WELCOME to Connected Rights, your doctor in the house of digital rights news and analysis.
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. Ne y kena!
Self-promotion alert: I have an alt-rock band called The Board and we just released our first single. So I have a personal interest in what happens with this, particularly the first “PS”…
ARTICLE 13 OF THE INCOMING EU COPYRIGHT DIRECTIVE will inevitably lead to automated filtering of uploads, according to Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, Ulrich Kelber.
Kelber (as translated by Florian Mueller): “Even though upload filters are not explicitly mandated by the bill, they will be employed as a practical effect. Especially smaller platform operators and service providers will not be in a position to conclude license agreements with all right holders. Nor will they be able to make the software development effort to create upload filters of their own. Instead, they will utilise offerings by large IT companies.”
PS: Here’s a warning from Fraunhofer’s head of media management, Steffen Holly, who is literally a content filtering vendor: “There will be a plethora of wrongly rejected media as measured by the daily amount of new audio visual media in platforms with user generated content… All these user generated, not recognised works will be blocked automatically, because commercial services and media enterprises are afraid of expensive fines from potential rights owners. This means my just in this minute created song will be blocked as well, even if I’m controlling my own rights to 100%, because this independent right is not registered!”
PPS: Here’s Patreon – a service for creators! – lobbying against Article 13: “Patreon agrees that copyright law is in need of some changes, but Article 13 is, as Paul Keller put it: ‘the holy grail for those who want to return to the power dynamics that existed before the Internet.’ For all its faults and imperfections, we have no desire to go back to how things were before the Internet.”
That argument doesn’t just apply to Article 13, of course – it’s the same motivation behind the ancillary copyright part of the directive, Article 11.
PPPS: Here’s tech law expert Andres Guadamuz on the politics behind Article 13: “The proposed system is quite a clever political exercise where piracy is being used to justify the creation of filtering mechanisms, but the objective is not to deploy filtering, the whole reason of the exercise is to force platforms to enter into licensing agreements with copyright owners, or they will be deemed to be directly liable for the infringement committed by their users. They are using the spectre of piracy (which by all accounts is falling across the board) to justify the deployment of a system that will force tech giants to share some of their profits to creators. Filtering is not the desired result, it is the stick used to gain compliance.”
PPPPS: The proponents of Articles 13 and 11 are trying to move forward the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the Directive, most likely in order to pre-empt street protests. But protests erupted across Germany in recent days anyway.
OF ALL THE MANY SINS FACEBOOK HAS COMMITTED in the privacy arena, this is one of the most egregious. The company has for a long time been urging users to give it their phone numbers so they can better secure their accounts – the standard two-factor authentication (2FA) method of texting the user a code when they’re trying to log in. But it turns out Facebook is using all those numbers for another purpose: letting people look up users through their phone numbers. (Last year it also became apparent that it was using the phone numbers for ad-targeting.)
So people will be less likely to use strong security on their accounts, because Facebook is using the requisite information for entirely different purposes. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, who is now regretting telling at-risk activists to use Facebook’s 2FA mechanism, nailed it with this take: “Messing with 2FA is the anti-vaccination misinformation of security. Unconscionable.”
Facebook’s take? Users can opt out of having their phone numbers abused in this way by using another 2FA method. Let’s see what the EU’s privacy regulators have to say about that, because I can see this feeding into a GDPR complaint.
WHEN NEWS BROKE ABOUT FACEBOOK’S iOS app for monitoring everything users do on their phones – Apple subsequently pulled it for abusing its program for in-house apps – Facebook insisted to the media that only 5% of those who had downloaded the app were kids.
That was not true. As the company has now admitted to an enraged U.S. senator, the real figure was 18%. Here’s The Register’s excoriating report on all of Facebook’s lies on the subject.
FACEBOOK LOBBIED A LOT AGAINST data privacy legislation, according to a new Observer report. Some of this came out a couple years back, when the Irish Independent revealed Sheryl Sandberg’s schmoozing of then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny in an attempt to influence the appointment of the country’s data protection watchdog. Still, the Observer piece is pretty informative, demonstrating how Facebook tries to trade investment for favourable legislation, and how Sandberg tried to use her Lean In book to curry favour with the EU’s then-justice commissioner, Viviane Reding.
THE NSA IS SHUTTING DOWN THE PHONE-RECORD collection program that (in a previous iteration) Edward Snowden disclosed almost six years ago – the first of his many revelations. The source here is a senior Republican aide, who says the NSA “has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year”.
That’s a big “might”, given Trump’s unpredictability. However, civil liberties advocates are pointing out that, if the program really hasn’t been used in months, the lack of some resulting cataclysm may suggest it wasn’t needed anyway. The Snowden leaks showed that, from its post-9/11 inception up until 2013, the program had never thwarted a terrorist attack.
YOU KNOW THAT WIFE-STALKING SAUDI APP that helps men in that country stop the women in their lives from fleeing? Google has refused to drop it from the Android app store, insisting that it does not violate its terms and conditions. Still waiting to hear from Apple on this one – the Absher app is also available for iPhones.
WANT TO WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND THE “RUSSIAN INTERNET” push? The Moscow Times has you covered with an explainer that suggests Vladimir Putin wants what the Chinese are having.
Author Andrei Soldatov, quoted in the piece: “This law isn’t about foreign threats, or banning Facebook and Google, which Russia can already do legally… It’s about being able to cut off certain types of traffic in certain areas during times of civil unrest.”
AUSTRALIA’S ABC HAS REVEALED HOW ONLINE BETTING outfits, specifically Sportsbet, have been trying to convert new gamblers. Of particular interest is how National Australia Bank (NAB) has been selling de-identified customer transaction data to a data analytics firm called Quantium, which provides its services to Sportsbet.
AN AUTOMATED FRAUD DETECTOR HAS BEEN threatening to cut off thousands of British people’s housing benefits, incorrectly – and the councils using the software see 80% effectiveness as acceptable.
A JAPANESE STARTUP IS TOUTING “AI” SOFTWARE THAT CLAIMS to be able to spot shoplifters before they do the deed. “We took an important step closer to a society where crime can be prevented with AI,” claimed the founder. Can’t see this going wrong at all.