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Security

Religious Hacker Defaces 111 Escort Sites (softpedia.com) 96

An anonymous reader shares this article from Softpedia: A religiously-motivated Moroccan hacker has defaced 111 different web sites promoting escort services since last summer as part of an ongoing protest against the industry. "In January, the hacker defaced 79 escort websites," writes Softpedia. "His actions didn't go unnoticed, and on some online forums where escorts and webmasters of these websites met, his name was brought up in discussions and used to drive each other in implementing better Web security. While some webmasters did their job, some didn't. During the past days, the hacker has been busy defacing a new set of escort websites... Most of these websites bare ElSurveillance's defacement message even today... Most of the websites are from the UK."
His newest round of attacks replace the sites with a pro-Palestine message and a quote from the quran, though in January Softpedia reported the attacker was also stealing data from some of the sites about their users' accounts.
Censorship

The New Censorship: 'How Did Google Become The Internet's Censor and Master Manipulator?' (usnews.com) 239

An anonymous reader writes: Robert Epstein from U.S. News and World Report writes an article describing how Google has become the internet's censor and master manipulator. He writes about the company's nine different blacklists that impact our lives: autocomplete blacklist, Google Maps blacklist, YouTube blacklist, Google account blacklist, Google News blacklist, Google AdWords blacklist, Google AdSense blacklist, search engine blacklist, and quarantine list. The autocomplete blacklist filters out select phrases like profanities and other controversial terms like "torrent," "bisexual" and "penis." It can also be used to protect or discredit political candidates. For example, at the moment autocomplete shows you "Ted" (for former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz) when you type "lying," but it will not show you "Hillary" when you type "crooked." While Google Maps photographs your home for everyone to see, Google maintains a list of properties it either blacks out or blurs out in its images depending on the property, e.g. military installations or wealthy residences. Epstein makes the case that while YouTube allows users to flag videos, Google employees seem far more apt to ban politically conservative videos than liberal ones. As for the Google account blacklist, you may lose access to a number of Google's products, which are all bundled into one account as of a couple of years ago, if you violate Google's terms of service agreement because Google reserves the right to "stop providing Services to you ... at any time." Google is the largest news aggregator in the world via Google News. Epstein writes, "Selective blacklisting of news sources is a powerful way of promoting a political, religious or moral agenda, with no one the wiser." Google can easily put a business out of business if a Google executive decides your business or industry doesn't meet its moral standards and revokes a business' access to Google AdWords, which makes up 70 percent of Google's $80 billion in annual revenue. Recently, Google blacklisted an entire industry -- companies providing high-interest "payday" loans. If your website has been approved by AdWords, Google's search engine is what ultimately determines the success of your business as its algorithms can be tweaked and search rankings can be manipulated, which may ruin businesses. Epstein makes an interesting case for how Google has become the internet's censor and master manipulator. Given Google's online dominance, do you think Google should be regulated like a public utility?
Censorship

Peter Thiel's Lawyer Wants To Silence Reporting On Trump's Hair (gawker.com) 301

An anonymous reader writes: Follow the report that Gawker has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after facing multiple lawsuits funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, it's being reported that Thiel's lawyer, Charles J. Harder, is threatening to sue Gawker for reporting on the company that made Donald Trump's hair, claiming copyright prohibits Gawker from republishing his threat. He sent the company a letter on behalf of Edward Ivari, the owner of the company Gawker suggests may be behind Trump's hair. Gawker said it was sent a six-page letter that claims the story "was 'false and defamatory,' invaded Ivari's privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed 'tortious interference' with Ivari's business relations." Gawker reporter Ashley Feinberg suggested in a lengthy Gawker story that Trump secretly underwent Ivari International's $60,000 "microcylinder intervention" treatment, with the company's offices located on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. Gawker called Ivari's claims "ridiculous," and noted that the statements at issue were pulled from his own publicity materials and from public records of a 2001 lawsuit against the company.
Censorship

World Reacts To The Worst Mass Shooting In U.S. History (cnn.com) 1718

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Fifty people were killed inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and other officials said Sunday morning, just hours after a shooter opened fire in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. At least 53 more people were injured, Mina said. Police have shot and killed the gunman, he told reporters.

The shooter is not from the Orlando area, Mina said. He has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando, two law enforcement officials tell CNN.

Orlando authorities said they consider the violence an act of domestic terror. The FBI is involved. While investigators are exploring all angles, they "have suggestions the individual has leanings towards (Islamic terrorism), but right now we can't say definitely..."

In the discussion on this submission, Slashdot readers reported that Reddit is among the sites that have removed some discussions about the shooter's identity, with one reader even reporting "Posts directing people where and how to give blood have been removed."
Censorship

KickassTorrents Enters The Dark Web, Adds Official Tor Address 44

An anonymous reader writes: KickassTorrents has now added a dark web address to make it easier for users to bypass blockades installed by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). It has announced a new .onion domain through which KickassTorrents users can access their favourite sites on a Tor (The Onion Router) network. "Good news for those who have difficulties accessing KAT due to the site block in their country, now you can always access KAT via this address lsuzvpko6w6hzpnn.onion on a Tor network," announced a member of the KickassTorrents team.
Censorship

UK Risks Over-Blocking Content Online, Warns Human Rights Watchdog (arstechnica.co.uk) 68

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The UK is at serious risk of over-blocking web content, the Council of Europe has warned in a scathing report. "Governments have an obligation to combat the promotion of terrorism, child abuse material, hate speech and other illegal content online. However, I am concerned that some states are not clearly defining what constitutes illegal content. Decisions are often delegated to authorities who are given a wide margin for interpreting content, potentially to the detriment of freedom of expression," said CoE secretary general, Thorbjorn Jagland. The 32-page report also concluded that some British practices may be in breach of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, and that the current framework seems more concerned with protecting ISPs from liability, than the general public's freedom of expression. The study singled out the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) whose job it is to police online child abuse material. The IWF has existed in some form since 1996, but is not a government body or law enforcement agency, but instead, a registered charity, funded by the European Union and the wider online industry, including big players such as Google and Microsoft. Although the report noted that "the IWF has taken a number of steps to better ensure that its operations are transparent and proportionate, in the absence of legal safeguards against over-blocking, the threshold for the kind of material which may be subjected to removal is therefore much lower than that which might otherwise be set out in law."
Censorship

Twitter Ignites Censorship Debate After Removal Of Parody Putin Account (thenextweb.com) 147

Twitter has suspended at least five popular anti-Kremlin Twitter accounts on its microblogging social network. The move has angered fans of the accounts and reignited the speculation on censorship on the platform. One such account parodied Russia President Vladimir Putin. The Next Web reports that some of the accounts have been brought back to function amid criticism from their respective fans. Parody accounts have resided in the gray area ever since the early days of Twitter. The social network's official ToS permits users to run a parody account of a celebrity provided they explicitly mention on their profile that it's a fake account. From the report: After their removal, social media users took two Twitter to voice their displeasure with the hashtag #NoGulagForDarthPutinKGB -- a reference to the repressive Soviet state -- and it's seemingly worked, as both accounts are back today. Of course, for how long, and why they were removed in the first place are questions that remain unanswered.
AI

Facebook Spares Humans By Fighting Offensive Photos With AI (techcrunch.com) 127

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: Facebook tells TechCrunch that its artificial intelligence systems now report more offensive photos than humans do. Typically when users upload content that is deemed offensive, it has to be seen and flagged by at least one human worker or user. Such posts that violate terms of service can include content that is hate speech, threatening or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence. The content that workers have to dig through is obviously not great, and may lead to various psychological illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder. AI is helping to eliminate such a terrible job as it can scan images that are uploaded before anyone ever sees them. Facebook's AI already "helps rank News Feed stories, read aloud the content of photos to the vision impaired and automatically write closed captions for video ads that increase view time by 12 percent," writes TechCrunch. Facebook's Director of Engineering for Applied Machine Learning Joaquin Candela tells TechCrunch, "One thing that is interesting is that today we have more offensive photos being reported by AI algorithms than by people. The higher we push that to 100 percent, the fewer offensive photos have actually been seen by a human." One risk of such an automated system is that it could censor art and free expression that may be productive or beautiful, yet controversial. The other more obvious risk is that such a system could take jobs away from those in need.
Businesses

PayPal To Suspend Business Operations In Turkey Following License Denial (thestack.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: PayPal has announced the suspension of its business operations in Turkey as of June 6, citing failure to obtain a new license for its service in the country. Turkey has made recent efforts to promote its own domestic tech sector, advancing censorship laws and other regulation to push large international companies out of the market. PayPal, as the latest victim on this trail, posted a statement on its local Turkish website today: "PayPal's priority has always been its customers. However, a local financial regulator has denied our Turkish payments license and we have had to regretfully comply with its instruction to discontinue our activities in Turkey." The denial of PayPal's license, by local financial regulator BDDK, comes following the introduction of new national rules in Turkey which require IT systems to be based within the country itself. PayPal runs its global business from a large portfolio of IT centers around the world. Turkey isn't the only country tightening its grip on the Internet. The Iranian government has given companies behind popular messaging apps one year to move their data onto servers in Iran.
Facebook

Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube and Others Agree To Remove Hate Speech Across the EU 405

Tech giants in conjunction with European Union are taking a stand to fight hate speech. Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube, Google, and Facebook have launched "code of conduct" aimed at fighting racism and xenophobia across Europe. The companies aren't legally obligated, but have agreed to "public commitments" to review the "majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech" in less than 24 hours, and make it easier for law enforcement in Europe to notify the firms directly. From a TechCrunch report: Tech companies will have to find the right balance between freedom of expression and hateful content. Based on the code of conduct, they'll have dedicated teams reviewing flagged items (poor employees who will have to review awful things every day). Tech companies will also educate their users and tell them that it's forbidden to post hateful content. They'll cooperate with each other to share best practice. They'll encourage flagging of hateful content and they'll promote counter speech against hateful rhetoric. It's good to see that this issue got escalated and the European Commission was able to come up with a code of conduct quite quickly. Instead of making tech companies deal with every single European country, they can agree on rules for the EU as a whole."The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech," Vera Jourova, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, wrote in the European Commission press release. "Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred. This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the internet remains a place of free and democratic expression, where European values and laws are respected."
Privacy

Controversial Surveillance Firm Blue Coat Was Granted a Powerful Encryption Certificate (vice.com) 114

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard (edited for clarity): A controversial surveillance company called Blue Coat Systems -- whose products have been detected in Iran and Sudan -- was recently issued a powerful encryption certificate by Symantec. The certificate, and the authority that comes with it, could allow Blue Coat Systems to more easily snoop on encrypted traffic. But Symantec downplayed concern from the security community. Blue Coat, which sells web-monitoring software, was granted the power in September last year, but it was only widely noticed this week. The company's devices are used by both government and commercial customers for keeping tabs on networks or conducting surveillance. In Syria, the technology has been used to censor web sites and monitor the communications of dissidents, activists and journalists.Blue Coat assures that it is not going to utilize the certificates to snoop on us. The Register reports: We asked Blue Coat how it planned to use its new powers -- and we were assured that its intermediate certificate was only used for internal testing and that the certificate is no longer in use. "Symantec has reviewed the intermediate CA issued to Blue Coat and determined it was used appropriately," the two firms said in a statement. "Consistent with their protocols, Symantec maintained full control of the private key and Blue Coat never had access to it. Blue Coat has confirmed it was used for internal testing and has since been discontinued. Therefore, rumors of misuse are unfounded."
Social Networks

Fired Reddit Exec Launches Competing Site (thenextweb.com) 273

An anonymous reader writes: "Dan McComas, the former second-in-command at Reddit -- and vocal critic of its more inflammatory groups -- wants to build a better Reddit, one that focuses on 'healthy, positive communities,'" reports TheNextWeb. Raising $3 million, Imzy.com quietly launched earlier this year with over 500 discussion forums, aspiring to become an advertising-free space where content creators can interact with their fans. Moderators and users of Imzy can be "tipped" with online payments from other users, while the site hopes to remain advertising-free by taking a cut from on-site transactions. But "at its core though, Imzy wants to provide a safe place to share and discuss without the fear of being harassed, a problem Reddit has struggled with for several years."
ISS

NASA Feed 'Goes Down As Horseshoe UFO Appears On ISS Live Cam' (mirror.co.uk) 412

schwit1 quotes a report from Mirror Online: NASA has been accused of an alien cover up after a live International Space Station feed appearing to show a horseshoe UFO suddenly went down. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day over the sighting of the strange U-shaped object hovering on the horizon of the the ISS. They claim NASA 'cut the live feed' after the glowing blue object flew too close to the space station. Some have even gone as far to say NASA's funding should be cut over their 'great alien deception.' Scott Waring of UFO Sightings Daily first discovered the UFO. He passed the footage on to Tyler Glockner who uploaded the video to his YouTube channel secureteam10. What do you think: is it an alien spaceship or something more likely such as a reflection from a station window?
Censorship

Apple's iTunes Movies and iBooks Stores Mysteriously Go Down In China (appleinsider.com) 14

tedlistens writes: China-based customers of the iTunes movies and books stores reported network errors beginning on Thursday. Apple did not comment, but Apple Insider offers an unverified report that the storefronts have been closed "due to a pending government investigation into Apple's business practices." Apple first opened its doors to its movie and e-book online stores in China last September, which included the activation of Apple Music services. While the music streaming services remain operational, the movie and e-book stores are not. China's censorship laws and strict regulations in general have been tough for U.S. companies like Apple to navigate. Last year, Apple was actively disabling its iOS News app for its Chinese customers, a move many believe to be in adherence of China's censorship policies. Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, denied those claims.
The Internet

Cyber Commander Says It's 'Not Realistic' To Shut Down Internet (washingtonexaminer.com) 123

An anonymous reader links to a report on Washington Examiner: It simply would not be possible to shut down areas of the Internet that terrorists use to conduct malicious activity, the head of U.S. Cyber Command told a Senate panel on Tuesday. "In a very simplistic way, people ask why can't we shut down that part of the Internet. ... Why are we not able to infiltrate that more?" Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., asked Cyber Command leader Adm. Mike Rogers during a hearing on the agency's budget for fiscal 2017. Manchin maintained it was a common question from his constituents. "I've had people ask me, can't you just stop it from that area of the world where all the problems are coming, be it Syria or in parts of Iraq or Iran," he said. "I'm not just trying to find an answer, because that question is asked like shut her down, like you do your telephone, but it doesn't work that way," Manchin concluded.
Australia

Aussie Pirates Have Another Year Not To Worry About Warnings 25

An anonymous reader shares an article on TorrentFreak: Internet pirates in Australia may now have at least another year, possibly longer, not to worry about a "three strikes" style system landing on their shores. According to Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton, copyright holders and ISPs will give the new site blocking regime a chance to get established before revisiting the graduated response. Somewhat explains why this gentleman -- if he was indeed downloading copyright infringing content -- has been able to get away with all the torrenting he has done.
Censorship

China Censors Online Discussion About Panama Papers (bbc.com) 109

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: China appears to be censoring social media posts on the Panama Papers document leak which has named several members of China's elite, including President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law. Hundreds of posts on networks such as Sina Weibo and Wechat on the topic have been deleted since Monday morning. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Panama Papers show that Mr. Deng acquired two offshore companies in 2009, at a time when Mr. Xi was rising in politics. State media appeared to black out the news. But many on microblogging network Sina Weibo and mobile chat network Wechat were discussing the topic on Monday morning, sharing Chinese translations of details of the story, including information on Mr. Deng. A hashtag created on the topic quickly trended. Checks by the BBC found that by the end of the day many of those posts had disappeared, with at least 481 discussions deleted from the hashtag's Weibo topic page, and other posts shared on Wechat also deleted. The website Freeweibo.com, which actively tracks censorship on Weibo, listed "Panama" as the second-most censored term on the network.
Censorship

North Korea Officially Blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (mashable.com) 37

An anonymous reader links to an Associated Press report: North Korea has officially announced it is blocking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and South Korean websites in a move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications announcement was posted this week at the country's main mobile service provider, Koryolink, and other places serving Internet users. Very few North Koreans have Internet access. Typically they can see only a sealed-off, government-sanctioned intranet. But foreigners had previously been able to surf the Web with almost no overt restrictions, though most likely with behind-the-scenes monitoring of their Internet activities.
Crime

Global Majority Backs a Ban On 'Dark Net,' Poll Says (reuters.com) 222

Alastair Sharp reports for Reuters: Seven in 10 people say the 'dark net' -- an anonymous online home to both criminals and activists fearful of government surveillance -- should be shut down, according to a global Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. The findings, from a poll of at least 1,000 people in each of 24 countries, come as policymakers and technology companies argue over whether digital privacy should be curbed to help regulators and law enforcement more easily thwart hackers and other digital threats.
China

China Proposes Foreign Domain Name Censorship (thestack.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: A new draft law in China could potentially increase domain name restrictions, limiting domestic access to foreign websites. The measures outlined in the 'Internet Domain Name Management Rules' remain unclear, yet they suggest a marked effort to increase censorship on online content. The proposals, released for public comment by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, seek to update existing regulations to censor any domain names not registered within China. Only domain names approved by authorities would be permitted while other names registered outside of China would be blocked automatically.

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