UK lawmaker John Penrose proposes dystopian idea to give citizens a truth score on social media

British Conservative Party lawmaker John Penrose, has proposed an addition to the UK’s controversial internet censorship bill, dubbed “The Online Safety Bill,” which continues to get even more Orwellian with each new proposed amendment.

Like something out of dystopian fiction, Penrose, the MP for Weston-super-Mare, has proposed that the government forces online platforms to maintain a score of how truthful a person is, determined by their past statements.

“The purpose of this section is to reduce the risk of harm to users of regulated services caused my (sic) disinformation or misinformation,” the proposal states, with a typo that shows just how much care goes into the wording of legislation that wipes away citizens’ freedoms.

The proposal says that every user that produces online content, including “comments and reviews” and who receives a certain number of online views, which is to be determined by the UK communications regulator, should have their content indexed and assigned a truth score.

The person’s speech is then to be “displayed in a way which allows any user easily to reach an informed view of the likely factual accuracy of the content at the same time as they encounter it.”

Keep reading

Government Overreach? 9 in 10 Official Websites Use Tracking Cookies Without Consent

Is the government going too far? A new study has discovered that “Big Brother” may be more widespread than anyone thinks. Among the countries that make up the G20, researchers found the vast majority of government websites add third-party tracking cookies without their users’ consent.

The G20 is an international forum which includes 19 countries and the European Union. The forum focuses on solving issues connected to the global economy, climate change mitigation, and the development of sustainable technology. The members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The international team notes that, in some of these countries, nine in 10 official sites add third-party tracker cookies — even if they have strict user privacy laws. To uncover the scale of this problem, the researchers examined 5,500 websites tied to international organizations, governments, and official COVID-19 information sites during the pandemic.

Their study comes at a time when citizens across the globe are providing information through government websites at an unprecedented rate.

“Our results indicate that official governmental, international organizations’ websites and other sites that serve public health information related to COVID-19 are not held to higher standards regarding respecting user privacy than the rest of the web, which is an oxymoron given the push of many of those governments for enforcing GDPR,” notes Nikolaos Laoutaris, a research professor at IMDEA Networks, in a media release.

Keep reading

Following USDA Guidance, State Clinics Destroyed Thousands of Cans of Usable Baby Formula

Amid a national shortage of baby formula, family care centers in at least two states discarded thousands of cans of unopened, unexpired baby formula—because state and federal officials said so.

Guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in November 2019 advises clinics run by state-level Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) programs to “dispose of unused, returned…infant formula.” Formula might be returned for a number of reasons: parents might decide to switch brands at the recommendation of a doctor or due to an infant’s allergic reaction, or they might simply not use all they’ve been given. When that happens, clinics are told to discard the returned formula—even if it is not expired.

“Unused, returned infant formula may have been inappropriately stored (e.g., exposed to extremely high temperatures), may be past its use-by-date, or subjected to tampering (e.g., labels or use-by dates changed),” the USDA advisory reads, in part. The same memo also warns against “donating unused, returned WIC infant formula to entities such as food banks or food pantries.”

Apparently taking that memo to heart, WIC centers in Georgia have reportedly destroyed at least 16,459 cans of baby formula since October of last year, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which first reported on the frustrating policy last month.

The state also banned donations of formula to food banks and other locations. As a result, Georgia was “throwing formula down the sink,” Vanesa Sarazua, founder of the Hispanic Alliance of Georgia, a nonprofit, told the paper. “I mean, talk about waste.”

Keep reading

Reddit warns US Copyright Office internet upload filters would harm memes

Reddit has warned the US Copyright Office against internet upload filters, arguing the technology will harm free expression.

The US has been looking to update the DMCA to keep up with the copyright issues found online. Many proposals have come and gone, but the US Copyright Office is now looking into automated tools that can prevent content from being re-uploaded, aka upload filters.

In a submission to the US Copyright Office, Reddit, a platform known for user-submitted content, warned against Standard Technical Measures (STMs), including upload filters.

We obtained a copy of the submission for you here.

“Filtering technologies and STMs ill-suited to the variety of content on Reddit would limit the vitality of some of our platform’s most active communities,” Reddit said.

In its subreddits users post copyrighted content, taking advantage of the fair use principles to create memes and more. An upload filter would substantially harm the free flow of thought.

“Filtering technologies have difficulty merely identifying copyrighted material, let alone assessing the specific context the content was found. They cannot make nuanced judgments about fair use or transformative works,” the platform said.

The automated filters and the false positives they would bring will significantly harm free speech, Reddit argues.

“As a result, standardized measures are likely to remove non-infringing content and suffer from false positives. Worse, these over-removals would strike at the heart of the transformative user-generated content that makes Reddit communities unique,” Reddit explained.

“That is a severe, unnecessary, and unacceptable cost to the free expression of our users and the communities they build.”

Google has implemented such a measure through YouTube’s Content ID system, which is notorious. According to Reddit, Content ID cannot work for every type of platform or site.

Keep reading

Audit reveals FBI rule-breaking in probes involving politicians, religious groups, media

FBI agents violated agency rules at least 747 times in 18 months while conducting investigations involving politicians, candidates, religious groups, news media and others, according to a 2019 FBI audit obtained by The Washington Times. 

The internal review revealed a ratio of slightly more than two “compliance errors” per sensitive investigative matter reviewed by FBI auditors. These errors included agents’ failure to obtain approval from senior FBI officials to start an investigation, failure to document a necessary legal review before opening an investigation and failure to tell prosecutors what they were doing.

Cato Institute senior fellow Patrick Eddington uncovered the audit in litigation his organization brought against the FBI for access to government records. He said the audit reveals how far “off-the-chain” FBI field offices have strayed.

Keep reading

A 93-Year-Old Woman Couldn’t Pay Her $2,300 Tax Bill. The Government Sold Her Home and Kept the Money.

Whether or not Geraldine Tyler will live to see the resolution of her case remains unclear.

The 93-year-old left her Minneapolis condominium in 2010 after a nearby shooting and a disturbing encounter left her uneasy. But she was unable to finance both her new apartment and the property tax on her erstwhile condo, accruing $2,300 in debt.

Over the course of the next five years, the government raised that debt by over 550 percent, tacking on almost $13,000 in additional penalties, fines, and interest. And when Tyler couldn’t pay that, it seized her property, sold it for $40,000—and kept the profit.

Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that was OK.

“Tyler does not argue that the county lacked lawful authority to foreclose on her condominium to satisfy her delinquent tax debt,” wrote Judge Steven Colloton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. “Rather, Tyler argues that the county’s retention of the surplus equity—the amount that exceeded her $15,000 tax debt—is an unconstitutional taking.”

Put more plainly, Tyler is not contesting that she failed to pay her property taxes, nor is she trying to evade responsibility for doing so. Her suit doesn’t seek the full $40,000 value of the condo but rather the excess proceeds that the government made from the sale of her property.

The court’s conclusion: She has no right to that cash.

Keep reading

China-Owned Forbes Fired a Top Transparency Columnist After a Pressure Campaign from Fauci’s NIH.

Long-time transparency advocate Adam Andrzejewski had his 8-year-long Forbes column cancelled after pressure exerted by the U.S. government, specifically Tony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Pulse can reveal.

Andrzejewski – the CEO and Founder of OpenTheBooks.com – relayed the story in his new Substack column following the termination from Forbes.

After taking umbrage with a number of his Fauci-focused columns, including bombshell revelations about the Fauci household finances, Andrzejewski recalls:

“Two directors, two bureau chiefs, and two top PR officers didn’t send an email to the Forbes’ chief on a Sunday morning because they wanted to correct the record about Fauci’s travel reimbursements. They sent that email to subliminally send a message: We don’t like Andrzejewski’s oversight work, and we want you to do something about it. Unfortunately, Forbes folded quickly.”

An e-mail from Forbes Executive Editor Caroline Howard to Andrzejewski dated January 15th 2022 began: “I see this is your third article on Fauci in 3 weeks. Huh.” Howard then went on to accuse Andrzejewski of advocacy, rather than journalism.

Keep reading

Legislation mandates residential buildings accommodate EV charging

Ameasure to require newly built residential buildings in Illinois to be electric vehicle capable is being criticized by some as government overreach.

House Bill 3125 passed the Illinois House on Thursday and would require home builders to make new and renovated structures meet certain wiring requirements to be able to charge electric vehicles.

Under the measure from state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), a certain number of spaces would also have to be “electric vehicle ready,” meaning they contain receptacles with the necessary voltage to install an EV charging station.

“We should be doing everything we can to cultivate an electric vehicle economy in this state, and this is one more way we can do that,” said state Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside).

State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) who notes that the Illinois Home Builders Association and Illinois Realtors are opposed to the legislation, believes the measure will drive up housing costs.

Keep reading

The State Took Their Children For 467 Days After An Alleged Slight. Now The Family Is Suing.

A family is suing the state of Illinois, a child welfare investigator contracted by the state, and others, alleging their three children were taken away for more than a year over the investigator’s hurt feelings.

The Center Square reported that Jacob and Patricia Krueger’s three children were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS) in 2019 after their child was supposed to be discharged from a hospital for a complex medical issue. Aaron Rapier, the attorney representing the family, told the Center Square that Dr. Channing Petrak, the contractor for DCFS, was at the hospital and prepared to discharge the child following a year-and-a-half long investigation, but reneged after she was slighted by Jacob Krueger.

“While [Petrak] went into the meeting intending to discharge this child home to the family, which means of course that she didn’t suspect any abuse or neglect at that time, she did a complete 180 after she was embarrassed in front of a colleague,” Rapier told the outlet.

The three Krueger children are referred to as AA, BB, and CC, in the lawsuit, which was filed on January 20 in the Peoria Division of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The oldest of the Krueger children was three when they were taken from their family for more than a year, and the youngest was just three days old.

The Center Square reported that the middle child, referred to in court documents as BB, was being treated for a complex medical issue and about to be discharged when the nightmare began.

“Petrak was not BB’s doctor,” the lawsuit says. “Jacob told Defendant/Petrak he did not want her involved in BB’s care, treatment, or discharge planning. Defendant/Petrak was offended and embarrassed by Jacob’s statements. She left the room, as requested, but Defendant/Petrak was not done with the Krueger family.”

The lawsuit alleges that Petrak contacted the others named in the lawsuit and told them her investigative finding was that the child was medically abused.

Rapier, the family’s attorney, said that the family had previously endured a 17-month long investigation that had found no medical neglect of the middle child being treated, but because Petrak changed her finding at the last minute, according to the lawsuit, all three children were taken from the Krueger’s for 467 days.

Keep reading