dissemination of harmful content to minors.

    Platforms which organise and tag a large quantity of videos will have to protect minors from harmful content and to protect all citizens from incitement to hatred, based on new EU-specific terms in the revised AVMSD. Fully in line with the ecommerce Directive , this builds on existing efforts by the industry and will be implemented by co-regulation.
     

  7. The Audiovisual Regulators

    The independence of audiovisual regulators will be enshrined into EU law by ensuring that they are legally distinct and functionally independent from the industry and government (eg they do not seek nor take instructions), operate in a transparent and accountable manner which is set out in a law and have sufficient powers.
     

  8. ERGA (The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services)

    ERGA will have a bigger role in shaping and preserving the internal market, for example in assessing EU co-regulatory codes and will take part in the procedures derogating from the country of origin.

    The role of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) will be set out in EU legislation.

What's next?

Once adopted by the European Commission, the legislative proposal is sent to the European Parliament and to the Council.

Offsite Comment: Onus on Companies

cdt logo 27th May 2016. See  article from cdt.org

There are positive messages in the document, but also some problematic ones. CDT has consistently pushed back on proposals that would endanger the internet as an enabler of free expression, public debate, and access to information.

...See full article from cdt.org

The Centre for Democracy and Technology describes itself as:

CDT is a champion of global online civil liberties and human rights, driving policy outcomes that keep the Internet open, innovative, and free.

 

 Offsite Article: Age verification: Credit cards, classism and social exclusion...


Link Here 25th May 2016  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
why would A response to government plans to try and ban internet porn. By Pandora Blake

See article from pandorablake.com

 

 Update: Heroic Google vs Villainous France...

Google fights France's demand that 'right to be forgotten' censorship orders should apply worldwide


Link Here 20th May 2016
Google logoGoogle has appealed to France's highest court after the country's internet censor ordered it to delete some of its search results globally.

In 2015, the Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) said Google should respect French right to be forgotten rulings worldwide. Companies offering services to European citizens must comply with the ruling, even if their websites are not hosted in Europe.

But Google said the ruling could lead to abuse by less open and democratic countries. The company is now appealing against a 100,000-euro (£76,000) CNIL fine. Google says results can end up removed even when those links point to truthful and lawfully published information like newspaper articles or official government websites .

Google currently blocks all right to be forgotten content from all searches for users with a European IP address. Viewers from outside the EU and Europeans using non European proxies or VPNs can still access that links censored in Europe.

Google argues that a French authority such as the CNIL should not impose measures outside of the nation's borders . Kent Walker, the company's general counsel said:

For hundreds of years, it has been an accepted rule of law that one country should not have the right to impose its rules on the citizens of other countries,

In an open letter published in French newspaper Le Monde, Google said it had already received requests from countries to block content worldwide that was illegal locally. The letter said:

If French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries - perhaps less open and democratic - start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach?

This order could lead to a global race to the bottom, harming access to information that is perfectly lawful to view in one's own country.

This is not just a hypothetical concern. We have received demands from governments to remove content globally on various grounds.

We have resisted, even if that has sometimes led to the blocking of our services.

According to AFP, Google expects the Council of State, France's highest court, will take at least a year to review its appeal.

 

 Update: The Sarawak corruption report...

Malaysian government pushes a new internet censorship law


Link Here 20th May 2016
meidum com logoEarlier in the year the Medium.com website was blocked in Malaysia , after a publication it hosted, called the Sarawak Report, had detailed corruption in the Malaysian government,

the government first blocked access to the Sarawak Report's own website, and then to all of Medium after Sarawak started reposting all of its articles there.

Now the internet censorship is snowballing as the government is pushing a new law that gives the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), much more power to silence criticism online . And a big part of this is removing the intermediary liability protections that service providers have.

Without strong intermediary liability protections, websites will now have very strong incentive to immediately block or take down any content that might displease the government, for fear that leaving it up will lead to legal consequences.

In Malaysia, a coalition of civil society/public interest groups are fighting back against this new law, and trying to spread the word about its possible impact.

 

 Update: Offensive against Facebook...

French jewish groups set to launch legal action against Facebook for not censoring enough posts


Link Here 17th May 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
Facebook logoThree jewsih organisations in France say they are planning legal action against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for failing to remove posts that the gorups consider to be hate speech

The French Jewish Students Union (UEJF), SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie say they found 586 posts between 31 March and 10 May that they claim to be offensive. But they claim only a small percentage was taken down.

French law states that racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic content must be removed from websites.

YouTube's side of the argument can be inferred from deciding that the posts did not break their rule:

But from YouTube's side of the argument, they decided not to remove the content when tested against their rules that YouTube does not support content which:

Promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics.

Facebook also decided that the posts did not break their rules and added also that it does allow:

Clear attempts at humour or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack.

Twitter' also decided that complained about posts did not transgress their rules.

 

 Offsite Article: Domain of Control...


Link Here 17th May 2016
cn domain China's new rules may break the internet warns US government

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Searching for blocked searches...


Link Here 17th May 2016
arms of the british governmentjpg logo UK Government threatens Google and Facebook over prated content being readily located using internet search facilities

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 Update: Russian repression is a sure bet...

Russian region of Tartarstan proposes fines for users of gambling websites


Link Here 16th May 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia Tartastan flagTatarstan, a region in the Russian Federation, has proposed a bill that would bring significant fines for users of online gambling websites. The fines would be extended to parents or guardians that allowed their children to use gambling websites as well.

Proposed fines range between 10,000 and 20,000 roubles ($150 - $300) for users of online casinos. The bill also proposes a heftier fine in the sum of 150,000 roubles (approximately $2,300) for landlords that allow gambling on their properties.

Opponents of the bill however note that it is redundant as the current legislation in Russia completely forbids gambling even via the internet with very few exceptions.

 

 Updated: Trending Censorship...

US Senate to investigate Facebook over claims from former Facebook workers who said they routinely suppressed right wing news sources from the 'trending news' list


Link Here 13th May 2016  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logoThe US Senate Commerce Committee has sent Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter requesting that he answer questions about the recent allegations regarding the social media site's Trending Topics feature.

Gizmodo published a report May 3 alleging that Facebook's news curation team intentionally avoids selecting stories to promote from certain news outlets, including World Star Hip Hop, Breitbart and TheBlaze.

The committee request comes the same day comedian and conservative pundit Steven Crowder announced that he has filed a legal motion seeking answers from the social media giant. The motion, posted on the Louder with Crowder talkshow host's website Tuesday, alleges that Crowder's blog was among Facebook's blacklisted sites and that his accounts were unfairly targeted.

In the letter, Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune asks Zuckerberg to make Trending Topics curators available to answer questions about how the feature works. Questions include:

What steps is Facebook taking to investigate claims of politically motivated manipulation of news stories in the Trending Topics section? and If such claims are substantiated, what steps will Facebook take to hold the responsible individuals accountable?

Thune also asks that the Trending Topics team provide a list of all news stories removed from or injected into the Trending Topics section since January 2014.

Update: Trending bollox, it's just news selected by Facebook

13th May 2016. See  article from theguardian.com

Leaked documents show how Facebook , now the biggest news distributor on the planet, relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be for the 1 billion people who visit the social network every day.

The documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its trending module headlines -- the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook's desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson , Missouri, in users' feeds.

The guidelines show human intervention -- and therefore editorial decisions -- at almost every stage of Facebook's trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people:

 

 Update: Social morality ruined by bananas...

China bans erotic banana eating on streamed web cams


Link Here 7th May 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
trump erotic bananaEating a banana in an erotic manner while being broadcast on live-streams has been banned in China. Wearing stockings and suspenders during a live-stream is also now prohibited.

Hosts of the live-streaming sites are now required to monitor all their output every minute of the day, but it is not clear how they will be able to enforce the ban.

The move comes a month after the Ministry of Culture announced it was investigating several live-streaming sites, including Douyu, Panda.tv, YY, Zhanqi TV, and Huya, for allegedly hosting pornographic or violent content that harms social morality .

The move has bemused many social media users, with some wondering how authorities decide what is seductive . How do they decide what's provocative when eating a banana? one person asked, according to the BBC . Another wondered: Can male live-streamers still eat them?

 

 Update: Link Tax...

More Brexit inducing crap law from the EU to give big media companies copyright control over links to their content


Link Here 5th May 2016  full story: Copyrighting hyperlinks...EU propose copyright extension to hyperlinks
EU flagThe OpenMedia campaign group writes:

For over 8 months we've been following the EU Commission's dangerous attempts to impose a new link tax on news content. But today we're writing about a stunning new development we wanted to make sure you heard:

The European Commission have launched a special process to push forward a new, bigger, broader, version of the hyperlinking fee.

EU decision-makers and lobbyists are calling it a neighbouring right, a snippet tax, or ancillary copyright. But we know what it is: a tax on linking.

If they succeed the link tax could make some of your favourite content virtually disappear from search engines.

We've seen this bad idea before, but as MEP Julia Reda put it, this is a "broader and badder version" of the previous push for a Link Tax. 1

Anti-innovation politicians are also talking about a special YouTube tax 2 and still others are pushing the idea of a user fee or a search fee! 3

These terrible ideas will restrict freedom of expression and access to information, but they still want to push ahead.

European decision-makers are in the process of writing a new copyright law and lobbyists are pushing for something called "ancillary copyright".  If the lobbyists succeed, copyright rules will be extended to links and the text that accompanies them -- giving legacy publishers the right to charge fees for linking to content.

If this sounds familiar it's because late last year people like you in the OpenMedia community overwhelmed EU decision-makers 4 by flooding their public consultation on the Link Tax proposal.

The Internet community has said no, 5 European Parliamentarians have said no, 6 many publishers themselves have said no. 7 Enough is enough already!

If we act now we have a chance to put a stop to this idea before it gets out of control.

Sign our statement to say NO to the link tax.

 

 Update: First strike...

French parliament surprisingly votes against Hadopi law enabling 3 strikes copyright enforcement


Link Here 3rd May 2016  full story: File Sharing in france...Early action against internet file sharing not entirely successful

assemblee nationaleThe French three-strikes anti-piracy law Hadopi is heralded by copyright holders as an effective way to curb piracy. However, in France the legislation has often been criticized and in a surprise move against the will of the Government, the National Assembly has now voted to dismantle it in a few years.

France is seen as the pioneer of so-called three strikes anti-piracy legislation, in which repeated file-sharing offenders face fines of up to 1,500 euros. Since 2010 the French Hadopi agency has handed out millions of warning notices . A few thousand account holders received more than three notices, of which a few hundred of the worst cases were referred for prosecution.

Copyright holders around the world have cited Hadopi as one of the success stories, hoping to establish similar legislation elsewhere. However, in France the law hasn't been without controversy and in a total surprise the lower house of the French Parliament has now voted in favor of killing it.

Interestingly, the vote late last week went down under quite unusual circumstances. In a nearly empty chamber, the French National Assembly voted to end the Hadopi institution and law in 2022, Next Inpact reports . What's noteworthy is that only 7 of the 577 Members of Parliament were present at the vote, and the amendment passed with four in favor and three against.

The decision goes against the will of the sitting Government, which failed to have enough members present at the vote. While it's being seen as quite an embarrassment, the amendment still has to pass the senate, which seems unlikely without Government support.

The coup, orchestrated by the Green party has caused quite a media stir, not least because French President Francois Hollande called for the end of Hadopi before his election, a position he later retracted.

Maybe another theory as to why the French government may be keen to accidently drop the law. With a new emphasis on terrorism prevention and snooping, it can't really be helpful that large numbers of people adopt encrypted proxies and VPNs primarily to evade Hadopi   copyright enforcement.

 

  Identified as repressive...

EU commissioner proposes that Europeans should use an Identity Card to logon in for internet services


Link Here 1st May 2016
EU flag

Estonian commissioner Andrus Ansip has re-introduced one of his favourite suggestions: using national ID cards to log in to online services: Online platforms need to accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as electronic ID cards, citizen cards, bank cards or mobile IDs .

He claims that this is nothing to do with making mass surveillance easier, its apparently just to help users with their password management.

Estonia introduced online ID in 2012 and it is claimed that subjects are happy with it too.

 

 Update: Worldwide powers enabling US authorities to hack into your computer or phone...

A little known US Congress committee has proposed new hacking powers for government snoopers


Link Here 1st May 2016
US SenateThe EEF is a campaign group supporting people's rights in the digital world. The group writes:

The US government hacking into phones and seizing computers remotely? It's not the plot of a dystopian blockbuster summer movie. It's a proposal from an obscure committee that proposes changes to court procedures--and if we do nothing, it will go into effect in December.

The proposal comes from the advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States. The amendment would update Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, creating a sweeping expansion of law enforcement's ability to engage in hacking and surveillance. The Supreme Court just passed the proposal to Congress, which has until December 1 to disavow the change or it becomes the rule governing every federal court across the country. This is part of a statutory process through which federal courts may create new procedural rules, after giving public notice and allowing time for comment, under a "rules enabling act." 1

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure set the ground rules for federal criminal prosecutions. The rules cover everything from correcting clerical errors in a judgment to which holidays a court will be closed on --all the day-to-day procedural details that come with running a judicial system.

The key word here is "procedural." By law, the rules and proposals are supposed to be procedural and must not change substantive rights. But the amendment to Rule 41 isn't procedural at all. It creates new avenues for government hacking that were never approved by Congress.

The proposal would grant a judge the ability to issue a warrant to remotely access, search, seize, or copy data when the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means or when the media are on protected computers that have been damaged without authorization and are located in five or more districts. It would grant this authority to any judge in any district where activities related to the crime may have occurred.

To understand all the implications of this rule change, let's break this into two segments.

The first part of this change would grant authority to practically any judge to issue a search warrant to remotely access, seize, or copy data relevant to a crime when a computer was using privacy-protective tools to safeguard one's location. Many different commonly used tools might fall into this category. For example, people who use Tor, folks running a Tor node, or people using a VPN would certainly be implicated. It might also extend to people who deny access to location data for smartphone apps because they don't feel like sharing their location with ad networks. It could even include individuals who change the country setting in an online service, like folks who change the country settings of their Twitter profile in order to read uncensored Tweets.

There are countless reasons people may want to use technology to shield their privacy. From journalists communicating with sources to victims of domestic violence seeking information on legal services, people worldwide depend on privacy tools for both safety and security. Millions of people who have nothing in particular to hide may also choose to use privacy tools just because they're concerned about government surveillance of the Internet, or because they don't like leaving a data trail around haphazardly.

If this rule change is not stopped, anyone who is using any technological means to safeguard their location privacy could find themselves suddenly in the jurisdiction of a prosecutor-friendly or technically-naïve judge, anywhere in the country.

The second part of the proposal is just as concerning. It would grant authorization to a judge to issue a search warrant for hacking, seizing, or otherwise infiltrating computers that may be part of a botnet . This means victims of malware could find themselves doubly infiltrated: their computers infected with malware and used to contribute to a botnet, and then government agents given free rein to remotely access their computers as part of the investigation. Even with the best of intentions, a government agent could well cause as much or even more harm to a computer through remote access than the malware that originally infected the computer. Malicious actors may even be able to hijack the malware the government uses to infiltrate botnets, because the government often doesn't design its malware securely . Government access to the computers of botnet victims also raises serious privacy concerns, as a wide range of sensitive, unrelated personal data could well be accessed during the investigation. This is a dangerous expansion of powers, and not something to be granted without any public debate on the topic.

Make no mistake: the Rule 41 proposal implicates people well beyond U.S. borders. This update expands the jurisdiction of judges to cover any computer user in the world who is using technology to protect their location privacy or is unwittingly part of a botnet. People both inside and outside of the United States should be equally concerned about this proposal.

The change to Rule 41 isn't merely a procedural update. It significantly expands the hacking capabilities of the United States government without any discussion or public debate by elected officials. If members of the intelligence community believe these tools are necessary to advancing their investigations, then this is not the path forward. Only elected members of Congress should be writing laws, and they should be doing so in a matter that considers the privacy, security, and civil liberties of people impacted.

Rule 41 seeks to sidestep the legislative process while making sweeping sacrifices in our security. Congress should reject the proposal completely.