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Contents contributed and discussions participated by Paul Merrell

Paul Merrell

Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It's Time We Started Listening - 0 views

  • Where power is not overtly totalitarian, wealthy elites have bought up all media, first in print, then radio, then television, and used it to advance narratives that are favorable to their interests. Not until humanity gained widespread access to the internet has our species had the ability to freely and easily share ideas and information on a large scale without regulation by the iron-fisted grip of power. This newfound ability arguably had a direct impact on the election for the most powerful elected office in the most powerful government in the world in 2016, as a leak publishing outlet combined with alternative and social media enabled ordinary Americans to tell one another their own stories about what they thought was going on in their country.

    This newly democratized narrative-generating power of the masses gave those in power an immense fright, and they’ve been working to restore the old order of power controlling information ever since. And the editor-in-chief of the aforementioned leak publishing outlet, WikiLeaks, has been repeatedly trying to warn us about this coming development.

  • In a statement that was recently read during the “Organising Resistance to Internet Censorship” webinar, sponsored by the World Socialist Web Site, Assange warned of how “digital super states” like Facebook and Google have been working to “re-establish discourse control”, giving authority over how ideas and information are shared back to those in power.

    Assange went on to say that the manipulative attempts of world power structures to regain control of discourse in the information age has been “operating at a scale, speed, and increasingly at a subtlety, that appears likely to eclipse human counter-measures.”

    What this means is that using increasingly more advanced forms of artificial intelligence, power structures are becoming more and more capable of controlling the ideas and information that people are able to access and share with one another, hide information which goes against the interests of those power structures and elevate narratives which support those interests, all of course while maintaining the illusion of freedom and lively debate.

  • To be clear, this is already happening. Due to a recent shift in Google’s “evaluation methods”, traffic to left-leaning and anti-establishment websites has plummeted, with sites like WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News, Truthout, and WSWS losing up to 70 percent of the views they were getting prior to the changes. Powerful billionaire oligarchs Pierre Omidyar and George Soros are openly financing the development of “an automated fact-checking system” (AI) to hide “fake news” from the public.
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  • To make matters even worse, there’s no way to know the exact extent to which this is going on, because we know that we can absolutely count on the digital super states in question to lie about it. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was asked point-blank if Twitter was obstructing the #DNCLeaks from trending, a hashtag people were using to build awareness of the DNC emails which had just been published by WikiLeaks, and Dorsey flatly denied it. More than a year later, we learned from a prepared testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism by Twitter’s acting general counsel Sean J. Edgett that this was completely false and Twitter had indeed been doing exactly that to protect the interests of US political structures by sheltering the public from information allegedly gathered by Russian hackers.
  • Imagine going back to a world like the Middle Ages where you only knew the things your king wanted you to know, except you could still watch innocuous kitten videos on Youtube. That appears to be where we may be headed, and if that happens the possibility of any populist movement arising to hold power to account may be effectively locked out from the realm of possibility forever.

    To claim that these powerful new media corporations are just private companies practicing their freedom to determine what happens on their property is to bury your head in the sand and ignore the extent to which these digital super states are already inextricably interwoven with existing power structures. In a corporatist system of government, which America unquestionably has, corporate censorship is government censorship, of an even more pernicious strain than if Jeff Sessions were touring the country burning books. The more advanced artificial intelligence becomes, the more adept these power structures will become at manipulating us. Time to start paying very close attention to this.

Paul Merrell

10 Reasons Not To Trust Facebook - 0 views

  • With over 1.5 billion people using Facebook has become the superpower of the social media landscape. With with power comes responsibility and Facebook has unfortunately been responsibly for some pretty shady revelations!
Paul Merrell

South Korea considers shutting down domestic cryptocurrency exchanges - 0 views

  • The request is one of the first responses from the U.S. Congress to the disclosure earlier this month by security researchers of the two major flaws, which may allow hackers to steal passwords or encryption keys on most types of computers, phones and cloud-based servers.

    McNerney, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked the companies to explain the scope of Spectre and Meltdown, their timeframe for understanding the vulnerabilities, how consumers are affected and whether the flaws have been exploited, among other questions.

Paul Merrell

At CES 2018, enthusiasm mounts on how 5G will transform industries | ZDNet - 0 views

  • It's an uncertain waiting game as to when the next-generation high-speed wireless service known as 5G will reach mass market, but the business implications are already a major talking point at CES 2018.
  • The term "5G" refers to the fifth-generation wireless broadband technology based on the 802.11ac standard. The packet of technology will bring speed and coverage improvements from 4G, with low-latency wireless up to 1GB/s, and it'll spur a host of new opportunities for enterprises and workplace productivity.

    In a panel discussion at CES, a trio of executives from Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Nokia discussed how 5G could transform industries ranging from transportation to manufacturing.

  • Some 5G rollouts are already planned for 2018. Samsung announced last Wednesday that it will provide Verizon with routers and radio frequency planning services for the carrier's initial 5G commercial rollout that will begin in Sacramento, Calif., in the second half of 2018.

    Meanwhile, AT&T announced that it will provide 5G services in roughly 12 markets by late 2018, with plans to offer the service to consumers while it trials 5G technology with businesses across all industries.

    Still, the panel of executives at CES remain skeptical that 5G would roll out for most Americans before late 2019 or 2020.

Paul Merrell

It's Time to Nationalize the Internet - 0 views

  • Such profiteering tactics have disproportionately affected low-income and rural communities. ISPs have long redlined these demographic groups, creating what’s commonly known as the “digital divide.” Thirty-nine percent of Americans lack access to service fast enough to meet the federal definition of broadband. More than 50 percent of adults with household incomes below $30,000 have home broadband—a problem plaguing users of color most acutely. In contrast, internet access is near-universal for households with an annual income of $100,000 or more.

    The reason for such chasms is simple: Private network providers prioritize only those they expect to provide a return on investment, thus excluding poor and sparsely populated areas.

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee, has seen more success in addressing redlining. Since 2010, the city has offered public broadband via its municipal power organization, Electric Power Board (EPB). The project has become a rousing success: At half the price, its service is approximately 85 percent faster than that of Comcast, the region’s primary ISP prior to EPB’s inception. Coupled with a discounted program for low-income residents, Chattanooga’s publicly run broadband reaches about 82,000 residents—more than half of the area’s Internet users—and is only expected to grow.

    Chattanooga’s achievements have radiated to other locales. More than 450 communities have introduced publicly-owned broadband. And more than 110 communities in 24 states have access to publicly owned networks with one gigabit-per-second (Gbps) service. (AT&T, for example, has yet to introduce speeds this high.) Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed a pilot project in 2015 and has recently urged her city to invest in municipal broadband. Hawaii congressperson Kaniela Ing is drafting a bill for publicly-owned Internet for the state legislature to consider next year. In November, residents of Fort Collins, Colo. voted to authorize the city to build municipal broadband infrastructure.

Paul Merrell

The Spectre of an Advertising Meltdown: What You Need to Know - Lawfare - 0 views

  • The information security world is focused on two new security vulnerabilities, , that represent vulnerabilities embedded in computer hardware. Lawfare readers should respond in two ways: keep their operating systems up to date and, critically, install an ad-blocker for your web browser. (Here are guides on how to do so in and .) In fact, a proper response to Spectre should involve ad-blocking on . Other than that, don’t worry.

    Readers who just wanted to know what to do can stop reading. But for those curious about some of the technical background on these vulnerabilities and why ad-blocking is an essential security measure for a modern computer, read on.

Paul Merrell

Russia gears up to build its own 'independent internet' | The Times of Israel - 0 views

  • The Russian government is reportedly considering building an “independent internet infrastructure” that it can use as an alternative to the global Domain Name System, or DNS system.

    Last month, Russia’s Security Council asked the government to start building a backup DNS system citing “the increased capabilities of Western nations to conduct offensive operations.”

  • However, some defense experts say the move could “have more to do with Moscow’s own plans for offensive cyber operations,” according to the Defense One website.

    The alternative DNS would also serve the so-called BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — and would operate independently of international organizations.

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin set a deadline of August 2018 to complete the infrastructure.
Paul Merrell

Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • For years, Comcast has been promising that it won't violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn't block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn't create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

    This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn't necessary because ISPs won't violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    But with Republican Ajit Pai now in charge at the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast's stance has changed. While the company still says it won't block or throttle Internet content, it has dropped its promise about not instituting paid prioritization.

  • Instead, Comcast now vaguely says that it won't "discriminate against lawful content" or impose "anti-competitive paid prioritization." The change in wording suggests that Comcast may offer paid fast lanes to websites or other online services, such as video streaming providers, after Pai's FCC eliminates the net neutrality rules next month.
Paul Merrell

Net Neutrality Revisited, and More from CRS | - 0 views

  • The Congressional Research Service produced a newly updated report on the subject, suggesting that congressional intervention might be appropriate.

    “The FCC’s move to reexamine its existing open Internet rules has reopened the debate over whether Congress should consider a more comprehensive measure to amend existing law to provide greater regulatory stability and guidance to the FCC,” the CRS report said, adding that whether Congress would do so “remains to be seen.”  See The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks, updated November 22, 2017.

Paul Merrell

F-Droid - Free and Open Source Android App Repository - 0 views

  • What is F-Droid?

    F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The client makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device.

Paul Merrell

Staggering Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found In Popular Android Apps - 0 views

  • Researchers at Yale Privacy Lab and French nonprofit Exodus Privacy have documented the proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that weather, flashlight, rideshare, and dating apps, among others, are infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast amounts of information to better target advertising.

    Exodus security researchers identified 44 trackers in more than 300 apps for Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been downloaded billions of times. Yale Privacy Lab, within the university’s law school, is working to replicate the Exodus findings and has already released reports on 25 of the trackers.

    Yale Privacy Lab researchers have only been able to analyze Android apps, but believe many of the trackers also exist on iOS, since companies often distribute for both platforms. To find trackers, the Exodus researchers built a custom auditing platform for Android apps, which searched through the apps for digital “signatures” distilled from known trackers. A signature might be a tell-tale set of keywords or string of bytes found in an app file, or a mathematically-derived “hash” summary of the file itself.

    The findings underscore the pervasiveness of tracking despite a permissions system on Android that supposedly puts users in control of their own data. They also highlight how a large and varied set of firms are working to enable tracking.

Paul Merrell

Google will 'de-rank' RT articles to make them harder to find - Eric Schmidt - RT World... - 0 views

  • Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, says the company will “engineer” specific algorithms for RT and Sputnik to make their articles less prominent on the search engine’s news delivery services.

    “We are working on detecting and de-ranking those kinds of sites – it’s basically RT and Sputnik,” Schmidt said during a Q & A session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada on Saturday, when asked about whether Google facilitates “Russian propaganda.”

  • “We are well of aware of it, and we are trying to engineer the systems to prevent that [the content being delivered to wide audiences]. But we don’t want to ban the sites – that’s not how we operate.”

    The discussion focused on the company’s popular Google News service, which clusters the news by stories, then ranks the various media outlets depending on their reach, article length and veracity, and Google Alerts, which proactively informs subscribers of new publications.

  • The Alphabet chief, who has been referred to by Hillary Clinton as a “longtime friend,” added that the experience of “the last year” showed that audiences could not be trusted to distinguish fake and real news for themselves.

    “We started with the default American view that ‘bad’ speech would be replaced with ‘good’ speech, but the problem found in the last year is that this may not be true in certain situations, especially when you have a well-funded opponent who is trying to actively spread this information,” he told the audience.

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  • RT America registered under FARA earlier this month, after being threatened by the US Department of Justice with arrests and confiscations of property if it failed to comply. The broadcaster is fighting the order in court.

Paul Merrell

Trump administration pulls back curtain on secretive cybersecurity process - The Washin... - 0 views

  • The White House on Wednesday made public for the first time the rules by which the government decides to disclose or keep secret software flaws that can be turned into cyberweapons — whether by U.S. agencies hacking for foreign intelligence, money-hungry criminals or foreign spies seeking to penetrate American computers.

    The move to publish an un­classified charter responds to years of criticism that the process was unnecessarily opaque, fueling suspicion that it cloaked a stockpile of software flaws that the National Security Agency was hoarding to go after foreign targets but that put Americans’ cyber­security at risk.

  • The rules are part of the “Vulnerabilities Equities Process,” which the Obama administration revamped in 2014 as a multi­agency forum to debate whether and when to inform companies such as Microsoft and Juniper that the government has discovered or bought a software flaw that, if weaponized, could affect the security of their product.

    The Trump administration has mostly not altered the rules under which the government reaches a decision but is disclosing its process. Under the VEP, an “equities review board” of at least a dozen national security and civilian agencies will meet monthly — or more often, if a need arises — to discuss newly discovered vulnerabilities. Besides the NSA, the CIA and the FBI, the list includes the Treasury, Commerce and State departments, and the Office of Management and Budget.

    The priority is on disclosure, the policy states, to protect core Internet systems, the U.S. economy and critical infrastructure, unless there is “a demonstrable, overriding interest” in using the flaw for intelligence or law enforcement purposes.

    The government has long said that it discloses the vast majority — more than 90 percent — of the vulnerabilities it discovers or buys in products from defense contractors or other sellers. In recent years, that has amounted to more than 100 a year, according to people familiar with the process.

    But because the process was classified, the National Security Council, which runs the discussion, was never able to reveal any numbers. Now, Joyce said, the number of flaws disclosed and the

Paul Merrell

India begins to embrace digital privacy. - 0 views

  • India is the world’s largest democracy and is home to 13.5 percent of the world’s internet users. So the Indian Supreme Court’s August ruling that privacy is a fundamental, constitutional right for all of the country’s 1.32 billion citizens was momentous. But now, close to three months later, it’s still unclear exactly how the decision will be implemented. Will it change everything for internet users? Or will the status quo remain?

    The most immediate consequence of the ruling is that tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Alibaba will be required to rein in their collection, utilization, and sharing of Indian user data. But the changes could go well beyond technology. If implemented properly, the decision could affect national politics, business, free speech, and society. It could encourage the country to continue to make large strides toward increased corporate and governmental transparency, stronger consumer confidence, and the establishment and growth of the Indian “individual” as opposed to the Indian collective identity. But that’s a pretty big if.


    The privacy debate in India was in many ways sparked by a controversy that has shaken up the landscape of national politics for several months. It began in 2016 as a debate around a social security program that requires participating citizens to obtain biometric, or Aadhaar, cards. Each card has a unique 12-digit number and records an individual’s fingerprints and irises in order to confirm his or her identity

  • n order to bolster the ruling the government will also be introducing a set of data protection laws that are to be developed by a committee led by retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna. The committee will study the data protection landscape, develop a draft Data Protection Bill, and identify how, and whether, the Aadhaar Act should be amended based on the privacy ruling.
  • Should the data protection laws be implemented in an enforceable manner, the ruling will significantly impact the business landscape in India. Since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014, the government has made fostering and expanding the technology and startup sector a top priority. The startup scene has grown, giving rise to several promising e-commerce companies, but in 2014, only 12 percent of India’s internet users were online consumers. If the new data protection laws are truly impactful, companies will have to accept responsibility for collecting, utilizing, and protecting user data safely and fairly. Users would also have a stronger form of redress when their newly recognized rights are violated, which could transform how they engage with technology. This has the potential to not only increase consumer confidence but revitalize the Indian business sector, as it makes it more amenable and friendly to outside investors, users, and collaborators.
Paul Merrell

Comcast asks the FCC to prohibit states from enforcing net neutrality | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • Comcast met with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's staff this week in an attempt to prevent states from issuing net neutrality rules.

    As the FCC prepares to gut its net neutrality rules, broadband providers are worried that states might enact their own laws to prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling, or discriminating against online content.

  • Comcast Senior VP Frank Buono and a Comcast attorney met with Pai Chief of Staff Matthew Berry and Senior Counsel Nicholas Degani on Monday, the company said in an ex parte filing that describes the meeting.

    Comcast urged Pai's staff to reverse the FCC's classification of broadband as a Title II common carrier service, a move that would eliminate the legal authority the FCC uses to enforce net neutrality rules. Pai has said he intends to do just that, so Comcast will likely get its wish on that point.

    But Comcast also wants the FCC to go further by making a declaration that states cannot impose their own regulations on broadband. The filing said:

    We also emphasized that the Commission's order in this proceeding should include a clear, affirmative ruling that expressly confirms the primacy of federal law with respect to BIAS [Broadband Internet Access Service] as an interstate information service, and that preempts state and local efforts to regulate BIAS either directly or indirectly.

Paul Merrell

Do Not Track Implementation Guide Launched | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

  • Today we are releasing the implementation guide for EFF’s Do Not Track (DNT) policy. For years users have been able to set a Do Not Track signal in their browser, but there has been little guidance for websites as to how to honor that request. EFF’s DNT policy sets out a meaningful response for servers to follow, and this guide provides details about how to apply it in practice.

    At its core, DNT protects user privacy by excluding the use of unique identifiers for cross-site tracking, and by limiting the retention period of log data to ten days. This short retention period gives sites the time they need for debugging and security purposes, and to generate aggregate statistical data. From this baseline, the policy then allows exceptions when the user's interactions with the site—e.g., to post comments, make a purchase, or click on an ad—necessitates collecting more information. The site is then free to retain any data necessary to complete the transaction. We believe this approach balances users’ privacy expectations with the ability of websites to deliver the functionality users want.

    Websites often integrate third-party content and rely on third-party services (like content delivery networks or analytics), and this creates the potential for user data to be leaked despite the best intentions of the site operator. The guide identifies potential pitfalls and catalogs providers of compliant services. It is common, for example, to embed media from platforms like You Tube, Sound Cloud, and Twitter, all of which track users whenever their widgets are loaded. Fortunately, Embedly, which offers control over the appearance of embeds, also supports DNT via its API, displaying a poster instead and loading the widget only if the user clicks on it knowingly.

  • Knowledge makes the difference between willing tracking and non-consensual tracking. Users should be able to choose whether they want to give up their privacy in exchange for using a site or a  particular feature. This means sites need to be transparent about their practices. A great example of this is our biggest adopter, Medium, which does not track DNT users who browse the site and gives clear information about tracking to users when they choose to log in. This is their previous log-in panel, the DNT language is currently being added to their new interface.
Paul Merrell

It's A-OK for FBI agents to silence web giants, says appeals court * The Register - 0 views

  • Gagging orders in the FBI's National Security Letters are all above board and constitutional, a California court has ruled.

    These security letters are typically sent to internet giants demanding information on whoever is behind a username or email address. Crucially, these requests include clauses that prevent the organizations from warning specific subscribers that they are under surveillance by the Feds.

    Cloudflare and Credo Mobile aren't happy with that, and – with the help of rights warriors at the EFF – challenged the gagging orders. Despite earlier successes in their legal battle, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled [PDF] on Monday that the gagging orders do not trample on First Amendment rights.

  • The FBI dishes out thousands of National Security Letters (NSLs) every year; they can simply be issued by a special agent in charge in a bureau field office, and don’t require judicial review. They allow the Feds to obtain the name, address, and records of any services used – but not the contents of conversations – plus billing records of a person, and forbid the hosting company from telling the subject, meaning those under investigation can’t challenge the decision.

    It used to be the case that companies couldn’t even mention the existence of the NSL system for fear of prosecution. However, in 2013 a US district court in San Francisco ruled that such extreme gagging violated the First Amendment. That decision came after Google, and later others, started publishing the number of NSL orders that had been received, in defiance of the law.

    In 2015 the Obama administration amended the law to allow companies limited rights to disclose NSL orders, and to set a three-year limit for the gagging order. It also set up a framework for companies to challenge the legitimacy of NSL subpoenas, and it was these changes that caused the appeals court verdict in favor of the government.

Paul Merrell

Challenge to data transfer tool used by Facebook will go to Europe's top court | TechCr... - 0 views

  • The five-week court hearing in what is a complex case delving into detail on US surveillance operations took place in February. The court issued its ruling today.

    The 153-page ruling starts by noting “this is an unusual case”, before going into a detailed discussion of the arguments and concluding that the DPC’s concerns about the validity of SCCs should be referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

    Schrems is also the man responsible for bringing, in 2013, a legal challenge that ultimately struck down Safe Harbor — the legal mechanism that had oiled the pipe for EU-US personal data flows for fifteen years before the ECJ ruled it to be invalid in October 2015.

    Schrems’ argument had centered on U.S. government mass surveillance programs, as disclosed via the Snowden leaks, being incompatible with fundamental European privacy rights. After the ECJ struck down Safe Harbor he then sought to apply the same arguments against Facebook’s use of SCCs — returning to Ireland to make the complaint as that’s where the company has its European HQ.

    It’s worth noting that the European Commission has since replaced Safe Harbor with a new (and it claims more robust) data transfer mechanism, called the EU-US Privacy Shield — whi

  • In a written statement on the ruling Schrems added: “I welcome the judgement by the Irish High Court. It is important that a neutral Court outside of the US has summarized the facts on US surveillance in a judgement, after diving through more than 45,000 pages of documents in a five week hearing.
  • Making a video statement outside court in Dublin today, Schrems said the Irish court had dismissed Facebook’s argument that the US government does not undertake any surveillance.
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  • Schrems’ Safe Harbor challenge also started in the Irish Court before being ultimately referred to the ECJ. So there’s more than a little legal deja vu here, especially given the latest development in the case.

    In its ruling on the SCC issue, the Irish Court noted that a US ombudsperson position created under Privacy Shield to handle EU citizens complaints about companies’ handling of their data is not enough to overcome what it described as “well founded concerns” raised by the DPC regarding the adequacy of the protections for EU citizens data.

  • On Facebook, he also said: “In simple terms, US law requires Facebook to help the NSA with mass surveillance and EU law prohibits just that. As Facebook is subject to both jurisdictions, they got themselves in a legal dilemma that they cannot possibly solve in the long run.”
  • While Schrems’ original complaint pertained to Facebook, the Irish DPC’s position means many more companies that use the mechanism could face disruption if SCCs are ultimately invalidated as a result of the legal challenge to their validity.
Paul Merrell

Open Access Can't Wait. Pass FASTR Now. | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

  • When you pay for federally funded research, you should be allowed to read it. That’s the idea behind the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (S.1701, H.R.3427), which was recently reintroduced in both houses of Congress.

    FASTR was first introduced in 2013, and while it has strong support in both parties, it has never gained enough momentum to pass. We need to change that. Let’s tell Congress that passing an open access law should be a top priority.

  • Tell Congress: It’s time to move FASTR

    The proposal is pretty simple: Under FASTR, every federal agency that spends more than $100 million on grants for research would be required to adopt an open access policy. The bill gives each agency flexibility to implement an open access policy suited to the work it funds, so long as research is available to the public after an “embargo period” of a year or less.

    One of the major points of contention around FASTR is how long that embargo period should be. Last year, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved FASTR unanimously, but only after extending that embargo period from six months to 12, putting FASTR in line with the 2013 White House open access memo. That’s the version that was recently reintroduced in the Senate.  The House bill, by contrast, sets the embargo period at six months.

    EFF supports a shorter period. Part of what’s important about open access is that it democratizes knowledge: when research is available to the public, you don’t need expensive journal subscriptions or paid access to academic databases in order to read it. A citizen scientist can use and build on the same body of knowledge as someone with institutional connections. But in the fast-moving world of scientific research, 12 months is an eternity.

    A shorter embargo is far from a radical proposition, especially in 2017. The landscape for academic publishing is very different from what it was when FASTR was first introduced, thanks in larger part to nongovernmental funders who already enforce open access mandates.

  • Just last year, the Gates Foundation made headlines when it dropped the embargo period from its policy entirely, requiring that research be published openly immediately. After a brief standoff, major publishers began to accommodate Gates’ requirements. As a result, we finally have public confirmation of what we’ve always known: open access mandates don’t put publishers out of business; they push them to modernize their business models. Imagine how a strong open access mandate for government-funded research—with a requirement that that research be licensed openly—could transform publishing.

    FASTR may not be that law, but it’s a huge step in the right direction, and it’s the best option on the table today. Let’s urge Congress to pass a version of FASTR with an embargo period of six months or less, and then use it as a foundation for stronger open access in the future.

Paul Merrell

YouTube To Censor "Controversial" Content, ADL On Board As Flagger - 0 views

  • Chief among the groups seeking to clamp down on independent media has been Google, the massive technology company with deep connections to the U.S. intelligence community, as well as to U.S. government and business elites.
  • Since 2015, Google has worked to become the Internet’s “Ministry of Truth,” first through its creation of the First Draft Coalition and more recently via major changes made to its search engine that curtail public access to new sites independent of the corporate media.
  • Google has now stepped up its war on free speech and the freedom of the press through its popular subsidiary, YouTube. On Tuesday, YouTube announced online that it is set to begin censoring content deemed “controversial,” even if that content does not break any laws or violate YouTube’s user agreement.

    Misleadingly dubbed as an effort “to fight terror content online,” the new program will flag content for review through a mix of machine algorithms and “human review,” guided by standards set up by “expert NGOs and institutions” that are part of YouTube’s “Trusted Flagger” program. YouTube stated that such organizations “bring expert knowledge of complex issues like hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism.”

    One of the leading institutions directing the course of the Trusted Flagger program is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but has gained a reputation over the years for labeling any critic of Israel’s government as an “anti-Semite.”

    For instance, characterizing Israeli policies

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