When she went to Egypt for vacation, Mona el-Mazbouh surely didn't expect to end up in prison. But after the
24-year-old Lebanese tourist posted a video in which she complained of sexual harassment--calling Egypt a lowly, dirty country and its citizens pimps and prostitutes--el-Mazbouh was arrested at Cairo's airport and found guilty of deliberately
spreading false rumors that would harm society, attacking religion, and public indecency. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.
The video that el-Mazbouh posted was ten minutes long, and went viral on Facebook, causing an uproar in Egypt. In the video, el-Mazbouh also expressed anger about poor restaurant service during Ramadan and complained of her belongings being
stolen. Egyptian men and women posted videos in response to her original video, prompting el-Mazbouh to delete the original video and post a second video on Facebook apologizing to Egyptians.
Nevertheless, Mona was arrested at the end of her trip at the Cairo airport in May 31, 2018 and charged with spreading false rumors that aim to undermine society, attack religions, and public indecency. Under Egyptian law, defaming and insulting
the Egyptian people is illegal.
Unhappy tourists have always criticized the conditions of the countries they visit; doing so online, or on video, is no different from the centuries of similar complaints that preceded them offline or in written reviews. Beyond the injustice of
applying a more vicious standard online to offline speech, this case also punishes Mona for a reaction that was beyond her control. Mona had no influence over whether her video went viral. She did not intend her language or her actions to reach a
wider audience or become a national topic of discussion. It was angry commenters' reactions and social media algorithms that made the video viral and gave it significance beyond a few angry throwaway insults.
Mona el-Mazbouh is just one of many innocent Internet users who have been caught up in the Egyptian governments' attempts to vilify and control the domestic use of online media. At minimum, she should be released from her ordeal and returned to
her country immediately. But more widely, Egypt's leaders need to pull back from their hysterical and arbitrary enforcement of repressive laws, before more people -- including the foreign visitors on which much of Egypt's economy is based -- are
America has been working hard to make itself an unpleasant place to visit and has come up with a new idea to make it even worse. Apparently a significant decrease in international visitors to the USA has been termed the Trump Slump.
Of course some of the slump is considered a positive thing as Trump banned visitors from several terrorist prone nations. But the US also introduced a measure to investigate a wider set of not so desirable visitors, presumably muslims, from other
nations beyond the list of rogue states. The US now demands that 'selected' visa applicants are asked to hand over details of all their social media accounts and emails. Note that this measure was introduced under Obama rather than Trump.
Now, it seems that the Trump administration is intent on putting even more people off visiting the country. The government's latest bright idea is to ask basically everyone who wants to enter America for five years' worth of their social media
According to a state department proposal filed on Thursday, most visitors would be asked for their social media identifiers. It's expected to affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants.
Of course anyone who does want to still visit America, then perhaps you had better be a bit more careful about what you say online, and perhaps you had better tidy up your reputation too, lest the US visa vetters think you are better off
The US has just passed an internet censorship bill, FOSTA, that holds internet companies responsible if users use their services to facilitate sex
trafficking. It sounds a laudable aim on paper, but in reality how can say Microsoft actually prevent users from using communication or storage services to support trafficking?
Well the answer is there is no real way to distinguish say adverts for legal sex workers from those for illegal sex workers. So the only answer for internet companies is to censor and ban ALL communications that could possibly be related to sex.
So there have been several responses from internet companies along these lines. Small ad company Craigslist has just taken down ALL personal ads just in case sex traffickers may be lurking there. A Craigslist spokesperson explained:
Any tool or service can be misused. We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.
Last week, several online porn performers who use Google Drive to store and distribute their adult content files reported that the service had suddenly and without warning blocked or deleted their files, posing a threat to their income streams.
And now it seems that Microsoft is following suit for users of its internet services in the USA. Microsoft has now banned offensive language, as well as nudity and porn, from any of its services -- which include Microsoft Office, XBox and even
The broad new ban was quietly inserted into Microsoft's new Terms of Service agreement, which was posted on March 1 and which takes effect on May 1 . The new rules also give Microsoft the legal ability to review private user content and block or
delete anything, including email, that contains offensive content or language. The rules do not define exactly what would constitute offensive language.
In theory, the new ban could let Microsoft monitor, for example, private Skype chats, shutting down calls in which either participant is nude or engaged in sexual conduct.
So wait a sec: I can't use Skype to have an adult video call with my girlfriend? I can't use OneDrive to back up a document that says 'fuck' in it? asked civil liberties advocate Jonathan Corbett, in a blog post this week. If I call someone a mean
name in Xbox Live, not only will they cancel my account, but also confiscate any funds I've deposited in my account?
Seemingly aware of the tentative nature of this policy, Microsoft included a couple of disclaimers. First off, the company notes that it cannot monitor the entire Services and will make no attempt to do so. That suggests that Microsoft is not
implementing live monitoring. However, it can access stored and shared content when looking into alleged violations. This indicates that part of this policy will work off of a user report system.
Microsoft also states that it can remove or refuse to publish content for any reason and reserves the right to block delivery of a communication across services attached to this content policy. Additionally, the punishments for breaking this code
of conduct now include the forfeiture of content licenses as well as Microsoft account balances associated with the account. That means that the company could theoretically remove games from your console or seize money in your Microsoft account.
For years, privacy advocates have been shouting about Facebook, and for years the population as a whole didn't care. Whatever the reason, the
ongoing Cambridge Analytica saga seems to have temporarily burst this sense of complacency, and people are suddenly giving the company a lot more scrutiny.
When you delete Facebook, the company provides you with a compressed file with everything it has on you. As well as every photo you've ever uploaded and details of any advert you've ever interacted with, some users are panicking that Facebook
seems to have been tracking all of their calls and texts. Details of who you've called, when and for how long appear in an easily accessible list -- even if you don't use Facebook-owned WhatsApp or Messenger for texts or calls.
Although it has been put around that Facebook have been logging calls without your permission, but this is not quite the case. In fact Facebook do actually follow Facebook settings and permissions, and do not track your calls if you don't give
permission. So the issue is people not realising quite how wide permissions are granted when you have ticked permission boxes.
Facebook seemed to confirm this in a statement in response:
You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people's call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case. Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or
Facebook Lite on Android. People have to expressly agree to use this feature. If, at any time, they no longer wish to use this feature they can turn it off.
So there you have it, if you use Messenger of Facebook Lite on Android you have indeed given the company permission to snoop on ALL your calls, not just those made through Facebook apps,
An Italian porn star who dreamt up a fun filled stunt at a recent referendum has been banned from Instagram ahead of a
general election lest she repeat it.
Paola Saulino previously promised a blow job for those that voted against constitutional reforms. The reforms were duly rejected Paola launched her Pompa Tour - which translates as Oral Tour - during which she claimed to have pleasured 700 men.
She says she has just been barred from contacting her 430,000 followers over fears she may try and swing the vote, which is due to take place on Sunday.
Saulino said she has complained to Instagram about being banned, saying she is paying the price for her lifestyle
It is a little bizarre that a government that has been in office for long enough to pass plenty of laws that effect people's lives. Presumably if they feel a little insecure, it is because they haven't done a good job in doing things that attract
support. And then to think that elections can be swung by trivial propaganda or a silly stunt, it's insulting to the electors, and so the politicians deserve to be kicked out.
Indonesia's religious extremists are on a roll at the moment and seem set on criminalising all sex outside of marriage.
Revisions to Indonesia's criminal code currently being considered by Parliament would allow prison sentences of up to five years for sex between unmarried people, including of course, all gay sex as gay marriage is simply out of the question.
Rights groups note that this will be a profound setback to human rights and privacy in Indonesia. Religious vigilantism is already rife in the country, and with the force of law behind them, it will be a nightmare.
Opposition seems somewhat muted with a newly launched online petition receiving a rather paltry 20,000 signatures out of a country of 250 million.
Asrul Sani, a lawmaker from the Islamic-based United Development Party, has told reporters that a 25-member parliamentary working committee has agreed on nearly all the articles in the revised code. It and another Islamic party are seeking longer
prison sentences for gay sex in circumstances that involve force, public acts or pornography and that is still being argued.
Indonesia's constitution nominally guarantees human rights, but this clearly doesn't count for much given the latest parliamentary moves.