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    In flip-flop, Apple bans app used by Hong Kong protestors / ArsTechnica – Thursday, 10 October - 18:49

Hong Kong protestors beneath umbrellas.

Enlarge / Hong Kong protestors in August 2019. (credit: Lewis Tse Pui Lung )

Apple has yanked an app called from its app store just days after approving it. The app used crowdsourcing to track the location of protestors and police officers in real time. The app's anonymous author says it's intended to help people in Hong Kong stay safe by avoiding potentially dangerous areas.

Apple's latest move came after China's official state-run newspaper, the People's Daily, criticized the app for aiding anti-government protestors—labeled "rioters" by the government—and endangering public safety.

Apple first rejected the app in early October, arguing that it "allowed users to evade law enforcement." Critics pointed out that Apple has approved other apps with similar functionality, including the speed-trap warnings on Waze.

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    The Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association warns that restricting online access would be ruinous for the region / TechCrunch – Thursday, 29 August - 05:58

After Hong Kong’s leader suggested she may invoke emergency powers that could potentially include limiting Internet access, one of city’s biggest industry groups warned that “any such restrictions, however slight originally, would start the end of the open Internet of Hong Kong.”

While talking to reporters on Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suggested the government may use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance in response to ongoing anti-government demonstrations. The law, which has not been used in more than half a century, would give the government a sweeping array of powers, including the ability to restrict or censor publications and communications. In contrast to China’s “Great Firewall” and routine government censorship of internet services, Hong Kong’s internet is currently open and mostly unrestricted, with the exception of laws to prevent online crime, copyright infringements and the spread of obscene material like child pornography.

In an “urgent statement” addressed to Hong Kong’s Executive Council, the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA) said that because of technology like VPNs, the cloud and cryptographies, the only way to “effectively and meaningfully block any services” would entail putting all of Hong Kong’s internet behind a large-scale surveillance firewall. The association added that this would have huge economic and social consequences and deter international organizations from doing business in Hong Kong.

Furthermore, restricting the internet in Hong Kong would also have implications in the rest of the region, including in mainland China, the HKISPA added. There are currently 18 international cable systems that land, or will land, in Hong Kong, making it a major telecommunications hub. Blocking one application means users will move onto another application, creating a cascading effect that will continue until all of Hong Kong is behind a firewall, the association warned.

In its statement, the HKISPA wrote that “the lifeline of Hong Kong’s Internet industry relies in large part on the open network,” adding “Hong Kong is the largest core node of Asia’s optical fiber network and hosts the biggest Internet exchange in the region, and it is now home to 100+ data centers operated by local and international companies, and it transits 80%+ of traffic for mainland China.”

“All these successes rely on the openness of Hong Kong’s network,” the HKISPA continued. “Such restrictions imposed by executive orders would completely ruin the uniqueness and value of Hong Kong as a telecommunications hub, a pillar of success as an international financial centre.”

The HKISPA urged the government to consult the industry and “society at large” before placing any restrictions in place. “The HKISPA strongly opposes selective blocking of Internet Services without consensus of the community,” it said.

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    ‘Behind the Screen’ illuminates the invisible, indispensable content moderation industry / TechCrunch – Wednesday, 28 August - 19:26

The moderators who sift through the toxic detritus of social media have gained the spotlight recently, but they’ve been important for far longer — longer than internet giants would like you to know. In her new book “Behind the Screen,” UCLA’s Sarah Roberts illuminates the history of this scrupulously hidden workforce and the many forms the job takes.

It is after all people who look at every heinous image, racist diatribe, and porn clip that gets uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, and every other platform — people who are often paid like dirt, treated like parts, then disposed of like trash when worn out. And they’ve been doing it for a long time.

True to her academic roots, Roberts lays out the thesis of the book clearly in the introduction, explaining that although content moderators or the companies that employ them may occasionally surface in discussions, the job has been systematically obscured from sight.

The work they do, the conditions under which they do it, and for whose benefit are largely imperceptible to the users of the platforms who pay for and rely upon this labor. In fact, this invisibility is by design.

Roberts, an assistant professor of information studies at UCLA, has been looking into this industry for the better part of a decade, and this book is the culmination of her efforts to document it. While it is not the final word on the topic — no academic would suggest their work was — it is an eye-opening account, engagingly written, and not at all the tour of horrors you may reasonably expect it to be.

After reading the book, I talked with Roberts about the process of researching and writing it. As an academic and tech outsider, she was not writing from personal experience or even commenting on the tech itself, but found that she had to essentially invent a new area of research from scratch spanning tech, global labor, and sociocultural norms.

“Opacity, obfuscation, and general unwillingness”

“To take you back to 2010 when I started this work, there was literally no academic research on this topic,” Roberts said. “That’s unusual for a grad student, and actually something that made me feel insecure — like maybe this isn’t a thing, maybe no one cares.”

That turned out not to be the case, of course. But the practices we read about with horror, of low-wage workers grinding through endless queues of content from child abuse to terrorist attacks, while they’ve been in place for years and years, have been successfully moderated out of existence by the companies that employ them. But recent events have changed that.

“A number of factors are coalescing to make the public more receptive to this kind of work,” she explained. “Average social media users, just regular people, are becoming more sophisticated about their use, and questioning the integration of those kinds of tools and media in their everyday life. And certainly there were a few key political situations where social media was implicated. Those were a driving force behind the people asking, do I actually know what I’m using? Do I know whether or how I’m being manipulated? How do the things I see on my screen actually get there?”

A handful of reports over the years, like Casey Newton’s in the Verge recently , also pierced the curtain behind which tech firms carefully and repeatedly hid this unrewarding yet essential work. At some point the cat was simply out of the bag. But few people recognized it for what it was.

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    fuckoffgoogle - we won't let you take this city

    paulfree14 – Wednesday, 10 January, 2018 - 13:14

'Google plans to implant a "Google Campus" in Kreuzberg, Berlin. We, as a decentralized network of people are committed to not letting our beloved city be taken over by this law- and tax-evading company that is building a dystopian future.''


G-ENTRIFICATION Increased rents, buildings bought by Google and their startups, local livelihoods destroyed.

GOOGLE IS EVIL #Google routinely violates Human rights through widespread #censorship and mass-#surveillance.

A BRAVE G WORLD Google has a leading role in influencing technology towards a dystopian future where Humans will be controlled by algorithms

NO TAX NO LAW Google systematically evades EU taxes and legislation. Do we want such a company as neighbor?

TAKE ACTION – RESOURCES! As a diverse multitude we can organize to resist and kick them out of Kreuzberg! Also, let’s joyfully share knowledge about decentralized technologies!

Let’s organize! Resist the invasion! Everyone can participate by contributing research material about any of our topics....

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    german gov. takes action against left and anarchist newsplattform, it's official illegal now

    paulfree14 – Saturday, 26 August, 2017 - 05:24

Goverment of germany (minister de maiziere) is forbitting the left news and activists page as part of the ongoing hate speech against anarchists and left orientated activists.

Also police now searching through rooms of some activists linked to the news platform.