Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

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Old BaileyGoogle is set for its first appearance in a London court over the so-called right to be forgotten in two cases that will test the boundaries between personal privacy and public interest.Two anonymous people, who describe themselves in court filings as businessmen, want the search engine to take down links to information about their old convictions.

One of the men had been found guilty of conspiracy to account falsely, and the other of conspiracy to intercept communications. Judge Matthew Nicklin said at a pre-trial hearing that hose convictions are old and are now covered by an English law — designed to rehabilitate offenders — that says they can effectively be ignored. With a few exceptions, they don’t have to be disclosed to potential employers.

A Google spokeswoman said:

We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are clearly in the public interest and will defend the public’s right to access lawful information.

The cases will start on February 27 and March 13.

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Facebook logoFacebook has unveiled more changes to the News Feed of its 2 billion users, announcing it will rank news organizations by credibility based on user feedback and diminish its role as an arbiter of the news people see.

In a blog post accompanying the announcement, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

Facebook is not comfortable deciding which news sources are the most trustworthy in a world with so much division. We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.

The new trust rankings will emerge from surveys the company is conducting. Broadly trusted outlets that are affirmed by a significant cross-section of users may see a boost in readership, while less known organizations or start-ups receiving poor ratings could see their web traffic decline significantly on the social network.

The company’s changes also include an effort to boost the content of local news outlets, which have suffered sizable subscription and readership declines as news consumption migrated online.

On Friday, Google announced it would cancel a two-month-old experiment, called Knowledge Panel, that informed its users that a news article had been disputed by independent fact-checking organizations. Conservatives had complained the feature unfairly targeted a right-leaning outlet.

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In the latest undercover Project Veritas video investigation, eight current and former Twitter employees are on camera explaining steps the social media giant is taking to censor political content that they don’t like.

American Pravda A new undercover video from a group of conservative investigative journalists appears to show Twitter staff and former employees talking about how they censor content they disagree with.

James O’Keefe, Project Veritas founder, posted a video showing an undercover reporter speaking to Abhinov Vadrevu, a former Twitter software engineer, at a San Francisco restaurant on January 3.

There, he discussed a technique referred to as shadow banning, which means that users’ content is quietly blocked without them ever knowing about it. Their tweets would still appear to their followers, but it wouldn’t appear in search results or anywhere else on Twitter.  So posters just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.

Olinda Hassan, a policy manager for Twitter’s Trust and Safety team, was filmed talking about development of a system for down ranking shitty people.

Another Twitter engineer claimed that staff already have tools to censor pro-Trump or conservative content. One Twitter engineer appeared to suggest that the social network was trying to ban, like, a way of talking. Anyone found to be aggressive or negative will just vanish.

Every single conversation is going to be rated by a machine and the machine is going to say whether or not it’s a positive thing or a negative thing, Twitter software engineer Steven Pierre was filmed on December 8 saying as he discussed the development of an automated censure system.

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fdp logoGermany’s NetzDG internet censorship law has been in force since the New Year and has already sparked multiple controversies. Opposition parties across the political spectrum already say its time for change.

Senior figures in the rival Free Democratic (FDP), Green and Left parties on Sunday demanded lawmakers replace Germany’s recently passed online hate speech law. The call comes after Twitter decided to delete allegedly offensive statements by far-right politicians and suspend the account of a German satirical magazine.

The last few days have emphatically shown that private companies cannot correctly determine whether a questionable online statement is illegal, satirical or tasteless yet still democratically legitimate, the FDP’s general secretary Nicola Beer told Germany weekly Die Welt am Sonntag .

Beer said Germany needed a law similar to the one the FDP proposed before Christmas that would give an appropriately endowed authority the right to enforce the rule of law online rather than give private companies the right to determine the illegality of flagged content.

Green Party Chairwoman Simone Peter has also called for a replacement law that would take away the right of private companies to make decisions regarding flagged content. He said:

It is not acceptable for US companies such as Twitter to influence freedom of expression or press freedoms in Germany. Last year, we proposed a clear legal alternative that would hold platforms such as Twitter accountable without making them judges.

Greens’ internet policy spokesman, Konstantin von Notz, also criticized the current statute, telling the newspaper that the need for reform the law was overdue.

Left leader Sarah Wagenknecht added:

The law is a slap in the face of all democratic principles because, in a constitutional state, courts rather than private companies make decisions about what is lawful and what is not.

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banned titanic tweetThe Twitter account of German satirical magazine Titanic was blocked after it parodied anti-Muslim comments by AfD MP Beatrix von Storch.She accused police of trying to appease the barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men by putting out a tweet in Arabic.

On Tuesday night, the magazine published a tweet parodying von Storch, saying:

The last thing that I want is mollified barbarian, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men.

Titanic said on Wednesday its Twitter account had been blocked over the message, presumably as a result of a new law requiring social media sites to immediately block hateful comments on threat of massive fines. There is no time allowed or economic reason for assessing the merits of censorship claims, so social media companies are just censoring everything on demand, just in case.

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emmanuel macronEmmanuel Macron has vowed to introduce a law to censor ‘fake news’ on the internet during French election campaigns. He claimed he wanted new legislation for social media platforms during election periods in order to protect democracy.For fake news published during election seasons, an emergency legal action could allow authorities to remove that content or even block the website, Macron said. If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules.

He said France’s media censor, the CSA, would be empowered to fight against any attempt at destabilisation by TV stations controlled or influenced by foreign states. Macron said he wanted to act against what he called propaganda articulated by thousands of social media accounts.

Macron has an axe to grind about fake news, during the election campaign in spring 2017 he filed a legal complaint after Le Pen, the Front National leader, referred to fake stories about him placing funds in an offshore account in the Bahamas. Also a bogus website resembling the site of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that Saudi Arabia was financing Macron’s campaign. Le Soir totally distanced itself from the report.

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ben wallaceBritain’s security minister Ben Wallace has threatened technology firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Google with punitive taxation if they fail to cooperate with the government on fighting online extremism.Ben Wallace said that Britain was spending hundreds of millions of pounds on human surveillance and de-radicalisation programmes because tech giants were failing to remove extremist content online quick enough.

Wallace said the companies were ruthless profiteers, despite sitting on beanbags in T-shirts, who sold on details of its users to loan companies but would fail to give the same information to the government.

Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that is heaped on law enforcement agencies, Wallace told the Sunday Times. I have to have more human surveillance. It’s costing hundreds of millions of pounds. If they [tech firms] continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivising them or compensating for their inaction.

Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That’s costing millions. They [the firms] can’t get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax.

Maybe its a good idea to extract a significantly higher tax take from the vast sums of money being siphoned out of the UK economy straight into the hands of American big business. But it seems a little hopeful to claim that quicker blocking of terrorist related material will ‘solve’ the UK’s terrorism problem.One suspects that terrorism is a little more entrenched in society, and that terrorism will continue pretty much unabated even if the government get its way with quicker takedowns. There might even be a scope for some very expensive legal bluff calling, should expensive censorship measures get taken, and it turns out that the government blame conjecture is provably wrong.