The National: Social media companies failing to close people-smuggler sites, claims UK. “Social media companies, including Facebook and YouTube, have refused nearly 500 requests from British law enforcement to remove online material connected to suspected people smugglers, MPs heard on Thursday. Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said that it had referred nearly 1,200 pages to social media companies in the first five months of the year as it attempted to tackle the communications of gangs involved in smuggling people to the UK. The NCA said that 578 pages were closed down but their appeals over 485 others were rejected and police expressed their frustrations that they could not do anything about it.”
Mongabay: Holding social media companies accountable for facilitating illegal wildlife trade (commentary). “Facebook, and other social media firms, mainly rely on algorithms and artificial intelligence to moderate harmful content. But investigations by the Alliance to Counter Crime Online (ACCO) show time and again how these algorithms actually connect traffickers faster than moderators can remove them. They suggest friends and recommend groups, putting illicit actors in touch with one another, continually expanding networks of users engaging in similar illegal activities.”
Ubergizmo: Drug Mule Busted At Airport After Authorities Go Through His Search History. “Our searches can tell a lot about us and our current state of mind, and it is because of this that a drug mule entering into Australia was caught. 36-year-old Sam Kul was entering Australia after spending four months in Europe, where upon entry into the country, airport customs officers searched through his phone where they found his search history that led them to believe he was hiding something.”
Business Standard: Build digital database to catalogue, prevent smuggling of artifacts: India-born intl museum expert. “As museums across the world grapple with the problem of stolen artifacts, a renowned museum expert of Indian origin has called for establishing digital databases, particularly in countries like India, to maintain required checks and prevent valuable antiquities from being smuggled.”
Economic Times: Prepare a database of stolen antiques, make FIRs public: CIC tells ASI. “The Archaeological Survey of India should start publishing alerts, photographs and FIRs about thefts of antiques from historical sites to make their smuggling difficult, the Central Information Commission has said.” FIR in this case stands for First Information Report; you can get more details here.
BBC News: How WhatsApp has helped heroin become Mozambique’s second biggest export. “As many as 40 tonnes of heroin could be passing through Mozambique every year, making it the country’s second biggest export, in a trade that is boosted by the use of mobile phone apps, writes Mozambique analyst Joseph Hanlon.”
Wired: The high-stakes race to stop the trafficking of priceless artefacts. “In December 2016, David Hidalgo received a photograph of a 17th-century Peruvian painting. The unsigned artwork, of the Virgen de Guadalupe, depicts the Virgin Mary surrounded by apparitions and tells the story of her appearance to Saint Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1531. Hidalgo’s tip-off came via email from a source who had seen the painting on show at the Bowers Museum in California, where it was on loan. Hidalgo’s source suspected that the painting had been stolen.”
The Art Newspaper: Scotland Yard joins global crackdown on looted pharaonic antiquities. “Scotland Yard is working with the British Museum and the governments of Egypt and Sudan to tackle the looting of pharaonic antiquities. The plan is to create a publicly available database of 80,000 objects that have been identified as having passed through the trade or have been in private collections since 1970, the year of the Unesco convention on cultural property. The scheme is being funded with a £1m grant from the British government’s Cultural Protection Fund, administered by the British Council.”
ECNS: China launches database for stolen foreign antiques. “The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) on Friday launched a database for stolen foreign antiques to prevent such antiques from entering and circulating in China. The administration will go on to ask entry-exit examination offices to intensify the supervision over the entry and exit of stolen foreign antiques.”
Antiquities: K-9 Artifact Finders Program: Training Dogs To Stop The Illicit Trade Of Antiquities. “Dogs have been part of the archaeological record since ancient times. Now, thanks to the K-9 Artifact Finders Program, dogs will have the opportunity to play a role in protecting that record. It is commonplace to see trained dogs in tandem with law enforcement officers working to keep airports safe, find missing persons, or track down illicit substances. However, if this new and unprecedented program, run by researchers at Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law and Policy Research, in partnership with Penn Vet Working Dog Center, is successful, trained dogs will also be able to sniff out looted and illicitly traded artifacts.”
Phys.org: Indonesia traffickers sold crocs, pythons on social media: police. “A group of suspected animal traffickers have been arrested in Indonesia for selling crocodiles, pythons and other protected species through Facebook and the messaging service WhatsApp, police said Wednesday. The case is the latest example of how social media has become a key online market place for animal traffickers as conservationists warn that tech giants have not done enough to halt the trade on their platforms.”
The Independent: Facebook top choice for Philippines wildlife traders: monitor. “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.”
The Art Newspaper: Germany launches internet portal to fight art trafficking. “The German government has launched a new internet portal providing information relevant to the Cultural Property Protection Law that came into force last year, and aims to tackle illegal trafficking in looted antiquities and to protect German national heritage. The new site offers information on the German cultural property regulations for collectors, artists, museums and archives, as well as on national regulations in 60 further countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, China and Egypt. It also includes a database of German cultural property that is banned from sale abroad.”
US DOJ: United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby. “Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (‘Hobby Lobby’), a nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates. The shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile ‘samples.'” I am so mad about this.
Quartz: Selling blood diamonds is as simple as a Facebook post and a WhatsApp message. “The smugglers are young and tech savvy and their international networks are created and maintained over the internet. Finding the smugglers was as simple as tracking their Facebook comments, photos and posts—no complex encryption programs or trawling the deep web required. Like any young person, CAR’s blood diamond smugglers chronicled their lives on Facebook, making them easy to spot.”