Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers

Found on The Intercept on Saturday, 15 September 2018
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The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

Sources familiar with the project said that prototypes of the search engine linked the search app on a user’s Android smartphone with their phone number.

Sources familiar with Dragonfly said the search platform also appeared to have been tailored to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing.

Google will do just everything for money, plain and simple. In fact, most globally acting companies do.

BBC websites blocked in China after security change

Found on BBC News on Tuesday, 07 August 2018
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It has altered all of its addresses from beginning "HTTP" to "HTTPS", which is widely considered to be a more secure connection but is routinely blocked in China.

"In a climate of anxiety around fake news, it's vital that users are able to determine that articles have not been tampered with and that their browsing history is private to them," he wrote.

"The last time BBC services were blocked to this extent in China was in 2014 and we call on all parties to observe the UN Declaration of Human Rights, article 19."

It's not much of a surprise that China does not like encrypted connections where it cannot snoop and block access to various sources of information, like about the Tiananmen Square Massacre, or the problems with the occupation of Tibet.

Facebook Facebook Forced to Block 20,000 Posts About Snack Food Conspiracy After PepsiCo Sues: Report

Found on Gizmodo on Friday, 27 July 2018
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PepsiCo really doesn’t want anyone talking shit about its corn puffs online. There is a rumor that Kurkure, a corn puff product developed by the company in India, is made of plastic.

In response, PepsiCo obtained an interim order from the Delhi High Court to block all references to this conspiracy theory online in the country, MediaNama reports.

According to MediaNama, PepsiCo petitioned for 3412 Facebook links, 20244 Facebook posts, 242 YouTube videos, six Instagram links, and 562 tweets to be removed, a request the court has granted.

PepsiCo, meet Barbra Streisand. Barbra Streisand, meet PepsiCo.

Researchers find that filters don’t prevent porn

Found on Techcrunch on Saturday, 14 July 2018
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In a paper entitled Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material, Oxford Internet Institute researchers Victoria Nash and Andrew Przybylski found that Internet filters rarely work to keep adolescents away from online porn.

This research follows the controversial news that the UK government was exploring a country-wide porn filter, a product that will most likely fail. The UK would join countries around the world who filter the public Internet for religious or political reasons.

Censorship never works.

Internet luminaries urge EU to kill off automated copyright filter proposal

Found on The Register on Wednesday, 13 June 2018
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The proposal would see all companies that "store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works" obliged to "prevent the availability… of works… identified by rightholders."

"By inverting this liability model and essentially making platforms directly responsible for ensuring the legality of content in the first instance, the business models and investments of platforms large and small will be impacted," warns the letter signed by "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf, world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, as well a host of other internet luminaries including Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, security expert Bruce Schneier and net neutrality namer Tim Wu.

Another day, another bad news coming from the EU. It feels like it's just trying to fail harder every day.

In Trying To Ban Telegram, Russia Breaks The Internet

Found on Techdirt on Wednesday, 18 April 2018
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Telegram tried to mitigate the ban by moving some of its essential infrastructure to third-party cloud services. But Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor responded by blocking upwards of 16 million IP addresses, many belonging to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. Not too surprisingly, the heavy-handed maneuver resulted in connectivity problems across massive swaths of the Russian internet.

Russian state media meanwhile continues to demonize Telegram as a haven for villains, and is directing users to alternatives like TamTam with alleged ties to the Russian government.

Russia (and China, as well as North Korea) are just doing that most other governments would love to do too; they just don't care that much about the backlash and public opinion.

Zuckerberg Testimony: Facebook A.I. Will Curb Hate Speech in 5 to 10 Years

Found on Inverse on Wednesday, 11 April 2018
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“Hate speech is one of the hardest,” Zuckerberg said. “Determining if something is hate speech is very linguistically nuanced. You need to understand what is a slur and whether something is hateful, and not just in English…”

Zuckerberg said that the company is increasingly developing AI tools to flag hate speech proactively, rather than relying on reactions from users and employees to flag offensive content.

So in 5 to 10 years Skynet will control what you can and can not say online? No, thank you very much.

“Erotic Review” blocks US Internet users to prepare for government crackdown

Found on Ars Technica on Monday, 09 April 2018
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SESTA will make it easier to prosecute websites that host third-party content that promotes or facilitates prostitution, even in cases when the sex workers aren't victims of trafficking.

But the site's FAQ noted that "TER is not alone in responding to this threat to your First Amendment Rights: Craigslist has pulled all of its Personal Ads, Reddit has closed a number of Subreddits, and sites such as CityVibe and Men4RentNow have gone completely dark. Other websites have taken or are expected to take similar actions."

Prude America just turned it up a few notches.

Tumblr takes down 84 Russia-linked accounts

Found on The Hill on Monday, 26 March 2018
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The social media platform said it discovered the accounts, which are linked to the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, last fall and has since terminated the accounts.

Tumblr said the Russia-linked accounts were solely focused on spreading disinformation by posting “organic content.” The company found no indication that the accounts purchased any advertisements.

If Tumblr removes all troll accounts, then there will be about 84 left. It's pretty telling about the current status of democracy if 84 random accounts need to be banned in order to protect it because they are a threat.

Facebook shirks responsibility, says experts can't be trusted

Found on CNet News on Saturday, 20 January 2018
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The man whose mission it is, this year, to fix Facebook would prefer you to do it for him.

Facebook will ask some questions about whether you think a certain publication is trustworthy, and then it will look at all the data it's collected from respondents.

Zuckerberg prefers to cede responsibility to Facebook's so-called community because it means the company itself doesn't have to take a meaningful stance.

Here is Zuckerberg saying that, well, we could have appointed a panel of experts who might have actual knowledge of this misinformation stuff but, nah, we'll ask anyone who'll answer our surveys.

It's simply cheaper to crowdsource it and let the "community" censor itself. Not only can FB save money, but in case anything goes wrong, it can blame the users.