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The BBFC: censors without a soul...

8 councils have now overruled the BBFC and awarded a local 12A rating to the documentary, A Northern Soul


Link Here 18th September 2018
Full story: A Northern Soul...Director takes issue with the BBFC 15 rating
Eight local councils have now decided to overturn a film's BBFC 15 age rating so younger viewers can watch it.

The documentary A Northern Soul was rated 15 by the BBFC for strong language. The BBFC commented:

It  includes around 20 uses of strong language and therefore exceeds by some margin anything we have ever permitted at 12A.

The film follows Steve, who struggles to make ends meet as he tries to teach hip-hop to children in Hull schools with his Beats Bus.

So far, licensing committees in Hull, Lambeth, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton, Hackney and Calderdale have downgraded A Northern Soul from a 15 to a 12A.

Phil Bates, licensing manager at Southampton City Council, said he viewed the film differently because it's a documentary rather than a drama. He explained:

We can see why BBFC awarded a 15 rating, although equally we can see why other authorities have also granted it a 12A.

The use of profane language is fairly infrequent, some of it was used at a time of stress but there were occasions when it was used as everyday language. As this is a fly-on-the-wall style film, showing life as it is, rather than a scripted film where the language is used for effect, we felt the film warranted a 12A.

Director Sean McAllister spoke of the councils' decisions: I think they're responding as human beings. He added that Steve's language was credible and real and culturally embedded within how he speaks. He continued:

The irony is that the motivation for making this film and the heart of why this film should be seen has got the thing censored.

When people actually see it, everyone's saying 'where's the swearing?' They [the BBFC] have done a word count, which is an F count, and they've simply censored it based on that. And they've got to get over that.

When in Mission Impossible people are having their heads blown off and 12As are being granted, the whole thing is hypocritical, backward and needs reassessing. Language not used for effect

The BBFC repeated its mantra that its classification guidelines are the result of a large scale public consultation designed to reflect broad public opinion across the UK. Bit in reality the 'large scale' part of its public consultation asks a few broad brush questions about whether people generally agree with the BBFC about ratings. The questions do not offer any more nuanced insight into what people think about swearing in the context of everyday parlance of some working people. 

 

 

Smallfoot, the latest film to suffer category cuts for cinema release...

Yetis go out in search of humans, strange and mythical creatures that can be reduced to a blubbering heap by the sound of a four letter word


Link Here 16th September 2018
Smallfoot is a 2018 USA children's cartoon comedy by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig (co-director).
Starring Zendaya, Channing Tatum and Gina Rodriguez. BBFC link IMDb

The film has just been passed U for very mild threat, rude humour, language after BBFC category cuts for 2018 cinema release.

The film was originally passed PG uncut for infrequent mild bad language, but 10 days later the film was passed U after a cut for category.

The BBFC commented:

  • Company chose to remove a single use of mild bad language ('crap') in order to obtain a U classification. An uncut PG classification was available.

Summary Notes

A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as "humans" really do exist.

 

 

BBFC slashes its rating...

John Carpenter's Halloween just downrated to 15 for cinema release


Link Here 14th September 2018
Halloween is a 1978 USA horror by John Carpenter.
Starring Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran. BBFC link IMDb

John Carpenter's Halloween has just been passed 15 uncut for strong threat, violence, nudity for 2018 cinema release.

It has always been uncut in the UK and US. It was 18 rated until 2018, when it was passed 15 for a cinema release.

The previous BBFC 18 rating has been widely questioned for some time now. It seems to compare with 15 rated horrors rather than 18 rated horrors, but perhaps the quality filmmaking makes it a bit more scary than if judged by the violence you actually see.

The film has not yet been submitted for reconsideration on video, so is still nominally 18 rated for 2018 home video releases.

Uncut and MPAA R rated in the US. There is also an Extended TV cut.

 

 

Class bias...

Questions raised in the House of Parliament about the BBFC censorship of A Northern Soul


Link Here 7th September 2018
Full story: A Northern Soul...Director takes issue with the BBFC 15 rating

Business of the House

The House of Commons on 6th September

Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you will have seen the 2010 film The King's Speech , portraying George VI. It contained 11 uses of the F-word and was granted a classification of 12A. I recently saw the highly rated documentary A Northern Soul by Hull film-maker Sean McAllister. Its main character uses the F-word 14 times and it is heard 19 times in total in the film. None of it was aggressive or gratuitous, and the film simply portrays the life of a working-class Hull man and his work helping local children, but it has been given a 15 certificate nationally. May we therefore have a debate about whether there is a class bias in the way censors seek to protect younger teenagers from the reality and language that many experience in their lives every day?

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady raises a genuinely interesting point, and I urge her to seek an Adjournment debate so she can discuss it with Ministers and then take it forward.

 

 

Offsite Article: BBFC Podcast Episode 86...


Link Here 1st September 2018
Reclassification and Heathers

See article from bbfc.co.uk

 

 

Commented: A Northern Soul...

Hull has decided to make its 12A rating permanent for future screenings amid criticism of the BBFC for censoring the commonplace language of the working class


Link Here 28th August 2018
Full story: A Northern Soul...Director takes issue with the BBFC 15 rating
The man behind a new film about Hull's year as the UK City of Culture has hit out at censors after they gave it it 15 rating.

A Northern Soul is Hull-born award-winning documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister's take on 2017. It follows struggling factory worker Steve Arnott's dream of bringing hip-hop and rap to the city's estates in a youth project involving a converted bus.

The film was given a 12A rating by licensing councillors in Hull ahead of a recent series of initial screenings at the University of Hull and Vue cinema.

But now the BBFC has decided it should have a 15 rating for strong language.

While the documentary does feature regular use of the F-word, McAllister said swearing was what ordinary people in Hull did and claimed the decision was an attack on working-class people. On Twitter, he said:

It's a film about a working-class bloke helping kids with rap music find a better life.

McAllister commented: It's funny the swearing in The King's Speech is a lot worse, including the C-word, but that gets a 12A. He also compared the decision to the swearing on many of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey's TV shows.

More screenings will be held on three evenings next week at Vue as well as later in the month. In response to the BBFC decision, Mr McAllister said all next week's screenings would be free to children under 15 and over 12ish.

[The censorship of strong language in films is one of the silliest aspects of film censorship. Surely young teams will be well versed in strong language, and they will have heard it all before. Surely it will make no difference if they hear the same at the cinema.

But to be fair to the film censors, strong language is one of the things that parents, maybe especially middle class parents, ask for the censors to cut or restrict.

Should the film BBFC consider the actual effect of young teens hearing strong language on screen, or should they follow the wishes of the parents?.

And there certainly is a class aspect to this. The unspoken underlying reality is that middle class parents simply don't want their kids speaking like working class kids].

Update: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

21st August 2018. See  article from screendaily.com

Hull City Council has decided that it will not adhere to the BBFC decision to award Sean McAllister's feature documentary A Northern Soul a 15-certificate. Instead, the council will allow the film to be shown in the city at a 12A rating, granting anyone from the age of 12 upwards the option to view the film, while those under 12 can do so if accompanied by an adult.

The council had originally granted the film a 12A certificate for a short theatrical run in the city prior to its official release (which begins on Friday, August 24), but had informed the filmmakers that it would be implementing the 15 rating for further screenings. This decision has now been reversed, and three further screenings at Vue Hull this week will carry the 12A rating.

Following a hearing, the council said that its Licensing Sub-Committee had determined the film would be classified 12A for showings, at any time, at premises within the Licensing Authority's area. It gave its reason for the decision as being:

Strong language was only used by the subject of the film to express emotion in interviews with the filmmaker, was never directed at an individual, or used in an aggressive manner

The BBFC's original certification has caused controversy in the UK since the decision was made on August 11, with many viewing the certificate as not appropriate for a feature doc that spotlights everyday working-class Britain. The rating was awarded due to the film's strong language, owing to it containing more than four uses of the word fuck -- the film contains the word or variations on it a total of 10 times.

Director McAllister said that the film contains no violence, no sexual content, and no aggressive swearing, with the only use of profanity being within the confines of everyday language. He noted that the rating now restricts their outreach opportunities. [The decision] prevents school screenings of this film (for kids under 15) which is so necessary in the communities across this divided nation, he commented when the BBFC classified the film.

Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Kingston Upon Hull North, said on Twitter that she was surprised by the BBFC's decision, adding that she didn't understand why the film would be a 15 while a title such as The King's Speech , which contains stronger language, would receive a PG.

A Northern Soul producer, Elhum Shakerifar, commented:

As a documentary producer, I hope that this does bring into question the matter of representation, particularly of working class realities on screen, but also the reality of documentary filmmaking versus fiction. Our characters aren't scripted, they're real people that we spend time with to build bridges of confidence, respect and communication with - and we don't want to take words out of their mouths, just as we don't put words into them, she said.

Shakerifar added that they are now intending to apply for local certificates with further local councils, and have already begun the process in Beverley, which is seven miles away from Hull and will be hosting screenings of the film in a few weeks' time.

Comment: The Director of A Northern Soul makes his case against the BBFC in the Guardian

28th August 2018. See  article from theguardian.com by Sean McAllister

My film-making style is intimate and engaged -- I look for characters whom I film over a long period of time and who let me into their lives fully. Finding people who can articulate their situation is important, and Steve's dream of helping poor kids in Hull during the city of culture period seemed the perfect opportunity. Steve trusted me and talked openly and honestly. Trust and intimacy are things a documentary film-maker works hard for -- they're not easily won, and it is also a responsibility.

As a result, Steve speaks to me as he would to a mate -- his language is real and engaging. He uses the occasional F-word, as most of us do in everyday language, but only ever in my company, never in front of anyone else, and this is never aggressive or sexual.

There is a limited amount of bad language in the film. There are 19 F-words: 14 from Steve, and five that feature in the song Sometimes by Akala, who appears briefly in the film on stage, singing the lyrics When I feel like / Fuck it, I've had enough. It's the BBFC's job to count them and apparently you're not allowed more than four!

But the point isn't the strong language -- it's about a voice and the everyday lived reality of someone being censored. It seems absurd that this would be deemed inappropriate for children, while films currently playing at the cinema receive 12A certificates despite gratuitous on-screen violence. Mission Impossible, 12A, has a scene of someone being shot point blank on camera, for example.

... Read the full article from theguardian.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor (1994)...


Link Here 27th August 2018
A continuing series about films and videos once banned by the BBFC. By Sam Inglis

See article from thelondoneconomic.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Time Magazine reports on the current status...


Link Here 22nd August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
The U.K. Is About To Censor Online Porn, and Free Speech Advocates Are Alarmed

See article from time.com

 

 

Final Score...

The latest film being cut for a 15 rated UK cinema release


Link Here 18th August 2018
Final Score is a 2018 UK action film by Scott Mann.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Dave Bautista and Ray Stevenson. BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed 15 for strong violence, language after BBFC advised pre-cuts for:

  • 2018 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice. The company was told it was likely to be classified 18 but that their preferred 15 could be achieved by making reductions to stronger moments of violence. When the film was submitted for formal classification these moments had been acceptably reduced and the film was classified 15.

Summary Notes

Some scores will never be settled

 

 

Howe gets animated by anime...

Elspeth Howe reveals more of the internal government debate that is delaying the BBFC internet porn censorship guidelines


Link Here 8th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
Elspeth Howe, a member of the House of Lords, has written an article in the Telegraph outlining her case that the remit for the BBFC to censor internet porn sites should be widened to include a wider range of material that she does not like.

This seems to tally with other recent news that the CPS is reconsidering its views on what pornographic content should be banned from publication in Britain.

Surely these debates are related to the detailed guidelines to be used by the BBFC when either banning porn sites, or else requiring them to implement strict age verification for users. It probably explains why the Telegraph recently reported that the publication of the final guidelines has been delayed until at least the autumn.


Categories of Porn

For clarity the categories of porn being discussed are as follows:
 

  Current   Proposed
offline online   offline online
Softcore 18 BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Hardcore R18  BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Beyond R18
(proposal by CPS)
banned BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Cartoon Porn
(proposal by Howe))
banned BBFC uncut banned banned
Extreme porn banned banned banned banned
Child porn banned banned banned banned
  • Softcore porn rated 18 under BBFC guidelines

    - Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
     
  • Vanilla hardcore porn rated R18 under current BBFC guidelines

    - Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
     
  • Beyond R18 hardcore porn that includes material historically banned by the CPS claiming obscenity, ie fisting, golden showers, BDSM, female ejaculation, and famously from a recent anti censorship campaign, face sitting/breath play. Such material is currently cut from R18s.

    - Such content will be allowed under the current Digital Economy Act for online porn sites
    - This category is currently banned for offline sales in the UK, but the CPS has just opened a public consultation on its proposal to legalise such content, as long as it is consensual. Presumably this is related to the government's overarching policy: What's illegal offline, is illegal online.
     
  • Extreme Porn as banned from possession in the UK under the Dangerous Pictures Act. This content covers, bestiality, necrophilia, realistic violence likely to result in serious injury, realistic rape

    - This content is illegal to possess in the UK and any websites with such content will be banned by the BBFC regardless of age verification implementation
     
  • Cartoon Porn depicting under 18s

    - This content is banned from possession in the UK but will be allowed online subject to age verification requirements
     
  • Photographic child porn

    This is already totally illegal in the UK on all media. Any foreign websites featuring such content are probably already being blocked by ISPs using lists maintained by the IWF. The BBFC will ban anything it spots that may have slipped through the net.


'What's illegal offline, is illegal online'

Elspeth Howe writes:

I very much welcome part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 which requires robust age verification checks to protect children from accessing pornography. The Government deserves congratulations for bringing forward this seminal provision, due to come into effect later this year.

The Government's achievement, however, has been sadly undermined by amendments that it introduced in the House of Lords, about which there has been precious little public debate. I very much hope that polling that I am placing in the public domain today will facilitate a rethink.

When the Digital Economy Bill was introduced in the Lords, it proposed that legal pornography should be placed behind robust age verification checks. Not surprisingly, no accommodation for either adults or children was made for illegal pornography, which encompasses violent pornography and child sex abuse images.

As the Bill passed through the Lords, however, pressure was put on the Government to allow adults to access violent pornography, after going through age-verification checks, which in other contexts it would be illegal to supply. In the end the Government bowed to this pressure and introduced amendments so that only one category of illegal pornography will not be accessible by adults.

[When  Howe mentions violent pornography she is talking about the Beyond R18 category, not the Extreme Porn category, which will be the one category mentioned that will not be accessible to adults].

The trouble with the idea of banning Beyond R18 pornography is that Britain is out of step with the rest of the world. This category includes content that is ubiquitous in most of the major porn websites in the world. Banning so much content would be simply be impractical. So rather than banning all foreign porn, the government opted to remove the prohibition of Beyond R18 porn from the original bill.

Another category that has not hitherto come to attention is the category of cartoon porn that depicts under 18s. The original law that bans possession of this content seemed most concerned about material that was near photographic, and indeed may have been processed from real photos. However the law is of most relevance in practical terms when it covers comedic Simpsons style porn, or else Japanese anime often featuring youthful, but vaguely drawn cartoon characters in sexual scenes.

Again there would be problems of practicality of banning foreign websites from carry such content. All the major tube sites seems to have a section devoted to Hentai anime porn which edges into the category.

In July 2017, Howe introduced a bill that would put Beyond R18 and Cartoon Porn back into the list of prohibited material in the Digital Economy Act. The bill is titled the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Amendment) (Definition of Extreme Pornography) Bill and is still open, but further consideration in Parliament has stalled, presumably as the Government itself is currently addressing these issues.

The bill adds in to the list of prohibitions any content that has been refused a BBFC certificate or would be refused a certificate if it were to be submitted. This would catch both the Beyond Porn and Cartoon Porn categories.

The government is very keen on its policy mantra: What's illegal offline, is illegal online and it seems to have addressed the issue of Beyond 18 material being illegal offline but legal online. The government is proposing to relax its own obscenity rules so that Beyond R18 material will be legalised, (with the proviso that the porn is consensual). The CPS has published a public consultation with this proposal, and it should be ready for implementation after the consultation closes on 17th October 2018.

Interestingly Howe seems to have dropped the call to ban Beyond R18 material in her latest piece, so presumably she has accepted that Beyond R18 material will soon be classifiable by the BBFC, and so not an issue for her bill.


Still to be Addressed

That still leaves the category of Cartoon Porn to be addressed. The current Digital Economy Act renders it illegal offline, but legal online. Perhaps the Government has given Howe the nod to rationalise the situation by making banning the likes of Hentai. Hence Howe is initiating a bit of propaganda to support her bill.  She writes:

The polling that I am putting in the public domain specifically addresses the non-photographic child sex abuse images and is particularly interesting because it gauges the views of MPs whose detailed consideration of the Bill came before the controversial Lords amendments were made.

According to the survey, which was conducted by ComRes on behalf of CARE, a massive 71% of MPs, rising to 76% of female MPs, stated that they did not believe it was right for the Digital Economy Act to make non-photographic child sex abuse images available online to adults after age verification checks. Only 5% of MPs disagreed.

There is an opportunity to address this as part of a review in the next 18 months, but things are too serious to wait .The Government should put matters right now by adopting my very short, but very important two-clause Digital Economy Act (Amendment) (Extreme Pornography) Bill which would restore the effect of the Government's initial prohibition of this material.

I -- along with 71 per cent of MPs -- urge the Government to take action to ensure that the UK's internet does not endorse the sexual exploitation of children.

I haven't heard of this issue being discussed before and I can't believe that anybody has much of an opinion on the matter. Presumably therefore, the survey presented out of the blue with the questions being worded in such a way as to get the required response. Not unusual, but surely it shows that someone is making an effort to generate an issue where one didn't exists before. Perhaps an indication that Howe's solution is what the authorities have decreed will happen.

 

 

The Festival...

Inbetweeners style comedy cut for a 15 rated cinema release


Link Here 7th August 2018
The Festival is a 2018 UK comedy by Iain Morris.
Starring Joe Thomas, Hammed Animashaun and Claudia O'Doherty. BBFC link IMDb

The film was passed 15 for strong sex references, crude humour, sex, drug misuse, very strong language after BBFC advised category pre-cuts for cinema release in 2018.

The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice. The company was advised the film was likely to be classified 18 but that their preferred 15 could be achieved by making reductions to three sequences of crude and sexual behaviour. When the film was submitted for formal classification acceptable reductions has been made the film was classified 15.

Summary Notes

When Nick's girlfriend dumps him at graduation, he has a colossal meltdown in front of the entire university. He's convinced his life is over, but his best mate Shane has the perfect solution: three days at an epic music festival. With the help of "festival aficionado" and certified oddball Amy, Shane tries to get Nick to embrace the music, the mayhem and the mud. From the creators of the Inbetweeners comes The Festival, a movie about friendship, growing up, and going mad in a field.

 

 

Unfinished business...

Open Rights Group comments on the missed milestone of publishing final age verification guidelines before Parliament's summer recess


Link Here 5th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor

MPs left behind unfinished business when they broke for summer recess, and we aren't talking about Brexit negotiations. The rollout of mandatory age verification (AV) technology for adult websites is being held up once again while the Government mulls over final details. AV tech will create highly sensitive databases of the public's porn watching habits, and Open Rights Groups submitted a report warning the proposed privacy protections are woefully inadequate. The Government's hesitation could be a sign they are receptive to our concerns, but we expect their final guidance will still treat privacy as an afterthought. MPs need to understand what's at stake before they are asked to approve AV guidelines after summer.

AV tools will be operated by private companies, but if the technology gets hacked and the personal data of millions of British citizens is breached, the Government will be squarely to blame. By issuing weak guidelines, the Government is begging for a Cambridge Analytica-style data scandal. If this technology fails to protect user privacy, everybody loses. Businesses will be damaged (just look at Facebook), the Government will be embarrassed, and the over 20 million UK residents who view porn could have their private sexual preferences exposed. It's in everybody's interest to fix this. The draft guidance lacks even the basic privacy protections required for other digital tools like credit card payments and email services. Meanwhile, major data breaches are rocking international headlines on a regular basis. AV tech needs a dose of common sense.

 

 

The Equalizer 2...

BBFC category cuts required for a 15 rated UK cinema release


Link Here 1st August 2018
The Equalizer 2 is a 2018 USA action crime thriller by Antoine Fuqua.
Starring Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington and Bill Pullman. BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed 15 for strong violence, threat, language, drug misuse after BBFC advised pre-cuts for:

  • 2018 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice at which stage the company was informed it was likely to be classified 18 uncut but that their preferred 15 classification could be achieved by making reductions to scenes of strong violence and gore. When the film was submitted for formal classification these scenes had been acceptably reduced.

The film is uncut in the US where it is rated R for brutal violence throughout, language, and some drug content.

The running time suggests that the cut UK version will also be shown in Ireland rated 15A for strong violence.

Summary Notes

Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?

 

 

Few complaints...

The annual ritual of BBFC's complaints of the year


Link Here 23rd July 2018
It is surely the case that the BBFC have found a successful formula for producing age rating pretty much following the expectations of film and video viewers. At least with film and video, people have to pay good money up front, and so do a little research about what they are expecting. This also means that the easily offended will have decided that the film is not for them before they see it. Also the BBFC tend to steer clear of the illogical and contradictory rules of political correctness, so don't get tripped up by silly decisions in the name of PC.

Whatever the reasons, complaints they receive are more or less nil. The BBFC has recorded a total of 262 complaints for 2017, compared with 371 the previous year. Surely the number of complaints for a single film is statistical noise but data seems to be the most interesting chapter of the report, at least as far as the press is concerned. So far the record here are the films scoring the most complaints in 2017:

  • Logan , 20 complaints for being too violent for its 15 rating
  • The Indian film Padmaavat had some pre-release hype suggesting that it insulted historical characters, but this all fizzled away after opening when people realised that the hyped offence was all bollox. Anyway the BBFC reported just 10 complaints about the supposed insult.
  • 8 people whinged about violence and sex in the 15 rated Atomic Blond e.
  • 8 people also whinged about sex in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
  • Kong: Skull Island wound up 6 people for 12A rated strong language.
  • Alien Covenant had 5 complaints about violence at 15.
  • Ghost in the Shell also scored 5 for violence at 12A.
  • And It score 5 for horror at 15.

 

 

Offsite Article: Jess Franco And The BBFC...


Link Here 23rd July 2018
Nigel Wingroves speaks of BBFC threats from the time that Sadomania and Demoniac were banned in the 1990s

See article from reprobatemagazine.uk

 

 

BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust...

BBFC boss writes a 'won't somebody think of the children' campaigning piece in support of the upcoming porn censorship law, disgracefully from behind a paywall


Link Here 22nd July 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
David Austin as penned what looks like an official BBFC campaigning piece trying to drum up support for the upcoming internet porn censorship regime. Disgracefully the article is hidden behind a paywall and is restricted to Telegraph paying subscribers.

Are children protected by endangering their parents or their marriage?

The article is very much a one sided piece, focusing almost entirely on the harms to children. It says nothing about the extraordinary dangers faced by adults when handing over personal identifying data to internet companies. Not a word about the dangers of being blackmailed, scammed or simply outed to employers, communities or wives, where the standard punishment for a trivial transgression of PC rules is the sack or divorce.

Austin speaks of the scale of the internet business and the scope of the expected changes. He writes:

There are around five million pornographic websites across the globe. Most of them have no effective means of stopping children coming across their content. It's no great surprise, therefore, that Government statistics show that 1.4 million children in the UK visited one of these websites in one month.

...

The BBFC will be looking for a step change in the behaviour of the adult industry. We have been working with the industry to ensure that many websites carry age-verification when the law comes into force.

...

Millions of British adults watch pornography online. So age-verification will have a wide reach. But it's not new. It's been a requirement for many years for age-restricted goods and services, including some UK hosted pornographic material.

I guess at this last point readers will be saying I never knew that. I've never come across age verification ever before. But the point here is these previous rules devastated the British online porn industry and the reason people don't ever come across it, is that there are barely any British sites left.

Are children being protected by impoverishing their parents?

Not that any proponents of age verification could care less about British people being able to make money. Inevitably the new age verification will further compound the foreign corporate monopoly control on yet another internet industry.

Having lorded over a regime that threatens to devastate lives, careers and livelihoods, Austin ironically notes that it probably won't work anyway:

The law is not a silver bullet. Determined, tech-savvy teenagers may find ways around the controls, and not all pornography online will be age-restricted. For example, the new law does not require pornography on social media platforms to be placed behind age-verification controls.

 

 

Headaches, loopholes, VPNs, inventive kids, trust and Cambridge Analytica...

Daily Telegraph reports that the upcoming porn censorship regime looks set to be delayed by a few months


Link Here 21st July 2018
The Telegraph reveals:

The government is braced for criticism next week over an anticipated delay in its prospective curbs on under 18s' access to hardcore porn sites.

The current timetable culminating in the implementation of UK porn censorship by the end of the year required that the final censorship guidelines are presented to MPs before they go on holiday on Thursday. They will then be ready to approve them when they return to work in the autumn. It sound like they won't be ready for publishing by this Thursday.

The BBFC noted that they were due to send the results of the public consultation along with the BBFC censorship rules to the government by late May of this year so presumably the government is still pondering what to do.

'Best practice' just like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

Back in April when the BBFC initiated its rather naive draft rules for public consultation its prose tried to suggest that we can trust age verifiers with our most sensitive porn browsing data because they will voluntarily follow 'best practice'. But in light of the major industry player, in this case Facebook, allowing Cambridge Analytica to so dramatically abuse our personal data, the hope that these people will follow best practice' is surely forlorn.

GDPR

And there was the implementation of GDPR. The BBFC seemed to think that this was all that was needed to keep our data safe. But when t comes down to it all GDPR seems to have done is to train us, like Pavlov's dogs, to endlessly tick the consent box for all these companies to do what the hell they like with our data.

Ingenious kids

Then there was a nice little piece of research this week that revealed that network level ISP filtering of porn has next to no impact on preventing young porn seekers from obtaining their kicks. The research notes seems to suggest that it is not enough to block porn one lad because he has 30 mates whose house he can round to surf the web there, or else it only takes a few lads to be able to download porn and it will soon be circulated to the whole community on a memory stick or whatever.

Mass Buy in

I guess the government is finding it tough to find age verification ideas that are both convenient for adult users, whilst remaining robust about preventing access by the under 18s. I think the governments needs to find a solution that will achieve a mass buy in by adult users. If the adults don't want to play ball with the age verification process, then the first fall back position is for them to use a VPN. I know that from my use of VPNS that they are very good, and once you turn it on then I find it gets left on all day. I am sure millions of people using VPNs would not go down well with the security services on the trail of more serious crimes than under age porn viewing.

I think the most likely age verification method proposed to date that has a chance of a mass buy-in is the AVSecure system of anonymously buying a porn access card from a local shop, and using a PIN, perhaps typed in once a day. Then they are able to browse without further hassle on all participating websites. But I think it would require a certain pragmatism from government to accept this idea, as it would be so open to over 18s buying a card and then selling the PIN to under 18s, or perhaps sons nicking their Dad's PINS when they see the card lying around, (or even perhaps installing a keyboard logger to nick the password).

The government would probably like something more robust where PINS have to be matched to people's proven ID. But I think pron users would be stupid to hand over their ID to anyone on the internet who can monitor porn use. The risks are enormous, reputational damage, blackmail, fraud etc, and in this nasty PC world, the penalty of the most trivial of moral transgressions is to lose your job or even career.

A path to failure

The government is also setting out on a path when it can do nothing but fail. The Telegraph piece mentioned above is already lambasting the government for not applying the rules to social media websites such as Twitter, that host a fair bit of porn. The Telegraph comments:

Children will be free to watch explicit X-rated sex videos on social media sites because of a loophole in a new porn crackdown, Britain's chief censor has admitted.

David Austin, chief executive of the BBFC, has been charged by ministers with enforcing new laws that require people to prove they are over 18 to access porn sites. However, writing for telegraph.co.uk, Mr Austin admitted it would not be a silver bullet as online porn on sites such as Facebook and YouTube would escape the age restrictions. Social media companies will not be required to carry age-verification for pornographic content on their platforms. He said it was a matter for government to review this position.

 

 

More cinema films...

The BBFC publishes its latest Annual Report covering 2017


Link Here 19th July 2018

BBFC launches its Annual Report & Accounts 2017

  • 82% more films were classified for cinema in 2017 compared to 2007.
  • Video on demand continues to receive more BBFC age ratings than any other format
  • In 2017 the BBFC gave 378 films a 12A age rating, the most ever at the 12A category

In 2017 the BBFC age rated 1,048 films for cinema release, representing an 82% growth in films classified compared to 2007. With a total of 378 titles, there were more films with a 12A age rating in 2017 than ever before. However 15 remains the most common age rating with 392 theatrical classifications last year. Every film classified by the BBFC comes with detailed BBFCinsight information to help people make informed viewing choices for themselves and their family. BBFCinsight is available on bbfc.co.uk and the BBFC's free apps for tablet and mobile devices.

Although cinema is as popular as ever, digital content continues to grow, with submissions increasing by 25.3% since 2016, with just under 160,000 minutes of digital content classified in 2017.

David Austin, BBFC Chief Executive, said: Our aim is to support children and families to make viewing decisions that are right for them whenever, whatever and however they are watching, be it cinema, Blu-ray or DVD, or Video on Demand (VOD). Going forward we will continue to carry out research to ensure that our standards are in line with what people across the UK believe and expect. In February 2018 the Government designated the BBFC with new responsibilities as the age-verification regulator for online commercial pornography, under Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017. This is due to our acknowledged expertise in assessing and classifying content, including pornographic content, and our longstanding experience of online regulation. The new legislation is an important step in making the internet safer for children.

In addition to providing the latest age rating information on our websites, twitter account and free app, the BBFC continues to publish resources for children, teachers and older learners including a regular podcast, a children's website (www.cbbfc.co.uk), case studies and classroom posters.

In 2017 the BBFC's education team held 137 teaching sessions speaking to over 8,000 people across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Sessions focussed on BBFC age ratings, our history and our current work including in the online space. The BBFC education and outreach work aims to help children and young people choose well when selecting viewing material online, at home and in the cinema.

 

 

Whatever happened to...

The BBFC consultation on UK internet porn censorship


Link Here 17th July 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
Nobody seems to have heard much about the progress of the BBFC consultation about the process to censor internet porn in the UK.

The sketchy timetable laid out so far suggests that the result of the consultation should be published prior to the Parliamentary recess scheduled for 26th July. Presumably this would provide MPs with some light reading over their summer hols ready for them to approve as soon as the hols are over.

Maybe this publication may have to be hurried along though, as pesky MPs are messing up Theresa May's plans for a non-Brexit, and she would like to send them packing a week early before they can cause trouble. ( Update 18th July . The early holidays idea has now been shelved).

The BBFC published meeting minutes this week that mentions the consultation:

The public consultation on the draft Guidance on Age Verification Arrangements and the draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers closed on 23 April. The BBFC received 620 responses, 40 from organisations and 580 from individuals. Many of the individual responses were encouraged by a campaign organised by the Open Rights Group.

Our proposed response to the consultation will be circulated to the Board before being sent to DCMS on 21 May.

So assuming that the response was sent to the government on the appointed day then someone has been sitting on the results for quite a long time now.

Meanwhile its good to see that people are still thinking about the monstrosity that is coming our way. Ethical porn producer Erica Lust has been speaking to News Internationalist. She comments on the way the new law will compound MindGeek's monopolitistc dominance of the online porn market:

The age verification laws are going to disproportionately affect smaller low-traffic sites and independent sex workers who cannot cover the costs of installing age verification tools.

It will also impact smaller sites by giving MindGeek even more dominance in the adult industry. This is because the BBFC draft guidance does not enforce sites to offer more than one age verification product. So, all of MindGeeks sites (again, 90% of the mainstream porn sites) will only offer their own product; Age ID. The BBFC have also stated that users do not have to verify their age on each visit if access is restricted by password or a personal ID number. So users visiting a MindGeek site will only have to verify their age once using AgeID and then will be able to login to any complying site without having to verify again. Therefore, viewers will be less likely to visit competitor sites not using the AgeID technology, and simultaneously competitor sites will feel pressured to use AgeID to protect themselves from losing viewers.

...Read the full  article from newint.org

 

 

Incredibles 2...

Resubmitted to the BBFC after the addition of an epilepsy warning


Link Here 6th July 2018
Incredibles 2  is a 2018 USA family action animation by Brad Bird.
Starring Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter and Sarah Vowell. BBFC link IMDb

UK:  2D and 3D re-edited versions including the Short Film Bao were passed PG for mild bad language, violence without BBFC cuts for:

  • 2018 cinema release

These versions have replaced versions of the film submitted a month earlier. There's no change to the running time, rating or consumer advice.

The likely reason is a response to US concerns by the Epilepsy Foundation. Disney have added a warning disclaimer:

Incredibles 2 contains a sequence of flashing lights, which may affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or other photosensitivities

Summary Notes

Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

 

 

Offsite Article: Leeches drawing off the very life force of society to feed themselves...


Link Here 3rd July 2018
The Britisher makes passionate speech about the BBFC and the PC censors of Shakespeare

See video from YouTube

 

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