Updates from January, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 10:33 am on January 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Another state enacts Net Neutrality legislation 

    Another state enacts Net Neutrality legislation

    In the wake of the state of Montana enacting its own legislation in order to protect net neutrality within its borders, another state has taken similar steps. With all due respect to Montana, this other state’s legislation will probably get internet service providers and the FCC to sit up and take notice.

    Recently, in direct defiance of the FCC’s edict that states couldn’t enforce their own net neutrality legislation. the Golden State of California has passed two bills guaranteeing that all internet traffic will be treated equally in their state.

    California can not just be ignored by ISPs if they’re wanting to do business in the state and this new proposed legislation could start a domino effect where ISPs may have to voluntarily commit to net neutrality just to keep from running afoul of state laws. However, the solution is never that simple and we could see these state laws challenged in federal court for years to come. Hopefully the ISPs will realize that it might be more profitable for them to treat all internet traffic equally then spending money fighting these laws made by various states.

     
  • Geebo 9:53 am on January 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Omaha   

    Hotels are at the front line of human trafficking 

    Hotels are at the front line of human trafficking

    When we think of hotels and human trafficking we think mostly of the seedy roadside motel that no one would normally visit under any circumstance. While those places do exist, human trafficking also takes place at the same hotels we use for business and vacations. Think about that for a moment. There may be a victim of human trafficking at the same hotel that you may be staying at with your family.

    The problem has become so prevalent that many police departments and anti-human trafficking groups have taken it upon themselves to educate hotel workers about the problem. For example, the city of Omaha, Nebraska, and The Creighton Human Trafficking Initiative have educated workers at over 100 hotels in Omaha on how to recognize if someone is being trafficked. Often victims are either forced to work out of these hotels are or held captive there being unable to leave due to threats of physical violence.

    The problem is so prevalent nowadays thanks to sites like Backpage that this is only one of many initiatives being held across the country. Human trafficking is one of the most profitable crimes in the world since a person can be sold over and over again unlike something like drugs which require a constant manufacturing process. If more people were aware that human trafficking is happening everywhere and not just in the places we think it’s happening, a lot more could be done to put a stop to it.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cyber Patrol, ,   

    Citizens group takes on human trafficking at the source 

    Citizens group takes on human trafficking at the source

    San Diego, California, has unfortunately long been known as a hot spot for human trafficking for several reasons. Due to its proximity to both Los Angeles and Mexico, and the fact that it has a large military population contributes to the amount of trafficking that takes place there. That’s not to disparage either location or our military, but unfortunately that’s the reality of the situation. However, a group of volunteers has taken the fight against human trafficking to its roots, the men who would buy trafficked women and girls from Backpage.

    The Bunch of Guys Cyber Patrol, or Cyber Patrol for short, have taken it upon themselves to warn those who would respond to Backpage ads are contributing to the human trafficking problem. The Cyber Patrol takes out ads that appear to be one of Backpage’s usual trafficking ads. All they’ll have on the ad is a picture of a woman and a phone number. Once the ad is posted it doesn’t take them long to start receiving phone calls from men looking for a woman, the Cyber Patrol responds with a script that details not only the plight of women and girls who are trafficked but also what could happen to the men who patronize these ads.

    The message goes on to say that many of the women advertising their services are underage, or were coerced into the business as minors, and that their pimps often keep all of the money for themselves.

    They are warned that a conviction for solicitation of a minor could turn them into registered sex offenders.

    While the Cyber Patrol are not law enforcement, they will on occasion turn some more concerning cases over to the Human Trafficking Task Force.

    While they may be just chipping away at a much larger problem, taking on the johns of the world is a tactic we need to see more of. It comes down to simple economics really. If you take away the demand, then there’s no need for the supply. By making the johns aware of the problem they’re contributing to, maybe fewer of them will turn to Backpage or other avenues of human trafficking.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , e-books, Kindle, Rakuten,   

    Walmart to take on Amazon’s core business 

    Walmart to take on Amazon's core business

    It’s been no secret that Amazon and Walmart have been at odds with each other recently with both retail giants trying to infringe on each other’s territory. Amazon has been expanding into the brick and mortar space while Walmart is trying to increase its online presence. Now, Walmart is trying to steal a part of Amazon’s customer base by launching their own line of what started Amazon’s success in the first place, books.

    Walmart has teamed with Japanese company Rakuten to start selling e-books and readers to compete with Amazon’s massive library of e-books available on their wildly successful Kindle e-reader. Does Walmart really expect to take a chunk out of Amazon’s book business? Barnes & Noble tried to take on Amazon with their Nook reader which was superior to the Kindle. While not exactly a failure it didn’t have nearly the success that the Kindle has. Also, with all due respect to Walmart, it’s never been seen as a book lover’s first destination to buy a new book.

    While on the surface it seems like a bold strategy from Walmart to try to further entrench themselves in the retail battle against Amazon, it seems more like an act of playground bravado with Walmart claiming ‘anything you can do I can do’. The problem is that books are Amazon’s bread and butter and are what basically turned the company into the success it is today. For Walmart to succeed in this space they would have to offer better deals for publishers and authors which may lead to higher prices of books and higher prices is just not Walmart’s way.

     
  • Geebo 10:32 am on January 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Burger King, GAO, , , Whoper Neutrality   

    Net Neutrality will not go quietly 

    Net Neutrality will not go quietly

    Ever since FCC Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the regulations protecting net neutrality, the fight to have it restored has been an ongoing but uphill battle. While some of the news has been promising, there have been no victories so far. However, in this week’s news there have been so many stories regarding the fight for a free and open internet that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

    For example, the state of Montana, a state that went to President Trump in the 2016 election, had their governor sign an executive order that forbids state agencies from doing business with any internet service provider that violates net neutrality practices. With state governments being a big customer for ISPs, this could definitely have huge repercussions for ISPs doing business in the state.

    Also a number of stories have come out this week about how a many communities within the U.S. have built their own broadband networks. With the threat of paid prioritized traffic looming, many more communities are looking into this option as well, in order to better serve their citizens. Sadly, there are 20 states that have legislation in effect that largely hamper such efforts.

    Some members of Congress have also not taken this lying down as they have petitioned the US Government Accountability Office to investigate the possibility of fraud and identity theft during the FCC’s net neutrality rule making process. If you’ll recall in the run up to net neutrality being repealed there were a number of public comments made in support of repealing the protections that were allegedly not made by the people who were said to have posted them.

    Lastly, an unlikely ally in the fight for net neutrality and it’s Burger King of all places. They have released a video called ‘Whopper Neutrality’ that shows how Burger King’s synonymous Burgers can teach people about net neutrality.

    If even a plastic headed burger mascot gets it, why doesn’t the FCC?

    The internet was designed to be free and open to all and by this point should be considered a utility as it’s hard to get by in today’s world without it. It shouldn’t be controlled by a handful of corporate gatekeepers.

     
  • Geebo 10:31 am on January 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Houston, , ,   

    Backpage facing yet another trafficking lawsuit 

    Backpage facing yet another trafficking lawsuit

    In the past year or so, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage, the site that tries to disguise itself as a classifieds site but makes most of its money off of sex trafficking ads. Some of these lawsuits have come from families whose daughters were killed in the sex trafficking trade. Others have come from women who were trafficked while underage on Backpage. The one thing that all these lawsuits have in common is that Backpage took money for these ads while knowing exactly what they were for.

    Most recently, Backpage is being sued by an 18-year-old woman from Houston, Texas. She says that she was 15 when she was advertised on Backpage. Her lawsuit alleges that Backpage knowingly edited ads to hide evidence of child sex trafficking. This is the basis of most of the recent lawsuits against Backpage as a Congressional investigative committee found evidence that Backpage was allegedly actively editing their ads in this manner. Due to the findings of that investigation, Backpage has settled at least one lawsuit filed against them by trafficking victims.

    Since Congress has been dragging their feet on providing any kind of real legislative protection for Backpage’s trafficking victims, maybe hitting them in their pockets for millions of dollars in settlements will finally make Backpage realize that it’s not worth it being in the business of selling people.

     
  • Geebo 10:09 am on January 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cambodia, , Hun Sen, Kem Sokha   

    Facebook is helping crush dissent in yet another country 

    Facebook is helping crush dissent in yet another country

    In yet another story that’s becoming all too common, Facebook has once again been accused of being used by an oppressive government to silence the opposition. Previously, we’ve discussed how Facebook was used in Myanmar to help persecute the Rohingya minority in that country, and how the Philippine government was using Facebook to try to silence an opposition news outlet. Now, Buzzfeed News has an extensive article about how the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, is using Facebook to jail any opposition and dissenters.

    In a nutshell, a pro-government media outlet in Cambodia has used a disinformation campaign on Facebook to not only try to discredit the opposition leader, Kem Sokha, but it also led to Kem being arrested for treason and the opposition party being dissolved. The Cambodian government hasn’t been exactly shy about how they use Facebook either. An aide to Hun Sen is even quoted in the Buzzfeed article stating they have a good relationship with Facebook and how helpful they’ve been with closing accounts that criticize the government.

    Not surprisingly, this comes at a time when Facebook has admitted that it can’t guarantee it’s good for democracy. How much more will it take before Facebook realizes it’s created a monster of power that is out of its own control and who could possibly stop it at this point?

     
  • Geebo 10:27 am on January 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Amazon to unveil new cashier-less store today 

    Amazon to unveil new cashier-less store today

    For a little more than a year, Amazon has been developing their highly touted store without cashiers known as Amazon Go. Later today, Amazon will finally unveil Amazon Go to the public in Seattle. The original concept of the store was to have a store that would be fully automated, however, it seems the reality of situation means there will in fact be human employees in the store.

    According to Tech Crunch there will be several human employees in the store such as someone checking for IDs in the beer and wine section, and a person standing by for any assistance needed with the app used for shopping at the store. There are also stockers and chefs who prepare sandwiches and meal kits.

    While the videos of the store seem to give the appearance of a slick and seamless shopping experience, one has to wonder if that will be the reality of the situation. Often times in tech, what tested perfect in the lab can often fail in the real world. For example, one of the problems Amazon Go had in its testing phase is the store would come to a halt if there were too many people in the store. Plus in real life there are always situations that arise that no one can account for until they happen. It will be interesting to see how Amazon Go will handle such a situation.

    So will Amazon Go be the future of brick and mortar retailing, or will it be just another retailing fad that refuses to take hold? Today, just may hold some of those answers.

     
  • Geebo 10:10 am on January 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Whole Foods has less foods in more stores lately 

    Whole Foods has less foods in more stores lately

    Lately, more customers of the now Amazon-owned Whole Foods have been complaining about the lack of stock and empty shelves in many of their stores across the country. It leaves the customers wondering if it’s because of the winter weather or has Amazon finally interfered with their favorite store so much that Amazon has screwed up the supply chain. As it turns out, it’s been the fault of Whole Foods themselves for some time now.

    According to an expose by Business Insider, Whole Foods started using a new ordering technique called Order to Shelf, or OTS for short. This technique, ordered by the Whole Foods home office in Austin, Texas, for all its stores, is supposed to reduce waste which many say it has. Instead of storing additional stock in the back, now if a store is running low. they’re supposed to get it direct from the supplier, bypassing the store room.

    However, the problem as evidenced by the Business Insider story is that Whole Foods now have little to stock their shelves. While OTS may be reducing waste, it is also turning away customers. Empty shelves make stores look like they’re about to go out of business making the store look less reputable. While Amazon may have been seen as the Whole Foods bogeyman before, maybe now Amazon will be their savior.

     
  • Geebo 10:37 am on January 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Philippines, Rappler, Rodrigo Duterte   

    Is Facebook complicit in helping oppressive regimes silence their critics? 

    Is Facebook complicit in helping oppressive regimes silence their critics?

    If you’re not familiar with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, he is a controversial figure to say the least. During his campaign for the Presidency, Duterte was refereed to by American media as the Donald Trump of the Philippines for his boisterous ways and outspoken manner, however, Duterte has long since surpassed President Trump in terms of controversy.

    After taking office, President Duerete declared a war on drugs in the Philippines and has allegedly used it as an excuse to order the police executions of thousands of so-called offenders. No arrests, no trials, only death. He has been harshly criticized not only on the world stage for alleged human rights abuses but by some media outlets in the Philippines as well. Considering the Philippines has a history of journalists being assassinated, this is a pretty big deal.

    One of these outlets is known as Rappler and they have been critical of President Duterte’s treatment of the people being executed by police. Instead of using any kind of violent force against them, Duterte’s administration is accused of allegedly using a campaign of misinformation against Rappler which led to government taking away Rappler’s license.

    And where was this misinformation campaign waged? On Facebook of course. Considering Facebook has an office in Manila and has partnered with the Duterte administration on a high-speed internet project this really should come as no shock.

    Sadly, this is just another example of how much power Facebook wields in the geopolitical stage. Facebook has the potential to literally topple regimes or silence the opposition to such oppressors with just a few clicks of a mouse or swipe of a touchscreen. Should one company hold this much power on such a global scale?

     
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