Facebook’s oversight board will offer you another way to appeal content removals – CNET

Facebook on Tuesday unveiled more details about the likely workings of a new independent board that’ll oversee content-moderation decisions, outlining a new appeals process users would go through to request an additional review of takedowns. Users of Facebook and its Instagram photo service can ask the board to review their case after appealing to the social network first. You’ll have 15 days to fill out a form on the board’s website after Facebook’s decision.

Requesting a review by the board doesn’t mean the body will automatically hear your case. You’ll have to explain why you think Facebook made the wrong call and why the board should weigh in. You’ll also have to spell out why you posted the content and explain why Facebook’s decision could affect other users.

Facebook will also get to refer cases to the board. Users will receive a notice explaining whether the board decided to review a given case. The company explained this process in proposed bylaws that still need to be approved by the board.

The creation of the independent content-moderation board could help clarify how Facebook decides what posts it leaves up or pulls down and lead to policy changes. The additional appeals process might also help Facebook fend off critics, some of whom have alleged the company censors speech from conservatives and other groups. Facebook also faces criticism for allowing politicians to spread false information in political ads.

“This board we’re creating is a means to hold ourselves accountable and provide for oversight on whether or not we’re making decisions that are principled according to the set of standards and values that we’ve set out,” Brent Harris, Facebook’s director of governance and global affairs, said during a conference call Tuesday.

The social network has rules about barring content, including hate speech, nudity and human trafficking. But users sometimes disagree with how those rules are applied. Facebook has reversed some of its decisions in the past, especially amid public scrutiny. In 2016, the company removed an iconic Vietnam War photo of a girl fleeing a napalm attack because it violated the social network’s rules on nudity. It reinstated the image amid an outcry, citing the image’s historical importance.

Facebook users typically receive a notification that includes an option to appeal when the company removes their content. If the appeal isn’t successful, users will now be able to ask the new board to review their case. Facebook will be required to reinstate removed content If the board sides with the user.

Users who submit an appeal will receive a reference identification number if their content is eligible for review by the board. Eligible content includes Facebook and Instagram posts, videos, photos and comments that the company took down. The process will eventually be expanded to groups, ads, events and other content, including information rated “false” by fact-checkers and content left up on the platform. Facebook didn’t specify when this would happen.

Facebook expects the board to make a decision and for the company to take action on the ruling in roughly 90 days.

Harris said he expects the board to initially review dozens of cases every year but noted that the decisions could impact Facebook’s 2.4 billion users, especially if the social network ends up changing its policies.

Users will also be able to choose if they want to include details that could identify them in the board’s final decision. On Tuesday, Ranking Digital Rights, a nonprofit that promotes freedom of expression and privacy, called on Facebook to provide more clarity, including how it’ll protect the privacy of users who don’t consent to releasing identifiable information. The board’s decision will be published on its website if approved for release.

Fay Johnson, a Facebook product manager who focuses on transparency and oversight, said the company is trying to make it clear to users that the board’s decisions will be public. “There really will be a value added to what the board speaks to, even if the specific information about the person who’s posting the content is not included in the draft decision,” she said.

Facebook also named Thomas Hughes, former executive director at Article 19, a nonprofit focused on freedom of expression and digital rights, to lead the board’s administrative staff. When Hughes led Article 19 in 2018, he called on Facebook to be more transparent about the content it removed and improve the appeals process for users.

“This is, as it goes without saying, an enormous undertaking and it will take us a few months before we are ready,” Hughes said.

The board is expected to be made up of 40 members and will likely start hearing cases this summer. Facebook announced in 2018 its plans to create a content oversight board

Source: Facebook’s oversight board will offer you another way to appeal content removals – CNET

How Amazon escapes liability for the riskiest products on its site – The Verge

When you buy a product on Amazon, there’s little guarantee that what you’re getting has been expertly vetted for safety. The Wall Street Journal reported this year that more than 4,000 banned, unsafe, and mislabeled products were on the company’s platform, ranging from faulty motorcycle helmets to magnetic toys labeled as choking hazards.

Those faulty products have resulted in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries, setting loose a tidal wave of liability claims. According to court records viewed by The Verge, Amazon has faced more than 60 federal lawsuits over product liability in the past decade. The suits are a grim catalog of disaster: some allege that hoverboards purchased through the company burned down properties. A vape pen purchased through the company exploded in a pocket, according to another suit, leaving a 17-year-old with severe burns.

The list goes on: an allegedly faulty ladder bought on Amazon is blamed for a death. Two days after Christmas in 2014, a fire started at a Wyoming home, blamed on holiday lights purchased through the company. Firefighters found a man inside, facedown and unconscious, according to court filings. He died that night. The results of the suits have been mixed: Amazon has settled some cases, and successfully defended itself in others, depending on the circumstances. (The company declined to comment for this article.)

Throughout the cases, Amazon has taken advantage of its unusual legal status as half-platform, half-store. If Home Depot sells a defective bandsaw, the store can be sued alongside the company that made the product. That liability means conventional retailers have to be careful about the products they stock, making sure every item on store shelves has passed at least the most basic product safety requirements. States have passed different versions of product liability laws, but they all put the burden of fault on more than just the original manufacturer.

But Amazon is more complex: it acts as a direct seller of products, while also providing a platform, called Marketplace, for third parties to sell their products. Tightly integrated into Amazon’s own sales, Marketplace products are often cheaper for consumers, less controlled, and sometimes less reliable than other products — and because Amazon is usually seen as a platform for those sales rather than a seller, the company has far less liability for anything that goes wrong. But because the Marketplace is so intertwined with Amazon’s main “retail” store, it’s easy for customers to miss the difference.

Source: How Amazon escapes liability for the riskiest products on its site – The Verge

Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’ | Engadget

Kaylen Ward’s Twitter fundraiser for the Australian bushfire relief has ended. The Los Angeles-based model said she raised $1 million (by comparison Jeff Bezos donated $690,000). At the start of Ms. Ward’s successful donation drive she had three Instagram accounts — none of which were part of the campaign.

Despite that, Instagram kicked her off all three accounts, saying her behavior on Twitter violated Instagram’s sexually suggestive content guidelines. On Twitter, Ms. Ward — as The Naked Philanthropist — offered a privately-sent nude photo to those who provided verifiable proof of donation to organizations including Australian Red Cross and The Koala Hospital. Her fundraiser complied with Twitter’s Terms of Service.

If the thought of companies stalking you online and denying you services because they think you’re a sinner gives you the Orwell Anti-Sex League chills, you should know that Airbnb just asked Instagram to hold its beer.

The same day Ms. Ward launched her fundraising campaign, reports emerged detailing Airbnb’s new “trait analyzer” algorithms that compile data dossiers on users, decides whether you’ve been bad or good, gives you a score, and then “flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.”

The Evening Standard reported on Airbnb’s patent for AI that crawls and scrapes everything it can find on you, “including social media for traits such as ‘conscientiousness and openness’ against the usual credit and identity checks and what it describes as ‘secure third-party databases’.”

They added, “Traits such as “neuroticism and involvement in crimes” and “narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy” are “perceived as untrustworthy.” Further:

Source: Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’ | Engadget

CSIRO says laws should be published in code

Commonwealth legislation should not only be published in words but in machine-readable code, which would allow it to be read not only by lawyers but also computers, a move CSIRO suggests will boost the adoption of new regulatory technology across the economy, improving compliance while reducing costs.

 

CSIRO detailed its vision for “rules as code” in a submission to the Senate select committee on financial and regulatory technology, calling for the government to think more about ‘legal informatics’, or ‘computational law’, to allow computers to help automate compliance. This would “reduce the cost of red tape and improve the quality of risk management in society,” the science agency said.

“The goal is that computer-assisted reasoning using these logics should give the same answers as judges and lawyers doing legal reasoning about the black-letter law,” CSIRO said. “When legal texts can be represented in this way, it enables the potential to build digital tools to help people to interact with the law.”

The banking industry – which has faced soaring compliance costs in the wake of the Hayne royal commission – has been wary about adopting new technologies in compliance. This has been due to the complexity of regulation, a reluctance by regulators to endorse a specific technological approach, and heavy sanctions for failures. This was evidenced by AUSTRAC’s legal actions for anti-money laundering failures at Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, which both related to failures in technology systems.

The big banks want Treasury to encourage the financial sector regulators ASIC, APRA and the Reserve Bank, “to make regtech a viable proposition in the financial services sector”.

Many start-ups, along with more established technology vendors, are developing new systems to help banks meet legal duties, including establishing the identity and background of customers, ensuring legal compliance, verification of income and expenses, and data privacy. Juniper Research expects global spending on regtech to rise from $US25 billion ($37 billion) 2019 to $US127 billion by 2024.

‘Rules as code’

CSIRO, which operates a digital innovation arm known as Data61, has detailed to the committee how a “rules as code” approach could lift compliance with various laws.

It is working with PwC on a joint venture called PaidRight to check employees’ entitlements under enterprise bargaining agreements against what they have actually been paid.

The banking industry and CSIRO are working on a project to develop a digital approach to organising climate change disclosure, which CSIRO said could be “a first step towards a nationally coordinated framework for delivery of climate information”.

The agency is also working with the building and construction industry to automatically check Computer Aided Design (CAD) models of buildings against the many building and construction regulations from the federal and state governments.

Publishing machine-interpretable rules alongside the text of legislation would “provide critical support for the regtech industry and potentially significant productivity benefits for regulated industries in Australia,” CSIRO said.

The Australian Banking Association called on the committee, which is being chaired by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, to recommend that Treasury “be explicitly tasked with responsibility for a growth strategy for regtech”.

Design box thinking

The RegTech Association, which represents 110 start-ups and corporates, suggested the committee call for the creation of a COAG-style forum to introduce government departments to regtech, and is encouraging government to become an “influencer, buyer, beneficiary and investor” in the space.

In its submission, the association suggests a percentage of regulatory fines paid by banks could be invested in a new ‘patient capital’ investment fund to invest in the sector, modelled on the Australian Medical Research Future Fund. It also reckons a safe harbour, or relief program, could be created to provide reporting entities attempting to deploy regtech with more confidence to adopt changes, via amendments to ASIC’s regulatory guidance.

The association also wants government to create “design box” or “sandbox” programs to accelerate testing of new technologies. It pointed to the APIX Platform, part of the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network and backed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which has created a marketplace for financial institutions to exchange ideas with fintechs on better ways of doing things.

“Australia could easily replicate this idea of a digital marketplace or partner to introduce a similar platform,” the association said.

“It could allow buyers and sellers to come together to experiment more easily, allow greater visibility over regtech solutions, help regtechs understand the current problem statements of their potential clients, and allow a ‘design box’ where negative assurance could be provided by regulators as observers. Over time the digital marketplace could also be a portal for talent and skill recruitment.”

Separately, CSIRO responded to an accusation in the submission by FinTech Australia to the inquiry which criticised Data61 for “competing directly with private enterprise for government and non-government work”. In a statement, CSIRO said it “does not seek to compete with the private sector or start-ups and where possible aims to partner with Australian organisations, to support their growth.

“Like many of CSIRO’s business units, projects for Data61, the digital innovation arm of CSIRO, are typically identified as a result of discussions with, or approaches from government, industry or academic partners, where an opportunity has been identified for our research to be applied to solve problems and create benefits for Australia.”

Source: CSIRO says laws should be published in code

Towards a Theory of Digital Network De/centralization: Platform-Infrastructure Lessons Drawn from Blockchain by Enrico Rossi, Carsten Sørensen :: SSRN

Global digital platforms are conquering the world and rely critically on digital infrastructures to function, yet little research has explored the fundamental interrelationship between the two. This working paper argues that understanding centralization and decentralization in digital networks as asymmetry and symmetry in mutual interdependencies between the constitutive elements of a digital network can help us understand the platform-infrastructure relationship more fundamentally (and vice versa). To this end, the paper proposes, as a starting point, the in-depth analytical and literature study of blockchain networks as a particularly revealing type of digital platform/infrastructure duality. The paper proposes an analytical model for characterizing de/centralization in digital networks and maps this onto blockchain networks. Based on this, the paper explores the de/centralization of blockchain, arguing that the extant blockchain literature largely has failed in providing a comprehensive understanding of de/centralization by not considering the complex second-order interdependencies between the different constitutive dimensions of a blockchain: the symbolic, technological and political dimension. Based on this, the paper provides an analysis of the meaning of de/centralization in blockchain networks by studying the interdependencies between its constitutive elements of coin, network technology, and social community.

Source: Towards a Theory of Digital Network De/centralization: Platform-Infrastructure Lessons Drawn from Blockchain by Enrico Rossi, Carsten Sørensen :: SSRN

Obfuscation in Bitcoin: Techniques and Politics – Workshop on Obfuscation

Bitcoin and its users employ a variety of obfuscation techniques to increase their financial privacy. We visualize a representative selection of these techniques in Figure 1 based on their time of invention/creation and our assessment of their similarity to obfuscation vs. cryptography. We make several observations. First, techniques used in Bitcoin predominantly fall into obfuscation, with stronger techniques being used exclusively in alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins). Second, there is a trend towards stronger techniques over time, perhaps due to a growing interest in privacy and to the greater difficulty of developing cryptographic techniques. Third, obfuscation techniques proposed at later points in time are seeing less adoption, arguably a result of their increased complexity and need for coordination among participants (Möser & Böhme 2017).

Source: Obfuscation in Bitcoin: Techniques and Politics – Workshop on Obfuscation

Q3 2019 Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report – CipherTrace

First, the third quarter saw growing awareness of perhaps the biggest clampdown on virtual asset transactions to ever impact crypto exchanges as well as banks and other financial institutions. After months to absorb its implications, these businesses are coming to grips with the fact that in just seven months they will need to comply with the so-called FATF funds Travel Rule. In a major challenge to business models and user privacy, among other changes this rule requires virtual asset service providers (VASPs) to securely transmit (and store) sender and receiver information whenever cryptocurrency moves. At the same time, US regulators emphasized that a similar Travel Rule which has long applied to fiat funds transfers—also applies to cryptocurrency transactions. This has left firms struggling to find a technical solution in time to avoid potentially severe penalties or blacklisting. It will no doubt have implications as regulators seek to have KYC information shared globally.The Blockchain Security Company

Source: Q3 2019 Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report – CipherTrace

Brave New Coin

  • Earning interest on crypto asset holdings has become easier than ever, thanks to the Compound protocol and DApps like Dharma and Celsius.
  • Converting your ETH to other Ethereum tokens can be done securely and privately decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap or IDEX.
  • Hedging your cryptographic asset portfolio is now possible thanks to decentralized derivatives trading platforms, such as dYdX.
  • Insuring yourself against the failure of smart contracts has become possible thanks to Nexus Mutual.
  • Betting on the outcome of elections, sporting events or whether John McAfee’s bitcoin price prediction will come true can be done on prediction markets platforms, such as Augur.
  • Storing funds in crypto-backed stablecoins during times of extreme market volatility is now as easy as buying DAI.