US Censorship News

 Latest



 Update: State ransomware...

The EFF comments on Dubious Anti-Pornography Legislation to Ransom the Internet being introduced by several US states


Link Here 14th April 2017  full story: US politicans and porn harms...US states claim porn to be a public health hazard

Electronic Frontier Foundation More than a dozen state legislatures are considering a bill called the " Human Trafficking Prevention Act ," which has nothing to do with human trafficking and all to do with one man's crusade against pornography at the expense of free speech.

At its heart, the model bill would require device manufacturers to pre-install "obscenity" filters on devices like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Consumers would be forced to pony up $20 per device in order to surf the Internet without state censorship. The legislation is not only technologically unworkable, it violates the First Amendment and significantly burdens consumers and businesses.

Perhaps more shocking is the bill's provenance. The driving force behind the legislation is a man named Mark Sevier, who has been using the alias "Chris Severe" to contact legislators. According to the Daily Beast , Sevier is a disbarred attorney who has sued major tech companies, blaming them for his pornography addiction, and sued states for the right to marry his laptop. Reporters Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny uncovered a lengthy legal history for Sevier, including an open arrest warrant and stalking convictions, as well as evidence that Sevier misrepresented his own experience working with anti-trafficking non-profits.

The bill has been introduced in some form Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. We recommend that any legislator who has to consider this bill read the Daily Beast's investigation.

But that's not why they should vote against the Human Trafficking Prevention Act. They should kill this legislation because it's just plain, awful policy. Obviously, each version of the legislation varies, but here is the general gist.

Read EFF's opposition letter against H.3003, South Carolina's iteration of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

Pre-installed Filters

Manufacturers of Internet-connected devices would have to pre-install filters to block pornography, including "revenge porn." Companies would also have to ensure that all child pornography, "revenge pornography," and "any hub that facilitates prostitution" are rendered inaccessible. Most iterations of the bill require this filtering technology to be turned on and locked in the on position, by default.

This is terrible for consumer choice because it forces people to purchase a software product they don't necessarily want. It's also terrible for free speech because it restrains what you can see. Because of the risk of legal liability, companies are more likely to over-censor, blocking content by default rather than giving websites the benefit of the doubt. The proscriptions are also technologically unworkable: for example, an algorithm can hardly determine whether an item of pornography is "revenge" or consensual or whether a site is a hub for prostitution.

To be clear, unlocking such filters would not just be about accessing pornography. A user could be seeking to improve the performance of their computer by deleting unnecessary software. A parent may want to install premium child safety software, which may not play well with the default software. And, of course, many users will simply want to freely surf the Internet without repeatedly being denied access to sites mistakenly swept up in the censorship net.

A Censorship Tax

The model bills would require consumers to pay a $20 fee to unlock each of their devices to exercise their First Amendment rights to look at legal content. Consumers could end up paying a small fortune to unlock their routers, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.

Data Collection

Anyone who wants to unlock the filters on their devices would have to put their request in writing. Then they'd be required to show ID, be subjected to a "written warning regarding the potential dangers" of removing the obscenity filter, and then would have to sign a form acknowledging they were shown that warning. That means stores would be maintaining private records on everyone who wanted their "Human Trafficking" filters removed.

The Censorship Machine

The bill would force the companies we rely upon to ensure open access to the Internet to create a massive censorship apparatus that is easily abused.

Under the bill, tech companies would be required to operate call centers or online reporting centers to monitor complaints that a particular site isn't included in the filter or complaints that a site isn't being properly filtered. Not only that, but the bill specifically says they must "ensure that all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible on the product" putting immense pressure on companies to aggressively and preemptively block websites to avoid legal liability out of fear of just one illegal or forbidden image making it past their filters. Social media sites would only be immune if they also create a reporting center and "remain reasonably proactive in removing reported obscene content."

It's unfortunate that the Human Trafficking Prevention Act has gained traction in so many states, but we're pleased to see that some, such as Wyoming, have already rejected it. Legislators should do the right thing: uphold the Constitution, protect consumers, and not use the problem of human trafficking as an excuse to promote this individual's agenda against pornography.

 

 Update: Sexualised politics...

Arkansas joins US states passing resolutions claiming harms of porn


Link Here 1st April 2017  full story: US politicans and porn harms...US states claim porn to be a public health hazard
Arkansas state sealFollowing in the footsteps of Utah and South Dakota, Arkansas has become the third U.S. state to pass a resolution claiming that pornography is a public health crisis of epidemic proportions.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously last week, states that online porn is responsible for a host of social problems relating to sexuality and sexual violence. Representative Karilyn Brown, a sponsor of House Resolution 1042, whinged:

It is no longer just available in sleazy stores and distributed in brown paper bags.

The resolution claims that pornography proliferates abuse of women and children by depicting rape and abuse as if such acts are harmless, hyper-sexualization among youth, and a slew of other things related to so-called pornography.

All claims stated within the resolution, such as the idea that porn lessens the desire to marry and increases the demand for sex trafficking of young girls, are presented without sources.

The resolution does not have any specific or immediate impacts, it is intended for use by the state's Department of Health for education, prevention, and policy change at the community and societal levels.

Another similar resolution is now being considered in Tennessee.

 

 Update: Unconstitutional censorship...

Utah tries to defend its law that allowed it to ban a cinema from showing Deadpool


Link Here 22nd March 2017  full story: Deadpool...Superhero film with a little bit more adult appeal
Deadpool DVD The state of Utah has enacted a censorial local law banning cinemas that sell alcohol from screening R rated movies. And indeed state officials tried to ban such a cinema from showing Deadpool.

This resulted in a challenge to the Utah ordinance on the grounds that censorship is unconstitutional. Utah officials are now trying to get that legal challenge quashed. They are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed over liquor and Deadpool , claiming it is somehow not suppressing First Amendment-protected ideas or expression.

The Utah Attorney General's Office argues the law should remain in place because it reduces adverse secondary effects. It claims that:

Judicial opinions and alcohol experts confirm what is commonly known: that combining alcohol and sexual content is an 'explosive combination,' that can lead to sexual aggression and sexual violence, increased drinking, and reported and unreported crime.

The Statute's purpose and effect are to reduce these adverse secondary effects that result from combining alcohol and sexually explicit images.

The state argues that Brewvies' First Amendment free expression rights are only slightly inconvenienced by the law saying:

Plaintiff is free to show whatever sexually explicit R-rated films it chooses, so long as it does not serve alcohol at the same time, and individuals can see the same movies at other theaters. Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to serve beer while showing movies.