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Start of a flat season...

The Racing Post ends its print edition until the resumption of racing


Link Here30th March 2020
The Racing Post, horse racing's newspaper, has temporarily suspended publication of its print edition, leaving a number of its journalists temporarily stood down while the operation's news service continues online.

In a letter to readers in Thursday's edition, Tom Kerr, the Post's editor, says that unfortunately, with racing in Britain and Ireland halted, betting shops closed and our governments urging everyone to stay at home as much as possible, we have been left with no other choice. He added:

However, we will continue to publish on racingpost.com and on the Racing Post mobile app, ensuring that racing professionals, punters and fans of the sport are informed and entertained for however long this shutdown might last.

 

 

GamblingAware would prefer GamblingDenial...

Anti-gambling campaigners complain about the amount of gambling advertising seen by children


Link Here27th March 2020
GambleAware is an anti-gambling campaign group. It commissioned a survey from Ipso MORI to showcase GambleAware's concerns about the amount of TV adverts for gambling products and to support its claim that gambling adverts normalise gambling in the eyes of children.

The survey examines the frequency and format of gambling advertising and marketing, and the exposure among children, young people and adults.

The rsurvey was carried out by two consortia led by Ipsos MORI and the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling. The research is also part of the Gambling Commission's research programme and forms a key part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

The interim results found that, between 2015-2018, the volume and spend on gambling marketing and advertising is on the rise across different forms of media, including TV and radio, with lotteries and bookmakers among the top spenders. Sports advertising was particularly dominant online, with exposure compounded further by sponsorship used within broadcasts of live events.

In addition to advertising and marketing, the researchers identified other factors contributing to the wide exposure of gambling within society, including the role of family and friends in introducing them to gambling. Many revealed they had experienced exposure to gambling activity from an early age in a range of settings.

Across the board, there was mixed levels of awareness and understanding of messages relating to risk or safer gambling among participants. The research also identified little evidence of prominent consumer protection messages -- such as age warnings or promotion of lower-risk gambling. Therefore, more could be done to clearly highlight the risks of gambling within advertising and marketing.

In light of this, researchers claim that some advertising may exploit the susceptibility, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young people or vulnerable adults. Over a fifth (22%) of mainstream media adverts were judged to contain features such as implied limited risk or inflated chances of winning; this rose to 37% on Twitter.

The final phase of the research and subsequent findings will focus more on the impact of gambling marketing and advertising and will be published later in 2019. The outcome of today's stakeholder event, which presents an opportunity to discuss and build on some of the key issues that have emerged, will also be released later this year.

 

 

Coronavirus and surveillance technology...

How far will governments go? Governments mobilized digital surveillance to contain the spread of the virus


Link Here26th March 2020

Since the COVID 19 outbreak became a fast-spreading pandemic, governments from across the globe have implemented new policies to help slow the spread of the virus.

In addition to closing borders to non-citizens, many governments have also mobilized digital surveillance technologies to track and contain visitors and citizens alike.

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong government announced that all new arrivals to the city must undergo two weeks of self-quarantine, while wearing an electronic wristband that connects to a location tracking app on their phones.

If the app detects changes in the person's location, it will alert the Department of Health and the police. Prior to this new policy, only people who had recently visited Hubei province in China were required to wear a monitoring wristband during their quarantine period.

While surveillance technologies and measures may give the public a sense of security in controlling the spread of the virus, we must remain mindful and vigilant of their continued use after the pandemic subsides.

European and North American countries like Italy, Spain, and the US are currently being hit hard by the coronavirus. Meanwhile, Asian countries have been praised by international media for their swift responses and use of surveillance technologies to control the outbreak.

The Singaporean government, for example, implemented policies that can effectively and rigorously trace a complex chain of contacts . As of February, anyone entering a government or corporate building in Singapore will have to provide their contact information.

In addition, the government has been gathering a substantial amount of data detailing not only each known case of infection but also where the person lives, works and the network of contacts they are connected to.

While these measures have thus far seemed to yield positive results, they have highlighted the technological capacity and power of the government to monitor the movements and lives of every individual.

In China, where Covid-19 was first detected, the government has been deploying not only drastic lockdown policies but also a variety of surveillance technologies to ensure public compliance with self-quarantine and isolation.

In addition to using drones to monitor people's movements and ensure they are staying home, police in five Chinese cities have taken to patrolling the streets wearing smart helmets equipped with thermal screening technologies that sound an alarm if a person's temperature is higher than the threshold.

The government has also collaborated with the company Hanwang Technology Limited to finesse their existing facial recognition technology, so that it can work even when the person is wearing a face mask

When connected to a temperature sensor and the Chinese government's existing database as well as state-level intel, this technology allows authorities to immediately identify the name of each person whose body temperature is above 38 degrees Celcius.

According to Hanwang Technology, this refined facial recognition technology can identify up to 30 people within a second.

While the use of surveillance technologies like these has been effective in lowering the number of confirmed cases in China, it is not without risks.

Beyond the pandemic, both the Chinese government and the company have substantial interests in further developing and deploying this technology: the government can make use of it to track and suppress political dissidents, and the company has much to gain financially.

This technology can also be co-opted by China's counterterrorism forces to further monitor and regulate the movement of the Uighur people, who are categorised as terrorists by the Chinese government and are currently being forced into mass detention camps and subjected to forced labour.

Outside of Asia, Middle Eastern countries like Israel and Iran have also been deploying similar surveillance technologies , citing the need to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The Israeli government now makes use of technologies developed for counterterrorism to collect cellphone data, so that the government can trace people's contact network, and identify those who need to be quarantined.

The geolocation data gathered via people's phones will then be used to alert the public where not to go based on the pattern of infection.

Not only is it unprecedented for Israel to deploy counterterrorism data to combat a public health crisis, but the existence of this data trove has also, according to the New York Times , not been reported prior to this.

On March 6, researcher Nariman Gharib revealed that the Iranian government had been tracking its citizens' phone data through an app disguised as a coronavirus diagnostic tool.

Security expert Nikolaos Chrysaidos confirmed that the app collected sensitive personal information unrelated to the outbreak -- for example, the app recorded the bodily movements of the user the way a fitness tracker would.

Google has since removed the app from Google Play, but this case demonstrates the need for ongoing public vigilance over government use of surveillance technologies in the name of public health.

Safeguarding public health has historically been used as a justification for mainstream institutions and government authorities to stigmatise, monitor, and regulate the lives of marginalised people -- such as immigrants, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people living in poverty.

If we do not hold our government accountable for its use of surveillance technologies during the current pandemic and beyond, we will be putting those who are already marginalised at further risks of regulation, suppression, and persecution.

 

 

Protect Speech and Security Online...

Calling on Americans to reject the Graham-Blumenthal Proposal


Link Here25th March 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are quietly circulating a serious threat to your free speech and security online. Their proposal would give the Attorney General the power to unilaterally write new rules for how online platforms and services must operate in order to rely on Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. The AG could use this power to force tech companies to undermine our secure and private communications.

We must stop this dangerous proposal before it sees the light of day. Please tell your members of Congress to reject the so-called EARN IT Act.   

The Graham-Blumenthal bill would establish a National Commission on Online Child Exploitation Prevention tasked with recommending best practices for providers of interactive computer services regarding the prevention of online child exploitation conduct. But the Attorney General would have the power to override the Commission's recommendations unilaterally. Internet platforms or services that failed to meet the AG's demands could be on the hook for millions of dollars in liability.

It's easy to predict how Attorney General William Barr would use that power: to break encryption. He's said over and over that he thinks the best practice is to weaken secure messaging systems to give law enforcement access to our private conversations. The Graham-Blumenthal bill would finally give Barr the power to demand that tech companies obey him or face overwhelming liability from lawsuits based on their users' activities. Such a demand would put encryption providers like WhatsApp and Signal in an awful conundrum: either face the possibility of losing everything in a single lawsuit or knowingly undermine their own users' security, making all of us more vulnerable to criminals. The law should not pit core values--Internet users' security and expression--against one another.

The Graham-Blumenthal bill is anti-speech, anti-security, and anti-innovation. Congress must reject it.

 

 

Updated: Should government track covid-19 contacts using mobile phone location data?...

Seems sensible but the EFF is not convinced


Link Here 25th March 2020

Governments Haven't Shown Location Surveillance Would Help Contain COVID-19 

Governments around the world are demanding new dragnet location surveillance powers to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. But before the public allows their governments to implement such systems, governments must explain to the public how these systems would be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. There's no questioning the need for far-reaching public health measures to meet this urgent challenge, but those measures must be scientifically rigorous, and based on the expertise of public health professionals.

Governments have not yet met that standard, nor even shown that extraordinary location surveillance powers would make a significant contribution to containing COVID-19. Unless they can, there's no justification for their intrusions on privacy and free speech, or the disparate impact these intrusions would have on vulnerable groups. Indeed, governments have not even been transparent about their plans and rationales.

The Costs of Location Surveillance

EFF has long opposed location surveillance programs that can turn our lives into open books for scrutiny by police, surveillance-based advertisers, identity thieves, and stalkers. Many sensitive inferences can be drawn from a visit to a health center, a criminal defense lawyer, an immigration clinic, or a protest planning meeting.

Moreover, fear of surveillance chills and deters free speech and association. And all too often , surveillance disparately burdens people of color. What's more, whatever personal data is collected by government can be misused by its employees, stolen by criminals and foreign governments, and unpredictably redirected by agency leaders to harmful new uses .

Emerging Dragnet Location Surveillance

China reportedly responded to the COVID-19 crisis by building new infrastructures to track the movements of massive numbers of identifiable people. Israel tapped into a vast trove of cellphone location data to identify people who came into close contact with known virus carriers. That nation has sent quarantine orders based on this surveillance. About a dozen countries are reportedly testing a spy tool built by NSO Group that uses huge volumes of cellphone location data to match the location of infected people to other people in their vicinity (NSO's plan is to not share a match with the government absent such a person's consent).

In the United States , the federal government is reportedly seeking, from mobile app companies like Facebook and Google, large volumes of location data that is de-identified (that is, after removal of information that identifies particular people) and aggregated (that is, after combining data about multiple people). According to industry executives, such data might be used to predict the next virus hotspot. Facebook has previously made data like this available to track population movements during natural disasters.

But re-identification of de-identified data is a constant infosec threat . De-identification of location data is especially hard, since location data points serve as identification of their own. Also, re-identification can be achieved by correlating de-identified data with other publicly available data like voter rolls, and with the oceans of information about identifiable people that are sold by data brokers . While de-identification might in some cases reduce privacy risks , this depends on many factors that have not yet been publicly addressed, such as careful selection of what data to aggregate, and the minimum thresholds for aggregation. In the words of Prof. Matt Blaze, a specialist in computer science and privacy:

One of the things we have learned over time is that something that seems anonymous, more often than not, is not anonymous , even if it's designed with the best intentions.

Disturbingly, most of the public information about government's emerging location surveillance programs comes from anonymous sources , and not official explanations. Transparency is a cornerstone of democratic governance, especially now , in the midst of a public health crisis. If the government is considering such new surveillance programs, it must publicly explain exactly what it is planning, why this would help, and what rules would apply. History shows that when government builds new surveillance programs in secret , these programs quickly lead to unjustified privacy abuses. That's one reason EFF has long demanded transparent democratic control over whether government agencies may deploy new surveillance technology.

Governments Must Show Their Work

Because new government dragnet location surveillance powers are such a menace to our digital rights, governments should not be granted these powers unless they can show the public how these powers would actually help, in a significant manner, to contain COVID-19. Even if governments could show such efficacy, we would still need to balance the benefit of the government's use of these powers against the substantial cost to our privacy, speech, and equality of opportunity. And even if this balancing justified government's use of these powers, we would still need safeguards, limits, auditing, and accountability measures. In short, new surveillance powers must always be necessary and proportionate .

But today, we can't balance those interests or enumerate necessary safeguards, because governments have not shown how the proposed new dragnet location surveillance powers could help contain COVID-19. The following are some of the points we have not seen the government publicly address.

1. Are the location records sought sufficiently granular to show whether two people were within transmittal distance of each other? In many cases, we question whether such data will actually be useful to healthcare professionals.

This may seem paradoxical. After all, location data is sufficiently precise for law enforcement to place suspects at the scene of a crime, and for juries to convict largely on the basis of that evidence. But when it comes to tracking the spread of a disease that requires close personal contact, data generated by current technology generally can't reliably tell us whether two people were closer than the CDC-recommended radius of six feet for social distancing.

For example, cell site location information (CSLI)--the records generated by mobile carriers based on which cell towers a phone connects to and when--is often only able to place a phone within a zone of half a mile to two miles in urban areas. The area is even wider in areas with less dense tower placement. GPS sensors built directly into phones can do much better, but even GPS is only accurate to a 16-foot radius . These and other technologies like Bluetooth can be combined for better accuracy, but there's no guarantee that a given phone can be located with six-foot precision at a given time.

2. Do the cellphone location records identify a sufficiently large and representative portion of the overall population? Even today, not everyone has a cellphone, and some people do not regularly carry their phones or connect them to a cellular network. The population that carries a networked phone at all times is not representative of the overall population; for example, people without phones skew towards lower-income people and older people.

3. Has the virus already spread so broadly that contact tracing is no longer a significant way to reduce transmission? If community transmission is commonplace, contact tracing may become impractical or divert resources from more effective containment methods.

There might be scenarios other than precise, person-to-person contact tracing where location data could be useful. We've heard it suggested, for example, that this data could be used to track future flare-ups of the virus by observing general patterns of people's movements in a given area. But even when transmission is less common, widespread testing may be more effective at containment, as may be happening in South Korea .

4. Will health-based surveillance deter people from seeking health care? Already, there are reports that people subject to COVID-based location tracking are altering their movements to avoid embarrassing revelations. If a positive test result will lead to enhanced location surveillance, some people may avoid testing.

Conclusion

As our society struggles with COVID-19, far narrower big data surveillance proposals may emerge. Perhaps public health professionals will show that such proposals are necessary and proportionate. If so, EFF would seek safeguards, including mandatory expiration when the health crisis ends, independent supervision, strict anti-discrimination rules, auditing for efficacy and misuse, and due process for affected people.

But for now, government has not shown that new dragnet location surveillance powers would significantly help to contain COVID-19. It is the government's job to show the public why this would work.

Update: In fight against coronavirus, European governments embrace surveillance

25th March 2020. See article from politico.eu

 

 

 

Won't somebody think of the mothers and daughters?...

Egypt bill introduced to increase penalties for strong language in art works


Link Here22nd March 2020
Full story: Music Censorship in Egypt...authorities persecute singers for slightly sexy music videos
Earlier in March, the Egyptian parliament started discussing a draft amendment to the Penal Code that aims to provide harsher penalties including imprisonment for using lewd or offensive words, especially in artworks. The suggested amendment may send the offender to prison for three years for offending public sensibilities through lewd language, instead of a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds ($32) currently determined by law.

The draft law needs to go through parliamentary subcommittees, but no date has yet been set.

The bill comes in the wake of a major controversy over mahraganat , a hybrid music genre that combines folk with electronic music and uses colloquialism in its lyrics. This genre of music, whose name literally means festivals in Arabic, originated in the Cairo slums in the early 2000s. Its beat resembles that of American rap and, like rap, its lyrics contain sexual innuendos, racy words and obscenities.

These songs have entered every household in Egypt through the internet and smartphones, Amer told Al-Monitor. A mother, a sister, a wife or daughter should never be exposed to such words because they are offensive and often sexist.

The lyrics of one of these songs -- Bent el-Geran (The Neighbor's Daughter) by Hassan Shakosh and Omar Kamal -- ignited on Feb. 14 the debate on mahraganat. The song's lyrics suggest alcohol and hashish -- both of which are forbidden in Islam -- to get over a heartbreak.

The suggestion of alcohol and hashish angered many critics, the powerful Egyptian Musicians Syndicate and parliamentarians, including Amer. They argued that the song was an attack on the public taste and encouragement of immorality.

 

 

No longer glossy...

Playboy produces its last printed edition and goes online only


Link Here21st March 2020
Full story: Playboy Magazine...Evolving with the times
Playboy CEO Ben Kohn has announced that the magazine is ending print publication, and will continue in digital format only. He explained in an open letter:

We are also immensely proud of our revamped quarterly magazine that is inarguably one of the most beautifully designed print offerings on the market today. But it's no surprise that media consumption habits have been changing for some time203and while the stories we produce and the artwork we showcase is enjoyed by millions of people on digital platforms, our content in its printed form reaches the hands of only a fraction of our fans.

Last week, as the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic to content production and the supply chain became clearer and clearer, we were forced to accelerate a conversation we've been having internally: the question of how to transform our U.S. print product to better suit what consumers want today, and how to utilize our industry-leading content production capabilities to engage in a cultural conversation each and every day, rather than just every three months. With all of this in mind, we have decided that our Spring 2020 Issue, which arrives on U.S. newsstands and as a digital download this week, will be our final printed publication for the year in the U.S. We will move to a digital-first publishing schedule for all of our content including the Playboy Interview, 20Q, the Playboy Advisor and of course our Playmate pictorials. In 2021, alongside our digital content offerings and new consumer product launches, we will bring back fresh and innovative printed offerings in a variety of new forms203through special editions, partnerships with the most provocative creators, timely collections and much more. Print is how we began and print will always be a part of who we are.

Over the past 66 years, we've become far more than a magazine. And sometimes you have to let go of the past to make room for the future. So we're turning our attention to achieving our mission in the most effective and impactful way we can: to help create a culture where all people can pursue pleasure.

 

 

A censorship struggle...

Amazon UK bans Hitler's book, Mein Kampf


Link Here17th March 2020
Full story: Mein Kampf...Censorship issues with Hitler's book
Amazon UK has banned the sale of most editions of Hitler's Mein Kampf and other Nazi propaganda books from its store following campaigning by Jewish groups.

Booksellers were informed in recent days that they would no longer be allowed to sell a number of Nazi-authored books on the website.

In one email seen by the Guardian individuals selling secondhand copies of Mein Kampf on the service have been told by Amazon that they can no longer offer this book as it breaks the website's code of conduct. The ban impacts the main editions of Mein Kampf produced by mainstream publishers such as London-based Random House and India's Jaico, for whom it has become an unlikely bestseller .

Other Nazi publications including the children's book The Poisonous Mushroom written by Nazi publisher Julius Streicher, who was later executed for crimes against humanity.

Amazon would not comment on what had prompted it to change its mind on the issue but a recent intervention to remove the books by the London-based Holocaust Educational Trust received the backing of leading British politicians.

 

 

Fined for a failed forgottening...

The Swedish government internet censor fines Google for not taking down links and for warning the targeted website about the censorship


Link Here17th March 2020
Full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU

The Swedish data protection censor, Datainspektionen has fined Google 75 million Swedish kronor (7 million euro) for failure to comply with the censorship instructions.

According to the internet censor, which is affiliated with Sweden's Ministry of Justice, Google violated the terms of the right-to-be-forgotten rule, a EU-mandated regulation introduced in 2014 allowing individuals to request the removal of potentially harmful private information from popping up in internet searches and directories.

Datainspektionen says an internal audit has shown that Google has failed to properly remove two search results which were ordered to be delisted back in 2017, making either too narrow an interpretation of what content needed to be removed, or failing to remove a link to content without undue delay.

The watchdog has also slapped Google with a cease-and-desist order for its practice of notifying website owners of a delisting request, claiming that this practice defeats the purpose of link removal in the first place.

Google has promised to appeal the fine, with a spokesperson for the company saying that it disagrees with this decision on principle.

 

 

Offsite Article: Brussels considers pan-EU police searches of ID photos...


Link Here 16th March 2020
Law enforcement would seek matches with surveillance photos using facial recognition technology.

See article from politico.eu



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