EU Censorship News

 2007

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29th December   

Ask the Parents...

EU TV parents survey reveals call for more censorship
Link Here
UPC logo A European viewers’ survey from UPC has called upon broadcasters to curb the amount of sex and violence on TV.

The survey was carried out for cable giant UPC. Parents not only want to remain in the driving seat when it comes to what their children watch, but they also call for more supervision from the local Media Authority for example, on certain TV content, said the study.

Six thousand parents in thirteen countries were surveyed, and the study included youngsters in age groups of under five, six to 12 and over 12 years old.

When it comes to monitoring the TV habits of their children, 57% of the European parents want more supervision of the content of TV, said the survey. Only 3% of surveyed parents wanted less supervision. Of the parents who believe the supervision of content should be intensified, 79% says this is because there is too much violence on TV and 56% said there was too much sexual content on TV. Violent and sexual content are also the main reasons for forbidding children to watch certain programmes, which is done by two-third of the parents (67%) of those surveyed. The 57% of parents that want more supervision of the content can be found in particular in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Romania.

 

21st December   

Prosecution Wankers...

Greek court dismisses obscenity charges over arty masturbation
Link Here

Greece flag A Greek court acquitted the director of an art show on charges of obscenity and an attack on national symbols, citing freedom of expression.

A video showing a woman masturbating to the Greek national anthem by Greek-American Eva Stefani was displayed at the Art Athina contemporary art show in Athens last June.

After a visitor reported the video to police, Art Athina director Michalis Argyros was arrested and charged.

He spent the night behind bars, provoking outcry from local artists, who mobilised to defend him.

At the trial, the court ruled against the prosecutor, who had argued the video made no sense and that Nudity is a work of art only in Renaissance paintings.

 

17th December   

Naive Legislation...

Worrying consequences of German teen protection laws
Link Here

Bravo magazine Youthful romance may never be the same again. German teenagers caught petting in cinemas or posting suggestive pictures of themselves on the internet could be prosecuted under strict new laws to be passed in the Bundestag.

Magazines for teenage girls, such as the widely read Bravo, will have to think again before publishing photo-stories of scantily clad young couples in passionate embrace, or risk landing their editors in jail for ten years. Even writers and painters will have to be careful when depicting under-age subjects in sexual situations. They too could be sent to prison.

The legislation, which is aimed at stamping out child prostitution, has drawn a storm of protest from legal experts, liberal politicians and even sex therapists. The law was due to be introduced last week but the Government withdrew it at the last minute because of the scale of the opposition.

It represents a moral rollback to the puritanism and prudishness of the 1950s, said Jerzy Montag, a Green Party MP who is trying to rally opposition in parliament. The State is attempting to interfere in the most intimate sphere.

The new law reduces the minimum age at which sexual offenders can be prosecuted from 18 to 14, and raises the maximum age at which a victim is entitled to legal protection from 16 to 18. The idea is to stop the recruitment of minors as prostitutes by other minors — pimps in big cities are often 17 or younger — but the initiative is a legal minefield.

If a 15-year-old says to a 17-year-old, ‘I'll invite you to the cinema providing we have a bit of heavy petting afterwards', then that will now be a criminal offence, said Montag. Even if the 17-year-old says no, it will still be illegal. The mere attempt to secure sexual favours in return for payment in kind is against the new law.

The law will put parents and other adults — such as cinema managers and teachers — in a difficult position. If they overhear a comment that suggests that a teenager is putting pressure on another teenager, or offering a reward, for sex then they have an obligation to call the police. But the crucial evidence may hinge on the slightest of nuances. If a youth says, ‘I'll pay for the cinema and then we'll snog', that's still OK, Montag said. But if he says, ‘I'll pay for the film and I want to snog in return', then he has broken this law.

Christine Lambrecht, a Social Democrat MP who helped to draw up the changes, said that the real target was not fumbling teenagers on the back seat of a cinema but people trying to recruit child prostitutes: We're talking about a 15-year-old who says to a !7-year-old, ‘I'll buy you a designer jacket if you sleep with me'. All too often that kind of approach is the start of a recruitment process.

Two laws are involved. The first is Article 182 of the Criminal Code, which is concerned with sexual abuse of minors and which can lead to hefty fines or up to five years in jail. The second is Article 184b, which covers the possession and distribution of child pornography. The amendments to both laws significantly broaden the age range for minors as victims and offenders. Possession of child pornography can lead to a jail sentence of between three months and ten years.

Now a teenager who photographs a teenage couple embracing in a park will be liable for prosecution if he or she distributes the pictures broadly on the net. A teenage girl who photographs her classmate in a revealing swimsuit and then sends it to her is still just within the law, providing that both girls consent and the picture is only for personal use. As soon as the picture is sent to another friend, the law has been broken. Even the act of downloading the picture is illegal.

 

14th December   

No More Spin...

No More Heroes not toned down, just not the strong US version
Link Here  full story: No More Heroes...Europe gets censored version of computer game

No More Heroes The MD of Rising Star Games, Martin Defries, has responded to criticism levelled at the company following the announcement that forthcoming title No More Heroes would be toned down from the US edition.

Defries has told GamesIndustry.biz that those claims are wide of the mark, because the European edition will be identical to the one just released in Japan, localisation notwithstanding.

There are two versions of No More Heroes that are going to be published in the West, he said.

Ours [Europe], which will be drawn down from our parent company, Marvelous Interactive, which is directly from the Japanese iteration of the game, and there will be a version in the US that is a full-on gore, beheadings, dismemberment…and it seems some confusion has come to the fore in the past few days as to which version Rising Star Games will publish.

Why the decision [to add in additional gory detail to the US release] has been made is a difficult one for me to comment on - that's a Ubisoft decision for the North American market.

 

13th December   

Pegged Out...

PEGI games ratings issues annual report
Link Here

PEGI logo The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system has published its latest annual report.

The chief purpose of the report is to show the PEGI system to be as transparent as possible so as to have this self-regulation fully appreciated by European policy makers and put to the best use by the general public, whether this should be parents, teachers, academics, or any other interested party, said Patrice Chazerand, secretary general of ISFE.

A Nielsen survey showed that the number of consumers relying upon PEGI icons across ten countries to identify appropriate products increased from 72% in 2004 to 94% in 2007

At a recent meeting of the Viennese provincial government, the Viennese Youth Protection Act was amended to make the PEGI age rating system mandatory for videogames sold in that city in what is hoped to be a first step towards a pan-Austrian agreement.

 

11th December   

Germany to Block Google?...

Age verification law requires mass block on foreign sites
Link Here  full story: Age Verification in Germany...Requiring age verification for adult websites

Arcor logo A German adult website operator has filed in the district court in Frankfurt to force the German ISP Arcor to block Google.de and Google.com in order to prevent the display of adult images without age verification, which is prohibited under German law.

The request was filed by Huch Medien GmbH, the company that owns and operates AmateurStar.de.

In its filing, Huch Medien reportedly said it would not simply sit back and watch as Google’s image search displayed pornographic images to users of all ages, including “clearly prohibited animal pornography.”

Huch Medien Executive Director Tobias Huch said that he’s merely trying to get the German legal system to clarify the scope of the liability exemptions offered to ISPs under the German Telemedia Act.

Huch asserted that since Germany blocks sites like YouPorn.com — as the court ordered Arcor to do in October — then the country theoretically should block all websites that violate relevant German and/or European Union law.

If Germany is going to maintain such a legal posture and engage in blocking sites in widespread fashion, then we should not complain when China blocks a large number of websites, Huch said.

According to German attorney Daniel Koetz the German law requiring age verification applies to all websites that can be accessed from Germany.

Koetz told XBIZ that the Telemedia Act requires all sites bearing content presumably harmful to minors such as pornography to have an age-verification system. Such an age-verification system has to ‘secure that minors cannot access the site. Koetz said that under the law, German authorities and courts only deem an age-verification system to be secure if the system forces end users to have personal contact with a third party who verifies their age.

One of the problems with that system, Koetz said, is who wants to go through all that hassle to enter a porn site, and who wants postal clerks to know you’re a pervert watching porn? Koetz said that as a result of the law, traffic to German porn sites is low because everybody goes to other countries’ sites.

Those foreign sites, however, are subject to being blocked by German ISPs by order of the courts, Koetz said — as Huch has requested that the Frankfurt court to Arcor to do with Google.

Koetz said that Huch’s request was filed in order to demonstrate the perversion of all this.

 

10th December   

Bullfighters See Red...

Spanish state television to drop bull fighting
Link Here

Bull with Bullfighter by Pablo Picasso Bullfighting in Spain has taken another step towards its demise after the state broadcaster cut it from its advanced schedules.

RTVE, the state radio and television network, failed for the first time yesterday to include la corrida in its budget for "obligatory programming".

The schedule, which dictates what type of programmes RTVE must spend its money on over the next nine years, will be debated in the Spanish parliament next week.

There was conspicuously no mention of bullfighting – the first programme that RTVE showed when it started in 1948.

Regional state broadcasters can show bullfighting and transmit programmes from other channels – and private channels are still free to show la corrida – but animal rights campaigners hailed the development as the beginning of the end for this controversial national pastime. It could see the steady demise of what has been a traditional sight in Spain, as the family gathered around the television at 5pm on a Sunday to thrill to the sight of a man in a gold-sequined suit dispatching a blood-soaked 400kg bull.

Theo Oberhuber, a co-ordinator of Ecologists in Action, which has been campaigning for a total ban, said: This is not a total victory but it opens the door to the beginning of the end. We are very pleased.

In August, RTVE dropped afternoon broadcasts of los toros after it was judged too violent for an audience of children.

The popularity of bullfighting peaked in the early-1970s as prosperity grew and attending los toros was seen as a sign of wealth after years of hardship. Today some bullfighting promoters say only tourists attend las corridas and in some parts of the Spain they are facing financial ruin.

 

10th December   

Flea Vet...

Porn, seizures and flea markets in Finland
Link Here

VET logo Finnish authorities have seized record amounts of illegal pornography this year.

Pornography that depicts real violence, paedophilia, or bestiality is illegal in Finland.

The Finnish Board of Film Classification and police teamed up to conduct raids on sites suspected of selling illegal pornography. Around 800 illegal movies were seized. In at least one case, a Finnish pornography producer and distributor will be taken to court for the aggravated assault allegedly portrayed in the movie.

Leena Karjalainen, an inspector with the Board of Film Classification, is worried not only of the increasing brutality of pornography, but that it is becoming more commonplace in flea markets, for example, where children might be exposed to it.

At the beginning of next year we intend to hand out guidelines for flea markets explaining what is legal, what isn't, and what vendors should do. I am going to recommend that flea markets do not sell pornography at all, says Karjalainen.

The Board will also start conducting spot tests this Christmas season on shops that sell video games with a minimum age limit of 18. Young buyers will attempt to buy the games at various shops in order to reveal vendors with lax supervision

 

8th December   

No More Heroes...

BBFC win next censorship round in bloodless coup
Link Here  full story: No More Heroes...Europe gets censored version of computer game

No More Heroes I t has been confirmed that the latest and greatest Wii game from Suda 51, No More Heroes , will not have blood in it in the European version.

Rising Star Games, the European publisher of the title, was asked if this was due to the response of the BBFC to Manhunt 2 , the company gave only this one word response, "Maybe."

 

8th December   

Surveying Nonsense...

Parental concerns about computer games
Link Here

PEGI logo More than 75% of parents are concerned about the content of video games played by their children, a survey found. [surely it is good to be concerned! Doesn't necessarily imply everything is out of hand]

Almost half of the 4,000 parents surveyed across the UK, France, Italy and Germany said that one hour of gaming each day should be the limit.

Some 43% of the surveyed parents said they were not aware of ratings systems for games to determine suitability.

The survey was carried on behalf of Microsoft.

The survey found that more than half of children played games on consoles, 32% on PCs, 9% played games online and 4% played on a mobile phone.

It also revealed that for the majority of children, playing games was a solitary activity.

64% of children played games alone, less than 1 in 10 children play video games with family members and 12% played with friends, the survey found.

The online space is a growing sector of the games industry but the survey found only 5% played mainly online.

Parents saw themselves as the key decision makers for which games should be played by their children, rather than regulators or the video games industry, according to the survey.

 

6th December   

Funding Osama...

Film advert banned over bin Laden joke
Link Here

Postal poster Provocative radio ads for Uwe Boll's new horror film Postal have been banned by stations in his native Germany - because he jokes profits from the movie will help to fund Osama Bin Laden's terrorism plans.

Radio bosses are afraid that listeners will take the satirical promotions in a literal context. In one commercial an actor parodies Bin Laden and informs the audience that 5% of the box-office receipts will be used to support Al-Qaeda.

But angry Boll has lashed out at the radio executives, alleging they think listeners are dumb. He rages, No German would be so naive and stupid as to believe that Bin Laden is talking in German via a German radio station. "This is a huge scandal and definitely the wrong signal as this self-censorship only helps these religious fanatics gain control. Tolerance as well as art, freedom of speech and freedom of expression has always been one of the strong pillars of strong democracies.



1st December    TV Censorship Guidelines for Europe...
   
Audiovisual Media Services Directive passed

EU logoThe European Parliament yesterday passed the Audiovisual Directive, which aims to modernise and consolidate laws governing video content however it is transmitted.

The Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive covers all media services and grants citizens certain rights to access extracts of important events for new purposes and better access for hearing or visually-impaired people. It aims to provide converged regulation for an increasingly converged media world.

Under the new laws, broadcasters will have to make clear when and where product placement is taking place.

EU member states now have 24 months to move the provisions into national law so they will apply by 2009. The law keeps the country of origin rule - that you must obey the laws of the country where the broadcaster is based not all the countries in which programmes are subsequently broadcast.

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said: With these modernised rules that improve legal certainty and reaffirm the country of establishment principle... There will be less regulation, better financing for content and greater visibility to cultural diversity and the protection of minors. 

 

28th November    Censorship Online...
   
French group lobby for online game guidelines

Le Forum de droits sur l'internetThe French lobbying group, the Internet Rights Forum (Le Forum des droits sur l'internet) has issued guidelines for online game publishers and legislators.

Some of the recommendations, notably those relating to online advertising or protecting minors, could be applicable across Europe, said Forum spokesman Laurent Baup, while others specifically address French laws restricting hate speech or defining intellectual-property rights.

Among the group's wishes are the inclusion of an on-screen timer to make players more aware of how long they spend online, and changes to the content ratings publishers apply to online games.

Games that allow participants to chat using voice or instant text turns it into a public space where game publishers no longer control all that goes on, the Forum warned. Deciding whether the player or the publisher is responsible for the content of messages that turn out to be defamatory is a complex task. Publishers face another challenge: deciding whether such remarks make appropriate viewing for young players.

Game publishers already use the voluntary Pan European Game Info (PEGI) system to rate the suitability of offline game content for players of different ages. It rates games as suitable for those aged 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+ and 18+. PEGI's creator, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, also operates a rating system for online games, PEGI Online. But confusingly, that system takes no account of content that users might introduce to a game, it merely serves as a warning to parents that a game includes online features, the Forum said.

The Internet Rights Forum wants the PEGI Online ratings system strengthened. The group proposes that no game allowing players to send text messages can be rated 3+ or 7+, and that such games can be rated 12+ only if messages are moderated by an adult before transmission.

The Forum also wants publishers to guarantee that age ratings will apply to in-game advertisements, and to put warnings on packaging if an online game contains ads.

Information about age ratings could also be made available electronically to parental control software on PCs, so that the software can restrict young players' access to inappropriate games.

The Forum wants to make older players more aware of the time they spend online, and called upon publishers to incorporate an on-screen stopwatch in their games, showing the duration of the current session.

The Internet Rights Forum plans to create a Web site for parents and teachers, explaining in simple terms for nonplayers what online games are about and what risks they pose. The site should launch early next year.

 

28th November    Censorship Mafia...
   
Italian TV series ordered off air

Il Capo dei CapiA hit television series described as Italy’s answer to The Sopranos has been ordered off the air by the country’s justice minister who claims it glamorises the Mafia.

Clemente Mastella said the final episode of Il Capo dei Capi (The Boss of All the Bosses) will not air this week. It will be suspended, he said: I do not believe that television, even a private network, should be allowed to sing the praises of the Godfather.

The series, broadcast on Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset network, has become essential viewing with an average of seven million viewers a week. It tells the life story of Salvatore “Toto” Riina, 67, who ran the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s.

 

25th November    Internet slimmed down...
   
By a few Spanish pro-anorexia sites

No Anorexia posterMicrosoft abruptly closed down four pro-anorexia websites in Spain after a complaint that they were endangering the lives of teenage girls.

The websites, which offer tips such as take up smoking and if your stomach rumbles, hit it, were accused of teaching teenagers how to starve themselves.

Internet companies usually wait for a court order before closing any sites that they host. But Microsoft acted swiftly after complaints from a Catalan watchdog that several blogs on its Live Spaces community glorified starvation as a lifestyle choice.

Jaime Esteban, an official from Microsoft's Spanish division, agreed that the blogs infringe all the rules on content created by users and visible on our sites. He thanked the internet watchdog, IQUA, for alerting it to the sites and invited it to get in contact if it found any other objectionable content.

The Catalan authorities have heaped praise on Microsoft's swift action. Santiago Ramentol, the president of IQUA, said that he was very satisfied with the decision of the company, given the lack of worldwide laws regulating the use (of the internet).

He said that other internet hosts they had approached in similar cases, such as Google or Hispavista, had demanded court judgments before acting.

 

24th November    Sweet Injustice...
   
Italian sweet shop fined for chocolate dick

A chocolate dick (but not Rocco's)An Italian sweet shop owner has been fined after making chocolate copies of a local porn star's proudest asset.

Bologna police told Teresa Conti to melt down the chocolate version of blue movie actor Rocco Siffredi's penis.

They said numerous passers by with children had complained of the confectionery organs on display in the window.

She was fined £150 for promoting indecency.

 

15th November    Rights Abuse in Ireland...
   
Hardcore DVD censorship without justification

Shauna's Adult ShopThe owner of an adult shop in is seeking a court order to allow a certificate for a pornographic movie described as "obscene" and "indecent".

Jaqueline Byrne, of Capel Street, Dublin, who is the owner of Shauna's adult store, has taken proceedings against the Official Censor and the Censorship of Films Appeals Board.

Ms Byrne is seeking a court order quashing the censor's refusal to grant her a certificate for a pornographic movie entitled Anabolic Initiations No 5.

She claims the Appeal Board's decision, which she was informed of in July 2006, amounted to unfair procedure and contrary to natural justice because it gave no reasons for its decision.

The defendants deny the claims. They claim that reasons for the refusal were given to the applicant.

Yesterday, Anthony Collins, for Ms Byrne, told the High Court that in April 2004 his client was informed by the Official Censor that her application to have the film certified was being refused. The censor said in his decision that the work was unfit for viewing because it contained material that was "obscene or indecent", that would "deprave or corrupt persons who might view it".

That decision was appealed. A report prepared by UK-based psychologist and academic Denis Howitt, who has written extensively on the effects of pornography, was submitted to the board.

Howitt said that the type of pornographic material depicted in Anabolic Initiations No 5 could be classified as erotic as opposed to pornography deemed to be either sexually violent or degrading and dehumanising.

However, on July 12, 2006, Ms Byrne was informed that the Appeal Board was upholding the Censor's earlier decision to prohibit the work.

Collins said that the board gave no reasons why certification was refused. He said that Ms Byrne was entitled to know why a certificate was not awarded.

The court also heard that the film was available from licensed operators in the United Kingdom.

The action continues.

 

14th November    Spain's Prestige Damaged...
   
By a court fining cartoonists

El Jueves front cover

Do you realise that if you get pregnant . . .
It will be the closest thing to work
I’ve done in my life?”

A court in Spain has convicted Manel Fontdevila, cartoons editor of the popular satirical weekly magazine El Jueves, and cartoonist "Guillermo" of "damaging the prestige of the crown".

Both men received a hefty 3,000-euro (£2,100) fine.

Their offence was to have published a cartoon last July making ribald fun of the heir to the Spanish throne, and of the government's scheme to encourage women to have more babies by giving mothers a special payment for each new birth.

Judge José María Vázquez Honrubia ruled that the two men vilified the Crown in the most gratuitous and unnecessary way. He said that they could serve 10 months house arrest if they refused to pay.

The public prosecutor, Miguel Angel Carballo, had demanded a fine of €6,000 each.

Torres and Fontdevila said the sentence was "unfair and subjective" and they planned to appeal.

 

12th November    The Cancer of Political Censorship...
   
Irish cancer critic dropped from TV show

RTE logoRTÉ was embroiled in a storm over political censorship last night as opposition leaders demanded to know if “sinister” pressure forced it to axe a Government critic from The Late Late Show.

Fine Gael questioned whether the last-minute move to drop outspoken cancer specialist Professor John Crown from show is linked to a Cabinet decision this week on a large licence fee increase RTÉ is seeking.

Prof Crown, a respected consultant oncologist and vocal critic of the Government’s cancer strategy, was told the decision to drop him came from “higher-up” in RTÉ, and suggested political interference may have been the reason following the Portlaoise mis-diagnosis scandal.

Prof Crown said he found personalised comments made about him in the Dáil by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern “chilling” and feared a McCarthyite campaign was being conducted against him.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the matter was blatant censorship: It would appear to me that Prof Crown’s removal from the programme was due directly to a fear of what he might say. This is censorship and a denial of free speech. Prof Crown’s removal is especially sinister in the light of the menacing comments made by the Taoiseach.

Prof Crown said there was a telephone call between RTÉ and Health Minister Mary Harney’s office one hour before he was told he would not be appearing.

 

9th November    Blame Counter-Strike...
   
Finland teen killer was computer game player

Counter Strike gameLet the finger-pointing begin…

Pekka-Eric Auvinen, the 18-year-old gunman who killed eight people and himself at Jokela High School in Tuusula, Finland, was apparently a fan of first-person shooters Counter-strike and Battlefield 2.

According to Battlefield 2 game stats available online, a Finnish BF2 player with the screen name NaturalSelector89 played his last match yesterday at 8:47 AM. That is, shortly before the shooting occurred. Auvinen, who posted a series of YouTube videos under the name Sturmgeist89, referred to himself in his YouTube profile as a “natural selector”.

Battlefield 2 is a popular, Teen-rated military shooter.

Auvinen’s YouTube videos, including one that apparently stated his intent to attack the school are receiving enormous media attention. His YouTube profile reads in part: …Don’t blame the movies I see, the music I hear, the games I play or the books I read. No, they had nothing to do with this. This is my war: one man war against humanity, governments and weak-minded masses of the world! No mercy for the scum of the earth!

 

6th November    Belgians Pissed...
   
Place to Pee video game banned

Mannequin Pis in BelgiumBack in August TheFeed reported on the Piss-Screen urine stream-powered racing videogame.

Well, it took a few months, but Belgian police have cracked down on this Galileo of the gaming age, banning a version of the game entitled Place To Pee from the GamePower Expo in Gent, Belgium.

It seems the Flemish flatfoots consider the game, which allows players to control the direction of their on-screen cars by aiming their streams of liquid waste at a censor placed in a urinal, an “indecency offense.”

 

4th November    Student Snitches...
   
Bulgarian students set to work censoring the internet

Bulgaria flagStudents from a school in Sofia have accepted the offer of Rumen Petkov, minister of inner affairs, to collaborate with the Ministry in locating and removing sites with illegal and pornographic content from cyber space.

Parallel with that, the page www.cybercrime.bg was officially opened, at which people can report illegal and pornographic content.

The site has been developed by students and the idea is that Internet patrols consisting of students should send signals to the directorate about sites with illegal content and other offences in the global network.

The students said that they regarded the idea as beneficial to society and did not think of themselves as informers.

 

2nd October

  Extremist EU Views
 

 
EU logoEU discusses internet website blocking

From Reuters see full article

European Union justice and interior ministers agreed on Monday they needed to do more to counter the use of the Internet by militants but could not agree on whether and how to block radical websites.

European Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini presented to the ministers the outline of anti-terrorism proposals the EU's executive will publish early November, including plans to block Web sites giving bomb instructions.

Internet experts doubt the technical feasibility of a European Commission plan to block some Web sites, which is also certain to arouse fierce debate on freedom of expression.

Luxembourg's Justice Minister Luc Frieden said he did not agree with blocking Web sites and argued that monitoring them would be more useful: It is much more important that we find out how terrorists communicate and monitor their communications.

Commissioner Frattini backed off from previous comments about searches for bomb making instructions by saying he would propose deleting some Web sites, not censoring searches.


20th October   Update: Criminalisation Bombshell...
   
Frattini moves on from bomb information website blocking

EU logoEuropean Union Justice, Freedom & Security Commissioner Franco Frattini yesterday turned up the volume on terror threats, ahead of the EU's adoption of "an ambitious counter terrorism package" next month.

Frattini produced a litany of likely components to the forthcoming preventative package, which will include an EU Action Plan on Enhancing the Security of Explosives, around 50 measures designed to improve the security of explosives, alongside other measures [which] take into account the reality of today's technological world - making it criminal to spread information about bomb-making, including through websites.

Criminalisation is here a slight escalation on Frattini's earlier plans to block online bomb-making guides, but is unlikely to make any significant difference to the UK's anti-terror operations.

Recent UK terrorism trials have included a high proportion based on charges of sharing or possessing information likely to be of use to terrorists, based on documents (many of doubtful effectiveness and provenance) freely available on the Internet, or in some cases even on Amazon. Frattini's new measures are likely to spread the British approach, where increasingly guilt is dependent on who you are and why you might be in possession of a particular document, rather than merely on possession of the document, further into EU judicial systems.

Frattini's speech also covered wider access to EU Member States' fingerprint, DNA and vehicle registration databases, more co-ordination to tackle Internet-enabled identity fraud, child abuse and terrorist propaganda.


7th November   Update: Euro Take Down Notices...
   
Frattini reveals terrorist website controls

EU logoFranco Frattini, the EU Commissioner in charge of Justice, Freedom, and Security, has finally taken the wraps off a new EU anti-terrorism proposal that will allow European courts to sentence individuals for "inciting terrorism" over the web.

ISPs will be forced to take down any such sites that incite such violence, offer bomb-making instructions, or disseminate "terrorist propaganda."

The proposal is meant to harmonize various national laws on incitement to terrorism and to make clear that they also apply to the Internet specifically. Anyone found guilty of publishing such terrorist propaganda could find themselves staring at the inside of a jail cell.

Any such censorship regime obviously raises questions about the balance between free speech and public security; Frattini says that the wording of the proposal is well-balanced and follows the model of the Council of Europe's Convention of the Prevention of Terrorism.

Under that treaty, public provocation to commit a terrorist offence means the distribution, or otherwise making available, of a message to the public, with the intent to incite the commission of a terrorist offence, where such conduct, whether or not directly advocating terrorist offences, causes a danger that one or more such offences may be committed.

Will it work? The scheme does not appear to create any sort of EU censorship authority, instead relying on ISPs to take down material that courts find to be illegal. Such a process will probably disrupt larger collections of such material, which could make such material more difficult for casual viewers to find.

Because it does not set up any sort of EU-wide filtering system, though, it will do nothing to prevent access to such sites hosted on non-EU servers unless courts begin ordering ISPs to block customer access to specific worldwide sites. Trying to use the slow-moving court system to impose blocks on a fast-changing web of international terror sites and chat rooms sounds like an effort doomed to failure, so we imagine this initiative will target only "home-grown provocation" instead.

 

25th October    Italy is the New Burma...
   
Italian government moves to back off from register of bloggers

Italy flagItalian bloggers may be required to register with a national database, unless an ambiguously-worded new law is amended before it comes into force.

Widespread outrage among bloggers and IT-savvy journalists has reached the mainstream press, and the government now appears to be keen to revise a draft law which has led politician Francesco Caruso to remark: This is Italy, not Burma.

The law got its initial approval from Prodi's Cabinet of Ministers in mid-October, as part of a package attempting to tidy up Italy's publishing-related regulations, and requires further approvals before coming into force.

According to many legal experts, the murky text of the law can be construed to include non-professional, not-for-profit blogs and websites among "editorial products", giving them the same duties and liabilities as magazines and newspapers.

This would require even the lowliest Italian blogger or MySpace account holder to go through the hassle of filing personal details with the national registry of "communication operators" currently reserved for professionals of the publishing sector.

Besides its Big Brother-esque implications, this registration would also expose bloggers to penalties and jail terms if a blog post, or even a reader's comment, were considered libelous.

Ironically, the package was officially intended to simplify the paperwork and hassle currently required to run a magazine-style blog or site in Italy and to have access to state subsidies.

The chances of this law becoming effective in its current form are exceedingly slim, so there is no immediate cause for concern. The blog brouhaha may turn out to be another storm in a teacup, but it has certainly shown Italian netizens once again that their government is remarkably out of touch with the realities of the internet age.

 

26th September   Jericho Walled Off...
 


Jericho PC gameClive Barker's Jericho game refused censor's certificate in Germany

From Game Politics see full article
Jericho is available from Amazon UK for release 26th October 2007  

It is being reported that Cive Barker's Jericho, the upcoming horror action game from CodeMasters, has been refused classification by the USK, Germany’s game rating organization.

This means that it cannot  be sold to minors or sold via online orders or be displayed in stores or be advertised.

Heise reports that console makers Sony and Microsoft won’t market a game without a USK classification, so it appears that only the PC version of Jericho will be available and only to those over 18.

The game has been passed uncut by the BBFC with an 18 rating in the UK


26th September   Update: Walled with Integrity...
 


Jericho PC gameJericho to be released uncut in German with the consequential restricted marketing

From Game Politics see full article
Jericho is available from Amazon UK for release 26th October 2007  

UK publisher Codemasters has confirmed that it will not change the “artistic vision” of its Jerico game in an effort to reverse the decision of the German censors.

The USK claimed to be displeased by “brutal scenes” contained within the game.

Following a review by the USK ratings board, which declined to give an official rating, Codemasters has decided not to change the artistic vision of the renowned author and filmmaker Clive Barker though cuts and extensive changes, the publisher told Next-Gen.
Football Manager 08

Codemasters respects Mr Barker’s creative ideas, despite the German distribution and marketing consequences for the title. Therefore Codemasters will release the PC version of Clive Barker’s Jericho in its original form on the 26th of October for adult gamers and Clive Barker fans.

 

13th September   Lost for Words...
 


Google logoEU considers a block on search terms like "terrorism"

From Reuters see full article

Internet searches for bomb-making instructions should be blocked across the European Union, the bloc's top security official said.

Internet providers should also prevent access to any site giving instructions on how to make a bomb, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said in an interview.

I do intend to carry out a clear exploring exercise with the private sector ... on how it is possible to use technology to prevent people from using or searching dangerous words like bomb, kill, genocide or terrorism, Frattini told Reuters.

The EU executive is to make this proposal to member states early in November as part of a raft of anti-terrorism proposals.

Frattini said there would be no bar on opinion, analysis or historical information but operational instructions useful to terrorists should be blocked.

He said European legislation would spell out the principles of blocking access to bomb instructions. The details would be worked out by each EU country.

 

12th September   Verified As Censors...
 


Arcor logoMajor German ISP blocks adult content

From X Biz see full article

European Internet provider Arcor reportedly is blocking their ISDN/DSL subscribers from access to certain adult-oriented websites. The company is Germany’s second largest provider of fixed line phone and the only German telecom with an IDSN network independent of No. 1 Internet provider Duetsche Telekom.

According to an article posted on Heisse Online, Arcor spokesperson Paul Gerlach has confirmed that several adult sites have been blocked due to lack of age verification safeguards, making adult content available to underage users: Pornographic content is freely accessible [on the pages concerned] with insufficient or no checks on age.

The company stated that the blockages were requested by a German adult Internet company that is compliant with German laws, which restricts adult content to prevent minors from accessing it.

Section 184 of the German Penal Code calls for fines and up to a one-year jail sentence for Internet companies that do not require age verification.

Until the legal position is clarified, Arcor has voluntarily complied with this request. Provisionally, therefore, the corresponding pages cannot be accessed from the Arcor network, Gerlach said. The company expects that the website operator and the company that hosts the pages will remove the unlawful content or make it inaccessible to the public, Gerlach said.

As the global adult Internet market becomes more competitive, several foreign companies have set up sites translated to German and, according to Heisse Online, sometimes overlook German statutes regulating the Internet. Some of the sites being blocked by Arcor include Sex.com, YouPorn.com and PrivatAmateure.com.

Vodafone, Arcor's parent company, is the largest provider of mobile phone service in Germany and Austria; its customers will no longer be able to access the blocked sites on their mobile devices through the Vodafone network.

 

4th September   Update: Protectionist of the Year...
 


AIDS aware poster showing sex with scorpianDutch private member bill tabled to ban bestiality

From Expatica

The Netherlands parliament will shortly discuss a private member bill banning sex with animals with up to 3 years in jail as a sanction.

Member of parliament Harm Evert Waalkens (PvdA) also wants the production of and trade in animal porn to become criminal offences.

With this initiative I want to put an end to the perverted practices of bestiality, said Waalkens, who was acclaimed protectionist of the year.

Waalkens feels it is high time for legislation to be adopted because currently sex with animals is only a criminal offence if it is evident that animals are suffering and animal abuse is proven.

Waalkens wants this legislation scrapped and bestiality to become a sex offence. It is simply in violation of the prevailing morals, Waalkens said. The distribution of photos or films of bestiality via the internet is not yet a punishable offence either. This also holds for the possession of films and photos as these kinds of images were never regarded as a criminal offence.

Update: Threats

2nd October 2007

Dutch porn actress Charisma Gold says she has received death threats for her campaign against bestiality and animal porn.

It is completely sick what Dutch porn makers are producing, Gold commented, while the number one producer of bestiality porn in the world, Book and Film International, issued a statement asserting that: animals are never forced to perform for the cameras.

 

2nd September Update: Manhunt for an EU Release...
 

   
Manhunt 2 game cover
No state censorship of games in the Netherlands

Other articles suggest more that the game could be released in the Netherlands rather than suggesting that there will be a release.

From MCV UK see full article

Rockstar’s Manhunt 2 may soon enjoy a bone fide release in Europe – albeit only in Holland.

The Dutch Ministry has declined to intervene in the title’s path to retail in the territory – as it would conflict with current Netherlands law.

In a letter to Parliament, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said: The current law is based on the principle that every adult is considered capable of deciding for himself which games he wants to play, unless it contains illegal material.

Deciding on whether children should be allowed to play a game is currently the joint responsibility of parents, the audiovisual industry and the government, he continued. He said that his ministry was now examining whether new laws or policies were needed to better protect the youth.

Hirsch Ballin also pleaded for a unified EU standard for video game ratings.

 

2nd September   Google Censorship Nazis...
 

 
YouTube logoYouTube under fire for Nazi propaganda

From Web Pro News see full article

YouTube’s in trouble again. The German government, along with at least one major Jewish group, is angry about the presence of Nazi propaganda on the video-sharing site.

The appearance or distribution of Nazi material is illegal in Germany, notes Bloomberg’s Patrick Donahue. As a result, Jugendschutz.de, [a] government-sponsored Internet watchdog group, has had to file more than 100 complaints to YouTube about the clips.

Salomon Korn, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told SWR [a German broadcaster] that he expects state prosecutors and authorities to take action.

Google and YouTube spokespeople have claimed that they will remove every inappropriate clip, but it remains to be seen if the companies can act quickly - and thoroughly - enough. And even if Google is perfectly accommodating, new Nazi videos could be uploaded onto YouTube and complicate matters.

No timetables have been set for whatever sort of showdown may occur. In the meantime, Google is probably less than happy about the publicity it’s receiving due to this matter.

 

29th August   Sing a Song of Libel...
 

 
YouTube logoLibel used to censor YouTube video in Finland

From The Guardian

A Finnish court ruled against a 15-year-old student in a libel case on Friday after he posted a clip of his teacher on YouTube, ordering the youth to pay 800 euros ($1,085) in damages and a 90 euro fine.

The student had filmed his teacher singing at the school party last May and put the clip on YouTube with English subtitles under the headline "Karaoke of the mental hospital".

The teacher took the boy to court and asked for 2,000 euros in damages.

This is the first time a Finnish court has found against someone based on a video clip published on the Internet.

 

24th August   No Bull!...
 

 
Bull with Bullfighter by Pablo PicassoSpanish TVE drops live bullfighting citing child viewing restrictions

From The Guardian see full article

It was once the lifeblood of Spain's public television. In the late afternoon bars with television sets would fill up, families would settle down together in their living rooms, and the country's most famous television presenter would appear on the screen to announce the day's star attraction - the bullfight.

This year, however, some 51 years after state television channel TVE made its first bullfighting broadcast, it looks set not to show a single live bullfight.

In previous years, TVE has always shown more than a dozen live bullfights. Top matadors won the broadcaster up to 24% of viewers.

The disappearance of live bullfighting from the Spanish equivalent of the BBC has enraged traditionalists and aficionados while provoking satisfaction among a growing lobby that wants the so-called "national fiesta" banned completely.

The public broadcaster continues to show bull-fighting highlights late at night, but says restrictions on what can be shown during children's viewing times make it increasingly difficult to programme a live fight.

The disappearance of bullfighting from TVE does not, however, mean it is no longer on the country's screens. The recent proliferation of TV channels means there is probably more now than ever. Rival public broadcasters belonging to regional governments stuff their schedules with it. Critics claim TVE's defence that it is applying a voluntary, industry-wide charter on children's television viewing hides a surrender to anti-bullfight campaigners.

The parliamentary committee that watches over TVE has demanded that it warns parents when bullfights are coming up and ensures that programmes for the under-13s are scheduled on its other channel.

TVE has not ruled out showing live bullfights again, but a spokesman said bidding wars among Spanish broadcasters for the biggest and best festivals put these out of their price range.

 

21st August   Christian Censors...
 

 
Swedish censor's logoPlan to abolish Swedish film censorship falters

From SR International

Movies and videos shown in Sweden will continue to undergo the scrutiny of the world’s oldest film censor, the National Board of Film Censors.

Two of the parties in the center-right government, the Conservative Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing Swedish film censorship.

Liberal politician Cecilia Wikström told Swedish Radio news that censorship is an old-fashioned method of trying to prevent people from watching movies, when today it is possible to download any film content over the Internet.

The purpose of the Board of Film Censors is to decide the age limit for movies and to edit out any scenes with heavy violence. The board itself wants to remove its censorship role, and says it hasn’t made a cut in a film in several years.

However, the plan has stalled because another government partner, the Christian Democrats, say there is still a need for film censorship to protect children.


24th August   Update: Swedish Classifier Resigns...
 

 
Swedish censor's logoOver political decision to keep her as censor

From SR International

Gunnel Arrbäck, head of Sweden’s National Board of Film Censors, is to resign from her post, after 26 years on the job.

Arrbäck told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet she had been unable to get her planned changes to the board’s role sanctioned, and would therefore leave her position.

Two of the parties in Sweden’s center-right government, the conservative Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing film censorship. However, the plan has stalled because another government partner, the Christian Democrats, argue there is still a need for film censorship to protect children.

The board itself, the world’s oldest film censor, has repeatedly pushed for a change in its role, restricting it to film classification.

The board says it has not made a cut to a film released in Sweden since Martin Scorcesse’s Casino in 1995.

 

21st August   Searching for YouPorn?...
 

 
Google DeutschlandDon't bother trying Google.de

From Blogoscoped

TheYou probably knew Google self-censors Nazi material in Germany, but did you know they also self-censor adult stuff? YouPorn.com – a “porn 2.0” website, and a bit of a clone of Google’s YouTube – is missing as Wikipedia’s entry on the site points out.

To reproduce this, search for youporn on Google.de. You won’t find the domain youporn.com in the results, but instead, you’ll get the following message at the bottom of the page:

In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 4 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at ChillingEffects.org.

The Chilling Effects notice, dated December 14, 2005 reads:

A URL that otherwise would have appeared in response to your search, was not displayed because that URL was reported as illegal by a German regulatory body.

What regulatory body this is or why YouPorn is supposed to be illegal, the notice doesn’t mention. Google.de for this particular search reports 4 censored results, but overall, around 88,600 pages are missing (outside of Google results, YouPorn is accessible in Germany, by the way). Wonder if Google would also promptly remove YouTube in Google.de when they’d get the order?

 

6th August   Festival of Classification...
 

 
CNC logoFrench classifiers look to classify film festival films

The French classifier only placed age restrictions on 3.5% of film releases. And their ratings are then taken very seriously by French people.

From Variety
See also Commission de Classification

The French Commission for Film Classification wants to extend its powers to include rating festival films.

The commission has asked the Culture Ministry to deny festivals the exemption that allows them to dodge the age restrictions placed on films on general release.

The commission does not have the authority to cut films but can ask the Culture Ministry not to issue a permit for theatrical release.

In its annual report, the body reported that of 1,087 films viewed in the past year, 1,031 were deemed suitable for all audiences. 39 films were forbidden to under those 12 and 16 to those under 16. Only one film, Saw III, was restricted to those 18 and older.

Last week, the commission whipped up a storm by ruling that Romanian abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is suitable for all audiences.

The film will be released Aug. 29 with a warning for “sensitive viewers” and the suggestion that children be accompanied by an adult.

 

2nd August

  Zombies in Charge
 


Dead Raising game boxDead Rising game being seized in Germany

From XBoxer

Capcom's mall-based masterpiece has given me hours of enjoyment. I am an adult and I know killing survivors is wrong nor would I go out to slaughter people in the real world but the sandbox playground of destruction within Dead Rising begs for it!

So I was totally shocked to find reports that Dead Rising is being sized from retailers in Germany this week and that sales of the game even to adults will be forbidden in Germany!

Dead Rising was refused a rating by the USK when it was initially released but this did not mean that it could not be sold or marketed in the region, so this new hard line against the title would seem to point to a new and incredibly harsh stance against violent video games.

What I fail to understand is that actually within Dead Rising, unlike games like GTA and Manhunt, the player is actually there to help people. You play a hero. So why would this game be totally and forcefully withdrawn from sale? Has censorship gone mad?

 

21st July

  Pre-Natal Repression
 

 

Do you realise that if you get pregnant . . .
It will be the closest thing to work
I’ve done in my life?”


Spanish order ban on cartoon of royal

From The Times

A Spanish cartoonist faces a possible jail term for insulting the Crown Prince in a graphic drawing that has shattered one of the country’s greatest taboos.

Spain’s National Court ordered police to seize all 400,000 copies of the weekly satirical magazine El Jueves from newspaper kiosks, as well as the “printing plates”. Judge Juan del Olmo also ordered the magazine to identify the cartoonist responsible for its latest cover, which was met with disbelief in a nation where even the smallest criticism of the Royal Family is deemed off-limits.

It depicted the heir to the throne, Prince Felipe of Asturias, having sex with his wife, Princess Letizia, and saying: Do you realise that if you get pregnant . . . It will be the closest thing to work I’ve done in my life?

The drawing referred to a recent decision by the Government to award mothers €2,500 (£1,680) for each child they bear. Insulting royalty or “damaging the prestige of the Crown” is a crime in Spain, punishable by up to two years in prison.

The public prosecutor’s office said in its writ that the cartoon was clearly denigrating and objectively libellous. The court also planned to issue an injunction to stop websites or other media from reproducing the cartoon.


23rd July

Comment: Traditional Censorship
 

El Jueves front cover

Do you realise that if you get pregnant . . .
It will be the closest thing to work
I’ve done in my life?”


Cartoon prince challenges Spanish Law of Succession

Thanks to Alan

You may find this link interesting for its commentary on the cartoon of the Prince of Asturias: Leninology: Curious Case of the Controversial Cartoons

Incidentally, on the "Religion Watch" side, there's another interesting aspect to this case. The Princess of Asturias isn't a clotheshorse of the Diana type or a horse and hounds gal like Camilla. Dr Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano is a rather bright lady. While getting her Ph.D. she fell in love with and married one of her profs in a civil ceremony. They subsequently divorced.

Prince Felipe is her second husband. Divorced???? Crown prince???? Catholic country???? Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition?????

They were married with all the trimmings - not like Chazza and Camilla with the Archbishop of Canterbury dropping in on the quiet after a registry office wedding.

Felipe and Letizia were married by the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid in his cathedral. (Probably as Letizia was a Roman Catholic, her getting married in a civil ceremony was regarded as rather naughty and completely invalid, and no need seen for a church annulment.)

Incidentally, in fairness to Felipe, while he's a legitimate target in terms of not having a real job, even leaving aside the fact that Letizia was divorced, the fact that she was a commoner required a change in Spanish law - maybe pioneered by his sisters who also married commoners, and he also demanded, and got, a change in the law of succession, doing away with male primogeniture, so that his eldest daughter, Princess Leonor, will eventually become queen of Spain. The man does have a certain amount of bottle.


23rd July

  Comment: Charles Demonstrates a Hands-On Monarchy
 


Charles inspecting the troops particular attention on a woman soldierAs opposed to the hands-off monarchy of Spain

Thanks to DavidT
From The Sun

Prince Charles awarded service medals to soldiers who fought in Afghanistan.

Charles, the Colonel in Chief of the Army Air Corps inspected the 43 men and one woman as they lined up in their smart uniforms and pale blue berets.

 

10th July

  Wise Council
 

 
Blasphemy: Art that Offends bookCouncil of Europe calls for repeal of blasphemy laws

From the National Secular Society see full article
See also Preliminary Resolution

The Council of Europe passed a resolution last week calling on member states to repeal all laws relating to blasphemy. It also said that religious groups must accept that in a free society their activities and doctrines cannot be protected from criticism and open examination.

The only restrictions on public debate about religion should be dictated by public order concerns and incitement to hatred and violence, the Council resolved.

The resolution, which was passed with a large majority in Strasbourg, said that criticism of religious groups should be tolerated in democratic societies. However, the council put a limit on religious criticism and freedom of opinion: it was not allowed to incite hatred, disturb the public order or be targeted at members of religious groups.

Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society commented: Freedom of expression is the bedrock of democracy, indeed of our civilisation. The Council of Europe stands out among international organisations in recognising the potential damage to freedom of expression from religion and not caving in to the huge pressure for massively extended blasphemy laws. If only the United Nations and, to a lesser extent, the European Union we are far-sighted in this respect.

 

6th July

  Playing Rating Games
 

 
PEGI logoPEGI expand their online game ratings

From Spong see full article
See also PEGI

The Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) has announced that the Pan European Game Information (PEGI ) rating system is being extended to include online gaming content for PC, consoles and mobiles.

The new system will mean that PEGI will rate downloadable games and content added online to games bought through traditional retail outlets.

Currently PEGI ratings cover games bought from store shelves and playable online, but they do not cover any content that may be added through online channels. World of Warcraft, for example, carries a PEGI rating of 12+, but content not contained on the disc is currently unclassified.

The PEGI system, of course, is voluntary. That means that the ratings given are merely guidelines for consumers. The ISFE has no powers to penalise distributors that sell PEGI rated products to under-age consumers. It remains up to parents, therefore, to make sure their children aren't buying inappropriate games online.

SPOnG spoke to the BBFC to see if it has any plans to deal with online content. We don't have any legal powers to do so, but some publishers want us to.

In the absence of any legal powers with regards to online materiel, which isn't covered by the video ratings act, the ratings would be of benefit only in as much as consumers are familiar with the BBFC's ratings and they could provide a guideline.

The new PEGI online ratings will be rolled out over the coming months, with most embracing PEGI Online by the end of the year, according to the announcement.

 

4th July

  Censorship Bomb
 

 
EU logoEU blasts ISPs with law to censor bomb making info

From The Times

Placing instructions on how to make a bomb on the internet will become a criminal offence across Europe under plans outlined by Brussels yesterday.

Arguments about freedom of expression will not be allowed to stand in the way of criminalising the publication of bomb-making information that could be used by terrorists, a senior EU official said.

It will be part of a range of antiterrorist proposals to be published in the autumn that will also include the collection of airline passenger data from every flight in and out of the EU. The extension of measures was promised yesterday by Franco Frattini, the EU Justice Commissioner, after the British car bomb plot and the murder of Spanish tourists in Yemen.

Internet service providers (ISPs) would face charges if they failed to block websites containing bomb-making instructions generated anywhere in the world, EU officials said.
The Brits that plotted to wreak death and carnage

It should simply not be possible to leave people free to instruct other people on the internet on how to make a bomb – that has nothing to do with freedom of expression, Frattini said yesterday: My proposal will be to criminalise actions and instructions to make a bomb because it is too often that we discover websites that contain complete instructions for homemade bombs.

EU officials denied that it would be impossible to track down websites based in remote places, insisting that the local provider based in the EU could be held to account. One said: You always need a provider here that gives you access to websites. They can decide technically which websites to allow. Otherwise how would China block internet sites? There are no technological obstacles, only legal ones.

But the Internet Services Providers’ Association (Ispa) said that it would fight any attempt to make ISPs criminally liable for content.

A spokesman described ISPs as “mere conduits”, carriers of information like the postal service. He added: An ISP is not a publisher. It does not have editorial control over content posted on its servers by a third party.

A government spokeswoman said that British-based sites that gave clear bomb-making instructions could result in prosecution for encouragement to commit a terrorist act under the Terrorism Act 2006. But she added that there were problems of jurisdiction if the site was hosted outside Britain.

 

4th July

  Darkness in Germany
 

 
Darkness computer gameGerman censors cut The Darkness computer game

From GamesIndustry.biz see full article
The uncut, 18 rated game is available at UK Amazon

Take-Two has been forced to reschedule the German launch of next-generation action game The Darkness after the Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) requested cuts.

Nazi symbols, a finishing move and several mechanics relating to "Darklings" have had to be removed in order to satisfy the board's demands. The finishing move - a CGI sequence showing a human heart being ripped out - must be replaced by a yellowish-green-fog "soul absorption" instead.

The requested changes will affect both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, and Take-Two has rescheduled the game for release on July 27.

The UK Xbox 360 version of The Darkness was released June 29th. The PS 3 version is delayed until July 20th for an unrelated reason.

 

2nd July

  Fate is Sealed
 

 
Germany flagGermany debates proof of age seal

From EAN Online

In April 2007 the German Association for Video and Media Retailers invited members of the adult retail and production sectors for a panel discussion on the proposed certified seals in view of amendments to the youth protection law: a subject that quite rightly attracts European attention.

The clause causing the debate relates to so called pseudo minors (adults over the age of 18 with a child-like appearance). In response to the law the industry will undertake measures and steps in order to supply a legal product. It always was and still is a matter of course for these suppliers to only use performers in their films that are over the age of 18. The affixing of a seal, verifying this fact, to their products will emphasize their legal compliance with the law.

The meeting unanimously decided that a trademark should be established and issued only to those suppliers and distributors that are members of a pool of suppliers for which the producers have provided evidence that the performers featured in the productions are all over 18 years of age and that the appropriate ID shots exist: a photo of the person holding valid ID and a current newspaper and depicting full name, date of birth, place of birth and passport number.

This seal is to be affixed on the rear side of the cover next to and of the same size as the Gfa seal.

The seal will be applied retrospectively to all products and concerns were raised that the costs the seal would be unviable for many back catalogue items. This would make many assets such as stocks and rights worthless.

 

1st July

  Censorially Challenged
 

 
Mind Quiz gameUbisoft pull Mind Quiz game from Europe

From GamesIndustry.biz see full article

Ubisoft is pulling Ninetendo DS game Mind Quiz off the European market due to comments in the game which have been labelled as offensive.

Poor performance sees the player labelled in a manner derogatory to the disabled.

Ubisoft has blamed the Japanese development team for the error and its own slack quality assurance.

The 'offensive' blunder emerged when a woman contacted BBC Radio Ulster to complain about the game.

 

1st July

  Let's Come Together
 

 
EU logoCampaign to sex up the workings of the EU

From The Times
See also Film Lovers Will Love This

The latest promotional video available on the European commission’s space on YouTube, the video website, shows 18 couples having sex.

The video opens with a man and woman ripping each other’s clothes off in the bedroom while bottles rattle on a shelf. In the interests of sexual equality, two of the couples are gay.

The film climaxes with quivering bedheads and loud orgasms. It closes with the line: Let’s come together.

The video is part of a campaign by Margot Wallstrom, the communications commissioner, to boost interest in the workings of the EU.

The video is entitled Film Lovers Will Love This. The scenes were compiled by the commission’s press unit, using footage from Amélie and All About My Mother. Both films were supported by the EU.

Maciej Giertych, an MEP with the conservative League of Polish Families, accused the EU of using “immoral methods” to promote itself.

But Godfrey Bloom, a UK Independence party MEP, said: I suppose this film is appropriate. The EU has been screwing Britain for the past 30 years.

 

21st June

  Slippery Slopes
 

 
Netherlands flagEven Netherlands is moving towards internet censorship

From Radio Netherlands see full article

Netherlands Internet provider UPC has stopped access to a number of child pornography sites. KPN recently announced it will do the same. And in the future, the Dutch government wants to block terrorist sites as well. The idea that 'anything goes' doesn't seem to be the case anymore on the Dutch part of the Internet.

Lawyer Remy Chavannes said: But the problem with these kinds of measures is that you don't always know what exactly is being blocked. A website is constantly subject to change. The content can be adapted any second. This means that the site may contain or will contain legal information.

Legal content wrongfully blocked constitutes an illegal form of censorship, according to Chavannes. He fears that, in the end, politicians, public prosecutors or civil servants will determine which sites will be censored. As it is now, the police provide internet-provider UPC with lists and it is on the basis of that information that the provider blocks child pornography sites.

There's another danger though if censorship becomes a technical possibility. Blocking child pornography may instinctively be approved by almost anyone. Yet Mr Chavannes believes this will be a slippery slope: If we are authorised to block sites, it's only a small step towards applying that competence to other criminal behaviour.

 

16th June

  Flickr Censr
 

 
Flickr Censr spoof logoFlickr Censrs German usrs

From Wired see full article

Riding on the success of its U.S.-based photo-sharing site Flickr, Yahoo rolled out country-specific versions of its site in order to bring its popular photo-sharing community to users in their native languages.

But when the sites went live in Germany, Korea and Singapore, something was wrong. Users in these countries saw a different version of Flickr--one where the content filters were locked on "Safe," preventing access to content flagged "Moderate" or "Restricted."

There was no warning on the company blog. No message to the users. And now what seemed like a straightforward move towards expansion has snowballed into one of the largest user revolts the site has ever seen.

Most of the ire has stemmed from German users. With photos displaying everything from artistic nudes to historic Nazi memorabilia getting the axe, its users have been the most vocal about Flickr's recent move.

The revolt went into full swing as German users began uploading literally thousands of anti-Flickr pictures over the course of the first 24 hours. As pictures continued to pop up under the tag "thinkflickrthink," uneasiness started to set in amongst the users. How long was Flickr going to go without addressing this?

It wasn't until Thursday that Community Manager, Heather Champ went on the record to state Flickr's case: The central problem is that Germany has much more stringent age verification laws than its neighboring countries, she said. She went on to describe the risks of breaking these laws as much harsher penalties, including jail time, for those with direct responsibility.

Update: Chinese Flickr

June 18th

Whilst on the subject of the censorship of Flickr, images from Flickr have now been blocked in China

Update: Compromise but still Shite

June 27th

Flickr have now allowed Germans to see middle rated pictures...still shite though

 

15th June

  Update: Killer Games
 

 
Rule of Rose gameEU ministers discuss computer game censorship

From Digital Trends see full article

The European Union justice ministers met in Luxembourg on Wednesday to discuss possible regulation of what they refer to as “killer games.”

The discussion was spurred on by a school shooting in a North German town last November. Italian justice commissioner Franco Frattini brought the issue forward.

Given cultural differences between the 27 member states in the EU, the ministers have no expectation of actually reaching a universally agreeable definition of what is inappropriate. Instead, they will try to reach enforceable punishments for the sale of unacceptable games to minors, and allow member states to reach their own conclusions about what games should actually be restricted.

 

21st May   Update: Counter Strike...
 


Counter Strike gameGerman games companies fight back against stricter censorship

From Heise Online see full article

The computer games industry still does not think that Germany needs to revise its Interstate Treaty to Protect Minors in the Media.

The German Association for Interactive Entertainment Software (BIU) says that the call for stricter legislation against violent games by conservative politicians last week after the presentation of the study by the Criminology Research Institute of Lower Saxony (KFN) is nothing more than a "knee-jerk reaction".

The industry Association is referring to a hearing held at the end of April in the Bundestag on violent computer games. After that hearing, media experts along all party lines voted against making the regulations stricter. The SPD had already stated its position in advance by saying that simply improving enforcement of youth protection and the German Penal Code would suffice.

KFN Director Christian Pfeiffer presented a survey of 72 games his Institute said it would prefer to raise the age restrictions for 37% of the games that had one from the USK ("Unterhaltungssoftware SelbstKontrolle" or Voluntary Rating for Entertainment Software), and he cast doubt on 27% of the labels,

Now, the industry association has said that the criminological research report may be biased. For instance, it does not even mention the high quality study produced by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Unlike Pfeiffer, who says that brutal games increase the violent potential of players already prone to violence, the British Board found that not even interactive violent computer games were able to generate any significant emotion among players.

The BIU is calling on Germany's home ministers to get involved in public relations work instead of undermining public trust in current state youth protection mechanisms with unprofessional criticism.

 

20th May   Causing a Buzz...
 


BCC logoIrish
Broadcasting Complaints Commission not impressed by discussion of sex toys

Based on an article from Irish Examiner

Radio presenter Ray D’Arcy has been criticised for a lack of taste and decency after hosting a sexually explicit show comparing sex toys. During the live show he let buzzing vibrators loose on his desk.

In a ticking off, the Today FM’s DJ was rapped by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission for a mid-morning discussion with two women who tested the products.

A listener, who had his kids in the car with him at the time, was 'horrified' and lodged a complaint saying it was unreasonable to broadcast it so early in the day.

The BCC agreed and branded it sexually explicit. Watchdogs said the show lacked taste and decency, was explicit, gratuitous, inappropriate and totally unsuitable for the time of day.

The show was aired at 9.35am for an adult audience in March.

 

15th May   Last Looks...
 


France flagCursed, hype or a snuff movie?

From Business of Cinema

French Customs officials have quarantined a 35mm print of the controversial film Last Looks, which was to have its world premiere, out of competition, at the current Cannes Film Market.

The film's director, Nick Brown, claims the seizure was "a disguised act of censorship" and that the film deserved a public screening before condemnation.

A source close to the production described the film as showing the actual deaths of actors and behind-the-camera crew members during production of a low-budget American indie horror film called The Evil Eye, that was filmed in the summer of 2006 among the Turkish and Greek Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Evil Eye deaths were first reported in the Rhodes daily newspapers Dimokratiki. According to Dimokratiki, the largely American crew was using a 33-meter long Turkish ship as a set, as well as for living quarters. But when the ship docked on 3 July 2006 in the port of Faliraki, it was in order to seek medical help for a young actress, Malaysian born Ying-Yu Tan, who later died of unnamed injuries.

A crew member told the paper that the filming of The Evil Eye was aborted when the director Zack Freedman, the cinematographer Scott Maher and soundman Ryan Denmark were killed when the small boat they were shooting from blew up during a staged explosion at sea.

Greek authorities continue to investigate and were quoted as saying that it was impossible to say how many people had been killed or were missing because it appeared that some of the dead might have been buried at sea. The surviving production team refused to cooperate with authorities and fled the country.

Brown now says he will fly to France in an attempt to resolve differences with French authorities, who were apparently tipped off by relatives of the deceased that he planned to screen his film out of competition at Cannes. Said Brown, One way or another this film will be shown at Cannes, and I predict that people will find, in spite of all the rumors swirling around, that it is a very entertaining movie.

 

24th April   Moral High Ground...
 


Star Trek, the Next Generation Season 3 DVDCensored Star Trek episode eventually to air in Ireland

From SyFy see full article

The 17 year old episode, The High Ground from Star Trek: The Next Generation never aired in Ireland. Was it censorship? Or was it an effort to keep the peace?

The beef the government and critics have had against the episode is a simple line Data speaks in the episode that says Ireland won't unite until 2024, and only then because the terrorists in that region would be successful. Ireland spent years with constant infighting, and in 1990, didn't seem to have any end in sight.

But peace was achieved in Ireland well before 2024, with those fighting putting down their guns, and with "unionism" taking root in the country.

Ireland wasn't the only country that never had a chance to witness The High Ground on state TV. None of the United Kingdom has seen the episode where Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) is taken hostage by a terrorist organization that feels violence is the only way they're going to be heard.

Update: Sky High

Thanks to Simon & Byron who pointed out The High Ground has been shown many times uncut on Sky which is broadcast to UK and Ireland

 

19th April   EU Compromise on Religious Hatred...
 


Preparations for a stoningAs religion is often worthy of hatred

From The Scotsman

Britain has narrowed the scope of a European Union-wide ban on incitement to religious hatred in a proposed anti-racism law.

The British move means EU justice ministers are likely to agree this week on anti-racism legislation that will be significantly watered down from original proposals put forward six years ago.

The new legislation requires EU states to punish incitement to hatred against religion only if it is a pretext to incite hatred against a group or person because of national or ethnic origin, race or colour, a draft seen by Reuters shows.

One EU diplomat said this was a longstanding British demand, aimed at making sure that religion could be criticised as long as it was not done with racist intent.

Diplomats stressed that countries could continue to punish hatred against religion more broadly even once the EU text is adopted, as tougher national rules would still be allowed.

The EU has struggled for almost six years over proposals for an EU-wide anti-racism law which would include harmonised rules on punishing claims that the Holocaust of European Jews by Nazi Germany never took place, as well as racism in general.

But EU states failed to agree on a way to outlaw genocide denial, and diplomats said countries had agreed on a compromise that would allow them to retain their own legislation.


19th April   Update: Bloggers Hate EU...
 


Preparations for a stoningRacism directive will threaten free speech

From the BBC see full article

European interior ministers have agreed to make incitement to racism an EU-wide crime, but have stopped short of a blanket ban on Holocaust denial.

The agreement makes it an offence to condone or grossly trivialise crimes of genocide, but only if the effect is incitement to violence or hatred.

The deal follows six years of talks, and will disappoint Germany, which pushed hard for a Holocaust-denial law. Berlin has also had to drop a proposal for an EU-wide ban on Nazi symbols.

Under the agreement, incitement to hatred or violence against a group or a person based on colour, race, national or ethnic origin must be punishable by at least a year in jail. However, member states can choose to limit prosecutions to cases likely to disturb public order.

Punishing incitement to hatred against religion will only be compulsory in cases where it amounts to inciting hatred against a national or ethnic group, race or colour.

Some countries will have to put the agreement to parliamentary vote, before it is finally adopted. Each member state will then have two years to bring its laws into compliance.

Officials said the wording was carefully designed to avoid criminalising films or plays about genocide, or discouraging academic research. But dissemination of "tracts, pictures or other material" is punishable if it is designed to incite violence or hatred.

Countries where it is already a crime to deny the Holocaust will stick to their existing rules, but other countries will not be obliged to help them with judicial investigations.

From The Telegraph see full article

British bloggers said yesterday that free speech on the internet is under threat from draconian new laws, which could see them jailed for up to three years.

Europe's justice ministers have agreed genocide denial and race hatred legislation that will outlaw remarks on the internet carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred.

The measures are contained in the European Union's Racism and Xenophobia Directive and could hit controversial European bloggers, even if their websites are hosted in America. The directive is set to enter British law before 2010.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "We don't need yet more law to combat racial hatred and incitement to violence. We already have British law dating back to 1861."

 

7th April   Netherlands Dogged by Censorship...
 


AIDS aware poster showing sex with scorpianAnimal porn distribution to be banned

In the UK it will be illegal to possess

While in France it is Government sponsored! The Poster is from a French anti AIDS campaign

Based on an article from NIS News see full article

The Netherlands is the biggest distributor of animal pornography worldwide. Of an inventory of 1,500 films, over 80% came from Dutch distributors, according to Algemeen Dagblad.

Dutch companies buy up cheap films abroad en masse and distribute them via the Internet, according to an anonymous former staff member of a distributor. We control the world market. The domain names of hundreds of animal pornography sites are also registered in the Netherlands.

Films in which men and women have sex with animals are also made in the Netherlands. A company in Nieuwegein, near Utrecht, produces about 20 films a month in a shed, according to the newspaper. The recordings can be watched live via "hundreds of linked websites" on the Internet for 30 euros a month.

Last week, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin announced that the making and distribution of animal pornography is to become a punishable offence. In the Netherlands, sex with animals is currently still legal, as long as the animal is not shown to suffer from it.


18th April   Update: Party for Animals...
 


AIDS aware poster showing sex with scorpianMore on animal porn politics in the Netherlands

From Radio Netherlands see full article

The Party for the Animals has become a political force in the Netherlands since the last election and is putting animal rights high on the political agenda. Party leader Marianna Thieme is insistent that animals shouldn't be sexually abused and exploited for commercial gain: Like child porn, animal porn is a disturbed human behaviour that we must not tolerate because it's causing suffering for animals and we have to protect them.

Labour Party MP Harm Evert Waalkens has long campaigned to get a ban on sex with animals and animal pornography: There are some estimates that 65 percent [of the] trade of these animal porno sites are created in the Netherlands - in that way we are a top country in this perversity.

Big markets for the films and the websites are the US and Germany, according to researchers. Harm Evert Waalkens says as long as it isn't banned and there's money to be made - then production and distribution will continue.

Currently sex with animals is only banned in the Netherlands if the animal is physically harmed. Animal rights organisations say this is difficult to prove and allows producers of animal pornography free reign to do what they want. But now, following years of lobbying, the justice minister is to draw up an outright ban in the coming months. Not surprisingly the distributors themselves are against this, after all it's an industry worth millions each year.

 

14th April   Parties Threaten Parties...
 


Powerzone party posterDutch MPs threaten night club party events

Based on an article from the Expatica
See also The Powerzone

A majority in Parliament wants a stop put to night club parties at which young people openly watch pornography and at which sexual acts are performed.

Sexuality should be something delicate and valuable, Labour party PvdA MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem told daily newspaper De Pers: Sex and porn are entering into daily life. We don't want to let that happen.

Not only the PvdA, but also the Liberal VVD and Christian democrat CDA want to stop the issuing of permits for these kinds of parties.

On Sunday the Amsterdam club The Power Zone hosted an "urban music and porn" party which included pole dancers, sex being shown on large television screens and people having sex on a stage.

The Amsterdam municipality is looking into Power Zone's license as an entertainment venue which is only in danger if it presents "weekly sex shows
".

 

20th March   Less Fruity...
 


Tutti Frutti game showSoftcore banned from Italian free to air TV

Based on an article from X Biz see full article

Italy’s TV porn rules have been thrown out as regulators issued a permanent ban on free to air broadcast of adult content.

Italy’s Ministry of Communications last week issued the ban outlawing softcore porn aired on more than 500 local channels that entertain an average of 1 million viewers nightly.

The decision also affects commercial spots for sex chat lines and online adult sites, as well as some vintage Playboy Channel content.

The current law allows the programs to air after midnight but the new decree will put a stop to that beginning in April. Violators of the ban could be fined between $6,600-$66,000.

In a statement, the ministry said it made the change in order to: guarantee Italian television suitable for entire families.

The move, however, is a boon to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia, which was allowed to continue to air encrypted adult videos on its Hot Bird pay TV channels, and perhaps to online adult companies, which could funnel some consumers to IPTV, where adult content is streamed onto TVs via a broadband connection.

Italy’s TV softcore has been around since the 1980s when Silvio Berlusconi-owned channels began airing cult topless quiz show, Tutti Frutti.

 

17th March   Freedom Poleaxed...
 


Poland flagAlarming Polish moves to criminalise possession of all porn

From Poland Master Page

There is growing support for a bill in the Polish Parliament that would give you one year in jail for possession of pornographic material in Poland. And jail times would be a lot longer if you sell it.

The current Polish Government came to power with the promise to create a moral revolution. They have been pursuing that goal on many fronts.

They have not always been successful. A quest by the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, when he was the President of Warsaw, to shut down the brothels in Warsaw failed. They are open, visible and advertise freely.

But the Government is undeterred. The new law proposed will cover every form of pornography. Even pornography on the internet would be outlawed and subject both the viewer and provider to the penalties of the law.

No one will be excepted. Adults with their own, self made home movies or pictures would even be subject to jail time.

 

15th March   Death of Death of a President...
 

   
Death of a PresidentItalian cinemas pull out of showing assassination movie

From azcentral.com

Nearly one in three cinemas due to show Death of a President, which centers on the fictionalized assassination of George W. Bush, has pulled bookings of the controversial British TV movie.

Out of the 100 theaters originally scheduled to show it, about 30 have pulled out, said distributor Andrea Occhipinti: Many theaters have pulled out, saying they didn't want to have problems.

The Posters advertising the movie show a headstone with Bush's name, date of birth and the fictional date of his death, Oct. 19, 2007. Occhipinti said that in Rome, about 600 of a total 2,000 posters have been taken down, apparently in a sign of protest.

 

9th March   What Diary?...
 

   
Nazi logoBurning of Anne Frank's Diary is ruled sedition in Germany

From IBN Live

A court in Magdeburg, Germany, convicted five men of sedition on Thursday for throwing a copy of Anne Frank's "Diary" into a bonfire last year at a community party organised by neo-Nazis.

The men were each handed a suspended sentence of nine months' imprisonment. The court in Magdeburg also convicted the men of insulting the memory of the dead. Their lawyer said they would appeal.

The Summer Solstice Party last summer in the small town of Pretzien caused uproar in Germany after it was revealed that the town mayor and police were also present and saw nothing wrong in the burning of the book and a US flag amid applause by torch-waving neo-Nazis.

Frank, a Jewish girl who died of typhus fever in 1945 at the age of 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, is a figure of hatred to Holocaust deniers because of her compelling story of life in hiding in Amsterdam before her capture by the Nazis.

Denying the Holocaust is punishable in Germany with up to five years' jail as sedition.

Judge Eicke told the accused that burning Frank's book and calling it "alien" was the same thing as publicly approving the Holocaust.

 

7th March   Égalité, Fraternité, But No Liberté...
 

   
France flagFrance to prohibit amateur journalism

From PC World

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of websites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned..

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday. If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 Euros potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.

The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offences. During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offence of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of "happy slapping", in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker's friends.

The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said Cohet. He is concerned that the law will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the internet.

The government has also proposed a certification system for websites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules.

 

7th March   Hardcore Cable...
 

   
Erotic Media AG logoPay per view hardcore for Germany

Notable given that hardcore seems banned on German broadcast TV

From AVN

Swiss company Erotic Media AG has entered into an agreement with Unity Media Group to launch two hardcore adult pay-per-view channels in Germany.

Unity Media currently offers over 200 digital television and radio channels, as well as movies on demand. As yet unnamed, the new hardcore networks will reach an estimated 5.1 million households. Access to the adult programming will be subject to age verification.

Through the new service, customers will be able to order individual adult titles on demand without monthly subscription fees. Erotic Media intends to announce the brand of the German adult channels soon.

 

2nd March   Predatory Marketing...
 

   
D&G logo
Dolce & Gabbana advert offends in Spain

From The Independent

Dolce & Gabbana are wowing the fashion world on the catwalks of Milan, but feminists in Spain have condemned their latest advertising campaign as sexist and violent, throwing the flamboyant duo into a hissy fit and prompting withdrawal of the images.

The ads, which appeared in Spain, show a half-naked man holding a scantily clad woman to the ground by her wrists while four predatory hunks look on. Spain's Women's Institute, a government organisation linked to the Labour Ministry, described the scene as offensive to women's dignity and an incitement to sexual violence.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana announced they would drop their campaign in Spain and covered their retreat with acid-drenched sneers. We will withdraw that photo from the Spanish market alone, since they are behind the times. What does an artistic photo have to do with the real world? If Spanish views held sway, you'd have to burn museums like the Louvre and all the paintings of Caravaggio, they added.

But Spanish women objected not to the supposed sensuality or eroticism but the image's glorification of sexual violence. The advert suggests it is acceptable to use force as a way of imposing oneself on a woman, reinforced by the passive complicity of the men looking on, the Labour Ministry said.

Last month, a D&G campaign featuring bloodstained models brandishing knives was banned in Britain after the Advertising Standards Authority received scores of complaints that the pictures glorified violence. The ads appeared in newspapers alongside stories about mounting British gun crime.

 

23rd February   For Clueless Families...
 

   
FOSI logoPromoting technology solutions for online safety

From The Guardian see full article
See also Family Online Safety Institute

A new web safety thinktank launched in Europe today with the backing of major tech firms including BT, Verizon and Microsoft.

The Family Online Safety Institute is a non-profit organisation funded by membership of technology, telecoms and content firms and chaired by Nick Truman, head of internet security at BT.

FOSI will establish events, public education initiatives and offer a range of products to improve dialogue between government and tech firms.

Stephen Balkam, the chief executive of FOSI, said many parents are clueless about web safety while individual companies are struggling to respond to the situation.

FOSI is in talks with the leading social networking websites, he said,  MySpace in particular. He said that one aim of the initiative is to empower parents by educating them about easy tools they can use, such as the family safety settings within Microsoft's new operating system Vista and on Google UK.

Balkam described Google's safety settings as its "best kept secret", but said these kind of filters could be set so that a search for "sex" would bring up a safe sex site and Sex and the City, rather than porn.

He also referred to a programme in Scotland called the Online Safety Qualification, which educates children about online safety and presents an award at the end of the course. He said he believes the qualification is the first of its kind.

Partnering with the government will also be key to public education, although he added that FOSI's aim is not to advocate new legislation.

FOSI will hold the first international annual online safety conference, exhibition and awards event in Washington DC on December 2-4 2007.

 

20th February   Unlikely Consent...
 

   
Hungarian parliamentHungary step out of line on age restriction for porn

It does seem unreasonable to label sexual pictures of young people above the age of consent as paedophilia. However most European countries work around this by labelling such material as 'exploitative' of young people and hence it is still banned. Certainly EU/US pressure will be exerted to ensure that Hungary follow the apparently internationally agreed 18 age restriction.

From Pravda

A bill modifying Hungary's penal code could allow pornographic material involving 14 to 17-year-olds to be made and kept for personal use.

The Justice Ministry said the draft proposal, presented last month by Hungarian Justice Minister Jozsef Petretei, was in line with European Union norms which give members states the right to regulate the issue at national level.

Petretei said Monday that the proposal had taken into account the age in Hungary 14 at which consensual sexual relations are allowed.

If we consider people 14 years of age to be mature enough to consent to sexual acts, then the chance to make picture recordings of this ... can also be allowed, Petretei told lawmakers in parliament.

The minister added that if deputies felt the issue offended their "moral sensitivity," they could propose changes to the bill. Petretei also said that to bring Hungarian laws in line with EU norms, the ministry was also advocating changes in the same bill which would increase penalties for some other porn-related issues.

The center-right opposition parties strongly criticized the plan. This is a scandal, Miklos Soltesz, from the opposition Christian Democratic Peoples Party, told state television. We initially thought the intention to legalize child pornography was government insanity ... but it seems they're serious.

Currently, Hungarian law says that adults making pornographic materials involving people under the age of 18 can be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

 

17th February   EU Villains...
 

   
The ISPA's logoEC wins Internet Villain of the Year award

From IT Pro

The European Commission (EC) and commissioner Vivianne Reding beat off stiff competition from, among others, the
US government and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), to be crowned Internet Villain of the Year.

Commenting on the 'win' an ISPA spokesperson said: Commissioner Vivianne Reding and the European Commission received the award for foisting the most arcane set of rules yet seen for prior registration of .eu domains, requiring UK registered companies to submit legal affidavits to justify the authenticity of their business.

 

9th February  Fucking About with the Subtitles...
 

   
Finger gesture translated as j'aime les francaisFrench politically correct censorship

From The Telegraph

Gallic PC is on the march and is sweeping all before it. Not even foreign brand names have escaped the axe as writers fall foul of French television chains, DVD editors and film distributors who are demanding changes that the creators claim amount to "unacceptable censorship".

A Mercedes must be referred to merely as a "German sports car". Ferraris, Coca-Cola, Prozac and references to drugs, religion, fat people or embarrassing illnesses are a big "Non non". And when a doctor in the series Grey's Anatomy advised a patient to smoke a cigarette a day to combat stress, it was inexplicably transformed into "a daily bowl of rice".

French writers responsible for the subtitles and dubbing of foreign films complain they are the victims of political correctness. Jean-Louis Sarthou, the president of the audiovisual commission of Sacem, which represents half of France's 400 writers of dubbing and subtitles, said that when it comes to foreign films or television programmes, smoking is out, drinking is out and sexual -references are beyond the pale: For the last 15 years, a real psychosis has developed among our clients vis-à-vis anything politically incorrect. They demand that we remove insults and any reference to sexual or religious groups, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or even brand names.

In a conference on the "Liberty of Writing" organised by Sacem, the practice was almost unanimously condemned.

In one episode of Footballer's Wives, "fuck you" was translated as a very restrained, in French, "Go do yourself". In the French version of an American film or television series nobody drinks a Coca-Cola, instead ordering a "fizzy drink". Nor do they take Prozac but "an anti-depressant". They also prefer to use "sticky tape" to Sellotape. A Ferrari became a "lovely red sports car". Writers say they are often required to Gallicise names. In a German series for children, the insult "fat" was changed to "idiot".

And as one internet poster pointed out: Can you imagine a world in which all the 'fucks' in a Scorsese film were replaced by 'Good grief'?"

 

5th February  Seriously Misguided...
 

   
House of Lords logoie Europe muscling into Internet TV

From the BBC

An EU bid to make internet broadcasters subject to the same laws as traditional television is "seriously misguided", a House of Lords committee has said.

Proposals risk damaging the new media industry, pushing broadcasters to set up outside Europe, the committee said.

The committee was discussing European Commission plans to update the 1989 TV without Frontiers EU directive. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive aims to reflect huge changes in broadcasting in recent years.

It has proved controversial as the EU attempts to increase regulation of video content on the internet, and create a "level playing field" between traditional TV-based and online broadcasts. The EC argues that new broadcasters are effectively competing for viewers and advertising and should be subject to the same rules.

But the all-party Lords European Union Committee rejected this, saying it was not the role of regulation to protect established broadcasters from new competition operating under different business models.

Committee chairman Lord Freeman said: We believe that this attempt was seriously misguided and any future efforts to do the same would be in grave error. Such an attempt risks damaging the new media industry, which is a vibrant and important sector of the UK's economy.

The committee said enforcing the new directive would be difficult, as the pace of change in new media was so quick the definition of services covered may not offer enough legal certainty.

There was also particular concern about attempts to water down the "country of origin principle", which allows broadcasters to offer pan-European services, while complying with the laws of the country they are based in.

Lord Freeman added: Most of our concerns on the proposed directive rest on whether the country of origin principle, which we see as essential to the proper operation of single market legislation, will be maintained. We are firmly convinced that it should be.

 

2nd February  Acting Like Children...
 


European Adult News logoGermans consider devastating change to porn law

From European Adult News

An amendment to paragraph 184b StGB of the German Penal Code (child pornography) is surely worrying the German adult industry.

The amendment was addressed to the Bundestag for its first reading early December and was referred to three commissions. The changes implement requirements of a EU Commission decision in 2003 to ensure that pornography features only 18+ year old participants.

There is debate as to whether the 'actual’ age (case A) or 'apparent’ age (case B) should be the decisive factor.

Case A would not have any effect at all since suppliers already assure the industry that the performers are at least 18 years of age.

Case B would have a devastating impact on business because almost half of all DVD’s and magazines will disappear from the shelves from one moment to the next as they are classified as teeny products and it is impossible to determine the actors are 16, 17, 18, 19 or older from their mere physical appearance.

Stefan Buhk , an adult retailer said: Well, the trade trusts the industry and the producers only to use actors who are above 18. But, should the harder amendment version of §184b take effect then we are talking about the 'apparent’ case and then we definitely have an interpretation problem. Tester A says the person appears to be over 18 and Tester B says the person appears to be under 18. So which opinion should the retailer follow? And who do the testers work for? The Industry or the trade? Or should these be publicly appointed and certified testers? And then there’s the question whether the test is binding or whether it is merely a recommendation. I think we shall be confronted with a load of problems and questions. We shall need clearly defined guide lines and stipulations, otherwise the doors are wide open for arbitrary authorities and their testers.

And what is worse, the apparent age problem may push the German industry to set up a censor board along the lines of the BBFC. Apparently plans are in the pipeline already.

Presumably the Germans won't put up with the pedantic nonsense from the BBFC that requires that 24% of hardcore films are cut and that BDSM is virtually banned.

 

16th January  Nazis Never Existed...
 

   
Nazi logoGermany wants to ban Nazi images

From The Independent

Germany is to revive plans to criminalise Holocaust denial as well as the use of Nazi symbols in all EU countries, making them punishable by up to three years in prison.

Ministers in Berlin have identified the move as a priority of Germany's six-month presidency of the EU which began on 1 January. Its efforts come against the background of the formation in the European Parliament of a far-right group, Identity, Sovereignty and Tradition.

However, the proposal is certain to provoke controversy, particularly in the EU's new members in eastern Europe where politicians have objected to any legislation that would ban Nazi insignia but permit the use of Communist symbols.

Brigitte Zypries, Germany's justice minister, said: We have always said that it can't be the case it should still be acceptable in Europe to say the Holocaust never existed and that six million Jews were never killed.

The European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Franco Frattini, has pledged its support for the German push. A spokesman said: This would give a good signal that there are no safe havens for racists or xenophobes in Europe.

Two years ago, Luxembourg tried to use its EU presidency to push through legislation that would have made Holocaust denial an offence. That push was blocked by Italy's centre-right government. Since then a centre-left government has taken control in Italy and the prime minister, Romano Prodi, is unlikely to oppose the measure.

However other countries, including the UK, Denmark and Sweden, had misgivings fearing that freedom of speech would be compromised. The European Commission says it is confident the law will be sufficiently well-drafted to ensure that genuine historical debate about the Nazi era would not be impeded.


16th January  Update: Football Shirt Fascist...
 

   
Nazi logoBelgium bans football shirts with numbers 18 & 88

From the Brussels Journal

Patrick Dewael, the Belgian minister of the Interior, has forbidden the wearing of football shirts displaying the numbers 18 and 88. According to the Liberal minister the number 18 stands for “Adolf Hitler” and the number 88 for “Heil Hitler.” A is the 1st letter of the alphabet, H the 8th.


2nd February  Update: Free Speech Denial...
 

   
Nazi logoGermany guilty of a heinous crime against humanity

From The Telegraph

People who question the official history of recent conflicts in Africa and the Balkans could be jailed for up to three years for "genocide denial", under proposed EU legislation.

Germany will table new legislation to outlaw "racism and xenophobia" this spring.

Included in the draft EU directive are plans to outlaw Holocaust denial, creating an offence that does not exist in British law.

But the proposals, seen by The Daily Telegraph, go much further and would criminalise those who question the extent of war crimes that have taken place in the past 20 years.

The legislation will trigger a major row across Europe over free speech and academic freedom.

Deborah Lipstadt, the professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, Atlanta, believes the German proposals are misplaced: I adhere to that pesky little thing called free speech and I am very concerned when governments restrict it. How will we determine precisely what is denial? Will history be decided by historians or in a courtroom?

Berlin's draft EU directive extends the idea of Holocaust denial to the gross minimisation of genocide out of racist and xenophobic motives, to include crimes dealt with by the International Criminal Court.

The draft text states: Each member state shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable: 'publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in'... the Statute of the ICC.

A German government spokesman said: Whether a specific historic crime falls within these definitions would be decided by a court in each case.

If agreed by EU member states, the legislation is likely to declare open season for human rights activists and organisations seeking to establish a body of genocide denial law in Europe's courts.

 

17th January  CDU Values Intolerance...
 


CDU logoGerman political party expels porn actor

Based on an article from Hemel Today

A German man who appeared in a pornographic film has been expelled from a local branch of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

Alexander Maassen from Berlin, was asked to leave the party by local branch chairman Kurt Wansner. Maassen said he made the film five years ago, appearing in sexually explicit scenes and acting as a kind of narrator.

I wrote to Maassen at the end of last month asking him to resign and for me the matter is now completely closed, Wansner told Reuters, adding Maassen's behaviour was against CDU values.

 

13th January Starved of Censorship...
 

   
ultra slim fashion modelSpanish anorexia website under duress

From PC Advisor

A Spanish website that appears to promote anorexia as a voluntary lifestyle choice is being targeted by health authorities in Madrid.

The Great Ana Competition awards points to readers on the basis of how little they eat in a given period, with bonuses added for activities that stave off hunger, such as drinking water, taking diet pills and exercising.

Doctors have warned that the diet apparently endorsed by the website is liable to cause malnutrition, and Madrid's regional government has asked a judge to determine whether the owners are criminally liable for the content.

It should be noted that the site includes a warning that the information it contains "should not be followed", but that seems unlikely to save it from litigation.

Pro-anorexia sites are bizarrely common on the internet, and it is a positive step if some of the peddlers of dangerous nonsense in the guise of medical advice can be held accountable for their actions. Yet the case raises the question of how much we are willing to tolerate for the sake of free speech.

Many websites promote unhealthy, antisocial or even dangerous lifestyles, from fast food to cigarette companies' home pages, but we shake our heads and accept that adults are able to make their own decisions. The problem with the pro-anorexia websites is that their target audience is quite specifically a vulnerable and teenaged one, yet the page under discussion warns under-18s not to enter. This is just as thorough an attempt to keep out the underaged as is made by most pornography sites.

The site was not functioning at time of writing, and the case continues.

 

5th December

 Update: Europe's Crusade against Violence

Rule of Rose gameItalian pressure to make PEGI ratings legally binding on retailers

Based on an article from Euro Politics

UK interior minister John Reid will add Britain’s weight behind an EU crusade against violent computer games at meeting of Europe’s justice ministers this week. The British home secretary will also urge the EU to do more to protect children from “appropriate content”, child pornography and paedophiles.

John Reid showed a little perspective about  games though and said: There is a wider issue here. The growth of the internet has meant we need to be alert on threats and dangers online. Violent video games are one issue on this spectrum. But I am also concerned about what more we can do to tackle the most extreme and harmful end of the spectrum. In particular I am concerned about child pornography.

Brussels has led demands for parental advisory warnings and age restrictions on the sale of “obscene and perverse” video and computer games. Reid will back the campaign and call on other EU countries to follow British and Dutch legislation forbidding the sale of adult-rated games to minors. While industry operates a self-regulation ratings system for video and computer games retailers in most EU countries are not legally obliged to restrict sale of adult classified products.

Unione Nazionale Consumatori, a consumers association that takes a liberal view of censorship, said it was not sufficient to make it illegal to sell adult games to children. Parents and society have to educate children about the adult world, said Elana Venditti, who represented the association at the meeting. Minors are likely to get access to adult material through other medium anyway, she said, so prepare them properly for the adult world.

European justice commissioner Franco Frattini will back Reid’s call, indicate officials, after he wrote raising the issue to Europe’s capitals two weeks ago. We are not calling for censorship but the sales of cigarettes and alcohol is prohibited to minor why not violent games, said a commission official.

Frattini has been particularly distressed by a Sony Playstation game, Rule of Rose, which with undue exaggeration, “shocked… profoundly for its obscene cruelty and brutality”. The computer game’s detractors claim involves inflicting psychological and physical violence on a young girl has hit the headlines in Frattini’s native Italy and in France.

But Frattini has faced opposition within the Brussels EU executive from his colleague Viviane Reding, Europe’s media commissioner. Reding is reminding Frattini of the PEGI ratings system, run by industry across the EU since 2003, that looks for “informed adult choice”:
This is in line with the commission’s view that measures taken to protect minors and human dignity must be carefully balanced with the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
 

5th December

 Update: European Rule

Rule of Rose gameRule of Rose will be available to UK players

Thanks to Byron

Rule of Rose will be released in other parts of Europe with a English option and will work on UK PS2's. This helps as the PS2 is a bugger to import for as it has no easy method for playing import games.

The game has already been released in France and possibly Germany too


14th January  Update: Euro Games 2007...
 

   
Rule of Rose gameFrattini continues campaign for computer games laws

From Metamorphosis

The Italian Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini, is continuing his critical remarks on the present censorship system in a declaration in a European Parliament in which he called for a multidisciplinary approach to the problem. He considered that three components needed to be encouraged: rating of movies and games, media literacy and technical solutions.

Frattini also announced that in the spring of 2007 he would present to the Parliament a new declaration on cybercrime.

It is clear, at this point, that the present European system is under scrutiny, compliance with the voluntary rating system being considered as a possible significant problem. This is why EU is planning a 2007 conference on violent video games, where all the stakeholders could discuss and eventually agree on the best practices to follow. The topic will still be present on the agenda of the EU Justice Ministers meeting in January 2007, when a legislative action could be initiated.

Frattini said I want to harmonise rules punishing people illegally selling products, people not controlling and checking identity.

 

6th January  Crackdown...
 

   
Crackdown game boxAnother game banned in Germany

From 1Up

Realtime Worlds's Crackdown has been refused classification by Unterhaltungssoftware Selbskontrolle, the German ratings board.

So it can't be bought online or sold to minors or advertised or even displayed in a store.

The game is 15 rated in the UK

 

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