Tag Archives: technology

Digital Rights Groups Hail Record €746 Million Amazon Data Privacy Fine

La Quadrature du Net, whose complaint led to the Luxembourg fine, called the penalty a “first step,” but said that “we need to remain vigilant” in the face of Amazon’s ongoing violations.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2021

Amazon/AWS offices in Luxembourg. Photo: -wuppertaler, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Digital rights advocates on Friday applauded a €746 million fine levied against Amazon by a Luxembourg regulator for the tech giant’s violation of European Union data privacy laws.

The record penalty—which converts to about U.S. $886 million—was imposed on July 16 by CNPD, Luxembourg’s data protection agency, and disclosed in an Amazon regulatory filing (pdf) on Friday, according to Bloomberg. Continue reading

Share Button

Planet’s Vital Signs Are Reaching Dangerous ‘Tipping Points’ Amid Climate Crisis, Scientists Warn

“We need to stop treating the climate emergency as a stand-alone issue—global heating is not the sole symptom of our stressed Earth system.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-28-2021

Human activity may be pushing the climate beyond dangerous ‘tipping points,’ say 14,000 scientists. As the extreme drought emergency continues in California, historically low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on July 22, 2021 in Oroville, California. Photo: NOAA

More than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down economies around the world and sharply reduced worldwide travel—sparking speculation among some that emissions would plummet as a result—a coalition of scientists said in a paper published Wednesday that the planet is nonetheless reaching multiple “tipping points,” with levels of sea ice melt, deforestation, and other markers revealing that urgent action is needed to mitigate the climate emergency.

“The extreme climate events and patterns that we’ve witnessed over the last several years — not to mention the last several weeks — highlight the heightened urgency with which we must address the climate crisis,” said Philip Duffy, co-author of the study and executive director of the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. Continue reading

Share Button

27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI ‘Backdoor Search’ Loophole

“Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans’ privacy rights.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2021

Demonstrators march in protest against government mass surveillance in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2013. Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/CC

Over two dozen advocacy groups on Monday sent a letter urging members of Congress to back a measure that, if enacted, would close the so-called “backdoor search” loophole that allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens’ data by government agencies including the FBI and CIA.

The letter (pdf), led by Demand Progress and signed by 27 groups, calls on House leaders to support an amendment to H.R. 4505—the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022—proposed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Continue reading

Share Button

In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak

“I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe… I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-25-2021

Whistleblower Daniel Hale faces sentencing after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking classified information about the U.S. targeted drone assassination program. (Photo: Bob Hayes/handout)

Attorneys for drone whistleblower Daniel Hale—who faces sentencing next week after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating the Espionage Act—on Thursday submitted a letter to Judge Liam O’Grady in which the former Air Force intelligence analyst says a crisis of conscience drove him to leak classified information about the U.S. targeted assassination program.

The 11-page handwritten letter (pdf) begins with a quote from U.S. Admiral Gene La Rocque, who said in 1995 that “we now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away… Since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse.” Continue reading

Share Button

‘Wake Up Call’: Rapidly Thawing Permafrost Threatens Trans-Alaska Pipeline

“The implications of this speak to the pipeline’s integrity and the effect climate change is having on pipeline safety in general.”

By Common Dreams. Published 7-11-2021

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline going north. Photo: olekinderhook, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Alaska’s thawing permafrost is undermining the supports that hold up an elevated section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, putting in danger the structural integrity of one of the world’s largest oil pipelines.

In a worst-case scenario, a rupture of the pipeline would result in an oil spill in a delicate and remote landscape where it would be extremely difficult to clean up. Continue reading

Share Button

Biden Told to Move on FCC Nomination If He Wants Net Neutrality Restored

An unfilled seat on the commission, say advocacy groups, means an executive order from the president has nowhere to go at the moment.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-9-2021

Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. Photo: New America/flickr/CC

President Joe Biden on Friday was urged to appoint a third Democratic commissioner to the empty seat on the Federal Communications Commission after the president signed an executive order encouraging the panel to reinstate net neutrality rules.

Fight for the Future was among the advocacy groups making the demand and said Biden “knows full well that none of this can happen” until he rounds out the commission. Continue reading

Share Button

House Passes Resolution to Reverse ‘Reckless’ Trump-Era Methane Rule

“Biden should direct the EPA to use the full power of the Clean Air Act to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas by 65% by 2025,” said one advocate.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2021

Gas well flaring in the Marcelus Shale. Screenshot: YouTube

Progressive advocates celebrated the U.S. House’s passage Friday of a resolution to reinstate federal regulations on methane pollution, while also emphasizing that confronting the climate emergency requires implementing stronger safeguards.

The resolution reversed the Trump administration’s rollback last August of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules governing oil and gas companies’ emissions of the potent greenhouse gas. Continue reading

Share Button

Press Freedom Advocates Condemn ‘Reckless’ US Shutdown of Iranian News Sites

“These are not actions of good faith negotiators.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2021

Attempts in the United States to access some websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government were met with this message on June 22, 2021. (Photo: screenshot)

Press freedom advocates fumed Tuesday as U.S. authorities without immediate explanation reportedly blocked stateside access to numerous news websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government.

An unnamed U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that around three dozen websites were seized due to their alleged dissemination of “disinformation.” Continue reading

Share Button

Reality Winner’s Release From Federal Prison Met With Calls for Full Pardon for the NSA Whistleblower

Winner will serve the rest of her five-year sentence under the supervision of a halfway house.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2021

Screenshot: ABC News

Press freedom advocates were among those celebrating the release of former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner on Monday after her attorney announced Winner had been transferred from federal prison to a halfway house.

Alison Grinter Allen, Winner’s lawyer, said the legal team is continuing to pursue a full pardon from President Joe Biden.
Continue reading
Share Button

Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, “will go directly into the pockets” of Big Pharma shareholders.

By Jon Queally staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-13-2021

Photo: James Bullock/Twitter

As leaders of the G7 were criticized for failing to rise to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic during their summit in the United Kingdom this weekend, Oxfam International on Saturday warned that failure of the world’s richest nations to fully embrace a lifting of intellectual property protections for life-saving vaccines could ultimately raise the cost of administering shots to the entire world by as much as $74 billion with most of that money going directly into the wallets of pharmaceutical companies and their wealthy shareholders.

Oxfam calculates that if patent protections were waived by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and vaccine production ramped up worldwide people in low- and middle-income nations could be adequately vaccinated for an estimated cost of $6.5 billion, but that if pharmaceutical companies are allowed to retain their for-profit stranglehold on production and distribution that cost would soar to $80 billion. Continue reading

Share Button