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Updated: Dayzed censors...

Australian Censorship Board bans video game DayZ, and a cut version for Australia will then be distributed worldwide


Link Here 19th August 2019
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
DayZ is a 2018 Czech first person shooter by Bohemia Interactive

The video game DayZ has been banned  by the Australian Censorship Board, despite having been previously granted an MA15+ rating under an alternative rating system.

DayZ has been available online via Steam since December of last year. As an online title it was rated MA 15+ for strong violence, online interactivity under the International Age Rating Coalition system. This is an automatic rating assignment software programme providing ratings based on forms filled in by the games company.

More recently the game was submitted for PS4 retail release by distributor Five Star Games. This time around it was assessed by human censors and was promptly banned.

gamesindustry.biz plausibly suggests that the ban is probably due to the game mechanism of using morphine to restore health. The Australian censors have strict rules prohibiting anything positive about drugs.

The game remains available online to Australian players via the Steam games distribution platform.

Update: Knocked out of joint

9th August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

The Classification Board first granted an RC rating to DayZ on June 4, following an application from local distributors Five Star Games to have the game sold in brick-and-mortar stores across the country. According to the report, which was supplied to Kotaku Australia on Friday afternoon, the game was banned over illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards.

Through general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry, the report says. One of the options to restore the player's health is a marijuana joint, labelled 'cannabis', which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player's inventory.

Kotaku Australia also reveals that the Classification Board is also working to have the game pulled from sale digitally in Australia.

Update: An Australian cut version will be distributed worldwide

13th August 2019. See article from kotaku.com.au

Bohemia Interactive confirmed to Kotaku Australia that DayZ would be getting modified globally to comply with the Classification Board's requirements. Bohemia could have opted to exclude Australians from DayZ s next major release to give themselves time to work out another solution, but in an email the studio explained that they did not want Aussie gamers to be separated from the rest of the world. Bohemia Interactive said:

At the moment, we are editing the global version of DayZ so it will fit into the Board's requirements. The key objective is to keep the gameplay as authentic as it was, so players are not affected by this change.

Update: It was the cannabis that done it

15th August 2019. See press release [pdf] from classification.gov.au

Dayz is a survival computer game set in the fictional post-Soviet Republic of Chernarus, where a mysterious plague has turned most of the population into zombies. The game is set in 1st and 3rd person where, as a survivor, the player must scavenge the land for food, water, weapons and medicine while killing or avoiding the "infected".

Dayz was initially put through the IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) Tool (the IARC Tool). A computer game developer answers an online questionnaire and the IARC Tool generates a rating and consumer advice which is consistent with current Australian classification guidelines. Based on the information provided by Bohemia Interactive in relation to drug use when completing the IARC questionnaire, the IARC Tool generated an MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of 'Strong violence, online interactivity' for the digital version of Dayz . The IARC Tool produces classifications for digitally delivered games for Australia.

When Five Star Games Pty Ltd applied to the Classification Board for a classification for an upcoming PlayStation 4 release of the game in Australia, they advised that drug use in the game included cannabis. The aim of Dayz is to stay alive and healthy during the conditions of the outbreak and the player's health is measured by vital statistics. Throughout general gameplay, the player is able to collect and use a variety of equipment, supplies and weaponry, with one option to restore the player's health being a marijuana joint, labelled "cannabis," which is denoted by a cannabis bud in the player's inventory. The player is able to select and use it when their vital statistics are low. When the player smokes the cannabis, their vital statistics of food and water increase and their temperature decreases. Therefore, in the opinion of the Classification Board, cannabis use during the game acts as an incentive or reward to boost overall health and survivability. The Board noted that there was no instance of intoxication resulting from this drug use depicted within the game.

The Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2012 (the Games Guidelines) state interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not permitted within the G, PG, M or MA 15+ classification. The Guidelines further state, drug use is permitted within the R 18+ classification, provided any interactive illicit or proscribed drug use is not detailed or realistic. Pursuant to the Games Guidelines, drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted at any classification level.

Accordingly, on 4 June 2019, the Classification Board had to classify the computer game, Dayz , RC (Refused Classification) . The RC category is commonly referred to as being 'banned'. This means that the game cannot be sold, hired, advertised, or legally imported into Australia. The IARC Tool classification has been updated to RC (Refused Classification).

The Board noted that if the use of cannabis within the context of this game did not act as an incentive or reward, its impact could have been accommodated within the R 18+ classification. Further, if this instance of drug use was absent from the game, then Dayz would be able to be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

Australia's censors also announce a review of the censorship rules

On 28 June 2019, the Council of Attorneys-General agreed that the Australian Government will coordinate a public consultation process on reviewing the Games Guidelines to ensure they reflect contemporary Australian community values. The review will be undertaken by the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Perhaps the censors can now quietly ditch their silly and embarrassing rules about drug use in games. The clause was only introduced as a political compromise when the R18 was being introduced for games. They were trying to say to reluctant politicians something along the lines of: Don't worry about allowing R18, we'll still have tough censorship rules for such games.

Update: Australia's the laughing stock of the world

19th August 2019. See article from sbs.com.au

Australia's decision to ban the popular zombie video game DayZ because of in-game drug use has been criticised in the Victorian state parliament.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Quilty said:

The ban was absurd and has made Australia look like the wet blanket and laughing stock of the whole world.

Refusal of classification should be reserved for illegal materials, things like child pornography and snuff films that should never have been created in the first place. It should not be used for zombie survival video games.

 

 

Offsite Article: The war against book censorship...


Link Here 19th August 2019
Publisher halts publication of The Changing of the Guard by Simon Akam after bad vibes from the British Army

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Fake censorship...

Instagram to allow users to report 'fake news' but no doubt this will used to harass those with opposing views


Link Here 18th August 2019
Full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo sharing website gets heavy on the censorship
Instagram is adding an option for users to report posts they claim are false. The photo-sharing website is responding to increasing pressure to censor material that government's do not like.

Results then rated as false are removed from search tools, such as Instagram's explore tab and hashtag search results.

The new report facility on Instagram is being initially rolled out only in the US.

Stephanie Otway, a Facebook company spokeswoman Said:

This is an initial step as we work towards a more comprehensive approach to tackling misinformation.

Posting false information is not banned on any of Facebook's suite of social media services, but the company is taking steps to limit the reach of inaccurate information and warn users about disputed claims.

 

 

Offsite Article: The EU's latest assault on internet freedom...


Link Here 17th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law
Soon online speech will be regulated by Brussels. By Andrew Tettenborn

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Quality control...

Facebook introduces new censorship for private groups and labels it as 'Group Quality'


Link Here 16th August 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook has introduced a new censorship tool known as Group Quality to evaluate private groups and scrutinize them for any 'problematic content'.

For a long time now, Facebook was facing heat from the media for the fact that the private groups feature is harboring extremists and the spreading of 'fake news'. As a result, the company wrote an article from newsroom.fb.com introducing a new feature known as Group Quality:

Being in a private group doesn't mean that your actions should go unchecked. We have a responsibility to keep Facebook safe, which is why our Community Standards apply across Facebook, including in private groups. To enforce these policies, we use a combination of people and technology -- content reviewers and proactive detection. Over the last few years, we've invested heavily in both, including hiring more than 30,000 people across our safety and security teams.

Within this, a specialized team has been working on the Safe Communities Initiative: an effort that started two years ago with the goal of protecting people using Facebook Groups from harm. Made up of product managers, engineers, machine learning experts and content reviewers, this team works to anticipate the potential ways people can do harm in groups and develops solutions to minimize and prevent it. As the head of Facebook Groups, I want to explain how we're making private groups safer by focusing on three key areas: proactive detection, tools for admins, and transparency and control for members.

On the plus side Facebook has updated settings used in defining access and visibility of groups which are much clearer than previus incarnations.

Critics say that Facebook's move will not curb misinformation and fake news, but, on the contrary, it may further push it deeper underground making it hard for censor to filter or terminate such content from the site.

 

 

Fake claims...

Thailand sets up an internet censorship centre in the name of 'fake news'


Link Here 15th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand's Digital Economy and Society Minister Puttipong Punnakanta plans to set up a Fake News Center.

The digital minister confirmed that he is looking to create the Fake News Center to:

get rid of fabricated, misleading content on social media which might jeopardize the people's safety and property and violate the Computer Crime Act and other laws.

For instance, content on social media about natural disasters and health care might be fabricated or exaggerated only to confuse and scare viewers. They might be deceived by fraudulent investment scams or lured to buy illegal, hazardous health products online.

He said a dozen government agencies will be asked to cooperate with the Fake News Center such as the police, the military, the Consumer Protection Board, the Food and Drugs Administration and the Public Relations Department, among others.

 

 

'Protecting' people's data by forcing them to hand it over to any internet Tom, Dick and Harry...

ICO seems to have backed off from requiring age verification for nearly all websites


Link Here 13th August 2019
Full story: UK age verification for social media...ICO calls for strict age verification for social media access
Back in April of this year the data protection police of the ICO set about drawing up rules for nearly all commercial websites in how they should deal with children and their personal data.

Rather perversely the ICO decided that age verification should underpin a massively complex regime to require different data processing for several age ranges. And of course the children's data would be 'protected' by requiring nearly all websites to demand everybody's identity defining personal data in order to slot people into the ICO's age ranges.

The ICO consulted on their proposals and it seems that the internet industry forcefully pointed out that it was not a good idea for nearly all websites to have to demand age verification from all website visitors.

The ICO has yet to publish the results of the consultation or its response to the criticism but the ICO have been playing down this ridiculously widespread age verification. This week the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham further hinted at this in a blog. She wrote:

Our consultation on the proposed code began in April, and prompted more than 450 written responses, as well more than 40 meetings with key stakeholders. We were pleased with the breadth of views we heard. Parents, schools and children's campaign groups helped us better understand the problems young people can face online, whether using social media services or popular games, while developers, tech companies and online service providers gave us a crucial insight into the challenges industry faces to make this a reality.

...

This consultation has helped us ensure our final code will be effective, proportionate and achievable.

It has also flagged the need for us to be clearer on some standards.

We do not want to see an age-gated internet, where visiting any digital service requires people to prove how old they are. Our aim has never been to keep children from online services, but to protect them within it. We want providers to set their privacy settings to high as a default, and to have strategies in place for how children's data is handled.

We do not want to prevent young people from engaging with the world around them, and we've been quick to respond to concerns that our code would affect news websites. This isn't the case. As we told a DCMS Select Committee in July, we do not want to create any barriers to children accessing news content. The news media plays a fundamental role in children's lives and the final version of the code will make that very clear.

That final version of the code will be delivered to the Secretary of State ahead of the statutory deadline of 23 November 2019.

We recognise the need to allow companies time to implement the standards and ensure they are complying with the law. The law allows for a transition period of up to a year and we'll be considering the most appropriate approach to this, before making a final decision in the autumn. In addition to the code itself, my office is also preparing a significant package to ensure that organisations are supported through any transition period, including help and advice for designers and engineers.

 

 

The European YouTube censor...

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland volunteers to be the the country's internet video censor


Link Here 13th August 2019
Full story: EU Internet Video Censorship...EU extends censorship to all video websites
The UK Government recently outlines its plans for appointing Ofcom as the internet censor overseeing new EU censorship rules introduced under a new Audio Visual Media Services AVMS directive.

In Ireland, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has pitched for similar powers, with the government currently considering the BAI's position alongside the appointment of an online safety commissioner.

The BAI believes that it could become an EU-wide regulator for online video, because Google and Facebook's European operations are headquartered in Dublin.

Earlier this year, the government announced plans that would see a future online safety commissioner given the power to issue administrative fines, meaning the commissioner would not have to go through a court.

 

 

Offsite Article: Say No to the Cashless Future...


Link Here 13th August 2019
...and to Cashless Stores. By Jay Stanley of the ACLU

See article from aclu.org

 

 

Updated: The latest internet censorship nightmare from the EU...

The EU ups the internet ante and the UK will require video websites to be licensed by the state censors of Ofcom


Link Here 12th August 2019
Full story: EU Internet Video Censorship...EU extends censorship to all video websites
Requirements for Video Sharing Platforms in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is the regulatory framework governing EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media. The government launched a consultation on implementing the newly introduced and amended provisions in AVMSD on 30 May, which is available here .

One of the main changes to AVMSD is the extension of scope to cover video-sharing platforms (VSPs) for the first time. This extension in scope will likely capture audiovisual content on social media sites, video-sharing sites, pornography sites and live streaming services. These services are required to take appropriate measures to: protect children from harmful content; protect the general public from illegal content and content that incites violence or hatred, and; respect certain obligations around commercial communications.

The original consultation, published on 30 May, outlined the government's intention to implement these requirements through the regulatory framework proposed in the Online Harms White Paper . However, we also indicated the possibility of an interim approach ahead of the regulatory framework coming into force to ensure we meet the transposition deadline of 20 September 2020. We now plan to take forward this interim approach and have written to stakeholders on 23 July to set out our plans and consult on them.

This open letter and consultation sent to stakeholders, therefore, aims to gather views on our interim approach for implementing requirements pertaining to VSPs through appointing Ofcom as the national regulatory authority. In particular, it asks questions regarding:

  • how to transpose the definition of VSPs into UK law, and which platforms are in the UK's jurisdiction;

  • the regulatory framework and the regulator's relationship with industry;

  • the appropriate measures that should be taken by platforms to protect users;

  • the information gathering powers Ofcom should have to oversee VSPs;

  • the appropriate enforcement and sanctions regime for Ofcom;

  • what form the required out of court redress mechanism should take; and

  • how to fund the extension of Ofcom's regulatory activities from industry.

Update: The press get wind of the EU censorship nightmare of the new AVMS directive

12th August 2019. See article from bbc.com

The government is considering giving powers to fine video-sharing apps and websites to the UK's media censor Ofcom.

The proposal would see Ofcom able to impose multi-million pound fines if it judges the platforms have failed to prevent youngsters seeing pornography, violence and other harmful material.

Ofcom are already the designated internet censor enforcing the current AVMS censorship rules. These apply to all UK based Video on Demand platforms. The current rules are generally less stringent than Ofcom's rules for TV so have not particularly impacted the likes of the TV catch up services, (apart from Ofcom extracting significant censorship fees for handling minimal complaints about hate speech and product placement).

The notable exception is the regulation of hardcore porn on Video on Demand platforms. Ofcom originally delegated the censorship task to ATVOD but that was a total mess and Ofcom grabbed the censorship roles back. It too became a bit of a non-job as ATVOD's unviable age verification rules had effectively driven the UK adult porn trade into either bankruptcy or into foreign ownership. In fact this driving the porn business offshore gave rise to the BBFC age verification regime which is trying to find ways to censor foreign porn websites.

Anyway the EU has now created an updated AVMS directive that extends the scope of content to be censored, as well as the range of websites and apps caught up the law. Where as before it caught TV like video on demand websites, it now catches nearly all websites featuring significant video content. And of course the list of harms has expanded into the same space as all the other laws clamouring to censor the internet.

In addition, all qualifying video websites will have to register with Ofcom and have to cough up  a significant fee for Ofcom's censorship 'services'.

The EU Directive is required to be implemented in EU members' laws by 20th September 2020. And it seems that the UK wants the censors to be up on running from the 19th September 2020.

Even then, it would only be an interim step until an even more powerful internet censor gets implemented under the UK's Online Harms plans.

The Telegraph reported that the proposal was quietly agreed before Parliament's summer break and would give Ofcom the power to fine tech firms up to 5% of their revenues and/or block them in the UK if they failed to comply with its rulings. Ofcom has said that it is ready to adopt the powers.

A government spokeswoman told the BBC.

We also support plans to go further and legislate for a wider set of protections, including a duty of care for online companies towards their users.

But TechUK - the industry group that represents the sector - said it hoped that ministers would take a balanced and proportionate approach to the issue.  Its deputy chief executive Antony Walker said:

Key to achieving this will be clear and precise definitions across the board, and a proportionate sanctions and compliance regime, said

The Internet Association added that it hoped any intervention would be proportionate. Daniel Dyball, the association's executive director.said:

Any new regulation should be targeted at specific harms, and be technically possible to implement in practice - taking into account that resources available vary between companies.

The BBC rather hopefully noted that if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we will not be bound to transpose the AVMSD into UK law.

 

 

Cryptic motives...

Group of parliamentarians rant against DNS over HTTPS in a letter to the press


Link Here 12th August 2019
Full story: UK Concerns over Encrypted DNS...UK internet censors vs DNS over HTTPS

Web browser risk to child safety

We are deeply concerned that a new form of encryption being introduced to our web browsers will have terrible consequences for child protection.

The new system 204 known as DNS over HTTPS -- would have the effect of undermining the work of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF); yet Mozilla, provider of the Firefox browser, has decided to introduce it, and others may follow.

The amount of abusive content online is huge and not declining. Last year, the IWF removed more than 105,000 web pages showing the sexual abuse of children. While the UK has an excellent record in eliminating the hosting of such illegal content, there is still a significant demand from UK internet users: the National Crime Agency estimates there are 144,000 internet users on some of the worst dark-web child sexual abuse sites.

To fight this, the IWF provides a URL block list that allows internet service providers to block internet users from accessing known child sexual abuse content until it is taken down by the host country. The deployment of the new encryption system in its proposed form could render this service obsolete, exposing millions of people to the worst imagery of children being sexually abused, and the victims of said abuse to countless sets of eyes.

Advances in protecting users' data must not come at the expense of children. We urge the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport to address this issue in the government's upcoming legislation on online harms.

  • Sarah Champion MP;
  • Tom Watson MP;
  • Carolyn Harris MP;
  • Tom Brake MP;
  • Stephen Timms MP;
  • Ian Lucas MP;
  • Tim Loughton MP;
  • Giles Watling MP;
  • Madeleine Moon MP;
  • Vicky Ford MP;
  • Rosie Cooper MP;
  • Baroness Howe;
  • Lord Knight;
  • Baroness Thornton;
  • Baroness Walmsley;
  • Lord Maginnis;
  • Baroness Benjamin;
  • Lord Harris of Haringey

The IWF service is continually being rolled out as an argument against DoH but I am starting to wonder if it is still relevant. Given the universal revulsion against child sex abuse then I'd suspect that little of it would now be located on the open internet. Surely it would be hiding away in hard to find places like the dark web, that are unlikely to stumbled on by normal people. And of course those using the dark web aren't using ISP DNS servers anyway.

In reality the point of using DoH is to evade government attempts to block legal porn sites. If they weren't intending to block legal sites then surely people would be happy to use the ISP DNS including the IWF service.

 

 

Highlight events...

Russia gets heavy with Google for YouTube videos 'promoting' political protests in the country


Link Here 12th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia is continuing its pressure on Google to censor political political opinion that the government does not like. Media censor Roskomnadzor has sent a letter to Google insisting that it stop promoting banned mass events on YouTube.

It particularly didn't like that YouTube channels were using push notifications and other measures to spread information about protests, such as the recent demonstrations objecting to Moscow banning some opposition politicians from running in upcoming elections. Some users are allegedly receiving these alerts even if they're not subscribed to the channels.

The Russian agency said it would treat continued promotion as interference in the sovereign affairs of the country and consider Google a hostile influence ostensibly bent on obstructing elections.

Political protests have continued to grow in Russia (the most recent had about 50,000 participants), and they've turned increasingly from the Moscow-specific complaints to general dissatisfaction with President Putin's anti-democratic policies.

 

 

Protecting Americans from Online Censorship by appointing an online censor...

Donald Trump is considering appoint the FCC as the US social media censor


Link Here 11th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of social media censorship. The FFC has a disgraceful record on the subject of internet freedom. It recently showed totally disregard for the rights of internet users when siding when big business over net neutrality.

Donald Trump's draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration's draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.

US media giants have clearly been showing political bias when censoring conservative views but appointing the FCC as the internet censor does not bode well.

According to the summary seen by CNN, the draft executive order currently carries the title Protecting Americans from Online Censorship . It claims that the White House has received more than 15,000 anecdotal complaints of social media platforms censoring American political discourse, the summary indicates.

The FTC will also be asked to open a public complaint docket, according to the summary, and to work with the FCC to develop a report investigating how tech companies curate their platforms and whether they do so in neutral ways. Companies whose monthly user base accounts for one-eighth of the U.S. population or more could find themselves facing scrutiny, the summary said, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.

The Trump administration's proposal seeks to significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under the current law, internet companies are not liable for most of the content that their users or other third parties post on their platforms. This law underpins any company wanting to allow users to post their own comments without prior censorship. If protectsion were to be removed all user posting would need to be censored before being published.

 

 

Commented: What bright spark thought that it was a good idea for ISPs to decide what to censor?...

New Zealand ISP Spark says it will unilaterally censor 8chan (should it return to life)


Link Here 11th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
New Zealand ISP Spark says it will block the controversial website 8chan if it resumes service, because it continues to host disturbing material.

8chan is currently down after its web host pulled out in response to 8chan being used by US mass shooters. However, Spark said if 8chan finds another host provider, it would block access. Spark said:

We feel it is the right thing to do given the website's repeated transgressions and continual willingness to distribute disturbing material.

The 8chan internet forum was used by the accused Christchurch mosque gunman to distribute his manifesto and live stream the attack.

However Spark seemed to realise that it would now become a magnet for every easily offended social justice warrior with a pet grievance and said that the the government should step in:

Appropriate agencies of government should put in place a robust policy framework to address the important issues surrounding such material being distributed online and freely available.

Technology commentator Paul Brislen responded:

It's very, very nearly the edge of what's acceptable for what your internet provider to be doing in this kind of situation.

I'm as uncomfortable as they [Spark] are about it. They do really need to find a new way to manage hate-speech and extremist content on the internet.

It's much like the Telecom of old to decide which phone calls you can and can't make.

The risk was someone would now turn around and say okay you blocked 8Chan because of hate speech, now I want you to block this other website because it allows people to access something else. It might be hate speech, it might be pornography, it might be something that speaks out against a religious group or ethnicity.

You start down a certain track of Spark or any of the other ISPs being forced to decide what is and isn't acceptable for the NZ public and that's not their job at all. They really shouldn't be doing that.

Update: New Zealand's chief censor David Shanks chips in

11th August 2019. See article from classificationoffice.govt.nz

I applaud the announcement by Spark that they are prepared to block access to 8chan if and when it re-emerges on the internet.

This move is both brave and meaningful. Brave, because a decision not to provide users with access to a site is quite a different thing from a decision not to provide a site with the server capacity and services it needs (which is the choice that Cloudflare recently made). Meaningful, because everything I have seen tells me that 8chan is the white supremacist killer's platform of choice, with at least three major attacks announced on it within a few months. There is nothing indicating that upon re-emergence 8chan will be a changed, safer platform. Indeed, it may be even more toxic.

We appreciate that our domestic ISP's have obligations to provide their customers with access to the internet according to their individual terms and conditions. Within those constraints, as the experience post the March 15 attacks show, our ISP's can act and do the right thing to block platforms that are linked to terrorist atrocities and pose a direct risk of harm to New Zealanders.

I know that ISPs don't take these decisions lightly, and that they do not want to be in the business of making judgments around the content of sites. But these are extraordinary circumstances, and platforms that promote terrorist atrocities should not be tolerated on the internet, or anywhere else. Spark is making the right call here.

This is a unique set of circumstances, and relying on ISPs to make these calls is not a solution for the mid or long term. I agree with calls for a transparent, robust and sensible regulatory response. Discussions have already started on what this might look like here in NZ. Ultimately this is a global, internet problem. That makes it complex of course, but I believe that online extremism can be beaten if governments, industry and the public work together

 

 

FBI, Donald Trump, big tech, marketeers...they're all at it...

Everyone's out to scrape all your social media postings and compile a searchable database of your life


Link Here 10th August 2019
A few days ago Donald Trump responded to more mass shooters by calling on social networks to build tools for identifying potential mass murderers before they act. And across the government, there appears to be growing consensus that social networks should become partners in surveillance with the government.

So quite a timely moment for the Wall Street Journal to publish an article about FBI plans for mass snooping on social media:

The FBI is soliciting proposals from outside vendors for a contract to pull vast quantities of public data from Facebook, Twitter and other social media to proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests.

The request was posted last month, weeks before a series of mass murders shook the country and led President Trump to call for social-media platforms to do more to detect potential shooters before they act.

The deadline for bids is Aug. 27.

As described in the solicitation, it appears that the service would violate Facebook's ban against the use of its data for surveillance purposes, according to the company's user agreements and people familiar with how it seeks to enforce them.

The Verge comments on a privacy paradox:

But so far, as the Journal story illustrates, the government's approach has been incoherent. On one hand, it fines Facebook $5 billion for violating users' privacy; on the other, it outlines a plan to potentially store all Americans' public posts in a database for monitoring purposes.

But of course it is not a paradox, many if not most people believe that they're entitled to privacy whilst all the 'bad' people in the world aren't.

Commercial interests are also very keen on profiling people from their social media postings. There's probably a long list of advertisers who would love a list of rich people who go to casinos and stay at expensive hotels.

Well As Business Insider has noted, one company Hyp3r has been scraping all public postings on Instagram to provide exactly that information:

A combination of configuration errors and lax oversight by Instagram allowed one of the social network's vetted advertising partners to misappropriate vast amounts of public user data and create detailed records of users' physical whereabouts, personal bios, and photos that were intended to vanish after 24 hours.

The profiles, which were scraped and stitched together by the San Francisco-based marketing firm Hyp3r, were a clear violation of Instagram's rules. But it all occurred under Instagram's nose for the past year by a firm that Instagram had blessed as one of its preferred Facebook Marketing Partners.

Hyp3r is a marketing company that tracks social-media posts tagged with real-world locations. It then lets its customers directly interact with those posts via its tools and uses that data to target the social-media users with relevant advertisements. Someone who visits a hotel and posts a selfie there might later be targeted with pitches from one of the hotel's competitors, for example.

The total volume of Instagram data Hyp3r has obtained is not clear, though the firm has publicly said it has a unique dataset of hundreds of millions of the highest value consumers in the world, and sources said more than of 90% of its data came from Instagram. It ingests in excess of 1 million Instagram posts a month, sources said.

See full article from businessinsider.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Gender Fluid Playmate of the Month...


Link Here 10th August 2019
Full story: Playboy Magazine...Evolving with the times
Are you ready for a woke Playboy?

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 

Updated: Time to Switch...

Omega Labyrinth Life released in the EU and US on 1st August, cut on PS4 and uncensored on Switch


Link Here 9th August 2019
Omega Labyrinth Life is another in the series of Japanese video games that feature sexy young girls of rather indeterminate age. It made the news as it was something of a first for featuring an English language soundtrack.

It inevitably courted a little controversy but it shrugged it off and will now release in the US and EU on the same day as Japan and Asia - August 1st.

The Western versions will be digital only and the Sony PS4 release will be the censored version whilst Nintendo Switch has the original uncut version.

Update: Uncensored is best

9th August 2019. See article from oneangrygamer.net

D3 Publisher released the full uncensored version of Omega Labyrinth Life on the Nintendo Switch , while the PS4 version received a truncated, censored version called Labyrinth Life . The Switch version managed to sell more than three times what the PS4 version sold, and almost quadrupling the sales during the first week of release.

The censored PS4 version, Labyrinth Life , fared far worse despite being $10 cheaper than the Nintendo Switch version of the game. It landed on the 26th spot out of 30 entries, and only moved 1,977 units over a four day period.

 

 

Offsite Article: Alarms Bells Ring...


Link Here 9th August 2019
Amazon colludes with US police to set up a surveillance network of homes using its doorbell camera

See article from vice.com

 

 

Getting it right...

Politico reports that the White House is working on order to counter the political bias demonstrated by social media companies


Link Here 8th August 2019
Full story: Politically biased internet censorship...Social media silences voices from the political right
The White House is circulating drafts of a proposed executive order that would address the anti-conservative bias of social media companies. This appears to be the follow up to President Donald Trump pledging to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions on the issue.

The contents of the order remain undisclosed but it seems that many different ideas are still in the mix. A White House official is reported to have said:

If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system. But look, we also think that social media plays a vital role. They have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent.

The social media companies have denied the allegations of bias, but nevertheless the large majority of users censored by the companies are indeed on the right.

 

 

Updated: Shooting the messenger...

Cloudflare withdraws support from 8chan, the forum website used by some of the recent US shooters


Link Here 6th August 2019
8chan is a forum website that has become a home for the far right and those otherwise discontented by modern society for various reasons. There's nothing special about it that cannot be easily replicated elsewhere.

And as Buzzfeed notes:

Pull the plug, it will appear somewhere else, in whatever locale will host it. Because there's nothing particularly special about 8chan, there are no content algorithms, hosting technology immaterial. The only thing radicalizing 8chan users are other 8chan users.

However in the past six months is has been used to distribute racist and white nationalist manifestos prior to mass shootings.

It has now been refused service from Cloudfare which offers security services, most notably defending against denial of service attacks. Cloudflare announced in a blogpost the company would be terminating 8chan as a client.

This represents a reversal of Cloudflare's position from less than 24 hours earlier, when the co-founder and chief executive, Matthew Prince, defended his company's relationship with 8chan as a moral obligation in an extensive interview with the Guardian. Prince explained the change:

The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.

While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate. In taking this action we've solved our own problem, but we haven't solved the Internet's.

You'd have though the authorities would be advised to keep an eye on public forums so as to be aware of any grievances that are widely shared. Maybe to try and resolve them, and maybe just to be aware of what people are thinking. For example, if David Cameron had been better aware of what many people thought about immigration, he might have realised that holding the EU referendum was a disastrously stupid idea.

Update: Censored by the website hosting company

6th August 2019. See article from theverge.com

Internet forum 8chan has gone dark after web services company Voxility banned the site -- and also banned 8chan's new host Epik, which had been leasing web space from it. Epik began working with 8chan today after web services giant Cloudflare cut off service, following the latest of at least three mass shootings linked to 8chan. But Stanford researcher Alex Stamos noted that Epik seemed to lease servers from Voxility, and when Voxility discovered the content, it cut ties with Epik almost immediately.

 

 

Data brokers need to be investigated...

Privacy International writes to the DCMS Sub-Committee on Disinformation -


Link Here 6th August 2019

Dear Chair and Committee colleagues,

Privacy International is an international NGO, based in London, which works with partners around the world to challenge state and corporate surveillance and data exploitation. As part of our work, we have a dedicated programme " Defending Democracy and Dissent " where we advocate for limits on data exploitation throughout the electoral cycle .

We have been closely following the important work of the Committee. Prompted by the additional evidence provided to the Committee by Brittany Kaiser , published on 30 July 2019, we would like to draw your attention to aspects of her submission that stood out to us and related points:

  • The ways in which Cambridge Analytica has used segments and inferences is strikingly similar to the techniques we have observed in the data broker industry.

  • In November 2018, Privacy International complained about seven data brokers (Acxiom, Oracle), ad-tech companies (Criteo, Quantcast, Tapad), and credit referencing agencies (Equifax, Experian) to data protection authorities in France, Ireland, and the UK. As evidenced in the documentary "The Great Hack", Acxiom is one of the companies, as well as Facebook, that Cambridge Analytica used as a data source. Many of these companies are also involved in or linked to the use of data for political purposes.

  • Our complaints show that these companies fail to comply with data protection law and in some cases seem to work under the assumption that derived, inferred and predicted data and behavioural or demographic segments do not count as personal data, even if they are linked to unique identifiers or linked to or used to target individuals.

  • We noted with concern that the final report of the Committee on Disinformation and'fake news' stated that "'inferred data' is not protected" under GDPR. While we very much agree with your recommendation to extend privacy laws to close existing gaps in this regard, we respectfully disagree with your conclusion that 'inferred data' is currently not protected. 'Inferred data' does not always fall under the definition of personal data,yet inferences that may be linked to identifiable individuals do constitute personal data.

  • A new aspect of GDPR is an explicit definition of profiling in Article 4(4): "any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyse or predict aspects concerning that natural person's performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behaviour, location or movements".

  • Data brokers, ad tech companies, and credit referencing agencies amass vast amounts of data from different sources (offline and online) in order to profile individuals, derive, and infer more data about them and place individuals into categories and segments. The law is clear that there must be transparency and limits, including relating to requirements such as legal basis, fairness and purpose limitation. However, our investigation shows that many companies fail to comply with data protectionrequirements with far reaching consequences for people's rights.

  • The pervasive nature of data brokers is demonstrated by an example related to anotherof the Committee's inquires, where you have looked at the way reality TV shows have used targeted advertising on Facebook. In this regard it is important to consider how advertising on television is becoming increasingly targeted, and the role that data brokers play as data sources .

We urge the Committee to look into the profiling practices used by commercial data brokers (including those that also operate as Credit Reference Agencies) and the role this industry plays in the use of personal data for political purposes and beyond .

We look forward to hearing from you in relation to this request. Should you require any further information or have any questions please do let us know.

Yours faithfully,

Privacy International

 

 

Trump blames video games, social media and mental illness for shootings...

So surely it is not a good idea to let gamers or social media users to get hold of guns then


Link Here 5th August 2019
Full story: Shootings Blame...Blaming video games for mass shootings
US President Donald Trump has placed the blame of the US' latest mass shootings on video games, mental illness and social media, after 29 people died in attacks in Texas and Ohio over the weekend. He claimed: Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger - not the gun.

Doubling down on his suggestion that the attackers had mental health issues, the president called for new laws that better identify mentally disturbed individuals, adding that those people should not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement.

Trump called for the US to condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. He also criticised the role of gruesome video games, adding that they are common place and too easy for young people to get a hold off, saying they celebrate violence.

Trump also announced that he has directed the justice department to work with local and national law enforcement alongside social media companies to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.

 

 

Miserable gits...

Australian politicians conspire against humorous slogans on Wicked Campervans


Link Here 4th August 2019
Full story: Wicked Campervans...Un polictically correct adverts wind up Australian and New Zealand authorities
Wicked Campervans with humorous slogans that offend easily offended politicians would be banned from being registered in all states and territories of Australia, under a plan signed off at a national meeting of transport ministers.

Each state agreed to deregister vans which refused to have humorous slogans taken down following a complaint, and then ensure the van could not simply be re-registered in another jurisdiction.

Queensland Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey has claimed Wicked is exploiting a loophole by registering the vans in other states to get around the ban.

 

 

Offsite Article: It's time to start another revolution...


Link Here 4th August 2019
Why I Want to Start a Free Speech Trade Union written by Toby Young

See article from quillette.com

 


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