TikTok details how it’s taking further action against hateful ideologies

TikTok said on Wednesday it’s strengthening its enforcement actions against hate speech and hateful ideologies to include “neighboring ideologies,” like white nationalism and others, as well as statements that emerge from those ideologies.

In a blog post, TikTok explained that it regularly evaluates its enforcement processes with the help of global experts to determine when it needed to take action against emerging risks.

While the TikTok Trust & Safety teams were already working to remove neo-Nazism and white supremacy from its platform under existing policies, it’s more recently expanded enforcement will also cover related ideologies, including white nationalism, white genocide theory, as well as “statements that have their origin in these ideologies, and movements such as Identitarianism and male supremacy,” TikTok said.

The announcement was made on TikTok’s European newsroom, and follows TikTok’s recent joining of the European Commission’s Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online. However, the guidelines TikTok discussed apply to its global audience.

TikTok had made similar statements on its U.S. newsroom in August, including its plans to take action against other hateful ideologies, including white nationalism and male supremacy, in addition to white supremacy and anti-semitism. A TikTok spokesperson told TechCrunch the new announcement was meant to offer “further details” on that policy.

The company’s new blog post noted how many monitoring organizations have been reporting that anti-semitic sentiment is increasing around the world.

TikTok itself had been recently accused of having a “white supremacy” problem, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, which led to the U.S. newsroom announcement earlier this year. The ADL had uncovered dozens of accounts that were using combinations of white supremacist symbols, terms and slogans as screen names or handles, its report said.

It also said it secured a commitment from TikTok to work together to remove such content going forward. At the time of the report, TikTok had claimed to have already removed 1,000 accounts during the year for violating hate speech policies, and said it had taken down hundreds of thousands of videos under those same guidelines. In the U.S. newsroom post, TikTok updated its numbers, saying it had banned more than 1,300 accounts for hateful content or behavior, removed more than 380,000 videos for violation of its hate speech policy, and removed over 64,000 hateful comments.

TikTok offered no update on those figures, or EU-specific data, in today’s post.

The post went on to detail other existing policies in this area. For example, TikTok says it doesn’t permit any content that denies the Holocaust and other violent tragedies — a policy Facebook only recently adopted after years of choosing to favor free speech. TikTok also says it takes action to remove misinformation and hurtful stereotypes about Jewish, Muslim and other communities — including those that spread misinformation about “notable Jewish individuals and families” that are used as proxies to spread antisemitism.

TikTok additionally noted it removes content harmful to the LGBTQ+ community by removing hateful ideas, including content that promotes promotes conversion therapy and the idea that no one is born LGBTQ+.

The company spoke about another area of policy it’s worked to improve, too. Today, TikTok is working to train Trust & Safety enforcement team members as to when it’s appropriate to remove certain language. In the case of language that was previously used to exclude and demean groups, it’s removed. But if those terms are now being reclaimed by impacted communities as terms of empowerment and counter-speech, the speech wouldn’t be taken down.

When content is taken down, TikTok users will be able to ask for a review of the action, TikTok also promised — a level of transparency that isn’t always seen today.

Much of what TikTok announced on Wednesday isn’t a new policy, necessarily, but is meant to address the E.U. audience specifically, where TikTok faces continual scrutiny over its data practices and other policies.

#anti-defamation-league, #european-commission, #european-union, #tc, #tiktok

0

Trump’s Sanctions on International Court May Do Little Beyond Alienating Allies

Critics say the administration has targeted a human rights lawyer with economic penalties meant for warlords, dictators and authoritarian governments.

#afghanistan-war-2001, #assad-bashar-al, #bensouda-fatou, #bolton-john-r, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #international-criminal-court, #khashoggi-jamal, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #national-security-council, #netanyahu-benjamin, #palestinian-authority, #pompeo-mike, #trump-donald-j, #united-nations, #united-states-international-relations, #war-crimes-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity

0

With Brexit Clock Ticking, Boris Johnson Vows, Again, to Walk Away

The prime minister blew up over what he called Europe’s insistence that Britain make all the compromises. But Europe says it still wants to talk.

#barnier-michel, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #english-channel, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #france, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #international-trade-and-world-market, #johnson-boris, #merkel-angela, #politics-and-government, #von-der-leyen-ursula, #world-trade-organization

0

Europe, Which Thought It Had Coronavirus Tamed, Faces Second Wave

France imposed a curfew on Paris and other major cities, and other countries are taking similar steps as record caseloads fill hospitals and governments try to respond without lockdowns.

#bars-and-nightclubs, #catalonia-spain, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #europe, #european-union, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #johnson-boris, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #merkel-angela, #netherlands, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia, #shutdowns-institutional

0

Central Europe Suffers as Coronavirus Surges

The Czech Republic, with the highest transmission rate in Europe, closed schools, bars and restaurants. In some countries in Central Europe, there is a critical shortage of doctors and nurses.

#bucharest-romania, #budapest-hungary, #bulgaria, #central-europe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #czech-republic, #disease-rates, #europe, #european-union, #gazeta-wyborcza, #gdansk-poland, #hospitals, #hungary, #kaczynski-jaroslaw, #orban-viktor, #oxford-university, #pew-research-center, #politics-and-government, #prague-czech-republic, #romania, #shutdowns-institutional

0

Navalny Poisoning: E.U. Preparing Sanctions on Putin Allies

Six high-ranking Russian officials who are believed to be involved in the attack on the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny face asset freezes and bans on travel to the bloc.

#assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #navalny-aleksei-a, #poisoning-and-poisons, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia

0

Is Germany Turning Against Russia?

Berlin’s patience seems to be wearing thin.

#belarus, #european-union, #germany, #merkel-angela, #navalny-aleksei-a, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia, #tikhanovskaya-svetlana

0

E.U. Agrees to Penalize Lukashenko, but Gives Him Time to Back Down

Foreign ministers of the bloc, which had imposed sanctions on other Belarus officials, agreed to apply them to the country’s president, pressuring him to call new elections.

#belarus, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #elections, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #lukashenko-aleksandr-g, #politics-and-government

0

Battle Over Mink Fur Almost Brings Down the Polish Government

Legislation to ban mink farming cracked the governing coalition, forcing the country’s most powerful politician to assume formal office and exposing a struggle for control of Polish conservatism.

#agriculture-and-farming, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animals, #duda-andrzej-1972, #european-union, #fur, #law-and-justice-poland, #minks-animals, #morawiecki-mateusz, #poland, #politics-and-government, #radio-maryja, #ziobro-zbigniew

0

E.U. Court Rules Against Hungary Law Targeting Soros-Funded University

The ruling comes as the bloc pushes back against a growing authoritarianism by the government of Viktor Orban, but is unlikely to have much effect on the ground.

#central-european-university, #colleges-and-universities, #european-union, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #hungary, #orban-viktor, #politics-and-government, #soros-george

0

Calling Amsterdam VCs: Be featured in The Great TechCrunch Survey of European VC

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey the venture capital investors of Europe, and their cities.

Our <a href=”https://forms.gle/k4Ji2Ch7zdrn7o2p6”>survey of VCs in Amsterdam will capture how the city is faring, and what changes are being wrought amongst investors by the coronavirus pandemic. (Please note, if you have filled the survey out already, there is no need to do it again).

We’d like to know how Amsterdam’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and, generally, how your thinking will evolve from here.

Our survey will only be about investors, and only the contributions of VC investors will be included. More than one partner is welcome to fill out the survey.

The shortlist of questions will require only brief responses, but the more you can add, the better.

You can fill out the survey here.

Obviously, investors who contribute will be featured in the final surveys, with links to their companies and profiles.

What kinds of things do we want to know? Questions include: Which trends are you most excited by? What startup do you wish someone would create? Where are the overlooked opportunities? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? How is your local ecosystem going? And how has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy?

This survey is part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing to help founders find the right investors.

https://techcrunch.com/extra-crunch/investor-surveys/

For example, here is the recent survey of London.

You are not in Amsterdam, but would like to take part? Or you are in another part of the country? That’s fine! Any European VC investor can STILL fill out the survey, as we probably will be putting a call out to your city next anyway! And we will use the data for future surveys on vertical topics.

The survey is covering almost every European country on the continent of Europe (not just EU members, btw), so just look for your country and city on the survey and please participate (if you’re a venture capital investor).

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com

#amsterdam, #corporate-finance, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-union, #finance, #london, #money, #private-equity, #startup-company, #tc, #venture-capital

0

Britain Is Getting Ready for Its Space Race

Spurred by Brexit, London is backing companies that will build satellites and haul them into orbit.

#airbus-industrie, #cornwall-england, #european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #oneweb-inc, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #satellites, #virgin-orbit

0

Britain and E.U. Enter Make-or-Break Phase for Brexit Deal by Year’s End

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the president of the European Commission agreed that the two sides shared enough common ground to aim for a final settlement.

#europe, #european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government

0

Belarus and Turkey Top a Thorny Agenda at E.U. Summit

The delay in punishing Belarus for the crackdown that followed its flawed elections had been a huge embarrassment for the bloc.

#belarus, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #hungary, #poland, #turkey

0

E.U. Begins Legal Action Over U.K. Brexit Plan

The move came after Britain refused to withdraw legislation that it admits could break international law by potentially overriding commitments on Northern Ireland.

#european-commission, #european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit

0

Draft EU data rules target Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon

Draft EU data rules target Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon

Enlarge (credit: Walter Zerla | Getty Images)

European regulators once again have the behavior of the biggest US tech companies—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google among them—squarely in their sights as they move forward with a proposal to reform how digital marketplaces and data sharing operate.

An early draft of the Digital Services Act, under consideration by the European Parliament, would not only require tech forms to share data with smaller rivals but would also limit the ways companies can use customer data they’ve already collected, the Financial Times was first to report.

Under the proposal, tech firms with the potential to act as gatekeepers “shall not pre-install exclusively their own applications nor require from any third-party operating system developers or hardware manufacturers to pre-install exclusively gatekeepers’ own application,” according to Reuters. The draft also mandates that gatekeeper companies will also not be permitted to use data collected on their platforms to target users unless that data is also shared with rival firms.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#antitrust, #competition, #europe, #european-commission, #european-parliament, #european-union, #laws, #policy, #regulation

0

The Ship That Stopped 7,000 Migrants, and Smuggled 700,000 Cigarettes

The Caprera, an Italian warship, was deployed to Tripoli to help combat people-smugglers in Libya. Some of its sailors gathered a cargo of contraband.

#brindisi-italy, #european-union, #italy, #libya, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #smuggling

0

Calling VCs in Rome and Milan: Be featured in The Great TechCrunch Survey of European VC

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey the venture capital investors of Europe, and their cities.

Our <a href=”https://forms.gle/k4Ji2Ch7zdrn7o2p6”>survey of VCs in Rome and Milan will capture how the cities are faring, and what changes are being wrought amongst investors by the coronavirus pandemic. (Please note, if you have filled the survey out already, there is no need to do it again).

We’d like to know how the startup scenes are evolving in the cities, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and, generally, how your thinking will evolve from here.

Our survey will only be about investors, and only the contributions of VC investors will be included. More than one partner is welcome to fill out the survey.

The shortlist of questions will require only brief responses, but the more you can add, the better.

You can fill out the survey here.

Obviously, investors who contribute will be featured in the final surveys, with links to their companies and profiles.

What kinds of things do we want to know? Questions include: Which trends are you most excited by? What startup do you wish someone would create? Where are the overlooked opportunities? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? How is your local ecosystem going? And how has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy?

This survey is part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing to help founders find the right investors.

For example, here is the recent survey of London.

You are not in Rome and Milan, but would like to take part? Or you are in another part of the country? That’s fine! Any European VC investor can STILL fill out the survey, as we will be putting a call out to your city next anyway!

The survey is covering almost every European country on the continent of Europe (not just EU members, btw), so just look for your country and city on the survey and please participate (if you’re a venture capital investor).

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com

#corporate-finance, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-union, #finance, #london, #milan, #money, #private-equity, #rome, #startup-company, #tc, #venture-capital

0

At Climate Week, America’s Cascading Disasters Dominate

This year’s events come amid a climate reckoning in the world’s richest country. Here are the takeaways.

#china, #climate-week-2020, #european-union, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #new-york-city, #politics-and-government, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Calling Helsinki VCs: Be featured in The Great TechCrunch Survey of European VC

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey the venture capital investors of Europe, and their cities.

Our <a href=”https://forms.gle/k4Ji2Ch7zdrn7o2p6”>survey of VCs in Helsinki will capture how the city is faring, and what changes are being wrought amongst investors by the coronavirus pandemic. (Please note, if you have filled the survey out already, there is no need to do it again).

We’d like to know how Helsinki’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and, generally, how your thinking will evolve from here.

Our survey will only be about investors, and only the contributions of VC investors will be included. More than one partner is welcome to fill out the survey.

The shortlist of questions will require only brief responses, but the more you can add, the better.

You can fill out the survey here.

Obviously, investors who contribute will be featured in the final surveys, with links to their companies and profiles.

What kinds of things do we want to know? Questions include: Which trends are you most excited by? What startup do you wish someone would create? Where are the overlooked opportunities? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? How is your local ecosystem going? And how has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy?

This survey is part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing to help founders find the right investors.

For example, here is the recent survey of London.

You are not in Helsinki, but would like to take part? European VC investors can STILL fill out the survey, as we will be putting a call out to your city next anyway!

The survey is covering almost every European country on the continent of Europe (not just EU members, btw), so just look for your country and city on the survey and please participate (if you’re a venture capital investor).

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com

#articles, #business, #corporate-finance, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-union, #helsinki, #london, #private-equity, #startup-company, #tc, #venture-capital

0

E.U. Failure to Impose Sanctions on Belarus Lays Bare Its Weakness

E.U. foreign policy moves require unanimous support from the member nations — a rule that continually undercuts the bloc’s bold ambitions for global influence.

#belarus, #borrell-fontelles-josep, #cyprus, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #greece, #lukashenko-aleksandr-g, #tikhanovskaya-svetlana, #turkey, #voter-fraud-election-fraud

0

E.U. Offers Cash and More Deportations in New Plan for Migrants

The bloc wants to persuade its most anti-immigrant member countries to agree to a common policy. But the future of its new plan, like many of its details, remains uncertain.

#asylum-right-of, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #immigration-and-emigration, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #refugees-and-displaced-persons

0

EU’s antitrust probe of Google-Fitbit gets more time

European antitrust regulators now have until almost the end of the year to take a decision on whether to green light Google’s planned acquisition of Fitbit.

The tech giant announced its intention to buy the fitness tracking wearable maker in November 2019, saying it would shell out $2.1 billion in cash to make off with Fitbit and the health data it holds on some 28M+ users.

EU regulators were quick to sound the alarm about letting the tech giant go shopping for such a major cache of sensitive personal data, with the European Data Protection Board warned in February that the proposed purchase poses a huge risk to privacy.

There is also a parallel concern that Fitbit’s fitness data could further consolidate Google’s regional dominance in the ad market. And last month EU competition regulators announced a full antitrust probe — saying then they would take a decision within 90 working days. That deadline has now been extended by a further two weeks.

A Commission spokeswoman confirmed the earlier provisional December 9 deadline has been pushed on “in agreement with the parties” — citing Article 10(3) of the EU’s Merger Regulation.

“The provisional legal deadline for a final decision in this case is now December 23, 2020,” she added.

The Commission has not offered any detail on the reason for allocating more time to take a decision.

When EU regulators announced the in-depth probe, the Commission said it was concerned data gathered by Fitbit could lead to a distortion of competition if Google was allowed to assimilate the wearable maker and “further entrench” its dominance in online ad markets.

Other concerns include the impact on the nascent digital healthcare sector, and whether Google might be incentivised to degrade the interoperability of rival wearables with its Android OS once it has its own hardware skin in the game.

The tech giant, meanwhile, has offered assurances around the deal in an attempt to get it cleared — claiming ahead of the Commission’s probe announcement it would not use Fitbit health data for ad targeting, and suggesting that it would create a ‘data silo’ for Fitbit data to keep it separate from other data holdings.

However regulators have expressed scepticism — with the Commission writing last month that the “data silo commitment proposed by Google is insufficient to clearly dismiss the serious doubts identified at this stage as to the effects of the transaction”.

It remains to be seen what the bloc’s competition regulators conclude after taking a longer and harder look at the deal — and it’s worth noting they are simultaneously consulting on whether to give themselves new powers to be able to intervene faster to regulate digital markets — but Google’s hopes of friction-free regulatory clearance and being able to hit the ground running in 2020 with Fitbit’s data in its pocket have certainly not come to pass. 

#antitrust, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #fitbit, #google, #health, #health-data, #policy, #privacy, #wearables

0

The Age of Electric Cars Is Dawning Ahead of Schedule

Battery prices are dropping faster than expected. Analysts are moving up projections of when an electric vehicle won’t need government incentives to be cheaper than a gasoline model.

#automobiles, #baden-wurttemberg-germany, #batteries, #bayerische-motorenwerke-ag, #carnegie-mellon-university, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #energy-department, #environmental-protection-agency, #european-union, #factories-and-manufacturing, #ford-henry, #frankfurt-germany, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hyundai-motor-co, #karlsruhe-institute-of-technology, #kelley-blue-book-co, #lucid-motors-inc, #musk-elon, #renault-sa, #sweden, #tesla-motors-inc, #volkswagen-ag, #wood-mackenzie-ltd

0

With Moria’s Displaced, a Larger Conundrum for Europe

Years after the Syrian refugee crisis subsided, asylum seekers from other nations face even higher obstacles to enter Europe, which is more ambivalent about accepting them than ever.

#asylum-right-of, #europe, #european-union, #immigration-and-emigration, #lesbos-greece, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #refugees-and-displaced-persons

0

China, Seeking a Friend in Europe, Finds Rising Anger and Frustration

Beijing’s hopes of using Europe as a counterweight to the United States have faltered as country after country confronts China over trade, Hong Kong, human rights and other issues.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #political-prisoners, #politics-and-government, #united-states-international-relations, #wang-yi, #xi-jinping

0

Why a Refugee Camp Burned in Greece

Conditions at the Moria center on the island of Lesbos were already dire. This year, the coronavirus compounded the misery, and then fires razed the squalid camp, leaving thousands homeless.

#european-union, #greece, #immigration-and-emigration, #lesbos-greece, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #moria-greece, #refugees-and-displaced-persons

0

Europe’s Economic Revival Is Imperiled, Raising the Specter of a Grinding Downturn

As the coronavirus regains force, economists fear that Europe’s tentative recovery is at risk from traditional political concerns.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-central-bank, #european-union, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #international-trade-and-world-market, #johnson-boris, #lagarde-christine, #politics-and-government, #recession-and-depression, #stimulus-economic

0

Can Biden Fix What Trump Broke?

E.U. leaders are still learning to navigate a world ever more dangerous for them, while relations with the United States grow more and more awkward.

#balkan-states, #baltic-sea, #belarus, #berlin-germany, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #canada, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #group-of-seven, #johnson-boris, #lukashenko-aleksandr-g, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #merkel-angela, #navalny-aleksei-a, #north-atlantic-treaty-organization, #presidential-election-of-2020, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia, #trudeau-justin, #trump-donald-j, #united-nations, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Boris Johnson Pushes to Backtrack on E.U. Deal, Despite Party Revolt

The British prime minister’s move to rewrite a treaty that settled Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit status raised fears that trade negotiations with the European Union could be impaired.

#conservative-party-great-britain, #european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #international-trade-and-world-market, #johnson-boris, #law-and-legislation, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #northern-ireland, #politics-and-government

0

Europe Feels Squeeze as Tech Competition Heats Up Between U.S. and China

As the rapid pace of change mixes with national security issues, Europe’s role as a global regulator is increasingly tested — and may not be enough.

#amazon-com-inc, #apple-inc, #artificial-intelligence, #china, #computers-and-the-internet, #european-union, #facebook-inc, #facial-recognition-software, #google-inc, #privacy, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #social-media, #tiktok-bytedance, #united-states-international-relations

0

As Both Sides Dig In, What’s the Endgame for Belarus?

President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko seems set on relentless repression, while protesters think peaceful defiance will win in the end.

#demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #european-union, #kolesnikova-maria, #lukashenko-aleksandr-g, #minsk-belarus, #moscow-russia, #putin-vladimir-v, #tikhanovskaya-svetlana, #united-nations

0

Remember Brexit?

The drama continues to unfold.

#european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #international-trade-and-world-market, #johnson-boris, #politics-and-government

0

Support the Brave Protesters of Belarus

America and Europe must make clear that they stand behind the Belarusian people’s demand for fair elections.

#belarus, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #elections, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-union, #kolesnikova-maria, #lukashenko-aleksandr-g, #poisoning-and-poisons, #politics-and-government

0

Brexit Talks Hit Crisis as Boris Johnson Rejects EU Ultimatum

Europe has demanded the quick withdrawal of draft Brexit legislation that breaks international law. Britain has refused.

#europe, #european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #international-trade-and-world-market, #ireland, #johnson-boris

0

Boris Johnson Facing Revolt Over Northern Ireland Pact

The government’s top lawyer has quit, and even a government minister admits the prime minister’s effort to rewrite the treaty violates international law.

#conservative-party-great-britain, #european-union, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #johnson-boris, #may-theresa-m, #northern-ireland

0

New E.U. Trade Chief Will Lead Prickly Talks With China. And U.K. And U.S.

Valdis Dombrovskis, a former prime minister of Latvia, was picked to take over at a particularly tense time. The previous office holder quit after claims he had flouted coronavirus rules.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dombrovskis-valdis, #european-commission, #european-union, #hogan-phil-1960, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government, #von-der-leyen-ursula

0

As Brexit Deadlines Loom, the Posturing and Bickering Flare Again

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is threatening to cut off negotiations by Oct. 15 if there is no progress. The European Union says the British are not negotiating.

#barnier-michel, #conservative-party-great-britain, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #european-union, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #johnson-boris, #starmer-keir

0

Venezuela’s Opposition Splits Over Taking Part in Coming Elections

Sanctions and boycotts have failed to bring down president Nicolás Maduro. Now some opposition leaders are ready to shift strategy and take him on at the ballot box, despite concerns about the vote’s fairness.

#capriles-radonski-henrique, #datanalisis, #elections, #european-union, #guaido-juan, #international-relations, #maduro-nicolas, #venezuela, #voter-fraud-election-fraud

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PandaDoc employees arrested in Belarus after founders protest against Lukashenko regime

Yesterday the four employees (pictured) of US-headquartered enterprise startup PandaDoc were arrested in Minsk by the Belarus police, in what appears to be an act of state-led retaliation, after the company’s founders joined protests against the 26 year-long regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko is widely believed by international observers to have rigged the country’s recent elections in his favor, preventing the election of opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

PandaDoc — which has raised $51.1M and is now headquartered in San Francisco after debuting at a TechCrunch Meetup in Berlin in 2013 — issued a statement saying their Minsk development office was raided by police and the ‘Financial Investigation Department’ yesterday morning.

PandaDoc has released a statement on a new web site, SavePandaDoc, outlining the incident, saying employees had been prevented from leaving the office, refused access to lawyers, and a director was taken away by Police.

One of the founders of the company, Mikita Mikado, who lives in the US, has also released a statement to this effect on his Instagram and Youtube.

Four of the arrested PandaDoc employees have been charged with embezzling 107,000 BYR ($41,000) from company and therefore avoiding tax. The employees have been detained for two months.

However, PandaDoc released a statement saying: “We declare that this accusation is completely untrue and has no basis whatsoever. All activities of the company were carried out in full compliance with the legislation, which is confirmed by repeated international audits and inspections.”

Now held in custody are (also pictured):

Yulia Shardiko, Chief Accountant
Dmitry Rabtsevich, Director
Victor Kuvshinov, Product Director
Vladislav Mikholap, HR

Although the company HQ is in San Francisco, it has a large office on the Belarusian High Technologies Park, which was set up by the government supposedly to support the tech industry.

PandaDoc said the police raid was likely linked to the fact that the founders of PandaDoc, in particular Mikado, have protested publicly against the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Lukashenko, but have done so strictly in a personal capacity.

Mikado recently became a leading voice in the protest movement. He set up an initiative, ProtectBelarus.org, offering Belarusian police officers who had decided to disobey orders to beat and torture protesters financial aid and re-training in the tech industry.

Belarussian police officers are effectively ‘indentured employees’ because they are paid in large sums at the beginning of their contract, but this immediately becomes a debt to the state the moment they decide to break leave their contract.

In a statement, Mikado said that as of August 29th, the platform had received more than 6,000 messages and almost 600 requests for help. The platform is run by volunteers and has no relation to PandaDoc, the company.

Mikado said in a statement: “We are asking international tech community to support PandaDoc by sharing this message and reaction to it with a #SavePandaDoc tag.”

“There is no more law. The authorities do not even try to act according to the law, they simply fabricate cases for political orders that come from above. And if you thought that this would not affect you, then we can safely assure you of the opposite – it has already affected everyone,” the statement reads.

“We will not be silent anymore! The country is full of legal chaos. The actions of the authorities cannot be called anything except genocide and repression. The further it goes, the longer the road back. And soon there will be a cliff. We demand to immediately release our colleagues, close the criminal case, let the company work normally and bring benefits and income, including to the state.”

The company now says it will be forced to close the company in Belarus and “will begin to establish an alternative to the Park of High Technologies outside the Republic of Belarus.”

PandaDoc only recently raised $30 million in a Series B extension from One Peak, Microsoft Venture Fund M12 and EBRD Venture Fund.

After the Belarusian presidential election on August 9th (which was not recognized as free and fair by the EU, the UK and the US due to widely reported and documented vote-rigging in favor of Lukashenko) the police violently cracked down on peaceful protests, leading to six reported deaths and 450 UN-documented cases of police torture.

#belarus, #berlin, #countries, #director, #europe, #european-union, #microsoft, #mikita-mikado, #pandadoc, #politicians, #president, #presidential-election, #san-francisco, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-nations, #united-states

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Navalny Poisoning Raises Pressure on Merkel to Cancel Russian Pipeline

Evidence that the Russian opposition leader was attacked with a military-grade nerve agent has placed new pressures on the German chancellor.

#berlin-germany, #europe, #european-union, #germany, #merkel-angela, #natural-gas, #navalny-aleksei-a, #pipelines, #poisoning-and-poisons, #politics-and-government, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia

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