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Social media platform Parler gets backing from Mercer family – WSJ – Financial Post

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Social media platform Parler, which styles itself as a “free speech-driven” space, gets funding from hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter and conservative activist Rebekah, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

U.S. right-wing social media users have flocked to Parler, messaging app Telegram and hands-off social site Gab, citing the more aggressive policing of political comments on mainstream platforms such as Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc.

Parler Chief Executive Officer John Matze, who describes himself as libertarian, has said he founded the company in 2018 as a bipartisan platform but has doubled down on marketing to conservatives as they took to the site.

Those who have joined include commentator Candace Owens, President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who handcuffed herself to the door of Twitter’s New York office in Nov. 2018 to protest a ban on her by the site.

“John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,” Rebekah said in a post on Parler.

“The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online,” she added.

The company’s user base more than doubled to 10 million in under a week, making it difficult for its roughly 30-person staff to keep up with the new sign-ups, according to the WSJ. https://on.wsj.com/3ps6gkZ (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Tokyo 2020 organisers estimate Games postponement cost $1.9 billion: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TOKYO (Reuters) – This year’s postponement of the Tokyo Olympics because of the novel coronavirus cost about 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion), organisers have estimated, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Sunday, citing people involved with the event.

The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government were forced to put off the Games for a year in March as the coronavirus spread rapidly around the world.

The Games cost 1.35 trillion yen ($13 billion) before the postponement, the newspaper reported.

The organising committee will decide on a breakdown of the burden of the delay in December, after discussions between the committee, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the central government, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the organisers, asked about the report, told Reuters by text message only that the committee is examining the extra costs associated with the delay.

The postponement costs include payment to staff as well as the introduction of new systems for refunding tickets but do not include measures against the spread of the coronavirus, the newspaper said.

The organisers had originally estimated that the delay would cost nearly 300 billion yen but they were able to reduce that figure by simplifying some events, the report said.

(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Robert Birsel and William Mallard)

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News media lobby group asks MPs for rules to get compensation from Google, Facebook – St. Albert Today

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OTTAWA — A lobby group for Canada’s newspapers and magazines is asking MPs to enact new rules to help its members negotiate compensation from social-media giants that post content the traditional media produce.

News Media Canada wants the government to let the industry negotiate collectively with the likes of Google and Facebook.

There are similar rules in other countries, such as Australia and France, where Google announced last week it had signed compensation agreements with several daily newspapers and magazines, including Le Monde.

News Media Canada’s CEO, John Hinds, said Canadian rules similar to those would negate the need for any new taxes or spending programs.

“It allows the industry and the digital monopolies to negotiate fair terms for compensation,” Hinds told MPs on the House of Commons heritage committee Friday.

“It doesn’t raise taxes, it doesn’t deal with government sort of intervening in the marketplace, but it allows a fair market interaction between the platforms and newspapers.”

The committee is studying the challenges the pandemic has created for media and culture groups.

Several members of the committee lamented the reduction in local news coverage as their newspapers cut back on coverage and editions to keep the lights on.

Hinds said some smaller newspapers closed permanently due to the pandemic, while larger publications saw newsroom layoffs.

The federal wage subsidy, he said, has been helpful in avoiding worse.

Advertising revenue plunged by 75 per cent at the start of the pandemic in many markets, he said, and the industry is still struggling with advertising declines in the range of 30 per cent.

The federal government announced a $30-million communications budget at the start of the pandemic, but Hinds said there was limited placement of the resulting ads in Canadian news media.

“The government can deliver on its mandate to communicate with Canadians by implementing a strategy of placing ads where Canadians are looking for trusted content and advertising,” he said.

Without federal help, he added, the future is grim for many of his member organizations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Canadians' social media data not stored in country, study finds – The Eyeopener

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Pooja Rambaran

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter transfer and store user data in a variety of jurisdictions outside of Canada, according to a recent discussion paper by the Cybersecure Policy Exchange (CPX) at Ryerson.

The study found that most social media privacy policies do not explicitly state the jurisdictions in which the personal data of their users are stored, processed and transferred. This means that “social media platforms can easily transfer personal data between various countries with little oversight or transparency,” the paper reads.

Yuan Stevens, co-author of the study, said the core belief of the paper is that “people in Canada deserve to have control and autonomy over their personal data as a critical aspect of cybersecurity.”

Stevens described personal data as anything that relates to someone as a specific, identifiable person. 

Almost every major social media platform—including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok—has faced major security breaches in the last five years, according to the CPX report written by Stevens, Mohammed Masoodi and Sam Andrey. 

In 2018, Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company, was found responsible for improperly collecting personal data of millions of Facebook users. The paper states of these 87 million users, more than 600,000 were Canadians.

As technological companies routinely face buy-outs, mergers and bankruptcies, the storage and protection of personal data may change outside of Canadian regulation. “Malicious hackers can also take advantage of data stored in locations where the data are subject to weak data protection safeguards,” the paper states.  

“Our data protection laws have historically given ample freedom to corporations to treat our personal data as they please with little legal oversight,” said Stevens. 

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is responsible for protecting the personal data of social media users in Canada. 

However, it does not prohibit companies from transferring data to third parties or other jurisdictions. When transferring this data to third parties, PIPEDA cited that organizations should provide a comparable level of protection for the collected data to what it would’ve received had it remained within the company. 

Yet the act does not specify the meaning of the term “comparable level of protection” and this is left up to the discretion of the individual companies.

“The self-regulatory approach of PIPEDA fundamentally jeopardizes the security, privacy and protection of personal data for users of social media platforms,” the paper reads, adding that this data can be transferred to a variety of jurisdictions without the knowledge of Canadian social media users and with little restrictions under the Canadian privacy law. 

“People in Canada deserve to have control and autonomy over their personal data as a critical aspect of cybersecurity”

On the contrary, the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requires organizations that collect personal data of their constituents to comply with their obligations, including legally-binding corporate rules or clear consent for the transfer of data, the paper states. 

Those who violate the privacy and security standards set by the GDPR are subject to harsh fines, possibly amounting to as high as 20 million euros, according to the GDPR website

“In Europe, data protection is an extension of human rights, where the right to control your personal data…is a part of informational self-determination,” said Stevens. “But in Canada, our data protection laws ensure no such protection to people.”

The researchers of the study found that some Canadians were mainly concerned with external government surveillance primarily from China and the U.S. Other Canadians indicated a lack of trust with current Canadian institutions as they believe that storage in Canada could still be improperly surveilled or used, the paper states. 

The authors of the paper suggested three policy changes that can be employed by the Canadian government to improve their current data protection laws—comparable protection, consent and special protections for sensitive personal data. 

A recent survey by CPX found that 86 per cent of Canadians support policies to keep Canadians’ data within Canada. 

Siya Joshi, a first-year computer science student, was previously unaware that Canadian laws allow companies to release user information across borders. 

“I would like to know where any personal information I store on my accounts or anything I post is being used, whether that is worldwide or national,” said Joshi, adding that she agrees with the policy suggestions made in the paper. 

“[Those] would ensure that I know what [information] is being sent, why and if I agree for it to be sent,” said Joshi. 

The paper stated that there needs to be a more rigorous definition of the term “comparable level of protection” in PIPEDA.

When social media companies transfer the personal data of their users outside of Canada, there should be explicit and proactive oversight mechanisms for their privacy, according to Stevens.

“Like the EU, Canada could maintain a list of countries whose data protection laws are deemed sufficient for transfer,” said Stevens. 

She added that companies could otherwise provide transfer agreements that demonstrate that the transfer location of the data is sufficient under Canada’s data protection laws. 

In cases where the transfer location is not pre-approved and no transfer agreement exists, Stevens suggested that the data protection law should allow social media companies to collect explicit consent for the transfer of data. 

This option also requires the disclosure of the specific personal data to be transferred, countries where the data could be stored and the other organizations involved in the process. 

The final policy suggestion involves better protection of sensitive personal data such as individuals’ racial or ethnic origins, sex life, sexual orientation, political opinions, religious beliefs, as well as genetic and biometric data. 

“[Canadian] laws merely say that more protection is needed when data is more sensitive, allowing social media companies to decide themselves whether highly-revealing personal data deserves certain treatments that better protect our privacy,” said Stevens. 

Drawing on thoughts from Shoshana Zuboff, the Charles Edward Wilson Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School and author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Stevens said that companies can collect, analyze and optimize users’ personal data as a form of raw material to predict and shape their behaviours in the name of economic freedom. 

“A data protection law that explicitly seeks to enhance economic development will never sufficiently protect our individual and collective rights to informational self-determination as an extension of privacy, one of our fundamental freedoms in Canada,” said Stevens.

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