Archive | social media

And now… automated web censorship

Automated systems to identify child abuse material (and flag it for removal) on the Internet is now going to be used to combat “extremist” and “hateful” content on social media.

“However, the definition of “extremist content” is everything but clear; CEP’s algorithm does not (and logically cannot) contain this definition either. Even if it were to use a database of previously identified material, that still would create problems for legitimate quotation, research and illustration purposes, as well as problems regarding varying laws from one jurisdiction to another.”

“The Joint Referral Platform has the potential to automate Europol’s not-formal-censorship activities by an automatic detection of re-upload. However, it remains unclear whether any investigative measures will be taken apart from the referral – particularly as Europol’s activities, bizarrely, do not deal with illegal material. There is obviously no redress available for incorrectly identified and deleted content, as it is not the law but broad and unpredictable terms of service that are being used.”

What could possibly go wrong..?

EDRi: Algorithms – censorship à la carte? »


Corporatism vs. free speech

Politics should stick to lawmaking. Companies should stick to making business.

When the two mix, the result is usually damaging. Politicians lose their focus on principles, their mandate from the voters and the public good. Companies who lobby for subsidies and (often competition reducing) special laws will find themselves worse of in the long run, as they detach from the realities of the market.

Nevertheless, politicians and businessmen are often involved in mutual back-scratching.

Lately, the political EU-apparatus and big data companies have ganged up to curb free speech. The EU, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Microsoft have decided on a mutual approach to keep back hate speech and religious radicalisation on the net.

In other words, the EU encourages private companies to censor statements on the Internet that the politicians do not approve of.

If you are to limit free speech at all — the rules must be clearly set out in law. If there should be any censorship at all — it must be decided in a court of law, in accordance with the laws. And if anyone is being censored — there must be a possibility to appeal the decision.

All these three principles are being thrown out in the EU-Big Data agreement.

And there is nothing you can do about it. Having signed e.g. various social networks terms and conditions, you have essentially given up your rights.

From a political point of view, the EU is acting in a deceptive way. When there are no legal means to censor voices they would like to silence – they turn to private companies to do what they themselves cannot accomplish. (It’s just like when US authorities had PayPal, credit card companies, and the banks to throttle the stream of donations to Wikileaks.)

The EU is short-circuiting the rule of law and democracy itself – in order to curb the people’s civil rights.

This is totally unacceptable.



Big Brotherism – the next step

A British startup has created a system for offering landlords continuous surveillance of their tenants’ online activity to determine whether they are likely to be asset risks. The system, named Tenant Assured, connects to the tenants’ social media accounts and mines their status updates, photos and private messages, feeding them to an algorithmic model, which is claimed to find potential signs of financial stress (which include posts with keywords like “loan” or “staying in”) or crime. The landlord gets an online dashboard, showing the tenant’s social connections, and a histogram of their online activity times, as well as flagging up any potential danger signs, as well as a five-factor psychometric profile of the tenant, annotated with what a landlord should look for.

Via Metafilter: Renting in the panopticon »

Main article, Washington Post: Creepy startup will help landlords, employers and online dates strip-mine intimate data from your Facebook page »


Big Government and Big Data fighting over control of your online activities. Blockchain is the obvious alternative.

For many years, the EU has taken many small steps towards introducing an EU ID card: eIDAS. (Or at least a strict common EU standard for nationally issued ID cards.)

An ID card proving the holders identity is one thing. (However, a mandatory ID card as such is a very controversial concept in some member states.) One interesting point is if there is going to be a common personal EU identification number. Another is what information the cards chip will contain and how it is going to be used. No doubt, an EU ID card can be used as a very effective tool for various forms of Big Brotherism.

It is in the light of the EU slowly trying to introduce a common, mandatory ID card that various EU schemes should be scrutinised.

Last week some sites, e.g. Breitbart London ran this story: The European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards »

Well, that might be a bit oversimplified. What the EU suggests is that it should be possible to use national (EU harmonised) ID cards to log into various online platforms instead of logging in using e.g. Facebook or Google. Thus giving you the possibility of being controlled by Big Government or Big Data.

Giving people a possibility to choose is a good idea, as such. But I’m not sure that I would like Big Government or Big Data to have the control over my online life.

And you should be very suspicious! The moment there is an established platform for online registration (or signing transactions) with an EU approved ID card – this system can be rolled out all over the place. For example, the EU would love to have a system where you have to use your ID card to be able to log on to the Internet. I have met several people in the EU apparatus promoting that idea.

But how should you go about if you don’t want nor Big Government or Big Data to be in control of your online activities?

Actually, it can be done quite easily – by using Blockchain technology, decentralised solutions, and open source software. Ideal, there should be a couple of different such ID providers, competing with each other over providing competent privacy protection.

(All of this might even be possible to achieve using the already existing Bitnation World Citizen ID.)

This can be one of those forks in the road of history: Do we want our online activities to be controlled by Big Government and Big Brother, by Big Data – or a decentralised system with a high level of security, respecting users right to privacy and controlled by no one?


• The European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards »
• EU: Communication on Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges for Europe »