Companies in the UK Are Mining Users’ Personal Data to Place Billboard Ads

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 06:00

Companies in the UK are collecting data from millions of phones to decide which advertisements to show on billboards in locations all around Britain, according to a new investigation by Big Brother Watch, a London-based civil liberties group known for confronting public surveillance issues. 

The report details how personalized ads—a phenomenon that has more than once raised privacy concerns over digital spying—are no longer confined to our private feeds, but instead have begun to overflow into our public lives. 

“We’ve uncovered new ways in which millions of people’s movements and behaviors are tracked to target us with ads on the streets, resulting in some of the most intrusive advertising surveillance we’ve ever seen in the UK,” Jake Hurfurt, head of research and investigations at Big Brother Watch, said in a press release about the analysis. 

The report identifies several companies who were the first to introduce facial-detecting advertising technology to different cities across the country. Unlike traditional paper billboards whose advertisements are printed on vinyl, digital billboards can be programmed to offer more than one message. Many of them also have high-definition cameras to peer down onto the unsuspecting public. Algorithms then attempt to detect a person’s face, physical characteristics, and even what they might be wearing to tailor advertisements to people walking in the street, in malls, and even on tablets in the backs of cars. 

ALFI, an American ad tech developer, already has many of these face-scanning tablets in various Lyft and Uber vehicles in the US. The company claims that they use AI and machine learning algorithms to analyze how their audience interacts with ads, and shows them more relevant ones. It seems now more than ever, everything is a camera, and every camera is a computer. 

The report also notes that two influential billboard owners in the UK, Ocean Outdoor and Clear Channel, rely on facial detection tools made from the French company Quividi. The company claims that its technology is able to scan up to a 100 faces at once and detect how long someone dwelled near or paid attention to an ad. It also attempts to discern factors like age, gender, and mood—capabilities which have been heavily disputed and de-bunked by machine learning experts. 

The report notes that this data, combined with crowd size and information on attentiveness, can be used to trigger changes that target audiences on a large scale.

While it’s one thing to recognize that predictive analytics may be controlling what we see and interact within the comfort of our own homes, it's another to realize that you and the people around you are being collectively influenced. Arvind Narayanan, a professor of computer science at Princeton University, says that one of the main problems with companies using data-gathering technologies to personalize billboards is that it “erodes the idea of public spaces.” 

“It is hard to have spontaneous and casual social interactions with strangers when you're staring at content targeted at you and you know you're being surveilled,” Narayanan told Motherboard over email. “These technologies manage the feat of simultaneously harming our privacy and our sense of community."

“The Quividi software relies on face detection, not on face recognition,” a Quividi spokesperson told Motherboard. “These are two different technologies. Face detection only looks for the presence of a face whereas facial recognition looks for and identifies a particular person.”

”This means that the Quividi software cannot recognize an individual, either in absolute terms (full identity) or in terms of repeated exposures (e.g. recognizing that someone was at a sequence of different locations, or visited the same location twice),” Quividi’s spokesperson said.

Targeted advertising is virtually unavoidable for anyone who owns a smartphone or computer, yet some experts say that the push to use our privacy against us didn’t begin with the advent of the internet or AI; in reality, the concept has been intertwined with capitalism for more than a century.  

“The whole point of surveillance advertising or digital advertising is to modify our behaviors in certain ways or modify our attitudes in certain ways,” Matthew Crain, an associate professor of media and communication at Miami University, told Motherboard. Presumptuous as it is, Crain says, the more information a brand has about its potential audience, the less money it wastes on sending ads to people or groups outside of its target market. 

The way businesses access our data is both sinister and surprisingly mundane; the report notes that companies use tracking data apps and the vague language in their privacy policies to gain users’ “consent” to collect large amounts of data to generate advertising profiles. These individual identifiers can include aspects from how users interact with personal apps to which stores they frequent the most, and this secret amalgamation of our likes and dislikes is then sold off to data analytics companies for them to use indefinitely. 

The inquiry also found that profiles of some interest groups are linked to GPS tracking data that allows brands to target people based on where and when they'll likely be that day, crafting advertisements almost in real-time. The report specifically calls out Adsquare, a German advertising tech company that has “pioneered” this phone-to-billboard strategy, as 1 in 10 mobile devices in the UK contains trackers that send personal data back to them. That means there are at least 8 million phones that could be sending location and behavioral data to Adsquare at any one time.  

But these scarily efficient advances are only confined to the UK; proof of this ongoing practice has already been witnessed both in the U.S and in other places around the world. For instance, though Adsquare claims to comply with privacy laws regarding the use of these tracking tools, one of their data brokers includes the controversial company X-Mode, now known as Outlogic, which was banned by Apple and Google’s app stores in 2020 for selling data to the US military. 

Hurfurt said that the only way to force data harvesters to respect people’s privacy and give them real choices is to make radical and transparent reforms to the tech sector.  

Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, agrees with that sentiment. “When it comes to surveillance, there's been a pretty significant regulatory lag when it comes to actually having the right rules in place and laws in place to regulate these industries,” Feldstein told Motherboard. “There's a real gap in terms of regulations catching up to practice, and making sure that the privacy needs of individuals are protected.”

Similar instances of companies abusing advertising data have since inspired public policy actors in the U.S to speak up, fostering legislation that would prohibit advertising networks from using personal data as well as data based on protected class information, such as race, gender, and religion to target advertisements illegal. 

“It's not that bad tracking doesn't have a place in the digital ecosystem, but that right now, it's so unbalanced in one direction,” says Feldman. “There’s so little accountability, and there's so little transparency of how it's being used, and so little protection when it comes to consent, that it's really out of whack, and I think it's leading to troubling harms as a result.” 

This article is part of State of Surveillance, made possible with the support of a grant from Columbia University’s Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights in conjunction with Arnold Ventures. The series will explore the development, deployment, and effects of surveillance and its intersection with race and civil rights.

Categories: Tech News

It's ‘Forspoken’ Time on Waypoint Radio

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 06:00

While Rob’s spending time with family, we’re sneaking in a fun announcement: Save Point is back next week, baby! But first, we discussed the Mario trailer, and Cado did an incredible thing: went to an event to play a video game! Unfortunately, so far, Forspoken left a lot to be desired. Elsewhere, Patrick has wrapped up (and loved) Return to Monkey Island. After the break, Ren’s vibing to Season, a game where you document the final moments of a doomed world, and both Ren and Cado basically lost a weekend inside a dice hole to Slice and Dice.

Discussed: Mario Movie Trailer 5:07, Save Point 2022 14:27, Crisis Core Remaster 17:45, Forspoken 27:18, Return to Monkey Island 47:06, Season 51:23, Slice and Dice 1:01:42, The Question Bucket 1:14:37

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on Apple Podcasts. It really helps.

Interaction with you is a big part of this podcast, so make sure to send any questions you have for us to with the header "Questions." (Without the quotes!) We can't guarantee we'll answer all of your questions, but rest assured, we'll be taking a look at them.

Have thoughts? Swing by the Waypoint forums to share them!

Categories: Tech News

Houston’s Solution to Climate Change Is to Force Low-Income People to Move

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 05:53

HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS – Génesis’ pink mobile home, in a flood-prone area just northeast of the Houston city limits, has been battered by storm after storm. 

“Harvey did it again,” she said, gesturing toward the wood panels on her front deck to indicate that everything was strewn about in the 2017 hurricane that flooded the area. “Then the snow messed up that room over there,” she added, referring to last winter’s freak winter storms that knocked out power to millions in the state. A blue plastic bin gathers rainwater that drips through her roof. Part of the ceiling is supported by a ladder to keep it from caving in.

Génesis has building materials, replacement flooring, and supplies to fix her roof, piled up outside. Every time her home is damaged, she fixes it herself. She’s poured a lot of herself into the trailer, and she’s proud of it. She’s 65 and has lived in her home for 15 years. 

Soon she’ll have to leave it all behind. 

The federal government is buying out the mobile home park, located near Greens Bayou, just northeast of Houston’s city limits, and is planning to demolish Génesis and her neighbors’ homes so that water can pool there in order to protect the surrounding communities—some of which are substantially more affluent than the mobile home park—from floods. She has no choice but to leave. This round of buyouts is mandatory, which is unusual, if not unprecedented. 

As the climate crisis accelerates, communities across the U.S. will find themselves increasingly unable to live where they currently are. It’s likely that mandatory buyouts, like the one affecting Génesis, will become more common, experts and officials told VICE News. 

“I’ve never heard of a mandatory buyout,” said Sam Brody, the director of the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas at Texas A&M University, Galveston, who studies buyouts in the region. “I wasn’t aware of that taking place or even how it’s possible, particularly in Texas,” a state known for valuing private property rights. 

The buyouts are funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But Génesis, who is undocumented, doesn’t qualify for federal assistance. (VICE News is using a pseudonym to protect her identity.) Though the county has set up a fund specifically to provide assistance to undocumented residents, Génesis worries that she might not qualify for the help she’ll need to find a new home. 

She’s been told she’ll receive $31,000 to relocate. That’s not enough for her to find comparable housing in the area, she said. 

Génesis shows art that her children and grandchildren drew, which she keeps in a closet in her mobile home unit. (Alex Lubben / VICE News)Génesis shows art that her children and grandchildren drew, which she keeps in a closet in her mobile home unit. (Alex Lubben / VICE News)

Houston and Harris County are at an epicenter of the climate crisis: The county stands to lose more than $1.1 billion in property value and nearly 5,500 parcels on more than eight square miles of land to sea level rise by the end of the century, according to a recent report from research nonprofit Climate Central. (That estimate does not take into account the potential property loss due to hurricanes or more intense rainfall, both of which are expected to become more damaging as the planet warms.) 

To try to keep residents safe, Harris County has turned to buyouts, and has likely conducted more of them through FEMA than any other county in the U.S. 

In this round of mandatory buyouts, 358 homes will be purchased by the county and demolished before August of next year, according to the Department of Community Services. An additional 357 mobile home units will be bought out, along with more than 30 businesses. 

But the buyout Génesis is going through has not gone smoothly. 

“Where are these poor people going to live?” Génesis asks. “What’s happening to us is an injustice.” 

‘You don’t have to kick them out of their houses’

The mandatory buyouts that will force Génesis from her home are affecting seven neighborhoods in unincorporated Harris County, most of which are also along Greens Bayou. Most of the people being bought out are working-class people of color. 

That’s partly because the HUD grant that’s funding these buyouts requires that its projects take place in “low- or moderate-income” communities, and so targets poorer places. But across the country, flood buyouts largely affect poorer communities, in part because flooding tends to be worse in those neighborhoods than in wealthier ones. A recent study found that whiter communities tend to be offered government buyouts more frequently, but communities of color disproportionately accept them.

“Where’s low-income housing? It’s where land is cheap. Where’s land cheap? Where there’s hazards,” said Andrew Rumbach, a professor of landscape architecture at Texas A&M University who studies mobile home buyouts. “It’s a really awful historical, structural issue that is really difficult to sort out.”

Still, the approach that Harris County is taking with these buyouts is highly unusual — but it will likely become more common as the climate changes. 

Of the several buyout experts VICE News contacted for this story, none could think of another example of a mandatory buyout project structured like the one affecting Génesis. For people who live in mobile home parks, buyouts are always, in a sense, mandatory: They usually own their mobile homes but pay rent on the lots they stand on, so if the landlord decides to participate in the buyout, residents have no choice but to clear out. (The “mobile” in mobile homes is a misnomer; it can be extremely expensive to move them, and older homes sometimes break apart when they’re moved.) But in almost all other buyout scenarios, homeowners have a choice about whether to sell their home to the government. 

A boarded up mobile home unit in one of the areas being bought out through mandatory buyouts in Harris County, Texas. (Alex Lubben / VICE News)A boarded up mobile home unit in one of the areas being bought out through mandatory buyouts in Harris County, Texas. (Alex Lubben / VICE News)

A.R. Siders, who also studies buyouts as a professor at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, had also not heard of mandatory buyout projects structured like this one. Nicholas Pinter, a professor at the University of California, Davis who wrote a paper about the history of community relocation projects in the U.S., cites only two other examples of mandatory buyouts. One took place in the 1970s, and the other involved a wholesale community relocation effort in rural Kentucky that affected far fewer people than the buyouts underway in Harris County. Both of the other projects were implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers rather than by HUD. 

The process now underway started in the summer of 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with an email informing residents that they would be subject to mandatory buyouts, according to residents. Several residents VICE News spoke with either don’t have an internet connection or only got Wi-Fi in the last few years. Even if they did get the email, they might not have been able to read it. The initial communication about the buyouts from the Harris County Community Services Department, residents said, was exclusively in English — even though many people in these communities speak only Spanish.

The Community Services Department told VICE News in a statement that they’ve made “72 outreach efforts in 2022 alone” and noted that the “process is complex,” which has “made it difficult to produce information for the masses that would not create misunderstandings and confusion for individuals.” All the written material that their office has produced about the program, CSD said, has been translated to Spanish, and in some cases, Vietnamese. 

The agency declined VICE News’ interview request.

“When the program launched in July of 2020, residents were confused, scared, angry, and rightfully so,” said Raymundo Beltran, a community engagement coordinator with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ office. “One challenge for us was coming in here and trying to earn their trust.” 

After introducing the program to residents, the county hired independent appraisers to assess the value of each property. If the resident disagrees with the county’s appraised value, they can hire their own appraiser to counter the government’s appraisal—at their own expense. Because these buyouts are mandatory, regardless of whether the homeowner and the county come to an agreement on the value of their house, the county can invoke eminent domain and force them out. And because Génesis is undocumented, the assistance she’s eligible for is capped at $31,000, regardless of the appraised value of her home. 

The Falls Creek neighborhood, which is just across Greens Bayou from Allen Field, one of the neighborhoods being bought out. (Alex Lubben / VICE News)The Falls Creek neighborhood, which is just across Greens Bayou from Allen Field, one of the neighborhoods being bought out. (Alex Lubben / VICE News)

“Having that ax waiting to fall, even if you don’t think it’s fair and you don’t want to move, is definitely inequitable,” said Jim Elliott, the chair of the department of sociology at Rice University, who studies buyouts. 

So far, the county has made 348 offers to purchase property from homeowners, officials told VICE News in a written statement. Of those, 174 offers have been accepted. 

“This was a very harsh program,” said Shirley Ronquillo, the founder of a resident-led housing justice organization called the Houston Department of Transformation, which helped residents navigate the buyout process. And with the county continuing to greenlight new development in the area, she added, “It’s really hard to swallow what we’re being told” about how necessary these buyouts are.

“These areas are significantly deep in the floodplain, and [the Harris County Flood Control District] can identify no drainage-improvement projects that would have a substantial change to the flood risk,” the Harris County Community Services Department told VICE News. These buyouts, the agency noted, “could have significant impacts on flooding, protecting the lives and property of countless residents both within the buyout areas and to nearby neighborhoods.” 

Experts remain skeptical. “There shouldn’t have to be a forcing,” Brody said. “The word ‘mandatory’ frightens me.” 

If a buyout is done right, Brody emphasized, it shouldn’t need to be mandatory in order to be effective. “If I’m able to show and articulate the importance of this problem, and provide opportunities for a better situation, everybody would want to be on board with that,” he said. “You don’t have to kick them out of their houses.” 

A HUD representative told VICE News that other mandatory buyouts had taken place through their programs but cited only one other example, which took place in North Dakota in the mid-2010s, involving buyouts that made way for a flood control project. 

The invocation of eminent domain isn’t unusual, “but it is usually for the sake of building something,” Siders said, like a dam, or a flood control wall. What’s happening in Harris County “is unusual in that people are being required to leave to un-build an area.”

‘They’re going to destroy it. We earned it. It was peaceful here’

From the deck of what used to be Dolores Mendoza’s house in Allen Field, one of the mandatory buyout communities, she could see Fall Creek, a community filled with expensive homes on the other side of Greens Bayou. 

Mendoza and her family had lived in Allen Field for generations. Her immediate family, she said, owned seven homes in the neighborhood; her grandparents met as neighbors there in the 1950s. But her home is gone. She took a mandatory buyout and moved to Kingwood, about a 25-minute drive to the northeast. She ultimately made out OK through the buyouts — she has a good job, she said, and was able to front more than $6,000 in moving costs that weren’t initially covered. Her new house has a pool. But her monthly expenses have skyrocketed. 

“My kids keep asking me, ‘Mom, when are we going to go on vacation again?’” she said. It’s been harder to afford trips to Disney World with her higher utility bills and homeowners association fees. 

Her old home was demolished this summer, but Fall Creek is still there. The master-planned community was built in 2001, according to the Houston Chronicle — the same year Tropical Storm Allison flooded Allen Field. Homes on the market there are selling for between $350,000 and over $2 million.

Allen Field, meanwhile, has been historically neglected by the county. “When I came into this neighborhood, they let me know that they can’t remember the last time a county vehicle was in the area,” Beltran said.  

But just a few miles away, banners reading “Fall Creek” hang from the streetlamps along well-paved roads lined with cookie-cutter brick houses.  

Buyout projects funded with federal dollars rely on a cost-benefit test that’s driven by property values that make it harder to justify buying out million-dollar homes, even if they’re flood prone, because the dollar-value benefits of a buyout need to exceed the costs. On the flipside, the more a property is worth, the easier it is to justify spending government funds on flood protection, since the on-paper benefit of protecting expensive property is higher. 

The financial calculus tends to lead to more buyouts in poorer neighborhoods—and more flood control in rich ones. 

But what that kind of cost-benefit thinking doesn’t reflect, residents and experts emphasize, is the loss of community that results from buyouts. 

“When we buy people out and scatter them, we’re effectively severing all their social networks,” Rumbach said. 

Génesis and the residents in Allen Field dread losing their neighborhood ties after they leave. 

“I’ll miss everything about this neighborhood, but especially this house,” Perla Garcia, 34, another resident of Allen Field, said, holding back tears. “It’s frustrating and painful to know that they’re going to destroy it. We earned it. It was peaceful here.” 

Back in the mobile home park, Génesis has an unused commercial-grade stove in the back room of her trailer, along with tables, chairs, and giant steel pots. “I have a complete restaurant here for my grandson,” she said. “It doesn’t exist yet, but it’s all up here,” she added, tapping her temple. 

She stands to lose the dream of the restaurant when she moves. Whatever housing she is able to find on her relocation assistance likely won’t have enough space for her restaurant supplies. 

Meanwhile, new housing developments in the area around Greens Bayou have continued to spring up over the last few decades, even as buyouts proliferate. To the residents subject to these mandatory buyouts, it feels like the county is more interested in protecting affluent areas with higher property tax rates. The county just built a new school right across the bayou from Allen Field.  

“They have the big houses. They have the higher tax rates,” Ronquillo said. “The residents of Allen Field could not understand how they could build a school less than half a block away that is raised, or how they could build a whole subdivision on the other side [of the bayou].”

‘Where do the people go?’

Officials and advocates in Houston know that this round of mandatory buyouts is likely the first of many. 

“This will be the first wave,” said Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who represents some of the neighborhoods being bought out. “We’re only going to do mandatory buyouts as a last resort.”  

“The big challenge will be, where do the people go?” he added. 

Doris Brown, 72, lives a few miles south of Allen Field, in a predominantly Black neighborhood called Scenic Woods. She and her neighbors have also been historically passed over for ambitious flood control projects. “We’ve been the sacrificial lambs for years,” she said. 

She’s not being bought out. But she worries that she might be soon. 

Whether through buyouts, more conventional redevelopment projects, or neglect from government agencies after successive floods, Brown has seen members of her community displaced. They’ve been priced out over the years, or unable to rebuild after their homes were damaged in a storm. “They couldn’t get any help, so they just left,” she said. 

But despite the flood risk in her neighborhood, Brown’s determined to work with her neighbors against any effort to split up her community. “We’ve already had some discussions about buyouts,” she said. “Our communities are just not going to go for that.” 

“We want a better quality of life,” she added. “We want to not flood.” 

Still, experts emphasize that as the climate crisis accelerates, the government will have to find ways to relocate a lot of people. The key is figuring out how to help people move in an equitable way. 

“Buyouts don't have to be a bad thing,” said Maddie Sloan, the director of disaster recovery for Texas Appleseed, a social, economic, and racial justice advocacy organization. “But the way we do them doesn’t work. We are not giving people enough money to relocate. We are not proposing buyouts in collaboration with communities and taking into account what they want.” 

Génesis worries that she won’t be able to support her family the way she has before. When one of her kids got divorced, he stayed with her. During last year’s snowstorm, she provided shelter for her neighbors. In addition to all the restaurant supplies, she has bamboo tiles that she wants to use for flooring in one of her kids’ homes, and materials to fix their roofs if they start to leak. 

But the more immediate question that worries her is: Where will she go? 

“I told them I’m going to get myself a space in the graveyard,” Génesis said. “What else?”

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Categories: Tech News

Microsoft leaves the Office, rebrands everything as 365

The Register - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 05:33
Now what does that flattened Möbius strip logo remind us of?

Logowatch  MS Office changed its name to Microsoft 365 years ago, but now appears to be doing a mastercleanse to fully scrub away the brand and embrace the entire suite as "productivity" rather than Office apps.…

Categories: Tech News

What Happens When Doctors Don’t Learn How to Do Abortions?

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 05:00

The pregnant young woman showed up at the hospital in the afternoon. Her water had broken and she was in labor, but something had gone very wrong. It was too early on in her pregnancy for any baby to survive. 

The patient was hemorrhaging blood, recalled Dr. Alexandra Stiles, an OB-GYN resident. At first, there was very little the Ohio doctor could do for her. Before June, Stiles could have sedated the patient and performed a dilation and extraction, a surgical procedure commonly used in second-trimester abortions, to end the now-hopeless pregnancy. But soon after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Ohio banned abotion as soon as a doctor detects what the law calls a “fetal heartbeat.” And Stiles could still hear it. 

Now, the patient’s only choice was to grit her way through labor and deliver a stillborn.

Everybody felt awful, recalled Stiles, who was also working with another OB-GYN resident. 

“This whole situation was traumatizing for the patient,” she said. “This was a pregnancy that she had planned to keep and planned to carry, and her whole situation changed.”

The patient’s only choice was to grit her way through labor and deliver a stillborn.

As the patient’s labor stretched into the evening, the heartbeat disappeared, leaving Stiles free to perform the dilation and extraction. The resident working alongside Stiles should have known how to perform the procedure. But instead, the resident revealed, “I’ve never done this before.” Thanks to Ohio’s abortion ban, the resident had never had a chance to learn how to do perform a typical procedure—even in cases of medical emergencies.

In the months since Roe’s overturning, countless doctors have confronted abortion bans that, they say, have forced them to defy medical guidelines and their oath to do no harm. But amid that health care crisis, there’s another, burgeoning terror, one that’s set likely haunt medicine for years to come: Can doctors still learn how to do abortions?

The answer is worrying. At least 13 states have now banned almost all abortions, and hospitals in those states can no longer teach the next generation of doctors how to perform the procedure. Although Roe’s overturning has spurred more doctors to pursue abortion training, experts told VICE News, the few places that can provide that information are dwindling and overrun. Abortion providers’ ability to keep up what promises to be a decades-long fight over the future of abortion is now imperiled.

Twenty-six states are ultimately expected to ban abortion. In April, a study published in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology estimated that, without Roe, roughly 44 percent of the 6,000-plus OB-GYN residents in the United States would lose access to in-state abortion training.

VICE News contacted dozens of OB-GYN residency programs in states with abortion bans about their plans for handling abortion training. (Ohio’s abortion ban was paused in September after a court challenge.) Just five programs responded; of those, two declined to speak. One program administrator talked only on the condition that VICE News not name their program. 

“I just literally do not want any additional attention on our residency, in case we are able to get people to go out of state,” they said. “The last thing I really want is the state legislature saying, ‘Oh, let’s hold up some funds or try to pass more legislation restricting the ability of our residents to get the training that they need.”

“We’re almost stuck cold-calling places to see if they’ll take residents.”

The administrator is even worried that people at the institution where they work may try to sabotage plans to train residents. Before the ban, when the program sent its residents to Planned Parenthood for training, an official initially refused to sign off on the agreement, the administrator said. 

Now, the administrator said, “We’re almost stuck cold-calling places to see if they’ll take residents.”

Patients are already paying the price.

“The ultimate concern is the trickle-down effect of this,” said Dr. Nicole Scott, director of the OB-GYN medical residency program at Indiana University. “In those 2 a.m. moments in the middle of the night, will you know what you need to do to save someone's life?” 

A history of relegating abortion to the fringes of medicine left much of the field unprepared for a post-Roe United States. Residency programs and hospitals weren’t at the starting line when the Supreme Court overturned Roe. They were 50 yards back.

Dr. Doug Laube started performing abortions in Iowa in the ‘70s, after he said he watched a 17-year-old patient die from complications of illegal abortions. Back then, he never imagined that mainstream medical institutions would remain so resistant to providing the procedure. 

“I anticipated back then that, as time went on, that people who learned the technique during their residencies would just be doing them in their offices from time to time as they were needed,” Laube told VICE News in 2020. “That has not happened. It happens almost nowhere.”

As of 2017, 95 percent of all abortions were provided at clinics, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion restrictions. 

Residency programs and hospitals weren’t at the starting line when the Supreme Court overturned Roe. They were 50 yards back.

The physical separation between the hospital and the clinic reinforced the metaphorical distance: If it wasn’t done in hospitals, abortion seemed like an act outside of mainstream medical care. The separation endured and grew thanks to an array of forces: the complexity of paying for abortions using government funds such as Medicare; the (continuing) rise of Catholic hospitals, which largely refuse to perform abortions; the deeply hierarchical, traditional nature of the medical field itself, where institutions rely on donations and public dollars and are thus predictably allergic to controversy. 

The bulk of practical training—and, in particular, training to do procedures like abortion—occurs in residency, a years-long kind of apprenticeship where recently graduated doctors hone their chosen specialties. For decades after Roe, residency training in abortion remained optional. In 1992, a study found that just 12 percent of OB-GYN residency programs offer training in first-trimester abortions. The National Coalition of Abortion Providers, which represented independent clinics, started issuing dire warnings about their inability to recruit well-trained physicians. Its executive director told the Washington Post in 1993, “It's not just a problem, it's the problem.”

Anti-abortion groups celebrated. “If there is no one willing to conduct abortions, there are no abortions,” one organization’s field director reminded the Post, in a comment that has new resonance in this post-Roe reality.

It was attacks against providers, ironically, that revitalized American abortion training. In 1993, a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco, named Jody Steinauer was mailed a brochure, as were many other medical students. The brochure read, “Q: What would you do if you found yourself in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist, and you had a gun with only two bullets? A: Shoot the abortionist twice.” Days later, an abortion provider named David Gunn was shot to death in Pensacola, Florida.

“Those two events together woke a whole group of medical students up,” Steinauer told VICE News in 2020. “We thought to ourselves, ‘Wait a second, this is part of health care.’”

After talking to students from medical schools across the country, Steinauer took a year off of medical school to dedicate herself to formally launching a group, Medical Students for Choice, to support aspiring abortion providers. Three years later, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education took action, decreeing for the first time that all OB-GYN programs must offer abortion training. 

It still didn’t quite take. A 2019 study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that, despite the council’s 25-year-old mandate, just 64 percent of 190 residencies truly include “routine training with dedicated time” for abortion. 

“It already has started to be a situation where even miscarriage was starting to be marginalized and pushed out to let the abortion providers handle it.”

Dr. DeShawn Taylor, an OB-GYN who runs an Arizona clinic that offered abortions before the state banned them, told VICE News earlier this year that, even before Roe’s fall, the stigma of the procedure has led doctors unable to diagnose and handle miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

“It already has started to be a situation where even miscarriage was starting to be marginalized and pushed out to let the abortion providers handle it,” Taylor said. 

Abortion hasn’t fared much better in medical schools. “Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures,” Stanford University researchers concluded in a 2020 study. “Yet abortion-related topics are glaringly absent from medical school curricula in the U.S.A. with half of medical schools including no formal training or only a single lecture.” 

When medical school ends, students aren’t free to simply pick where they go to residency. Instead, they spend the last year of school applying to a nationwide program called the Match, which will ultimately use an algorithm to sort out which residents go where. If students try to decline their match, they will likely have to wait another year to start residency—and run the risk of ruining their medical careers before they even really get started.

Even if a medical student desperately wants to learn how to perform abortions, even if they went to medical school to dedicate themselves to being abortion providers, they may have no choice but to live and work in a state where it’s now illegal.

In the United States, two kinds of doctors tend to perform abortions: OB-GYNs and family medicine doctors. University of Illinois, Chicago medical student Maria Valle Coto said she is applying to 80 different OB-GYN residency programs, including every single California residency program and most programs in New York. But if she still ends up in a state with an abortion ban, she may go anyway. She has $290,000 in medical school debt, she said, and just waiting for it to accumulate interest isn’t really an option.

“I’m not someone that comes from wealth or has family physicians, so this has been a huge investment in my future,” Valle Coto said. “And for it to be jeopardized because of policy is incredibly disappointing.”

Valle Cotto said officials at her medical school repeatedly advised to tone down her mentions of abortion in her residency applications. She refused.

“I’m not gonna tamp down who I am and what I believe just to try to match somewhere,” she said.

When North Carolina family medicine resident Dr. Avanthi Jayaweera has a spare Saturday, she’ll frequently drive up to two hours to spend it at a clinic, sharpening her abortion skills. Given that she regularly works 65 to 85 hours a week, it’s no small sacrifice. 

Jayaweera currently feels comfortable performing abortions up to 16 weeks of pregnancy, but she wants to learn how to provide it until at least 20 weeks. She had originally planned to do more training in Florida, Tennessee, or Kentucky, but thanks to abortion bans in those states, she won’t be able to go to sites there.

“Whichever ones will take me at this point, I will go. The need is just so high,” Jayaweera said. “My hope was that I could potentially get based in a place where I have a close friend or family member that would let me crash with them. But I imagine it would cost at least maybe $5,000 for lodging and transportation and everything.” 

Two major initiatives help residents get training in abortion: the California-based Ryan Residency Training Program, run by one Dr. Jody Steinauer, works with OB-GYN residencies, while the RHEDI program in New York does the same in family medicine. Programs that partner with these initiatives are committed to making sure residents have easy access to comprehensive abortion training; given that such a high volume of abortions are performed in clinics, they often help residencies iron out relationships with abortion clinics to teach doctors.

“My hope was that I could potentially get based in a place where I have a close friend or family member that would let me crash with them. But I imagine it would cost at least maybe $5,000 for lodging and transportation and everything.” 

Out of the 107 active Ryan programs, the group is has been trying to figure out what to do with 13 to 20 programs in states with abortion bans, Kirstin Simonson, director of programs and operations for Ryan, told VICE News in September. These residencies are in the midst of setting up partnerships with programs in more liberal states, figuring out paperwork, scheduling, and coordinating potential travel and lodging for residents fleeing bans. 

Residents will likely end up in cities like Chicago and New York City; Simonson has no idea how much relocating residents will cost programs or the residents themselves, who tend to make in the ballpark of $60,000 to $70,000 a year. 

“It is not most budget-neutral cities to be training in,” Simonson admitted. 

The earliest consistent travel will likely start in February or March 2023. Residency programs start nationwide on July 1, meaning that these residents are set to lose out on at least seven months of potential training time.

Simonson feels confident that the Ryan programs will be able to find ways for residents to still get abortion training. But only 36 percent of all accredited U.S. OB-GYN programs belong to Ryan. 

Before Roe’s overturning, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education—which sets standards for all residencies—didn’t have specific abortion requirements for family medicine doctors, but it did mandate that all OB-GYN residency programs “provide training or access to training in the provision of abortions, and this must be part of the planned curriculum.” 

As of mid-September, though, the council changed those rules. Now, according to the guidelines, “If a program is in a jurisdiction where resident access to this clinical experience is unlawful, the program must provide access to this clinical experience in a different jurisdiction where it is lawful.”

In other words: Send residents out of state. And if a residency program doesn’t pull that off—a costly, potentially legally hazardous maneuver—its accreditation could be threatened, at a time when OB-GYNs are already projected to be in short supply.

The Indiana University OB-GYN residency program, which Scott runs, is a Ryan program. Last May, when a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe leaked, Scott scrambled to partner with an Illinois abortion clinic so residents could travel there to perform abortions for patients in the first-trimester of pregnancy. 

Scott declined to name the clinic or its exact location out of concern for residents’ safety.

“My greatest fear is that something would happen to our residents, whether it be a threat of violence or even just a car accident if they're driving 100 miles to a place to train,” Scott said. “Those are the things that keep me up at night.”

Under the new guidelines, OB-GYN programs must provide “support” for residents who need to travel out of state for training, although residents who leave the comfort of home may still find themselves paying out of pocket for expenses. When it proposed revising those guidelines, an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education review committee also said that the changes aren’t expected to cost programs any “additional resources.” But that’s not true for Scott, who said that ferrying residents to Illinois is expected to cost her program more than $20,000 this year alone, as the program has to shoulder expenses like housing, lodging, and new Illinois medical licenses. Scott isn’t sure if she’ll be able to wrangle that kind of money next year.

If she can’t cover the costs, Scott’s program could be found to be out of compliance with accreditation requirements.

Those new rules about “support” don’t apply to family medicine residents. With 30 affiliated family medicine residencies, RHEDI is far smaller than Ryan. But two of its programs, in Idaho and Montana, are also facing the prospect of being unable to train doctors in-state. 

“They're trying to be creative and see if they can set up a satellite clinic across the border so people have been getting trained,” said Erica Chong, RHEDI’s executive director.

Since Roe’s overturning, several people involved with abortion training told VICE News, doctors’ interest in learning about the procedure has skyrocketed. RHEDI had numerous residency programs in New York and North Carolina ask how to join, Chong said. 

But part of the problem, she said, is that the abortion clinics who may normally teach residents are now seeing a surge in requests for training. “They're also receiving lots of requests from especially all of the OB-GYN residents who are now having a really challenging time. So it's a lot of people who are looking to get trained and not that many training slots.” 

The Midwest Access Project, a nonprofit that helps connect a range of health care professionals with reproductive health care training like abortion, received 49 applications for help in its first application cycle after Roe’s overturning. That’s the most applications the organization has ever received in a single cycle. But, Midwest Access Project Executive Director Lynne Johnson warned, “We’re going to start declining more people as a result of the decision.”

The fear is that, unless overworked doctors start taking extraordinary steps, there’s likely just not enough places for everybody—including doctors who have graduated from residency and are further along in their career—who wants to learn how to do abortions to do so. And with a new Match cyce now underway, residency programs in states with abortion bans will potentially get far fewer applicants, while programs in liberal regions will be flooded.

“I was hoping that the increased demand would lead to more days and then more training spots and everyone would jump in together to make sure that happens. But it's so much more complicated than that, than just saying, ‘Yes, everyone comes in and train,’” said Dr. Julia Eicher, a family medicine resident who works at a RHEDI-affiliated program in New York City. “What I've been seeing in my personal experience is, ultimately, there's maybe the same amount or maybe a little less training available now that all this is happening.”

“I blew through my savings to do this,” Daniels said. “It could have been essentially free, had I been able to live in my apartment and just drive down the road.”

This summer, North Carolina family medicine resident Dr. Chelsea Daniels had the rare chance to spend a few weeks working solely at a Planned Parenthood clinic. But when a more senior doctor, from Hawaii, had wanted to get training in abortion, there wasn’t enough room for both Daniels and that doctor to work at the clinic, Daniels said. Instead, Daniels ended up working at another Planned Parenthood in Chicago.

“I blew through my savings to do this,” Daniels said. “It could have been essentially free, had I been able to live in my apartment and just drive down the road.”

“If you're in a spot where you can't afford it, then you just lose out on the training, which is pretty unacceptable,” she continued.

All of these plans are built on one foundational premise: that doctors can safely cross across state lines. But that foundation is rickety at best, because the country is now pitted against itself in a kind of abortion arms race. Half the United States wants to protect the procedure, while the other is determined to eradicate it. And each side wants to undermine the other. 

Although abortion providers have spent years traveling into red states into perform abortions, rather than live permanently among hostile neighbors, abortion opponents have already started to push for laws to cut down on what they’re now calling “abortion tourism” for both patients and providers. In early June, the top anti-abortion groups who architected Roe’s toppling discussed strategies for attacking interstate travel for abortion. In July, Congressional Republicans blocked a bill meant to protect the practice

The governors of liberal states like Colorado and Washington, meanwhile, have vowed to ignore other states’ requests to investigate or extradite people for breaking abortion laws.

But come January, when many state legislatures go back to work, the legal landscape of abortion could shift again. While conservative states might not be able to restrict interstate travel this year, the campaign to chip away at and ultimately destroy Roe took decades. And it worked.

“It's likely only going to get worse, especially as all this stuff gets more siloed geographically,” said Eicher, the family medicine resident in New York. “There's going to be huge portions of the country where there's no one there who's ever done an abortion or known anyone to do an abortion.”

Categories: Tech News

SK hynix, Samsung, TSMC granted one-year reprieve from China chip restrictions

The Register - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 04:32
Uncle Sam is giving out exemptions like Halloween candy to its allies

South Korean DRAM and flash memory chip maker SK hynix has been granted a one-year exemption from US Department of Commerce restrictions that ban exports of advanced chips and equipment to China.…

Categories: Tech News

Creator of Hit Japanese Manga ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Died Trying to Save People From Rip Tide

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 04:30

The creator of the internationally beloved card game and manga Yu-Gi-Oh! died trying to save people from drowning, a new eyewitness account has revealed.

U.S. Army Major Robert Bourgeau was reportedly on the same beach as the manga artist Kazuki Takahashi on July 4, days before the 60-year-old was found dead. Bourgeau, who’s also a diving instructor, was meeting two of his students when he heard a woman call out for help—her 11-year-old daughter and a U.S. officer were trapped in a rip current.

The tide was pulling them further out into the ocean and incoming six-foot waves were overwhelming them, creating a whirlpool effect, Bourgeau said in an interview with the U.S. military outlet Stars and Stripes. Still wearing his running shoes, the 49-year-old officer jumped in to save them. Takahashi also went in, attempting to aid Bourgeau in the rescue but drowned in the process. 

“He died trying to save someone else,” Bourgeau said, describing the creator as a hero. 

Though Bourgeau said he didn’t see Takahashi, the officer’s students saw the artist disappear beneath the waves. These details are also confirmed in several sworn witness statements provided by the Army.

Fans learned of his death on July 6, when Takashi’s body was found floating by Japan’s Coast Guard. He was wearing snorkeling gear and was traveling alone in Nago, a popular tourist site.

Though an autopsy later confirmed he’d died by drowning, fans were left wondering why he’d swim in such dangerous waters. Now, the eyewitness account has shed some light on the moment right before the creator’s death, leaving Takashi’s fans to hail him as a hero. 

Jeffrey Anderson Jr., a 28-year-old PhD student at Virginia Tech, said he was sad to hear he’d passed, but was proud “he went out in such a heroic way.” 

“I’ll remember him in the way that everybody remembers superheros: ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’” he told VICE World News. Anderson said he grew up playing both the Yu-Gi-Oh! card and video games and watching the show.

Takahashi began his career as a manga artist in the 1980s, but he rose to international fame in 1996 when he first published Yu-Gi-Oh! It’s a story about a high school boy named Yugi who solves an ancient puzzle and gets possessed by an ancient spirit, which helps him challenge his enemies to various duels.

The manga ran for eight years in the popular Japanese comic magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump, which sold more than 400 million copies. It’s also spawned a TV anime series, movies, and a collectible trading card game that’s become so popular, it won a Guinness World Record as the best-selling trading card game in 2011.

About Takahashi’s death, the officer Bourgeau said he wonders how the situation would have panned out differently. “This guy had a huge impact on the world,” he said. 

In September, Bourgeau was recognized for his rescue efforts when his command nominated him for the Soldier’s Medal—an award given to acknowledge acts of heroism outside military conflict.

Follow Hanako Montgomery on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Tech News

‘He’s God’: China’s Top Leadership Is Set for a Reshuffle. But Xi Jinping Is Here to Stay.

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 04:23

China’s leadership succession has always been a black box. The process is so opaque that outsiders often have no way of knowing who will be in charge until the moment they step up to the podium at the end of a twice-a-decade Communist Party meeting. But as Beijing prepares to unveil its next leadership at the party congress next week, one thing is almost certain: the top leader, Xi Jinping, is extending his reign.

“There is almost no doubt that he will serve a third term as the Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party,” Victor Shih, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the University of California, San Diego, told VICE World News, referring to the top and most powerful job in China.

Starting Sunday, some 2,300 party delegates will convene behind closed doors in the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing. The roughly weeklong conclave will determine the makeup of the country’s second-most powerful body, the 25-strong Politburo, and its standing committee, the highest rung of power, which now has seven members, including President Xi.

In the past two decades, top officials have without exception served no more than two terms and stepped down if they have reached the age of 68 at the party congress. But Xi, who is now 69, is expected to break precedent with both term limits and retirement norms by staying in power for another five years—a move that has been predicted since China abolished the two-term limit on presidency in 2018.

“That is the nature of an authoritarian political system,” said Wu Guoguang, an adviser to former Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang in the 1980s and now a senior researcher at Stanford University. “Those unwritten norms within political leadership are basically just constraints over those less powerful guys. But for the most powerful guy, he’s God. He can do whatever he likes.”

And in China right now, that guy is Xi, who has spent the last decade consolidating his control over the Chinese Communist Party and the world’s second-largest economy, and built a personality cult around himself.

The lack of term limits technically allows Xi to rule for life. But the leadership line-up would offer clues to whether he has successors in mind for 2027. Xi himself was elevated to the standing committee in 2007 before he rose to the top job in 2012.

If Xi’s third term is confirmed, China’s next five years will probably look like the last ten, when Xi tightened social and political control at home and grew assertive abroad.

During his decadelong rule, Xi has eliminated political opponents through an anti-corruption campaign, built an invasive surveillance system to monitor its citizens, and ordered brutal crackdowns on dissent, particularly in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong and the western region of Xinjiang. 

“The civic space in China was gradually expanding during Jiang Zemin’s and Hu Jintao’s rule,” said human rights lawyer Teng Biao, citing Xi’s two predecessors. “Xi reversed this trend and brought China back into a totalitarian era,” said Teng, who fled to the U.S. in 2014 after being repeatedly detained in China for his advocacy.

Among Xi’s least popular policies, however, is “zero COVID,” an absolutist response to the pandemic that has crippled China’s economy, isolated it from the rest of the world, and fueled public discontent. 

Besides domestic challenges, China’s authoritarian shift, coupled with its increasingly assertive foreign policy and close partnership with Russia even after its invasion of Ukraine, has also strained its relations with the West. 

Most advanced economies now eye its global ambitions with wariness and are reassessing their dealings with China. The UK, for instance, is set to formally designate China as a “threat” in a major shift of policy. Public opinion toward China in developed countries, including South Korea, Japan, and Australia, has also soured precipitously.

Most perilous is its ties with the U.S.

China’s recent military aggression toward the democratic island of Taiwan—one that Xi has vowed to retake, by force if necessary—threatens to destabilize the region and could escalate into a confrontation with Washington. Their rivalry in trade, chips, tech, and even outer space add to spiraling tensions, while attempts to find common ground on issues such as climate change are hitting a wall.

In a new national security strategy unveiled on Wednesday, the Biden administration described China as “America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge,” singling out Beijing for its ability to reshape international order. 

Yet, instead of testing his position in the party, these crises have only helped Xi tighten his grip. “These challenges and risks may further consolidate his power, as the power will be more centralized to cope with external and internal instability and uncertainty,” Chen Gang, assistant director at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute, told VICE World News.

There are faint hopes that the leadership reshuffle, particularly the choice of a more liberal-minded official as premier, could allow a course correction. But most observers are pessimistic.  

While in theory the party delegates cast ballots at the congress, in reality, all appointments and negotiations take place behind the scenes. Wu, the Stanford researcher, called the party congress “a theatrical performance.” 

“Before the drama unfolds, everything is already decided and that decision making process is a totally top-down process, basically the boss appoints the subordinates,” Wu said. He suggested the core leadership would consist mostly of Xi’s protégés with at least one but no more than two members from other factions.

Similarly, Shih of the University of California, San Diego said the two most likely new members of the Politburo standing committee will be Xi loyalists. “When they enter the elite decision-making body, Xi will be able to dominate the policy process even more so than he does today,” Shih said.

And given how China’s political system is structured, even the promotion of reformers to the line-up is unlikely to create any meaningful pushback against Xi. Wu pointed out that the presence of officials considered pragmatic and pro-reform among the party’s highest echelon of power in the last five years has done little to impact governance. 

Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier who favors economic reform, for instance, has largely been sidelined in the past decade and is expected to step down after the meeting. Though he has repeatedly stressed the importance of economic growth throughout the pandemic, it has hardly made a dent in the country’s unwavering adherence to the zero-COVID policy.

After all, in China, only one man has the say.

“The problem is even if you’re the No. 2 leader of China, you are not able to say something to criticize the No. 1’s ideas,” Wu said.

Follow Rachel Cheung on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Tech News

Canonical displays controversial 'ad' in shell update prog

The Register - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 03:44
Ubuntu once again courts controversy, but alternative commands are available

Some Ubuntu users are not happy at receiving a promotional message at the command line when upgrading their systems.…

Categories: Tech News

OnlyFans Creator Jailed for Ignoring Police Order to Stop Posting Nudes

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 03:32

Singaporean OnlyFans creator Titus Low was sentenced to three weeks in jail and a S$3,000 ($2,100) fine on Wednesday, after he defied a police ban on him uploading explicit material to the platform to his thousands of subscribers.

The 22-year-old is the first OnlyFans creator in Singapore to be convicted for sharing obscene material on the platform. One of Singapore’s most recognizable creators on the platform, he has now become the face of the country’s crackdown on pornographic material on the subscription-based site known for hosting adult content.

OnlyFans creators have toed a fine line in Singapore, where the production and distribution of porn is illegal, operating in a hidden scene that had escaped sanctions from authorities until Low was charged in December last year.

“The past year was very stressful, I was under a lot of pressure online. I couldn’t continue on with life because I had a court case waiting for me. I felt very anxious all the time,” Low told VICE World News, adding that he felt “relieved” after the judgment was revealed yesterday.

The prosecution said Low was being targeted for his defiance of authorities, who had ordered him to stop accessing his OnlyFans account after the initial investigation was opened. He received the fine for transmitting obscene material electronically, and the jail sentence for defying the police order. He pleaded guilty to both charges.

“It is not about him being singled out for anything, it's because he wilfully disobeyed a police order," said the prosecutor.

Low came under investigation a year ago after someone informed police of his video after finding it on their 12-year-old niece’s mobile phone. During the investigation, Low was told by police not to access his OnlyFans account. While he gave investigators his email and password, he contacted the platform later that day claiming that he had been hacked, and asked for help to reset his login details. When he regained access the following day, he uploaded eight explicit photos and videos.

When police found out, they gave him a warning and changed his password. But Low soon got his account back again after contacting OnlyFans support, and uploaded 34 more photos and videos of him engaging in sexual acts.

Kirpal Singh, Low’s lawyer, told the court that his client felt an “obligation” to continue providing content to his subscribers, some of whom prepaid for it, despite the ban.

“He deeply regrets it. He admits he was naive and did not fully appreciate the gravity of his actions,” Singh told VICE World News.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday after his court judgment, Low said that “mistakes were made” and that it was “part of life’s learning process.”

The prosecution also claimed there are insufficient safeguards against explicit content making its way out of OnlyFans, referencing the fact that Low’s video was found on a child’s phone.

"There is always this risk of dissemination, even if it's only open to adults, even if there's verification by age or photo, there's always a risk of dissemination," they said.

In Singapore, those found guilty of transmitting obscene material online face a jail term of up to three months or a fine, or both.

“OnlyFans is a paywalled platform and it’s not meant for the public. People who subscribe are willing to see and willing to pay,” Low said. “I’m very curious, how did an underaged person get my content when it’s meant for my OnlyFans subscribers only?”

While users have to be at least 18 years old to create an account and access OnlyFans content, Singh argued that creators like Low have little control when it comes to their content being leaked from the platform.

“In all likelihood, a subscriber would have captured Titus’s images and videos on his or her own mobile and then shared it. It would have then permeated through the internet and unfortunately ends up in a minor’s mobile phone,” said Singh.

“This was really unfortunate. Based on OnlyFans’ platform, there was nothing that Titus could have done to prevent someone capturing his videos or images in that manner.”

Despite the jail time now awaiting him, Low told VICE World News he remains undeterred in his career choice.

“I do think that I will go back after everything is settled, because it’s my career path. I enjoy creating [OnlyFans content],” he said, adding that he will be more careful about how he shares explicit content in the future.

While Low is the first OnlyFans star to be convicted in Singapore, he’s not the first in the region. Last month, a Burmese model was sentenced to six years in jail—potentially the first conviction of its kind in the world—by the country’s military junta for posting nude photos on OnlyFans. Some labelled the case politically motivated, as the model had expressed her support for the country’s ongoing prodemocracy movement.

In March, two Indonesian OnlyFans creators were investigated for violating the country’s anti-pornography laws, while the arrest of a couple—also creators on the platform—last year in Thailand sparked discussions about sex work in the country.

Follow Koh Ewe on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Tech News

Google datacenter contractors claim 'retaliation' for talking workers' rights

The Register - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 02:31
Plus: A fresh Amazon NLRB complaint over 'surveillance'

A trade union for Alphabet workers has made two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Google and its contractors about the treatment of tech workers at the search giant's US datacenters.…

Categories: Tech News

Financial watchdogs want to know what traders are talking about on WhatsApp

The Register - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 01:30
Keen interest in messaging platform follows $2 billion fines in US

Authorities in the US and the UK are taking a keen interest in the contents of WhatsApp messages among bank employees and their associates in the financial services industry.…

Categories: Tech News

Scanning phones to detect child abuse evidence is harmful, 'magical' thinking

The Register - Thu, 10/13/2022 - 00:30
Security expert challenges claim that bypassing encryption is essential to protecting kids

Exclusive  Laws in the UK and Europe have been proposed that would give authorities the power to undermine strong end-to-end encryption in the pursuit of, in their minds, justice.…

Categories: Tech News

Want to crawl inside a nuke plant swinging a hammer? No? Toshiba's inspection bots will do it instead

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 23:31
Go ahead, feel redundant: machines reduce maintenance time by 12 days and go places humans cannot

On Wednesday Toshiba launched its commercialized robot inspection services for power plant turbine generators.…

Categories: Tech News

ULA's Vulcan Centaur to launch in early '23, with lunar lander and first Amazon broadband sats

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 22:31
Two down, 3,234 to go for Amazon's Kuiper service as it chases Starlink

Private rocketry outfit United Launch Alliance (ULA) will send its Vulcan Centaur craft into orbit for the first time in the first quarter of 2023 (hopefully), carrying two important payloads.…

Categories: Tech News

Extreme Networks fesses up to selling kit to Russian hypersonic missile maker

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 20:58
Buyer Avangard's ordnance has reportedly been used against Ukraine

Extreme Networks has admitted to breaching sanctions on Russian businesses by selling some of its products to a company that was sanctioned following Russia's 2014 illegal occupation of Crimea.…

Categories: Tech News

AI recruitment software is 'automated pseudoscience' Cambridge study finds

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 18:10
HR diversity claims via software are rot, according to boffins

Claims that AI-powered recruitment software can boost diversity of new hires at a workplace were debunked in a study published this week.…

Categories: Tech News

Prison inmate accused of orchestrating $11M fraud using cell cellphone

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 17:10
Judge rejects defense effort to toss warrantless device search on privacy grounds

A man already behind bars in the US has been charged with orchestrating an $11 million scam from his cell using a hidden … cellphone.…

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft arms Surface Pro 9 with Qualcomm SQ3, 12th-gen Intel chips

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 16:10
Plus, the Surface Laptop drops AMD, Studio arrives with an even higher price, and more

Ignite  Microsoft put a coat of polish on its Surface line this week, including its third-generation tablet powered by an Arm-based CPU.…

Categories: Tech News

Quit worrying about 5G C-band and crashing aircraft, US govt eggheads report

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 15:42
Back off FAA, I'm a scientist

Fears that 5G C-band signals could disrupt aircraft altimeters are misplaced, US government researchers claim in a report, saying that current efforts to filter any potentially dangerous frequencies are likely enough to combat problems. …

Categories: Tech News