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EXCLUSIVE Twitter Sees Jump in Govt Demands to Remove Content of Journalists, News Outlets

Reuters reported:

Twitter Inc. saw a surge in demands over the course of last year from governments around the world to take down content posted by journalists and news outlets, data to be released by the social media platform for the first time will show.

In its transparency report to be published on Wednesday and a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Twitter said verified accounts of 199 journalists and news outlets on its platform globally were subject to 361 legal demands from governments to remove content in the second half of 2020, an increase of 26% from the first half of the year.

20 Federal Agencies Use Facial Recognition Technologies That Store Billions of Photos

Business Insider reported:

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security met Tuesday to discuss the unfettered use of facial recognition technology by federal law enforcement.

Both experts and committee members from both parties expressed concerns about the current use of facial recognition technology, including its invasion of individual and community privacy, procurement of images without proper consent, and high misidentification rates of nonwhite individuals.

From its survey of 42 federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 20 federal agencies own systems with facial recognition technology or use systems owned by other entities. GAO Director Gretta Goodwin testified that these systems can contain millions or billions of photos.

White House Prepares to Fight Back in the COVID Vaccine Disinformation War

CNN reported:

White House officials are devising ways to fight the spread of dangerous falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines, administration officials told CNN, as Republicans and their media allies ramp up their vocal skepticism about vaccines.

President Joe Biden himself could soon take on some of the corrosive messages emanating from the right, officials said, as the administration’s vaccination efforts hit a wall just as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus rips across the country. CNN spoke with five people in the administration who described the White House’s efforts to fight back against the misinformation swirling about COVID-19 vaccines.

Michigan Man Misidentified by Facial Recognition Technology Warns Congress of Risks Posed by Police Surveillance

MLive reported:

A Michigan man who was wrongly arrested after being misidentified by facial recognition technology joined expert witnesses who warned a congressional subcommittee about the pitfalls of police surveillance software used to find suspects.

Facial recognition technology used by the Detroit Police Department mistakenly matched Farmington Hills resident Robert Williams to a surveillance photo of a suspected shoplifter. Williams, who testified before a House panel Tuesday about his experience, was detained by police for 30 hours and arraigned before his charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

On TikTok, Audio Gives New Virality to Misinformation

NBC News reported:

In December, a Wisconsin man who goes by the username the_alpha_k9 on TikTok uploaded a testimonial-style video to the platform, telling his thousands of followers that he wouldn’t be taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You’re telling me in 40 years of research there is no vaccine for HIV … for cancer, no vaccine … the common cold, no vaccine,” he said. “Yet in one year we’ve developed a vaccine for COVID-19 and you want me to take that … thanks, but no thanks.”

Facebook Seeks U.S. FTC Chair Lina Khan’s Recusal in Antitrust Case

Reuters reported:

Facebook on Wednesday asked for the recusal of Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan from the FTC’s antitrust case against the company, a step that could imperil the agency’s lawsuit against it.

A prominent critic of Big Tech who was sworn in as FTC chair in June, Khan previously worked for the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, which issued a report in October that spelled out what it said was anti-competitive conduct by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google.

“Chair Khan has consistently made well-documented statements about Facebook and antitrust matters that would lead any reasonable observer to conclude that she has prejudged the Facebook antitrust case brought by the FTC,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Tougher Tactics for the Unvaccinated Needed to Stop New Rise in COVID, Experts Say

Los Angeles Times reported:

With coronavirus cases rising among the unvaccinated and efforts to get them shots lagging, there is growing belief in some public health circles that more aggressive tactics are needed to get more of the population inoculated.

California has already tried prizes and game show-style events to encourage people to get vaccinated. But 41% of Californians of all ages have yet to be inoculated. And two troubling and related trends are bringing calls for fresh thinking.

California Mother Calls Out Local Officials Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Restrictions on Small Businesses

Fox News reported:

Californians are taking a stand against the state’s ongoing COVID-19 restrictions like mask requirements. Melissa O’Connor, a San Diego mother of four, confronted local officials on the harm those mandates are doing to small businesses.

In confronting the board of supervisors, she noted that the state is no longer in a state of emergency, but small businesses are still being impacted negatively by state requirements.

“Just months ago, I could walk through Target sipping a Starbucks coffee, but the independent coffee shop owner around the corner who supports four children was told not only to close but threatened with fines.”

Health Freedom Defense Fund Sues Biden Administration Over Mask Mandate

Health Freedom Defense Fund reported:

Today the Health Freedom Defense Fund (HFDF) and two Florida residents filed a lawsuit asking the United States District Court in Tampa, Florida to strike down the CDC’s nationwide mask mandate for travel.

“The CDC is not a nationwide police force, and is not empowered to make laws,”

said Leslie Manookian, Founder and President of Health Freedom Defense Fund.

“Nevertheless, with no legal authority to do so, these unelected, unaccountable technocrats have forced every citizen in America to wear a mask when they travel. We believe that Americans have the right to think for themselves and make their own health care choices without the meddling of government. Americans must not be dictated to in this manner by anyone, let alone unelected, unaccountable technocrats at CDC.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Sues Florida Surgeon General Over Vaccine Passport Ban

CNN reported:

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is suing Florida’s surgeon general over the state’s law that prohibits companies from requiring customers and employees to provide documentation of COVID-19 vaccination status.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday, NCLH says the lawsuit is a “last resort” because Florida had indicated it would prevent the company from “safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations” next month. It described the state law as an “anomalous, misguided intrusion.”

Protests in France Against COVID ‘Health Pass’ Rules

Reuters reported:

All health workers in France must get COVID-19 jabs and anyone wanting to get into a cinema or board a train will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test under new rules announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

Unveiling sweeping measures to combat a surge in infections, Macron said vaccination would not be compulsory for the general public for now but stressed that restrictions would focus on those who are not vaccinated.