Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
Terror Online. Last Friday, a white supremacist in New Zealand’s Christchurch executed a terror attack that killed fifty people in two mosques, livestreaming seventeen minutes of one shooting on Facebook. In the wake of the attack, social media platforms have raced to remove the video as New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks banned the clip from being viewed in the country. In a press release, Facebook claims that the video received less than 200 live views and 4000 total views before being removed but had been copied to a file-sharing site. Within 24 hours of the attack, Facebook prevented 1.5 million videos from being seen globally, with 1.2 million of those blocked at upload. Similarly, Reddit banned two subreddits focused on sharing imagery of human death and injury while ISPs in Australia and New Zealand took independent action to block access to websites hosting copies of the video, including alt-right message boards 4chan and 8chan.
EU’s third strike against Google. On Wednesday the European Commission fined Google $1.7 billion for its anti-competitive restrictions on third party websites. The Commission found AdSense, Google’s ad brokerage for search ads on third party sites, prohibited its top partners from placing search ads from other online ad brokers such as Microsoft and Yahoo. The AdSense fine is the third to be levied against Google by the EU in the past two years, with two previous actions targeting Google Shopping and Android. While Europe’s antitrust enforcement has been cited as a model for future U.S. antitrust enforcement of tech companies, critics question whether the EU’s fines have hindered Google’s dominance. Google has yet to pay the previous European fines, and the company is currently appealing the earlier decisions and is expected to challenge the most recent ruling.
Russia bans fake news and political dissidence online. Russia enacted two Internet censorship laws this week that have broadened the government's ability to restrict speech online. One bill targeting “fake news” would subject sites that publish “unreliable socially significant information” to as much as $22,900 in fines. The other bill criminalizes content that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.” Offenders that insult state symbols or government officials such as President Vladimir Putin can face a fine of up to $4,700 and fifteen days of jail time. While a number of journalists, activists, and other public figures petitioned to stop the legislation, a Kremlin spokesperson defended the bills, citing similar measures in European countries that prohibit or restrict fake news and insults online.
Aluminum for ransom. On Tuesday, a debilitating ransomware attack hit aluminum giant Norsk Hydro, forcing the company to shut down its internal network. Since then, the company has scaled back its operations and switched production to manual operation. Communication within the global conglomerate, which has facilities in far-flung locations like Qatar and Brazil, has been limited to cellphone and tablet. While ransomware attacks have become a near daily occurrence, the fallout from this attack is notable. Norsk Hydro is the world’s largest aluminum maker, and aluminum prices have reached a three-month high with worries that the ransomware attack might affect the global supply aluminum. The attack appears to be a strain of ransomware that hit French company Altran Technologies last month.