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  Concerns about the Queen's Speech and Freedom of Speech...

Anti-Muslim hate must be challenged. Silencing criticism of Islam won't help


Link Here 26th June 2017
National Secular Society logo

 

  Threats to privacy and free speech...

Open Rights Group comment on the Queen's Speech


Link Here 23rd June 2017

open rights group 2016 logo There are references to a review of Counter-terrorism and a Commision for Countering Extremism which will include Internet-related policies. Although details are lacking, these may contain threats to privacy and free speech. The government has opted for a "Digital Charter", which isn't a Bill, but something else.

Digital Charter

This isn't a Bill, but some kind of policy intervention. Perhaps the Digital Charter will be for companies to voluntarily agree to, or a statement of government preferences. It addresses both unwanted and illegal content or activity online, and the protection of vulnerable people. The work of CTIRU and the IWF are mentioned as examples of work to remove illegal or extremist content.

At this point, it is hard to know exactly what harms will emerge, but pushing enforcement into the hands of private companies is problematic. It means that decisions never involve courts and are not fully transparent and legally accountable.

Counterterrorism review

There will be a review of counterterrorism powers . The review includes "working with online companies to reduce and restrict the availability of extremist material online".

This appears to be a watered down version of the Conservative manifesto commitment to give greater responsibility for companies to take down extremist material from their platforms. Already Google and Facebook have issued public statements about how they intend to improve the removal of extremist material from their platforms.

Commission for Countering Extremism

A Commission will look at the topic of countering extremism, likely including on the Internet.

This appears to be a measure to generate ideas and thinking, which could be a positive approach, if it involves considering different approaches, rather than pressing ahead with policies in order to be seen to be doing something. The quality of the Commission will therefore depend on their ability to take a wide range of evidence and assimilate it impartially; it faces a significant challenge in ensuring that fundamental rights are respected within any policy suggestions they suggest.

Data Protection Bill

A new Data Protection Bill , "will fulfil a manifesto commitment to ensure the UK has a data protection regime that is fit for the 21st century". This will replace the Data Protection Act 1998, which is in any case being removed as the result of the new General Data Protection Regulation passed by the European Parliament last year. Regulations apply directly, so the GDPR does not need to be 'implemented' in UK law before Brexit.

We welcome that (at least parts of) the GDPR will be implemented in primary legislation with a full debate in Parliament. It is not clear if the text of the GDPR will be brought into this Bill, or whether it supplements it.

This appears to be a bill to at least implement some of the 'derogations' (options) in the GDPR, plus the new rules for law enforcement agencies, that came in with the new law enforcement-related Directive and have to be applied by EU member states.

The bulk of the important rights are in the GDPR, and cannot be tampered with before Brexit. We welcome the chance to debate the choices, and especially to press for the right of privacy groups to bring complaints directly.

 

 Update: Unfriending Terrorists...

Facebook announces measures to prevent terrorist related content


Link Here 23rd June 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logoFacebook is launching a UK initiative to train and fund local organisations it hopes will combat extremism and hate speech. The UK Online Civil Courage Initiative's initial partners include Imams Online and the Jo Cox Foundation.

Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg said:

The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester - like violence anywhere - are absolutely heartbreaking. No-one should have to live in fear of terrorism - and we all have a part to play in stopping violent extremism from spreading. We know we have more to do - but through our platform, our partners and our community we will continue to learn to keep violence and extremism off Facebook.

Last week Facebook outlined its technical measures to remove terrorist-related content from its site. The company told the BBC it was using artificial intelligence to spot images, videos and text related to terrorism as well as clusters of fake accounts.

Facebook explained that it was aiming to detect terrorist content immediately as it is posted and before other Facebook users see it. If someone tries to upload a terrorist photo or video, the systems look to see if this matches previous known extremist content to stop it going up in the first place.

A second area is experimenting with AI to understand text that might be advocating terrorism. This is analysing text previously removed for praising or supporting a group such as IS and trying to work out text-based signals that such content may be terrorist propaganda.

The company says it is also using algorithms to detect clusters of accounts or images relating to support for terrorism. This will involve looking for signals such as whether an account is friends with a high number of accounts that have been disabled for supporting terrorism. The company also says it is working on ways to keep pace with repeat offenders who create accounts just to post terrorist material and look for ways of circumventing existing systems and controls.

Facebook has previously announced it is adding 3,000 employees to review content flagged by users. But it also says that already more than half of the accounts that it removes for supporting terrorism are ones that it finds itself.  Facebook says it has also grown its team of specialists so that it now has 150 people working on counter-terrorism specifically, including academic experts on counterterrorism, former prosecutors, former law enforcement agents and analysts, and engineers.

One of the major challenges in automating the process is the risk of taking down material relating to terrorism but not actually supporting it - such as news articles referring to an IS propaganda video that might feature its text or images. An image relating to terrorism - such as an IS member waving a flag - can be used to glorify an act in one context or be used as part of a counter-extremism campaign in another.

 

 Update: Supporting hackers, phishers and thieves...

Germany joins chorus of governments wanting an end to a safe and encrypted internet


Link Here 15th June 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
whatsapp 2016 logoGerman authorities want the right to look at private messages on services such as WhatsApp to try and prevent terrorism. Ministers have also agreed to lower the age limit for fingerprinting minors to six from 14 for asylum seekers.

Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance. We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law, interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters.

Among the options Germany is considering is source telecom surveillance, where authorities install software on phones to relay messages before they are encrypted. That is now illegal.

Austria is also planning laws to make it easier to monitor encrypted messages as well as building out a linked network of cameras and other equipment to read vehicle licence plates.

Meanwhile Japan is also introducing mass snooping in the name of the prevention of terrorism. See  Japan passes 'brutal' counter-terror law despite fears over civil liberties from theguardian.com

 

 Update: The Dementia Party...

Theresa May hints that she will continue her policies to make the internet less secure from hackers, phishers and thieves


Link Here 15th June 2017  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
open rights group 2016 logo Open Rights Group has responded to Theresa May's post-election hints that she will continue with Conservative plans for Internet clampdowns.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

To push on with these extreme proposals for Internet clampdowns would appear to be a distraction from the current political situation and from effective measures against terror.

The Government already has extensive surveillance powers. Conservative proposals for automated censorship of the Internet would see decisions about what British citizens can see online being placed in the hands of computer algorithms, with judgments ultimately made by private companies rather than courts. Home Office plans to force companies to weaken the security of their communications products could put all of us at a greater risk of crime.

Both of these proposals could result in terrorists and extremists switching to platforms and services that are more difficult for our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor.

Given that the priority for all MPs is how the UK will negotiate Brexit, it will be especially hard to give the time and thought necessary to scrutinise these proposals.

It could be tempting to push ahead in order to restore some of Theresa May's image as a tough leader. This should be resisted. With such a fragile majority, greater consensus will be needed to pass new laws.

We hope that this will mean our parliamentarians will reject reactionary policy-making and look for long-term, effective solutions that directly address the complex causes of terrorism.

 

 Offsite Article: How the Russian Internet Censor Banned Itself...


Link Here 15th June 2017
roskomnadzor logo Russian internet users fight back against government censorship

See article from bloomberg.com

 

 Update: Crimes against humanity...

Thai man sentenced to 35 years jail for criticising the monarchy in a Facebook post


Link Here 12th June 2017  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand flagA Thai man has been jailed for 35 years for Facebook posts critical of the royal family in one of the most extreme sentences handed down for a crime that insulates Thailand's ultra-rich monarchy from criticism.

A Bangkok military court convicted him of 10 counts of lese-majesty for posting photos and videos of the royal family on a Facebook account that purported to belong to a different user. The man, whose last name was withheld to protect his relatives, was accused of using the account to slander a former friend, said iLaw, a group that tracks royal defamation cases.

The court punished him with seven years per count. Altogether he was given 70 years, but it was reduced in half because he confessed.

Later on Friday, a criminal court sentenced another lese-majesty victim to two and a half years in jail for uploading an audio clip from an underground political radio show that was deemed insulting to the monarchy.

The United Nations' rights body has warned that Thailand's widespread use of the law may constitute crimes against humanity.

 

 Offsite Article: There is too much phoney tolerance...


Link Here 12th June 2017
Spiked logo A perversion of the t-word is being used to excuse restricting free speech. By Mick Hume

See article from spiked-online.com

 


Censor Watch logo
censorwatch.co.uk
 

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