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Harmful Online Communications...

Open Rights Group respond to Law Commission proposals to extend hate crime definitions to pander to the easily offended


Link Here14th January 2021
Full story: UK government on hate crime...Which group can command the most advantageous anti-discrimination law?
Open Rights Group writes:

This is a short joint submission to the Law Commission's Harmful Online Offences consultation. This submission is by the Open Rights Group and Preiskel & Co LLP solicitors.

Opposing the new offence

  • We do not support the Law Commission's proposed offence. We are concerned with its breadth. We echo and adopt Article 19's submissions in this regard.

  • The threshold of a "likelihood to harm" appears to be very broad, and it could include many communications which could cause distress to readers, as the result of their strongly-held religious, political or cultural beliefs, but be legitimate discourse.

  • The "Intent to harm or awareness of the risk of harming a likely audience" compounds this. "Risk" as a threshold seems very low. It appears to open up prosecution to anyone whose postings can be related to someone who has experienced mental distress as a result of reading those communications.

  • "Likely audience" again is in our view vague and open to interpretation. Making communications "without reasonable excuse" reverses the normal burden for speech: speech, protected as a fundamental right, is permissible unless it is unlawful. Speech should not be confined to that which courts feel is most socially useful, and therefore defensible under a "reasonable excuse" defence.

  • In short, by attempting to capture a wide range of behaviours within a single online offence, with a highly malleable concept of mental distress and wide potential audiences, the offence opens up the potential for a wide range of legitimate communications to be deemed criminal.

  • Additionally, the problems we identify with the new potential offence may be made worse by the government's proposed Online Harms framework, which will impose a legal duty over Internet Society Services to exercise a "duty of care" over their users. Given that "mental distress" is very personal and driven by context, this ambiguity could exacerbate the legal uncertainties inherent within the "duty of care" expectations. If the legal test for the point where mental distress triggers criminal liability is difficult to understand, or to assess content against, this is likely to create an incentive for companies to remove legal content that is found in the grey areas of "likely audiences" experiencing a "risk" of mental distress in order to successfully carry out their legal duties, and avoid direct risk of regulatory action.

...See full consultation response from openrightsgroup.org

 

 

TikTok sets accounts of under 16s to private...

Responding to child privacy concerns


Link Here 14th January 2021
Full story: TikTok Censorship...Chinese ownership adds to the usual social media censorship
TikTok users aged under 16 will have their accounts automatically set to private, as the app introduces a series of measures to improve child safety.

Approved followers only can comment on videos from these accounts. Users will also be prevented from downloading any videos created by under-16s.

TikTok said it hoped the changes would encourage young users to actively engage in their online privacy journey.

Those aged between 13 and 15 will be able to approve friends for comments and choose whether to make videos public. But those accounts will also not be suggested to other users on the app. media caption Why is TikTok so popular among teens?

The accounts of 16- and 17-year-olds will prevent others downloading their videos - but the youngsters will have the ability to turn off this restriction.

 

 

Online Anonymity...

MPs line up to call for identity checks for all internet users without giving so much as two seconds of thought to consider the consequences for businesses and internet users


Link Here14th January 2021
There was a dreadful debate in Westminster Hall giving the opportunity for a few MPs to call for an end to online anonymity (seeming so that their online social media critics could be pursued). None of these MPs seem to have spent any time whatsoever in considering the downsides to these policies.

 

 

 

Updated Elites Trump Democracy...

Democrat politicians and internet giants join in a massive coordinated action to cancel Donald Trump, his supporters, and anyone else with right leaning views


Link Here11th January 2021
In a mass censorship movement from politicians and internet companies, all sorts of measures have been adopted to silence Donald Trump, his supporters, and anyone else with right leaning views. Here are just a few of the most notable actions.

 

Right leaning Parler forum taken down by Amazon

See article from bbc.co.uk

Parler has dropped offline after Amazon pulled hosting support for the right leaning free speech social network.

The platform had been reliant on the tech giant's Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing service to provide its alternative to Twitter.

It is popular among supporters of Donald Trump, although the president is not a user.

Google and Apple had already removed Parler from their app stores towards the end of last week.

Snapchat and Twitch cancel Trump

See article from reclaimthenet.org

Snapchat and Twitch have joined other Big Tech companies in censoring Trump. Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for the company, said:

We can confirm that earlier today we locked President Trump's Snapchat account.

Until Snapchat lifts the restriction, Trump will not be able to share anything with his nearly two million subscribers on the platform.

Meanwhile the games based social network Twitch has similarly cancelled Trump. A spokesperson said:

In light of yesterday's shocking attack on the Capitol, we have disabled President Trump's Twitch channel.

The company claims it will reassess Trump's account after he leaves office.

Shopify cancels Trumps merchandising outlet

See article from vox.com

Shopify, the Canada-based tech company that makes popular software tools to help merchants run online stores, shuttered the Trump Organization's TrumpStore.com on Thursday morning, as well as the e-commerce portion of the president's election website.

So one less place to buy MAGA hats from.

Facebook cancels Trump and also the #WalkAway campaign

See article from reclaimthenet.org

Facebook on Thursday said it will block President Trump on its platforms at least until the end of his term on Jan. 20, as the mainstream online world moved forcefully to limit the president after years of inaction.

Facebook has also  banned the #WalkAway Campaign -- a popular grassroots movement that encourages people to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today.

The far-reaching ban has impacted the campaign's main Facebook group (which had over 500,000 followers), its main Facebook page (which had over 182,000 followers), and every member of the #WalkAway Campaign team, including its founder Brandon Straka.

Twitter cancels the US President, his close associates, and other right leaning voices

See article from nbcnews.com

After permanently cancelling the account of the USA President, Twitter moved on to cancelling Trumps associates.

Twitter on Friday removed the accounts of Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and other high-profile supporters of Trump who promoted the conspiracy theory that the elites from the Democratic Party coordinate with the media, big tech and large corporations to override democratic processes.

Twitter also removed the account of Ron Watkins, the administrator of the website 8kun, which was formerly named 8chan and hosts posts from Q, the false digital prophet at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

YouTube cancels the US Presidents channels for 7 days

14th January 2021. See article from dailymail.co.uk

YouTube has temporarily blocked Donald Trump from uploading a video from his Texas speech on Tuesday where he said he was at zero risk of 25th amendment removal and warned Democrats be careful what you wish for.

Comment: Angela Merkel denounces censorship by social media companies

11th January 2021. From the FT

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has sharply criticised Twitter's decision to ban US president Donald Trump, calling it a problematic breach of the fundamental right to free speech.

Merkel said through her spokesman that the US government should follow Germany's lead in adopting laws that restrict online incitement, rather than leaving it up to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to make up their own rules.

Comment: Australia criticises social media

11th January 2021. See article from theguardian.com

Australia's acting prime minister, Michael McCormack, has accused Twitter of censorship for permanently suspending Trump's account for the risk of further incitement of violence, and he attempted to draw comparisons between the riots and last year's Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice.

Comment: The woke purge

11th January 2021. See article from spiked-online.com by Brendan O'Neill

Twitter's suspension of Donald Trump is a chilling sign of tyranny to come.

 

 

Extract: Sharing your data...

Details and comments about the WhatsApp announcement that it will be handing over your personal data to Facebook


Link Here11th January 2021

WhatsApp is forcing users to agree to sharing information with Facebook if they want to keep using the service.

The company warns users in a pop-up notice that they need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp - or delete their accounts.

But Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, said European and UK users would not see the same data-sharing changes, although they will need to accept new terms.

See details in article from bbc.co.uk

See also comment piece WhatsApp users are really Facebook customers now -- it's getting harder to forget thatfrom theguardian.com

 

 

A new internet space race with the west...

Putin signs a raft of internet censorship measures into law


Link Here3rd January 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed several internet censorship laws into force, including one that introduces crippling fines for failing to remove banned material.

Although sexually explicit content is technically legal in Russia, existing laws banning the illegal production, dissemination and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects and other laws claiming to protect the health of Russian children are deployed by the state at its own discretion against sites hosting adult content.

The end-of-the-year legislative package signed into law by Putin, according to Reuters , also grants the Russian government new powers to restrict U.S. social media giants, label individuals 'foreign agents,' and to crack down on the disclosure of its security officers' personal data.

One of the measures was a response complaints about supposed bias and prejudice shown by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube against Russian media. If social media companies block Russian websites then these social media websites will be blocked in Russia.

Another of the new laws introduces hefty fines of up to 20% of their previous year's Russia-based turnover for sites that repeatedly fail to remove content banned in Russia.

 

 

Global identity card...

A dystopian idea. You too could get 'cancelled' throughout the world at the touch of a button


Link Here31st December 2020
Tech entrepreneur Joseph Thompson has founded a start-up technology company AID:Tech which has created a digital app to act as a global identity card.

Apparently it is one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals that everyone has a control enabling legal identity, including birth registration, by 2030. This the prompted the World Bank to launch its Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative in 2014.

The latest data from the Bank shows there are just over 987 million people in the world who have no legal identity, down from 1.5 billion in 2016. The majority live in low-income countries where almost 45% of women and 28% of men lack a legal ID.

The blurb about Thomson's waves its arms about blockchain and makes the unlikely claim that the unlikely claim that the digital identity is accessible only to the person whose ID it holds. I can't imagine many country's authorities would be happy with a system that they cannot access.

 

 

Offsite Article: Following China's lead...


Link Here31st December 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
covid restrictions appUK Government awards contracts for the development of covid restrictions apps

See article from reclaimthenet.org


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