Google has begun removing search links to content in Europe under the right to be forgotten ruling, which obliges it exclude web pages with supposedly outdated or irrelevant information about individuals from web searches.
Searches made on Google's services in Europe using peoples' names includes a section at the bottom with the phrase Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe , and a link to a page explaining the ruling by the European
court of justice (ECJ) in May 2014.
However searches made on Google.com, the US-based service, do not include the same warning, because the ECJ ruling only applies within Europe.
Google would not say how many peoples' search histories have been censored, nor how many web pages have been affected.
28th June 2014. From Alan
Not mentioned in the Guardian report is the difficulty for UK surfers of finding uncensored searches on the American site. If I'm in Italy, I can either search in Italian at google.it or, if I want to search in English and enter google.com, I get the
American site. But in this country, typing the URL for google.com redirects to google.co.uk. Looks like we Brits are particular disadvantaged by the absurd decision of twattish Euro-judges.
Irish state broadcaster RTE has censure for politically incorrect remarks by fashion designer Paul Costelloe. The radio and TV censors of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) claimed that the comments were offensive to women.
Costelloe caused 'outrage' during an interview on RTE Radio One's The Business show in February when he spoke of young Irishmen in London damaging English virgins. The designer, who lives in London, was speaking about the Irish in Britain.
Certainly the Irish are never short of chatting up and, you know, we have that skill and I'm sure these young guys are doing great and damaging a lot of young English virgins, so there you are, and good luck to them.
The BAI upheld a single complaint, saying:
The manner in which sexual relationships were described by the guest would cause undue offence.
When Irish comic David McSavage made a sketch depicting nuns lusting over the muscular body of Jesus dragging a cross, he might have expected some controversy.
And true enough, state broadcaster RTE declined to air the scene, ruling that it could cause undue offence .
However McSavage has now branded the decision dictatorial and said the censorship was typical of an attitude that led to the best and the brightest leaving the country in their droves .
The Wild Nuns sketch is a parody of the Diet Coke advert, which first aired 20 years ago, when female office workers eyed up a half-naked window cleaner. In McSavage's version, made for the Savage Eye series, it is nuns in an orchard swooning over Jesus:
Since the ban, McSavage released the sketch online himself to show what we're up against. He told the Irish Times: These things are important. Ultimately you are talking about freedom of speech and who says where the line is.
Up to 14 cartoonists, a third of the total, resigned from Spanish satirical magazine El Jueves after publisher RBA pulled 60,000 copies of a front page design showing King Juan Carlos crowning Prince Felipe king of Spain with a crown filled with
Albert Monteys, the former editor of the magazine and one of the senior cartoonists who has resigned, confirmed to The Spain Report that the Crown of Steaming Shit front page had been agreed upon by all at an urgent editorial meeting on Monday
morning, following the king's abdication, and was in fact printed:
I had a copy of it in my hands. This is censorship by RBA. We don't know exactly who pressured them.
When the king announced his abdication on Monday morning, an urgent editorial meeting was called in which the new cover was agreed upon by all present. The cover was drawn by Manel Fontdevilla and sent to the press, along with four additional inside
pages on the abdication, by the 6 p.m. deadline.
The print run was stopped at some point on Tuesday on the orders of publisher RBA, and on Wednesday the cartoonists were told in a meeting by the head of publishing that any satirical cartoons of the royal family were not going to be published on the
front page of the magazine.
The cartoonists who have resigned were set to meet later to discuss options for a new magazine.
Atxe (@AtxeSinH), one of the cartoonists of the Spanish edition of the Huffington Post, has announced that she will leave the newspaper because it has decided not to publish some cartoons criticizing the monarchy. For this reason I abdicate
, said the artist.
Media companies in Hungary are alarmed by a proposal to impose a tax on advertising revenues, arguing that it threatens press freedom. It would tax annual ad revenues in several bands, rising to a maximum rate of 40% on revenues.
Two of the country's largest TV channels, RTL and TV2, were set to go off air in protest at the draft bill drawn up by a member of the governing Fidesz party.
Media analyst Agnes Urban said the tax could increase government influence on Hungary's commercial TV market. She believes the government's aim is to improve TV2's position and weaken that of its successful competitor, RTL.
If the proposal becomes law, it is estimated that RTL's tax bill would reach reach nine times its 2013 profits.
Councillors from the town of Pecq, in the suburbs of Paris, have censored a bus stop advert featuring 2 female models building up to a kiss.
The advert, which is for the high-end French jeweler Chaumet, is based on the famous Greek myth of Narcissus and features actress Marine Vacth who is depicted on the verge of a kiss with...herself.
The council claims that it was responding to pressure from locals, the town council then ordered the posters to be taken down from local bus stops. Quoted by French daily Le Parisien, Mayor Laurence Bernard claimed she had received many calls from
parents about the advertising campaign:
They told us that it bothered them that their children were subjected to this image, that it shocked and annoyed them to respond to their children's comments on the subject.
Local gay activists are not impressed by the prudery. The co-president of the LGBT centre in Ile-de-France was quoted by TF1 television as saying:
Taking down these posters is a serious offence against homosexual people, We are not going to eradicate our existence, our daily lives, under the pretext that it would frighten some parents.
Gay rights group SOS Homophobia described the council's actions as:
An unacceptable practice of censorship which shows and reinforces the organization into hierarchy of couples based on their sexual orientation. The concealment of the posters highlights a homophobia that dares not speak its name.
Mayor Bernard backpedalled in response to the criticism, and pinned the censorship on an attempt to patronise local prudes:
I am appalled and sorry for the controversy that this raises. I wanted to make things more calm. I thought that by removing them, I made a step towards these residents and that I could get them to accept the evolution of society without rushing them.
I think that those who asked for it to be taken down didn't even realize that it was an interpretation of the myth of Narcissus, Bernard said.
In March this year, the Belgian parliament passed the Anti-Sexism Act ( Antiseksismewet ), which bans sexist speech from public life, be it in books, magazines or on the internet.
The new law is bound to raise countless problems, and not just in Belgium. For as long as there is someone in Belgium who is exposed to speech they deem sexist , under the terms of the new law it will be possible for that individual to instigate
criminal proceedings. This means that any speech or form of expression that merely reaches Belgium could be subject to prosecution.
Inevitably the text is drafted so vaguely and broadly as to render its application limitless. Sexism is defined as any gesture or action intended to express contempt towards someone because of their sex, or to regard a person as inferior
, or to reduce someone to his or her sexual dimension . Additionally, a violation of someone's dignity is required.
Index on Censorship and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso are joining forces to map the state of media freedom in Europe. With your participation, we are mapping the violations, threats and limitations that European media professionals, bloggers and citizen
journalists face everyday. We are also collecting feedback on what would support journalists in such situations.
Help protect media freedom and democracy by contributing to this crowd-sourcing effort!
A controversial painting that depicts a smiling vagina on a staircase has been allowed to remain at a Swedish high school but will now be censored by a wall.
The artwork by Carolina Falkholt sparked a fierce debate over censorship, after it was announced that the mural would be on display at a junior high school in Nykoping for 13-to 15-year-olds.
Following months of debate over the suitability of the location for the mural, the local council has decided that the picture will be obscured by a wall rather than painting over the mural. Local government representative Eric Carlgren said:
There are many of the opinion that the painting shouldn't be exposed. Now we have solved the problem but the painting is still there.
However, the news has not gone down well with the mural's creator Falkholt who said:
I'm shocked. All the students know what kind of painting is under there.
In January the school's principal, Harke Steenbergen, said he wanted to keep the painting in its original guise and added that he liked its message.
Isabel Carrasco, a prominent politician in Spain's ruling party, was shot dead in broad daylight last week by a woman who reportedly said she held a grudge over her daughter's firing.
Shortly after Carrasco's death, Twitter erupted with insults and derogatory comments against the dead politician. Some of the messages stated that Carrasco should rot in hell. Others referenced party planning in celebration of her death.
These have caused a stir in Spain, and the outpouring of vitriol on Twitter has reignited a debate over free speech on social media, and the limits of the Spanish government's censorship on the web.
The latest outbreak of bad taste tweets follows an earlier example when 21 people were arrested over tweets mocking victims of Basque terrorist group ETA.
The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, is one of Spain's most outspoken advocates for increased regulation and prosecution of people who say offensive things online. In response to the outpouring of hate on Twitter after Carrasco's
death, Diaz called on May 13 for an investigation into whether spreading offensive or derogatory messages on social media could be grounds for criminal prosecution.
Jose Martinez Olmos, who leads Spain's ruling party, agreed that there should be greater government regulation on social media. On his personal blog Olmos said, my outrage at this murder has increased without limit at the waterfall of unworthy
heartless comments, and that such messages should not go unpunished.
People should not be allowed to erase information about them on the internet if it is true, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister was reacting to a European court ruling last week that said people had a right to be forgotten on the internet.
The ruling only compels Google and other search engines to remove the links to information, rather than the information itself. This means users of Facebook, Twitter and other social media can still share personal information about others so long as it
Since the ruling was published, more than 1,000 people have asked Google to remove links to unfavourable stories. They include a former MP seeking re-election, a man convicted of possessing child abuse images and 20 convicted criminals.
Pressed about the ruling, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said on Monday that Cameron felt that potentially a distinction had to be drawn between truth and factually inaccurate information on the internet. He said that Cameron felt
it was acceptable to require that wrong information should be taken down from the internet -- but facts should remain published. The spokesman said:
Whilst taking time to consider a look at the judgment and possible implications his view is that there is potentially a distinction to be drawn between dealing with the issue of inaccurate and information that is wrong, and the collection of factually
inaccurate information as distinct from what some have characterized as seeking to hide factually correct information.
Search engines are data controllers within the meaning of the Data Protection Directive, and responsible for complying with the data protection principles in respect of the processing they do of personal data, says Europe's highest court, the Court of
Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The CJEU upheld the right of a user to suppress search results on his name that pointed to newspaper articles about him. CJEU found that Google, as a search engine, processed personal data, by determining which links would appear in response to a search
on an individual's name, and is the data controller for that processing. This applies even when the data attached to the individual's name exclusively concerns data that has already been published, and regardless of the fact that the processing
was performed without distinction to the data, other than the personal data.
By finding Google to be a data controller in its own right, the CJEU was able to apply the full scope of the Data Protection Directive to Google, and arrive at a decision that users can, in some circumstances, have a right to be forgotten , even
in respect of data that was originally published lawfully.
Finally, in response to the question whether the directive enables the data subject to request that links to web pages be removed from such a list of results on the grounds that he wishes the information appearing on those pages relating to him
personally to be forgotten after a certain time, the Court holds that, if it is found, following a request by the data subject, that the inclusion of those links in the list is, at this point in time, incompatible with the directive, the links and
information in the list of results must be erased.
Index on Censorship writes:
The Court's decision is a retrograde move that misunderstands the role and responsibility of search engines and the wider internet. It should send chills down the spine of everyone in the European Union who believes in the crucial importance of free
expression and freedom of information.
The Danish parliament have had fun with a cartoon intended to appeal to young Danes and get them out to vote.
Featuring a bare-chested hero called Voteman , the advert starts as he is in bed with five women, and follows him as he punches non-voters in the face and interrupts another couple having sex in order to get them to a voting station.
The video was posted on YouTube and the Danish parliament website, but was removed presumably from the parliament site after inevitable 'outrage' over its supposedly lewd content. Parliament chairman Mogens Lykketoft told news site DR Nyheder:
We are trying to inspire the very young. A high turnout is important, so you use every method you can. There was a bit of discussion in parliament, but I do think it is quite innocent. You can find much worse.
However after the 'outrage' he wrote:
Many people whose opinions I deeply respect have perceived the cartoon from the EU information centre as far more serious and offensive than it was intended -- and believe it talks down to young people. I acknowledge that the parliament as an
institution, should be more careful in the future about what we put our name on.
International versions of Wolfenstein: The New Order are banned within Germany due to the use of Nazi imagery in the game, and as a result developer Bethesda is geo-locking versions on Windows PC so they cannot be activated in the country.
Bethesda details this decision to geo-lock the game on its official blog. Geo-locking, which is a method of selecting what countries can access content, was implemented on the basis of legal advice and industry standard practice, writes a Bethesda
representative, adding that the international version also won't be available for sale in Austria.
While Germany offers cultural exemptions on the use of Nazi content in films, current legislation in the country does not extend to video games. Bethesda writes:
A violation may result in confiscation of the Game, a high financial penalty or up to three years in prison. Any person involved and/or responsible for such violation may be prosecuted and sentenced, including officers and employees of companies
The German release of the game censors Nazi symbology but otherwise leaves the gameplay unchanged.
novel Laura was written 25 years ago and was a bestseller at the time, but has languished in obscurity until someone kindly complained to the then non-existent book censors. The complaint hit the headlines and it inspired a re-print of the book.
The Irish Independent has learned that the board, chaired by Cork solicitor Shane McCarthy, met in late April and decided that no action would be taken against the book's publishers, Poolbeg Press.
The censorship board returned a copy of Shatter's book to the complainant, with a letter advising that it did not see any problem with its content and that (the board) decided that no action would be taken against the publisher .
A French judge has dismissed charges that Bob Dylan incited racial hate by making a comparison between Croatians and Nazis in an interview with Rolling Stone. Prosecutors are now said to be pursuing the magazine's French publisher, Michel
Birnbaum, for his decision to print the remarks.
In the interview Dylan compared the relationship between Jews and Nazis to that of Serbs and Croats. He is reported to have said:
Blacks know that some whites didn't want to give up slavery - that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can't pretend they don't know that.
If you got a slave master or [Ku Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.
After the interview was published, the easily offended Council of Croats in France (CRICCF) filed a complaint.
According to the AFP, a judge ruled that Dylan had not given his consent for his Rolling Stone statements to be published in France.
Easier access to porn movies across Europe's borders is one of the European Union's key merits, the leader of the European parliament's biggest conservative group has explained.
Asked by a local French newspaper how he convinced young voters to go to the polls in May's European Parliament elections, Joseph Daul first said that the killer argument when promoting the EU's merits was the creation of porn without borders .
I tell them that at their age, when I was 18, when I wanted to go to Kehl (across the border in Germany) to see porno movies that were banned in France, you had to wait two-and-a-half hours to get through customs.
He also explained about the advantages of having a single European currency:
You'd get to the cinema and the film was already finished. And one out of every couple of times I'd realise I'd forgotten to bring deutschmarks!,