LONDON: Palestinian singer and composer Nai Barghouti was denied entry to Egypt, the artist announced through social media on Monday.
The decision led to the postponement of a series of concerts Barghouti was scheduled to play in the country.
“The Cairo Opera House has decided to postpone my Cairo and Alexandria concerts indefinitely after I was banned at Cairo Airport from entering beloved Egypt for reasons I still don’t know,” she told fans on social media.
Authorities held the star at Cairo airport for eight hours without justification, before denying her entry to the country.
“I was shocked, saddened and overcome by conflicting emotions, the most prominent of which was loss … the loss of the opportunity to connect with you after a long wait,” she said.
“I have prepared a rich and special music program that suits … the people of sisterly Egypt and its stature in the heart of the Arab nation. As a Palestinian artist who was raised on the values of steadfastness and dignity, I refuse to give up hope,” she added.
The young singer-songwriter was scheduled to play at two sold-out concerts at the Cairo Opera House on Aug. 4, and at the Roman Amphitheater in Alexandria on Aug. 6, as part of the Summer Festival for Music and Singing.
Fans took to social media to express their support for the Palestinian artist. Many speculated about the decision and accused Egyptian authorities of barring the musician because of her renowned activism and support for the Palestinian cause.
Earlier this year, Barghouti released Nasheed El-Ard (Anthem of the Land), a music video dedicated to the memory of Shireen Abu Akleh, the slain Al Jazeera journalist killed by Israeli forces during a raid in the occupied West Bank in May.
Born in Ramallah in 1996, the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music graduate and Palestine Youth Orchestra member is famous for merging jazz harmony and Middle-Eastern music, and has performed across the Middle East, Europe and the US, including at the UN headquarters in New York City.
LONDON: Priti Patel, the UK’s home secretary, has urged Meta to ditch its plans for end-to-end encryption of messages on Facebook and Instagram. She described the move as a potentially “grotesque betrayal” of children and their safety.
The US tech giant intends to extend the use of encrypted messaging to the two platforms next year, but Patel warned that this would hamper the ability of authorities to investigate cases of online abuse of children.
End-to-end encryption, which is already enabled on Meta’s WhatsApp messaging service, is a technology that ensures the security of user communications. No one, including Meta or any third parties, can read messages that are sent using it.
Patel voiced her concerns in an article published by The Telegraph newspaper just weeks before a controversial Online Safety Bill, new UK legislation designed to regulate social media platforms, is expected to be signed into law. She said that the use of encryption technology would hinder investigations into child abuse.
“Parents need to know that their kids will be safe online,” said Patel. “The consequences of inadequate protections — especially for end-to-end encrypted social media platforms — would be catastrophic.
“A great many child predators use social media platforms such as Facebook to discover, target and sexually abuse children. These protections need to be in place before end-to-end encryption is rolled out around the world. Child safety must never be an afterthought.”
Patel said global tech companies reported more than 29 million suspected cases of child sexual abuse on their platforms last year, with Facebook alone recording 22 million instances of child abuse imagery.
“If I were to describe the content of some of this filth, you would be deeply distressed,” she added. “Technology companies need to recognize their moral responsibility to keep children safe.”
The UK government is taking steps to improve digital security through its Online Safety Bill, Patel said, and it is “reasonable to expect” that tech companies would also use their resources and expertise to address the issue.
Meta, which has had its encryption project in the pipeline for a couple of years, confirmed this month that it still intends to move forward with the plans. It came after the company found itself under intense scrutiny for providing police in the US state of Nebraska with access to private messages sent by a 17-year-old girl accused of crimes relating to an abortion.
Facebook, which said that nothing in the warrant the company received mentioned abortion, would not have been able to access or hand over any messages if end-to-end encryption had been in place, even if the authorities had a legally valid search order.
The use of the technology in its current state would also make it impossible for Meta or any authorities to search for images of child abuse shared in direct messages.
Patel expressed optimism about the possibility of collaboration between the government and Meta to address the issue and noted a number of ways in which this could be achieved, including the scanning of conversations.
“While some things are more important than profits, it is actually in the financial interests of technology companies that the public should have confidence that their products and services will not be used to hurt children,” she said.
A Meta spokesperson said: “Experts are clear that technologies like those proposed in this (bill) would undermine end-to-end encryption and threaten people’s privacy, security and human rights.
“We have no tolerance for child exploitation on our platforms and are focused on solutions that do not require the intrusive scanning of people’s private conversations. We want to prevent harm from happening in the first place, not just detect it after the fact.
“We already do this by banning suspicious profiles, restricting adults from messaging children they’re not connected with and defaulting under-18s to private or ‘friends only’ accounts. We’re also encouraging people to report harmful messages to us so we can see the reported contents, respond swiftly and make referrals to the authorities. We continue to work with outside experts and law enforcement to help keep people safe online.”
DUBAI: Facebook parent company Meta has launched My Digital World, a pilot program for adults in Lebanon that aims to create a safer online experience and reduce the risk of bad behavior in the real world. It has been developed with local partner the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training.
“Our partnership with (LOST) will allow us to localize the My Digital World — Adults curriculum to meet the needs of marginalized communities in the Bekaa, Balbeck and Hermel regions,” said Rama Halaseh, Meta’s policy programs manager for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
The program is designed to be delivered as a complete curriculum using virtual and in-person teaching. It will be used to train between 30 and 50 members of local communities who in turn will train more than 2,000 people and lead public-awareness campaigns.
The program includes five learning modules covering privacy, security, avoiding scams, media literacy and digital citizenship. They aim to teach the skills required for positive and safe interaction with others in online communities.
Meta will work with local partners to incorporate a behavioral change analysis process that will be used to assess the effectiveness of its approach and program design.
“LOST cares deeply about digital literacy,” said Rami Lakkis, the organization’s founder and manager. “With our strategic partnership with Meta, we aim to implement the My Digital World curriculum to address the needs of the targeted marginalized communities in the country’s Bekaa, Balbeck and Hermel regions and equip people with the skills needed to navigate digital spaces safely and responsibly and succeed in an increasingly complex and digitally connected world.”
Meta launched its wider My Digital World initiative on Feb. 8, the annual Safer Internet Day, in the form of a web portal dedicated to educating users in the Middle East and North Africa. Through it, visitors can access digital-literacy resources designed to help keep users, particularly young people, safe on the internet. The documents are available in English, Arabic and French. It also features learning modules for students between the ages of 13 and 18 that were created by Meta through partnerships with experts in the region.
“As our society continues to grow, online education and training have become a critical resource in almost every aspect of life, be it personal or professional,” Halaseh said. “It has become a fundamental component of people’s growth choices.
“Accordingly, we devote significant resources to ensuring our platforms provide people with a safe and positive experience, which is why we invest heavily in tools and programs to safeguard people.”
LONDON: Twitter confirmed it is testing a new verification profile badge for users who have confirmed their phone numbers.
Jane Manchun Wong, a researcher known for uncovering features on apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, hinted at the new development last week after discovering the platform’s intentions to label accounts with a verified phone number.
Twitter confirmed the rumor on Tuesday, adding it was an effort to “allow people to add context to their accounts.”
It already has similar features for users such as journalists, celebrities, government officials, and state-backed media. It has also created a label for helpful bots on the app.
However, while these blue badges are only issued to a select number of accounts with either a phone number or email address linked, if Twitter decides to launch the new feature, then millions of accounts could be entitled to receive the phone number verification label.
News about the feature, with some people speculating it would be a grey label on the bottom half of a person’s Twitter bio, comes amid the ongoing legal battle between Twitter and Elon Musk.
The Tesla CEO is seeking to cancel his multibillion-dollar acquisition, claiming the app misled him about key aspects of the business, particularly the number of fake accounts or automated “bots” instead of people.
Twitter said the new feature was part of a larger effort to “maintain the authenticity of the conversation on the platform by offering individuals more options to identify and express themselves on Twitter and in their accounts.”
It remains unclear whether the company is more concerned with giving users more transparency about their conversation or simply finding a way to flag a non-bot profile.
London: Apple Inc. said on Monday it would offer customers tools and know-how to repair and service their MacBook laptops at home, months after launching the service for iPhones.
Apple said genuine parts and service tools will be available starting Aug. 23. Customers can buy the repair kits or rent it for one-time use for $49.
Self repairs are possible only on MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models with the M1 chips.
In April, Apple launched self-repair services for select iPhones models in the United States, with plans to expand the service to Europe this year.
The development comes close on the heels of Apple agreeing to pay $50 million to settle a class-action lawsuit related to “butterfly” keyboards on some models of MacBook laptop.
WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of US lawmakers on Monday released a revised version of a bill aimed at making it easier for news organizations to negotiate collectively with platforms like Google and Facebook.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act “removes legal obstacles to news organizations’ ability to negotiate collectively and secure fair terms from gatekeeper platforms that regularly access news content without paying for its value,” according to a news release from the lawmakers.
The group includes Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator John Kennedy, both members of the Judiciary Committee, and House Judiciary Committee members David Cicilline, a Democrat, and Ken Buck, a Republican.
A previous version of the bill, introduced in March 2021, was opposed by two technology industry trade groups that Meta Platforms’ Facebook, and Alphabet’s Google belong to – the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice.
The updated bill would cover news publishers with fewer than 1,500 full-time employees and non-network news broadcasters. It would allow them to work together to win better deals from Facebook, Google and other large platforms, according to the news release.
The 2021 legislation would have applied to any print, broadcast or digital news organization with a dedicated editorial staff that published at least on a weekly basis.