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Facebook reports spike in government requests for data

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Facebook reports spike in government requests for data
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: Facebook Inc said in a report on Wednesday that government demands for its user data surged in the first half of 2015, taking a trend that began at least two years ago when the company started revealing such requests to new heights.

Government access to personal data from telephone and Web companies has become a contentious privacy issue since former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed surreptitious surveillance programs.

The technology industry has pushed for greater transparency on government data requests, seeking to shake off concerns that they are working with the government and violating user privacy.

Facebook’s biannual report is one of the chief indicators of government interest in the company’s data. The social media giant is generally not allowed to publicize specific requests by law enforcement and spy agencies.

Government requests for account data globally jumped 18 percent in the first half of 2015 to 41,214 accounts, up from 35,051 requests in the second half of 2014, Facebook said in the report posted on its website. (https://bit.ly/1LayIL2)

In the first half of this year, Facebook took down 20,568 posts and other pieces of content that violated local laws, more than doubling the number taken down in the second half of 2014.
Such restricted content includes anything from Nazi propaganda in Germany to depictions of violent crimes.

Facebook’s user base has grown explosively to 1.55 billion people, up from 1.4 billion in the second half of last year.

The government often requests basic subscriber information, IP addresses or account content, including people’s posts online.

The bulk of government requests came from U.S. law enforcement agencies. U.S. agencies requested data from 26,579 accounts – comprising more than 60 percent of requests globally – up from 21,731 accounts in the second half of 2014.

France, Germany and Britain also made up a large percentage of the requests and had far more content restricted in 2015. Some of the content taken down in Germany, for example, may
relate to Holocaust denial, Facebook said.

India and Turkey were responsible for most of the content taken down for violating local laws. India had 15,155 pieces of content restricted – nearly triple the amount in the second half of 2014 – while Turkey had 4,496, up from 3,624. The number of Facebook users in India is up nearly 70 million since June 2014, to more than 190 million users.

Governments have increasingly relied on Facebook’s vast troves of user data to help investigate criminal cases, which are responsible for most of the requests, Facebook said.

“Facebook does not provide any government with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s data,” Facebook wrote.

Facebook, Microsoft Corp, Yahoo Inc and Alphabet Inc, formerly Google, last year began publishing details about the number of government requests for data they receive.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50%

Caitlin Ashworth

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50% | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Alexander Popov

The richest people in the world, who make up just 1% of the population, are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. A study shows that the “1 percenters” make up twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the world. Some say the poor are the least responsible for climate change, but have to deal with most of the negative consequences.

In a 25 year study led by Oxfam, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute found that wealthy countries were responsible for using up nearly a third of the Earth’s carbon budget. The study was conducted from 1990 to 2015, when annual emissions grew by 60%.

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

63 million people made up the richest 1% of the world. Since 1990, they have been responsible for 9% of the ‘carbon budget’. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can go into the air before temperature rises to catastrophic levels. 3.1 billion people make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The carbon emissions growth rate of the rich 1% was 3 times more than the poorest half of the world.

There’s not just an economic inequality between the rich and the poor, according to the head of policy, advocacy and research, Tim Gore. He told AFP the research shows the world’s “carbon inequality.”

“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction …But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption … And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible.”

Carbon emissions have decreased since the pandemic. But just a few months doesn’t take away the damage that has been done for years. Temperatures are still on track to rise several degrees this century. Although the 2015 Paris climate deal was set to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, emissions have continued to increase.

“It’s clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity… It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and fixing the climate crisis.”

Some say the global economy needs to prioritise “green growth.” If not, the decrease in pollution during the pandemic will have a very small and insignificant overall impact on climate change. Some say carbon emissions affect the poorest nations the most who don’t have enough resources to fight natural disasters possibly brought on by the rising temperatures, like wildfires and droughts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine

The Thaiger & The Nation

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine | The Thaiger

England’s self-quarantine rule breakers are receiving up to a 10,000 pound fine, starting September 28, according to British PM Boris Johnson. The fine will be handed down to anyone who tests positive for the virus or has been in contact with someone who has the virus and dodges the rules for self-quarantine.

For the first offence, rule breakers will receive a 1,000 pound fine and from there it will rise up to 10,000 pounds for those who repeatedly break the rules. Employers who threaten to fire staff over choosing to self-isolate instead of going to work will receive the maximum fine amount of 10,000 pounds. For those lower income workers, Johnson says they will receive a 500 pound support payment in addition to other benefits in which they may qualify.

Despite current British Covid-19 quarantine guidelines matching those of the rest of the world, there has reportedly been little enforcement of self-quarantine rules. Now, Britain is seeing a fast influx of Covid cases prompting the government to get the police involved in compliance checks.

Johnson has come under scrutiny after repeatedly being called to issue a lockdown nationwide with reports coming in that he is planning to reject calls from advisors to issue a 2 week lockdown to slow the virus’ spread.

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Thailand

US accuses Chinese companies of exploitation along the Mekong River

The Thaiger & The Nation

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US accuses Chinese companies of exploitation along the Mekong River | The Thaiger

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is accusing Chinese companies of “exploitative practices” in the Mekong River region after a new partnership has been launched to combat “transnational crimes”. Pompeo named the China Communications Construction Company as one of the big offenders and says the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for the increase in human, wildlife and drug trafficking in the region.

He says the new partnership will also strengthen water security for partner countries where China has added to a drought in the region as an upstream damming by China has been carried out in “a completely non-transparent and non-consultative way.”

“We encourage countries of the Mekong region to hold the CCP accountable to its pledge to share its water data. That data should be public. It should be released year-round. It should include water and water-related data, as well as land use, and dam construction and operation data.”

“We stand with our ASEAN partners as we insist on the rule of law and respect for sovereignty in the South China Sea, where Beijing has pursued aggressive campaigns of coercion and environmental devastation.”

Pompeo also said such companies associated with the CCP are linked to human and narcotics trafficking but he did not provide evidence to support the accusation.

Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand all share resources of the Mekong delta and Pompeo reiterated that they “deserve good partners”. The US has reportedly pledged a total of US$156.4 million for multiple initiatives under the new US-Mekong Partnership.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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