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 Offsite Article: The UK will block online porn from April. Here's what we know...


Link Here 25th February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
wired logo Age verification of all pornographic content will be mandatory from April 2018. But there are still a lot of grey areas

See article from wired.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort...


Link Here 25th February 2018
new york times logo A lengthy but interesting speech revealing how US journalists feel a little besieged by declining revenue, the politically correct, and Donald Trump. By Bret Stephens

See article from nytimes.com

 

  Cheating people of their right to free speech...

Bangladesh tried and failed to shutdown Facebook to prevent cheating in school exams


Link Here 24th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Bangladesh...Internet censors to track down supposed blasphemy

Facebook logoNow is the season of school final exams in Bangladesh and the government is trying hard to cope with the issue of exam questions leaking online.

Leaking exam questions have become a regular phenomenon in public examinations like Junior School Certificate (JSC), Senior School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC), medical college and university admission tests, and state-owned bank recruitment exams over the last several years in Bangladesh.

Mostly using Facebook and WhatsApp, people sell exam questions ahead of the nationwide examinations. A few hours before the exam, the questions are often given away for free. The offenders in most of these cases have not been identified. These leaks have cast a shadow over the quality of exams and the process of assessing students.

In January, the Education Minister hinted that Facebook would be shut down during the exams to prevent these leaks.

On February 11, 2018, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission instructed all internet service providers in Bangladesh to shut off mobile internet and reduce broadband speeds to 25 kbps from 8:00am-10:30am on exam days throughout the remainder of February.

But on February 12, 2018 morning, within an hour from the start of the internet shutdown, the government backtracked and ordered ISPs to ensure uninterrupted internet service. It took some hours for the ISPs to implement the new order and things were normal again. The authorities have instead imposed a mobile phone ban near the exam halls.

Netizens criticized the move, using sarcasm and satire to express their dissatisfaction and protest the rash and whimsical decision.

For now, with demand for exam questions increasing, the leaks continue. How the government will choose to combat the problem, short of an internet shutdown, remains to be seen.

 

 Offsite Article: Why the world's biggest porn company is backing the UK's new age law...


Link Here 24th February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
mindgeek ageid logo And why the adult industry is worried. By Lux Alptraum

See article from theverge.com

 

  The hare is off and running, 2 months left to download enough porn to last a lifetime...

The government has now officially appointed the BBFC as its internet porn censor


Link Here 23rd February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
bbfc appointed The DCMS has published a letter dated 21st February 2018 that officially appoints the BBFC as its internet porn censor. It euphemistically describes the role as an age verification regulator.

Presumably a few press releases will follow and now the BBFC can at least be expected to comment on how the censorship will be implemented..

The enforcement has previously being noted as starting around late April or early May but this does not seem to give sufficient time for the required software to be implemented by websites.

 

  Immoral censorship...

Turkey is set to extend internet TV censorship to the likes of Netflix and YouTube, and also to personal social media accounts


Link Here 23rd February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
rtuk logoThe Committee to Protect Journalists rather optimistically calls on Turkish authorities to scrap the article of a draft bill that would expand internet censorship in Turkey.

The Parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission has now passed article 73 of the bill, which would require online broadcasters, including YouTube and Netflix Turkey, to be licensed and regulated by the federal TV and radio censor RTÜK, according to news reports. Article 73 would also extend RTÜK's authority to personal social media accounts.

Parliament still needs to approve the bill's remaining articles before it schedules a vote on the bill but it has more than enough votes to pass and become law,

Government Minister Ahmet Arslan, who oversees internet censorship, has claimed that:

Censorship does not exist in Turkey ...[BUT]... Only broadcast material that goes "against national security [and the] moral order of the country" would be blocked if the bill becomes law.

 

  Florida declares that porn is harmful whilst guns are not...

They're wrong, even a school kid could tell you that


Link Here 22nd February 2018  full story: Newtown School Killings...Gun lobby vs violent media
Florida state sealFlorida's House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday declaring pornography a public health risk. The resolution called for education, research, and policy changes to protect Florida citizens -- especially teenagers.

The bill's sponsor, Ross Spano, said that research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.

The vote followed an earlier session in which Florida legislators declined to hold hearings on a bill banning high-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the one used last week by suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Meanwhile in  Kentucky politicians have returned to the 1990s tactic of blaming video games for violence. Kentucky governor Matt Bevin started the show a couple of days after the shooting, and on Wednesday, Rhode Island state representative Bobby Nardolillo took it a step further.

Nardolillo proposed legislation that would put a 10% tax on video games with an ESRB rating of Mature or higher, Rolling Stone reported . That tax revenue would be used to fund counseling, mental health programs and other conflict resolution activities in schools, according to the press release on Nardolillo's Facebook page. Both Nardolillo and Bevin have high ratings from the gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

But I'm not sure that blaming porn and video games is a good direction for the gun lobby. Surely if they consider that video games and porn causes the mental health issues that lead to killing sprees, then surely they should recognise that there are people that should not be trusted with guns. And as video games and porn are so ubiquitous then the only safe policy is that nobody should be trusted with guns. QED

 

  The Image of Spain...

Artwork highlighting political prisoners in Spain is censored


Link Here 22nd February 2018
24 political prisonersMadrid's International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO) has pulled a photo exhibition called Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain amid controversy because it includes images of Catalan politicians that are currently in jail.

The decision to remove the exhibition within hours of the art fair opening to the press has been attributed to censorship. The exhibition space is government funded so sensitivities have to be observed.

The polemic exhibit contained 24 black and white portraits by Spanish conceptual artist Santiago Sierra, displayed in the stand assigned to the Helga de Alvear gallery.

Gallery organisers were asked to remove the exhibit on Wednesday just hours after a press preview ahead of the art fair opening to the public.

 

  Insulting words...

An Australian campaign will respond to the use of the word 'retard' in tweets with a video of somebody explaining how hurt they are by the word


Link Here 22nd February 2018
moron watch The Australian 9 News programme is asking whether the word 'retard' should be banned.

It was once an acceptable American word describe someone with a mental disability, but it has now become a word more generally used as an insult. However it seems to very much the word that triggers the most passionate criticism.

Now, a new social media campaign is aimed at curbing the use of the word. Every time you type 'retard' on Twitter, a video will pop up of a person with a disability explaining why it upsets them.

The campaign, firmly backed by Western Australia Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson. He said:

I think many people will watch these videos, realise what they're saying offends people, and change their ways.

He added that it's not so much about censorship, and more about encouraging people to be mindful of how the words they use might affect people.

But in reality there is a tokenism to such efforts. What ever is defined as a polite term soon becomes open to use as an insult and so it becomes a never ending cycle. A token ban doesn't help much when there is such a rich vein of replacement terms. And even if impolite terms are frowned up, the English language is rich enough to compose equally devastating insults even using nominally polite terms.

 

 Offsite Article: The dangerous trend for automating censorship, and circumventing laws...


Link Here 22nd February 2018
openmedia logo Deals between companies and governments to automate acceptable content online are too common. By Ruth Coustick-Deal

See article from openmedia.org

 

 Offsite Article: Astroturfing...


Link Here 22nd February 2018
bell logo Bell Canada caught encouraging its employees to write into a consultation supporting the introduction of internet censorship as if they were 'concerned citizens'

See article from huffingtonpost.ca

 

  Golden Oldies...

US judge strikes down law banning IMDb from publishing the age of movie stars


Link Here 21st February 2018
imdb logoA Californian law that prevented the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) from publishing the age of movie stars has been declared unconstitutional, and so the law is struck down on First Amendment grounds. A federal judge declared it not only to be unconstitutional, but also a bad solution to the wrong problem.

The law went into effect in 2017 after being signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown. The goal was to mitigate age discrimination in a youth-obsessed Hollywood by requiring IMDb to remove age-related information upon the request of a subscriber.

The judge explained:

Even if California had shown that the law was passed after targeted efforts to eliminate discrimination in the entertainment industry had failed, the law is not narrowly tailored. For one, the law is underinclusive, in that it bans only one kind of speaker from disseminating age-related information, leaving all other sources of that information untouched. Even looking just at IMDb.com, the law requires IMDb to take down some age-related information -- that of the members of its subscription service who request its removal -- but not the age-related information of those who don't subscribe to IMDbPro, or who don't ask IMDb.com to take their information down.

The judge adds that the law is also overinclusive:

For instance, it requires IMDb not to publish the age-related information of all those who request that their information not be published, not just of those protected by existing age discrimination laws, states the opinion (read below). If the state is concerned about discriminatory conduct affecting those not covered by current laws, namely those under 40, it certainly has a more direct means of addressing those concerns than imposing restrictions on IMDb's speech.

Californian officials said the state will be appealing this ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

  Freedom in the World 2018: Democracy in Crisis...

Freedom House publishes its annual survey


Link Here 19th February 2018
freedom house logoFreedom House has published its annual survey of freedom around the word. Its key findings are somewhat grim:
  • Democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades in 2017 as its basic tenets--including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law--came under attack around the world.
  • Seventy-one countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties, with only 35 registering gains. This marked the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
  • The United States retreated from its traditional role as both a champion and an exemplar of democracy amid an accelerating decline in American political rights and civil liberties.
  • Over the period since the 12-year global slide began in 2006, 113 countries have seen a net decline, and only 62 have experienced a net improvement.

See full report from freedomhouse.org

 

  Images of compromise...

Google tweaks its Image Search at the behest of Getty Images


Link Here 18th February 2018
google images logoGoogle has tweaked its Google's image search to make it slightly more difficult to view images in full size before downloading them. Google has also added a more prominent copyright warning.

Google acted as part of a peace deal with photo library Getty Images.  In 2017, Getty Images complained to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.

Google said it had removed some features from image search, including the view image button. Images can still be viewed in full size from the right click menu, at least on my Windows version of Firefox. Google also removed the search by image button, which was an easy way of finding larger copies of photographs. Perhaps the tweaks are more about restricting the finding of high resolution version of image rather than worrying about standard sized images.

Getty Images is a photo library that sells the work of photographers and illustrators to businesses, newspapers and broadcasters. It complained that Google's image search made it easy for people to find Getty Images pictures and take them, without the appropriate permission or licence.

In a statement, Getty Images said:

We are pleased to announce that after working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognised and we have withdrawn our complaint.

 

  The pits of world censorship...

Turkish TV company fined for unbeeped strong language on its internet player


Link Here 18th February 2018
cukurTurkey's TV censor RT3cK has set a new precedent by issuing a fine to a channel that included strong language language on its website that was beeped out when broadcast on TV.

The fine came when Show TV posted a clip of a sweary character from the hit mafia TV show Çukur (The Pit)  without the usual heavy censorship on its website.

A draft law that would enable RT3cK to regulate online video content is in the works, but the body appears to have begun regardless.

 

 Offsite Article: Germany edges toward Chinese-style rating of citizens...


Link Here 18th February 2018
schufa logo China is experimenting with a dystopian social credit system which grades every citizen based on their behavior. Germany is sleepwalking in the same direction. By Heike Jahberg

See article from global.handelsblatt.com

 

 Offsite Article: Out and out overblocking...


Link Here 18th February 2018  full story: Crap Internet Blocking...Cheapo automated filters are not up to the job
gay star news logo Sky UK block gay-teen support website deemed pornographic by its algorithms

See article from gaystarnews.com

 

 Offsite Article: Body positive art seen in a negative light...


Link Here 18th February 2018
minnesota body positive PC confusion in Minnesota

See article from citypages.com

 

  Endangering porn stars...

German courts finds that Facebook's real name policy is illegal and a Belgian court tells Facebook to delete tracking data on people not signed up to Facebook


Link Here 17th February 2018  full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy

Facebook logoGermany

In a ruling of particular interest to those working in the adult entertainment biz, a German court has ruled that Facebook's real name policy is illegal and that users must be allowed to sign up for the service under pseudonyms.

The opinion comes from the Berlin Regional Court and disseminated by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, which filed the suit against Facebook. The Berlin court found that Facebook's real name policy was a covert way of obtaining users' consent to share their names, which are one of many pieces of information the court said Facebook did not properly obtain users' permission for.

The court also said that Facebook didn't provide a clear-cut choice to users for other default settings, such as to share their location in chats. It also ruled against clauses that allowed the social media giant to use information such as profile pictures for commercial, sponsored or related content.

Facebook told Reuters it will appeal the ruling, but also that it will make changes to comply with European Union privacy laws coming into effect in June.

Belgium

Facebook has been ordered to stop tracking people without consent, by a court in Belgium. The company has been told to delete all the data it had gathered on people who did not use Facebook. The court ruled the data was gathered illegally.

Belgium's privacy watchdog said the website had broken privacy laws by placing tracking code on third-party websites.

Facebook said it would appeal against the ruling.

The social network faces fines of 250,000 euros a day if it does not comply.

The ruling is the latest in a long-running dispute between the social network and the Belgian commission for the protection of privacy (CPP). In 2015, the CPP complained that Facebook tracked people when they visited pages on the site or clicked like or share, even if they were not members.

 

  Is internet censorship thriving under the radar in the UK?...

YouTube videos that are banned for UK eyes only


Link Here 17th February 2018
calais rant video uk censored video
  outside UK UK

The United Kingdom's reputation for online freedom has suffered significantly in recent years, in no small part due to the draconian Investigatory Powers Act, which came into power last year and created what many people have described as the worst surveillance state in the free world.

But despite this, the widely held perception is that the UK still allows relatively free access to the internet, even if they do insist on keeping records on what sites you are visiting. But how true, is this perception?

...

There is undeniably more online censorship in the UK than many people would like to admit to. But is this just the tip of the iceberg? The censorship of one YouTube video suggests that it might just be. The video in question contains footage filmed by a trucker of refugees trying to break into his vehicle in order to get across the English Channel and into the UK. This is a topic which has been widely reported in British media in the past, but in the wake of the Brexit vote and the removal of the so-called 'Jungle Refugee Camp', there has been strangely little coverage.

The video in question is entitled 'Epic Hungarian Trucker runs the Calais migrant gauntlet.' It is nearly 15 minutes long and does feature the drivers extremely forthright opinions about the refugees in question as well as some fairly blue language.

Yet, if you try to access this video in the UK, you will find that it is blocked. It remains accessible to users elsewhere in the world, albeit with content warnings in place.

And it is not alone. It doesn't take too much research to uncover several similar videos which are also censored in the UK. The scale of the issue likely requires further research. But it safe to say, that such censorship is both unnecessary and potentially illegal as it as undeniably denying British citizens access to content which would feed an informed debate on some crucial issues.

 

 Updated: Severe punishment...

Ofcom fines Al Arabiya News channel from the UAE for broadcasting a prison confession extracted via torture


Link Here 17th February 2018

al arabiya logoAl Arabiya News is an Arabic language news and current affairs channel licensed by Ofcom.

Mr Husain Abdulla complained to Ofcom on behalf of Mr Hassan Mashaima about unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme and the programme as broadcast on Al Arabiya News on 27 February 2016.

The programme reported on an attempt made in February and March 2011, by a number of people including the complainant, Mr Hassan Mashiama, to change the governing regime in Bahrain from a Kingdom to a Republic. It included an interview with Mr Mashaima, filmed while he was in prison awaiting a retrial, as he explained the circumstances which had led to his arrest and conviction.

The interview included Mr Mashaima making confessions as to his participation in certain activities. Only approximately three months prior to the date on which Al Arabiya News said the footage was filmed, an official Bahraini Commission of Inquiry had found that similar such confessions had been obtained from individuals, including Mr Mashaima, under torture. During Mr Mashaima's subsequent retrial and appeal, he maintained that his conviction should be overturned, as confessions had been obtained from him under torture.

Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £120,000 and that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date to be determined by Ofcom, and that it should be directed to refrain from broadcasting the material found in breach again.

Update: Closed

6th February 2018. See article from ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom has announced that Al Arabiya News Channel is no longer licensed by Ofcom and hence cannot broadcast to the UK. Presumably this is related to the recent Ofcom fine.

Update: Maybe another reason for the UK closure

17th February 2018.  See  article from menafn.com

Al Arabiya News Channel has surrendered with immediate effect its license with the U.K. broadcasting censor Ofcom, which received a complaint over the channel's involvement in covering the crime of hacking Qatar News Agency (QNA), British law firm Carter-Ruck said.

QNA had hired Carter-Ruck to submit a complaint at Ofcom against Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia for broadcasting fabricated and false statements attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani after QNA's website was hacked on May 24, 2017, The four countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt used this event to justify the siege that they have been imposing on Qatar since June 5, 2017.

The surrendering of the license by Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite broadcaster owned by Saudi businessmen, was to avoid an an Ofcom investigation.

QNA says Al Arabiya's decision was dictated by the inquiry but the channel says business reasons also influenced the move.

 

 Offsite Article: Forgive her Lord for she knows not what she does...


Link Here 17th February 2018
doj logo US Judge rules that embedding a tweet can be copyright infringement

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

  Calling for secretly funded press censorship...

Max Mosley launches legal action against several newspapers to delete coverage of his BDSM parties and his funding of the Impress press censor


Link Here 15th February 2018  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex
impress 2016 logo The Daily Mail writes:

Max Mosley has launched a chilling new attack on Press freedom, with an extraordinary legal bid to scrub records of his notorious German-themed orgy from history.

The former Formula One boss also wants to restrict reporting on the £3.8million his family trust spends bankrolling the controversial Press regulator Impress.

He has taken legal action against a range of newspapers -- the Daily Mail, The Times, The Sun and at least one other national newspaper -- demanding they delete any references to his sadomasochistic sex party and never mention it again.

However, in a move that could have devastating consequences both for Press freedom and for historical records, Mr Mosley is now using data protection laws to try to force newspapers to erase any mention of it. He has also insisted that the newspapers stop making references to the fact he bankrolls Impress -- the highly controversial, state-approved Press regulator.

Yesterday, MPs warned against data protection laws being used to trample Press freedoms. Conservative MP Bill Cash said:

The freedom of the Press is paramount and it would be perverse to allow historical records to be removed on the basis of data protection. If data protection can be used to wipe out historical records, then the consequences would be dramatic.

John Whittingdale, a Tory former Culture Secretary, said:

Data protection is an important principle for the protection of citizens. However, it must not be used to restrict the freedom of the Press.

In his action, the multimillionaire racing tycoon claimed that the Daily Mail's owner, Associated Newspapers, had breached data protection principles in 34 articles published since 2013 -- including many opinion pieces defending the freedom of the Press. These principles are designed to stop companies from excessive processing of people's sensitive personal data or from holding on to people's details for longer than necessary, and come with exemptions for journalism that is in the public interest.

 

 Commented: Maybe more about asking why Google can't do the same...

The UK reveals a tool to detect uploads of jihadi videos


Link Here 15th February 2018  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

asi logoThe UK government has unveiled a tool it says can accurately detect jihadist content and block it from being viewed.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC she would not rule out forcing technology companies to use it by law. Rudd is visiting the US to meet tech companies to discuss the idea, as well as other efforts to tackle extremism.

The government provided £600,000 of public funds towards the creation of the tool by an artificial intelligence company based in London.

Thousands of hours of content posted by the Islamic State group was run past the tool, in order to train it to automatically spot extremist material.

ASI Data Science said the software can be configured to detect 94% of IS video uploads. Anything the software identifies as potential IS material would be flagged up for a human decision to be taken.

The company said it typically flagged 0.005% of non-IS video uploads. But this figure is meaningless without an indication of how many contained any content that have any connection with jihadis.

In London, reporters were given an off-the-record briefing detailing how ASI's software worked, but were asked not to share its precise methodology. However, in simple terms, it is an algorithm that draws on characteristics typical of IS and its online activity.

It sounds like the tool is more about analysing data about the uploading account, geographical origin, time of day, name of poster etc rather than analysing the video itself.

Comment: Even extremist takedowns require accountability

15th February 2018. See  article from openrightsgroup.org

open rights group 2016 logo Can extremist material be identified at 99.99% certainty as Amber Rudd claims today? And how does she intend to ensure that there is legal accountability for content removal?

The Government is very keen to ensure that extremist material is removed from private platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. It has urged use of machine learning and algorithmic identification by the companies, and threatened fines for failing to remove content swiftly.

Today Amber Rudd claims to have developed a tool to identify extremist content, based on a database of known material. Such tools can have a role to play in identifying unwanted material, but we need to understand that there are some important caveats to what these tools are doing, with implications about how they are used, particularly around accountability. We list these below.

Before we proceed, we should also recognise that this is often about computers (bots) posting vast volumes of material with a very small audience. Amber Rudd's new machine may then potentially clean some of it up. It is in many ways a propaganda battle between extremists claiming to be internet savvy and exaggerating their impact, while our own government claims that they are going to clean up the internet. Both sides benefit from the apparent conflict.

The real world impact of all this activity may not be as great as is being claimed. We should be given much more information about what exactly is being posted and removed. For instance the UK police remove over 100,000 pieces of extremist content by notice to companies: we currently get just this headline figure only. We know nothing more about these takedowns. They might have never been viewed, except by the police, or they might have been very influential.

The results of the government's' campaign to remove extremist material may be to push them towards more private or censor-proof platforms. That may impact the ability of the authorities to surveil criminals and to remove material in the future. We may regret chasing extremists off major platforms, where their activities are in full view and easily used to identify activity and actors.

Whatever the wisdom of proceeding down this path, we need to be worried about the unwanted consequences of machine takedowns. Firstly, we are pushing companies to be the judges of legal and illegal. Secondly, all systems make mistakes and require accountability for them; mistakes need to be minimised, but also rectified.

Here is our list of questions that need to be resolved.

1 What really is the accuracy of this system?

Small error rates translate into very large numbers of errors at scale. We see this with more general internet filters in the UK, where our blocked.org.uk project regularly uncovers and reports errors.

How are the accuracy rates determined? Is there any external review of its decisions?

The government appears to recognise the technology has limitations. In order to claim a high accuracy rate, they say at least 6% of extremist video content has to be missed. On large platforms that would be a great deal of material needing human review. The government's own tool shows the limitations of their prior demands that technology "solve" this problem.

Islamic extremists are operating rather like spammers when they post their material. Just like spammers, their techniques change to avoid filtering. The system will need constant updating to keep a given level of accuracy.

2 Machines are not determining meaning

Machines can only attempt to pattern match, with the assumption that content and form imply purpose and meaning. This explains how errors can occur, particularly in missing new material.

3 Context is everything

The same content can, in different circumstances, be legal or illegal. The law defines extremist material as promoting or glorifying terrorism. This is a vague concept. The same underlying material, with small changes, can become news, satire or commentary. Machines cannot easily determine the difference.

4 The learning is only as good as the underlying material

The underlying database is used to train machines to pattern match. Therefore the quality of the initial database is very important. It is unclear how the material in the database has been deemed illegal, but it is likely that these are police determinations rather than legal ones, meaning that inaccuracies or biases in police assumptions will be repeated in any machine learning.

5 Machines are making no legal judgment

The machines are not making a legal determination. This means a company's decision to act on what the machine says is absent of clear knowledge. At the very least, if material is "machine determined" to be illegal, the poster, and users who attempt to see the material, need to be told that a machine determination has been made.

6 Humans and courts need to be able to review complaints

Anyone who posts material must be able to get human review, and recourse to courts if necessary.

7 Whose decision is this exactly?

The government wants small companies to use the database to identify and remove material. If material is incorrectly removed, perhaps appealed, who is responsible for reviewing any mistake?

It may be too complicated for the small company. Since it is the database product making the mistake, the designers need to act to correct it so that it is less likely to be repeated elsewhere.

If the government want people to use their tool, there is a strong case that the government should review mistakes and ensure that there is an independent appeals process.

8 How do we know about errors?

Any takedown system tends towards overzealous takedowns. We hope the identification system is built for accuracy and prefers to miss material rather than remove the wrong things, however errors will often go unreported. There are strong incentives for legitimate posters of news, commentary, or satire to simply accept the removal of their content. To complain about a takedown would take serious nerve, given that you risk being flagged as a terrorist sympathiser, or perhaps having to enter formal legal proceedings.

We need a much stronger conversation about the accountability of these systems. So far, in every context, this is a question the government has ignored. If this is a fight for the rule of law and against tyranny, then we must not create arbitrary, unaccountable, extra-legal censorship systems.

 

 Extract: Flawed Social Media Law...

Human Rights Watch criticises the recent German internet censorship law that leaves social media companies with little choice but to take down any complained about posts without due consideration


Link Here 15th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

reverse netzdg The new German law that compels social media companies to remove hate speech and other illegal content can lead to unaccountable, overbroad censorship and should be promptly reversed, Human Rights Watch said today. The law sets a dangerous precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online by forcing companies to censor on the government's behalf. Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch said:

Governments and the public have valid concerns about the proliferation of illegal or abusive content online, but the new German law is fundamentally flawed. It is vague, overbroad, and turns private companies into overzealous censors to avoid steep fines, leaving users with no judicial oversight or right to appeal.

Parliament approved the Network Enforcement Act , commonly known as NetzDG, on June 30, 2017, and it took full effect on January 1, 2018. The law requires large social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, to promptly remove "illegal content," as defined in 22 provisions of the criminal code , ranging widely from insult of public office to actual threats of violence. Faced with fines up to 50 million euro, companies are already removing content to comply with the law.

At least three countries -- Russia, Singapore, and the Philippines -- have directly cited the German law as a positive example as they contemplate or propose legislation to remove "illegal" content online. The Russian draft law, currently before the Duma, could apply to larger social media platforms as well as online messaging services.

Two key aspects of the law violate Germany's obligation to respect free speech, Human Rights Watch said. First, the law places the burden on companies that host third-party content to make difficult determinations of when user speech violates the law, under conditions that encourage suppression of arguably lawful speech. Even courts can find these determinations challenging, as they require a nuanced understanding of context, culture, and law. Faced with short review periods and the risk of steep fines, companies have little incentive to err on the side of free expression.

Second, the law fails to provide either judicial oversight or a judicial remedy should a cautious corporate decision violate a person's right to speak or access information. In this way, the largest platforms for online expression become "no accountability" zones, where government pressure to censor evades judicial scrutiny.

At the same time, social media companies operating in Germany and elsewhere have human rights responsibilities toward their users, and they should act to protect them from abuse by others, Human Rights Watch said. This includes stating in user agreements what content the company will prohibit, providing a mechanism to report objectionable content, investing adequate resources to conduct reviews with relevant regional and language expertise, and offering an appeals process for users who believe their content was improperly blocked or removed. Threats of violence, invasions of privacy, and severe harassment are often directed against women and minorities and can drive people off the internet or lead to physical attacks.

...Read the full article from hrw.org

 

  I am not a number! I am a surveillance database entry...

Thailand asks developers to speed up its 'Foreigner Database' that will record the entries and exits of all foreigners, and require them to report to local police every time they change hotel or address


Link Here 15th February 2018
surveillanceThailand's Immigration Bureau and the Interior Ministry have been instructed to speed up the implementation of a single-platform online database of foreigners entering and leaving the kingdom. The two agencies were told to have the new system fully functioning in six months.

The order was given by the Deputy leader of Thailand's military governement, General Prawit Wongsuwan.

The single platform database would enable the government to keep tabs on all foreigners so that they can be easily located by the police.

As part of the new system, the Immigration Bureau will cancel the use of the Immigration 6 form and instead use e-passport data. A spokesman said each immigration checkpoint would be equipped with identity-checking equipment, such as fingerprint readers and passport scanners, to enter information into the database.

At the same time, the Interior Ministry's Provincial Administration Department must ensure that all hotels, apartments, guesthouses and other accommodation services keep and report records of foreigners using their services by informing the nearest immigration office or police station, which will in turn feed the data to the database. Foreigners also now have to report  to the local police or immigration every time they change hotel or where they stay whilst in Thailand.

 

 Offsite Article: We already give up our privacy to use phones, why not with cars too?...


Link Here 15th February 2018
surveillance The future of transport looks like a sensor-riddled computer

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 Updated: Images blocked by default...

Tumblr changes the way that its safe mode works, possibly related to impending UK porn censorship


Link Here 13th February 2018
tumblr is an image sharing website. It has just announced that it will changesafe mode wrks. In a email to wisers, tumblr writes: the way that its

tumblr logoHi

Last year we introduced Safe Mode, which filters sensitive content in your dashboard and search results so you have control over what you see and what you don't. And now that it's been out for a while, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to try it out.

Over the next couple weeks, you might see some things in your dashboard getting filtered. If you like it that way, that's great. If you don't, no problem. You can go back by turning off Safe Mode any time.

tumblr.

Update: Are the safe mode changes related to impending UK porn censorship?

13th February 2018. See  article from dazeddigital.com

Tumblr has long been one of the freest spaces on the internet for porn and sex-positive content, thanks to lax guidelines compared to Facebook or Instagram. Porn creators, fetish community artists, and more were able to share work with little trouble. Tumblr made a major change last year with the introduction of a Safe Mode that initially filtered NSFW content if users chose to enable it. Now though, Tumblr is making Safe Mode the default setting for users.

The Safe Mode feature hides sensitive images -- for example nude images, even, as Tumblr's guidelines note, if artistic or education nudity like classic art or anatomy. As Motherboard reports , it's a function that claims to give users more control over what you see and what you don't, updating the Safe Search option that the platform introduced back in 2012 that removed sensitive stuff from the site's search results.

Rolling out the default setting means users will have to go out of their way to switch back and see unfiltered content. An email sent to Tumblr users last week states that they want to make sure everyone has the chance to try it out.

Many adult content creators are concerned this will affect their work and space on the platform. Tumblr user, freelance artist, and adult comic-maker Kayla-Na told Dazed of her frustrations: I understand wanting to make Tumblr a safer environment for younger audiences, but Tumblr has to remember that the adult community is still part of the website as a whole, and shouldn't be suppressed into oblivion.

See full article from dazeddigital.com

Perhaps the Tumblr safe mode has also been introduced as a step towards the UK's porn censorship by age verification. The next step maybe for the safe mode to mandatorily imposed on internet viewers in Britain and can only be turned off when they subject themselves to age verification.

 

  Last chapter...

Politician calls for the end of the Irish book censor because it does not censor enough (or anything at all)


Link Here 13th February 2018  full story: Book Censorship in Ireland...Minister for censorship investigated by how own censor board

niamh smythIrish book censors have not banned a single magazine and have blocked just one book in the last ten years. Now a member of the Irish Parliament has called for the Censorship of Publications Board to be shut down.

Fianna Fail Arts and Culture Spokesperson Niamh Smyth said: This is one quango that should be whacked. She was referring to a political campaign slogan whack a quango, to shut down quangos. Smyth added:

The ongoing existence of a Censorship Board that doesn't censor anything is bringing the concept of censorship into disrepute at a time where we need it more than ever.

The only time the board has been heard of in ten years was the ludicrous submission of Alan Shatter's novel Laura over something to do with abortion.

 

  Sneaky tricks...

Instagram is trying to inform posters that their post has been saved, snapped or recorded before it self destructs


Link Here 13th February 2018  full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo hsaring website gets heavy on the censorship
instagram logoSome users have reported seeing pop ups in Instagram (IG) informing them that, from now on, Instagram will be flagging when you record or take a screenshot of other people's IG stories and informing the originator that you have rsnapped or ecorded the post.

According to a report by Tech Crunch , those who have been selected to participate in the IG trial can see exactly who has been creeping and snapping their stories. Those who have screenshotted an image or recorded a video will have a little camera shutter logo next to their usernames, much like Snapchat.

Of course, users have already found a nifty workaround to avoid social media stalking exposure. So here's the deal: turning your phone on airplane mode after you've loaded the story and then taking your screenshot means that users won't be notified of any impropriety (sounds easy for Instagram to fix this by saving the keypress until the next time it communicates with the Instagram server). You could also download the stories from Instagram's website or use an app like Story Reposter. Maybe PC users just need another small window on the desktop, then move the mouse pointer to the small window before snapping the display.

Clearly, there's concerns on Instagram's part about users' content being shared without their permission, but if the post is shared with someone for viewing, it is pretty tough to stop then from grabbing a copy for themselves as they view it.

 

  How Apple is Paving the Way to a Cloud Dictatorship in China...

So who'll trust the Chinese government with their cloud data?


Link Here 12th February 2018  full story: Mass snooping in China...Internet and phone snooping in China

global voices logo The US-based global tech giant Apple Inc. is set to hand over the operation of its iCloud data center in mainland China to a local corporation called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) by February 28, 2018. When this transition happens, the local company will become responsible for handling the legal and financial relationship between Apple and China's iCloud users. After the transition takes place, the role of Apple will restricted to an investment of US one billion dollars, for the construction of a data center in Guiyang, and for providing technical support to the center, in the interest of preserving data security.

GCBD was established in November 2014 with a RMB 235 million yuan [approximately US$ 37.5 million] registered capital investment. It is a state enterprise solely owned by Guizhou Big Data Development and Management Bureau. The company is also supervised by Guizhou Board of Supervisors of State-owned Enterprises.

What will happen to Apple's Chinese customers once iCloud services are handed over to GCBD? In public statements, Apple has avoided acknowledging the political implications of the move:

This will allow us to continue to improve the speed and reliability of iCloud in China and comply with Chinese regulations.

Apple Inc. has not explained the real issue, which is that a state-owned big data company controlled by the Chinese government will have access to all the data of its iCloud service users in China. This will allow the capricious state apparatus to jump into the cloud and look into the data of Apple's Chinese users.

Apple Inc. has not explained the real issue, which is that a state-owned big data company controlled by the Chinese government will have access to all the data of its iCloud service users in China.

Over the next few weeks, iCloud users in China will receive a notification from Apple, seeking their endorsement of the new service terms. These "iCloud (operated by GCBD) terms and conditions" have a newly added paragraph, which reads:

If you understand and agree, Apple and GCBD have the right to access your data stored on its servers. This includes permission sharing, exchange, and disclosure of all user data (including content) according to the application of the law.

In other words, once the agreement is signed, GCBD -- a company solely owned by the state -- would get a key that can access all iCloud user data in China, legally.

Apple's double standard

Why would a company that built its reputation on data security surrender to the Chinese government so easily?

I still remember how in February 2016, after the attack in San Bernardino, Apple CEO Tim Cook withstood pressure from the US Department of Justice to build an iPhone operating system that could circumvent security features and install it in the iPhone of the shooter. Cook even issued an open letter to defend the company's decision.

Apple's insistence on protecting user data won broad public support. At the same time, it was criticized by the Department of Justice , which retorted that the open letter "appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy."

This comment has proven true today, because it is clear that the company is operating on a double standard in its Chinese business. We could even say that it is bullying the good actor while being terrified by the bad one.

Apple Inc. and Tim Cook, who had once stayed firm against the US government, suddenly have become soft in front of Chinese government. Faced with the unreasonable demand put forward by the Chinese authorities, Apple has not demonstrated a will to resist. On the contrary, it is giving people the impression that it will do whatever needed to please the authorities.

Near the end of 2017, Apple lnc. admitted it had removed 674 VPN apps from Chinese App Store. These apps are often used by netizens for circumventing the Great Firewall (blocking of overseas websites and content). Skype also vanished from the Chinese App Store. And Apple's submission to the Chinese authorities' requests generated a feeling of "betrayal" among Chinese users.

Some of my friends from mainland China have even decided to give up using Apple mobile phones and shifted to other mainland Chinese brands. Their decision, in addition to the price, is mainly in reaction to Apple's decision to take down VPN apps from the Chinese Apple store.

Some of these VPN apps can still be downloaded from mobile phones that use the Android system. This indicates that Apple is not "forced" to comply. People suspect that it is proactively performing a "obedient" role.

The handover of China iCloud to GCBD is unquestionably a performance of submission and kowtow. Online, several people have quipped: "the Chinese government is asking for 50 cents, Apple gives her a dollar."

Selling the iPhone in China

Apple says the handover is due to new regulations that cloud servers must be operated by local corporation. But this is unconvincing. China's Cybersecurity Law, which was implemented on June 1 2017, does demand that user information and data collected in mainland China be stored within the border . But it does not require that the data center be operated by a local corporation.

In other words, even according to Article 37 of the Cybersecurity Law, Apple does not need to hand over the operation of iCloud services to a local corporation, to say nothing of the fact that the operator is solely owned by the state. Though Apple may have to follow the "Chinese logic" or "unspoken rule", the decision looks more like a strategic act, intended to insulate Apple from financial, legal and moral responsibility to their Chinese users, as stated in the new customer terms and conditions on the handover of operation. It only wants to continue making a profit by selling iPhone in China.

Many people have encountered similar difficulties when doing business in China -- they have to follow the authorities' demands. Some even think that it is inevitable and therefore reasonable. For example, Baidu's CEO Robin Li said in a recent interview with Time Magazine, "That's our way of doing business here".

I can see where Apple is coming from. China is now the third largest market for the iPhone. While confronting vicious competition from local brands, the future growth of iPhone in China has been threatened . And unlike in the US, if Apple does not submit to China and comply with the Cybersecurity Law, the Chinese authorities can use other regulations and laws like the Encryption Law of the People's Republic of China (drafting) and Measures for Security Assessment of Cross-border Data Transfer (drafting) to force Apple to yield.

However, as the world's biggest corporation in market value which has so many loyal fans, Apple's performance in China is still disappointing. It has not even tried to resist. On the contrary, it has proactively assisted [Chinese authorities] in selling out its users' private data.

Assisting in the making of a 'Cloud Dictatorship'

This is perhaps the best result that China's party-state apparatus could hope for. In recent years, China has come to see big data as a strategic resource for its diplomacy and for maintaining domestic stability. Big data is as important as military strength and ideological control. There is even a new political term "Data-in-Party-control" coming into use.

As an Apple fans, I lament the fact that Apple has become a key multinational corporation offering its support to the Chinese Communist Party's engineering of a "Cloud Dictatorship". It serves as a very bad role model: Now Apple that has kowtowed to the CCP, how long will other tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon be able to resist the pressure?

 

 Offsite Article: Fake news has a long history....


Link Here 12th February 2018  full story: Fake News...Declining respect for the authorities is blamed on 'fake' news
charles ii Beware the state being keeper of the truth'. By Kenan Malik

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Offsite Article: Why should I use DuckDuckGo instead of Google?...


Link Here 12th February 2018
duckduckgo logo Promotional material but nevertheless makes a few good points

See article from quora.com

 

  Fake blame...

Matt Hancock rules out creating a UK social media censor


Link Here 10th February 2018
matt hancockThe UK's digital and culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has ruled out creating a new internet censor targeting social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

In an interview on the BBC's Media Show , Hancock said he was not inclined in that direction and instead wanted to ensure existing regulation is fit for purpose. He said:

If you tried to bring in a new regulator you'd end up having to regulate everything. But that doesn't mean that we don't need to make sure that the regulations ensure that markets work properly and people are protected.

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee are now investigating whether Russian groups used the platforms to interfere in the Brexit referendum in 2016. The DCMS select committee is in the US this week to grill tech executives about their role in spreading fake news. In a committee hearing in Washington yesterday, YouTube's policy chief said the site had found no evidence of Russian-linked accounts purchasing ads to interfere in the Brexit referendum.

 

 Offsite Article: Gagging orders: The internet surveillance nobody can talk about...


Link Here 10th February 2018  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
stasi uk The Investigatory Powers Act has heralded a new era of secret state surveillance

See article from alphr.com

 


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