OTTAWA — Canada’s national police force wants a digital tool to harvest data from a sweeping variety of online sources, including the darkest reaches of the internet, to provide early information on threats such as disease outbreaks and mass shootings.
The software would allow an RCMP officer to quickly mine data about a person’s internet activities, from an emoji posting on Facebook to an illicit firearm purchase on the so-called darknet.
“Social media and publicly available information will be used to identify threats and address public concerns,” says the RCMP contract tender.
The application would also help spot brewing public-relations issues “and enhance strategic, operational and tactical information for improved decision-making in a crisis or major-event setting.”
The tender says the tool should include a dashboard with reports on breaking news, mass-casualty events, terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
The solicitation notice was issued in mid-April, just days before a gunman went on a deadly rampage in Nova Scotia.
However, the initiative is rooted in another tragedy, the fatal shootings of three police officers and the woundings of two others in Moncton, N.B., six years ago.
A report on the events recommended the RCMP procure a real-time social-media monitoring tool to help identify risks and improve public communication, noted Cpl. Caroline Duval, an RCMP spokeswoman.
“The police must keep pace with the emergence of new technologies to best serve their communities,” Duval said. “Social-media analysis can support public safety in a variety of ways.”
The RCMP already uses such information to detect threats to major events, infrastructure or other locations, she said. It has also helped identify dangers to public figures and prevent suicides, school shootings and other criminal actions discussed on social media, Duval added.
Such trawling of open-source material by the Mounties has also raised privacy questions.
A Toronto activist concerned about mining-industry abuses recently learned the Mounties compiled a six-page profile of her shortly after she showed up at a federal leaders debate during the 2015 election campaign.
Rachel Small, an organizer with the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, said it was “kind of creepy and unsettling” to see the RCMP profile, which came to light years later through an access-to-information request.
The new software tool would sift publicly available Internet data sources and content including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, chatrooms, message boards, social networks, and video and image-sharing websites.
The tender suggests the tool have a broach reach, capable of turning up data from cyberspots such as deal-shopping site Groupon and gaming platform Farmville.
It would also delve into content found in less visible segments of the internet, the deep web and darknet, that can elude commonly used search engines.
The new tool would complement the RCMP’s existing Social Studio software, used in a social media monitoring project known as Wide Awake that is designed to zero in on threats by flagging key words.
The RCMP’s efforts to divine useful information from social media have sparked discussions with the federal privacy commissioner, said Vito Pilieci, a spokesman for the ombudsman.
The commissioner’s office has highlighted the need for the RCMP to be transparent with the public about its social-media monitoring activities and the importance of a privacy impact assessment, a formal analysis of the risks to personal information, Pilieci said.
The RCMP has demonstrated the Social Studio software for the commissioner’s office, Duval said.
The police force is finalizing a privacy impact assessment on the use of social media analysis software and, once completed, will post an executive summary on the RCMP’s website, she added.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.
Social media, music world go dark for Black Out Tuesday – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, June 2, 2020 7:03PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 2, 2020 7:06PM EDT
NEW YORK – Though Black Out Tuesday was originally organized by the music community, the social media world also went dark in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, joining voices around the world outraged by the killings of black people in the U.S.
Instagram and Twitter accounts, from top record label to everyday people, were full of black squares posted in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Most of the captions were blank, though some posted #TheShowMustBePaused, black heart emojis or encouraged people to vote Tuesday with seven states and the District of Columbia are hosting the largest slate of presidential primary elections in almost three months.
Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Radiohead, Coldplay, Kelly Rowland, Beastie Boys and were among the celebrities to join Black Out Tuesday on social media.
“I won’t be posting on social media and I ask you all to do the same,” Britney Spears tweeted. “We should use the time away from our devices to focus on what we can do to make the world a better place â€¦. for ALL of us !!!!!”
Spotify blacked out the artwork for several of its popular playlists, including RapCaviar and Today’s Top Hits, simply writing “Black lives matter.” as its description. The streaming service also put its Black Lives Matter playlist on its front page, featuring songs like James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” N.W.A.’s “(Expletive) the Police,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.”
The opening pages of Apple Music and iTunes focused on supporting Black Lives Matter, and SiriusXM said it will be silencing its music channels for three minutes at 3 p.m. EDT in tribute to “all of the countless victims of racism.”
The company said it “will continue to amplify Black voices by being a space where Black artists showcase their music and talents, and by carrying the message that racism will not be tolerated.”
Some on social media questioned if posting black squares would divert attention away from posts about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“this is the 4th completely different flyer i’ve seen for it,” Grammy-nominated singer Kehlani tweeted about Black Out Tuesday. “”this is the only one without the saying go completely silent for a day in solidarity. the messages are mixed across the board and i really hope it doesn’t have a negative effect.“
When musician Dillon Francis posted that the hashtag for Black Lives Matter was blank on Instagram because users were posting black squares, rapper Lil Nas X responded with: “this is not helping us. bro who the (expletive) thought of this?? ppl need to see what’s going on.”
Emma Watson posted three white squares followed by three black squares with captions reading #blackouttuesday and #amplifyblackvoices on her Instagram account to show her support Tuesday. But she was heavily criticized, and began to trend on Twitter, for adding white borders around her black squares to match the esthetic of her Instagram page. Others called the actress out for speaking out too late about Black Lives Matter and for not including links to guide users on where they can learn more information about the cause or donate to it.
Several music releases and events were postponed as a result of Black Out Tuesday. Interscope Geffen A&M Records said it would not release music this week and pushed back releases from MGK, 6lack, Jessie Ware, Smokepurp and others. Chloe x Halle said its sophomore album will come out June 12 instead of Friday, while the group Glass Animals postponed the Tuesday release of its new single “Heat Waves.” Instead of being released Wednesday, singer Ashnikko will drop her song “Cry” and its video on June 17.
A benefit for the Apollo Theater will take place Thursday instead of Tuesday, and South by Southwest postponed an event planned with Rachael Ray.
“At SXSW we stand with the black community and will continue to amplify the voices and ideas that will lead us to a more equitable society,” the company said.
Trump sued over executive order targeting social media companies – BNNBloomberg.ca
President Donald Trump’s order targeting social media companies was challenged in court by a non-profit group that claims the edict violates free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Trump’s order, issued on Thursday, might undermine the legal protections enjoyed by social media companies including Twitter and Facebook. He asked federal regulators to look at provisions, contained in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, that insulate the companies from liability for content posted by users.
The order followed on the heels of Twitter’s decision to add fact-check labels to two of Trump’s tweets. Twitter also restricted a post by the president suggesting that protesters who engaged in looting would be met with violence. Legal observers have said Trump lacks the power to modify Section 230 by executive order.
The Center for Democracy and Technology sued in Washington federal court Tuesday, claiming the order is an unconstitutional retaliation against Twitter and that it seeks to discourage other companies and individuals from disagreeing with the government.
The case is Center for Democracy and Technology v. Trump, 20-cv-01456, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
Tech-rights group sues Trump to stop social-media order – CTV News
NEW YORK —
A tech-focused civil liberties group on Tuesday sued to block U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order that seeks to regulate social media, saying it violates the First Amendment and chills speech.
Trump’s order, signed last week, could allow more lawsuits against internet companies like Twitter and Facebook for what their users post, tweet and stream.
The order was more political than substantive, with many experts questioning whether it was constitutional. The president aimed to rally his supporters after Twitter put fact checks on two of his tweets. Trump, without evidence, has long accused tech companies of being biased against conservatives.
The order targets current law — you may have heard recent references to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — that protects internet companies from lawsuits. They can’t be sued for hosting videos and posts from users, or for moderating their services, with some exceptions.
In its suit, the Center for Democracy and Technology said that Trump’s executive order violates the First Amendment because it attacks Twitter for putting the fact checks on the president’s tweets, which CDT said is Twitter’s right as a private company. More broadly, the order is trying to curb speech of all online platforms and people “by demonstrating the willingness to use government authority to retaliate against those who criticize the government,” CDT said.
“The government cannot and should not force online intermediaries into moderating speech according to the president’s whims,” said Alexandra Givens, CDT’s CEO, in an emailed statement. The organization filed the federal suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
There was pushback against Trump’s order from various sources. Tech industry groups, unsurprisingly, said it was bad for innovation and speech. Civil rights and libertarian organizations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also criticized Trump’s order.
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