UK Government Watch

 Latest



 Update: A total ban on internet porn in the UK averted...

The government says that it will remove the impractical censorship power requiring the BBFC to ban foreign porn websites that contain material beyond R18 such has as fisting and squirting


Link Here 22nd March 2017  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
DCMS logoBritain has some ludicrous and dated prohibitions on aspects of porn that are commonplace in international porn sites. For example the government requires that the BBFC cut fisting, squirting, gagging on blow jobs, dialogue references to incest or underage sex.

It would be ludicrous to expect all of the worlds websites to remove such commonplace scene from all its films and videos. The originally proposed porn censorship law would require the BBFC to identify sites with this commonplace material, and ISPs would have then been forced to block these sites. Of course this would have meant that more or less all websites would have had to be banned.

Someone has obviously pointed this out to the government, perhaps the Lords had spotted this in their scrutiny.

The Daily Mail is now reporting that this censorship power will be dropped form the Digital Economy Bill. The age verification requirement will stand but foreign websites complying with age verification will not then be blocked for material transgressing some of the stupid UK prohibitions.

A source at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has acknowledged that the proposals were imperfect , but said the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which covers sex shops, was too outdated to be used to regulate the internet.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport actually went further and said extreme material, including violent pornography and cartoons depicting child sex abuse, will be allowed to stay online as long as distributors put in place checks to ensure it cannot be viewed by children. (But note that downloading films including what is defined as extreme pornography and cartoon child porn would still be illegal). There will be no change to the capability of the IWF to block child porn (and occasionally, illegal adult porn).

Of course pro-censorship campaigners are not impressed by the lost opportunity for total porn censorship. Helen Lewington, of the morality campaign group Mediawatch-UK, claimed that the decision to allow extreme sites to operate behind the age verification barrier risked giving them a veneer of respectability .  She called on peers to reject the amendments this evening. She added:

We are deeply concerned by the Government's apparent change of direction. These proposals will permit some forms of violent pornography to be viewed behind age verification checks.

This will unhelpfully allow what is illegal offline to be legally viewed online, and may in the long term lead to some regarding such material as acceptable.'

Pro censorship campaigner John Carr revealed that the government will now be reviewing the rules on what is currently prohibited from UK adult porn. He set out his pro-censorship stall by claiming that reducing censorship for adults would somehow endanger children. He claimed:

In his speech on the Digital Economy Bill, last Monday night in the House of Lords, Lord Ashton referred to the Secretary of State's announcement in the context of there being a need for a wider discussion about the effects of pornography in society as a whole, not solely in respect of children. I would hope there will be an opportunity to contribute to that aspect of the review. I accept it was never envisaged that the Digital Economy Bill was to be a trigger for a wider debate about what sorts of pornography are more or less acceptable, whether being viewed by children or not. However, just because children cannot view certain types of material that have been put behind an age verification wall, it does not mean that its continued availability to adults does not constitute a threat to children. Such material might encourage, promote or appear to legitimize or condone harmful behaviours which either directly or indirectly put children at risk.

Offsite Comment: Lib Dems lay into the governments censorship efforts

19th March 2017 See  article from libdemvoice.org by Brian Paddick

Lib Dems logoTo add to the list of obnoxious new laws such as the new offence of driving while being a suspected illegal immigrant and giving the police unfettered access to innocent people's web histories, the Tories have waded into the swamp of online pornography and they are completely out of their depth.

The Digital Economy Bill, another universal answer to everything they couldn't get through when we had one hand on the reins of power, professes to protect children from online pornography.

Nonetheless, if we are to prohibit access to online adult material unless there is an age-verification solution in place, the privacy of those who are being forced to part with their sensitive personal information in order to verify their age, must be protected. We have already seen user databases for a couple of major porn sites, containing sensitive personal information, being hacked and the details traded on the dark web. When details of users of the Ashley Madison site were leaked, it reportedly led to two suicides.

...read the full  article from libdemvoice.org

 

 Update: The Snooper's Charter Published...

The Government issues draft procedures for mass snooping subject to public consultation


Link Here 25th February 2017  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
Home Offie logoCodes of Practice have been published for the mass snooping procedures enabled by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

The government now invites public in its consultation which will close at

Email responsed should be sent to investigatorypowers@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

The government has published the following pdf documents:

 

 Comment: Blackmailer's Charter...

Digital Economy Bill could make UK citizens vulnerable to blackmail. By Open Rights Group


Link Here 15th February 2017

open rights group 2016 logo Changes to the penalties for online copyright infringement could leave UK citizens vulnerable to blackmail by unscrupulous companies that demand payment for alleged copyright infringements.

Proposals in the Digital Economy Bill would mean that anyone found guilty of online copyright infringement could now get up to ten years in prison. These changes could be misused by companies, such as Goldeneye International, which send threatening letters about copyright infringement. Typically, the letters accuse the recipients of downloading files illegally and demand that they pay hundreds of pounds or be taken to court.

Often they refer to downloaded pornographic content, to shame the recipients into paying rather than challenging the company in court. The Citizens Advice Bureau has criticised "unscrupulous solicitors and companies acting on behalf of copyright owners" who take part in such "pay up or else schemes". It advises people who receive such letters to seek legal advice rather than simply paying them.

How do copyright trolls get 'evidence'?

Copyright trolls compel Internet Service Providers to hand over the personal contact details of the account holder whose IP addresses are associated with illegal file downloads. However, this in itself is not evidence that the illicit downloading observed is the responsibility of the person receiving the letter.

Common problems include:

  • Sharing wifi with family, friends or neighbours who may be the actual infringer

  • Errors with timestamps and logs at the ISP@

Why the Digital Economy Bill will make this worse

The Government has argued that it is increasing prison sentences to bring the penalties for online copyright infringement in line with copyright infringement in the real world. It also insists that it is not trying to impose prison sentences for minor infringements such as file sharing. However, the loose wording of the Bill means that it could be interpreted in this way, and this will undoubtedly be exploited by unscrupulous companies.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

Unscrupulous companies will seize on these proposals and use them to exploit people into paying huge fines for online infringements that they may not have committed.

The Government needs to tighten up these proposals so that only those guilty of serious commercial copyright infringements receive prison sentences.

Helping companies send threatening letters to teenagers is in no one's interest."

What does the Government need to do?

ORG has asked the Government to amend the Digital Economy Bill to ensure that jail sentences are available for serious online copyright infringement. While this will not put an end to the dubious practices of copyright trolls completely, it will prevent them from taking advantage of the law.