Nigeria To Roll Out 5G Technology Soon – NCC

NCC

 

The Federal Government is set to begin the roll-out of fifth-generation (5G) services across the country.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the announcement on Friday at a public inquiry on the instruments necessary for the deployment of the technology.

The instruments are the annual operating levy regulations and the frequency spectrum regulations.

Speaking further, Professor Danbatta explained that the commission has submitted the proposal to the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and is awaiting approval from the Federal Government to roll out the services.

He added that the commission is also discussing the fees and pricing for the technology.

The NCC and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May to facilitate the deployment of 5G technology.

Both agencies signed the agreement on the use of C-Band Spectrum for 5G services in Nigeria at an event in Abuja.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at the NCC, Professor Adeolu Akande, noted that in recent times, precisely from the last quarter of 2019, several administrations have begun to license spectrum for commercial deployment of 5G.

He stated that 5G services have already been deployed in the United States and South Korea among many more countries in the world.

“Telecommunication evolution from inception to date has led to improvement in user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G. The global impact of 4G brought about increases in mobile usage and network performance.

“5G will build on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities,” Akande said.

According to him, 5G does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-reliable latency communications but also provides massive machine-type communications where a lot of devices will seamlessly connect and independently interact with the internet without human intervention.

According to industry estimates discussed during the Better World Summit in Shenzhen, China earlier this month, there would be 2.7 billion subscribers to 5G networks globally by 2025.

Internet Access Partially Restored In Myanmar

People take part in a noise campaign on the street after calls for protest against the military coup emerged on social media, in Yangon on February 5, 2021. (Photo by YE AUNG THU / AFP)

 

Internet access was partially restored in Myanmar on Sunday, Netblocks reported, as a nationwide web blockade failed to curb public outrage and protests against the coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Partial restoration of internet connectivity confirmed in #Myanmar from 2PM local time on multiple providers following information blackout,” the internet monitoring service said on Twitter.

Myanmar was plunged into cyber darkness on Saturday at the military’s orders.

Netblocks said social media platforms remained off limits on Sunday afternoon.

But mobile phone customers using services with MPT, Ooredoo, Telenor and Mytel are now able to access mobile internet data and Wi-Fi.

Earlier on Sunday Netblocks said connectivity in Myanmar was at 14 percent of usual levels.

Despite the internet blackout several live Facebook feeds were broadcast of tens of thousands of protesters marching in the streets of Yangon.

United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said the internet disruption was dangerous and a violation of human rights.

“The generals are now attempting to paralyse the citizen movement of resistance — and keep the outside world in the dark — by cutting virtually all internet access,” he tweeted.

AFP

Google Threatens To Block Australia Over Payment Demands

This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Google threatened Friday to block Australians from using its search service unless the government changed landmark legislation to make the internet giant pay news outlets for their content.

Google Australia managing director Mel Silva warned a Senate committee in Canberra that the world-first media law was “unworkable” and would undermine the functioning of the internet.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Silva said, the first time the company has made such a threat after months of difficult negotiations over the draft law.

The legislation was introduced last year to force Google and Facebook to pay local media organisations to host news content or face millions of dollars in fines, in one of the most aggressive moves globally to check the power of the US tech giants.

READ ALSO: Twitter, Pinterest Faced With New Advertising Bans In Turkey

Under the laws, the firms would be required to compensate Australian media outlets, ranging from Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corp to public broadcasters ABC and SBS, for publishing snippets of their content in search results.

The most controversial part of the law would require Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach agreement over the value of their content within three months.

The arbiter would then choose between the payment proposal put forward by a news outlet and that coming from the tech firm.

“This provision in the code would set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy,” Silva said Friday. “It is not compatible with how search engines work or now the internet works.”

The law would also require the platforms to give the news businesses two weeks’ notice of algorithm changes affecting the distribution of their content, and includes punitive clauses to stop the firms from blocking content to avoid payment.

Google and Facebook have been backed in their opposition to the law by the US government and internet architects including Tim Berners-Lee.

The initiative has been closely watched around the globe, as news media worldwide have suffered in an increasingly digital economy where big tech firms overwhelmingly capture advertising revenue.

Efforts to confront the tech firms on behalf of beleaguered news media in Europe have focused mainly on copyright law and have had some limited success.

But the Australian law relies on antitrust provisions and would have a more far-reaching financial impact on Google and Facebook.

‘Don’t respond to threats’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose conservative government has heeded demands by the country’s biggest news organisations to crack down on the tech firms, responded sharply to the threat by Google, by far the dominant search engine in the country.

“Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our parliament,” Morrison said. “People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome, but we don’t respond to threats.”

At Friday’s hearing, Facebook similarly labelled the code “unworkable” in its current form and said it would cause the social media platform to stop publishing Australian news.

“The great majority of people who are using Facebook would continue to be able to do so, but we would no longer be able to provide news,” Facebook’s Simon Milner told the hearing.

Both companies stressed that they were willing to pay media companies for their content through various direct arrangements, including in products like Facebook News and Google News Showcase.

And they proposed a series of amendments to the draft Australian law to avoid a showdown.

“Withdrawing our services from Australia is the last thing that Google wants to have happen, especially when there is another way forward,” Silva said.

“There is a clear pathway to a fair and workable code, with only slight amendments,” she said.

The key change demanded by the companies is to drop the mandatory arbitration process in favour of mediated negotiations with individual news organisations.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Says Trump Ban Sets ‘Dangerous’ Precedent

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump’s Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

 

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey on Wednesday backed the messaging platform’s ban of US President Donald Trump but said it sets a “dangerous” precedent and represents a failure to promote healthy conversation on social networks.

“Having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey said in a string of tweets about his take on the company’s decision late last week to permanently bar the president.

“While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey said, inviting feedback from users.

Trump’s access to social media platforms that he used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington last week.

In addition to Twitter, bans have also been put in place by Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Snapchat, while YouTube temporarily suspended his channel.

However, Twitter was the Republican billionaire’s go-to tool, which he used to directly communicate on a daily basis with some 88 million followers, posting everything from proclamations to accusations and spreading misinformation via the platform.

Social media operators say the embittered leader could have used his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

On Monday, Twitter took things one step further, announcing it had also suspended “more than 70,000 accounts” linked to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that claims Trump is waging a secret war against a global liberal cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Overdue or overdone?

Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Trump is considered overdue by critics who argue he has gotten away with abuses but has worried free-speech advocates and drawn criticism from various NGOs and leaders.

The company said in a blog post explaining its decision that after close review of the president’s recent tweets it had “permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter also blocked efforts by Trump to sidestep the ban of his @realDonaldTrump account when he posted tweets from the official presidential account @POTUS and the @TeamTrump campaign account.

“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now,” ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said at the time.

“But, it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions.”

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in, stating Monday through her spokesman that she believed freedom of opinion should not be determined by “the management of social media platforms.”

Dorsey said Wednesday that while he believes Twitter made the right decision to ban Trump, it “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he said.

Dorsey rejected the notion that social media giants coordinated efforts, reasoning that it was more likely they each came to the same conclusion about the potential for violence.

Snipped by Snapchat

Image-centric social network Snapchat on Wednesday became the latest platform to permanently ban Trump.

“Last week we announced an indefinite suspension of president Trump’s Snapchat account,” the platform told AFP.

“In the interest of public safety, and based on his attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence, which are clear violations of our guidelines, we have made the decision to permanently terminate his account.”

The actions by social media companies angered ardent defenders of Trump, who was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday for inciting “insurrection.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a longtime Trump ally, demanded that major tech platforms explain why Trump is no longer welcome.

Removal of the president and others by multiple platforms, he said, “silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies.”

AFP

YouTube Suspends Trump Channel For A Week Over Violence Fears

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S.  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after last week’s Capitol riot.

Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week.

Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a ‘minimum’ of 7 days,” the statement read.

The video-sharing platform also said it will be “indefinitely disabling comments” on Trump’s channel because of safety concerns.

Facebook last week suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory.

In announcing the suspension last week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violent and was concerned he would continue to do so.

Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings.

The company also deleted more than 70,000 accounts linked to the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, without any evidence, that Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of satanist liberals.

Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch.

The president’s YouTube account has amassed 2.77 million subscribers.

The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting process in November’s presidential election, and had logged some 5.8 million views.

On Tuesday, an activist group called on YouTube to join other platforms in dumping Trump’s accounts, threatening an advertising boycott campaign.

AFP

Twitter, Facebook Flag Trump Posts, Battle Spills To Social Media

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he departs for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from the White House on July 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/AFP
U.S. President Donald Trump

 

Twitter and Facebook moved Wednesday to curb the reach of President Donald Trump’s posts questioning the vote-counting process as a battle over the knife-edge US election spilled into social media.

Twitter and Facebook acted after saying the president violated platform rules in claiming ballot irregularities from Tuesday’s vote.

Trump alleged that there had been “surprise ballot dumps” in states where he had been leading Democrat Joe Biden in the race for the White House.

Twitter’s action made the comments less visible, and users seeking to read the post were required to click through a warning that “some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading.”

A Twitter spokesperson said the action was taken “in line with our Civic Integrity Policy,” and would “significantly restrict engagements” with the tweet.

A similar action was taken against an earlier tweet by the president suggesting the Democratic nominee was seeking to “steal” the election.

The Twitter spokesperson said it took action on a number of other comments including premature victory claims by a North Carolina Republican Senate candidate and one comment contending prematurely that Biden had won Wisconsin.

“As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” Twitter said.

Facebook also added disclaimers to messages by Trump as social platforms scrambled to respond.

The leading social network labeled the posts with a disclaimer stating that final results may differ from initial vote counts.

Some Trump critics said the actions were insufficient.

“They absolutely need to take down, not just flag with a weak interstitial (message),” said Jessica Gonzalez of the activist group Free Press.

“Take down disinformation about our democracy. We’re on the brink here. ”

Democratic Representative David Cicilline meanwhile called on Twitter to take stronger action against Trump

“The President’s Twitter account is posting lies and misinformation at a breathtaking clip,” he tweeted. “It is a threat to our democracy and should be suspended until all the votes are counted.”

Fighting misinformation

Facebook has activated a command center watching the platform and ready to react to misinformation during the vote.

“Our Election Operations Center will continue monitoring a range of issues in real time,” said a Facebook statement.

Nonprofit activism group Avaaz said its “war room” was also keeping tabs on Facebook and reported “last-ditch” Spanish-language misinformation, including posts about the prospects of a post-election coup or civil war.

The Election Integrity Partnership research coalition said a Google search for swing states turned up a YouTube video channel that was displaying a fake live feed of election results.

“Thousands of people may have been duped into streaming a fake YouTube video purporting to show election night results,” the researchers said in a post.

YouTube removed the video.

Some groups at Facebook were being used to share stories of going to polling places without face masks to “scare liberals away,” according to a post by Kayla Gogarty of nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters.

The platforms have pledged to step up scrutiny of false election information, including premature claims of victory, seeking to avoid a repeat of 2016 manipulation efforts.

Over the past days, Facebook and Twitter added disclaimers to Trump posts calling into question the integrity of mail-in ballots.

Twitter last month updated its policy aiming to prevent efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections. That calls for actions against false claims for victory or any incitement to violence.

YouTube has also sought to limit the sharing of videos with election misinformation. Last month it began adding information panels to videos about voting by mail.

Separately, Facebook said it implemented its policy banning political ads after the close of polls.

A Facebook spokesperson said the goal was “reducing the chance for confusion or abuse” and that the ban will likely last about a week.

Twitter Flags Trump’s Tweets As Battle Spills To Social Media

 

Twitter labeled two of President Donald Trump’s tweets as misleading Wednesday as a battle over the knife-edge US election spilled into social media.

The latest action came when a tweet from the president claimed ballot irregularities during the vote-counting process.

Trump alleged that there had been “surprise ballot dumps” in states where he had been leading Democrat Joe Biden in the race for the White House.

Twitter’s action made the comments less visible, and users seeking to read the post were required to click through a warning that “some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading.”

A Twitter spokesperson said the action was taken “in line with our Civic Integrity Policy,” and would “significantly restrict engagements” with the tweet.

A similar action was taken against an earlier tweet by the president suggesting the Democratic nominee was seeking to “steal” the election.

The Twitter spokesperson said it took action on a number of other comments including premature victory claims by a North Carolina Republican Senate candidate and one comment contending prematurely that Biden had won Wisconsin.

“As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” Twitter said.

Facebook also added disclaimers to messages by Trump as social platforms scrambled to live up to a pledge to root out misinformation about the election.

Fighting misinformation

Facebook has activated a command center watching the platform and ready to react to misinformation during the vote.

“Our Election Operations Center will continue monitoring a range of issues in real-time,” said a Facebook statement.

Nonprofit activism group Avaaz said its “war room” was also keeping tabs on Facebook and reported “last-ditch” Spanish-language misinformation, including posts about the prospects of a post-election coup or civil war.

The Election Integrity Partnership research coalition said a Google search for swing states turned up a YouTube video channel that was displaying a fake live feed of election results.

“Thousands of people may have been duped into streaming a fake YouTube video purporting to show election night results,” the researchers said in a post.

YouTube removed the video.

Some groups at Facebook were being used to share stories of going to polling places without face masks to “scare liberals away,” according to a post by Kayla Gogarty of nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters.

And a #stopthesteal hashtag was being used on social media posts tailored to cast doubt on the voting process.

Facebook stressed that it would place warning labels on any posts which sought to claim victory prematurely.

The platforms have pledged to step up scrutiny of false election information, including premature claims of victory, seeking to avoid a repeat of 2016 manipulation efforts.

Over past days, Facebook and Twitter added disclaimers to Trump posts calling into question the integrity of mail-in ballots.

Twitter last month updated its policy aiming to prevent efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections. That calls for actions against false claims for victory or any incitement to violence.

YouTube has also sought to limit the sharing of videos with election misinformation. Last month it began adding information panels to videos about voting by mail.

Ethiopia Partially Restores Internet After Two Weeks Shutdown Over Protests

Members of the Oromo Ethiopian community in Lebanon take part in a demonstration to protest the death of musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa, in the capital Beirut on July 5, 2020. ANWAR AMRO / AFP
Members of the Oromo Ethiopian community in Lebanon take part in a demonstration to protest the death of musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa, in the capital Beirut on July 5, 2020. ANWAR AMRO / AFP

 

Ethiopia on Tuesday partially restored internet connectivity two weeks after taking the entire country offline in response to protests and ethnic violence prompted by the murder of a pop singer.

Wifi connections returned in the early evening, though mobile data connections were not available and certain social media programmes like Facebook and Instagram were not accessible without use of a virtual private network (VPN).

A live tracker produced by NetBlocks, a civil society group that promotes digital rights, showed connectivity approaching half the level recorded before the internet was switched off on June 30.

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s monopoly telecoms provider, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hachalu Hundessa, the slain singer, was a hero to many members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, especially during years of anti-government protests that swept Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018.

Members of the Oromo Ethiopian community in Lebanon take part in a demonstration to protest the death of musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa, in the capital Beirut on July 5, 2020. ANWAR AMRO / AFP
Members of the Oromo Ethiopian community in Lebanon take part in a demonstration to protest the death of musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa, in the capital Beirut on July 5, 2020. ANWAR AMRO / AFP

 

His shooting death in Addis Ababa on June 29 — which remains unsolved — sparked days of protests and ethnic violence in the capital and the Oromia region which surrounds it.

Police officials have provided death tolls ranging from 179 to 239 in recent days, with most fatalities occurring in Oromia.

Calm has returned to most of the country despite widespread rumours that protests would pick up again last weekend.

Ethio Telecom, which is state-owned, has a history of shutdowns during periods of unrest and during more innocuous events like national exams, though the latest nationwide shutdown was the first in about a year.

Abiy’s government is preparing to issue two new telecoms licences that would break up Ethio Telecom’s monopoly, and officials want to eventually sell a 40-percent stake in Ethio Telecom, a move they hope will make the firm more efficient.

 

 

AFP

EFCC Secures Conviction Of Two Internet Fraudsters

 

 

The Ibadan Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured the conviction of two internet fraudsters – Rasak Olayinka Balogun and Ayodeji Oluwaseun Olatona.

The duo was said to have pleaded guilty to a separate one-count charge of criminal impersonation.

This was confirmed by the spokesman for the agency, Dele Oyewale, in a statement issued on Tuesday.

According to the agency, the offence runs contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (i) of Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc.) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act.

“While Balogun was sentenced to seven months jail term by Justice Mohammed Abubakar of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta, Olatona had his date with Justice Patricia Ajoku of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, who sentenced him to six months imprisonment.

“Apart from his jail term, Balogun was ordered to restitute $4,000 to his victim, one Mantonia Duncan, and also forfeit his laptop, Samsung Galaxy S8 phone and iPhone 11 Pro Max to the federal government, while Olatona will restitute $500 to his victim and forfeit his iPhone 7 to the Federal government,” the statement partly read.

Meanwhile, Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court, Osogbo has convicted one Timilehin Awojoodu of criminal impersonation.

The court however reserved his sentence till July 21, 2020.

Besides the conviction, the judge ordered Awojoodu to restitute the sum of $2,500 to his victim and forfeit his iPhone 7 and Infinix Hot 7 phone to the government.

How Twitter Reacted To Reports Of Kobe Bryant’s Death

 

 

How people on Twitter reacted to reports of the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant on Sunday:

“Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers & compassion to his family. To his entire @NBA family as well.”

— Oscar winning actress Reese Witherspoon

“Heart going out to the Bryant family right now. RIP Kobe Bryant.”

— US women’s footballer and World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe

“Kobe – you were a true inspiration to me as an athlete. I always admired your professionalism, drive and dedication. Our thoughts are with your loved ones. RIP.”

— Tennis star Kim Clijsters

“Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened to hear the horrific news about Kobe Bryant. Thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this terribly sad time #RIPKobeBryant.”

— Australian cricket legend Shane Warne

“@kobebryant Gone much too soon, how devastating to hear of his passing, he gave joy to so many for so long – deep condolences to his family, his friends, his Laker family. RIP Kobe… #lifeistooshort.”

— Tennis great Martina Navratilova

“Heartbreaking news! Hard to fathom @kobebryant is gone. Just had their 4th child. 41 years old. #insane. RIP Kobe.”

— Former US tennis star Tracy Austin

“We miss you already Kobe.”

— NFL Super Bowl winner Tom Brady

“This is unreal.”

— LPGA golfer Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods

“I truly can’t believe this. My heart is so heavy. Rest In Peace Kobe. What an unimaginable loss. All of my prayers to your loved ones.”

— Former US Open tennis champion Sloane Stephens

“Life is so precious man. I was a huge fan. RIP Mamba.”

— US tennis player Mardy Fish

“Kobe Bryant you’re an angel. RIP to you legend. So kind and had time for everyone. The epitome of class and hard work. An Idol. Prayers to his family.”

— US footballer Jozy Altidore

“Hard to believe. RIP #KobeBryant #MambaMentality.”

— US golfer Bryson DeChambeau

“On behalf of myself, the players and staff at AS Roma, we join the rest of the sporting world in mourning the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant. Kobe was a true icon and our thoughts are now with his family and the families of all of the victims aboard that flight.”

— Jim Pallotta, the owner of Italian football giants AS Roma

“Shock right now. RIP KOBE.”

— World golf number one Brooks Koepka

“The moment you realise life ain’t something to fuck with! If you feel something tell that person! If you miss someone tell that person.. you never know when your time is up!”

— Australian rugby union international Quade Cooper

“I just found out 5 minutes ago and I still can’t believe it… Another example of how fragile life is, let’s enjoy it while we can. (And avoid helicopters until they are safer). DEP Kobe and the other 5 victims.”

— Spain’s former world motorcycling champion Jorge Lorenzo

“LA has lost one of our true superstars. Stunning to hear about the tragic and untimely death of #KobeBryant My heart goes out to his family and all the fans who will feel this loss so deeply.”

— Hollywood actress Tara Buck

“Speechless and shocked!! REST IN HEAVEN MAMBA.”

— German football international Kevin-Prince Boateng

India Ends Five-Month Blackout, Restores Internet In Kashmir

Indian flag

 

Indian authorities on Saturday restored internet in Indian Kashmir after a five-and-a half-month blackout but maintained a block on social media sites.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed a communications blackout in early August when it stripped the portion of Kashmir it controls — the country’s only Muslim-majority region — of its partial autonomy.

India also imposed a curfew, sent in tens of thousands of extra troops and detained dozens of Kashmiri political leaders and others, many of whom remain in detention, drawing criticism abroad.

Internet access was restored Saturday but only to 301 government-approved websites that include international news publications and platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

Mobile phone data access was also restored, although it was limited to slower second-generation (2G) connections.

“It’s good some internet access has been restored but it’s so slow I’m hardly able to access anything and social media is also off-limits,” Raashid Ahmad, a university student, told AFP.

Azhar Hussain, a local businessman, also complained about the internet speed being “painfully slow”.

India is the world leader in cutting internet services, activists say, and access was also temporarily suspended in other parts of the country during recent protests against a new citizenship law.

Since August freedom of movement in heavily-militarized Kashmir has been gradually restored as has cellphone coverage, but apart from at a handful of locations, there has been no regular internet access.

This made life even harder for the region’s seven million inhabitants and hit the local economy hard.

Modi’s government said that the blackout was for security reasons, aimed at restricting the ability of armed militants — who it says are backed by arch-rival Pakistan — to communicate.

However, the Supreme Court criticised the government earlier this month for the move, calling it an “arbitrary exercise of power”.

The court also stated that having access to the internet “is integral to an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression”.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence in 1947, and has been the spark of two wars and numerous flare-ups between the two nuclear-armed foes.

A bloody insurgency against Indian rule that has raged in the scenic Himalayan region for decades has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians.

Facebook Exec Says It Helped Put Trump In White House

Facebook’s hardware vice president Andrew Bosworth gestures as he speaks during an AFP interview on September 17, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

 

 

A senior Facebook executive on Tuesday said the world’s biggest social network unintentionally helped put Donald Trump in the White House but warned against dramatic rule changes.

The Trump campaign did effectively use Facebook to rally support for his presidential run, and the social network should be mindful of that without making moves that stifle free political discourse, Andrew Bosworth said in a lengthy post on his personal Facebook page triggered by The New York Times publishing an internal memo he wrote.

“So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?” Bosworth asked.

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks.”

Bosworth contended Trump was not elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica, but rather because he ran “the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser.”

Since Facebook has the same ad policies in place now, the outcome of the 2020 election could be the same as it was four years ago, he added.

Facebook has maintained a hands-off policy on political ads, in contrast with Google which in November placed restrictions on how advertisers can target specific groups of voters.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear,” Bosworth wrote.

That doesn’t mean Facebook should not draw a line when it comes to how it is used, he reasoned. Clearly inciting violence, thwarting voting, and other blatant transgressions should be banned, but voters should be trusted to decide what kind of leaders they want to elect, according to Bosworth.

“If we don’t want hate-mongering politicians then we must not elect them,” Bosworth wrote.

“If we change the outcomes without winning the minds of the people who will be ruled then we have a democracy in name only. If we limit what information people have access to and what they can say then we have no democracy at all.”

– War rooms –
Bosworth’s comments came with Facebook under pressure to better protect user data and prevent its services from being used to spread misinformation, exacerbate social divides and sway political opinions as was the case in 2016 in the US.

Keeping the social network secure while thwarting misinformation and fending off the competition with new features were among priorities laid out by executives at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday.

“The innovation piece is important to us while we keep people in the company focused on security,” said Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson.

Facebook provided visitors a look at a revamped “Privacy Checkup” tool for users which is rolling out this week.

“What is top of mind for me is regulation and how the privacy landscape is developing,” Everson said.

“We would like help on the regulatory front for privacy and security.”

Facebook priorities this year include preventing the platform from being used by malevolent actors to influence the US election, according to Everson.

The social network is in nearly 200 countries around the world, where scores of elections take place annually and will apply lessons learned through experience to the US, Everson said.

Facebook will once again have a “war room” to coordinate responses to the election or voter manipulation efforts by state actors or others in real-time.

“The war room model has been working around the world,” Everson said.

“We have 70 to 90 elections each year, so we have been getting better. War rooms are part of our strategy.”

Facebook will ban hyper-realistic deepfake videos ahead of the US election but will still allow heavily edited clips so long as they are parody or satire.

Everson re-affirmed Facebook will stick with its controversial policy of allowing politicians to post information proven to be false.

“We do not believe we are in the position to be the arbiter of truth, but we have been clear that we are continuing to evaluate how we can do it better,” Everson said.

“We don’t want people to mislead on our platform.”

Facebook last month took down a network of accounts it said was using fake identities while spreading pro-Trump messages at the social network and its Instagram service.