Yair Cohen’s new controversial book: The Net Is Closing, birth of the e-police. A powerful debate about the future policing of the internet; a platform from which the crying voices of victims of online crime can be loudly and clearly heard.
I celebrate my new book The Net Is Closing: birth of the e-police.
The net is closing. The e-police are here. That is the controversial debate this book brings to the fore. Telling a painful truth about what really happens online, the net is closing: birth of the e-police calls out internet bullies and online anonymity, and shines a bright light on who (or what) is behind policing our current “virtual” reality.
The book is a polemical work about online safety and policing. It argues for a move away from self-policing and towards a more conventional form of state maintained supervision in the still relatively new sphere of human activity of the internet. The inevitable conclusion, that soon, the internet will become neatly policed, is primarily based on my own extensive experience of working as a lawyer in the field of online defamation, harassment and infringement of privacy.
I deploy this experience, along with my personal observation of the other forces which shape online behaviour, such as the profit motive of large social media businesses, to make a case for an approach to self-expression and anonymity online which is more consistent with the “real-world” already standards applied to offensive conduct by the state.
Through powerful real life stories, addressing the conflict between emotion and logic, I tell the stories of a prominent football coach child abuser who carefully orchestrated sexual assaults on dozens of young victims so that he can freely share the videos of his abuse online, and that of a school teacher whose innocent quest for companionship online turned into a pornographic nightmare involving blackmail and extortion by the Moroccan mafia. I also follow the story of six form pupils from London who whilst studying for their A Level exams were left to fend for themselves after they discovered a Facebook Page, which contained hundreds of commentaries about pupil’s alleged sexual activities. Dozens of pupils and their parents who reported the page to Facebook did not even get a reply, let alone a removal of the shaming information, whilst the Head Teacher claimed that because the activities on the shaming Facebook page were “carried out after school hours,” it had nothing to do with the school. Consequentially, at least one pupil was ready to take his own life.
In my book, I dare asking challenging questions such as, how do we want our online presence to be governed and policed? And, what priority do we give to safety versus freedom of expression?
I cannot promise that you will like what this book says. You may well disagree with my conclusions, or even become angry or scared by some of the things I have to say. But that is what I want. It’s what I believe society needs: a powerful debate about the future policing of the internet; a platform from which the crying voices of victims of online crime can be loudly and clearly heard.
The Net Is Closing: birth of the e-police is now available on Amazon. Enjoy and let me have your feedback!
The FBI has stepped up its effort to police the internet by requesting Yahoo to assist in developing software to scan emails which were going through YahooMail servers. Yahoo was reported to have agreed but the intrusion did not only affect YahooMail customers but also other email users who happened to communicate with a YahooMail address.
Following the report, Yahoo was accused of “selling out its customers base to an out of control, data-hungry Federal government”.
However, despite the obvious intrusion into private emails CybeLawExpert has long campaigned for an increase in police power over internet communications and against the discrepancy and inconsistencies between offline and online policing.
The request of Yahoo by the FBI is not dissimilar to the good old fashion profiling method, used for example in airports across the world, and which is aimed to save lives of tens of thousand of people without the need to intrusively screen each and every passenger.
Yahoo would have filtered all incoming emails but would only pass on the FBI emails that matched specific keywords.
According to the government officials, as reported by the NY Times, Yahoo was served with an individualised court order to look only for code uniquely used by foreign terrorist organizations. It appears Yahoo had adapted an existing scanning systems that it already had in place to comply with that order adding a few modifications.
Bearing in mind that technology companies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have been scanning emails for child pornography for many years now, the additional scanning requirement which aims to prevent acts of terrorism represents a natural progress in internet policing.
I spoke to SputnikNews radio back in October 2016 about internet policing and you can listen to the full interview here:
The big question is of course Do email uses actually care or do we feel this is a price worth paying for added safety and security online?
The UK government is told it would be unlawful to create a law that requests internet service providers to retain user’s data for 12 months across the board. On Wednesday 21 December 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that it would be unlawful for the UK to enact laws that “provide for general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data of all subscribers and registered users relating to all means of electronic communication” in order to help fight crime.
The court disallowed national laws that compel data preservation, “as a preventive measure” even if the purpose of the law is to fight “serious crime”.
The European court also said that there must be a specific reason for data retention requests and that it was unlawful for the UK to create general data retention laws simply as a preventative measure.
Fortunately, our safety is not entirely in the hands of European judges so this ruling is unlikely to make much of a difference to the high level of government snooping that is going on in this country.
Under the Investigatory Powers Act, UK authorities, such as intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies were authorized to require the help of telecoms companies in tackling serious crime and protecting the UK’s economic interests, among other priorities listed in the legislation.
The Act permitted the security agencies to order internet service providers to retain data, disclose it, intercept communications, or assist with equipment interference. The Act was brought in, in addition to their already existing powers to have a qualified right to obtain personal datasets in bulk for national security reasons under warrants that would be issued by UK ministers.
The Investigatory Powers Act was intended to regulate and place limits on the powers of the UK security agencies and to bring their activities within a closer scrutiny of Parliament.
The ruling by the CJEU, effectively rendered the Investigatory Powers Act unlawful which means that the security agencies will continue to request data retentions and disclosures outside the Act of Parliament and under the qualified right to obtain personal datasets in bulk and other emergency warrants, which means their activities will remain far less accountable.
This of course means less privacy to UK citizens rather than more but who really who cares? After all, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo snooping is lawful just because we clicked “yes” to their Terms and Conditions which we never read. The security services on the other hand don’t have an App or Terms and Conditions in small print but at least their snooping is done for the purpose of keeping us safe and secure. I say, let them do their job and let our Parliament keep them under control.
Sextorition has claimed the lives of four men in the UK in the last year after they fell prey to blackmail from criminals, intent on exploiting their money after tricking them into performing sex acts secretly recorded on a webcam.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chief’s Council say the number of so-called sextortion cases where people have reported blackmail by webcam has more than doubled in the past year, from 385 in 2015, to 864 in 2015. In 2011, there were just nine incidents recorded. “We look after dozens of cases a year but I was surprised to hear there were 864 cases reported to the police, I think it is more likely to be two or three thousand people who are affected by this crime,” Yair Cohen, a social media lawyer with Cohen Davis Solicitors told Sputnik. The criminals learn enough personal information
Yair Cohen, UK lawyer and internet law expert will be presenting at the Internet Law Leadership Summit in Miami California, USA on Friday 09 December 2016.
Why is the right to be forgotten being extended to the USA and what is Google doing about this?
After Google actively encouraged internet uses to use google.com instead of google.co.uk, google.fr and other European Google search engines, it was told by French data protection regulator CNIL that it needs to extend de-listing of offending search results to all Google searches regardless of the IP address of the person complaining about the offending searches. The effect of this decision was to extend the doctrine of the right to be forgotten to the USA and effectively to the rest of the world.
Google in turn has appealed and in the past few months has started to remove offending searches under defamation laws rather rather than data protection laws. This for now allows it to circumvent the need to de-list searches from Google search engines outside the specific jurisdiction of the complainant.
Yair Cohen of Cohen Davis Solicitors speaks at the Internet Law Leadership Summit.
Tonight, we will be joining the crème de la crème of the legal profession in England and Wales at the Law Society Excellence Awards ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel.
I am so proud that our law firm, Cohen Davis, has been shortlisted by the Law Society judges for an award in Excellence in Client Care Service. We work hard every day to make people happy, to improve the quality of their lives and to make their experience in receiving legal services exceptionally rewarding. We do our best to deliver an outstanding level of client care with our internet law services to all our clients by opening our process up to them with our Legal Teamwork App, which lets our clients see everything we do, as we do it, live in real time, and by sharing with them our thoughts and strategies minute by minute, step by step.
Curiously, in the early days of the firm, when I told my colleagues that we were going to deliver an App that lets our clients see everything we do, they all thought I was out of my mind.
Last year, we decided to take things further and limit our project intake to 45 at any given time with the intention of maximising the quality and speed of our work, basically placing quality before profit. This means that some clients have to wait sometimes for up to 2-3 weeks before we begin work on their projects. Again, many of my colleagues thought I have completely lost the plot. since when do solicitors say “no” to work?
They said that if we were that honest with people, we would scare them off and they will go elsewhere, where they think their internet law matter will be dealt with faster. This didn’t happen and those who know me well, also know that “grab as much as you can” has never been my thing anyway. So yes, sometimes clients need to wait for their project to get a formal start date but so far everyone has accepted this with grace because clients understand the benefit of doing things properly and thoroughly and of being told the truth about timescales. Every internet law case is different and every individual and business are also unique so we must give people the time and attention they really deserve.
So forget the ceremony and the champagne that will be pouring tonight at the Law Society Excellence Awards ceremony because what makes it worthwhile, for me at least, is those touching testimonials that keep coming.
Thank you all.
Yet again, the European Commission has placed Google alleged anti competitive behaviour under the spotlight. Google is now accused of misusing its dominant market position in Europe as the provider of the operating system Android, to stop competitors from developing enhancements to Android. By taking active steps to “nicely” persuade mobile telephone manufacturer to use Google Android operating system exclusively at the expense of other versions of Androids, Google’s makes it almost impossible for competitors to enter the mobile telephone operating system market which in turn prevents technological developments, according to the European Commission’s latest 150 pages Statement of Objections which it sent to Google and to its parent company Alphabet earlier this year.
Google however cares less about its operating system and more, much more, about the operating system being tied in to its Google search engine. The European Commission is saying that Google also forces telephone manufacturers to preinstall Google search engine on all new Androids mobile telephone, which means it also stops competitors from having a fair opportunity to enter the mobile telephone search engine market.
So why is Google so keen on having exclusivity over mobile telephone search engines? The answer is that it cares less about the search engine and more about being able to manipulate search results so that its Google Store, and Google sellers can dominant the comparison search market regardless of merits.
Search comparison searches is, guess what? Yes, the subject of yet another European Commission alleged anti competitive investigation against Google.
Confused? Not to worry! Listen in to my interview with attorney Bennet Kelley, live on Cranberry FM, Google’s Antitrust Battle with the EU with Yair Cohen. Google anti-trust case made simple where we cover all the different anti-trust cases the European Commission currently undertakes against Google and where we ask the burning question:
Is Google a victim of anti-trust witch-hunt by the European Commission?
Lawsuit against Facebook Yair Cohen UK social media litigation lawyer
Lawsuit against Facebook by Shurat Hadin Law Center,
Radio interview with Yair Cohen. Facebook sued by Israeli and USA citizens over Palestinian attacks. Lawyers have filed a $1B lawsuit against Facebook, accusing it of knowingly supporting the Palestinian group Hamas. Law suit against Facebook might succeed. The law suit is filed under the USA in Anti-Terrorism Act. This is not the first case where Facebook is said to be providing “material support or resources” to terrorist organizations or to affiliates of terrorist organizations responsible for assisting in the commission of terrorist acts.
Previous similar law suits were filed against financial institutions. The law suit against Facebook follows a number of documented experiments conducted by Shurat Hadin Lawcenter, a Tel-Aviv based organisation that sets its aim to fight terrorism and safeguard Jewish rights worldwide. The organisation alleges that Facebook consistently refuses to take action to remove terrorist inciting material.
This law suit also follows a recent report by the Middle East Quartet that says Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks are often glorified publicly as “heroic martyrs.” Many widely circulated images depict individuals committing terrorist acts with slogans encouraging violence. The spreading of incitement to violence on social media has gained momentum since October 2015, and is particularly affecting the youth. Anti-Terrorism Act says victims may recover with “threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees.”
One of the main issues in the case is likely to be whether Facebook is much more than a neutral internet platform or a mere “publisher”. The law suit would have alleged that Facebook actively assists the inciters to find people who are interested in acting on their hateful messages by offering friend, group and event suggestions and targeting advertising based on people’s online “likes” and internet browsing history.
Additionally the law suit presumably will rely on Facebook’s refusal to take down inciting pages, claiming that they do not violate its “community standards.” Calling on people to commit crimes is not constitutionally protected speech and endangers the lives of American Jews and Israelis. The Anti-Terrorism Act, takes incitement to terrorism, or facilitating acts of terrorism outside the scope of free speech.
Amazon users who post or who commission agents to post fake reviews are now more likely to face legal action by Amazon as the company has so far this year issued more than 1000 law suites against both users and vendors for posting fake or manipulated online reviews.
As some Amazon sellers offer refunds and discounts in exchange for good reviews, the UK Competition and Markets Authority has recently published its investigation into online reviews following complaints about fake reviews being posted onto review sites, negative reviews not being published and businesses paying for endorsements in blogs and other online articles without this being made clear to consumers.
Following the investigation, in April 2016 the Authority wrote to more than 50 marketing companies, businesses that use the services of marketing companies and publishers of online articles and blogs, to warn them that helping to arrange or publish advertising or other marketing that is not clearly distinguishable from the opinion of a journalist or blogger may result in them breaking the law.
Businesses that mislead consumers may be in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The UK Competition and Markets Authority has also issued advice to businesses whose products are being reviewed that they could be breaking the law if they
- pretend to be a customer and write reviews about their own products
- commission third parties to write fake reviews
- offer inducements – money or gifts – to customers to write positive reviews their business
In the United States, Amazon has pushed forward with legal actions against vendors who it says manipulated its review system by offering unfair inducements in return for good reviews.
The topic of Amazon fake business and product reviews was the centre of the BBC Radio 4 consumer affair program You and Yours. Amazon specialist lawyer Yair Cohen discusses the latest developments below.