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WJC Latin America launches website to combat Holocaust denial

17/4/2015- The Latin American chapter of the World Jewish Congress launched a Spanish-language website to combat Holocaust denial. The website went online on April 16, Israel’s national day of commemoration for Holocaust victims. The site, www.seismillonesnuncamas.com, which means “six million never again,” targets Spanish-language websites, where Holocaust denial is increasing, according to the WJC site’s initiators. “We launched a website to show how the hate is spreading on the web,” Ariel Seidler, director of the Web Observatory, a watchdog group set up by several Latin American Jewish groups, told JTA. “We encourage people to report videos that spread hatred and encourage the addition of positive content.”

According to the Web Observatory, some 350 Spanish-language videos denying the Holocaust have received nearly 10 million views collectively. Some of the films are tagged with the word “holocuento,” a term used to lampoon the Holocaust or suggest it did not happen, similarly to “holohoax” in English or “shoananas” in French. In 2011, a civil court in Buenos Aires ordered Google to eliminate anti-Semitic search suggestions from its Argentine browsers and drop some 76 websites described in the complaint as “highly discrimina-tory,” including some that deny the Holocaust. Nazism and Holocaust denial are still alive, “and we can see this on the Internet,” said Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, the regional branch of the World Jewish Congress.
© JTA News.

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YouTube Creators Questioned About Racism (opinion)

By Krystle Mitchell

10/4/2015- YouTube is a well-known platform amongst many people worldwide. Many people use the site for a variety of reasons whether to build an audience, broad-cast their talents, watch shows, learn something new, or listen to music. Lately YouTube has had some users concerned with the company creators being prejudice. As hate marks are constantly on the site, the platform has not found a way to fully protect its users from verbal abuse. YouTube creators have been questioned about racism due to their lack of promoting non-white individuals and their guidelines of banning hate remarks.

YouTube is not responsible for promoting everyone. When a user joins the platform, he or she must have somewhat of a following already. The site is designed to promote channels and users that are worthy of a worldwide audience. Moderators also help those that should get noticed by placing them on the home screen, or sharing them on Twitter. However, there are only a few darker skinned users that are shared on the shared sites. It was not until February 2015 when Akilah Hughes, Fusion contributor, and YouTube user took the initiative to question YouTube creators about their lack of promoting brown skin creators. Hughes generated a study of the amount of shares YouTube has on its Twitter and homepage, and kept a record of how many of the people were non-white out of all the shares in the month. Her results proved the creators of the platform might have racial animosity against those that are not white.

Once Hughes’ information was completely gathered, she presented her findings to a spokesperson and asked the creators about their racist behavior. The spokesperson said YouTube is available to anyone around the world to upload videos, gain a following and profit for their content. Since it is very open, it has accumulated a large diverse library reflecting a broad spectrum of cultures, beliefs, classes, sexualities, and races that are underrepresented elsewhere.

While Hughes is the first to do the study and question the creators about their lack of promotion, she is not the first user to question the creators about racism. CNN interviewed a famous user who was harassed about her race from viewers. When CNN asked YouTube creators about the harassment and why they have not created a better protection realm, they said the guidelines are clear that hate comments are not allowed and should be reported. Users have the ability to block, delete, and refuse comments altogether. This suggests that the site can not go further than what it already does to protect users from obscene comments if they do not do any of the following.

A researcher that focuses on social issues online stated that YouTube is a reflection of the culture people live in. The hate comments are visual proof that many people out there are very racist. Social media platforms are outlets for those people to convey their hate, because the only punishment they get is being blocked by the per-son that they dislike. The person is still allowed to see other videos of the YouTuber in question after being blocked from comments. Therefore, many users ignore the prejudice comments and continue their craft since there is no way to stop them altogether. YouTube creators getting questioned about their racist behavior and acts on the hate crimes is only a stepping stone for what is to come. A new upgrade in the guidelines must take place to prevent further threats, and better ways to promote those that are not being recognized.
© The Guardian Liberty Voice

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Italy: Facebook blocks Salvini over 'gypsies' slur

Italy's far-right leader Matteo Salvini has been temporarily banned from Facebook for using the word “gypsies”, he claimed on Thursday.

9/4/2015- Salvini, leader of the Northern League, said his personal Facebook profile had been blocked for 24 hours after he wrote “gypsies” (“zingari”). Turning to Twitter, the politician said the move was “absurd!” A spokesperson for Facebook was not immediately available to confirm whether Salvini had been temporarily banned. Salvini came under criticism yesterday for stating that if given the chance he would “raze the Roma camps to the ground.” Speaking on International Roma Day, Salvini said around 40,000 ethnic Roma currently living in government-run camps should rent or buy homes. Members of the community, however, face barriers in applying for social housing, even though many people living in camps were born in Italy. Associazione 21 Luglio, a Roma rights group, has called for the camps to be closed and residents to be given equal access to housing. The association on Wednesday accused Salvini of courting voters and said the Northern League had in the past proposed maintaining the camp system. In a bid to tackle discrimination against the Roma community, Rome’s mayor last year banned the word “nomads” (“nomadi”) being used in city hall. Mayor Ignazio Marino said Roma, Sinti and Caminanti (travellers) were more accurate terms which could help promote integration.
© The Local - Italy

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EU spends millions to make next Facebook European

2/4/2015- Uber. WhatsApp. Twitter. Google. Snapchat. Instagram. Facebook. Many of the online services most popular among Europeans were created in the United States. The EU wants that to be different in the future. The next generation of software needing to be developed to operate features of the so-called internet of things (the connectivity of physical objects), and handle big data, should come from Europe, EU digital economy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said at a recent event on the future of internet. “Europe’s industrial competitiveness will in the future depend to a large extent on the capacity to develop high quality software and using the most modern computing technologies”, Oettinger said in a speech at the Net Futures event in Brussels on 25 March. To do that, the EU has had a set of software tools created to make it easier for entrepreneurs to transform their idea into a working application. The project is called Fiware – sometimes spelled Fi-ware – a contraction of the words 'future internet' and software. However, critics say the project, which is costing EU taxpayers €300 million, is superfluous because alternatives already exist.

Toolbox
Dutch entrepreneur Michel Visser is the founder of Konnektid, a website which allows its members to find neighbours willing to teach them something - like how to play guitar, speak another language, or how to knit. His company is now building an app version for mobile phones. The programme will need a system that can handle a large amount of requests. Visser has adopted a readily available system from the Fiware toolbox. “We don't have to develop it ourselves, so we win three months of development. Now we can get the app earlier out to the market”, he told this website. "We are a start-up, so we don't have a lot of money to spend." Fiware is kind of like a big box of Lego blocks, said Christian Ludtke, founder of a German company that supports start-ups. “It can be a web service for example, or a cloud service, or an interface for augmented reality”, said Ludtke.

Public-private partnership
The Fiware project is a public-private partnership between the EU and a consortium of companies that started in 2011. The software tools that entrepreneurs like Visser may use were developed by European telecommunication companies like Telefonica and Ericsson. The industry has said it is also investing €300 million in the project, which includes online tutorials on how to use Fiware, and local 'Fiware innovation hubs'. Fiware is royalty-free and open source, which means that it can be used free of charge, and developers may further develop it as well. Non-European companies can use the tools as well. “We don't mind if they are from Japan, from US, from China, from Latin America”, said Jesus Villasante, from the department of Net innovation in the European Commission.

“What we don't want is that there would be only one operator that would be able to capture value. For us the idea is that internet should be open, and therefore we should allow for open initiatives that would compete with some proprietary initiatives.” Proprietary software, as opposed to open source, can only be used if you have acquired a license. Examples include Microsoft Windows, Adobe Photoshop, and Mac OS X. "In Europe there is a strong potential for innovation, for start-ups, for entrepreneurs. We need to have this innovation capacity in an open environment, not in a closed environment”, noted Villasante.

Grants for start-ups, but only if they use Fiware
To promote the use of Fiware, the EU is investing €80 million in up to 1,000 start-ups. The money is being distributed to 16 so-called accelerators, organisations that help start-ups grow by providing funding and other support. Konnektid is one of the beneficiaries of such an accelerator, called European Pioneers, based in Berlin. One way the EU is trying to spread the use of Fiware is by making grant money - up to €150,000 per start-up - conditional on its use. “It's a kind of a trade-off. You need to find Fiware attractive and useful. If not, then you probably should be applying to a different accelerator”, said Ludtke, adding that the 12 start-ups under his guidance have so far not experienced it as a burden. Michel Visser hasn't either, although he is defiant about what would happen if he found a piece of non-Fiware software that would be better for his app. “It's business first. If it's stopping my business I would definitely say: listen, I tried it, this is what I experienced, this is my feedback, but I'm going to use something different.

That's what I would fight for. I'm a founder of a company and I need to run my business. ” The EU commission's Villasante is much less strict than Ludtke - who oversees the handing out of money to some start-ups- on the use of Fiware as a precondition. Villasante said it was more important that the start-ups tried Fiware to see if it is useful to them. “We don't believe that all the 1,000 start-ups will develop applications that will be successful in the market. There may also be some SMEs that play with Fiware, develop the product, but decide: this is not for me, I prefer to use this other thing. That's fine.” Some recipients of the EU grants have told this website that they were more interested in the grant money than in Fiware. “There are plenty of alternatives to Fiware that are also open source,” said one entrepreneur who wished to remain anonymous. “The EU is pushing software that is not necessarily the best,” he added.
© The EUobserver

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Facebook tracking said to breach EU law

Facebook is tracking users, both on and offline, contravening EU privacy rules, according to a report.

1/4/2015- Compiled by researchers for the Belgian Privacy Commission, the report says the social media giant places cookies whenever someone visits a webpage belonging to the facebook.com domain, even if the visitor is not a Facebook user. A cookie is a small file placed onto a computer by a browser and contains information that can be used to track and identify users. People without Facebook accounts are not spared. The 67-page report, first published in late February and then again with updated chapters on Tuesday (31 March), notes that “Facebook tracking is not limited to Facebook users.” Facebook places a so-called “datre” cookie, which contains a unique identifier, onto the browsers of people in Europe who have no Facebook account. The cookie takes two years to expire.

A probe into Facebook by Ireland’s data protection commission in 2011 noted that the “datre” cookie is “used for security, among other purposes”. Ireland’s data commission at the time recommended Facebook to shorten the cookie’s 2-year lifespan. Meanwhile, Facebook does not place any long term identifying cookie on the opt- out sites suggested by Facebook to US and Canadian users. As for users, Facebook tracks them across websites even if they are not logged in or use social plugins. Social plugins include Google+ “+1”, Linkedin “in share”, and Facebook’s “Like Button”. The Facebook Like button is present on some 13 million sites, including health and government websites. Facebook’s policy says it still receives data when people visit a website “with the Like button or another social plugin”, even if they are logged out or don’t have an account. Researchers say this violates the EU’s e-Privacy Directive because cookies placed via social plugins require prior consent unless it is needed to connect to the service network or is specifically requested by the user or subscriber to obtain a service.

Brendan Van Alsenoy, a researcher at ICRI and one of the report’s authors, told the Guardian that “to be legally valid, an individual’s consent towards online behavioural advertising must be opt-in.” Facebook default setting also means it is able to tracks users for advertising purposes across non-Facebook websites. “Even if the user takes the additional step to opt out, he or she will still be tracked by Facebook, but Facebook promises it won’t use the information for ad targeting purposes,” notes the report. Facebook, for its part, says the report's authors had "declined to meet with us or clarify the inaccurate information about this and other topics". A spokesperson at Facebook in an email said virtually all websites, including Facebook, legally use cookies to offer their services. "If people want to opt out of seeing advertising based on the websites they visit and apps they use, they opt out through the EDAA, whose principles and opt out we and more than 100 other companies comply with," said the contact.

Facebook says it takes this commitment one step further. "When you use the EDAA opt out, we opt you out on all devices you use and you won’t see ads based on the websites and apps you use," said the spokesperson.
© The EUobserver

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UK: Troll who abused disability campaigner reported to police

3/4/2015- A Facebook troll who targeted a disability rights campaigner has been reported to Police Scotland for alleged hate crimes. Tony Bain taunted Rachael Monk with a string of vile comments including saying: “Two Mongs don’t make a right.” But the abusive messages backfired after 32-year-old Rachael, from Dumfries and Galloway, struck back. She told Bain, from Glasgow: “I’m the lady in the video…your comments have actually made me laugh, they’re nothing new or original. “Did you know hate crime is a criminal offence? Good luck when the police come knocking! “Ignorance is a bigger disability.” Rachael, from Annan, has cerebral palsy and can only speak through a computer. She appeared in a video made by the “Now Hear Me” campaign, which promotes understanding for those suffering from speech impairment or loss as a result of disability.

In a series of Facebook messages, posted on an NHS page, Bain also commented: “Warning you will need an umbrella before watching this video.” The comments sparked outrage from campaign supporters, who called Bain “worse than disgusting” and a “trolling little scumbag”. Another asked Bain: “Have you actually looked in the mirror?” Bain, who re-vealed he was previously employed by Argos, was also asked: “Which Argos do you work at Tony? I’d love to pay you a visit.” Someone else wrote: “Send me your address private-ly then Tony Bain and we’ll see who likes hiding behind a keyboard. I’ll knock all them filthy yellow teeth out with a single bat.” Bain was also told: “You’re worse than disgusting, I’m not sure there is a word for people like you yet but there should be and it should come with a jail sentence. You are a disgrace to your family.”

A spokesman for NHS Education for Scotland said, “As soon as we became aware of wholly inappropriate posts on our Facebook page, we took action to block the individual. We have also reported the matter to the police.” A spokesman for the Now Hear Me campaign also confirmed that they had reported the incident to Police Scotland. Police Scotland was unable yesterday (Fri) to find a record of the NHS complaint. But the force added they “would assess and investigate as appropriate any complaint made to us concerning comments which could be considered criminal”. In the campaign video, Rachael says, “I am a bright person and intelligent, and I want my thoughts and feelings to be heard and not wasted. Everyone has the right to communicate.”

Rachael, speaking through her carer today said: “Although I was hurt by the comments made I wanted to respond in a positive way.” “My family and friends were extremely offended and deeply upset that someone could be so cruel about me and others with different abilities.” “It is because of people like him that makes it all the more important to raise awareness and educate.” She added: “I think Tony Bain should receive a warning, if only to make him think about his actions.” “I feel that the police should definitely be involved in such matters. It is important that everyone knows such behaviour will not be tolerated.” Argos confirmed that “Bain left the business last year”. Bain could not be contacted for comment.
© Deadline News

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UK: Newport man fined for posting racist comments on Facebook

A Newport man has been fined after posting racist comments on Facebook.

30/3/2015- Jason Gwyer, aged 32, of Brown Close, was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence after posting racists comments on Facebook in relation to the annual Ashura march which takes place in Newport. The march organised by the Islamic Society for Wales was to commemorate the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain who was killed in Karbala, Iraq, more than 1,300 years ago. The details of the march were published in the Argus in November, 2014, and Gwyer posted a photo of the article along with racist comments on his Facebook page on November 12, 2014. Gwyer posted: "Need this to go viral!!!! Muslims think they are going to have a nice little march thru my city on Sunday!!! think not!!! Need as much force as possable. We need to stand up and tell these vile pigs where to go!!! Who is with me??? Please share." He was found guilty at Newport Magistrates Court and fined £165. He also had to pay costs of £620.

He was also charged with producing class b drug cannabis and possession of a class b drug which was cannabis. He pleaded guilty to both offences. He received a 12 month commu-nity order, a £100 fine and the drugs were ordered for destruction. PC Ricky Thomas, investigating officer, after the hearing, said: "Gwent Police will not tolerate any type of hate crime in our communities. We will investigate it and put evidence before the courts for the offender to be dealt with. "I hope this serves as a warning to people who think that by posting on social media sites that it is anonymous in some way - it isn't and it's still an offence. We would encourage anyone who has concerns about anything they see on social media to report it to us on 101."
© The South Wales Argus

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Slovakia: Government taking note of online extremism

While the amount of racially motivated crime is in decline, extremists are adopting increasingly sophisticate ways of spreading their message online, experts say, and the government is taking this into account as it adopts a new policy to combat extremism.

31/3/2015- It is hard to prove that extremist groups violate the law in such cases and and they have political ambitions, according to the Conception of Fight against Extremism which government adopted on March 18. “The development of criminality shows the trend that displays of racist discrimination and other forms of hate crime has been recently shifting from the street to virtual area,” reads the conception. The number of reported crimes related to extremism is decreasing. In 2014 police reported 40 crimes of extremism in 2013 it reported 64 of such crimes, in 2012 it noticed 49 crimes of extremism. There are exactly dozen extremist groups operating in Slovakia including political parties such as People’s Party - Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) or sport and paramilitary groups such as Slovak Levies or Action Group Vzdor, according to the government document.

NGOs dealing with extremism approached by The Slovak Spectator say that mere formal punishment and prosecution of such people is not enough. More than anything else, the public and important political figures should condemn such behavior. “I don’t think that eye of Big Brother should be the main tool against spreading of hatred on internet,” Laco Oravec from the Milan Šimečka Foundation (NMŠ) told The Slovak Spectator.

Extremism online
The internet is a strategic place for extremist groups because they do not have sufficient space in mainstream media. Moreover, especially young people who are more active on internet tend spread those ideas, according to Tomáš Nociar, a political scientist focusing on extremism. “Of course, using the internet in this regard is nothing new, however this phenomenon became more relevant in recent years,” Nociar told The Slovak Spectator, “because the number of people using internet every day is increasing.” The strategy proposes to improve cooperation with internet providers to be better in tracking of extremist statements and material spreading via the internet.

The Bratislava Without Nazis initiative currently runs research of statements published on Slovak websites and social networks and there are dozens of them which could violate the law, according to the group. The police however do not prosecute authors of this extremist material so it is questionable how the police work, according to Róbert Mihály, a member of the initiative. “Just open the Facebook, there are hundreds of such cases there,” Mihály told The Slovak Spectator. Mihály was one of seven people detained by police during a March 14 march as he and others confronted a group commemorating the war time Slovak state, an ally of Nazi Germany.

While some extremist rhetoric may violate local laws, it can also be difficult to prosecute. On the other hand, the power of police is limited because a large amount of clearly extremist content which could be grounds for prosecution is on U.S. based servers. Slovak legislation does not apply there and therefore Slovak authorities struggle to deal with it, according to Nociar. The police refuse to describe their methods of fighting with extremism because of tactical reasons, police spokesman Michal Slivka told The Slovak Spectator.

Humor is better than jail sentences
Instead of repression Nociar proposes the public to fight with extremism using humor or rational arguments that make it less attractive for people. Slovak society however often does not recognize the extremism as a problem. This affects also police when dealing with such cases, according to Oravec. “We lack the clarity on the certain line between a crime or at least taboo that is crossed,” Oravec said. Also the voice of political figures should be stronger when fighting with extremisms. Journalists, analysts and NGOs participate on the public debate about this issue but statements of politicians are missing or are evasive, according to Grigorij Mesežni-kov, president of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) think tank. “Have you recently noticed a government representative clearly describing his or her attitude towards extremism and not only in form of general statements?” Mesežnikov asked The Slovak Spectator. “To organise a press conference ad hoc after some unpleasant event and then consider the participation on fighting against extremism as complete is insufficient.”

Improving education
As a part of prevention the government should bolster efforts to educate people about extremism and point to the threat it represents via mass media and schools, according to the conception. The state underestimated the power of education right after Slovakia joined the EU in 2004 and it does not sufficiently explain to public how much organizations, such as EU or NATO, did for Slovak well being. This is the reason why some Slovaks are keen to believe hoaxes, according to Mesežnikov. “We should focus on high-quality of education of young people so they will be able to critically perceive and sort information and respond to hatred on the internet,” Oravec said.
© The Slovak Spectator

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EU commissioners at odds over geo-blocking

30/3/2015- Less than a week after EU digital commissioner Andrus Ansip announced he wants to end geo-blocking, his fellow commissioner Gunther Oettinger indicated he was in no rush to abolish the practice of restricting online content based on someone's location. “We should not throw away the baby with the bath water”, Oettinger said in an inter-view with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published Monday (30 March). “I want to examine what an opening would mean for the film industry”, the German commissioner noted, adding that “we should protect our cultural diversity”. The interview comes after Ansip said in a press conference Wednesday (25 March) he wants to end geo-blocking. “I hate geo-blocking”, noted Ansip, who is one of the commission's vice-presidents, in charge of the portfolio digital single market.

Oettinger, whose portfolio is called digital economy & society, made light of Ansip's remark, by saying: “I hate my alarm clock at five o'clock in the morning.” “I wouldn't read any contradictions in this”, commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva told this website Monday. She said that “Ansip and Oettinger worked very closely” to prepare a debate with all commissioners last Wednesday, and that the entire commission that day “agreed that geo-blocking would be tackled”. However, Andreeva noted that tackling geo-blocking was only agreed “on a general level”, and that the details need to be worked out now. The details are at the crux of the matter. Geo-blocking is a technical tool that can be used for both 'good and evil'. Sometimes companies use geo-blocking to abide by the law, for example when a gambling website uses it to make sure its services are unavailable in countries where online gambling is illegal. And Ansip has also acknowledged that such practices are acceptable.

However, geo-blocking is also used to redirect online shoppers to a local website which offers the same products at higher prices, which can be illegal under EU law. Another type of geo-blocking occurs when media companies prevent consumers from watching online content like films or tv series in a territory where the company has not acquired licenses. Here, the debate gets murkier. The commission has agreed to eliminate “unjustified geo-blocking”. But defining when geo-blocking is justified, and when it is not, will only begin now. The commission is due to publish its digital single market strategy on 6 May. Then it will hold a public consultation on geo-blocking. Some, like Pirate MEP Julia Reda, oppose “all kinds of artificial barriers on the web and all kinds of website blocking”. The German deputy argues for an introduction of the so-called 'country of origin principle' for online videos. “That would mean that companies have to obtain a copyright licence only in the country from which they operate, which has long been the case for TV broadcasting,” Reda told this website in an e-mailed statement.

It is not the first time the two commissioners differ in tone on the same topic. “We need strong net neutrality rules”, Ansip said Tuesday (24 March), referring to the principle that all data is treated equally by internet providers and intermediaries. “We need an open internet for consumers. No blocking or throttling”. A few weeks earlier, Oettinger called net neutrality a “Taliban-like issue”. “This is not the first time Oettinger has contradicted the Commission and undermined its stated consensus in his home country's media”, noted Reda, and referred to it as the "latest of his PR missteps".
© The EUobserver

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Canada: Facebook page targeting Winnipeg aboriginal people pulled down

1/4/2015- A Facebook page that attacked aboriginal people in Winnipeg and re-ignited the racism debate in the city has been pulled down. The page, called "Aboriginals Need to get a job and stop using our tax dollars," claimed support for Kelvin High School teacher Brad Badiuk who was suspended in January after making racist comments on his own Facebook page. The page was created in December — the same month Badiuk's posting was made. Before disappearing on Wednesday, the page had close to 5,000 members and was filled with negative comments about aboriginal people.

Robert Sinclair, an aboriginal man, who came across the page on Tuesday, called it a hate crime and hopes the people behind it are held accountable. "Knowing the fact that people [were] looking at and supporting it, it doesn't say a great deal of positive outlook for the way that Winnipeg is directing themselves," he said. Just before it was pulled down, the page started getting a lot of posts critical of it, with at least one person calling the administrators "racist a—holes." A new Facebook page called Protest against "Aboriginals Need to get a job and stop using our tax dollars" started in response and was applauding the removal of the racist page.

'Inspiring, important moment'
One aboriginal leader says he's not angered by the page, but rather inspired by the opportunities it presents. Niigaan Sinclair, who teaches indigenous literature, culture, history and politics at the University of Manitoba, said it used to be that no one talked about racism, that it was swept under the rug. Now, people talk about racism and relationships every day, and that is the only way to make things better. "I actually think this is a really inspiring important moment," he told CBC News on Wednesday, adding he wants people to talk about what it means to be a meaningful citizen in this city.

Police asked to investigate
Some are calling for police to hold those responsible for the Facebook page accountable. Tasha Spillett, an aboriginal activist and educator in Winnipeg, said the page refers to death camps for aboriginal people. She says it's hate speech and must be investigated. "Completely horrendous. Like to say something like that is just attro-cious. But that's the beast, that's racism. Racism is hurtful. It's dangerous," she said. "[It's] another assault on us. Yesterday Facebook was not a safe place." But it also offers a chance to dig into the roots of racism.

Spillett says she shared screen grabs of the page with her friends on social media. and it hit a nerve, similar to what happened earlier this year when Macleans maga-zine called Winnipeg the most racist city in Canada. "You could really see the community response in Winnipeg, saying, 'Oh my goodness. This is not acceptable in our community,'" she said. "For Winnipeg to stand up and say, 'Hey, Facebook may have these community standards but these are not our community standards."
© CBC News

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Website blocking in France; other anti-terrorist legislation in OSCE countries may curb free expression

30/3/2015- OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today that the unilateral decisions by the Interior Ministry in France, without judicial oversight, to block five websites for allegedly causing or promoting terrorism represents a serious threat to free expression and free media. “Blocking websites without judicial oversight may endanger free expression and free media and creates a clear risk of censorship of online content by political bodies,” Mijatović said. The Representative urged the French authorities to reconsider the parts of the anti-terrorist law enabling website blocking, which was passed in November last year. “Legislation to fight terrorism should not curb free speech by introducing notions that are too vague or lead to the repression of free expression,” Mijatović said.

The Representative also noted with concern legislative debates in several OSCE participating States over provisions with a similar potential impact on the freedom of expression. These include new criminal provisions approved in Spain regarding access to or dissemination of extremist content, and certain anti-terrorist provisions in proposed Bill C-51 in Canada. Mijatović said her Office is monitoring developments regarding anti-terrorist proposals and their effect on free expression throughout the OSCE region. “I call on all OSCE participating States to exercise care and restraint when introducing anti-terrorist laws that could endanger freedom of expression and free media,” Mijatović said.
© OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media

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Why Facebook is finally baring all over social media standards

28/3/2015- Is nudity ever allowed on Facebook? It's a question that has got plenty of photo uploaders in trouble. In response, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management, and Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel, wrote on the site's official blog, attempting to provide examples and "more detail on what is and is not allowed" and unveiled updated community standards. The guidelines cover everything from bullying and threatening behaviour to trading illegal goods, but the latest changes mainly concern nudity, hate speech and terrorist activity. Nudity has been a contentious area on social media recently.

The ongoing Free the Nipple campaign was launched in response to the fact that only male nipples are allowed on Instagram and in the new rules Facebook admits "our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like". As such, genitals and "fully exposed buttocks" aren't allowed, and campaigners won't be pleased to find that Facebook will still "restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple". However, they will "always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring". Plus pictures of paintings, sculptures and other arty nudes are allowed, so that trip to the Louvre doesn't have to go entirely unFacebooked.

Regarding hate speech - attacking people based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, or disability - Facebook says this is a particularly tricky area to police and that they regularly consult with governments, academics and experts on the topic. The standards make it clear that targeting individuals is never allowed, yet it's okay to share a post that contains hate speech, but only if your purpose is "raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech" and you make that intent clear. Recently, Twitter's founders were threatened by supporters of terrorist group Isis for blocking accounts that promote terrorist activities; now Facebook has beefed up its rules on 'Dangerous Organisations' which includes terrorist activities or organised crime.

"It's a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community," Bickert and Sonderby admit - and there's no doubt this won't be the last community standards set they'll have to write. It's easy to imagine the hate and crime guidelines getting ever more stringent, while nudity rules could become more lax.
© The Belfast Telegraph

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Headlines March 2015

European Imams begin campaign against Online Extremism

27/3/2015- Imams from around Europe have joined together in order to fight the growing extremism in the name of Islam and have called on Muslims to fight it in the “digital space” in order to eradicate those who are attempting to tarnish their faith. Imams from Britain and Europe gathered on Thursday to condemn the atrocities being committed in the name of Islam. More than 120 Imams participated at the event in London held by ImamsOnline.com, in order to create awareness around the Muslim community of the lies being spread by the terrorist organizations, such as ‘ISIS’ or Boko Haram. The organization aims to provide a medium for Imams around the world to convey the true message of Islam and fight off the growing confusion and radicalization of Islam at the hands of extremists.

“The magazine ‘Haqiqah’ which translates as ‘The Reality’ is aimed at young people and will counter the extremist narrative used by groups such as ISIS.” said the chief editor of Imamsonline.com, Shaukat Warraich. “We’re turning the tide — though we still have a way to go, we know that by taking efforts to support and mobilize the huge online Muslim population we will eventually drown out the violent voices,” The summit was launched as a response to the growing threat towards young Muslims who are either feeling threatened or are being deceived by radicals into joining militant groups. The magazine ‘Haqiqah’ is being launched by the Imams to unveil the true face of the radical groups and clear the confusion among the Muslims in the community.

The Muslims around Europe have been living in fear of the growing threat of anti-Islamic sentiment caused by the attacks on satirical cartoon Magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a synagogue in Copenhagen. Anti Islamic rallies have taken place in Germany and parts of Europe with governments condemning them as Neo-Nazi movements. “We are reclaiming the online space, but we need absolutely everyone to get involved in this effort. So this is a call to log on, get informed, and share the magazine with all your friends and family online,” said the senior editor of the imamsonline.com magazine. Still there is hope in Europe with inter-faith rallies and rings of peace being made around religious worship places. Thousands of participants from multiple faiths took part in a peace march in Brussels which included people from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim community. The march called on members from all faiths to practice interfaith unity and promote peace in the community along with the rest of the world.
© Australian Muslim Times

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U SA:Twitter users attack 'sell-out' black celebrities

Hugely popular black American celebrities are at the receiving end of criticism by black Twitter users using the hashtag #BlackCelebsBeLike.
Blog by
Mike Wendling

23/3/2015- "Racism was an issue for hundreds of years. Then I got money. I think it's all good now." That's just one sarcastic tweet out of more than 13,000 in the past 24 hours shared under the tag #BlackCelebsBeLike. "We all the same ... There's no racism with the Internet," one tweet read. Another asked: "How can I complain about racism in Holly-wood when we have a Black president?" Most of the tweets were meant to be heavily ironic and came from African-Americans, attacking the supposed stances of celebrities on everything from interracial relationships to income inequality. The prevailing sentiment was that many famous people turn their back on black causes - in other words, that they get rich and sell out. "Racism is over," one user tweeted. "All you need is money and a new tax bracket to be accepted."

One popular target was actor and rapper Common, who won an Oscar for his song "Glory" in the film Selma - a movie in which he also played civil rights leader James Bevel. Ap-pearing on the Daily Show on US television earlier this month he urged black Americans to "forget about the past" when it comes to race relations. BBC Trending tweeted to ask him for comment, but he didn't respond. Others referenced recent remarks by entertainer Raven-Symoné who seemed to defend a remark comparing Michelle Obama to an ape on another American TV show, and actor Terrance Howard who said he was relaxed about white people using the n-word. One of the first and most influential users of the tag was Zellie Imani, an activist and blogger behind the website Black Culture. "The goal really was to challenge the pedestal we sometimes put celebrities on and not to allow media to use them as spokespersons for [all] black people," he tells BBC Trending via email.

Imani mentioned the remarks by Common and Howard. "I was surprised that the hashtag took off so fast but i wasn't surprised at how many people felt about the issue," he says. "Celebrities experience racism and discrimination even when they are in denial of its existence. Denying racism doesn't make it exist any less."
© BBC Trending

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Internet inspires US far-right extremists to carry out 'lone wolf' terror attacks

Surging numbers of US far-right extremists are inspired to carry out "lone wolf" terror attacks after being radicalised online, despite the number of extremist groups declining, an expert said.

20/3/2015- Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups in the United States, said that though there were fewer far-right organi-sations now operating in the country, after a brief surge following Barack Obama's election as US president, the number of attacks by the far-right had risen to levels not seen since the 1990s. "We think that very large numbers of people are essentially abandoning organised groups and moving into both the safety and anonymity but also the broadcasting power of the internet," he said. Of the racist attacks of previous decades, such as that plotted by white supremacist groups in the 1960s, Potok said: "An enormous amount of that violence was planned in smoky rooms filled with men. You would have an entire groups, like the Mississippi White Knights ordering murders or firebombing. It just doesn't happen that way anymore."

Recently, the US Department of Homeland Security warned domestic extremists pose a greater terror threat than jihadist group Islamic State (Isis), with 24 terror attacks by US extremists recorded since 2010. Earlier in March, for example, a convict with links to Neo Nazi groups allegedly killed one man and wounded five others in a shooting spree in Arizona.

Individuals carry out attacks or work in pairs
According to research carried out by the center, an overwhelming majority of these attacks are carried out by so-called "lone wolves", with 74% of the incidents (totalling just over 60) examined involving an individual acting alone. And when looking at 90% of all incidents, only one or two people were involved, usually including a family member or spouse. A recent study by the organisaion identifies 63 actual or foiled attacks by domestic "lone wolves". Among them are attacks by a couple with radical, anti-government views who shot dead two police officers and a bystander in Las Vegas in June 2014, and a 2012 mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wis-consin by a Neo Nazi. With law enforcement increasingly effective at breaking up violent conspiracies by far-right groups, and with the costs of being exposed as a member of an extremist group high, Potok said the far-right radicals were increasingly taking to the internet to vent their resentment and propagate their ideology.

"When you are outed as a member of these groups, which happens quite frequently now, you may lose your wife, your kids, we have seen it happen to a lot of peop-le," he said. "Instead you see extremists both in white supremacist forums, like Stormfront, but you also see people posting racist and anti-Semitic comments on blogs, and in the comments forums of newspaper sites, and that's spreading."

Far-right subculture produced by the internet
Potok argues the internet has produced a far-right subculture that is international in its scope and ambitions, with lone wolf extremists such Anders Breivik regularly posting on US extremist forums, and US radicals in close contact with their European counterparts. "It shows clearly how international this movement has become," he said. "When you go on to Stormfront and read the posts from some of our own radical right, they are very much apprised of what is going on in Europe." He said far-right lone wolf attacks were "very very" difficult to foil, because groups did not usually directly implore followers out carry out the attacks on online forums. Instead, said Botok, extremists had their prejudices amplified reinforced online, often inspiring them to take deadly action.

"It's a kind of justification. They don't feel like they're some lone nutcase with a mental problem they are part of a very large 'white nationalist community' and there people involved in Europe as well so it looks like an international movement to save the white race," he said. In the wake of the recent murder of three US-born Mus-lim university students near the University of North Carolina, Potok warned Muslims would increasingly become the target of far-right extremists. Though the incident has not yet been classed as a hate crime, Potok said: "What are almost certainly coming into is a period in which anti-Muslim hatred and violence is going up." The Oklahoma bombings in 1995, in which 168 were killed, were the most deadly terror attack in the US before 9/11, and in response the US Department of Justice formed a committee to combat the threat of domestic extremists.

Though disbanded just before 9/11, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that it would reform to combat the terror threat from domestic radicals. Daryl Johnson, a security analyst, told the center: "We're long overdue for a much greater attack from the far right."
© The International Business Times - UK

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Facebook adds clarification to nudity and “offensive content” rules

16/3/2015- Facebook is clarifying some of the parts of its terms of service for using the social network, including what type of nudity and content is allowed. None of the rules have changed, but Facebook has added examples and is committed to offering more support for victims of hate crime. It also claims to be pushing back har-der on government requests for takedowns or information. Nudity is still mostly blocked on Facebook, meaning anything from an overly exposed body to revenge porn will be swiftly removed. The social network is trying to maintain a family friendly stance for its 1.3 billion users, most of which do not want to see any form of nudity on the network.

Hate crime will be dealt with in the same fashion Facebook has always dealt with it, through bans, removals and potentially police reports. Facebook has expressed a desire for everyone to use their real name, even if it is not their birth name. Facebook came under fire last year when the LGBT community was unhappy Facebook was forcing people to use their real names, claiming a lot of people go under aliases and disguises. A few weeks later Facebook changed its policy on real names to include names given to people, even if they are not birth names. Government requests will be more heavily fought against by Facebook, even though specific country requests may be less affected. This means content can be removed in one country if deemed offensive, but remain in another country where the same content is not offensive.

Facebook has done a better job than Twitter and Reddit when it comes to abuse, but it is a much more closely connected network, mostly involving friends rather than random strangers on the internet.
© IT Pro Portal

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Facebook cracks down on hate speech in new community guidelines

Facebook has announced a new set of community guidelines, that reaffirms the ban on homophobic and transphobic hate speech on the social network.

16/3/2015- The changes were announced this week, as the company unveiled new rules to clarify what is and isn’t welcome on the website. Users can now flag hate speech directly through the website’s reporting panel – which previously only had options for “harassment”. The website has come under fire in the past for uneven enforcement of regulations, on occasion removing images of same-sex couples while allowing listed hate groups to promote themselves on Facebook. The new guidelines state: “Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affili-ation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases. “Organizations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook. As with all of our standards, we rely on our community to report this content to us.”

Addressing pages such as PinkNews, which regularly draws attention to listed hate groups, it clarified: “People can use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions, and practices. Such discussion can promote debate and greater understanding. “Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech. “When this is the case, we expect people to clearly indicate their purpose, which helps us better under-stand why they shared that content.” Monika Bickert, the company’s Head of Global Policy Management, said: “It’s a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community.

“For one thing, people from different backgrounds may have different ideas about what’s appropriate to share — a video posted as a joke by one person might be upsetting to someone else, but it may not violate our standards. “This is particularly challenging for issues such as hate speech. “Hate speech has always been banned on Facebook, and in our new Community Standards, we explain our efforts to keep our community free from this kind of abusive language. “We understand that many countries have concerns about hate speech in their communities, so we regularly talk to governments, community members, academics and other experts from around the globe to ensure that we are in the best position possible to recognize and remove such speech from our community. “We know that our policies won’t perfectly address every piece of content, especially where we have limited context, but we evaluate reported content seriously and do our best to get it right.”

However, parts of the new regualtions have attracted criticism from trans activists and the drag community, for reinforcing the use of ‘real names’ on the website. The guidelines state: “People connect on Facebook using their authentic identities. When people stand behind their opinions and actions with their authentic name and reputation, our community is more accountable. “If we discover that you have multiple personal profiles, we may ask you to close the additional profiles. We also re-move any profiles that impersonate other people.”
© Pink News

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UK: 15-year-old boy held over tweet targeting Arsenal striker

The tweet followed Welbeck scoring against his former side Manchester United in the FA Cup.

16/3/2015- A 15-year-old boy has been arrested by police investigating an alleged racist tweet aimed at Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck. The teenager was held and ques-tioned on suspicion of racial abuse following the posting of a message on Twitter after Welbeck scored the winner to knock his former club Manchester United out of the FA Cup on March 9. A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: "A 15-year-old male from the Salisbury area was arrested on the evening of March 12 on suspicion of racial abuse. "He has been released on police bail until April 13. The investigation is ongoing." Welbeck, who has been capped by England 32 times and scored 12 goals, joined Arsenal for £16 million last year following the arrival of new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal.
© The Independent

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France blocks five sites for 'condoning terrorism'

France has blocked five websites accused of condoning terrorism, in the first use of new government powers introduced in February, the interior ministry said on Monday.

16/3/2015- One of the sites -- al-Hayat Media Center -- is accused of links to the Islamic State group, the ministry said. The site "islamic-news.info" has also been blocked since the end of last week. The banning order was given to Internet service providers, who had 24 hours to take "all necessary measures to block the listing of these addresses" under the new rules. They were introduced as part of a package of counter-terrorism measures approved by parliament in November. Critics argued they could breach citizens' rights by bypassing the need for a judge to make the banning orders. Other powers include the right to stop people travelling out of the country if they are suspected of trying to join jihadist groups. France's law allows authorities to block websites that call for or glamorize terrorism. This law against condoning crime and inciting terrorism was introduced in France after January's terror attacks left 17 dead. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the US last month, meeting with heads of major online companies like Facebook and Google in an attempt to prevent "the great area of freedom and growth" from becoming a "space of fanatic indoctrination."
© The Local - France

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UK: 'Sinister' far-right website RedWatch calls for information on anti-Pegida marchers

Police are monitoring a “disturbing” “neo-Nazi” website called RedWatch after images of anti-Pegida protestors were posted alongside a request for information.

13/3/2015- Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah is among the people pictured after she spoke at a rally against an anti-Islam demonstration in the city. The site - run by a far-right group not directly connected to Pegida - brands protestors “degenerates”, claims they were involved in violence and calls on people to provide personal data. It is believed RedWatch has links to the paramilitary group ‘Combat 18’ and many featured on the site fear their names and addresses could be shared with dangerous individuals. Chi confirmed she was reporting the matter to police, adding: “The reference to illegal activities appears defamatory as well as an incitement and to call me degenerate and say I was making death threats – which is absolutely untrue - would also appear to incite people to take aggressive action.” She added: “I think it is disturbing and I have asked the police to keep me informed.”

Pegida marchers, who claim they are trying to defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants, were outnumbered in Newcastle by counter-demonstrators at a rate of more than five to one. People are calling on Northumbria Police to take action on RedWatch. Newcastle University student Gary Spedding, another anti-Pegida marcher whose picture features on the site, said: “I was shocked to discover the website known as RedWatch. “The police informed me that my image, and those of a number of others that I know personally, had recently been uploaded to this neo-Nazi site following Newcastle Unites highly praised and successful rally against Pegida in Newcastle last month. “The modus operandi of RedWatch, uploading images of anti-fascist individuals and groups in order to identify them and gather our personal details inclu-ding telephone numbers and home addresses, is something I find to be sinister, creepy and potentially criminal.

“Publishing the image, personal details and contact number of individuals with implied intent to incite violence against them is possibly a breach of the Electronic Communications Act (2000). “RedWatch is a far-right platform with strong ties to a paramilitary group known as Combat 18 - the publishing of personal details on the website has previously resul-ted in actual violence towards people at their home addresses and even death threats to elected representatives, including members of parliament and their families. “I would urge those who may have had their images and personal details uploaded to the website to be vigilant and report the website - along with any out of the ordinary occurrences such as no caller ID phone calls - to the police as soon as possible.” A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “We have been made aware of this website and are currently making inquiries into this matter.” We attempted to contact RedWatch for a comment but no-one was available.

The people who run the site use this introduction: “This is a site designed and intended for people who are involved in the struggle against the spread of Marxist lies in the UK.”
© The Chronicle Live

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Canada: Cyberstalker left trail of terror, court hears

Robert Campbell was the ghost who haunted Roland Stieda.

12/3/2015- Only slightly aware of his existence -- "to be honest, I barely remember the man," Stieda told reporters Thursday -- Campbell's presence in the periphery of Stieda's cons-ciousness took on terrifying presence when Stieda learned it was Campbell who'd waged a 10-year campaign of online harassment against the aspiring city councillor. "That's been one of the most difficult things," he said. "The first thing people ask is 'well what did you do?' And I can't think of any run in I had with Mr. Campbell." "There's nothing there." Camp-bell has already pleaded guilty to defamation and harassment raps. Stieda was just one of about 40 victims of Campbell's poison pen campaigns, which Campbell launched while cowering in the anonymity of the Internet. Campbell would set up fake online profiles of his victims, making it appear as though they were working at strip joints or neo-Nazi orga-nizations. And Stieda's colleagues received e-mails that the hus-band and father was a pervert and a lush -- wildly untrue -- and in a victim impact statement he gave to the court he said it made him paranoid of his colleagues. "To what lengths would this individual go?" he said. Another victim, who can't be named because of a publication ban, recalled getting a vitri-olic letter when she was just a teenager. And when she changed her Facebook profile picture she almost immediately got a note from Campbell commenting on that fact. "This con-firmed one of my fears," she told the court. "I was being watched." Sentencing arguments begin Friday.
© The Ottawa Sun

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Court overturns Dutch data retention law, privacy more important

11/3/2015- Internet providers no longer have to keep their clients phone, internet and email details because privacy is more important, a Dutch court ruled on Wednesday. Lawyers, journalists and three small telecoms firms went to court in a bid to get the legislation set aside. They argue that internet firms should not be keeping information about the communi-cations of everyone in the country, whether or not they are suspected of a crime. Companies have been required to keep the information for a year since 2009. The EU found in 2014 that the mass storage of information is a serious breach of privacy and put its data retention legislation on hold. This put Dutch telecoms firms in a difficult position. They were required to keep the information under Dutch law even though it was not allowed in European legal terms. ‘Dutch law conflicted with European law and that has now been put right,’ a lawyer for the complainants told broadcaster Nos. ‘The law infringes on the right to a private life and the right to the protection of personal details,’ the court said in a statement. ‘The court finds this infringement goes beyond what is strictly necessary.’ The justice ministry said it would study the ruling closely before making any comment.
© The Dutch News

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Nine out of 10 Dutch people use the internet on a daily basis

11/3/2015- Eight out of 10 people in the Netherlands now have a mobile phone with internet access, compared with just one in 10 in 2005, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. Nine out of 10 people use the internet daily and 77% of people now buy goods and services online, the new figures show. Some 63% watch television shows and listen to the radio online and 59% read newspapers using a digital device. Older people are also catching up. Some 75% of 65 to 75-year-olds use the internet on a daily basis. Ten years ago only four in ten people who had reached retirement age were active internet users. Older people are most likely to email, Skype with children and grandchildren and use Facebook, the CBS said. Laptops, tablets and smartphones are also gaining popularity over computers, the CBS said. Some 96% of Dutch homes have a fast internet connection, a figure which has been stable for the past four years.
© The Dutch News

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Netherlands: Three fined for racist comments on Facebook about footballer selfie

9/3/2015- Three people who made racist comments about a selfie featuring Dutch football international Leroy Fer have been told they can avoid going to court by paying a €360 fine. The three, who come from The Hague, Rotterdam and Breda, made the comments about the selfie, which includes eight other black internationals and was placed by Fer on Instagram. The picture was later added to a Facebook football page where it attracted comments about apes, slaves and Zwarte Piet. Dutch captain Robin van Persie said he is pleased that those responsible will not get away with their actions. ‘We all represent the Dutch team and colour has nothing to do with it,’ he told news agency ANP. ‘It is not acceptable to the team or in society in general.’ Fer himself told ANP: ‘It is a clear signal to everyone that this sort of hurtful comment is not acceptable, neither on the pitch or off it.’
© The Dutch News

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How Reddit Became a Worse Black Hole of Violent Racism than Stormfront

By Keegan Hankes, SPLC Research Analyst

10/3/2015- One section of the Web forum is dedicated to watching black men die, while another is called "CoonTown" and features users wondering if there are any states left that are "nigger free." One conversation focuses on the state of being "Negro Free," while another is about how best to bring attention to the assertion that black people are more pro-ne to commit sexual assaults than whites. But these discussions aren't happening on Stormfront, which since its founding in 1995 by a former Alabama Klan leader has been the lar-gest hate forum on the Web. They're taking place on Reddit, a huge online bulletin board. Reddit was recently spun off into its own independent entity from Advance Publications, the parent company of mass media giant Condé Nast, which also owns Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and 20 other print and online publications that reach an estimated 95 million consumers. (Advance Publications is still a majority shareholder in Reddit.) Reddit has been hailed as the last bastion of free speech on the Internet, an unregulated and vibrant community of users who post whatever they want and rely on the community around them to police their content.

The world of online hate, long dominated by website forums like Stormfront and its smaller neo-Nazi rival Vanguard News Network (VNN), has found a new — and wildly popular — home on the Internet. Reddit boasts the 9th highest Alexa Internet traffic ranking in the United States and the 36th worldwide. Many of Reddit's racist subreddits are among its most popular. Reddit is a news site that hosts user-submitted links and discussion, organized into specific communities of interest comprised of "subreddits," which are ranked by votes from users. If a reader believes content is a constructive contribution, he or she can "upvote" it, pushing the content further up the page. Conversely, if a user thinks that content is either off-topic or is not constructive, it can be "downvoted," causing it to sink further down the page. Content on Reddit is "moderated based on quality, not opinion," according to the working document that dictates community guidelines, called "Reddiquette." This idea of user-policed communities that contain high-quality, diverse content is part of the ethos Reddit has worked hard to project. "We power awesome communities," reads the graphic atop its "about" page. But awesome communities for whom?

The 'Chimpire'
Along with countless others with entirely different interests, Reddit increasingly is providing a home for anti-black racists — and some of the most virulent and violent propaganda around. In November 2013, a hyper-racist subreddit called "GreatApes" was formed. Users posted epithet-strewn links to "news" stories of dubious origin that riffed on long esta-blished stereotypes about the black community. GreatApes was wildly popular and grew quickly, expanding into a much larger Reddit network called "the Chimpire," which was organized by a user known only by his or her posting name of "Jewish_NeoCon2." "We feel it's time to expand our sphere of influence and lebensraum [the Nazi term for "living space"] on reddit. Thus we have decided to create 'the Chimpire,' a network of nigger related subreddits," Jewish_NeoCon2 wrote at the time. "Want to read people's experiences with niggers? There now is an affiliated subreddit for it. Want to watch chimp nature documentaries? We got it. Nigger hate facts? IT'S THERE. … Oh yes you bet we got videos of ghetto niggers fighting each other. Nigger drama on reddit? There's a sub. Sheboons? Gibsmedat."

Within a year, the Chimpire network had grown to include 46 active subreddits spanning an alarming range of racist topics, including "Teenapers," "ApeWrangling," "Detoilet," and "Chicongo," along with subreddits for both "TrayvonMartin" and "ferguson," each of them dealing with the controversial and highly publicized shooting deaths of unarmed black teenagers. Then, last November, Reddit's most racist community evolved once again, adding the subreddit called CoonTown in the aftermath of a dispute between several top moderators at GreatApes. In just four days, CoonTown had reached 1,000 subscribers. And its popularity continues to grow. According to Reddit Metrics, as of Jan. 6, there were 552,829 subreddits. CoonTown, with its 3,287 subscribers, ranked 6,279th, placing it in the top 2% of subreddits. It is the 680th fastest-growing subreddit on the site despite — or because of — violently racist material including a large number of threads dedicated to videos of black-on-black violence.

These gruesome videos show black men being hit in the head repeatedly with a hammer, burned alive, and killed in a variety of other ways. The subreddit's banner features a cartoon of a black man hanging, complete with a Klansman in the background. One fairly typical user, "Bustatruggalo" applauded the graphic violence as "[v]ery educational and entertaining." He or she continued on a separate thread: "I almost feel bad for letting an image like this fill me with an overwhelming amount of joy. Almost…." Others, like user "natchil," were looking for still more. "Where is watchjewsdie?" this user wondered.

'Remember the Human'
There are some limits. "No calls for violence," the CoonTown subreddit's description reads. "It's prohibited by Reddit's site-wide rules." Everything up to violence , however, is very much there, including the horrific content found on other Chimpire subreddits like "WatchNiggersDie" — content which is rarely, if ever, matched on forums like Stormfront and VNN, which worry about being shut down or driving off potential allies. That's despite the Reddiquette section's first rule, which implores Reddit users to "Remember the hu-man." "When you communicate online, all you see is a computer screen," it says. "When talking to someone you might want to ask yourself 'Would I say it to the person's face?' or 'Would I get jumped if I said this to a buddy?'" If Reddit's rules seem relaxed, that's because they are meant to be. Still, although users are asked to "remember the human," there is little humanity in the way the subjects of subreddits like CoonTown are treated.

In June 2013, however, after an extended, public controversy, Reddit did ban the subreddit "Niggers" when large numbers of its denizens began overrunning another subreddit, "BlackGirls," with racist posts that were apparently not being policed by its moderators. "Brigading" — when large groups of people from one subreddit gang up to downvote com-ments on another subreddit that they don't normally visit — is prohibited by Reddit. Users of the Niggers subreddit also engaged in "vote manipulation," which falsely raises the popularity of a post by soliciting like-minded users to blindly upvote it. After repeated warnings and "shadow-banning," or making a user's posts invisible to everyone but the author, the subreddit was finally banned. According to Jewish_NeoCon2, more than a few former members of the Niggers subreddit have now taken up residence at CoonTown.
A Reluctance to Intervene

Condé Nast, one of the largest mass media companies in the United States, acquired Reddit in 2006, although the Internet company still operates independently. The stability of such a well-established and respected media firm, as well as the funding of many high-profile investors, including a $50 million investment from the rapper Snoop Lion this Octo-ber, appears to guarantee Reddit's future. A request for comment on the Chimpire was directed to Patricia Rockenwagner, a member of Condé Nast's public relations department, but she referred it to Victoria Taylor, Reddit's head of communications. Taylor did not respond to requests for comment. Last year, however, Yishan Wong, Reddit's former CEO, took to the subreddit "TheoryofReddit," to explain that Reddit was in the red. He revealed that in exchange for its relative operational independence from Condé Nast, the site was responsible for its own bills. The site's goal, according to Wong, is to pay its own way and its primary engine for accomplishing that is through ads, a premium subscription option, and the Reddit gift exchange.

Racist websites and organizations do sometimes benefit from racist subreddits like the Chimpire. That's because subreddit users often post links to other racist sites, and those links drive traffic to those other sites, which in turn typically sell merchandise in addition to pushing racist ideology and recruiting. It's hard to dispute that Reddit does offer a venue for remarkably lively and unbridled conversation, and that dissident commentary that might not be tolerated elsewhere finds a welcome home there. Richard Spencer, a racist ideologue who heads the National Policy Institute, held an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit last November, and although his views are widely regarded as loathsome, he was calm and understated in his discussion of far-right European politics. Unlike in WatchNiggersDie, there were no links to videos of brutal killings or other visual images meant to degrade the humanity of minorities.

Reddit is often hailed as one of the last bastions of truly free speech, and its owners' hesitance to jeopardize that status is understandable given the loyal following it has inspired. Reddit has removed content that has been illegally appropriated from commercial interests, such as the revelations that emerged from the November hack of Sony Pictures Enter-tainment. The Internet is awash in racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and other hateful content, but much of it is relatively tame. Subreddits such the Chimpire offer a window on to just how awful some of the darkest corners of the Web really are.

Update: This post has been updated to correct and clarify Reddit's relationship to Condé Nast and Advance Publications.
Keegan Hankes is a Research Analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. The article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of the Intelligence Report.
© Gawker

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Reddit CEO: aim of Silicon Valley sex discrimination suit to end 'boys' club'

Ellen Pao said she is suing her former venture capital firm for eight figures because only an amount that large would ‘hit their radar’

10/3/2015- The woman at the center of a landmark $16m Silicon Valley sex discrimination case said she was suing her former venture capital employer for such a large amount because only an eight-figure settlement would “hit their radar” and force change in the west coast technology scene’s “boys’ club”. Ellen Pao, who was fired by prestigious ven-ture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers after she complained about sexual discrimination, told jurors in a San Francisco court that she had “gone through every possible internal process I thought I could go through” to try and raise her concerns with the firm’s management. In one email to Kleiner Perkins’ partners, she asked them to “imagine your wife or daughter in my position”. “I wanted an even playing field for women at the firm,” she said. “I wanted to have an environment where people who complained about pro-blems related to discrimination or to other issues would be heard and that the firm would do something about it.”

She said that after an internal Kleiner Perkins investigation found that she had not suffered discrimination, she was ignored by superiors and excluded from important meetings, din-ners and corporate jet flights. “It was extremely difficult and very uncomfortable,” Pao, who is now interim chief executive of social news site Reddit, said. Among Pao’s claims was the allegation that she, and other women, were excluded from an important Kleiner Perkins dinner with former US vice-president Al Gore because they would “kill the buzz”. “It was said that if there were women there, the conversation would be tempered and it was because women kill the buzz,” Pao said on the stand on Monday. The organi-ser of the dinner, Chi-Hua Chien, denied saying women would “kill the buzz”, but conceded that the dinner was a male-only affair. At the time of the dinner, Pao lived in the same building as Gore.

Pao said she bumped into the chief executive of Flipboard, the social network aggregator, outside the building and had to tell him that she wouldn’t be able to go to the dinner. “It was pretty humiliating,” she said. “I had to explain to them that I wouldn’t be attending, and it was because I wasn’t a man.” Kleiner Perkins disputes her claims, and argues that she lacked the interpersonal skills to succeed in the company and that she is adequately compensated at Reddit. The trial, being heard at the superior court in San Francisco, has all of Silicon Valley gripped. Kleiner Perkins is among the most prestigious venture capital companies in technology and counts Amazon, Google and Uber among its investments. In earlier testimony Alan Exelrod, Pao’s attorney, argued that Kleiner Perkins systematically discriminated against women. In opening statements he said the company had existed for about 40 years when Pao was let go and had only promoted one woman from junior partner to senior partner in that time.

Exelrod contrasted Pao’s evaluations with those of male colleagues. She was described as having “poor interpersonal skills” and “her own agenda” while male colleagues, who were promoted, were evaluated as “quite tough”, “arrogant” and “blunt and overbearing”. The case is not about sexual harassment. However, Pao has said she was given a book of erotic poetry and nude sketches by a senior partner at the firm. She also claims another male employee interfered with her work after she ended an affair with him. Pao’s testimony follows that of John Doerr, billionaire senior partner at Kleiner Perkins, who testified that he had tried to save Pao’s career at the firm after criticism from colleagues. Pao worked as Doerr’s chief of staff when she joined the company. In a performance review filed with the court, Doerr said Pao had been dismissive of peers who did not meet her expectations and needed to improve her interpersonal skills. He otherwise praised her performance in her first year as his chief of staff.

In court Doerr said he had provided Pao with two coaches to improve her presentation skills, but the training failed to pay off. “Ellen is very talented,” he told the court. “I felt that she ought to have another shot.” According to Doerr, 20% of partners at Kleiner Perkins are women, a far higher percentage than its peers according to a recent study relea-sed by Babson College in Massachusetts. According to that study, released last year, the total number of female partners in venture capital firms has declined significantly since 1999, dropping to 6% from 10%.
© The Guardian

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When the Internet Breeds Hate

by Chrisella Herzog

8/3/2015- “I’m looking you up, and when I find you, I’m going to rape you and remove your head. You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this.” This message was sent in a series of tweets to journalist Amanda Hess, but the truth is women online receive messages similar to this every day. In nearly all cases, women are sent these messages simply for stating an opinion online that someone disagreed with. It is not a new phenomenon, certainly; groups such as women who play online video games or women of color on Twitter have long complained of gendered harassment for daring to even show up, which often escalates to threats of violence when they stand their ground. According to Hess, “Feminine usernames incur an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine usernames received 3.7.” But late last summer, it burst into the public consciousness in a more violent—and more organized—way.

In August 2014, independent game developer Zoe Quinn had already undergone about 18 months of harassment for her game, Depression Quest. Shortly after the release of her game on Steam in August, a bitter and jilted ex-boyfriend published a screed online claiming Quinn had an affair with a games journalist in order to get good reviews for her game, and the harassment exploded. Despite the allegations being false, Quinn and her family were viciously attacked—she was doxxed, her personal accounts hacked, her stolen nude photos circulated among her harassers, and she was called awful names in all corners of the internet. Organized campaigns were set up with the sole purpose of trying to get her to kill herself. After right-wing actor Adam Baldwin joined in the conversation—criticizing the media for trying to “enforce arbitrary ‘social justice’ rules upon gamers & the culture”—the harassment coalesced under the hashtag he shared: #GamerGate.

Although the movement was ostensibly a “consumer revolt” advocating for “ethics in games journalism”, the movement’s progression showed that what motivated ‘GamerGaters’ was not ethical concerns, but rather a reactionary conservative backlash against the increasingly high-profile encroachment of women into the percei-ved male spaces of gaming and technology. Video game critic Anita Sarkeesian was targeted after a new episode in her YouTube series criticizing the portrayal of women in video games was released in the midst of GamerGate’s formation. Beyond the doxxing and rape/death threats, Sarkeesian also received an anonymous threat of a mass shooting when she was scheduled to speak at Utah State University—a threat signed with the moniker ‘Mark Lepine’, a reference to the 1989 Montreal Massacre shooter who killed 14 women in the name of “fighting feminism”.

Brianna Wu, another indie game developer who has spoken out on the challenges of women in the games industry, became a target after she shared a meme on Twitter that was critical of GamerGate; she has spoken out multiple times about how traumatizing and exhausting the harassment of her family has been, as well as how damaging it has been to the industry as a whole. (She told VentureBeat recently how a woman she hired asked not to have her name used publicly anywhere.) Her harassment has also included numerous instances of transphobic slurs, despite the fact that she is not transgender. However, other transgender feminists have been targets for GamerGates’s harassment and violence to an extreme degree—campaigns were organized around trolling support boards to trigger widespread suicide in the transgender community, and several of the most outspoken trans GamerGate critics were “swatted”.

Swatting has become the most striking example of how violence on the internet has spilled over into real life. The “prank” involves making an anonymous call to police claiming a crisis situation, such as a bomb plot or a hostage crisis, at the target’s home address, which was usually revealed through doxxing. The intention is to get the police force to mobilize its SWAT team and break down the front door of the target. Although the use of swatting began before GamerGate’s inception, the movement has taken great glee in its use, openly hoping that someone dies from their “joke”.

Over the course of six months, GamerGate became the melting pot for the worst of the internet. Violent sexism, homophobia, and transphobia have been the most common and outspoken sentiments of GamerGate, but not far beneath the surface are virulent strains of anti-Semitism, racism, and neo Nazism. As the movement progressed, the rhetoric began parroting concepts from white supremacy groups, men’s rights advocates, and a popular culture perception of the military. When the movement became too extreme, Reddit put restrictions on the movement’s “operations” and email campaigns, and even the notorious 4chan removed any discussion of GamerGate from its boards. Angered about the perceived attack on their “free speech”, the movement found refuge on 8chan, a discussion board site described by The Washington Post as “the most lawless, more libertarian, more ‘free’ follow-up to 4chan.” The site’s founder, Frederick Brennan—a man who wrote a pro-eugenics article for the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer—made 8chan to combat what he perceived as a loss of free speech on the internet.

Things quickly went downhill, as 8chan became the place where bits of the dark web bled over: private information on anyone deemed to be an enemy is listed with a wink to the hostile and angry audience; threads discussing how to destroy lives scatter across the different themed boards; credit card accounts and Social Security Numbers are listed for sale next to doxxes for hire (for the measly sum of $5 to $200). And worst of all on the site: child pornography was freely shared until the site was called out for it and its domain temporarily revoked. What happened in GamerGate that brought out the very worst of the internet, and turned an ostensibly grass-roots consumer revolt into a hate group?

U.S. law has established that free speech is protected until it becomes dangerous or injurious (libel, slander, hate speech), but it is very common for law enforcement to brush off threats as not serious. Harassment and online stalking laws are largely based in an era before the internet; until 2013, the Violence Against Women Act only criminalized abusive, threatening, or harassing speech over the telephone. When Congress proposed an amendment to the law, the Electronic Frontier Foundation opposed the amendment, saying, “A person is free to disregard something said on Twitter in a way far different than a person who is held in constant fear of the persistent ringing of a telephone intruding in their home.”

It’s the same refrain: harassment online somehow is less than ‘real’, and restricting free speech in order to combat something seemingly so ‘harmless’ is poor policy. But like swatting, the violent and racist rhetoric does not stay online anymore. White supremacist groups have moved away from large organizations into smaller cells, which use the internet to recruit from boards full of angry, disenfranchised young men. In 2012, one such man went to a Sikh temple in Wisconson with a gun and a head full of violent music glorifying the white race; he killed six worshippers. Anders Behring Breivik was also involved in white supremacist online groups, as were many other mass murderers over the past few years. Similar online tactics have been used by ISIS, which has garnered much attention for its strategic social media use and its ability to convince Western youth to run away and join their cause. Jeffery Simon wrote about the use of internet communities to radicalize small cells or individuals and incite them to violence in his book, Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat.

In GamerGate, the dehumanization of Quinn, Sarkeesian, and Wu (labeled as “Literally Who” 1, 2, and 3) and the violent threats against them have driven some to take action offline. Beyond the shooting threat against Sarkeesian, Quinn is still unable to return to her home as there are still reports of strangers appearing in her neighbor-hood and yard; on January 31st, Wu shared on Twitter a video of a man who claimed he had crashed his car on his way to kill her, and that ‘The Commander’ (as he named himself) had been threatening her for weeks with no action from law enforcement. (The man was later revealed to be a hoax, when comedian Jan Rankowski revealed he had made up the character, proving the increasing relevance of Poe's Law on today's internet.)

Other women online continue to receive daily harassment as well. And the harassers know that the repercussions of their actions are likely to be minimal—the worst punishment most ever see is their Twitter account suspended, even though they can just create another account. GamerGate has at least brought attention to the amount of harassment and hate that flies around casually online. To the detriment of the industry, hate from reactionary gamers has re-emerged as a popular culture stereotype—it was even turned into a Law & Order SVU episode. However, there has been increasing media coverage of the lack of legal protections and police action for harassment victims, and the attention has reached federal levels, including Congress, which is reportedly considering stronger protections for cyber harass-ment victims. Currently, online spaces are involuntary battlefields. Women who raise their profile at all in virtual spaces are deemed to be encroachers, and therefore ‘fair game’ for any kind of treatment. Will the harassment end only when women’s voices are silenced?
Chrisella Herzog is the Editor-in-Chief of WhiteHat Magazine, and was previously Managing Editor of Diplomatic Courier.
© The Diplomatic Courier

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UK: We take Facebook racism allegations seriously – Portsmouth councillors

These actions are ‘deplorable’ and cannot be tolerated.

4/3/2015- That is the stark message from the vice-chairman of Portsmouth City Council’s licensing committee in response to a stream of racist posts on the Facebook page in the name of taxi driver Viv Young. Mr Young, who represents hackney drivers and has a share in City Wide Taxis, came under fire after offensive messages published under his name were exposed, and the posts have been criticised by the city’s Muslim leaders. Tory councillor Ken Ellcome said: ‘It is deplorable that people are writing that sort of stuff on Facebook, whoever it is. ‘It is unacceptable and I await to see the outcome of the council’s investigation and see whether it will come before the council’s licensing commit-tee.’

Cllr Donna Jones, Tory leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Any kind of racist behaviour that is made in conjunction with any interaction with us as a local body, in particular this case, is of huge concern to me. ‘It is unacceptable behaviour. ‘I welcome the investigation and I will be reviewing the conclusion of the investigation as a matter of urgency. ‘I take these allegations seriously – they will not be tolerated here in Portsmouth.’ But supporters have come to the defence of Mr Young and say he is not racist. John Coates, 59, a taxi driver for City Wide Taxis, said: ‘I’ve never known him to be racist.’ ‘I’ve known him for years and he has done a lot for the trade.’ A female taxi driver, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘I can’t see him saying that, he doesn’t come across as that sort of guy. ‘I wouldn’t have thought he’d say something like that, he always seemed pretty nice. I’d be very surprised if he has said it.’
© The Portsmouth News

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UK: Nazi-affiliated website appeals for personal information about people 'Newcastle Unites'

3/3/2015- A Nazi-affiliated hate website has appealed for the personal information of members of the public, after publishing photos of people who took part in Satur-day's ‘Newcastle Unites’ march. Redwatch carries the slogan “Remember places, traitors’ faces, they’ll all pay for their crimes” – a quote from Ian Stuart Donaldson, the frontman of white power rock band Skrewdriver before his death in 1993. Now the faces of dozens of people from Saturday’s counter demonstration against the anti-islamist group Pegida UK have been posted online under the ‘North East Reds’ section of the site. Anyone can access the website as long as they agree to do so in the knowledge that it contains 'potentially controversial' material intended for reference purposes and not unlawful activity.

In the North East Reds section, the site says that any information on 'the freaks' photographed at the Newcastle march would be gratefully received, along with a statement detailing a desire to increase activity in the region. Redwatch gained nationwide notoriety in 2006, when Alec McFadden, a long-term union activist from Merseyside, was repeatedly stabbed in the face in his doorway – his picture and home address had been published on the site. The website, which displays affiliations with neo-Nazi organisations Combat 18 and Aryan Unity on its homepage, claims that it is simply reacting to left wing organisations who have published the personal details of white nationalists online, and that it does not encourage violence against political opponents.

However, Newcastle Councillor Dipu Ahad, who helped organise the Newcastle Unites march, disagrees. He received numerous threats over social media before the march, including one threatening him with beheading. He said: “It’s all about intimidation, whether it’s through threats of beheading on twitter or being named on this site. “They’re trying to keep mouths shut and the police need to deal with this. “Anybody who spots themselves or anyone they know on that site should report it to the police immediately.”
© The Northern Echo

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UK: Trolling: Internet ASBOs are NOT a deterrent, says criminal justice spokesman

Internet trolls need to be punished more harshly and anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) aren't enough of a deterrent to prevent their behaviour, according to a criminal justice spokesman.

1/3/2015- Earlier this month, MPs backed a move for social media users who persistently spread racial hatred online to be given ‘internet ASBOs’, blocking them from sites such as Twitter and Facebook under proposals to tackle rising levels of anti-semitism. David Stobie, from the the criminal legal aid strategy division of the Ministry of Justice, spoke out on the issue of trolling and the damaging impact it can have on people’s lives. “Personally I don’t think [ASBOs] are enough of a deterrent,” he told MM. “Sometimes, I think the best thing would be for the police to turn up at the troll’s front door in front of their parents. “Other times it’s just about them being humiliated - outed as a troll. “ASBOs sometimes could be sufficient, but generally I'd say not - especially if some are wearing it as a badge of honour. Stobie works in close contact with True Vision, a hate-crime reporting website based in the UK linked to local police forces such as Greater Manchester Police, where victims are also offered support.

He said that third-party systems helping to deal with trolls are expanding all the time and that the organisation had helped save many lives of victims who had become suicidal over the past few years. “It certainly helps if victims know there is something they can do about it [trolling], so they feel a bit safer,” he said. “Part of the problem is about getting the message to them. “We could do all the work in the world to make society safer, but if the people that are under threat don’t know about it, then it’s pointless.” David believed that a proposal to restrict the creation of social media accounts to personal identification would be a good move, but that some trolls would still find a way to access other peoples profiles. He believed that handing tough penalties were a good way of sending out a message, citing the well-documented case of former Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba.

Muamba was targetted with racial abuse on Twitter after collapsing on the pitch during an FA Cup match at Tottenham Hotspur three years ago by Swansea University student Liam Stacey, who was sentenced to 56 days in jail. “I think when a high-profile troll that gets caught out, it sends out a warning that this can happen to you,” David said. “When that happens, people realise you can be fined, have your name put in the papers, or even jailed. “These people need to know the difference between right and wrong and the damage that they do.” Although trolling has become a growing epidemic on the internet, David disagreed that social media did more harm than good and highlighted its positive aspects. “Social media is great," he said. “We couldn't do our jobs with being able to refer to Google, and Facebook is good for keeping in touch and makes a lot of peoples lives better. “It’s just about getting rid of those that abuse it and there are far too many. "But there are so many people using it, how do you catch them all? It’s very difficult.”
© Mancunian Matters

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Headlines February 2015

USA: FCC approves net neutrality rules, classifies broadband as utility

27/2/2015- The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service into American homes. Tom Wheeler, the commission chairman, said the FCC was using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consu-mers” and preserve the Internet’s role as a “core of free expression and democratic principles.” The new rules, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.

Explaining the reason for the regulation, Wheeler, a Democrat, said Internet access was “too important to let broadband providers be the ones making the rules”. Mo-bile data service for smartphones and tablets, in addition to wired lines, is being placed under the new rules. The order also includes provisions to protect consumer privacy and to ensure that Internet service is available to people with disabilities and in remote areas. Before the vote, each of the five commissioners spoke and the Republicans delivered a scathing critique of the order as overly broad, vague and unnecessary. Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner, said the rules were government meddling in a vibrant, competitive market and were likely to deter investment, undermine innovation and ultimately harm consumers. “The Internet is not broken,” Pai said. “There is no problem to solve.”

The impact of the new rules will hinge partly on details that are not yet known. The rules will not be published for at least a couple of days, and will not take effect for probably at least a couple of months. Lawsuits to challenge the commission’s order are widely expected. The FCC is taking this big regulatory step by reclassifying high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The Title II classification comes from the phone company era, treating service as a public utility. But the new rules are an à-la-carte version of Title II, adopting some provisions and shunning others. The FCC will not get involved in pricing decisions or the engineering decisions companies make in managing their networks. Wheeler, who gave a forceful defence of the rules just ahead of the vote, said the tailored approach was anything but old-style utility regulation. “These are a 21st-century set of rules for a 21st-century indus-try,” he said.
© The Financial Express

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USA: Preparing for a court battle, FCC is confident net neutrality will survive

The FCC's net neutrality rules, voted in yesterday, will probably be challenged in court by a broadband provider or trade group. But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is confident that the net neutrality rules will stand up to legal scrutiny.

27/2/2015- When the FCC voted Thursday to enforce strong "net neutrality" rules by reclassifying broadband providers as “common carriers,” the Commissioners knew that putting the rules in place is only half the battle. Chairman Tom Wheeler’s net neutrality plan will almost certainly be challenged in court by one of the major broad-band providers, and the new rules must stand up to legal scrutiny. But Chairman Wheeler says that he’s confident net neutrality will survive a court challenge. This sce-nario has played out once before. In 2010, the FCC published its Open Internet Order, which imposed many of the same restrictions on broadband providers as the new net neutrality rules do: no blocking legal content, no throttling Internet traffic based on the source of the traffic, and no “fast lanes” for content providers who pay extra. Verizon sued to block those rules, and in January 2014 the D.C. Circuit Court struck down most of the order, saying that the FCC was trying to regulate broadband provi-ders as though they were common carriers, even though they had never moved to classify them as such.

That ruling set the stage for yesterday’s vote, which moved broadband providers into the Title II “common carrier” category of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Now the FCC has greater authority to regulate the commercial activities of those providers, though it has explicitly said it won’t meddle with Internet subscription prices or require providers to lease their networks to competitors. It’s all but certain that Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, or another broadband provider will sue to nullify the FCC’s new rules. Verizon and AT&T have already publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the net neutrality vote – Verizon even put out a statement in Morse Code to protest what it says is the application of an antiquated legal framework to modern data networks.

Comcast has said it will not sue the FCC, but executive vice president David L. Cohen said in a statement that “we all face inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty challenging [the] Order.” He added that Comcast has no quibble with the underlying principles of no blocking, no throttling, and no fast lanes, but that the company is uncomfortable with the FCC’s expanded authority. Michael Powell, a former FCC chairman and president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, a trade association that lobbies on behalf of broadband providers, said in a statement, “The FCC has ... pried open the door to heavy-handed government regulation in a space celebrated for its free enterprise.” He added that consumers “will likely wait longer for faster and more innovative networks since investment will slow in the face of bureaucratic oversight.”

The FCC is on pretty solid legal ground with its new rules – in fact, the Order specifically addresses the D.C. Circuit Court’s criticisms of the 2010 Open Internet rules. Still, a legal challenge is almost certain, and only a judicial judgement on that case will tell us whether the “common carrier” classification of broadband providers will stick.
© The Christian Science Monitor

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USA: The FCC's net neutrality rules: 5 things you need to know

27/2/2015- Advocates for open access to the Internet were popping champagne corks on Thursday after the Federal Communications Commission voted in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a public utility. In addition to regulating fixed broadband lines that go into your home, the FCC vote also extended public utility rules to mobile broadband for the first time. The FCC vote means that Internet service providers (ISPs) will be required by law to respect the principles of net neutra-lity. But what exactly does that mean, and why are so many people celebrating the FCC’s ruling while others are cursing it?

Here’s a quick explainer.
What does “broadband is now a public utility” mean? On Thursday, the FCC voted 3-2 down party lines to reclassify fixed broadband lines under Title II of the Telecom-munications Act. This turns ISPs and mobile broadband providers into public utilities. As a result the companies will be more highly regulated than they were in the past. In terms of net neutrality, ISPs will be prevented from offering “paid prioritization,” or fast and slow lanes where customers and/or web services must pay the ISPs for better speeds for certain content. It also prevents ISPs from actively blocking access to online content or from punitively throttling (slowing down) certain kinds of traffic, such as torrents.


Were these regulations even necessary? Are ISPs doing this kind of thing?
There has been concern for some time that ISPs would experiment with slow and fast lanes, but the companies never actually tried it out. The ISPs and mobile broad-band providers have, however, deliberately throttled traffic. Comcast began throttling users who were causing large amounts of traffic on the company’s network back in 2009. The throttling efforts were targeted against so-called bandwidth hogs, such as people downloading large amounts of torrents. Comcast was also hit with a class-action lawsuit (settled in 2010) over previous throttling ef-forts that began in 2007. Comcast was required to pay up to $16 million as part of the settlement. More recently we’ve seen reports of BitTorrent throttling rising in the U.S.  Even mobile broadband providers have been getting into throttling. Last summer, Verizon publicly announced a throttling policy for heavy LTE data users  even if you’re on an unlimited data plan. That policy was put on the back burner in October a few months after the FCC got involved.


Will ISP innovation die under Title II?
That’s what some ISPs and other opponents of the FCC’s ruling are saying. They argue that more regulation will mean less investment and innovation in broadband. From a consumer’s point of view, however, it’s hard to argue that American ISPs were innovating on Internet delivery and working hard to improve service under the previous “light touch approach.” For starters, a lot of major ISPs are despised by their customers due to poor customer relations. You can also find instances where major broadband providers refuse to increase broadband speeds or expand capacity. America has some of the slowest, yet priciest broadband in the world, according to an October report by the Open Technology Institute. Last May, Tier 1 global network provider Level 3 said five major U.S. ISPs were deliberately failing to increa-se their interconnect capacity with Level 3, resulting in near constant web traffic congestion. Level 3 did not name the companies, but did say that all five had domi-nant or exclusive market share where the congestion was happening.


Level 3 has also accused Verizon of failing to improve interconnections at data centers where Level 3 and Verizon networks meet—an improvement that Level 3 said would be very inexpensive. The result? Deliberately constrained capacity that causes poor Internet speeds at home, and degraded Netflix performance more specifically in this case. Arguably the most innovative ISP in the United States right now is Google Fiber, which delivers blazing fast 1Gbps speeds over the “last mile” to homes in select markets. Google Fiber has had the effect of increasing competitor speeds and service in areas where it operates—competition that arguably would not have happened otherwise.

Does Title II mean more competition in broadband?
Probably not. As part of the FCC vote on Thursday the commission explicitly ruled out forcing the ISPs to share their networks with competitors. That means market dominance by one ISP in local markets will not be broken as a result of the FCC ruling. Some are arguing that because of this the FCC ruling does little to change problems with U.S. broadband services, such as the aforementioned high prices and slow speeds.


Now that broadband is considered a public utility is the fight over?
Heck, no! When Verizon is so incensed about an FCC ruling it protests with a blog post written in Morse Code you know this issue is headed to the courts. Congress is also getting involved. Prior to the FCC vote on Thursday, there was already a movement lobbying Republican lawmakers in Congress to undo a potential FCC ruling in favor of reclassification. In the words of Han Solo, “it ain’t over yet.”

© PC World

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France - France prepares for war against online hate speech

France’s government is looking to adopt a tough new stance on online racism, anti-Semitism and other hate speech that would allow authorities to shut down offending websites amid a recent rise in hate crimes in the country.

25/2/2015- Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has said she will push for legal reforms that would help French authorities crack down on racism and anti-Semitism online in much the same way they do with paedophilia. The proposals include empowering French authorities to shut down websites hosting content that is deemed illicit without prior court approval. “Crimes recognised in public spaces must also be recognised as such on the Internet,” Taubira told a French Jewish student group on Sunday, echoing other recent state-ments on combating terrorism. “Our challenge is to find the most appropriate responses, but we are determined to wage an unmerciful battle against racism and anti-Semitism on the Internet.”

The declaration of war against online hate speech has raised questions about possible violations of civil liberties and the curtailing of due process as France struggles to find a way forward after a wave of deadly violence and anti-Semitic hate crimes in the country. An Islamist gunman in January targeted a kosher supermarket – killing four people and taking hostages – as part of a string of attacks that terrorised the French capital for three days and started with a bloodbath at the office of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead. France saw a sharp escalation in anti-Muslim acts immediately after the Paris killing spree, which was carried out by assailants claiming allegiance to al Qaeda in Yemen and the Islamic State jihadist group.

A French group that monitors Islamophobia said it recor-ded 199 anti-Muslim acts in January alone, more than those reported in all of 2014. Last week more than 250 tombs were vandalised by a group of teens at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, sparking what appeared to be copycat acts in other non-Jewish cemeteries in Normandy and the Pyrenees in the following days. Amid the compounding tensions, and real fears over the radicalisation of young people via the Internet, Taubira and other authorities want the legal means to counter racism, anti-Semitism and Islamist extremism on the web. But blocking ubiquitous online hate speech could be a thorny task for officials.

‘Protecting’ civil liberties
Some people are applauding France’s aggressive approach. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international rights group researching the Holocaust and hate crimes, says it has ob-served a steady rise in racist and anti-Semitic speech online since it began studying the phenomenon 20 years ago. The increase has been exponential since the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. “France’s efforts must be congratulated,” Shimon Samuels, who heads the center’s Europe office, told FRANCE 24. “If child porno-graphy and paedophilia have no place on the Internet, if advertising for things like alcohol and tobacco are controlled because they are considered noxious to children, then what about hate?”

Samuels downplayed the dangers of curtailing free speech or privacy as a result of Taubira's proposed reforms. He pointed out that nowhere are free speech laws an unlimited privilege, and that we constantly forfeit our right to privacy to online advertisers without batting an eye. “I see this as a way of ultimately protecting civil liberties,” Samuels said. “Of course the measures need to work within the framework of the law, of course there has to be oversight so that they are not abused. A healthy debate is arising about freedoms, but that is part of democracy.”

Borderless cyberspace
But other experts are not as convinced about the wisdom of France’s more aggressive approach, nor about whether it will ultimately pay off. “Other countries have already adop-ted very restrictive measures, some really go to the limits of what is acceptable in terms of freedom of expression,” noted Bridget O’Loughlin, the coordinator of the Strasbourg-based No Hate Speech Movement, a campaign funded by the Council of Europe. O’Loughlin said what her campaign and others are finding is that, while pushing governments toward uncharted legal terrain, repressive measures are extremely difficult to implement because of the anonymity of web users and the borderless nature of cyberspace. “There are real limits on what legislation can do,” she said.

French officials are aware of their own limits. While championing tougher online hate speech legislation at home, they have also embarked on a campaign abroad to bring other governments into the fight. Harlem Désir, France’s state secretary for European affairs, urged world leaders gathered at the UN in late January to support the international regula-tion of social networks in order to crack down on racist and anti-Semitic propaganda. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve last week took a rare trip outside the country to Silicon Valley, where he reportedly urged the heads of Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Google to help his government identify and block online content defending acts of terrorism and hate speech.

Wake-up call
It is unclear whether France will get what it wants from other countries and the Internet giants, with whom it has clashed in the past. In the meantime, it has launched an Internet site where citizens can report worrying content to police, and launched a multimedia campaign to expose the recruiting methods and myths used by jihadists. Samuels and O’Loughlin agree that more also needs to be done on the education front. Parents in both Jewish and Muslim communities need to be better informed about the kind of content children are encountering on the Internet, and be encouraged to have frank – even uncomfortable – discussions with them about what they see, said Samuels. O’Laughlin said people who have become blasé about the vitriol they encounter regularly on the web need to be woken from that stupor and given the tools to identify and report online hate speech. “Our methods of education and research focus on young people, between the ages of 13 and 30,” she said. “But what we keep hearing is that we need to be talking to kids who are even younger than that.”
© France 24.

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Majority of French are for measures against online hate speech

France’s Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) held a conference Sunday on how to tackle online hate speech, while a poll published the same day revealed that an over-whelming majority of French people back measures to curb racist and anti-Semitic material easily found on social media networks and websites.

22/2/2015- “Nowadays when you type on YouTube search bar Shoah – Holocaust – the first videos you come across are Holocaust denial videos,” said Nicolas Woloszko, the treasurer for the Union of Jewish Students, which organised Sunday’s conference in Paris. This can pose particular problems, he continued, when young students turn to online resources to find out about the Holocaust and what they find is contrary to what they’re learning in school. “The most fundamental values of the French republic are challenged by alternative ideas, such as holocaust denial, anti-Semitism or racism and this is a very big problem for us,” he said. France has strong laws against hate speech, anti-Semitism and statements that glorify terrorism. However, when it comes to the realm of the online world, Woloszko says these laws, which in his opinion do not infringe on freedom of expression, are easily forgotten when they are not applied online.

In fact, most French people are in favour of blocking users and cracking down on the Internet’s inherent culture of anonymity, according to a survey commissioned by Opinionway for the conference and published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche. The poll, which was conducted in February with a sample of over 1,000 people aged 18 and up, revealed that 92% of French people agree with blocking or removing links to websites that host material that advocates for terrorism. Additionally, 89% were in favour of seeing Internet firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have broader control over content. Likewise, a large majority would like to see a system of fines for those who spread hate messages (83%) and the same amount of people also espouse that the ability to post content anonymously online promotes hateful comments.

“We are students. We use Twitter, Facebook everyday of our lives so we are very keen on preserving freedom of expression,” Woloszko said. “But freedom of expression is not the right to say everything. That’s not how it works.” Nevertheless, half of French people have faced racism online (51%), including anti-Muslim (49%), homophobic and xenophobic (45%) and anti-Semitic (43%) remarks. The UJEF also believes that by cracking down on what can be said online would have a strong effect offline. “I think that our best way to fight against racism and anti-Semitism is to constantly repeat that it is forbidden,” Woloszko said, “anti-Semitism and racism are not opinions, they are misdemeanours and they must also be forbidden from the Internet.”
© RFI

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Denmark: Free speech threatened, but not by Islamists (opinion)

The Danish government introduced a new anti-terror package following the Copenhagen shootings, but internet privacy advocate Henrik Chulu argues that privacy restrictions will limit the free speech that politicians say they want to defend.

23/2/2015- In everyday language, free speech means that you have the ability to say whatever you what with the understanding that you can face legal punishment if what you say violates the rights of others: for example through libel, copyright infringement, etc. Different countries have different limits on the freedom of expression. I know of no place where it is absolute. Perjury, for example, is universally frowned upon. Free speech exists so that the state cannot silence its critics, who are free to scrutinize the powers that be and criticize them with the the goal of keeping those who exercise power on the straight and narrow, thus assuring the rights of the rest of us. Another right that is equally im-portant to the freedom of expression is the right to privacy. Like freedom of expression, the right to privacy exists to ensure a balance of power between the state and the indi-vidual. If there is a reasonable suspicion that you are engaging in something criminal, a court can give the police the authority to monitor your behaviour and communications.

In the old days, that meant that they could ransack your home, open your mail and tap your telephone. But today it means that they can set up nearly invisible microphones and cameras, listen in on all the phones you are likely to call, instal spyware on your computer or phone, read your emails and monitor your internet traffic. Today, the police don’t even have to go to much effort to get access to your private life, as you have most likely voluntarily subjected yourself to constant surveillance from the likes of Google, Facebook and others. You live surrounded by sensors and all of your electronic communication is automatically tapped and collected in huge databases that police can access with a court order. But for some politicians, who would hate to see a useful crisis go to waste, the already vast abilities of the police to do their jobs is not enough. The chorus is singing for more. After all, no one wants to appear “soft on terror”.

In the rush to defend free speech, politicians are further dismantling the right to privacy. The problem however is that free speech and privacy are not “values” that should be defended, but rather tools (or weapons, if you will) to ensure a balance of power between the individual and the state. And they are related. Without the strong protection of privacy, freedom of expression is nearly useless. Or to put it another way: a restriction on privacy is in itself a restriction on free speech. Privacy is the foundation, free speech is the structure. Statements don’t arise out of nowhere within an individual’s thoughts and then fly directly out into the public sphere to fascinate, infuriate or speak truth to power. They are absorbed and shaped in the peace of library halls and the corners of the internet, they are studied in private conversations, tested through back channels and often (although not always in politics) destroyed due to a lack of logic, evidence or relevance.

The freedom to speak and think in peace is what allows free expression to be used effectively as it is intended: to confront state power verbally so that it doesn’t trample upon those rights that we as citizens have fought so hard for over the past century and a half – e.g. women’s suffrage, the right to unemployment benefits, etc. The insistence of poli-ticians to sacrifice citizens’ privacy upon the flames of free speech is a far bigger threat than any militant Islamist who finds a cartoon offensive. It is a stab in the back of free speech. I do not doubt that their basic intentions are good: they want to protect the public. But the road to hell is, as we all know, paved by naive fools with good intentions.
Henrik Chulu is the co-founder of Bitbureauet, an independent internet think-tank. This column was originally published in Danish at frikultur.dk and has been translated and republished under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
© The Local - Denmark

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Isis are 'winning the digital propaganda war', says expert

Haras Rafiq says the West should have 'flaunted' its victories such as the one in Kobani last month.

20/2/2015- Isis is winning the digital war because its opponents are unable to counter their propaganda and challenge the falsehood of their narratives effectively enough, one of Britain's most influential counter-extremism experts has warned. Haras Rafiq, the managing director of the government-funded Quilliam Foundation, said British efforts to counter Isis propaganda had fallen short, compounding dangerous extremist narratives that were aiding the radicalisation process. "In the absence of social activists online, you have a symbiotic relationship between Islamists and the far-right — one is breeding the other: the West is at war with Islam, so the response is Islam is at war with the West," Mr Rafiq told a seminar in London. Recent victories, such as that of the Kurdish peshmerga and coalition forces in the Syrian border town of Kobani, had been particularly missed in the digital effort.

"One of the biggest tricks we have missed in the last few days is their defeat in Kobani. That should have been something that we collectively should have focused on to say [Isis] are not God's chosen warriors, they are not all the things that they claim to be – they just lost Kobani." The failure to capture Kobani last month was a major blow to Isis. Their hopes for an easy victory dissolved into a costly siege under relentless air strikes by US-led coalition forces and an assault by Kurdish militia that cost the lives of about 1,000 fighters. Both sides recognised the significance of the battle. Capturing the town would have given Isis a direct link between its positions in the Syrian province of Aleppo and its stronghold of Raqqa, to the east. For the US-led coalition, the daily effort to repel Isis from the air was a costly and time-consuming exercise. A failure to halt the advance would have been a major blow to morale.

Such was its significance that in October a video surfaced featuring British hostage John Cantlie reporting under seeming duress, in an attempt to convey the message that Isis fighters were in the ascendancy. But when the town finally fell in January, the mood changed. "The warplanes were bombarding us night and day. They bombarded everything, even motorcycles," one Isis fighter said last month. Another commented that the coalition warplanes "destroyed everything, so we had to withdraw and the rats advanced". Speaking at the counter extremism seminar organised by consultancy group Albany Associates, Mr Rafiq said: "I think social activists should be flaunting those victories and we missed a trick. "IS don't care if something is true or not true, they will get the messages out. Practitioners are fighting a battle of propaganda online and I think that activists, as part of the social incubators, should be getting these messages out."

His comments coincided with an announcement on Wednesday that Britain would offer intensive English language training to young Muslims in Egypt to enable them to tweet and blog in fluent English. Separately, Barack Obama warned on Thursday that groups like Isis and al-Qaeda were directing propaganda to young people and it was the duty of Islamic scholars and clerics to "push back" on harmful narratives.
© The Independent

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Defending the voice

Jeffrey Rich developed a taste for technology copyediting IT manuals as an English major. He went on to work as a senior legal adviser at two of the biggest social media companies in the world: Facebook and Twitter. In-House Perspective's Rebecca Lowe talks to him about the legal challenges of the digital age.

20/2/2015- Like many lawyers, Jeffrey Rich never intended to enter the law. As a student, his interests were politics, history and English, while his parents were both retail bankers. It was only after four years of being drilled to think independently at the Jesuit Santa Clara University, and another ‘aimless’ year copyediting software user manuals – including one for a product that later became PowerPoint – that the idea finally dawned on him.
‘I liked the approach of the Jesuits to education,’ Rich tells In-House Perspective. ‘They pushed us not to accept anything at face value, which was interesting coming from Catholic priests […]. That certainly sparked an interest in the law for me.’

Two decades later, Rich is one of the leading in-house technology lawyers in the world. In January 2012, he became Lead International Counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Facebook, before shifting his allegiance to Twitter just as the sensational Snowden revelations about intrusive online surveillance were hitting the headlines. Achieving the right balance between privacy and security, the public and the private, free speech and censorship, are just some of the complex issues that make his job so challenging – and so fun.
‘It’s been terrific, the best job I’ve had,’ he says of his current role at Twitter. ‘We take each issue as they arise and don’t have a one size fits all answer. Every day new challenges emerge that are not possible for us to anticipate. It definitely makes it exciting.’

Unfeasible fees
It wasn’t always like that, however. Law school was far from easy, Rich admits; especially the first year, which he describes as comparable to the plot of The Paper Chase. In the film, a Harvard law student is pushed to the brink of mental collapse by a formidable contract law professor. ‘That first year is very much a psychological rite of passage inflicted on wannabe lawyers,’ he says. ‘I didn’t really enjoy it, and didn’t find it that interesting.’

Rich persevered, however, and was pleased that he did. The following years were more enjoyable, and allowed him to pick courses he liked, such as constitutional law. But specialist jobs in this field were scarce, and on graduation he instead took his professors’ advice to ‘get his foot in the door’ anywhere he could, and ‘learn what it was really like to practise law’. Such learning took the form of multimillion dollar toxic tort litigation and insurance defence, first with Branson, Fitzgerald and Howard and then Hinshaw & Culbertson, both in California. While both were ‘good experiences in lots of ways’, Rich knew early on that private practice was not the environment for him. The main problem, he says, was the billable hour.
‘It was one of the things I hated from the beginning. There seemed so many more efficient ways of working for the client than taking as long as possible on projects to run up bills […]. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone who has a proper work/life balance to bill the number of required hours that most junior associates are required to bill. So either they work all the time or they have to find ways around it.’

At his first job, Rich was working his fingers to the bone to hit his targets, including throughout Christmas until midnight on New Year’s Eve. By his second, however, he had ‘learnt how to play the game’. ‘Which didn’t always mean doing what was most efficient for the client. Because if it’s more efficient to make a five-minute phone call, then we were encouraged to spend half an hour drafting a letter. And that always bothered me.’

The other reason Rich was keen to leave private practice was the feeling that great change was afoot. The internet boom was in full swing and, despite being based in Silicon Valley, he seemed to be missing out. ‘I decided then that, being in that part of California and seeing the way the world seemed to be going, that I was going to get into a technology company and work in-house.’

After a year of interviews, Rich finally convinced software company Legato Systems to give him a chance, despite his lack of relevant experience. Learning the industry jargon was ‘like a new language’, he recalls, but he soon knew he had made the right move. ‘It was clear there was no other place I could be other than in-house. I liked working with the business, and it went back to that feeling of wanting to push for what is most efficient. In companies, risk/benefit analyses are done in completely different ways. In a law firm, your job is to eliminate all risk for your client, whereas in a business, risk is part of the game.’

When Legato was acquired by EMC Information Systems, Rich was sent to London to take responsibility for Europe North and assume a more generalist role. Four years later, he left to become Director of Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel at Juniper Networks – a company selling hardware products such as ‘MX-series families of routers, EX-series Ethernet switches and SRX-series security products’ (‘the piping of the internet’, as Rich describes it), set up in 1996 by Cisco customers to provide some competition in the marketplace. Here, Rich admits, one of the biggest challenges was simply ‘understanding what it was they did’.

Move fast, break things
Before getting the job at Facebook, Rich was convinced there was no point in applying. ‘They were getting bigger and bigger, and I assumed they were getting stacks of resumes.’ Then a colleague at Juniper got a job there and encouraged him to apply. He did so – and a few weeks later found himself moving to Dublin with his wife and two children as Lead International Counsel, EMEA.

For Rich, the environment he encountered there was not what he expected. There was a ‘lack of structure and organisation’ that he felt particularly challenged by at the comparatively ancient age of 42. ‘What surprised me was that Facebook was this huge brand, well known everywhere, and you make an assumption that it must have a big machine running it. But when I got inside, I realised it’s a very small machine and they are learning on the go, because much of the technology and legal issues are new.’ The main motto at Facebook was ‘move fast and break things’, which was plastered all over the walls. The idea was that nobody should accept the status quo and keep pushing forwards, only scaling back when necessary. Facebook, like Google and its other new media brethren, wanted to be a ‘completely diffe-rent kind of company’, Rich says, and its ethos was etched into every crevice – even down to the glass-walled, open-plan office.

‘I realised it probably helped more than hurt me to be in an open office,’ says Rich, speaking from the Twitter office in Dublin, which also employs an open-plan lay-out. ‘You’re surrounded by different teams dealing with lots of issues, and it gives you the information you need to do your job effectively. There are always conferen-ce rooms available if you need to have a confidential conversation.’

As Facebook’s first EMEA lawyer, Rich was tasked with providing legal support for the internal functions in the region, such as human resources and finance, as well as ensuring central policies were communicated effectively. He oversaw various key projects, including establishing the company’s first data centre in Sweden. Legal concerns included: what is the likelihood the equipment could get seized pursuant to a search warrant? What would happen if law enforcement wire-tapped the servers? And what are the tax ramifications in a country where the company doesn’t have a presence? Indeed, where data is processed can have important legal repercussions. In an ongoing lawsuit in which UK claimants allege Google secretly bypassed the search engine Safari’s privacy settings in order to harvest personal data, part of the internet giant’s legal strategy has involved trying to have the complaint moved from London to California, where its processing centres are based. The argument proved unsuccessful, however, and Google is currently appealing the judgment.

Where jurisdictional tussles are concerned, the law is far from clear, says Rich. ‘It depends on where the service is provided, where the data is kept, who has control etc.’ He stresses, however, that although these companies are global, ‘it doesn’t follow that they are local for the purposes of every jurisdiction in the world’. What companies ultimately want is certainty, he says. ‘Once we have certainty about what legal framework applies, which authorities are going to regulate this, and so on, then we can comply.’

‘Certainty’ also seems to be the name of the game where tax is concerned. Criticised for their use of complex tax structures such as the ‘double Irish’ – a system that allows corporations registered in Ireland to be tax-resident in countries without corporate income taxes, such as the Cayman Islands – Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google and their ilk are under increasing pressure to start paying their way in countries where they generate considerable profit. In October 2014, Forbes reported that Facebook has ‘flipped more than $700 million to the Cayman Islands in a Double Irish’, while Google has used the scheme to ‘save billions’.
‘There’s an understandable discomfort by certain people in certain countries where they think they are not getting a fair share of the revenues of these companies, and I think that’s worthy of discussion,’ says Rich. ‘But it‘s difficult when you don’t have certainty, because you have governments that have set up a tax regime internationally, by treaty, but when companies abide by those rules they are criticised for not going beyond them.’

Now Ireland has bowed to international pressure to drop such tax deals, and the world is crying out for best practice over lowest-common-denominator tax structuring, is the industry finally getting the certainty it needs? ‘There is what the law says and there is how it is implemented, so I wouldn’t say we have pure certainty. But the more we have – not so much in Ireland, but the international tax structure – the better off we will be.’

Privacy v security
Since the coming of the digital age, users have been sharing personal data online at an unprecedented rate. According to Cisco, global internet traffic will hit 1.4 zettabytes (a zettabyte is approximately equal to a billion terrabytes) of data by 2017. If someone took it upon themselves to watch all the video crossing the web, it would take them approximately five million years to do so.
‘Until recently there was a lack of appreciation about the amount of data being collected online,’ says Sylvia Khatcherian, Managing Director and Global Head of Technology, Privacy and IP Law at Morgan Stanley and Co-Chair of the IBA Working Group on Digital Identity. ‘Many questions need to be asked, such as who has control over this information, how is it being used and how is it protected?’

As awareness of the implications of this data explosion heightens, interesting cultural variations are becoming apparent, says Rich. ‘In the US, we have a very strong sense culturally of restricting our government, which is why the NSA scandal was so bad. In Europe, there is a bigger fear of private companies. And I think you see that reflected in European data protection laws – such as the one currently being drafted – which are extremely robust.’

Rich does not explicitly criticise over-regulation of the industry, but does sound a note of caution. ‘I think we will see more and more regulation. But I think largely the ones making the policies are not necessarily the ones who understand the technology the best. And that is a big challenge.’

One example of such lack of understanding, Rich says, was the recent spat between the UK Government and Facebook over whether the company withheld information that could have helped prevent the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013. In an investigation into the attack – in which Rigby was hacked to death with a meat cleaver – the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee absolved the security services of blame for failing to prevent the atrocity, but criticised an unnamed company, believed to be Facebook, for ‘providing a safe haven for terrorists’. It also rebuked other US tech companies, including Apple, Google and Twitter, for withholding information on potential terror suspects.
‘I found some of the comments to be more about politics than real change, which I thought was unfortunate,’ says Rich. ‘To me they showed a lack of understanding of the technology involved. The number of messages passing through these electronic networks is at a scale the world has never seen before.’

Getting the balance right between privacy and security is clearly an ongoing challenge, and is one of the evolving areas of law where the internet companies are stumbling in the dark. There is no precedent for these questions, and hundreds of different jurisdictional demands to navigate. The issue is complicated further by the fact that the legal framework underpinning national security policy is notoriously hazy, with agencies such as the US National Security Agency (NSA) and UK Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) under fire for collecting vast troves of data with questionable legal justification. Frustrated by the suggestion that internet companies may have been complicit in such activity, Twitter in October sued the US Government over its refusal to allow publication of the number of official requests for users' data, arguing such a prohibition violates the right to free speech.
Rich has not directly dealt with national security agencies, he says, but agrees the issue remains a ‘critical focus’ for internet companies, both legally and ethically – and it’s tough to get it right. ‘If the industry is not under fire for not providing information to police and intelligence services, it’s under fire for turning over that information and violating people’s privacy,’ he says. It’s very difficult to strike the right balance and also defend our users’ voice, which is what we really want to do.’

Speaking truth to power
In May 2013, after just 16 months at Facebook, Rich was offered the role of Legal Director, EMEA, at Twitter. Frustrated by having to run all key legal decisions at Facebook via California, he jumped at the chance. Twitter seemed more aligned with his personality and values – and, more importantly, not as intimidatingly youthful. ‘Nobody can argue with Facebook’s success, but for me, for my background and frankly my age, Twitter feels a bit more mature. If you look at the philoso-phy behind Facebook, it’s very much about sharing. Twitter’s philosophy is about free speech. It is used as a tool by common people to speak truth to power.’

The motto Rich abides by at Twitter is not about breaking things, but preserving them: the aim of the legal team is ‘to respect and defend the user’s voice’. Here, the core policy is about ‘getting it right the first time’, rather than jumping first and scaling back. And doing so is often less difficult than it may appear, Rich says. Laws written for the analogue world are less outdated than people think – ‘what’s illegal offline is illegal online’ – and can often be adapted for the modern age, he maintains; though applying the law to the vast reach and speed of modern communications remains a challenge.

One of Rich’s big challenges at Twitter has been dealing with cultural differences across the world. The company was founded on US First Amendment principles, but not everywhere it operates shares these ideals. ‘We have a constant challenge to ensure we allow as much free speech as possible, while also making sure we don’t alienate users and societies where they have particular sensitivities.’

One example of such a society is Saudi Arabia, which is amending its Anti-Cybercrime Law to allow legal proceedings against social media websites that host accounts promoting adultery, homosexuality and atheism. Twitter generally needs a court order before it will remove content, but what happens when such orders are out of kilter with Twitter’s core principles? ‘If we have a due process of law served on us, we will weigh that in our analysis and determine whether to comply or not,’ says Rich. He adds: ‘We always fight very hard for our users.’

Aligning internal policy with local laws is proving similarly problematic in Russia, which has passed a new law requiring all internet companies to store the data of Russian users on domestic servers for at least six months. With 5m Twitter users in the country, along with 30m Google and 20m Facebook users, non-compliance could prove costly. Considering Edward Snowden’s disclosures, which revealed the great spying advantages the US authorities have due to the volume of online traffic passing through American servers, Russia’s actions are perhaps no surprise. ‘We know who the main administrator of the internet is,’ a Kremlin spokesman said pointedly as an explanation for the move. From a user perspective, however, what the new regulation may achieve is simply replacing intrusive foreign surveillance with domestic surveillance. ‘Trying to enforce a law like that against global companies that the rest of the world has free access to I think will be difficult and burdensome,’ says Rich. ‘I don’t know what the rationale is, but I have my suspicions. It is definitely a situation the world should watch, and particularly any company that values free expression.’

Rich is clearly passionate about his work and the ideals that underpin it. He and his colleagues are grappling with the blurred lines of the so-called ‘wild west web’, attempting to respect traditional rights while forging new ones. Their work penetrates to the core of new media policy and ethics; a world where tensions between privacy and security, free speech and data commoditisation are far from being resolved.
© The International Bar Association

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UK: Ed Miliband: 'Facebook and Twitter must help counter anti-semitism and Islamophobia'

17/2/2015- Ed Miliband today called for social media giants to join in the fight against anti-semitism and Islamophobia online. The Labour leader said there are "real fears" about rising levels of intolerance in the wake of terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. The British Jewish community have called for more protection, fearing copycat attacks on UK soil. Mr Miliband spoke out in the wake of the attacks in the Danish capital, where a gunman shot dead a film director at a cafe event on free speech and then killed a Jewish security guard at a synagogue. The atrocity bore resemblances to the Paris attacks, when several people were killed by Islamist extremists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish supermarket. Mr Miliband said the attacks would provoke fear among people of all backgrounds. At an event in Lincoln, he said: "There is real fear among Jewish families, among Muslim families, among people of all backgrounds about the rising intolerance that we see. "We have to recognise that - but recognising it is not enough.

"Europe's leaders have got to show a unity of purpose in tackling these issues. "I don't think we can just walk by on the other side when we have seen the kind of events we've seen in Copenhagen." The Labour leader called for better work within communities to "nip in the bud" the radicalisation of young peop-le, alongside cross border working among European countries. Mr Miliband also said ministers need to engage with social media to try and prevent radicalisation online. He said: "I think that the freedom of social media is incredibly important but we have to look at the ways we can counter this stuff online." Twitter's chief executive Dick Costolo has previous-ly admitted in a leaked internal memo that the company "sucks" at tackling online abuse. But he added: "We're going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them."
© The London Evening Standard

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Facebook removes Hamas news page with 2.7 million likes

Israeli students complain to social media network against page of Shehab News Agency, which shares Hamas' ideology, posting anti-Semitic and inciting content.

18/2/2015- Facebook removed on Tuesday the page of Hamas' news agency Shehab, after Israeli students who are a part of a program to fight anti-Semitism reported the page. The students received a message from Facebook saying the page, one of the more popular Facebook pages in the Arab world with 2.7 million likes, has been removed because it was found to be containing graphic violence, which violates Facebook's terms of use. The students made several complaints to Facebook over the past year, including an official request to examine the activity of the news page, which shares Hamas' ideology. Ido Daniel, who runs the Students Union's project to combating anti-Semitism online, said: "The page is known to be affiliated with Hamas. The page played an inseparable role in fanning the flames and inciting among Palestinians, encouraging terrorism and vehicular attacks and spreading severe anti-Semitic propaganda with calls to murder Israelis." "The Palestinian cartoons that became well-known in recent months got such exposure because they were posted all the time, on a daily basis, on that Facebook page," he added.

In the wake of the Israeli complaints against the page, Facebook first removed the page's "verified" status, a status given only to official pages of celebrities, government minis-tries, politicians and commercial companies. Gideon Bachar, head of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Combating Anti-Semitism, said Israel "welcomes Facebook's decision to remove Hamas' anti-Semitic news page, which served as stage for incitement to murder and violence against Jews and the citizens of Israel. "This is an important step because the internet and especially social media are a central platform nowadays in which ideas of violence against Jews and anti-Semitism are being promoted. "We hope that other social media, search engines and other internet-based media follow suit and act systematically to remove content of hatred, anti-Semitism and racism, including content calling for incitement and even violence."
© Ynet News

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UK: Anti-Semitic Vicar Banned from Social Media

Church of England takes unusual action over Christian minister with long history of anti-Semitic propaganda.

10/2/2015- A British Christian minister with a long record of online anti-Semitism has been handed an ultimatum to stop speaking or writing about the Middle East conflict or lose his job. In a highly unusual move, the Church of England has also banned Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer from using social media for six months, after he posted a link on his Facebook page to an article entitled "9/11: Israel did it", which claimed that wealthy Jews including philanthropist Ronald Lauder were in fact responsible for the terrorist atrocity. That post broke a previous commitment to have his online activities moderated before posting about the Arab-Israeli conflict - an agreement he reached with the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 2013, following an official complaint made by the Board over a slew of links to anti-Semitic websites he had promoted on his website and social media pages. In a statement, the Church of England branded Sizer's latest posts "indefensible" and "clearly anti-Semitic", but stopped short of dismissing him from his post as Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in southeast England.

In a statement on Monday, the Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, announced the punishment, but insisted Sizer's actions were not motivated by anti-Semitism. "I do not believe that [Sizer's] motives are anti-Semitic; but I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appallingly poor judgement," Watson said according to the Church Times. "By associating with, or promoting, subject matter which is either ambiguous in its motivation, or (worse still) openly racist, he has crossed a serious line. I regard these actions as indefensible." "It is my view that Stephen's strong but increasingly undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda has become a liability to his own ministry and that of the wider Church," he continued, adding that Sizer had since "retracted" his position that Israel was responsible for 9/11, according to the paper.

In a letter to Watson, Sizer apologized for the "distress" his activities had caused. "As a minister of the gospel it is not my role to create controversy but to seek to maintain unity between the faith communities," the letter read. According to the Church Times, Watson said the Church had acted quickly to discipline Sizer in reaction to the "natural outcry from the Jewish community," noting that "particularly with anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in the UK," it was important to do so. "He is certainly hugely remorseful, and embarras-sed and ashamed by it. He has been shocked by his own stupidity." Apart from a long history of promoting anti-Semitic content and conspiracy theories online, Sizer has also been linked to the extremist Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and in 2014 attended a conference in Iran which aggressively promoted a range of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) welcomed the decision to discipline Sizer, who it said had been a "source of grave concern". "We are grateful for the seriousness and clarity with which the diocese of Guildford has addressed this case, since this sends a clear message that Christians have a duty to identify and challenge anti-Semitism in all its forms," read a statement from CCJ director Jane Clements.
© Arutz Sheva

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UK: Hit racial hatred trolls with 'internet asbos'

The MPs warn that racist abuse and violence directed at Jewish people in the UK is twice as common now as in the 1990s.

9/2/2015- People who post racial hatred on social media should be treated like sex offenders and served with “internet asbos” banning them social networking sites and preventing them from hiding behind fake identities, a group of MPs alarmed by rising anti-semitism have proposed. The MPs warn that racist abuse and violence directed at Jewish people in the UK is twice as common now as in the 1990s. Polling evidence commissioned by the panel shows that 37 per cent of the public think that anti-Semitism is more prevalent than it was 10 years ago. A study by the Community Security Trust, a Jewish charity, logged numerous anti-Semitic posts on social media during the Israeli military action in Gaza in July and August, including the appearance of “Hitler was right” as a hashtag. One user tweeted “somehow bring back Hitler just for once to finish off the job” and another said: “If anyone still believes Jews have a right to exist on this planet, you are a fucking moron”.

Today’s report by all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism urges the Government to set up a fund for synagogues to protect themselves from attack. They also want guidelines for judges and prosecutors amended to include specific references to anti-Semitism as a hate crime, and a clampdown on racist abuse on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. he report comes just days after the leak of a memo in which Twitter’s California-based chief executive, Dick Costolo, acknowledged that the company “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls”. Last month, The Independent also exposed inflammatory comment about Muslims posted on Twitter and Face-book, which the companies refused to take down.

The parliamentary inquiry team, chaired by the Labour MP John Mann, met executives of Facebook and Twitter. Its report praises Facebook as a “willing partner” in the campaign against anti-semitism, but expresses “serious concerns” about Twitter and its complaints procedures. The report adds: “There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences. “If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply.” Legislation passed in 2003 gives courts the power to impose sopos (sexual offences prevention orders) on convicted offenders. In 2012, a man convicted of filming a 14- year-old girl in the shower was banned by Woolwich Crown Court from even owning a computer, but an appeal court ruled that it was unreasonable to prevent someone from having any access at all to the internet.

David Cameron described the report as “hugely important”. He added: “Tackling anti-Semitism goes right to the heart of what we stand for as a country.” Ed Miliband praised the report for highlighting “important areas for action to eradicate this awful form of hatred”.
© The Independent

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UK: EDL social media, website hacked before Birmingham demonstration

Muslim hackers take down the EDL website and takeover Twitter account

7/2/2015- An Islamic hacker group has taken down the website of the English Defence League (EDL) in advance of this afternoon's EDL protest in Dudley, Birmingham. The hackers, who call themselves the Izzah Hackers, have denounced the EDL as "an anti-Muslim hate organisation". They attacked the EDL website as part of a online campaign against Islamo-phobic groups. The EDL's Twitter feed has also been hacked, though it is not known whether the Izzah Hackers are also responsible. Satirical fictitious tweets are being sent out from it. The EDL describes itself as "an inclusive movement dedicated to peacefully protesting against Islamic extremism". However, it is widely perceived and reported as a far-right anti-Muslim organisation. Whether the hacks will hamper the EDL's organisation of today's protest is unclear, because its Facebook page remains active.

Two thousand
Up to 2,000 EDL supporters are expected at the rally today, which is due to start at 2pm. The EDL are protesting against plans to build a new mosque.A large counterprotest by the Unite Against Fascism group will take place at the same time. A counterprotest by Unite Against Fascism group will take place at the same time. The mayor of Dudley, Councillor Margaret Aston, told the EDL supporters: "Don't come here intent on causing trouble." In an interview with the In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, Aston said she was con-cerned about potential violent clashes between the two groups. "I think everyone is a little nervous," she said. The Bishop Of Dudley, the Right Reverend Graham Usher, has also made his views known, stating that he is "deeply saddened" that the EDL would "try to divide and sow the seeds of distrust in our community". He said: "I deplore, in the strongest terms, those who single out for hate our Muslim brothers and sisters. I see an attack on one faith as an attack on all faiths."

West Midlands Police will not disclose how many officers will be deployed. There will be road restrictions in Dudley to accommodate the protests. David Jamieson, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, said: "We will protect the right of people to peacefully protest, but expect everyone who visits the borough to respect local people and their rights to live in harmony. Most of all though, violence in all its forms is not acceptable and won't be tolerated on Saturday."
© The International Business Times - UK

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Can hate speech be eradicated? (opinion)

We cannot insist on living by the principle of ‘do not offend’
By Flemming Rose


7/2/2015- That utopian dream is what’s driving the European Union’s efforts to ban “hate speech,” a difficult-to-define concept that European governments keep trying to apply in more and more contexts. It’s based on an interpretation of the Holocaust that has become the founding narrative for European integration:that evil words beget evil deeds. Sup-porters of these bans argue that anti-Semitic speech and propaganda in Germany paved the way for the genocide of European Jews, and that if only the government had clamped down on the verbal attacks on the Jews in the years prior to Hitler’s coming to power, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened. In order to prevent future mass killings, therefore, Europe needs tough laws against hate speech. If only Europe can create an insult- and hate-free public space, then it will achieve eternal peace.

I think it’s a disputable assertion, even though anti-Semitic speech did play an important role in mobilizing the Nazi regime. Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian and author of “Bloodlands,” a brilliant book that focuses on the mass killings in Eastern Europe from 1933 to 1945, points out that if anti-Semitism had been the decisive trigger, then one should have expected a Holocaust in Germany between 1933 and 1939. Yet in spite of widespread anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe in the 500 years preceding World War II, more Jews were killed in any week of 1942 than during all anti-Jewish pogroms in East European history.

Nevertheless, the European Union in 2007 obligated all member states to pass laws criminalizing the denial of the Holocaust. At the time, the British Holocaust denier David Irving was serving a three-year prison term in Austria. It coincided with the Danish cartoon crisis, when Muslims around the world protested the publication of 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in my newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. Muslims often confronted me with Irving’s imprisonment. Why, they asked, is David Irving behind bars, while you are walking free? He offended the sensibilities of the Jews, but you offended the most sacred figure to Muslims, they added.

Researching my book “The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech,” I looked into the status of free speech in Weimar Germany. To my surprise, I found that Weimar Germany had hate speech laws, and that they were applied against anti-Semites like Julius Streicher, the publisher of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer; Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda; and Theodor Fritsch,a journalist and publisher of anti-Semitic propaganda. Streicher was sent to jail twice, and Goebbels lost every case that Bernhard Weiss, the deputy police chief of Berlin (and frequent target of anti-Semitic vilification), brought against him for defamation.

I was also surprised to learn that the majority of laws against Holocaust denial in Europe were passed after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I had assumed they were passed in the decades following the end of World War II to prevent a repetition of the Holocaust. Instead they were enacted only after the end of the Cold War, at a time when it was difficult to argue that denying the Holocaust equaled incitement to violence. It had more to do with memory politics. Though it was done out of good intentions to protect the dignity of the victims, it has triggered a wave of similar laws in other countries resulting in an assault on free speech. Several states in Eastern Europe have passed laws criminalizing denial of the crimes of communism. Latvia has passed a law banning denial of the fact that Latvia in the years from 1940 until 1991 was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian government wants a law against denial of the millions of hunger deaths in 1932-1933 as genocide, and Russia has adopted a law criminalizing criticism of the Soviet Union during the World War II.

The debate about European alleged double standards when it comes to free speech and its limits is back on the agenda after the killings of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and four Jews at a kosher shop in Paris. A Muslim organization in France has brought charges against Charlie Hebdo for incitement to religious hatred, but it’s likely that the magazine will be acquitted as in earlier cases. At the same time, the French comedian and anti-Semite Dieudonné is awaiting judgment on charges of incitement to ethnic or racial hatred, and is on trial for “glorifying terrorism” after having posted on Facebook, “Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly” (“I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”), an apparent reference to Amedy Coulibaly — the gunman who killed the four victims in the kosher market. Over the past decade or so, Dieudonné has been convicted eight times for anti-Semitic speech.

There are historical reasons for the fact that it isn’t a criminal offense to mock a religious doctrine, while it’s a crime to deny the Holocaust or say something racist. I do think there is a difference between the two, but it’s a moral one. Moving forward in an increasingly multicultural, multiethnic, and multireligious world, it’s important to understand that more cultural diversity doesn’t call for less diversity of speech, but for more. For if we insist on living by the principle of “do not offend,” we will end in a tyranny of silence.
Flemming Rose is the foreign editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and author of “The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech.’’ He was just nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
© The Boston Globe

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USA: Cops Expose Their Racism on Facebook

6/2/2015- The Marshall Project has a round-up this week of choice Facebook comments from police officers on the people they police. From Texas to New York City to Florida, some officers are airing their prejudices on Facebook—(perhaps, not fully understanding that not all FB friends are actually your friends?)—and confirming long-standing concerns around their hiring, vetting and accountability. And one Seattle case in particular is forcing a stronger association to be made between what officers say online and abuses they perpetrate or tolerate on the street. TMP’s roundup was inspired by Facebook comments reportedly made by white female Seattle police officer Cynthia Whitlatch who in the must-watch 20-minute dashcam footage above, arrests William Wingate, 69, without apparent cause (begin at 1:40). The July 2014 video, obtained via public records request and released last week by The Stranger led to the officer being placed on desk duty. Next came the public release of her Facebook comments—
If you believe that blacks are NOT accusing white America for their problems then you are missing the point of the riots in Ferguson and the chronic black racism that far exceeds any white racism in this country. I am tired of black peoples paranoia that white people are out to get them. I am tired of hearing a black racist tell me the only reason they are being contacted is because they are black solely because I am NOT black.” and e-mails subsequently obtained by The Seattle Times this week. Whitlatch is now on home leave with pay and an internal investigation is underway. After being arrested, placed in a paddy wagon and spending a night in jail, Wingate had been prosecuted. He now intends to sue.

According to The Stranger, “Officer Whitlatch is one of 123 police officers who sued the government last year…to block the Department of Justice-ordered use of force policies.” Seattle’s police department has been under a consent decree since 2012 for having engaged in “a pattern or practice of excessive force.”
Read more about this developing story
on The Stranger.


© Color Lines

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Data protection reform: Why it matters for ethnic and religious minorities

A large amount of data is collected in the EU in contradiction with data protection safeguards and legal standards, writes Andreas Hieronymus.

2/2/2015- Ethnic and religious minorities are not only kept out of the process, but it is also difficult to assess the extent of these discriminatory data collection practi-ces because of the lack of transparency. The new regulation on data protection is needed to address the numerous legitimate concerns in Europe about data protection. The collection of personal data must respect appropriate safeguards to ensure privacy. For European ethnic and religious minorities, however, this regulation might not change much: while official data on incidences of racial discrimination are widely missing in Europe, governments continue to illegally collect data on them. 2015 may be the year of data protection in the European Union. MEP Jan Philip Albrecht told the Computer, Privacy and Data Protection conference in January 2015 that he is optimistic the Council will find a compromise before the summer on the new Data Protection Regulation.

Measuring and monitoring the extent of discrimination in Europe requires the ‘equality data collection’. Without it, it’s very difficult to effectively tackle discrimina-tion in employment, in schools, in criminal justice, in policing, and more generally in all areas of social life. There is currently no European-wide data to measure how many, and to what extent, persons experience unequal treatment because of their racial or ethnic origin or even religious background. This happens despite the fact that over one in two Europeans believe that discrimination based on one’s racial or ethnic origin is widespread. Today, in the aftermaths of the European Data Protec-tion Day, the case needs to be made for the collection of equality data, in full respect of data protection safeguards and the right to privacy.

National governments often use the convenient excuse of the absence of statistics to explain the lack of information on the socio-economic situation of minorities and on their discrimination experience. This in turn delays or impedes the adoption of adequate and tailored equality policies. The same governments seem to rely on a far too widespread assumption about obstacle to equality data collection: data protection legislation would prohibit the collection of sensitive data revealing racial or eth-nic origin or religion. For the sake of effective anti-discrimination policies, it is now high time to challenge such excuses and incorrect assumptions.

In terms of legal feasibility first, disaggregated data collection is legally permitted both in EU and national data protection laws, even on the grounds of religion, race or ethnic origin. Data protection safeguards are not forgotten. On the contrary, subjecting disaggregated data collection to reasonable data protection standards, and to the informed consent of respondents, are conditions for it to be legal under EU legislation. But the reality is that many EU Member States use a form of double discour-se. While arguing that equality data collection is not possible, some of them already collect data on different criteria revealing racial or ethnic origin, such as citizen-ship, country of birth, name, or language spoken at home. However, they do so outside of the necessary safeguards, and sometimes without the consent of the people on which data is being collected.

In addition, governments also often use the data collected in such a way for purposes that do not benefit the discriminated groups. In some cases, they even process sensitive and private data illegally, to control minorities, whether it is through racial profiling, counter-terrorism data mining or prison population statistics. For exam-ple, police files on Roma in Italy, France and Sweden, or reports on the number of Muslim detainees in France. As a FRA survey has shown, racial or ethnic profiling has affected Muslims across Europe, with data collected on people based on mere assumptions. Current discussions on an EU Passenger Names Record raise concerns on the way these potentially discriminatory practices will be used to profile particular ethnic and religious groups.

No matter what authorities may say, data exists but are often collected in contradiction with data protection safeguards and legal standards. Remarkably, ethnic and religious minorities are not consulted on how they are identified or how the data will actually be used. On top of that, it is hard to assess the extent of these discrimi-natory data collection practices because of the lack of transparency. FRA research has also shown that over 65% of ethnic minorities would be in favour of providing, on an anonymous basis, personal information about their ethnic origin, as part of a census, if that could help to combat discrimination in their country. Trust and transpa-rency, once again, are necessary conditions. In Romania, for instance, work on building trust in the Roma community enabled a 56% increase in their identification in the last census.

It is essential, as ENAR recommended that EU Member States focus on collecting useful data according to self-identification of ethnic and religious minorities’ members. Governments also need to work with minorities to build trust, raise awareness and ensure their active participation in such data collection.
Andreas Hieronymus is board member of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).
© EuroActiv

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The Surprisingly Mainstream History Of Internet’s Favorite Antisemitic Image

You’ve probably seen “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif.” We found the man who drew it.
full URL: http://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/the-surprisingly-mainstream-history-of-the-internets-favorit#.ivMweemnv

5/2/2015- Spend any time in the murkier bogs of the social internet — message boards, chans, far-right Eastern European political comment threads, Islam versus the
International Zionist Conspiracy LiveJournals — and it won’t be long before you come across some version of this image:

http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/2015-02/5/14/enhanced/webdr12/grid-cell-670-1423164174-4.jpg
Obviously, it’s a derogatory caricature of a Jew, and a fairly rote one at that. All of the tropes established by centuries of anti-Semitic iconography in Europe are here: the grotesquely hooked nose, the scheming hands, the evil smile, the wild beard, the misshapen spine, the bulging eyes. It’s vile, but familiar. What is most significant about this image isn’t the thing itself — there is far more creative, and far more disturbing, anti-Jewish imagery out there — but its sheer ubiquity. A Google reverse image search for “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif,” as the file is most frequently, but not always, named, returns 1,210 matches. It’s unquestionably the most popular anti-Semitic image on the internet, and if one pauses to think about the scope and reach of the internet, it’s easy to make an argument that “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif” is the most widely seen anti-Semitic image in history.

So where did it come from, and how is it used?
The drawing has become a mainstay not just of the internet presence of political causes that are sometimes or usually anti-Semitic in their rhetoric, but an established unit in the set of images that comprises the visual language of Reddit, and 4chan, and dozens of other internet fora. And just like every other unit in this set, from photographs and GIFs we find hilarious and adorable to those we find offensive and disgusting, it exists not just as a single image but as a template, a base model for more ornate iterations. Indeed, the modifications of Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif are endless. Posted on a far-right Romanian political blog post blaming Jews for global communism; on a Russian message board that identifies the caricature as part of a Zionist Occupation Government in control of Russia; and on a Polish shock site that jests “the peak of recycling is turning Jews into soap.”

Here, a far-far-far-right “alternative historian” mirrors the image and colors it in to set against Paul Krugman. And this image, playing on the old “filthy Jew” slander, is the header of a 2010 post entitled “The Worst of the Nasty Odors Stinking Up Our World Today” by a blogger named UprootedPalestinian. So traditional vectors of popular political anti-Semitism make ample use of “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif”. But so too do the legions of cynical, just-for-the-lulz types who have turned the caricature into a motif of their communities. The following three images are of this kind; the middle image in the photo row is literally “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif” collaged out of anime characters, a horrendous kind of peak internet. Because Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif depicts such hoary and immediate anti-Semitic stereotypes, it’s easy to imagine that it was pulled from the archives of Der Stürmer, the Nazi tabloid that advocated the extermination of European Jewry and frequently published images of this kind. And it’s this perception, at least among the unshockable channers, that gives the image its modest subversive charge.

But it is actually quite difficult to assign any sort of historical context, or place, to the image itself. The caricature is supposed to scan as a pale of settlement Jew (“Oy, muh shekels” reads the only comment under the “Judaism intensifies” GIF), and yet the details are obviously wrong. Where is the top hat? Where are the payot? Why does it look thickly lined and pixelated, like the thing was dot-matrix printed and scanned, not carefully drawn on paper? No respectable propagandist in 19th or 20th century Europe could have gotten it so wrong, or would have drawn such inelegant lines. In fact, they didn’t. According to Judith Cohen, the chief photo archivist for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the image isn’t a Nazi Party caricature at all, though it does clearly bear the influence of Philipp Ruprecht, the Stürmer cartoonist who was sentenced to six years of hard labor after World War II for his work.

So where, exactly, does this weird, contextless, slippery image come from, if not the old hatreds of the Old Continent? To start with, It’s been around in one form or another on crackpot blogs for at least 14 years; an early use (February 2001) on a blog discussing the conspiracy behind Jewish ritual murder of Christians bears the caption “Hymie showing his real side.” It’s here that the image seems to have first taken the name “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif,” though the webmaster of the blog, JRBooks-Oline, did not respond to an email from BuzzFeed News, which offered this person the opportunity to take credit. This may have also been the first time the image appeared in its now-standard form, and not as only one piece of a larger work. Before 2001, Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif was just half of a racist cartoon by the infamous (and pseudonymous) cartoonist A. Wyatt Mann (say it out loud):
http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/2015-02/4/17/enhanced/webdr01/enhanced-17134-1423088632-4.jpg

Mann was a kind of cut-rate R. Crumb with white separatist politics who drew dozens of similar cartoons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of which were publis-hed by the notorious white supremacist Thomas Metzger. The drawings, which typically blame blacks and Jews (though occasionally other minorities, gays, and femi-nists) for America’s failings, enjoy something of a cult following online amongst hardcore trolls and message board white supremacists, who can be very hard to tell apart. Indeed, the true identity of A. Wyatt Mann is a source of lively debate within these communities. The speculation mostly focuses on two men. The first is Wyatt Kaldenberg, who was heavily involved in the White Aryan Resistance in the 1980s and 1990s before publicly renouncing white supremacism. (Kaldenberg is often credi-ted with breaking Geraldo Rivera’s nose in a brawl on the Geraldo show in 1988.) He has also vociferously denied being A. Wyatt Mann on his Google+ account, as recently as September of last year:

I am not A Wyatt Man. Nick Bogus is A Wyatt Man.You can’t commission art work from me because I can’t draw worth shit. I have never drawn a cartoon in my life. I know about a billion websites throughout cyber space claim I am A Wyatt Man, but they are all full of shit. I am not Jane Wyatt, Wyatt Hudson, Sir Wyatt, Wyatt Andrews, nor am I 100,000 other Wyatts. I know this is hard to understand when you are a fucking moron with an I.Q. of 60, but please try.

Kaldenberg says in other posts that evidence for him being A. Wyatt Mann boils down to: 1. His name is Wyatt, and 2. He was an influential white supremacist. In other words, far from compelling. In response to an email from BuzzFeed News, Kaldenberg repeated the sentiment of his Google+ post: “Nick Bougas is A. Wyatt Man. Only a total fucking moron would think I am A. Wyatt Man.” Bougas is indeed the other chief suspect, and he’s an even stranger figure. A cult director and producer who was also one of the first murderabilia collectors, Bougas sidelined doing provocative illustrations for Answer Me!, a “proto-Vice,” anti-PC zine published by the writers Jim and Debbie Goad from 1991–1994 in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.

Here’s a typical Bougas/Answer Me! drawing, which repeats the commonplace of the time that sex-negative feminists like Andrea Dworkin held their views because of their undesirability:
http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/2015-02/4/17/enhanced/webdr04/enhanced-19939-1423089329-1.jpg

While Bougas did not respond to emails and phone calls from BuzzFeed News asking for comment, Adam Parfrey, the writer of the “Fucking Andrea Dworkin” Answer Me! article, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Bougas is indeed A. Wyatt Mann. According to Parfrey, who is half-Jewish, Bougas openly discussed the cartoons, but it never caused problems between them. “He was a very nice, gracious, and good person,” Parfrey said. At times, he even used the pseudonym semi-publicly. Bougas, who made documentaries about both Charles Manson and Anton Lavey, took part in the 8-8-88 Satantist rally in San Francisco. In a photograph taken at the rally, hosted on the Facebook account of the Satanist Nikolas Schreck, Bougas is labeled “A. Wyatt Mann.” And in 2012, Vice ran an interview with Zeena Schreck, the daughter of Anton Lavey, that features a 1990 photo credited to A. Wyatt Mann.

Through a spokesperson, Schreck confirmed that Bougas is the cartoonist A. Wyatt Mann. So. You could stop right there and say that Nick Bougas is the most widely disseminated anti-Semitic cartoonist of all time and not be wrong. But still: Does that look like a white nationalist to you? Indeed, the images of Bougas on the internet — handkerchief around neck, flowing dyed-blonde hair under flamboyant hats — depict a man who looks more like a pickup artist or a magician than a hardcore race warrior. He was clearly a figure of a, or many, sub-countercultures. And in the early 1990s, in the throes of American culture’s most public engagement with the idea of “political correctness” (at least until now), a limited counterculture sprung up that defined itself against what it defensively perceived as the new prevailing values. Spin magazine described the house publication of this movement in its “Worst Things of the 90s”:

This sentiment ran parallel to punk and D.I.Y. culture becoming more diverse, and no doubt, there were plenty of alienated bros peeved that they now had to consider the points of view of women and minorities. At the top of this contrarian trash heap was infuriated, working-class whiteboy Jim Goad, who created Answer Me!, a fuck-your-feelings, catch-all zine…

So was Bougas a fervent white nationalist or a kind of race-baiting hipster, a guy for whom associating with a leading white supremacist (Tom Metzger) might carry with it a certain subversive and/or countercultural cool? Parfrey told BuzzFeed News that Bougas’ “perspective was similar to Tom Metzger,” but then, would Tom Metzger befriend a Jew? Would he date one? According to public records, Nick Bougas — A. Wyatt Mann, the author of the most prevalent image of anti-Semitism on the internet — owns a house in Cumming, Georgia, with a woman named Sandra Weinberg. According to this cached artist’s profile page, Weinberg is Bougas’ “devo-ted ‘galpal.’” OK, so what? What does it mean that “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif” likely isn’t the work of a raving Nazi or some corn-fed Aryan brother, but the doodling of a disaffected provocateur hopelessly misguided by a very specific cultural moment? On one hand, not much. Who cares where these images come from? They still do their damage.

On the other hand, it’s worth wondering whether Bougas’ cultural moment is over at all. The idea that ironized racism and sexism and anti-Semitism are the bravest subversions of American culture still lives, not in zines or even Vice, anymore, but in subreddits, and chans, and red pill message boards. That’s why it is so fitting that Bougas’ work has found its best reception in these places. That’s why it is so fitting that these places so aggressively sont Charlie. And maybe the influence of Bougas’ sensibility — of the terminally ironic “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif” — over the internet is even more direct, even personal. Have a look at the picture below, of three muske-teers. On the right is Jim Goad, the publisher of Answer Me!. On the left is Nick Bougas. And in the center is a man who you probably recognize, a hero to many of the very same people on the internet who made “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif” what it is today.

http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/2015-02/5/7/enhanced/webdr04/enhanced-27544-1423139412-1.png
© Buzzfeed

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Headlines January 2015

Dutch prosecutor acts on anti-Muslim Facebook comments

30/1/2015- The public prosecution department is beginning a criminal investigation into 12 statements made on a Facebook page set up to support the anti-Islam PVV. Police are now tracking down the identities of people who left racist and discriminatory comments on the Facebook page Steun de PVV (support the PVV). The comments were made after the page published an article from the Telegraaf newspaper about the firebombing of mosques in Sweden. A number of Moroccan organisations made formal complaints against the page for threatening behaviour and incitement to discrimination and hatred. Claims that some comments urged people to firebomb Dutch mosques were not proven, the prosecutor said. However, some of the comments were inflammatory and did urge violence against Muslims and mosques, the prosecutor said. Nevertheless, the prosecutor said, there was no ques-tion of incitement to hatred. The page manager does not face charges because he removed the reactions extremely quickly.

(ICARE editor note: As we happen to know the page manager only removed comments when there was some publicity and journalists actually traced some posters and asked for their comments. The racist comments were there for at least 2 - 3 days.)
© The Dutch News

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Mass surveillance is fundamental threat to human rights, says CoE report

Europe’s top rights body says scale of NSA spying is ‘stunning’ and suggests UK powers may be at odds with rights convention

26/1/2015- Europe’s top rights body has said mass surveillance practices are a fundamental threat to human rights and violate the right to privacy enshrined in European law. The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe says in a report that it is “deeply concerned” by the “far-reaching, technologically advanced systems” used by the US and UK to collect, store and analyse the data of private citizens. It describes the scale of spying by the US National Security Agency, revealed by Edward Snow-den, as “stunning”.

The report also suggests that British laws that give the monitoring agency GCHQ wide-ranging powers are incompatible with the European convention on human rights. It argues that British surveillance may be at odds with article 8, the right to privacy, as well as article 10, which guarantees freedom of expression, and article 6, the right to a fair trial. “These rights are cornerstones of democracy. Their infringement without adequate judicial control jeopardises the rule of law,” it says. There is compel-ling evidence that US intelligence agencies and their allies are hoovering up data “on a massive scale”, the report says. US-UK operations encompass “numerous persons against whom there is no ground for suspicion of any wrongdoing,” it adds.

The assembly is made up of delegates from 47 member states, including European Union and former Soviet countries. It is due to debate the report’s recommenda-tions on Tuesday. Though the recommendations are not binding on governments, the European court of human rights looks to the assembly for broad inspiration, and occasionally cites it in its rulings. Several British surveillance cases are currently before the Strasbourg court. Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, Privacy International and Liberty all argue that GCHQ’s mass collection of data infringes European law. In December the UK’s investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) dismissed their complaint.

The 35-page assembly report, written by a Dutch MP, Pieter Omtzigt, begins with a quote from the Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitysn: “Our freedom is built on what others do not know of our existences”. It says the knowledge that states do engage in mass surveillance has a “chilling effect” on the exercise of basic freedoms. It says the assembly is deeply worried by the fact that intelligence agencies have deliberately weakened internet security by creating back doors and systematically exploiting weakness in security standards and implementation. Back doors can easily be exploited by “terrorists and cyber-terrorists or other criminals”, it says, calling for a greater use of encryption. Another concern is the use of “secret laws, secret courts and secret interpretations of such laws” to justify mass surveillance. Typically, these laws “are very poorly scrutinised”.

The assembly acknowledges there is a need for “effective targeted surveillance of suspected terrorists and organised criminals”. But citing independent reviews carried out in the US, it says there is little evidence that mass surveillance has stopped terrorist attacks. It notes: “Instead, resources that might prevent attacks are diverted to mass surveillance, leaving potentially dangerous persons free to act.” There is no mention of the recent attacks in Paris by three jihadist terrorists who shot dead 17 people. All three were known to the French authorities, who had them under surveillance but discontinued eavesdropping last summer. David Cameron has argued that the Paris attacks show that British spies need further surveillance powers. The report implicitly rejects this conclusion.

The assembly has been taking evidence on mass surveillance since last year. In April Snowden spoke to delegates via a video link from Moscow. He revealed that the NSA had specifically targeted non-governmental organisations and other civil groups, both in the US and internationally. Snowden’s decision to leak documents to the Guardian and other media organisations in June 2013, was courageous, Omtzigt said, and had “triggered public debate on the protection of privacy”. American officials, meanwhile, turned down an invitation to address the assembly, the MP said.

The draft report will be debated in committee and by the full assembly later this year.
It calls for:
• Collection of personal data without consent only if court-ordered on the basis of reasonable suspicion.
• Stronger parliamentary/judicial control of the intelligence services.
• Credible protection for whistleblowers (like Snowden) who expose wrongdoing by spy agencies.
• An international “codex” of rules governing intelligence sharing that national agencies could opt into.

Governments are free to implement or ignore the recommendations. However, if they reject them they have to explain why. They usually reply within six months. The report says that Europe’s intelligence services work closely with their American counterparts. It says the Netherlands, for example, intercepted vast amounts of Somali telephone traffic in order to combat piracy, and shared it with the NSA. Denmark has collaborated with the US on surveillance since the late 1990s. The relationship between the NSA and the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, has been “intimate” for the past 13 years. Revelations that the NSA spied on Angela Merkel’s mobile phone may have strained relations, but Germany still hosts several major NSA sites, including the NSA’s European headquarters in Stuttgart.

According to Omtzigt, surveillance powers have grown, and political oversight has diminished. Political leaders have lost control over their own intelligence agencies. The result is a “runaway surveillance machine”. Moreover, most politicians can no longer understand the immensely technical programmes involved, the report says. The MP cites the case of James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, who in April 2013 told the Senate that the NSA didn’t “wittingly” collect data on mil-lions of Americans. Clapper later apologised for giving an untrue answer. “I still do not want to believe that he lied,” Omtzigt writes, adding that much intelligence work has been outsourced to private companies.

The assembly sent a letter to the German, British and US authorities asking whether they colluded with each other – in other words, got round laws preventing domestic spying by getting a third party to do it for them. The Germans and British denied this; the US failed to reply. The report concludes that the UK response was probably true, given extensive British laws that already allow practically unlimited spying. The new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – Drip, for short – passed in July, allows the wide-ranging collection of personal data, in particular metadata, the report says. “There seems to be little need for circumvention any more,” it concludes.
© The Guardian

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Austria: Man jailed for far-right Facebook comments

A 36-year-old man from Lower Austria has received an 18 month conditional prison sentence and been ordered to pay a €500 fine for making far-right statements on Facebook.

29/1/2015- The judge was told that the man, a father of three from Wiener Neustadt, had become a skinhead at the age of 12, and had his first Nazi-inspired tattoos at the age of 14. "This stupid ideology has been inside me since I was a teenager - I can’t deny it. But I never intended to do anything radical or even incite people," the man said in his defence. He admitted to posting a number of xenophobic and Nazi-inspired comments on the internet in 2012 and 2013. He said that on one occasion he wrote "Happy Birthday Papa Adolf" on Facebook when he was drunk, and that he would often write inflammatory statements after having too many beers. “Sometimes I couldn’t even remember doing it the next day, until friends would call me and tell me I was an idiot,” he said. The 36-year-old had previous convictions for damaging property but swore to the jury that he intended to renounce the “stupidity of his youth”. He plead guilty and said he regretted all of the comments he had made. He was sentenced under Austria’s Prohibition Act which aims to suppress any potential revival of Nazism.

© The Local - Austria

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Facebook blocks content deemed insulting to Islam in Turkey

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, block spurs fears Turkish censorship could expand across Facebook

27/1/2015- Facebook has blocked Turkish users from accessing an unspecified number of pages deemed insulting to the Prophet Muhammad in response to a court order from the Turkish government that threatened to shut down access to the social networking site if it did not comply, a source familiar with the matter told Al Jazeera. The censorship threat is just the latest move in what free speech advocates say is an alarming, and escalating, crackdown on expression in Turkey. Turkey’s Penal Court of Peace in the capital, Ankara, issued an order late on Sunday demanding that Facebook block some number of pages from the country’s more than 30 million users, though it did not disclose which pages it wanted blocked. Facebook acted on what the source told Al Jazeera was a “valid legal request” and acquiesced within 24 hours, blocking at least one page. Facebook did not provide any information about the request or the block on the record.

Coming on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, which has spawned a global debate over blasphemy and censorship, the incident has fueled fears among Turkish Internet freedom activists that the blocking of content deemed offensive to Islam — a step called for by Turkish law — could be a stepping-stone to the type of crackdown already underway in traditional media. For two of the past three years, Turkey has detained more journalists than any other country in the world, primarily targeting critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Social media was the last venue to be relatively uncontrolled, and blasphemy is a good opportunity to test the waters,” said Erkan Saka, a blogger and professor of communications at Istanbul’s Bilgi University. After the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post to his personal page on Jan. 9 that he would not let extremists silence “voices and opinions” over his network. “Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas. We follow the laws in each country, but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world,” Zuckerberg wrote.

But as this week's controversy demonstrates, that isn’t always possible in a country like Turkey, where the leadership is not shy about blocking entire social networks to silence the “voices and opinions” that it finds troublesome. In March, the Turkish government temporarily blocked Twitter and YouTube because they were being used to circulate audio recordings that seemed to implicate members of Erdogan’s inner circle in corruption. Companies like Facebook must strike a delicate balance between maintaining their reputations as safe spaces for self-expression and avoiding the losses in ad revenue that would result if a major country like Turkey were to cut off access to its 74 million people.

Facebook has a reputation for being more cooperative with local governments than many of its competitors, implementing a policy of restricting access to content that violates local laws — including culturally specific offenses such as Holocaust denial in Germany or the defamation of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Tur-key. Experts note that Facebook's geo-blocking can be easily circumvented with software or the use of virtual private networks. Still, activists for freedom of expres-sion say the company is not transparent enough about its policy. In some cases, they have argued that Facebook risks toeing the line of complicity in crackdowns by oppressive governments. According to Facebook’s self-reported data on government block requests, the company blocked 1,893 pieces of content from Turkish users between January and June 2014 — the latest period for which data is available. Ankara presents the second-highest number of requests by any government in the world.

Saka emphasized that this creeping censorship of social media could not be isolated from the wider media crackdown, which has taken on a religious dimension since the Paris terror attacks. Earlier this month, Turkey launched an investigation into the daily newspaper Cumhurriyet and several of its staff after it published a four-page pull-out section of translated Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including ones that are considered deeply offensive by many Muslims because they depict the Prophet Muham-mad. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that such “insults to our Prophet” will not be tolerated, and even made an appearance at massive protest in the city of Diyarbakir against Charlie Hebdo’s work. Ironically, Facebook's cooperative approach to local laws has made it one of the most reliable forums for expression in Turkey because, until now, it has managed to stave off the threats of sitewide censorship levied at its competitors. “The government has been more hesitant to threaten Facebook because it’s become a household icon,” Saka said. “Nearly everyone uses it. But I guess now they feel they have enough power.”
© Al Jazeera

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France to Target Anti-Semitism on the Net

French President Francois Hollande called on Internet service providers to take action against the spread of anti-Semitism online.

27/1/2015- During a visit to France's Holocaust Memorial on Tuesday, Hollande said Internet service providers cannot ignore anti-Semitic and Holocaust- denial theories that are disseminated on social networks. Otherwise, he says, "they will be regarded as accomplices." Hollande also called European and international leaders to define new regulations with penalties for Internet service providers which do not comply. Concerns about anti-Semitism have risen after a kosher supermarket was targeted in the country's deadliest attacks in decades. Four Jewish people were among the 17 people killed by the three gunmen, who also died. Hollande expressed his "anger" and "bitterness" during a ceremony in the presence of five survivors of the Nazi concentration camps. "How in 2015 can we accept that we need armed soldiers to protect the Jewish people of France?" he said. Synagogues, Jewish businesses, schools and cultural centers will be protected as long as necessary, he promised. France has deployed 10,000 troops to protect sensitive sites, nearly half of them to guard Jewish schools. A report released Tuesday by a Jewish organization said the number of anti-Semitic acts doubled last year in France. They increased to 851, up from 423 in 2013, according to the Jewish Community Security Service.
© The Associated Press

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INACH - International Network Against CyberHate

The object of INACH, the International Network Against Cyberhate is to combat discrimination on the Internet. INACH is a foundation under Dutch Law and is seated in Amsterdam. INACH was founded on October 4, 2002 by Jugendschutz.net and Magenta Foundation, Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet.