US Censorship News

 2017: Oct-Dec

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  US Government approved news only for Google search results...

Google will become political censors for the US by hiding posts from Russian propaganda channels RT and Sputnik


Link Here 21st November 2017
Google logoGoogle News is limiting the reach of two Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik, according to Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt said Google is de-ranking sites it claims have been spreading Russian state-sponsored propaganda. We're trying to engineer the systems to prevent it.

However, Schmidt added that he isn't in favor of censorship ...BUT.. his company also has a responsibility to stop the misinformation.

In response of teh censorship, Sputnik quoted research psychologist Robert Epstein:

Google is deciding what people see, which is very dangerous since they are legally a tech company and do not adhere to any type of editorial standards our guidelines

What we're talking about here is a means of mind control on a massive scale that there is no precedent for in human history, he said at the time. Research participants spent a much larger percentage of web browsing time visiting search results that were higher up. According to Epstein, biased Google results could have provided an extra 2.6 million votes in support of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race.

 

  Propaganda war...

The US requires the Russian propaganda channel RT to register as a 'foreign agent'


Link Here 11th November 2017  full story: Russia Today Propaganda TV...Russia Today, English language international propaganda channel
russia today international logoThe US establishment clearly cannot accept that US voters selected Donald Trump because of their own failures to look after sizable chunks of the American people. Instead they prefer to believe US minds were somehow corrupted by mysterious foreign agents offering propaganda and fake news.

So now the US is coming down heavy on the Russian propaganda news channel RT. RT said this week that it had been ordered by the US Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent by Monday or have its bank accounts frozen. This 1938 reporting law is something from the age when the Nazis were on the ascent, and that foreign agents were indeed enemies of the state with a war looming.

In response to this treatment, Russia's parliament has now begun drafting tit-for-tat measures that would place severe restrictions on some US media outlets operating in the country, in a move that looks likely to plunge US-Russia relations to a new low.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had previously warned that Russia would take retaliatory steps if RT, formerly known as Russia Today, was targeted by US authorities.

The Russian parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said MPs had been tasked with drafting amendments to Russia's own law on foreign agents to include biased media organisations that oppose Russia's political system. He said the amendments could be approved in their third and final reading as earlier as next Friday.

Senator Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the upper house of parliament's media policy committee, said the measures would initially target CNN, the Voice of America, and Radio Liberty. However, Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, did not rule out that the updated law could also result in the expulsion of Moscow-based correspondents from US newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post.

 

  SESTA censorship...

US internet censorship bill passed by the Senate Commerce Committee


Link Here 9th November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

US SenateThe Senate Commerce Committee just approved a slightly modified version of SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act ( S. 1693 ).

SESTA was and continues to be a deeply flawed bill. It is intended to weaken the section commonly known as CDA 230 or simply Section 230, one of the most important laws protecting free expression online . Section 230 says that for purposes of enforcing certain laws affecting speech online, an intermediary cannot be held legally responsible for any content created by others.

It's not surprising when a trade association endorses a bill that would give its own members a massive competitive advantage.

SESTA would create an exception to Section 230 for laws related to sex trafficking, thus exposing online platforms to an immense risk of civil and criminal litigation. What that really means is that online platforms would be forced to take drastic measures to censor their users.

Some SESTA supporters imagine that compliance with SESTA would be easy--that online platforms would simply need to use automated filters to pinpoint and remove all messages in support of sex trafficking and leave everything else untouched. But such filters do not and cannot exist: computers aren't good at recognizing subtlety and context, and with severe penalties at stake, no rational company would trust them to .

Online platforms would have no choice but to program their filters to err on the side of removal, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process. And remember, the first people silenced are likely to be trafficking victims themselves: it would be a huge technical challenge to build a filter that removes sex trafficking advertisements but doesn't also censor a victim of trafficking telling her story or trying to find help.

Along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, Access Now, Engine, and many other organizations, EFF signed a letter yesterday urging the Commerce Committee to change course . We explained the silencing effect that SESTA would have on online speech:

Pressures on intermediaries to prevent trafficking-related material from appearing on their sites would also likely drive more intermediaries to rely on automated content filtering tools, in an effort to conduct comprehensive content moderation at scale. These tools have a notorious tendency to enact overbroad censorship, particularly when used without (expensive, time-consuming) human oversight. Speakers from marginalized groups and underrepresented populations are often the hardest hit by such automated filtering.

It's ironic that supporters of SESTA insist that computerized filters can serve as a substitute for human moderation: the improvements we've made in filtering technologies in the past two decades would not have happened without the safety provided by a strong Section 230, which provides legal cover for platforms that might harm users by taking down, editing or otherwise moderating their content (in addition to shielding platforms from liability for illegal user-generated content).

We find it disappointing, but not necessarily surprising, that the Internet Association has endorsed this deeply flawed bill . Its member companies--many of the largest tech companies in the world--will not feel the brunt of SESTA in the same way as their smaller competitors. Small Internet startups don't have the resources to police every posting on their platforms, which will uniquely pressure them to censor their users--that's particularly true for nonprofit and noncommercial platforms like the Internet Archive and Wikipedia. It's not surprising when a trade association endorses a bill that would give its own members a massive competitive advantage.

If you rely on online communities in your day-to-day life; if you believe that your right to speak matters just as much on the web as on the street; if you hate seeing sex trafficking victims used as props to advance an agenda of censorship; please take a moment to write your members of Congress and tell them to oppose SESTA .

 

  The Internet Association has let the Internet down...

EFF comments that the big internet companies are now supporting a US internet censorship bill because they can afford to implement the onerous requirements, whilst smaller competitors cannot


Link Here 5th November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Electronic Frontier Foundation A trade group representing giants of Internet business from Facebook to Microsoft has just endorsed a "compromise" version of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a misleadingly named bill that would be disastrous for free speech and online communities.

Just a few hours after Senator Thune's amended version of SESTA surfaced online, the Internet Association rushed to praise the bill's sponsors for their "careful work and bipartisan collaboration." The compromise bill has all of the same fundamental flaws as the original. Like the original, it does nothing to fight sex traffickers, but it would silence legitimate speech online .

It shouldn't really come as a surprise that the Internet Association has fallen in line to endorse SESTA. The Internet Association doesn't represent the Internet--it represents the few companies that profit the most off of Internet activity.

Amazon and eBay would be able to absorb the increased legal risk under SESTA . They would likely be able to afford the high-powered lawyers to survive the wave in lawsuits against them. Small startups, including would-be competitors, would not. It shouldn't pass our attention that the Internet giants are now endorsing a bill that will make it much more difficult for newcomers ever to compete with them .

IA also doesn't represent Internet users. It doesn't represent the marginalized voices who'll be silenced as platforms begin to over-rely on automated filters (filters that will doubtless be offered as a licensed service by large Internet companies). It doesn't represent the LGBTQ teenager in South Dakota who depends every day on the safety of his online community . It doesn't represent the sex worker who will be forced off of the Internet and onto a dangerous street .

The Internet Association can tell itself and its members whatever it wants--that it held its ground for as long as it could despite overwhelming political opposition, that the law will motivate its members to make amazing strides in filtering technologies--but there is one thing that it simply cannot say: that it has done something to fight sex trafficking.

Again and again and again , experts in sex trafficking have spoken out to say that SESTA is the wrong solution , that it will put trafficking victims in more danger, that it will remove the very tools that law enforcement uses to rescue victims. It's shameful that a small group of lobbyists with an agenda of censorship have presented themselves to lawmakers as the unanimous experts in sex trafficking. It's embarrassing that it's worked so well.

A serious problem calls for serious solutions, and SESTA is not a serious solution. At the heart of the sex trafficking problem lies a complex set of economic, social, and legal issues. A broken immigration system and a torn safety net. A law enforcement regime that puts trafficking victims at risk for reporting their traffickers. Officers who aren't adequately trained to use the online tools at their disposal, or use them against victims. And yes, if there are cases where online platforms themselves directly contribute to unlawful activity , it's a problem that the Department of Justice won't use the powers Congress has already given it . These are the factors that deserve intense deliberation and debate by lawmakers, not a hamfisted attempt to punish online communities.

The Internet Association let the Internet down today. Congress should not make the same mistake.

Stop SESTA

Tell Congress: The Internet Association Does Not Speak for The Internet

 

  Patently sensible...

US court overrules Canada's Supreme Court who demanded that Google delist various websites from worldwide search


Link Here 4th November 2017  full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites

Google logoA federal court in California has rendered an order from the Supreme Court of Canada unenforceable. The order in question required Google to remove a company's websites from search results globally, not just in Canada. This ruling violates US law and puts free speech at risk, the California court found.

When the Canadian company Equustek Solutions requested Google to remove competing websites claimed to be illegally using intellectual property, it refused to do so globally.

This resulted in a legal battle that came to a climax in June, when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to remove a company's websites from its search results. Not just in Canada, but all over the world.

With options to appeal exhausted in Canada, Google took the case to a federal court in the US. The search engine requested an injunction to disarm the Canadian order, arguing that a worldwide blocking order violates the First Amendment.

Surprisingly, Equustek decided not to defend itself and without opposition, a California District Court sided with Google. During a hearing, Google attorney Margaret Caruso stressed that it should not be possible for foreign countries to implement measures that run contrary to core values of the United States.

The search engine argued that the Canadian order violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes Internet services from liability for content created by third parties. With this law, Congress specifically chose not to deter harmful online speech by imposing liability on Internet services.

In an order, signed shortly after the hearing, District Judge Edward Davila concludes that Google qualifies for Section 230 immunity in this case. As such, he rules that the Canadian Supreme Court's global blocking order goes too far.

The ruling is important in the broader scheme. If foreign courts are allowed to grant worldwide blockades, free speech could be severely hampered. Today it's a relatively unknown Canadian company, but what if the Chinese Government asked Google to block the websites of VPN providers?

 

  Law breakers...

New York City repeals law requiring an onerous cabaret licence before dancing is allowed


Link Here 3rd November 2017
new york city logoNew York City has repealed a 100 year-old restriction barring dancing in bars if they do not have a cabaret license. The City Council has voted 41-1 to repeal the Cabaret Law and the bill is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has indicated his support for the proposal. After DeBlasio signs, the repeal will go into effect within 30 days.

A spokesman for de Blasio told the New York Times, though he emphasized the need to retain some of its security requirements, including mandatory security cameras and certified security staff at larger venues.

The law, which was created during prohibition in the face of the proliferation of speakeasies, made it illegal to host musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other forms of amusement without a cabaret license. The license was available, but the process of obtaining it was costly complicated and required approval from several agencies and only businesses in areas zoned for commercial manufacturing are eligible.

The law was used aggressively by Giuliani administration's crackdown on nightlife in the late 1990s. More recently, Andrew Muchmore, a lawyer and bar owner whose Brooklyn bar, Muchmore's, was hit with a Cabaret Law violation in 2013 after a police officer reportedly found people swaying to music at a concert.

 

  US politicians take aim at Russian social media adverts...

Politicians need to face up to their own failure to look after the jobs and prospects of people and not blame their unpopularity on silly distractions like Russian propaganda


Link Here 20th October 2017

US SenateFacebook and Google, along with other online publishers, may soon be required in the US to disclose funding for paid political ads.

Two US senators, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner, proposed a bill called The Honest Ads Act to extend the funding disclosure requirements for political ads on TV, radio, and in print, to online ads. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the US House of Representatives.

Under these disclosure requirements, traditional media has to produce and reveal lists identifying organizations that have bought political adverts. If the Honest Ads Act is passed into law, top online sites, from Facebook to Twitter, will fall under these requirements, too.

The bill is an attempt to respond to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election through social media.

Facebook , Google , and Twitter have all said they sold politically-oriented ads to accounts linked to Russia. Facebook has characterized the ads it sold as amplifying divisive social and political messages.

If the bill becomes law, the rules would require digital platforms averaging 50 million monthly viewers to maintain a public list of political ads purchased by a person or organization spending more than $500 cumulatively on such ads, on a per-platform basis. And it would direct digital platforms to make all reasonable efforts to prevent foreign individuals and organizations from purchasing domestic political ads.

 

  Copyright Isn't a Tool for Removing Negative Reviews...

EFF reports on a US court case an attempt to misuse copyright law to silence free speech and bad reviews


Link Here 13th October 2017

Electronic Frontier Foundation At EFF, we see endless attempts to misuse copyright law in order to silence content that a person dislikes. Copyright law is sadly less protective of speech than other speech regulations like defamation, so plaintiffs are motivated to find ways to turn many kinds of disputes into issues of copyright law. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected one such ploy: an attempt to use copyright to get rid of a negative review.

The website Ripoff Report hosts criticism of a variety of professionals and companies, who doubtless would prefer that those critiques not exist. In order to protect platforms for speech like Ripoff Report, federal law sets a very high bar for private litigants to collect damages or obtain censorship orders against them. The gaping exception to this protection is intellectual property claims, including copyright, for which a lesser protection applies.

One aggrieved professional named Goren (and his company) went to court to get a negative review taken down from Ripoff Report. If Goren had relied on a defamation claim alone, the strong protection of CDA 230 would protect Ripoff Report. But Goren sought to circumvent that protection by getting a court order seizing ownership of the copyright from its author for himself, then suing Ripoff Report's owner for copyright infringement. We filed a brief explaining several reasons why his claims should fail, and urging the court to prevent the use of copyright as a pretense for suppressing speech.

Fortunately, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed that Ripoff Report is not liable. It ruled on a narrow basis, pointing out that the person who originally posted the review on Ripoff Report gave the site's owners irrevocable permission to host that content. Therefore, continuing to host it could not be an infringement, even if Goren did own the copyright.

Goren paid the price for his improper assertion of copyright here: the appeals court upheld an award of over $100,000 in attorneys' fees. The award of fees in a case like this is important both because it deters improper assertion of copyright, and because it helps compensate defendants who choose to litigate rather than settling for nuisance value simply to avoid the expense of defending their rights.

We're glad the First Circuit acted to limit the ways that private entities can censor speech online.

 

 Offsite Article: Art in a dog eat dog world...


Link Here 3rd October 2017
dogs who cant touch By bowing to the braying internet mob, the Guggenheim forgot its purpose. By Rupert Myers

See article from theguardian.com

 

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