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Popular video chat website ‘Omegle’ shut after abuse claims

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Popular live video chat website Omegle is shutting down after 14 years following user claims of abuse.

The service, which allowed users to socialise with random strangers online, grew in popularity with children and young people during the pandemic.

Omegle’s closure announcement included an image of its logo on a gravestone.

Founder Leif K Brooks said in a statement that operating the website was “no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically”.

The decision comes as social media platforms are facing increased scrutiny from regulators around the world.

Just this week, Ofcom issued its first guidance for tech platforms complying with the UK Online Safety Act and the communications regulator singled out online grooming.

Omegle has been the subject of controversy, including in a landmark case where a young American accused the platform of randomly pairing her with a paedophile.

The account user was a minor when the incident took place and the lawsuit against Omegle was filed 10 years later in November 2021.

Omegle’s legal team argued in court that the website was not to blame for what happened, and denied that it was a haven for predators.

On Thursday, Mr Brooks said “There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”

However, he also pointed, without giving specific details, to the “constant barrage of attacks on communication services” like Omegle by “a malicious subset of users”.

“As much as I wish circumstances were different, the stress and expense of this fight – coupled with the existing stress and expense of operating Omegle, and fighting its misuse – are simply too much,” Mr Brooks said.

“Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack in my 30s,” he added.

The announcement also drew comments from users on social media who shared their favourite memories of Omegle. Their reactions ranged from surprise to nostalgia.

The BBC found that Omegle has been mentioned in more than 50 cases against paedophiles in countries including the UK, US and Australia.

Video-sharing platform TikTok banned sharing links to Omegle, after a BBC investigation in 2021 found what appeared to be children exposing themselves to strangers on the website.

Imagery of young children carrying out sexual acts on camera has risen by more than tenfold since the pandemic lockdowns, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

In 2022, the IWF logged more than 63,000 webpages showing the material compared to 5,000 before the pandemic.


Source: BBC

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Expressways generate whopping income during Avurudu season

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The expressways have generated an income of Rs. 159,802,950 from April 10 – 13, Road Development Authority (RDA) says.

According to the Director of Expressway Operation Maintenance and Management Division – R.A.D. Kahatapitiya.

Over 4,350,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this period, he has added.
As many as 366,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this three-day period.

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Special transport arrangements to those returning to Colombo

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Special train services are in operation from this evening (April 14) for people to return to Colombo after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays, the Railways Department said.

Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways –  N.J. Indipolage stated that accordingly, eight additional train journeys will be in operation from Badulla, Galle and Beliatta railway stations to Colombo Fort.

The Department of Railways also mentioned that the office trains will be operational as per usual from April 16.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Commission has said that special buses will be deployed to transport those who had gone to their hometowns during the New Year.
Bus associations have also stated that buses to Colombo will be operational.

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Local multi-day fishing trawler seized with ICE & heroin worth over Rs. 3798 Mn.

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In another successful intelligence operation of the Sri Lanka Navy, a local multi-day fishing trawler (01) carrying a large haul of narcotics, with 06 suspects aboard, were intercepted about 133 nautical miles (about 246 km) off Dondra, south of Sri Lanka. 

The operation also resulted in the seizure of another local one-day fishing trawler (01) with 04 suspects, believed to have been there to fetch the consignment of narcotics mid-sea. The operation was mounted by deploying Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship (SLCG) Samudraraksha which made the apprehension on 12th April 2024.

 The haul of narcotics included about 179kg and 906g of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) and about 83kg and 582g of heroin (with their packages). The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera arrived at the Galle Harbour on 13th April to inspect the consignment of narcotics held in this operation.
The Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard regularly patrol and conduct search operations along the island’s coast to prevent illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, stemming via sea routes.

During this dedicated operation based on naval intelligence, a suspicious multi-day fishing trawler, which was about 133 nautical miles (246 km) off the south coast of the island, was intercepted and searched by SLCG Samudraraksha. As the fishing trawler was suspected of smuggling a haul of crystal methamphetamine and heroin in 17 sacks, during the search, the narcotic-carrying trawler was held on 12th April, with 06 suspects aboard.

Additionally, SLCG Samudraraksha inspected another local one-day fishing trawler, which was plying suspiciously in the sea area. During the inspection, 04 suspects were apprehended, along with the trawler, on suspicion of attempting to exchange narcotics with the multi-day trawler previously seized.

Following a thorough search of the suspicious multi-day fishing trawler at the Galle Harbour on 13th April, authorities recovered 17 sacks containing crystal methamphetamine and heroin. The haul of crystal methamphetamine, weighing about 179kg and 906g (including packages), were in 129 packages, stuffed in 13 sacks and the stash of heroin, weighing about 83kg and 582g (including packages), were in 76 packages, contained in 04 sacks. The consignment of narcotics, along with the 06 suspects and the multi-day fishing trawler was handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) for onward legal action.

Moreover, the 04 individuals, along with the one-day fishing trawler, which were seized on suspicion of being involved in a drug exchange at sea, were also handed over to PNB for further legal action.

The individuals held in the operation are known to reside in the Weligama, Imaduwa, and Galle areas, ranging in age from 23 to 54 years old. Meanwhile, the gross street value of the consignment of drugs seized during this operation is believed to be more than Rs. 3798 million.

Including the recent confiscation, the Sri Lanka Navy has held drugs with a gross street value of over Rs. 9300 million during operations mounted so far in 2024. The Sri Lanka Navy – the country’s first line of defence is committed to coordinating with other law enforcement authorities, to carry out anti-drug operations of this nature in order to foil drug smuggling attempts being made in the guise of fishing.

(navy.lk)

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