Tag Archives: bbc

Self-harm images ‘groom suicide victims’

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Media captionMolly Russell’s father told the BBC he believed Instagram had ‘helped kill my daughter’

Harmful suicide and self-harm content online “has the effect of grooming people to take their own lives”, the suicide prevention minister has said.

Jackie Doyle-Price has told the BBC that social media companies must “step up” to protect vulnerable users.

It comes after links were made between the suicide of teenager Molly Russell and her exposure to harmful content.

Digital Minister Margot James is to reveal details of a “new regulatory regime” for social media later.

According to the Daily Mail, Ms James will promise to crack down on many of the social media platforms that have “fallen short” in their response to online bullying, abuse and misinformation.

In a speech at a conference for Safer Internet Day, Ms James is expected to say: “We will introduce laws that force social media platforms to remove illegal content, and to prioritise the protection of users beyond their commercial interests.”

Facebook meeting

Meanwhile Ms Doyle-Price is due to meet Facebook later on Tuesday to discuss what action it is taking.

She told BBC Breakfast: “We want social media not really to be doing this through the stick of the law, we want them to do it to look after their users.”

She said she hoped senior staff at Facebook, which also owns Instagram, would act – ideally using algorithms to protect people rather than “bombard” them with advertising.

Ms Doyle-Price said: “Sometimes they do [act], but more often they don’t”.

Addressing the National Suicide Prevention Alliance Conference on Tuesday, she said: “If companies cannot behave responsibly and protect their users, we will legislate.

“They shouldn’t wait for government to tell them what to do. It says a lot about the values of companies if they do not take action voluntarily.”

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “We could use fines, we could make social media companies much more responsible and apply the full force of the law to them if we feel they are being negligent in their duty of care to their users.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office are due to publish a white paper on the government’s approach to online safety later this year.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A family photo of Molly, taken in 2009

Ms Doyle-Price said the father of Molly Russell, who took her own life in 2017 aged 14, had done much to highlight the issue.

“I am full of admiration for Molly’s father for being so brave and frank,” she said.

Molly’s father, Ian Russell, told the BBC he believed Instagram had “helped kill my daughter”.

When her family looked at her Instagram account after her death, they found distressing material about depression and suicide.

Molly case ‘has focused minds’

Ms Doyle-Price said that after Mr Russell spoke out, “so many other parents have spoken out…it has really focused people’s minds”.

She added: “The really shocking thing is that he had absolutely no idea that his daughter was looking at these things online.”

The boss of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, is due to meet the health secretary this week over the platform’s handling of content promoting self-harm and suicide.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said Molly’s case had left him “deeply moved” and he accepted the site had work to do.

He wrote: “We rely heavily on our community to report this content, and remove it as soon as it’s found.

“The bottom line is we do not yet find enough of these images before they’re seen by other people.”

‘Hooked on self-harm’

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Media captionLibby used to post images of her self-harm injuries on Instagram

In a separate case, Libby, 16, and her father Ian have shared their story after hearing of Molly’s death.

At the age of 12, Libby, became “hooked” on posting and viewing self-harm images on Instagram – including pictures of cutting, burning and overdosing.

Her father said his family reported such images to Instagram, but the social media company did nothing.

Speaking to the BBC, Libby described how she was drawn in to an online community and recalled sharing pictures of her fresh cuts with 8,000 followers.

Read more of her story here.

If you’ve been affected by self-harm, eating disorders or emotional distress, help and support is available via the BBC Action Line.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47127208

‘I use Snapchat to sell sexual videos’


Image caption Jodie Carnall describes herself as a “Snapchat Premium girl”

Snapchat is being used to sell explicit images and videos online, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has found. Jodie Carnall says she makes £4,000 a month on the app, but it’s not without a cost to her personal life, and she has been subject to online abuse.

“It’s like a proper business,” the 26-year-old says.

“It’s like people that sing, or go and gig, or artists that sell their own paintings. I’m just selling pictures and videos of me.”

Jodie refers to herself as a “Snapchat Premium girl”.

For a monthly fee – of between £20 and £200 – she sends her subscribers sexually explicit photos and videos via the regular Snapchat app.

She advertises her service on other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

When people contact her to sign up, they must agree to a series of rules that Jodie herself has written up, and transfer the money for the first month into her account, before she allows them to follow her.

She says she is also careful to check the accounts belong to real people before accepting.


Image caption Jodie sends content several times a week

Jodie started selling explicit content of herself shortly after appearing on ITV’s dating show Take Me Out in 2016, when men began contacting her online.

She initially saw their messages as “creepy”, but eventually changed her mind.

Maintaining her Snapchat has now become her full-time job, she explains, often because her 40 or so subscribers demand extra material.

Content can range from a striptease to videos of her masturbating.

Pornographic content ‘banned’

Lawyers say no laws are being broken by those selling such content, unless they do so to under-18s or upload especially depraved material.

But as a result of the Victoria Derbyshire programme showing Instagram its findings, that social media site has now blocked all hashtags associated with Premium Snapchat that were being used by people to advertise their services.

Snapchat itself said in a statement it does not allow “pornographic content to be promoted or distributed”.

“Accounts that privately distribute pornographic content are an intentional abuse of the terms of service of our platform.

“We remove them when reported.”

Hurtful comments

Jodie sees Snapchat as a safe environment to make money, as she says she never needs to meet her clients.

“I’m not an escort. I’ve been offered thousands of pounds to meet men and I say ‘no’,” she explains.

However, she has received many hurtful comments – sent online from those who object to what she does for a living.

They contain offensive language.

“People call me ‘slut’ and things like that. And it does upset me,” she explains.

Within 20 minutes of filming with the Victoria Derbyshire programme, she receives a message from a man she has never spoken to before that reads: “You are a hoe though. You’re gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but shame you sell your body or pictures. No morals unfortunately in this world.”

Jodie explains: “I get a message like that every hour, or every half an hour, all day long.

“Tonight my friend will say, ‘How did filming go?’… and then I’ll break down.

“But,” she reflects, “I was miserable in my office job, and I love the money.”


Image caption Jodie’s subscribers pay between £20 and £200 a month

It has also taken a toll on her personal life.

She has not had a boyfriend for months and says many men judge her.

“They don’t really want to date me after [I tell them my job]. Or they do, but for the wrong reasons,” she says.

And she admits her family is concerned about the long-term implications.

Jodie allows her subscribers who pay her £200 a month to save the material she sends them to their phones.

It means she loses control of the content, and does not know how it will be used.

‘Future careers ruined’

Laura Higgins, who founded the Revenge Porn Helpline, argues more protections are needed.

She says the charity receives regular calls from people like Jodie, who have been blackmailed or had their future careers ruined by the resurfacing of sexual content they originally sold online.

And she says the videos they produce can even go on to be used by others for sextortion – luring men to send explicit pictures of themselves to what they think is a good-looking woman, and then blackmailing them.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it expected “online platforms to… ensure the services they offer are age appropriate”.

It added: “Working with tech companies, children’s charities and other stakeholders, we are developing new laws to help make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”

Image copyright Getty Images

Jodie explains she will continue selling material on Snapchat “until it’s not convenient for me any more”.

She says the money – four times what she earned before – makes it worth it, having struggled to afford to feed herself two years ago.

And it allows her to live a flexible lifestyle.

But she does not hide the downsides.

“When [sexualised comments are] the only attention you’re getting as a woman, it can make you feel quite worthless,” she says.

“All I get is like, ‘show me your boobs’ or ‘I want to see you in underwear now’, or ‘you’re dirty, you’re filthy’.

“I sometimes cry. It’s very upsetting, because I don’t actually get any nice attention.”

Follow the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Facebook and Twitter – and see more of our stories here.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46311412

How to help on Giving Tuesday

Image copyright Anawim
Image caption Emily Johnson will be taking essentials to homeless women on the streets of Birmingham

#GivingTuesday is trending on social media – but what is it, where did it come from and how are people getting involved?

What is Giving Tuesday?

It follows the spending spree that is the long – and expensive – shopping weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

It has been organised in the UK by the Charities Aid Foundation since 2014 and encourages people to offer time, money or support to help a good cause.

“Giving Tuesday started in [the United States] on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving [and] is a movement to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas season,” says Angharad Thomas, from the charity.

“Christmas shopping is a great thing but if there’s one day to think about doing something for charity, Giving Tuesday is it.

“If you have a little bit of money left, it’s great to donate. But it’s equally about doing something kind and talking or posting on social media about good causes.”

How can you help?


Image caption Solomon Smith set up a soup kitchen which now offers CV workshops, job guidance and advice on housing and benefits

Giving Tuesday recognises any form of goodwill but one way is to spare some time.

Solomon Smith set up the Brixton Soup Kitchen in 2013 to help serve people in that part of south London.

On this day, much like all the others, the 33-year-old will be serving up hot bowls of food to about 80 people.

“Every day we get people saying ‘why are you doing this and not getting paid?'” he says.

“But there’s some type of feeling I get that feels so amazing when someone comes up to me on the street and they say: ‘You have changed my life’.”

Image copyright Paul Ramsden
Image caption Tina Ramsden took some time out of her schedule to lend a hand

Lending a hand doesn’t need to take all day – even just an hour or two is welcomed.

Tina Ramsden took some time out of her schedule to join volunteers in preparing for a Christmas tree festival at St George’s Church in Stockport.

The event will raise money for local charities, including Stockport Talking Newspaper which provides free news for visually impaired people.

You might also be interested in:

Five ways you can help homeless people

The social experiment that’s rewarding good deeds

‘Most adorable random act of kindness ever’?

Dig about in your cupboards

Image copyright Getty Images

Toiletries, sanitary products, sleeping bags and warm clothes are all being gathered by volunteers at a women’s centre in Birmingham.

The drop-in centre in Balsall Heath is run by the Anawim charity and supports more than 700 women a year struggling with homelessness, domestic violence and sexual exploitation.

“We see Giving Tuesday as the perfect opportunity to raise funds and community awareness for us to help support even more women and their children in distress,” says fundraising officer, Emily Johnson.

‘Having clean teeth is not a luxury’

Improvised sanitary wear ‘a health risk’

Donating to such causes is a great way to give something back, says Nicky Beet.

“I am on disability benefits [for fibromyalgia] which has given me a different perspective on poverty, so I will be donating at my local Co-op which collects food for local food banks,” said the 37-year-old from West Bromwich.

“My wife and I often went without electricity or heating for weeks and only survived because of the help and love of family.

“I am also more aware that many don’t have these informal support structures and suffer much more as a result.”

Share your knowledge

Image copyright Getty Images

If you have a special skill that can help others why not show another person how to do it?

Millie Loxton will be teaching students at the University of Manchester emergency lifesaving skills during HeartStart CPR training sessions.

“Anyone could be a bystander to a first aid emergency and the more people who know what to do, the more likely people will be able to help,” she says.

Can you spare some change?

Image copyright Border Terrier Welfare
Image caption Sammie and Pippin are the faces of Border Terrier Welfare

More than 2,600 charities and organisations are partnered up to Giving Tuesday to give help get money to good causes.

Some, like Border Terrier Welfare, are holding an auction to help re-home their furry friends and raise money to keep the charity going.

Others, such as Nathan Abbott, raise cash from taking part in sponsored events.

The long-distance swimmer was born with a severe bilateral cleft lip and palate and has raised £25,000 for charity Smile Train, which helps children with the same condition.

“A smile is the best way to spread happiness in the simplest of ways,” says the 21-year-old from Littlehampton in West Sussex.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46318115

Drone arrest couple ‘feel violated’

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Media captionElaine Kirk and Paul Gait were released without charge

The couple arrested over the drone chaos at Gatwick Airport have said they feel “completely violated”.

Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk, who were released without charge, told Sky News their “privacy and identity” had been “completely exposed” after being named in the media and their home searched.

“We are deeply distressed, as are our family and friends, and we are currently receiving medical care.

“The way we were initially perceived was disgusting,” they said.

The couple, from Crawley, West Sussex, whose names have not been revealed by the BBC until now, added: “Those that knew us didn’t doubt us for a second.”

Speaking outside their home, Mr Gait, 47, and Ms Kirk, 54, said they had been “totally overwhelmed” by the support they had received from people around the world.

“We would ask that the press please respect our privacy and leave us to try and get through Christmas as best we can,” they said.

Passengers faced three days of disruption last week when about 1,000 flights were affected during 36 hours of chaos when drones were sighted near the runway.

The airport has spent £5m since Wednesday on new equipment and technology to prevent copycat attacks.

Security minister Ben Wallace said the government was “able to now deploy detection systems throughout the UK” to combat the threat.

“The huge proliferation of such devices, coupled with the challenges of deploying military counter measures into a civilian environment, means there are no easy solutions,” he said.

“Those people who chose to use drones either recklessly or for criminal purposes can expect the most severe sentence and jail time when caught,” he added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The airport was forced to shut its runway for spells on Wednesday and Friday and for all of Thursday

The airport has offered a £50,000 reward, through Crimestoppers, and another £10,000 has been put up by the charity’s chairman Lord Ashcroft to catch the culprits responsible for the drama, which affected some 140,000 passengers.

Sussex Police said a damaged drone found near the perimeter of the airport near Horley on Saturday morning, close to the last reported sighting, was being forensically examined.

The force acknowledged that its suggestion, made on Sunday, that there may never have been a drone at Gatwick was down to “poor communications”.

Earlier, Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner stated there were numerous illegal drone sightings at the airport over three days from 19 to 21 December, discounting any doubt over possible sightings.

There were more than 200 sightings since the first drone was spotted, with police taking 67 statements, including from fellow officers and airport staff.

“The impact of this criminal and reckless behaviour has been enormous and we are determined to locate those responsible to bring them to justice,” she said.

Gatwick said it had taken the necessary actions to ensure the safety of passengers, and it was clear there were “multiple confirmed sightings of drone activity”.

Authorities finally regained control over the airfield early on Friday after the Army deployed unidentified military technology.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46675612

NHS bosses look to overhaul cancer screening

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Cancer screening programmes are to be reviewed following high-profile mistakes that have put thousands of patients in England at risk.

NHS England has asked former government cancer tsar Sir Mike Richards to look at what changes are needed.

Three national schemes cover breast, cervical and bowel cancers.

On Wednesday, it emerged letters about the cervical cancer tests that should have gone to 40,000 women between January and June had not been sent.

About 4,000 of them were results of tests, the remainder were letters inviting them for screening or reminding them tests were due.

Between 150 and 200 of the test results that were not sent out detailed abnormal results.

NHS bosses have been able to contact all those affected.

The service in charge of distributing letters is provided for NHS England by Capita.

Looking at the merits of outsourcing screening was going to form part of the review, NHS England said.

The problems come just months after it emerged 174,000 women had not been invited for breast cancer screening, after mistakes had gone undetected for years.

That service was not outsourced.

Sir Mike has also been asked to look at whether the programmes are making sufficient use of technology and whether the age ranges for the types of screening being offered is right.

“There is no doubt that screening programmes save thousands of lives every year,” he said.

“However, as part of implementing the NHS’s long term plan, we want to make certain they are as effective as possible.”

The results of the review are expected by the summer of next year.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46212057

How can a drone cause so much chaos?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As drones become more popular, countries will need to consider regulations to restrict usage

Gatwick Airport re-opened its runway on Friday morning after hundreds of flights were grounded due to a drones being spotted over the airfield on Wednesday and Thursday.

So why has a drone caused so much disruption and what are the risks posed by these devices?

What is a drone?

The term “drone” for some prompts images of air strikes – but the sophisticated flying robots used on the battlefield are unlikely to be what we are talking about here.

The vast majority of unmanned aerial vehicles are actually small, remote-controlled quadcopters used by hobbyists and photographers.

These small devices are now a mainstream gadget, which can cost from under £40 to several thousands of pounds.

Drones are also increasingly being used in industries such as construction and retail.

What damage can a drone cause an aircraft?

In October 2017, a drone collided with a commercial aircraft in Canada, striking one of the plane’s wings. The plane sustained minor damage but was able to land safely.

Image copyright ASSURE
Image caption Experts agree that a drone could damage an aircraft

Research on drone damage to aircraft is still limited but a number of institutions have tested a variety of impact scenarios and each seems to reach a different conclusion.

Tests conducted at the University of Dayton in the US mimicked a midair collision between a 2.1lb (1kg) quadcopter and a commercial aircraft travelling at 238mph (383km/h) and appeared to show it inflicting major damage.

Other research from the Alliance for System Safety of Unmanned aircraft system through research Excellence (Assure) in conjunction with the US’s Federal Aviation Authority suggested drones could inflict more damage than a bird collision and the lithium ion batteries that power them may not shatter upon impact, instead becoming lodged in airframes and posing a potential risk of fire.

Ravi Vaidyanathan, a robotics lecturer at Imperial College, London, told the BBC: “The threat posed to larger aircraft by drones is small but not negligible.

“The probability of a collision is small but a drone could be drawn into a turbine.

“A drone greater than 2kg might break the cockpit windshield as well for certain aircraft.”

Martin Lanni, chief executive of airspace security company Quantum Aviation, said: “A drone looks quite fragile but the battery is hefty and if you compare a drone to a bird, then it could be potentially more dangerous if it goes through the engine or hits the fuselage.”

According to the UK Airprox Board, there were 92 instances of aircraft and drones coming close to colliding in 2017.

How can airports protect themselves?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were 92 instances of aircraft and drones coming close to colliding reported in 2017

In the UK, legislation came into force in July, making it illegal to fly a drone within 1km (0.62 miles) of an airport. It is also illegal to fly a drone higher than 400ft (120m).

But experts have pointed out that this could be ineffective, given that a landing aircraft would fly below 400ft. And of course those with malicious intent would have little regard for legislation.

Systems have been tested in some prisons, where drones are often used to smuggle in goods, which aim to block radio signals within a certain area in order to prevent drones from landing.

For airports serious about protecting themselves from drone attacks, there is the option of a more sophisticated, if expensive, system, such as that offered by Quantum Aviation, which employs radar, radio frequency detectors and cameras to detect when drones are nearby and locate where they came from.

“In an ideal world, you talk to a person but to do that you need to know where the drones are coming from,” said Mr Lanni.

“What you don’t want is to have them dropping out of the sky.”

The Quantum Aviation system can “jam” a drone – effectively stopping it working – the drone should, in theory, have a default mode that would see it either return to where it came from or land safely.

DJI, the world leader in making civilian drones, introduced geo-fencing systems in its products in 2013.

This technology can prevent drones from flying in some locations and offers warnings to drone operators flying near a restricted zone.

How do you catch a drone?

Image copyright Droptec
Image caption The weighted net entangles the drone and brings it to the ground

If jamming a drone or geo-fencing does not work, there are some more blunt instruments to bring down the devices.

The French authorities have demonstrated how you can use a drone equipped with a net to catch another one, and there are several firms, including DroneDefence and OpenWorks Engineering which offer to fire a net to trap a rogue drone.

Lasers are another option and both the US and China have experimented with anti-drone lasers, that can shoot down a drone within seconds of locating it.

The weapon works by fixing a laser beam on the aircraft long enough to burn through it.

Whatever happens in the case of the rogue drones at Gatwick, airports will now be forced to consider the issue more seriously, thinks Iain Gray, director of aerospace at Cranfield University.

“Airports are alive to the issues and want to work closely with academics to help shape the technology that is needed for the future,” he told the BBC.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46632892

Who is Matthew Hedges?

Image copyright Family handout/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Matthew Hedges has written about defence, intelligence and the Middle East

Friends, family and colleagues of the British academic jailed in the United Arab Emirates after being accused of spying are united in one thing: They say he is not an intelligence agent. But who is he?

Matthew Hedges is no stranger to the Middle East. He had spent time there when he was younger and had worked in the region for several years.

But on a research trip for his PhD in May he was arrested.

On Wednesday, he was jailed for life for “spying for or on behalf of” the UK government.

Here is what we know about the man who his family and friends insist is just an “innocent victim”.

Who is Matthew Hedges?

The 31-year-old is a PhD student at Durham University but his status belies an established career in research and consultancy.

He describes himself as “an intelligence analyst at a cyber-intelligence firm in the UK” and has been an advisor for consultancy firm Gulf State Analytics since January 2016.

Corporate investigations, due diligence and research also appear in his areas of freelance consultancy expertise.

His research covers subjects such as defence, security, international affairs and military policy in the Middle East.

Image copyright BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Daniela Tejada and Matthew Hedges are reported to have been married for two years

Since starting work on his PhD at Durham University he has been employed as an associate researcher at the university’s Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (IMEIS).

He is married to publicist Daniela Tejada, who he reportedly met while studying at the University of Exeter.

What is his background?

Hedges was born in Surrey and went to the independent Cranleigh boarding school in Guildford.

He spent his school and university holidays in the UAE with his family, who worked there.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Mr Hedges attended Cranleigh boarding school

Although relatives say he can neither speak nor read Arabic, his PhD supervisor in Durham said he “knew the country very well”.

Prof Clive Jones said he was “very much a known face”, certainly among the “Emirati political elite”.

Many of those he went to the UAE to talk to for his PhD were people he knew personally or had worked for.

This area of the world has clearly piqued his interest.

Both his degree from the University of Bradford and his masters at the University of Exeter explored the Middle East and international relations.

His MA thesis was entitled “What has driven the UAE’s military spending since 2001”.

What was he doing before his arrest?

Latterly living in Exeter, Mr Hedges has been a PhD student at Durham University since 2015, where he has been researching the effects of the Arab Spring on the Gulf states.

His specific interest is the region’s “evolving national security strategy”.

Other research interests including civil-military relations, Middle Eastern politics, security studies and political economy are listed in his Durham University biography.

In a joint statement with the University of Exeter, his university said there had been “no evidence whatsoever that Matt was conducting anything other than legitimate academic research” while in the UAE.

His thesis was nearly finished, and had been carried out in “full accordance” with its research and ethics procedures, it said.

What work has he done?

Hedges has worked across the Middle East offering analysis on subjects such as defence, security, Gulf politics, international affairs and military capabilities.

His research has covered battlefield technology and defence expenditure in the UAE and political and military policy in the Middle East.

Defense News, Gulf States Newsletter, Military Balance and Defence Procurement International have all published his work.

Image copyright Matthew Hedges
Image caption Matthew Hedges’ has published a number of pieces of research concerning the region

In March last year he wrote an article for the US-based Middle East Policy Council exploring the future of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member.

Hedges has also worked for Dubai think tank the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) and media services company Babylon Communications.

At Optimum Business Consultants he was involved in negotiations for natural resource extraction concessions in South-East Asia and West Africa.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-46318655

Dredd publisher to open major film studio

Image copyright Rebellion
Image caption A film and TV series will begin shooting at the site in the Spring

A disused newspaper factory in the south of England is to be converted into a major film studio complex.

The £78m Daily Mail printing press in Didcot, Oxfordshire, has been purchased by media company Rebellion.

It will film adaptations of a Rogue Trooper film and a Judge Dredd TV show there.

Six soundstages will be available at the 220,000 sq ft (67,000 sq m) site, creating 500 jobs. The complex is due to open in the spring.

The stages and production offices, situated near Didcot Power Station, will be available to makers of TV dramas and large scale films.

Image copyright 2000 AD / Rebelllion
Image caption Judge Dredd’s publisher Rebellion is diversifying into large-scale moviemaking

Rebellion, based in nearby Oxford, is a comic book publisher and games developer – and also runs motion capture studio Audiomotion.

CEO Jason Kingsley called the purchase “incredibly” exciting and said the “booming” film industry was in “desperate need of further infrastructure to cope with the demands for new and engaging content”.

He added: “We know first-hand the creativity and talent here in the UK and this new studio will bring in projects from all over the world, offering opportunity and income to many people in the industry.”

Image copyright Rebellion
Image caption A Daily Mail printing press in Didcot will be converted into six soundstages

Chief technology officer Chris Kingsley said: “Our creative industries are appealing to other markets for our talent and generous tax reliefs – and we must ensure we have the studio space and infrastructure to keep furthering this ongoing growth.”

Roger Mould, a director at HSBC UK which handled the finance for the deal, said it would “dramatically increase the studio space available for the burgeoning film and TV production sector and is ideally located with easy access from London”.

Image copyright Rebellion / Staz Johnson
Image caption Rogue Trooper is a blue-skinned, mohawk-sporting, genetically-engineered soldier

The Rogue Trooper film will be directed by Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones.

The lead actor of the big budget Judge Dredd TV series, called Mega-City One, has yet to be announced. He has previously been portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in 1995 and Karl Urban in 2012.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Duncan Jones will direct the Rogue Trooper film

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-46289086

MPs’ fury over Mark Zuckerberg ‘no-show’

Image copyright Parliament TV
Image caption Richard Allan, vice-president of policy solutions, appeared before the committee

Politicians from nine countries reacted angrily to the absence of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing today.

The event is part of an unprecedented international inquiry into disinformation and fake news.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice-president of policy solutions, appeared in Mr Zuckerberg’s place.

He said he took responsibility for deciding who appeared at which committee.

The session was attended by parliamentarians from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, and Singapore as well as members of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Its chairman Damian Collins, has repeatedly asked Mr Zuckerberg to attend hearings.

Lord Allan, who is also a Liberal Democrat peer, faced a grilling on various Facebook policies and actions in addition to the subject of why his boss wasn’t there.

“We’ve never seen anything quite like Facebook, where, while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions… seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California,” remarked Canadian politician Charlie Angus.

It had been thought that a cache of Facebook documents, seized by MPs from a US businessman on the grounds that they were relevant to the inquiry, might be shared – but Mr Collins said that they would not be published today.

He later said that they will be published – possibly in the next week.

Lord Allan said he believed it would be unfair to take “internal conversations” and “robust comments” as the company’s official position.

The Observer, which first reported the story about the documents being seized, said they included data about Facebook’s privacy controls.

They had been sealed by a US court, and Facebook has demanded their return.

However, the contents of one email from 2014 were alluded to, in which a Facebook engineer reported unusual levels of Russian activity – namely that huge amounts of data were being pulled daily from devices with Russian IP addresses.

Lord Allan was asked whether any action was taken, or authorities notified.

He said the information he had was “partial at best” and that he would have to come back with more details.

Facebook has since responded that its engineers had looked into the matter at the time and “found no evidence of specific Russian activity”.

The BBC understands that the data calls turned out to be legitimately coming from the social media platform Pinterest, and that there were not billions of them as suggested in the hearing.

App bans

Lord Allan was unable to name a single occasion when Facebook had banned an app for breaking its rules, despite saying that it was Facebook’s policy to do so.

In a later session, UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the hearing that Facebook informed her it had banned 200 apps during the summer of 2018.

“I’m not aware of any case before the revelation [of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal]”, she said.

Lord Allan also acknowledged that Facebook had “damaged public trust” through some of its actions and said the firm was in favour of a “regulatory framework” for the social media giant.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46357359

The bar where your cash is worthless


Image caption Visitors to this pub can’t pay for their drinks or food with cash

Cashless establishments may be safer and more convenient, but are they more popular with the public at large?

After yet another break-in at south London pub the Crown and Anchor, Arber Rozhaja decided enough was enough.

Burglars were after cash lying around after lock-up, but what if there was never any cash on site at all?

Mr Rozhaja, operations director at the pub’s parent firm, London Village Inns, calculated the volume of cash transactions and was bowled over.

“Somewhere in the region of 10-13% of the total revenue would be cash and the rest was card,” he says.

So in October, the Crown and Anchor went fully cashless.

Customers can use debit cards, credit cards and contactless payments including Android Pay and Apple Pay. But a fiver will get you nowhere.


Image caption Pub customers were given notice about the switch – a few have complained

Signs dotted around the pub announced the move to customers: “Apologies, but it is the digital age.”

Four of the firm’s pubs now refuse cash, with the remaining two set to turn their backs on notes and coins in the New Year.

What began as a move to deter thieves has turned out to be a timely business decision, according to Mr Rozhaja.

For staff at London Village Inns’ businesses, the benefits of working in a cashless public house include not having to count up endless piles of coins at the end of the night. And managers no longer need to travel across town with bags of cash to be lodged at the bank.

There are even additional charges to processing cash transactions versus digital ones, says Mr Rozhaja.

He adds that while he’s had a few complaints from customers, the response has generally been positive. There has been no discernible fall in business.


Image caption Arber Rozhaja believes going cashless has not harmed his business at all

“It’s a short time for me to have a proper analysis but if it was bad you would see straight away,” he says.

But is cash dying out in the UK? And what about the rest of the world?

It was only in September that a pub in Suffolk claimed to be the first in the UK to go cashless. A string of “cashless cafés” has cropped up in Britain, too.

And establishments that turn down “hard” currency are becoming more common all over the world.

Take the trendy eateries in New York, for example, which say “no” to readies. Or the new supermarket in Singapore where robots pack your bags and banknotes are futile. Even Ikea in Sweden has experimented with a cashless outlet.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption While more establishments are going digital only, cash is far from dead yet

Cash, as Mr Rozhaja found, is often a hassle. And if it accounts for a negligible fraction of turnover, why not drop it?

Ikea found that so few people – 1.2 in every 1,000 – insisted on paying in cash that it was financially justifiable to offer them free food in the shop cafeteria instead.

“It’s slightly surprising to me that there aren’t more of these cashless places already,” says Dave Birch, director of payments at Consult Hyperion, a research consultancy.

He feels that some societies are embracing the cashless revolution more quickly than others.

“I was in Australia last week where the use of contactless is near ubiquitous. In fact, if you don’t tap to pay for something it’s regarded as rather strange already,” he explains.

Getting rid of cash frees up retail staff so they can spend more time with customers, adds Mr Birch. And tills stuffed with grotty banknotes don’t clutter up serving space.

UK Finance, a trade association, projects that in Britain cash will be used in just one fifth of all sales by 2026. In the last year alone, 4,735 cash machines have disappeared, according to research by Paymentsense.

More Technology of Business

But although cash may be taking a drubbing in some quarters, it remains stubbornly resistant.

According to US-based market research firm McKinsey, cash “will be around for a long time”.

“Some [customers] prefer cash for reasons of privacy and security,” a recent report notes. “Others live in areas where poor cellphone coverage and frequent electricity outages make cash the most reliable way to pay.”

It chimes with a recent survey carried out in the UK, Australia, Brazil and South Africa by currency exchange company Travelex. The research found that about a quarter of people would always refuse to go cashless – despite technological changes and the rise of digital payments.

“Cashless technologies will not replace cash completely… people are happier with an equilibrium between the two,” Travelex notes.

In many countries in Europe, the volume and value of ATM cash withdrawals is falling – but in some places the figures are rising.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In some countries, such as China, cash is still the main method of payment

Wherever the use of cash remains high, businesses may find that there are regulatory or legal barriers to going cashless.

In July, for example, China’s central bank said that companies and individuals should not refuse cash from customers. And in early December, Chinese retailer Hema was reprimanded by the bank for only accepting digital and card-based payments.

China is an interesting case study.

While city centres are rapidly embracing new technology and the affluent middle class may be happy to go digital, according to McKinsey the country is still an “emerging” market in terms of cashless payments. More than 80% of Chinese retail transactions are still cash-based.

There are also ethical considerations.

Some argue that cash-free establishments are discriminatory as they make it more difficult, or impossible, for homeless customers or those without bank accounts to shop there. Such concerns have led to legal challenges against cashless establishments in the US.

So is Mr Rozhaja worried about putting off people from a low or no-income background?

“No, it’s easy to get a prepaid cash card online. Especially in London, I don’t think it’s possible for you to operate if you don’t have some sort of a card,” he says.

But tensions around the issue mean that societies should now be trying to put in place cost-effective infrastructure for digital payments “for everyone”, says Dave Birch.

So while cash is undoubtedly declining, it is certainly not on its deathbed yet.

“A cashless society is not a society that literally has no cash in it,” concludes Mr Birch. “It’s a society where cash is economically irrelevant and I think we’re heading towards that.”

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46507529