All posts by John Skrhak

John Skrhak | Gadgets, Sports and Toys Fanatic | Read about them all here.

Facebook: German bill isn’t ‘suitable’ to fight hate speech

Facebook’s response to the proposed legislation was first reported by German news outlet WirtschaftsWoche and later confirmed to Engadget by a spokesperson for the company. Back in 2015, Facebook, Twitter, Google all pledged to Germany that they would remove criminal forms of hate speech within 24 hours. According to the local government, those commitments haven’t always gone according to plan.

Late last year, Facebook drew the ire of the German government when it took longer to delete posts and the page of a hate group targeting Jewish people and their businesses. In March, Germany said Facebook and Twitter were still failing to remove the content in a timely fashion. Facebook disputed the Justice Ministry findings saying its numbers showed higher removal rates. The company also pledged to put more staff behind the effort, including 700 people in Berlin before the end of 2017.

In its statement this week, Facebook explains that while it typically shares similar view on hate speech and fake news and federal governments, Germany’s proposed legislation won’t do much to help fix the problem. Why? The company says the law would encourage it and others to remove content that might not be illegal to avoid risking such hefty fines.

“The draft law provides an incentive to delete content that is not clearly illegal when social networks face such a disproportionate threat of fines,” a Facebook spokesperson says in a statement to Engadget. “It would have the effect of transferring responsibility for complex legal decisions from public authorities to private companies.”

Facebook also says that “several legal experts” noted that the proposal violates the German constitution and doesn’t comply with EU law. As you might expect, the company says it’s willing to work with local governments and the general public on a better solution. If we had to guess, that would include something that doesn’t carry such a big financial penalty for companies that are trying to balance clamping down on hate speech and fake news with freedom of speech on their various platforms.

Just last week, the EU approved its own proposal to fight hate speech on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. That piece of legislation still has to be approved by the European Parliament before it becomes law, but if it does, the ruling would allow social networks to block videos that promote hate speech or terrorism. However, those regulations only apply to archived footage, not live streams. On top of having the attention of legislators around the world, Facebook is also dealing with the massive problem of violent acts being broadcast live on its site.

Here’s the full statement on Germany’s proposed hate speech legislation from Facebook:

“In its statement on the Network Enforcement Act (GER: Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, NetzDG), Facebook outlines the main reasons why the NetzDG is not suitable to combat hate speech and false news. Generally, Facebook shares the federal government’s concern regarding hate speech and false news online. At the same time, Facebook understands its own responsibility and welcomes political efforts to combat these challenges.

However, the draft law is not the right way to achieve these political goals. The draft law provides an incentive to delete content that is not clearly illegal when social networks face such a disproportionate threat of fines. It would have the effect of transferring responsibility for complex legal decisions from public authorities to private companies. And several legal experts have assessed the draft law as being against the German constitution and non-compliant with EU law. Facebook is committed to working in partnership with governments and civil society on solutions that will make this draft law unnecessary.”

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Police take perfect selfie after driving drunk man home

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.

reece.jpgEnlarge Image

And the night ended well.

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There are times when having one too many can involve being accosted two too many police officers.

This experience was encountered by an Australian man called Reece.

The difference is that the two officers took him home and then posed — with him — for a glorious selfie.

Soon, the picture began to float around the web. Reece had originally posted it with the words: “So was just looking through my phone and turns out these good c**** took some banger selfies after they took my drunk ass home. Bloody legends.” (Translation: “banger” equals “very good.”)

The Tasmania Police Department posted their work to Facebook. What a work. There is Reece in the background, prostrate in bed, but sober enough to signal that he’s OK. And there are the officers smiling at a good deed done.

The police, though, added a message about ensuring you have a designated driver when you go out, or that you take public transportation.

“Snr Sgt Fox said that police did not normally drive people home who were suffering from the effects of alcohol.” the post said. “However police are always looking for a place of safety for anyone who is affected by alcohol.”

In this case, police said that they’d been contacted by a taxi company who were concerned for Reece. The police added wryly: “Because he was a bit worse for wear, our officers took the opportunity to record the moment with a selfie in the likely event he could not remember how he got home.”

The Tasmania Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

One hopes, however, that Reece has been in touch to commend the officers on their excellent photographic skills in a moment of severe stress.

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2017 Chevy Malibu: A standout sedan in an age of SUVs video

Love cars? Climb in the driver’s seat for the latest in reviews, advice and picks by our editors.

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Pacemakers are far more vulnerable to hacking than we thought

Manufacturers are supposed to control programmers’ distribution, but the researchers themselves got their test devices from the auction website for as little as $500 to as much as $3,000. In addition to those issues, the team has found that doctors’ monitoring systems don’t require log-in names and passwords when pacemakers connect to them. They even found unencrypted patients’ data stored in the tools, including SSNs, names, phone numbers and medical conditions.

That said, Matthew Green, an Assistant Professor for Computer Science at Johns Hopkins, noted that doctors are adamant not to let security systems block patient care. He said that requiring passwords would merely lead to a “post-it note on the device listing the password,” so every doctors’ staff member can access the data they need. Green also called attention to some dubious parts of the study, particularly the lack of emphasis on the team’s most alarming finding that third-party programmers can remotely access pacemakers:

Despite the points Green raised, it’s still true that various security researchers have been warning manufacturers about pacemakers’ and other cardiac devices’ vulnerabilities for years. Unfortunately, it sounds like very few listened: a separate study by security firm Ponemon Institute LLC found that only 17 percent of manufacturers took steps to secure their products. While we’ve yet to hear about an incident that has led to a patient’s death, it’s still ideal to make cardiac devices more secure as cyberattacks become more common, elaborate and sophisticated.

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Asus ZenBook Pro has plenty of inner pieces

The most beautiful phone ever has one wildly annoying issue

The Samsung Galaxy S8’s fast speeds and fantastic curved screen make it a top phone for 2017, but the annoying fingerprint reader could sour your experience.

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Zepp phone apps use AI to study your basketball shots

You may know Zepp for sports tracking sensors you can slap on your baseball bat or soccer ball, but its latest tracking involves little more than your phone and a good view of the action. Its game recording and training apps (Android, iOS) are adding a dash of AI technology (namely, computer vision) to analyze your baseball swings, golf swings and basketball shots. If your three-pointer throwing needs work, you just need to point your phone’s camera at the court and start capturing. You can share the videos and performance data with others, too, in case you need to prove your skills to recruiters.

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