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Edmonton police lock out public, media from radio communications – CBC.ca

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Edmonton police have moved radio communications to an encrypted system, locking out the public and news media from tuning in through scanners.

The move to the Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System has been years in the making. But when the old system was switched off on Monday, it drew mixed opinions from some civilian listeners.

For Beverly Smith, the scanner radio was often on as a calming reminder that law enforcement was out there protecting the public.

“I feel safer because it actually helps me sleep at night — or it did help me sleep at night,” she said in an interview for CBC’s Radio Active. “Because I knew that the police were on, that they were doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Listening in to unencrypted police communications is not illegal. A community on social media has even sprouted up around eavesdropping on Edmonton’s emergency services and now boasts more than 30,000 Facebook followers.

Athena Peryk, another regular listener, started tuning in to learn what was going on in her south-Edmonton neighbourhood. She supports the move to an encrypted system.

“If I can listen, criminals can listen in too,” she said.

Radio Active5:07Edmonton’s police scanner goes silent

Longtime listeners react to that news the police scanners will now be encrypted. 5:07

It’s an argument also put forward by the Edmonton Police Service. 

“The EPS has identified numerous instances where suspects were monitoring police communications during criminal flights from police or during traffic stops that puts officers at risk,” spokesperson Patrycja Mokrzan said in a statement.

Another reason given is that information from the Canadian Police Information Centre database is sometimes relayed over radio and is a violation of CPIC and EPS policy, which requires an enhanced security clearance to access.

Additionally, the old system was “at its end of life cycle” and was no longer cost effective or completely reliable.

Mokrzan said the final decision to bar access to the public and media outlets was made in early 2020 by the chief’s committee, in consultation with legal advisers. The service has been steadily moving to the new radio system since November 2017, she said.

Issue of secrecy, says expert

Sean Holman, a professor of journalism at Mount Royal University, said the move to encrypted systems is common across jurisdictions in North America.

But Holman, who specializes in accountability in Canadian institutions, said access to police radio is important.

“It’s not simply because we want the salacious details of crimes and police activity,” he said. “It’s because if we do not know what the police are doing, then it is very difficult for the public and the media to hold the police to account for their actions.”

Police services may use other means to inform the public, such as news releases and social media, Holman said, but relying on those communications would reduce the media to “a megaphone for whatever the police wants to tell the public.”

Another reason for the lockout provided by Edmonton police is that personal information, including addresses, names, birth dates and medical information, broadcast over radio is a violation of Alberta privacy laws.

Holman disagrees with that definition of privacy.

“This isn’t a privacy issue at all, this is an issue of secrecy,” he said. “Secrecy happens when the public cannot see what the powerful people are doing — and the powerful include police.”

Holman said that lack of transparency could lead people in public institutions to feel their actions are not being seen and ultimately to corruption and incompetence.

“While this kind of secrecy may protect police in the short run, I think in the long term it is to a certain extent a negative thing.”

A spokesperson for Edmonton Fire Rescue said the service does not have any plans to move to an encrypted system and channels currently available on scanners will remain open.

In Calgary, access to police radio communications has been barred from the public but selectively provided to media outlets.

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Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star. – Bloomberg

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Clubhouse is gaining attention and users. The social media giants should be concerned.

The next killer smartphone app has arrived — and it offers the potential to transform how we communicate, share knowledge and even make new friends.

I am talking about voice-and-audio-based social networking startup Clubhouse. Its platform enables users to drop in and out of ephemeral chat rooms and take part in a range of gatherings, from small “water-cooler” type conversations to larger discussions featuring expert panels, often attended by thousands of listeners. Since its launch last March, Clubhouse has increasingly become a cultural phenomenon, attracting politicians, celebrities and experts from all walks of life. With its success and prominent backing, it may now be poised to upend the entire social media space.

Clubhouse’s latest figures reveal how quickly it is growing. During a weekly town hall event on Sunday, co-founder Paul Davison said the app’s weekly active user base had doubled to 2 million over the last couple of weeks. He also announced the startup had raised another investment round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, adding it now has more than 180 investors. While he didn’t offer any specifics, The Information reported on Friday that Clubhouse was getting interest at a $1 billion valuation. If true, that means the company’s value has risen by a factor of 10 since its earlier Series A round last May, also led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Something special is happening inside the Clubhouse community. Call it the power of the voice — and it’s what separates Clubhouse from other platforms. A short back-and-forth live conversation, with its nuance and tone, can build closer relationships more quickly than dozens of written posts and text messages sent through more established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Since I joined Clubhouse last summer, I met and became friends with professors, filmmakers, artists, engineers and more from places all over the world. It has been intoxicating listening to people’s life stories and absorbing their knowledge and experience, from learning how a streaming video executive greenlights projects to getting expert political analysis on the latest breaking news. It has easily become one of my favorite pastimes.

To illustrate the kind of agenda-setting conversations that are becoming a staple on Clubhouse these days, here’s one example: Earlier this month, the mayors of San Francisco, Miami and Austin congregated inside a “room” to tout their cities as good places for tech companies to do business. Thousands of executives, investors, and employees tuned in to the vibrant interactive panel. For an app like Clubhouse — or any social media platform looking to extend its influence and user base — this is the holy grail of the virtuous feedback loop, where the network effects of a large influential audience attract the highest-quality speakers and vice versa. 

#lazy-img-367502287:beforepadding-top:173.86666666666665%;relates to Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star.
Andrew Yang is among those entering the conversation on Clubhouse.
Source: Tae Kim/Bloomberg

Impressive as Clubhouse’s latest metrics are, they may actually understate its potential. All the growth thus far has come largely by worth of mouth, and from only half of the smartphone market. The app still requires an invitation from a current member to join and is exclusive to Apple Inc. devices. So when the founders decide to open Clubhouse to the public and release an Android version, growth will take off to higher levels.

The nature of Clubhouse’s platform offers the potential for money-making opportunities. For instance, Clubhouse could take a commission from room admission fees for large panel discussions. Or, similar to Amazon.com Inc.-owned Twitch channels, it could offer monthly subscriptions for specific interest-based club rooms. One can also imagine users buying unique animated reaction emojis to give visual feedback to speakers and interact with other members of the audience. Of course, the ability to make money will also attract and retain the best room hosts for the Clubhouse ecosystem. On Sunday, Clubhouse’s cofounders said they will start testing ways for the platform’s creators to get paid through “tipping, tickets or subscriptions” in the coming months.

Clubhouse has its challenges. Like other social media networks, it has faced criticism for objectionable content that was broadcast on its site. Last September, Clubhouse was hit with a flurry of negative publicity when some speakers perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes. The startup needs to invest more aggressively in trust and safety features and hire content moderators to mitigate harassment. There is also competition on the horizon with Twitter Inc. testing its own audio chat room feature inside its app called Spaces.

#lazy-img-367502513:beforepadding-top:195.73333333333332%;relates to Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star.
Twitter Spaces offers a similar experience as Clubhouse. Too little too late?
Source: Tae Kim/Bloomberg

But it may be too little too late for other players. While Twitter’s new service does offer some differentiated features – including real-time transcriptions that appear on screen and the ability to share tweets to the room for discussion purposes – it is thus far largely siloed around a specific account’s followers. It lacks Clubhouse’s distinctive serendipity that lets people from diverse backgrounds meet and form their own connections through their own wanderings. Clubhouse also is at a stage where it is adding new innovations on a near weekly basis — including different room types, activity-based notification feeds and event calendars. It will be difficult for any other company to catch up.

Of course, the app has benefited from the pandemic as people look for ways to socialize while avoiding in-person interactions and outdoor activities. But Clubhouse usage may prove more durable than many believe after daily life returns to normal. It’s a convenient, frictionless way to meet new people through the intimacy of conversation and listen to conference-like events that otherwise might be difficult to attend in person.

Perhaps most importantly is the stunning level of usage and engagement. On a personal level, since installing Clubhouse I have noticed my time spent on the app is significantly higher than any other social network on my smartphone — more than TikTok, Twitter or Instagram. It is a sign of how appealing audio-based social networking can be. And judging from the activities of my friend list inside the community, I am not alone. I have little doubt once Clubhouse opens up to the general public, its user base can grow into the tens of millions. The social media giants should be concerned.

    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Tae Kim at tkim426@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.net

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    Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star. – Bloomberg

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    Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star.  Bloomberg



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    Indonesia to deport Russian social media star who held party – Delta-Optimist

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    DENPASAR, Indonesia — A Russian social media celebrity was being deported from Indonesia on Sunday after he held a party at a luxury hotel on the resort island of Bali attended by more than 50 people despite coronavirus restrictions.

    The party held on Jan. 11 violated health protocols put in place to fight the spread of the virus, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.

    Sergei Kosenko, who has more than 4.9 million followers on his Instagram account, arrived in Indonesia in October on a tourist visa.

    Immigration officials in Bali decided to examine Kosenko’s activities after he posted to social media a video of him driving a motorcycle with a female passenger on the back off a pier into the sea in December. The stunt was condemned by many Indonesians as reckless and a potentially hazardous to the environment.

    Manihuruk said the immigration investigation found Kosenko took part in activities that violated his tourist visa, such as promoting companies and products.

    After the announcement of his deportation, Kosenko told reporters at the immigration office in Bali that he was sorry.

    “I love Bali. I am sorry and I apologize,” Kosenko said.

    The deportation comes just days after Indonesia deported an American woman who had been living on Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated the island as a low-cost, “queer-friendly” place for foreigners to live. Her posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which was the basis for her deportation.

    Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreigners from coming to the country since Jan. 1 to control the spread of COVID-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali islands.

    Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights recorded 162 foreigners have been deported from Bali in 2020 and 2021. Most of them are being deported for violating the visit visa.

    Firdia Lisnawati, The Associated Press

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