Attendance at Ardern and Macron’s social media summit in Paris

New Zealand prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is co-chairing a meeting with world leaders and the tech industry with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday (NZ time), to build support for Ardern’s “Christchurch Call” – a pledge to try to stop violent extremist content from spreading online.

Ardern explained her aims in an op-ed in the NY Times – see Jacinda Ardern ‘opinion’ in NY Times.

There aren’t a lot of world leaders attending in Paris – short notice would have made it difficult for some – but enough to make it a worthwhile attempt to get things rolling. Actually too many leaders may have made it more difficult to get agreement

Stuff: Who is and isn’t coming to Jacinda Ardern’s Paris summit on social media

This week’s meeting is being co-chaired by French President Macron. France is hosting the G7 Digital Summit, which sits alongside the Christchurch Call meeting.

The pledge will be launched two months to the day after the terror attack in Christchurch, which the alleged killer livestreamed on Facebook.

She will be joined by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Senegal President Macky Sall, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Ardern said talks were “ongoing” with the United States, where most of these large firms are based, but it was clear President Donald Trump would not be making the trip.

Because of a quirk of tax law however, many of the companies have vast subsidiaries based in Ireland, who are sending a leader.

Facebook itself is sending head of global affairs, and former UK deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

Zuckerberg did travel to Paris to meet Macron on Friday, who he has an ongoing relationship with.

Ardern has engaged with both Zuckerberg and Sandberg following the attack. She told Stuff it would have been preferable for Zuckerberg to attend, but she was more interested in a concrete result than who attended.

“Would we have found it preferable to have Mark Zuckerberg there? Absolutely. However the most important point for me is a commitment from Facebook. I would absolutely trade having them sign up to this than anything around a presence at this event. It’s the action that is important to us.”

Twitter is the only tech company sending its chief executive, Jack Dorsey. Microsoft is sending President Brad Smith while Wikimedia is sending Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Google is sending Senior Vice President for Global Affairs Kent Walker.

I expect that any of the tech companies would have to approve any commitments through their management so it’s unlikely the Christchurch Call summit in Paris will provide anything like a final solution to violent extremist content online, but it is a step in the right direction.

Facebook, Google accused of inciting violence

It may be more allowing violence to be incited, but is there a difference?

A handful of US tech companies have radicalised the world

There is no doubt that the Internet has dramatically changed how media and politics operate. Over the last few years a few US companies have dominated radically changed how democracy is done, including allowing nefarious interference in election campaigns.

And at the same time there have been a number of political swings to more controversial and extreme leaders and parties.

Broderick (via twitter):

In the last 4 years, I’ve been to 22 countries, 6 continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. Three things are now very clear to:

1) A handful of American companies, Facebook and Google more than any other, have altered the fundamental nature of almost every major democracy on Earth. In most of these elections, far-right populism has made huge strides.

2) The misinformation, abuse, and radicalization created by these companies seems to affect poorer people and countries more heavily.

These companies replace local community networks, local media, local political networks and create easily exploitable, unmoderated news ones.

3) It is going to get worse and more connected. It is getting more mobile. It is having more physical real-world effects. Apps like WhatsApp and Instagram are even harder to track than Facebook.

It’s been a decade since I first felt like something was changing about the way we interact with the internet. In 2010, as a young news intern for a now-defunct website called the Awl, one of the first pieces I ever pitched was an explainer about why 4chan trolls were trying to take the also now-defunct website Gawker off the internet via a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. It was a world I knew. I was a 19-year-old who spent most of my time doing what we now recognize as “shitposting.” It was the beginning of an era where our old ideas about information, privacy, politics, and culture were beginning to warp.

I’ve followed that dark evolution of internet culture ever since. I’ve had the privilege — or deeply strange curse — to chase the growth of global political warfare around the world. In the last four years, I’ve been to 22 countries, six continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. I was in London for UK’s nervous breakdown over Brexit, in Barcelona for Catalonia’s failed attempts at a secession from Spain, in Sweden as neo-Nazis tried to march on the country’s largest book fair. And now, I’m in Brazil. But this era of being surprised at what the internet can and will do to us is ending. The damage is done. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably spend the rest of my career covering the consequences.

There are certainly signs of major consequences internationally.

In New Zealand we have had political change, but after a nine year National government it wasn’t a big deal, especially as Labour (and NZ First) are not dramatically different to National in most significant policies. It was more of a tweak than upheaval here, probably.

But we can’t help but be affected by what happens in the rest of the increasingly radicalised world.

To be sure, populism, nationalism, and information warfare existed long before the internet. The arc of history doesn’t always bend toward what I think of as progress. Societies regress. The difference now is that all of this is being hosted almost entirely by a handful of corporations.

Why is an American company like Facebook placing ads in newspapers in countries like IndiaItalyMexico, and Brazil, explaining to local internet users how to look out for abuse and misinformation? Because our lives, societies, and governments have been tied to invisible feedback loops, online and off. And there’s no clear way to untangle ourselves.

The worst part of all of this is that, in retrospect, there’s no real big secret about how we got here.

The social media Fordlândias happening all over the world right now probably won’t last. The damage they cause probably will. The democracies they destabilize, the people they radicalize, and the violence they inspire will most likely have a long tail. Hopefully, though, it won’t take us a hundred years to try to actually rebuild functioning societies after the corporations have moved on.

Perhaps. It is very difficult to know where social media, democracy and the world will go to from here.

Google and other problems with NZ suppression law

Court suppression orders are difficult to deal with in the Internet age.

In the past media like newspapers had court reporters who were aware of what cases were suppressed and complied with suppression orders where appropriate.

But social media has introduced major problems – it is easy for just about anyone to say things (publish) online, but it is impossible for most of us to know what is suppressed, so we don’t know what can’t be legally published.

And another big problem is that major online content providers/publishers are based out of New Zealand, like Google, Facebook and Twitter. And Google says they are not bound by New Zealand law.

NZH: Google ‘thumbs its nose’ at New Zealand courts – lawyer

In high-profile cases covered by the Herald in recent months, Google NZ along with New Zealand’s major media outlets have been served with orders which suppress details and require the removal of content that infringes on privacy or fair trial rights.

However, Google says it’s “not in the business of censoring news” and won’t comply because its search engine is bound by the laws enforced at its home, the Googleplex, in California’s Silicon Valley.

The result means some information suppressed by New Zealand’s courts can be revealed in a Google search.

The problems and Google’s place in New Zealand’s courtrooms was an issue last year during the High Court retrial of double-killer Zarn Tarapata.

An interim take-down order for all content related to Tarapata’s first trial was made to protect his fair trial rights and suppress evidence which was ruled inadmissible.

The Herald and other media organisations opposed the order but were ultimately forced to comply and removed stories about Tarapata’s first trial to avoid being held in contempt of court.

However, despite having an Auckland office, Google NZ said it couldn’t remove details of the stories from its searchable records.

In an affidavit to the court, Google NZ software engineer Joseph Bailey, wrote: “Google New Zealand Limited has no ability to comply with the interim orders.”

He explained that the Google search engine, Google LLC, was a separate legal entity incorporated in the US, meaning New Zealand’s courts and laws held no power over it.

The company also said it would require a “perpetual review” to find the “trillions of webpages currently existing on the web, but also those which are subsequently created” that breached the court orders.

…a Google spokesman said: “We don’t allow these kinds of autocomplete predictions or related searches that violate laws or our own policies and we have removed examples we’ve been made aware.”

He said while Google NZ was bound by New Zealand laws, Google LLC was not.

“Google LLC prefers for news publishers to make their own decisions about whether their content should be available online,” he said.

Even for small publishers it can be a daunting task trying to monitor all content, especially when not knowing what is suppressed by court orders.

Prominent human rights and privacy lawyer Michael Bott said Google was “thumbing its nose” and “expressing a high-degree of arrogance” at court orders, threatening fair trial rights and due process.

Bott accepted however it was a “fine line” between attempting to control Google – like China – and protecting the foundations of a liberal democracy.

“In a liberal democracy we have the rule of law. If Google doesn’t follow take-down orders on the basis that it’s an international company based in California, well that maybe true, but it also ignores the reality of the internet,” he said.

But there’s another significant problem – take down orders, even if you can get one, can take quite a bit of time, and even if successful can be like shutting the stable door well after the story has bolted around the Internet.

I think that most people accept that suppression in some cases is important, especially when protecting the identity of victims of crime, especially children.

But I think that protecting the right to a fair trial via suppression can be virtually unworkable in the Internet age. Courts need to find a different way of dealing with this.

While I understand the argument for protecting rights to a fair trial i think that it needs to be reviewed, taking into account the practicalities of the use of the Internet.

There was recent example of failed suppression in Dunedin recently when a young woman was murdered. The name of the accused was published and circulated in social media before a suppression order was issued by the Court.

I have personal experience with abuse suppression in the courts. It was used to gag me while running an online campaign of harassment and defamation against me online, and if I confronted this online I was threatened with prosecution for breaching suppression, while the group attacking me claimed immunity because they claimed their publications were not in new Zealand, so therefore immune from New Zealand law.

So they used New Zealand law to gag me, while publishing offshore to avoid new Zealand law.

I am still gagged on this. I hope that that will be ending soon, but given the blatant hypocrisy of those involved they may try to keep their legal and personal abuses secret.

The Google (and Facebook et al) problem with suppression is not adequately addressed by New Zealand law and court practices, and neither is the use and abuse of suppression on a smaller and wider scale.

 

Resignations over Google involvement in analysing drone footage classifying images of people

Yesterdays post on Flaw with Foodstuffs facial recognition showed how face recognition is being used in supermarkets to try to identify shop lifters.

On a much different scale, concerns are being raised by Google’s involvement in a US project that is analysing drone footage of people and objects.

Gizmodo: Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract

It’s been nearly three months since many Google employees—and the public—learned about the company’s decision to provide artificial intelligence to a controversial military pilot program known as Project Maven, which aims to speed up analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people.

Now, about a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the company’s continued involvement in Maven.

The resigning employees’ frustrations range from particular ethical concerns over the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare to broader worries about Google’s political decisions—and the erosion of user trust that could result from these actions.

Google has already imaged the world, and some of that has been controversial – they now blank out some details like faces and car registration plates, but they still have that information.

Google also has a huge amount of data on people’s searching and browsing habits.

So getting involved in drone imaging and warfare justifiably raises concerns.

In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defense Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones. But some employees believe humans, not algorithms, should be responsible for this sensitive and potentially lethal work—and that Google shouldn’t be involved in military work at all.

There is no way of knowing how much Google is working with governments and military matters.

In addition to the resignations, nearly 4,000 Google employees have voiced their opposition to Project Maven in an internal petition that asks Google to immediately cancel the contract and institute a policy against taking on future military work.

However, the mounting pressure from employees seems to have done little to sway Google’s decision—the company has defended its work on Maven and is thought to be one of the lead contenders for another major Pentagon cloud computing contract, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, better known as JEDI, that is currently up for bids.

the resigning employees believe that Google’s work on Maven is fundamentally at odds with the company’s do-gooder principles. “It’s not like Google is this little machine-learning startup that’s trying to find clients in different industries,” a resigning employee said. “It just seems like it makes sense for Google and Google’s reputation to stay out of that.”

Many Google employees first learned the company was working on Maven when word of the controversial project began to spread internally in late February. At the time, a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company was in the process of drafting “policies and safeguards” around its use of machine learning, but that policy document has yet to materialize, sources said.

One employee explained that Google staffers were promised an update on the ethics policy within a few weeks, but that progress appeared to be locked in a holding pattern. The ethical concerns “should have been addressed before we entered this contract,” the employee said.

In addition to the petition circulating inside Google, the Tech Workers Coalition launched a petition in April demanding that Google abandon its work on Maven and that other major tech companies, including IBM and Amazon, refuse to work with the U.S. Defense Department.

“We can no longer ignore our industry’s and our technologies’ harmful biases, large-scale breaches of trust, and lack of ethical safeguards,” the petition reads. “These are life and death stakes.”

More than 90 academics in artificial intelligence, ethics, and computer science released an open letter today that calls on Google to end its work on Project Maven and to support an international treaty prohibiting autonomous weapons systems.

This is a big deal, but most of the people will continue to feed the Google data machine oblivious to what Google is doing with the US military.

Not only is this collaboration a concern, it also poses risks. I presume Google has decent security on it’s data but what if they were hacked or data was handed over to another country?

Google highlights depth of political inquiry

Maybe the people who are more serious about politics and were too busy watching and listening to the debate to spend time googling, but yeah, this doesn’t give one a lot of confidence about how well informed many people are.

Who said policies were important?

Yahoo spied on emails

Note that until very recently Xtra emails went via Yahoo.

Reuters: Exclusive: Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence – sources

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.

Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.

This raises some important issues, like who else does this spying for spy agencies.

Experts said it was likely that the NSA or FBI had approached other Internet companies with the same demand, since they evidently did not know what email accounts were being used by the target. The NSA usually makes requests for domestic surveillance through the FBI, so it is hard to know which agency is seeking the information.

Reuters was unable to confirm whether the 2015 demand went to other companies, or if any complied.

Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft Corp, two major U.S. email service providers, did not respond to requests for comment.

That’s also a concern, for US email users anyway. What about New Zealand email users?

But we all knew that our emails were at risk of being snooped on, didn’t we.

 

Trump and Sanders via Google

Some interesting analysis of how Donoald Trump’s popularity is reflected with Google searches at Market Watch in Are people losing interest in Donald Trump? This chart points to yes

Search traffic on Google for Trump’s name has fallen drastically since it peaked on Super Tuesday, according to data from Google Trends. The most recent numbers show “Donald Trump” searches are down 75% from his best day in March.

mw-ej699_trump__20160406134536_zh

This suggests that success prompts Google searches while stuff ups turn both voters and online searchers off.

This chart suggests that massive media coverage may have driven interest in Trump, until he stuffed up one time too many.

mw-ej797_trump__20160407141424_zh

In comparison Bernie Sanders seems to have generated Google interest despite getting less media coverage.

mw-ej796_bernie_20160407141303_zh

This suggests that Sanders is attracting increasing interest despite getting far less media coverage.

 

WO #3: irony and hypocrisy on ‘free speech’

This is the first in a series of posts addressing claims at Whale Oil   that Google are ISIS friendly, that makes varying claims about why Google Ads ceased on Whale Oil for part of yesterday and then resumed again, that tries to raise donations to fund the ongoing operation of the blog, and that makes highly ironic claims about freedom of speech and censorship.

REVEALED: WHY WHALEOIL ISN’T RUNNING GOOGLE ADS ANY LONGER [UPDATED 5PM]

On October 29, Whaleoil published The only solution is to kill them before they kill us, an article covering how ISIS and other Islamic adherents bent on throwing gays off building and subjugating women are to be met by preemptive force to protect our way of life and freedoms, such as they are.

This set off a small but vocal part of Social Media.  No surprise:  exactly the same people who are always busy trying to damage Whaleoil in some way.   This time a petition was created to request the Human Rights Commission take Whaleoil to court for “hate speech“.   And as you’d expect, this was promoted by other blogs and even some main stream media journalists.  (Oh the irony).

This third post is about oh the irony of “Oh the irony”.

In this post a number of claims and comments about free speech, which are highly ironic and hypocritical given the the history of banning and censoring on Whale Oil and their involvement in trying to smear and shut up critics.

From the original post:

But our critics didn’t leave it there.  They have also been busy placing pressure on our advertisers.  

They can not just disagree with our position, we must be silenced.   The irony of fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and so on, by denying someone you disagree with those rights is remarkable.

Fighting for freedom of speech? Yeah, wrong.

And:

At these times, the community that is Whaleoil stands up against the bullying from those who want Whaleoil broken and to disappear.

It’s common for bullies to claim they are the victims of bullying when confronted.

More from comments, first their “featured comment”:

I don’t always agree with Cam’s views but freedom of speech is vital.

Obviously Don’s favourable comment was allowed by Whale Oil’s heavy handed censorship.

Also:

These plonkers are nothing but bullies, I don’t like bullies. I’ll put a bit in the kitty.

Someone frequenting Whale Oil who doesn’t like bullies – only the bullies they disagree with.

In reply to a comment by Pete Belt:

Which is of course censorship…by Google…who it appears are ISIS sympathisers.

Did Slater type that with a straight face? Perhaps he believes that attacks on free speech only matter when it’s his speech that’s being attacked.

He’s got the right to say whatever he likes, and to hold any opinion he likes.

All I want is for us to be left alone to do the same.

Except Belt doesn’t leave opinions he doesn’t want on Whale Oil.

We stand, we have a voice, and freedom to have that voice. Let’s keep it that way. Donation done.

‘We’ is those who have not been banned by Belt. There have been many claims that people who have donated to Whale Oil in the past have been censored and banned.

It wasn’t confined to that post, the very next post yesterday, by Spanish Bride, was Silencing Free Speech isn’t the same as changing people’s minds. This has ironic gems like:

They don’t realise that creating a hostile environment for debate enables them to intimidate and silence but it does not mean that they have changed anyone’s mind.

Many readers of Your NZ will see the high levels of irony and hypocrisy in this.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Whale Oil in action someone sent me some screen shots from Whale Oil yesterday that you won’t find there now.

1.

WOBH

2.

WOBH_2

3.

WOBH_3

4.

WOBH_4

It’s common for awkward questions and unwelcome opinions to disappear from Whale Oil, and for unwelcome contributors to be blocked and banned.

Now of course Slater and Belt can censor and ban as much as they like on their own blog.

But when they claim to be champions of free speech and criticise the censorship of others when they censor and ban as much as they do they deserve strong criticism of their double standards and their hypocrisy.

Belt said in his post’s update yesterday:

The Google Bot is even more merciless than I am as a moderator.

I hear many complaints about Belt’s ‘moderation’ – more like censorship, message control and propaganda enforcement – and few about the Google bot.

Free speech is as much a feature of Whale Oil as clean politics and honest disclosure – it’s a sad joke.

Related posts:

Politics not popular

It’s well known that politics isn’t a popular topic with the general population. This is demonstrated by the Top Kiwi Google searches of 2014 (Stuff).

Overall top New Zealand Google searches:

1. Fifa World Cup

2. Robin Williams

3. Commonwealth Games

4. Malaysia Airlines

5. iPhone 6

6. Jennifer Lawrence

7. Charlotte Dawson

8. Flappy Bird

9. Spark

10. Ebola

Top news item searches:

1. Malaysian Airlines crash

2. Cyclone Lusi

3. Scottish Independence

4. Alex from Target

5. Ukraine news

6. Robin Williams’ death

7. Ebola outbreak

8. Wellington earthquake

9. Cyclone Ita

10. Lunar eclipse

Top Kiwis searched:

1. Lorde

2. Aaron Smith

3. Rachel Smalley

4. Lisa Lewis

5. Mark Hunt

6. Joseph Parker

7. Benji Marshall

8. Chris Cairns

9. Mona Dotcom

10. Stephen Donald

No John Key. No Kim Dotcom. No David Cunliffe. No Judith Collins. No election. No dirty politics or Nicky Hager. No Whale Oil or Cameron Slater.

Winston Peters can only play a very narrow part of the media.

And no, Spark is not Bill English and Flappy Bird is not Metiria Turei

The closest to politics is Rachel Smalley who sometimes comments on politics, but it’s probably not politics that has made her an attractive search subject on Google.

Relative to general news, sport and celebrity puff politics is not very popular.