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  Threatening legislation...

European Commission weighs in with threats of legislation to force social media companies to censor jihadist content


Link Here 8th December 2017
european commission logoThe European Commission has joined the list of organisations calling on the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter to do more to remove extremist content - or face further legislation.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned the real battlefield is against 21st century terrorism. He said most of the recent terrorist attackers had never travelled to Syria or Iraq. But most of them had been influenced, groomed and recruited to terrorism on the internet.

Avramopoulos said he believed it was feasible to reduce the time it takes to remove content to a few hours. There is a lot of room for improvement, for this cooperation to produce even better results.

Avramopoulos also said he thought it was worthwhile to harness artificial intelligence to complete the task. You now.. like Facebook censoring Robin Redbreast Christmas cards because the word 'breast' appeared in filenames.

The Commission said it would make a decision by May next year on whether additional measures -- including legislation -- are required in order to better address the problem of illegal content on the internet.

 

 Offsite Article: FSK film censors...


Link Here 8th December 2017
fsk 18 large An overview of film censorship in Germany

See article from translate.google.com

 

 Offsite Article: The EU gets ever more authoritarian and censorial...


Link Here 27th November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
cyberleagle logo Detailed discussion of the EU proposed internet censorship law requiring internet companies to pre-censor user posts

See article from cyberleagle.com

 

 Commented: More EU censorship legislation for the benefit of multinational companies...

The European Union enacts new regulation enabling the blocking of websites without judicial oversight


Link Here 23rd November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
EU flagThe European Union voted on November 14, to pass the new internet censorship regulation nominally in the name of consumer protection. But of course censorship often hides behind consumer protection, eg the UK's upcoming internet porn ban is enacted in the name of protecting under 18 internet consumers.

The new EU-wide law gives extra power to national consumer protection agencies, but which also contains a vaguely worded clause that also grants them the power to block and take down websites without judicial oversight.

Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda said in a speech in the European Parliament Plenary during a last ditch effort to amend the law:

The new law establishes overreaching Internet blocking measures that are neither proportionate nor suitable for the goal of protecting consumers and come without mandatory judicial oversight,

According to the new rules, national consumer protection authorities can order any unspecified third party to block access to websites without requiring judicial authorization, Reda added later in the day on her blog .

This new law is an EU regulation and not a directive, meaning its obligatory for all EU states.

The new law proposal started out with good intentions, but sometimes in the spring of 2017, the proposed regulation received a series of amendments that watered down some consumer protections but kept intact the provisions that ensured national consumer protection agencies can go after and block or take down websites.

Presumably multinational companies had been lobbying for new weapons n their battle against copyright infringement. For instance, the new law gives national consumer protection agencies the legal power to inquire and obtain information about domain owners from registrars and Internet Service Providers.

Besides the website blocking clause, authorities will also be able to request information from banks to detect the identity of the responsible trader, to freeze assets, and to carry out mystery shopping to check geographical discrimination or after-sales conditions.

Comment: European Law Claims to Protect Consumers... By Blocking the Web

23rd November 2017 See  article from eff.org  

Electronic Frontier Foundation Last week the European Parliament passed a new Consumer Protection Regulation [PDF] that allows national consumer authorities to order ISPs, web hosts and domain registries to block or delete websites... all without a court order. The websites targeted are those that allegedly infringe European consumer law. But European consumer law has some perplexing provisions that have drawn ridicule, including a prohibition on children blowing up balloons unsupervised and a ban on excessively curvy bananas. Because of these, the range of websites that could be censored is both vast and uncertain.

The Consumer Protection Regulation provides in Article 8(3)(e) that consumer protection authorities must have the power:

where no other effective means are available to bring about the cessation or the prohibition of the infringement including by requesting a third party or other public authority to implement such measures, in order to prevent the risk of serious harm to the collective interests of consumers:

  • to remove content or restrict access to an online interface or to order the explicit display of a warning to consumers when accessing the online interface;

  • to order a hosting service provider to remove, disable or restrict the access to an online interface; or

  • where appropriate, order domain registries or registrars to delete a fully qualified domain name and allow the competent authority concerned to register it;

The risks of unelected public authorities being given the power to block websites was powerfully demonstrated in 2014, when the Australian company regulator ASIC accidentally blocked 250,000 websites in an attempt to block just a handful of sites alleged to be defrauding Australian consumers.

This likelihood of unlawful overblocking is just one of the reasons that the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Opinion has underlined how web blocking often contravenes international human rights law. In a 2011 report [PDF], then Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue set out how extremely limited are the circumstances in which blocking of websites can be justified, noting that where:

the specific conditions that justify blocking are not established in law, or are provided by law but in an overly broad and vague manner, [this] risks content being blocked arbitrarily and excessively. ... [E]ven where justification is provided, blocking measures constitute an unnecessary or disproportionate means to achieve the purported aim, as they are often not sufficiently targeted and render a wide range of content inaccessible beyond that which has been deemed illegal. Lastly, content is frequently blocked without the intervention of or possibility for review by a judicial or independent body.

This describes exactly what the new Consumer Protection Regulation will do. It hands over a power that should only be exercised, if at all, under the careful scrutiny of a judge in the most serious of cases, and allows it to be wielded at the whim of an unelected consumer protection agency. As explained by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda , who voted against the legislation, it sets the stage for the construction of a censorship infrastructure that could be misused for purposes that we cannot even anticipate, ranging from copyright enforcement through to censorship of political protest.

Regrettably, the Regulation is now law--and is required to be enforced by all European states. It is both ironic and tragic that a law intended to protect consumers actually poses such a dire threat to their right to freedom of expression.

 

  Playing a long game...

Belgium's minister of justice is seeking to ban loot boxes from computer games


Link Here 22nd November 2017
Belgium flagLoot boxes are used to monetise games by allowing gamers to buy items that will prove useful in the game. The games designers seem to favour a lucky dip approach to the goodies that are sold leading to accusations of gambling as some loot boxes may prove better than others.

This week Belgium's Minister of Justice has deemed that the selling of loot boxes should be classed as gambling.

This comment comes after Belgium's Gaming Commission launched an investigation into loot boxes last week stating, The mixing of money and addiction is gambling.

Belgium's Minister of Justice Koen Geens has also weighed in on the issue and said:

Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.

Geens has stressed he is looking to have features such as look boxes banned in Belgium when the user does now know what they are receiving when they purchase. Geens noted that a ban will take time as he will have to proceed with the ban via Europe.

 

  It's a hard job being an algorithm...

Facebook gets in a censorship mess over whether news picture of Poland's marches are incendiary or newsworthy


Link Here 19th November 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
poland nationalists marchOn 11th November, thousands of people marched in the streets of Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the country's Independence Day. The march attracted massive numbers of people from the nationalist or far right end of the political spectrum.

The march proved very photogenic, with images showing the scale of the march and also the stylised symbology proved very powerful and thought provoking.

But the images caused problems for the likes of Facebook, on what should be censored and what should not.

Once could argue that the world needs to see what is going on amongst large segments of the population in Poland, and indeed across Europe. Perhaps if they see the popularity of the far right then maybe communities and politicians can be spurred into addressing some of the fundamental societal break downs leading to this mass movement.

On the other hand, there will be those that consider the images to be something that could attract and inspire others to join the cause.

But from just looking at news pictures, it would be hard to know what to think. And that dilemma is exactly what caused confusion amongst censors at Facebook.

Quartz (qz.com ) reports on a collection of such images, published on Facebook by a renowned photojournalist in Poland, that was taken down by the social media's content censors. Chris Niedenthal attended the march to practice his craft, not to participate, and posted his photos on Nov. 12, the day after the march. Facebook took them down. He posted them again the next day. Facebook took them down again on Nov. 14. Niedenthal himself was also blocked from Facebook for 24 hours. The author concludes that a legitimate professional journalist or photojournalist should not be 'punished' for doing his duty.

Facebook told Quartz that the photos, because they contained hate speech symbols, were taken down for violating the platform's community standards policy barring content that shows support for hate groups. The captions on the photos were neutral, so Facebook's moderators could not tell if the person posting them supported, opposed, or was indifferent about hate groups, a spokesperson said. Content shared that condemns or merely documents events can remain up. But that which is interpreted to show support for hate groups is banned and will be removed.

Eventually Facebook allowed the photos to remain on the platform. Facebook apologized for the error, in a message, and in a personal phone call.

 

  Failing politicians love fake news, they think it is something to blame their failure on...

And the EU loves fake news a lot! And so it is setting up a new censorship body to find even more of it


Link Here 17th November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
EU flagThe European Union is in the process of creating an authority to monitor and censor so-called fake news. It is setting up a High-Level 'Expert' Group. The EU is currently consulting media professionals and the public to decide what powers to give to this EU body, which is to begin operation next spring.

The World Socialist Web Site has its own colourful view on the intentions of the body, but I don't suppose it is too far from the truth:

An examination of the EU's announcement shows that it is preparing mass state censorship aimed not at false information, but at news reports or political views that encourage popular opposition to the European ruling class.

It aims to create conditions where unelected authorities control what people can read or say online.

 EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans explained the move in ominous tersm

We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. The EU's task is to protect its citizens from fake news and to manage the information they receive.

According to an EU press release, the EU Commission, another unelected body, will select the High-Level Expert Group, which is to start in January 2018 and will work over several months. It will discuss possible future actions to strengthen citizens' access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online.

Who will decide what views are verified, who is reliable and whose views are disinformation to be deleted from Facebook or removed from Google search results? The EU, of course.

 

  Siding with the powerful and oppressive...

Disgraceful European Council members seek to restrict internet users from the freedom to express themselves on the internet


Link Here 11th November 2017
openmedia logo Three countries are using the European Council to put dangerous pro-censorship amendments into the already controversial Copyright Directive.

The copyright law that Openmedia has been campaigning on -- the one pushing the link tax and censorship machines -- is facing some dangerous sabotage from the European Council. In particular, France, Spain and Portugal are directly harming the open web.

The Bill is currently being debated in the European Parliament but the European Council also gets to make its own proposed version of the law, and the two versions eventually have to compromise with each other. This European Council is made up of ministers from the governments of all EU member states. Those ministers are usually represented by staff who do most of the negotiating on their behalf. It is not a transparent body, but it does have a lot of power.

The Council can choose to agree with Parliament's amendments, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen in this case. In fact they've been taking worrying steps, particularly when it comes to the censorship machine proposals.

As the proposal stands before the Council intervention, it encourages sites where users upload and make content to install filtering mechanisms -- a kind of censorship machine which would use algorithms to look for copyrighted content and then block the post. This is despite the fact that there many legal reasons to use copyrighted content.

These new changes want to go a step further. They firstly want to make the censorship machine demand even more explicit. As Julia Reda puts it:

They want to add to the Commission proposal that platforms need to automatically remove media that has once been classified as infringing, regardless of the context in which it is uploaded.

Then, they go all in with a suggested rewrite of existing copyright law to end the liability protections which are vital for a functioning web.

Liability protection laws mean we (not websites) are responsible for what we say and post online. This is so that websites are not obliged to monitor everything we say or do. If they were liable there would be much overzealous blocking and censorship. These rules made YouTube, podcast platforms, social media, all possible. The web as we know it works because of these rules.

But the governments of France, Spain, Portugal and the Estonian President of the Council want to undo them. It would mean all these sites could be sued for any infringement posted there. It would put off new sites from developing. And it would cause huge legal confusion -- given that the exact opposite is laid out in a different EU law.

openmedia.org asks: What can we do about it?

We need to keep making noise! An institution used to secrecy doesn't expect to be in the public eye and getting this kind of scrutiny.

We need to empower the European Parliament to present the best version possible, and to beat off the terrible ideas they are circulating here.

And if you are a resident of France, Spain, Portugal or Estonia tell your local media and your representatives to stop walking this path.

 

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