Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

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spd cdu logoLeading German MPs have called for online ‘fake news’ campaigns to be made a crime. Patrick Sensburg, a senior MP in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said:

Targeted disinformation to destabilise a state should be a criminal offence. We need to consider whether there should be some sort of ‘test site’ that reveals and identifies propaganda pages.

The call was backed by his party colleague Ansgar Heveling, the chairman of the German parliament’s influential internal affairs committee aying:

We last saw disinformation campaigns during the Cold War, now they have clearly been revived with new media opportunities. The law already offers options, such as a slander or defamation. But I think a criminal sentence is more appropriate when it is a targeted campaign.

German intelligence has warned that Russia is seeking to influence next year’s German elections via propaganda distributed via the internet, partcularly social media. Russia has been accused of deliberately using socialbots , automated software masqueraring as real people, to promote ‘fake news’ stories on social media.

Mrs Merkel’s current coalition partners and main rival in next year’s elections, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), have also called for a cross-party alliance against ‘fake news’ stories. Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD leader called for

Democratic solidarity against manipulative socialbots and an alliance against ‘fake news’.

Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel of the SPD added:

If there is any doubt about the authenticity of any information, we should refrain from attacking our political opponents with it.

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Facebook logoFacebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are coming together to help curb the spread of terrorist content online. There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies.

We have committed to the creation of a shared industry database of hashes 204 unique digital fingerprints 204 for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services. By sharing this information with each other, we may use the shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on our respective hosted consumer platforms. We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online.

Our companies will begin sharing hashes of the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services 204 content most likely to violate all of our respective companies’ content policies. Participating companies can add hashes of terrorist images or videos that are identified on one of our platforms to the database. Other participating companies can then use those hashes to identify such content on their services, review against their respective policies and definitions, and remove matching content as appropriate.

As we continue to collaborate and share best practices, each company will independently determine what image and video hashes to contribute to the shared database. No personally identifiable information will be shared, and matching content will not be automatically removed. Each company will continue to apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding whether to remove content when a match to a shared hash is found. And each company will continue to apply its practice of transparency and review for any government requests, as well as retain its own appeal process for removal decisions and grievances. As part of this collaboration, we will all focus on how to involve additional companies in the future.

Throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms. We also seek to engage with the wider community of interested stakeholders in a transparent, thoughtful and responsible way as we further our shared objective to prevent the spread of terrorist content online while respecting human rights.

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google canada logoTwo dozen human rights and civil liberty groups have thrown their weight behind Google’s challenge of a Canadian court decision it warns could stifle freedom of expression around the world and lead to a diminished internet of the lowest common denominator .In an appeal heard on Tuesday in the supreme court of Canada , Google Inc took aim at a 2015 court decision that sought to censor search results beyond Canada’s borders.

In 2012, Canadian company Equustek won a judgment to have a company banned from selling a counterfeit version of Equustek’s product online. Google voluntarily removed more than 300 infringing URLs. But as more sites popped up, Equustek went back to court — this time seeking a worldwide ban. A court of appeal in British Columbia sided with Equustek in 2015, ordering Google to remove all of its search results linked to the company. It is this ruling that Google is now appealing.

The human rights groups are focusing on the question at the heart of the precedent-setting case: if one country can control what you see on the internet, what is to prevent other countries from doing the same?  Gregg Leslie of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said:

It’s a worrisome trend, where we see individual countries trying to regulate the internet worldwide. And of course the consequences of that would mean that even countries like Russia and China could do the same thing and that will really affect the content available on the internet.

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european commission logoThe European Commission has called on tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and other major names to implement more aggressively measures in order to censor online hate speech. The alternative is to face new EU legislation that would force the tech companies to censor more quickly.The Financial Times reports that a study commissioned by the EU justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, found that YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook have struggled to comply with the hate speech voluntary code of conduct that was announced earlier this year. Amid national security concerns and heightened racial tensions, mostly resulting from unpopular EU refugee policies.

In Germany, the government-led effort has been particularly aggressive. Germany is one of the European nations where the ongoing refugee crisis has reinvigorated the far-right and sparked a backlash against government policy. Reuter reports that Heiko Maas, the German Justice Minister, recently said that Facebook should be made liable for any hate speech published on its social media platform and it should be treated as a media company.

According to The Verge, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft agreed in a code of conduct announced in May to review and respond within 24 hours to the majority of hate speech complaints. However, only 40% of the recorded incidents have been reviewed within 24 hours, according to the commission’s report. That figure rose to 80% after 48 hours.

According to PCMag, two advocacy groups have criticized those efforts in France. In May, the two rights groups announced their plans to sue Google, Twitter, and Facebook for failing to remove from their platforms homophobic, racist and other hateful posts. News articles have so far failed to point out that maybe some of these groups are making some false claims about  material being censorable. Perhaps the media companies were right to not remove all of the posts reported.

On Thursday, Dec. 8, EU justice ministers will meet to discuss the report’s findings. H

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Lib Dems logoThe Liberal Democrats are to oppose plans to censor internet porn sites in the name of ‘protecting the children’. Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, said:

Liberal Democrats will do everything possible to ensure that our privacy is not further eroded by this Tory government.

Clamping down on perfectly legal material is something we would expect from the Russian or Chinese governments, not our own. Of course the internet cannot be an ungoverned space, but banning legal material for consenting adults is not the right approach.

The Internet Service Provider Association has also said moves to force providers to block adult sites that do not age verify has the potential to significantly harm the digital economy . ISPA chair James Blessing said:

The Digital Economy Bill is all about ensuing the UK continues to be a digital world leader, including in relation to internet safety. This is why ISPA supported the government’s original age verification policy for addressing the problem of underage access of adult sites at source.

Instead of rushing through this significant policy change, we are calling on government to pause and have a substantive discussion on how any legal and regulatory change will impact the UK’s dynamic digital economy and the expectations and rights of UK Internet users.

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tisa logoThe Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is another reprehensible trade agreement seeking to put big corporations ahead of the people when it comes to the law of the land.Tisa’s latest wheeze is to suggest that censorship procedures adopted by social networks should be granted impunity from criticism, reproach or even legal control via the law of the land.

Under leaked proposals from TiSA, social networks and other online services could be granted legal immunity when censoring any content, as long as it’s deemed harmful or objectionable.

The measure is one of several internet-related proposals being advanced by TiSA, according to a leaked section of the agreement published by Greenpeace and the German digital rights blog Netzpolitik .

The draft proposal, which is dated September 16, 2013, effectively guarantees online services’ ability to censor such content in Europe without needing to accept any legal liability or public accountability–whether that curation is done by a human or an algorithm.

At a time when there is so much debate about whether Facebook over censors or under censors, or that it somehow controls the thought of zombie masses, gullible to a few lies, enabling the subversion of western democracy, it seems strange to consider granting the orgnisation impunity from law.

Of course our politicians rather prove how easy it is to overrule rational thinking with a few bullshit claims about how granting big corporations immense power, will magically right all the wrongs of our failing economies.

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mariano rajoySpain’s ruling Popular Party (PP) has presented a censorship proposal to Congress that could result in the banning of memes, social network users’ way of gaining comic revenge on the politicians that rule our lives.The censorship law will target the spreading of images that infringe the honour of a person , by demanding that the butt of the joke gives permission for their images to be used in that way

The proposal is a disgraceful attack against the sometimes irreverent humour and political expression in memes, many of which have poked fun at the PP’s leader and conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.

Sources from the PP haves said that the proposal is merely an idea at this stage, and tries to deflect criticism by noting that it does not censor memes that are non-insulting.

So far the only impact of the reform proposal is to have sparked a fresh wave of memes aimed at Rajoy and the PP government, with dozens of social network users posting new gags accompanied by the hashtag #SinMemesNoHayDemocracia – no democracy without memes.