With the Europechain Public Blockchain, we have chosen for arbitration. We have further decided not to write our own rules now but refer to a professional organisation. Any and all disputes are to be handled through the proceedings of our ADR provider. The ADR provider we chose is WIPO. WIPO is short for World Intellectual Property Organization and is in our digital world probably best known for their worldwide domain name dispute resolutions. However, their arbitrators are also involved in software related disputes. WIPO is an agency of the United Nations and therefore a truly international organisation.
In the Ethereum mempool, these apex predators take the form of “arbitrage bots.” Arbitrage bots monitor pending transactions and attempt to exploit profitable opportunities created by them. No white hat knows more about these bots than Phil Daian, the smart contract researcher who, along with his colleagues, wrote the Flash Boys 2.0 paper and coined the term “miner extractable value” (MEV).Phil once told me about a cosmic horror that he called a “generalized frontrunner.” Arbitrage bots typically look for specific types of transactions in the mempool (such a DEX trade or an oracle update) and try to frontrun them according to a predetermined algorithm. Generalized frontrunners look for any transaction that they could profitably frontrun by copying it and replacing addresses with their own. They can even execute the transaction and copy profitable internal transactions generated by its execution trace.
Amazon’s top UK reviewers appear to profit from fake 5-star posts FT investigation finds suspicious behaviour by 9 of top 10 UK contributors on product feedback Amazon’s problem with fake or manipulated reviews appears to have worsened since the pandemic turbocharged the number of people shopping on its site © FT montage Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Dave Lee in San Francisco 7 hours ago 177 Print this page Amazon is investigating the most prolific reviewers on its UK website after a Financial Times investigation found evidence that they were profiting from posting thousands of five-star ratings. Justin Fryer, the number one-ranked reviewer on Amazon.co.uk, reviewed £15,000 worth of products in August alone, from smartphones to electric scooters to gym equipment, giving his five-star approval on average once every four hours. Overwhelmingly, those products were from little-known Chinese brands, who often offer to send reviewers products for free in return for positive posts. Mr Fryer then appears to have sold many of the goods on eBay, making nearly £20,000 since June. When contacted by the FT, Mr Fryer denied posting paid-for reviews — before deleting his review history from Amazon’s website. Mr Fryer said the eBay listings, which described products as “unused” and “unopened”, were for duplicates. At least two other top 10-ranked Amazon UK reviewers removed their history after Mr Fryer. Another prominent reviewer, outside of the top 10, removed his name and reviews, and changed his profile picture to display the words “please go away”. The FT’s analysis suggested nine of Amazon’s current UK top 10 providers of ratings were engaged in suspicious behaviour, with huge numbers of five-star reviews of exclusively Chinese products from unknown brands and manufacturers. Many of the same items were seen by the FT in groups and forums offering free products or money in exchange for reviews. The Competition and Markets Authority, the UK’s competition watchdog, launched in May its own probe into online stores over “suspicious” and manipulated reviews, which it estimates influence £23bn in UK online shopping spend every year. “We will not hesitate to take further action if we find evidence that the stores aren’t doing what’s required under the law,” a CMA spokeswoman said. Justin Fryer’s Amazon review, and an eBay listing for an identical Item sold from his account the day before Amazon’s longstanding problem with fake or manipulated reviews appears to have worsened since the coronavirus pandemic turbocharged the number of people shopping on its site. One estimate, from the online review analysis group Fakespot, suggested that the problem peaked in May, when 58 per cent of products on Amazon.co.uk were accompanied by seemingly fake reviews. “The scale of this fraud is amazing,” said Saoud Khalifah, Fakespot’s chief executive. “And Amazon UK has a much higher percentage of fake reviews than the other platforms.” Amazon said it took such fraud seriously and used AI to spot bad actors, as well as monitoring reports from users. It said it would investigate the FT’s findings. “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant,” the company said, adding that it suspends, bans and sues people who violate its policies. Amazon and the problem of fake reviews But Amazon has known about the activity on Mr Fryer’s account since at least early August, when one user of the site emailed chief executive Jeff Bezos directly after his complaints had been ignored. “Jeff Bezos received your email,” an Amazon employee later replied, pledging to investigate Mr Fryer and the other high-profile accounts. A number of reviews highlighted were subsequently removed — but no broader action appears to have been taken. Since February, Mr Fryer’s reviews from China-based brands have included three gazebos, more than a dozen vacuum cleaners and 10 laptops — as well as everything from dolls houses to selfie lights to a “fat removal” machine. His contributions typically contained a video of the product taken out of its packaging but delicately handled, with comments mostly about the exterior features and the quality of the box it came in. Many of the same products were then listed as “unopened” and “unused” on an eBay account registered under Mr Fryer’s name and address. On August 13, for instance, Mr Fryer sold an electric scooter for £485.99, seven days before posting a review of the same product on Amazon, describing it as “hands down my favourite toy” that he liked “so much we purchased a second one for my fiancée”. When contacted this week, Mr Fryer said the items on his eBay listings were duplicates, and that the accusation he was receiving free products in return for positive reviews was “false”. He said he had paid for the “large majority” of goods, but could not say how much he had spent “off the top of his head”. “I have relationships with and I know some of the sellers,” he said. “My partner’s Chinese and I know a lot of the businesses over there . . . and I just review.” Daily newsletter #techFT brings you news, comment and analysis on the big companies, technologies and issues shaping this fastest moving of sectors from specialists based around the world. Click here to get #techFT in your inbox. Unlike bloggers and influencers, who can accept and publicise free products with proper disclosure, Amazon’s community guidelines explicitly prohibit “creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else”. The exception is the company’s “vine” review programme, an invite-only scheme where top reviewers are sent free products that are not contingent on a positive review. Observers of Amazon’s marketplace say the site’s algorithms greatly incentivise paying for positive reviews, even if it means doling out expensive products. Alongside price and delivery time, reviews are a crucial factor in pushing the product up Amazon’s rankings and help gain algorithmically calculated endorsements, such as the influential “Amazon’s Choice” badge. “You are more than twice as likely to choose an inferior product online versus the best product online if there are fake reviews on those inferior products,” said Neena Bhati, head of campaigns at consumer group Which?. The organisation has campaigned heavily for more stringent checks on online reviews.
Trust in Digital Life is a membership association comprising leading industry partners and knowledge institutes who exchange experience, share customer, market and technology insights, with the intention of improving the quality of trustworthy digital services and platforms available through joint research and development. Our vision is of a vibrant European Digital Single Market that benefits and can be trusted by both businesses and citizens. Find out more about what we do.
Trust in Digital Life Ecosystem letter
But, as Beck acknowledged, there were also at least two other possibilities. One was a retro politics of going back to the future. This would be a politics that aimed to restore the certainty of social development and the rule of organized politics and scientific reason that had guided the first modernity. The United States’ “war on terror” was one such attempt. It turned a 21st century security risk into a conventional war against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. It was a disaster. The most successful effort to control risk society within the framework of a classic industrial modernity is China. Its response to the COVID-19 crisis has put that on full display. COVID-19 was contained and CCP rule ensured by a full-bore mobilization of societal discipline, targeted deployment of medical spending, and state power, all of it clad in the guise of what the regime calls 21st-century Marxism, a self-confident narrative of modernization and progress. There is no room for questioning the modern epic of the China dream. The lack of a positive attitude is enough to trigger suspicion.
In Nuñez’s eyes, Facebook is not a trustworthy interlocutor. “The company seems to be pretty comfortable with obfuscating the truth, and that’s why people don’t trust Facebook anymore,” he says. “They’ve had the chance to be honest and transparent plenty of times, and time and time again, you see that the company has been misleading either by choice or by willful ignorance.”
Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies
Digital Technology and the Resurrection of Trust
Report of Session 2019-21 – published 29 June 2020 – HL Paper 77
e-governance solutions are most successful in small countries, with a young population, high trust in institutions, and a historical need for technological renewal.In fact, the successful e-governance model of Estonia relies on transparency and accountability: most user data are openly available to government institutions, while citizens can follow up every single request of their data and have the right to demand clear justifications for the usage.
A team drawn from the BBC’s Technology Strategy and Architecture and Research & Development departments is now working, with a range of external technology and media partners, on a way of indelibly ‘marking’ content at the point it is published so that it can be identified wherever it ends up in that vast ecosystem we call the Internet.
Further detection techniques which would show where ‘marked’ content has been manipulated could then be added into the process. The idea is that these signals would be readable by both machine, so that automated actions can be taken to flag or even remove suspect content and by humans, journalists and our audiences. We’ve called this work, which is still at an early stage, ‘Project Origin’.
The technology needed to make it work is complex and multi-faceted, drawing on techniques such as watermarking, hashing and fingerprinting. A key challenge is that any signal needs to be robust enough to survive the many non-malicious things that can happen to a piece of content such as compression, resizing and so on.
Other issues include editorial considerations such as deciding which content to mark:
- If we only mark potentially ’sensitive’ content does this create problems when a ’signal’ cannot be found in other content, leaving it less valued because it is seen not to be genuine?
- What will marking content do to our workflows in terms of added effort and complexity?
The project the BBC is doing in this area sits alongside other work we and others are doing in the disinformation space. Examples are:
- the range of strong editorial content we are creating about the dangers of disinformation such as the ‘Beyond Fake News’ strand
- the work we are doing on media literacy and the partnerships we are building to collaborate with other media and technology organisations.
The BBC is a member of the global partnership on AI’s media integrity steering group which last year launched the Deepfake Detection Challenge with Facebook, AWS and others.
The Project Origin team currently aims to test its first solutions sometime this summer, building on these as we develop and strengthen our partnerships in this area. The eventual ambition is a system which is simple to use, transparent and with open standards that can be widely adopted for public good.
The Dutch Blockchain Coalition organized an Online conference, where one panel discussed research priorities in the blockchain domain.
Balazs took part in the discussions. Please watch the debate here: