Friday roundup: A week in tech

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Facebook et al are going to start receiving some eye-watering fines in the post if they don’t start clearing their wretched networks of terror content, pending the European Union’s plans.

Tired of terror-related carnage, the EU wants to force the likes of Twitter, Facebook…um, Geocities if it’s still going, to remove violent mischief within an hour of going live, or be penalised into oblivion.

By my count, this is the 453rdattempt by the authorities to deal with the big social networks’ crummy grip on terror content and other cyber atrocities.

According to Julian King, the UK’s security commissioner in Brussels, people are increasingly getting their instructions for terrorism over the internet – and digital material has had a part to play in every European attack in the past 18 months.

Speaking, rather than tweeting, thankfully, Mr King said: ‘We have got a problem with content; it is not an entirely new problem, we are not starting from scratch, we have agreed to do some voluntary stuff, and we got some good progress – but not enough.’

If the EU gets its legislative way, networks will also have to erect systems that automatically remove terror propaganda.

So, let’s wait and see how all that works out.

***

Already cuddling up nicely with government bosses in China, Google seems to be extending the goodwill towards the authorities in Moscow.

The search giant has scrubbed YouTube adverts by one Alexei Navalny, a big critic of Russian uber-boss Vladimir Putin.

According to Google, it removed the ads merely to act in accordance with the laws of the land, which decree that political campaigning in a no-no within 24 hours of an election.

My Navalny’s YouTube videos called for people to join protests against the government’s plans to change the age of retirement in Russia.

So, jolly nice of Google to stringently adhere to local rules, and coupled with last month’s news that the firm is building a special government-friendly search engine for China, one wonders what the company might do next. A digital marketplace for the Mexican Juarez drugs cartel? A bespoke photo-sharing hub for ISIS?

***

Yet again the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a firm’s broadband adverts for being full of fibs.

Complaints have been upheld that Vodafone’s recent irritating Martin Freeman-fronted campaign has been misleading customers, claiming as it does that the firm’s broadband service doesn’t suffer ‘drop-out’ like other providers.

However, the ASA has ruled that the claims can’t be substantiated and that consumers might interpret the ads as saying that broadband with Vodafone would mean an end to the ongoing curse of internet connections, buffering.

This is where it gets interesting: on its website, Vodafone claimed that its Ultimate Speed Guarantee ‘means you get the best broadband speed available to you, or we’ll give you a discount off your monthly bill until we can get you there’.

However, speed and ‘drop-out’ are two different things, as I can tell you from my own horrible experience at my house, where the internet is nice and fast – when it’s there at all.

Interestingly, one of those that complained about the unreliable ads was BT – and you know you’re doing something wrong as an ISP when they’ve got the moral high ground.

Vodafone has said that it’s ‘disappointed’ with the ruling (specially as they probably paid Mr Freeman £millions to star in their rubbish, now banned adverts) but here’s the rub: the ads ran for ages, so Vodafone got lots of publicity and, I assume, sales from the campaign, but all the ASA has done is prohibited further broadcast, which is what happens every time in these situations.

When are these firms going to start getting fined for lying?

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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