Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

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arms of the british governmentjpg logo The UK government is preparing to establish a new internet censor that would make tech firms liable for content published on their platforms and have the power to sanction companies that fail to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours.Under legislation being drafted by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) due to be announced this winter, a new censorship framework for online social harms would be created.

BuzzFeed News has obtained details of the proposals, which would see the establishment of an internet censor similar to Ofcom.

Home secretary Sajid Javid and culture secretary Jeremy Wright are considering the introduction of a mandatory code of practice for social media platforms and strict new rules such as takedown times forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech within a set timeframe or face penalties. Ministers are also looking at implementing age verification for users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The new proposals are still in the development stage and are due to be put out for consultation later this year. The new censor would also develop rules new regulations on controlling non-illegal content and online behaviour . The rules for what constitutes non-illegal content will be the subject of what is likely to be a hotly debated consultation.

BuzzFeed News has also been told ministers are looking at creating a second new censor for online advertising. Its powers would include a crackdown on online advertisements for food and soft drink products that are high in salt, fat, or sugar.

BuzzFeed News understands concerns have been raised in Whitehall that the regulation of non-illegal content will spark opposition from free speech campaigners and MPs. There are also fears internally that some of the measures being considered, including blocking websites that do not adhere to the new regulations, are so draconian that they will generate considerable opposition.

A government spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the plans would be unveiled later this year.

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european commission logo Tech companies that fail to remove terrorist content quickly could soon face massive fines. The European Commission proposed new rules on Wednesday that would require internet platforms to remove illegal terror content within an hour of it being flagged by national authorities. Firms could be fined up to 4% of global annual revenue if they repeatedly fail to comply.Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube owner Google (GOOGL) had already agreed to work with the European Union on a voluntary basis to tackle the problem. But the Commission said that progress has not been sufficient.

A penalty of 4% of annual revenue for 2017 would translate to $4.4 billion for Google parent Alphabet and $1.6 billion for Facebook.

The proposal is the latest in a series of European efforts to control the activities of tech companies.

The terror content proposal needs to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states before becoming law.

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European Parliament logo The European Parliament has voted to approve new copyright powers enabling the big media industry to control how their content is used on the internet.Article 11 introduces the link tax which lets news companies control how their content is used. The target of the new law is to make Google pay newspapers for its aggregating Google News service. The collateral damage is that millions of websites can now be harangued for linking to and quoting articles, or even just sharing links to them.

Article 13 introduces the requirements for user content sites to create censorship machines that pre-scan all uploaded content and block anything copyrighted. The original proposal, voted on in June, directly specified content hosts use censorship machines (or filters as the EU prefers to call them). After a cosmetic rethink since June, the law no longer specifies automatic filters, but instead specifies that content hosts are responsible for copyright published. And of course the only feasible way that content hosts can ensure they are not publishing copyrighted material is to use censorship machines anyway. The law was introduced, really with just the intention of making YouTube and Facebook pay more for content from the big media companies. The collateral damage to individuals and small businesses was clearly of no concern to the well lobbied MEPs.

Both articles will introduce profound new levels of censorship to all users of the internet, and will also mean that there will reduced opportunities for people to get their contributions published or noticed on the internet. This is simply because the large internet companies are commercial organisations and will always make decisions with costs and profitability in mind. They are not state censors with a budget to spend on nuanced decision making. So the net outcome will be to block vast swathes of content being uploaded just in case it may contain copyright.

An example to demonstrate the point is the US censorship law, FOSTA. It requires content hosts to block content facilitating sex trafficking. Internet companies generally decided that it was easier to block all adult content rather than to try and distinguish sex trafficking from non-trafficking sex related content. So sections of websites for dating and small ads, personal services etc were shut down overnight.

The EU however has introduced a few amendments to the original law to slightly lessen the impact an individuals and small scale content creators.

  • Article 13 will now only apply to platforms where the main purpose …is to store and give access to the public or to stream significant amounts of copyright protected content uploaded / made available by its users and that optimise content and promotes for profit making purposes .
  • When defining best practices for Article 13, special account must now be taken of fundamental rights, the use of exceptions and limitations. Special focus should also be given to ensuring that the burden on SMEs remain appropriate and that automated blocking of content is avoided (effectively an exception for micro/small businesses). Article 11 shall not extend to mere hyperlinks, which are accompanied by individual words (so it seems links are safe, but quoted snippets of text must be very short) and the protection shall also not extend to factual information which is reported in journalistic articles from a press publication and will therefore not prevent anyone from reporting such factual information .
  • Article 11 shall not prevent legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users .
  • Article 11 rights shall expire 5 years after the publication of the press publication. This term shall be calculated from the first day of January of the year following the date of publication. The right referred to in paragraph 1 shall not apply with retroactive effect .
  • Individual member states will now have to decide how Article 11 is implemented, which could create some confusion across borders.

At the same time, the EU rejected the other modest proposals to help out individuals and small creators:

  • No freedom of panorama. When we take photos or videos in public spaces, we’re apt to incidentally capture copyrighted works: from stock art in ads on the sides of buses to t-shirts worn by protestors, to building facades claimed by architects as their copyright. The EU rejected a proposal that would make it legal Europe-wide to photograph street scenes without worrying about infringing the copyright of objects in the background.
  • No user-generated content exemption, which would have made EU states carve out an exception to copyright for using excerpts from works for criticism, review, illustration, caricature, parody or pastiche.

A final round of negotiation with the EU Council and European Commission is now due to take place before member states make a decision early next year. But this is historically more of a rubber stamping process and few, if any, significant changes are expected.

However, anybody who mistakenly thinks that Brexit will stop this from impacting the UK should be cautious. Regardless of what the EU approves, the UK might still have to implement it, and in any case the current UK Government supports many of the controversial new measures.

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the rise of machines 2018 The European Parliament has approved a disgraceful copyright law that threatens to destroy the internet as we know it.The rulehands more power to news and record companies against Internet giants like Google and Facebook. But it also allows companies to make sweeping blocks of user-generated content, such as internet memes or reaction GIFs that use copyrighted material. The tough approach could spell the end for internet memes, which typically lay text over copyrighted photos or video from television programmes, films, music videos and more.

MEPs voted 438 in favour of the measures, 226 against, with 39 abstentions. The vote introduced Articles 11 and 13 to the directive, dubbed the link tax and censorship machines.

Article 13 puts the onus of policing for copyright infringement on the websites themselves. This forces web giants like YouTube and Facebook to scan uploaded content to stop the unlicensed sharing of copyrighted material. If the internet companies find that such scanning does not work well, or makes the service unprofitable, the companies could pull out of allowing users to post at all on topics where the use of copyright material is commonplace.

The second amendment to the directive, Article 11, is intended to give publishers and newspapers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories.Search engines and online platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have to pay a license to link to news publishers when quoting portions of text from these outlets.

Following Wednesday’s vote, EU lawmakers will now take the legislation to talks with the European Commission and the 28 EU countries.

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resist av video Niche porn producer, Pandora Blake, Misha Mayfair, campaigning lawyer Myles Jackman and Backlash are campaigning to back a legal challenge to the upcoming internet porn censorship regime in the UK. They write on a new ResistAV.com website:

We are mounting a legal challenge.

Do you lock your door when you watch porn 203 or do you publish a notice in the paper? The new UK age verification law means you may soon have to upload a proof of age to visit adult sites. This would connect your legal identity to a database of all your adult browsing. Join us to prevent the damage to your privacy.

The UK Government is bringing in age verification for adults who want to view adult content online; yet have failed to provide privacy and security obligations to ensure your private information is securely protected.

The law does not currently limit age verification software to only hold data provided by you just in order to verify your age. Hence, other identifying data about you could include anything from your passport information to your credit card details, up to your full search history information. This is highly sensitive data.

What are the Privacy Risks?

Data Misuse – Since age verification providers are legally permitted to collect this information, what is to stop them from increasing revenue through targeting advertising at you, or even selling your personal data?

Data Breaches – No database is perfectly secure, despite good intentions. The leaking or hacking of your sensitive personal information could be truly devastating. The Ashley Madison hack led to suicides. Don’t let the Government allow your private sexual preferences be leaked into the public domain.

What are we asking money for?

We’re asking you to help us crowdfund legal fees so we can challenge the new age verification rules under the Digital Economy Act 2017. We re asking for 2£10,000 to cover the cost of initial legal advice, since it’s a complicated area of law. Ultimately, we’d like to raise even more money, so we can send a message to Government that your personal privacy is of paramount importance.

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eff machine 0300x0150In exactly one week, the European Parliament will hold a crucial debate and vote on a proposal so terrible , it can only be called an extinction-level event for the Internet as we know it.

At issue is the text of the new EU Copyright Directive, which updates the 17-year-old copyright regulations for the 28 member-states of the EU. It makes a vast array of technical changes to EU copyright law, each of which has stakeholders rooting for it, guaranteeing that whatever the final text says will become the law of the land across the EU.

The Directive was pretty uncontroversial, right up to the day last May when the EU started enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a seismic event that eclipsed all other Internet news for weeks afterward. On that very day, a German MEP called Axl Voss quietly changed the text of the Directive to reintroduce two long-discarded proposals — “Article 11” and “Article 13” — proposals that had been evaluated by the EU’s own experts and dismissed as dangerous and unworkable.

Under Article 11 — the ” link tax ” — online services are banned from allowing links to news services on their platforms unless they get a license to make links to the news; the rule does not define “news service” or “link,” leaving 28 member states to make up their own definitions and leaving it to everyone else to comply with 28 different rules.

Under Article 13 — the ” censorship machines ” — anyone who allows users to communicate in public by posting audio, video, stills, code, or anything that might be copyrighted — must send those posts to a copyright enforcement algorithm. The algorithm will compare it to all the known copyrighted works (anyone can add anything to the algorithm’s database) and censor it if it seems to be a match.

These extreme, unworkable proposals represent a grave danger to the Internet. The link tax means that only the largest, best-funded companies will be able to offer a public space where the news can be discussed and debated. The censorship machines are a gift to every petty censor and troll (just claim copyright in an embarrassing recording and watch as it disappears from the Internet!), and will add hundreds of millions to the cost of operating an online platform, guaranteeing that Big Tech’s biggest winners will never face serious competition and will rule the Internet forever.

That’s terrible news for Europeans, but it’s also alarming for all the Internet’s users, especially Americans.

The Internet’s current winners — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon — are overwhelmingly American, and they embody the American regulatory indifference to surveillance and privacy breaches.

But the Internet is global, and that means that different regions have the power to export their values to the rest of the world. The EU has been a steady source of pro-privacy, pro-competition, public-spirited Internet rules and regulations, and European companies have a deserved reputation for being less prone to practicing ” surveillance capitalism ” and for being more thoughtful about the human impact of their services.

In the same way that California is a global net exporter of lifesaving emissions controls for vehicles, the EU has been a global net exporter of privacy rules, anti-monopoly penalties, and other desperately needed corrections for an Internet that grows more monopolistic, surveillant, and abusive by the day.

Many of the cheerleaders for Articles 11 and 13 talk like these are a black eye for Google and Facebook and other U.S. giants, and it’s true that these would result in hundreds of millions in compliance expenditures by Big Tech, but it’s money that Big Tech (and only Big Tech) can afford to part with. Europe’s much smaller Internet companies need not apply.

It’s not just Europeans who lose when the EU sells America’s tech giants the right to permanently rule the Internet: it’s everyone, because Europe’s tech companies, co-operatives, charities, and individual technologists have the potential to make everyone’s Internet experience better. The U.S. may have a monopoly on today’s Internet, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas about how to improve tomorrow’s net.

The global Internet means that we have friends and colleagues and family all over the world. No matter where you are in the world today, please take ten minutes to get in touch with two friends in the EU , send them this article, and then ask them to get in touch with their MEPs by visiting Save Your Internet .

Take Action

There’s only one Internet and we all live on it. Europeans rose up to kill ACTA , the last brutal assault on Internet freedom, helping Americans fight our own government’s short-sighted foolishness; now the rest of the world can return the favor to our friends in the EU.

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org copyright 0400x0133 In July MEPs voted down plans to fast-track the Copyright Directive, derailing Article 13’s plan to turn Internet platforms into copyright enforcers.

Yet the fight to stop Article 13’s vision of the Internet – one where all speech is approved or rejected by an automated upload filter – is not over.

On 12 September MEPs will vote once again, but this time as of yet unknown amendments will be added to the mix. Bad ideas like Article 13 – and perhaps worse – will be voted on individually, so it’s not a simple up or down vote. To identify and oppose bad amendments, MEPs must understand exactly why Article 13 threatens free speech.

Many MEPs are undecided. Please write to them now. You can use the points below to construct your own unique message. IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE THE UK use this tool instead: https://saveyourinternet.eu .

  • Oppose changes to Internet platform liability. If platforms become liable for user content, they will have no choice but to scan all uploads with automated filters.

  • Say no to upload filters. Filters struggle to identify the vital legal exceptions to copyright that enable research, commentary, creative works, parody and more. Poor judgement means innocent speech gets blocked along with copyright violations.

  • Internet companies do not make good copyright enforcers. To avoid liability penalties, platforms will err on the side of caution and over-block.

  • Free speech takes precedence over copyright. Threatening free expression is way too high a price to pay for the sake of copyright enforcement.

  • General monitoring of all content is technically infeasible. No filter can possibly review every form of content covered in Article 13’s extraorindarily wide mandate which includes text, audio, video, images and software.

  • If you are part of a tech business, or a creator, like a musician, photographer, video editor or a writer, let your MEP know!