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New Zealand Government Spends $150K To Create Video Game To Teach People How To Run a Business

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-07-26 04:25
The New Zealand government spent at least $150,000 to create a video game that shows people how to run their own business. It reportedly took 14 months and eight designers to create. NZ Herald reports: The Tycoon Game series, which consists of Restaurant Tycoon and Tech Tycoon, challenges players to use what the World Economic Forum has deemed as 10 essential skills vital for the future of employment. The educational game will teach players business skills including emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility, as well as critical thinking and creativity -- skills the Forum has this year bumped up the prescribed list. Players can level-up and earn badges for certain achievements, determined by how they manage scenarios in the game, including paying supplier invoices and wages. Do you think a video game is an effective way to teach business? If so, do you have any other games you'd recommend? A couple that come to mind include Capitalism Plus and Hot Dog Stand: Top Dog.

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US Airlines Change Taiwan Reference On Websites Ahead of Chinese Deadline

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-07-26 03:25
hackingbear writes from a report via CNBC: After dragging their feet for months and requesting help from the Trump administration, all three major U.S. airlines -- American, Delta and United -- decided to change how they refer to Taiwan airports on their websites to avoid Chinese penalties right before the Wednesday deadline. Earlier this year, China demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, not refer to Taiwan as a non-Chinese territory on their websites, as such practice violates Chinese laws. The White House in May slammed the demand as "Orwellian nonsense." Numerous non-U.S. airlines including Air Canada, Lufthansa, and British Airways had already made changes to their websites. The airlines "now only list Taipei's airport code and city, but not the name Taiwan," reports CNBC. It was unclear how China might punish airlines that don't comply, but it did add a clause saying regulators could change a company's permit if it did not meet "the demand of public interest." An American Airlines spokeswoman said in a statement: "Air travel is global business, and we abide by the rules in countries where we operate."

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Senator Asks US Agencies To Remove Flash From Government Websites

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-07-25 22:40
An anonymous reader writes: In a letter sent today, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden asked officials from three government agencies (NIST, NSA, DHS) to come up with solutions and procedures that mandate the removal of Adobe Flash content from all US government websites by August 1, 2019. The Senator is urging US government officials to act in light of Adobe's Flash end-of-life date scheduled for the end of 2020, after which Adobe announced it would cease to provide any technical support for the software. Senator Wyden is hoping to avoid a situation like the one of Windows XP, which US government agencies still use, despite Microsoft retiring the operating system back in 2014. Besides removing Flash from its websites, the Senator would also want Flash removed from computer of employees by the same August 1, 2019 deadline.

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Putin's Soccer Ball for Trump Had Transmitter Chip, Logo Indicates

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-07-25 22:00
Russian President Vladimir Putin's gift of a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump last week set off a chorus of warnings -- some of them only half in jest -- that the World Cup souvenir could be bugged. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham even tweeted, "I'd check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House." It turns out they weren't entirely wrong. From a report: Markings on the ball indicate that it contained a chip with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones. But rather than a spy device, the chip is an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball. Photographs from the news conference in Helsinki, where Putin handed the ball to Trump, show it bore a logo for a near-field communication tag. During manufacturing, the NFC chip is placed inside the ball under that logo, which resembles the icon for a WiFi signal, according to the Adidas website. The chip allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball. The feature is included in the 2018 FIFA World Cup match ball that's sold on the Adidas website for $165 (reduced to $83 in the past week).

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MPAA Seeks Stronger Actions To Fight Streaming Video Piracy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-07-25 20:40
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is stepping into the online video piracy debate and calling for criminal charges against violators, as well as strong coordination between a broad range of online service providers. From a report: The association's recommendations came in response to a call from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) call for comments regarding internet policy concerns. On July 17, the MPAA issued a 40-page document advocating a modernization of online policies in response to rampant illicit activity. While a range of commercial offerings help studios and sports leagues battle online piracy, anyone who has a friend with a Kodi box knows that unrestricted access to popular shows and movies is only a few taps away. The MPAA notes that 6.5 million homes in North America are equipped with a Kodi box, and the North American piracy ecosystem generates $840 million per year.

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Impossible Burgers' Key, Bloody Ingredient Wins FDA Approval

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-07-25 12:00
The FDA has approved the key ingredient used in the vegetarian-friendly Impossible Burger. "The ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, releases a protein called heme that gives the meat substitute its distinctive blood-like color and taste," reports CNBC. The burger comes from a company aptly named Impossible Foods, which started raising millions of dollars in 2015 to pursue a plant-based burger that truly tastes like meat. From the report: In a letter to Impossible Foods released Monday, the FDA deemed soy leghemoglobin GRAS, or generally recognized as safe, in its most recent review. "Getting a no-questions letter goes above and beyond our strict compliance to all federal food-safety regulations," Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick O. Brown said in a statement. "We have prioritized safety and transparency from day one, and they will always be core elements of our company culture."

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24 People Have Now Been Sentenced In India-Based Phone-Scam Case

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-07-25 05:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A total of 24 people who pleaded guilty to their involvement in a massive years-long phone scam often involving fake Internal Revenue Service and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have now been given prison sentences from four to 20 years. The indictment was originally filed in October 2016 against 61 people and includes charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft, impersonation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering. If victims didn't pay up, callers threatened arrest, deportation, or heavier fines. There were also related scams involving fake payday loans and bogus U.S. government grants, according to the criminal complaint. The lead defendant was Miteshkumar Patel, who was given 20 years.

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GCHQ Spy Agency Given Illegal Access To Citizens' Data

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-24 16:40
The British government broke the law by allowing spy agencies to amass data on UK citizens without proper oversight from the Foreign Office, an independent tribunal has ruled. From a report: GCHQ, the UK's electronic surveillance agency, was given vastly increased powers to obtain and analyze citizens' data after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, on the condition that it agreed to strict oversight from the foreign secretary. But according to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an independent court that was set up by the government to investigate unlawful intrusion by public bodies in the UK, the Foreign Office on several occasions gave GCHQ an effective "carte blanche" to demand data from telecoms and internet companies [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], which could include visited websites, location information and email contacts. In a judgment published on Monday, the tribunal said: "In cases in which ... the foreign secretary made a general direction which applied to all communications through the networks operated by the [communications service provider], there had been an unlawful delegation of the power. "The lack of legal control on the discretion of [GCHQ] is compounded in those cases where the specific requirement was not communicated in writing."

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WhatsApp Balks at India's Demand To Break Encryption

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-24 07:10
An anonymous reader shares a report: As WhatsApp scrambles to figure out technology solutions to address some of the problems its service has inadvertently caused in developing markets, India's government has proposed one of its own: bring traceability to the platform so false information can be traced to its source. But WhatsApp indicated to VentureBeat over the weekend that complying with that request would undermine the service's core value of protecting user privacy. "We remain deeply committed to people's privacy and security, which is why we will continue to maintain end-to-end encryption for all of our users," the company said. The request for traceability, which came from India's Ministry of Electronics & IT last week, was more than a suggestion. The Ministry said Facebook-owned WhatsApp would face legal actions if it failed to deliver. "When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability. If they remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action," the government said. India is WhatsApp's largest market, with more than 250 million users. The country is struggling to contain the spread of fake news on digital platforms. Hoax messages and videos on the platform have incited multiple riots, costing more than two dozen lives in the country this year alone. Allowing message tracing, though, would likely undo the privacy and security that WhatsApp's one billion users worldwide expect from the service. Bringing traceability and accountability to WhatsApp would mean breaking end-to-end encryption on the platform, the company told VentureBeat.

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Russian Hackers Reach US Utility Control Rooms, Homeland Security Officials Say

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-24 03:25
"Russian hackers [...] broke into supposedly secure, "air-gapped" or isolated networks owned by utilities (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) with relative easy by first penetrating the networks of key vendors who had trusted relationships with the power companies," reports The Wall Street Journal, citing officials at the Department of Homeland Security. "They got to the point where they could have thrown switches" and disrupted power flows, said Jonathan Homer, chief of industrial-control-system analysis for DHS. The hacking campaign started last year and likely is continuing. From the report: DHS has been warning utility executives with security clearances about the Russian group's threat to critical infrastructure since 2014. But the briefing on Monday was the first time that DHS has given out information in an unclassified setting with as much detail. It continues to withhold the names of victims but now says there were hundreds of victims, not a few dozen as had been said previously. It also said some companies still may not know they have been compromised, because the attacks used credentials of actual employees to get inside utility networks, potentially making the intrusions more difficult to detect. The attackers began by using conventional tools -- spear-phishing emails and watering-hole attacks, which trick victims into entering their passwords on spoofed websites -- to compromise the corporate networks of suppliers, many of whom were smaller companies without big budgets for cybersecurity. Once inside the vendor networks, they pivoted to their real focus: the utilities. It was a relatively easy process, in many cases, for them to steal credentials from vendors and gain direct access to utility networks. Then they began stealing confidential information. For example, the hackers vacuumed up information showing how utility networks were configured, what equipment was in use and how it was controlled. They also familiarized themselves with how the facilities were supposed to work, because attackers "have to learn how to take the normal and make it abnormal" to cause disruptions, said Mr. Homer. Their goal, he said: to disguise themselves as "the people who touch these systems on a daily basis."

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Nintendo To ROM Sites: Forget Cease-and-Desist, Now We're Suing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-23 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo's attitude toward ROM releases -- either original games' files or fan-made edits -- has often erred on the side of litigiousness. But in most cases, the game producer has settled on cease-and-desist orders or DMCA claims to protect its IP. This week saw the company grow bolder with its legal action, as Nintendo of America filed a lawsuit (PDF) on Thursday seeking millions in damages over classic games' files being served via websites. The Arizona suit, as reported by TorrentFreak, alleges "brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property rights" by the sites LoveROMs and LoveRetro. These sites combine ROM downloads and in-browser emulators to deliver one-stop gaming access, and the lawsuit includes screenshots and interface explanations to demonstrate exactly how the sites' users can gain access to "thousands of [Nintendo] video games, related copyrighted works, and images." The biggest amount of money Nintendo is seeking comes from "$150,000 for the infringement of each Nintendo copyrighted work and up to $2,000,000 for the infringement of each Nintendo trademark." The company has also requested full disclosure of the operators' "receipts and disbursements, profit and loss statements, advertising revenue, donations and cryptocurrency revenue, and other financial materials." LoveROMs has since removed all Nintendo-affiliated links, including ROMs and emulators, and the site announced on its social media channels that "all Nintendo titles have been removed from our site." Meanwhile, LoveRetro.co now redirects visitors to a page that reads: "Loveretro has effectively been shut down until further notice."

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Australia Called Out as Willing To Undermine Human Rights For Digital Agenda

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-23 16:00
A report from AccessNow has asked Australia to change its course and lead the way in serving as a champion for human rights instead of against. From a report: Global human rights, public policy, and advocacy group AccessNow has called out Australia for its lack of focus on human rights as it adapts to the challenges of the digital era, with a report from the non-profit saying the country should instead be leading the way in serving as a champion for human rights. "Australia should be a global leader in serving as a champion for human rights, such as the right to privacy and rights to freedoms of expression and association," AccessNow said. "Unfortunately, Australia has taken actions that indicate the nation is willing to undermine human rights as it adapts to the challenges of the digital era." In Human Rights in the Digital Era: An International Perspective on Australia [PDF], AccessNow says that as the digital world continues to develop, and technology increasingly becomes an "intimate part" of daily lives, Australians are facing a choice. "The country can either continue to be a testing ground for policies that undermine privacy and security in the digital era, or it can be a champion for human rights in the digital age, leveraging its relationships in the world to raise the standards for the next generation," the report says.

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Lawmakers, Lobbyists and the Administration Join Forces To Overhaul the Endangered Species Act

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-23 06:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Endangered Species Act, which for 45 years has safeguarded fragile wildlife while blocking ranching, logging and oil drilling on protected habitats, is coming under attack from lawmakers, the White House and industry on a scale not seen in decades, driven partly by fears that the Republicans will lose ground in November's midterm elections. In the past two weeks, more than two dozen pieces of legislation, policy initiatives and amendments designed to weaken the law have been either introduced or voted on in Congress or proposed by the Trump administration. The actions included a bill to strip protections from the gray wolf in Wyoming and along the western Great Lakes; a plan to keep the sage grouse, a chicken-size bird that inhabits millions of oil-rich acres in the West, from being listed as endangered for the next decade; and a measure to remove from the endangered list the American burying beetle, an orange-flecked insect that has long been the bane of oil companies that would like to drill on the land where it lives. [...] The new push to undo the wildlife protection law comes as Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress, and is led by a president who has made deregulation -- the loosening of not only environmental protections but banking rules, car fuel efficiency standards and fair housing enforcement -- a centerpiece of his administration.

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IoT Security Flaw Leaves 496 Million Devices Vulnerable At Businesses, Report Says

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-23 03:10
Nearly a half-billion Internet of Things devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks at businesses worldwide because of a 10-year-old security flaw, according to a new report from a security software vendor. From a report: The report was published Friday by Armis, a provider of Internet of Things security software for enterprises that focuses on detecting threats in IoT devices at workplaces. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has previously made security disclosures, including the BlueBorne malware attack that impacted 5 billion IoT devices.

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Open Gov't Advocates Fear that Private Messaging Apps Are Being Misused by Public Officials To Conduct Business in Secret

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-07-22 22:00
The proliferation of digital tools that make text and email messages vanish may be welcome to Americans seeking to guard their privacy. But open government advocates fear they are being misused by public officials to conduct business in secret and evade transparency laws. From a report: Whether communications on those platforms should be part of the public record is a growing but unsettled debate in states across the country. Updates to transparency laws lag behind rapid technological advances, and the public and private personas of state officials overlap on private smartphones and social media accounts. "Those kind of technologies literally undermine, through the technology itself, state open government laws and policies," said Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. "And they come on top of the misuse of other technologies, like people using their own private email and cellphones to conduct business." Some government officials have argued that public employees should be free to communicate on private, non-governmental cellphones and social media platforms without triggering open records requirements.

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Bot Tweeted Names And Photos Of Venmo Users Who Bought Drugs

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-07-22 12:34
Since Venmo's transactions are "public" by default and broadcast on Venmo's API, a Python programmer decided to publicize a few of them, reports the Mercury News: The creator of the bot named "Who's buying drugs on Venmo" under the Twitter handle @venmodrugs says he wanted users to consider their privacy settings before using Venmo. The bot finds Venmo transactions that include words such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine, meth, speed or emojis that denote drugs and tweets the transaction with the names of the sender and receiver and the sender's photo, if there is one... "I wanted to demonstrate how much data Venmo was making publicly available with their open API and their public by default settings and encourage people to consider their privacy settings," Joel Guerra, the creator of the bot, told Motherboard, a technology news outlet run by Vice. He shut the bot after 24 hours, according to a Medium essay titled "Why I blasted your 'drug' deals on Twitter": I chose drugs, sex and alcohol keywords as the trigger for the bot because because they were funny and shocking. I removed the last names of users because I didn't want to actually contribute to the problem of lack of privacy... I braced myself for backlash but the response was overwhelmingly positive. People understood my point and I had sparked a lot of discussion about online privacy and the need for users to do a better job of understanding the terms of software they were using -- and a lot of discussion about how companies need to do a better job of informing customers how their data was being used... After about 24 hours of tweeting everyone's drug laden Venmo transactions I shut down the bot (Python script!!) and deleted all the tweets. I had successfully made my point and gotten more attention than I had imagined possible. Thousands of people were reading tweets and articles about the bot and discussing data privacy. I saw no further value in tweeting out anyone's personal transactions anymore. However, all I ever did was format the data and automate a Twitter account -- the data is still readily available. His closure of the bot drew some interesting reactions on Twitter. "booooooooo. I was so entertained by this." "I remember I had a dealer take my phone and set venmo to private lol." "we're looking to add a Python developer to our team and I think you'd be a good fit."

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Uber Bans Driver Who Secretly Livestreamed Hundreds of Passengers

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-07-22 03:34
Lauren Weinstein tipped us off to this story from Mashable: Hundreds of Uber and Lyft rides have been broadcast live on Twitch by driver Jason Gargac this year, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday, all of them without the passengers' permission. Gargac, who goes by the name JustSmurf on Twitch, regularly records the interior of his car while working for Uber and Lyft with a camera in the front of the car, allowing viewers to see the faces of his passengers, illuminated by his (usually) purple lights, and hear everything they say. At no point does Gargac make passengers aware that they are being filmed or livestreamed. Due to Missouri's "one-party consent" law, in which only one party needs to agree to be recorded for it to be legal (in this case, Gargac is the consenting one), what Gargac is doing is perfectly legal. That doesn't mean it's not 100 percent creepy. Sometimes, to confirm who they are for their driver, the passengers say their full names. Not only that, Gargac has another video that shows the view out the front of his car so that people can see where he's driving, giving away the locations of some passengers' homes. All the while, viewers on Twitch are commenting about things like the quality of neighborhoods, what the passengers are talking about, and of course, women's looks. Gargac himself is openly judgmental about the women he picks up, commenting to his viewers about their appearances before they get in his car and making remarks after he drops them off. He also regularly talks about wanting to get more "content," meaning interesting people, and is open about the fact that he doesn't want passengers to know they are on camera. "I feel violated. I'm embarrassed," one passenger told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We got in an Uber at 2 a.m. to be safe, and then I find out that because of that, everything I said in that car is online and people are watching me. It makes me sick." The offending driver announced today on Twitter that he's at least "getting rid of the stored vids." He calls this move "step #1 of trying to calm everyone down." Hours ago his Twitch feed was made inaccessible. Lyft and Twitch have not yet responded to Mashable's request for a comment. But Uber said they've (temporarily?) banned Gargac from accessing their app "while we evaluate his partnership with Uber."

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Lawmakers Call On Amazon and Google To Reconsider Ban On Domain Fronting

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-07-21 21:34
An anonymous reader quotes CyberScoop: Amazon and Google face sharp questions from a bipartisan pair of U.S. senators over the tech giants' decisions to ban domain fronting, a technique used to circumvent censorship and surveillance around the world. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter on Tuesday to Google CEO Larry Page and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over decisions by both companies in April to ban domain fronting. Amazon then warned the developers of encrypted messaging app Signal that the organization would be banned from Amazon's cloud services if the service didn't stop using Amazon's cloud as cover. "We respectfully urge you to reconsider your decision to prohibit domain fronting given the harm it will do to global internet freedom and the risk it will impose upon human rights activists, journalists, and others who rely on the internet freedom tools," the senators wrote.

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State Senator Wants A Law Forcing Bots To Admit They're Not Human

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-07-21 18:34
An anonymous reader writes: Several commentators are calling for a law that requires bots to admit they are not human. There is a bill in California that would do just that. A new paper argues that these laws may look Constitutional but actually raise First Amendment issues. The New York Times reports: Bots are easy to make and widely employed, and social media companies are under no legal obligation to get rid of them. A law that discourages their use could help, but experts aren't sure how the one [state senator Robert] Hertzberg is trying to push through, in California, might work. For starters, would bots be forced to identify themselves in every Facebook post? In their Instagram bios? In their Twitter handles? The measure, SB-1001, a version of which has already left the senate floor and is working its way through the state's Assembly, also doesn't mandate that tech companies enforce the regulation. And it's unclear how a bill that is specific only to California would apply to a global internet... All parties agree that the bill illustrates the difficulty that lawmakers have in crafting legislation that effectively addresses the problems constituents confront online. As the pace of technological development has raced ahead of government, the laws that exist on the books -- not to mention some lawmakers' understandings of technology -- have remained comparatively stagnant. The Times seems to question whether the law should be targeted at the creators of bots instead of the platforms that host them, pointing out that tech companies like Twitter "have the power to change dynamics on their platforms directly and at the scale that those problems require."

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Social Media Manipulation Rising Globally, New Oxford Report Warns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-07-21 04:05
A new report from Oxford University found that manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms is growing at a large scale, despite efforts to combat it. "Around the world, government agencies and political parties are exploiting social media platforms to spread junk news and disinformation, exercise censorship and control, and undermine trust in media, public institutions and science," reports Phys.Org. From the report: "The number of countries where formally organized social media manipulation occurs has greatly increased, from 28 to 48 countries globally," says Samantha Bradshaw, co-author of the report. "The majority of growth comes from political parties who spread disinformation and junk news around election periods. There are more political parties learning from the strategies deployed during Brexit and the U.S. 2016 Presidential election: more campaigns are using bots, junk news, and disinformation to polarize and manipulate voters." This is despite efforts by governments in many democracies introducing new legislation designed to combat fake news on the internet. "The problem with this is that these 'task forces' to combat fake news are being used as a new tool to legitimize censorship in authoritarian regimes," says Professor Phil Howard, co-author and lead researcher on the OII's Computational Propaganda project. "At best, these types of task forces are creating counter-narratives and building tools for citizen awareness and fact-checking." Another challenge is the evolution of the mediums individuals use to share news and information. "There is evidence that disinformation campaigns are moving on to chat applications and alternative platforms," says Bradshaw. "This is becoming increasingly common in the Global South, where large public groups on chat applications are more popular."

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