Posts Tagged ‘US’

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springer opera house logo A popular, uncensored weekly performance event at the Springer Opera House in Columbus Georgia has been put on hold following a skit involving a joke with the line ‘fuck Jesus’. The Springer announced that it suspended indefinitely the No Shame Theatre event following the inevitable social media backlash. A statement said:

The incident that occurred at No Shame last night in no way represents the values or mission of the Springer Opera House. Management is investigating the situation. At this time, No Shame Theatre is suspended indefinitely. Our patrons are our No. 1 priority. Your happiness and comfort are key to our organization’s success. Thank you for patience as we further investigate this matter.

At the end of almost every show, the event ends with a segment called Sex with Me. Members of the audience suggest a person or item to use as a comparison. The host picks a topic, and other members of the audience create jokes. In Friday’s event, host Alli Kaman chose Jesus from the suggested topics.

Four people spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer about the event. One man claims the host of the event said ‘fuck Jesus’ ; another claims that it was a member of the audience who yelled the phrase; and another pair claimed they didn’t hear anyone yell the expletive.

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beau stantom mural Beau Stanton’s mural of Ava Gardner adorns the Robert F. Kennedy Community School in LA’s Koreatown. The mural is an homage to the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub which stood nearby, and depicts the Old Hollywood film star in profile, palm trees and moorish architecture overlaid on her face. Behind her head, alternating rays of blue and orange in a sunburst pattern.japan rising sun flag Last month, the Wilshire Community Coalition sent a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District requesting that the mural be censored. The group ludicrously claimed that the pattern was too similar to the Rising Sun Flag of Imperial Japan, a symbol loaded with pain and trauma for the Korean-American community that they likened it to the Swastika of German Nazism. The group wrote:

This work is extremely offensive and threatening to many survivors, descendants and community stakeholders who stand in absolute opposition of the Japanese Imperialism, Racism, ethnic hatred and crimes against humanity committed by the military aggression during the World War II

In response to their request, the LAUSD agreed to paint over the mural during winter break.

Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight issued a scathing rebuke to the decision calling it deplorable. An innocent artist is being smeared as a promoter of hate speech, Knight wrote, his work unfairly attacked for something it is not. He went on to detail the ways in which the mural differed from the Rising Sun Flag, from the number of rays — 44 vs 32 — to the colors used, and the myriad sources in which similar motifs can be found. Deceptive claims have been weaponized to shut down free speech, he concluded. The school mural is not the scandal; LAUSD’s imminent censorship is.

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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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us congressDemocrats in the United States House of Representatives have gathered 90 of the 218 signatures they’ll need to force a vote on whether or not to roll back net neutrality rules, while Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai has already predicted that the House effort will fail and large telecommunications companies publicly expressed their anger at last Wednesday’s Senate vote to keep the Obama-era open internet rules in place.Led by Pai, a Donald Trump appointee, the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines in December to scrap the net neutrality regulations, effectively creating an internet landscape dominated by whichever companies can pay the most to get into the online fast lane.

Telecommunications companies could also choose to block some sites simply based on their content, a threat to which the online porn industry would be especially vulnerable, after five states have either passed or are considering legislation labeling porn a public health hazard.

While the House Republican leadership has taken the position that the net neutrality issue should not even come to a vote, on May 17 Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle introduced a discharge petition that would force the issue to the House floor. A discharge petition needs 218 signatures of House members to succeed in forcing the vote. As of Monday morning, May 21, Doyle’s petition had received 90 signatures . The effort would need all 193 House Democrats plus 25 Republicans to sign on, in order to bring the net neutrality rollback to the House floor.

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us congressIt was a dark day for the Internet.

The U.S. Senate just voted 97-2 to pass the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865), a bill that silences online speech by forcing Internet platforms to censor their users. As lobbyists and members of Congress applaud themselves for enacting a law tackling the problem of trafficking, let’s be clear: Congress just made trafficking victims less safe, not more.

The version of FOSTA that just passed the Senate combined an earlier version of FOSTA (what we call FOSTA 2.0) with the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693). The history of SESTA/FOSTA — a bad bill that turned into a worse bill and then was rushed through votes in both houses of Congress2 — is a story about Congress’ failure to see that its good intentions can result in bad law. It’s a story of Congress’ failure to listen to the constituents who’d be most affected by the laws it passed. It’s also the story of some players in the tech sector choosing to settle for compromises and half-wins that will put ordinary people in danger. Silencing Internet Users Doesn’t Make Us Safer

SESTA/FOSTA undermines Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. Section 230 protects online platforms from liability for some types of speech by their users. Without Section 230, the Internet would look very different. It’s likely that many of today’s online platforms would never have formed or received the investment they needed to grow and scale204the risk of litigation would have simply been too high. Similarly, in absence of Section 230 protections, noncommercial platforms like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive likely wouldn’t have been founded given the high level of legal risk involved with hosting third-party content.

Electronic Frontier Foundation The bill is worded so broadly that it could even be used against platform owners that don’t know that their sites are being used for trafficking.

Importantly, Section 230 does not shield platforms from liability under federal criminal law. Section 230 also doesn’t shield platforms across-the-board from liability under civil law: courts have allowed civil claims against online platforms when a platform directly contributed to unlawful speech. Section 230 strikes a careful balance between enabling the pursuit of justice and promoting free speech and innovation online: platforms can be held responsible for their own actions, and can still host user-generated content without fear of broad legal liability.

SESTA/FOSTA upends that balance, opening platforms to new criminal and civil liability at the state and federal levels for their users’ sex trafficking activities. The platform liability created by new Section 230 carve outs applies retroactively — meaning the increased liability applies to trafficking that took place before the law passed. The Department of Justice has raised concerns about this violating the Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause, at least for the criminal provisions.

The bill also expands existing federal criminal law to target online platforms where sex trafficking content appears. The bill is worded so broadly that it could even be used against platform owners that don’t know that their sites are being used for trafficking.

Finally, SESTA/FOSTA expands federal prostitution law to cover those who use the Internet to promote or facilitate prostitution.  The Internet will become a less inclusive place, something that hurts all of us.

And if you had glossed over a little at the legal details, perhaps a few examples of the immediate censorship impact of the new law

Immediate Chilling Effect on Adult Content

See  article from xbiz.com

xbiz 2016 logoSESTA’s passage by the U.S. Senate has had an immediate chilling effect on those working in the adult industry.

Today, stories of a fallout are being heard, with adult performers finding their content being flagged and blocked, an escort site that has suddenly becoming not available, Craigslist shutting down its personals sections and Reddit closing down some of its communities, among other tales.

SESTA, which doesn’t differentiate between sex trafficking and consensual sex work, targets scores of adult sites that consensual sex workers use to advertise their work.

And now, before SESTA reaches President Trump’s desk for his guaranteed signature, those sites are scrambling to prevent themselves from being charged under sex trafficking laws.

It’s not surprising that we’re seeing an immediate chilling effect on protected speech, industry attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ. This was predicted as the likely impact of the bill, as online intermediaries over-censor content in the attempt to mitigate their own risks. The damage to the First Amendment appears palpable.

  • Today, longtime city-by-city escort service website, CityVibe.com, completely disappeared, only to be replaced with a message, Sorry, this website is not available.

  • Tonight, mainstream classified site Craigslist, which serves more than 20 billion page views per month, said that it has dropped personals listings in the U.S.

  • Motherboard reported today that at least six porn performers have complained that files have been blocked without warning from Google’s cloud storage service. It seems like all of our videos in Google Drive are getting flagged by some sort of automated system, adult star Lilly Stone told Motherboard. We’re not even really getting notified of it, the only way we really found out was one of our customers told us he couldn’t view or download the video we sent him.

  • Another adult star, Avey Moon was trying to send the winner of her Chaturbate contest his prize — a video titled POV Blowjob — through her Google Drive account, but it wouldn’t send.

  • Reddit made an announcement late yesterday explaining that the site has changed its content policy, forbidding transactions for certain goods and services that include physical sexual contact. A number of subreddits regularly used to help sex workers have been completedly banned. Those include r/Escorts , r/MaleEscorts and r/SugarDaddy .

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Colorado state sealOnline retailers in America will soon be required by law to disclose to state governments what purchases their customers have made.The law seems to have been made up in US courts during a long-running legal case based around the jurisdiction of sales tax. An appeals court decision now requires out-of-state retailers to report to the Colorado state government the details of all purchases, including what that purchase was and who bought it.

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the case so the appeal court decision stands.

Colorado is not the only state pushing the requirement. Vermont will also make the same requirement three months after Colorado starts imposing the law. And other states including Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming have approved similar rules.

The exec director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA), Hamilton Davison, is extremely concerned He said:

Consumers, particularly those who buy from catalogs and e-commerce merchants, put considerable trust in the businesses from which they make the most personal of purchases, he noted. This decision undermines this trust by requiring remote sellers to report to state tax collectors on the buying habits of their customers, including health care products, apparel or other sensitive items.

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homeland security logo The US authorities are set to add questions to immigration arrivals forms asking for IDs used on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Reports suggest that it is supposedly voluntary to provide such information, but it wouldn’t be difficult to drop a few hints, that those not providing such info may not be granted entry, to make it more or less mandatory.A Notice by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on 06/23/2016 detailed the new question:

CBP Forms I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) and I-94W (Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record) are used to document a traveler’s admission into the United States. These forms are filled out by aliens and are used to collect information on citizenship, residency, passport, and contact information. The data elements collected on these forms enable the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to perform its mission related to the screening of alien visitors for potential risks to national security and the determination of admissibility to the United States.

Proposed Changes

DHS proposes to add the following question to ESTA and to Form I-94W:

Please enter information associated with your online presence — Provider/Platform — Social media identifier.

It will be an optional data field to request social media identifiers to be used for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information. Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case.