Fight for your right to fix

The Repair Association is fighting the manufacturing industry for your “right to repair everything.”

Today, with big corporations dominating the manufacturing industry, it is typically difficult for consumers to find specific parts to fix any kind of technology. The Repair Association is an organization hoping to help make the parts accessible to everyone.

With groups like iFixit, Fixer’s Collective, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the association is asking manufacturers to sell tech parts along with instructions on how to fix the product without professional help needed.

“A free, independent market for repair and reuse is more efficient, more competitive, and better for consumers,” the association writes on its website. “Repair helps create local jobs, and repair and reuse benefits the environment by reducing end-of-life electron products.”

Apart from the demands for the manufacturing industry, the association also aims to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to address the growth of a self-taught consumer base.

Not only does iFixit sells repair parts, but the company also provides online guides for individuals seeking to fix their appliances independently. But due to Section 1201 of the DMCA’s “anti-circumvention” provision, people are not allowed to tamper with technology that has copyrighted software.

“Under U.S. copyright law, you’re not allowed to modify protected software or look at it—even for the purpose of repair,” Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit says. “Manufacturers are using other parts of copyright law to restrict outside access to service manuals, schematics, and repair instructions. They are developing an unfair monopoly over the aftermarket of their goods.”

As unjust as it is, the monopoly is defended by lawyers and lobbyists, says Wiens. The Repair Association is needed to represent repairmen, women, local business, to fight for their right to repair.

“We aren’t just fighting for your right to repair smartphones and computers—we are fighting for your right to repair everything,” Wiens says.

Article via Good, 4 February 2016
Photo: Mobile Butchery by Meena Kadri [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Voter ID law suppresses votes

Voter ID requirements are having an effect on suppressing voters, especially those of color, a recent research paper claims.

UCSD’s political science department has conducted research on the recent voter ID law changes, and have found that they are changing the makeup of voters. In the past few years there has been a wave to restrict voting to those that cannot show a proper ID. The motivation has come from the sentiment that if you need an ID to board a plan, then you should need one to vote. There is growing concern that allowing citizens to vote without showing proper ID could open up the process to fraud, via people using the names of the recently deceased to cast illegitimate votes. Other reasoning behind the updates to the law have stated that requiring an ID is a minor barrier to voting and should not have an effect on the process. This has been backed up by past research that showed that there was no difference between the voters who had to show an ID and those that were not required to in order to vote.

The problem is that these laws seem to be fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. It has been reported that most instances of voter fraud tend to be baseless. In contrast, the creation of an ID requirement has been found to be a barrier for voters.  It is estimated that 10% of Americans do not have the proper ID in order to cast a vote. As a result, the voting population gets skewed to being more white and more conservative. Some Republicans have admitted that defense of the new voter ID laws are aimed at the democratic voters.

The researchers found that these claims were turning out to be true. “We find that strict voter identification laws do, in fact, substantially alter the makeup of who votes and ultimately do skew democracy in favor of whites and those on the political right.” They even draw a broader point from this finding: “These laws significantly impact the representativeness of the vote and the fairness of democracy.”

Voting is not a privilege, it is a fundamental right of our democracy. Before 2006, not one state required that a person have a photo ID in order to cast a vote. Although past research may not have indicated that Voter ID laws would become a barrier to a civil right, this research generally pre-dates the especially strict voter ID laws that are on the books in many states today. Although the most recent study is still under peer review, it results are enough to cause alarm about the state of our voting rights in America.

Article via AboveTheLaw.com, 9 February 2016

Photo Proof Voter ID Lowers Turnout by Democracy Chronicles [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Petition against pro-rape meetings

Several thousands have signed a petition in an attempt to reach out to the Scottish government hoping they will take action against the rape advocate.

Last Monday, Cat Boyd started the petition calling for the Holyrood government to stop Daryush Valizadeh, the rape-promoting “neo-masculinist” .

“RooshV (Valizadeh), a militant pro-rape pick-up artist is holding gatherings for his followers in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This makes our cities unsafe for at least half the population. Promoting rape is hate speech, and should be treated as such,” the petition says.

Valizadeh writes that rape should be allowed and claims it would actually be good, as it will help push women to become more alert in situations such as this. He also thinks that by legalizing rape, women will stop showing mixed signals about consent, but in Valizadeh’s previous journal, his movement seems to be in favor of women’s well-being, his next articles show his true intentions.

“Modern women are too broken, unreliable and narcissistic to give men anything reliable besides fornification,” said Valizadeh.

Not only are Glasgow citizens petitioning against his movement, but people several other communities are also taking part in stopping his world-wide meet-ups.

“Pro-rape women-haters are not welcome in Glasgow, as they will find out when they gather in George Square… and have the pish ripped right out of them by decent Glaswegians.

“These men deserve derision and pity. Violence and intimidation is their game and we will not join in,” protestors said.

Valizadeh’s plans failed to execute as they occurred during Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. His announcement for his plans only encouraged people around the world to promote against sexual abuse.

“The focus is going to be on the fact that all forms of sexual abuse and sexual violence are unacceptable and survivors should not have to tolerate it. There should also be adequate services to support those who have experienced it and clear guidelines for reporting it,” a spokesperson for the week’s organizer said.

Article via The Guardian, 2 February 2016
Photo: End rape_ Sexual Abuse by Your DOST [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Julian Assange should be free according to UN ruling

After nearly four years of being camped out in a converted office in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange awaited the United Nations ruling about his detention with anticipation. The verdict: Assange, according to the UN, has been “arbitrarily detained” since June 2012 given that he had not been provided due legal process prior to arrest.

The UK government disagrees. “This changes nothing,” a government representative said. “An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite him in Sweden.” Assange declined to respond to any allegations of sexual assault following the UN ruling, but his lawyer stated in 2010 that the charges were part of a “honeytrap” to discredit Assange.

Assange spoke to journalists via video webcast following the ruling. “I consider the outcome in this case to be vindication,” he said. “It is now the task of the United Kingdom and Sweden to implement the verdict.” He further described his detention as “illegal, immoral, [and] unethical.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) argued that the Wikileaks founder has suffered “deprivation of liberty” since 2010, when he was sentenced to ten days in Wandsworth Prison and then 550 days under house arrest. Edward Snowden commented on the UK’s response to the ruling, saying that it “writes a pass for every dictatorship to reject UN rulings.”

Assange agreed, saying that his arrest would be a blow to international human rights efforts. “What right does this government, or the US government, or the Swedish government have to deny my children their father for five and a half years without any charges in any country?” he asked.

Article via CNET, 5 February 2016
Photo: Julian Assange Supporters — Embassy of Ecuador, Knightsbridge, London by Marshall24  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Child labor used for tech gadgets

Child laborers are mining cobalt for the devices of major tech companies like Apple, Samsung and Sony, alleges a report issued Tuesday. Amnesty International and African Resources Watch issued a report suspecting that the supply chains of these major electronics companies are using child labor, partly because they have failed to make basic checks to halt these actions.

The report traces the harvesting and sale of cobalt in the poverty-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo — where children as young as seven work the mines. The cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones and electric cars. The DRC is listed in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Worst Forms of Child Labor report, and goods made under those conditions are listed in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

Amnesty International contacted 16 companies listed as customers of the battery manufacturers that reportedly sourced processed ore from the DRC. Half the worlds cobalt comes from this country, specifically.  None of the firms contacted could provide documentation to prove where their cobalt originated. Apple stated in a letter that “…underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards.” Samsung SDI does not have any transactions with Huayou Cobalt, the company said in a statement.

“Amnesty would like to see the home state countries — U.S., China, Japan, etc. — conduct human rights due diligence on their cobalt supplies,” reported author Mark Dummett. “An effective lasting solution to a complex problem such as this is going to require a collaborative approach with government, civil society, subject matter experts and multiple industries,” said Deborah Albers, vice president of social and environmental sustainability at the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, said.

 

Article via TechNewsWorld, 20 January 2016

Photo: Conflict minerals 4 – Lezhnev by ENOUGH Project [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Facebook to fight hate speech

Facebook is promising to fight hate speech amid the European refugee crisis.

“In the past year, we’ve seen millions of people come together online to support refugees and stand in solidarity with the victims of terror attacks,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a post on Monday. “But we’ve also heard voices of hate growing louder. With extremism damaging lives and societies across the world, challenging those voices has never been more important.”

The company did not disclose a particular plan, but they did announce the Online Civil Courage Initiative, meant to empower users to fight against hate speech. It also appears that Facebook will be backing more powerful non-governmental organizations which are already involved in fighting radicalism and hate speech online.

The Online Civil Courage initiative is yet another effort to prevent hate speech on social media. In December, Facebook and other companies like Google and Twitter agreed to remove instances of hate speech within 24 hours, in accordance with an agreement with Germany authorities. German politicians and celebrities also voiced concern about rising hatred on social media, as nearly 1.1 million migrants and refugees entered the country in 2015 alone. Last August, Germany’s minister of justice asked Facebook to remove racist posts targeting asylum seekers.  Three months after that prosecutors opened a criminal investigation because they suspected that Facebook failed to take down a wave of anti-immigrant posts on the social network, inciting racial hatred.

Following the terror attacks in Paris, France also called on Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google and Microsoft to combat extremist propaganda and expand safety tools in the event of a future attack.

“Hate speech has no place online — or in society,” Sandberg said. “Together, we can make sure the voices of peace, truth and tolerance are heard. Love is louder than hate.”

 

Article via Mashable, 19 January 2016

Photo:Facebook icon by Jurgen Appelo[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]