French firm offered spyware to 'find out if your son is gay'

Teenage boy using a computerImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Many companies now offer products that track children's internet use

A French company offering "invisible PC spy software" has been criticised after it said its product could be used "to find out if your son is gay".

Listing a series of "clues", the company, Fireworld, suggested that "hacking his Facebook account" and seeing if he had visited gay websites could confirm a parent's suspicions.

The company has since taken down the article.

The post was highlighted by a French youth LGBT rights group.

L'Amicale des jeunes du Refuge's thread[1] about Fireworld's article (in French) was retweeted by French Secretary of State for Equality Marlène Schiappa, who wrote[2] that it showed that "homophobia and sexism have their roots in the same gender stereotypes.We will fight them together".

In its online article, since removed, the firm said that "family is fundamental.That's why the sexual orientation of your children, directly responsible for the continuation of your family, is very important to you".

The article went on to list the clues that might cause a parent to suspect that their son might be gay.The article makes no mention of female homosexuality.

They include "taking good care of himself", being more interested in reading and theatre than in football, being shy as a young boy, having certain piercings and liking female singers and divas.

It then suggested a variety of ways to be sure, including "monitoring his Facebook use", seeing "if he has visited gay forums" and "spying on his private messages".

Image copyright Fireworld Image caption The original post has been removed from Fireworld's website

In a response[3] to L'Amicale des jeunes du Refuge, Fireworld wrote that "the article had the sole aim of improving search engine optimisation and was never intended to be read by humans".

"We regret not having reflected on the consequences of this type of content..." the firm emailed."We sincerely apologise to all those who may have felt offended by this content," it added.

However, the English language version of Fireworld's site[4] suggests a range of scenarios in which a potential customer might want to monitor someone else's computer, including "control your teenage offspring's PC", checking "what your employees are doing" and "detecting infidelity in your marriage or relationship".

It is not legal in France to install spyware on someone else's computer in order to monitor it, without their knowledge.

Fireworld points out to customers that they must comply with the law when using their products.However, it says, "installing [its product] to make sure that your children are not endangering themselves on the Internet or on social networks, come[s] closer to being legal".

French newspaper Liberation reports[5] that spyware vendors are usually more subtle in their claims for their products, as French law does not allow advertising which incentivises the illegal use of such tools.

There are a range of products on the market that offer parental monitoring and report back to parents on what their children have been doing online....

Support for gay young people and their families:

References

  1. ^ thread (twitter.com)
  2. ^ wrote (twitter.com)
  3. ^ a response (twitter.com)
  4. ^ the English language version of Fireworld's site (www.fireworld-inc.com)
  5. ^ reports (www.liberation.fr)
  6. ^ SOS homophobie (www.sos-homophobie.org)
  7. ^ Stonewall (www.stonewall.org.uk)
  8. ^ Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (www.fflag.org.uk)

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Email prank 'tricks' Breitbart editors

Steve BannonImage copyright AFP Image caption Steve Bannon, impersonated by the prankster, was recently fired from the White House

A British "prankster" has said editors at right-wing news website Breitbart replied to spoof emails purporting to come from Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

The prankster shared emails in which staff discussed doing "dirty work" against US President Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Mr Bannon has returned to Breitbart after being fired from the White House[1].

"I don't much care for the Trump administration or Breitbart," the prankster told the BBC.

One of the emails purporting to be from Mr Bannon said the former White House chief strategist would be "bringing forth my wrath on Ivanka and Jared".

A reply from Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow suggested "dirty work" would follow.

He later added that the pair would be "out by end of year".

Fellow editor Joel Pollak replied:"No-one can figure out what they do."

'Deceitful'

In a statement to US broadcaster CNN[2], Mr Marlow said:"An imposter deceitfully obtained and shared with CNN tongue-in-cheek emails that revealed that we feel globalists present an existential threat to the agenda that got President Trump elected.

"If people want to know our thinking, they don't need to judge us on illicitly obtained comments that were intended to be private, they can simply read our front page."

The prankster tweets under the pseudonym Sinon Reborn - a reference to the figure in Greek mythology who tricked Troy into accepting the Trojan Horse.

"Originally I was trying to get an email address for [Steve Bannon] while he was in the White House, because he seemed like quite a character," Sinon Reborn told the BBC.

When this proved difficult, the prankster said they had decided to try tricking the editors at Breitbart instead.

"I've not really immersed myself in politics prior to [Trump's election]," the prankster added.

"It's like a never-ending soap opera that's on 24/7."

image

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Media captionTechnology explained:What is phishing?

The fake emails purporting to come from Mr Bannon included an incorrect spelling of his name, "Steven" rather than "Stephen", and were sent from "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.".

The prankster added that the messages included an oblique reference to TV comedy character Alan Partridge where at one point the fake Mr Bannon replied:"Lovely stuff."

"I'm a big fan of Partridge and Peep Show - all the British comedy," Sinon Reborn said....

References

  1. ^ fired from the White House (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ a statement to US broadcaster CNN (money.cnn.com)

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YouTube 'made wrong call' on Syria videos

Qasioun News AgencyImage copyright Google Image caption The Qasioun News Agency channel, which documents the war in Syria, was temporarily removed

YouTube has reinstated thousands of videos documenting violence in Syria that were removed "mistakenly".

Several videos were flagged as inappropriate by an automatic system designed to identify extremist content.

Groups monitoring the conflict in Syria say such videos document the war and could be used in future war crime prosecutions.

YouTube said removing the videos, which was often a decision taken by human reviewers, had been "the wrong call".

"We have a situation where a few videos get wrongly flagged and a whole channel is deleted," said Eliot Higgins, founder of citizen journalism website Bellingcat.

"For those of us trying to document the conflict in Syria, this is a huge problem."

Image copyright Google

Inappropriate content

Mr Higgins told the BBC that YouTube's machine-learning system had started flagging videos that had been on the platform for several years.

"Some channels have tens of thousands of videos.Retroactively pointing a system at old videos is a bigger issue than YouTube realises," he told the BBC.

YouTube said it was "continuing to improve" the tools reviewers used to identify inappropriate content.

The company said while it did not typically allow harmful content, it did make exceptions[1] for educational, documentary and scientific videos.

It said human reviewers considered the context of footage uploaded, including the video title, tags and written description, as well as captions and descriptions within the video.

"When it's brought to our attention that a video or channel has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it," the company said in a statement....

References

  1. ^ it did make exceptions (support.google.com)

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DoJ narrows Trump protesters data demand

Inauguration protestorsImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Large protests were held in Washington DC on 20 January, the day of President Trump's inauguration

Visitors to an anti-Trump website will probably not have their internet protocol addresses turned over to the Department of Justice, after a legal standoff with a US web company.

DreamHost had argued the DoJ's warrant would have revealed 1.3 million IP addresses.

The DoJ has now narrowed the scope of its demand.

Disruptj20.org was set up to help arrange a protest at President Trump's inauguration.

"The government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses that are mentioned in DreamHost's numerous press releases and opposition briefs," prosecutors said in the new request.

They were focused on the use of the website to plan and carry out a criminal act - a "riot" - not the "lawful activities of peaceful protesters", they said.

The warrant does not now require certain access and error logs, which, DreamHost says, means visitors' IP addresses are "largely safe".

"We see this as a huge win for internet privacy, and we absolutely appreciate the DoJ's willingness to look at and reconsider both the scope and the depth of their original request for records," DreamHost said in a blog post[1].

'Violent' protests

However, it still plans to challenge the DoJ on other aspects of its request.

Prosecutors signed the original warrant to DreamHost in July, arguing that disruptj20.org had been used to organise "violent" protests in Washington DC.

DreamHost and privacy advocates argued that amounted to a "digital dragnet"[2].

In its updated warrant, the DoJ said that the full scope of the original request - criticised by DreamHost in its public statements - had been "unknown to the government and the court at the time that the warrant was issued".

Data still required by the amended warrant includes files and databases stored by DreamHost.

More than 200 people have been charged in relation to rioting at the inauguration....

References

  1. ^ in a blog post (www.dreamhost.com)
  2. ^ amounted to a "digital dragnet" (www.bbc.co.uk)

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