Theresa May has urged world leaders to do more to censor online extremism, saying the fight against so-called Islamic State is moving from
the battlefield to the internet.
Speaking about counter-terrorism at the G7 summit in Sicily, the PM said more pressure should be put on tech companies to remove extreme material and to report such content to the authorities. She led a discussion on how to work together to
prevent the plotting of terrorist attacks online and to stop the spread of hateful extremist ideology on social media.
She said that the industry has a social responsibility to do more to take down harmful content. She acknowledged that the industry has been taking action to remove extremist content, but said it has not gone far enough and needs to do more.
She called for an international forum to develop the means of intervening where danger is detected, and for companies to develop tools which automatically identify and remove harmful material based on what it contains, and who posted it.
Norway is considering introducing uniformed police profiles which would patrol Facebook looking for criminal activity.
Kripos, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public. It would mean police gaining access to closed
groups and interacting with members as they search for evidence of criminal activity.
Police in Norway and elsewhere have previously used fake Facebook profiles to investigate crimes including smuggling alcohol and tobacco.
Lobbyists for Google, Facebook, and other websites are trying to stop the implementation of a proposed law in the US that would strengthen consumer
privacy protections online.
Representative Marsha Blackburn last week proposed a bill that would require broadband providers and websites to obtain users' opt-in consent before they use Web browsing history and application usage history for advertising and other purposes
or before they share that information with other entities. The rule in Blackburn's BROWSER Act is similar to a previous proposal blocked by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump.
Currently the internet industry claims to be self regulating with mechanisms in which websites let visitors opt out of personalized advertising based on browsing history. However these rules do not restrict internet companies from gathering
such intrusive personal information.
Naturally, lobbyists are trying to stop this from taking effect. The Internet Association yesterday issued a statement claiming that the bill will somehow diminish consumer experience and will stifle innovation. The Internet Association's
founding members include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, eBay, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Reddit, Spotify, Twitter, and about 30 other Web companies.
Thousands of pages of internal documents from Facebook have been leaked, revealing the censorship rules used to identify user content that is
to be censored.
Among the rules detailed in documents obtained by the Guardian are those covering nudity, violence and threats.
A threat to kill the US President would be deleted, but similar remarks against an ordinary person would not be viewed as credible unless further comments showed signs of a plot.
Other rules reveal that videos depicting self-harm are allowed, as long as there exists an opportunity to help the person. Videos of suicide, however, are never allowed.
Film of child and animal abuse (as long as it is non-sexual) can remain in an effort to raise awareness and possibly help those affected.
Aside from footage of actual violence, Facebook must also decide how to respond to threats of it, what they call credible threats of violence. There is an entire rulebook for what is considered credible and what is not. Statements like someone
shoot Trump will be deleted by the website, but comments like let's go beat up fat kids, or I hope someone kills you will not. The leaked documents state that violent threats are most often not credible, until specific statements make it clear
that the threat is no longer simply an expression of emotion but a transition to a plot or design.
Facebook's rules regarding nudity now makes allowance for newsworthy exceptions. like the famous Vietnam War photo of a naked young girl hit by napalm, and for handmade art. Digitally made art showing sexually explicit content is not allowed.
An Austrian appeals court has ordered Facebook to remove political criticism of an Austrian politician. the court ruled that posts calling
Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig a lousy traitor of the people and a corrupt klutz are somehow hate speech.
The ruling by the Austrian court doesn't just require Facebook to delete the offending posts in Austria, but for all users around the world, including any verbatim repostings. That would be an aggressive precedent to set, since Facebook has
historically enforced country-specific speech laws only for local users.
Facebook has removed the posts in Austria, which were posted by a fake account. It has yet to remove the posts globally because it is appealing the case.
American legal experts speaking to The Outline called the ruling troubling, and warned of the potential ramifications Facebook and its users could face as a result. Daphneth Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Stanford
Center for Internet and Society, told The Outline that the ruling sends a signal to other countries that they too can impose their laws on the rest of the world's internet. She asked:
Should Facebook comply globally with Russia's anti-gay laws, or Thailand's laws against insulting the king, or Saudi Arabia's blasphemy laws? Would Austria want those laws to dictate what speech its citizens can share online?
Military authorities in Thailand have warned Facebook to take down content criticising the monarchy, or face legal action.
Facebook has been given until next Tuesday to remove about 130 items from pages viewable in Thailand. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission told the BBC that Facebook had already co-operated in blocking some pages, but
that more than 130 judged to be illegal by the authorities remained visible in Thailand.
Facebook says it does consider requests from governments to block material, and will comply if it breaks local laws.
Any comment critical of the monarchy can result in prosecution under Thailand's strict lese-majeste law, even if the criticism is justified. Those convicted face extreme prison sentences.
Thailand's military government that seized power in Thailand in 2014 has made great efforts to suppress any criticism of the monarchy. Thousands of websites have been blocked, and people caught sharing, or even liking Facebook posts deemed
unflattering to the monarchy have been prosecuted.
The Chinese government has issued new censorship rules extending its repressive control over
online news content.
Companies that publish, share or edit news will need a government licence, and senior editors must be approved by the authorities. Other staff will be required to undergo government training and assessment, and receive official accreditation.
The legislation will bring online news providers into line with traditional news media operating in the country.
From 1 June, when the rules come into force, they will be expected to follow information security protocols , including emergency response measures such as increased vetting following disasters.
The list of providers and platforms covered includes websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant messaging tools and internet broadcasts .
Organisations that do not have a licence will not be allowed to post news or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, or other areas of public interest .
The Digital Economy Bill (DEBill) will require that porn sites verify the age of their users in order to prevent under 18s from viewing pornography. Despite concerns that this will leave porn users vulnerable to hacks and security risks, the
Government has failed to amend the Bill so that privacy is written into the legislation. Instead, Codes of Practice will place the responsibility for protecting people's privacy with porn sites not the companies supplying age verification
Executive Director Jim Killock said:
Age verification is an accident waiting to happen. Despite repeated warnings, parliament has failed to listen to concerns about the privacy and security of people who want to watch legal adult content.
As we saw with the Ashley Madison leaks, the hacking of private information about people's sex lives, has huge repercussions for those involved. The UK government has failed to take responsibility for its proposals and placed the
responsibility for people's privacy into the hands of porn companies.
The Bill will also enable the creation of a censorship regime as the BBFC will be given powers to force ISPs to block legitimate websites without any judicial process. These powers were added to the Bill, when it became apparent that foreign
porn sites could not be compelled to apply age verification. During parliamentary scrutiny, they were extended to include other content, not just pornography, raising further concerns about the threat to free speech.
These new powers will put in place a vast system of censorship which could be applied to tens of thousands of adult websites. The BBFC will be under pressure to censor more and more legal content. This is a serious assault on free speech in
Almost 25,000 ORG supporters signed a petition calling for the Government to reject plans for blocking legal pornography.
The Digital Economy Bill has received the royal assent. Interesting comments and links on Pandora Blake's blog. Apparently a thrilling thirteen parliamentary jobsworths could be arsed to turn up for the final debate in the House of Comics. I
would think it's now in the interest of porn producers, as well as their British customers, to drop any restrictions on access via VPNs and to help UK punters get round any attempted firewall.
Pandora seems to know more about the matter than the 650 political twats together!