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‘I have moments of shame I can’t control’: the lives ruined by explicit ‘collector culture’ | Sexual harassment

Ruby will never forget the first time she clicked on the database AnonIB. It is a so-called “revenge porn” site and in January 2020, a friend had texted her for help. Ruby is a secondary school teacher, used to supporting teenagers, and her friend turned to her for advice when she discovered her images were on the site.

“She didn’t send the thread that she was on,” says Ruby, 29. “She was embarrassed, so she sent a general link to the site itself.” When Ruby opened it, “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe that such an infrastructure existed: something so well organised, so systematic, fed by the people who lived around us.”

AnonIB was categorised by country – the US has the most entries, the UK is next – but then broken down by region, city and local area. “And when I say ‘local’, it wouldn’t be ‘London’ or ‘Birmingham’, a city of any size would have smaller, specific categories, like ‘Birmingham University students’,” says Ruby. The thread for Ruby’s town (population 55,000) stretched to 16 pages and with each intimate image of women and girls, there were comments with as much identifying information as possible by local users – names, surnames, the schools they had attended, who their relatives were. There were also lots of “requests” for pictures of certain women – often called “wins” (“Any wins on XXXX?” “There must be more of this slut out there.” “I can now look her boyfriend in the eye knowing I’ve seen his missus naked.”)

Ruby was horrified. “I was in shock. Disgusted that it existed, but also confused,” she says. “How could it be allowed?” But worse was to come. Four months later, she found her own pictures had been added to the site.

AnonIB has used various names over the last few years – always some kind of variation of “image board” and “anonymous”. It was shut down by Dutch police, but has since reappeared and is currently hosted from a Russian domain. In the past few months, it has gone behind a paywall.

Sites such as AnonIB post pictures searchable by users’ locality. Photograph: JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images/Tetra images RF/Posed by model

Yet the site is not a one-off. It is just one example of what a report last month by the Revenge Porn Helpline (RPH) has termed “collector culture” – something the RPH identifies as “an emerging trend”, “increasing at pace”. In this case, collecting means posting, collating and trading intimate images of women.

“It’s one of the most dehumanising aspects of intimate image abuse that we see,” says Zara Ward, senior helpline practitioner at RPH. “Women are prizes to be passed around, shared and traded like a dystopian version of Pokémon. We often don’t know how these people gained the images in the first place – it could be exes, friends, or hackers – but this isn’t a place where women would consensually upload themselves. All we see on the comments is women consistently and aggressively objectified, humiliated and exposed.”

This happens on multiple platforms: Mega, Dropbox, Discord, anywhere groups can share. On Reddit, anonymous users post images of (likely oblivious) women with captions such as “trading my gf nudes” and “trading gf. Have bj videos too”. Interested parties are then usually directed to personal accounts on Snapchat or the messaging app Kik.

Although it is impossible to know how common this is, the evidence suggests it’s widespread. (When Ruby was added to the AnonIB thread in May 2020, she was image number 72,000.) One general study of intimate image abuse across Australia, New Zealand and the UK suggests one in five men have been perpetrators, and during lockdown – when online activity replaced real-life interactions – calls to the RPH doubled. (Its figures show that women are five times more likely than men to have their intimate images shared.)

“Traditionally, we think of ‘revenge porn’ as someone posting your images on Pornhub and sending you the link, or sending pictures and videos to all your friends and family to hurt and humiliate you,” says Elena Michael from the campaigning group #NotYourPorn. And, in fact, this is what current law nominally protects against. Section 33 of the 2015 Criminal Justice and Courts Act makes it illegal to disclose “private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress”.

Yet, says Michael, that is only one form of such abuse. “The truth is that most intimate image abuse is clandestine. It’s done without consent, but also, often, with no intention of the survivor ever finding out.”

Sophie Compton, who also campaigns against intimate image abuse with the organisation My Image My Choice believes “collector culture” could make up the bulk of cases. “I’ve been talking to survivors for 18 months and it’s huge – maybe more prevalent than any other form,” she says. “I’ve looked at the sites and the forums and the casual misogyny, the vile language, is absolutely chilling. The posters genuinely aren’t seeing victims as human, just stocks and shares to be traded. They could be anyone and everyone – and on sites like AnonIB which categorise by location, it could be the person standing next to you in Sainsbury’s.”

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University, says this is the “hardest message”. “People would rather think perpetrators of intimate image abuse are either perverts or an extremely malicious ‘other’ type of person,” she says. “The truth is that it’s everyday men and boys. Closed groups, lad chats, bonding over explicit images and ‘banter’ has become absolutely ubiquitous.”

Sometimes, it leaks out and the wider world gets a glimpse. McGlynn points to the rugby group at Oxford Brookes University that challenged players to get as many “Brookes girl” nudes as possible to share and rate. There is the “men-only” private Bristol Facebook group set up to share images of partners and ex-partners that gained 7,000 members in a matter of days.

Professor Nicola Henry, socio-legal scholar at RMIT University Australia, has studied the motives of perpetrators, looking at 77 platforms, image boards, community forums and blogging sites where images are shared and traded, and interviewed perpetrators.

“Despite a lot of media attention focused on revenge against an ex-partner as the key motivation, it’s more commonly related to sexual gratification or impressing online peers,” she says. “For instance, on some sites, images of wives and girlfriends are shared to get positive feedback from other users.” (“It might have been a bit of showing off,” said one perpetrator she interviewed. “After I’d built up quite a collection, I started to kind of take this pride in it,” said another.)

Whatever the motivation, the impact can be devastating. Ruby learned that her images were on AnonIB when a former schoolmate sent her a message breaking the news. The pictures were taken when she was 17, on a girls’ holiday. In one, she had been sunburned, and was lying topless on her front while a friend rubbed aftersun on her back. In the other, she was demonstrating the size of the hotel towels, not big enough to cover her.

intimate image abuse
Women are five times more likely to be victims of intimate image abuse. Photograph: PA/Posed by model

“On the scale of things, they were not that explicit – although in the context of that website, they looked suggestive,” she says. “I’d uploaded them for about three weeks after the holiday in a private Facebook album. I probably had about 400 Facebook friends at the time so whoever posted them was one of those people. I’ve resigned myself to never knowing who.”

But as a local teacher, she had to inform her employer; she has no idea if her students have seen the pictures. And in the immediate aftermath, she found herself bolting from a post office queue simply because the teenagers outside suddenly made her feel uncomfortable. She formed a WhatsApp group for other local victims from the thread; in her small town, news travels fast and friends share their stories. “It has been far worse for some of them,” she says. “Their images were often far more explicit. Some haven’t been able to tell family or friends. Some were pregnant and so distressed they had to make emergency visits to hospital.

“One girl wanted to pursue a career in the performing arts but she has put it off. She deferred her place at drama school because in that industry, image is everything. She didn’t know if she could cope with the anxiety of being Googled.”

For Helen, 28, it feels as if she is an entirely different person from the one she was before her intimate images were shared in an encrypted chatroom. This spring, she received an anonymous “tipoff” on her Facebook account that explicit pictures of her had been gathered in a Google Drive folder and posted online. The informer – who was later traced to Australia – attached some of the pictures and said they thought she would like to know.

She remembers collapsing on to her bed in shock; going for a run, dropping to the ground to cry, running again, then dropping again. The images in the message had been created in the course of a five-year relationship that had ended two years previously. “My ex had assured me they’d all been deleted,” says Helen. “We’d been speaking as friends right up until weeks before this happened. I had no reason to think he’d ever do that.”

More than 18 months on, she still struggles. “I’m single,” she says, “and dating is really tough. I used to be open, confident, proud of my sexuality. It has damaged something I loved about myself, made it something I have to fight for again.

“I have moments of shame I can’t control, moments when this fear arises that I can’t predict. I’ve had times when flirting with someone suddenly seems to cross a boundary I can’t understand. I’ve largely avoided intimacy as it’s too terrifying to really give that trust to another person.”

Helen has tried to find out as little as possible about what was posted and where. “I’ve kind of chosen not to know,” she says. “It could be a lot. I was with that person a long time.” Her ex-partner was interviewed by police and also sent her a message admitting to sharing the images, but adding he had “never meant to hurt her”. He said he did it for his own “kink”.

“As painful as it was to have it confirmed, I was happy that at least I had a confession the police could use,” she says. “Then it transpired that his claim of not wanting to hurt me was precisely what protected him from any prosecution.”

Ruby and the other victims in the WhatsApp group from her local town have also found no recourse in law. She reported her case to police who gave her a crime reference number and referred her to Victim Support. Others in her group heard nothing back. In one case, one woman said, the officer actually yawned and said it was the 20th AnonIB report of the day. It took a lot of collective pressure for their cases to be referred as cybercrime to the Regional Organised Crime Unit. There has been no update since.

“We really felt the police didn’t support us, but the law doesn’t support the police,” says Ruby. “Yes, there’s the website, the infrastructure: why are we allowing access to it in the UK?

“But there’s also the local element. Some of the images on the thread were FaceTime screen shots. The image in the corner of the man on the calls could clearly be seen. We positively IDed at least two of them. We know who they are, where they live and told the police – but they didn’t even knock on their doors. Perpetrators have so many admissible defences. ‘I did it for a laugh and didn’t think she’d see.’ ‘I was paid a tenner to upload pictures of girls in my area.’ Doing it for sexual gratification is an admissible defence. We’re campaigning to remove the motive element from the law. Sharing intimate images without consent is the bottom line and that’s what should be illegal.”

There are signs that things will change. The Law Commission review of the laws around intimate image abuse began in 2019; the final report this spring is expected to make nonconsensual sharing an offence. However, warns McGlynn, changing the law is a very slow process – and only part of the solution.

“It also comes back to culture change, education, work in schools,” she says. “Evidence from studies shows that just as teenage girls are pressured to send nudes, teenage boys are also feeling pressure to get nudes and share them, to gain kudos. Collecting digital trophies is becoming part of being a boy and a man – that’s what we need to change.”

In the meantime, Ruby is not sure that it’s worth knowing that your images are online, passed between others, traded, shared, collected and commented on by friends and strangers.

“It’s really difficult,” she says. “On the thread for our town, there are girls I recognise, who I haven’t spoken to since I was 16. You feel a sense of moral obligation. Do I tell them – even when I know nothing is going to come of reporting it and there’s nothing they can do? Is it better that they don’t know or is it better that they do know and are as distressed as we were? I’ve decided I’m not going to pop up and derail their life. Maybe ignorance is bliss.”

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Open Source Software (OSS) Supply Chain, Security Risks And Countermeasures

OSS Security Risks And Countermeasures

The software development landscape increasingly hinges on open source components, significantly aiding continuous integration, DevOps practices, and daily updates. Last year, Synopsys discovered that 97% of codebases in 2022 incorporated open source, with specific sectors like computer hardware, cybersecurity, energy, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching 100% OSS integration.

While leveraging open source enhances efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and developer productivity, it inadvertently paves a path for threat actors seeking to exploit the software supply chain. Enterprises often lack visibility into their software contents due to complex involvement from multiple sources, raising concerns highlighted in VMware’s report last year. Issues include reliance on communities to patch vulnerabilities and associated security risks.

Raza Qadri, founder of Vibertron Technologies, emphasizes OSS’s pivotal role in critical infrastructure but underscores the shock experienced by developers and executives regarding their applications’ OSS contribution. Notably, Qadri cites that 95% of vulnerabilities surface in “transitive main dependencies,” indirectly added open source packages.

Qadri also acknowledges developers’ long-standing use of open source. However, recent years have witnessed heightened awareness, not just among developers but also among attackers. Malware attacks targeting the software supply chain have surged, as demonstrated in significant breaches like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and the Log4j exploit.

Log4j’s widespread use exemplifies the consolidation of risk linked to extensively employed components. This popular Java-based logging tool’s vulnerabilities showcase the systemic dependency on widely used software components, posing significant threats if exploited by attackers.

Moreover, injection of malware into repositories like GitHub, PyPI, and NPM has emerged as a growing threat. Cybercriminals generate malicious versions of popular code to deceive developers, exploiting vulnerabilities when components are downloaded, often without the developers’ knowledge.

Despite OSS’s security risks, its transparency and visibility compared to commercial software offer certain advantages. Qadri points out the swift response to Log4j vulnerabilities as an example, highlighting OSS’s collaborative nature.

Efforts to fortify software supply chain security are underway, buoyed by multi-vendor frameworks, vulnerability tracking tools, and cybersecurity products. However, additional steps, such as enforcing recalls for defective OSS components and implementing component-level firewalls akin to packet-level firewalls, are necessary to fortify defenses and mitigate malicious attacks.

Qadri underscores the need for a holistic approach involving software bills of materials (SBOMs) coupled with firewall-like capabilities to ensure a comprehensive understanding of software contents and preemptive measures against malicious threats.

As the software supply chain faces ongoing vulnerabilities and attacks, concerted efforts are imperative to bolster security measures, safeguard against threats, and fortify the foundational aspects of open source components.

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By John Elf | Science, Technology & Business contributor Digital

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Choco: Revolutionizing The FoodTech Industry With Innovation & Sustainability | EU20

By Clint Bailey

— In the rapidly evolving world of food technology, European startup Choco has emerged as a pioneering force. With its website,, this Berlin-based company is transforming the way food industry professionals operate by leveraging innovative digital solutions. By linking restaurants, distributors, suppliers, and producers on a single platform, Choco is streamlining the supply chain process while promoting sustainability.

Let’s explore the journey of and its impact on the overall foodtech industry.

  1. Company: Choco Technologies GmbH
  2. Website:
  3. Head Office: Berlin, Germany
  4. Year Established: 2018
  5. Founders: Choco was co-founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio da Silva.
  6. Industry: Choco operates in the foodtech industry, specifically focusing on digitizing the supply chain for the food industry.
  7. Funding: Choco has secured significant funding rounds from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners & Coatue Management.
  8. Market Presence: Choco has a strong presence in several European cities, including Berlin, Paris, London & Barcelona.
  9. Mission: Choco aims to revolutionize the food industry by leveraging technology to simplify supply chain management, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.

Simplifying Supply Chain Management

One of the core focuses of Choco is to simplify supply chain management for food businesses. Traditionally, the procurement process in the food industry has been cumbersome and inefficient, with numerous intermediaries and manual processes. Choco’s digital platform replaces the traditional paper-based ordering system, allowing restaurants and suppliers to communicate and collaborate seamlessly.

Choco’s platform enables restaurants to place orders directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, or emails. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications.

By digitizing the ordering process, Choco improves transparency, making it easier for restaurants to compare prices, track deliveries, and manage inventory efficiently.

Streamlining Operations For Suppliers & Producers

Choco’s impact extends beyond restaurants. The platform also provides suppliers and producers with valuable tools to streamline their operations. By digitizing their product catalogs and integrating them into the Choco platform, suppliers can showcase their offerings to a wide network of potential buyers.

Suppliers benefit from increased visibility, enabling them to reach new customers and expand their market presence. Moreover, Choco’s platform helps suppliers manage their inventory, track orders, and plan deliveries effectively. These features enhance operational efficiency, reduce waste, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable food system.
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Promoting Sustainability & Reducing Food Waste

Choco recognizes the critical importance of sustainability in the food industry. According to the United Nations, approximately one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste each year. By digitizing the supply chain and enabling more efficient ordering and inventory management, Choco actively works to combat this issue.

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Choco’s platform facilitates data-driven decision-making for restaurants, suppliers, and producers. By analyzing purchasing patterns & demand, Choco helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing food waste. Additionally, Choco supports local sourcing, enabling businesses to connect with nearby suppliers & promote sustainable, community-based practices.

Expanding Reach & Impact

Since its founding in 2018, Choco has experienced rapid growth and expansion. The startup has successfully secured significant funding rounds, allowing it to scale its operations and establish a strong presence across Europe and other global markets. Today, Choco’s platform is used by thousands of restaurants and suppliers, revolutionizing the way they operate.

Choco’s impact extends beyond operational efficiency or sustainability. By connecting restaurants, suppliers & producers on a single platform, Choco fosters collaboration & encourages the exchange of ideas. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall foodtech ecosystem and creates a supportive community of like-minded aiming to drive positive change within the industry.

Future Of FoodTech

Choco’s rise to prominence in the foodtech industry exemplifies the reach of sustainability, innovation, and community. Through its user-friendly platform, Choco simplifies supply chain management, streamlines operations for restaurants & suppliers, and actively promotes sustainable practices. By harnessing the potential of digital, Choco is disrupting the future of the food industry, making it more efficient and transparent.

As Choco continues to expand its impact and reach, its transformative influence on the foodtech sector is set to inspiring, grow other startups, and established players to embrace technology for a better and more sustainable food system.

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— Compiled by Clint Bailey | Team ‘Voice of EU’
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The Implications Of Controlling High-Level Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

By Clint Bailey | ‘Voice of EU’

The notion of artificial intelligence surpassing humanity has long been a topic of discussion, and recent advancements in programs have reignited concerns. But can we truly control super-intelligence? A closer examination by scientists reveals that the answer is highly unlikely.

Unraveling The Challenge:

Controlling a super-intelligence that surpasses human comprehension necessitates the ability to simulate and analyze its behavior. However, if we are unable to comprehend it, creating such a simulation becomes an impossible task. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to establish rules, such as “cause no harm to humans,” as we cannot anticipate the scenarios that an AI might generate.

The Complexity Of Super-Intelligence:

Super-intelligence presents a distinct challenge compared to conventional robot ethics. Its multifaceted nature allows it to mobilize diverse resources, potentially pursuing objectives that are incomprehensible and uncontrollable to humans. This fundamental disparity further complicates the task of governing and setting limits on super-intelligent systems.

Drawing Insights From The Halting Problem:

Alan Turing’s halting problem, introduced in 1936, provides insights into the limitations of predicting program outcomes. While we can determine halting behavior for specific programs, there is no universal method capable of evaluating every potential program ever written. In the realm of artificial super-intelligence, which could theoretically store all possible computer programs in its memory simultaneously, the challenge of containment intensifies.

The Uncontainable Dilemma:

When attempting to prevent super-intelligence from causing harm, the unpredictability of outcomes poses a significant challenge. Determining whether a program will reach a conclusion or continue indefinitely becomes mathematically impossible for all scenarios. This renders traditional containment algorithms unusable and raises concerns about the reliability of teaching AI ethics to prevent catastrophic consequences.

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The Limitation Conundrum:

An alternative approach suggested by some is to limit the capabilities of super-intelligence, such as restricting its access to certain parts of the internet or networks. However, this raises questions about the purpose of creating super-intelligence if its potential is artificially curtailed. The argument arises: if we do not intend to use it to tackle challenges beyond human capabilities, why create it in the first place?


Urgent Reflection – The Direction Of Artificial Intelligence:

As we push forward with artificial intelligence, we must confront the possibility of a super-intelligence beyond our control. Its incomprehensibility makes it difficult to discern its arrival, emphasizing the need for critical introspection regarding the path we are treading. Prominent figures in the tech industry, such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI experiments to evaluate safety and potential risks to society.

The potential consequences of controlling high-level artificial super-intelligence are far-reaching and demand meticulous consideration. As we strive for progress, we must strike a balance between pushing the boundaries of technology and ensuring responsible development. Only through thorough exploration and understanding can we ensure that AI systems benefit humanity while effectively managing their risks.

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By Clint Bailey, Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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