Archive for the ‘US News’ Category

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US Supreme Court After the recent censorship purge of over 800 independent media outlets on Facebook, the Supreme Court is now hearing a case that could have ramifications for any future attempts at similar purges.The United States Supreme Court has agreed to take a case that could change free speech on the Internet. Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, the case that it has agreed to take, will decide if the private operator of a public access network is considered a state actor.

The case could affect how companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and YouTube are governed. If the Court were to issue a far-reaching ruling it could subject such companies to First Amendment lawsuits and force them to allow a much broader scope of free speech from its users.

DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez claimed that they were fired from Manhattan Neighborhood Network for speaking critically of the network. And, though the case does not involve the Internet giants, it could create a ruling that expands the First Amendment beyond the government.

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Facebook logo The recent Fosta law in the US forces internet companies to censor anything to do with legal, adult and consensual sex work. It holds them liable for abetting sex traffickers even when they can’t possibly distinguish the trafficking from the legal sex work. The only solution is therefore to ban the use of their platforms for any personal hook ups. So indeed adult sex work websites have been duly cleansed from the US internet.But now a woman is claiming that Facebook facilitated trafficking when of course its nigh on impossible for Facebook to detect such use of their networking systems. But of course that’s no excuse under the FOSTA.

According to a new lawsuit by an unnamed woman in Houston, Texas, Facebook’s morally bankrupt corporate culture for permitting a sex trafficker to force her into prostitution after beating and raping her. She claims Facebook should be held responsible when a user on the social media platform sexually exploits another Facebook user. The lawsuit says that Facebook should have warned the woman, who was 15 years old at the time she was victimized, that its platform could be used by sex traffickers to recruit and groom victims, including children.

The lawsuit also names Backpage.com, which according to a Reuters report , hosted pictures of the woman taken by the man who victimized her after he uploaded them to the site.

The classified advertising site Backpage has already been shut down by federal prosecutors in April of this year.

Real Sex is better on Pornhub…US cable channel HBO drops its late night erotic fare

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hbo logoAn era of adult television has come to an and, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times , which reported that the Time-Warner owned, pay cable network HBO has spent the summer, quietly and without fanfare, removing its once-prodigious library of erotic documentaries and entertainment programs from the network and the HBO streaming platforms, HBO Go and HBO Now.Since the 1990s, HBO has produced and broadcast such series as the influential Real Sex , the Las Vegas brothel reality series Cathouse , and recurring instructional sex specials hosted by adult performer Katie Morgan.

But HBO has not produced new adult late night programs for several years, and now the network will no longer offer repeats or archived shows from its adult category either.

While HBO’s new owner, the telecom giant AT&T, informed HBO employees earlier this year that it planned big changes for the network, the elimination of HBO’s erotic fare, network execs told the Times , was not mandated by AT&T and in fact began well before the telecom conglomerate took over. The reason that HBO is ditching their late night lineup, according to what one spokesperson told the Times , is simply that HBO viewers have lost interest, most likely due to the proliferation of adult content online.

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donald trumpPresident Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain that social media companies are discriminating against prominent conservatives, saying we won’t let that happen. He tweeted:

Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.

…..Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don’t watch at all.

The president later added:

….Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!

Trump in July said his administration will look into the practice of shadow banning on Twitter, or reducing the visibility of certain people or groups on the platform, which he alleged was happening to prominent conservative voices.

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eighth grade posterEighth Grade is a 2018 USA comedy by Bo Burnham.
Starring Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton and Emily Robinson. IMDb

An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

Eight Grade is a US film aimed at 8th graders but its 8th grade strong language has resulted in it being rated R by the MPAA. The R rating means that with graders cannot see the film at theatres unless accompanied by their parents.

The film makers from A24 Studio are not impressed by their target audience being disallowed so organised nationwide screenings where the R rating was not enforced (age restrictions are legally voluntary n the US). 50 no-rating-enforced screenings were organised on August 8. The studio partnered with one theater in every state across America for the screenings.

But US moralist campaigners were not happy. The Parents Television Council called on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to hold the A24 Studio accountable for those under 17s admitted without a parent. PTC President Tim Winter whinged:

Subjective declarations such as the one by A24 — that some content is ‘too important’ to be labeled in accordance with the standards set forth by the MPAA and understood, trusted and relied upon by parents — undermine and negate the entire purpose of having the content rating system in the first place. In this instance, and based upon empirical data of this film’s content, the Hollywood studio at issue here is grotesquely and irresponsibly usurping parental authority. Either the standard means something or it means nothing. Those who are openly violating both the spirit and the letter of the age-based content ratings system for this publicity stunt should be held to account by the MPAA.

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us government logoThe US Federal Government is quietly meeting with top tech company representatives to develop a proposal to protect web users’ privacy amid the ongoing fallout globally of scandals that have rocked Facebook and other companies.Over the past month, the Commerce Department has met with representatives from Facebook and Google, along with Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast, and consumer advocates, sources told the Washington Post.

The goal of these meetings is to come up with a data privacy proposal at the federal level that could serve as a blueprint for Congress to pass sweeping legislation in the mode of the European Union GDPR. There are currently no laws that govern how tech companies harness and monetize US users’ data.

A total of 22 meetings with more than 80 companies have been held on this topic over the last month.

One official at the White House told the Post this week that recent developments have been seismic in the privacy policy world, prompting the government to discuss what a modern U.S. approach to privacy protection might look like.

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indianapolis metro police logoSupporters of the US internet censorship law FOSTA were supposedly attempting to target pimps and traffickers, but of course their target was the wider sex work industry. Hence they weren’t really interested in the warning that the law would make it harder to target pimps and sex traffickers as their activity would be driven off radar.Anyway it seems that the police at least have started to realise that the warning is coming true, but I don’t suppose this will bother the politicians much.

Over in Indianapolis, the police have just arrested their first pimp in 2018, and it involved an undercover cop being approached by the pimp. The reporter asks why there have been so few such arrests, and the police point the finger right at the shutdown of Backpage:

The cases, according to Sgt. John Daggy, an undercover officer with IMPD’s vice unit, have just dried up. The reason for that is pretty simple: the feds closed police’s best source of leads, the online personals site Backpage, earlier this year. Daggy explained:

We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down. I get the reasoning behind it, and the ethics behind it, however, it has blinded us. We used to look at Backpage as a trap for human traffickers and pimps.

With Backpage, we would subpoena the ads and it would tell a lot of the story. Also, with the ads we would catch our victim at a hotel room, which would give us a crime scene. There’s a ton of evidence at a crime scene. Now, since [Backpage] has gone down, we’re getting late reports of them and we don’t have much to go by.