Photo licensed CC by Thos Ballantyne: http://goo.gl/BAbAx
Welcome to our weekly series, highlighting the most newsworthy events under the Open Technology Initiative’s three key areas: Privacy and Security, Freedom of Expression, and Telecom Policy. Contact us with story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Privacy and Security: Facebook Scans Chats for Criminal Activity
New details have been released on how Facebook monitors user chats. Reutersdetails the ways in which the social networking giant scans user chats for criminal activity. Much of the process is automated. It begins with software that scans chats for “suspicious” language, which includes common phrases from previously obtained chat records of sexual predators and other lawbreakers. The program also takes profile data into account, paying closer attention to chats between users who don’t have common networks or a history of interaction on the site or who have a wide disparity in age.
Once the program flags an exchange as being suspicious, Facebook employees determine whether or not to notify law enforcement. Facebook has not disclosed whether or not the scanned chats are deleted, made anonymous, or stored permanently.
Read more about how Facebook monitors chats for criminal activity.
More articles related to privacy and security:
Freedom of Expression: Russia’s New Internet Law Widely Criticized by Free Speech Advocates
Earlier this week, the Russian parliament approved a bill allowing the government to blacklist websites whose content was deemed to be in violation of Russian law. After widespread concern about the law’s excessive scope, it was slightly amended. At the moment, blacklisting is only applicable to sites featuring child abuse imagery, encouraging suicide, or promoting the use of illegal drugs. Russian readers may access the changes to the law at the blog of politician Ilya Ponomaryov.
The law gives violating websites 24 hours to remove material. If the sites do not comply within this time, they are blacklisted immediately. The law has been opposed by a range of diverse actors, including Wikipedia, Google, the FCC, and advocacy groups.
Read more about Russia’s new Internet law.
More articles related to freedom of expression:
Telecom Policy: EU Fiber Broadband Plan Favors Incumbent Telecom Companies
The European Commission dealt a blow to small and new internet service providers when it announced that large incumbent telecom companies will not have to lower the fees they charge for access to their legacy lines. Originally, the Commission intended to spur broadband build out by forcing incumbent companies to charge less to small and new service providers looking to rent their lines. This was intended to spur competition, thereby lowering prices for consumers.
This strategy will be in place until at least 2020. The Commission also announced that rents on new fiber broadband networks would not be regulated, insisting that competition will allow for fair prices. The Commission’s new strategy is directly opposed to many prominent reports on broadband competition which cite open access as the main way to drive competition and provide the best services to consumers.
Read more about the European Commission’s broadband plan.
More articles related to telecom policy: