Updates from February, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:58 am on February 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Major bill passed to help fight online human trafficking 

    Major bill passed to help fight online human trafficking

    Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, or FOSTA as it’s better known. This act would allow prosecutors and victims of online trafficking to either prosecute, or seek damages against websites that knowingly assisted in the trafficking of women and children. To be more specific, FOSTA is designed to allow sites like Backpage, who allegedly worked with traffickers to make the ads of trafficked victims appear more legitimate, to stop hiding behind the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

    As you may know, the CDA was the statute that Backpage hid behind for many years claiming that the ads on their website for ‘adult services’ were protected speech and that they had no control over what appeared in these ads. Time and again prosecutors and trafficking victims were stymied in seeking justice against Backpage because of the outdated terms of the CDA. However, after the House overwhelmingly passed FOSTA yesterday, Backpage became one major step closer to losing that protection that has afforded them to make millions of dollars from the sales of women and children into slavery. What’s next is for the bill to be approved by the Senate which has its own version of the bill called “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” or SESTA.

    While many tech pundits and insiders claim FOSTA and SESTA are potential internet censorship laws, they have no one to blame but Backpage. It shouldn’t have had to come to this, but Backpage insisted on making their millions in one of the most unethically ways possible. Had Backpage not blamed everything on third parties and used the CDA as it was not intended, further legislation would not have been needed. Not to mention that many of these pundits and insiders complain when the law has not caught up to technology when it comes to innovation, but use a 22-year-old law to defend the practice of online trafficking as free speech. 22 years ago, the internet was a far cry from what it is today. Why shouldn’t the law be allowed to reflect that?

     
  • Geebo 10:26 am on February 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AiFi, ,   

    Startup promises cashier-less experience in every store 

    Startup promises cashierless experience in every store

    Previously we’ve posted on this blog about Amazon Go, Amazon’s attempt at having a cashier-less store where you can just grab and go whatever you need and have it charged to your Amazon account. While it was initially delayed, had a few hiccups on start, and has live employees at its stores, Amazon Go has turned out to be somewhat of a success for Amazon. Now, a relatively new startup is poised to upset Amazon’s apple cart.

    A startup called AiFi claims they’ve developed an Amazon Go-like system that could be installed in any existing store. Not only that, but AiFi says that their system is scalable to fit a store of any size. From the smallest mom and pop store to the biggest box store, AiFi can supposedly scale itself to fit any sized marketplace.

    The problem, as is with many startups, is this just bluster or does AiFi actually have the technology to back up their claims? Too many startups have turned out to be just vaporware or not practical in the real world. Remember Jucicero anyone? It will be interesting to see if AiFi has actually figured out the problems to cashier-less shopping that took a multi-billion dollar corporation like Amazon so long to try to tackle.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NRA   

    Ajit Pai receives gun award from NRA for ‘saving the internet’ 

    Ajit Pai receives gun award from NRA for 'saving the internet'

    In our last post, we observed how tone-deaf FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the current administration is when it comes to the overwhelming popular support for net neutrality. For those who may not know the concept of net neutrality promises a free an open internet where all internet traffic is treated equally, Without it, internet service providers could throttle traffic to any competing service like Netflix and then have you pay extra to access that service.

    However, when it comes to being tone-deaf, it appears that no one beats the National Rifle Association, otherwise known as the NRA. While the wounds of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead were still fresh in the mind of the public, the NRA decided to present its Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire award to Ajit Pai for what American Conservative Union Executive Director Dan Schneider called “saving the internet”, while NRA board member Carolyn Meadows said that Pai “fought to preserve your free speech rights”. Although, neither speaker clarified how Pai has done either of these things.

    This kind of grandstanding in the face of tragedy is nothing new for the NRA. They once famously refused to cancel their annual convention in Denver shortly after the infamous shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. As you can expect, the award includes a handmade Kentucky long rifle that Pai can claim at his discretion. One has to wonder if this will be the gun that Pai uses to take net neutrality out back and shoot it.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on February 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    60 days to die: Can net neutrality be saved? 

    60 days to die: Can net neutrality be saved?

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    Yesterday, the apparent demise of the net neutrality became more of a reality. The Federal Communications Commission published the ‘Restoring Internet Freedom Order’ in the federal register yesterday, meaning that on April 23rd, 60 days after publication, the order will go into effect. This will allow internet providers to throttle internet traffic and limit speeds as they see fit.

    So what’s being done to stop the order before April? Well, a coalition of 23 state Attorneys General are suing the FCC claiming that the order itself is illegal. In Congress, net neutrality supporters say they have the votes to have the order blocked, but not enough to override a Presidential veto which is almost a certainty.

    While politicians have a history of turning a deaf ear to their constituents, the unprecedented and overwhelming support of net neutrality is just one of the many examples how tone-deaf the current administration really is. They show that the will of the people means nothing in the face of corporate campaign money.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on February 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Why online modeling jobs are bad news 

    Why online modeling jobs are bad news

    Earlier this week, we put up a blog post about two girls from California were saved from potential human traffickers after being offered a bogus modeling job. More recently, another modeling scam appeared, this time in Michigan where someone was offering modeling jobs on craigslist and Facebook for a store whose owner had no idea their store was being used in a scam. While the false promises of modeling jobs are often used by human traffickers, they’re used by online predators as well.

    While those are drastic situations, there are other modeling scams that involve trying to get you to spend money on things you shouldn’t have to. For example, many ads for modeling jobs that you’ll find online or hear about on the radio aren’t jobs at all. There actually more of a sales pitch to get you to buy things like classes and photos, but only through them.

    While you may be able to find one or two legitimate modeling jobs online, for the most part legitimate modeling jobs are done through modeling agencies. If someone is advertising for models on craigslist it’s more than likely they don’t have the best intentions in mind to say the least. The Federal Trade Commission website has some tips on how not to get scammed by modeling ads.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: forged title, ,   

    Beware buying a car with a phony title 

    Beware buying car with a phony title

    When buying a used car online the main scams you had to worry about were either wiring money to a scam artist when the car doesn’t actually exist or buying a car that’s been stolen. Now a report is coming put of Texas that tells of a different elaborate scam that could leave you just as broke.

    According to the report, scammers are buying cars from junkyards that have been declared unrepairable and the car’s title is supposed to reflect this. Instead, the scammers get the cars running again and forge titles that say the cars are street worthy. They then list the cars for sale on less than reputable websites well below market value. Once the buyer takes the title to the DMV they find out that the car has been condemned, can not be driven on the street, and the only way the buyer can recoup some of their loss is to sell the car for parts.

    Remember, when purchasing a used car online, always be wary of a price that seems too good to be true. More often than not, those deals turn out to be scams. Before buying any car you should ask for the car’s VIN number and check it with one of the many services that provides a car’s history. Steps like this may take some extra time but in the long run will save you from losing thousands of dollars on a car that shouldn’t be on the market to begin with.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on February 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , postcards   

    Facebook’s solution to stop foreign meddling is postcards 

    Facebook's solution to stop foreign meddling is postcards

    With the alleged Russian meddling that took place on Facebook leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, the beleaguered social network has been struggling to find a way to stop foreign actors from interfering in American politics while using their platform. With some of the brightest minds working for it in such fields as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, Facebook has decided to use the best technology at their disposal to verify the identity of political ad purchasers, postcards.

    Yes, those postcards that generations ago people would send back home to their friends and family through the postal service while they were on vacation. Facebook will be sending postcards to political ad purchasers with a verification code on it to help try to ensue the buyers are from the United States. However, these cards will only be sent to people buying ads for a certain candidate. Ads dealing with political issues will still be a free for all. Facebook also admits that their postcard solution won’t fix everything. You don’t say.

    This is not even taking into account that mail fraud is one of the oldest type of crimes in the country. There are a plethora of ways for bad actors to get around Facebook’s attempt at tighter security. It wouldn’t take much for foreign entities to get people working for them in the US to respond to these postcards. Foreign scam artists who have people wire them money often have someone in the US working for them as a go-between. They could also simply just buy a drop box at many shipping supply stores that offer such a service.

    The reason this is still important is that the midterm elections are coming up this November and unless Facebook wants a repeat of 2016 they’re going to need a much better solution than the one they’re currently touting.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on February 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Airlines, Denice Miracle, , ,   

    Airline employee saves girls from human trafficking scheme 

    Airline employee saves girls from human trafficking scheme

    Late last week, an observant employee of American Airlines at a Sacramento, California, airport is credited with saving two underage girls from potentially falling into the hands of a human trafficker. The airline agent, Denice Miracle, noticed that the two girls, ages 17 and 15, had one way tickets to New York and no ID. The agent felt something was wrong and contacted the Sheriff’s department.

    The girls weren’t even aware their tickets had no return trip. They told police that the man who allegedly bought the tickets for them promised them $2000 for a modeling job, a common tactic used by traffickers. When the girls were told they were probably about to be trafficked they said they wouldn’t let that happen, not realizing they would have had no choice in the matter once they got to New York.

    The purported trafficker had approached the girls through social media which is another common trick of traffickers. The traffickers will prey upon a teenager’s vanity, promising them a lot of money quickly. In reality the traffickers are getting ready to put them out on the street or on Backpage. The fact that the girls had no ID with them also speaks volume as it would make it more difficult for trafficking victims to escape their captors without ID.

    Parents should talk to their kids not only about the dangers of talking to strangers on social media, but to be very wary of anyone offering them large sums of money for some kind of modeling or entertainment job. Legitimate talent or modeling agents would not try to circumvent parents for fear of legal repercussions.

     
  • Geebo 10:07 am on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexey Navalny, , , , Roskomnadzor,   

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police 

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police

    In America, if someone had video of a Presidential cabinet member taking bribes from a top business magnate, that story would not only be all over the news but it would be the trending topic on social media and Facebook wouldn’t lift a finger to stop it. Now if that happened in Russia? Not so much.

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny claims to have a video that was posted to Instagram that shows Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko on the yacht of a Russian oligarch where bribes were said to have allegedly taken place. Not only did the Russian courts rule that the video violated Prikhodko’s right to privacy but the Russian ‘media watchdog group’ Roskomnadzor ordered Facebook owned Instagram to remove two more posts in relation to the matter. Facebook was more than happy to oblige.

    An Instagram representative released the following statement to CNBC

    “When governments believe that something on the internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory.”

    “We are transparent about any content restrictions we make for government requests with local law in our Transparency Report.”

    What they don’t seem to be transparent about is when a post is removed due to political motivations.

    While such a politically motivated move of this magnitude has not yet happened in the US, could one be that far behind, and would Facebook be so willing to comply if it did?

     
  • Geebo 10:18 am on February 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , schools   

    California schools to teach human trafficking awareness 

    California schools to teach human trafficking awareness

    While California may be the leading state in the country for human trafficking that doesn’t mean the state is taking it lying down. California is also one of the leaders in the country of human trafficking prosecution. This is the state that is trying to curb human trafficking at one of its roots by prosecuting the CEO and founders of Backpage.

    California is now trying to prevent human trafficking by using one of the greatest weapons known to man, knowledge. Back in October the state legislature passed a law that would require schools to train teachers and educate students on the signs of human trafficking. Let’s not kid ourselves that our children are not being targeted by pimps and traffickers online. With the advent of social media, these predators are using the impressionability of our children with promises of money and independence to lure them into a life of slavery.

    Since many parents are so unwilling to educate their children or are ignorant to the problem themselves that it is up to the schools to warn our children about these dangers. It’s more than high time for the rest of the country to follow California’s lead in this matter since the trafficking of women and children occurs in every state in just about every town.

     
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