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EU Copyright Reform Proposals will harm freedom of expression online

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The EU is proposing to make changes to online copyright laws. Three of the articles within the proposal, however, have raised serious concerns in regards to how they would change online behaviours, specifically in terms of uploading and sharing media.

These proposals to reform EU copyright were presented by Günther Oettinger shortly before leaving his post as Digital Commissioner. The previews of news articles that appear on Facebook will be deemed a copyright violation. No one will be allowed to share preview links to a news site without direct permission of the publisher.

Article 3 would create a copyright exception when used for Text and Data Mining research methods for research institutions and only for the purpose of scientific research. However, this has drawn significant criticism as it will prevent independent researchers, journalists and companies from using the technique for products and services, placing more limitations on startups and other organisations existing outside of the scope of “scientific research.”

Even more concerningly, Article 11 would require extra copyrights for news or media outlets, requiring anyone who would like to link to a news site to first get a licence from the publisher. This has been condemned by critics as a “link tax”. The proposed law gives media giants the power to charge fees for sharing links, by copyrighting tiny preview snippets.

This link tax is a broken idea that will harm access to news and information.

Article 13 requires that internet platforms that rely on hosting large amounts of user-uploaded data must monitor that content. Additionally, they must moderate the content to identify copyright infringement. The proposal could limit freedom of expression and harm independent creators.

Upload monitoring software cannot tell infringement apart from legal uses like parody. Filters also frequently malfunction. As a result, legal content will be taken down.

Filters like these always end up blocking legitimate legal content, and therefore will lead to masses of lost creativity. Links routinely include snippets, so restricting snippets restricts linking.

Julia Reda, Pirate Party Germany MEP, states in her article ’10 everyday things on the web the EU commission wants to make illegal: Oettinger’s legacy’:

“These proposals are pandering to the demands of some news publishers to charge search engines and social networks for sending traffic their way, as well as the music industry’s wish to be propped up in its negotiations with YouTube.”

“These proposals will cause major collateral damage – making many everyday habits on the web and many services you regularly use downright illegal, subject to fees or, at the very least, mired in legal uncertainty.”

An open letter signed by over 80 signatories states that “[The Copyright Directive is] on the verge of causing irreparable damage to our fundamental rights and freedoms, our economy and competitiveness, our education and research, our innovation and competition, our creativity and our culture.”

In short, these requirements place a huge burden on internet companies and discourages investment in user-generated content startups, preventing competition to the dominant US platforms from arising, effectively locking in YouTube’s dominance.

WhatsApp co-founder QUITS over privacy concerns dispute with owner Facebook

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The billionaire chief executive of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, is planning to leave the company after clashing with its parent company, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption.

This means a loss of one of the strongest advocates for privacy inside Facebook.

Facebook has battled European regulators over a plan to use WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, to develop products and target ads. The plan is suspended, but WhatsApp said last week it still wanted to move forward with it eventually.

The independence and protection of its users’ data is a core tenet of WhatsApp that Koum and his co-founder promised to preserve when they sold their tiny start-up to Facebook. It doubled down on its pledge by adding encryption in 2016.

At the time of the acquisition, Koum and Acton said Facebook had assured them that WhatsApp could remain an independent service and would not share its data with Facebook.

“Part of Facebook’s success has been to digest acquisitions, successfully monetise them, and integrate them into their advertising machine,” said Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research for research firm GBH Insights. But WhatsApp has been more challenging because of resistance from the founders, he said. “This was a massive culture clash.”

It remains to be seen what impact Koum’s departure will have on the privacy of WhatsApp users. Perhaps even more worryingly, will we also begin to see the sort of censorship that Facebook has been pursuing on its main website?

Mabna Institute: Iranian University “targeted Western educational institutions” in hacking scandal

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The US Department of Justice has levelled a series of federal charges against nine members of an Iranian firm, which officials say worked on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other Iranian clients to steal email credentials and more than 31 terabytes of files from universities, companies, government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre issued a statement saying that it: “assesses with high confidence that the Mabna Institute are almost certainly responsible for a multi-year Computer Network Exploitation campaign targeting universities in the UK, the US, as well as other Western nations, primarily for the purposes of intellectual property (IP) theft.”

In a government statement the UK Foreign Office Minister for Cyber, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, welcomed the US indictments saying: “It demonstrates our willingness and ability to respond collectively to cyber-attacks using all levers at our disposal. Today’s action is a further step demonstrating that malicious cyber-activity will not go unpunished. Mabna Institute employees can no longer travel freely, curtailing their career prospects outside of Iran.”

DOJ officials claim the Mabna Institute successfully hacked nearly 8,000 professor email accounts at 144 U.S. universities (and 176 more around the world), exfiltrating assets that American universities spent close to US$ 3.4 billion (£2.4 billion) on procuring and maintaining during the course of the malicious campaign.

The firm would then allegedly sell or distribute the stolen data to Iranian universities and other clients, supplying them with scientific research and intelligence that they could not obtain through honest means.

According to the indictment, the accused hackers performed reconnaissance on tens of thousands of university professors to ascertain their research interests, before launching spear phishing campaigns against their chosen targets.

The phishing emails were designed to look like correspondence from fellow professors expressing an interest in a victim’s published articles, and contained links to what supposedly were additional articles.

However, when victims clicked on the link, they were actually redirected to a malicious phishing domain that appeared to be a log-in page for their own university network – a ruse intended to make them think they were logged out of the system so they would enter their credentials, thus exposing them.

In total, over 100,000 professor accounts were targeted during the course of the operation, the indictment states.

The indictment comes in uncertain times, as the Trump administration ponders the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), informally known as the nuclear accord reached between the US and Iran in October 2015.

Some analysts believe this agreement prompted Tehran to scale back on major disruptive cyber-attacks against the US, in anticipation of lighter sanctions against the Middle Eastern regime. However, if proven true, this latest reported incident suggests that Iran continues to aggressively hack targets behind the scenes.

The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service

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A nationwide scheme to treat military veterans with mental health issues is set to be launched. NHS England has announced a new service to provide support for those suffering from the most complex problems, from substance misuse to trauma.

The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service was designed after former military personnel and their families across England were asked by the NHS how services could be improved. At present veterans with problems access care through the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service, which helps patients access the right care.

The new service, backed by £3.2 million of funding, is set to help those who have the most complex needs. Psychological therapies and psychiatry, detox services and family support are some of the options that will be available to veterans.

The initiative will also aim to help veterans access services closer to home, rather than requiring them to travel. They will also be able to receive help with employment, accommodation, finances and relationships.

Dr Jonathan Leach, chairman of NHS England’s armed forces and their families clinical reference group, said, “The NHS is committed to providing every veteran who needs mental health support with the best care, which is why we have already set up a dedicated new service based directly on feedback from veterans themselves. To build on this, we are investing £3.2m in a national complex treatment service, launching next month, which will treat more patients, over a longer period and closer to home as veterans have told us they prefer.”

Edward Parker, CEO of Walking with the Wounded, said: “This is a very welcome commitment by the NHS to provide a comprehensive network of care for veterans and their families.”

GitHub Suffers Largest Cyber Attack in History

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In a growing sign of the increased sophistication of both cyber attacks and defences, GitHub has revealed that this week it weathered the largest-known DDoS attack in history.

The code-sharing site was subjected to a colossal 1.35Tbits/sec surge in traffic, as unknown hackers attempted to take the platform offline.

The attack was foiled by Akamai Prolexic’s anti-DDoS protections, which Github automatically activated shortly after detecting the spike in traffic.

The attack appears to be the largest on record, surpassing the previous record-holder, a 1.2Tbits/sec onslaught launched against Dyn in 2016.

While the attack on Github was larger in volume, the Dyn DDoS was both more sustained and more effective, knocking out internet connections and major websites across large portions of the US for many hours.

The Github attack, by contrast, was called off by the perpetrators after just eight minutes, which may indicate that the incident was merely a test of the hackers’ capabilities.

GitHub boasts almost 20 million users and is most commonly used by computer coders for open-source projects. The online firm is considered the largest host of source code in the world.

DDoS attacks have been on the rise in recent times. Last month, the website of the national tax office in the Netherlands was taken offline after a DDoS attack targeted the country’s largest banks. ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank said they were hit by hackers, temporarily disrupting online and mobile-banking services.

Former YouTube recruiter sues Google for allegedly REFUSING to hire white and Asian men

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YouTube stopped hiring white and Asian men in a blunt attempt to make the company more diverse, a lawsuit claims.

Arne Wilberg, a former recruiter at the Google-owned video website, said he was fired for speaking out against the company’s practices last year when it cancelled interviews with candidates who were not female, black or Hispanic for technical jobs.

Mr Wilberg’s lawsuit said YouTube implemented “clear and irrefutable policies” meant to exclude white and Asian men in an attempt to increase the company’s overall diversity, and claims the company broke discrimination laws when it dismissed him after nine years working for Google.

The lawsuit targets Google and 25 unnamed Google employees who allegedly enforced discriminatory hiring rules. It claims that for several quarters, Google would only hire people from historically underrepresented groups for technical positions.

In one hiring round, the team was allegedly instructed to cancel all software engineering interviews with non-diverse applicants below a certain experience level, and to “purge entirely any applications by non-diverse employees from the hiring pipeline.”

California labour law prohibits refusing to hire employees based on characteristics like race or gender.

Wilberg also alleges that several employees complained to Google about the company’s hiring policies, but were either ignored, transferred, or demoted.

The only thing that should be considered in the recruitment process is whether the candidate possesses the right qualifications and experience/aptitude for the job, not what colour or gender they are.

Microsoft vs US Department of Justice: EU Privacy Law

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FIVE YEARS AGO, US law enforcement served Microsoft a search warrant for emails as part of a US drug trafficking investigation. In response, Microsoft handed over data stored on American servers, like the person’s address book. But it didn’t give the government the actual content of the individual’s emails, because they were stored at a Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland, where the subject said he lived when he signed up for his Outlook account. In a case that begins Tuesday, the Supreme Court will decide whether those borders matter when it comes to data.

U.S. v. Microsoft, which hinges on a law passed decades before the modern internet came into existence, could have broad consequences for how digital communications are accessed by law enforcement, and for the nearly $250 billion cloud-computing industry.

“The case is hugely important, it has implications for the future of the internet,” says Jennifer Daskal, a former Justice Department official who now teaches at American University Washington College of Law. The case is primarily about “whether we update our laws regarding access to information for the internet age,” she says.

The Justice Department argues that the warrant issued in the US should suffice, without needing to deal with Ireland to obtain the emails. It says the warrant is valid not because it has international reach, but because the actions required for Microsoft to obtain the data could take place within the United States. In other words, the government is saying that copying or moving the subject’s emails stored in Ireland isn’t search and seizure—only directly handing the emails to the US government is.

Microsoft argues the case has to do with digital privacy. “We believe that people’s privacy rights should be protected by the laws of their own countries and we believe that information stored in the cloud should have the same protections as paper stored in your desk,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer wrote.

The Trump administration, which inherited the case from Obama, contends that if Microsoft wins, US law enforcement will lose the ability to easily obtain evidence related to serious crimes, like child pornography and terrorism. They worry that companies could easily shift their data beyond the reach of US authorities by simply moving it out of the country.

Last week, Microsoft advocated a “national security agency” to avoid a “national security quagmire.” The company has compiled guidelines to follow when establishing a federal cybersecurity agency. It said it would create a “focal point” for cyber defence.

The company said a single national agency would help to “prioritize and harmonise” cybersecurity policies. For this to be effective, the agency needs to be granted appropriate statutory powers that enable it to operate without internal friction.

The recommendations come amid an uptick in demand for national security initiatives. The U.S investigation into allegations of Russian election hacking has prompted concern amongst governments, lawmakers and activists that not enough is being done to ensure cybersecurity.

The U.S currently has several distinct cybersecurity task forces at the departmental level but no overarching body. This has led to a lack of cohesion where departments overlap each other and insights don’t get shared. Microsoft said cooperation is the “underpinning” of successful cybersecurity strategies, claiming a national agency would enable the most effective long-term responses.

USA Scanning Internet to Block ISIS Content

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US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday that terrorists will turn to blogs, chat rooms and encrypted chat apps to keep spreading their message online.

In an organised global effort led by social media and internet giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism has been a major asset in government intervention in terrorist recruitment online.

Nielsen highlighted the fact that as companies such as the ones mentioned above, and other technology companies begin to rid their platforms of terror related activity, extremists are attempting to utilise other methods to get their messages across. Nielsen’s comments emphasised the challenges the global community faces in tackling terrorism, and how the rise of technological capabilities and the internet make is easier for terrorists and other criminals to elude authorities.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd joined the conference, where she announced a tool designed to detect and block terror related content online. ASI Data Science have developed technology that will analyse Daesh propaganda content, and block that content. The Home Office states that the tool is capable of detecting 94% of propaganda, with an accuracy of 95.995% accuracy.

In a statement she said: “The purpose of these videos is to incite violence in our communities, recruit people to their cause, and attempt to spread fear in our society. We know that automatic technology like this, can heavily disrupt the terrorists’ actions, as well as prevent people from ever being exposed to these horrific images.”

It is a thoroughly promising move for internet giants and governments to form such a partnership to tackle terrorism, and never has it been more necessary, as cyber security and terror come to the fore in the debate surrounding global security.

Munich Security Conference Report 2018

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The Munich Security Conference is usually a forum for world leaders to meet on the sidelines and strive for consensus and compromise. But this year’s gathering is more likely to be remembered for saber-rattling and ultimatums, and the lack of discernible progress on resolving lingering conflicts or brewing crises around the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, told the conference that Iran is trying to expand its control in the Middle East through political and armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Gaza and Lebanon.

He made a new claim that Iran is looking to provide Hezbollah in Lebanon with “game-changing” precision-guided weapons.

Netanyahu also criticised the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six major powers: the U.S, China, Russia, Britain, Germany and France, likening it to the Munich Agreement of 1938 in which Nazi Germany was allowed to annex parts of Czechoslovakia.

Under JCPOA provisions, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions that had crippled its economy.

Another crisis that dominated the conference was one emerging in Asia: North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic program development.

“All allies are now within range of North Korean missiles,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told conference goers. “Pyongyang is closer to Munich than it is to Washington, D.C., and therefore we must put maximum pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.”

He emphasised the use of diplomacy and sanctions, but others at the conference said they feared misinterpretation or inflammatory rhetoric by the U.S and North Korean leaders could lead to war.

Theresa May, who took to the stage on day 2 of the conference, called on her country’s EU partners not to let “rigid institutional restrictions” get in the way of a wide-ranging post-Brexit security partnership. There would be “damaging real-world consequences” if none were agreed.

May’s speech remained ambiguous, however, on one of the real crunch points in the debate over future security arrangements between the EU and the UK. Britain would “respect the role of the European court of justice” when it participated in EU agencies while also having its “sovereign legal order,” she said.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier takes the latter position. He said last November that leaving Europol and the European Defence Agency was “the logical consequence of the sovereign choice made by the British”.

That stance also has sympathisers in Berlin, though some officials fear a worst-case scenario in which German intelligence service have to delete data their British counterparts have shared with them when Brexit comes into full effect.

Access to Theresa May’s full speech can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-at-munich-security-conference-17-february-2018

Facebook SUPPORTS Irish Terrorists

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Facebook moderators have a reputation for targeting patriots, but they have reached a new low, by punishing a Young Independence member Joel McGuigan for condemning terrorism.

Sean McArthur whom McGuigan mentions is a disgusting piece of scum who supports terrorism. He shares the Irish flag with an image of Republican militia. The IRA was responsible for at least 1,707 deaths during the Troubles.

Facebook punished the Young Independence member with a 30-day ban for opposing terrorism.

Young Britons: Ignorant of Cyber-Security Threats

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More than 52% of Britons aged 18-25 are using the same password for lots of online services, suggests a survey.

By doing so they make it easy for hackers to hijack accounts, warned the UK government’s Cyber Aware campaign.

About 79% of the 2,261 respondents of all ages said they had sent bank details or copies of passports and driving licences via messaging systems.

“Your email account is really a treasure trove of information that hackers won’t hesitate to exploit,” said Det Insp Mick Dodge, national cyber-protect co-ordinator with the City of London police in a statement.

The danger of identity theft was significant, he said, because many people who sent personal information via email rarely deleted it.

Bank statements, electronic copies of signatures and other important documents could all be sitting in lists of sent emails, said Det Insp Dodge.

“You wouldn’t leave your door open for a burglar, so why give criminals an open invitation to your personal information?”

Reusing a password helps cyber-thieves because they try to use login names and password combinations released in data breaches on many different online accounts to see if they get a hit.

In response to the findings, the UK’s Cyber Aware campaign recommended that people use a strong and separate password for their email accounts.

It also suggested that people should not use the names of children, pets or a favourite sports team for their password.

Such details can be easy to gain from social media accounts, it said.

Wherever possible, said the awareness campaign, people should use two-factor authentication which added another layer of security to online accounts.

Dr Hazel Wallace, a GP and an ambassador for the Cyber Aware campaign, said the start of a new year was often a time that people tried to “reset” their lives by dieting or getting fit.

“When you’re making a lifestyle reset it’s also important to make a reset to your online health as well,” she said. “Hackers can use your email to access all of your personal information by asking for a reset to your passwords for other accounts.”

For more information:
https://www.cyberaware.gov.uk

Henry Bolton’s Digital Strategy is EMPTY Waffle Devoid of HUMAN Feeling

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One of the most successful IT companies EVER is Apple. People queue for hours outside shops, waiting for the new iPhone to be released. There is a cult-like following, almost a religion, of devotion to the Mac, the iPhone, the iPad. In reality, while often beautiful designed pieces, the technology underneath an iPhone is little different to that offered by many other companies, such as mobile phone producer Samsung; in fact, in many ways the latter is a better product. Nonetheless, people WORSHIP Apple. Why? What can political parties learn from this?

If UKIP or any party’s digital outreach is to succeed, there is a need to have the humility to learn from history. The whole party faces a crisis similar to that in Apple’s actual history: when the CEO Steve Jobs left, the party died, and when he returned, it thrived. UKIP is lost without Nigel Farage, known for charismatic speeches in Brussels, at the wheel. Why? There is one FUNDAMENTAL point, that Henry Bolton’s pathetic new Digital Strategy fails to even begin to comprehend, because just like his “leadership”, it lacks vision, but is cold and mechanical.

Too often in business, and politics, ESPECIALLY UKIP, there is a focus on the mechanics alone, and not FEELINGS. Everybody knows “what” they do 100%. Some know how they do it. But very very few people or organisations know WHY they do it. Get this wrong, and UKIP will die. We don’t just want technology; any old idiot can install a website – we want to USE technology to send our MESSAGE.

People do not LOVE Apple for the products. No, it’s not about the spec of the camera in their phone. It’s not about how many songs they can store. It’s about far more than slick styling. It’s about a SOCIAL REVOLUTION. It touches the heart when it says those who are odd, who are different, who don’t follow the trend, who rebel, are the heroes who go far. Isn’t this close to the UKIP “libertarian” anti-establishment message? Aren’t we the eccentrics of politics? So why are we being so damn boring?

Basically, every Apple advert reflects that Martin Luther King message, “I have a dream!” Hope! Inspiration! It’s the “why”, why do you do it, why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should people care.

Chris Mendes’ BORING Digital Strategy for Bolton merely stutters, “I have a plan.” This isn’t the 1990s: simply installing a new website will achieve nothing more than line someone’s pocket! This cold, robotic manifesto devoid of imagination ignores that the BIGGEST problem is not which system is used, but HOW: the MESSAGE MUST REACH HEARTS! People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Any strategy plan should not flog systems, but should talk about DREAMS. It should have an analysis of how social media helped Trump reach beyond legacy media; what about his messages was so successful? Was it that he mentioned the PAIN people FELT, and then gave them HOPE of change. Meanwhile UKIP social media such as Facebook has some of the worst graphic design, devoid of hope, spewing technical policy stuff that drives you to suicide. It has some of the most dull artwork in the world.

This is the age of the MOBILE phone. The Digital Strategy ignores a MAJOR flaw with the UKIP website. It is not “mobile first”. People are checking their phone on the train, sneakily at work, on the toilet. They are in a rush. They are impatient. We must have short videos, like Trump did, that feature pithy soundbites or segments of speeches that spoke to real people, HEART TO HEART.

As someone who works in this industry, I say with authority that this Mendes document is just empty waffle; technical sounding words to give an impression of competence. This proposal doesn’t name EXISTING systems; it just a sales pitch to flog a new one. The party ALREADY has the system it NEEDS: NationBuilder – every political party uses this; even Rebel Media does. You can filter messages, and target people very efficiently. To CONNECT with them; to tailor your message to their HEARTS.

Oddly, UKIP barely uses the Nation Builder features it pays much for, and then stated in the UKIP newsletter that MailChimp is being implemented for emails, though Nation Builder provides such; paying twice for the same thing – the Digital Strategy plan ignores this glaring problem. UKIP DOES NOT NEED MORE SYSTEMS! Again and again, people turn up, pitching at businesses plans with fancy words to impress those who don’t work in software engineering; money is shelled out; someone makes a quick buck; but the problems still remain. WHY?

The Digital Strategy plan asks for an entirely unjustified £6,000 sum to Chris Mendes to implement this KipperPress, which is really a FREE system called WordPress. The only cost should be labour to tweak a template; time to implement it. As Chris has requested a CTO position in UKIP, which would likely be salaried, the cost would be covered therein, and hence he has some damn cheek to ask for £6,000, but the back office will probably again throw money at nothing.

If someone is to head up the Digital Outreach of UKIP and get RESULTS, they need to truly appreciate the need not just to implement systems, but to pull at heart strings. They lack the imagination for the NEW approaches that Momentum implemented; in fact, they won’t have a clue what I just referred to. Cold, mechanical types like Bolton focus on the “outside” layer of our brain, the neocortex,” that is rational. They might appeal to the rational world of accountants, but they won’t set the world on fire.

When someone like Bolton does a pitch, they would talk about this feature that a phone or laptop has, such as how long the battery lasts, or the size of the screen. Is that really why you LOVE a product? No. How often do you go shopping, and in the heat of the moment buy something, then later regret it? Bolton can give someone all the facts and figures he wants, and they will look at them, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right. Selling an idea is an EMOTIONAL thing, not rational.

UKIP has always failed to do what Jeffrey Moore called “Crossing the Chasm”; to reach beyond that 12.5% and embrace the early majority. UKIP must reach deeper, to our “inner” limbic brain. This is about what we FEEL, about instincts, that can be often totally illogical, but compel us to action.

Here at MBGA News, we might know a thing or two about technology, because this news outlet is run by Britain’s most patriotic engineers. We know what we are doing; without buckets of money, such as the £100,000 plus that Bickley said was spent on Facebook for UKIP, we reached 25,000 subscribers on YouTube. We also have 50,000 followers on Facebook. We talk about what people FEEL.

Sadly, as in many businesses, the old guard are naive on engineering, and taken for ride. Simply dumping a new system in place will achieve nothing more than burn money. You need a REAL strategy that talks the language of FEELINGS. But if you don’t know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get someone to buy into it, and be loyal, or want to be a part of what it is that you do?

ps. John Rees-Evans made very clear during his leadership bid, that if he won, Chris Mendes would implement the new website for him. Would this have been “KipperPress”? The new system implemented by JRE’s new Democrat & Veterans Party is WordPress – who implemented this? Was it Chris? Surely that would be a conflict of interest.

Twitter’s statement on Russian Brexit bots is DEVASTATING for Remoaners

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According to Britain’s Pro-Remain media, including the BBC, ITV, The Guardian and Buzzfeed – the Russians used 400 fake accounts to tweet about Brexit and to promote a Vote to Leave the European Union. However, this false narrative has been blown apart by Twitter.

In a fake news evidence session in Washington DC attended by UK ministers the social media company gave the following statement.

“We can now update the committee that our broader investigation identified a very small number of suspected Internet Research Agency-linked Twitter accounts.”

“Forty-nine such accounts were active during the referendum campaign, which represents less than 0.005% of the total number of accounts that tweeted about the referendum.

“These accounts collectively posted 942 tweets, representing less than 0.02% of the total tweets posted about the referendum during the campaign. These tweets cumulatively were retweeted 461 times and were liked 637 times.”

“These tweets cumulatively were retweeted 461 times and were liked 637 times. On average this represents fewer than 10 likes per account and fewer than 13 retweets per account during the campaign, with most accounts receiving two or fewer likes and retweets. These are very low levels of engagement.”

Twitter’s statement doesn’t specify whether the 942 tweets were pro or anti Brexit, or a mixture of the two. In total, over 62 million tweets were sent during the EU Referendum campaign.

The Remain camp’s claim that Brexit was won by “The Russians” is just another attempt to smear the Brexit result and try to push for a second referendum. Therefore, it is good news that these claims of Russian interference in the referendum have been refuted.

Right-wing PragerU SUES YouTube for CENSORING their videos

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PragerU, a conservative educational site, is suing Google and its subsidiary YouTube, accusing the video site of censoring its online videos because of their political leanings.

In a statement sent out to its subscribers, PragerU said:

“YouTube has chosen repeatedly to restrict some of our videos for violating their ‘Community Guidelines.’ Those guidelines are meant to protect users against viewing sexual content, violent or graphic content, and hate speech.

“As a PragerU viewer, you know as well as I do that our videos contain nothing even remotely close to any of these categories.

“To date, YouTube has restricted nearly 40 PragerU videos, addressing topics ranging from religion and freedom of speech to the history of the Korean War.”

More than a year ago, PragerU filed a complaint with YouTube, hoping that the deletion of the videos was an innocent mistake.

Yet they were told by YouTube that after reviewing the videos they determined that they were indeed “not appropriate for a younger audience.”

The statement continues: “Think about the millions of actually inappropriate videos on YouTube and then ask yourself, ‘Why is our content restricted?’

“Unfortunately, the answer is rather obvious, isn’t it?  YouTube has restricted PragerU videos for only one reason: Ideological discrimination.”

Before taking legal action, PragerU did attempt to take a more diplomatic approach, but were completely ignored by YouTube. On the one-year anniversary of Google blocking their content, PragerU renewed their complaints to YouTube and re-circulated an online petition urging Google to change course, all to no avail.

Politically motivated censorship is exactly what Google/YouTube, Facebook and Twitter do. YouTube are frequently demonetising videos MBGA News, deleting videos, channels and comments, while Facebook are ghosting comments on our pages and so on. This happens both in the US and other nations.

They don’t want people to express their anger and concerns about their nation’s problems and calling out failed politicians – instead they censor the people.

Thought Police Republic Germany Demands Facebook BAN Rightwing Politics

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Many of you are fed up with Facebook and Twitter restricting free speech, attacking those who lean right. For a taste of what Britain will soon be like if Brexit doesn’t happen, look to Germany, the thought police. On January 1st the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (network enforcement act) came into force in Germany.

Germany’s hate speech rules, known locally as NetzDG and which came into full force Monday, demand that social media giants promptly remove potentially illegal material, some of it within 24 hours of being notified, or face fines of up to €50 million.

The anti-EU party Alternative for Germany (AfD) have already felt the consequences of the new law – two of their MPs have had their Twitter accounts blocked. But they aren’t alone. The satirical magazine Titanic was also unable to use Twitter for two days, after it posted a tweet satirising the AfD.

Tech executives and lobbyists have said Germany’s new hate speech rules have the potential to limit freedom of expression of the country’s citizens, and that it should not be left to private companies to determine what should be allowed online.

The hate speech rules “put companies under tremendous time pressure when examining reported content,” said Bernhard Rohleder, chief executive of Bitkom, a German trade body. “The high fines reinforce this pressure. This will inevitably lead to the deletion of permitted content.”

AfD leader Alexander Gauland responded to the blockades by saying that “private individuals, in this case Twitter employees, should not be taking over the work of judges.”

More concerningly, the European Commission also is mulling potential new pan-EU guidelines to expand on its existing voluntary code of conduct, to which almost all of the social media companies have signed up. In an interview last year, Vĕra Jourová, the Commission’s justice commissioner, said large tech companies must deploy more resources to tackle the problem, or face potential new rules by the spring that may force them to comply with existing hate speech legislation, which was created for the offline world.

“We want the rule of law to be applied in the internet sphere,” Jourová said. “If the situation becomes unbearable, then we will act with legislation.”

Hate speech laws in the EU will end up being used against those that oppose the EU’s Big Brother agenda. Opposition will not be tolerated and alternative world views will not be tolerated. It will be used as a way for politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels to increase their control; they will never relent.

Hypocritical Google REMOVES YouTube app from Amazon Fire TV

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In recent days, Google has withdrawn its YouTube app from Amazon Fire TV as retaliation in an ongoing dispute. Fire TV users wanting to access YouTube videos now have to use a web browser instead.

At the turn of the year, Google followed through on its threat to remove its YouTube app from Amazon’s devices in retaliation for Amazon refusing to sell Google products, such as its home speakers or Chromecast devices, on its website. In addition, Amazon had refused to offer its Amazon Prime Video as a Chromecast app.

Just weeks ago, the Silicon Valley elites were crying foul about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) move to repeal Obama-era “net neutrality” rules. “The End of the Internet as We Know It,” declared a CNN headline.

It is hypocritical that companies who were pleading for net neutrality are banning and blocking content to the detriment of consumers.

Christie-Lee McNally of campaign group Free Our Internet has compiled a list of examples of censorship carried out by the Silicon Valley tech giants. It is rather a long list!

In this case, Google should practise what it preaches.

Julian Assange’s Twitter DELETED

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For reasons unknown, the official Twitter account of Julian Assange, the leader of Wikileaks, has been deleted early Christmas Day morning at 4am GMT.

The account does not appear to have been suspended by Twitter, and the most recent cached version of his account suggests he had not tweeted since Friday.

This makes little sense considering that the official account of Wikileaks itself remains intact and has not commented on the disappearance of its founder from the platform.

EXPOSED: The BBC “food bank” claimant eats out, has exotic holidays

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Samantha Thompson, from Barnsley, was in the audience for the BBC One current affair panel show on 14 December, when she spoke about relying on a foodbank to feed herself and her three children.

However, her Facebook page would give the impression that she has work, enjoys eating out, and it seems, even goes on exotic holidays.

Her business page on Facebook

Few of the restaurants this “hard-up” princess visits. Reminds me of poverty I witnessed in South Africa.

Either she is posting nonsense reviews of restaurants that she never went to, or she ate out a lot recently

That wouldn’t be her enjoying a sunny holiday would it?

Exotic sunny holidays

This isn’t the first such scandal.

Claire Austin, 50, accused Nicola Sturgeon of failing to pump necessary funds into the health service and said she “can’t manage” on her wages, and has to go to the food bank.

Claire blasted the First Minister during the live BBC Scotland clash and said she “can’t manage” on her wages

However, her Facebook has online snaps of her dining out on swanky food and bubbly. Awkward! According to her social media entries, she ate out in Edinburgh’s posh Malmaison hotel in February, drank expensive champagne at a birthday party in her house and celebrated New Year with bubbly in the five-star Plaza Hotel in New York.

Nurse Claire enjoys fizz at Plaza Hotel in New York earlier this year
The nurse was snapped drinking Moët et Chandon and Bollinger fizz

Twitter suspends Britain First leaders

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Twitter has suspended the accounts of two leaders of a British anti-Islam party shortly after revising its rules on hate speech.

Paul Golding, Britain First’s leader, and Jayda Fransen, his deputy, can no longer tweet and their past posts no longer appear.

The party’s official Twitter page has suffered the same fate.

It appears that three of Ms Fransen’s posts that President Trump retweeted have gone from his feed as a result.

The messages had featured anti-Muslim videos and proved highly controversial when the American leader shared them in November.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said it had been “wrong for the president to have done this”.

BuzzFeed Editor: ‘All I Want for Christmas is Full Communism Now’

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A BuzzFeed editor has set her Twitter account to private, after a tweet declaring “all I want for Christmas is full communism now” was met with a furious backlash.

BuzzFeedUK Science Editor Kelly Oakes, the editor behind the reprehensible tweet, was quickly called out by a swarm of people — in multiple languages.

“Oh my god, what a joke,” Federalist contributor Erielle Davidson tweeted in Russian.

Approximately 100 million people are believed to have been killed by Communist regimes across the globe. What kind of disturbed individual would enjoy that? The type that runs BuzzFeed!

Hmmm wonder if she will be banned by Twitter under their new guidelines commencing today?

 

USA – Federal Communications Commission scraps Net Neutrality rules

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday to dismantle the rules regulating the internet service providers (ISPs) that connect users to the internet. The agency scrapped the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like the phone service.

Net neutrality is a term coined in 2003 to describe the principle that (ISPs) should treat all of the data they are providing to customers equally, and not to use their own infrastructure to block out competitors. However, the ISPs complained that this inhibits competition.

“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”

Pro-neutrality groups are already preparing a legal challenge, arguing the order itself should be invalidated as illegal. Online companies such as Amazon, Reddit and Netflix protested earlier this year against the FCC’s proposals for deregulation. They were (and are) worried about proposals that will “destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online”.

During his time as president, Barack Obama introduced the Open Internet Order, which required internet service providers to uphold the principle of net neutrality. The FCC voted to repeal these net neutrality protections in a 3-2 vote, with Pai voting in the majority.

“There is a lot of misinformation that this is the ‘end of the world as we know it’ for the internet,” the ISP Comcast’s senior executive vice president, David Cohen, wrote in a blog post this week. “Our internet service is not going to change.”

With regards to how this affects internet users in the UK, the net neutrality principle is active in British law courtesy of the European Union’s Regulation on Open Internet Access, although the UK already had a voluntary system before this. This means that British ISPs can’t block or slow down data for competitive or commercial purposes. The government plans to convert EU net neutrality rules along with much of the rest of EU law into British law using the Great Repeal Bill.

Even if a repeal of net neutrality law did ever take place in the UK, it is unlikely to have the same effect as in the USA, as the British ISP market is more competitive – we have a lot more ISPs to choose from, so if one decided to slow down access to certain websites, people could switch to another ISP relatively easily. However, in the USA, 40% of the population only has one option for internet service provider in their area, making it impossible to switch.

“We have lots of companies that sell both internet access and online content like TV shows and films,” said Ed Johnson-Williams, a campaigner at the UK Open Rights Group.

“They have an incentive to prioritise their own content as it travels to customers through the internet connections that they control. It’s really important content and services are delivered equally and fairly.”

For instance, he said: “Virgin Mobile doesn’t charge its customers for data used on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

“While this might sound like a great deal, it’s bad for everyone in the long-run. It makes it harder for new messaging companies to build a user-base and break into the market. This reduces innovation and competition.

The Great DNA Test Scam: Adding Fake Black and Scandinavian DNA

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Should you drunkenly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or Oktoberfest? Can you brag about your ancestors having first-class seats on the Mayflower? Do you need to feel extra, extra bad about slavery? All these questions and more can be answered by sending a vial of your spit off to a company like Ancestry.com, 23andMe, or Living DNA …except they are now accused of being a sham.

Genetics experts from the University of Texas and the University of North Carolina have gone so far as to say that these companies are preying on people, because they don’t truly have the information they need to pinpoint your origins on a map, and that it’s not possible to trace unique ancestry that way. As they put it, “That’s the beauty of this scam. The companies aren’t scamming you. They’re not giving you fraudulent information. They are giving you data, real data, and allowing you to scam yourself.”

When Inside Edition had a set of triplets send their spit in to Ancestry.com and 23andMe, they got wildly different results from both services. Neither gave each triplet the same ancestry results — which, considering they all came from the same womb, is pretty weird.

Inside Edition’s Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero revealed the results to Erica McGraw and her sisters on the set of the TV programme The Doctors. She was joined by the show’s host, Dr. Travis Stork.

The sisters were all 99 percent European but the test from 23andMe also showed some surprising differences.

Nicole was 11 percent French and German but Erica was 22.3 percent. Their sister Jaclyn was in the middle at 18 percent. That is not a small gap. If you were off by 10 percent on a DNA test, you could technically be a mouse.

Apparently, all these pretty numbers mean nothing.

“I’m surprised,” Nicole said. “I’m surprised because we came from the same egg and DNA. How are our ancestries different?”

DNA test company staff admitted to having changed people’s results,  “Since we couldn’t do anything to the results (and we wanted to), what we did was add ‘< 1 percent’ to each African category of ethnicity. That way we weren’t lying, and they would both be wondering how much under a percentage point was. We always try to round to the nearest number because we sometimes hear about percentage points, but for them, we leave it open to whether it’s a one or a zero.”

It’s a con to get people to pay for a second test. “Unless they got another test, that was going to bother them. Maybe they weren’t 100 percent Caucasian. I mean, they were, according to the results, but this way it leaves it open, and they’ll always be wondering.”

They claim this was well-intentioned. “If the results only added up to 99.5 percent, we’d say, ‘Let’s stick that 0.5 percent under Scandinavian.’ Other times, when we ask their family name (for women, their maiden name), and we see what country that last name came from, we’ll add it there, because they’ll be more proud of that heritage more often than not.”

Google CENSORS migrant crisis video by Polish government

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YouTube has ‘quarantined’ a hard-hitting video on Europe’s migrant crisis released by Poland’s conservative government, as part the platform’s crackdown on “hate speech and violent extremism”.

The Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration’s video has been placed in a controversial limited state designed by YouTube to restrict access to videos it says contain “supremacist” or “extremist” content, but which don’t actually break any of the platform’s rules. Videos placed in this limited state are unsearchable, impossible to embed on other sites, and removed from users’ recommended videos lists.

The only way to reach such ‘quarantined’ content is by clicking a direct link to the video in question. Even then, viewers are warned that the “content is inappropriate or offensive”, and are asked to click a button confirming this before they are allowed to watch the video.

The video’s description reads –

“The PiS (Law & Justice) government withdrew from the harmful decision of the PO-PSL government to bring immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa to Poland. We were the first to say that not every immigrant is a refugee, and only a few flee from war and terror. Two years after the Polish government’s opposition to the admission of illegal immigrants, EU leaders are beginning to understand the absurd policy of compulsory relocation of refugees.”

This is the restricted video (which has English subtitles):

This is very concerning from a freedom of speech perspective, especially as YouTube is by far the largest video sharing site online. It is very difficult for smaller rivals to compete – just last week VidMe announced that it will be closing down and user uploads have already been disabled.

We cannot allow giant corporations to become the arbiters of free expression and communication. That leads directly to tyranny. One potential solution could be the use of decentralised peer-to-peer video sharing sites, where it would be much harder for a central authority to censor or restrict content.

“Snoopers’ charter” changes put forward by Home Office

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The Home Office has launched a consultation that proposes to make a number of amendments to their controversial internet snooping Investigatory Powers Act 2016.  The Investigatory Powers Act contains a variety of measures, such as one that forces broadband ISPs to retain basic Internet Connection Records on all of their subscribers for up to 12 months (e.g. details of all the websites / servers they’ve visited), which can then be supplied to a valid authority without a warrant. This occurs irrespective of whether you’re even suspected of a crime.

However, at the end of last year the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) threatened to deal a major blow to the IPA, by ruling that EU law does not allow “general and indiscriminate retention of traffic data and location data,” except for “targeted” use against “serious crime”.  After a long wait the Home Office has recently published a consultation in response to last year’s judgement and admitted that “some aspects of our current regime for the retention of and access to communications data do not satisfy the requirements of the CJEU.”  The consultation on the proposed changes will run until 18 January 2018.

To address the CJEU’s concerns, the government proposes:

  • that offences carrying a potential prison sentence of six months or more should be considered “serious crimes” for which communications data can be collected
  • that communications data will no longer be collected for the purpose of public health, collecting taxes or regulating financial markets
  • creating a new Office for Communications Data Authorisations (OCDA) that will authorise or decline law enforcement requests for data

The Open Rights Group and Liberty say the proposed changes do not go far enough.

Adding independent authorisation for communications data requests will make the police more effective, as corruption and abuse will be harder, said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

But he said the government has evaded the main point of the Watson judgment, which is that it cannot keep data on a blanket basis.

“Without narrowing what they keep to specific places, incidents or investigations, these changes will not meet the standards set by the courts,” said Killock.

“Combined with the so-called Request Filter [covered in the code of practice], which could be a power for a police search engine for retained data, this will remain an incredibly intrusive surveillance power, unparalleled in democratic countries.”

Pestminster: Nadine Dorries says MPs’ computers are full of porn

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In response to the recent scandal about Damian Green MP – the deputy to Prime Minister Theresa May – having porn on his work computer, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries tweeted yesterday that “I’m sure if the computers of all MPs – including Labour ones, were investigated there would be a record of porn being accessed. There would, in all cases, be zero proof of who it was who accessed it.”

This raises a number of concerns – if an employee of any organisation other than the government had porn on their work computer, it would be a disciplinary offence, very likely leading to dismissal, even if they had downloaded or watched it during a break. Certainly, all the companies in which I have worked have mentioned in the employment contract or the employee handbook that using the company’s internet or computers to access any kind of pornography is a serious breach of the rules. So why is there a different rule for MPs and their staff? This point was re-iterated by independent councillor Paul V Greenall in a reply to Nadine Dorries’ original tweet:

MPs and their staff are paid for by taxpayers and should be expected to remain fully focused on their work.

Another concern is to do with security – if, as Nadine Dorries says, there would be zero proof of who accessed the porn, this suggests that MPs and their employees are sharing their computer logins and passwords, which is worrying as these computers likely contain sensitive files. In any organisation I have worked in, it has been made clear that you will be personally be held liable for any misconduct that takes place under your login.  If staff share their logins, there is no audit trail showing who has done what.

Nadine Dorries is effectively saying that MPs all ignore security procedures on the taxpayers’ pound and misuse is rampant. If what she claims is true, surely the police need to look into this across the whole of Parliament – not just the misuse but also possible breaches as security is so poor.

Proposed new Facebook news feed filtering could DESTROY smaller publishers

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Facebook is testing a major change that would shift non-promoted posts out of its news feed, a move that could be catastrophic for publishers relying on the social network for their audience.

A new system being trialled in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka sees almost all non-promoted posts shifted over to a secondary feed, leaving the main feed focused entirely on original content from friends, and paid-for adverts.

Some Facebook pages affected by the trial have already seen a drop in user engagement of between 60 and 80%. It is causing significant drops in pages’ organic reach, and if the new change is implemented globally, it could mean that only publishers who can afford to pay for Facebook advertising will be able to reach a wide audience.

In a statement, Facebook said: With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages.”

Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the move was “the classic Facebook playbook: first give lots of organic reach to one content type, then they have to pay for reach, then they can only get through to anyone by paying.”

My fear is that as Facebook users are used to seeing everything in one news feed, if the friends/promoted post feed becomes the default, a lot of people may not bother to click onto the secondary feed to see posts from non-promoted pages and groups, or they may not even realise it exists and therefore miss out. This could affect the reach of pages such as MBGA News and the People’s Charter Foundation. The default Facebook feed could become dominated by the big mainstream news publishers who can afford to spend millions on advertising, while smaller independent publishers are squeezed out.

In a second statement Facebook added: “We have no current plans to roll this out globally.”

Deputy to Prime Minister denies watching porn on Parliament computer

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As fresh allegations arise that police found porn on Damian Green MP’s computer, he claims he never watched any “adult material” in his Parliamentary office.

Mr Green said, “I have maintained all along, I still maintain, it is the truth, that I didn’t download or look at pornography on my computer. But obviously while the investigation is going on I can’t say any more.”

The minister – who effectively acts as Theresa May’s deputy – has faced new claims that “THOUSANDS” of pornographic images were found on the computer during a raid over Government leaks in 2008. None of the material was deemed unlawful.

Neil Lewis, a retired Scotland Yard detective, said the data suggested the material had been viewed for hours at a time over a period of around three months.

It is not known exactly who viewed the images on the computer, which was accessible by Mr Green and a number of his staff. Perhaps one of his interns was bored at work, and stupidly downloaded a few thousands photos … because the work PC is a wise place to build a “wank bank”.

“The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name,” Mr Lewis told the BBC.

Mr Green, who is the subject of a misconduct investigation by the Cabinet Office over alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a young activist, today reiterated firm denials that he viewed porn on the computer.

UK tech industry SNUBBED by EU investment agency

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THE British Business Bank (BBB) has stepped in to financially assist a new technology fund after the European Union’s investment agency, the European Investment Fund (EIF), announced it will not be supporting it following the Brexit vote. This is in spite of the fact that the UK is still contributing fully to the EU budget.

Many tech companies’ requests for funds were frozen alongside this year following the triggering of Article 50. The EIF is majority owned by the European Investment Bank and is a huge source of funds for British venture capitalists.

The BBB has contributed £36million of the £60m fund and following Brexit is expected to be a main player in investing in UK tech.

A Treasury spokesman said : “We are clear that UK companies should be able to access EIB funding on equal terms as other member states while the UK remains a member of the EU.

“While we work to make sure this happens, we have taken action to support business investment by authorising the British Business Bank to increase its support for venture capital funds and have offered construction guarantees on infrastructure projects.”

It is outrageous that we are still paying full contributions into the EU’s budget (to which we are a net contributor, don’t forget), but they have already started denying the UK access to funds like these.  What makes this worse is that it was recently revealed that the EU investment bank will owe Britain money for 35 years after Brexit. The institution’s chief Alexander Stubb said Britain would not get its £3.1 billion, 16 per cent stake back in full until 2054.

The solution is simple – get out of all the EU’s institutions as the people voted for that. Then start negotiating. Stop funding the EU now, as that is what we voted for.

Mobile phone hacking devices are used to suppress political opposition to the EU

in Brexit/Tech by

A press release by Bálint Péter Linder reveals that devices for intercepting mobile phones or hacking computers are used to suppress political opposition

EU export controls will be extended on goods and technologies designed for civilian use but possibly used for human rights violations, Trade Committee MEPs voted on Thursday.

The EU is currently updating its rules on the export control of dual-use items to keep up with new technologies and to prevent authoritarian regimes from spying on their own citizens with the help of European products.

  • Export of cyber-surveillance tools needs to be authorised
  • Protection of civilians and human right defenders
  • Handbook for exporters, level playing field for member states

Goods and technologies designed for use in peaceful, civilian circumstances, but that can also be used for weapons of mass destruction or terrorist attacks, are already under an EU export control regime. The new rules would enhance ‘human security’, by adding certain cyber-surveillance tools to the list of items that need the approval of national authorities before being exported.

These include devices for intercepting mobile phones, hacking computers, circumventing passwords or identifying internet users, as such dual-use items are widely used to suppress civilians, political opposition and activists around the world.

Trade Committee MEPs want to strengthen the protection of human rights and create a “future-proof” system that can rapidly deal with new technologies.

Their key suggestions include:

  • strengthening the protection of the right to privacy, data and, freedom of assembly, by adding clear-cut criteria and definitions to the regulation,
  • exporters of products not listed in the regulation but which could be used for human-rights violations, have to make sure that their goods won’t fall into the wrong hands, by following OECD-based ‘due-diligence’ guidelines,
  • the Commission must publish a handbook before the entry into force of the new rules, so that EU businesses know what they can and cannot do,
  • new risks and technologies have to be swiftly included in the regulation, and
  • creating a level playing field among member states, by, for example, introducing similar penalties for non-compliance, along with greater transparency of national authorities’ export control decisions.

MEPs also voted to delete encryption technologies from the list of cyber-surveillance products, as they consider these vital for the self-defence of human rights defenders.

The new rules were backed by 34 votes to 1, with 2 abstentions.

EU Parliament’s rapporteur Klaus Buchner (Greens/EFA, DE) said: “With today’s vote we extend effective control to cyber-surveillance technology. We close loopholes that otherwise result in innocent people across the world being imprisoned, tortured and killed. We make the protection of human rights a central aspect of dual-use export control. We add strong, new transparency measures and include civil society participation, whilst continuing to create value-based European trade policy.”

Next steps

The full House will have to confirm the Parliament’s negotiating mandate during the December plenary session in Strasbourg. Parliament can begin talks with ministers as soon as EU member states have agreed their own negotiating position.

Quick facts

Goods and technologies that can be used in peaceful civilian circumstances can also be used for building weapons of mass destruction, terrorist attacks or facilitating human rights violations. These include a broad range of products from chemicals, toxins, electronic equipment, lasers, navigation technology to nuclear power technology, robotics and software. The current system dates back to 2009, and exports are inspected and authorised by national authorities. During the “Arab Spring”, there was evidence that European technology was used by authoritarian regimes to oppress activists. The Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement in 2014 to review the export control system, and the EP has also adopted resolutions calling for targeted changes.

Further Information

Facebook kills UniLad

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Viral video outlet Unilad appears to have been booted off Facebook. Unilad’s main page went offline after the social network said it had violated its posting policy. Unilad has (or had) 34 million followers. It’s not clear if the ban is temporary or permanent.

Unilad has a staff of 60, it makes its founders hundreds of thousands of pounds in profits, it has a global reach of a billion people per week and Facebook is its main traffic driver and revenue source. Facebook now holds the future of many publishers in its hands…

Did an EU employee attempt to hack the MBGA News blog editor’s Twitter account?

in Brexit/Tech by

In the final few weeks before the EU referendum last year, I discovered that an EU employee named Chris Kendall, who goes by the Twitter handle “Ottocrat”, had posted a meme accusing all Brexit supporters of being racist and unable to think for themselves.

Ottocrat Profile

As you can see from the screenshot of his Twitter profile above, he claims to be involved in making EU policy. The About section on his website (linked in his Twitter profile) states that he is a “European civil servant (a ‘eurocrat’) of British and German heritage” who works in foreign policy.

Ottocrat Tweet

The meme that Kendall posted, shown in the screenshot above, is a mock-up of an EU referendum ballot paper, with additional wording added which clearly shows what the author thinks of those on the two sides of the argument. It accused Leave voters of only wanting to quit the EU because they “believe that Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Rupert Murdoch all have my best interests at heart and have told me that all our problems are because of the EU.  Also I’m a bit racist.”

By contrast, the meme praised Remainers for wanting to stay in the EU “because the UK should be part of something greater than itself. Also, it’s the 21st Century, for f**k’s sake, and we should be big boys about the EU’s faults, and try to fix them, rather than running home to mummy.”

I was very annoyed by this, so I responded to the tweet saying “Are you really an EU employee? It’s nice to know what you really think of the citizens who pay your wages! 😠” I also re-tweeted the meme to the official Leave EU and Vote Leave Twitter accounts, along with a comment saying “Just look at this arrogant EU civil servant mocking Leave voters!”

Within a couple of minutes, Kendall had blocked me on Twitter, without replying to my comments.  This wasn’t entirely unexpected.  But what happened immediately afterwards was of far greater concern.  I found that I had been locked out of the Twitter app on my phone, and then an email pinged into my inbox from Twitter, saying “Your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter.” I was required to reset my password in order to regain access.  I did think that this was rather suspicious, happening immediately after criticising an EU civil servant!

Twitter account locked

However, that’s not the end of the story – I then made a post about the Chris Kendall tweet in the Facebook group of the Be Leave campaign.  Another member of the group replied to my post, saying that he had also responded to the tweet, and that his account had been locked by Twitter too! He said “so I quoted this guy’s tweet and he attempted to hack my account and to delete it! Twitter just sent me an email saying they think my account has been compromised, by an IP address … cough… in the building of his employer, and he has blocked me from seeing his profile”.

It’s all very suspicious.  Thankfully, Twitter intercepted the alleged attempts to compromise our accounts.  But it does make you wonder – was there a co-ordinated attempt by the EU to shut down any criticism of itself on social media before the referendum, or was this individual acting of his own accord?

It is crucial that citizens are able to trust those in positions of power to respect the law and to not attempt to shut down the freedom of expression of those who disagree with them.  There should also be procedures in place where citizens can report any such suspicious activity amongst staff of EU institutions, so that an internal investigation can be carried out and appropriate action taken.

I would be interested to know if anyone else has had any similar experiences when interacting with eurocrats online.

 

The elites’ misrepresentation of James Damore’s Google memo

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Software developer James Damore was fired from Google last week after he wrote a 10-page document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”. In his memo, he argued that the low proportion of females working in tech could at least in part be explained by biological differences between men and women.

Damore has consistently presented himself in subsequent interviews as a man of science and someone who was fired for “the truth.” After being dismissed from his Google role, he set up a Twitter account under the handle @Fired4Truth.

The document was widely misrepresented by the mass media – their headlines kept claiming it was an “anti-diversity” memo, but if you read it fully, you see that Damore doesn’t say diversity is bad. Rather, he criticises Google’s means of achieving a more diverse staff, for example, affirmative-action style quotas and female-only courses.

To give an example of the media distortion, The Washington Post claimed that the memo states that women may be technically unsuited for tech jobs, but Damore never actually said that. Also, the tech news site Gizmodo published a copy of the memo, but they removed all the links and supporting evidence. Was this an attempt to discredit Damore? You can read the full uncensored version of the document here.

This is what Damore actually said about diversity: “I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices. . . These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology that can irreparably harm Google.”

Writing as a woman in IT, I didn’t find James Damore’s document to be controversial. His main point was that there may be reasons why fewer women are interested in coding, not that women are worse. I wonder how many of the people who complained about it actually read it in full?

There are certain things in the memo that don’t apply to me personally – for example, Damore states that on average, women prefer working with other people whereas men prefer working with things. I’m a quiet, introverted person, so I’ve always preferred working with things rather than people. Thus, a job in back-office IT is ideal for me, compared to, say, a customer-facing role. However, I accept that I am unusual in this respect and that a lot of people-oriented roles such as primary school teachers, nurses and caring vocations are female-dominated.

Although most of my IT jobs have been male-dominated, I haven’t felt disadvantaged. When I mention that I am a computer programmer, people – both male and female – tend to be impressed. There are events which promote IT to girls and women, which I think is positive but I’m uncomfortable with the idea of female-only courses. Thankfully, the events in my area are very inclusive. This shows that it is possible to promote coding to girls and women without excluding boys and men.

I think it would be a positive thing if more girls studied IT and went on to work in the tech industry, but you can’t make them do it against their will. Everyone must be given an equal chance to take IT courses but you can’t make anyone follow a particular career path if they do not want to do so. People spend a large proportion of their life at work so it is important they choose a career they think they will enjoy, rather than one they have been pushed into by their parents, teachers or by society’s expectations.

It’s very harsh that someone can lose their job and their livelihood merely for expressing an opinion and this has been a worrying trend in recent years. When someone expresses a view that goes against the accepted norms, there is a media frenzy (both in the traditional media and on social networks such as Twitter) until the person is hounded out of their job. It’s also very concerning that some employees and managers at Google have reportedly created blacklists of staff with whom they don’t want to work, due to ideological differences. It’s a great irony that a company which prides itself on diversity cannot tolerate diversity of thought.

Gab.ai, the free speech alternative to Twitter

in Tech/World News by

Founded in 2016, Gab.ai aims to be a free speech alternative to the major social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It is a libertarian social network founded in the classical liberal tradition of John Stuart Mill and John Milton, as well as the US First Amendment. Gab supports artistic expression and actively challenges the censorship that takes place on the major social media sites.

A couple of weeks ago, the People’s Charter Foundation met with the Chief Communications Officer for Gab.ai, Utsav Sanduja. You can watch the video of the interview below:

Traditional social media outlets censor content in two main ways, via the removal of posts and de-monetisation. For example, videos that YouTube deems to be controversial have their advertising turned off and any existing revenue from that video is withheld.

In recent months, more and more people have quit Twitter, citing concerns over censorship, including actor and producer James Woods.

One of the problems with censorship is that it means you cannot educate or inform people. This means that controversial ideas fester and grow underground (for example on the dark web) which can ultimately be more dangerous.

Gab is different. With Gab, there is no shadow banning, no censoring and no rules as to what you can post (as long as it is within the law, for example promoting terrorism or child pornography is strictly forbidden). Gab does not support criminal activity and is pro law enforcement. It opposes calls for violence, pays tax and is transparent.

The individual user decides what, if anything, to filter or mute. You decide and not some administrator. You are in control of what you want to see.

Gab is currently developing its Gab TV service. With Gab TV it will be possible for viewers to donate to content producers directly, all in one application.  Advertising is on its way out – 75% of millennials have ad blockers installed in their web browsers. The future is in content production.

The founders of Gab are also deeply concerned about censorship carried out by the BBC:

People of the United Kingdom, this is the state of your country. Listen to your taxpayer subsidized broadcasting agency asking us to censor, vet, control and limit speech on Gab. For shame!
This is the great country that produced John Stuart Mill; this is the country that produced John Milton’s Areopagitica, this is the country that fought for the Natural Rights of Englishmen in the 1689 Glorious Revolution, this is the country that produced us the best warning manual against dictatorship.

–Utsav Sanduja, Chief Communications Officer for Gab.ai

Utsav believes that government censorship of online media is being used as a means of attempting to reduce competition against traditional media.

In recent years, an increasing number of people in the UK have been arrested for allegedly sending “offensive” messages via social media. In London alone, a total of 625 arrests were made for alleged section 127 offences (sending by public communication network an offensive / indecent / obscene / menacing message / matter) in 2010 – a number which had ballooned to 857 by 2015. This can result in a potential six month prison term or a fine of up to £5,000. Among the scores of those recently arrested for online posts was a Scottish resident who had used Facebook as a platform to espouse his disdain for Syrian migrants.

Recently, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to step up control of the internet, but this does not solve the root cause of issues such as radicalisation. A recent government announcement proposes levying a tax on social media companies to help pay for police enforcement and moderators. Dangerous extremists are more likely to hang out on the dark web than on social media sites, so such a proposal would inevitably end up penalising innocent people. Furthermore, it is better that dangerous views are out in the open than forced underground where it is much harder to challenge them.

Even the App Store at Apple is showing partisanship, having rejected the Gab iOS app 8 times.

Britain has fallen. People of the United Kingdom, please wake up to what is happening to your own country.

–Utsav Sanduja, Chief Communications Officer for Gab.ai

The #DeleteShopify campaign – an attempt to suppress freedom of expression?

in Brexit/Tech by

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on Friday night a post came up from the campaign group SumOfUs, promoting a recent protest against the e-commerce company Shopify, demanding that they stop running the online store for the Breitbart News website.

SumOfUs describes itself as “a community of people from around the world committed to curbing the growing power of corporations.” At the time of writing, just over 200,000 had signed a petition to Shopify calling on them to end their relationship with Breitbart News.

The SumOfUs petition is part of the wider Sleeping Giants campaign which started in November 2016, shortly after Donald Trump’s victory in the United States presidential election, with the launch of a Twitter account aiming to boycott Breitbart News.

Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke wrote an open letter in response to the 10,000+ emails, tweets and messages received by himself and other Shopify employees about their continued decision to host Breitbart’s online store.

In the open letter, Lütke makes some very good points, notably “To kick off a merchant is to censor ideas and interfere with the free exchange of products at the core of commerce. When we kick off a merchant, we’re asserting our own moral code as the superior one. But who gets to define that moral code? Where would it begin and end? Who gets to decide what can be sold and what can’t? If we start blocking out voices, we would fall short of our goals as a company to make commerce better for everyone. Instead, we would have a biased and diminished platform.”

Instead of imposing their own morality on the platform, Shopify defers to the law, saying that all products must be legal in the jurisdiction of the business.

These campaigns want huge corporations to put pressure on news outlets; to tell them we will stop giving you money unless you change your editorial tone. This will have a chilling effect of freedom of expression – news outlets will feel under pressure not to publish stories about controversial issues, even if they are true and in the public interest.

The #DeleteShopify and Sleeping Giants campaigns are very similar to the #StopFundingHate campaign here in the UK, which is encouraging consumers to boycott companies who advertise in The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Is it really a coincidence that this Stop Funding Hate campaign only began after the after the British electorate voted to leave the EU, and that all the newspapers targeted by this campaign are pro-Brexit tabloids which are popular with working class people?

There is a lot of hypocrisy here – The Guardian and other pro-EU newspapers frequently say very hateful things about those who voted Leave (for example that they are racist, uneducated and ignorant), but these campaigners have never called for them to be boycotted.

In response to a question about why they are only targeting The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, Stop Funding Hate tweeted that these are the only UK outlets they know of that have been called out by the United Nations over their “hostile coverage”. However, the UN is far from an unbiased source – the UN Special Representative for International Migration Peter Sutherland has made numerous anti-Brexit comments over the last few months, and even called on Twitter for the referendum result to be overturned!

Peter Sutherland is a former EU Commissioner (so no doubt he qualifies for a large pension and does not want this to be jeopardised by the collapse of the EU) and is also a Goldman Sachs alumnus so has a vested interest in the continuation of globalist policies. I find it shocking and disgraceful that a senior official of the UN is prepared to oppose the democratic will of the people by seeking to overturn a legitimate referendum result.

It looks very much like these campaigns are a concerted attempt at censorship against news outlets which criticise the globalist elites and institutions like the EU. The campaigners claim that they’re not actually calling for any news publications to be shut down, but this is disingenuous as their call for an advertising boycott could well have that outcome if successful. Newspapers rely on advertising for a large proportion of their revenue, and if this is diminished they will either have to increase their cover prices significantly (which would likely cause a drop in readership) or go out of business completely.

You can’t remove a view by suppressing it. As we saw when the Iron Curtain came down, it simply goes underground until the boiling pot explodes. Just because you take an opinion out of the public space doesn’t mean it goes away. And if you force it to be private, then it may well become toxic. I think it is far better for controversial viewpoints to be discussed out in the open where they can be challenged and debated.

Pluralism in the news media helps to underpin democracy. Trying to close down bits of it you disagree with is anti-democratic. It would not surprise me at all if the currently established elites, who must be feeling very threatened at the moment, were to covertly orchestrate campaigns to close down areas of the media that they don’t or can’t control.

And with the rise of Brexit and Trump via legitimate political means, this underhand subversion by totalitarians masquerading as ‘liberals’ is only going to get worse.

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