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2018: August

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A Telegram from the Courts...

Telegram announces that it will handover IP address and contact details on receipt of a court order


Link Here 30th August 2018
The encrypted messaging app Telegram has published a new privacy policy in which it stated: If Telegram receives a court order that confirms you're a terror suspect, we may disclose your IP address and phone number to the relevant authorities.

So far, this has never happened, the policy noted. When it does, we will include it in a semi-annual transparency report .

In a Telegram post on Tuesday founder Pavel Durov said the policy has been revised to belatedly comply with Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation  (GDPR), and Telegram was reserving the right to comply with court orders.

Regardless of whether we ever use this right, the measure should make Telegram less attractive for those who are engaged in sending out terrorist propaganda here, he noted.

 

 

Don't bother argue against negative speech anymore, just report it and we'll ban it...

Tumblr is firming up its censorship rules and withdrawing from its previously more enlightened approach than most


Link Here 29th August 2018
Tumblr is changing its censorship rules to more explicitly ban hate speech, glorifying violence, and revenge porn. The new rules go into effect on September 10th:

We won't tolerate hate speech

We believe in a free and open internet but we can't ignore that the internet is being exploited by hate groups to organize, recruit, and radicalize with horrifying efficiency. Updating our Community Guidelines and internal procedures is necessary to address a very real threat to members of the Tumblr community.

When it comes to hate speech, we're redrawing the line between what's uncomfortable and what's unacceptable, and have struck 41 words of gray area from this section in the Community Guidelines. It now reads:

Hate Speech: Don't encourage violence or hatred. Don't post content for the purpose of promoting or inciting the hatred of, or dehumanizing, individuals or groups based on race, ethnic or national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, disability or disease. If you encounter content that violates our hate speech policies, please report it.

[DELETED: If you encounter negative speech that doesn't rise to the level of violence or threats of violence, we encourage you to dismantle negative speech through argument rather than censorship. That said, if you encounter anything especially heinous, tell us about it.]

Keep in mind that a post might be mean, tasteless, or offensive without necessarily encouraging violence or hatred. In cases like that, you can always block the person who made the post--or, if you're up for it, you can express your concerns to them directly, or use Tumblr to speak up, challenge ideas, raise awareness or generate discussion and debate.

While the deleted language was well-intentioned (and we still need your help reporting hate speech) a post shouldn't have to be "especially heinous" to merit reporting.

We're also banning the glorification of violence and its perpetrators

Not all violence is motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, but the glorification of mass murders like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland could inspire copycat violence. With that in mind, we're revising the Community Guidelines on violent content by adding new language to specifically ban the glorification of violent acts or the perpetrators of those acts:

Violent Content and Threats, Gore, Mutilation: Don't post content that includes violent threats toward individuals or groups--this includes threats of theft, property damage, or financial harm. Don't post violent content or gore just to be shocking. Don't showcase the mutilation or torture of human beings, animals (including bestiality), or their remains. Don't post content that encourages or incites violence, or glorifies acts of violence or the perpetrators.

Lastly, we're eliminating any ambiguity in our zero-tolerance policy on non-consensual sexual images

We're adding a very simple statement (in bold below) to our existing policy on harassment to remove any uncertainty:

Harassment . Don't engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Don't engage in the unwanted sexualization or sexual harassment of others .

Posting sexually explicit photos of people without their consent was never allowed on Tumblr, but with the invention of deepfakes and the proliferation of non-consensual creepshots, we are updating our Community Guidelines to more clearly address new technologies that can be used to humiliate and threaten other people.

 

 

Love Censorship...

Music companies and European journalists in campaign for a massive step up in internet censorship as they see it as helping them to claim more money from the internet giants


Link Here 28th August 2018

In 15 days' time, MEPs will again vote on censorship machines and link tax in copyright proposals of Article 13. The legislation would see platforms such as YouTube compelled to introduce upload filters, to prevent unlicensed content being offered to the public. A new 'Love Music' campaign, bankrolled by powerful industry players, aims to ensure a thumbs-up from MEPs. But the opposition is out, in force.

In 2016, the European Commission announced plans to modernize EU copyright law, something that was to later develop into a worldwide controversy. A major part of the proposal is Article 13, a text that aims to make online services liable for uploaded content unless they take effective and proportionate measures to prevent copyright infringements. The implication is that platforms such as YouTube would be compelled to implement upload filtering and then proactively monitor to prevent future infringing uploads.

The #LOVEMUSIC campaign site asks visitors to add their signature to the Make Internet Fair petition, which calls on EU decision-makers to recognize that platforms like YouTube are involved in reproducing and making our works available under copyright laws and ensure that the safe harbor non-liability regime does not apply to them as it is meant for technical intermediaries only.

While most protests are taking place on the Internet, the platform that will be most affected by Article 13, opponents of the proposed legislation have been urged to gather in public too. Julia Reda MEP previously published details of a day of action to take place yesterday in various locations around Europe, but that will be just the tip of the protest iceberg as September 12th draws closer.

Following their shock defeat in July, major players in the music industry called foul, claiming that the protests had been automated and organized by big tech, something addressed by Reda recently. She wrote:

They're claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies. According to them, Europeans don't actually care about their freedom of expression.

We don't actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests.

To prove these predictions wrong, one of the focal points of the 'NO' campaign is a Change.org petition . At the time of writing it has in excess of 951,000 signatories, with the million target probably just a few days away.

But it is not just the music companies that are 'Love Censorship'. Journalists from 20 countries joined the call for European MPs to approve the censorship proposals. News companies also see the article 13 censorship rules as helping them to claim more money from the internet giants.

An open letter signed by more than 100 prominent journalists from major news outlets warns that the internet companies are fleecing of the media of their rightful revenue was morally and democratically unjustifiable. The letter written by AFP foreign correspondent Sammy Ketz says:

We have become targets and our reporting missions cost more and more. Yet, even though (the media) pay for the content and send the journalists who will risk their lives to produce a trustworthy, thorough and diverse news service, it is not they who reap the profits but the internet platforms, which help themselves without paying a cent.

It is as if a stranger came along and shamelessly snatched the fruits of your labour.

Critics, however, argue the reform will lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms that have become an online hub for creativity, especially YouTube. They say it will also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday internet surfers.

Unfortunately the numbers taking to the street in protests yesterday weren't too great. Between 80 and 150 people came to the protest in Berlin, according to various estimates, but most other events seemed to have fewer than two dozen. Based on photographs shared online, it seems that all of the protests combined drew between 500 and 800 people in total.

It would be foolish to expect a million people to take to the streets over copyright legislation, and the lack of protest doesn't prove that Europeans don't object to Article 13. Certainly, some do. But the actual number seems smaller than hoped.

 

 

Offsite Article: Facebook won't cough up a single pixel about the picture it builds up of your website browsing...


Link Here 27th August 2018
Full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy
Under GPDR requirements for data transparency, Facebook is being challenged to reveal what data it holds on people's website browsing from its Facebook Pixel snooping cookie

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 

Take down the DCMA!...

Copyright holder asks the US Supreme Court to look at whether the DCMA law is achieving enough to protect copyrights


Link Here 26th August 2018

The US Supreme Court has been asked to take a look at a critical piece of internet law that shields ISPs and websites from legal action when their users pirate copyrighted stuff.

Porn studio Ventura Content has asked the court to review the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ( DMCA ) for the first time since it was introduced 20 years ago, arguing that the legislation is outdated and needs reform.

The application comes as the law is being tested nationwide. This week, large internet provider Cox settled out of court on the eve of a long-running and critical trial on the same issue: whether an organization can be held liable when people use its website, service, or platform to illegally access or distribute copyrighted work.

The copyright holders are arguing that websites and ISPs are paying lip-service to anti-piracy laws and failing to fulfill their obligations under DMCA. Under that law, if an ISP or website owner can be shown to be warning users that they are infringing copyright, with the threat of account termination, the businesses are given legal protection against being held liable for copyright infringement.

Ventura has appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the law as currently applied gives too much deference to ISPs and websites, producing a staggering dissonance between online and offline liability standards.

 

 

Extract: Daily Facebook Censorship...

Tech Titans Made Serious Mistakes, and More Censorship Won't Right the Ship. By David French


Link Here 25th August 2018
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

yesterday, journalist and bestselling author Salena Zito reported that Facebook seemed to be censoring a story she wrote for the New York Post detailing why many Trump supporters won't be shaken by the Paul Manafort conviction or the Michael Cohen plea deal.

Some of her readers reported that it was being marked as spam. Others told her that Facebook was reporting that the article did not follow its Community Standards.

Then, suddenly, the posts reappeared. In both instances there has been no satisfactory explanation from Facebook for its censorship.

Read the full  article from nationalreview.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Taxing internet giants to subsidise journalists, but who will decide which ones benefit?...


Link Here 25th August 2018
Now Corbyn plans to nationalise the news Why cheer the Labour leader's support for government-approved journalism? By Mick Hume

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Amazon bans The Liberator Code Book...

But, this is perhaps not so surprising when the book is just a printout of the file to 3D print your own gun


Link Here 24th August 2018

Amazon has banned a book that provided the code to create a 3D printed gun.

The book, a 584-page tome called The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in the Freedom of Speech , contained computer code that could reportedly be fed to a 3D printer to create a plastic gun called The Liberator. The book was selling at $20 prior to being removed from the store

Author CJ Awelow wrote on Amazon

The purpose of this exercise is to give a physical analogy between computer code and books. Code is speech. This is a printed copy of .step files for the Liberator. and not much else. Don't expect a gripping narrative: that's being played out in the news and the courts. Proceeds from this book will be used to fight for free speech and the right to keep and bear arms.

According to The Washington Post, the book had appeared on Amazon on August 1, just a day after a federal judge had issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the public availability of the code in question.

Amazon took down the listing noting that it violated Amazon's content guidelines, but would not elaborate further.

 

 

Taking over from Google and Amazon...

Wickr steps up the plate and offers a domain fronting service to make it difficult for states to block websites


Link Here 24th August 2018
In April, Google and Amazon both dropped domain fronting from their web hosting services. Domain fronting is a technique used to bypass internet censorship, in places such as Iran , Russia, and China. Website requests to a censored site start their journey across the internet as requests to Google or Amazon app servers. The final routing to the blocked site is only revealed once an encrypted connection is established. Of course internet censors can block Google and Amazon but this may displease large numbers of internet users. Russia for example had to ban massive numbers of sites in attempt to block the encrypted messaging app Telegram which was employing domain fronting options.

Now, encrypted messaging platform Wickr is starting to roll out a service to its users that includes domain fronting spread across a variety of infrastructure, meaning that customers and soon free users should be able to use the feature to circumvent censorship. Wickr CEO Joel Wallenstrom told Motherboard:

On top of encryption, there's also the availability part of security. You can't have one without the other.

 

 

Facebook: connecting naively trusting users with totally untrustworthy organisations...

And now Facebook implements daily deeds of censorship as if these are acts of contrition for its failures of trust


Link Here 22nd August 2018
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
And today's daily act of censorship is to take down 652 accounts and pages connected to Russia and Iran that published political propaganda.

Facebook said in a blog post  that the errant accounts were first uncovered by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, and have links to Russia and Iran. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

These were networks of accounts that were misleading people about who they were and what they were doing. We ban this kind of behavior because authenticity matters. People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook.

In July, FireEye tipped Facebook off to the existence of a network of pages known as Liberty Front Press. The network included 70 accounts, three Facebook groups, and 76 Instagram accounts, which had 155,000 Facebook followers and 48,000 Instagram followers. Not exactly impressive figures though. And the paltry $6,000 spent since 2015 rather suggests that these a small fry.

Liberty Free Press also was linked to a set of pages that posed as news organizations while also hacking people's accounts and spread malware, Facebook said. That network included 12 pages and 66 accounts, plus nine Instagram accounts. They had about 15,000 Facebook followers and 1,100 Instagram followers, and did not buy advertising or events.

Iran-linked accounts and pages created in 2011 shared posts about politics in the Middle East, United Kingdom, and United States. That campaign had 168 pages and 140 Facebook accounts, as well as 31 Instagram accounts, and had 813,000 Facebook followers and 10,000 Instagram followers. Again the total advertising spend was just $6,000.

Russian accounts taken down in the Facebook action were focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine, but did not target the United States.

Facebook's reputation ratings

See  article from bbc.co.uk

Facebook has confirmed that it has started scoring some of its members on a trustworthiness scale.The Washington Post revealed that the social network had developed the system over the past year.

The tech firm says it has been developed to help handle reports of false news on its platform, but it has declined to reveal how the score is calculated or the limits of its use. Critics are concerned that users have no apparent way to obtain their rating. The BBC understands that at present only Facebook's misinformation team makes use of the measurement.

Perhaps the scheme works on 1 to 5 scale with the bottom rating of 1, being as trustworthy as Facebook, a lowly score of 2 for being twice as trustworthy as Facebook, whilst top of the scale is 5 times as trustworthy as Facebook.

Facebook objected the scale being described in the Washington Post as being a 'reputation' score. Facebook said that this was just plain wrong claiming:

What we're actually doing: We developed a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system. The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible.

No doubt armies of Indian SEO workers will now redirect their efforts at improving website's Facebook reputation ratings.

Seeking refuge in blaming Facebook

See  article from nytimes.com

Meanwhile Warwick University research suggests that anti refugee troubles are worse in German towns where Facebook usage is more than the national average. Facebook are taking a lot of stick lately but it seems a little much to start blaming them for all the world's ills. If Facebook were to be banned tomorrow, would the world suddenly become a less fractious place? What do you think?

 

 

Offsite Article: Time Magazine reports on the current status...


Link Here 22nd August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The U.K. Is About To Censor Online Porn, and Free Speech Advocates Are Alarmed

See article from time.com

 

 

Extremist Censorship Requirements...

European Commission outlines its plans for direct and immediate censorship control of the internet


Link Here 21st August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
Internet companies will have to delete content claimed to be extremist on their platforms within an hour or face being fined, under new censorship plans by the European Commission.

The proposals will be set out in draft regulation due to be published next month, according to The Financial Times.

Julian King, the EU's commissioner for security, told the newspaper that Brussels had not seen enough progress, when it came to the sites clamping down on terror-related material.

Under the rules, which would have to be agreed by a majority of EU member states, the platforms would have an hour to remove the material, a senior official told the newspaper.

The rules would apply to all websites, regardless of their size. King told the FT:

The difference in size and resources means platforms have differing capabilities to act against terrorist content and their policies for doing so are not always transparent.

All this leads to such content continuing to proliferate across the internet, reappearing once deleted and spreading from platform to platform.

Of course the stringent requirements are totally impractical for small companies, and so no doubt will further strengthen the monopolies of US companies with massive workforces.

And of course a one hour turn around gives absolutely no one time to even consider whether the censorship requests are fair or reasonable and so translates into a tool for direct state censorship of the internet.

 

 

Offsite Article: PragerU...


Link Here 21st August 2018
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
The latest example of political censorship by Facebook

See article from thenewamerican.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Indian censorship in the age of Netflix...


Link Here 20th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
A summary of how India censors internet TV

See article from factordaily.com

 

 

Biased censored fake news...

Trump rails against discriminatory censorship by social media companies


Link Here 19th August 2018

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain that social media companies are discriminating against prominent conservatives, saying we won't let that happen. He tweeted:

Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won't let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.

.....Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don't watch at all.

The president later added:

....Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!

Trump in July said his administration will look into the practice of shadow banning on Twitter, or reducing the visibility of certain people or groups on the platform, which he alleged was happening to prominent conservative voices.

 

 

Crushing censorship...

Another repressive internet censorship law in Egypt


Link Here 19th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed a new law that tightens controls over the internet.

The legislation means websites can be blocked in Egypt if deemed to constitute a threat to national security or the economy.  Anyone found guilty of running, or just visiting, such sites could face prison or a fine.

Authorities claim the new measures are needed to tackle instability and terrorism.

But human rights groups say the government of trying to crush all political dissent in the country. The Cairo-based Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression said more than 500 websites had already been blocked in Egypt prior to the new law being signed.

Last month another bill was passed by parliament, yet to be approved by President Sisi, that would allow any social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers to be placed under supervision.

 

 

Ministry of Transport, Communications, High Technologies and Censorship...

Azerbaijan starts blocking porn websites


Link Here 18th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Azerbaijan...Bloggers make a donkey of the state
Azerbaijan's government has begun to block internet pornography sites. While this is far from the first time the country has tried to control what websites its citizens access, it does appear to be the first time it's restricting pornography.

The blocking was carried out by the Electronic Security Service of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies. The move was reportedly made due to a local court decision, but no further details were released.

In December last year, Azerbaijan's parliament adopted a new set of laws penalizing the online dissemination of banned materials. The legislation referred to a list of prohibited information that was first put into use by Azerbaijani courts in May 2017 authorizing the government to censor online information including terrorist propaganda, suicide videos, pornography and weapons-production manuals, but also gambling and defamation.

It's not clear why the ban on pornography was implemented, but it has generated some speculation online. Journalist Habib Muntazir of Meydan TV noted that on August 15, a Facebook parody page, Politicians of ayxana, photoshopped the logo of the pornographic website Pornhub onto a picture of President Ilham Aliyev reprimanding the head of the state energy company for the country's recent blackouts. The caption read: Boss punishes sexy secretary.

 

 

Offsite Article: Facebook under pressure and a new keenness for political censorship...


Link Here 18th August 2018
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
After getting ticked off everywhere around the western world, Facebook is now kowtowing to any government who asks, this time banning a Palestinian Occupy London page

See article from rt.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Facebook under pressure...


Link Here 18th August 2018
US reportedly pressuring Facebook to break Messenger's encryption over MS-13 investigation

See article from theverge.com

 

 

Real news...

The return of Dr M is proving good for Malaysia as a recent censorship law, supposedly targeting fake news, is repealed


Link Here 17th August 2018
Malaysia's parliament on August 16th repealed a law against fake news introduced this year by the administration of former prime minister Najib Razak.

A bill to repeal the law was passed by the lower house of Malaysia's parliament, a day ahead of the new Pakatan Harapan government marking its first 100 days in government.

Najib's government secured a simple majority in April to pass the Anti-Fake News 2018 Bill, which set out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit (US$122,000) and jail of up to six years.

Critics denounced the law as repressive and accused Najib of trying to curb free speech ahead of a May general election as his government tried to fend off criticism over accusations of graft and mismanagement.

Najib lost the election to an opposition alliance led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who had promised to scrap the law.

Parliament debated a motion to repeal the law for about three hours before passing it by a simple voice vote.

This is a law that was clearly designed to silence criticism of the authorities and to quell public debate -- it should never have been allowed to pass in the first place, Teddy Baguilat, a board member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, said in a statement.

 

 

Letting politicians know that people's opposition is real...

Europe organises street protests against internet censorship machines and link tax


Link Here 16th August 2018

Following massive protests, the EU copyright reform plans were sent back to the drawing board last month. This means that the proposal will be opened up for changes, also to the controversial "upload filter" text. In support of this effort and to show critics that the opposition is real, the protests will soon move beyond the web, to the streets of several European cities.

After years of careful planning and negotiating, the European Parliament was ready to vote on its new copyright directive last month. With backing from large political factions and pretty much the entire entertainment industry, many assumed that proposal would pass.

They were wrong .

The Copyright Directive was sent back to the drawing board following protests from legal scholars, Internet gurus, activists, and many members of the public. Article 13, often referred to as the "upload filter" proposal, was at the center of this pushback.

The vote was a massive blow to those who put their hope on the EU's proposed copyright changes. Following the failure of SOPA and ACTA, this was another disappointment, which triggered several entertainment industry insiders to call foul play.

They claimed that the grassroots protests were driven by automated tools, which "spammed" Members of Parliament were with protest messages, noting that large tech companies such as Google were partly behind this.

This narrative is gaining attention from the mainstream media, and there are even calls for a criminal investigation into the matter.

Opponents of the upload filters clearly disagree. In part triggered by the criticism, but more importantly, to ensure that copyright reform proposals will change for the better, they plan to move the protests to the streets of Europe later this month.

Julia Reda, the Pirate Party's Member of European Parliament, is calling people to join these protests, to have their voices heard, and to show the critics that there are real people behind the opposition. Reda wrote:

We haven't won yet. After their initial shock at losing the vote in July, the proponents of upload filters and the 'link tax' have come up with a convenient narrative to downplay the massive public opposition they faced.

They're claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies. According to them, Europeans don't actually care about their freedom of expression. We don't actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests.

Thus far, nearly a million people have voiced their discontent with the copyright reform plans through an online petition. And if it's up to Reda, these people should do the same away from their keyboard.

On September 12th, Members of Parliament will vote on the future of the Copyright Directive and the protests are planned two weeks earlier, on August 26th.

Reda notes:

Our goal is clear: The Parliament must adopt alternatives for Article 11 and Article 13 that don't force platforms to install upload filters and don't threaten links and snippets with an extra layer of copyright.

The public protests will take place in several cities including Berlin, Ljubljana, Prague, Stockholm, Vienna, and Warsaw. The organizers hope to gain the same momentum as the ACTA protests did when hundreds of thousands of people marched the streets.

That would certainly make an impact.

 

 

Offsite Article: The Future of Porn Is Only Getting Worse...


Link Here 16th August 2018
Vice interviews award-winning feminist adult film maker Erika Lust about the impact of FOSTA/SESTA on porn, the problem with age verification checks, and the value of education over regulation.

See article from vice.com

 

 

Extract: Sorry... your search for 'trust' finds no results on Google.com...

Google found to be tracking the location of users who have turned off location tracking


Link Here 15th August 2018

When you turn off location history Google still tracks your location when you use several of its key services including Maps, search and the weather.

A report from the Associated Press has highlighted that the feature called location history is just one of the systems that Google uses to track your location for personalised services, local search and other purposes such as advertising.

When you turn off location history, Google stops automatically recording your location for features such as the Maps timeline, but it warns you that some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps. When you perform a search, access Google Maps , or get the weather, either manually or automatically through a smartphone widget, Google will still log your location.

Here's how to really turn all of it off. (Assuming that you believe that Google will actually do what it says it will){

See article from theguardian.com

Offsite Comment: Google's snooping proves big tech will not change

See article from theguardian.com by Arwa Mahdawi

Google's snooping proves big tech will not change -- unless governments step in. News that the company tracks users even when they forbid it shows that technology giants do not take our privacy seriously. They must be regulated

And one last thought. When the BBFC published their consultation of age verification requirements for porn viewing. The BBFC skated over the privacy dangers in allowing private companies to track one's tastes in porn claiming that the industry would follow 'best practise' and safeguard users. Well if one of the biggest companies in the world cannot respect the privacy of their users, then what hope is there for the rest?

 

 

Offsite Article: Beware the digital censor...


Link Here 15th August 2018
We should be extremely careful before rushing to embrace an Internet that is moderated by a few private companies, where the platforms routinely remove posts and deactivate accounts because of objections to the content. By David Greene

See article from qctimes.com

 

 

Offsite Article: The other 'brute force method'...


Link Here 14th August 2018
Australia opts out of back door requirements for encryption providers and instead chooses the approach: 'give me your key or else I'll break your legs'

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 

Killing speech softly...

How the world's biggest tech companies are quietly censoring critical expression in the Middle East


Link Here 12th August 2018

Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message reflecting on religion, free expression and the controversial editorial line of the magazine:

A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Mohammed that offended him.

We stood up for this because different voices -- even if they're sometimes offensive -- can make the world a better and more interesting place.

Later that same month, Facebook agreed to restrict access to an unspecified number of pages for "offending prophet Muhammad" in Turkey at the request of local authorities.

Turkey is notorious for the number of requests it makes to internet companies to remove content for violating its local laws, but it is not the only government in the Middle East to resort to such tactic to silence critical voices.

While a number of the region's governments sometimes make direct requests for content removal -- along with exerting "soft" pressure through other means -- the failures of tech giants in moderating content in the region is a much bigger and more complex problem.

Abuse of flagging mechanisms

Across the region, social media platform "flagging" mechanisms are often abused to silence government critics, minority groups or views and forms of expression deemed not to be in line with the majority's beliefs on society, religion and politics.

In 2016, Facebook suspended several Arabic-language pages and groups dedicated to atheism following massive flagging campaigns.

This effectively eliminated one of the few (in some cases, the only) spaces where atheists and other minorities could come together to share their experiences, and freely express themselves on matters related to religion. Across the region, atheism remains a taboo that could be met with harassment, imprisonment or even murder. Jessica Anderson, a project manager at onlinecensorship.org which documents cases of content takedowns by social media platforms, told Global Voices:

[Abusive flagging] is a significant problem.

In the Middle East as well as other geographies, we have documented cases of censorship resulting from 'flagging campaigns'--coordinated efforts by many users to report a single page or piece of content.

Flagging mechanisms are also abused by pro-government voices. Earlier this year, Middle East Eye reported that several Egyptian political activists had their pages or accounts suspended and live-streams shut down, after they were reported by "pro-government trolls."  Anderson said:

What we have seen is that flagging can exacerbate existing power imbalances, empowering the majority to 'police' the minority The consequences of this issue can be severe: communities that are already marginalized and oppressed lose access to the benefits of social media as a space to organize, network, and be heard.

Failure to consider user rights, in context

This past May, Apple joined the ranks of Facebook and Twitter -- the more commonly-cited social media platforms in this realm -- when the iTunes store refused to upload fives songs by the Lebanese band Al-Rahel Al-Kabir. The songs mocked religious fundamentalism and political oppression in the region.

A representative from iTunes explained that the Dubai-based Qanawat, a local content aggregator hired by Apple to manage its store for the region, elected not to upload the songs. An anonymous source told The Daily Star that iTunes did not know about Qanawat's decision, which it made due to "local sensitivities." In response to a petition from Beirut-based digital rights NGO SMEX and the band itself, iTunes uploaded the songs and pledged to work with another aggregator.

This case does not only illustrate how "local sensitivities" can interfere with decisions about which types of content get to be posted and stay online in the region, but also shows that companies need to practice due diligence when taking decisions likely to affect users' freedom of expression rights.

Speaking to Global Voices, Mohamad Najem, co-founder of SMEX pointed out that both Facebook and Twitter have their regional offices located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which he described as one of the "most repressive countries" in the region. He said: "This is a business decision that will affect free speech in a negative way,"

He further expressed concern that the choice of having an office in a country like the UAE "can sometimes lead to enforcing Gulf social norm[s]" on an entire [Arab] region that is "dynamic and different."

Location, location, location

Facebook and Twitter have offices in the UAE that are intended to serve the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that is ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse, and presents a wide range of political viewpoints and experiences. When companies are pressured by oppressive governments or other powerful groups to respect "local sensitivities," they are being complicit in shutting down expression of such diversity. Anderson said:

"Platforms seem to take direction from louder, more powerful voices...In the Middle East, [they] have not been able to stand up to powerful interests like governments,"

Take, for example, Facebook's willingness to comply with the Turkish government's censorship demands. Throughout the years, the company was involved in censoring criticism of the government, religion and the republic's founder Ataturk, Kurdish activists , LGBT content and even an anti-racism initiative .

Facebook's complicity with these requests appears to be deeply ingrained. I spoke to a Turkish activist two years ago who told me that he believed the platform "was turning into a pro-government media." Today, the platform continues to comply, restricting access to more than 4,500 pieces of content inside the country in 2017 alone. Facebook is not transparent about the number and rates of requests it complies with.  Arzu Geybulla, a freelance writer who covers Turkey and Azerbaijan for Global Voices said:

The biggest shortcoming in [the] ways platforms deal with takedown requests is [their] lack of understanding of the political contexts. And even if there is some kind of idea of what is happening on the ground, I am not entirely sure, there is always due diligence involved.

In conference settings, representatives from Facebook are routinely faced with questions about massive flagging campaigns. They maintain that multiple abuse reports on a single post or page do not automate the process of the post or page being removed. But they offer little concrete information about how the company does see and respond to these situations. Does the company review the content more closely? Facebook representatives also say that they consult with local experts on these issues, but the specifics of these consultations are similarly opaque.

And the work of moderating content -- deciding what meets local legal standards and Facebook's own policies -- is not easy. Anderson from onlinecensorship.org said:

Content moderation is incredibly labor intensive. As the largest platforms continue to grow, these companies are attempting to moderate a staggering volume of content. Workers (who may not have adequate knowledge and training, and may not be well paid) have to make snap decisions about nuanced and culturally-specific content, leading to frequent mistakes and inconsistencies.

For activists and human rights advocates in the region, it is also difficult to know the scope of this problem due to lack of corporate transparency. Cases like that of iTunes may be occurring more often than is publicly known -- it is only when someone speaks out about being censored that these practices come to light.

 

 

World leading endangerment...

The New Zealand government is eyeing the UK internet porn censorship regime


Link Here 11th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
New Zealand could follow the United Kingdom in bringing in age restrictions for online pornography and blocking websites which refuse to comply.

Department of Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who also holds the children's portfolio, says young people are being bombarded by internet pornography and she wants censorship laws to be strengthened.

This is a really, really big issue to New Zealand and we are going to have a serious conversation about it, she told the Herald. Martin supports the approach of the United Kingdom, which has ambitious and controversial plans to introduce mandatory age verification for pornographic websites later this year.

She made the comments after the Chief Censor began a major piece of research on New Zealand teenagers' online pornography habits. We're pretty excited about it, Chief Censor David Shanks said.

We think it's going to give us some potentially world-leading data on the New Zealand situation and teens and pornography. With this research our aim is to get solid evidence about the experiences and perspectives of young people on the table so there can be an informed debate.

In our view policy in this area does need some consideration, in terms of how do you regulate use and access to porn in the digital environment. The question there is . . . when the average age to get a smartphone is 10 and a half to 11 years old, what sort of tools and restrictions can we really place on access to material that's widely available on the internet?

The Office of Film and Literature Classification began the survey last week of 2300 people aged between 14 and 17. It asks if teenagers look at online pornography, how often, what sort of content, why they are looking at it, and how they are viewing it. The survey is expected to be completed in December.

Martin said the Chief Censor's research was vital work, though she is already intent on changes:

I have already had conversations with the Chief Censor with regard to a particular drive of mine to make sure we as a nation do something about what is the bombardment of pornography and the easy access to pornography that our young people are experiencing.

Considering our censorship laws were pre-internet, this is an area that we have left for a long time without addressing and I think we need to address it.

Martin said she was not interested in wholesale bans on online content because they did not work. But she supported the UK Government's approach, saying she was interested in any policy which helped to protect young people. She added:

I would really like to watch how they implement it and see what are the challenges for them.

 

 

Commented: Conspiracy theory comes true...

US technology giants prove that they are biased against the right, and censor Alex Jones' Infowars


Link Here 11th August 2018

Even the streaming adult video site YouPorn has joined in with the internet co-conspirators banning Alex Jones' Infowars from their platforms. This follows widespread censorship from tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Spotify--but notably, not Twitter.

In a statement, YouPorn vice president Charlie Hughes said Following news that YouTube, Spotify and Facebook have banned Alex Jones from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service.

Alex Jones is noted for a major role in propagating some of the most well known conspiracy theories in recent years, including Pizzagate and the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. His support of theories that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were faked.

Yesterday, YouTube removed Alex Jones' channel , which had 2.4 million subscribers, for violating its community guidelines, after issuing it a strike last month . On the same day, Apple removed Alex Jones' podcasts from iTunes , following similar actions from Spotify and Stitcher, and Facebook removed four Infowars pages for violating its policies against graphic violence and hate speech. Pinterest also took down Infowars' profile following an inquiry from Mashable.

Of course the stupidity of the censorship is that surely not many people take Alex Jones very seriously, its just entertainment. In censoring something that they do not like, they have surely done more harm than good by revealing that big tech marches to the tune of the PC left and is now part of the problem of an unfair and unjust establishment. The technology companies have  simply added to the fractious nature of the modern world.

 

Offsite Comment: Alex Jones and the rise of corporate censorship

11th August 2018. See  article from spiked-online.com

The banning of Infowars is an alarming act of capitalist intolerance.

 

 

More misery in Indonesia...

The government forces ISPs to set search engines and YouTube into restricted mode


Link Here 10th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

This week, the Indonesian government has forced ISPs to forcibly turn on content filters on search engines by default, which can't be switched off. The new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining that the video streaming site's restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.

Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. Netizens are reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.

While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the government. The ISP tweeted:

Hi, Youtube's restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.

 

 

Censorship and control...

American politicians are debating the need for internet regulation of social media


Link Here 9th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
US politicians are debating the need for internet censorship, social media regulation and privacy legisation.

Recently Axios' David McCabe published a fascinating policy paper from the office of Senator Mark Warner. The paper outlines a comprehensive censorship and regulatory regime that would touch virtually every aspect of social networks. It's a comprehensive starting point for discussion

The paper is notably well-versed both on the dangers posed by misinformation and the trade-offs that come with increased regulation, especially to privacy and free speech. No doubt the US debate will be echoed around the world.

So what exactly do Warner and his staff propose? The ideas are designed to address three broad categories: misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of these technologies; privacy and data protection; and competition.

Here are some the ideas presented.

Misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of technology.

  • requiring networks to label automated bots;
  • requiring platforms to verify identities, despite the significant consequences to free speech;
  • legally requiring platforms to make regular disclosures about how many fake accounts they've deleted;
  • ending legal protections on contents hosts for defamation;
  • legally requiring large platforms to create APIs for academic research;
  • spending more money to fight cyber threats from Russia and other state-level actors.

Privacy and data protection.

  • Create a US version of the GDPR;
  • designate platforms as information fiduciaries with the legal responsibility of protecting our data;
  • empowering the Federal Trade Commission to make rules around data privacy;
  • create a legislative ban on dark patterns that trick users into accepting terms and conditions without reading them;
  • allow the government to audit corporate algorithms.

Competition

  • Require tech companies to continuously disclose to consumers how their data is being used;
  • require social network data to be made portable;
  • require social networks to be interoperable;
  • designate certain products as essential facilities and demand that third parties get fair access to them.

These proposals remain far from becoming law -- but perhaps not as far as tech platforms would wish.

 

 

Unfinished business...

Open Rights Group comments on the missed milestone of publishing final age verification guidelines before Parliament's summer recess


Link Here 5th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

MPs left behind unfinished business when they broke for summer recess, and we aren't talking about Brexit negotiations. The rollout of mandatory age verification (AV) technology for adult websites is being held up once again while the Government mulls over final details. AV tech will create highly sensitive databases of the public's porn watching habits, and Open Rights Groups submitted a report warning the proposed privacy protections are woefully inadequate. The Government's hesitation could be a sign they are receptive to our concerns, but we expect their final guidance will still treat privacy as an afterthought. MPs need to understand what's at stake before they are asked to approve AV guidelines after summer.

AV tools will be operated by private companies, but if the technology gets hacked and the personal data of millions of British citizens is breached, the Government will be squarely to blame. By issuing weak guidelines, the Government is begging for a Cambridge Analytica-style data scandal. If this technology fails to protect user privacy, everybody loses. Businesses will be damaged (just look at Facebook), the Government will be embarrassed, and the over 20 million UK residents who view porn could have their private sexual preferences exposed. It's in everybody's interest to fix this. The draft guidance lacks even the basic privacy protections required for other digital tools like credit card payments and email services. Meanwhile, major data breaches are rocking international headlines on a regular basis. AV tech needs a dose of common sense.

 

 

Offsite Article: Internet shutdowns...


Link Here 5th August 2018
Internet censorship in Africa threatens democracy and the economy

See article from dw.com

 

 

Google is developing a censored search engine for China...

No doubt western governments will soon be calling for Google to deploy the same technology in their countries


Link Here 2nd August 2018
Full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.

The project, code-named Dragonfly, has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans.

Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named Maotai and Longfei. The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.

Google's current search engine is blocked in China.

 

 

First social media tax, now porn blocking...

Uganda's internet censors introduce porn website blocking with an initial list of 27 sites


Link Here 2nd August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Uganda...Banning VPNs and taxing social media

Internet censors of the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) have instructed telecommunications companies and ISPs to block a list of pornography websites. Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director at the UCC, has said that they have identified 17 popular local and 10 international pornography websites which they, as the UCC, have asked ISP's and telecommunications companies to block.

The commission received the list of porn sites from the Pornography Control Committee. The committee has established that the list of the websites attached hereto is currently streaming pornography to Uganda in breach of section 13 of the Anti-Pornography Act, 2014.

Mutabazi has warned that telecom companies and internet providers risk penalties if they don't comply with the new directive.

Perhaps the recent introduction of high taxes on social media websites has pushed Ugandans onto the next best internet freebie, porn.

 

 

Offsite Article: Facebook is fighting the FI demanding to snoop on Messenger...


Link Here 1st January 1970
Both encryption and the law are stacked against Facebook

See article from theverge.com

 

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