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2019: April-June

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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.

 

 

Offsite Article: UK Crypto control...


Link Here 11th June 2019
Censoring open source cryptocurrency software through money laundering requirements

See article from eff.org

 

 

Commented: Twitter is interfering in British elections...

Twitter censors the Euro election campaign accounts of Carl Benjamin and Tommy Robinson


Link Here 4th May 2019

Twitter has bannedTommy Robinson and Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin's campaign accounts

Both had already had their personal accounts banned from the platform - but now their campaign accounts are also suspended.

Benjamin, a vlogger who calls himself Sargon of Akkad, was banned from Twitter in 2017 whilst Robinson was permanently banned in March 2018.

In a tweet from the party's official account, Ukip said:

Official UKIP MEP Campaign account @CarlUkip, of which Carl Benjamin has no access to has been suspended from Twitter. This is election interference, and UKIP will get to the bottom of this.

And Ukip defended Benjamin as a YouTube entertainer fighting political correctness - before telling the Mirror: He will remain on the UKIP ticket.

Offsite Comment: Twitter's outrageous meddling in British democracy

4th May 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Brendan O'Neill

Twitter's outrageous meddling in British democracy

In banning Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin, Twitter is behaving like a corporate dictator.

 

 

Barbie booted out...

Girls work art exhibit about violence against women removed from Middlesbrough shop window


Link Here 29th April 2019

An art exhibit that aimed to spark conversation about violence against women by showing Barbie dolls being abused has been moved out of a shop window.

A few complaints were made about the collection, named Girls World , which were displayed in a Middlesbrough shopping centre in full view of children.

The work showed pictures of the children's toy being kicked by boyfriend Ken, giving birth to an unwanted child, and hanging herself from a tree. It was hoped the display, created by artist Lidia Lidia, would raise awareness of violence against females.

The exhibition was first put up on April 10 and was due to run for a fortnight before being removed from the front window on April 18. The exhibition has now been moved to the back of the gallery, in Middlesbrough, where it will remain until May 11.

In a statement, Lidia Lidia thanked the co-directors of the Pineapple Black galler for showing the 'somewhat controversial piece and apologised to people who found her work uncomfortable. She added:

I am totally aware that my work is provocative and sometimes disturbing but I strongly believe that art nowadays is one of the most powerful tools for shaping a fair and equal society.

 

 

Straight out of 1984...

NewsGuard is pushing for a deal for ISPs to flash warnings to internet users whilst they are browsing 'wrong think' news websites


Link Here 26th April 2019
NewsGuard is a US organisation trying to muscle in governments' concerns about 'fake news'' It doesn't fact check individual news stories but gives ratings to news organisations on what it considers to be indicators of 'trustworthiness'.

At the moment it is most widely known for providing browser add-ons that displays a green shield when readers are browsing an 'approved' news website and a red shield when the website is disapproved.

Now the company is pushing something a little more Orwellian. It is in talks with UK internet providers such that the ISP would inject some sort of warning screen should an internet user [inadvertently] stray onto a 'wrong think' website.

The idea seems to be that users can select whether they want these intrusive warnings or not, via a similar mechanism used for the parental control of website blocking.

NewsGuard lost an awful of credibility in the UK when its first set of ratings singled out the Daily Mail as a 'wrong think' news source. It caused a bit of a stink and the decisions was reversed, but it rather shows where the company is coming from.

 Surely they are patronising the British people if they think that people want to be nagged about reading the Daily Mail. People are well aware of the bases and points of views of news sources they read. They will not want to be nagged by those that think they know best what people should be reading.

I think it is only governments and politicians that are supposedly concerned about 'fake news anyway'. They see it as some sort blame opportunity. It can't possibly be their politicians' own policies that are so disastrously unpopular with the people, surely it must be mischievous 'fake news' peddlers that are causing the grief.

 

 

The right to be silent...

Facebook bans several UK far right groups


Link Here 19th April 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Facebook has banned far-right groups including the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) from having any presence on the social network. The banned groups, which also includes Knights Templar International, Britain First and the National Front as well as key members of their leadership, have been removed from both Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook said it uses an extensive process to determine which people or groups it designates as dangerous, using signals such as whether they have used hate speech, and called for or directly carried out acts of violence against others based on factors such as race, ethnicity or national origin.

Offsite comment: How to fight the new fascism

19th April 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Andrew Doyle

This week we have seen David Lammy doubling down on his ludicrous comparison of the European Research Group with the Nazi party, and Chris Key in the Independent calling for UKIP and the newly formed Brexit Party to be banned from television debates. It is clear that neither Key nor Lammy have a secure understanding of what far right actually means and, quite apart from the distasteful nature of such political opportunism, their strategy only serves to generate the kind of resentment upon which the far right depends.

Offsite comment: Facebook is calling for Centralized Censorship. That Should Scare You

19th April 2019. See article from wired.com by Emma Llansó

If we're going to have coherent discussions about the future of our information environment, we--the public, policymakers, the media, website operators--need to understand the technical realities and policy dynamics that shaped the response to the Christchurch massacre. But some of these responses have also included ideas that point in a disturbing direction: toward increasingly centralized and opaque censorship of the global interne

 

 

Leaks plugged...

Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been arrested in London


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: Wikileaks...Wikileaks whistle blowing and state secrets
Wikileaks was a whistle blowing website that shone a light on how governments of the world have been running our lives. And it was not a pretty sight.

Julian Assange who ran Wikileaks, is surely a freedom of speech hero, however he broke many serious state secret laws and has been evading the authorities via diplomatic immunity afforded to him by the Ecuadorean embassy in London. This has now been rescinded and Assange has been duly arrested. He is now in serious trouble and will surely end up being sent to the USA to answer the accusations.

It is hard to see that the prosecuting authorities will be convinced by ethics or morality of the ends justifying the means.

Maybe its best to let the BBC report the current situation. See article from bbc.com

 

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