The idea of an Internet and the connectivity it brings goes against the current mainstream ideas of how people should be governed. Many politicians and powerful figures think that the Internet gives people too much power to share ideas and expose their lies.
Maybe the recent issues with Facebook censorship can really be blamed on an algorithm. But keep in mind those algorithms are built by people who are motivated by certain things.
The Facebook staff who create the anti-spam algorithms can be motivated to make their algorithms censor content based on the ideas and information it contains, if they were persuaded to think that doing so would be in their best interests.
When it’s all said and done, the interests of political activists and Facebook probably will not be lined up. For now, though, we can blame the algorithm.
It’s not just the London police and Middle East dictators who try to curb unrest by clamping down on communications networks. According to reports, police in San Francisco are jamming cell phones to head off protesters.
Protesters had planned to gather at a San Francisco BART station during rush hour to protest the fatal July shooting of Charles Hill by a BART police officer. But the protest never materialized. One reason, possibly, is the extreme lengths police went to make sure potential protesters couldn’t communicate. From CBS San Francisco:
As an added precaution, the agency shut off cellphone service on the station’s platform. While Alkire said the tactic was an unusual measure, he said it was “a great tool to utilize for this specific purpose” given that the agency was expecting a potentially volatile situation. “This group seems to want to challenge BART, challenge the police department,” Alkire said.
This has caused a twitter firestorm, under the hashtag #muBARTek, a reference to Internet-killing former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. The hacktivist collective Anonymous has already started planning Operation BART.
Some are saying that was illegal, because only federal agencies are allowed to block communications and BART isn’t one. Even it if it is legal: Does San Francisco really want to be Johnny-come-lately to the hot new trend set by brutal Middle East dictators?
Update: According to a BART statement, police didn’t technically “jam” cell phones. They asked wireless providers to turn off their signal in the station.
Some of the biggest names in American retail have been linked to a Jordanian garment factory that allegedly rapes, tortures, and abuses its female workers, according to a report by the Institute of Global Labour and Human Rights, formerly known as the National Labor Committee. In a petition on Change.org, the human-rights organization accuses supervisors at Classic Factory, which supplies clothing to Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Hanes, and Land’s End, of sexually assaulting dozens of migrant workers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, most of whom are virtually imprisoned in dilapidated surroundings. “We only went to Jordan to earn money to help our families,” says a young woman who goes by the name “Nazma” to protect her identity. “We had no idea that factory managers would rape so many of us young girls.”
What should you do if you discover an anarchist living next door? Dust off your old Sex Pistols albums and hang out a black and red flag to make them feel at home? Invite them round to debate the merits of Peter Kropotkin’s anarchist communism versus the individualist anarchism of Emile Armand? No – the answer, according to an official counter-terrorism notice circulated in London last week, is that you must report them to police immediately.
This was the surprising injunction from the Metropolitan Police issued to businesses and members of the public in Westminster last week. There was no warning about other political groups, but next to an image of the anarchist emblem, the City of Westminster police’s “counter terrorist focus desk” called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers stating: “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.” READ MORE