Google, Facebook business models threat to human rights: Amnesty | ABS-CBN News

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, US, Oct. 23, 2019. Erin Scott, Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO — The data-collection business model fueling Facebook and Google represents a threat to human rights around the world, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday.

The organization argued that offering people free online services and then using information about them to target money-making ads imperils a gamut of rights including freedom of opinion and expression.

“Despite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost,” Amnesty said in its report, “Surveillance Giants.”

“The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse.”

With ubiquitous surveillance, the two online giants are able to collect massive amounts of data which may be used against their customers, according to the London-based human rights group.

The business model is “inherently incompatible with the right to privacy,” Amnesty contended.

The report maintained that the two Silicon Valley firms have established “near-total dominance over the primary channels through which people connect and engage with the online world,” giving them unprecedented power over people’s lives.

“Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives — amassing unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary general.

“Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.”

The report called for governments to implement policies that ensure access to online services while protecting user privacy.

“Governments have an obligation to protect people from human rights abuses by corporations,” Amnesty maintained.

“But for the past two decades, technology companies have been largely left to self-regulate.”

DISPUTE ON FINDINGS

Facebook pushed back against what it contended were inaccuracies in the report, saying it strongly disagreed with its business model being characterized as surveillance-based.

“Our business model is what allows us to offer an important service where people can exercise foundational human rights — to have a voice (freedom of expression) and be able to connect (freedom of association and assembly),” said a letter from Facebook privacy and public policy director Steve Satterfield in an annex to the Amnesty report.

“Facebook’s business model is not, as your summary suggests, driven by the collection of data about people.”

Facebook spotlighted its measures implemented which limit data information used for ad targeting; controls provided to users regarding their data; and steps taken to restrict abuses by apps on the social network.

“As you correctly note, we do not sell data; we sell ads,” Facebook said.

Facebook chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has called for governments to implement uniform rules regarding data-handling instead of leaving private companies to make crucial social decisions such as the limits of free speech.

Google did not offer a specific written response.

But the Amnesty report noted that Google announced this month it would limit data that it shares with advertisers through its ad auction platform, following the launch of an inquiry by the Irish data protection authority and had launched a new feature allowing users to delete location data.

© Agence France-Presse

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Pressure mounts on Roman Polanski over new sexual assault allegation | Film | The Guardian

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Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has threatened legal action over claims by a former actor that he raped her in the 1970s.

The 86-year-old film-maker denied the allegation, but pressure is mounting on Polanski, who fled to France in 1978 after admitting to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.

Jean Dujardin, the star of Polanski’s latest film, which comes out in France on Wednesday, abruptly cancelled a prime-time interview on the TF1 television station, which was set for Sunday.

And the French artists’ guild ARP could meet soon to discuss his exclusion, its vice president told the Parisien newspaper.

An ARP spokesman later told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that although no board meeting had yet been organised, “if we are going to decide on Roman Polanski’s membership, we will do so with the approval of film-makers”.

Valentine Monnier, a photographer and former actress, has accused Polanski, who is French-Polish, of an “extremely violent” assault and rape at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad in 1975, when she was 18.

Monnier claimed he tried to make her swallow a pill during the attack, and later made a tearful apology while demanding a promise that she never tell anyone.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said in an open letter published by Le Parisien, which also interviewed her.

“Mr Polanski disputes in the strongest terms this rape accusation,” his lawyer Hervé Temime told AFP in a statement.

“We are working on the legal action to bring against this publication,” he added.

Polanski and his new film, An Officer and a Spy, had already courted controversy in September when it was included in the Venice film festival, where it won the grand jury prize.

Monnier, who acted in films in the 1980s, said the release of the film, about one of the most notorious errors of justice in French history, the Dreyfus affair, had prompted her to speak out.

“How could he benefit from public funds to instrumentalise history, and in doing so rewrite his own to cover up his criminal past?” she wrote, referring to French subsidies for film productions.

“He pummelled me until I gave in and then raped me, making me do all sorts of things,” she added.

She had previously written to France’s first lady Brigitte Macron, who forwarded two letters to France’s equality minister Marlène Schiappa, who has pushed for new measures to combat sexual abuse.

Schiappa wrote to Monnier in March last year and hailed her courage “in daring to break the silence”, but stressed that the allegations had to be dealt with by the judicial system.

But her account may prove a turning point for French cinema, where the #MeToo movement that roiled Hollywood has not prompted as deep a reckoning of alleged abuses in the industry.

Monnier is the first Frenchwoman to accuse Polanski of rape. Since he was arrested in California in 1977 on charges of drugging and raping Samantha Gailey, now known as Samantha Geimer, five other women including Monnier have come forward to allege that he either raped or sexually assaulted them.

Polanski has denied all of the claims, but in 2017 he left his post as president of the Cèsars, the French equivalent of the Oscars, and the following year he was expelled from the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Alain Terzian, president of France’s APC film promotion association, which oversees the Cèsars, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both France and Poland have refused to extradite Polanski to the US, where California prosecutors are pressing their case even after Polanski paid Geimer $225,000 in an out-of-court settlement in 1994.

On Twitter, Geimer criticised Monnier for not speaking sooner, writing on Saturday:

“Taking heat for not being more supportive of accusers who use film release dates to schedule their revelations with the press & sat silently while I was called a liar & a gold digging whore in 1977 knowing they may have prevented it, if they had the truth & my mom’s courage.”

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