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Enjoy this newsletter? Forward it to a friend or get them to sign up. I’m David Meyer, aka @superglaze on Twitter and @davidmeyerwrites on Facebook. Don’t forget to check out the Connected Rights website and download a copy of my book, Control Shift: How Technology Affects You and Your Rights. Vítáme vás!
THE GERMAN EMAIL PROVIDER POSTEO, which offers encrypted mail and refuses to log IP addresses, will have to log IP addresses after all. That’s what Germany’s Constitutional Court said, after Posteo unsuccessfully tried to push back against investigators’ demands.
Posteo said that, if it has run out of legal options (which appears to be the case), then it will “adapt our system architecture, but choose a solution that will not compromise the security and rights of our customers”. That means only logging IP addresses in relation to specific mailboxes and following receipt of a warrant. Legal experts say this will do the trick.
“We have come to the conclusion that highly complex, secure system architectures and their benefits are scarcely comprehensible to public authorities,” Posteo snarked.
THE RUSSIAN MEDIA REGULATOR HAS CONFIRMED that Apple will abide by the country’s data localisation law, meaning its Russian users will have their data stored on Russian soil. That makes it likelier that, when the Russian authorities want access to that data, they will be able to get it.
From a Foreign Policy article on the move: “With Apple products now able to gather vast quantities of information on their customers’ lives, the company has publicly positioned itself as a champion of data privacy, and CEO Tim Cook has condemned the ‘weaponization’ of personal data. In 2016, the tech giant refused to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters involved in the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack in December 2015. But in China and now Russia, Apple has quietly complied with local laws that could leave vast quantities of user data within the reach of the state.”
APPLE HAD ITS REVENGE ON FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE for abusing its employee-only app-installation program – the companies used the scheme, with the deep access it provides to users’ phones, to get civilians to install surveillance apps on their devices in exchange for cash. Once the ruse was exposed by TechCrunch reports, Apple yanked Facebook and Google’s access to the program wholesale, meaning they couldn’t test iOS apps and their employees couldn’t use in-house apps such as those for campus lunch menus and shuttle services.
The revenge didn’t last long, though – access was restored within a day or two. It’s not clear what Facebook and Google did to get Apple to play nice, but it’s probably fair to say Apple made its point.
FRANCE AND GERMANY HAVE AGREED a common position on Article 13 of the new EU Copyright Directive. It’s now likely that – unless the European Parliament sinks the article in the next couple months – the EU will effectively mandate upload filters for all online services except those that are less than three years old, have a turnover below €10 million, and (not or) have fewer than five million unique monthly visitors.
“On top of that, even the smallest and newest platforms, which do meet all three criteria, must still demonstrate they have undertaken ‘best efforts’ to obtain licenses from rightholders such as record labels, book publishers and stock photo databases for anything their users might possibly post or upload – an impossible task,” writes Pirate MEP Julia Reda.
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION HAS GIVEN Facebook, Google and Twitter a pat on the back for taking down hate speech more quickly. Facebook is particularly cooperative, the Commission said. However, it added, there are problems with transparency in the takedown process, with YouTube offering feedback to users less than a quarter of the time.
Also, the Commission claimed, “there is no sign of over-removal”. Good if true, but those sound like words that will come back to haunt.
FACEBOOK IS NOW LINKING EMPLOYEE BONUSES to “making progress on the major social issues,” not just growth. The major social issues include privacy and the spread of misinformation. But what does Facebook see as “making progress” on privacy, I wonder.
I RECKON IT’S TIME FOR FACEBOOK TO BE broken up. I’ve resisted the idea for a long while, but after seeing its latest results, it’s clear now that the market will never rein it in, and there’s no other way to force it to change. Tim Wu is right: break ’em up.
Speaking of Tim Wu…
CHINA’S INTERNET CENSORSHIP IS OBVIOUSLY a bad thing from a human rights perspective, but isn’t it also a competition issue? According to Wu, it is.
Wu wrote for the New York Times that it was “puzzling” to see the issue go unmentioned in the US-China trade negotiations, seeing as the Great Firewall protects the Chinese market against everything from Google and Facebook to Line and Reddit.
Wu: “China has long defended its censorship as a political matter, a legitimate attempt to protect citizens from what the government regards as ‘harmful information,’ including material that ‘spreads unhealthy lifestyles and pop culture.’ But you don’t need to be a trade theorist to realise that the censorship is also an extremely effective barrier to international trade. The global internet economy is worth at least $8 trillion and growing, yet the Trump administration has focused chiefly on manufacturing, technology transfers and agriculture, and does not seem to have pressed for concessions on this issue.”
CHINA IS EXPORTING FACIAL RECOGNITION technology to US police forces. NYPD is using tools from Hikvision, the Chinese state-owned surveillance firm, and the tech is reportedly the same as that being used in China’s Sky Net, which is the world’s biggest video surveillance system – Beijing wants to be able to identify anyone, anywhere, within a few seconds. Hikvision claims its systems do not suffer from the same racial bias that’s baked into many Western facial recognition systems.