“The UK has the opportunity to lead the world in calling for a total ban on the trade in tiger parts, from all sources,” says TigerTime. “It is illegal for wild tigers to be killed and their parts sold but still the practice persists. TigerTime and all its supporters, are asking for a commitment from tiger range countries, transit countries and consumer countries to enforce the rule of law to bring about an end to the trade and to save the last 3,200 tigers in the wild.”The 11th Hour tweet on 11th February brought together celebrity supporters from the worlds of theatre, TV, business and music to galvanise this vital call for arms to save the tiger.Other celebrities that took part included Jane Fallon, Kirsty Gallacher, Darryn Lyons, Amanda Abbington, Wincey Willis, Brian Blessed, Sheridyn Fisher, Sarah Jane Honeywell, Lynn Shepherd, Simon King, Lucy Pinder, Zoe Lyons, Peter Egan, Samantha Fox, Liz Bonnin, Theo Paphitis, Sick Of It All and Marcus Brigstocke.You can join the call here. TigerTime celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Deborah Meaden, Melanie C, Naomie Harris and Slash helped the campaign reach over 18.5 million Twitter followers on February 11th to call for a ban in the tiger trade.The call comes ahead of the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade that is being hosted by the UK Government to agree high level political commitments to take urgent action to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. It will focus on elephants, rhino and tigers and aims to tackle three interlinked aspects:· strengthening law enforcement and the criminal justice system· reducing demand for illegal wildlife products· supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods
Kolkata: At a time when the leaders of political parties are raising their voice against incidents of violence before the three-tier Panchayat elections, pages of history show that 45 and 17 people were murdered before the elections which were held in 2003 and 2008 respectively, under the CPI-M regime.Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said that in 2003 and 2008, her party could field 30,000 and 35 candidates in the Panchayat elections. Admitting that incidents of violence had taken place in seven places, she questioned how the Opposition parties could field 2 lakh candidates for the forthcoming Panchayat elections, had there been violence throughout the state. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIn 2018, six persons, all Trinamool Congress workers, have been killed in incidents of violence.In 2003, 45 people were murdered before the Panchayat elections. On the day of polling, 35 people had been murdered. After the poll, 27 persons were murdered and 1,200 houses were set on fire. All those who had been murdered, belonged to the Opposition parties.Again in 2008, 17 people were murdered before the Panchayat elections. On the day of the poll, 21 people had been murdered, while another 13 were murdered after the poll. Nine hundred houses were set on fire. In a recent interview given to a vernacular channel, Mamata Banerjee had asked: “how can I forget those days when my party workers were murdered by CPI-M cadres?” Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedThe first Panchayat elections were held in 1978, after the Left Front came to power in 1977. From 1978 till 2008, the Left Front had won in 50%-60% of the Gram Panchayat seats, while the party got 75% seats in Panchayat Samity and 85% to 90% seats in Zilla Parishad.Trinamool Congress got control over two Zilla Parishads – East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas in 2008. Over the years, the party strengthened its organisation and got 13 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. In 2010, it got control over Kolkata Municipal Corporation and finally ousted CPI-M in the 2011 Assembly election.
Facebook has probably made the biggest April Fool’s joke of this year. Over the weekend, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, penned a post detailing the need to have tech regulation in four major areas: “harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability”. However, privacy advocates and tech experts were frustrated rather than pleased with this announcement, stating that seeing recent privacy scandals, Facebook CEO shouldn’t be the one making the rules. The term ‘digital gangster’ was first coined by the Guardian, when the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published its final report on Facebook’s Disinformation and ‘fake news practices. Per the publishing firm, “Facebook behaves like a ‘digital gangster’ destroying democracy. It considers itself to be ‘ahead of and beyond the law’. It ‘misled’ parliament. It gave statements that were ‘not true’”. Last week, Facebook rolled out a new Ad Library to provide more stringent transparency for preventing interference in worldwide elections. It also rolled out a policy to ban white nationalist content from its platforms. Zuckerberg’s four new regulation ideas “I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.”, writes Zuckerberg. Reducing harmful content For harmful content, Zuckerberg talks about having a certain set of rules that govern what types of content tech companies should consider harmful. According to him, governments should set “baselines” for online content that require filtering. He suggests that third-party organizations should also set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and measure companies against those standards. “Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content,” he writes. “Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.” Ironically, over the weekend, Facebook was accused of enabling the spreading of anti-Semitic propaganda after its refusal to take down repeatedly flagged hate posts. Facebook stated that it will not remove the posts as they do not breach its hate speech rules and are not against UK law. Preserving election integrity The second tech regulation revolves around election integrity. Facebook has been taken steps in this direction by making significant changes to its advertising policies. Facebook’s new Ad library which was released last week, now provides advertising transparency on all active ads running on a Facebook page, including politics or issue ads. Ahead of the European Parliamentary election in May 2019, Facebook is also introducing ads transparency tools in the EU. He advises other tech companies to build a searchable ad archive as well. “Deciding whether an ad is political isn’t always straightforward. Our systems would be more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors,” Zuckerberg says. He also talks about improving online political advertising laws for political issues rather than primarily focussing on candidates and elections. “I believe”, he says “legislation should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry.” What is surprising is that just 24 hrs after Zuckerberg published his post committing to preserve election integrity, Facebook took down over 700 pages, groups, and accounts that were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Indian politics ahead of the country’s national elections. According to DFRLab, who analyzed these pages, Facebook was in fact quite late to take actions against these pages. Per DFRLab, “Last year, AltNews, an open-source fact-checking outlet, reported that a related website called theindiaeye.com was hosted on Silver Touch servers. Silver Touch managers denied having anything to do with the website or the Facebook page, but Facebook’s statement attributed the page to “individuals associated with” Silver Touch. The page was created in 2016. Even after several regional media outlets reported that the page was spreading false information related to Indian politics, the engagements on posts kept increasing, with a significant uptick from June 2018 onward.” Adhering to privacy and data portability For privacy, Zuckerberg talks about the need to develop a “globally harmonized framework” along the lines of European Union’s GDPR rules for US and other countries “I believe a common global framework — rather than regulation that varies significantly by country and state — will ensure that the internet does not get fractured, entrepreneurs can build products that serve everyone, and everyone gets the same protections.”, he writes. Which makes us wonder what is stopping him from implementing EU style GDPR on Facebook globally until a common framework is agreed upon by countries? Lastly, he adds, “regulation should guarantee the principle of data portability”, allowing people to freely port their data across different services. “True data portability should look more like the way people use our platform to sign into an app than the existing ways you can download an archive of your information. But this requires clear rules about who’s responsible for protecting information when it moves between services.” He also endorses the need for a standard data transfer format by supporting the open source Data Transfer Project. Why this call for regulation now? Zuckerberg’s post comes at a strategic point of time when Facebook is battling a large number of investigations. Most recent of which is the housing discrimination charge by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) who alleged that Facebook is using its advertising tools to violate the Fair Housing Act. Also to be noticed is the fact, that Zuckerberg’s blog post comes weeks after Senator Elizabeth Warren, stated that if elected president in 2020, her administration will break up Facebook. Facebook was quick to remove and then restore several ads placed by Warren, that called for the breakup of Facebook and other tech giants. A possible explanation to Zuckerberg’s post can be the fact that Facebook will be able to now say that it’s actually pro-government regulation. This means it can lobby governments to make a decision that would be the most beneficial for the company. It may also set up its own work around political advertising and content moderation as the standard for other industries. By blaming decisions on third parties, it may also possibly reduce scrutiny from lawmakers. According to a report by Business Insider, just as Zuckerberg posted about his news today, a large number of Zuckerberg’s previous posts and announcements have been deleted from the FB Blog. Reaching for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider that the posts were “mistakenly deleted” due to “technical errors.” Now if this is a deliberate mistake or an unintentional one, we don’t know. Zuckerberg’s post sparked a huge discussion on Hacker news with most people drawing negative conclusions based on Zuckerberg’s writeup. Here are some of the views: “I think Zuckerberg’s intent is to dilute the real issue (privacy) with these other three points. FB has a bad record when it comes to privacy and they are actively taking measures against it. For example, they lobby against privacy laws. They create shadow profiles and they make it difficult or impossible to delete your account.” “harmful content, election integrity, privacy, data portability Shut down Facebook as a company and three of those four problems are solved.” “By now it’s pretty clear, to me at least, that Zuckerberg simply doesn’t get it. He could have fixed the issues for over a decade. And even in 2019, after all the evidence of mismanagement and public distrust, he still refuses to relinquish any control of the company. This is a tone-deaf opinion piece.” Twitteratis also shared the same sentiment. Read Next Ahead of EU 2019 elections, Facebook expands it’s Ad Library to provide advertising transparency in all active ads Facebook will ban white nationalism, and separatism content in addition to white supremacy content. Are the lawmakers and media being really critical towards Facebook?