Sex workers in Germany are appealing to politicians to ease coronavirus restrictions that have prevented them from working during the pandemic. Sex workers have taken their complaints to the streets, in demonstrations in Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart and
There are growing reports of sex workers being subjected to violence, underpayment and being forced to compromise their health because of clients' demands during meetings in non-formal settings.
This week, Berlin's government appeared
to give way to their demands after announcing a graduated return to sexual services without intercourse. From 1 September, intercourse will be allowed to take place between sex workers and their clients in the German capital, but only under strict
hygiene regulations. Sex workers operating in Germany's 15 other states hope the governments there will soon follow suit.
The Federal Association of Erotic and Sex Services has accused lawmakers of failing to address the concerns of sex workers
because of the stigma attached to the industry, while giving hairdressers, tattoo parlours, massage and beauty salons, fitness studios, saunas and swinger clubs the green light to reopen weeks ago. They point out that in neighbouring Switzerland,
the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic, brothels are being allowed to operate again.
Canada's province of British Columbia have issued guidelines recommending the use of glory holes as a method of COVID-safe sex.
Previously New York guidelines suggested the use of barriers to avoid risky, face-to-face contact during sex, B.C. health
officials have specifically recommended glory holes to allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.
The B.C. health officials say that sexual partners should wear facial masks during their activities specifically because heavy
breathing during sex can create more droplets that may transmit COVID-19.
Germany has been releasing most businesses from coronavirus lockdown but the country's sex work industry remains banned. Brothels and similar sex-related businesses have been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic -- though other close-contact
businesses such as nail salons and massage therapy parlors have been permitted to reopen.
In response, a group of sex workers in Berlin staged a protest on Friday, wielding an inflatable sex doll outside the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany's
parliament. The protesters also brandished placards with slogans including, Let us work, Open the brothels now , and Our sector is being driven underground.
The Federal Association for Erotic and Sex Services, a trade association and
lobbying group for the sex industry, said that the sex workers seem to have been forgotten by politicians. The trade group called the continued shutdown of the sex industry incomprehensible in view of the developments in other sectors.
Brothels will be allowed to re-open in Austria on 1 July, in an easing of coronavirus restrictions. The health ministry is working with groups representing the country's 8,000 registered sex workers to develop hygiene measures, according to the Austria
Elsewhere in Europe, the Netherlands also plans to reopen brothels on 1 July.
Those in Greece opened last week. Rules brought in by the Greek government include card-only payments, a time limit of 15 minutes per customer, compulsory
face masks and workers taking a list of clients' contact details in case they need to be traced.
Ofcom has decided not to impose any further sanction on ESTV Ltd after an interview with David Icke on its local television channel London Live included potentially harmful content about the coronavirus pandemic. It has already been required to
broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings
Our investigation found David Icke expressed views which had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the pandemic. We were particularly concerned by his comments
casting doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus.
These claims went largely unchallenged during the 80-minute interview and were made without the support of any scientific or other
evidence. While we acknowledge that David Icke has a right to hold and express these views, they risked causing significant harm to viewers who may have been particularly vulnerable at the time of broadcast.
Ofcom stresses that
there is no prohibition on broadcasting views which diverge from or challenge official authorities on public health information. However, in broadcasting David Icke's unsubstantiated views without sufficient challenge or context, ESTV failed in its
responsibility to ensure that viewers were adequately protected. As a result, we directed London Live to broadcast a summary of our findings on 22 April 2020 at 22:00.
Ofcom subsequently considered whether imposing any further
sanction in addition to the direction would be appropriate in this case. Ofcom concluded that the direction it had already imposed on ESTV to broadcast a statement of its findings was sufficient in remedying potentially significant harm to viewers and
that any further sanction would not be appropriate in this case. Ofcom's decision not to impose any further sanction on ESTV was published on 8 June 2020.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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".
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NHS in standoff with Apple and Google over coronavirus tracing
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.