Google censoring searches in China again

02/08/2018
google-logos

Google has a new logo and updating its image – but under the surface it’s still that pre-2010 half-evil censor

Eight years after Google pulled out of the censored Chinese internet, they’re back.  It’s been reported that the company is working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and allow it to reenter the Chinese market.

Google has engaged in the China-controlled internet space before: but in 2010 it pulled out, citing censorship and hacking as reasons.  It didn’t pull out completely – it still offered a number of apps to Chinese users, including Google Translate and Files Go, and the company has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai – But the largest of its services – search, email, and the Play app store – are all unavailable in the country.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Guardian in 2010 that his opposition to enabling censorship was motivated to his being born in Soviet Russia.   “It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life,” he said as Google exited the Chinese market after 4 years of cooperating with the authorities.

But now they’re back, working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and black-listed material.  The app is being designed for Android devices.

According to tech-based news site The Information, Google is also working on a censored news-aggregation app too. The news app would take its lead from popular algorithmically-curated apps such as Bytedance’s Toutiao – released for the Western market as “TopBuzz” – that eschew human editors in favour of personalised, highly viral content.

Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, called Google’s return to censorship “a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom.”

In putting profits before human rights, he said, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.

This is important because many computer users will set a search site as their homepage and even find content by entering key-words into the url bar of their browser.  Because of Google’s ubiquity, it is frequently set as default search engine on browsers, meaning that millions of users will find that their experience of the internet is that delivered through the lens of Google.  If that lens is smudged or cracked by censorship, all these users’ internet experience is skewed.  So it is essential to highlight the fact that Google is not the neutral, trustworthy agent that many users think it to be.

GreatFire, an organisation that monitors internet censorship and enables circumvention of the “Great Firewall of China”, said the move “could be the final nail in the Chinese internet freedom coffin” and that “the ensuing crackdown on freedom of speech will be felt around the globe.”

bmc-orange


Pop “star” Rhianna wins court case against Topshop… in other news she needs a new hats to fit her swollen head

27/01/2015

Really annoys me when “celebrities” kick off cos a photo of them has been used without permission.  In the Rhiannha v Topshop case, the mediocre singer complained because the shop was selling t-shirts bearing her photograph.  She claimed that Topshop were making out that she had endorsed the use of the photo. Rihanna won because the High Court decided that despite the copyright licence a substantial number of purchasers would have believed that Rihanna endorsed the sale of the product shirt with her image– because the image was taken from her current album – Talk That Talk – and Topshop had collaborated in the past with trend setting celebrities (from www.fashionlaw.co.uk).

This kind of crap is ridiculous, and demonstrates how $$$ is more important than the facts and the law in courts.  When a photographer shoots a photo of an individual, the copyright belongs to the photographer, whether the subject of the photo likes it or not (this is English law).  As for this nonsense that the public might think Rhianna endorsed the t-shirt in question – that has nothing to do with it.  The t-shirt did not bear any lettering suggesting that the crap pop star liked the t-shirt.

Rhianna, probably realizing that she would be broke in a few years, decided to get a few extra bucks suing Topshop.  Stupid (as you might expect from a pop bimbo with less brain than a stick insect) – instead of taking Topshop to court, she could have got her lawyers to arrange for her to be paid royalties.  But no: the twat tries to occupy the moral highground (and how in hell did she manage that?).

Rhianna after taking a beaten from partner Chris Brown.  Such a pretty look...

Rhianna after taking a beaten from partner Chris Brown. Such a pretty look…

At Shmoosmiths.co.uk,  it was reported that Judge Justice Birss was at pains to point out that no new law was being developed as a result of his findings:

Unlike other jurisdictions (including many US states) there is no such thing in English law as ‘image rights’. In some jurisdictions it is possible for celebrities to rely on extensive statutory protection for their personal brand covering everything from their voice to their signature. In Guernsey it is possible to register such rights. However, in the UK the courts have refused to extend the law to prevent the use of a celebrity’s image if they consider that the use is simply fair competition without misrepresentation.

In the UK celebrities may be able to use existing law to protect their images and reputations in certain circumstances.

So, were those “certain circumstances” met in this case?  I think not.  Basically, Rhianna’s singing skills are leaving fast.  All the silly cow has going for her are her looks.  It won’t be long before those fail her and she ends up looking like the back end of a bus.  So she’s making the most of them while they last.  Hence the court action.

As a photographer, I have the right to take pictures of just about anyone I want to, so long as I am standing on public roads/areas or have permission of the landowner that I’m standing on, and so long as the subject of my photography does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy (as far as I can tell, Rhianna did not have a reasonable expectation.  And, also very important, Topshop had obtained a licence of the copyright in the photograph. Topshop owned the copyright, the photo was taken legally… yet Rhianna still won.  English courts are ridiculous.  Rhianna (and her legal team): a bunch of pillocks.  Fuck Rhianna and all who sail in her.

Another pic of the beautiful Rhianna.  I like in particular that sneer/growl.  What a looker eh!!

Another pic of the beautiful Rhianna. I like in particular that sneer/growl. What a looker eh!!

Here’s another blog post about Rhiana from Mind of Malaka “What do Rhianna and my daughter have in common?” It’s not about this story on the photos… but if you don’t want your kids to grow up seeing Rhianna as some kind of role model, click of the link and read it. Stupid dopey Rhianna fool, she is one big mass of idiocy-with-money…

Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


Podcast conversation about mesh networking

25/11/2014

Very interesting conversation podcast about mesh networking, the obstacles and the ways to circumvent them. Mentions the Open Garden project, a mesh networking utility for Android smartphones and for Windows and Mac laptops (support for iOS is coming). It’s a free app that turns your device into a mobile hot spot. No matter how you’re connected to the Net (Wi-Fi or cellular), it makes that connection shareable (over Bluetooth) to other Open Garden users. Likewise, if you’re running the product but don’t have a connection to the Net, and you’re near a user who does, this service seamlessly gets you online. The conversation describes the military’s application of mesh networking. I think we need the decentralization of connectivity that mesh networking offers. As during the “Arab spring”, governments can shut down the internet in its territory. Mesh networking will get round that. The sophistication of smartphones and other gadgets and the RF power available to consumers nowadays means that a decentralized network that can route around censorship will soon be a reality.

Compared to more centralized network architectures, the only way to shut down a mesh network is to shut down every single node in the network. Image from www.interference.cc

Compared to more centralized network architectures, the only way to shut down a mesh network is to shut down every single node in the network. Image from http://www.interference.cc

Mentions Open Garden, Tropos, plus technology such as utilities meters being part of a wireless mesh network so the meter reader doesn’t actually need physical access to read the meter.

Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


The “right to be forgotten” bites thief in ass

16/07/2014

So people who have done dodgy crap in the past have a “right to be forgotten”… meaning Google, Bing, etc have to delete links to stories about what crooks and conmen have got up to in the past. Basically, Google etc have to delete links to online stories that might “damage the reputation” of people who have done stupid and even criminal things they’ve done in the past.

But as Dan Gillmor has pointed out in the Guardian, it’s basically a charter for crooks and idiots to hide their stupidity and criminal actions, censoring their past so it looks like they’re not idiots or crooks… info that potential employers, new acquaintances and the like could well need to know. Are you going to enter into business with someone whose ineptness or criminal behaviour is public knowledge? Probably not. But now people will be employing unsuitable people.

But what’s funny about this charade is the fact that the “right to be forgotten” by Google will mean other news outlets will report on these secretive idiots. Check out the story on Robert Daniels-Dwyer. He wanted Google to remove links to reports that he was was convicted of trying to steal £200 worth of Christmas presents from Boots in Oxford in 2006. Google removed the links… but the Oxford Mail’s editor, Simon O’Neill, argued that it is “an assault on the public’s right to know perfectly legitimate information,” and Dwyers’ naughty past has been re-publicised far more than it would have been before the ruling! The Oxford Mail’s editor, Simon O’Neill, argued that it is “an assault on the public’s right to know perfectly legitimate information.”

Check out the original Oxford Mail story here. If the idiot had kept his gob shut, no one would have known about it… it was in 2006 for goodness’ sake!

Calling it a “right to censorship”, editor O’Neill continued: “It is an attempt to re-write history… We often get complaints from convicted criminals that publishing stories about them invades their privacy or is unfair but the simple fact is if they didn’t go out committing crime and appearing in court then there would not be a story.”

The Guardian reported:

The paper reported that Daniels-Dwyer had previously attempted to have the story removed from the Mail’s websites via a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

He demanded that Newsquest “should purge the article from all databases, internally and externally available, and from any news databases to which it provides content.”

Two factual amendments were made to the article, but the PCC dismissed his case.

If Daniels-Dwyer was the complainant to Google then it has rebounded on him because the 2006 story has got renewed, and extra, publicity – a direct consequence of all such complaints about online coverage (see the Streisand effect).

The right to be forgotten could well turn out to be the right to be remembered.

So it looks like Daniels-Dwyer has well and truly screwed himself! Ha ha ha!!

Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” banned because of its “violent content”…?

27/08/2013

Here’s yet another tale of little grey men in little grey offices trying to censor the internet: author Mark Forsyth was in the British Library, and needed to access an online version of one of the Bard’s most famous plays; but the on site computer network denied him access because of its “violent content”! We’re talking about a play that is hundreds of years, is recognized as one of the greatest works of literature in the English language; a play that is routinely taught to 14 year olds – yet the British Library classified it as unsuitable and blocked it! Many young students who don’t want to bother reading the play now have a cast-iron excuse: they’re not allowed to read it!

The British Library has tried to shift the blame (they claim it was down to a newly installed wi-fi service from a third-party provider, who were probably doing what they were told to do), and the Library now say the play has been unblocked. All well and good – but how many other plays, novels, poems, etc have also been blocked? This will be revealed in a piece-meal manner as it’s revealed that one literary work after another has been blocked.

One security expert said the incident highlighted the “dysfunction” of internet filters.

Internet filters have recently come under increased scrutiny, after the government announced that pornography will be automatically blocked by UK internet providers, unless customers choose otherwise.

Digital rights activists raised concerns about the move, fearing that the lists of “banned” sites could be expanded to include pages that should be publicly available.

Prof Ross Anderson, a security expert at Cambridge University, told the BBC that internet filters were “pointless” and that it was “completely inappropriate” to have one in the British Library.

He added: “Everything that is legal should be available over the library’s wi-fi network. The only things they should block are the few dozen books against which there are court judgements in the UK.

“One of the functions of deposit libraries is to keep everything, including smut.”

The British Library defended its position, claiming it was trying to shield users from pornography and gambling websites. But I don’t see how banning literary classics or unfashionable political views will protect the children from smut and scratch-cards…

If you wanna do something, short of fire-bombing the British Library (an illegal act I would never suggest), you could always sign the Open Rights Group’s petition. If you’re one of the unbelievers, online petitions can have an effect. Honest! (So can fire-bombs, but they’re illegal yadda yadda hey!)


“Won’t somebody please think of the children?”

Make_a_donation

 
Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


18 January – Internet Freedom Day!! Hip Hip Hooray!!

18/01/2013

I got an email today from the nice people at Fight for the Future, reminding me that a year ago today, “you, me, and 24 million people defeated SOPA and Internet censorship. It was the largest online protest ever.” SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act, a proposed US law that would have impacted horribly on all our freedoms online. But it was stomped, one year ago today, and now many people are calling for 18 January to be known as Internet Freedom Day.

The email suggested one way we can celebrate Internet Freedom Day:

How is Fight for the Future participating? Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up, we’re reminded that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is copyrighted, and often censored on sites like Youtube. We realized that watching and sharing this speech (which could be considered illegal) to celebrate Dr. King’s work and the freedom we fought for is exactly what needs to happen.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent civil disobedience and to celebrate our historic defeat of SOPA, we made this video that contains the entire 17 minute speech.

Join us in a small act of civil disobedience to remember what we fight for. Watch and share this video.

If SOPA had passed, you could have gone to jail for sharing a video of it, and entire websites could have been shut down for linking to it.

But even more than that, there’s a bigger question: Are you okay with a world where when someone just learning about race and civil rights goes to the web to see MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and is confronted with a notice that says “this video has been removed”? It isn’t until 2038, when the copyright on this speech is over, that you’re even allowed to share this video.

If you haven’t done so already, send this video to a friend, tweet it, talk to your friends about it, and celebrate MLK’s work and our ability to fight back online censorship that can keep the things we love and need from us.

Nice sentiment. And if you click that link to see the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech, you will see that there’s still a lot to fight for.

The email also said:

Last, but not least, our friend and Center for Rights board member, Marvin Ammori, just wrote a book called On Internet Freedom that you can download *for free* today. He describes it as “a sort of love song to the First Amendment and the Internet.” (You can download the Kindle app for free to read on your computer, phone, or anything else, and we think he’d approve if you removed the DRM to read it on other devices.)

But anyway: 18 January as Internet Freedom Day? Hell yeah, I’m up for it.

Let’s try and make sure the Internet is, and remains, Free.

HAPPY INTERNET FREEDOM DAY!!!

Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


Greenwald on Vandersloot

07/03/2012

I hate rich people who use their wealth to try and silence critics. In the UK, there are so-called “super-injunctions” which stop the media from printing stories and also stop anyone from revealing that the injunction was taken out! And of course, all over the place there is the threat of libel suits, which usually bankrupt the poorer party long before the case actually gets heard. One rule for the rich, another for the poor. I know, that’s how it’s always been… but it still pisses me off, and that is justification enough for me to rant about it on here.

Anyway, this Vandersloot is a right dodgy one who needs an eye kept on – after all, he’s bankrolling Republican nut Mitt Romney’s attempt to become the next president of the USA. If Romney wins, he’s gonna owe Vandersloot a hell of a lot – and when the most powerful person on earth owes you favours, that doesn’t bode too well for those who’ve exposed his evil deeds in the past.

I’m a Brit, and I don’t know much about Vandersloot. But Salon writer Glenn Greenwald does – so I urge you to take a look at what he’s written about the puke. My unfortunately very cursory look into Vandersloot makes it look like he’s into running pyramid schemes, he sells “cure-all” quack medicine products and diet supplements, and, the one thing that really enrages me: he uses intimidation to silence his critics. As Greenwald says in the linked article:

In the last month alone, VanderSloot, using threats of expensive defamation actions, has successfully forced Forbes, Mother Jones and at least one local gay blogger in Idaho to remove articles that critically focused on his political and business practices (Mother Jones subsequently re-posted the article with revisions a week after first removing it). He has been using this abusive tactic in Idaho for years: suppressing legitimate political speech by threatening or even commencing lawsuits against even the most obscure critics (he has even sued local bloggers for “copyright infringement” after they published a threatening letter sent by his lawyers). This tactic almost always succeeds in silencing its targets, because even journalists and their employers who have done nothing wrong are afraid of the potentially ruinous costs they will incur when sued by a litigious billionaire.

Numerous journalists and bloggers in Idaho — who want to write critically about VanderSloot’s vast funding of right-wing political causes — are petrified even to mention his name for fear of these threats. As his work on the Romney campaign brings him national notoriety, he is now aiming these tactics beyond Idaho. To allow this scheme to continue — whereby billionaires can use their bottomless wealth to intimidate ordinary citizens and media outlets out of writing about them — is to permit the wealthiest in America to thuggishly shield themselves from legitimate criticism and scrutiny.

Please please please, check out this Vandersloot. And if you can vote in US elections, do not vote for anyone who might be a Vandersloot glove puppet. It’s already been established he’s got his hand up Romney’s ass… who knows where else his wandering mitts might have been?

Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


%d bloggers like this: