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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail 429

Posted by timothy
from the don't-worry-he's-trolling dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.

Comment: Re:Telomeres, tiny 'hairs' that split DNA for dupi (Score 0) 364

by Dunbal (#48182017) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres
But that's great news because you don't want to outlive your money anyway. Anyway they mention the telomeres in white blood cells. Would be nice to see a corresponding increase in leukemia. As for 4.6 years of "biological aging" I take it they arrived at this number by extrapolating data from lab results - not necessarily true.

Comment: Apple Pay vs. Google? (Score 1) 347

by PapayaSF (#48166627) Attached to: Apple Announces iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, OS X Yosemite and More

Thank you for that explanation, which got me thinking: Apple Pay could remake the web, in some very good ways. Just expand Apple Pay into the micropayment system I've wanted for over 15 years.

If Apple can "scale this down" (even by losing some money on overhead and transaction costs) and make it painless and worthwhile for a website to charge as little as one cent for something, then many good things happen. I think a vast number of web users would happily click a "1 Cent Apple Pay" button to read the second half of an article or column, or hear a song or a podcast, or watch a funny cat video. If it's good, it's worth one cent. If it wasn't, it was only a penny.

Or think of it as $10 for every 1000 articles read/artworks viewed/songs heard: a trivial expense for weeks or months of web usage for most people, in exchange for the content without registrations, or subscriptions, or pay walls, and without advertising. You know, that annoying stuff you try to block. That stuff that Google sells. (Oh-oh...!)

But this would be much more than a way to drop a pipeline into Google's core revenue source. Creatives and publishers and entrepreneurs of all sorts could just add Apple Pay to a page like a social media button, and then sell or rent their work directly and affordably. One cent transactions may only add up to just a few dollars for some, but what are they making now? Web ads bring them little. Maybe they're happy selling songs for $1, but they might be thrilled by the number of people willing to pay one cent to listen to one song, once.

And it could scale up really well. Charities and activists could raise real money in tiny, painless increments. Even one cent per page view adds up to a big chunk of change for newspapers and magazines that now struggle to survive on advertising and/or subscriptions. I think the New York Times website would be thrilled if their 17 million page views a day made them one cent each: that's over $62 million a year. Or maybe some big players get "greedy," and decide to charge a whole five cents for that big story, or virtual art show, or for your first listen to that new song from your favorite band: a million nickels is $50,000.

Now think of ebook sellers who don't need Amazon any more. Think about PayPal, and streaming music services. And why not Bitcoin via Apple Pay....

I'm sure some of you will see this as a dystopian vision, but I think Apple could do a lot of good and (eventually) make a lot of money with my distributed digital free market daydream.

Comment: Re:best idea: ask for good ideas (Score 1) 348

by PapayaSF (#48166083) Attached to: White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

Politicians often discover that when the issue they wish to move forward is resisted by their peers, they can appeal directly to the public. Explain their plan and encourage input from everyone. If they build enough support among the voters, then their peers may be forced to support the plan as well.

Absolutely true.

Kalil may or may not have support from the White House or anyone, but if he gets a big response to this challenge Obama and others will have to reconsider their reluctance.

Now you're not being cynical enough. I think this challenge is likely to be the result of a direct White House request to come up with some good "news for nerds." I don't think it's a coincidence that we are weeks from an election that Democrats are dreading (publicly or not). It's aimed at a core voting/donating demographic that largely supported Obama but now is ticked off about the NSA, the IRS, government transparency, the Middle East, and a bunch of other things. There's no commitment, it costs little, there's little risk of a downside, and it's even legal and ethical. It's a small but perfect election-season ploy.

But regardless of the political motivation and the odds against a real project resulting from it, I'm still in favor, for all the standard nerd reasons.

Comment: Re:Ebola vs HIV (Score 1) 381

by Znork (#48160733) Attached to: How Nigeria Stopped Ebola

With HIV you basically need to inject infected blood. Single exposures through other pathways are very unlikely to infect you and outside of risk groups it simply doesn't transmit that fast:

Over the contagious lifespan of Ebola it's far more likely to spread, it isn't dependent on highly intimate contact and infection risk cannot be mitigated or made negligible without significant protective equipment. Most humans can go through the day without having sex with even one casual stranger, but it's a bit harder to ensure you're not touched by anyone or touch anything they've touched.

HIV kills more people than Ebola... for the moment. But if, at any time, as many humans have Ebola as have HIV today and we don't have an effective treatment then we would be months away from the death of at least half of all humans alive from Ebola alone and probably another couple of billions from socio economic disasters. Not as smart as HIV because that would probably be the end of Ebola for many centuries, but that's not very comforting.

Comment: Re: It only takes one ... (Score 1) 381

by Znork (#48160521) Attached to: How Nigeria Stopped Ebola

Even allowing anyone who has been in any type of unprotected contact with an infectious Ebola patient to leave quarantine at all before incubation time has run out is a complete screw up. Unless they have a camera and a thermometer stuck to them, the phase when they go from maybe infected to contagious risks exposing hundreds of potential contacts that you can't trace.

Taking chances, not erring on the side of caution, is what leads to burning up the perfectly good airplane. Letting the exposed potential infectees move about freely is what risks having to burn everything they touch some time in the future. With this, the costs of mistakes are huge, and better take things seriously when we're talking about inconveniencing a few people for a months, blockading a few countries and having government flights for aid personnel while we search for useful treatments, rather than having to discuss whether we're serious enough when it's about enforcing martial law and quarantining and burning down city blocks later. Because that will cost a whole lot more.

Comment: Re:That works fine if you manage to nip it in the (Score 4, Insightful) 381

by Znork (#48160305) Attached to: How Nigeria Stopped Ebola

This is the strange thing. It isn't like no one knew of the ebola threat, unless you didn't watch television, listen to the news, or use the internet.

It isn't that strange. Because if you did listen to the news or watch television, then no, you didn't know about the 'threat', because what has been repeated time after time is 'there is no threat, relax, we can deal with this, we're prepared'. Nigeria probably had a quite different message running through both media and government knowing that they have one single chance to stop this and that's at the source. Screw up a single thing and the preview of what happens was available next door.

Some like to think our health care standards make a difference, that the West is more civilized and it can't happen here. But the thing is, after a few ICU places and a few quarantine beds, modern medicine is left with aspirin and electrolytes as far as 'treatment' goes which doesn't give us much edge on African medicine. This needs to be taken as seriously in the developed world as it does in Nigeria, and we need to get useful treatments available _now_.

Comment: Re:US,Nigeria (Score 1) 381

by Znork (#48160003) Attached to: How Nigeria Stopped Ebola

Frankly, the main difference is probably that Nigeria took it seriously because they thought there was a massive risk that this was going to turn into an unmitigated disaster for the country. They were thoroughly terrified that any slip at any point would result in anything from a massive death toll to the end of the country.

In most western countries the message is 'yeah, don't worry, we can deal with it'. That attitude will permeate not only the public but the organizations whose job it is to deal with the problem. And the result of that is what we see in Dallas. Organisations that do not take it seriously, potential infected people getting told 'yeah, go sit on a plane, your symptoms probably aren't that serious anyway, a couple of hundred more to trace and spread over the continent isn't an issue if it does turn out to be serious', etc.

Comment: Re:No, that's not the problem (Score 2) 279

by PapayaSF (#48137761) Attached to: Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

Why is this a problem? Research should always be done, however ridiculous your hypothesis may be. The freedom to do such insane research is what has made USA the leader of all sciences.

Of course research is generally good, but priorities must be decided. Right now, I suspect people would rather that money had been spent researching Ebola.

Comment: No, that's not the problem (Score 4, Interesting) 279

by PapayaSF (#48137079) Attached to: Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

one could argue that the United States is hobbled by an outdated constitution in responding to epidemics

The USA has handled many epidemics in the past. The experience of Western Samoa vs. American Samoa during the Spanish Flu epidemic is an interesting example. The TL;DR: version: Western Samoa decided they couldn't stopping the importation of plantation laborers, and as a result 20-25% of the population died. American Samoa self-quarantined, and nobody died.

One of the core problems today is that the CDC has lost focus, and instead of controlling infectious disease, they spend money things like playground safety, workplace accidents, guns, and birth defects. And then there was the NIH grant to study why gay men are often thin and lesbians are often obese.

We don't need to change the Constitution, just the spending and research priorities of a bunch of bureaucracies.

Comment: I have never understood this (Score 5, Insightful) 124

by PapayaSF (#48136605) Attached to: Federal Government Removes 7 Americans From No-Fly List

What exactly is the point of this odd half-assed sort of category, a "no-fly list"? If the federal government suspects a citizen or resident might be a terrorist, OK, then get a friggin' warrant and bug their phone and search their house and get some real evidence. Since terrorists can do a lot more than hijack airplanes, what's the message here? "We want to prevent you from hijacking an airliner, but a bus is OK?" Either treat them like a suspected terrorist, or just stop hassling them.

Comment: Re:Reasonable (Score 1) 144

by PapayaSF (#48133815) Attached to: Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

Google's approach to this is reasonable. Criminals and public officials voluntarily give up a level of privacy due to their voluntary status as criminals and public officials.

I agree, but I dislike this whole "right to be forgotten" thing. Yes, for some people it sucks to have bad/old information on the internet, but in effect what's happening here is various people demanding censorship of information about themselves, and then Google deciding whether or not to comply. Are we sure we know what their standards are, and that they will be applied fairly? The opportunities for bias are obvious: will a request to remove (say) an old bit of dirt on someone associated with a cause or political party that Google likes will be treated the same way as dirt on someone associated with a cause or political party that Google doesn't like?

Plus, there's a slippery slope. Now that politicians know they can force Google to censor results, why not expand that for "the good of society"? How long before some politician decides that Google users shouldn't be able to search for things deemed to be "racist" or "sexist" or "hate speech" or "climate denial" or whatever?

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.