EU Censorship News

    2009: April-June

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28th June   

Appealing Assets...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
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See further details
Melon Farming Fresh

 

Topless celebs on the beach are fair game for the Spanish media
Link Here

Interviu magazine cover A Spanish court has ruled that celebrities exposed by the country's tabloid press must accept that they're a legitimate news target for the cameras, whether they happen to be wearing a bikini top or not.

According to El Mundo, the Civil Division of the High Court has overturned a 2003 decision in favour of former Miss España María Reyes, whose assets were flashed across the cover of magazine Interviú .

At the time the publication was ordered to pay Reyes €30,000 for the Ibiza exposé, but its appeal successfully argued that the photographs were of public interest and newsworthy for those media belonging to the tabloid, entertainment or showbusiness genres.

The court noted that enjoying the beach without a bikini top is an accepted social custom and that consequently a photographic image of someone captured in this state without their permission cannot be illegal, nor would it be if they were captured otherwise dressed on the beach or photographed in everyday clothing.

In summary, the court declared that the legality or illegality of press photographs does not depend on whether the subject is wearing a bikini top or not.

This landmark ruling is a severe blow for Spain's enormous population of celebs who live off nothing more than their media exposure, but believe they have the right to decide when it suits them to avail themselves of popular press coverage.

 

28th June   

Appeal Flags...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Appeal fails over prosecution for 'die Fahnen hoch' t-shirt
Link Here

Germany flag Germany's highest court has upheld a ban on three words appearing in sequence because of their link to the Horst Wessel song, a former anthem of the Nazi party.

The court in Karlsruhe rejected an appeal by a member of a far-right party who was fined €1,750 for wearing a T-shirt carrying the words die Fahnen hoch or the flags on high.

 

25th June   

The Moment of Truth...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

Quiz show featuring intimate confessions and lie detectors banned by Greek TV censor
Link Here

Moment of Truth titles A Greek quiz show that encouraged contestants to divulge intimate details of their private lives in return for prizes has been ordered off the air on taste and decency grounds.

The Moment of Truth , made by Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth's production company, has been banned completely by the Greek regulator after a series of excruciating on-screen confessions. Antenna, the commercial channel that screens it, is considering taking the case to the European commission, accusing the regulator of extreme censorship.

The format has been sold to 24 countries, and it is currently in production in Spain and France. It ran on Sky for two series in the UK. On the show, contestants can win six-figure sums for giving truthful answers to a series of embarrassing questions while hooked up to a lie detector.

The show debuted in October and has become one of Greece's most popular series, winning a 30% audience share in its 11pm slot.

The Greek National Council for Radio and Television had repeatedly warned Antenna, the country's largest commercial broadcaster, about the contents of the show and has twice imposed fines totalling $230,000 (£195,000).

The ban followed three episodes featuring risqué exchanges between contestants and quizmaster. In the first, broadcast in February, a mother was asked, in the presence of her daughter and son-in-law, if she wished her daughter had married a richer man. In March, another episode featured a female guest who was asked if she had ever had sex for money, or slept with a man and a woman at the same time. The following month, a male player admitted he had fantasised about his sister's partner.

That proved too much for the TV censor, which chastised Antenna for encouraging members of the public to humiliate themselves for a reward , with no regard for the players' decency and the effects on the social lives of their families.

The show was promptly terminated and the final episode aired earlier this month, provoking a furious response from Antenna, which said the regulator was guilty of extreme censorship .

 

25th June   

Update: Bullying Google...

Trial of Google execs over bullying YouTube video delayed
Link Here  full story: Google on Trial...Google sued for YouTube bullying video

YouTube logo An Italian court has delayed a case against search giant Google, which could have major ramifications for content providers around the globe.

At the heart of the case is a debate about how much responsibility providers have for the content on their sites.

It centres around a video, posted on Google Italy, which showed a teenager with Down's Syndrome being bullied.

The case was delayed because an interpreter was ill and will now be resumed in September.

Four Google executives are accused of defamation and violating privacy, under Italian law, for allowing the video to be posted online.

Prosecutors argue that Google did not have adequate content filters or enough staff to monitor content.

 

24th June   

Judge Doesn't Rate Teacher's Case...

Teacher rating website cleared to continue in Germany
Link Here

ratemyteachers.com logo A German court has ruled that schoolchildren may rate their teachers online, rejecting the case of a woman who argued that her rights had been infringed by pupils who gave her bad grades on a popular website.

The rights of the woman, a teacher of German and religion, had not been compromised by the ratings and pupils had a right to offer an opinion as long as they did not hinder her professionally, the German Federal Court of Justice found.

The opinions expressed are neither abusive nor insulting, the court said in a statement: The plaintiff did not show that she had been harmed in any specific way.

Collection, storage, and transmission of ratings by online portal spickmich.de was therefore permissible without the assent of the plaintiff, the court ruled.

The ruling will boost controversial websites such as Rate My Teacher in the UK, which operates a similar system.

This year more than one in ten teachers said that they were bullied by pupils and colleagues through text messages, e-mails and social networking sites.

A quarter of UK teachers said that they had had offensive messages posted about them on social networking sites such as Facebook or Rate My Teacher, according to the survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Teacher Support Network.

The lawyers of the German teacher, who had been given a rating of 4.3 for her German teaching, argued that the site was unfair and inaccurate because users rate subjects anonymously. This could lead to multiple ratings by the same person, as well as ratings by people with no connection to the school or teacher in question, they argued.

But the court said that in this case, the right of the individual to express an opinion outweighed these concerns.

 

24th June   

Update: There's Probably No God in Finland...

Bus drivers call off their boycott of atheist buses
Link Here

Finland flag Bus drivers with religious convictions, who are employed by Helsingin Bussiliikenne, which operates public bus lines in Helsinki will not be taking any action against an international advertising campaign by the non-religious.

Last week, the prospect that they would have to drive buses with advertisements proclaiming There probably is no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life, caused a stir among religious drivers, some of whom had threatened to refuse to drive vehicles with the slogan.

The campaign, sponsored by the Freethinkers Association, and the Finnish Humanist Association is part of the international atheist bus campaign.

The leader of resistance by religious bus drivers, Tapani Mäkinen, said that there were few legal ways for Christian and Muslim drivers to refuse to drive buses with the offending ads and still keep their jobs. The drivers asked their shop steward if it was possible to refuse to drive a certain vehicle out of religious conviction. We hit a dead end. Something like that would be seen as a refusal to work , Mäkinen said.

The atheist ads will be on the buses for two weeks. The advertising campaign will also take place in Turku and Tampere, although the wording of the slogan was toned down a bit.

Christian groups are also planning to take a public stand on the question of the existence of God. Two Lutheran congregations in Helsinki, as well as the Finnish Bible Institute are planning a summer event in August with a slogan: God exists. Don't worry, enjoy life.
Timo Junkkaala, the executive director of the Finnish Bible Institute insists, however, that organisers came up with name before the international atheist bus campaign was launched.

 

23rd June   

Update: Censorship Game On...

Bavaria looks to take action against Austrian online games retailer
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

A Earlier this month GamePolitics reported that German Interior Ministers were seeking a complete ban on the production and sale of violent video games within Germany.

Although the Bundestag has not yet acted on the ministers' ban request, an online video game retailer based in Austria claims that the German state of Bavaria has moved to blocked access by German customers.

VideoGamesZone.de reports that the Bavarian Commission for the Protection of Children Against Media Abuse filed a lawsuit to shut down Austrian online retailer Gameware.at . [GamePolitics suggest that this is being done by the newly created internet blocking law but it sounds more like the 'indexing' method that bans German companies from marketing or advertising the product].

Company spokesman Chris Veber told VGZ: We've called our lawyer and are appealing, of course... this is violating the freedom of expression and wrong specifications from the [German ratings body], since we are not sending our products out to minors and do not have videos showing violence at [our site]. We are not breaking any Austrian laws...

The economic consequence of the indexing of Gameware.at is that no one would be able to find us on Google, the advertisements would be gone, no magazine would be allowed to mention our name...

Veber conceded that violent games are big sellers for his company and that 80% of his customers live in Germany.

 

22nd June   

Update: Jumping Ship...

German MP defects to the Pirate Party over internet censorship issue
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Pirate Party A German MP from the ruling Social Democrats (SDP) has resigned from the party and joined the Pirate Party in response to new censorship laws in the country.

Jörg Tauss was one of only four members of the Bundestag to vote against the censorship legislation. The German laws, unlike those from other totalitarian regimes like Iran, China and Australia, are focused strictly on child pornography, however there are deep concerns in Germany that once implemented the laws could easily be extended to other areas.

While Tauss has become the first member of the Pirate Party in the German Parliament, he has indicated that he won't be standing for re-election in September. Germany's election system makes it difficult for stand alone candidates to be elected or re-elected.

 

21st June   

What's Blocked and What's Not...

Italian list of blocked websites posted by Wikileaks
Link Here

Italy flag A portion of the Italian secret internet censorship list has been posted on wikileaks.org .

This list presents 287 internet sites currently censored by Italy. This quasi-voluntary system, which was introduced under the banner of fighting child pornography relies on a secret, unaccountable list of site names. Because of this lack of transparency, and the power of the censorship system, the blacklist is of intense interest.

The majority of sites on the Italian list seem to be unrelated to child pornography. While some do appear to relate to the images of teenagers, the vast majority of sites are related to what appears to be legal young-adult pornography. Some sites are unrelated to any type of pornography.

These include businesses or institutes outside of Italy, and discussion forums, used by tens of thousands for all purposes. While it is possible these sites had an unauthorized user briefly upload an underage image or link to such an image, the continued presence of the sites on this list likely reflects the lack of any censorship notification or appeal mechanism.

 

20th June   

Update: Dangerous Content Warning...

German parliament passes internet blocking law
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag The German parliament passed a bill Thursday imposing censorship of pornographic websites justified by the need to protect children.

The legislation was proposed by a coalition of German social democratic and conservative parties. It requires the country's federal criminal investigators to maintain a list of websites accused of containing child pornography and to distribute it to German ISPs, which will then be required to block queries to those websites with a stop sign.

In its present form, the bill requires only that ISPs display the warning sign. Users will still be able to access the flagged websites, but they will be advised that viewing child pornography is illegal. German legislators also bowed to criticism by adding a sunset clause that will see the law expire in three years.

 

20th June   

Update: There's Almost Certainly No God...

German atheist bus completes its tour
Link Here

German atheist bus There's almost certainly no God. [reported as Close to certainty, there is no God ] With this slogan on the side of their bus, German atheists have been touring through Germany for three weeks, on a trip that has stirred up controversy and debate.

On Thursday, the atheist bus stopped off in Berlin, bringing the promotional tour throughout the country to a close.

In the German capital, the atheist bus tour fell on fertile ground. The London-style red double-decker was crammed full on Thursday, which was perhaps not surprising as approximately two-thirds of Berliners say they are not religious in any way.

Campaign spokesman Peder Ibelher explained why the campaign slogan, Close to certainty, there is no God, lacked a fiery anti-religious sting: This reflects the scientific approach that Germans have to the question of God. You can never say there is no God because there's no evidence for a God and no evidence against it .

A second bus, emblazoned with the slogan, And what if there is God? was right behind the atheist bus at every stop it made.

Among the anti-demonstrators was Axel Nehlsen, a protestant pastor who fundamentally disagrees with the atheists: All ideologies have been thrown away in the last decades and even capitalism is in a crisis now. So I think the Christian faith and the relationship to God and Jesus Christ can give everybody a foundation which is not depending on the current mainstream. And we want to challenge them to find out whether God exists.

Official church leaders in Germany have reacted calmly to the atheist bus, arguing that the activists would actually do the Christian faith a service, by enlivening the public debate about God.

Public transport authorities were less comfortable. In contrast to London, where the slogan appeared on city buses and in the Underground (tube) network, German cities banned the slogan from being advertised. They claimed it would inflame religious feelings.

Peder Ibelher, however, said the campaign was a huge success despite the public advertisement ban: The campaign went really well. We've heard that up to a quarter of the German population noticed our slogan. Maybe it's come out even better in the end with no public advertisement - with the bus just going around from city to city in Germany .

 

19th June   

Ireland Ofconned...

Ireland about to pass legislation to merge their TV censors
Link Here

Ireland Ireland's new Broadcasting Bill is expected to be passed by the Irish parliament, the Dáil, later today.

A new super-regulator established along the lines of the UK's Ofcom and known as The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) will replace the RTÉ Authority, and the governing body of TG4, as well as the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC).

There will also be a tightening of broadcasting codes, including the advertising of food stuffs to children.

 

18th June   

Update: Sweden Follows the BBFC Lead...

Beyer wants to see bits cut out, so BBFC kindly oblige and leave Antichrist uncut
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in Sweden...Looking to end mandatory state film censorship

SBB logo Last week, Sweden announced that it will disband its Statens Biografbyra censorship board altogether in 2011, 100 years after it was founded. From then on, there will be no restrictions on films released in the country unless they break laws governing such areas as child pornography, although the current age-related rating system will remain.

John Beyer of Mediawatch, the successor to Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, suggested the BBFC's increasingly light touch in recent years made it not so very different from the new Swedish organisation.

The BBFC no longer 'cuts bits out of films' but provides information about films so that members of the public can make up their own minds about what films they want to see or avoid. The Swedish government evidently want to do just what the BBFC has been doing for some years.

In our opinion the BBFC has become far too lax in what it permits for public exhibition and there has been a gradual shift in what they regard as acceptable so that what would have been regarded as 18 a few years ago is now thought suitable for 15. Their 12A certificate allows very young children, accompanied by an adult, to see some very unsuitable material. The board is pretty much unaccountable and for this reason we supported Julian Brazier's private member's bill last year to make the board accountable to parliament through the select committee system.

Comment: Letting the public make up their own minds

From Dan

"The BBFC no longer 'cuts bits out of films' but provides information about films so that members of the public can make up their own minds about what films they want to see or avoid."

Oh how disgraceful and disgusting! How dare the BBFC let members of the public make up their own minds about films they want to see?

Instead they should have John Beyer and Mediawatch UK making up the public's minds for them.

"Their 12A certificate allows very young children, accompanied by an adult, to see some very unsuitable material."

Oh yeah very young children, accompanied by an adult are being allowed to see explicit violence and hardcore porn! Yeah right!

"The board is pretty much unaccountable."

Pretty much unaccountable to Mediawatch UK and Tory middle middle England who believe they know what is and is not good for the public to see. Let's keep it that way!

 

17th June   

Update: Impasse Unblocked...

Blocked attempts not logged so German internet filtering now commands political support
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag Politicians from the nation's two major parties agreed on a final version of Germany's internet filtering bill Monday night, reports Gigaom. The bill could now be approved as soon as Thursday.

Free-speech advocates, Internet activists and Internet service providers have opposed the bill and suggest denial-of-service blocking does not work, with concerns this will take the government into areas of greater Internet censorship.

Under the measure, German federal police would compile a block list containing the domain names and IP addresses of websites hosting and linking to child porn. ISPs would be required to block the sites and redirect all traffic to a site or sites hosting a warning message in the form of a red Stop sign.

An official online petition against the bill has received more than 130,000 signatures and counting, plus the number of citizens trying to sign the petition has reportedly brought down the parliament's Web infrastructure several times.

ISPs had voiced opposition to provisions in the measure that would mandate that they log each attempt to access a blocked site and share the information with law enforcement organizations. This would include anyone who might accidentally click on the wrong link, even if it was placed by a hacker. In turn, an innocent person could be labeled a pedophile, and with that possibility in mind, lawmakers removed that portion of the bill requiring ISP logs.

 

10th June   

Censors Unrated...

Sweden looks to allow an 'unrated' opt out of film censorship
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in Sweden...Looking to end mandatory state film censorship

SBB logo After nearly 100 years, Sweden may finally be poised to shutter the agency charged with censoring films deemed unsuitable for adult audiences.

The planned dissolution of Sweden's film censorship agency, Statens biografbyrå (SBB), means that Swedish filmgoers aged 15 and older will no longer have to wonder whether or not a particular film has been censored by the state.

The proposal comes as a part of the findings of a government-mandated inquiry into how to update laws governing how films are reviewed, including how to protect young people from media featuring content seen as harmful to minors.

Since 1911, SBB has been charged with reviewing and, when necessary, censoring films. But technological changes as well as a proliferation of other outlets through which films can be viewed means that the agency only reviews a small portion of the content viewed by Swedish cinephiles.

According to current regulations, SBB can censor any film which depicts events in such a manner and in such a context as to have a brutalizing effect and is judged to have explicit or protracted scenes of severe violence to people or animals or depicts sexual violence or coercion or presents children in pornographic situations.

But the agency rarely exercises its power to cut scenes from films, or orders a film banned altogether.

The Local reported in 2007 that the board last cut scenes from a non-pornographic film in 1996, when three scenes were removed from Martin Scorcese's gangster movie Casino , despite protests from the director.

As an alternative, the inquiry proposed that a new media agency be created to replace both the SBB and the Swedish Media Council (Mediarådet), another state agency aimed at reducing the risk of harmful effects on children and young people of certain media content.

The new agency won't be so judicial, but rather a contact body with information; to help children learn to understand the media, to have a more critical eye, said inquiry head Marianne Eliason to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The new agency will also assume SBB's current duties of managing the four levels of age restrictions for films in Sweden (all ages, 7+, 11+, 15+). Moreover, the new agency will no longer employ censors , but instead will include a team of film examiners tasked with determining the appropriate age restriction for a given film, rather than censoring it.

The inquiry also proposes that film companies be allowed to submit their films for review by the new agency voluntarily. However, films not reviewed by the new agency would automatically be classified as only appropriate for viewers 15 years and older.

Since implementation of the inquiry's findings will likely require a change to Sweden's constitution, Eliason doesn't expect the new system to be in place before 2011.

Comment: But...

On the surface this might sound good but...

This is what they'll scrap:

Compulsory examination

The content of films or pre-recorded video recordings (videograms) shall be examined and approved by the National Board of Film Censors prior to showing at a public gathering or entertainment.

This will remain:

Swedish Code of Statutes (SFS): SFS 1990:894, Published on September 4, 1990
Chapter 16: On Crimes against Public Order

Section 10 b Any person who in a still picture or in a film, in a video recording, a television programme or other moving pictures depicts sexual violence or coercion with the intention that the picture or pictures be spread or spreads such depiction, shall be convicted, except that the criminal act in view of the circumstances be defensible, and sentenced for unlawful depiction of violence to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum period of two years. And the same shall apply to any person who in moving pictures explicitly or extensively depicts extreme violence towards humans or animals with the intention that the pictures be spread or spreads such depiction.
A person who negligently distributes material as referred to in subsection (1) shall, if such distribution takes place in the course of business or otherwise for gain, be liable to the penalty laid down in subsection (1)

 

9th June   

Censorial Dicks...

Belgian artist gets his 'guess the dick' exhibition banned by Venetian gallery
Link Here
pills

  Artist's impression of censorial
gallery managers

Posters depicting the stylised genitals of 100 artists have been deemed unsuitable by the Venice Biennale gallery authorities.

Jacques Charlier, a Belgian artist, had wanted to show the visual puns, each with a written clue, inviting viewers to guess who owned what.

The authorities rejected the proposal for fear of offending Venetians and the artists represented.

But Charlier used the rejection as stimulus for a massive publicity drive. A boat emblazoned with the words 100 Sexes D'Artistes has been touring the canals of Venice, docking occasionally to allow the public to board and view correspondence between Charlier, the Biennale director, Daniel Birnbaum, and other authorities.

The French Human Rights League supported the artist, saying he had been censored. But the censorship did not prevent Charlier and his team from handing out booklets containing all 100 drawings, and offering free T-shirts to those who could identify at least 20 artists.

Charlier's posters will tour several European cities this summer.

 

6th June   

Update: Ministerial Games...

German interior ministers gang up against violent video games
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Gamed Politics is reporting that Germany's 16 Interior Ministers seem to have banded together to ask the Bundestag to ban the production and distribution of violent video games.

Moreover, the ministers hope to see this accomplished before Germany's new elections take place on September 27th.

The move comes during a scheduled conference of interior ministers. School shootings, in particular the March 11th rampage committed by a 17-year-old in Winnenden, were prominently mentioned in relation to the group's demand for a ban on violent games.

If passed, such a move would affect not only German game consumers, but German game developers such as Crytek ( Far Cry, Crysis ). Under the proposed law, Crytek would apparently need to outsource development of violent games or even relocate its operations to another country.

 

5th June   

Update: 100,000 Against...

Internet blocking proposal not getting an easy ride in Germany
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag German Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen is struggling to pass a new law designed to combat online child pornography in the face of widespread concern over censorship and freedom of speech. The law would use blacklists to bar access to specific sites.

Von der Leyen proposes setting up an office in the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to determine whether or not sites should be blocked. Lists would then be sent to Internet service providers, which would be responsible for blocking the content.

The list would contain an estimated 1,500 sites. Von der Leyen says blocking them could derail 450,000 hits a day. The personal data and ISP addresses of people trying to access blocked sites would not be captured.

The bill would be the first time in the history of post-war Germany that police would be granted the authority to determine what can and cannot be shown by the mass media. Right now, the legislation doesn't call for any supervision of the proposed agency.

Opponents of the bill say the proposal threatens the freedom of the Internet, and that blocks on Web sites and other censorship measures are easily bypassed and ineffective. Thus far, almost 100,000 people have signed a petition against the measure, twice what the law requires to force a discussion in German parliament. One fear is that the list, once established, could be used to censor other sites. Opponents also argue that blocking Web sites is ineffective against child pornographers, who tend to distribute material through e-mail, peer-to-peer systems and chatrooms, all of which are much harder to police.

Social Democratic parliamentarian Gregor Amann said on Wednesday that he doubted the bill would succeed due to concerns over its threats to personal freedoms: Since I know many of my colleagues in the SPD share my opinion on this question, at this point I would say that this bill will either not pass in this legislative period or will be dramatically changed.

 

5th June   

Update: Thrilling the Puritanical...

Irish video shop done for renting out standard adult porn
Link Here  full story: Sex Shops in Ireland...Irish police raid shops selling adult hardcore DVDs

Let Me Taste It DVD An Irish video shop owner was fined €1,500 yesterday for having five standard adult hardcore movies for rent which were banned when viewed by the film censor.

Michael Bridgeman of Co Limerick, and Mungret Gate Developments, Mungret Street, Limerick, pleaded guilty at Galway District Court to three charges of having the illicit movies for supply without a film certificate or correct labelling at his video shop, Underworld, on Upper Dominick Street, Galway, on May 28th last year, contrary to Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Video Recordings Act 1989.

Judge Mary Fahy said films such as those five banned by the censor, including Teen Thrills and Let Me Taste It , can be very obscene and disturbing . They can also show gross violence which can lead to other problems in society.

 

4th June   

Update: Euro Regulators...

EU poised to appoint telecoms regulatory body
Link Here  full story: BEREC...European wide telecoms regulator

EU flag The EU is poised to appoint a super-regulatory body that will bring together all 27 national regulators, including Ofcom in the UK, and enforce wide-ranging reforms to the industry.

The establishment of the Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications (BEREC) would bring national regulators together in an attempt to further integrate the European market and become the main advisory body to the Commission, the body that proposes legislation.

The creation of a European telecoms regulator was pushed by EU commissioner Viviane Reding, who continues to campaign for lower data roaming rates around Europe.

Malcolm Harbour, West Midlands MEP and vice president of the European Parliament's science and technology unit, was involved in proposals for the package and told Mobile that aside from issues about internet access, the rest of the reforms had already been agreed on in theory.

 

2nd June   

Update: Christian Party Pooped...

Norway rejects proposed blasphemy law
Link Here

Norway flag The Norwegian parliament has voted overwhelmingly to remove the blasphemy paragraph from a raft of new legislation.

It was replaced with an additional paragraph on racism.

Only the Christian People's Party wanted blasphemy to be formally criminalised, as a symbolic law.

 

30th May   

Update: Freedom of Expression...

Council of Europe body says blasphemy should not be illegal.
Link Here

Council of Europe flag The Venice Commission, a Council of Europe body says blasphemy should not be illegal.

The body's constitutional law experts argued that while inciting religious hatred should be a criminal offence, blasphemy comes under freedom of expression.

Blasphemy is part of a person's freedom of expression and should not be made illegal, a Council of Europe advisory body said in a report published Wednesday.

The Venice Commission also noted a distinction between blasphemy and insults prompted by a person's religion.

 

30th May   

Update: Discriminating Against Reason...

Blasphemy laws to continue in the Netherlands
Link Here

Netherlands Despite a majority of MPs in the Dutch parliament wanting to repeal the country’s blasphemy law, the cabinet has decided that it must stay.

The decision follows a high court ruling earlier this year, in which a man was found not guilty of insulting an entire group of people on the grounds of their religion by hanging up a poster saying Stop the tumour that is Islam
.

The Government says that anti-discrimination legislation is inadequate.

 

28th May   

Without Government Interference...

European Charter on Freedom of the Press
Link Here

European Charter on Freedom of the Press logo On May 25th, 2009 46 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from 19 countries adopted and signed the European Charter on Freedom of the Press .

In ten articles, the charter formulates principles for the freedom of the press from government interference.

The goal is to assert the charter's validity across Europe and to make its adoption a condition in EU accession negotiations. Ideally, journalists all over Europe will be able to cite the charter in cases of conflict with the state or with state-controlled institutions, and to call on their international colleagues for help and support.

European Charter on Freedom of the Press

  • Art. 1: Freedom of the press is essential to a democratic society. All governments should uphold, protect and respect the diversity of journalistic media in all its forms and its political, social and cultural missions.
     
  • Art. 2: Censorship must be absolutely prohibited. There must be a guarantee that independent journalism in all media is free of persecution, repression and of political or regulatory interference by government. Press and online media should not be subject to state licensing.
     
  • Art. 3: The right of journalists and media to gather and disseminate information and opinions must not be threatened, restricted or be made subject to punishment.
     
  • Art. 4: The protection of journalistic sources shall be strictly upheld. Searches of newsrooms and other premises of journalists and the surveillance or interception of journalists' communications with the aim of identifying sources of information or infringing on editorial confidentiality are unacceptable.
     
  • Art. 5: All states must ensure that the media enjoys the full protection of an independent judiciary system and the authorities while carrying out their role. This applies in particular to defending journalists and their staff from physical attack and harassment. Violations of these rights and any threats to violate these rights must be carefully investigated and punished by the judiciary.
     
  • Art. 6: The economic livelihood and independence of the media must not be endangered by the state, by state-controlled institutions or other organisations. The threat of economic sanctions is unacceptable. Private enterprise has to respect the independence of the media and refrain from exercising pressure and from trying to blur the lines between advertising and editorial content.
     
  • Art. 7: The state and state-controlled institutions shall not hinder the freedom of access of journalists and the media to information. They are obliged to support them in their mandate to provide information.
     
  • Art. 8: Media and journalists have a right to unimpeded access to all news and information sources, including those from abroad. For their reporting, foreign journalists must be provided with visas, accreditation and other required documents without delay.
     
  • Art. 9: The public of any state shall be granted free access to all national and foreign media and sources of information.
     
  • Art. 10: The state shall not restrict entry into the profession of journalism.

 

28th May   

Offsite: Magic Bullet...

The ends of censorship
Link Here  full story: Magic Bullet...Film festival entry shows the futility of film censorship

Magic Bullet logo One of the events at the Gothenburg Film Festival this year was to be Markus Öhrn's Magic Bullet installation, showing forty-nine hours of all of the film ever censored in Sweden

After viewing Magic Bullet one really has to wonder what possible difference it could have made if none of the cuts to films which it gathers together had ever been made. It is a small step then to wonder also, whether the likes of the SBB, and in the United Kingdom the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), should just close their doors.

Well, it could be argued that they have, indeed that they did some time ago, as what they do now is not "censorship" at all: what they are now are the classification services they publicly claim to be. The BBFC, for instance, claims it seeks to maintain a balance between the liberal principles of its own classification guidelines and the rigid inflexibilities of certain aspects of the law in Britain. Most cuts made by the BBFC are agreed in consultation with film directors in relation to their own commercial concerns surrounding the likely impact of the classification licence awarded on box office returns.

A key activity of the BBFC is to undertake what is, in effect, "market research", aimed at ascertaining what the film consumer is likely to find objectionable, unacceptable, unsuitable for children, and so on, in relation to range of themes and subjects. To the extent to which it engages in this kind of activity, one could say the BBFC is part of the bigger cultural machinery whose purpose is to match up the consumer with the cultural product. It helps to mediate between distributors and, for the most part, anxious-parent consumers; the former generally wanting to meet their target audiences' expectations and the latter wanting to know in advance what they are likely to get in terms of raw imagery.

...Read full article

 

21st May   

Concessions to Prudes...

Lars von Trier to produce censored version of his Antichrist movie
Link Here

Antichrist logo Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier has agreed to a toned-down cut of his new film Antichrist , which features graphic scenes of sexual mutilation, to satisfy foreign censors, according to his production company.

We reached an agreement with Lars more than a year ago to make a 'Catholic' version of the movie, to cut some scenes and replace them with others, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, the head of the Zentropa production group, told AFP.

Otherwise it would be impossible to sell (it) to prude markets like southern Europe, Asia and the United States, where you can't show a naked man from the front, he said.

The film's close-ups of sex and mutilation were said to have left audiences gasping, squirming and jeering when it was screened on Monday at the Cannes Film Festival.

Jensen said he does not know yet which scenes will be censored and will talk to distributors in these countries to seek out their opinions on the subject.

The uncut version of the film, which opens in Denmark on Wednesday, is one of 20 competing for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. It has been hailed by Danish critics, though viewers in Cannes on Monday gave it both cheers and boos.

It opens with a slow-motion close-up of sexual penetration, veers into a dramatic escalation of violence, and climaxes with an excruciating shot of genital mutilation

 

21st May   

Update: Freedom of Speech is being Sacrificed...

Geert Wilders fails to get the case against him quashed
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Geert Wilders will definitely be prosecuted charged with inciting hatred against Muslims and Islam, news agency ANP writes.

A request by Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moscowicz to have the decision to prosecute quashed has been rejected by the Dutch supreme court.

Amsterdam appeal court said in January Wilders should stand trial for hate speech and discrimination. The public prosecution department had said earlier there were not sufficient grounds to prosecute the MP.

Wilders said he expected a political trial . I am being prosecuted for something millions of Dutch people are thinking... Freedom of speech is being sacrificed on the altar of islam. But I am ready to fight back with my head held high’.

 

20th May   

Update: A Bemused Ahern...

Irish blasphemy law under fire from the OSCE
Link Here

osce  logo Irish Minister for Injustice Dermot Ahern has said he is bemused by recent criticism of his ludicrous proposal to include an offence of blasphemy in new defamation legislation due to be debated before an Oireachtas committee.

Ahern was responding after the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the Government’s plan to introduce the blasphemy law would be in violation of international agreements on media freedom. OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Miklos Haraszti, said new court cases that might emerge as a result of criminalising blasphemy would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

Ahern insists he is obliged to take account of the offence of blasphemy, which is provided for in the 1937 Constitution. A spokesman for Ahern said he had two options, either to amend the Constitution, or amend the law.

The Minister will propose an amendment to the 2006 Defamation Bill at the Committee stage in the Oireachtas tomorrow.

Under the Minister’s amendment, the offence of blasphemy can only be prosecuted following a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The offence will also no longer be punishable by a jail term.

That amendment will state that it shall be a defence where a prosecution is taken under the section on blasphemy for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find general literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in the material to which the alleged offence relates.

Haraszti welcomed the Government’s plan to decriminalise defamation, but said the proposal to create the offence of ‘blasphemous libel’ risked jeopardising OSCE media freedom commitments. It would therefore be unfortunate to introduce at the same time a new crime of 'blasphemous libel'.

Haraszti has written to Ahern and to the Oireachtas committee debating the Bill, urging that it be passed without the blasphemy provision.

 

16th May   

Offsite: Censorship by Stealth...

Berlusconi stamps down on those who criticise him
Link Here  full story: Media Control in Italy...Silvio Berlusconi's media empire under fire

Daniele Luttazzi CD Daniele Luttazzi has a stronger claim than most as posterboy for Silvio Berlusconi's censorship by stealth. As a television presenter and comic actor who dared to criticise the Italian Prime Minister on his late-night show eight years ago he has been sued and cast out in to the broadcasting cold.

In his first interview with a British newspaper Mr Luttazzi has accused the 72-year-old billionaire of orchestrating a top-down campaign to prevent journalists and comedians from voicing even the slightest degree of dissent on television. I call it Fascism Lite, Luttazzi told The Times.

The comedian was sued for €20 million (£18 million) - one action by Berlusconi, and three by his business empire - after being accused of defamation during an television interview in 2001. After waiting four years for the case to crawl through the courts Luttazzi won. Berlusconi was ordered to pay his costs.

He says that he still remains practically unemployable in a country where the majority of the mainstream media is owned by the powerful subject of his gibes. I won, said Luttazzi: But the damage was done.

...Read the full article

 

15th May   

Update: Paintball Reprieve...

Germany drops idea to ban paintball and laser shooting games
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Paintball Germany’s government wants to rush a new gun control law through parliament, but has apparently ditched unpopular plans to ban paintball.

Deputy head of the Christian Democrats’ parliamentary group Wolfgang Bosbach told daily Bild that the rushed law would be made possible by tying it to legislation on explosives already under deliberation.

The law has been motivated by a school shooting in March that left 16 people dead when a 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer attacked his former school with his father's gun in the southwestern German town of Winnenden. The gun was not secured and the massacre has stirred up debate about whether the country needs stronger gun laws or a ban on violent video games.

Criticism from relatives of Winnenden victims has intensified. Head of the action group Amoklouf Winnenden, Hardy Schober, told daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the new law would be simply cosmetic . His group wants a general ban on high-calibre weapons and handguns in private households. Gun owners would also have to store their weapons in gun clubs.

Initial reports on the new gun law said that the ruling coalition had agreed to ban simulated killing games such as paintball, where players use air rifles to shoot ammunition filled with paint at opponents, and laser tag, a game where players attempt to score points by shooting each other with an infrared-emitting gun.

But Dieter Wiefelsptz, an expert on domestic affairs for the Social Democrats, on Wednesday said lawmakers had abandoned the idea of making paintball illegal.

The government, however, plans to conduct an enquiry to assess whether paintball regulations should be tightened by increasing age limits and other measures, Wiefelsptz said. The sport is banned for those younger than 18, and is generally not played in military fatigues like in other countries. A report commissioned by the government in 2000 concluded it did not make people more likely to engage in violence.

 

15th May   

Boo Hiss...

Spain censors jeers from national anthem
Link Here

Spanish flag Spain's national TV broadcaster sacked its sports director yesterday after the station censored jeering and whistling during the national anthem at the Copa del Rey football final between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona a day earlier.

Many spectators at Valencia's Mestalla stadium drowned the anthem with jeers and whistles, and the state channel cut to live reporters in Bilbao and Barcelona. It replayed the anthem at half time, with the jeering edited out.

The clubs are in two of Spain's more autonomous provinces. King Juan Carlos' arrival at the Mestalla was also greeted with jeers.

In a statement, TVE said sports director Julien Reyes had been dismissed and an investigation has been opened to determine if others are responsible for the decision, which it blamed on human error. I consider it an extremely serious mistake to not let citizens follow events live, TVE director Javier Pons told a news conference.

 

13th May   

Luxembourg Needs More Laws...

Internet legislation for games and communications
Link Here

Luxemburg flag New legislation was introduced through the Luxembourg's parliament meant to protect minors by punishing online sexual predators and violent video game makers.

Luxembourg's Minister for Justice, Luc Frieden, said too many people abuse the Internet, and the online community cannot be one without laws.

The legislation will make it illegal for an adult to make proposals of a sexual nature to minors younger than 16 via new technology. This includes inappropriate texts written while chatting online. Perpetrators can face the same consequences as those who visit child pornography sites –imprisonment and heavy fines. Minors will also be protected against violence online, according to the legislation.

It's very bad that people make money by selling games where you can decapitate people to minors, Frieden said. Those who provide games and movies that are too violent to young people will be condemned. Judges will determine the degree of violence.

 

11th May   

PC Online Gaming...

Council of Europe considers online gaming
Link Here

Council of Europe flag The Council of Europe has issued a position paper, Human Rights Guidelines for Online Game Providers . The CE's recommendations include taking into account the potential impact of gratuitous violence and sexual content in games targeting minors.

In addition the CoE warns against content which advocates criminal behavior and urges providers away from conveying themes like aggressive nationalism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, racism and intolerance.

The CoE documents alludes to the risk of online game addiction as well as the potential for children to encounter negative types such as bullies and stalkers. Threats to privacy are addressed as well. The CE also encourages online game companies to follow rating guidelines and to develop parental control tools for their products.

The CoE's has a surprisingly forward-thinking position on user-created content. The organization encourages providers to be thoughtful in deciding whether or not to delete such content: Before removing gamer-generated content from a game, you should take care to verify the illegality or harmfulness of the content... Acting without first checking and verifying may be considered as an interference with legal content and with the rights and freedoms of those gamers creating and communicating such content, in particular the right to freedom of expression and information.

The CoE also frets that content created by immature users today might come back to bite them in the future, and urges that providers create a system to prevent this: Consider developing mechanisms for the automatic removal of gamer-generated content after a certain time of inactivity, in particular for games targeting children and young people. Creating a lasting or permanently accessible online record of the content created by gamers could challenge their dignity, security and privacy or otherwise render them vulnerable now or at a later stage in their lives.

 

9th May   

Update: 50,000 Against...

Petitioning against internet blocking in Germany
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag A petition against legislation designed to block harmful websites, such as those dedicated to child pornography, has collected more than 50,000 signatures after being posted online four days ago.

That number is the minimum required by German law for parliament to open hearings on the issue.

The petition started by Berlin resident Franziska Heine, is in response to a telemedia bill which was approved by the German cabinet last month, but still requires parliamentary approval.

The proposed legislation would require the vast majority of the country's internet service providers to block child pornography sites, as identified by the German Federal Criminal Office (BKA).

Heine claims the bill threatens the fundamental right to freedom of the internet. They see the BKA list as a tool for censorship.

The petition was placed on the German parliament's website and organisers are hoping to reach 100,000 signatures by June 16.

 

7th May   

Offsite: Religion is Often Worthy of Insult...

Sinister blasphemy law would play into the hands of religious nut cases
Link Here

Ireland If Jesus were in Ireland today, under the new law, wouldn’t he be one of its first victims, held in Portlaoise, perhaps, while lawyers debated whether he should be deported to Israel, or the Palestinian Authority, or tried here? Muslims might find their mosques under close inspection, too

WE can only speculate as to why Justice Minister Dermot Ahern is proposing to introduce a new crime of blasphemous libel punishable by fines up to €100,000. Is it to salve his conscience for having to implement other policies which offend his personal sense of what is right and wrong? Is it a government ploy to distract attention from more pressing matters? Who knows?

...Read full article

 

6th May   

Religiously Correct Elections...

France looking to ban election candidates over anti-semitic views
Link Here

Dieudonne poster French authorities are trying to ban a comedian from fielding candidates in European polls because they believe he holds anti-Semitic opinions.

Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala is going on trial later on Tuesday on charges of inciting hatred against Jews. The 42-year-old stand-up comic plans to present candidates in at least five of France's regions in June's polls.

Already fined two years ago for accusing Jewish people of what he called memorial pornography , the half-Cameroonian comedian is now facing trial on charges of inciting hatred against Jews.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief-of-staff said on a Jewish radio station that it was odious that someone with such openly anti-Semitic views should be allowed to present himself for elections.

Dieudonne reacted to the criticism by calling the president's aide a good little soldier of the Zionist lobby.

Most of France's main political parties oppose Dieudonne's electoral initiative but some politicians have warned against public debate in case it generates publicity for his views.

 

5th May   

Update: Don't Wanna Putin...

Georgia organises its own song contest to sing against Putin
Link Here  full story: Georgia Don't Wanna Putin...Georgia song rejected from Eurovision song contest

Eurovision Song Contest logo Banned from the Eurovision Song Contest for an anthem that mocked Russia’s Prime Minister, the Georgians have hit back by organising a song festival of their own.

The organisers of Alter/Vision have invited pop groups from all over Europe to participate in their rival event, which will take place at the same time as the Eurovision final in Moscow on May 16. It is an impertinent response to the ruling that the original Eurovision entry, a disco song performed by Stephane and 3G entitled We Don’t Wanna Put In — a play on the name of Vladimir Putin — was too political.

Georgian Public Television, which held the national contest, was asked to revise the lyrics or submit an alternative. Instead, it withdrew from Eurovision, complaining that organisers had bowed to unacceptable pressure from Russia.

The Georgian Ministry of Culture is backing the alternative festival, to be held in the capital, Tbilisi, from May 15-17. Organisers said that it would feature 20 acts from nine countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Russia, but that there would be no voting to choose a winner.

It’s our moral support to the people who were supposed to sing at Eurovision but won’t be there, a spokesman, Irakli Matkava, said: We want to express true European values of freedom and fun. Eurovision is about bureaucratic control and censorship. It’s more about a country’s prestige than music.

 

3rd May   

Offsite: Diverting Voter's Attention...

New Irish libel law is a threat to free speech
Link Here

Times Online logo Suspicion that move to up-date Ireland's Defamation Act is an attempt by a desperate government to divert voters’ attention

The government’s plan to create a crime of blasphemous libel, punishable by a fine of up to €100,000, should be of concern to anyone who values freedom of expression. The stealthy manner in which Dermot Ahern, the minister for justice, inserted the blasphemy clause into the Defamation Bill was itself a cause of concern, with his justification unconvincing.

The new offence of publishing or uttering blasphemous matter is defined as anything grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion . The offender must intend to cause such outrage.

Ahern’s justification is that the Irish constitution states that the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious or indecent material is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law. The Defamation Act of 1961 is outdated, Ahern argues, and he needs to modernise it.

He does not. The justice minister’s protestations that the mention of blasphemy in the constitution “cannot be ignored” ring hollow.

...Read full article

Atheists fight to keep God out of Irish law

See article from guardian.co.uk
See also Atheist Ireland

Atheist Ireland logo Atheist Ireland says the proposed legislation combines the oppressive religious thinking of 1950s Catholic Ireland and Islamic fundamentalism.

Co-founder Michael Nugent said they intended to launch a roadshow in the republic to kick-start their campaign.

This new law will treat religious beliefs as more valuable than secular beliefs and scientific thinking, Nugent said: The bill's first test of blasphemy is that religious adherents express outrage. Instead of encouraging outrage, we should be educating people to respond in a more healthy manner when somebody expresses a belief that they find insulting. More worryingly, this law would encourage the type of orchestrated outrage that Islamic fundamentalists directed against Danish cartoonists.

Under the proposed law, Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly, a spoof Irish republican extremist who sings in a Celtic shirt, could be prosecuted for his song The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, Nugent said.

...Read full article

 

2nd May   

Offsite: Dangerous and Silly Minister for Injustice...

Crime of blasphemy dangerous and silly
Link Here

Oireachtas logo Other than that it is a ruse to distract the public’s attention from the Government’s handling of the economic crisis, it is difficult to arrive at any insight into why the Minister for Justice has proposed the introduction of a new crime of blasphemous libel.

Perhaps some lobby group has been beavering away, tormenting the Minister and his department. If so, one could readily imagine such a group: wearing its religiosity like a shield against the world, beleaguered in its piety and defensive about its beliefs. But if we succumb to the anxieties of these who wear their religiosity as a suit of armour against reality, we succumb also to the taunts of the ignoramuses who tell us that religion is (at once!) a dangerous and a dying phenomenon.

...Read full article

 

30th April   

Offsite: Ireland Goes Sharia...

For God's sake, why have blasphemous libel?
Link Here

Oireachtas logo The proposal to make blasphemous libel an offence would likely criminalise many writers and publishers.

What about other religious groupings and faiths? The proposed amendment makes the degree of outrage among adherents of any religion, in response to things said or written about them, a defining factor in determining whether an offence has been committed. We have seen elsewhere in Europe large-scale expressions of outrage by members of the Muslim community in response to films, books and cartoons. Books such as Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and films and cartoons, such as those published by a Danish newspaper and which offended some Muslims, would almost certainly be criminalised in Ireland by the present proposal.

...Read full article

 

29th April   

Update: Pandering to Nonsense...

Irish Minister of Injustice proposes Saudi pleasing blasphemy law
Link Here

Oireachtas logo A new crime of blasphemous libel is to be proposed by the Irish Minister for Injustice in an amendment to the Defamation Bill, which will be discussed by the Oireachtas committee on injustice today.

At the moment there is no crime of blasphemy on the statute books, though it is prohibited by the Constitution. Article 40 of the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech, qualifies it by stating: The State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent material is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

Last year the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, under the chairmanship of Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ardagh, recommended amending this Article to remove all references to sedition and blasphemy, and redrafting the Article along the lines of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with freedom of expression. It also stated that a special protection for Christianity was incompatible with the religious equality provisions of Article 44.

Minister for Injustice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.

Blasphemous matter is defined as matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

Labour spokesman on justice Pat Rabbitte is proposing an amendment to this section which would reduce the maximum fine to €1,000 and exclude from the definition of blasphemy any matter that had any literary, artistic, social or academic merit.

 

24th April   

Self Censorship?...

Authoritarian Poland looks to ban images of authoritarian regimes
Link Here

Chez Guevara poster Poland's equality minister, Elzbieta Radziszewska, wants to expand a Polish law prohibiting the production of fascist and totalitarian propaganda so that it includes clothing and anything else that could carry an image related to an authoritarian system.

Anybody found guilty could face a two-year prison sentence.

Radziszewska said that the proposed amendment to current legislation would help organisations fighting racism.

The proposal, which could see the faces of some of the leading lights of communist history such as Lenin and Trotsky removed from t-shirts and flags, reflects a Polish view on communism far different from the rose-tinted and romantic images often found in the West.

After experiencing 40 hard years of communism, as well as the horrors of Nazi occupation, few Poles have qualms equating under law the inequities of Nazism and communism.

Communism was a terrible, murderous system that claimed millions of lives, said Professor Wojciech Roszkowski, a leading Polish historian and member of the European parliament: It was very similar to National Socialism, and there is no reason to treat those two systems, and their symbols, differently. Their glorification should be prohibited. He added communism had accounted for the slaughter of thousands of Poles in the Katyn Massacre while its gulags had consumed countless millions of victims.

The proposed changes, which have already reached the committee stage in the Polish parliament, also testify to Polish determination to ensure that with the passing of time nobody starts to view the country's communist past with nostalgia.

 

18th April   

Update: 75% Filter...

Five major German ISPs agree to implement internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag Five of Germany's eight major Internet service providers — Deutsche Telekom's T-Online, Vodafone's Arcor, Kabel Deutschland, Telefonica's O2 and Alice's Hansenet — signed a legally binding agreement with the government and the Federal Crime Office, agreeing to install software to block consumer access to child pornography sites. The five companies together cover around 75% of the German market.

Software blocks installed by the ISPs will redirect consumers attempting to click on blacklisted websites to a red stop sign. The Federal Crime Office has compiled a blacklist of 1,000 sites, which is updated daily.

Under the agreement, the ISPs have six months to install the page blockers.

The German cabinet is expected to announce changes to the telecommunications law by summer that would force the remaining Internet providers to block child porn sites.

 

17th April   

Update: Fitna 2...

Geert Wilders plans follow up to Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The Dutch MP Geert Wilders is planning a follow-up of his provocative anti-Koran film, Fitna . The outspoken leader of the opposition Freedom Party, who has labelled the Koran fascist , says the new film will deal with the growing Islamisation of Western countries.

Wilders told the newspaper De Telegraaf that the film would tackle freedom of speech and Sharia: And I will offer solutions.

The National Counter-Terrorism Coordination Services said that they had taken note of the new announcement and would monitor the security situation.

 

16th April   

Poor Show...

Italian broadcaster sacks cartoonist over reference to earthquake coffins
Link Here

Italy flag One of Italy's most popular cartoonists has been fired by state television company RAI for an anti-government drawing deemed offensive to victims of last week's earthquake.

Vauro Senese's dismissal sparked an angry reaction from the center-left opposition which branded it censorship.

The cartoon appeared on current affairs program Annozero. As well as firing Senese, RAI Director General Mauro Masi ordered the program's anchorman Michele Santoro to re-balance his coverage in this Thursday's program.

The cartoon, aimed at government plans to ease restrictions on home extensions to boost the economy, featured an exhausted grave digger standing over a line of coffins under the caption Increasing the cubic meters ...of the cemeteries.

Masi said it was gravely damaging to feelings of pity for the dead.

 

16th April   

Update: Freedom Leaks Away...

Germany censors wikileaks.de
Link Here

Wikileaks On April 9th 2009, the internet domain registration for the investigative journalism site Wikileaks.de was suspended without notice by Germany's registration authority DENIC.

The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government.

On March 25 the German cabinet finalized its own proposal to introduce a nation-wide internet censorship system. Australia and Germany are the only Western democracies publicly considering such a mandatory censorship scheme.

While last week German police claimed to the news magazine Der Spiegel that they had been ignorant about WikiLeaks' role as an international press organization, this "excuse" is surely no longer valid. Despite being questioned by the press, German authorities have still not contacted WikiLeaks or its publishers to resolve the issue, or indeed, at all. The lack of contact is inexcusable. German authorities have attempted to silence an entire press outlet over their objection to a handful of documents or articles.

WikiLeaks continues publishing on its other (non-German) domains. If the German cabinet's censorship proposal passes the Bundestag, presumably those WikiLeaks domains would be added to Germany's secret blacklist.

Germany and China are now the only two countries currently censoring a WikiLeaks domain.

Update: Leaked details of hosting dispute

16th April 2009. See article from theregister.co.uk by John Ozimek

Rumours of state censorship in Germany may turn out to have been just a little exaggerated. The take down of wikileaks.de may have a more mundane explanation than state censorship.

...Read the full article

Update: Wikileaks Back

26th April 2009. See article from wikileaks.org

On 17th of April, WikiLeaks.de was returned into an operational status and the project is available again via its German domain.

 

15th April   

Update: Draft Filtering Law...

Germany politicians continue to debate internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag Several German ministries seem to be in a footrace to draft legal text for a filtering regime blocking child pornography from German users’ personal computers agreed by the government last week.

Initiated by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) the government has debated for months how to step up blocking of child pornography from servers outside of the country. Now the Justice Minister has announced a draft special law. The Economics Minister pointed to the already ongoing review of the German Telemedia Law, a law covering rights and obligations of telecommunication media content providers. The obligation to block access to child pornography sites listed by a government agency would fit in there.

The German government pointed to an announcement by the European Commission from earlier last week that systems to block access to websites containing child pornography will be developed and to existing systems in Denmark, Finland, Italy and Norway.

BMFSFJ Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Party), in a debate in the German Parliament last week reiterated: The rights of children carry more weight than unhindered mass communication. Von der Leyen for months has pushed fervently for a quick private agreement with big internet service providers (ISPs) including Deutsche Telekom, Arcor or 1und1 Internet.

Yet Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries and members of Parliament from her own party and the Green Party warned against a contractual solution. The filtering regime must be dealt with in a regular law because it could touch on fundamental rights of citizens and requires policies for liability for possible errors. In addition, Germany’s federal police - designated as contract partner for the ISP and manager for the list of child pornography sites according to existing law - has no competence in dealing with other than terrorism when it comes to preventive action.

Zypries welcomed that some ISPs had agreed with von der Leyen to work right away on the technical implementation that is necessary in the servers of the companies. When a special law is ready, expected by summer, technical implementation will be in place, too, she said.

Zypries also underlined that blocking of internet addresses alone might not be enough. We should go deeper than that, she said. Criminal prosecution also is a must, she said. If and how information collected through the filtering regime should trigger prosecution has not been discussed so far. A page with a stop-sign to which users trying to access child pornography sites will be redirected can only inform users why this special site is not available. Yet it also is possible to log users’ IP addresses during this process allowing authorities to identify and prosecute them.

 

12th April   

Update: Freedom Leaks Away...

Germany censors wikileaks.de
Link Here

Wikileaks On April 9th 2009, the internet domain registration for the investigative journalism site Wikileaks.de was suspended without notice by Germany's registration authority DENIC.

The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government.

On March 25 the German cabinet finalized its own proposal to introduce a nation-wide internet censorship system. Australia and Germany are the only Western democracies publicly considering such a mandatory censorship scheme.

While last week German police claimed to the news magazine Der Spiegel that they had been ignorant about WikiLeaks' role as an international press organization, this "excuse" is surely no longer valid. Despite being questioned by the press, German authorities have still not contacted WikiLeaks or its publishers to resolve the issue, or indeed, at all. The lack of contact is inexcusable. German authorities have attempted to silence an entire press outlet over their objection to a handful of documents or articles.

WikiLeaks continues publishing on its other (non-German) domains. If the German cabinet's censorship proposal passes the Bundestag, presumably those WikiLeaks domains would be added to Germany's secret blacklist.

Germany and China are now the only two countries currently censoring a WikiLeaks domain.

 

10th April   

Mer-gay...

Gay interpretation of Dvorak opera winds up a few Greeks
Link Here

Rusulka DVD Dvorák’s opera Mermaid was played in Athens in the beginning of March. It stirred up people’s feelings and provoked an unexpected scandal. It happened over a kiss between two men and because of the half naked mermaids at the end of the show, which the director, Marion Wasserman added for the good development of the act.

Mostly it was the kiss, which made the orchestra musicians in the National Opera House to make a list against Wasserman, because she not only changed the libretto but she gave the main character a homosexual orientation, because of which we have officially filed a complaint to the police.

The young French woman Marion Wasserman found herself in the eye of the storm and had to defend her decision for the brave creative decision.

Meanwhile, the Greek gay association found a convenient occasion to storm out in the opera hall, where Mermaid was played. Its members entertained one part of the audience but irritated the rest, who jumped from their seats, in order to try and defend their right to see the performance without being disturbed by calls for sexual tolerance.

Marion Wasserman left the country bewildered. Her version of Mermaid will be played in France this upcoming season, where she hopes her interpretation will be understood and will not provoke similar reactions as the ones in Greece.

 

9th April   

Offsite: Registered as Easily Offended...

Is porn an offensive word? Ireland's domain registry thinks so
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IEDR logo I've been trying to register the domains porn.ie and pornography.ie for about four years. Every time I try to register either domain, the Irish Domain Registry (IEDR) refuse my application because the proposed domain name must not be offensive or contrary to public policy or generally accepted principles of morality.

...Read full article

 

8th April   

Vase de Noces...

Dangerous pictures of pigs in a new Swedish DVD
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Vase de Noces DVD The censorship icon, Vase de Noces, is a 1974 Belgian art house film by Thierry Zeno.

To give you a clue it is also known as:

  • One Man and His Pig
  • The Pig Fucking Movie
  • Wedding Trough
  • Svinet

The black and white film without dialogue which was very controversial in its day. It was programmed for the London Film Festival until Customs seized it. It did get a showing at the NFT in 1976 though. It's never got as far as the BBFC.

It's about a man who lives alone on a farm with his pigs. He falls in love with the sow, has sex with her (simulated). She then gives birth to human/porcine hybrids.

The DVD is now set to be released on 27th May 2009 by the Swedish distributor Njuta Films.

As to whether the simulated sex scenes with a pig are realistic enough to get Brits 2 years in prison for dangerous pictures, then a bit of further research may be in order.

 

6th April   

Would you Adam 'n' Eve It...

German toy company gets wound up by biblical adaptation of its toys
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Adam & Eve A German pastor has incurred the wrath of a German toy company, Playmobil, by using one of its Klicky figurines to create an Eve with boobs, and by nailing another to a miniature cross.

Playmobil has ordered Rev Markus Bomhard an evangelical preacher from Eschborn, Hesse, to remove pictures of the figurines, created for children, from his website , as they are said to be in breach of copyright.

According to this report, company spokesperson Gisela Kupiak said the pastor was violating the company’s commercial rights for his own benefit: We are quite tolerant if this is done in the privacy of the home but if someone crucifies a Playmobil figure, or, as in the case of Eve, glues on breasts, then this is a completely different dimension.

Bomhard said that the figurines are not Playmobil originals. Not all in the Bible Klicky figures and scenes are available to purchase. It is a deliberate and creative adaptation.

 

4th April   

Updated: Minister Hallucinates...

Bavarian minister likens violent video games to illegal drugs
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Far Cry 2 game In the latest political attack on computer games, Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann, a frequent critic of violent games, upped the ante by likening such games to illegal drugs and child pornography.

Herrmann made the charge in a [translated] press release:

...such games are one of the causes for youth violence and also for school shootings, where images from killer games become reality.

...more and more children are getting mired in this virtual world of violence. They have no time left for school or job training, and are lost to our society.

...In regards to their harmful effects, [violent video games] are on the same level as child pornography and illegal drugs, the ban on which rightly is unquestioned

However, a second German official, Commissioner for the New Media Thomas Jarzombek, criticized Herrmann's remarks: The comparison is completely inappropriate... anyone making such statements is unqualified to participate in any further debate [regarding the] protection of minors from harmful media.

 

1st April   

Rapt Attention...

French rapper comes to the attention of politicians
Link Here  full story: Rapper Orelsan...French rapper winds up the politicians

Orelsan CD A French rapper who threatens to break his adulterous girlfriend's limbs in one of his recordings has apologised following an outcry from politicians and rights groups.

Orelsan often hailed as France's answer to Eminem, said he was sorry that the lyrics of the track, Sale Pute (Slut), may have offended some people but that he never considered himself an aggressor of women.

Christine Albanel, the culture minister, last week described the lyrics as a sordid apology for brutality against women. She said: Liberty of expression stops where inciting violence starts.

The Socialist opposition and Communists also condemned the song.

The online music video shows Orelsan holding an empty bottle of whisky as he raps: You're just a slut, slut, slut ... If I break you're arm, consider that we parted on good terms.   I hate you, I want you to die a slow death. I want you to become pregnant and lose the baby. We'll see how you manage when your legs are broken, sweetie. I want to see you go back burning in flames.

The record label said Orelsan had dropped the song from his repertoire several months ago, that it appeared on none of his albums, and was never meant to incite violence against women.

Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive), a group which defends women's rights particularly in the suburbs with a high concentration of immigrant communities, has called on Le Printemps de Bourges, one of France's biggest music festivals, to take Orelsan off the perfomer's list next month.