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What have Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Cambridge Analytica clients got in common?...

They deserve and need investigating...but Aaron Banks' wallet says otherwise


Link Here 21st July 2019
The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data.

The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to intimidate and silence journalists working in the public interest.

In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop vexatious lawsuits, highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr. The letter says:

Following the recent global conference on media freedom held in London by the UK government, we write to draw your attention to what appears to be a growing trend to use strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) lawsuits as a means of intimidating and silencing journalists working in the public interest.

Such legal threats are designed to inhibit ongoing investigations, and prevent legitimate public interest reporting. Abuse of defamation law, including through SLAPP lawsuits, has become a serious threat to press freedom and advocacy rights in a number of countries, including the UK.

Fears have been expressed in the UK and abroad, and by the European parliament that this legal tactic was being deployed against the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who at the time of her death in October 2017 was subject to 42 civil libel suits against her, many of which were brought through UK-based law firms, acting for foreign banks and wealthy individuals. Twenty-seven of these vexatious lawsuits remain open more than 21 months after her assassination. A range of other Maltese media have faced threats of similar suits, including investigative outlet the Shift News.

Numerous legal and online threats have been made against Carole Cadwalladr, whose journalism for the Observer and a range of other publications has stimulated a global debate about the power of online platforms to influence the behaviour of citizens, and raised important questions about the regulation of digital technology.

The legal claim against Ms Cadwalladr, issued on 12 July by lawyers acting for Arron Banks, is another example of a wealthy individual appearing to abuse the law in an attempt to silence a journalist and distract from these issues being discussed by politicians, the media and the public at a critical time in the life of our democracy.

The increasing deployment of what appear to be SLAPP lawsuits in the UK poses a threat to media freedom and public interest advocacy, and demands a robust response. We believe that new legislation should be considered to prevent the abuse of defamation law to silence public interest investigative reporting. We also urge you to take a clear public stance condemning such practices and supporting investigative journalism and independent media.

We urge you to address this issue as a matter of priority. Action has been discussed within the institutions of the European Union, but it is important that the government makes clear that the UK remains a country that welcomes and celebrates the role and value of independent public interest reporting.

Paul Webster, editor, the Observer, Rebecca Vincent, UK bureau director, Reporters Without Borders, Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship, John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace UK, Thomas Hughes, executive director, Article 19, Carles Torner, executive director, PEN International, Carl MacDougall, president, Scottish PEN, Summer Lopez, senior director of Free Expression Programs, PEN America, Tom Gibson, EU representative, Committee to Protect Journalists, Flutura Kusari, legal adviser, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Scott Griffen, deputy director, International Press Institute, Caroline Muscat, co-founder and editor, the Shift News, Dr Justin Borg-Barthet, senior lecturer, University of Aberdeen School of Law, Matthew Caruana Galizia, director, Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, Paul Caruana Galizia, finance editor, Tortoise, Corinne Vella, sister of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Andrew Caruana Galizia, son of Daphne Caruana Galizia

See details of The Great Hack from theguardian.com

 

 

Comments: A line has been crossed...

A Former Guardian editor notes that the police need classes in the basics of free speech.


Link Here 21st July 2019

pupils lining up for class
 

What, you wonder, do they teach them in police college these days? Gangs, cyber crime, forensics, public safety, drugs --there's doubtless a lot to learn. But I would like to suggest a new and compulsory course, let's call it The Basics Of Free Speech.

Lesson number 1. The police do not tell newspaper editors what to write.

You think this is too basic? That in 21st Century Britain no police officer would dream of telling a newspaper editor not to publish information and meekly to hand back any leaked documents to their rightful owners?

If you think that, then you haven't been paying attention. You evidently missed Friday's statement from one of the most senior officers [Neil Basu] in the , advising owners, editors, publishers -- along with anyone on social media -- exactly what they shouldn't publish.

See article from dailymail.co.uk by Alan Rusbridger

 

Offsite Comment: We must protect the free British press from state bullies

21st July 2019. See article from dailymail.co.uk by David Davis

 Press freedom is the most vital freedom because it underpins all the others. When governments allow that freedom to be corroded they undermine the very foundations of our democracy.

For that reason we need a new Official Secrets Act, and a general protection for press freedom against the rapidly developing intrusive powers of the modern State.

The events of the past few weeks have demonstrated only too clearly why this is necessary.

...Read the full article from dailymail.co.uk

See also How the country's most powerful civil servant and the Met Police plotted an extraordinary attack on press freedom from dailymail.co.uk

 

 

Maybe another Government angle for ID verification...

UK's Competition and Markets Authority reports on a thriving market in fake reviews for products on eBay and Amazon


Link Here 25th June 2019

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found troubling evidence that there is a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews. After web sweeps performed in the period November 2018 to June 2019, the CMA was concerned about over 100 eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale. It also identified 203 during the same period 203 26 Facebook groups in total where people offered to write fake reviews or businesses recruited people to write fake and misleading reviews on popular shopping and review sites.

It is estimated that over three-quarters of UK internet users consider online reviews when choosing what to buy. Billions of pounds of people's spending is influenced by reviews every year. Fake and misleading reviews not only lead to people making poorly informed choices and buying the wrong products, but they are also illegal under consumer protection law.

The CMA is not alleging that Facebook or eBay are intentionally allowing this content to appear on their websites. Since the CMA wrote to the sites, both have indicated that they will cooperate and Facebook has informed the CMA that most of the 26 groups have been removed. The CMA welcomes this, and expects the sites to put measures in place to ensure that all the identified content is removed and to stop it from reappearing.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive said:

Lots of us rely on reviews when shopping online to decide what to buy. It is important that people are able to trust that reviews are genuine, rather than something someone has been paid to write.

Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with a product or service that's not right for them. They're also unfair to businesses who do the right thing.

We want Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review of their sites to prevent fake and misleading online reviews from being bought and sold.

 

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