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29th March   

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Threats cause Fitna to be taken down from LiveLeak
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna Fitna debuted on Thursday at Web site LiveLeak.com, only to be taken down a day later following threats to LiveLeak's staff.

LiveLeak on Friday afternoon issued a statement explaining its decision: Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill-informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, LiveLeak.com has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people, from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realized LiveLeak.com is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

Perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one another's culture. We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high.


During the day that the film was available, it prompted widespread condemnation. On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decried Fitna as hate speech: I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders' offensively anti-Islamic film. There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free expression is not at stake here. I acknowledge the efforts of the Government of the Netherlands to stop the broadcast of this film, and appeal for calm to those understandably offended by it. Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.

The Organization of The Islamic Conference also denounced the film as blasphemy. OIC Secretary General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said, The film is a deliberate act of discrimination against Muslims, incitement for hatred and an act defamation of religions which is solely intended to incite and provoke unrest and intolerance among people of different religious beliefs and to jeopardize world peace and stability.

In the day that Fitna played, it was viewed over 420,000 times. More than 280 comments were posted on LiveLeak.com. And many chose to reply through countervideos, which are still online.

The film may also generate a lawsuit. The BBC reports that Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, known for his cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb-shaped turban, plans to sue Wilders for using his cartoon in the film without permission.

See full article from Reuters

Reuters summarised some of the reaction around the world which has so far being constrained to verbals.

Iran called the film heinous, blasphemous and anti-Islamic, and Indonesia, said it was an insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression.

The Saudi Arabian embassy in The Hague said the film was provocative and full of errors and incorrect allegations that could lead to hate towards Muslims.

Dutch Muslim leaders appealed for calm and called on Muslims worldwide not to target Dutch interests. Our call to Muslims abroad is follow our strategy and don't frustrate it with any violent incidents, Mohammed Rabbae, a Dutch Moroccan community leader, told journalists in an Amsterdam mosque.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he was proud of how Dutch Muslim organisations responded to the film but that it was too early to draw conclusions about the international consequences: There are reasons for continued alertness.

See full article from the BBC

The EU's Slovenian presidency said the film served no purpose other than "inflaming hatred".

In Pakistan there were small protests in several places on Friday against the film, while the government summoned the Dutch ambassador in Islamabad to lodge a protest. Pakistan said it told the Dutch ambassador that it was incumbent on the Netherlands to prosecute Wilders for defamation and deliberately hurting Muslim sentiments.

The foreign ministry in Bangladesh issued a statement calling the film "unwarranted" and "mindless".

See full article from Yahoo News

A coalition of Jordanian media said they would take Wilders to court over the film and launch a campaign to boycott Dutch products. They urged Arab leaders to review ties with Denmark and the Netherlands.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband stressed the importance of freedom of speech but said it should be combined with respect for religious and racial diversity.

Europe's top human rights authority, the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, called the film a distasteful manipulation which exploits ignorance, prejudice and fear. It is simply political propaganda and it plays into the hands of extremists who are given such a prominent role in his film," the council's secretary general, Terry Davis said.

 

28th March   

Update: Fitna Leaks Out...

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Geert Wilders' Fitna released on LiveLeak
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna A far-right Dutch MP released a provocative film about the Koran on a British website last night, a move that is likely to provoke violent repercussions from angry Muslims around the world.

The 15-minute “documentary” juxtaposing images of Islam’s holy book with the 9/11 terror attacks and other bombings was posted on the internet by Geert Wilders, leader of the small right-wing Freedom Party, after weeks of heated debate in the Netherlands about the project.

Wilders who has built his political career campaigning against the alleged “Islamisation” of the West, argued that the film was a legitimate exercise in freedom of expression; however, many mainstream politicians and Muslims said that it was gratuitously insulting.

Viewers had only a few minutes to see it on the Freedom Party website before it disappeared because of “technical difficulties”. It then became available in Dutch and English on LiveLeak, a British-based video-sharing website, sparking fears that extremists could also target British interests.

The company that runs the website defended its decision to host the film last night, saying that there was no legal reason to censor it. LiveLeak.com has a strict stance on remaining unbiased and allowing freedom of speech so far as the law and our rules allow, it said. There was no legal reason to refuse Geert Wilders the right to post his film and it is not our place to censor people based on an emotive response. The website said that it did not endorse Mr Wilders or his views.

The film opened with a Koran being opened and the text of a sura (a verse from the Koran) which it translated from Arabic as imploring the faithful to “terrorise the enemies of Allah”. It was followed by images of aircraft flying into the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11, 2001, with extracts from phone calls to the emergency services on that day.

It showed statistics of the growing Muslim population and images of female genital mutilation, a hanging of suspected gay men, beheadings and bloodied children, all following the words: “The Netherlands in future?”

The film ended with someone leafing through the Koran, and a tearing sound. The sound you heard was from a page [being torn out] of the phone book. It is not up to me, but up to the Muslims themselves to tear the spiteful verses from the Koran, a text on the screen said. Stop Islamisation. Defend our freedom, the film concluded.

The final image was a reproduction of the incendiary Danish cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb as a turban. The fuse coming from the bomb was lit and as the screen turned black there was the sound of thunder.

See full article from the Guardian

The 15-minute film, entitled Fitna - strife or division - was posted on the internet, and shortly afterwards segments were rebroadcast by TV channels.

Early reactions were muted. Yusuf Altuntas, of the Contact Group Muslims and Government, said he believed that Wilders is seeking the limits, but not crossing the line. For Mr Wilders, this is quite subtle.

The film was not as jarring as had been anticipated, said Maurits Berger, professor of Islam in the West at Leiden University. It's images and photos, headlines from recent years we already know about.

It was released the evening before a judge was due to hear a Muslim group seeking an independent review to decide whether the film violates hate speech laws. The Dutch Islamic Federation was asking the court to impose a fine of €50,000 (£39,000) every day the film continues to be available for public view.

Mohamed Rabbae, of the moderate National Moroccan Council, had appealed for calm in January when the film was discussed before release. Yesterday he had yet to see the film, but felt this is less bad than we thought he was going to do , but nevertheless it gave the impression the Qur'an justifies violence, and that is really wrong .

 

27th March   

Update: Google Unblocked...

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German age verification continues to disadvantage local websites
Link Here

Arcor logo A German court recently threw out a petition filed by Huch Medien GmbH, the company that owns and operates AmateurStar.de, asking the court 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.

In another recent adult website-related ruling, the court ruled that Arcor is not obligated to block YouPorn.com, either.

According to German attorney Daniel Koetz, the only European member of the 1st Amendment Lawyers Association (FALA) and a bar-certified specialist in copyright and media law, websites that offer content "harmful to minors" must conform to age verification protocols established under the German Telemedia Act, or risk being blocked by German ISPs by order of the court.

In its recent rulings with respect to Arcor, however, the court decided the cases based on business competition law, and not the Telemedia Act, Koetz said, offering a hypothetical example to explain the court's reasoning.

The likes of YouPorn are still illegal under German law, Koetz told XBIZ. If 'Company A' sues YouPorn for not using an age verification system, then Company A will win. However, if Arcor provides service to YouPorn, this is not an act of unfair competition — so Company A cannot force an ISP to block YouPorn.

Koetz added that while in hypothetical example, Company A could sue YouPorn in a German court and win, YouPorn wouldn't care much, because YouPorn is not based in Germany and any judgment entered by a German court would be difficult to collect or enforce against YouPorn.

That's why nobody [in Germany] sues non-German companies, Koetz said. It's ridiculous.

Huch Medien filed its petition with the Frankfurt court in December, noting that Google's image search displayed pornographic images. Huch Medien reported the issue to Arcor directly on Nov. 20, according to reports, and waited to see if the ISP would take measures to block Google. After receiving no response from Arcor to the original report or to a subsequent formal cease and desist letter sent by the company's attorneys, Huch Medien took the matter to court.

It was clear at the time, however, that Huch Medien's goal was not so much to get Google blocked as it was a ploy to get the court to examine the Telemedia Act, and to clarify the scope of the liability exemptions offered to ISPs under the German Telemedia Act.

 

25th March   

Opinion: Arcade Zones...

A plausible way to protect children from extreme film and gaming violence in the home?
Link Here

Games Arcade Current head of the Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) John Kelleher recently replaced the decision to ‘censor’ movies and video games with age-related classification. But what exactly does this mean for parents, their children and a wider audience? There needs to be logical transparency on the issue, which is presently lacking in the public arena.

There is a perfectly safe and suitable solution for protecting children against violent images in relation to violent video gaming and film; that is simple classification and certification. Cinematic exhibition is heavily regulated; Miscreants cannot rewind violent images over and over again in this environment. The same is applicable for children. If that hypothesis is deemed correct, it must also be applicable to other areas such as video gaming. All this was suggested by British film critic Dr. Mark Kermode in 1995, which he followed by stating that ‘existing obscenity laws should be repealed with new legislation which makes it an offence, punishable by heavy fine, or a prison sentence to distribute, or show obscene material, to children’.

In relation to cinema, the position proposed almost fifteen years ago by Dr. Kermode has not changed. The failure of various democratic governments though-out the world to move on this position is a complete logical fallacy. In the case of video gaming, it is also possible for regulation to be imposed in an environment away from children. Arcades could be set up which regulate certificates (or zones) to play adult video games.

This is a feasible solution to take violent video gaming out of the home and placed in highly regulated areas away from children. It also generates a vast infrastructure which creates further jobs for the workforce, which is vital for both the video gaming industry and government. In the case of Arcades , the time is immediate to move on such an issue, as these particular institutions are almost extinct. This might ultimately make adults who do not have children of their own unhappy because it takes extremely violent video games out of their homes.

...Read full article

 

24th March   

Update: Fear of Censorship...

US website hosts take down Fitna website
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders The website where Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders was promoting his not-yet-released anti-Qur'an film has been suspended by its US hosting service.

The site formerly showed the film's title, Fitna , the trail line "coming soon" and an image of a gilded Qur'an. Now it shows a note that the company, Network Solutions, is investigating whether the site violates its terms of service.

Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation, the note said.

How many ways are there left for me to be worked against? Wilders was quoted as saying: If necessary I'll go hand out DVDs personally.

A Dutch court will hear a complaint lodged by Muslim groups seeking to bar Wilders from releasing the film on March 28, but there is no legal barrier preventing Wilders releasing his film before then.

 

23rd March   

Update: Hate and Fear...

Amsterdam protest against Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders At least 1,000 people have taken part in a demonstration in Amsterdam against the planned release of a film expected to be highly critical of Islam.

Protesters objected to the planned internet release of the film by Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders.

Some protesters in central Amsterdam carried signs that said Stop the witch hunt against Muslims.

We can no longer remain silent. There is a climate of hate and fear in the Netherlands, said Rene Danen, a spokesman from anti-racism organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur (The Netherlands Shows its Colours), which organised the protest.

 

22nd March   

Update: Fitna Fit for Ban...

Netherlands Islamic Federation ask court to preview Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders plans to release Fitna , a film attacking Islam and the Koran.

The Netherlands Islamic Federation (Nederlandse Islamitische Federatie) asked a court in The Hague to set up a panel of censors to review the film, in order to discover if there is any reason for it to be banned.

The Dutch Government, while calling on Wilders to abandon his project, has previously said there is no legal way to censor a film before it appears.

The court will rule on the association's request by March 28. Wilders has said that he will release the film "before April 1", posting it on the Internet if he fails to find a broadcaster willing to carry it.

 

16th March   

Blasphemy Against Free Speech...

EU looking to protect freedom of expression
Link Here

EU logo The European Union wants to stop the growing worldwide trend of using religious defamation laws to limit free speech.

EU diplomats in Geneva are asking United Nations human rights experts Wednesday to suggest ways to protect freedom of expression better in the face increasing legal threats.

Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, says journalists around the world face harsh penalties ranging from indirect censorship to heavy fines.

Germany says it is particularly worried about a recently signed Arab charter that limits broadcasters' rights.

Islamic countries are pushing for stricter international laws against religious defamation in the wake of Muslim anger over cartoons of their prophet Muhammad.

 

14th March   

Relieved Sheep...

Netherlands bans animal sex and porn
Link Here

Sex with a scorpion The Dutch parliament voted unanimously Thursday to outlaw bestiality and pornography involving animals.

Sex with animals and the making of animal pornography now will carry a punishment of up to six months in jail under the measure.

Current Dutch law forbids bestiality only when animals are found to have been mistreated.

Animal pornographers had lobbied fiercely against a Dutch ban, said lawmaker Harm Evert Waalkens, who introduced the measure: The Netherlands is now a magnet for perversities and we don't want that .

 

14th March   

Old Dutch Law...

Dutch parliament would like to repeal blasphemy law
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in the Netherlands...Netherlands considersl blasphemy laws

Netherlands flag A majority in the Dutch parliament, led by the ruling Labour Party, wants to scrap a law which fines or even imprisons people who commit blasphemy. But although the law isn't used anymore, even debating whether or not to scrap it is sensitive. The Christian parties in Dutch politics have always argued to keep it on the books.

Now, tension is high in anticipation of far right Dutch MP Geert Wilders' film, which is expected to be considered blasphemous by most Muslims.

And although there's a majority for scrapping the law, government is not asked to get rid of it immediately.

Why has the ruling Labour Party chosen to go against the wishes of it's coalition partners in the government, and scrap a law which could be seen as protecting Muslims?

Labour Party MP Ton Heerts says there's never a good moment to scrap the law. He doesn't want to cause the Christian coalition parties any trouble, but, he says, It's a law that's been on the books for years, and is never used. At some point, we should just get rid of it. The last conviction under the law took place more than forty years ago, when a student newspaper got the maximum fine of 100 guilders (40 euros) for making fun of the New Testament. And in the infamous "donkey" case in 1968, confrontational Dutch author Gerard van het Reve fantasized about sexual relations with God who had taken the form of a donkey. The author was prosecuted for blasphemy, but the court acquitted him.

The current coalition government agreed as recently as October to leave the law as it is. Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Balin wants to tread carefully regarding the law against blasphemy. He says he doesnt want to dispose of a law that's meant to reinforce mutual respect without giving it further thought.

Now, in the run-up to Geert Wilder's film about the Qur'an, some feel Muslims abroad will see the scrapping of the blasphemy law as confirmation of supposed Dutch islamophobia. But the law has never been used to prosecute blasphemy against other religions. In fact, some legal experts wonder if it even applies to religions other than Christianity.

It remains to be seen if parliament will get its wish and gets the law taken off the books. In the Geert Wilders era, no one wants to be seen as encouraging blasphemy.

 

8th March   

Freedom to Become an Ancient Artifact...

Greece proposes to regulate blogs as per the press
Link Here

Greece flag The Greek government is poised to extend the legal framework surrounding blogs after an investigation was launched regarding the alleged blackmail of journalists by colleagues through the popular blogspot press-gr.

Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos confirmed that the justice ministry is working on amending an existing law (#1187) that grants people the right to press charges against the media, journalists, editors or the organisation itself in cases of slander or libel.

Sources at the justice ministry told the Athens News that the amendment - to be brought before parliament in March - will include non-professional, not-for-profit informative blogs and websites of "editorial products" and that they will have the same liabilities as magazines and newspapers.

The same sources note that the ministry is considering the following three possible additions to the law: blog administrators will have to display their personal details on the home page of the blog; authorities will have increased powers to track down bloggers who have posted libel or defamatory comments; and the National Radio and Television Council will have increased powers to intervene in instances of libel.

The government's plans have sparked outrage among bloggers, legal exerts and internet users, who believe the amendment will violate their right to freedom of speech.

Internet lawyer Vasilis Sotiropoulos told the Athens News that the proposed bill could violate the principle of anonymity on the internet, which is protected by the constitution: Anonymity can only be declassified on the internet when a serious crime takes place, according to the Greek constitution. Everyone has the right to post comments on the basis of anonymity. If the government's plans go through, there is a real danger that personal views expressed by net users will be seen as libellous and this will have unpredictable consequences.

Nikos Drandakis, one of Greece's leading bloggers, says the proposed changes are dangerous: There are over 40,000 Greek blogs and most of them are being demonised at the moment. And all this is happening because of blackmail allegations involving one blog spot. This is really unfair, considering the blogs have opened up new avenues of communication... It shows that the government is out of touch with the realities of the internet.

Greek bloggers are planning a demonstration at the parliament on March 9 to protest the proposed amendment.

 

8th March   

Offsite: Confessions of a Screen Cleaner...

Decades of nonsense from the Irish censor
Link Here

IFCO logo In their decades-long crusade to preserve Ireland's innocence, the country's notoriously strict film censors banned violent movies such as A Clockwork Orange , The Wild Bunch and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre .

However, it wasn't only violent cult classics that incurred the censors' wrath. Such seemingly inoffensive titles as Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Brief Encounter, The Quiet Man and On the Waterfront were also banned or heavily censored. In all, about 11,000 films were cut and about 2,500 completely banned.

Dublin's censors sliced through celluloid with an almost zealous energy. Movie-goers watched Gone with the Wind blissfully unaware of the passionate clinches between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, which were deemed far too hot for the Irish screen.

...Read the full article

 

7th March   

Update: Fitna Support...

Public support for Fitna but TV companies aren't so keen
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders No Dutch public or commercial television station is willing to broadcast MP Geert Wilder’s anti-Koran film, the Volkskrant reports.

The paper says Wilders insists the entire 10 to 15-minute feature be screened, a condition no broadcaster is willing to meet.

We would not do that with a film produced by the Christian Democrats or the Liberals and also not for [Geert Wilder’s party] PVV, Herman van Gelderen, head of NRCV programme Netwerk said. We are also extremely cautious about encouraging hatred and discrimination.’

Nova editor Carel Kuyl told the paper that Wilders was willing to allow a preview of his film on the condition programme chiefs agreed to broadcast it anyway.

Wilders will now launch his film, titled Fitna , on the internet later this month. The Volkskrant reports that the press centre in The Hague, Nieuwspoort, has agreed to the presentation of Wilders' film on March 28, pending security arrangements.

Meanwhile, the AD reports that the Dutch anti-terrorism coordinator has raised the terror alarm level from ‘limited’ to ‘substantial’. Both Wilders’ film and the extension of the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan influenced the decision, the paper says.

See full article from Reuters

A majority of Dutch people want an anti-Koran film made by a politician to be broadcast even though they fear it will stoke tension with Muslims and harm relations with Arab countries, a poll showed on Wednesday.

The poll by TNS NIPO for RTL television showed that 54% thought the film should be broadcast although 76% expected it to increase tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims and 74% saw worsening relations with Arab nations.

The survey of 600 people conducted on February 29 showed that 68% expected a boycott like that seen against Denmark after cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed appeared in a Danish newspaper.

See full article from Radio Netherlands

During a meeting in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende that he will support the Netherlands if it comes under attack because of the anti-Qur'an film Fitna by populist leader Geert Wilders.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has asked Dutch ambassadors in Islamic countries to do their best to protect Dutch citizens and companies. Pakistan has also brought the issue to the attention of the European Union and the Vatican. At Islamabad's request, the matter has been placed at the top of the agenda at next week's summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Senegal.

Update: Artistic Support

14th March 2007

The Danish cartoonist behind drawings satirising the Prophet Muhammad has urged a Dutch lawmaker to air an anti-Islam film despite Muslim outrage.

Kurt Westergaard said MP Geert Wilders should show his film, despite government warnings that this would damage Dutch interests.

He said that no Danish politician would dare to block the film.

 

7th March   

Army of Censors...

Germany bans Army of Two game
Link Here

Army of Two game German gaming site areagames is reporting that the censors of Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) have refused EA's Army of Two classification, effectively banning the title from retail sale in the country.

In the UK the game was passed 18 uncut with the following BBFC comment:

Army Of Two is a third-person perspective shoot-'em-up game, in which the player is a mercenary soldier. The game contains strong bloody violence. It also contains strong language.

The violence is constant and there is quite a bit of blood, with bodies exploding in a shower of red when they are hit. However, no clear injuries or dismemberments occur. If bodies are shot after they are already dead, there is no additional bloodshed. It is possible to shoot innocents, but the characters cannot inflict violence on each other. When a player-character is injured, large blood splats cover the 'camera'.

A wide variety of weapons are available, including rocket-launchers, sniper rifles and grenades. Tampons are used to mend wounds and the player is encouraged to push buttons until the tampon fills with blood and the player-character's colleague is fixed.

The language is strong and includes frequent uses of 'fuck' and motherfucker'.

 

5th March   

Update: One Block Fits All...

Finnish internet blocking turns out to be rubbish
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Finland...Finland internet filter expands beyond its remit

Finland flag The controversy arose after the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) blacklisted censorship critic Matti Nikki's site. Matti Nikki himself is now under criminal investigation for aiding in the distribution of child pornography, as he published a large portion of the filtering blacklist on his still-censored website. MP Jyrki Kasvi has made an official inquiry in the Finnish Parliament on the matter, and Effi has filed an official complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman.

The Finnish Minister of Communication, Suvi Linden, and the NBI have been severely criticized over the filtering system, which has been under heavy scrutiny by the media. After stating that she will not tolerate discussion criticizing the filtering system, as the situation is not a matter of freedom of speech, a petition was signed by over 12,000 people demanding her resignation. This was accompanied by a Thai civil rights group questioning the blocking as child porn of a memorial site dedicated to a member of the Thai royal family. Eventually the NBI removed the memorial site from the blacklist, explaining that the DNS based system blocks only whole sites, and that there was child pornography site under the same domain; this raised questions about the efficiency of the filtering system.

The NBI have published a statement explaining their actions, at the request pf Linden. In it the NBI stated that there are filtered sites do not contain any child pornography, but claimed that it was not their fault, rather a side effect of the system. They also noted that they are planning to address this issue by switching from a DNS based filter to a URL based system.

The NBI's official position is that they block pornographic sites where the actors look too young, and sites which link to these sites.

The general opinion after analysis by multiple people is that the list of at least 1,700 sites contains a handful of actual child pornographic sites. However, some sites in the list are located in countries like the U.S., the Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany, and very few of those contain even questionable or borderline material.

Dutch journalist Karin Spaink reviewed 40 sites on the list which were physically located in the Netherlands. She concluded that some of the sites have illegal child pornography, and that four of those are also blocked in the Netherlands by their equivalent filtering system. She estimated that about half of the 40 did not contain any illegal material.

 

4th March   

Update: In the Line of Fire...

Netherlands considers banning Geert Wilder's Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders The Dutch government is consulting lawyers on whether it can ban a film by anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

It fears the anti-Koran film could trigger violence against Netherlands citizens.

Meanwhile Nato's secretary general says he fears the airing of the film will have repercussions for troops in Afghanistan.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's comments came after Afghans protested on Sunday against the film being made by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

Nato's secretary general said he was concerned about his troops after the protests against the film in Afghanistan: If the [troops] find themselves in the line of fire because of the film, then I am worried about it and I am expressing that concern, he said in a television interview.

Wilders' film is called Fitna , an Arabic word used to describe strife or discord. He has said his film will show how the Koran is an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror.

 

2nd March   

Update: Death Threats...

Predictable threats ahead of Geert Wilders' film
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Al Qaeda has reportedly issued an order to kill a Dutch lawmaker who plans to release an anti-Koran film in March, Dutch paper De Telegraaf has reported.

In a recent message on a protected web forum on the website alekhlaas.net, which has links with Al Qaeda, the terror group called on people to "slaughter" Dutch legislator Geert Wilders.

The paper quoted the message as reading: In the name of Allah, we ask you to bring us the head of this infidel who insults Islam and Muslims and ridicules the Prophet Mohammed.

The message honored Mohammed B, who murdered Dutch director Theo van Gogh in 2004 for making a film critical of Islam, as a hero.

The forum also calls for the "terrorization" of the Netherlands to prevent the controversial film from being shown: We, the Muslim people of the world, must fight against anyone who derides Islam. The Dutch do not want Muslims living in their country because they are afraid that Islam will destroy them.

Wilders later said his film will be entitled Fitna (Ordeal) and lasts about 15 minutes. Wilders has a separate website on which his Koran film will be shown.

 

2nd March   

Safe as Safe Can Get...

An even safer internet for children
Link Here  full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

EU flag Anyone who is anyone seems to be studying the internet in terms of protecting children. Here is the EU's contribution

The European Commission has proposed a new Safer Internet programme to enhance the safety of children in the online environment. Encompassing recent communications services from the Web 2.0, such as social networking, the new programme will fight not only illegal content but also harmful behaviour such as bullying and grooming. With a budget of €55 million, the programme, which builds further on the successful Safer Internet programme started in 2005, will run from 2009 to 2013.

The proposed new programme will:

  • Reduce illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online: actions to provide the public with national contact points for reporting illegal content online and harmful conduct, focusing in particular on child sexual abuse material and grooming.
     
  • Promote a safer online environment: fostering self-regulatory initiatives in this field. To stimulate the involvement of children and young people in creating a safer online environment, in particular through youth panels.
     
  • Ensure public awareness: actions targeting children, their parents and teachers. Encourage a multiplier effect through exchange of best practices within the network of national awareness centres. Support contact points where parents and children can receive advice on how to stay safe online.
     
  • Establish a knowledge base by bringing together researchers engaged in child safety online at European level. Establish a knowledge base on the use of new technologies by children, the effects these have on them, and related risks. Use this to improve the effectiveness of ongoing actions within the Safer Internet Programme.

 

2nd March   

Update This Little Pig Went to Temple...

And went wee wee wee wee, all the way home
Link Here  full story: Pooh Poohing Religion...Children's book debunking religion causes a stir

Wo bitte geht's zu Gott?, fragte das kleine Ferkel book Last month the German Family Ministry was said to be pushing to have a book it says slurs Judaism, Christianity and Islam labelled dangerous for children. The book's publisher says kids have a right to enlightenment.

The German Family Ministry is pushing for the children's book How Do I Get to God, Asked the Small Piglet, by written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon and illustrated by Helge Nyncke, to be included on a list of literature considered dangerous for young people.

The three large religions of the world, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are slurred in the book, the ministry wrote in a December memo. The distinctive characteristics of each religion are made ridiculous.

Anyway an English translation of the book  been made available as a free download (PDF file) . The accompanying images are also available to view online .

 

1st March   

Update: Wilders Asked Not to Show His Film...

Dutch safety concerns about release of Geert Wilders' film
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen called upon legislator Geert Wilders, founder of the right- wing Freedom Party, not to broadcast a movie that is heavily critical of the Islamic religion. Verhagen said the movie might endanger the lives of Dutch nationals worldwide and harm Dutch business in Muslim countries.

I am not trying to meet demands from anti-democratic forces and terrorists in the Middle East, Verhagen said. I am simply protecting Dutch interests abroad.

The faction leader of Verhagen's Christian Democrats in parliament, Pieter van Geel, joined her in the public request.

Earlier Thursday the Taliban threatened to harm Dutch military targets in Afghanistan and beyond if Wilders would persist in his plans to release a movie criticizing the Islamic religion.

Al-Qaeda has also threatened to harm Dutch targets if the movie is broadcast. Last week the Iranian parliament warned the Dutch government to ensure the movie will not be aired.

Responding to Verhagen, Wilders, who announced his film will be broadcast in the coming days on www.fitnathemovie.com , said the Dutch minister could "get lost."

 

29th February   

EU Calls the Kettle Black...

Internet censorship is an international trade barrier
Link Here

EU logo The European Parliament recently passed a proposal to treat Internet censorship by repressive regimes as a trade barrier.

The proposal, submitted by Jules Maaten of the rightist Dutch VVD party, passed on a 571-38 vote. Maaten describes it as an unusual, but effective way to promote freedom of expression on the Internet.

The initiative targets countries that have enacted heavy restrictions what their citizens can do and see online. First and foremost on the list is China and its "great firewall." The country also "encourages" bloggers to register with the government.

The 'Great Chinese Firewall' should be seen as an international trade barrier, Maaten said. If adopted, Maaten's proposal would require the EU to classify any Internet censorship as a barrier to trade, and would require that the issue be raised in any trade negotiations. Economic sanctions and trade restrictions have been used in the past as means of getting countries to change their policies, but this is one of the first proposals to tie trade to 'Net censorship.

The measure will now go to the European Council for consideration. The Council can either adopt the proposal as passed by Parliament or send it back with further amendments.

 

21st February   

Update: Filter Creep...

Minister surprised at negative tone of discussions
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Finland...Finland internet filter expands beyond its remit

Finland flag The Finnish Minister of Communications, Suvi Lindén, has set up a committee to protect minors from harmful material on the internet.

According to Lindén, society needs to ensure that the internet is as safe as possible for children. She said she's surprised by the tone of recent discussions in Finland on child pornography and freedom speech.

We are talking about a serious crime. This material should be regulated just as strictly as printed material, for example, she said.

Kirsi Miettinen of the Ministry of Transport and Communications will serve as chair of the 35-member committee. The committee will operate until the end of 2010.

 

19th February   

Abusing CleanFeed...

Finland skates down the slippery slope
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Finland...Finland internet filter expands beyond its remit

Finland flag Finnish police are blocking more than 1,000 legal websites, including one belonging to a well-known internet activist, under a secretive system designed to prevent access to foreign sites that contain child pornography, according to a group that advocates for individual rights online.

Among the estimated 1,700 destinations on the secret block list is lapsiporno.info, which has vocally criticized the Finnish censorship program, according to Matti Nikki, the site's creator and a long-time activist.

Of the 700 or sites that have been tested, only two are known to contain inappropriate images of children, said Tapani Tarvainen chairman of the Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI). The remainder tend to be sites with adult-oriented themes, such as those offering legal porn, and forums for gay sex. In some cases, the sites - which include an online doll store, a Thai Windows advice forum and a computer repair service - have no visible link to porn or sex at all.

The program has its roots in a law passed in late 2006 that was narrowly drafted to filter only foreign websites that contained child porn. To critics, the inclusion of sites like Nikki's, which is located in Finland and contains no pornographic images of any kind, demonstrates the slippery slope that gets started once censorship is allowed.

What's more, the censorship system threatens sites that offer all kinds of content, including political forums blogs and message boards. That's because it requires Finnish internet service providers (ISPs) to block entire web servers, so a single user posting a single inappropriate link has the ability to get an entire service shut out. As a result, plenty of legitimate sites based in the US, Europe and elsewhere, are blocked solely because they share space with a bad actor.

Nikki has been an outspoken critic of the Finnish government's censorship plan. Last Tuesday, the EFFI says, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) added his site to their list, but has refused to say why. Three days later, Finnish police said they wanted to question him in connection with an investigation to determine whether he aided in the distribution of material violating sexual chastity.

 

13th February   

Extreme in Sweden...

Swedes to go on trial from distributing so called 'extreme' porn
Link Here

Sweden Flag An 85-year-old porn shop owner and his business partner are to be tried for breaking Swedish rules governing explicit film content.

A Swedish court has ruled that the octogenarian and a 49-year-old business partner are liable for distributing pornographic films with exceedingly violent content in their stores.

Under Sweden's censorship regulations, it is a crime to show or distribute films which include depictions of sexual violence or coercion, or explicit or protracted scenes of severe violence, unless this is justified in view of the particular circumstances.

The three men have been the subject of a two-year investigation during which 235 DVDs and videos were confiscated. Approximately one hundred of the films were returned before the indictment, but the remaining films were considered too risqué for approval by Sweden's state film censorship agency (Statens Biografbyrå).

All the films were produced in other countries, and many had German titles.

According to Swedish law, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice has the exclusive right to prosecute those suspected of crimes involving unlawful depictions of violence, considered a criminal offence under the Swedish Freedom of Expression Act.

Following the ruling by the district court, final proceedings in such cases are resolved in jury trials, a rare occurrence in Sweden.

 

6th February   

Conan Bloodied by German Censors...

Conan video game cut for Germany but not for the US
Link Here

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures game Funcom, developer of the upcoming Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures video game, has acknowledged that it will be censored in Germany.

In a forum post, community manager Shannon Drake noted that this was a legal requirement, rather than a design decision that could be reversed.

It was previously reported that the US version would also be cut to delete topless female nudity (but no cuts to violence)

However Drake corrected the post and revealed that the US version was submitted to the ESRB and given an M-rating without any server-side censorship. It will therefore feature full blood, full fatalities and breasts with nipples.

The "elsewhere in Europe" version, rated 18+ by PEGI, is also uncut.

 

5th February   

Update: Manhunt for Justification...

Irish poll supports ban of Manhunt 2
Link Here  full story: Manhunt 2...Computer game proves controversial

Manhunt 2 game cover An opinion poll carried out for the Irish censor's office shows overwhelming support for the decision to ban a controversial computer game.

The research found that 80% of respondents thought the office was right to ban the Manhunt 2 game last year, because of the extreme violence portrayed in it. 16% disagreed with the move and 4% had no opinion.

1000 people over 15 years were surveyed for the poll, which examines the public perception of the work carried out by the IFCO.

Censor John Kelleher says the results show people support the view that computer games have a greater impact on those who play them than films or DVDs.

The findings come ahead of a debate in UCC tonight about whether violent games should be more strictly regulated.

Kelleher points out that in his five years in the job, some 7,000 computer games have been released and only one has been banned. He says that while the results of the poll are encouraging from the point of view of the decision to ban Manhunt 2 , he does not see them as a licence to ban other titles.

 

4th February   

Freedom Finnished...

Finnish nutter party calls for more game censorship
Link Here

The Finnish Christian Democratic Party (CDP) has issued a call for video games to be screened for violent and sexual content before being made available to the public.

However, as reported by Afterdawn, video games sold in Finland are already age-rated by the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system.

The Finnish Games and Multimedia Association (FIGMA) has raised objections to the CDP's demand, saying: [Additional content screening would] decrease the number of released games, cause delays in release schedules, and increase the price of video games.

FIGMA officials also fretted that, faced with too many barriers, Finnish gamers would simply acquire their games through alternative channels.

 

1st February   

Pooh Poohing Religion...

Cynical Children's book labelled dangerous for kids
Link Here  full story: Pooh Poohing Religion...Children's book debunking religion causes a stir

Wo bitte geht's zu Gott?, fragte das kleine Ferkel book The German Family Ministry is pushing to have a book it says slurs Judaism, Christianity and Islam labelled dangerous for children. The book's publisher says kids have a right to enlightenment.

The German Family Ministry is pushing for the children's book How Do I Get to God, Asked the Small Piglet, by written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon and illustrated by Helge Nyncke, to be included on a list of literature considered dangerous for young people.

The three large religions of the world, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are slurred in the book, the ministry wrote in a December memo. The distinctive characteristics of each religion are made ridiculous.

The book tells the story of a piglet and a hedgehog, who discover a poster attached to their house that says: If you do not know God, you are missing something!

This frightens them because they had never suspected at all that anything was missing in their lives. Thus they set out to look for "God." Along the way they encounter a rabbi, a bishop and a mufti who are portrayed as insane, violent and continually at each other's throats.

The rabbi is drawn in the same way as the caricatures from the propaganda of 1930's Germany; corkscrew curls, fanatical lights in his eyes, a set of predator's flashing teeth and hands like claws. He reacts to the animals by flying into a rage, yelling at them that God had set out to destroy all life on Earth at the time of Noah and chases them away.

The mufti fares little better. While he greets both animals at first as a quiet man and invites them into his mosque, he soon changes into a ranting fanatic. He assembles a baying Islamic mob and holds the animals up in a clenched fist while condemning them to everlasting damnation through bared teeth and an unruly-looking beard.

The bishop, a pale fat man with a clearly insinuated predilection for child abuse, makes up the unholy trinity which eventually convinces piglet and hedgehog, after they have survived the long search in the maze of religions, that nothing of any importance has been missing from their lives.

I think that God doesn't even exist, the hedgehog says at the end of the book. And if He does, than he definitely doesn't live in [a synagogue, cathedral or mosque].

Published in October 2007, the 20-page book's publisher, Alibri, said it was aware it was risking a political battle when it published the book.

Calling the ministry's accusations an attack on freedom of expression, the publisher said the book answers the question of whether a nonreligious child is missing part of life from the perspective of secular humanism. Schedel added that the book is intended for nonreligious parents looking to provide their children with a critical view of religion.

The German department responsible for reviewing children's literature is scheduled to discuss whether the book presents a danger to children's upbringing in a March meeting.

 

31st January   

Update: There Can Be No Question of a Ban...

Dutch Media Minister on TV showing of Deep Throat
Link Here  full story: Deep Throat on Dutch TV...Public TV to broadcast Deep Throat

Deep Throat DVD Dutch Media Minister Ronald Plasterk sees no possibilities nor desire for banning public broadcasters BNN and VPRO from showing the explicit porn film Deep Throat .

Christian government party ChristenUnie appears to be accepting this decision.

On 23 February, shortly after midnight, BNN and VPRO plan to show the explicit film. ChristenUnie considers this disgusting.

Opposition party SGP, a more conservative Christian party than ChristenUnie, asked Plasterk to prohibit the broadcast - it has been the only Lower House party to ask for a ban.

According to Plasterk the public broadcasters have 100% editorial freedom. There can be no question of a ban, and no investigation of this will be mounted either. The government also has no views on any programme, moral or otherwise, said the Labour (PvdA) minister via his spokesman.

Radio programme Standpunt.nl yesterday presented a poll with the statement: The public broadcasters must drop the showing of Deep Throat. A minority of 42% of listeners agreed.

 

31st January   

Horse Dicks...

Andres Serrano exhibition winds up Swedish Christian Democrats
Link Here

Serrano photo An exhibition of graphic sex photos have caused a political row in a Swedish town.

Christian Democrats in Alingsås want to close down the History of Sex exhibition at the town's municipal art gallery.

The Liberal Party, usually allied with the Christian Democrats, says art should not be censored.

The photos, by American photographer Andres Serrano, depict scenes including a man performing oral sex on himself and a woman clutching a horse's penis.

The controversy over the exhibition has been taken to a new level by the involvement of the neo-Nazi Nationalsocialistisk Front (NSF), which has been distributing flyers protesting against the exhibition.

As a resident of Alingsås you are contributing to this exhibition as it is the council that is behind it. This is your tax money being used to show pornography, the NSF writes in its flyers.

The photos were previously exhibited in Lund, where they were vandalized by neo-Nazis. As in Lund, the exhibition in Alingsås is closed to children under 15 and visitors are informed about the explicit nature of the photos before entering the gallery.

Despite these measures, Christian Democrats in the town, 50 kilometres north-east of Gothenburg, are livid that the pictures are on display at all. They view the decision by the gallery to give space to the exhibition as a sign of a remarkable lack of judgement.

The Liberal chairman of the council's culture committee, Lars Lundgren, said he was keen to protect free speech: Politicians should not decide which pictures should be shown or which books should be read. They should stay out of it, regardless of which party they belong to.

 

30th January   

Making Nutter Politicians Gag...

Public TV broadcaster to air Deep Throat in the Netherlands
Link Here  full story: Deep Throat on Dutch TV...Public TV to broadcast Deep Throat

Deep Throat DVD Nutter politicians in Netherlands are up in arms over an upcoming public television broadcast of the 1972 porn classic Deep Throat .

It is a historical symbol of unashamed sexual exploitation and of perverse greed, Christian Union party leader Arie Slob told Radio Netherlands. The film brought 600 million dollars into the box office, but it also ruined a human being. The so-called star, [Linda Lovelace], later declared that she was pressured into her acting.

Public broadcasting corporations BNN and VPRO plan to air the Gerard Damiano feature Feb. 23 on Dutch TV channel Nederland 3 as part of a late-night block of programming about the history of adult films. The movie will be shown along with a documentary about the movie and a discussion panel with director Pieter Kuijpers, porn actress Kim Holland and German academic Ingo Schiweck, a historian specializing in adult movies.

Robert Interlandi, marketing director for Deep Throat rights holder Arrow Productions said: I know that everyone was very surprised when HBO aired the NC-17 version of Inside Deep Throat, the documentary about Deep Throat…but screening the full movie on television…wow!

Online discussion groups have suggested that the Christian Union’s efforts might be better focused on the excessive amount of violence shown on television.

BNN television director Maarten van Dijk told Radio Netherlands that he thinks young people should be able to see the Linda Lovelace classic, particularly if the film is properly introduced by a special edition of our lifestyle program, plus a documentary on Deep Throat.

 

26th January   

Teletext Watershed...

German authorities ban daytime adult adverts on teletext
Link Here

RTL2 logo German TV channel RTL 2 is in trouble for running pornographic ads on its teletext during daytime children program hours.

The issue was picked up by the national org for protection of minors in the media, Kommission fuer Jugendmedienschutz (KJM).

While RTL 2 claimed that it has received no objections.

KJM has asked RTL 2 to ban the sex ads by Jan. 24, otherwise it would face fines.

 

13th January   

Presidential Interference...

Slovenia accused of interfering in press freedom
Link Here

Slovenia flag The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has accused the Slovenian government of interfering in press freedom at home.

The EFJ in a statement said that political meddling with media in Slovenia casts a shadow over the country's current Presidency of the European Union.

The Government cannot spin its way out of the hard truth that government and politicians have been exercising undue influence on the way Slovenian media work, said Aidan White, of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The Slovenian media crisis developed with the launch of a petition against censorship and political pressures on journalism which was signed by 571 journalists. The protest follows government attempts to replace leading editors in order to stifle media criticism.

There is also widespread concern over legislative and management changes that have placed pro-government people in charge of the country's public broadcasting system.

The EFJ said the governments response has been intemperate and unacceptable.

 

12th January   

Joie de Vivres...

French presidential fun leaves a trail of biographical disputes
Link Here

Cecilia book Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife Cecilia on Friday lost a court bid to block the release of a book in which she is quoted as describing the French president as a womaniser and uncaring father.

The Paris civil court rejected a request for an injunction order to prevent Cecilia by Anna Bitton, a journalist and former friend of Cecilia Sarkozy, from coming out in bookstores.

The book went on sale Friday along with two others written by journalists, once again putting the spotlight on Sarkozy's personal life at a time when his approval rating has slumped.

It quotes remarks made by a bitter Cecilia in November -- a month after her divorce to Sarkozy was announced -- assailing her ex-husband as a womaniser and stingy, a man who loves no one, not even his children.

At the court hearing on Thursday, Cecilia's lawyers argued that a ban was warranted because the book -- excerpts of which have been published at length in French magazines and newspapers -- seriously violated her right to privacy.

They did not deny she had made the remarks, but stressed that they were made in confidence.

But a judge ruled that a ban, even a temporary one, would be a disproportionate measure, especially since the book was already on sale and that many weekly magazines had published several excerpts of the book in question, without being targeted for suits.

After initially saying they planned to appeal the decision, Cecilia's lawyers announced they would file a separate suit for violation of her right to privacy, which could be heard in two or three months.

 

8th January   

Classified as Censors...

Irish Film Censor's office to rename as Classifiers
Link Here

IFCO The Irish Film Censor's Office will remove the "censorship" part from its name as it emerged only four pornographic films and one video game fell foul of its powers last year.

Current head of the Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) John Kelleher believes that the role of moral guardian of the masses is long gone.

And to reflect the seismic shift in the ethos of the censor over the past 85 years, the title of "Censor" will soon be no more. The Minister (for Justice) is planning to change, at my request, the name of the office.

I understand that an amendment is in the pipeline which will change our name from the Irish Film Censor's Office to the Irish Film Classification Office. I think for most people, that would be a very welcome change,
said Mr Kelleher.

Four hardcore pornographic DVDs and one video game have fallen foul of the Irish censor over the past year. Altogether, staff at the Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) reviewed more than 8,000 items. None of the 280 feature films and more than 300 film trailers was deemed unpalatable for public consumption.

However, the same cannot be said of four pornographic DVDs and the video game Manhunt 2, which were all banned in 2007. The DVDs were banned as they were found to be indecent or obscene and likely to deprave or corrupt.