Facebook top choice for Philippine wildlife traders, watchdog says

Facebook was “seeking additional information in order to take action” and that the watchdog was helping it liaise with Philippine authorities. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2018
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Facebook top choice for Philippine wildlife traders, watchdog says

MANILA: Facebook has emerged as the top site for wildlife trafficking in the Philippines, a watchdog said Friday, with thousands of endangered crocodiles, snakes and turtles illegally traded in just three months.
Monitoring network TRAFFIC said Facebook had not done enough to shut down the trade, which saw more than 5,000 reptiles from 115 species put up for sale on its discussion groups from June to August 2016 alone.
“Facebook is the platform of choice for illegal traders in the Philippines because of its popularity and insufficient internal monitoring enforcement,” the report said.
“This magnitude of commerce in live wild animals online is just mind-boggling,” said Serene Chng, TRAFFIC’s program officer for Southeast Asia.
The groups where live reptile advertisements were posted had more than 350,000 members when the study began, with numbers growing 11 percent in three months.
Most transactions were completed using Facebook’s Messenger service, the report said, adding that trading continues on the platform despite periodic government raids.
Over half the species bought and sold were protected internationally and by the Philippines’ wildlife act, which carries jail terms and fines.
The radiated tortoise, black spotted turtle, Bengal monitor lizard, and Dumeril’s boa — all threatened with extinction — were among them, as well as the critically endangered Philippine crocodile and Philippine forest turtle.
In one transaction, a trader also used an unnamed ride-sharing service to deliver wildlife to a buyer.
“This small snapshot reinforces how social media has taken over as the new epicenter of wildlife trade,” Chng said.
A statement from Facebook’s PR firm said the site does not tolerate wildlife trade and is working with TRAFFIC to tackle the problem.
“Facebook does not allow the sale and trade of endangered animals and we will not hesitate to remove any material that violates our community standards when it is reported to us,” it said.
TRAFFIC’s regional spokeswoman Elizabeth John said that Facebook was “seeking additional information in order to take action” and that the watchdog was helping it liaise with Philippine authorities.
Findings from the study were used to launch raids on suspected illegal traders in Manila and other areas last year, TRAFFIC said, with numerous arrests made.
Philippine customs authorities also intercepted packages with illegal wildlife destined for China, Sweden, and the US.


Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

Updated 20 October 2018
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Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

  • The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers
  • The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size

BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will charge hardware firms up to $40 per device to use its apps under a new licensing system to replace one that the European Union this year deemed anti-competitive, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The new fee goes into effect on Oct. 29 for any new smartphone or tablet models launched in the European Economic Area and running Google’s Android operating system, the company announced on Tuesday.
The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size, the person said. It is standard across manufacturers, with the majority likely to pay around $20, the person added.
Companies can offset the charge, which applies to a suite of apps including the Google Play app store, Gmail and Google Maps, by placing Google’s search and Chrome Internet browser in a prominent position. Under that arrangement, Google would give the device maker a portion of ad revenue it generates through search and Chrome.
Tech news outlet the Verge reported the pricing earlier on Friday, citing confidential documents.
The European Commission in July found Google abused its market dominance in mobile software to essentially force Android partners to pre-install search and Chrome on their gadgets. It levied a record $5-billion fine, which Google has appealed, and threatened additional penalties unless the company ended its illegal practices.
The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers to become the default apps for search and browsing, analysts said.
Qwant, a small French search company that has been critical of Google, said in a statement on Friday that it was “satisfied that the European Commission’s action pushed Google to finally give manufacturers the possibility to offer such choices to consumers.”