December 28, 2012

Proposal of a Twitter Squad: Advisable?

In the recent news, I saw an article about authorities proposing a “Twitter Squad” to monitor regular updates from different users from different locations but because it would be a wrong investment of time and money, authorities are calling off the proposal. I applaud the authorities for respecting the right of people to discuss things, issues and aspects in any way they please, whether offensive, obscene or disturbing. However, in light of recent issues, especially with the Leveson inquiries on hand, is it advisable to have a Social Media Task Force?

Today’s rating show that there had been 780% growth of offences committed on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter this year compared to 556 tallied on 2008 when both social network began their operations. The growth of offences is staggering and many complaints have been filed on all sides. But if without proper laws on online harassment and offences, were all victims properly given justice?

However, Prime Minister David Cameron strives to ensure that no law would bring down the power of freedom of expression. Authorities are actually looking for a way to focus more on “real” crimes through social media. These includes threatening and harassing activities on the Internet, stalking, identity theft, hacking and other details that could endanger the lives and privacy of citizens using the services.

But the question remains: What is the clear viewpoint of an “online” offence? If anybody can do or commit the alleged crime, would it be a justifiable case of expression control? Is proposing a “Twitter Squad”, who only focuses on “real” cases still justifiable?

In my opinion, it actually is. However, it is important that they clear up the facts of online offences first.

December 20, 2012

CPS Move Crowd Pleasing, But Will It Be Effective?

I was following the United Kingdom’s current issue regarding the re-evaluation of publication and news regulations after Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids and entire media-empire was swamped with unethical journalistic behaviour resulting to false facts and infringement of privacy. The issue became big in the United Kingdom as journalists saw the threat to the freedom of expression in the country. However, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to ensure the freedom of expression while giving victims of mistaken implications due rights to claim justice.

UK’s Crown Prosecution Services announced that it would be enforcing new guidelines that ensure that the freedom of expression and speech would be honored and given a high tolerance for offensive or scandalous remarks. Their move made users of social media, virtually everyone in the UK’s population, breathe more easily. They felt threatened by the new laws, including having someone questioned and potentially suspected for any offensive or honest remark that seems offensive that led to dangerous influence.

The CPS states that based on current UK laws, no person will be questioned or suspected for posting offensive, shocking, disturbing and generally unfavorable remarks and expressions. However, if there is any sign of harassment, blackmail, potential danger to person and property and anything that leads to a suicide or death due to an insult, they will have the person sanctioned.

In reality, this move is quite good. Victims now have the right to file complaints and legal action against people who are obviously responsible for making their lives miserable and the high threshold ensures that below Article 8 of the European Commission law that all people have the right to freedom of expression.

However, its effectiveness is still in question. The United Kingdom virtually has more than 3 billion citizens, and each person can produce at least 1 GB of information on a daily basis. How will the CPS work with this particular predicament?

There’s still much to see before the new guidelines prove that they are truly effective.

December 4, 2012

Greek Austerity Measures: Is It Really Unfair?

Category: Opinions,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , – admin @ 6:55 am

I read the news recently that Greece has finally passed its final version of its 2013 spending cuts for their entire country. Currently, Greece is in deep debt within the eurozone, but, as it still intends to stay in the euro, all countries in the euro are also trying to help it recover. Greece’s economy is failing and its unemployment rate has recently hit 45%, a very large number amounting to its new graduates.

Greece, Spain and Italy are all focal points of the eurozone crisis, which began with defaulted stocks and bonds from these countries that eventually led everything to a series of financial troubles. Greece’s decision today was met with criticism by different political groups and its citizens, with a poll of the country’s local newspaper stating that at least 66% of the respondents were against the policies but 52% wanted to give the government more time for their action.

Opposition groups stated that the austerity measures were unfair, even if it were the last sacrifice that the Greeks will need to suffer. They stated that the new spending cuts would not enable the citizens to provide for their daily needs.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called on the country to make a final sacrifice for the sake of saving their economy and staying in the euro. However, 80,000 marched to parliament last Wednesday and 15,000 more marched today to stop the signing and finalizing of the measures, which were met with violence between riot police and the protesters.

All facts taken into consideration, unlocking a 31.5 billion euro in austerity is fair enough for the Greeks. All 17 eurozone countries had helped the country bail itself out of its high debts and poor banking metrics in the past and indeed, it needs to make sacrifice before it can breath easy.

In my opinion, I believe the austerity measures are not even unfair to say the least. It would benefit lowering the riskiness of Greece in terms of financing to get their bailout operation in action. If the austerity measures, aside the fact that many people will continue to suffer in the economy, were implemented, it would only last for a while and then the country can finally get back to its foot. No lender wants to have a defaulted loan, so the low risk the country is, the better for their own sake, I mean, at least they have an option to keep themselves low risk.

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Music Artists and The Internet: Did Musicians Ever Have a Problem?

Many record-label signed musicians, artists and bands have continuously pulled out of their contracts nowadays because of the Internet. Many musicians state that the Internet was a way to kill the music industry, but on the contrary, much more musicians stated that the Internet was a great tool for delivering their music easier and faster to people. The Internet was well known for being a tool of piracy, but then, new methods made it easier for independent musicians to make their name and existing musicians to earn the profit better for themselves.

As a global community, websites that help artists and musicians coordinate with their fans to form events and produce albums have allowed the artist to earn more money and have a “fan-supported” event without the other sponsors, without the approval of record-label managers and supported entirely by the donations and fund-raising of the fans.

In reality, the music industry in the last few decades were dictated by the higher-ups. Record labels stated what music should their musicians do. They set standards in terms of audio quality, album production, images and other details that ensure the musician appeared the “standard” of music. Independent musicians have complete control over their music and the Internet became a way for them to spread the music.

Did musicians ever have a problem with the Internet? All the news we see and read are only about record labels and associations complaining about profits falling and divided twice or even ten times the recent decades because of piracy. As any musician and artist stated, the Internet is slowly changing the consumer culture from an industry-standard one into something that is more near and closer to the heart and preferences of the musicians and their fans.

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December 3, 2012

Cyber Bullying: The Issues Involved

Category: Internet,Opinions — Tags: , , , , , – admin @ 8:22 am

One friend of mine recently posted a picture of herself costumed in what appears to be a phallic-suggestive outfit. Right then and there, she became trending in our area, with most people in the vicinity commenting on her social media account that she looks like a sexual object wearing something that is off. While it might be interesting to see a woman in a phallic suit, my friend’s reputation was shattered and defamed, which had her deleting the picture and disabling her social account profile for good as friends and bosses saw the image, which actually cost her her job.

Cyber bullying is widespread throughout the Internet as anybody has the right to say anything about a topic involved. In the Internet, the culture is about “self-regulation” but admittedly, there are many people who cannot appease their brutal commentary just for the sake of fun or for the sake of expressing themselves honestly. Cyber bullying has actually led some users kill themselves for the sake of social suicide and being outcasted by exposure of delicate information about them.

However, laws about cyber bullying are shot down by the public. Because cyber bullying is actually problematic, it doesn’t mean that authorities have the right to hack into the user’s information profiles, as this would be unethical. The issues about the implementation of anti-cyber bullying laws is that it also “bullies” the bully by accessing their accounts unethically.

The other issue is that no legal rights are given to those who are afflicted of defamation by Internet entities. The easy way of publication and access to information can put many people’s identity in jeopardy.

If there was any good way to implement anti-cyber bullying laws, it would be to allow the bully to “commit his/her act” and get caught in the process, and allow authorities to peer into his or her computer and accounts with consent from the proper authorities. If this law is approved, everyone would willingly accept such a law exists.

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PPI Crisis: Things You Should Know

The Financial Services Authority has now appointed then-FSA managing director Martin Wheatley into the boss of the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA’s job is consumer protection, which means Wheatley and the new watchdog would be analyzing business models, banking metrics and other details of business to prevent or avert a future financial meltdown as immense as the payment protection insurance crisis.

The Financial Ombudsman is now receiving at least 400 PPI claims an hour and is planning to increase their manpower to 3000 employees by the end of the year. The Financial Ombudsman chief Natalie Ceeney had also proposed for a no-claims payout, meaning that customers can get their compensation without having to make a claim. This is to make things quicker as banks are “dragging their feet” to address the situation, according to Ceeney.

Confederation of British Industry Director-General John Cridland called for a deadline to stop the increasing costs of PPI claims and financial damages to banks. He proposed a six-year deadline for all claimants contacted or aware that they are mis sold PPI. Cridland says that CBI agrees that customers must be compensated, but at least 30% of the money goes to the claims management companies.

The total PPI compensation package is now at £12.96 billion. Lloyds has £5.3 billion set aside for PPI compensation. Next to them is Barclays with £3.7 billion, RBS with £1.7 billion, HSBC with £1.32 billion and Santander with £550 million. Experts estimate that with compound interests piling up more than six years with most customers, the PPI compensation bill can reach about £16 billion by the next year.

Charles Dunstone, the Carphone Warehouse co founder, believes that the mis selling of payment protection insurance policy was not too widespread and banks only consented to compensate because they were unpopular. Experts and the media were not convinced by his statements. Lloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio stated that the PPI crisis happened because banks lost sight of their core values and became non-customer focused and inefficient.