Melon Farmers Original Version

Coronavirus


Internet censorship and surveillance


 

Political cleansing...

Donald Trumps election team tried to take down a cartoon mocking the president's bleach suggestion


Link Here29th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

Donald Trumps re-election team has failed in attempt to censor Nick Anderson's cartoon mocking Trump's laughable suggestion that injecting disinfectant could protect against Covid-19.

The cartoon is a reference to the 1978 Jonestown massacre , where more than 900 people died after drinking cyanide-laced punch at the order of cult leader Jim Jones.

The Pulitzer-winning cartoonist put his cartoon The Trump Cult up for sale on the online retailer Redbubble this month. But Redbubble pulled Anderson's illustration from sale following a trademark infringement claim made by Trump's campaign organisation, Donald J Trump for President Inc .

Anderson said that he believed the copyright claim was made due to his depiction of Maga hats, and described the situation as absurd.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and other free speech organisations subsequently got involved, sending a group letter to Redbubble that accused Trump's campaign of having misused Redbubble's reporting mechanism and arguing that the work and those who publish it are protected by the first amendment.

Redbubble reinstated Anderson's cartoon this week citing the usual excuse that the censorship was all some ghastly mistake.

 

 

Updated: Playing doctors and nurses...

Greek and Swiss brothels set to re-open after lockdown, but now with requirements for additional PPE


Link Here29th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
sexy ppe
 It'll be 50 quid luv
...and bareback will be 20 quid extra
Brothels in Greece are set to re-open after lockdown with requirements for additional PPE.

According to the Greek press, customers at brothels will be required to wear plastic masks and gloves while having sex.

In addition there will be temperature checks along with a requirement for disposable sheets and frequent periodic disinfection of the premises.

And should thing go awry whilst in the throes of passion, then lets hope that the contact tracers who knock on your front door are well trained in the importance of discretion.

Update: Doggy in Switzerland

29th May 2020. See article from dailymail.co.uk

Swiss brothels have been given the green light to open on June 6 as the country exits lockdown, with strict health rules including keeping your faces one forearm length apart during sex.

Doggy style and reverse cowgirl positions are among those which would comply with the new rule - but threesomes are out and anal practices will require gloves.

Anonymity is also a thing of the past, because clients' personal details will have to be kept for four weeks in case they are needed for contact tracing.

Rules drawn up by a sex workers' group also call for masks to be worn if possible and bed sheets to be washed after each client departs to stop the spread of coronavirus.

 

 

Offsite Article: Untrustworthy censors...


Link Here21st May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Google disgracefully censors a totally rational well reasoned academic who was just a little more optimistic about the petering out of coronavirus than the rest... and later reverses the unjustified censorship after social media uproar

See article from unherd.com

 

 

Offsite Article: My fears about the 'new normal'...


Link Here17th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
That new normal very often accepts, with a resigned fatalism, that a range of everyday, normal freedoms will need to be curtailed. By Claire Fox

See article from spectator.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: Evidence of reckless behaviour leading to infection and litigation is surely best deleted...


Link Here15th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Parliament's Human Rights Committee gives the Covid-19 app a hard time

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Tracking a hidden menace...


Link Here13th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Leaked documents reveal that the NHS covid 19 app had, or has, aspirations to be a full-on location tracking app

See article from wired.co.uk

 

 

Open call: Uncensored in lockdown...

A film festival for sexy videos filmed in lockdown


Link Here12th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The porny Uncensored film festival has been forced to have a rethink for 2020 due to coronavirus. Rather than simply cancel it has come up with an interesting change of direction. Uncensored explains:

How are you navigating intimacy, sex and desire in isolation?
Have you ever thought of your home as a set for a porno?

It's time to be UNCENSORED and bring our sweetest and dirtiest fantasies to life. Let's laugh, lust, feel, play and COME TOGETHER. Stay home...stay horny... Let's make it HOT!

Explore new erotic narratives... Reinvent and experience the space around you as a temple of pleasure, let your garden become the heaven of sin and transform your veggies into sex toys.

UNCENSORED Festival is excited to launch an open call for pornos and erotic movies realised in isolation. Open to both amateur and seasoned filmmakers.

See submission details from uncensoredfest.com

 

 

You can't say that!...

Twitter will label coronavirus tweets if they are deemed to be misleading, disputed or unverified


Link Here12th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

In serving the public conversation, our goal is to make it easy to find credible information on Twitter and to limit the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content. Starting today, we're introducing new labels and warning messages that will provide additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19.

During active conversations about disputed issues, it can be helpful to see additional context from trusted sources. Earlier this year , we introduced a new label for Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media. Similar labels will now appear on Tweets containing potentially harmful, misleading information related to COVID-19. This will also apply to Tweets sent before today.

These labels will link to a Twitter-curated page or external trusted source containing additional information on the claims made within the Tweet.

While false or misleading content can take many different forms, we will take action based on three broad categories:

  • Misleading information -- statements or assertions that have been confirmed to be false or misleading by subject-matter experts, such as public health authorities.

  • Disputed claims -- statements or assertions in which the accuracy, truthfulness, or credibility of the claim is contested or unknown.

  • Unverified claims -- information (which could be true or false) that is unconfirmed at the time it is shared.

 

 

Offsite Article: How the state came to criminalise ordinary life...


Link Here 10th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
No medical or other crisis should be reason for the executive to be given absolute power. By David Allen Green

See article from prospectmagazine.co.uk

 

 

Crowds have been silenced so now players have to be silenced too...

A Premiership behind closed doors causes issues for Ofcom as players' strong language will no longer be lost in the noise


Link Here9th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Premier League matches could be shown without pitch-side atmosphere after Project Restart, as broadcasters must find a way to block out players' swearing.

Games are set to be played behind closed doors but with no fans in stadium, pitch-side microphones, which add sounds of the ball being kicked and normally muffled instructions, would also broadcast footballers' foul-mouthed shouts.

OFCOM enforces pedantic censorship rules against the likes of Sky and BT Sports allowing obscenities in their coverage, forcing TV bosses to consider removing pitch-side microphones.

 

 

'Journalism is missing the mood. We do not want or need blame'...

The whinging left cannot accept that anyone could possibly criticise their journalistic style, and so they assume that all the people retransmitting the widely held critical view must be bots


Link Here9th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
 

A tweet has been doing the rounds over recent weeks noting widespread criticism of many of the journalists reporting about the coronavirus pandemic on the main TV channels. The tweet reads:

Journalism is missing the 'mood' in this great country of ours - the United Kingdom. We do not want or need blame.

We do not want constant criticism of our government who are doing their very best in a very difficult and unprecedented global emergency.

A longer version of this message has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks, including by high-profile public figures including Lord Alan Sugar.

Since then other high-profile figures, including several senior journalists and the football broadcaster Gary Lineker, have alleged that propaganda bots have been spreading this same message in order to drum up support for Boris Johnson's government.

But an article from buzzfeed.com analyses the bot claims and finds that in fact these are real people that are retransmitting the message that chimes with many.

But maybe the TV news folk didn't actually believe their own claims as they all suddenly stopped dogmatically banging on about a lack of PPE.

Read the full article from buzzfeed.com , it makes for a good debunking of the bot nonsense.

 

 

Dream on...

UN Secretary General dreams of world peace


Link Here8th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The UN secretary-general António Guterres has said the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering, and appealed for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally.

He said anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and on the streets, and highlighted the spread of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Covid-19-related anti-Muslim attacks.

Guterres called on the media, especially social media, to remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content, on civil society to strengthen their outreach to vulnerable people, and on religious figures to serve as models of mutual respect. He added somewhat hopefully:

And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness.

 

 

Offsite Article: Nasty buggers vs nasty bugs...


Link Here8th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Cyber-intel firms pitch governments on spy tools to trace coronavirus

See article from reuters.com

 

 

Distanced from humanity...

Miserable Romanian Orthodox Church claims blasphemy in an art tribute to healthcare staff featuring a coronavirus halo


Link Here6th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Romania's Miserable Orthodox Church has accused a series of outdoor posters depicting nurses and doctors on the frontlines of the new coronavirus outbreak as saints of being blasphemous

The posters created by Romanian illustrator Wanda Hutira are part of a Thank you doctors campaign.

The city hall of capital Bucharest said it would ask advertising firms to remove the posters.

Church spokesman Vasile Banescu said the posters were a visual mistreatment of Christian iconography and added:

It is a campaign to promote a dystopian vision over the situation induced by the pandemic.

 

 

Ofcom reports that 50% of Brits have come across false or misleading information...

Like that the lockdown applies to everyone, or that Boris Johnson was going to hospital just for tests


Link Here5th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

Half of those reading about coronavirus in the UK have come across false or misleading information, TV censor Ofcom has warned.

Ofcom has commissioned a weekly survey about Covid-19 news to understand access, consumption and critical engagement during the pandemic.

In week five of lockdown , some 2,000 respondent said they had come across misleading information in the previous week, which marked a 6% increase on week four.

 

 

Download the app or else we won't open the pubs!...

Australia is struggling to get people to download its covid surveillance app


Link Here 3rd May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Both the state and commercial sector have a disgraceful record of respecting people's data privacy. From the state's viewpoint, surveillance data is way too valuable, for law enforcement, censorship and societal control, to allow people to have any avenue for privacy. Meanwhile commercial companies, notably Facebook, Google, credit reference agencies, and more or less any website that wants to earn a bit more money from advertising, have all abused people's data mercilessly. And then of course there are also the hackers, scammers and identity thieves that prey on any data they can steal.

And every one of these snoopers has been continually claiming that they can be trusted with your data. It doesn't matter how often their lies are found out, they continue to make the same claims.

It is little wonder then that a significant number of people are a little unwilling to sign up for Big Brother surveillance, however well intentioned, the state, and its commercial partners, simply can't be trusted.

Something that perhaps politicians are starting to realise in Australia. The government as been aggressively pushing its covid tracking app for a week or so, but has got nowhere near the required take up.

Australia's COVIDSafe app was launched on Sunday April 26. About a million people downloaded it within the first day, but that trailed off with only a tenth of that installing it by the end of the week. The current tally is that about 4 million people downloaded the app, out of a population of about 26 million.

The Federal Government has warned that millions more Australians need to download the app and has threatened that if they don't, then the lockdown won't be eased.

In fact opposition to the app has appeared even from the Australian panel of experts working to fight the pandemic.One of Australia's top advisers to the World Health Health Organisation refuses to download the app. University of NSW professor Mary-Louise McLaws said until she knew more about where the data it collected was stored and secured, she couldn't install it. In particular  she is concerned the personal data could be accessed through Amazon's servers under U.S. law.

The government has resorted to all but declaring the 40% threshold is necessary for pubs to open and life to go back to normal. Critics slammed this rhetoric as emotional blackmail, noting that it is hardly likely to win people over.

Of course one of the possible outcomes is that the authorities could go down the Chinese route and make the app more or less mandatory.

 

 

Updated: A mainstream media conspiracy theory...

Facebook and Google believe that David Icke nonsense about 5G and coronavirus is somehow undermining civilisation as we know it


Link Here 2nd May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Conspiracy theorist David Icke has had his main Facebook page shutdown by Facebook.

Icke, a former sports commentator, is a vocal backer of the conspiracy theory that 5G technology spreads coronavirus.

Politicians and campaigners are calling on internet giants to stop their platforms being used to amplify Icke's thoughts on covid and 5G.

Update: YouTube too

2nd May 2020. See article from bbc.co.uk

YouTube has deleted David Icke's official channel from its platform. Google said it acted after repeatedly warning Icke that he had violated its censorship rules by posting misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Google will still allow videos posted by others that feature Icke to remain live, so long as their content does not break its rules.

Icke's  channel had more than 900,000 subscribers at the time it was removed. One suspects that these social media bans will probably add weight to the conspiracy in that these companies are going to such great lengths to censor the story because Icke is getting too close to the truth.

 

 

Offsite Article: 'I Work in Amsterdam's Red Light District'...


Link Here 30th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
--Here's What It's Like in a Pandemic. By Jen Rose Smith

See article from fodors.com

 

 

Coronavirus Attack...

Game protesting against Chinese government is unsurprisingly banned from Steam in China


Link Here29th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
China, the creator of covid-19 has banned the virus themed video game, Coronavirus Attack, from the localised Steam games distribution platform.

In order to win Coronavirus Attack, players have to stop selfish zombies from escaping a country infected with the virus.

The ban is hardly surprising as China is the butt of several humorous references. The game uses the same colour scheme as the Chinese flag, with virus-shaped animations in place of its stars. Players can also collect badges that include Liberate Honk Kong and Taiwan is not in China.

The creator behind the game, MythZ, told news site Abacus he had developed the project as a protest against the Chinese government .He said he was unhappy with how it had handled the pandemic.

 

 

Distanced from civil liberties...

Big Brother Watch publishes report about the UK emergency powers used for the coronavirus lockdown


Link Here28th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

Big Brother Watch review reveals staggering incompetence in use of emergency powers and demands lockdown exit strategy

The civil liberties group's review of coronavirus emergency powers one month after they came into force finds:

  • a new case of a teen wrongly convicted under Coronavirus Act and under powers for wrong country

  • a " postcode lottery of pandemic law " as forces deliver "inconsistent, heavy-handed and sometimes incompetent" policing

  • suspension of freedom of information relating to coronavirus policing

  • new curbs on free speech online

  • growing use of drones, ANPR, location tracking and warns of "a surveillance state in the UK of a scale never seen before"

An Oxford teenager who delivered money to his vulnerable mother was "wrongly convicted" under the emergency Coronavirus Act and under its Welsh provisions, according to civil liberties group Big Brother Watch. The group said it shows "staggering incompetence".

The case emerged in a Big Brother Watch review of the use of emergency powers a month after they came into force. The organisation protested that the Government's exit strategy from extreme restrictions is a "state secret" and urged for it to be made public.

The damning review, published today, identifies " an outbreak of inconsistent, heavy-handed and sometimes incompetent policing" including wrongful convictions, people being forced from their own gardens and driveways, and major discrepancies between forces in the number of penalty notices issued. Police " cannot maintain trust by swinging from public apology to public apology," the campaign group warned.

Zero tolerance

Thames Valley Police, which arrested the Oxford teenager before he was prosecuted under the Welsh emergency powers, ranked second among English police forces for issuing the most lockdown fines in the first 2.5 weeks, totalling 219.

Big Brother Watch's analysis shows that Lancashire Police issued vastly more lockdown fines than any other force in England at 380 which, proportional to population size, is 3.5 times as many as Thames Valley Police and 116 times more than Humberside Police, which issued the fewest fines at just 2.

Lancashire Police threatened on social media that its officers would take "a zero tolerance approach with those who ignore government guidance" days before the lockdown powers came into force.

Postcode lottery of pandemic law

The civil liberties group raised concerns of "senior police figures systematically rejecting legal advice" after several police forces appeared to oppose new guidance clarifying that people are allowed to drive a reasonable distance to exercise.

Dorset Police responded to the guidance with a statement claiming that allowing people to drive to exercise is "not within the spirit of what we are trying to achieve (...) regardless of whether it is 'lawful' or not." Big Brother Watch described the inconsistent policing it identified as creating a "postcode lottery of pandemic law".

Surveillance state

The use of ANPR, drone surveillance, mobile data tracking and citizen reporting could be normalised, the report warns, and result in " a surveillance state in the UK on a scale never seen before."

Concerns have been exacerbated by the "suspension" of freedom of information requests on coronavirus policing. Big Brother Watch uncovered a police strategy document which instructs forces to centralise and delay all freedom of information requests for transparency on policing of emergency powers until summer 2021.

 

 

The NHSX surveillance and contact tracing app...

Do app privacy settings achieve privacy when the state's surveillance system is watching all the internet interactions?


Link Here 28th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
NHSX, the digital arm of the NHS has been speaking to a parliamentary committee of its upcoming app to be used in the testing, tracking and contact tracing phase of dealing with coronavirus pandemic.

Apple and Google have developed their own contact tracing tools for apps that maximise privacy by keeping most of the key contacts detected via Bluetooth on people's phones. But it was a notable decision that was outlined today that the NHSX tracking app will not be using the Google/Apple system, and will instead be logging contact details with a central server.

However the NHSX app will be using much of the privacy language of the Google/Apple system coupled with the same anonymised contact data handling. Furthermore NHSX said it would be releasing the app code for public scrutiny to assure users that their data will be kept private.

But another key detail revealed was that NHSX was working with GCHQ to help out with security aspects of the app. One has to wonder if the purported privacy of the app is a bit of smokescreen when the GCHQ internet surveillance infrastructure can detect messages being sent to the central server.  The system will know the phone number doing the sending coupled with a pretty good estimate of the location.

But of course this more complete set of data will be extremely useful in combating the virus as it may give an indication of exactly where the virus is being transmitted.

It might be related information that the Big Brother Watch review of the emergency coronavirus legislation reveals that the government has written itself new powers to appoint a new set of people to oversee state internet surveillance. The report says:

On 26th March 2020, a new statutory instrument was made under the Coronavirus Act: The Investigatory Powers (Temporary Judicial Commissioners and Modification of Time Limits) Regulations 2020. This allows for the appointment of temporary Judicial Commissioners to approve authorities' use of investigatory powers including highly intrusive bulk powers. Subsequently, on 21st April, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner appointed 10 new temporary Judicial Commissioners (JCs).205

Presumably these new appointees will be compliant with changes required for the more extensive extraction of data from the tracking app.

If it sorts out the virus and lets the economy bounce back then maybe the ends justifies the means.

 

 

Testing a religious hypothesis...

Pakistan initiates large scale field trials to test if faith and prayer is an effective vaccine against covid-19


Link Here18th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
People have packed mosques across Pakistan for Friday prayers in defiance of lockdown orders and the authorities failed to enforce Section 144 imposed earlier to control spread of COVID-19.

Said Awais Ali, from the Bilal Gunj area explained the reasoning behind the move:

Why should I fear when I believe that life and death is in the hands of God? I came to offer prayer and to seek forgiveness and blessings of Almighty Allah instead of staying at home at this testing time.

Sabir Durrani from the city of Multan said that our prayer leader told us that the virus can't infect us the way it does Western people:

We wash our hands and we wash our face five times a day before we say our prayers, and the infidels don't, so we need not worry. God is with us.

In Pakistan's largest city of Karachi police were attacked for a second week in a row as they attempted to break up prayers at a mosque, but in other Pakistani cities authorities were reportedly ignoring defiant gatherings at mosques.

 

 

A warning to those thinking of turning to online sex work to ward off covid financial crisis...

Plenty of other people have had the same idea


Link Here18th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
MyFreeCams
MyFreeCams
 
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers who have gone online to make a living are discovering the market is saturated with performers, whilst at the same time many subscribers are canceling their subscriptions due to their own financial concerns.

According to Newsweek reporter Ewan Palmer's article , established online performers are losing customers or receiving less money from fans who are experiencing their own financial struggles as the economy continues to spiral downward. As many go online to make ends meet, those without an existing online profile are finding a glut of performers and difficulty trying to break in.

In addition, American sex workers are barred from the government's effort to help small businesses whose incomes were severely impacted by the pandemic. The Small Business Association's Economic Injury Disaster Program prohibits anyone who presents live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derives their income from the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature from receiving benefits.

 

 

Updated: Virusbusters...

Government set to launch an NHSX coronavirus contact tracing app


Link Here17th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The UK government is reportedly preparing to launch an app that will warn users if they are in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus .

The contact-tracking app will be released just before the lockdown is lifted or in its immediate aftermath and will use short-range Bluetooth signals to detect other phones in close vicinity and then store a record of those contacts on the device.

If somebody tests positive for COVID-19, they will be able to upload those contacts, who can then be alerted via the app.

It is reported that will not generally be shared with a central authority, potentially easing concerns that the app could snitch up users to the police for going jogging twice a day, or spending the night at your girlfriend's place.

NHSX, the innovation arm of the UK's National Health Service, will reportedly appoint an ethics board to oversee the development of the app, with its board members set to be announced over the coming weeks. It is a bit alarming that the government is envisaging such a long development schedule, suggesting perhaps that the end to the lockdown will be months away.

The NHS is reportedly counting on the app being downloaded by more than 50% of the population.

Offsite Comment: The government must explain its approach to mobile contact tracing

7th April 2020. See article from openrightsgroup.org by Jim Killock

The idea is for some 60% of the population to use an app which will look for people with the same app to record proximity. This data is then stored centrally. Health officials then add data of people who have been positively tested for COVID-19. Finally, persons who may be at risk because of their proximity to someone with the virus are alerted to this and asked to self-isolate.

This approach is likely to work best late on, when people are out of the full lock down and meeting people more than they were. It may be a key part of the strategy to move us out of lockdown and for dealing with the disease for some time afterwards. At the current time, during lockdown, it would not be so useful, as people are avoiding risk altogether.

Of course, it will be a huge challenge to persuade perhaps 75% or more of smartphone users (80% of adults have a smartphone) to install such an app, and keep it running for however long it is needed. And there are limitations: for instance a window or a wall may protect you while the app produces a false positive for risky contact. The clinical efficicacy of any approach needs to be throughly evaluated, or any app will risk making matters worse.

Getting users to install and use an application like this, and share location information, creates huge privacy and personal risks. It is an enormous ask for people to trust such an app -- which explains why both the UK and EU are emphasising privacy in the communications we have heard, albeit the EU project is much more explicit. It has a website , which explains:

PEPP-PR was explicitly created to adhere to strong European privacy and data protection laws and principles. The idea is to make the technology available to as many countries, managers of infectious disease responses, and developers as quickly and as easily as possible. The technical mechanisms and standards provided by PEPP-PT fully protect privacy and leverage the possibilities and features of digital technology to maximize speed and real-time capability of any national pandemic response.

There are plenty of other questions that arise from this approach. The European project and the UK project share the same goals; the companies, institutions and governments involved must be talking with each other, but there is no sign of any UK involvement on the European project's website.

The European project has committed to producing its technology in the open, for the world to share, under a Mozilla licence. This is the only sane approach in this crisis: other countries may need this tool. It also builds trust as people can evaluate how the technology works.

We don't know if the UK will share technology with this project, or if it will develop its own. On the face of it, sharing technology and resources would appear to make sense. This needs clarifying. In any event, the UK should be working to produce open source, freely reusable technology.

We urgently need to know how the projects will work together. This is perhaps the most important question. People do, after all, move across borders; the European project places a strong emphasis on interoperability between national implementations. In the, UK at the Irish border, it would make no sense for systems lacking interoperability to exist in the North and Eire.

Thus the UK and Europe will need to work together. We need to know how they will do this.

We are in a crisis that demands we share resources and technology, but respect the privacy of millions of people as best as we can. These values could easily flip -- allowing unrestricted sharing of personal data but failing to share techologies.

The government has already made a number of communications mis-steps relating to data, including statements that implied data protection laws do not apply in a health crisis; using aggregate mobile data without explaining why and how this is done; and employing the surveillance company Palantir without explaining or stating that it would be kept away from further tasks involving personal data.

These errors may be understandable, but to promote a mobile contact tool using massive amounts of personal location data, that also relies on voluntary participation, the UK government will have to do much better. PEPP-PT is showing how transparency can be done; while it too is not yet at a point where we understand their full approach, it is at least making a serious effort to establish trust.

We need the UK government to get ahead, as Europe is doing, and explain its approach to this massive, population-wide project, as soon as possible.

Offsite Comment: The EU also has an app

 7th April 2020. See article from politico.eu

Years of efforts to safeguard personal data running headlong into calls for drastic actions to counter the pandemic.

 

Update: The Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing

11th April 2020. See article from eff.org

The Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Developers are rapidly coalescing around applications for proximity tracing, which measures Bluetooth signal strength to determine whether two smartphones were close enough together for their users to transmit the virus. In this approach, if one of the users becomes infected, others whose proximity has been logged by the app could find out, self-quarantine, and seek testing. Just today, Apple and Google announced joint application programming interfaces (APIs) using these principles that will be rolled out in iOS and Android in May. A number of similarly designed applications are now available or will launch soon.

Update: Confirmed

13th April 2020. See article from bbc.co.uk

 The UK has confirmed plans for an app that will warn users if they have recently been in close proximity to someone suspected to be infected with the coronavirus.

The health secretary Matt Hancock announced the move at the government's daily pandemic press briefing. He said the NHS was working closely with the world's leading tech companies on the initiative.

The BBC has learned that NHSX - the health service's digital innovation unit - will test a pre-release version of the software with families at a secure location in the North of England next week.

 

Update: Can your smartphone crack Covid?

14th April 2020. See article from unherd.com by Timandra Harkness

 I write constantly about the threat to privacy of letting our smartphones share data that reveals where we go, what we do, and who shares our personal space. And although these are exceptional circumstances, we should not stop valuing our privacy. Emergency measures have a habit of becoming the new normal. And information about who we've been close to could be of interest to all sorts of people, from blackmailers to over-enthusiastic police officers enforcing their own interpretation of necessary activities.

Update: NHS in standoff with Apple and Google over coronavirus tracing

17th April 2020.See article from theguardian.com

Tech firms place limitations on how tracing apps may work in effort to protect users' privacy

 

 

Offsite Article: China gets a taste of its own bat shit...


Link Here 17th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
redacted chinese propagandaChina tries to pressurise Australia's Daily Telegraph as part of its propaganda campaign to deflect blame for covid-19, but the paper publishes a humorous response

See article from dailytelegraph.com.au

 

 

The Barbecue Squad...

A few police have been infected by a nasty case of extreme authoritarianism, let's hope it doesn't spread


Link Here15th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The police want powers to be able to enter homes and shut down parties and BBQs they deem unnecessary under lockdown laws.

The Police Federation, who represent rank and file officers, believe there is a technicality in the current measures that mean they cannot enter a private property to break up a house party, unless they are allowed in by the householders.

On Sunday, the chairman of the group John Apter said that increased numbers of people are calling the police to report their neighbours for breaking social distancing rules.

A Police Federation source, told The Telegraph :

We have asked they consider giving us powers around private gatherings or gatherings in a private dwelling.

Despite the clamour for new lockdown powers, they are very unlikely to be green-lit by Home Secretary Priti Patel. A Home Office source told the newspaper:

It would be a really big step for policing in this country that is not needed at this point.

Also police can issue the fixed penalty notice as they travel to or from the party.

The new research indicated 42 per cent of respondents fully support the approach taken by the police, but a further 32 per cent felt in some cases the police had gone too far.

 

Update: What constitutes a reasonable excuse to leave your home...according to the police

19th April 2020. See article [pdf] from college.police.uk

 

 

 

Short time relief...

Japan will provide covid financial relief to sex work businesses


Link Here12th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Japan has reportedly reversed its decision to discriminate against sex workers who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CNN has reported that Health and Labor Minister Kazunobu Kato declared that Japan's legal sex workers will be eligible to receive government assistance as part of the nation's economic relief package.

Japan's original COVID-19 relief plan initially barred sex workers, along with bars, restaurants and gangsters, from receiving any economic aid and was widely criticized for being discriminatory in its application

The financial relief will be paid to businesses and it is still unclear how self-employed sex workers would be treated under the new plan.

 

 

Offsite Article: Coronavirus contact tracing...


Link Here4th April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
How EFF Evaluates Government Demands for New Surveillance Powers. By Adam Schwartz

See article from eff.org

 

 

Offsite Article: Bugs vs bugs...


Link Here2nd April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Everyone seems to be writing an app for coronavirus surveillance, and the EU is no exception

See article from politico.eu

 

 

Is humour disallowed in serious times?...

A few people complain about a virus joke on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway


Link Here 1st April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
29 people have complained to Ofcom about a virus joke on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

Part five of the Men In Brown sketch saw Paul Hollywood, whose body had been taken over by an alien, reveal that he had the Universal Collider and could now infect the whole world.

A few viewers were not impressed, claiming it to be insensitive during a time when the entire world is battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Television censor Ofcom confirmed that they received a total of 29 complaints, including 22 relating to the Men In Brown sketch. Zn Ofcom spokesperson told Metro.co.uk:

We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate,

This is Ofcom speak for the complaints already being in the waste paper bin but the complaints acknowledge that there is a section of society that believe that we should not be able to make light about an incredibly serious situation

 

 

An epidemic of censorship...

Indian government applied for news censorship powers but was turned down by the Supreme Court


Link Here1st April 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The Indian government must surely have caused mass panic when locking down the country with no notice to give migrant labour no chance to return home leaving them stranded and penniless in major cities.

Now the government is ironically seeking mass news censorship powers claiming that it is the uncensored press that is causing panic.

The Indian government has approached the Supreme Court seeking a directive to news outlets to refrain from publishing any COVID-19-related news without clearance from the government. The Supreme Court denied the request, according to the judgment reviewed by CPJ.

The government had justified the request for the blanket order by claiming that fake or inaccurate reporting could cause panic in the country and had proposed setting up a separate mechanism for clearance of any coverage on the pandemic. However, the court said it will not interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, but directed news outlets to refer to and publish the official version about the developments.

The government invoked the Disaster Management Act on March 11, which makes the act of creating panic a criminal offense. According to this law , any false claim or warning is punishable with up to two years imprisonment and a fine, or both. The government has also invoked the colonial-era Epidemic Diseases Act under which the punishment for spreading misleading information is up to six months in jail, a fine of 1,000 Indian rupees (US$15), or both.

 

 

Take your medicine, stay home for 3 months, and don't worry about the depression...

UK government to censor quack cures for coronavirus


Link Here31st March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The UK government is reported to be actively working with social media to remove coronavirus fake news and harmful content.

Social media companies have responded by introducing several sweeping rule changes that crack down on any dissenting opinions and push users to what they deem to be authoritative or credible sources of information. And now the BBC is reporting that the UK government will be working with these social media companies to remove what it deems to be fake news, harmful content, and misinformation related to the coronavirus.

The report doesn't specify how the UK government will determine what qualifies as fake news or harmful content.

Twitter has updated rules around the coronavirus targeting users that deny expert guidance. The company has also forced some users to remove jokes about the virus.

 

 

Offsite Article: The US government should disclose how it's using location data to fight the coronavirus...


Link Here31st March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
There's a good case for using smartphone data in the COVID-19 response, but Americans deserve an explanation. By Casey Newton

See article from theverge.com

 

 

Shouting fire in a crowded theatre...

Alex Jones' Infowars app gets ejected from Google's Play Store


Link Here28th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Alex Jones' InfoWars is already widely banned from social media on political grounds for disputing politically correct dictates. However disputing the need for social distancing during the covid crisis was maybe a step too far leading to Infowar's Android app being ejected from Goggle's Play Store.

The app was apparently removed because of a video posted by radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that, according to Wired, disputed the need for social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine efforts meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A Google spokesperson said:

When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store. Infowars was not immediately available for comment.

Last week, Alex Jones was ordered by New York Attorney General Letitia James to stop selling Infowars products that were marketed as a treatment or cure for the coronavirus.

 

 

Contagion...

When a fictional movie is more upsetting than the real thing


Link Here28th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
160 iewers were 'outraged' to discover the movie Contagion was on during a pandemic. It stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Beth Emhoff, the first person to contract the deadly infection.

But the critically liked film didn't sit well with viewers currently in coronavirus lockdown - as it hit a bit too close to home. And inevitably the Sun rounded up a few comments from Twitter, eg:

"Sorry @ITV but who thought Contagion was a good movie to broadcast last night?"

 

 

There are more important harms to be thinking about than Pornhub...

Miserable MPs whinge about an uptick of people entertaining themselves on Pornhub during the coronavirus lockdown


Link Here27th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
British MPs have claimed that that measures to reform and regulate the porn industry have faltered, putting vulnerable people at risk.

Last year attempts to introduce age verification systems into open access porn sites to stop children being able to access extreme online content stalled, and MPs are warning that regulation proposed in a new online harms bill, currently at consultation stage in parliament, does not go far enough.

Tracy Brabin, the shadow culture secretary, whinged:

The online harms bill doesn't go far enough. We have to get control over this industry, said  We have a duty of care to young people whose videos are being shared who might not want them shared, and ... to potential victims of sex trafficking and rape.

MPs from both sides of the political divide agree. Conservative MP Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, said: These are hugely important issues and [the online harms bill] is taking too long, we have been talking about this for two years now. She said the promised duty of care should include a way to hold companies to account if unlawful material is posted.

Activist Laila Mickelwait, part of a group of activists at Exodus Cry, told the Guardian: Pornhub handing out 'free' premium content is a way for them to cash in on those around the world impacted by the pandemic. Pornhub is collecting an incredible amount of user data including IP addresses by allowing web beacons and other special information targeting technology on all user devices, and monetising it for their own gain.

 

 

Let's hope it helps...

European mobile phone networks agree to share user location data to track coronavirus


Link Here27th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Eight major mobile carriers have agreed to share customer location data with the European Commission in a bid to track the spread of COVID-19.

The announcement arrives after Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, Telenor, Telia, A1 Telekom Austria and Vodafone discussed tracking options with European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Thierry Breton.

Government officials attempted to allay the fears of critics by noting all collected data will be anonymized and destroyed once the pandemic is squashed.

 

 

Doing their bit...

Pornhub Premium is now free for all those locked down


Link Here26th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
The popular porn website Pornhub has made its premium services free till April 3. Initially the offer was restricted to covid hotspots Italy, Spain, and France, but noe the service has been made free all over the world.

PornHub has has also announced that it will be donating a portion of its income to helping out with the coronavirus crisis.

Pornhub also released a chart showing how porn viewing has increased at the time of lockdown.

 

 

Coronavirus and surveillance technology...

How far will governments go? Governments mobilized digital surveillance to contain the spread of the virus


Link Here 26th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

Since the COVID 19 outbreak became a fast-spreading pandemic, governments from across the globe have implemented new policies to help slow the spread of the virus.

In addition to closing borders to non-citizens, many governments have also mobilized digital surveillance technologies to track and contain visitors and citizens alike.

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong government announced that all new arrivals to the city must undergo two weeks of self-quarantine, while wearing an electronic wristband that connects to a location tracking app on their phones.

If the app detects changes in the person's location, it will alert the Department of Health and the police. Prior to this new policy, only people who had recently visited Hubei province in China were required to wear a monitoring wristband during their quarantine period.

While surveillance technologies and measures may give the public a sense of security in controlling the spread of the virus, we must remain mindful and vigilant of their continued use after the pandemic subsides.

European and North American countries like Italy, Spain, and the US are currently being hit hard by the coronavirus. Meanwhile, Asian countries have been praised by international media for their swift responses and use of surveillance technologies to control the outbreak.

The Singaporean government, for example, implemented policies that can effectively and rigorously trace a complex chain of contacts . As of February, anyone entering a government or corporate building in Singapore will have to provide their contact information.

In addition, the government has been gathering a substantial amount of data detailing not only each known case of infection but also where the person lives, works and the network of contacts they are connected to.

While these measures have thus far seemed to yield positive results, they have highlighted the technological capacity and power of the government to monitor the movements and lives of every individual.

In China, where Covid-19 was first detected, the government has been deploying not only drastic lockdown policies but also a variety of surveillance technologies to ensure public compliance with self-quarantine and isolation.

In addition to using drones to monitor people's movements and ensure they are staying home, police in five Chinese cities have taken to patrolling the streets wearing smart helmets equipped with thermal screening technologies that sound an alarm if a person's temperature is higher than the threshold.

The government has also collaborated with the company Hanwang Technology Limited to finesse their existing facial recognition technology, so that it can work even when the person is wearing a face mask

When connected to a temperature sensor and the Chinese government's existing database as well as state-level intel, this technology allows authorities to immediately identify the name of each person whose body temperature is above 38 degrees Celcius.

According to Hanwang Technology, this refined facial recognition technology can identify up to 30 people within a second.

While the use of surveillance technologies like these has been effective in lowering the number of confirmed cases in China, it is not without risks.

Beyond the pandemic, both the Chinese government and the company have substantial interests in further developing and deploying this technology: the government can make use of it to track and suppress political dissidents, and the company has much to gain financially.

This technology can also be co-opted by China's counterterrorism forces to further monitor and regulate the movement of the Uighur people, who are categorised as terrorists by the Chinese government and are currently being forced into mass detention camps and subjected to forced labour.

Outside of Asia, Middle Eastern countries like Israel and Iran have also been deploying similar surveillance technologies , citing the need to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The Israeli government now makes use of technologies developed for counterterrorism to collect cellphone data, so that the government can trace people's contact network, and identify those who need to be quarantined.

The geolocation data gathered via people's phones will then be used to alert the public where not to go based on the pattern of infection.

Not only is it unprecedented for Israel to deploy counterterrorism data to combat a public health crisis, but the existence of this data trove has also, according to the New York Times , not been reported prior to this.

On March 6, researcher Nariman Gharib revealed that the Iranian government had been tracking its citizens' phone data through an app disguised as a coronavirus diagnostic tool.

Security expert Nikolaos Chrysaidos confirmed that the app collected sensitive personal information unrelated to the outbreak -- for example, the app recorded the bodily movements of the user the way a fitness tracker would.

Google has since removed the app from Google Play, but this case demonstrates the need for ongoing public vigilance over government use of surveillance technologies in the name of public health.

Safeguarding public health has historically been used as a justification for mainstream institutions and government authorities to stigmatise, monitor, and regulate the lives of marginalised people -- such as immigrants, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people living in poverty.

If we do not hold our government accountable for its use of surveillance technologies during the current pandemic and beyond, we will be putting those who are already marginalised at further risks of regulation, suppression, and persecution.

 

 

Enjoying lockdown...

Sex toy sales up, sex work down in Germany


Link Here22nd March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
Most Germans are spending much more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means good news for some in the sex industry and bad news for others.

Rising sales figures at many online erotic shops suggest what some healthy Germans told to lock down at home are doing in some of their free time. But on the flip side, the crisis is hitting the livelihoods of many sex workers hard.

Sex toys, for example, are selling particularly well. The number of orders placed with the online erotic shop EIS has doubled since Covid-19 hit Germany in late January. Vibrators are particularly popular at the moment. A spokesperson for erotic outlet Orion said its online shop had also seen increased sales.

Erika Lust, a producer of feminist porn, has reported that more people are viewing her films than usual. Since the outbreak, streaming times on her platforms have increased by 20 to 30% globally.

But for many sex workers in Germany and worldwide, the pandemic has had drastic consequences. I simply don't have a job, said German sex worker Marlen, who did not want to give her full name. She has some money saved and could at least take a few weeks off. But others cannot afford to, even though the German federal and state governments have decided to close brothels.

 

 

Good news and bad news...

Virus lockdowns lead to a surge in demand for sex dolls bu the Chinese supply chains has been disrupted


Link Here16th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

The coronavirus outbreak has forced countries into lockdown, and maybe sharing the time with a guaranteed virus free partner has its attractions. But just at the same time sex doll sellers are facing a shortage as most are are shipped in from Chinese factories that themselves have been affected by lockdowns.

Jade Stanley, who owns a sex doll business called Sex Doll Official, revealed that there has been a major slowdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation in China. They've gone home, been quarantined and been unable to return to factories.

The pandemic has also led to a worldwide increase in sales of sex toys. With the prospect of long periods at home either alone or with your partner, people are exploring new ways to make the best of the time available.

 

 

Offensive to viruses...

Advert censor bans bed advert referring to flu bugs as nasty imports


Link Here11th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

A regional press ad for Vic Smith Beds, seen in the Enfield and Haringey Independent newspaper on 12 February 2020. The ad included a cartoon image of an upright mattress, which had a Union Jack on the front, and which was wearing a green surgical mask. Text stated, BRITISH BUILD [sic] BEDS PROUDLY MADE IN THE UK. NO NASTY IMPORTS.

Two complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence by linking concern about the ongoing coronavirus health emergency to nationality and/or race.

ASA decision: Complaints upheld

The ad was seen in the context of widespread news coverage of a developing major outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019-nCov, or COVID-19 (coronavirus), in China, with a small but growing number of cases having been confirmed in the UK. News outlets had also reported some groups being physically and verbally targeted because of their nationality and/or race in relation to fears about coronavirus. The ASA understood that, in particular, a number of Asian people had reported receiving abuse as a result of wearing face masks.

The CAP Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, with particular care to be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds of protected characteristics, including race. We noted the reference to BRITISH BUILD [sic] beds, and the image of the Union Jack, and we understood that the advertiser's intention was to draw attention to the fact that their beds were made in the UK. However, we also considered that the phrase NO NASTY IMPORTS, in combination with the image of the surgical mask, was likely to be taken as a reference to the coronavirus outbreak. We considered that in combination with the image, the reference to nasty imports was likely to be read as a negative reference to immigration or race, and in particular as associating immigrants with disease.

We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 4.1 Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards. Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material. The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence). =

The ad must not appear again. We told Vic Smith Bedding Ltd t/a Vic Smith Beds to ensure they avoided causing serious and/or widespread offence on the grounds of nationality or race.




 

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