How Amazon's Monster Erotica Book Ban Shaped CloudFlare's Censorship Stance (zdnet.com) 123

An anonymous reader writes with news that CloudFlare chief executive Matthew Prince recently spoke about how Amazon's ban on "monster erotica" helped shape his position on censorship. ZDNet reports: "I worry about Jeff Bezos' bizarre obsession with dinosaur sex," said Prince, towards the end of a long conversation in our New York newsroom. "I don't think I've ever heard a chief executive -- hell, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything like that before," I said. Prince was referring to how the bookseller and online retail giant banned so-called "monster erotica," a genre of fan-fiction revolving around fantasy-based fictional encounters with mythical or extinct creatures (including dinosaurs), which was for a time sold on its online bookstore. Amazon, according to reports, pulled hundreds of the self-published books it sold -- as well as some content that fetishized incest and rape -- despite "vague" guidelines by the retailer. "You can make a rational argument that if you're writing books fantasizing about having sex with animals or children, maybe that promotes a certain kind of behavior. But there's no risk of someone abusing a dinosaur," he said.

Apple Reportedly Disables Its News App In China (nytimes.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: When Apple launched iOS 9, it replaced its Newsstand app with Apple News. The software has only been available to users in the U.S., but those who registered their phones in the U.S. had no problem using the app while overseas. Now, the NY Times reports that Apple is specifically disabling the app for users located in China. "Those in China who look at the top of the Apple News feed, which would normally display a list of selected articles based on a user's preferred media, instead see an error message: 'Can't refresh right now. News isn't supported in your current region.' ... Beijing generally insists that companies are responsible for censoring sensitive content inside China. In Apple's case, that would mean it would probably have to develop a censorship system — most Chinese companies use a combination of automated software and employees — to eliminate sensitive articles from feeds."
United States

NSF Awards $74.5 Million To Support Interdisciplinary Cybersecurity Research (nsf.gov) 9

aarondubrow writes: The National Science Foundation announced $74.5 million in grants for basic research in cybersecurity. Among the awards are projects to understand and offer reliability to cryptocurrencies; invent technologies to broadly scan large swaths of the Internet and automate the detection and patching of vulnerabilities; and establish the science of censorship resistance by developing accurate models of the capabilities of censors. According to NSF, long-term support for fundamental cybersecurity research has resulted in public key encryption, software security bug detection, spam filtering and more.

Jimmy Wales and Former NSA Chief Ridicule Government Plans To Ban Encryption 176

Mickeycaskill writes: Jimmy Wales has said government leaders are "too late" to ban encryption which authorities say is thwarting attempts to protect the public from terrorism and other threats. The Wikipedia founder said any attempt would be "a moronic, very stupid thing to do" and predicted all major web traffic would be encrypted soon. Wikipedia itself has moved towards SSL encryption so all of its users' browsing habits cannot be spied on by intelligence agencies or governments. Indeed, he said the efforts by the likes of the NSA and GCHQ to spy on individuals have actually made it harder to implement mass-surveillance programs because of the public backlash against Edward Snowden's revelations and increased awareness of privacy. Wales also reiterated that his site would never co-operate with the Chinese government on the censorship of Wikipedia. "We've taken a strong stand that access to knowledge is a principle human right," he said. derekmead writes with news that Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA and the NSA, thinks the US government should stop railing against encryption and should support strong crypto rather than asking for backdoors. The US is "better served by stronger encryption, rather than baking in weaker encryption," he said during a panel on Tuesday.

Under Public Pressure, India Withdraws Draft Encryption Policy 35

An anonymous reader writes: The government of India withdrew its draft policy on encryption owing to public responses just a day after releasing the document. The Communications and Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said — "I read the draft. I understand that the manner in which it is written can lead to misconceptions. I have asked for the draft policy to be withdrawn and reworded." While it is encouraging that the government recognized it mistake and withdrew, many fear that this is part of a larger problem when it comes to this government taking technology policy decisions. Recently, the government was in the dock for its lack of clarity on Net Neutrality.

India's Worrying Draft Encryption Policy 114

knwny writes: The government of India is working on a new National Encryption Policy the contents of which have raised a few alarms.Among other things, the policy states that citizens and businesses must save all encrypted messages (including personal or unofficial ones) and their plaintext copies for 90 days and make them available to law enforcement agencies as and when demanded. The policy also specifies that only the government of India shall define the algorithms and key sizes for encryption in India. The policy is posted on this website.

Delete, Dump and Destroy: Canada's Government Data Severely Compromised 85

sandbagger writes: Stories about government data and historical records being deleted, burned — even tossed into Dumpsters — have become so common in recent years that many Canadians may feel inured to them. But such accounts are only the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg. A months-long Maclean's investigation, which includes interviews with dozens of academics, scientists, statisticians, economists and librarians, has found that the federal government's 'austerity' program, which resulted in staff cuts and library closures (16 libraries since 2012) — as well as arbitrary changes to policy, when it comes to data — has led to a systematic erosion of government records far deeper than most realize, with the data and data-gathering capability we do have severely compromised as a result.

Robotics Researcher Starts Campaign To Ban Development of Sexbots 536

Earthquake Retrofit writes: A robotics ethicist from the UK's De Montfort University has started a campaign to ban the development and use of sex robots. "She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical." The campaign was spurred by news that some companies claim to be fairly far along in development of such technology. One company even plans to start selling them later this year. The campaign's goals and concerns include "We propose that the development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship," and, "We challenge the view that the development of adults and child sex robots will have a positive benefit to society, but instead further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence."
The Courts

YouTube 'Dancing Baby' Copyright Ruling Sets Pre-Trial Fair Use Guideline 127

Mr. Droopy Drawers writes with news that the famous "Dancing Baby" case will move forward to trial, after a pre-trial ruling Monday that's already unpopular with the copyright holders on one side of the case. The New York Times reports that a three-judge panel has "ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use before asking services like YouTube to remove videos that include material they control. ... [The guideline] "sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech," Corynne McSherry, the legal director for Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement." Mr. Droopy Drawers adds, "Of course, the RIAA is none too happy about the ruling saying, that it puts undue burden on copyright holders. However, the judge countered, 'Even paying "lip service" to the consideration of fair use is not enough, and could expose a copyright holder to liability.'"

(Also covered in an AP story carried by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)

Report: Google Will Return To China 82

An anonymous reader writes: Google famously withdrew from mainland China in 2010 after fending off a series of cyberattacks from local sources. Now, according to a (paywalled) report from The Information, the company is working on plans to return. "As part of the deal Google is looking to strike, Google would follow the country's laws and block apps that the government objects to, one person told The Information." They're also seeking approval for a Chinese version of Google Play.

Assange Says Harrods Assisting Metro Police in 'Round-the-Clock Vigil' 275

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Assange seems to have yet another foe (or at least friend of a foe) watching persistently while he stays put in the Ecuadorean embassy in London: Harrod's Department Store. The Metro Police, according to Assange, have developed a relationship with the store, and are using that relationship to facilitate their full-time observation of his roosting place in the embassy. When the founder of Wikileaks says, "We have obtained documents from Harrods [saying that] police have people stationed 24 hours a day in some of the opposing buildings Harrods controls," it seems likely that those documents actually exist.

Malaysia Blocking Websites Based On Political Content 121

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago Slashdot carried a piece of news from Malaysia whereby [news] websites based in Malaysia must be registered. Now comes the news that Malaysia is actively blocking websites which carry political opinion contrary to those of the ruling elite. Granted, Malaysia is no US of A nor Europe, but the world must understand that Malaysia is the only country in the world where racial apartheid laws are still being actively practiced — and have received endorsement from the ruling elite which has controlled Malaysia for the past 58 years. (Wikipedia lists some other candidates for modern-day apartheid in its entry on Contemporary segregation.)

Germany Wants Facebook To Obey Its Rules About Holocaust Denial 728

Bruce66423 writes: In a classic example of the conflict of cultures bought about by the internet, Germany is trying to get Facebook to obey its rules about banning holocaust denial posts. From the linked Jerusalem Post article: [Justice Minister Heiko] Maas, who has accused Facebook of doing too little to thwart racist and hate posts on its social media platform, said that Germany has zero tolerance for such expression and expects the US-based company to be more vigilant. "One thing is clear: if Facebook wants to do business in Germany, then it must abide by German laws," Maas told Reuters. "It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does." "Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred are crimes in Germany and it doesn't matter if they're posted on Facebook or uttered out in the public on the market square," he added. ... "There's no scope for misplaced tolerance towards internet users who spread racist propaganda. That's especially the case in light of our German history."

"Sensationalized Cruelty": FCC Complaints Regarding Game of Thrones 197

v3rgEz writes: As a cable channel, the FCC has little to no jurisdiction over HBO's content. That doesn't stop people from complaining to them about them, however, and after a FOIA request, the FCC released numerous complaints regarding the network's Game of Thrones. While there were the usual and expected lamentations about 'open homosexual sex acts,' other users saw Game of Thrones as a flashpoint in the war of Net Neutrality.

Proposed Rules Would Require Gov't Registration For Malaysian Press Sites 39

Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak has proposed mandatory government registration for web sites operating within Malaysia. This comes after the Malaysian government blocked the online Sarawak Report, and suspended a newspaper called the The Edge "for allegedly posting unverified information." Officials accused these news outlets of publishing inaccurate documents about a corruption scandal that linked the Prime Minister to 1MDB, a state-managed investment firm that reportedly lost billions of taxpayers’ money. ... The proposal to require news websites to register is seen by some as part of the government’s response to the rising outrage over the corruption issue.

Now Google Must Censor Search Results About "Right To Be Forgotten" Removals 179

Mark Wilson writes, drolly, that the so-called right to be forgotten "has proved somewhat controversial," and expands on that with a new twist in a post at Beta News: While some see the requirement for Google to remove search results that link to pages that contain information about people that is 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant' as a win for privacy, other see it as a form of censorship. To fight back, there have been a number of sites that have started to list the stories Google is forced to stop linking to. In the latest twist, Google has now been ordered to remove links to contemporary news reports about the stories that were previously removed from search results. All clear? Thought not... The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered Google to remove from search results links to nine stories about other search result links removed under the Right to Be Forgotten rules.

Two Arrests In Denmark For Spreading Information About Popcorn Time 244

An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Popcorn Time, the software that integrated torrents with a streaming media player. It fell afoul of the law quite quickly, but survived and stabilized. Now, out of Denmark comes news that two men operating websites related to Popcorn Time have been arrested, and their sites have been shut down. It's notable because the sites were informational resources, explaining how to use the software. They did not link to any copyright-infringing material, they were not involved with development of Popcorn Time or any of its forks, and they didn't host the software. "Both men stand accused of distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online and are reported to have confessed."

'Banned' Article About Faulty Immobilizer Chip Published After Two Years 87

An anonymous reader writes: In 2012, three computer security researchers Roel Verdult, Flavio D. Garcia and Baris Ege discovered weaknesses in the Megamos chip, which is widely used in immobilizers for various brands of cars. Based on the official responsible disclosure guidelines, the scientists informed the chip manufacturer months before the intended publication, and they wrote a scientific article that was accepted for publication at Usenix Security 2013. However, the publication never took place because in June 2013 the High Court of London, acting at the request of Volkswagen, pronounced a provisional ban and ruled that the article had to be withdrawn. Two years ago, the lead author of a controversial research paper about flaws in luxury car lock systems was not allowed to give any details in his presentation at Usenix Security 2013. Now, in August 2015, the controversial article Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer that was 'banned' in 2013 is being published after all.
The Internet

Cuba Uses Big Data To Help Tourism, But Their Networks Lack Capacity 60

dkatana writes: The Cuban government is very active in reshaping the country's industry, not only focusing on leisure and cultural tourism. The biggest challenge, however, is the quality of Internet connections. Cuba's global ranking for Internet speed is 196 out of 200, averaging 1.6 Mbps, just ahead of Guinea, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, and Niger. Another thing that Cuba lacks: free movement of currency, as reader lpress points out: Cuba has two paper currencies — the Peso and the Convertible Peso or CUC. CUCs are worth about $1 and Pesos, which are used for government salaries, are worth about $.04. But, what about Bitcoin? The first Cuban Bitcoin transaction is history. Will Bitcoin be used by Cubans and Americans to sell goods and services without the knowledge of their governments? Cuban offshore developers might be the first to use Bitcoin.
Social Networks

Reddit Updates Content Policy, Bans More Subreddits 410

AmiMoJo writes: Reddit's new CEO, Steve Huffman, announced new a content policy and the banning of a small number of subreddits today. Additionally, some subreddits will be "quarantined", so users can't see their content unless they explicitly opt in. "Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations.I believe these policies strike the right balance." The names of the nixed subreddits make clear that they're not exactly neighbors exchanging pleasantries.