Internet News

2019: October

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Bountiful times for film censors in New Zealand...

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern's Christchurch Call leads to a doubling of funding for the censors


Link Here 14th October 2019
Full story: The Christchurch Call...Calls for censorship is response to New Zealand gun massacre
New Zealand's government is doubling the funding for its film censors. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is doubling the funding for its Office of Film & Literature Classification so it can crack down on terrorist content alongside child exploitation images.

The package is the main domestic component of Ardern's more globally-focused Christchurch Call. The Call is a set of pledges and practices she is promoting following the Christchurch terror attack of March 15.

The $17m funding boost will go towards the Chief Censor and the Censorship Compliance Unit and will see about 17 new censors employed.

The announcement came with a bit of a barb though as it was noted that it took two days for the chief censor to rule that the livestream of the Christchurch mosque attack was objectionable, something the officials said could be sped up with new funding for his office.

Stuff.co.nz commented that the prime minister has invested serious time and political capital into her Christchurch Call program and noted that it met its first real test last week after another racist attack was livestreamed from the German city of Halle. That video was deemed objectionable by the censor and the shared protocol created by the Christchurch Call was put into action. Presumably this time round it took less than two days to decide that it is should be banned.

 

 

More about monitoring politicians' 'disinformation' rather than unrealistically trying to stop it...

Oxford researchers make recommendations to control politician's social media campaigners during elections


Link Here 14th October 2019

The Market of Disinformation , a report produced by Oxford Information Labs on behalf of OxTEC, examines the impact of algorithmic changes made by social media platforms, designed to curb the spread of disinformation, through the lens of digital marketing.

The report highlights some of the techniques used by campaigners to attract, retain and persuade online audiences. It also sets out recommendations for the UK Electoral Commission.

Key findings:

  • Despite over 125 announcements in three years aimed at demoting disinformation and junk news, algorithmic changes made by platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have not significantly altered brands' and companies digital marketing

  • Election campaigns continue to generate a significant amount of organic engagement, with people typically accessing content that has not been supported by paid placement

  • Political campaigns blend paid and organic material to maximise reach and minimise spend

  • There has been growth in digital marketing techniques combining online and offline data to reach specific audiences

Stacie Hoffmann, cyber security and policy expert at Oxford Information Labs, said:

Today's successful online campaigns effectively blend organic and paid-for elements, standing or falling by the levels of engagement they provoke amongst users. Self-regulation of social media platforms has only succeeded in achieving higher profits for the platforms by reducing organic reach and increasing the amount of paid content required by advertisers to reach new audiences.

Professor Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and OxTEC Commissioner said:

The report highlights how the algorithmic changes made by social media platforms have been inadequate in curbing the spread of low-quality content online. Those actors spreading disinformation have quickly identified algorithmic changes and have adjusted their strategies accordingly. Fundamentally self-regulation by social media platforms has failed to achieve the promised public policy benefit of improving the quality of the information ecosystem.

The Oxford Information Labs report also sets out a series of recommendations for consideration by OxTEC on how to protect the integrity of elections. The recommendations are based on developing and implementing guidance related to four distinct areas, digital imprints, sanctions, financial reporting and campaign spend, foreign interference and location verification.

OxTEC, convened by the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, consists of academics, researchers, technology experts and policymakers, and was established to explore how to protect the integrity of democracy in a digital age. It is due to publish a full report shortly.

 

 

Hook, line and sinker...

Just a reminder to those unnecessarily handing over their personal data to adult websites, eg for age verification. Hackers will attempt to steal your data, ask hookers.nl


Link Here 12th October 2019
Account details of more than 250,000 people who used a site for sex workers in the Netherlands have been stolen in a hack attack.

Email addresses, user names and passwords were stolen from a site called Hookers.nl.

The attacker is believed to have exploited a bug in its chat room software found last month. Reports suggest the malicious hacker who took the data has offered it for sale on a dark web marketplace.

The website's media spokesman Tom Lobermann told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the site had informed everyone who had an account about the breach. The message sent by the site's administrators also advised people to change their passwords.

Hookers.nl used a popular program for hosting online forums and discussions called vBulletin. In late September, security researchers identified a vulnerability in the program that could be exploited to steal data. VBulletin quickly produced a patch for the bug but several sites were breached before they could deploy and install the protection.

 

 

An alternative internet governance...

China and Russia internet censors to work together at the World Internet Conference


Link Here 11th October 2019
Russia's state internet censor has announced that China and Russia will sign an agreement to cooperate in further censoring internet access for their citizens.

Roskomnadzor said it would formally sign the international treaty with their Chinese counterpart, the Cyberspace Administration of China, on October 20. That date is the first day of China's three-day World Internet Conference, to be held this year in the city of Wuzhen, in eastern Zhejiang province.

This co-operation seems to be based on the two countries promoting an alternative internet governance regime that is not controlled by the US. An alternative governance would allow national censorship processes a route to getting deeper into the overall control management of the internet. Eg to disallow censorship busting technology such as encrypted DNS.

 

 

Offsite Article: Upcoming automated censorship...


Link Here 11th October 2019
Former MEP Catherine Stihler keeps up the campaign against the EU's censorship machines

See article from eureporter.co

 

 

Offsite Article: In the name of safe browsing...


Link Here 11th October 2019
Apple's Safari browser hands over your browsing history to a company controlled by the Chinese government

See article from reclaimthenet.org

 

 

Breaking out...

China's Global Reach: Surveillance and Censorship Beyond the Great Firewall. By Danny O'Brien


Link Here 11th October 2019
Full story: Chinese worldwide internet censorship...China uses its software to extend its censorship reach worldwide

Those outside the People's Republic of China (PRC) are accustomed to thinking of the Internet censorship practices of the Chinese state as primarily domestic, enacted through the so-called "Great Firewall"--a system of surveillance and blocking technology that prevents Chinese citizens from viewing websites outside the country. The Chinese government's justification for that firewall is based on the concept of " Internet sovereignty. " The PRC has long declared that "within Chinese territory, the internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty.''

Hong Kong, as part of the "one country, two systems" agreement, has largely lived outside that firewall: foreign services like Twitter, Google, and Facebook are available there, and local ISPs have made clear that they will oppose direct state censorship of its open Internet.

But the ongoing Hong Kong protests, and mainland China's pervasive attempts to disrupt and discredit the movement globally, have highlighted that China is not above trying to extend its reach beyond the Great Firewall, and beyond its own borders. In attempting to silence protests that lie outside the Firewall, in full view of the rest of the world, China is showing its hand, and revealing the tools it can use to silence dissent or criticism worldwide.

Some of those tools--such as pressure on private entities, including American corporations NBA and Blizzard--have caught U.S. headlines and outraged customers and employees of those companies. Others have been more technical, and less obvious to the Western observers.

The "Great Cannon" takes aim at sites outside the Firewall

The Great Cannon is a large-scale technology deployed by ISPs based in China to inject javascript code into customers' insecure (HTTP) requests . This code weaponizes the millions of mainland Chinese Internet connections that pass through these ISPs. When users visit insecure websites, their browsers will also download and run the government's malicious javascript--which will cause them to send additional traffic to sites outside the Great Firewall, potentially slowing these websites down for other users, or overloading them entirely.

The Great Cannon's debut in 2015 took down Github , where Chinese users were hosting anti-censorship software and mirrors of otherwise-banned news outlets like the New York Times. Following widespread international backlash , this attack was halted.

Last month, the Great Cannon was activated once again , aiming this time at Hong Kong protestors. It briefly took down LIHKG , a Hong Kong social media platform central to organizing this summer's protests.

Targeting the global Chinese community through malware

Pervasive online surveillance is a fact of life within the Chinese mainland. But if the communities the Chinese government wants to surveill aren't at home, it is increasingly willing to invest in expensive zero-days to watch them abroad, or otherwise hold their families at home hostage.

Last month, security researchers uncovered several expensive and involved mobile malware campaigns targeting the Uyghur and Tibetan diasporas . One constituted a broad "watering hole" attack using several zero-days to target visitors of Uyghur-language websites .

As we've noted previously , this represents a sea-change in how zero-days are being used; while China continues to target specific high-profile individuals in spear-phishing campaigns , they are now unafraid to cast a much wider net, in order to place their surveillance software on entire ethnic and political groups outside China's border.

Censoring Chinese Apps Abroad

At home, China doesn't need to use zero-days to install its own code on individuals' personal devices. Chinese messaging and browser app makers are required to include government filtering on their client, too. That means that when you use an app created by a mainland Chinese company, it likely contains code intended to scan and block prohibited websites or language.

Until now, China has been largely content to keep the activation of this device-side censorship concentrated within its borders. The keyword filtering embedded in WeChat only occurs for users with a mainland Chinese phone number. Chinese-language versions of domestic browsers censor and surveill significantly more than the English-language versions. But as Hong Kong and domestic human rights abuses draw international interest, the temptation to enforce Chinese policy abroad has grown.

TikTok is one of the largest and fastest-growing global social media platforms spun out of Beijing. It heavily moderates its content, and supposedly has localized censors for different jurisdictions . But following a government crackdown on "short video" platforms at the beginning of this year , news outlets began reporting on the lack of Hong Kong-related content on the platform . TikTok's leaked general moderation guidelines expressly forbid any content criticizing the Chinese government, like content related to the Chinese persecution of ethnic minorities, or about Tiananmen Square.

Internet users outside the United States may recognise the dynamic of a foreign service exporting its domestic decision-making abroad. For many years, America's social media companies have been accused of exporting U.S. culture and policy to the rest of the world: Facebook imposes worldwide censorship of nudity and sexual language , even in countries that are more culturally permissive on these topics than the U.S. Most services obey DMCA takedown procedures of allegedly copyright-infringing content, even in countries that have had alternative resolution laws. The influence that the United States has on its domestic tech industries has led to an outsized influence on those companies' international user base.

That said, U.S. companies have, as with developers in most countries, resisted the inclusion of state-mandated filters or government-imposed code within their own applications. In China, domestic and foreign companies have been explicitly mandated to comply with Chinese censorship under the national Cybersecurity Law passed in 2017 , which provides aggressive yet vague guidelines for content moderation. China imposing its rules on global Chinese tech companies differs from the United States' influence on the global Internet in more than just degree.

Money Talks: But Critics Can't

This brings us to the most visible arm of the China's new worldwide censorship toolkit: economic pressure on global companies. The Chinese domestic market is increasingly important to companies like Blizzard and the National Basketball Association (NBA). This means that China can use threats of boycotts or the denial of access to Chinese markets to silence these companies when they, or people affiliated with them, express support for the Hong Kong protestors.

Already, people are fighting back against the imposition of Chinese censorship on global companies. Blizzard employees staged a walk-out in protest, NBA fans continue to voice their support for the demonstrations in Hong Kong, and fans are rallying to boycott the two companies. But multi-national companies who can control their users' speech can expect to see more pressure from China as its economic clout grows.

Is China setting the Standard for Global Enforcement of Local Law?

Parochial "Internet sovereignty' has proven insufficient to China's needs: Domestic policy objectives now require it to control the Internet outside and inside its borders.

To be clear, China's government is not alone in this: rather than forcefully opposing and protesting their actions, other states--including the United States and the European Union-- have been too busy making their own justifications for the extra-territorial exercise of their own surveillance and censorship capabilities.

China now projects its Internet power abroad through the pervasive and unabashed use of malware and state-supported DDoS attacks; mandated client-side filtering and surveillance; economic sanctions to limit cross-border free speech; and pressure on private entities to act as a global cultural police.

Unless lawmakers, corporations, and individual users are as brave in standing up to authoritarian acts as the people of Hong Kong, we can expect to see these tactics adopted by every state, against every user of the Internet.

 

 

Film censors become internet censors...

A new internet censorship law is signed into law by South Africa's president


Link Here 8th October 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in South Africa...Proppsal to block all porn from South Africans
South Africa's Films and Publications Act, also known as the Internet censorship Bill, came into force when president Cyril Ramaphosa signed the controversial Bill.

Opponents of the law had criticised the vague and broad terminology used; stipulations that would see the Film and Publication Board overstepping into the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's regulatory jurisdiction; and that it contains constitutional infringements on citizens' right to privacy and freedom of expression.

The new law provides for the establishment, composition and appointment of members of an enforcement committee that will, among other tasks, control online distribution of films and games.

The law extends the compliance obligations of the Films and Publications Act and the compliance and monitoring functions of the Film and Publication Board to online distributors.

 

 

Facebook excuses politicians from telling the truth in advertising...

If disinformation were to be banned there would no politicians, no religion, no Christmas and no railway timetables


Link Here 7th October 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook has quietly rescinded a policy banning false claims in advertising, creating a specific exemption that leaves political adverts unconstrained regarding how they could mislead or deceive.

Facebook had previously banned adverts containing deceptive, false or misleading content, a much stronger restriction than its general rules around Facebook posts. But, as reported by the journalist Judd Legum , in the last week the rules have narrowed considerably, only banning adverts that include claims debunked by third-party fact-checkers, or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organisations with particular expertise.

A separate policy introduced by the social network recently declared opinion pieces and satire ineligible for verification, including any website or page with the primary purpose of expressing the opinion or agenda of a political figure. The end result is that any direct statement from a candidate or campaign cannot be fact-checked and so is automatically exempted from policies designed to prevent misinformation. (After the publication of this story, Facebook clarified that only politicians currently in office or running for office, and political parties, are exempt: other political adverts still need to be true.)

 

 

Commented: Endangering the many to detect the few...

The government initiates a data sharing agreement with the US and takes the opportunity to complain about internet encryption that keeps us safe from snoops, crooks, scammers and thieves


Link Here 5th October 2019
Full story: UK Government vs Encryption...Government seeks to restrict peoples use of encryption

Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed an historic agreement that will enable British law enforcement agencies to directly demand electronic data relating to terrorists, child sexual abusers and other serious criminals from US tech firms.

The world-first UK-US Bilateral Data Access Agreement will dramatically speed up investigations and prosecutions by enabling law enforcement, with appropriate authorisation, to go directly to the tech companies to access data, rather than through governments, which can take years.

The Agreement was signed with US Attorney General William P. Barr in Washington DC, where the Home Secretary also met security partners to discuss the two countries' ever deeper cooperation and global leadership on security.

The current process, which see requests for communications data from law enforcement agencies submitted and approved by central governments via Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), can often take anywhere from six months to two years. Once in place, the Agreement will see the process reduced to a matter of weeks or even days.

The US will have reciprocal access, under a US court order, to data from UK communication service providers. The UK has obtained assurances which are in line with the government's continued opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

Any request for data must be made under an authorisation in accordance with the legislation of the country making the request and will be subject to independent oversight or review by a court, judge, magistrate or other independent authority.

The Agreement does not change anything about the way companies can use encryption and does not stop companies from encrypting data.

It gives effect to the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019, which received Royal Assent in February this year and was facilitated by the CLOUD Act in America, passed last year.

Letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking him not to keep his internet users safe through encrypted messages

The Home Secretary has also published an open letter to Facebook, co-signed with US Attorney General William P. Barr, Acting US Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Australia's Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, outlining serious concerns with the company's plans to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services. The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

We are writing to request that Facebook does not proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services without ensuring that there is no reduction to user safety and without including a means for lawful access to the content of communications to protect our citizens.

In your post of 6 March 2019, 'A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking', you acknowledged that "there are real safety concerns to address before we can implement end-to-end encryption across all our messaging services." You stated that "we have a responsibility to work with law enforcement and to help prevent" the use of Facebook for things like child sexual exploitation, terrorism, and extortion. We welcome this commitment to consultation. As you know, our governments have engaged with Facebook on this issue, and some of us have written to you to express our views. Unfortunately, Facebook has not committed to address our serious concerns about the impact its proposals could have on protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

We support strong encryption, which is used by billions of people every day for services such as banking, commerce, and communications. We also respect promises made by technology companies to protect users' data. Law abiding citizens have a legitimate expectation that their privacy will be protected. However, as your March blog post recognized, we must ensure that technology companies protect their users and others affected by their users' online activities. Security enhancements to the virtual world should not make us more vulnerable in the physical world. We must find a way to balance the need to secure data with public safety and the need for law enforcement to access the information they need to safeguard the public, investigate crimes, and prevent future criminal activity. Not doing so hinders our law enforcement agencies' ability to stop criminals and abusers in their tracks.

Companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content, even for preventing or investigating the most serious crimes. This puts our citizens and societies at risk by severely eroding a company's ability to detect and respond to illegal content and activity, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse, terrorism, and foreign adversaries' attempts to undermine democratic values and institutions, preventing the prosecution of offenders and safeguarding of victims. It also impedes law enforcement's ability to investigate these and other serious crimes.

Risks to public safety from Facebook's proposals are exacerbated in the context of a single platform that would combine inaccessible messaging services with open profiles, providing unique routes for prospective offenders to identify and groom our children.

Facebook currently undertakes significant work to identify and tackle the most serious illegal content and activity by enforcing your community standards. In 2018, Facebook made 16.8 million reports to the US National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) -- more than 90% of the 18.4 million total reports that year. As well as child abuse imagery, these referrals include more than 8,000 reports related to attempts by offenders to meet children online and groom or entice them into sharing indecent imagery or meeting in real life. The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that, last year, NCMEC reporting from Facebook will have resulted in more than 2,500 arrests by UK law enforcement and almost 3,000 children safeguarded in the UK. Your transparency reports show that Facebook also acted against 26 million pieces of terrorist content between October 2017 and March 2019. More than 99% of the content Facebook takes action against -- both for child sexual exploitation and terrorism -- is identified by your safety systems, rather than by reports from users.

While these statistics are remarkable, mere numbers cannot capture the significance of the harm to children. To take one example, Facebook sent a priority report to NCMEC, having identified a child who had sent self-produced child sexual abuse material to an adult male. Facebook located multiple chats between the two that indicated historical and ongoing sexual abuse. When investigators were able to locate and interview the child, she reported that the adult had sexually abused her hundreds of times over the course of four years, starting when she was 11. He also regularly demanded that she send him sexually explicit imagery of herself. The offender, who had held a position of trust with the child, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Without the information from Facebook, abuse of this girl might be continuing to this day.

Our understanding is that much of this activity, which is critical to protecting children and fighting terrorism, will no longer be possible if Facebook implements its proposals as planned. NCMEC estimates that 70% of Facebook's reporting -- 12 million reports globally -- would be lost. This would significantly increase the risk of child sexual exploitation or other serious harms. You have said yourself that "we face an inherent tradeoff because we will never find all of the potential harm we do today when our security systems can see the messages themselves". While this trade-off has not been quantified, we are very concerned that the right balance is not being struck, which would make your platform an unsafe space, including for children.

Equally important to Facebook's own work to act against illegal activity, law enforcement rely on obtaining the content of communications, under appropriate legal authorisation, to save lives, enable criminals to be brought to justice, and exonerate the innocent.

We therefore call on Facebook and other companies to take the following steps:

  • embed the safety of the public in system designs, thereby enabling you to continue to act against illegal content effectively with no reduction to safety, and facilitating the prosecution of offenders and safeguarding of victims

  • enable law enforcement to obtain lawful access to content in a readable and usable format

  • engage in consultation with governments to facilitate this in a way that is substantive and genuinely influences your design decisions

  • not implement the proposed changes until you can ensure that the systems you would apply to maintain the safety of your users are fully tested and operational

We are committed to working with you to focus on reasonable proposals that will allow Facebook and our governments to protect your users and the public, while protecting their privacy. Our technical experts are confident that we can do so while defending cyber security and supporting technological innovation. We will take an open and balanced approach in line with the joint statement of principles signed by the governments of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada in August 2018 and the subsequent communique agreed in July this year .

As you have recognised, it is critical to get this right for the future of the internet. Children's safety and law enforcement's ability to bring criminals to justice must not be the ultimate cost of Facebook taking forward these proposals.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, United Kingdom Secretary of State for the Home Department

William P. Barr, United States Attorney General

Kevin K. McAleenan, United States Secretary of Homeland Security (Acting)

Hon Peter Dutton MP, Australian Minister for Home Affairs

Update: An All-Out Attack on Encryption

5th October 2019. See article from eff.org

Top law enforcement officials in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia told Facebook today that they want backdoor access to all encrypted messages sent on all its platforms. In an open letter , these governments called on Mark Zuckerberg to stop Facebook's plan to introduce end-to-end encryption on all of the company's messaging products and instead promise that it will "enable law enforcement to obtain lawful access to content in a readable and usable format."

This is a staggering attempt to undermine the security and privacy of communications tools used by billions of people. Facebook should not comply. The letter comes in concert with the signing of a new agreement between the US and UK to provide access to allow law enforcement in one jurisdiction to more easily obtain electronic data stored in the other jurisdiction. But the letter to Facebook goes much further: law enforcement and national security agencies in these three countries are asking for nothing less than access to every conversation that crosses every digital device.

The letter focuses on the challenges of investigating the most serious crimes committed using digital tools, including child exploitation, but it ignores the severe risks that introducing encryption backdoors would create. Many people--including journalists, human rights activists, and those at risk of abuse by intimate partners--use encryption to stay safe in the physical world as well as the online one. And encryption is central to preventing criminals and even corporations from spying on our private conversations, and to ensure that the communications infrastructure we rely on is truly working as intended . What's more, the backdoors into encrypted communications sought by these governments would be available not just to governments with a supposedly functional rule of law. Facebook and others would face immense pressure to also provide them to authoritarian regimes, who might seek to spy on dissidents in the name of combatting terrorism or civil unrest, for example.

The Department of Justice and its partners in the UK and Australia claim to support "strong encryption," but the unfettered access to encrypted data described in this letter is incompatible with how encryption actually works .

 

 

Offsite Article: France becomes the first EU country to use facial recognition to create a digital ID card...


Link Here 5th October 2019
No doubt soon to be the baseline ID required for logging people's porn browsing in the name of child protection.

See article from bloomberg.com

 

 

Facebook can be ordered to remove posts worldwide...

EU judges make up more internet censorship law without reference to practicality, definitions and consideration of consequences


Link Here 4th October 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law
Facebook and other social media can be ordered to censor posts worldwide after a ruling from the EU's highest court.

Platforms may also have to seek out similar examples of the illegal content and remove them, instead of waiting for each to be reported.

Facebook said the judgement raised critical questions around freedom of expression. What was the case about?

The case stemmed from an insulting comment posted on Facebook about Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, which the country's courts claimed damaged her reputation.

Under EU law, Facebook and other platforms are not held responsible for illegal content posted by users, until they have been made aware of it - at which point, they must remove it quickly. But it was unclear whether an EU directive, saying platforms cannot be made to monitor all posts or actively seek out illegal activity, could be overridden by a court order.

Austria's Supreme Court asked Europe's highest court to clarify this. The EU curt duly obliged and ruled:

  • If an EU country finds a post illegal in its courts, it can order websites and apps to take down identical copies of the post
  • Platforms can be ordered to take down equivalent versions of an illegal post, if the message conveyed is essentially unchanged
  • Platforms can be ordered to take down illegal posts worldwide, if there is a relevant international law or treaty

Facebook has said countries would have to set out very clear definitions on what 'identical' and 'equivalent' means in practice.  It said the ruling undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country.

Facebook is unable to appeal against this ruling.

 

 

Government deemed 'fake news' banned...

New internet censorship law comes into force in Singapore


Link Here 4th October 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Singapore...Heavy handed censorship control of news websites
Singapore's sweeping internet censorship law, claimed to be targeting 'fake news' came into force this week. Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill , it is now illegal to spread statements deemed false under circumstances in which that information is deemed prejudicial to Singapore's security, public safety, public tranquility, or to the friendly relations of Singapore with other countries, among numerous other topics.

Government ministers can decide whether to order something deemed fake news to be taken down, or for a correction to be put up alongside it. They can also order technology companies such as Facebook and Google to block accounts or sites spreading the information that the government doesn't ike.

The act also provides for prosecutions of individuals, who can face fines of up to 50,000 SGD (over $36,000), and, or, up to five years in prison.

 

 

The EU's cookie law crumbles like something from Alice in Wonderland...

The EU Court decides that websites cannot use cookies until users have actively ticked a clear consent box, neutrally presented next to a decline option. Who is then going to sign up for tracking?


Link Here 3rd October 2019
Full story: EU ePrivacy Law...The Cookie Law: EU regulate consent for tracking cookies
  


White Rabbit: The EU Council is now in session.

Dormouse: Anyone for a magic cookie. If you accept it you will be devoured by evil giants, if you decline, your community will be visited by pestilence and famine.

Alice: That is an impossible choice.

Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is. Everyone wants some magical solution for their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic.

Alice: Sometimes I've believed in as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast.

Mad Hatter: And we've legislated them into EU law by lunch
 

European lawmakers (including judges) seem to live in an Alice in Wonderland world where laws are made up on the spur of the moment by either the Mad Hatter, or the Dormouse. No thought is given to how they are supposed to work in practice or how they will pan out in reality.

For some reason EU lawmakers decided that the technology of internet cookies personified all that was bad about the internet, particularly that it is largely offered for 'free' whilst in reality being funded by the invasive extraction and exploitation of people's personal data.

Justifiably there is something to be legislated against here. But why not follow the time honoured, and effective, route of directing laws against the large companies doing the exploiting. It would have been straightforward to legislate that internet companies must not retain user data that defines their behaviour and personal information. The authorities could back this up by putting people in prison, or wiping out companies that don't comply with the law. 

But no, the EU came up with some bizarre nonsensical requirement that does little but train people to tick consent boxes without ever reading what they are consenting to. How can they call this data protection? It's data endangerment.

And unsurprisingly the first wave of implementation by internet companies was to try and make the gaining of consent for tracking cookies a one sided question, with a default answer of yes and no mechanism to say no.

Well it didn't take long to see through this silly slice of chicanery, but that doesn't matter...it takes ages for the EU legal system to gear up and put a stop to such a ploy.

So several years on, the European Court of Justice has now ruled that companies should give real options and should not lead people down the garden path towards the option required by the companies.

In an excellent summary of this weeks court judgement, the main court findings are:

  • pre-ticked boxes do not amount to valid consent,

  • expiration date of cookies and third party sharing should be disclosed to users when obtaining consent,

  • different purposes should not be bundled under the same consent ask,

  • in order for consent to be valid 'an active behaviour with a clear view' (which I read as 'intention') of consenting should be obtained (so claiming in notices that consent is obtained by having users continuing to use the website very likely does not meet this threshold) and,

  • these rules apply to cookies regardless of whether the data accessed is personal or not.

pdpecho.com commented on what the court carefully decided was the elephant in the room, that would be better not mentioned. ie what will happen next.

The latest court judgement really says that websites should present the cookie consent question something like this.


Website cookie consent
 
YES

I consent to this website building a detailed profile of my browsing history, personal information & preferences, financial standing and political leaning, to be used to monetise this website in whatever way this website sees fit.


NO

No I do not consent

Now it does not need an AI system the size of a planet to guess which way internet users will then vote given a clearly specified choice.

There is already a bit of discussion around the EU tea party table worrying about the very obvious outcome that websites will smply block out users who refuse to sign up for tracking cookies. The EU refers to this as a cookie wall, and there are rumblings that this approach will be banned by law.

This would lead to an Alice in Wonderland type of tea shop where customers have the right to decline consent to be charged the price of a chocolate chip cookie, and so can enjoy it for free.

Perfect in Wonderland, but in the real world, European internet businesses would soon be following in the footsteps of declining European high street businesses.

 

 

Offsite Article: Come in Google Adwords. your time is up...


Link Here 2nd October 2019
UK data 'protection' censor reiterates GDPR warning to ad tech companies about the blatant use of people's web browsing history without consent

See article from digiday.com

 

 

Rules edit...

Reddit announces censorship rule changes intended t make it easier for moderators to take action against bullying and harassment


Link Here 1st October 2019
Social media site Reddit has announced new censorship rules to target bullying and harassment. It explains in a blog post:

These changes, which were many months in the making, were primarily driven by feedback we received from you all, our users, indicating to us that there was a problem with the narrowness of our previous policy. Specifically, the old policy required a behavior to be continued and/or systematic for us to be able to take action against it as harassment. It also set a high bar of users fearing for their real-world safety to qualify, which we think is an incorrect calibration. Finally, it wasn't clear that abuse toward both individuals and groups qualified under the rule. All these things meant that too often, instances of harassment and bullying, even egregious ones, were left unactioned. This was a bad user experience for you all, and frankly, it is something that made us feel not-great too. It was clearly a case of the letter of a rule not matching its spirit.

The changes we're making today are trying to better address that, as well as to give some meta-context about the spirit of this rule: chiefly, Reddit is a place for conversation. Thus, behavior whose core effect is to shut people out of that conversation through intimidation or abuse has no place on our platform.

We also hope that this change will take some of the burden off moderators, as it will expand our ability to take action at scale against content that the vast majority of subreddits already have their own rules against-- rules that we support and encourage.

We all know that context is critically important here, and can be tricky, particularly when we're talking about typed words on the internet. This is why we're hoping today's changes will help us better leverage human user reports. Where previously, we required the harassment victim to make the report to us directly, we'll now be investigating reports from bystanders as well. We hope this will alleviate some of the burden on the harassee.

You should also know that we'll also be harnessing some improved machine-learning tools to help us better sort and prioritize human user reports. But don't worry, machines will only help us organize and prioritize user reports. They won't be banning content or users on their own. A human user still has to report the content in order to surface it to us. Likewise, all actual decisions will still be made by a human admin.

 

 

Cryptic reasons...

US ISPs complain to the US government about loss of snooping capabilities when Google Chrome switches to encrypted DNS


Link Here 1st October 2019

We would like to bring to your attention an issue that is of concern to all our organizations. Google is beginning to implement encrypted Domain Name System lookups into its Chrome browser and Android operating system through a new protocol for wireline and wireless service, known as DNS over HTTPS (DoH). If not coordinated with others in the internet ecosystem, this could interfere on a mass scale with critical internet functions, as well as raise data competition issues. We ask that the Committee seek detailed information from Google about its current and future plans and timetable for implementing encrypted DNS lookups, as well as a commitment not to centralize DNS lookups by default in Chrome or Android without first meeting with others in the internet ecosystem, addressing the implications of browser- and operating-system-based DNS lookups, and reaching consensus on implementation issues surrounding encrypted DNS.

Google is unilaterally moving forward with centralizing encrypted domain name requests within Chrome and Android, rather than having DNS queries dispersed amongst hundreds of providers. When a consumer or enterprise uses Google's Android phones or Chrome web browser, Android or Chrome would make Google the encrypted DNS lookup provider by default and most consumers would have limited practical knowledge or ability to detect or reject that choice. Because the majority of worldwide internet traffic (both wired and wireless) runs through the Chrome browser or the Android operating system, Google could become the overwhelmingly predominant DNS lookup provider.

While we recognize the potential positive effects of encryption, we are concerned about the potential for default, centralized resolution of DNS queries, and the collection of the majority of worldwide DNS data by a single, global internet company. By interposing itself between DNS providers and the users of the Chrome browser (> 60% worldwide share) and Android phones (> 80% worldwide share of mobile operating systems), Google would acquire greater control over user data across networks and devices around the world. This could inhibit competitors and possibly foreclose competition in advertising and other industries

Moreover, the centralized control of encrypted DNS threatens to harm consumers by interfering with a wide range of services provided by ISPs (both enterprise and public-facing) and others. Over the last several decades, DNS has been used to build other critical internet features and functionality including: (a) the provision of parental controls and IoT management for end users; (b) connecting end users to the nearest content delivery networks, thus ensuring the delivery of content in the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable manner; and (c) assisting rights holders' and law enforcement's efforts in enforcing judicial orders in combatting online piracy, as well as law enforcement's efforts in enforcing judicial orders in combatting the exploitation of minors. Google's centralization of DNS would bypass these critical features, undermining important consumer services and protections, and likely resulting in confusion because consumers will not understand why these features are no longer working. This centralization also raises serious cybersecurity risks and creates a single point of failure for global Internet services that is fundamentally at odds with the decentralized architecture of the internet. By limiting the ability to spot network threat indicators, it would also undermine federal government and private sector efforts to use DNS information to mitigate cybersecurity risks.

For these reasons, we ask that the Committee call upon Google not to impose centralized, encrypted DNS as a default standard in Chrome and Android. Instead, Google should follow the Internet Engineering Task Force best practice of fully vetting internet standards, and the internet community should work together to build consensus to ensure that encrypted DNS is implemented in a decentralized way that maximizes consumer welfare and avoids the disruption to essential services identified above

Sincerely

CTIA
NCTA
The Internet & Television Association
US Telecom
The Broadband Association

 

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