Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

The struggle with technology addiction

October 21, 2018

A growing number of people are checking their screens from the moment they wake and every 12 minutes throughout the day – and they’re not happy about it.

The Korn Group’s Switching Off survey found Australians readily admit to over-dependence on technology and are concerned about the incursion of screens into their daily lives.

“Checking their screen is the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do at night,” the survey said. “They can’t help it. Their device is always with them.”

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The survey found that Australians were uncomfortable about their use of technology, which they “rationalised as necessary but [had] little control over own use”.

Joshua Rosenthal, the senior counsellor at The Cabin, an outpatient addiction treatment clinic in Sydney, usually deals with severe cases.

In one case, he met parents in despair because their teenage son’s compulsive playing of computer games had reached a point where he had dropped out of university, no longer socialised and would miss meals.

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The teen threatened to harm himself after his parents cut off the internet at home in an effort to deal with his technology addition, according to “He just went berserk,” Mr Rosenthal said. “He was threatening them: ‘If you don’t do this, I’m going to harm myself’.”

It’s easy to read about extreme technology addiction and dismiss it as different to the experience of everyday Australians who compulsively check their phones.

But Mr Rosenthal said increasing numbers of people were seeking treatment for their obsessive use of technology to check social media, play games or pore over news and other online sites.

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He added many people were in denial about how this behaviour affected their relationships, work and capacity to pursue their lives, reasoning it wasn’t a ‘serious’ addiction.

“Especially with tech addiction, it’s like ‘I’m not a cocaine or heroin addict so I’m not that bad’,” Mr Rosenthal said. “Yet they’re spending just as much, if not more, time engaging in addictive behaviour.”

Mr Rosenthal said technology facilitated other addictions such as sex and gambling. Technology addiction can also be difficult to treat because, unlike drugs, alcohol or gambling, it is an integral part of daily life.

Yet it is not a medically recognised health condition, according to Dr Liliana Laranjo, a research fellow at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University.

The decision by the World Health Organisation to recognise gaming disorder – compulsive and obsessive playing of video games – triggered controversy.

“Many researchers disagree that technology itself is harmful, and view ‘technology addiction’ as a symptom of other underlying disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and attention problems,” Dr Laranjo said.

But research has found aspects of technology deliberately designed to encourage compulsive checking, with users of digital media exhibiting signs of behavioural addiction.

Dr Laranjo said technology was not harmful, but had to be used in a healthy way that did not interfere with personal, social or professional lives.

Disabling social media notifications is one way of dealing with a potential problem.

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“With this strategy, I am able to guarantee that I am not interrupted by social media when I’m trying to focus on work or when I’m trying to spend quality time with someone,” she said. “And I also have more control over my time, only checking social media when I want to, not because I received a cue for that.”

Drivers and cyclists face fines and demerit points for using smartphones. The Switching Off survey suggested the use of smartphones in shops, public transport, restaurants and while walking were a source of annoyance.

The survey’s participants were particularly incensed by people using smartphones at the dinner table.

“People are just selfish, they’re rude, they’ve got bad manners, going out for lunch people just take calls while they’re talking to you,” one respondent said.

Joanne Orlando, a researcher in technology and learning at Western Sydney University, said the majority of adults and young people she had interviewed as part of her research said they were addicted to their phone: “At the same time they also say how important using technology is for them.”

Dr Orlando said people checked their phone, on average, every 12 minutes when bored or procrastinating, while teenagers fear being left out of social activities.

She said technology companies had devised solutions to address what she called the “zombie check”.

Apple’s Screen Time, for example, provides information on how much time a person spends using an app, how many notifications they receive and how often they use their smartphone or tablet. Google introduced similar features for its Android phone operating system.

“I’m using these strategies with teens right now,” Dr Orlando said. “And what’s good is that they are open to trying because it’s based on self-regulation and giving them the responsibility and control.”

See also:

Smartphone addiction could be changing your brain


Nomophobia: Scary Facts About Smartphone Addiction


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Social media is making children regress to mentality of three-year-olds, says top brain scientist


The Poison on Facebook and Twitter Is Still Spreading

October 20, 2018

Social platforms have a responsibility to address misinformation as a systemic problem, instead of reacting to case after case.

By The Editorial Board 

The New York Times

A network of Facebook troll accounts operated by the Myanmar military parrots hateful rhetoric against Rohingya Muslims. Viral misinformation runs rampant on WhatsApp in Brazil, even as marketing firms there buy databases of phone numbers in order to spam voters with right-wing messaging. Homegrown campaigns spread partisan lies in the United States.

The public knows about each of these incitements because of reporting by news organizations. Social media misinformation is becoming a newsroom beat in and of itself, as journalists find themselves acting as unpaid content moderators for these platforms.

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It’s not just reporters, either. Academic researchers and self-taught vigilantes alike scour through networks of misinformation on social media platforms, their findings prompting — or sometimes, failing to prompt — the takedown of  propaganda.

It’s the latest iteration of a journalistic cottage industry that started out by simply comparing and contrasting questionable moderation decisions — the censorship of a legitimate news article, perhaps, or an example of terrorist propaganda left untouched. Over time, the stakes have become greater and greater. Once upon a time, the big Facebook censorship controversy was the banning of female nipples in photos. That feels like a idyllic bygone era never to return.

The internet platforms will always make some mistakes, and it’s not fair to expect otherwise. And the task before Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and others is admittedly herculean. No one can screen everything in the fire hose of content produced by users. Even if a platform makes the right call on 99 percent of its content, the remaining 1 percent can still be millions upon millions of postings. The platforms are due some forgiveness in this respect.

It’s increasingly clear, however, that at this stage of the internet’s evolution, content moderation can no longer be reduced to individual postings viewed in isolation and out of context. The problem is systemic, currently manifested in the form of coordinated campaigns both foreign and homegrown. While Facebook and Twitter have been making strides toward proactively staving off dubious influence campaigns, a tired old pattern is re-emerging — journalists and researchers find a problem, the platform reacts and the whole cycle begins anew. The merry-go-round spins yet again.

This week, a question from The New York Times prompted Facebook to take down a network of accounts linked to the Myanmar military. Although Facebook was already aware of the problem in general, the request for comment from The Times flagged specific instances of “seemingly independent entertainment, beauty and informational pages” that were tied to a military operation that sowed the internet with anti-Rohingya sentiment.

The week before, The Times found a number of suspicious pages spreading viral misinformation about Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of assault. After The Times showed Facebook some of those pages, the company said it had already been looking into the issue. Facebook took down the pages flagged by The Times, but similar pages that hadn’t yet been shown to the company stayed up.

It’s not just The Times, and it’s not just Facebook. Again and again, the act of reporting out a story gets reduced to outsourced content moderation.

“We all know that feeling,” says Charlie Warzel, a reporter at BuzzFeed who’s written about everything from viral misinformation on Twitter to exploitative child content on YouTube. “You flag a flagrant violation of terms of service and send out a request for comment. And you’re just sitting there refreshing, and then you see it come down — and afterward you get this boilerplate reply via email.” Mr. Warzel says his inbox is full of messages from people begging him to intercede with the platforms on their behalf — sometimes because they have been censored unfairly, sometimes because they want to point to disturbing content they believe should be taken offline.

Journalists are not in the business of resolving disputes for Facebook and Twitter. But disgruntled users might feel that they have a better chance of being listened to by a reporter than by someone who is actually paid to resolve user complaints.

Of course, it would be far worse if a company refused to patch a problem that journalists have uncovered. But at the same time, muckraking isn’t meant to fix the system one isolated instance at a time. Imagine if Nellie Bly had to infiltrate the same asylum over and over again, with each investigation prompting a single incremental change, like the removal of one abusive nurse.

The work of journalists is taken for granted, both implicitly and explicitly. In August, the Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, took to his own platform to defend his company’s decision to keep Alex Jones online. “Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions,” he said. “This is what serves the public conversation best.” But journalists and outside researchers do not have access to the wealth of data available internally to companies like Twitter and Facebook.

The companies have all the tools at their disposal and a profound responsibility to find exactly what journalists find — and yet, clearly, they don’t. The role that outsiders currently play, as consumer advocates and content screeners, can easily be filled in-house. And unlike journalists, companies have the power to change the very incentives that keep producing these troubling online phenomena.

The reliance on journalists’ time is particularly paradoxical given the damage that the tech companies are doing to the media industry. Small changes to how Facebook organizes its News Feed can radically change a news organization’s bottom line — layoffs and hiring sprees are spurred on by the whims of the algorithm. Even as the companies draw on journalistic resources to make their products better, the hegemony of Google and Facebook over digital advertising — estimated by some to be a combined 85 percent of the market — is strangling journalism.

But throwing light on the coordinated misinformation campaigns flaring up all around us is a matter that is much bigger than the death of print — it’s essential to democracy. It can change the course of elections and genocides. Social media platforms are doing society no favors by relying on journalists to leach the poison from their sites. Because none of this is sustainable — and we definitely don’t want to find out what happens when the merry-go-round stops working.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion).

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A24 of the New York edition with the headline: Hey, Facebook, Do Your Own Work
See also:
Facebook shareholders call for Zuckerberg to step down as chair

Twitter says it won’t suspend Louis Farrakhan over tweet comparing Jews to termites


China Continues To Tighten Internet Control, Censorship and Restrictions

October 17, 2018

A series of punishments doled out to internet companies and individuals within the span of a month indicate that Beijing is tightening its suppression of free expression online.

The latest crackdown targets, a Chinese site where registered users can create their own digital library and share saved articles and online information with others.

Beijing’s cyberspace authorities, a local branch of the central Cyberspace Administration of China, ordered to halt its operations until Nov. 15, because the site contained information in “serious violation” of Chinese regulations, according to an Oct. 15 article by China’s state-run newspaper Beijing News.

October 17, 2018 Updated: October 17, 2018
During the one-month shutdown period, Beijing’s cyberspace office demands that the site clean up its content and thoroughly revamp its operation—actions the agency indicated were long overdue, to eliminate “problematic” content, the report said.

The website is run by Beijing Liuzhi Information Technology Corp., a company listed on China’s NEEQ, an over-the-counter system for trading in companies not listed on the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges. The site doesn’t charge users to register for an account and mainly relies on advertising for revenue.

The shutdown of follows a recent detention of a well-known Chinese blogger by Shanghai police.

Yang Kaili, a 20-year-old blogger with more than 44 million followers, was placed in five-day detention on Oct. 7, after police found a light-hearted performance in one of her live-streaming videos “disrespectful” to the national anthem. In the video, she can be seen wearing a reindeer-antler headset and singing a snippet of China’s national anthem while waving her hands, as if she were conducting an orchestra.

The basis of Yang’s detention is China’s National Anthem Law, which took effect in October 2017: Anyone found to be “deliberately distorting or falsifying the lyrics or music” of China’s national anthem can be subject to up to 15 days without trial.

Yang’s detention followed another instance of authorities suppressing speech: Hunan City University, located in Yiyang city in central China’s Hunan Province, expelled a freshman student on Sept. 22 for inappropriate online comments, according to Chinese news portal Tencent. Civil engineering student Wang Dong, 18, posted comments on China’s Twitter-like social-media platform Weibo on Sept. 19 that criticized the idea of patriotism and those who claim to love their country.

In announcing about Wang’s expulsion, the university wrote that it was against “any words or actions that are damaging to the reputation of the [Chinese Communist] Party and the country,” and that it would strictly enforce the Party’s education policy, so both teachers and students would “love the Party, the country, and the people.”

Such crackdowns on online speech have increased following Beijing’s enactment of a cybersecurity law in June 2017, which provides a legal basis for the regime to police the internet.

In early October, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced a set of measures that would allow police unrestricted power to search and inspect internet-service providers at any time. This policy allows police to enforce a provision of the cybersecurity law that mandates all internet providers and companies that hold large amounts of Chinese citizens’ data to store their data physically in China.

The shutting down of has drawn the ire of some Chinese netizens on Weibo. A netizen from Harbin, the capital of the northern Heilongjiang Province, wrote that is a good platform that provides “untainted” information. The netizen lamented that the Chinese authorities have shut one of the few channels of information that provide the “truth.”

A netizen from Tibet, with the moniker “Forgotten Land,” wrote that the platform offers information about Chinese history that people don’t usually get to see on the Chinese search engine Baidu. The netizen added, “[Chinese authorities] want to whitewash themselves. They don’t want people to find out about certain things in the past.”

For Chinese internet users, their biggest concern is that the “red line”—the boundaries of which the Chinese regime decides whether online content is offensive or illegal—is always changing, Wang Peng, a Beijing-based artist, said in a recent interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) about Yang’s detention.

“Any sensitive keywords or sensitive events that are happening, if the authorities believe they can be linked to something else, [they will be] censored,” Wang said. “You never know when you’re going to cross a red line.”


As the Internet Splinters, the World Suffers — Nations unable to agree

October 16, 2018

A breakup of the web grants privacy, security and freedom to some, and not so much to others.

By The Editorial Board

The New York Times

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The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

Credit Rose Wong

In September, Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive and Alphabet chairman, said that in the next 10 to 15 years, the internet would most likely be split in two — one internet led by China and one internet led by the United States.

Mr. Schmidt, speaking at a private event hosted by a venture capital firm, did not seem to seriously entertain the possibility that the internet would remain global. He’s correct to rule out that possibility — if anything, the flaw in Mr. Schmidt’s thinking is that he too quickly dismisses the European internet that is coalescing around the European Union’s ever-heightening regulation of technology platforms. All signs point to a future with three internets.

The received wisdom was once that a unified, unbounded web promoted democracy through the free flow of information. Things don’t seem quite so simple anymore. China’s tight control of the internet within its borders continues to tamp down talk of democracy, and an increasingly sophisticated system of digital surveillance plays a major role in human rights abuses, such as the persecution of the Uighurs. We’ve also seen the dark side to connecting people to one another — as illustrated by how misinformation on social media played a significant role in the violence in Myanmar.

There’s a world of difference between the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, known commonly as G.D.P.R., and China’s technologically enforced censorship regime, often dubbed “the Great Firewall.” But all three spheres — Europe, America and China — are generating sets of rules, regulations and norms that are beginning to rub up against one another. What’s more, the actual physical location of data has increasingly become separated by region, with data confined to data centers inside the borders of countries with data localization laws.

The information superhighway cracks apart more easily when so much of it depends on privately owned infrastructure. An error at Amazon Web Services created losses of service across the web in 2017; a storm disrupting a data center in Northern Virginia created similar failures in 2012. These were unintentional blackouts; the corporate custodians of the internet have it within their power to do far more. Of course, nobody wants to turn off the internet completely — that wouldn’t make anyone money. But when a single company with huge market share chooses to comply with a law — or more worryingly, a mere suggestion from the authorities — a large chunk of the internet ends up falling in line.

The power of a handful of platforms and services combined with the dismal state of international cooperation across the world pushes us closer and closer to a splintered internet. Meanwhile, American companies that once implicitly pushed democratic values abroad are more reticent to take a stand.

In 2010, Google shut down its operations in China after it was revealed that the Chinese government had been hacking the Gmail accounts of dissidents and surveilling them through the search engine. “At some point you have to stand back and challenge this and say, this goes beyond the line of what we’re comfortable with, and adopt that for moral reasons,” said Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder, in an interview with Der Spiegel at the time.

But eight years later, Google is working on a search engine for China known as Dragonfly. Its launch will be conditional on the approval of Chinese officials and will therefore comply with stringent censorship requirements. An internal memo written by one of the engineers on the project described surveillance capabilities built into the engine — namely by requiring users to log in and then tracking their browsing histories. This data will be accessible by an unnamed Chinese partner, presumably the government.

Google says all features are speculative and no decision has been made on whether to launch Dragonfly, but a leaked transcript of a meeting inside Google later acquired by The Intercept, a news site, contradicts that line. In the transcript, Google’s head of search, Ben Gomes, is quoted as saying that it hoped to launch within six to nine months, although the unstable American-China relationship makes it difficult to predict when or even whether the Chinese government will give the go-ahead. “There is a huge binary difference between being launched and not launched,” said Mr. Gomes. “And so we want to be careful that we don’t miss that window if it ever comes.”

Free Our Internet: Google Does Not ‘Worry About Legislation’ Because They ‘Bought’ Congress

October 12, 2018
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: In this photo illustration, The Google logo is projected onto a man on August 09, 2017 in London, England. Founded in 1995 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google now makes hundreds of products used by billions of people across the globe, from YouTube and …

Danger to American Democracy via censorship: Large technology companies’ procurement of political influence via lobbying efforts in Washington, DC

Christie-Lee McNally, executive director of Free Our Internet, warned of large technology companies’ procurement of political influence via lobbying efforts in Washington, DC. She offered her remarks in a Thursday interview with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily.

Free Our Internet is a non-profit organization describing itself as an opponent of the “tech-left” and its political censorship of “conservative speech online.”

McNally said:

They control over 90 percent of the internet, so they don’t need to capitulate to us, they don’t need to capitulate to the Senate [or] the president. They don’t need to capitulate … because they’ve bought them all. The amount they pay in lobbyists — if you look at FEC reports and how much they pay in lobbyists [and in] Washington, DC, they don’t have to worry about legislation.

“Clearly they lied last month when they went up there,” said McNally of Twitter and Facebook executives’ denial of political censorship across their digital platforms during testimony before congressional committees.

Photo credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images


Open Secrets itemized Google’s lobbying spending via the technology company’s FEC filings, with its most recent data coming from 2014.

The top recipient of Google’s lobbying spending in 2014 was the Podesta Group, founded by Clinton loyalist and founder of the Center for American Progress and its subsidiary ThinkProgress.

A January-published TIME report noted Google’s lobbying efforts:

When it comes to corporate lobbying efforts, Google outspent other major technology firms last year by millions of dollars, and took the top spot among companies more broadly.

Google (now part of parent company Alphabet) spent over $18 million lobbying politicians in 2017, according to federal disclosure records. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this is the first time a technology company has spent the most on lobbying costs in at least two decades. Google did not return TIME’s request for comment about its lobbying activities.

McNally praised Breitbart News coverage of threats to free speech and expression posed by the growing power of technology companies under left-wing management. She highlighted Breitbart News’s recent publication of a leaked 84-page document detailing some of Google’s political censorship efforts.

“I want to thank you guys for getting this document and informing people of what we have been screaming for a couple of years, now,” said McNally. “[People have been saying], ‘You guys are crazy. This is not happening.’ We watched the hearings and we talked about back in April and May and we were told, ‘This is just a conspiracy,’ and all of what we have been saying is now in our hands, proof that what we’ve been saying is true.”

McNally described Google’s political censorship as a threat to the First Amendment, “It terrifies me even more … that what we’ve been saying is absolutely happening. The scariest part of the document is [Google declaring it opts for] ‘European tradition’ rather than ‘American tradition.’ That means they want to undermine not only the First Amendment but our Constitution.”

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McNally cast Google’s compliance with the Chinese state’s political censorship demands as unscrupulous profiteering.

“It’s all come down to the almighty dollar for [Google], and it’s come down to control,” stated McNally. “When they started out and it was all about American tradition and values.”

Google’s criticisms of America ring hollow as it complies with China’s authoritarian state, assessed McNally.

“I don’t understand how, with the whole China situation … I don’t know how you can be a good censor when it comes to [the] Chinese regime and those types of governments,” remarked McNally. “This is a company whose motto, years ago, was ‘Don’t Be Evil,’ and now they are willing to bend over backwards for a government that does the types of things that they do to their people. They’re willing to censor and basically make a completely alternate internet for that particular government.”

McNally went on:

What’s ironic is how they’ll do that while, at the same time, talk about how awful America is, how awful our president is, how we’re suppressing women [and] minorities. America is the bad actor here, but they’re willing to go into China and set up a completely separate internet to suppress the Chinese people so that they will only see what the Chinese government wants them to see.

A September-published report revealed Google’s development of a search engine for China — named “Dragonfly” — complete with the Chinese state’s censorship demands.

Marlow described the threat to free speech and expression posed by large technology firms as “100 times the threat” posed by left-wing news media outlets such as CNN.

California Breaks the Internet

October 9, 2018

Sacramento wants to regulate the web nationwide.


Supporters of Net Neutrality protest the FCC's decision to repeal the program in Los Angeles, November 28, 2017.
Supporters of Net Neutrality protest the FCC’s decision to repeal the program in Los Angeles, November 28, 2017. PHOTO: KYLE GRILLOT/REUTERS

California Democrats like to imagine that they run all of America, and thank heavens they don’t. The progressive imperialists are now trying to regulate digital commerce nationwide under Sacramento rules, and the good news is that the Justice Department is pushing back to protect the free flow of information and the Constitution’s separation of powers.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed “net neutrality” legislation reinstating the late Obama-era rules that the Federal Communications Commission reversed last year. Providers are prohibited from throttling, blocking or charging to prioritize content. California’s law goes even further than the Obama rules by banning “zero-rating” plans that exempt certain apps from consumer data limits.

The Justice Department immediately sued to enjoin the legislation, and telecom companies have followed. California’s rules patently violate the Constitution’s Supremacy and Commerce Clauses, and if allowed to stand would break the Internet.

Prior to 2015 the FCC classified broadband as an “information service.” Broadband providers don’t censor content, but they need to control the flow of content in order to manage growing traffic congestion. But Obama FCC chairman Tom Wheeler decided to restrict broadband providers’ ability to manage traffic on their networks by subjecting them to utility-style regulations, and thus to more political control.

In any other industry customers can pay a higher price for faster delivery. But Mr. Wheeler’s rules prohibited broadband providers from charging data hogs like Netflix orFacebook more for better performance. This would result in less efficient networks, slower speeds for all content and less broadband investment.

Last year the Trump FCC scrapped the Obama rules and substituted a requirement that broadband providers disclose their network management practices. The FCC also directed the Federal Trade Commission to police unfair business practices and explicitly pre-empted “any state or local measure that would effectively impose” the repealed Wheeler rules. Under the Supremacy Clause, federal laws and regulations generally pre-empt conflicting state laws.

California has told the FCC to take a hike. Its legislature asserts that the state can use its police powers to protect the “neutrality” of the internet. But its law isn’t necessary to protect public welfare and could harm consumers. Ask the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which along with other low-income and minority groups opposed the law.

“Ending free Internet data is particularly harmful to younger, low-income, and minority Californians who are more dependent on their mobile devices to access the Internet,” the NAACP explained in a letter of opposition. California’s ban on zero-rating would forbid free data for apps like DirecTV or HBO that providers use to compete for consumers.

States have police powers under the Constitution that can’t be commandeered by the federal government, but states can’t invoke those police powers in ways that burden interstate commerce. The Constitution empowers Congress to regulate interstate commerce, and the 1996 Telecommunications Act grants the FCC authority over all “interstate and foreign communication.” The internet by definition is interstate communication.

The federal government has sometimes stretched its power too far under the Commerce Clause, as these columns have pointed out. But regulating the internet is clearly within the constitutional power of Congress. Three other states have enacted laws imposing net neutrality rules on broadband providers, and more than two dozen states are considering regulations. None are as sweeping as California’s.

A patchwork of state laws would create significant uncertainty and throttle innovation as providers build out their 5G networks. The so-called internet of things will make prioritizing data even more important for uses such as driverless cars, and variable pricing will be necessary. California is free to impose destructive and costly policies on its own citizens, but it can’t enforce them on the other 49 states.

Six dead in Kashmir violence ahead of polls: Indian officials

September 27, 2018

Six people were killed in mounting violence ahead of local elections in Kashmir as Indian authorities imposed a curfew and suspended mobile internet services in the disputed territory on Thursday.

There were at least four separate shootings in the restive Himalayan region, where an armed insurgency against Indian rule has raged for three decades, costing tens of thousands of lives.

An army spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said three militants and one soldier died in separate shootouts in Budgam district and Anantnag district.

© AFP/File | Tensions have been rising in Kashmir ahead of local elections in October and November

Elsewhere, a road-construction labourer was shot and killed by soldiers, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity and could not provide further details.

In the main city of Srinagar, government forces shot dead a man during an early morning patrol, sparking public unrest.

Thousands defied the government curfew to attend his funeral, chanting slogans against Indian rule in the mountainous area where half a million soldiers are deployed.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947 but both nuclear-armed rivals claim the territory in full, and have fought three wars over its control.

Tensions have been rising ahead of local elections in October and November. New Delhi has deployed an additional 40,000 troops to the region to maintain order.

Both pro-Indian parties and separatist groups fighting for self-determination have called for a boycott of the upcoming polls.

The region has been under direct control of New Delhi since the local government there collapsed in June.

Curfews, internet shutdowns and clashes with civilians are not uncommon when violence flares in Kashmir, where Indian forces have been accused by the UN of rights abuses.

The Software Freedom Law Centre, a New Delhi-based advocacy group, says authorities have suspended the internet 105 times this year in Kashmir alone.

New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of supporting militant groups waging an insurgency in Kashmir, which is divided by a heavily militarised de facto border.

This month, India blamed postage stamps released by Pakistan honouring a Kashmiri militant as part of its reason for cancelling rare talks between the neighbours in New York.

Philippines, Facebook and The War On Truth — Deeply worrying scenario for the future of politics and society

September 15, 2018

Over the last months or so, several studies have emerged showing how the social networking site Facebook was “weaponized” during the 2016 elections.

For sure, all of the candidates for different posts utilized the internet, including FB, to reach potential voters

But none was as organized, focused and better funded, as well as cynical about the “facts” they sought to spread, than the organization behind the on-again, off-again candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the city of Davao.

Throughout his political career, Mr. Duterte had marketed himself, in the words of media analyst Jack Swearingen, as “the tough-on-crime, anti-elite Everyman ready to bring back jobs and order.”

In speeches and freewheeling interviews, the supposedly reluctant candidate bombarded the once-benign social network site, as well as the traditional mass media, with vicious attacks on opponents, along with alarmist scenarios, offensive remarks aimed at women, and promises of a bloody war on drugs.

Philippine Inq

Sure enough, the number of his adherents grew by leaps and bounds since “any inflammatory content… (does) extremely well on Facebook,” said Swearingen, writing in New York magazine.

Mr. Duterte’s run for the highest post in the land — once deemed a long shot given his localized base of support and his relative anonymity in a field jammed with political heavyweights with a national constituency — was given a huge boost by a tactical business decision that FB made in 2013, three years before the elections.

That year, FB decided to “subsidize internet access to Facebook on mobile devices where cellular data was pricey, physical internet infrastructure was poor, and the smartphone revolution meant many leapfrogged from having no internet access at all to using their smartphone as their only source to the web.”

The Philippines, so FB officials found, “was the perfect country to test this out on,” calling the experiment “Free Facebook.”

When Mr. Duterte finally decided to become a serious presidential candidate, he had a ready platform to reach the millions of Filipino voters.

As Jonathan Corpus Ong of the University of Massachusetts Amherst wrote in Asia Global Online, “Duterte’s campaign machinery strategically focused on assembling bloggers, digital influencers, and fake account operators to tap into the public’s deep-seated anger — and convert these emotions into votes on election day… This tactic owed much of its success to the fact that the Philippines is the world’s ‘social media capital,’ with the average Filipino spending more time on social media than any other nationality.”

Other candidates still used the “traditional” avenues to reach out to voters: advertising, print and broadcast media, as well as the even more traditional rallies, motorcades, posters and personal huckstering, as well as the internet.

But only Mr. Duterte had (and apparently still has) the organized army of cyberwarriors ready to jettison the rules of engagement, including laying waste to the truth and to history, to create an army of fanatical devotees.

It’s doubtful if this was the intent of FB founder Mark Zuckerberg, who started (with a few collaborators) the site as a way for Ivy League male students to “rate” women on campus, and then went on to expand it to a digital web of personal connections. Now he finds himself in the service of trolls, online bullies and fabulists.

Can FB executives, who’ve been forced to meet with authorities in other countries to explain their role in this disturbing development fomented by shadowy groups, still be able to put the foul toothpaste back in the tube? (The pro-Marcos campaign, for instance, has also had considerable success on social media with largely uncontested, obviously well-funded revisionist takes on history—something it couldn’t do in the past with the more rigorous-minded traditional media.)

Will laws and regulations change the way people receive and perceive what they read in the web? And will Filipinos still be able to discern truth from trickery?

“In the Philippines,” said Swearingen, “its Free Facebook program has become so successful that it’s hard to imagine how Facebook and the Philippines could ever untwine themselves from each other… And even after Duterte leaves office, whenever that may be, the Philippines will still be a country where one website’s algorithm determines what 97 percent of internet users look at.”

That’s a scary, deeply worrying scenario for the future of politics and society in this country.

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Copyright Battle in Europe Pits Media Companies Against Tech Giants

September 10, 2018

Publishers, music companies support the law because they would get the right to negotiate payment for “digital use” from Facebook, Google


Media companies, particularly publishers, say their business has been gutted by Facebook and Google through their sharing of published materials.
Media companies, particularly publishers, say their business has been gutted by Facebook and Google through their sharing of published materials. PHOTO: DARIO PIGNATELLI/BLOOMBERG NEWS

BRUSSELS—A new European push to rein in tech giants through copyright legislation is sparking fierce debate and questions about whether the proposed law would accomplish its goals.

The fight pits big publishers, music companies and movie directors against internet giants including Facebook Inc. FB -0.01% and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -0.42% Google, as well as open-internet advocates and some small publishers.

It is coming to a head because the European Parliament plans to vote Wednesday on a draft copyright directive that supporters say would bolster media producers against internet platforms and hold those platforms more responsible for paying for content, such as copyrighted music playing in the background of an uploaded home video.

The vote, which also will include more than 200 proposed amendments, will set parameters for potentially protracted negotiations among the parliament, the EU’s executive body and European governments. If a law is ultimately agreed, EU countries would have up to two years to implement the new rules, which would be enforced by member countries.

Critics of the draft, including both technology giants and individuals who want to maintain easy sharing on the web, contend the law would have many negative consequences, including stifling free expression, hampering innovation and forcing new expenses on small startups required to filter content for copyright material.

Fighting over the law has been unusually fierce, say veterans of EU legislative battles. Celebrities including Paul McCartney and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales have lobbied for and against the law, respectively. EU legislators say they’ve received hundreds of emails against the draft text on some days.

Media companies, particularly publishers, say their business has been gutted by Facebook and Google through their sharing of published materials that provide little or no revenue or user data back to the publishers. The platforms’ behavior amounts to theft, said Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of German publisher Axel Springer SE. The new law would give news publishers the right to negotiate payment for “digital use” of their content by tech firms.

“If somebody else can just steal what you have created,” he told a conference organized by German rival Hubert Burda Media in Brussels, “then this is just a hopeless case for content creators.”

Burda CEO Paul-Bernard Kallen said the principle “is a matter of justice.”

News Corp , NWSA -1.11% publisher of The Wall Street Journal, supports the law’s copyright protection.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the draft law. When it was first proposed in 2016, Google’s head of public policy said in a blog that the draft contained “worrying elements” that could mean “everything uploaded to the web must be cleared by lawyers before it can find an audience.”

A spokeswoman for Facebook said that its platform offers tools for rights holders to protect their content, adding “We hope that the debate going forward will focus on the original mission of protecting copyright and ensuring a vibrant marketplace for content creation.”

Opponents also include Julia Reda, a member of the European Parliament from the Pirate Party, which advocates open access and personal privacy on the internet. She has called the copyright law a “link tax,” warning the law could force internet users to pay for content accessed through hyperlinks that they now get for free. In July she helped derail the law from fast-track approval because it “would have massively restricted our freedom of expression,” a statement on her website says.

Hyperlinks have been explicitly excluded from the law, say advocates, meaning there would be no “link tax.”

The fight is raging even though some backers acknowledge the law, if enacted, would face tough odds in changing how news is presented on the internet. Similar laws in Germany and Spain had little impact and in Spain prompted Google to stop its Google News service. Still, backers say, a law covering the EU’s 28 countries would force platforms to change their behavior.

“Having something at the European level creates a new dynamic,” said Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the European Publishers Council, a trade group.

Print publishers say the law would give them rights similar to those held by copyright owners of music and video material. “Legal recognition gives us better legal standing against the platforms in negotiations on usage” of published material, said Miruna Herovanu, an adviser at News Media Europe, a trade group.

Some small publishers, individuals and academics who want broad distribution more than revenue fear the law would restrict publication of their materials.

Mathias Vermeulen, a spokesman for Dutch EU lawmaker Marietje Schaake, who is critical of the law, said she received about 3,000 emails before a vote on the law earlier in the summer. He said publishers ignored concerns of more than 200 academics about the law.

“In the end this was a very sad debate to watch,” Mr. Vermeulen said.

Write to Daniel Michaels at

The 5G Race: China and U.S. Battle to Control World’s Fastest Wireless Internet

September 10, 2018

At stake are billions of dollars in royalties, a head start in developing new technologies and national security

Image result for MIGUEL CANDELA, photos, china, commuters

5G networks are expected to be as much as 100 times faster than current networks. MIGUEL CANDELA/LIGHTROCKETGETTY IMAGES



The early waves of mobile communications were largely driven by American and European companies. As the next era of 5G approaches, promising to again transform the way people use the internet, a battle is on to determine whether the U.S. or China will dominate.

Equipment makers and telecom operators in both countries are rushing to test and roll out the next generation of wireless networks, which will be as much as 100 times faster than the current 4G standard. Governments are involved as well—with China making the bigger push.

The new networks are expected to enable the steering of driverless cars and doctors to perform complex surgeries remotely. They could power connected appliances in the so-called Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality. Towers would beam high-speed internet to devices, reducing reliance on cables and Wi-Fi.

At the Shenzhen headquarters of Huawei Technologies Co., executives and researchers gathered in July to celebrate one of its technologies being named a critical part of 5G. The man who invented it, Turkish scientist Erdal Arikan, was greeted with thunderous applause. The win meant a stream of future royalties and leverage for the company—and it marked a milestone in China’s quest to dominate the technology.

At a Verizon Communications Inc. lab in Bedminster, N.J., recently, computer screens showed engineers how glare-resistant window coatings can interfere with delivering 5G’s superfast internet into homes. A model of a head known as Mrs. Head tested the audio quality of new wireless devices. Verizon began experimenting with 5G in 11 markets last year.

Nearby, in Murray Hill, N.J., Nokia Corp. engineers are testing a 5G-compatible sleeve that factory workers could wear like an arm brace during their shifts to steer drones or monitor their vital signs. The company began its 5G-related research in 2007.

At a Verizon lab in New Jersey, engineers use a model called Mrs. Head in their tests.
At a Verizon lab in New Jersey, engineers use a model called Mrs. Head in their tests. PHOTO: VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC.

While the economics of 5G are still being worked out, boosters say the potential payoffs are immense. Companies that own patents stand to make billions of dollars in royalties. Countries with the largest and most reliable networks will have a head start in developing the technologies enabled by faster speeds. The dominant equipment suppliers could give national intelligence agencies and militaries an advantage in spying on or disrupting rival countries’ networks.

“As we face the future, we know deep down that the birth of 5G standards represents a new beginning,” Huawei’s chairman, Eric Xu, told the audience at the company event.

Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s chief executive officer, speaks of the technology in equally dramatic terms. “We are strong believers that 5G [will have] a very transformative effect on many things in our society,” he said. “Consumer, media, entertainment…whole industries.”

By some measures, China is ahead. Since 2013, a government-led committee has worked with China’s mobile carriers and gear-makers on testing and development. The state-led approach, combined with an enormous domestic market, ensures that Chinese companies such as Huawei will sell large quantities of 5G equipment and gain valuable experience in the process.

An engineer checked broadband at a trial 5G base station on Feb. 5 in Wuhan, China.
An engineer checked broadband at a trial 5G base station on Feb. 5 in Wuhan, China. PHOTO: XIONG QI/XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS

In the U.S., where the government typically avoids mandating and coordinating efforts by the private sector, much of the experimentation has been led by companies such as AT&T Inc., Verizon, Samsung Electronics Co. and Nokia. Last week, tech companies including Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. argued in comments filed to the U.S. Trade Representative that proposed tariffs would raise the cost of routers, switches and other goods, slowing development of 5G.

Three of the major carriers plan to roll out 5G service in select cities later this year, though most mobile devices compatible with the new network won’t be ready until early 2019.

The race to 5G has come with tit-for-tat regulatory moves aimed at securing each country’s advantage. In March, the Trump administration blocked Singapore-based Broadcom’s acquisition of U.S. chip giant and 5G leader Qualcomm Inc., citing concerns that Broadcom would cut the company’s research and development funds and allow Chinese companies to pull ahead in 5G.

In July, China squelched Qualcomm’s planned acquisition of Dutch chip maker NXP Semiconductors NV, a deal that would have helped Qualcomm profit from 5G investments in new markets such as connected cars.

Much of the U.S. unease stems from the rising clout of Huawei, which was labeled a national-security threat, along with ZTE Corp. , by a Congressional panel in 2012 that said those firms’ equipment could be used for spying on Americans. In August, aligning itself with the U.S., Australia said it was banning Huawei and ZTE equipment from its 5G network. Other U.S. allies are studying similar bans.

Huawei and ZTE have consistently denied providing government agencies with backdoor access to their products. Beijing has likewise pushed to replace or sideline U.S. high-tech firms within China’s networks on fears of espionage.

China has made 5G a priority after failing to keep pace with Western countries in developing previous generations of mobile networks. The U.S. dominated 4G, built in the late 2000s, much in the same way Europeans controlled 3G standards. The American lead in 4G has been a boon to companies such as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm, and helped give rise to a host of consumer smartphone applications from the U.S.

Mixed SignalsDense networks of antennas are required for5G, and China is ahead of the U.S. on thatmeasure.Wireless antenna sites per 10,000 people,2017Source: Deloitte

Since 2015, China has built about 350,000 cell sites, compared with fewer than 30,000 in the U.S., according to an August study by consulting firm Deloitte. It also noted China has 14.1 sites for every 10,000 people, compared with 4.7 in the U.S. That matters for 5G, because the new networks will require much larger numbers of cell sites than 4G.

The physical manifestation of China’s push is a government-run 5G lab near the Great Wall north of Beijing. The sprawling facility is festooned with base stations and prototype mobile devices, with indoor and outdoor facilities for each of the major Chinese carriers and equipment makers, according to engineers and executives who have visited the site.

Trials are coordinated by a consortium of tech firms, universities and research institutes that operate under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The group aims to wrap up tests by the end of the year.

After those trials conclude, state-run carrier China Mobile , the world’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, will follow up with its own tests in 17 cities, according to Chih-Lin I, a former Bell Labs researcher and the company’s chief scientist of mobile technologies. China’s 5G service is expected to be ready for commercial use by 2020.

The faster generation of networks relies on sophisticated technology that allows wireless airwaves to be used more efficiently. Plans call for it to run on high-frequency millimeter waves, which can handle more data but can’t travel as far as lower-frequency waves used by older networks. That means 5G will rely on clusters of antennae as well as decentralized data centers close to consumers and businesses—requiring big investments in infrastructure. The networks are expected to have the speed and responsiveness needed for advances such as driverless cars, which must instantaneously communicate with traffic signals, other cars and their surroundings.

*Including smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices

Sources: China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (China subscribers, data); CTIA (U.S. connections)

China’s bid to steer the 5G future depends heavily on setting technical standards the rest of the world will have to follow—and pay royalties and licensing fees to use. It has played an aggressive role in the international telecom industry collective that sets global standards.

Experts inside and outside China expect Qualcomm and other Western firms to end up with a majority of the essential patents once the standards are fully determined, but China is making progress.

In 2009, as Huawei’s 5G push began, it recruited Tong Wen, a former senior researcher at now-defunct equipment maker Nortel Networks Corp., to set up a research lab in Ottawa. While flipping through an academic journal, Mr. Tong had stumbled on “polar coding,” a novel method for correcting errors in data transmission invented by Mr. Arikan, the Turkish scientist.

Huawei poured resources into developing it, and the government leaned on Chinese companies to vote for it en masse at a key standard-setting meeting at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nev., in 2016. The result was a tense fight that lasted past midnight with proponents of a rival technology favored by most Western firms, according to one standards expert who was there.

“The Chinese decided this was important,” the expert said. “This was one of the biggest political battles we’ve ever seen.”

The meeting ended with a compromise: Polar codes will be adopted for part of the standard, giving Huawei ownership of a critical patent. The company has spent more than $1 billion on 5G research and development so far.

Richard Yu, Huawei’s chief executive officer, presented 5G equipment on Feb. 25 in Barcelona.
Richard Yu, Huawei’s chief executive officer, presented 5G equipment on Feb. 25 in Barcelona. PHOTO: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The U.S. government has stopped short of mandating efforts by the private sector, opening the door to more diffuse outcomes determined by the work of individual companies. In January, a senior National Security Council official floated the idea of rivaling Beijing with a government-led effort to build a nationalized wireless network, but regulators and officials said it was too expensive and unrealistic.

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission announced a plan to speed up the build-out of 5G networks by overriding some local rules and fees governing the deployment of small cellular transmitters, an important component of the infrastructure. The plan is expected to win approval in late September.

The government has funded some academic research that has paved the way for commercial technologies. One agency, the National Science Foundation, is coordinating an effort to build test beds for 5G and future generations of wireless networks.

“The United States is very much behind in this space” relative to Europe, South Korea, Japan and China, said a 2015 internal NSF report on 5G network development.

Thyaga Nandagopal—a former researcher at Bell Labs who is a director at the foundation—is leading the test bed project, in which companies, academics and government agencies will be able to test 5G and other wireless network applications in tandem. Nearly 30 U.S., European and Asian companies have committed $50 million of capital and equipment over the next seven years, while the U.S. government has pledged to invest another $50 million. In New York, an NSF-funded site run by academic institutions including Columbia University aims to launch a small pilot phase by the beginning of January.

Mr. Nandagopal said that China’s coordinated investments have put it in a “pretty good pole position” but that the NSF’s efforts are focused on wireless developments after 2020, rather than the early years of 5G deployment.

“We can invest our money strategically and still get better results than anyone else,” he said.

Some American telecom companies are staking claims to rooftops and light poles where they can position small cells that enable the faster networks, and pressing equipment and device makers to create 5G-compatible products.

Verizon’s Hans Vestberg at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 10 in Las Vegas.
Verizon’s Hans Vestberg at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 10 in Las Vegas. PHOTO: STEVE MARCUS/REUTERS

For all the investment, industry experts note the standards for 5G aren’t fully written and wireless carriers are still figuring out how they can best profit from the service.

At a 5G forum in Santa Clara, Calif., in July, Henning Schulzrinne, a former chief technology officer at the FCC, said operators would also have to find a way to drastically reduce the cost of data to make applications such as augmented or virtual reality affordable enough to sell to consumers over 5G. Some of those applications could work using 4G or Wi-Fi instead.

“Who’s going to stream AR or VR if it’s going to cost them $10 per minute?” he said.

John Donovan, chief executive of AT&T’s communications business, said the company’s researchers have been among the most prolific writers of 5G standards, but it is being cautious as it puts the technology in the field.

“To deploy technology in advance of need, before the use cases are there—you’re wasting money,” he said.

Executives at Huawei have also sought to temper 5G expectations. Before an audience of analysts at an annual meeting at the Shenzhen headquarters in April, Mr. Xu, Huawei’s chairman, said that “the entire industry and also governments around the world have regarded 5G too high, to the extent that it’s going to be the digital infrastructure for everything.”

Huawei and China Mobile will push ahead with 5G on a large scale regardless, according to executives from both companies.

“5G is such an important strategic project for China—kitchen sink, all the resources,” said Edison Lee, a telecom analyst at investment bank Jefferies in Hong Kong. “Because if they get their foot in the door for 5G, they get their foot in the door of 6G, 7G, 8G.”

Write to Josh Chin at, Sarah Krouse at and Dan Strumpf at

Appeared in the September 10, 2018, print edition as ‘U.S. and China Battle for 5G Dominance.’