Theresa May has urged world leaders to do more to censor online extremism, saying the fight against so-called Islamic State is moving from the battlefield to the internet.
Speaking about counter-terrorism at the G7 summit in Sicily, the PM said more pressure should be put on tech companies to remove extreme material and to report such content to the authorities. She led a discussion on how to work together to
prevent the plotting of terrorist attacks online and to stop the spread of hateful extremist ideology on social media.
She said that the industry has a social responsibility to do more to take down harmful content. She acknowledged that the industry has been taking action to remove extremist content, but said it has not gone far enough and needs to do more.
She called for an international forum to develop the means of intervening where danger is detected, and for companies to develop tools which automatically identify and remove harmful material based on what it contains, and who posted it.
Norway is considering introducing uniformed police profiles which would patrol Facebook looking for criminal activity.
Kripos, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public. It would mean police gaining access to closed
groups and interacting with members as they search for evidence of criminal activity.
Police in Norway and elsewhere have previously used fake Facebook profiles to investigate crimes including smuggling alcohol and tobacco.
Lobbyists for Google, Facebook, and other websites are trying to stop the implementation of a proposed law in the US that would strengthen consumer privacy protections online.
Representative Marsha Blackburn last week proposed a bill that would require broadband providers and websites to obtain users' opt-in consent before they use Web browsing history and application usage history for advertising and other purposes or
before they share that information with other entities. The rule in Blackburn's BROWSER Act is similar to a previous proposal blocked by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump.
Currently the internet industry claims to be self regulating with mechanisms in which websites let visitors opt out of personalized advertising based on browsing history. However these rules do not restrict internet companies from gathering such
intrusive personal information.
Naturally, lobbyists are trying to stop this from taking effect. The Internet Association yesterday issued a statement claiming that the bill will somehow diminish consumer experience and will stifle innovation. The Internet Association's
founding members include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, eBay, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Reddit, Spotify, Twitter, and about 30 other Web companies.
Thousands of pages of internal documents from Facebook have been leaked, revealing the censorship rules used to identify user content that is to be censored.
Among the rules detailed in documents obtained by the Guardian are those covering nudity, violence and threats.
A threat to kill the US President would be deleted, but similar remarks against an ordinary person would not be viewed as credible unless further comments showed signs of a plot.
Other rules reveal that videos depicting self-harm are allowed, as long as there exists an opportunity to help the person. Videos of suicide, however, are never allowed.
Film of child and animal abuse (as long as it is non-sexual) can remain in an effort to raise awareness and possibly help those affected.
Aside from footage of actual violence, Facebook must also decide how to respond to threats of it, what they call credible threats of violence. There is an entire rulebook for what is considered credible and what is not. Statements like someone
shoot Trump will be deleted by the website, but comments like let's go beat up fat kids, or I hope someone kills you will not. The leaked documents state that violent threats are most often not credible, until specific statements make it clear
that the threat is no longer simply an expression of emotion but a transition to a plot or design.
Facebook's rules regarding nudity now makes allowance for newsworthy exceptions. like the famous Vietnam War photo of a naked young girl hit by napalm, and for handmade art. Digitally made art showing sexually explicit content is not allowed.
Buried at the very end of the Conservative election manifesto is a line of text that could have an enormous impact on how Britons use the internet in the future.
Conservative advisers suggested to BuzzFeed News that a future Tory government would be keen to rein in the growing power of Google and Facebook.
The proposals -- dotted around the manifesto document -- are varied. There are many measures designed to make it easier to do business online but it's a different, more social conservative approach when it comes to social networks.
Legislation would be introduced to 'protect' the public from abuse and offensive material online, while everyone would have the right to wipe material that was posted when they were under 18. Internet companies would also be asked to help promote
counter-extremism narratives -- potentially echoing the government's Prevent programme. There would be new rules requiring companies to make it ever harder for people to access pornography and violent images, with all content creators forced to
justify their policies to the government.
The Manifesto states:
Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline.
It should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground, as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading pornography online as it is in the high
street, and as difficult to commit a crime digitally as it is physically.
New laws will be introduced to implement these rules, forcing internet companies such as Facebook to abide by the rulings of a regulator or face sanctions: We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability
to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law.
A levy on tech companies -- similar to that charged on gambling companies -- would also be used to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms. The Conservatives even see this model going further, announcing their
desire to work with other countries develop a global set of internet regulation standards similar to those we have for so long benefited from in other areas like banking and trade.
May's manifesto also raises concerns about online news, warning it is willing to take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy, while pledging to ensure content creators are appropriately
rewarded for the content they make available online.
On a more positive note, the Conservative party manifesto contained one significantly welcome provision, which was that the party would not proceed with implementing the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry, and would repeal Section 40 of the
Crime and Courts Act 2013 -- both measures that RSF has campaigned for. RSF and other free expression groups viewed Section 40 as threatening to press freedom, particularly its cost-shifting provision that, if implemented, could have held
publishers that did not join the state-approved regulator liable for the costs of all claims made against them, regardless of merit.
In contrast, both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos stated that the parties would disgracefully move forward with the unjust stage two of the Leveson Inquiry.
An Austrian appeals court has ordered Facebook to remove political criticism of an Austrian politician. the court ruled that posts calling Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig a lousy traitor of the people and a corrupt klutz are
somehow hate speech.
The ruling by the Austrian court doesn't just require Facebook to delete the offending posts in Austria, but for all users around the world, including any verbatim repostings. That would be an aggressive precedent to set, since Facebook has
historically enforced country-specific speech laws only for local users.
Facebook has removed the posts in Austria, which were posted by a fake account. It has yet to remove the posts globally because it is appealing the case.
American legal experts speaking to The Outline called the ruling troubling, and warned of the potential ramifications Facebook and its users could face as a result. Daphneth Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center
for Internet and Society, told The Outline that the ruling sends a signal to other countries that they too can impose their laws on the rest of the world's internet. She asked:
Should Facebook comply globally with Russia's anti-gay laws, or Thailand's laws against insulting the king, or Saudi Arabia's blasphemy laws? Would Austria want those laws to dictate what speech its citizens can share online?
Military authorities in Thailand have warned Facebook to take down content criticising the monarchy, or face legal action.
Facebook has been given until next Tuesday to remove about 130 items from pages viewable in Thailand. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission told the BBC that Facebook had already co-operated in blocking some pages, but that
more than 130 judged to be illegal by the authorities remained visible in Thailand.
Facebook says it does consider requests from governments to block material, and will comply if it breaks local laws.
Any comment critical of the monarchy can result in prosecution under Thailand's strict lese-majeste law, even if the criticism is justified. Those convicted face extreme prison sentences.
Thailand's military government that seized power in Thailand in 2014 has made great efforts to suppress any criticism of the monarchy. Thousands of websites have been blocked, and people caught sharing, or even liking Facebook posts deemed
unflattering to the monarchy have been prosecuted.
The Chinese government has issued new censorship rules extending its repressive control over online news content.
Companies that publish, share or edit news will need a government licence, and senior editors must be approved by the authorities. Other staff will be required to undergo government training and assessment, and receive official accreditation.
The legislation will bring online news providers into line with traditional news media operating in the country.
From 1 June, when the rules come into force, they will be expected to follow information security protocols , including emergency response measures such as increased vetting following disasters.
The list of providers and platforms covered includes websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant messaging tools and internet broadcasts .
Organisations that do not have a licence will not be allowed to post news or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, or other areas of public interest .
The Digital Economy Bill (DEBill) will require that porn sites verify the age of their users in order to prevent under 18s from viewing pornography. Despite concerns that this will leave porn users vulnerable to hacks and security risks, the
Government has failed to amend the Bill so that privacy is written into the legislation. Instead, Codes of Practice will place the responsibility for protecting people's privacy with porn sites not the companies supplying age verification
Executive Director Jim Killock said:
Age verification is an accident waiting to happen. Despite repeated warnings, parliament has failed to listen to concerns about the privacy and security of people who want to watch legal adult content.
As we saw with the Ashley Madison leaks, the hacking of private information about people's sex lives, has huge repercussions for those involved. The UK government has failed to take responsibility for its proposals and placed the responsibility
for people's privacy into the hands of porn companies.
The Bill will also enable the creation of a censorship regime as the BBFC will be given powers to force ISPs to block legitimate websites without any judicial process. These powers were added to the Bill, when it became apparent that foreign porn
sites could not be compelled to apply age verification. During parliamentary scrutiny, they were extended to include other content, not just pornography, raising further concerns about the threat to free speech.
These new powers will put in place a vast system of censorship which could be applied to tens of thousands of adult websites. The BBFC will be under pressure to censor more and more legal content. This is a serious assault on free speech in the
Almost 25,000 ORG supporters signed a petition calling for the Government to reject plans for blocking legal pornography.
The Digital Economy Bill has received the royal assent. Interesting comments and links on Pandora Blake's blog. Apparently a thrilling thirteen parliamentary jobsworths could be arsed to turn up for the final debate in the House of Comics. I
would think it's now in the interest of porn producers, as well as their British customers, to drop any restrictions on access via VPNs and to help UK punters get round any attempted firewall.
Pandora seems to know more about the matter than the 650 political twats together!