‘I didn’t realise it was going to be part of my entrapment’

Beth Ashley and Euleen Hope
Image caption Beth Ashley and Euleen Hope both experienced technological abuse by former partners

Women's charity Refuge is warning about the rise of "tech abuse" - the use of technology to spy on or harass a partner.

Many victims of domestic violence report being either being harassed via online messages or having their activity monitored via their phones.

However, many do not report it to the police, the charity said.

Euleen Hope was a technophobe who escaped the control of her tech-savvy abusive ex-partner after 10 years.

He set up her email and social media accounts for her, which meant he had full access to them.

He also replaced her flip-phone with an iPhone which he then set up to be mirrored on to the pair's iPad so he could monitor her calls and messages, and activated the phone's location-tracker saying it would help her to get the bus.

"You wouldn't think he was doing anything bad, he showed you what he was doing," she said.

"I didn't realise it was going to be part of my entrapment."

When she noticed things such as the iPad ringing when her phone rang, her ex told her he was just testing a new app.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Euleen Hope's ex-partner set up cameras in the couple's house

He also installed cameras around the house under the guise of security.

"My twin sister came round one day to visit. Normally if my friends or family came over he would sit in the room with us," she recalled.

"This time he said he would leave us to catch up and said he would use his computer in the kitchen upstairs.

"I moved behind the camera and told my sister to keep talking, I went up the stairs and saw him listening to what he thought was our conversation."

Ms Hope's former partner was also physically and emotionally abusive and eventually served a prison sentence for assault and GBH.

Refuge is teaming up with Google to train its staff to better support victims who contact it as part of a new programme.

"Domestic violence is the biggest issue which impacts on the police," said Dame Vera Baird, police and crime commissioner for Northumbria, speaking at the project launch.

"Every 30 seconds there is a domestic violence call. Two years ago, it was every minute.

"Northumbria's police force gets 32,000 calls a year and that's maybe a fifth or a quarter of what is actually going on."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Dame Vera said the Northumbria Police force receives 32,000 domestic violence calls per year

A 2016 survey by Comic Relief found that four out of five women who experienced abuse said their partner monitored their activity.

Twenty-year-old blogger Beth Ashley said a former boyfriend had no interest in tech until she tried to end their relationship because he was controlling and sexually abusive.

"When I got with him he didn't even have a phone," she said.

"I thought he was a massive technophobe until we broke up. Suddenly he started all these social media accounts and used them as a harassment tool."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Beth Ashley said her work as a blogger meant she could not delete her online presence to hide from her ex-boyfriend

She says he also sent her a suicide note via Facebook Messenger along with graphic images of self-harm, which she later discovered he had found online.

"I went round the next day and he was just sitting there on his Xbox," she said.

She says he would regularly turn up where she worked and she would end her shift to find 50 messages from him on her phone.

Ms Ashley was very active on social media because of her work as a blogger and online writer.

"There were times when I wanted to delete the blog, the magazines," she said.

"I have these random moments of wanting to be invisible. Considering my job, that would be awful."

Ms Ashley says that she had to block old friends on social media in case one of them accidentally gave him information about her activities.

After reporting him to the police, the online harassment stopped, she said.

"But the paranoia stayed for a long time," she added.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said the charity had seen a case where a man had hacked the CCTV at the pub where his wife worked so he could monitor her, and another who put a tracker on his partner's car, moved it and then accused her of losing it.

"She thought she was losing her mind," she said.

"Technological abuse is part of a broader pattern of domestic violence.

"This project was born out of our clients' experiences of technology-related abuse, and we will continue to make sure their needs and experiences shape our work in the years ahead."

Facebook foe

Sharmeen Obaid-ChinoyImage copyright Getty Images

A filmmaker touched off a debate in Pakistan revolving around one question - can a Facebook friend request ever be considered harassment?

It began with a visit to the hospital by the sister of Oscar-award winning Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. After the treatment, the sister received a friend request from her doctor.

That prompted an angry Twitter outburst by the filmmaker - and a social media storm about the definition of harassment:

Image copyright Sharmeen Obaid / Twitter
Image copyright Sharmeen Obaid / Twitter
Image copyright Sharmeen Obaid / Twitter

Obaid-Chinoy's description of the Facebook request as "harassment" triggered an angry response from many Pakistanis claiming she had overreacted. Others supported her, claiming the often abusive reaction she received revealed the misogyny of her critics.

One of Obaid-Chinoy's most vocal detractors was journalist Ali Moeen Nawazish, who wrote on his own Facebook page that comparing a social media request to harassment was "ridiculous." He added "Whats next, asking for a pen is harassment… Looking at someone for three seconds will be harassment???"

In his post, he also said that the claim "is actually taking away from real victims of harassment."


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The journalist concluded by criticising Obaid-Chinoy for "Pakistan shaming."

Nawazish later claimed that the doctor had been fired as a result of the tweets, however reports indicate that he has been suspended from Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi while an internal investigation takes place.

Obaid-Chinoy, who won acclaim for her documentaries on "honour killings" and acid attack victims, has faced similar accusations in the past. She's been accused of being a "traitor" to Pakistan in relation to her work which exposes violent and misogynistic cultural traditions prevalent in certain parts of Pakistani society. Her tweet storm renewed those criticisms and she was repeatedly accused of having harmed the country's international image.

Some suggested she exemplified the phrase "wrong women in the wrong family" and called her an elitist. She, however, subsequently clarified she was referring to the fact that "women in my family are strong" and had not meant to "suggest a sense of privilege or power."

But that didn't stop many Pakistanis on Twitter from attacking the filmmaker. Some posted photographs of her with other men - apparently suggesting these images made her a hypocrite for complaining about alleged harassment. Facebook pages were created encouraging people to send Obaid-Chinoy friend requests.

Image copyright Saith Abdullah / Twitter

Many others, including both men and women, questioned whether a friend request amounted to harassment.

Image copyright Hamza Ali Abbasi / Twitter

But Obaid-Chinoy did find some support in newspaper columns and on social media. Her defenders included Pakistani writer Bina Shah, who told the BBC she wasn't surprised by "the kind of abuse and vitriol" directed at the filmmaker.

"Any time you try to fight against (the patriarchy) you get an immediate backlash," Shah said.

In a subsequent statement Obaid-Chinoy wrote that "The conversation has unfortunately steered far from the safety of women, unchecked unethical practises & harassment."

She revealed that the doctor in question had conducted a "very private examination" of her sister before going online and "leaving comments on photographs & trying to add her as a Facebook friend."

She clarified she regularly receives "unsolicited friendship requests from strangers" but that she considered this episode a "serious breach of patient-doctor privilege."

The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council referred the BBC to their ethical guidelines, which don't specifically mention social media but do state that a "professional position must never be used to pursue a relationship of an emotional or sexual nature with a patient, the patient's spouse, or a near relative of a patient."

The doctor at the centre of the controversy has not been named publicly. He has, however, reportedly received a job offer from another hospital in Karachi.

Image copyright Hashmanis Hospital / Facebook

Blog by Secunder Kermani

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Game studio CCP scales back virtual reality development

Screenshot from SparcImage copyright CCP Games
Image caption CCP also made the Sparc ball-tossing game for the PlayStation VR headset

Developer CCP Games has significantly cut the time and money it is investing in virtual-reality based games.

The Iceland-based studio is best known for sci-fi title Eve Online but has also created several VR-centred games.

Spaceship dog-fighting simulator Eve Valkyrie helped launch the Oculus Rift headset and CCP also made the Sparc VR ball-tossing game for the PlayStation.

CCP boss Hilmar Petursson said the company would re-invest in VR when market conditions improved.

The move was a "blow to the viability of VR as a major gaming platform", said Adam Smith on the Rock, Paper Shotgun gaming news website, adding that Valkyrie was one of the few games that tempted him to try VR.

The changes come just over a month after CCP overhauled Valkyrie in a bid to get more people playing it.

Niche market

CCP has cut its investment in VR as part of a broader restructuring effort. The structural changes mean more focus on PC and mobile games, it said in a statement.

It is closing its Atlanta, US, office and selling off the development studio it maintains in Newcastle. The VR development work done at both locations will move to London.

About 30 jobs are being lost during the restructure, it added, saying that it had given staff "severance packages" and would help them find other work. A potential buyer had been found for the Newcastle office, said CCP, adding that negotiations over the sale were continuing.

The changes would have no immediate impact on Eve Valkyrie, said CCP, and a planned winter update for the game would be available as expected. Similarly, it said, Sparc development would continue in London.

Image copyright GLENN CHAPMAN
Image caption Eve Valkyrie was one of the key demo games for the Oculus headset

"Today we have made tough, but important, changes to CCP in response to how we see the gaming market evolving in the coming years," said Mr Petursson.

"We have been front and centre in the second wave of VR and our belief in the long-term transformative power of the technology remains strong," he said, adding that it would not make "material VR investments" until the market grew substantially.

CCP would now concentrate more on Eve Online and the new games emerging from that title, he said.

Games analyst Piers Harding-Rolls from IHS Markit, said CCP took a "calculated risk" with its early VR investment, hoping that the expertise it built up would pay off as VR games became more popular.

"Unfortunately, adoption of high-end headsets - through which most VR games are being bought - has been a mixed bag since launch," he said.

IHS Markit estimates that about 2.4 million PC headsets will have been sold by the end of 2017, said Mr Harding-Rolls.

"Although millions of users is a respectable number to target, when compared to other platforms, most games publishers would consider that level of adoption small and niche," he added.

This explained why CCP had switched to concentrate on the PC and mobile markets which have hundreds of millions of potential players, he said.

North Korea calls UK WannaCry accusations ‘wicked’

The ransomware has been identified as WannaCry - here shown in a safe environment on a security researcher's computerImage copyright WEBROOT
Image caption WannaCry spread to more than 150 countries in a worldwide attack

North Korea has hit back at the UK government for accusing it of being behind a massive ransomware attack that badly affected the National Health Service (NHS).

A UK government minister last week told the BBC he was "as sure as possible" North Korea was behind the attack.

But a North Korean spokesman called the accusations "groundless speculation".

More than a third of NHS trusts in England were disrupted by the WannaCry ransomware in May.

At least 19,000 appointments were cancelled and computers in over 600 doctor's surgeries infected.

WannaCry was the biggest cyber-attack to have hit the NHS to date and also spread to more than 150 countries.

A spokesman for the North's Korea-Europe Association called the UK's accusation "a wicked attempt" to tighten international sanctions on the country.

"This is an act beyond the limit of our tolerance and it makes us question the real purpose behind the UK's move," he said in comments carried on the Korean Central News Agency on Monday.

The South Korean government believes the North has a unit of 6,800 trained cyber-warfare specialists.

Pyongyang's cyber military was thought to be behind an online attack on Sony Pictures and a hack last year in which blueprints of a South Korean warship company were stolen.

‘We must worry about artificial stupidity’

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has previously warned that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) "could spell the end of the human race".

However, Prof Alan Winfield, a world renowned professor of robot ethics from the Bristol Robotics Lab, told BBC Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur the bigger danger was "artificial stupidity".

Worries about robots taking over and destroying people came from science fiction, said Prof Winfield.

"We are worrying about an extraordinarily unlikely event," he said, adding there were things to worry about.

"We need to worry about jobs, we need to worry about weaponisation of AI, we need to worry about standards in driverless cars, in care robots, in medical diagnosis AI."

Watch the full interview on BBC World News and the BBC News channel on Tuesday, 31 October 2017, or watch again on BBC iPlayer (UK only).

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Dave Lee looks at what happened and how tech companies responded.

Samsung Electronics unveils new leadership line-up

Samsung Note 8Image copyright Getty Images

Samsung Electronics has named its new leadership team following the resignation of CEO Kwon Oh-hyun.

Three executives have been promoted to joint chief executives of the firm as part of the management overhaul.

The shake-up came hours after the firm reported quarterly profits had nearly tripled from a year ago.

Net profit rose to 11.2 trillion won ($10bn; £7.6bn) during July to September, driven by strong memory chip and smartphone sales.

New leadership

The new appointees are all in their 50s and include Kim Ki-nam, Koh Dong-jin and Kim Hyun-suk.

They will take up their positions immediately as the heads of Samsung Electronics' three main businesses - Device Solutions, IT and Mobile Communications and Consumer Electronics.

"The next generation of leaders are well suited to accelerate the pace of innovation and address the demands of the connected world," the firm said in a statement.

The South Korean tech giant also confirmed that its chief financial officer Lee Sang-hoon had been recommended as the new chairman of the board, and that long-time co-CEOs J.K. Shin and Yoon Boo-keun would step down.

It is the first time the chairman role has not been given to one of the firm's three chief executives.

The firm is striving to regain the confidence of the government and financial markets in the aftermath of the corruption scandal in which the Samsung Group's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong was jailed for bribery and corruption.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Samsung's heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong has appealed against his five year jail term for bribery and corruption

Unprecedented crisis

The leadership shake-up began about a fortnight ago when Mr Kwon became the first of the firm's three chief executives to resign, citing an "unprecedented crisis".

At the time, he said the company's current profitability was "merely a fruit of decisions and investment made in the past".

His resignation came days after Mr Lee began an appeal against his conviction and five year jail sentence, stemming from payments to the secret confidante of South Korea's ousted president Park Geun-Hye.

Samsung Electronics is regarded as the jewel in the crown of the Samsung conglomerate, which is made up of 60 interlinked companies.

Record result

Samsung Electronics described its latest quarterly result as a "robust performance" overall.

The world's biggest memory chip and smartphone maker expects strong demand for its products to continue, putting it on track for a record annual profit.

It will also pay around $26bn in dividends to shareholders over the next three years.

While memory chips were the main driver of Samsung's earnings, its mobile phone business was given a boost by its new Note 8 smartphone which received the firm's highest number of pre-orders.

It marks a significant turnaround for the firm which was hit badly by the global recall of its flagship Note 7 smartphone in 2016, following the fiasco with its overheating and exploding batteries.