Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Reminder: submit comments to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) this week if you're a YouTube content creator or have other concerns about COPPA


I have just made a formal comment to the FTC regarding the implementation of its new settlement with YouTube on January 1, 2020 and the potential impact on YouTube creators.  I have a writeup of it here.  You can use this link to make your own comment, not later than Dec. 9, 2019.    
    
Essentially, I acknowledge that even non-monetized videos indirectly depend on behavioral ads and their visitors could be targeted later with advertising even for visiting me, and that my own videos are normally intended for access through blogs, where the audience is likely to be adult and likely academic or professional.  I use some train videos in a metaphorical manner.
  
I also suggested that the FTC exempt video channel owners who accept YouTube’s own ratings as MFK or not, and that YouTube consider age-gates.  These may not save the income of many creators with youth-oriented content.
  
I also suggested that industry consider the idea of router age-gates, which would involve FCC approval (not FTC) and startup development and funding.
  
There is a discussion of whether YouTube’s restricted mode is an age-gate here. 

Obviously, what would actually work deserves discussion and I expect to find a lot more material on this soon.

John Fish has some programmatic (“lexical”) ideas in this mid 2018 video (well before the settlement) that seem to point to some clues as to how an effective gate might be developed.


I see some videos about the CCPA (California) popping up on YouTube and will look into these soon.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Michigan law firm proposed a technical solution that YouTube and all social media companies should implement (a new kind of age-gate) to prevent COPPA problems


Hoeg Law has made some videos explaining in detail the relationship between content creators and YouTube and the obligations of both under a literal reading of the COPPA statute. He has a technical suggestion on how YouTube could help content creators and recommends also that Facebook and other social media sites do the same. (It's conceivable that this would apply to Blogger and WordPress also.) I urge the Minds community (Subverse, Mythinformed, etc) watch some of his videos and become familiar with this problem.


He has at least two other preceding videos where he discusses the controversy over content creator liability for what the “allow YouTube” to do with the information from cookies accessed from visitors to creator videos.
  
His suggestions would apply to Blogger (in connection with Adsense) and Google should consider implementing them.  Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. would all benefit from implementing his suggestions to prevent possibly exposing their users to subtle legal risks from COPPA. 

(His videos are not personalized legal advice.  They are suggestions especially for tech companies to adopt to reduce risk and believes users should pressure these companies to do so.) 

Picture:  Houghton and Hancock on the Michigan UP.  I was there Sept. 30. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

YouTube issues instructions to content creators on how to comply with the new "made for kids" rules



YouTube has an important video for content creators which the speaker says are necessary for compliance with a legal settlement it recently made the FTC.


Content creators must mark their videos as “made for kids” or “not made for kids”.  There is a provision in advanced settings in YouTube studio to do this globally, to apply one setting for all videos, which is certainly necessary for those with many videos. 

A “kid” in the U.S. is someone under 13.
  
Many features are disabled for “made for kids” videos, including comments.  But the fact that a video is suitable for kids does not mean it was intended primarily for kids. 

Update:  Nov. 19

Many in the YouTube community are concerned that the FTC will override YouTube's "made for kids" settings whether made by YT or the channel, and fine the channels.  There is more discussion here  (the business site for my books) on Wordpress, and more videos and info.  This is a developing story.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

NYTimes now shows that tech companies could be in a legal bind if they try proactively to find and remove c.p. content



Gabriel J. X. Dance and Michael H. Keller have continued their investigation for the New York Times about the persistence of child sex abuse images on videos online, underground, this week.  On Nov. 9, they published, “If these were pictures of you, you’d understand” 
  
Two sisters are still traumatized by images of events that happened over a decade ago.
   
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the NYTimes Business Page published another followup, “Legal Tightrope in spotting child sex abuse imagery”.
  
 The article explains that the draconian nature of the laws can actually make it harder to detect, and make it more difficult for tech companies, if they intend to help, to actually process images or videos or ship them to authorities. So tech companies could be caught in a moral dilemma on this (see Nov 10 post) with no clear answer.
   
Applying artificial intelligence will be very risky because it could implicate legally innocent parties who, in a practical world that can become polarized and hostile, would find their reputations sundered forever regardless of legal innocence. Electronic Frontier Foundation would certainly respond to this.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Tech companies may be prodded to check cloud storage of private data for illegality



The New York Times has a booklet-length front-page article, by Michael H. Keller and Gabriel J.X. Dance, Sunday Nov. 10, “Child sex abusers elude flimsy digital safeguards” with the subtitle “A living nightmare for the victims as tech companies fail to stop the images”.  Online the title is “Child abusers run rampant as tech companies look the other way”, which is more likely to provoke a gut reaction in the visitor.


The article notes that tech companies do check what is uploaded to the web or to social media for watermarks, and Google checks images attached to gmail for watermarked items identified by the NCMEC in Alexandria, VA (there was a very visible arrest in Houston about four years ago).  Recently, a major bust overseas added many images.  But cloud storage intended to be private (like your iCloud) is not, and is often well protected by encryption (EFF says not well enough).

Will tech companies be pressured to check cloud storage too?  Could they check for other things, like copyright infringement?  Think now about the CASE Act and connect the dots!  (If you subscribe to a site, you should normally be able to save content from your site on your hard drive and let it back up as long as it is for your own use and not published online for others.) 
    
The article also a sidebar story maintaining that images of victims are still shared online.

Update:

NBC News has a story from Florida about a bust that is quite disturbing. 


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

CIA said to have recruited child abusers in McCarthy era for spying purposes (FBI vaults)



There is some evidence from FBI records that the CIA ("The Finders" front) abducted people, maybe minors, to use them as spies or as “Manchurian candidates” back in the 1950s, at least in this vault reference

“Stephen” (a musician and libertarian-oriented digital activist) dug up this analysis and posted it in a long twitter thread.
  
This would have gone on during the McCarthy era.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Increase in street prostitution on the ground in trendy DC area (Logan Circle) attributed to FOSTA


“7 on your Side” investigates the increase in street prostitution near Logan Circle in Washington DC, and reports on WJLA7.  The increase is clearly because FOSTA (the “Backpage law”) has forced sex workers off line and into the streets.  


It’s interesting that WJLA belongs to Sinclair Broadcasting in Baltimore, a supposedly “conservative” media company.  The conservatives are waking up to the fact that laws like FOSTA don’t work.
  
Ironically, Logan Circle is rather popular in the gay community, with Crew Club, and with Trade DC, a no-nonsense bar and small disco that has helped "replace" Town.  There is also a popular steak and shake place in the area with a big sports bar video.  

But the prostitution seems to be all heterosexual. 
  
There is talk of legalizing prostitution in Washington DC.