Sponsor of the "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act" sues Twitter cow-account for $250 million

Devin Nunes (previously) is a Trump-loyalist whose scandals have ranged from secretly moving his family farm to make it easier to hire undocumented workers to a bizarre obsession with the Steele Dossier; and like a lot of far-right types, he's big on "preventing frivolous lawsuits" (which is to say, he wants to make it harder for the public to sue companies that harm them, which is why he cosponsored last year's Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act. Read the rest

A critical flaw in Switzerland's e-voting system is a microcosm of everything wrong with e-voting, security practice, and auditing firms

Switzerland is about to have a national election with electronic voting, overseen by Swiss Post; e-voting is a terrible idea and the general consensus among security experts who don't work for e-voting vendors is that it shouldn't be attempted, but if you put out an RFP for magic beans, someone will always show up to sell you magic beans, whether or not magic beans exist. Read the rest

Leaked memo suggests that Google has not really canceled its censored, spying Chinese search tool

Last December, human rights advocates and Google employees cheered when they learned that internal dissent at Google had killed the company's secret plan to launch a search tool in China that would censor results to the specifications set out by state censors, and collect detailed histories of search activity that could be turned over to authorities hunting for dissidents. Read the rest

India set to adopt China-style internet censorship

New rules limiting internet freedom could be imposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government any time after Thursday night.

The most censored Wechat topics: US-China trade war, Canadian arrest of Huawei CFO, ZTE sanctions, more

Wechatscope is a research project from the University of Hong Kong; they ingest every public status update on Wechat, the Chinese social network used by more than a billion people, then record which messages are later made unavailable, and infer from that the most censored topics on the network. Read the rest

That German-French Deal to "Rescue" the EU Copyright Directive? Everyone Hates It. EVERYONE.

This week started with a terrifying bang, when German and French negotiators announced a deal to revive the worst parts of the new EU Copyright Directive though a compromise on "Article 13," which requires copyright filters for any online service that allows the public to communicate.

The Franco-German "compromise" was truly awful: German politicians, worried about a backlash at home, had insisted on some cosmetic, useless exemptions for small businesses; French negotiators were unwilling to consider even these symbolic nods towards fairness and consideration for free speech, competition, and privacy.

The deal they brokered narrowed the proposed German exemptions to such a degree that they'd be virtually impossible to use, meaning that every EU-based forum for online communications would have to find millions and millions to pay for filters — and subject their users to arbitrary algorithmic censorship as well as censorship through deliberate abuse of the system — or go out of business.

Now that a few days have passed, European individuals, businesses, lobby groups and governments have weighed in on the proposal and everyone hates it.

That German uprising that German politicians feared? It's arrived, in force.

Bitkom, representing more than 2600 German businesses, from startups to small and medium enterprises, has completely rejected the proposal, calling it "an attack on the freedom of expression";Eco, lobbying for more than 1,100 businesses across Europe, said that Germany had "become weak" in its negotiating position, putting "the smallest, small, and medium-sized companies" at risk;Deutschestartups tweeted their condemnation of the proposal, saying it put "stones in the way" of any European tech company hoping to grow;The Berlin think tank iRights.Lab called for an "immediate and total stop" to the negotiations, so alarmed were they by their direction; while C-Netz, another think tank that serves as a kind of arms-length expert body to Germany's mainstream political parties also denounced the deal. Read the rest

German Minister of Justice to receive the largest EU petition in history, opposing Article 13 of the Copyright Directive

Katarina Barley, the German Minister of Justice, is set to receive this petition, now signed by more than 4.5 million Europeans, opposing the include of mandatory copyright filters (AKA Article 13) in the new EU Copyright Directive. The petition is the second largest in internet history (after this one) and looks set to surpass it. The Copyright Directive negotiations collapsed last week due to hard-liners in the French delegation, and there are persistent rumours that the German and French negotiators are still trying (and failing) to find common ground. So it's really important that Europeans sign this petition, to show the German ministers that they have the backing of the European people! Tell your friends! Read the rest

Microsoft confirms 'Bing is currently inaccessible in China'

Bada bing, bada banned. China has blocked Bing, Microsoft's search engine, tonight. Read the rest

China is blurring men's earrings on TV

Chinese TV is blurring out the ears of men wearing earrings. From CNN:

It's unclear if Chinese regulators have issued a specific directive barring men from being shown wearing earrings, or whether TV stations are reacting to a shift in what is considered culturally appropriate. Last year, China's media regulator banned TV stations from featuring actors with tattoos. Depictions of "hip hop culture, sub-culture and immoral culture," were also banned according to Chinese state media...

When it comes to television, the country's regulations previously barred programs from airing content that expresses "overt admiration for Western lifestyles," jokes about Chinese traditions or defiles "classic materials..."

The country's censors have also been quick to black out content on LGBT issues. Guidelines released in China in 2016 characterized homosexuality as an "abnormal sexual behavior" unfit for Chinese television, alongside incest, sexual abuse and "perversion."

Read the rest

Bird nonpologizes: "we accidentally sent you a threatening letter"

Last week, our lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a reply to Bird, the scooter company, which had sent us an intimidating letter seeking to censor this post on Bird conversion kits, which let you unlock the hundreds of Bird scooters that are auctioned off by cities after Bird fails to claim them from their impound lots. Read the rest

Angry Christians riot and throw firebomb at a museum that exhibits 'McJesus' sculpture

Hundreds of angry Christians protested at a museum in Haifa, Israel, demanding that the museum remove an exhibit that featured a "McJesus" sculpture. The sculpture – Ronald McDonald crucified on a cross – is part of a larger exhibit commenting on society's worship of capitalism, but after photos of the crucified clown were shared on social media, a group of Christians became irate.

They rioted by throwing a firebomb at the museum and stones at police officers, injuring three of them. Police then used tear gas and stun grenades against the crowd.

According to NBC:

Church representatives brought their grievances to the district court Monday, demanding it order the removal of the exhibit's most offensive items, including Barbie doll renditions of a bloodied Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Museum director Nissim Tal said that he was shocked at the sudden uproar, especially because the exhibit — intended to criticize what many view as society's cult-like worship of capitalism — had been on display for months. It has also been shown in other countries without incident.

The museum has refused to remove the artwork, saying that doing so would infringe on freedom of expression. But following the protests it hung a curtain over the entrance to the exhibit and posted a sign saying the art was not intended to offend.

"This is the maximum that we can do," Tal said. "If we take the art down, the next day we'll have politicians demanding we take other things down and we'll end up only with colorful pictures of flowers in the museum."

Read the rest

China has a very Orwellian reason for banning typing "1984" on social media, while allowing people to read Nineteen Eighty-Four

Chinese internet users can't type the numbers "1984" into social media, but Chinese bookstores freely sell copies of Orwell's novels, including Nineteen Eighty-Four, as well as other books whose titles are banned on social media. Read the rest

Bird Scooter tried to censor my Boing Boing post with a legal threat that's so stupid, it's a whole new kind of wrong

Last month, I published a post discussing the mountains of abandoned Bird Scooters piling up in city impound lots, and the rise of $30 Chinese conversion kits that let you buy a scooter at auction, swap out the motherboard, and turn it into a personal scooter, untethered from the Bird company. Read the rest

Inside China's censorship factories, where young censors learn to erase history

The censorship industry in China is big business. Read the rest

Podcast: Don't let the EU ruin the internet for everyone else!

On the latest Copy This podcast (MP3) (previously), the amazing Kirby "Everything is a Remix" Ferguson talks to Paul Keller about the new EU Copyright Directive, which will impose mandatory copyright filters on all online platforms, opening the door to rampant censorship and ensuring that only the biggest (American) tech companies will be able to afford to operate in the EU. Read the rest

Sony won't let you post "crap recordings" of a few seconds of your own Beethoven piano performance

Back when Sony's fraudulent copyright claims resulted in a 47 second recording of pianist James Rhodes playing Bach, apologists argued that Sony and Youtube's copyright bots couldn't be expected to tell the difference between a highly skilled Bach performance and the ones in their own catalog. Read the rest

Internal sources say googler uprising has killed Google's plans to launch a censored, spying Chinese search engine

The employee uprising over Google's secret "Project Dragonfly -- a plan to release a censored, surveilling search engine for use in China -- has reportedly attained its goals: some of the engineers on the covert team Project Dragonfly team have been re-tasked to other projects, and the remainder have been denied access to the critical data-set that made the project possible. Read the rest

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