Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg will testify in an open hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee next week, the committee’s chairman has confirmed.
Larry Page, chief executive of Google parent company Alphabet, was also invited but has not confirmed his attendance, a committee spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch.
Under current US law, Google allows a number of companies to directly and without oversight remove sites from its search index, based purely on the claim that copyrights are being infringed. In effect, a handful of media companies have control over what we can – and can’t – find online.
One of them is Symphonic Distribution, who offer a service called “Topple Track” . This service sent a notice to Google on July 22 falsely claiming that my blog post and a number of other sites were somehow infringing on the copyright of an Australian TV starlet. Automated systems at Google honored the claim and delisted the pages, sight unseen.
(1.8.2018) Google withdrew from China eight years ago to protest the country’s censorship and online hacking. Now, the internet giant is working on a censored search engine for China that will filter websites and search terms that are blacklisted by the Chinese government, according to two people with knowledge of the plans.
Google has teams of engineers working on a search app that restricts content banned by Beijing, said the people, who asked for anonymity because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the project. The company has demonstrated the service to Chinese government officials, they added.
Move to HTTPS; lose the Chinese. That’s the revised internet maxim. China’s Great Firewall has gradually reduced the number of foreign sites accessible by Chinese citizens… „gradually“ only in the sense that it’s been a continuous rollout steadily decreasing web access. The government blocked an entire content delivery network at one point, so even this gradual rollout has seen its share of spikes.
As is being collaboratively reported at WikiTribune, the BBC says the move to HTTPS for all of it properties has resulted in Chinese citizens being unable to access their contents.
YouTube, Facebook and Apple have taken steps to remove content associated with InfoWars and its founder Alex Jones.
(3.8.2018) Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it had uncovered a new wave of disinformation attacks ahead of the 2018 elections. To hear Facebook tell it, the new attacks pretty closely mirror Russia’s Internet Research Agency attacks during the 2016 election. As in, the culprits are trying to sow distrust and amplify partisan divisions on both sides of the aisle by creating fake organizations, fake people, fake news, and rockin‘ memes. How much that actually accomplishes is the matter of some debate, but it’s also pretty clear we don’t yet understand how deep this rabbit hole really goes.
According to Facebook, this latest attack on the nation’s gullible shows signs of evolution from the more ham-fisted attacks seen during the 2016 election. And while there’s no hard link to Russia yet, Facebook claims there are some connections between Russian Internet Research Agency „troll farm“ accounts and this new wave of disinformation:
Government “of the People” cannot flourish beneath a suffocating cloak of secrecy. And secrecy is often aimed, not at protecting us from enemies abroad, but at deceiving us about the dark machinations of our own government. The most consequential secrets are those used to conceal steps taken to establish predicates for future wars – unwarranted conflicts that seem to roll off an endless assembly line. No-fly zones, bombings, sanctions, false flags, blockades, mercenaries, bloodthirsty terrorists have all become stock in trade. Sanctions destabilize our targets through hunger and suffering. We terrorize and blow body parts into the streets like calling cards. Regime change is the end game; coups and assassinations are fair play.
So, yesterday the House Judiciary Committee did what the House Judiciary Committee seems to do best: hold a stupid, nonsensical, nearly fact-free „hearing“ that serves as nothing more than an opportunity for elected members of Congress to demonstrate their ignorance of an important topic, while attempting to play to their base. This time, the topic was on the content filtering practices of Facebook, Twitter and Google.
(18.6.2018) On June 20, the EU’s legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial „Article 13“ (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and „Article 11“ (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site).
We’ve pointed this out over and over again with regards to all of the various attempts to „regulate“ the internet giants of Google and Facebook: nearly every proposal put forth to date creates a regulatory regime that Google and Facebook can totally handle. Sure, they might find it to be a nuisance, but its well within the resources of both companies to handle whatever is thrown their way. However, most other companies are then totally fucked, because they simply cannot comply in any reasonable manner. And, yet, these proposals keep coming — and people keep celebrating them in the false belief that they will somehow „contain“ the two internet giants, when the reality is that it will lock them in as the defacto dominant internet players, making it nearly impossible for upstarts and competitors to enter the market.
On May 1, the developers of the Signal encrypted messaging application revealed that over the previous month, Google and Amazon took steps to stop Signal from continuing to bypass censorship measures in place in Egypt, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Workers, youth, journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates will no longer be able to use the application to send encrypted messages and evade government surveillance.
A few years ago, when the EU Commission was first considering some really bad copyright policies designed to attack fundamental principles of how the internet worked, we pointed out the many, many problems with the EU Commission’s online survey (including the fact that their survey tool was literally broken, which eventually resulted in them expanding the time that the survey could be answered). It appears that one thing the EU Commission is good at doing is pushing silly one-sided online surveys that seem uniquely designed to get people to answer in a manner that blesses whatever awful policy the EU Commission has already decided to adopt.
At the session of Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) on May 1, several changes were introduced to the Code of Administrative Offenses and the Law on Mass Media.
The changes concern media activities in wartime. Thus, Article 517-2.15 was added to Article 517, entitled „Violation of the requirements of the state of emergency“, which implies a penalty for not complying with the emergency regime in the martial law zone. The size of the fine is from 1,000 to 1,500 manat for officials, and from 6,000 to 8,000 manat for legal entities.
The government will also seek to develop a legal basis in 2019 to restrict access to piracy websites.
Critics have expressed concern that blocking certain websites violates Article 21 of the Constitution, which states: “No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”
The writers of the Japanese constitution clearly were concerned about government censorship and specifically prohibited it.
This has not stopped the government from trying to dip its toes in these waters, chiefly by pretending that copyright infringement is something that it isn’t.
(28.3.2018) Should the European Commission’s proposal for an extra copyright for news sites become law, restricting how we can share news online?
After repeated delays, MEP Axel Voss (EPP) has just released his proposal for the European Parliament’s position. His view? The Commission proposal for the “link tax” does not go far enough!
After he already advocated giving the green light to “censorship machines”, Voss wants the Parliament to double down on another disastrous law that would limit freedom of expression on the internet. It’s a direct attack on who big publishers feel threatened by: Internet platforms and web startups, as well as smaller, more innovative competitors.
(26.3.2018) A judge holds that YouTube isn’t a „public forum“ run by a „state actor.“
When it comes to censorship in the name of copyright, we’ve made the point time and again that opening this door an inch will cause supporters of censorship to try to barge through and open it all the way. Inevitably, when a population tries to satiate the entertainment industry by giving them just a little censorship, that industry will ask for more and more and more.
A good example of this can be seen right now in Australia. Like far too many countries, Australia began a site-blocking practice three or so years ago. Currently, the Department of Commnications is asking for feedback on the effectiveness of this practice as well as feedback on each step in the process itself. The way it works in Australia is that rightsholders have to get an initial injunction which then winds its way to a site being blocked as a „pirate site.“ Well, for the largest entertainment industry groups in Australia, the feedback is essentially, „This is great, let’s censor even more!“
Italy is rolling out new laws to deal with „fake news.“ The Italian government can’t define this term precisely, but apparently assumes it will know it when it sees it. And the rest of the country is encouraged to „see something, say something,“ thanks to the government’s online portal which will allow brigaders and hecklers to cleanse the web of things they don’t like. Even if some of it stays up, those reported will possibly still have to spend some time interacting with government employees, which will mostly be a waste of everyone’s time.
And that’s just the bureaucratic side of it. This portal will link to law enforcement so Italy’s uniformed cyberwarriors can go harass citizens over alleged fakery the government can’t even clearly define.