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1st August   

Update: A Coalition of Small Minds...

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Government set to ban job centre adverts for the sex industry
Link Here

Job Centre Plis logoMinisters are to ban Jobcentres from advertising for strippers, lap dancers and topless barmaids. The Unemployment minister, Chris Grayling, will order government-run agencies not to offer jobs in the adult entertainment industry, after nutters claimed that such ads validate the idea that sexually exploitative work is an acceptable career .

The Government wanted to bar all adult adverts but were successfully challenged in court by the lingerie firm Ann Summers in 2003. The new ban will cover only jobs involving the sexual stimulation of others , allowing Jobcentres to accept adverts for shop staff or cleaners in bars, but not performers , either on stage or online.

The policy change will be followed by a change in the law to prevent another court battle.

 

20th April   

PMs Bugged by Spies...

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Video Universe
 

Discussion of censored sections from the official history of MI5
Link Here

Defence Realm Authorized History MI5 Claims that the prime minister's study in Downing Street and the cabinet room were bugged by MI5 between 1963 and 1977 were ordered to be removed from an official history of the security service.

Details of the surveillance devices, which covered the tenure of five prime ministers from Harold Macmillan to Jim Callaghan were due to be revealed in The Defence of the Realm , an official history of MI5, written by the Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew.

However, weeks before publication of the book last October references to the buggings were deleted on the orders of the Cabinet Office on unspecified public interest grounds, according to a newspaper.

The book would have revealed that electronic listening devices had been installed in the cabinet room, the waiting room, and the prime minister's study by M15 in July 1963 on the request of Macmillan, then prime minister. A month earlier his war minister, John Profumo, had been forced to resign after admitting to an affair with a prostitute, Christine Keeler, who was also having an affair with the Russian naval attach้ Eugene Ivanov.

Andrew has declined to discuss the claims, although in his preface to the book he describes having had to make a significant excision , which he believes should be investigated by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

 

24th March   

Gaff Gag...

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Straw proposed ban on disclosing information about senior Royals
Link Here

UK Government arms The government is trying to change the law to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny when he intervenes in public affairs.

Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has tabled an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to impose a blanket ban on anyone disclosing information about Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William.

The move comes after a freedom of information (FoI) application revealed how Charles scuppered a £3 billion redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks.

The royal family is exempt from direct requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. However, public bodies can be asked to release information that may include details about the royals.

Critics of Straw's amendment say it would seriously undermine freedom of information laws. More than 60 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for it to be dropped. Clarence House said Charles had not lobbied for the changes.

 

2nd March   

Update: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee...

Britain to ban open Wi-Fi hotspots
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

free wifi logo The government will not exempt universities, libraries and small businesses providing open Wi-Fi services from its Digital Economy Bill copyright crackdown, according to official advice released earlier this week.

This would leave many organisations open to the same penalties for copyright infringement as individual subscribers, potentially including disconnection from the internet, leading legal experts to say it will become impossible for small businesses and the like to offer Wi-Fi access.

Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in an explanatory document would effectively outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses , and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position.

This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in, Edwards said.

Even if they password protect, they then have two options to pay someone like The Cloud to manage it for them, or take responsibility themselves for becoming an ISP effectively, and keep records for everyone they assign connections to, which is an impossible burden for a small café.

In the explanatory document, Lord Young, a minister at BIS, described common classes of public Wi-Fi access, and explained that none of them could be protected. Libraries, he said, could not be exempted because this would send entirely the wrong signal and could lead to 'fake' organisations being set up, claiming an exemption and becoming a hub for copyright infringement .

Young added that free or coffee shop access tends to be too low-bandwidth to support file-sharing and, under the bill, such a service is more likely to receive notification letters as a subscriber than as an ISP . He recommended that they secure their connections and install privacy controls, to reduce the possibility of infringement with any cases on appeal being considered on their merits .

 

2nd March   

Update: Sexualisation of Young People Review...

The 36 recommendations
Link Here  full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

Sexualisation of Young People Review The government  commissioned  a report, Sexualisation of Young People Review , from Dr Linda Papadopoulos.

For completeness here is the full list of recommendations  No doubt the government will take it as inspiration for more censorship.

Education and schools

1) All school staff to have training on gender equality. Specialist training should be given to those who teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and citizenship.

2) The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to issue statutory guidance to schools to promote a whole school approach to tackling gender inequality, sexual and sexist bullying and violence against women and girls.

3) References on sexualisation, gender stereotypes and pornography to be included in DCSF's revised Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) guidance for schools. New SRE resource materials should be made available for teachers who work with children with special education needs and learning difficulties.

4) Schools to ensure that all incidents of sexual bullying are recorded and reported separately to other forms of bullying.

5) New practical How To guidance on tackling sexualisation is disseminated to all schools.

6) Primary schools should make specific reference to the influence of the media on body image and personal identity within a new programme of study on 'Understanding Physical Development, Health and Wellbeing'.

7) A module on gender equality, sexualisation and sexist/sexual bullying be developed as part of the DCSF's Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme.

8) Media literacy should be taught not only through PSHE education but also through English, drama, the arts, history and citizenship.

9) More investment in youth workers to enable them to work with young people outside of mainstream education around the issues of sexuality, sexist and sexual bullying and gender equality.

10) The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to further develop its current online resource centre where parents can access internet safety advice.

11) Digital literacy to be made a compulsory part of the national curriculum for children from the age of five.

12) The government should work with internet service providers to block access to pro-anorexia ('pro-ana') and pro-bulimia ('pro-mia') websites.

13) A schools campaign to be developed which promotes positive role models for young men and young women and challenges gender stereotypes.

14) Schools should encourage girls to value their bodies in terms of their physical ability. This should be linked to the work of the 2012 Get Set education programme.

15) Local Authorities must be accountable for treating victims of child sexual abuse and ensure that specialist services receive adequate funding for the treatment of children who have been abused.

16) One-to-one confidential help in school/college from a trained professional such as a psychologist to be made available to every child and young person.

Media and awareness-raising

17) A national campaign to be launched to address the issue of teenage relationship abuse, including a specific pack for primary and secondary schools so that they can build on issues arising from the campaign.

18) A working group of high profile women in media together with academics should be set up to monitor and address gender inequality in the media.

19) The establishment of a media award that promotes diverse, aspirational and non-sexualised portrayals of young people.

20) The government to launch an online one-stop-shop to allow the public to voice their concerns regarding irresponsible marketing which sexualises children with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action. The website could help inform future government policy by giving parents a forum to raise issues of concern regarding the sexualisation of young people.

21) Information on body image, selfesteem, eating disorders and e-safety to be included in the government's proposed Positive Parenting booklets for parents of older children.

22) The government should support the Adversing Standards Agency (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites.

23) The introduction of a system of ratings symbols for photographs to show the extent to which they have been altered. This is particularly critical in magazines targeting teen and pre-teen audiences.

24) The content of outdoor advertisements to be vetted by local authorities as part of their gender equality duty to ensure that images and messages are not offensive on the grounds of gender.

25) Broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed.

26) The current gap in the regulatory protection provided by the Video Recordings Act 1984 to be closed by removing the general exemption for 'works concerned with music'.

27) Regulation of UK-based video on demand services to be strengthened to ensure that they do not allow children to access hardcore pornography.

28) Games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to unlock the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.

29) This idea should be extended to 'child friendly' computers and mobile phones where adult content is filtered out by default.

Working with businesses and retailers

30) The government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate responsibility with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups.

31) The existing voluntary code for retailers regarding the placements of 'lads' mags' should be replaced by a mandatory code. Lads mags' should be clearly marked as recommended for sale only to persons aged 15 and over.

32) The government overturns its decision to allow vacancies for jobs in the adult entertainment industry to be advertised by Jobcentre Plus.

Research

33) A new academic periodical to be established and an annual conference series should be held focusing solely on the topic of sexualisation.

34) Funding be made available for research that will strengthen the current evidence base on sexualisation. This should include trend research into teenage partner violence and frequency of sexual bullying and abuse.

35) Clinical outcome research to be funded and supported to find the most effective ways to identify, assess and work with the perpetrators and victims of child sexual abuse.

36) A detailed examination of media literacy programmes should be carried out jointly by the DCSF, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

 

28th February   

Updated: Labour Growing Up Obsessed by Sexualisation...

Home Office propose UK censorship measures to curtail child 'sexualisation'
Link Here  full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

Sexualisation of Young People Review A review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has just been published.

Commissioned by the Home Office, the review forms part of the government's strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence.

Key recommendations include:

  • the government to launch an online one-stop-shop to allow the public to voice their concerns about marketing which may sexualise children, with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action.
     
  • the government should support the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites
     
  • broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed
     
  • the government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate compliance with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups
     
  • games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to unlock the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.
     
  • lads' mags to be confined to newsagents' top shelves and only sold to over-15s
     
  • a ratings system on magazine and advertising photographs showing the extent to which they have been airbrushed or digitally altered.
     
  • The exemption of music videos from the 1984 Video Recordings Act should be ended. The report in particular criticises lyrics by N-Dubz and 50 Cent for their tendency to sexualise women or refer to them in a derogatory manner, and singles out the rap artist Nelly for a video showing him swiping a credit card through a young woman's buttocks. But it adds that, while degrading sexual content is most apparent in rap-rock, rap, rap-metal and R&B, it is to be found across all music genres.
     
  • jobcentres should be banned from advertising vacancies at escort agencies, lapdancing clubs and massage parlours.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: We will now consider the full list of recommendations in more detail and continue to ensure that young people's development and well-being are a top priority.

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said:

Children today are growing up in a complex and changing world and they need to learn how to stay safe and resist inappropriate pressures. That is why we are making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory so that we can teach children about the real life issues they will face as they grow up.

PSHE already includes teaching about advertising and body image and from 2011 will include issues around violence against women and girls. The PSHE curriculum is age appropriate to give children and young people the right information at the right time to help them make the best choices and to develop their confidence.

Offsite: Let children be children

28th February 2008. See article from guardian.co.uk by Frank Furedi

Frank FurediWe can't hide all sexual images from children but we can stop reading their behaviour through a prism of adult motives

It is difficult not to feel disturbed by the sexualisation of childhood. We live in a world where a significant proportion of 11-year-olds have been regularly exposed to pornography and where many actually believe that what they see is an accurate depiction of real-life relationships.

It is tempting to panic in response to this development and lose sight of the real problem. Sadly, the Home Office report published today proposes the tired old strategy of protecting children from exposure to sexual imagery. The report's addiction to banning and censoring is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. The real problem is not simply inappropriate sexual imagery but a highly sexualised adult imagination that continually recycles its anxieties through children.

...Read the full article

Offsite: The inevitable nonsense from the Daily Mail

28th February 2008. See article from dailymail.co.uk by Liz Jones

She Wolf Shakira The woman is naked - or looks like she is. Only a flesh-coloured leotard covers her body. Her long blonde hair tumbles down her back. She's in a cage, sliding her fingers provocatively in and out of her mouth.

A scene from a cliched pornographic film? Sadly not. The woman in question is Shakira, a pop superstar and the fourth richest singer in the world.

The images can be seen in the video for her single, She Wolf , which will be watched obsessively, again and again, by thousands of young men and women, many of whom will form the opinion that writhing in a cage is precisely the way sexy women should behave.

 

21st February   

Update: Unsafe Propaganda...

Government to tell TV producers to include more references to condoms and STDs
Link Here

Dept of Health logoThe Government will this week order television chiefs to include more references to condoms and sexually transmitted diseases in their story lines.

Officials will reveal that they have analysed popular TV shows and concluded that not enough sex scenes feature the characters discussing contraception.

A report, called Mis-selling Sex , to be launched by the Department of Health, will call on television writers to include more dialogue about condoms and plot lines featuring the consequences of unsafe sex such as unwanted pregnancies and disease.

It will also call for more slang words to be used in order to connect with teenagers. Gillian Merron, the Public Health Minister, said: Young people relate to the programmes they watch on TV, so it's important that they see both realistic and responsible portrayals of sex and contraception.

It's not for Government to say what happens on TV ...BUT... we can have conversations with broadcasters to help them have a more positive impact on attitudes to sex. I'm encouraged that some broadcasters are working to address these issues, and hope others will follow suit.

Her report analysed 350 episodes of programmes popular with 16-24 year olds including EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Holby City, Home & Away and Neighbours . American favourites such as CSI, My Name is Earl, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Desperate Housewives were also studied.

Researchers found that only 7% of sexual content featured discussion of safe sex. Of the 102 encounters of actual sex, only three couples used condoms. 13% of sexual encounters where contraception was not featured dealt with any kind of consequence, such as pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Of the 99 instances of unsafe sex, nine characters regretted their behaviour.

 

21st February   

Potential for Abuse...

Scottish ministers consider new offence of sending threatening or harassing emails
Link Here

Kenny MacAskillMinisters in Scotland are considering a new law which would help stop people stalking and harassing their victims by text or online.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill wants a new offence outlawing threatening, alarming or distressing behaviour .

The government will seek to change this by lodging an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, which is going through parliament.

Once the new powers are enshrined in law they will give prosecutors the ability to act against stalkers who send threatening messages via email, text, phone calls and on internet sites such as Facebook.

MacAskill said: Stalking can be a deeply frightening crime for victims and we want to ensure that the small minority of perpetrators who engage in this criminal activity are brought to justice. We want to send out the message loud and clear that if you carry out this offence, there will be no escape, there will be no wriggle room to exploit and you will be met with by the full force of law.

A government spokesman said the proposed offence would cover not only the sending of threatening or harassing emails, text messages or phone calls, but also persistent following, pursuing or spying on someone.

 

21st February   

Update: A Sexualised Government...

Government report to recommend magazine age ratings and photoshop warning on all glamour images
Link Here

Zoo MagazineChildren are being sexualised from an increasingly early age by computer games, pornography and sex-related slogans, a government report will warn.

The study was written by clinical psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos for the Home Office. She said: Little boys are always told 'aren't you clever, aren't you strong'. Little girls are told 'aren't you pretty?' even in 2010. They are adhering to what society expects and internalising behaviours.

Papadopoulos cited the example of the computer game Miss Bimbo , where the aim of the game is to accumulate boob jobs and marry a billionaire.

The report, due out later this month, will suggest imposing age restrictions on lads' magazine such as Zoo and Nuts and introducing a symbol to signify when a image in a magazine has been airbrushed.

Papadopoulos told the Times Educational Supplement: It's a drip-drip effect. Look at porn stars and look at how the average girls looks now. We are hypersexualising girls, telling them their desirability relies on being desired. They want to please at any cost. And we are hypermasculinising boys. Many feel they can't live up to the porn ideal, sleeping with lots of women.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: We know that many parents are concerned about the pressures that their teenage and even pre-teen daughters are under to appear sexually available at a younger and younger age, and about the negative impact this may be having on boys too.

 

14th February   

Update: Small Ads and the Small Minded...

Vera Baird and Harriet Hatemen line up their next assault on sex work
Link Here  full story: Small Ads for Sex Workers...Government set to ban small ads

Vera BairdAdvertisements for massage parlours and escort agencies are to be banned in the next government assault on the sex industry. 

Ministers plan to disrupt the sex industry by banning newspaper advertisements for prostitutes and brothels in a new law put forward in Labour's election manifesto. Failure to comply with the law could carry a £10,000 fine.

The clampdown is being led by Vera Baird, the solicitor-general, and Harriet Harman, the equality minister.

They are concerned that a request to remove the adverts has had only partial success. Although The Newspaper Society succeeded in persuading some newspaper groups to stop carrying them, ministers are concerned that many others have failed to do so.

The Crown Prosecution Service has already studied a similar law in Ireland and concluded that it would work in the UK.

The new law would also inform publishers which kind of ads will be banned by defining, for example, the difference between a massage parlour which is actually a brothel and spas offering therapeutic massages.

Sex phone lines, carried in many tabloid newspapers, would not be caught by the law unless they are a front for arranging prostitution.

It would also make it a criminal offence to print or distribute telephone-box cards advertising prostitutes. Under the current law, it is an offence only to be caught in the act of posting such a card.

Baird said: It is now appropriate to move against people who make money from advertising prostitutes. The Newspaper Society tightened its guidance on taking such ads but there is still a market that we now have to look to legislation to disrupt.

 

15th January   

Hate Censorship...

Home Office considers block on Hamas website for children
Link Here

image from Al FatehThe Home Office is considering blocking a childrens' website run by the Palestinian group Hamas following suggestions it incites hatred of Jews.

Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, chair of the Labour Jewish Movement, has called on ministers to block access to al-Fateh.net, a webzine launched by Hamas in 2002. Alongside baking recipes and exam advice, the fortnightly publication features tributes to suicide attackers and encourages love of jihad .

Ellman told The Register: It's nasty stuff. It incites hatred of Israel and Jews - the government should remove it.

An extract from April 2008, translated by IMPACT-SE, a Jewish education lobby group that has campaigned against al-Fateh.net across Europe, reads: Jerusalem will remain as a trust in our hands and the hands of all Muslims, and they are to unite and gather for its liberation and the liberation of the land of Palestine from the impurity of the Zionists, the descendents of apes and pigs.

In response to Ellman's parliamentary question on al-Fateh.net, policing minister David Hanson said: We are currently assessing whether there is sufficient evidence to include the al-Fateh website in the list of material provided on a voluntary basis to filtering companies for inclusion in their parental control software.

There remains nothing the government can do to prevent access where filtering software is not installed. Suggestions by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that an ISP-level filtering system similar to the Internet Watch Foundation child pornography blacklist might be created for extremist material appear to have been abandoned.

Tim Stevens, an expert on internet radicalisation at King's College London, said Ellman's call showed how powerless the government is online: Unpleasant as this site may be, it is not up to single-interest groups to determine what is and is not illegal, he said.

 

15th January   

Update: UK Internet Censorship...

Government offer concessions about draconian control powers
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Ragged Union JackMinisters have given a concession over what critics claimed were draconian powers which would enable them to crack down on online content in the name of copyright infringement.

A clause in the Digital Economy Bill would have allowed ministers to amend existing internet control laws without the need for further legislation.

Google and Facebook were among firms to complain about the measure, saying it would hamper digital innovation.

Officials said they were refining the proposals after heeding concerns.

Section 17 of the bill, which has attracted the most anger, would give ministers reserve powers to draft fresh laws to tackle net-based copyright infringement without needing parliamentary approval.

Ministers argued that such powers were needed to support copyright laws against future, more technically advanced forms of piracy. But Conservative and Lib Dem peers had both threatened to vote against the measure when it is considered next in the House of Lords.

In response, the government has tabled several amendments.

These would mean existing copyright laws could only be amended by statute if there was a significant new threat of infringement and would provide for more parliamentary scrutiny before this happened.

The Department for Business said it was not backing away from the controversial clause and its core objectives but had listened to concerns about how it was being targeted.