Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

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julia reda The European Council has firmly rejected the negotiating mandate that was supposed to set out Member States’ position ahead of what was supposed to be the final negotiation round with the European Parliament. National governments failed to agree on a common position on the two most controversial articles, Article 11, also known as the Link Tax, and Article 13, which would require online platforms to use upload filters in an attempt to prevent copyright infringement before it happens.

A total of 11 countries voted against the compromise text proposed by the Romanian Council presidency earlier this week: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Slovenia, who already opposed a previous version of the directive, as well as Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal. With the exception of Portugal and Croatia, all of these governments are known for thinking that either Article 11 or Article 13, respectively, are insufficiently protective of users’ rights. At the same time, some rightsholder groups who are supposed to benefit from the Directive are also turning their backs on Article 13.

This surprising turn of events does not mean the end of Link Tax or censorship machines, but it does make an adoption of the copyright directive before the European elections in May less likely. The Romanian Council presidency will have the chance to come up with a new text to try to find a qualified majority, but with opposition mounting on both sides of the debate, this is going to be a difficult task indeed.

The outcome of today’s Council vote also shows that public attention to the copyright reform is having an effect. Keeping up the pressure in the coming weeks will be more important than ever to make sure that the most dangerous elements of the new copyright proposal will be rejected.

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dirty boyz logo gaystarnews.com has published an article outlining the dangers of porn viewers submitting their identity data and browsing history to age verifiers and their websites. The article explains that the dangers for gay porn viewers are even mor pronounced that for straight viewers. The artisle illustrates this with an example:

David Bridle, the publisher of Dirty Boyz , announced in October that last month’s issue of the magazine would be its last. He said:

Following the Conservative government’s decision … to press ahead with new regulations forcing websites which make money from adult content to carry an age verification system … Dirtyboyz and its website dirtyboyz.xxx have made the decision to close.

The new age verification system will be mostly run by large adult content companies which themselves host major “Tube” style porn sites. ‘It would force online readers of Dirtyboyz to publicly declare themselves.

Open Rights Group executive director, Jim Killock, told GSN the privacy of users needs protecting:

The issue with age verification systems is that they need to know it’s you. This means there’s a strong likelihood that it will basically track you and know what you’re watching. And that’s data that could be very harmful to people.

It could cause issues in relationships. Or it could see children outed to their parents. It could mean people are subjected to scams and blackmail if that data falls into criminal hands. Government response

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told Gay Star News:

Pornographic websites and age verification services will be subject to the UK’s existing high standard of data protection legislation. The Data Protection Act 2018 provides a comprehensive and modern framework for data protection, with strong sanctions for malpractice and enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

But this is bollox, the likes of Facebook and Google are allowed to sell browsing data for eg targeted advertising within the remit of GDPR. And targeted advertising could be enough in itself to out porn viewers.

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EU flag The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition But You Could Still Tip The Balance. By Cory Doctorow

The new EU Copyright Directive is progressing at an alarming rate. This week, the EU is asking its member-states to approve new negotiating positions for the final language. Once they get it, they’re planning to hold a final vote before pushing this drastic, radical new law into 28 countries and 500,000,000 people.

While the majority of the rules in the new Directive are inoffensive updates to European copyright law, two parts of the Directive represent pose a dire threat to the global Internet:

  • Article 11: A proposal to make platforms pay for linking to news sites by creating a non-waivable right to license any links from for-profit services (where those links include more than a word or two from the story or its headline). Article 11 fails to define “news sites,” “commercial platforms” and “links,” which invites 28 European nations to create 28 mutually exclusive, contradictory licensing regimes. Additionally, the fact that the “linking right” can’t be waived means that open-access, public-interest, nonprofit and Creative Commons news sites can’t opt out of the system.

  • Article 13: A proposal to end the appearance of unlicensed copyrighted works on big user-generated content platforms, even for an instant. Initially, this included an explicit mandate to develop “filters” that would examine every social media posting by everyone in the world and check whether it matched entries in an open, crowdsourced database of supposedly copyrighted materials. In its current form, the rule says that filters “should be avoided” but does not explain how billions of social media posts, videos, audio files, and blog posts should be monitored for infringement without automated filtering systems.

Taken together, these two rules will subject huge swaths of online expression to interception and arbitrary censorship, and give the largest news companies in Europe the power to decide who can discuss and criticise their reporting, and undermining public-interest, open-access journalism.

The Directive is now in the hands of the European member-states. National ministers are going to decide whether or not Europe becomes a global exporter of censorship and surveillance. Your voice counts : when you contact your ministers, you are speaking as one citizen to another, in a national context, about issues of import to you and your neighbours. Your national government depends on your goodwill to win the votes to continue its mandate. This is a rare moment in European lawmaking when local connections from citizens matter more than well-funded, international corporations.

If you live in Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, or Poland:

Please contact your ministers to convey your concern about Article 13 and 11.

We’ve set up action pages to reach the right people, but you should tailor your message to describe who you are, and your worries. Your country has previously expressed concerns about Article 13 and 11, and may still oppose it.

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European Court of Justice The French Internet censor CNIL some time ago insisted that censorship required under the ‘right to be forgotten’ should be applied worldwide rather than limited to the EU. Google appealed against the court order leading to the case being sent to the European Court of Justice.Now opinions from the court’s advocate general suggest that court will determine that the right to be forgotten does not apply worldwide. The opinions are not final but the court often follows them when it hands down its ruling, which is expected later.

CNIL wanted Google to remove links from Google.com instead of just removing links from European versions of the site, like Google.de and Google.fr. However Maciej Szpunar warned that going further would be risky because the right to be forgotten always has to be balanced against other rights, including legitimate public interest in accessing the information sought.

Szpunar said if worldwide de-referencing was allowed, European Union authorities would not be able to determine a right to receive information or balance it against other fundamental rights to data protection and to privacy.

And of course if France were allowed to censor information from the entire worldwide internet then why not China, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia?

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regulatory policy commitee logo Parliament’s Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has reported that the government’s approach to internet porn censorship and age verification is fit for purpose, but asks a few important questions about how safe it is for porn viewers.The RPC was originally set up a decade ago to help cut red tape by independently checking government estimates of how much complying with new laws and regulations would cost the private sector. Of curse all it has achieved is to watch the western world suffocate itself in accelerating red tape to such a point that the west seems to be on a permanent course to diminishing wealth and popular unrest. One has to ask if the committee itself is fit for purpose?

Anyway in the subject of endangering porn users by setting them up for identity thieves, blackmailers and scammers, the authors write:

Risks and wider impacts. The Impact Assessment (IA) makes only limited reference to risks and wider impacts of the measure. These include the risk that adults and children may be pushed towards the dark web or related systems to avoid AV, where they could be exposed to illegal activities and extreme material that they otherwise would never have come into contact with. The IA also recognises numerous other wider impacts, including privacy/fraud concerns linked to inputting ID data into sites and apps.

Given the potential severity of such risks and wider impacts, the RPC believes that a more thorough consideration of each, and of the potential means to mitigate them, would have been appropriate. The RPC therefore recommends that the Department ensures that it robustly monitors these risks and wider impacts, post-implementation.

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FBI logo A US federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that Google’s non-consensual use of facial recognition technology violated users’ privacy rights, allowing the tech giant to continue to scan and store their biometric data.The lawsuit, filed in 2016, alleged that Google violated Illinois state law by collecting biometric data without their consent. The data was harvested from their pictures stored on Google Photos.

The plaintiffs wanted more than $5 million in damages for hundreds of thousands of users affected, arguing that the unauthorized scanning of their faces was a violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which completely outlaws the gathering of biometric information without consent.

Google countered claiming that the plaintiffs were not entitled to any compensation, as they had not been harmed by the data collection. On Saturday, US District Judge Edmond E. Chang sided with the tech giant, ruling that the plaintiffs had not suffered any concrete harm, and dismissing the suit.

As well as allowing Google to continue the practice, the ruling could have implications for other cases pending against Facebook and Snapchat. Both companies are currently being sued for violating the Illinois act.

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house of lords red logo The following four motions are expected to be debated together in the House of Lords on 11th December 2018:

Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018

Lord Ashton of Hyde to move that the draft Regulations laid before the House on 10 October be approved. Special attention drawn to the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 38th Report, 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee B)

Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements

Lord Ashton of Hyde to move that the draft Guidance laid before the House on 25 October be approved. Special attention drawn to the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 39th Report, 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee B)

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara to move that this House regrets that the draft Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018 and the draft Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements do not bring into force section 19 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which would have given the regulator powers to impose a financial penalty on persons who have not complied with their instructions to require that they have in place an age verification system which is fit for purpose and effectively managed so as to ensure that commercial pornographic material online will not normally be accessible by persons under the age of 18.

Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers

Lord Ashton of Hyde to move that the draft Guidance laid before the House on 25 October be approved. Special attention drawn to the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 39th Report, 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee B)

The DCMS and BBFC age verification scheme has been widely panned as fundamentally the law provides no requirement to actually protect people’s identity data that can be coupled with their sexual preferences and sexuality. The scheme only offers voluntary suggestions that age verification services and websites should protect their user’s privacy. But one only has to look to Google, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to see how worthless mere advice is. GDPR is often quoted but that only requires that user consent is obtained. One will have to simply to the consent to the ‘improved user experience’ tick box to watch the porn, and thereafter the companies can do what the fuck they like with the data.

See criticism of the scheme:

Security expert provides a detailed break down of the privacy and security failures of the age verification scheme

Parliamentary scrutiny committee condemns BBFC Age Verification Guidelines

Parliamentary scrutiny committee condemns as ‘defective’ a DCMS Statutory Instrument excusing Twitter and Google images from age verification.