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 Update: Litigation Heaven...

Speculation that Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie has been banned in Ireland over fears about the country's blasphemy law


Link Here 28th September 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law
Scientology Movie DVD Louis Theroux My Scientology Movie is a 2015 UK / USA documentary by John Dower.
Starring Rob Alter, Tom Cruise and Paz de la Huerta. IMDb

Louis Theroux documents his investigation into what goes on behind the scenes of the infamous church of scientology.

Film distributors In Ireland have decided not to screen Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie. And the speculation is that the country's recently enacted blasphemy law could be used to stir up hassle for the distributors.

The law, part of the 2009 Defamation Act states that any 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 euro 25,000 . Blasphemous matter is defined as anything that is insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion , and that intends to cause outrage.

The law also states that blasphemy laws do not apply to an organisation or cult that prioritises making financial profit or manipulates followers and new recruits. Scientology isn't officially recognised as a church in Ireland, but it's unclear whether or not it counts as a religion under the acts definitions.

But even if  Scientology doesn't count as a religion, then they can still employ expensive lawyers to make the claim anyway, and that it would then take equally expensive lawyers to counter such a claim.

 

  Complainants about insults are always right, especially when they are rich...

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has put forward a bill that will allow for rampant, unaccountable censorship of the Italian internet, without rule of law or penalty for abuse.


Link Here 19th September 2016

Italy flagUnder a proposed law supposedly targeting cyber bullying and revenge porn, a website manager of Italian media, including bloggers, newspapers and social networks would be obliged to censor "mockery" based on "the personal and social condition" of the victim -- that is, anything the recipient felt was personally insulting.

The penalty for failing to take action is a fine of ?100,000. Truthfulness is not a defense in suits under this law -- the standard is personal insult, not falsehood.

Let's start with what this won't do: it won't stop bullying, harassment or revenge porn in Italy. The majority of services on which Italians express themselves are not based in Italy, and those with Italian sales-offices, etc, can and will simply move offices rather than face a ?100,000 fine every time someone insults someone else online.

But what it will do is create a tool for easy censorship without due process or penalty for misuse. The standard proposed in the bill is merely that the person on the receiving end of the argument feel aggrieved. Think of the abuse of copyright takedowns: online hosts already receive millions of these , more than they could possibly evaluate, and so we have a robo-takedown regime that lets the rich and powerful routinely remove material that puts them in an unflattering light.

The standard set by the proposed Italian law allows for purely subjective claims to be made, and for enormous penalties to be imposed on those who question them before undertaking sweeping acts of censorship.

Internet-savvy Italian deputy Stefano Quintarelli has proposed an amendment that makes the law marginally saner: under his amendment, failure to act on a censorship notice wouldn't automatically give rise to a fine; rather, it would make the person who ignored the complaint a party to any eventual civil penalty imposed by a court of law.

That is a step in the right direction, but it is really just a plaster over a gaping chasm of bad, reactionary lawmaking. The people who are genuinely aggrieved will continue to struggle for justice; the genuine bad actors (like revenge-porn sites) will continue with impunity out of Italian jurisdiction, and the rich and the powerful will get a force-multiplier for silencing their critics without meaningful penalties for abuse.

The Berlusconi years gave Italy a reputation for political chaos. In the post-Berlusconi era, we'd hoped for better. By seriously considering ideas as bad as this one, the Italian chamber of deputies continues to make Italian politics into a global joke.

 

 Offsite Article: No refuge from mass snooping...


Link Here 18th September 2016
de-cix logo Internet exchange DE-CIX challenges the legality of Germany mandating devices to enable mass internet surveillance

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

  Copyright reform fails EU citizens in favour of industry...

Open Rights Group and TorrentFreak report on more disgraceful legislation from the EU


Link Here 15th September 2016  full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
Open Rights Group has criticised the European Commission's proposals for the Directive on Copyright in the Single Market, published today.

Open Rights Group logo Executive Director Jim Killock said:

Thousands of EU citizens responded to the consultation on copyright, only for the Commission to ignore their concerns in favour of industry. The Commission's proposals would fail to harmonise copyright law and create a fair system for Internet users, creators and rights holders. Instead we could see new regressive rights that compel private companies to police the Internet on behalf of rights holders.

Failure to introduce EU wide freedom of panorama exception

The failure to introduce a harmonised exception for freedom of panorama is both a lost opportunity and a direct snub to the thousands of people who responded to the Commission's consultation on this. It appears that the Commission has simply ignored their opinions and made no mention of freedom of panorama in its proposals. Freedom of panorama is a copyright exception that allows members of the public to share pictures they've taken of public buildings and art. While this right exists in the UK, many European countries do not have this exception, which means that innocuous holiday snaps can infringe copyright.

Compelling intermediaries to filter content

The proposals aim to compel intermediaries, such as YouTube, to prevent works that infringe copyright from appearing on their services through content identification technologies . This is effect would force sites to police their platforms on behalf of rights holders through filters and other technologies that are a blunt instrument.

Such proposals could place unreasonable burdens on smaller operators and reduce innovation among EU tech companies. They will certainly lead to a greater number of incorrect takedowns, as "Robocopy" takedowns cannot take account of fair quotation, parody, or even use of public domain material.

These plans could undermine the UK's hard-won right to parody copyright works. Folk songs and classical performances by amateurs are often misidentified and removed as infringing 'copies' of performances of professional musicians for instance.

New ancillary copyright for news publishers

The proposals suggest a new right for news publishers, designed to prevent search engines and news aggregators from reproducing snippets at the expense of publishers. Although, this is designed to protect the media industry, it had a disastrous impact on news websites when similar proposals were introduced in Spain and Germany. It is also disproportionate that the proposed right would last 20 years, given that it applies to news.

Notes

Open Rights Group is the UK's leading grass roots digital rights organisation, campaigning for the right to privacy and free speech.

ORG's FAQs document on freedom of panorama is available here .

ORG is part of Copyright for Creativity, which campaigns for a new European approach to copyright.

Meanwhile TorrentFreak has been speaking to Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda about the impossibility of the proposals for anyone except for US media giants. TorrentFreak reports:

torrentfreak logo Today, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal to modernize the EU's copyright law. Among other things, it will require online services to install mandatory piracy filters. While the Commission intends to strengthen the position of copyright holders, opponents warn that it will do more harm than good.

Despite earlier suggestions that geo-blocking would be banned for streaming portals such as Netflix, these ideas haven't made it into the final text. Instead, it introduces a wide range of reforms that improve the position of rights holders.

One of the suggestions that has a lot of people worried is Article 13, which requires online services to police pirated content. This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting and filtering mechanisms to block copyright infringing files. The Commission demands:

The Commission proposal obliges such service providers to take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the protection of user-uploaded works, for example by putting in place content recognition technologies.

This could, for example, be similar to the Content-ID system YouTube has in place, which hasn't been without controversy itself. While the Commission stresses that small content platforms won't be subject to the requirement, the proposal doesn't define what small means. It also fails to define what appropriate or effective content recognition systems are, creating a fair bit of uncertainty.

The Commission, however, notes that the changes are needed to reinforce the negotiating position of copyright holders, so they can sign licensing agreements with services that provide access to user uploaded content.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this language is directly aligned with recent calls from various music industry organizations. Just a few month ago the BPI asked for new legislation to prevent platforms like YouTube abusing safe harbor protections in order to create royalty havens . With the current proposal, this wish has been partly granted.

TorrentFreak spoke with Pirate Party Member of Parliament Julia Reda who is fiercely against mandatory piracy filters.

There are countless problems with this approach. First of all, Google spent upwards of $60 million on the development of ContentID. Asking every startup or community project to make the same kind of investment is ludicrous.

Most services that deal with user-uploaded content can't invest millions into content recognition technologies so they would have to license it from others such as YouTube. This will only increase the already dominant positions of the major players.

In addition, she points out that automated systems often lead to overt mistakes and are poorly equipped to deal with the finer nuances of copyright.

Just because part of a copyright-protected work shows up in a video, that doesn't mean that the new work constitutes a copyright infringement.

There are numerous exceptions to copyright such as parody or quotation â?� different in every EU country â?� that could justify the re-use of part of a protected work. An algorithm can't detect that. It will take down lots of legal remixes and mashups, thus stifling freedom of expression.

A valid comment, as we witnessed ourselves just a few days ago when one of our perfectly legal videos was inaccurately flagged as a copyright infringement.

YouTube aside, Reda stresses that there are many other platforms to which automated recognition systems are not well suited. Wikipedia, for example, which uses mostly Creative Commons licensed content, or services such as DeviantArt which hosts user-uploaded artwork, or MuseScore that hosts sheet music.

There is no technology available that would reliably detect copyright infringements in these formats. The Commission is asking Internet companies to do the impossible, thus endangering collaborative communities on the Internet as well as European startups.

And there is already a campaign in place against the EU's nasty proposals. The SaveTheLink campaign via OpenMedia writes:

save the link The EU Commission has officially released some of the worst copyright laws in the world, including unprecedented new Link Tax powers for publishing giants.

Despite opposition from over 100,000 Internet users and dozens of other advocacy groups, the EU Commission has charged ahead with its wrong-headed plan. This will affect Internet users around the world.

This comes on the heels of a major court ruling that undermined our right to use hyperlinks. 4 This means it's more important than ever that EU decision-makers do what they can to stop this dangerous #LinkTax plan. 5

The link tax could make some of your favourite content virtually disappear from search engines. Users all over the world will be impacted.

Join us now at SaveTheLink.org to give decision-makers a clear resounding 'no to the link tax'.

 

  Big business granted control over internet hyperlinks...

European Copyright Ruling Ushers in New Dark Era for Hyperlinks


Link Here 9th September 2016

European Court of JusticeIn a case which threatens to cause turmoil for thousands if not millions of websites, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided today that a website that merely links to material that infringes copyright, can itself be found guilty of copyright infringement, provided only that the operator knew or could reasonably have known that the material was infringing. Worse, they will be presumed to know of this if the links are provided for "the pursuit of financial gain".

The case, GS Media BV v. Sanoma, concerned a Dutch news website, GeenStijl , that linked to leaked pre-publication photos from Playboy magazine, as well as publishing a thumbnail of one of them. The photos were hosted not by GeenStijl itself but at first by an Australian image hosting website, then later by Imageshack, and subsequently still other web hosts, with GeenStijl updating the links as the copyright owner had the photos taken down from one image host after another.

The court's press release [PDF] spins this decision in such a positive light that much reporting on the case, including that by Reuters , gets it wrong, and assumes that only for-profit websites are affected by the decision. To be clear, that's not the case. Even a non-profit website or individual who links to infringing content can be liable for infringing copyright if they knew that the material was infringing, for example after receiving notice of this from the copyright holder. And anyway, the definition of "financial gain" is broad enough to encompass any website, like GeenStijl, that runs ads.

This terrible ruling is hard to fathom given that the court accepted "that hyperlinks contribute to [the Internet's] sound operation as well as to the exchange of opinions and information in that network", and that "it may be difficult, in particular for individuals who wish to post such links, to ascertain whether [a] website to which those links are expected to lead, provides access to works [that] the copyright holders ... have consented to ... posting on the internet". Nevertheless, that's exactly what the judgment effectively requires website operators to do, if they are to avoid the risk of being found to have knowingly linked to infringing content.

There are also many times when knowingly linking to something that is infringing is entirely legitimate. For example, a post calling out a plagiarized news article might link to the original article and to the plagiarized one, so that readers can compare and judge for themselves. According to this judgment, the author of that post could themselves be liable for copyright infringement for linking to the plagiarized article--madness.

This judgment is a gift to copyright holders, who now have a vastly expanded array of targets against which to bring copyright infringement lawsuits. The result will be that websites operating in Europe will be much more reticent to allow external hyperlinks, and may even remove historical material that contains such links, in fear of punishing liability.

 

 Offsite Article: Governing Google...


Link Here 8th September 2016
Private Power Online Information Flows Large Internet corporations are increasingly exerting an influence over the social and political aspects of our lives as well as economically influencing the marketplace. Google is foremost among them. By Angela Daly

See article from opendemocracy.net

 

  Outrageoni Bolloxnese...

Italian earthquake mayor wound up by Charlie Hebdo cartoon likening victims to pasta


Link Here 3rd September 2016
charlie hebdo pastaThe French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo , has wound a few Italians with its latest issue containing a cartoon portraying victims of an earthquake that killed almost 300 people as different types of pasta.

The cartoon was titled Earthquake Italian style . It depicted a balding man standing and covered in blood with the moniker Penne in tomato sauce , a badly scratched up woman next to him labelled Penne au gratin . A pair of feet sticking out between the floors of a collapsed building is entitled Lasagne .

The mayor of Amatrice, a town flattened by last week's quake, is famous for the pasta sauce, amatriciana, that carries its name. The town's mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, said:.

How the fuck do you draw a cartoon bout the dead? I'm sure this unpleasant and embarrassing satire does not reflect French sentiment.

The French embassy in Rome published a statement on its website and Twitter, saying the cartoon:

Absolutely does not represent France's position, and is a caricature by the press (and) the freely expressed opinions are those of the journalists.

 

 Update: Cameron's dubious exemption from net neutrality rules...

Euro internet and telecoms regulator casts doubt on the legality of UK ISP website blocking systems


Link Here 1st September 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
berec logoISPs that block access to websites with adult content or block ads could be breaking EU guidelines on net neutrality even if customers opt in. EU regulations only allow providers to block content for three reasons: to comply with a member state's laws, to manage levels of traffic across a network, or for security.

Blocking websites with adult content has no clear legal framework in UK legislation, and providers have relied on providing the ability to opt in to protect themselves from falling foul of the rules. However, an update to guidelines issued by EU body Berec says that even if a person indicates they want certain content to be blocked, it should be done on their device, rather than at a network level. The updated guidelines say:

With regard to some of the suggestions made by stakeholders about traffic management features that could be requested or controlled by end-users, Berec notes that the regulation does not consider that end-user consent enables ISPs to engage in such practices at the network level.

End-users may independently choose to apply equivalent features, for example via their terminal equipment or more generally on the applications running at the terminal equipment, but Berec considers that management of such features at the network level would not be consistent with the regulation.

Frode Sorensen, co-chair of the Berec expert working group on net neutrality said the updated guidance made it clear that it had found no legal basis for using customer choice to justify blocking any content without national legislation or for reasons of traffic management or security.

David Cameron said in October last year that he had secured an opt-out from the rules enabling British internet providers to introduce porn filters. However, Sorensen said he was not aware of any opt-out, and the net neutrality rules introduced in November, after Cameron made his claim, said they applied to the whole European Economic Area which includes the UK.

 

  Germany's Censorship Face...

Ministers continue to pressurise Facebook into pre-censoring posts


Link Here 30th August 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany flagThomas de Maiziere, Germany's interior minister has said that Facebook should be more proactive in removing racist and violent content from its sites:

Facebook has an immensely important economic position and just like every other large enterprise it has a immensely important social responsibility.

Facebook should take down racist content or calls for violence from its pages on its own initiative even if it hasn't yet received a complaint.

The German government has been critical of Facebook in the past as it is the main medium for people to express their discontent about the government's refugee policies.

De Maiziere said he recognized Facebook's efforts to develop software that can better identify outlawed content and praised its efforts to fight child pornography. He added though:

But it's up to the company to ensure those terms are upheld. A company with a good reputation for innovation will have to earn a good reputation in this area.

Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who now heads the Counter Extremist Project (CEP) in New York, a non-profit group that maintains a database of information about extremist groups, said about Facebook:

Of all the companies, Facebook has done the most, but they're all just starting to recognize that the weaponization of social media platforms is not good business and not good for society.

CEP is completing testing of a new software tool that will identify new images and videos published on social media sites by Islamic State and other extremist groups, and remove them instantly wherever they occur, much as already done with child pornography images.

 

  EU seek to undermine people's protections from hackers, fraudsters and thieves...

European ministers debate restrictions on encryption and extensions to mass snooping capabilities


Link Here 23rd August 2016
EU flagEuropean ministers are debating restrictions on the use of encryption and a further increase in mass snooping. Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister is due to meet his German counterpart, Thomas de Maizere, to discuss possible laws to limit the use of encrypted communications across the EU.

Of course the ministers note that the increase in muslim terrorism as the reason for their actions. But as they don't seem so concerned about this in any other policy areas, presumably they want the mass snooping capabilities for more general reasons.

Governments and law enforcement services view apps that come with end-to-end encryption -- such as Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage -- as a potential barrier in investigations.

Over-the-top mobile services such as WhatsApp are currently outside the scope of the EU's e-privacy directive, which covers how customer data is handled, including in response to law enforcement requests.

 

  Get it right or it's 3 years in prison...

Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp in occupied Poland, not a Polish death camp


Link Here 21st August 2016
Poland flagPoland's government has passed a new law outlawing terms such as Polish death camps as references to Auschwitz and other concentration camps run by Nazi Germany when it occupied the country during World War II.

Anyone convicted under the bill, which still needs to be approved by parliament, could be sent to jail for up to three years.

Lawmakers drafted the legislation in an effort to stop people from referring as the concentration camps as Polish - an error that has been made by foreign media outlets and even US President Barack Obama.

The legislation has been approved by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo's cabinet and is expected to pass easily in parliament, where the nationalistic right-wing Law and Justice party has a majority.

The Justice Ministry says that prison terms of up to three years would be reserved for those who intentionally slander Poland's good name by using terms like Polish death camps or Polish concentration camps. Those who use such language unintentionally would face lesser punishments, including fines.

 

  Art Trumped by Russian Censorship...

Lithuanian mural of Putin snogging trump has been censored with white paint


Link Here 12th August 2016
putin snogging trumpAmural of Vladimir Putin snogging Donald Trump engaged in a passionate embrace was apparently too much for some in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

The internationally famous mural was covered over with white paint. The work of local artist Mindaugas Bonanu went viral on social media after it was unveiled in May, and has since become a popular backdrop for selfies.

The miural covers a wall of the Keulė Rūkė restaurant whose owner Dominykas Ceckauskas said that the censorship was more than simple vandalism but a terrorising attack on freedom of speech in Lithuania . He said on facebook:

The purpose of the attack was to remind us, the people of the free world, that there are still active advocates of authoritarianism in our society.

Ceckauskas has promised to reinstall the artwork which he describes as a world famous symbol of liberty and defiance .

It's not yet clear who was responsible for the attack but it seems unlikely that it is the work of Trump supporters.

 

  The Party's Over...

Console game Criminal Girls 2 has been banned in Germany


Link Here 6th August 2016

Criminal Girls Party Favors PlayStation Computer games censors from USK (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle) have banned Criminal Girls 2: The Party's Over, a 2016 Japan RPG adventure game. The USK is self regulating trade group rather than an official state censor.

siliconera.com also reports that the game wont be distributed in Australia but there is no indication that this is due to the official state censors, Australian Classification Board.

Criminal Girls 2 has previously been in the media spotlight as the content has been censored for western releases when compared with the original Japanese release. NIS America explained the changes made prior to submission to the US Entertainment Software Ratings Board,.

  1. Some artwork, especially during the motivation scenes, were altered over their explicit nature. It seems NIS America worried the ESRB would take issue with women tied up against the their will.
  2. Swapping the term punishment for motivation. In the Japanese version of the game, the motivation scenes are actually punishment.
  3. There won't be any English voice overs. All of the text will be displayed in English, but the voice tracks are staying Japanese.
  4. All dialogue has been removed from the motivation scenes.
  5. The stated ages of some the girls have been changed

The games is et for UK release on 23rd September 2016

 

 Update: Insults and censorship...

Perhaps Erdogan now sees that his nasty attempts to bully those who insult him has achieved nothing beyond alienating the people of Europe


Link Here 3rd August 2016  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress
recep tayyip erdoganTurkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is dropping all lawsuits against those charged with insulting him. Speaking at an event in Ankara Erdogan said he was withdrawing all the lawsuits for insults against his person:

For one time only, I will be forgiving and withdrawing all cases against the many disrespects and insults that have been levelled against me.

I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat. So I feel that all factions of society, politicians first and foremost, will behave accordingly with this new reality, this new sensitive situation before us.

Hundreds of people have been charged with insulting the president, including on social media.

Erdogan also lashed out at the west for failing to show solidarity with Ankara over a failed coup and said countries who worried more about the fate of the perpetrators than Turkey's democracy could not be friends. He commented on a European lack of support against the recent coup:

Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union ... or from the west.

titanic on erdoganSausages

See  article from rt.com

Erdogan's reconciliatory gesture did not receive instant goodwill for the dictatorial president. A German satirical magazine mocked Turkish President's post-coup crackdowns by publishing a cover showing a sausage photoshopped over his groin area. The front page reads:

Erdogan's stressed: Even his penis is staging a putsch.

On its Facebook page, the magazine has advised fans to buy the August issue before the Chancellor Tayyip Merkel bans Titanic.

Cologne Rally

See  article from theguardian.com

Political censorship has also reared its head in the west due to the shear number of Turks living in Europe. Turkey has condemned a German court decision banning president Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing his supporters by video link at a rally of tens of thousands of Cologne.

Tensions have been running high among Germany's three million-strong Turkish population in the wake of last month's failed coup and authorities deployed 2,700 police officers on the streets of the Rhineland city on Sunday to keep the peace. Amid fears that the crowds could be riled by live screenings of speeches from Turkey by politicians including Erdogan, Germany's constitutional court banned an application for such broadcasts.

A statement from the Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the ban was unacceptable .

Tense in the Netherlands

See article from indexoncensorship.org

More than ever before, Turks all over the world have seen their diaspora communities divided between supporters and critics of Erdogan.

At around half a million people, the Netherlands has one of the largest Turkish communities in Europe. In the days after the coup, thousands of Dutch Turks took to the streets in several cities to show their support for the Turkish president. Turks critical of the Erdogan government had told media that they're afraid to express their opinions due to rising tensions.

People suspected of being supporters of the opposition Gulen movement, led by Erdogan's US-based opponent and preacher Fethullah Gulen, which has been accused of being behind the coup attempt, have been threatened and physically assaulted in the streets. The mayor of Rotterdam, a city with a large Turkish community, urged Dutch-Turks to remain calm and ordered increased police protection of Gulen-aligned Turkish institutions.

Offsite Article: President Erdogan's attempts to silence Turkish satirists not working

6th August 2016. See  article from usatoday.com

"The legal assault on cartoonists in Turkey has really been unprecedented over the past few years under Erdogan. One cartoonist, Musa Kart , was sued by Erdogan for a 2004 drawing that portrayed the Turkish president as a kitten and for another cartoon that portrayed him as a bank robber. "[Kart] told me that's there's no serious journalist or cartoonist who doesn't who doesn't have a case against him or her in the country.

...Read the full article from usatoday.com

 

 Update: Poland initiates website blocking...

In a hastily drafted piece of new legislation. By Joanna Kulesza


Link Here 3rd August 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Poland...In the name of dangerous gambling

Poland flagUntil June 23 Poland was a green island on the European black sea of internet filtering. Once, back in 2010, the Polish government considered this popular yet ineffective form of preventing cybercrime. But as a result of eager public debate the then Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, was advised against introducing a list of forbidden websites and services . The usual arguments used by freedom of expression advocates in other countries proved successful in Poland: Tusk decided against the costly operation, having been persuaded that even with internet filtering in place, undesirable content would still be accessible. The infrastructure and manpower costs would surmount the limited benefits of the few lay internet users actually believing the misleading 404 error message or complying with the automated ban.

Yet only six years later that debate and all relevant arguments seem to have been forgotten. As the Warsaw NATO summit dawns, and in the face of the growing threat of terrorism in other European countries, the Polish law on anti-terrorist measures, authored by the right wing Law and Justice government, has introduced the first ever Polish procedure on internet filtering, raising serious concerns about privacy, freedom of expression and other human rights.

Vague definition -- vast authority

The new Polish act on anti-terrorist measures came into force on June 29. It was approved by the Parliament without debate, less public consultation and within a week the President signed it into law. Despite calls from civil society there was no public hearing on the draft, one kept classified until the final parliamentary vote, and the President, the acting guardian of the Constitution and the values it stands for, decided against vetoing it although the act itself raises fundamental constitutional concerns.

The critics have rightfully, yet unsuccessfully, indicated that the very notion of a terrorist threat, crucial to the implementation of this act, is vast and unclear. An event of a terrorist character , focal to the act, is defined as a situation which is suspected to have resulted from a terrorist crime , making direct reference to the Polish Penal Code. In its definition of a terrorist crime the Penal Code reflects to some extent the existing international law consensus on the notion of terrorism when it stipulates that an offense of a terrorist character is any offense committed to result in serious intimidation of many people, compel a Polish public authority or that of any other state or the authority of an international organization to perform or abstain from certain activities, or cause serious disturbances in the economy of the Polish Republic, another state or an international organization.

Regardless of the reference to the existing law, the new definition of terrorist event strikes one as bluntly overbroad brushstroke, in particular since it directly reflects on the scope of human rights to be exercised. It seems a mirror image of the infamous three hops FISAA rule , allowing them to restrict the right to share and access any information relating to a situation which is suspected to have resulted from a terrorist crime, and allowing a broad interpretation of any activity as possibly connected with what might be considered a terrorist offence. It is this broad interpretation that prompts most criticism. The law remains silent on the procedures applicable in making such decisions and the bodies competent to decide whether the suspicion is justified. The actual link between the terrorist crime and the introduction of special measures could be dangerously loose and vague.

The other argument made by the critics of the new law is that it is discriminatory - most of the antiterrorist measures are aimed at foreigners, including those from EU countries and applicable to all non-Polish persons (a vague resemblance to the US FISAA logic of applying constitutional privacy and civil liberties guarantees only to US-persons can be traced here). For example the conversations of foreigners (regardless of the nationality of the person on the other side of the line) may be eavesdropped and recorded by the Internal Security Agency without a court order.

The third point of contention is the right granted to the authorities to limit the freedom of assembly in circumstances perceived as entailing a terrorist threat -- a provision viewed as a possible way of curtailing public protests, ones which Poland seems to have indulged in regularly of late. Luckily no official reference to online assemblies has yet been made, but one is left to wonder whether Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leading the governing PiS party, will follow in the footsteps of another authoritarian leader and take Erdogan's example by applying the law on assembly to online gatherings on e.g. Facebook or Twitter, resulting in country-wide blocking of those services for all country users.

Internet filtering

With regard to the application of human rights online, the introduction of a court-ordered blocking seems particularly alarming. In 2010 there was a debate on a list of forbidden sites and services in the context of enforcing Polish gambling law. Its provisions required anyone operating a gambling service, both off-line and online, to register with the local Ministry of Finance. The reason for this was primarily a tax concern -- the government wanted to ensure that gambling revenue fuelled the budget. The authorities quickly realized that the gambling law would be unenforceable against online services and in consequence there was much talk of introducing a list of gambling sites to be blocked unless registered. The usual arguments (ineffectiveness of blocking, risk of unauthorized censorship etc.) resulted in Donald Tusk's government abandoning this idea.

While the debate in 2010 proved to be vocal and public, the 2016 law was rapidly passed, with few civil society organizations expressing any concern. Unlike in 2010 there was no roundtable debate with the government. Unlike with the ACTA protests there were no protests in the streets. The official reasons presented briefly by the government referenced broadly increasing terrorist risks, in particular in the face of planned high-level meetings and mass events to take place in Poland this summer. Should such terrorist threats appear online, whether it involved the inciting of a terrorist attack or instructing how to assemble a bomb, the power to curtail free speech and block such threatening content for the purposes of terrorism prevention rests with the ABW. As explained by the government, this new instrument relates to information and communication systems and its purpose is the prevention and detection of terrorist offences as well as prosecuting the perpetrators of such crimes. These measures are directed at terrorist organizations that use the internet to promote their ideology, instruct on carrying out terrorist attacks or to communicate with followers. Yet rumor has it that in the works is also a list of gambling sites to be blocked. While there is no talk of copyright violations as of yet, the UK example indicates that those avenues will be explored next.

While the ABW authority is broad, there is a sense of judicial supervision present in the new act. It grants courts the power to issue an order for the ABW to install blocking or require the system administrator to block specific data or data communication services available in the ICT system that they manage. This court order is to follow a written request from the ABW chief, made after having received written consent from the Attorney General. The data or services to be blocked need to be related to an event of terrorist nature and they are to be blocked for a specified period not longer than 30 days . In undefined urgent cases however the decision to block or to have the ISP block data or services related to an event of terrorist nature can be made by the head of the ABW after obtaining a written consent from the Attorney General. Once consent is granted, the ABW chief must refer to Warsaw District Court with a written request for a decision on the matter. The court may then decide on blocking the relevant data for no longer than three months, unless the circumstances justifying the blocking have ceased. The court has five days to consent to the blocking or its continuation and unless a court decision is in place, the blocking is to stop. The relevant court decisions are subject to appeal as per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but the right to appeal has not been granted either to the ISP or to the individual whose data has been blocked.

...Read the full article from opendemocracy.net

 

  When news is more about politically correct propaganda than the facts...

French news outlets decide to censor names, images and motivations of terrorists


Link Here 28th July 2016

le monde logoLeading French media outlets pledged on Wednesday to stop publishing the names and images of attackers linked to Islamic State group to supposedly prevent individuals from being inadvertently glorified, following a spate of attacks by muslim terrorists.

The decisions, part of a wider French debate about how the news media might be contributing to the extremist threat, come as the French parliament debates whether to enshrine in law restrictions on the way the news media can cover terrorist acts.

The director of Le Monde, Jerome Fenoglio, said in an editorial that his newspaper would stop publishing photographs of attackers in a bid to prevent the possible posthumous glorifying effects and called for news media to exercise more responsibility. The newspaper already has a ban on publishing extracts of Islamic State propaganda or claims of responsibility emitted from its media wing.

Television station BFM-TV also said it will no longer broadcast images of attackers' faces.

 

 Offsite Article: Uncensored Lies...


Link Here 26th July 2016
uncensored lies Serbian government sets up exhibition of political cartoonery to show that it does not censor the media, but then goes on to label all the criticism as lies

See article from rferl.org

 

 Update: A war on words...

Media companies thwarted in their legal attempt to get the word 'torrent' banned from search engines in France


Link Here 20th July 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
torrent wordThe High Court of Paris has decided there's a limit to France's unpopular anti-copying regime: Google and Bing can't be required to block the word torrent from their search results just because BitTorrent is sometimes used for piracy.

The case was brought by the Syndicat National de l'édition Phonographique, France's record industry association, nominally on behalf of several artists. SNEP wanted to use Article L336-2 of France's intellectual property law to force Google and Microsoft to delete searches that included both 'torrent' and any of the artists' names.

The High Court in Paris didn't think filtering torrent in all of France, the Wallis and Futuna islands, New Caledonia and the French Southern and Antarctic territories was appropriate.

In a case against Google, the court found that SNEP was acting on behalf of only three artists, rather than for all of its members:

The case would not protect the interests of the entire profession, but ensure the protection of individual interests of members who produce these three artists.

In a case against Microsoft, the court stated the requests made by SNEP were too broad:

They do not concern an identified site, but all sites accessed by the requested terms, regardless of the identification and even determining the content of the site ... The measures sought are similar to general surveillance measure and could cause the blocking of legitimate sites.

The judgements award costs against SNEP in both cases.

 

  Massively disrupting the release schedules...

Distributors withdraw the movie Bastille Day from French cinemas


Link Here 18th July 2016
bastille dayThe new movie Bastille Day , has been pulled from cinemas in France in the wake of the terrorist attack in Nice. The film involves a terrorist plot to bomb Paris.

StudioCanal pulled adverts for Bastille Day a day after the attack and have now asked cinemas to stop showing it altogether, according to Variety.

The film's release dates in the UK and Germany were previously delayed in the aftermath of the Paris attacks .

 

 Update: Forcing hate offline...

German police raids targeted at right wing extremism on social media


Link Here 15th July 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

bundeskriminalamt logoGerman police have carried out a series of raids, targeting people suspected of posting alleged hate content on social media. The co-ordinated raids on 60 addresses were the first time the authorities had acted on this issue in such an extreme way.

Police comments on the issue suggest that the target of the raids were for comments that were considered right-wing extremism. However it is difficult to interpret the background when both the police and newspaper statements are contorted by the politically correct requirement to not mention islam.

Holger Munch, president of Germany's federal criminal police authority, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) said: Today's action makes it clear that police authorities of the federal and state governments act firmly against hate and incitement on the internet. He said politically motivated hate crime on the internet had increased significantly in the wake of the European refugee crisis.

Under pressure from the German authorities, Facebook, Twitter and Google agreed at the end of last year to delete such speech from their services within 24 hours. Facebook also agreed to a series of further measures including:

Partnering with a German group of multimedia service providers to solve the problem

Launching a task force to deal with hate speech on the internet

A propaganda campaign to promote counter speech in German, drawing in experts to develop ways to combat racism through discussions on social media.

 

 Update: Thank Christ for that!...

Malta's parliament passes bill at 3rd reading that repeals blasphemy laws and decriminalises adult consensual porn (except 'extreme' porn)


Link Here 13th July 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Malta...Malta prosecutes many for villifying the chruch
Malta flagThe Maltese parliament has approved, at the third reading stage, amendments to the Criminal Act that repeal legislation that censured the vilification of religion, decriminalises pornography and criminalises revenge porn.

The law punishing the vilification of the Roman Catholic religion had been in place since 1933 and was used by the authorities to censor works of art, theatre productions and prevent films from being screened.

When he originally presented the proposed amendments in February, justice minister Owen Bonnici sought to allay fears that the law would not allow people to incite religious hatred, noting that the incitement of hatred based on religion, gender, race, sexuality, gender identity or political belief was already illegal as per a more recent law and would remain so. He said:

In a democratic country, people should be free to make fun of religions, while not inciting hatred.

The Nationalist opposition had been opposed to the proposed amendments and had accused the government of political atheism , and of adopting policies of forced secularisation .

On his part, Archbishop Charles Scicluna tweeted his dismay at news that MPs had, as expected, successfully passed Bill 133:

Demeaning God and man indeed go hand in hand. A sad day for Malta. Lord forgive them: they do not know what they do.

 

  Dial a Song...

Irish private members bill attempts to restore the Irish national anthem to state control


Link Here 12th July 2016
Houses of the OireachtasThree Fianna Fáil senators introduced a private member's bill to the Irish parliament intended to restore the state's copyright to Ireland's national anthem

A Soldiers' Song was composed in 1907, with words by Peadar Kearney and music by Kearney and Patrick Heeney. The song was adopted as the national anthem in 1926 and was protected under government owned copyright until the end of 2012, 70 years after the writer's death.

Since then the anthem has not been under any copyright and Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly feels this needs to be rectified, saying:

Having copyright in place is the only way that we can protect our national anthem from being used in an inappropriate manner.

For example, the opening line of the national anthem was used on a range of Dunnes Stores clothing designed by former Kerry footballer Paul Galvin. Senator Daly has said that such commercial use was inappropriate .

The legislation suggest that the copyright can somehow be renewed but opponents point out that copyright is not meant to be a form of censorship. UCD law professor Eoin O'Dell said:

The function of copyright is to incentivise the production of cultural value and to reward the production of cultural value so that we all get the benefit of the things that are produced by the authors, poets and musicians, and then when it falls out of copyright we can all use it.

And the second thing is that, it's not just attempting to legislate respect by means of copyright, he's actually trying censorship by means of copyright, which is not what copyright is about.

 

  'There was no censorship, merely an excess of modesty'...

Italian state broadcaster makes excuses about a cutting a gay scene in the TV show, How to Get Away With Murder


Link Here 10th July 2016
cut scene in how to get away with murderItalian stete broadcaster, RAI, cut hot scenes between two men when showing the American legal TV thriller How To Get Away With Murder ( HTGAWM).

The cuts were revealed in a side-by-side comparison shared on Twitter by an Italian viewer. Rai 2 had edited out the flashback cutaway that revealed how Connor came to possess, via his very first hook-up with Oliver, some documents Annalise needed for a court case.

Upon learning of the edit, HTGAWM programme maker Pete Nowalk expressed on Twitter that he was shocked and disappointed, then set out to share a clip of the scene as it was meant to be seen.

Ilaria Dallatana, director of Rai 2 made excuses and explained that a female editor made the edits without his supervision, and that the episode would be rebroadcast in its entirety on Sunday night. She said in a (translated) statement:

There was no censorship, merely an excess of modesty due to individual sensitivity of those involved to package the edition of the series for the first time. I understand the irritation...These controversies help us to take the right steps for the future. As demonstrated by the choices made for the new schedules, RAI-2 will be increasingly sensitive to the complexities of the contemporary world

 

  Too much fun...

French cinemas ban The Conjuring 2


Link Here 8th July 2016
Conjuring 2 DVD The Conjuring 2 has proven to be a hit amongst audiences with an impressive box office return. However, it hasn't gone down too well in France, resulting in the film being banned from many theaters across the country.

Le Parisien reports that 262 French theatres had initially planned to show the sequel but the majority have now removed it from their listings due to loud laughter and hysterical yelling in screenings. Some Parisian theatres banned it on its release day following disruptive conduct in screens and to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

400 UGC cinemas also didn't show the film, following anti-social behaviour. Marc-Olivier Sebbag, executive director of National Federation of French Cinemas, said:

Horror films attract a young audience who come in groups to have fun. Cinemas are aware of this and have learnt how to handle these situations. For The Conjuring 2, the problem is limited to some showings in cinemas.

 

 Offsite Article: Europol's online censorship unit is haphazard and unaccountable says NGO...


Link Here 5th July 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
europol internet referral untt The Internet Referral Unit has now been politely asking for online terrorism content to be removed for a year

See article from arstechnica.com

 

 Update: Ban it or else the Armenians will get it!...

Erdogan continues his quest to get insulting poem banned in Germany


Link Here 3rd July 2016  full story: Erdogan Insulted in Germany...Free speech finds no refuge in Germany
recep tayyip erdoganTurkish President Erdogan's lawyer said that he has filed a complaint in a bid to get Jan Boehmermann's satirical poem mocking Erdiogan banned in its entirety. Previously a German court banned just the six verses suggesting Erdogan engaged in bestiality and watched child pornography.

Lawyer Michael-Hubertus von Sprenger said he had filed the complaint to a court in Hamburg and wanted to get a full injunction to replace the preliminary one as well as get unbanned sections prohibited.

 

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