Grindr has been used by gay, bi, and transgender men for over ten years in nearly 200 countries. Gay communities in countries where homosexuality is criminalized, which applies to over 70 countries, use Grindr, along with other LGBT dating apps, to connect with each other while avoiding persecution from local authorities. However, in the past few years, gay dating apps have been used by police and anti-LGBT groups to hunt down gay men, resulting in consequences ranging from imprisonment to death.
In response, Grindr and other apps like Tinder have added a feature that notifies users when they are in certain countries that criminalize homosexuality. But even with every precaution taken, there are other noteworthy risks that are difficult to avoid like location security and fake profiles. In this video, we’ll dive into how just having a dating app like Grindr can put you at risk of being located by anyone with a computer while showing how dating apps are used to entrap LGBT people.
Russians Protest for Navalny Amid Hunger Strike Health Concerns
- Over 1,700 people were arrested in Russia Wednesday after tens of thousands protested the government’s treatment of imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
- Navalny’s personal doctors believe he could die “at any moment” due to his three-week hunger strike that started after he was initially denied access to his doctors.
- Russian authorities are moving to label Navalny’s organizations as “extremists,” which would put them and their supporters under the same restrictions as groups like ISIS.
- The European Union and the United States have both demanded Navalny’s release, and the Biden administration has warned of “dire consequences” if Navalny dies while in Russian custody.
Three Week Hunger Strike
Personal doctors of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny believe that he could die “at any moment” due to mistreatment by prison doctors, a concern that prompted crowds of people across Russia to go out and protests Wednesday.
Despite being behind bars, Navalny continues to be a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin. Navalny received a 2.5-year prison sentence for violating his probation after he left the country to get medical treatment in Germany because he was poisoned by Russian agents.
Navalny’s latest condition began after going on a hunger strike on March 31 for being denied access to his own doctors. Like many aspects of the situation, there are two versions of events. Navalny’s personal doctors say that he’s extremely weak and could die “at any moment” without proper medical care. Meanwhile, doctors at the prison hospital claim that Navalny won’t die, and as of a few days ago, has been moved to another prison ward hospital to undergo “vitamin therapy.”
Navalny claims that prison doctors have threatened to force-feed him if he doesn’t end his strike.
His treatment, both in prison and by Russian authorities over the years, has drawn a lot of people to his cause. On Wednesday, Putin was giving a State of the Union address when supporters for Navalny defied a ban on protests and took to the streets throughout Russia. They demanded Navalny’s release and aimed to take attention away from Putin’s speech.
Navalny’s team says that tens of thousands took to the streets in Moscow alone, not to mention St. Petersburg and other major cities with their own demonstrations. The Kremlin disagreed and said that only about 6,500 people were out in the streets in Moscow. Either way, it’s safe to say that throughout Russia, tens of thousands protested for Navalny, although these protests were much smaller than when he was first arrested earlier this year.
The police responses to the protests varied. In some cities, they cracked down hard and confronted the crowds. In others they stood aside and let the protesters march before calmly dispersing people.
In the end, more than 1,700 people have been arrested for their part in the demonstrations.
Without independent teams being able to actually see Navalny, it’s hard to say what his condition actually is. However, if he’s been successfully hunger striking for three weeks, it’s probably a safe bet that he’s not in the best condition.
Many nations have come out in support of Navalny and demanded his release. The Biden administration warned that there would be “dire consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.”
As for his network of supporters and political groups, they may face harsher punishments soon. Authorities have asked the Moscow City Court to label his Anti-Corruption Foundation and other networks as “extremist.” That label would put them on par with ISIS and allow the government to outlaw them and levy huge prison sentences for staff and supporters.
The Moscow City Court is set to consider the request on April 26.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (CNBC) (Washington Post)
TikTok Faces Billion Dollar Lawsuit in U.K. Over Children’s Data Collection Practices
- A former U.K. Children’s Commissioner is suing TikTok on behalf of a 12-year-old girl over concerns that the company mishandles the data of users under 13.
- The lawsuit alleges that TikTok is “a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network” and doesn’t clearly tell children or parents how much data it collects nor how it will be used.
- The complaint seeks several billion pounds and has transformed into a class-action suit, with millions of children across the U.K. and E.U. eligible to take part.
- TikTok denies all the claims against it, but if the plaintiffs are victorious, then the social media company could be forced to pay thousands of pounds to each affected child.
TikTok Mishandling Data
TikTok is currently facing a serious legal challenge in the United Kingdom over how it uses and collects children’s data.
The claim was filed by former English Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield on behalf of an anonymous 12-year-old girl, although it has since transformed into a class-action lawsuit for children in the U.K. and European Union.
The legal challenge is for several billion pounds, and if successful, could lead to each affected child in the U.K. and E.U. receiving a few thousand pounds.
Longfield claims that TikTok is “a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network” and alleges that it takes children’s phone numbers, videos, exact location, and biometric data without sufficient warning. Particularly concerning for her are children under the age of twelve, who aren’t even supposed to use TikTok but do anyways.
Because of their age, they are supposed to get more legal protections over what’s done with their information, and that age range isn’t a small group of children. Longfield claims that 44% of children 8-12 use TikTok, which would roughly be 3.5 million children in the U.K. alone.
Those stats wouldn’t be too surprising, as according to a 2020 fact sheet published by Ofcom, the U.K.’s communication regulator, 50% of children aged 8 to 15 use TikTok.
Scott & Scoot, the law firm representing the case, added in a statement to the BBC that there is so little transparency for children and parents about what’s being done with the info that it’s “a severe breach of U.K. and EU data protection law.”
While every social media site collects large amounts of user data, Longfield targeted TikTok in particular because it had “excessive” data collection policies. Additionally, Longfield is annoyed at how easy it is for kids under 13 to use TikTok, saying, “Clearly, they know under-13s are using it, companies often say kids put the wrong age on but my view is that isn’t good enough.”
“Knowing kids will do that, you need additional measures to provide more robust verification of children when they are online.”
Not The First Accusation
TikTok denied the accusations and said they “lack merit,” but the claims aren’t without precedent. The company is currently under investigation by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office for knowingly hosting the data of children under-13 when it merged with Music.ly.
The company was ordered to delete the info and set up an age verification system.
In 2019, the company was hit with a $5.7 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. for mishandling children’s data. It was also fined $155,000 in South Korea over similar issues.
The concerns over children’s data have also prompted many countries to consider various legislation to either enact or expand protections on such data. In the U.K., the Online Safety Bill is being considered by Parliament. Meanwhile, in the U.S., members from both parties in Congress have expressed interest in passing laws to curb social media companies that offer services aimed at people under 16.
Longfield’s lawsuit against TikTok is still in its early stages and what happens next remains to be seen.
See what others are saying: (TechXplore) (Reuters) (BBC)
Netanyahu Loses Key Vote in Knesset, A First Step in Losing Power
- A coalition of anti-Benjamin Netanyahu parties gained control of a key committee that will set the legislative agenda as Israel tries to form a new government.
- The major legislative victory could indicate that the opposition may have a serious chance of forming a majority government when asked to do so by President Reuven Rivlin, which will likely occur in two weeks if Netanyahu fails to do the same.
- The pro- and anti-Netanyahu blocs are all courting a group of right-wing and pro-Arab parties that have yet to declare a side.
- Convincing all of the parties in either bloc to work together is increasingly difficult, as many have refused to do so if certain parties are brought into their coalitions, leaving Israel with the likely prospect of its fifth election in two years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost a key vote on Monday in the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, that could possibly lead to his fall from power.
Bibi, as he’s known, has managed to hold onto power throughout the last two years despite his coalition lacking enough votes to form and keep a government. The latest round of elections in late March once again saw Netayanhu lacking the votes to form a majority government.
For the last few weeks, Netanyahu has been working to cobble together a coalition government. Two weeks ago, he was finally given a four-week deadline by President Reuven Rivlin.
While Netanyahu retains the title of Prime Minister, he doesn’t get to set the legislative agenda without a majority. The authority to set the agenda is granted to the powerful Arrangements Committee. The Prime Minister received his first major defeat in his efforts to set up a government when the anti-Netanyahu opposition managed to get a majority in the Knesset and gain a majority of the seats on the committee.
Netanyahu made efforts to secure control of the committee, but like his previous attempts to form a government, he relied on the votes from the pro-Arab Islamist Ra’am party, which instead voted with the opposition.
The move isn’t a complete shock, as small parties such as Ra’am and the right-wing Yamina party compose a central role in the situation by consistently playing both sides in an effort to get a better deal and more power.
While Netanyahu has lost control of the Arrangements Committee, it’s unclear if that will translate into a long-term majority for the anti-Netanyahu coalition.
Many of the wildcard players have issues with parties in both coalitions, with some members of each vowing to back out if the others join.
For example, Netanyahu needs Ra’am to be able to form a government, but its status as a pro-Arab Islamist party puts it into conflict with a large pro-Jewish party in Netanyahu’s bloc, which vowed to back out if Ra’am was brought into the coalition. The opposition faces similar issues trying to get some of the right-wing parties on board to work with Ra’am, as well.
Netanyahu has two more weeks to try and form a government. If he can’t, President Rivlin will likely turn to the leaders in the opposition with a similar request. If no one is able to form a government, then Israel will head to its fifth election in two years.