US Censorship News

 2014: Oct-Dec

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 Updated: Serious Censorship...

Hacker group demands that Sony cancels the release of its new movie, The Interview


Link Here 27th December 2014  full story: The Interview...Sony hacked possibly by North Korea and threats curtail film release
the-interview Hackers claiming to be those that have seriously disrupted Sony Pictures' computer systems in the biggest corporate hack in history posted a message to the heads of the company telling them to cancel the release of film The Interview .

The group also leaked a trove of emails from senior Sony Pictures employees which include private employee information, the phone numbers of actors and the aliases they use when travelling, film budgets and unreleased scripts. It includes the private information of about 40,000 employees, including home addresses, previous salaries and social security numbers.

The Interview is a North Korea-baiting film that is a reason some have speculated that the country could be involved in the attack.

In a message titled Their Privacy , and written in broken English, hackers said that Sony had refused to give in to its demands to cancel the release of the movie of terrorism. The group signed themselves as From God'sApstls. The message reads:

We have already given our clear demand to the management team of SONY, however, they have refused to accept.

It seems that you think everything will be well, if you find out the attacker, while no reacting to our demand.

We are sending you our warning again.

Do carry out our demand if you want to escape us.

And, Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!

You, SONY & FBI, cannot find us.

We are perfect as much.

The destiny of SONY is totally up to the wise reaction & measure of SONY.

Update: Violent threats prove to be very effective at censorship

17th December 2014. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

The New York premiere of The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korea's president, has been cancelled amid threats from hackers. A spokesman for the cinema chain due to host the screening said it had been shelved. Hackers targeting Sony Pictures had threatened to attack US cinemas showing the studio's film.

Calling themselves Guardians of Peace, the hackers mentioned the 9/11 attacks in a recent warning, claiming the world will be full of fear . Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time, the hacker group wrote in a message. 

A spokesman for Landmark, the cinema chain due to host the New York premiere, confirmed the showing had been cancelled but gave no reason, Reuters news agency reported. Executives from Sony had previously said they would not object if cinemas chose not to show The Interview.

Update: Hollywood runs out of baddies

18th December 2014. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk
See also The Interview hack scandal could spell end to foreign movie villains from  telegraph.co.uk

Sony has bowed to the demands of North Korean-linked hackers and made the unprecedented step of pulling its film The Interview from cinemas. Sony announced the movie would not be released as planned in America on Christmas Day after threats of violence by the hackers.

The decision was made after the five biggest cinema chains in the US, operating 20,000 screens between them, said they would not show the comedy, which centres on a plot to assassinate the secretive state's leader Kim Jong-un.

Sony said it had no further global release plans for the film - which had a scheduled UK release date of Feb 6, 2015.

US investigators said it had determined North Korea was behind the devastating cyber attack following weeks of speculation.  President Barack Obama said his administration is taking the cyber attack against Sony studios seriously, but urged cinemagoers not be cowed by the threats.

Many were quick to criticise Sony's decision, calling it a major blow for freedom of expression and warned it could set a dangerous precedent of censorship.

white house Offsite Comment: US weighs response to film threat

19th December 2014. See  article from  thehill.com

The White House is treating the cyberattack on Sony Pictures as a legitimate national security matter as the film studio deals with the fallout from its controversial decision to pull The Interview from theaters.

... Read the full article

Update: World Police cower from violent bully

19th December 2014. See  article from  thehill.com

Team America unrated DVD After Sony yanked North Korean satire The Interview from theaters, several small houses announced plans to show Team America - another film featuring a North Korean leader - in an attempt to spite the hermit regime.

However, Paramount Pictures has now put the kibosh on the screenings - sending out messages barring the cinemas from showing the movie.

One of the theaters, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema said;

Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today.

Paramount however has yet to explain their decision to ban cinemas from showing the film.

Team America: World Police features the previous leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il as a singing marionette that gets impaled on a spike and is later revealed to be a space alien North Korea called The Interview and act of war for portraying the assassination and violent death of its current leader, Kim Jong-un.

Offsite Update: Flimsy evidence

20th December 2014. See  The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy  from  wired.com

Update: America is about kowtowing to North Korean threats

20th December 2014. See  article from  theguardian.com

Barack Obama Sony made a mistake by axing the comedy The Interview . Speaking after the FBI pinned the blame on North Korea for a massive hack of Sony Pictures, President Barack Obama said:

We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don't like, or news reports that they don't like.

Or even worse imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.

That's not who we are. That's not what America is about.

Obama said he was sympathetic to Sony's plight but added: I wish they had spoken to me first.

Update: America makes a token gesture about free speech

24th December 2014. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

In a plot reversal, Sony Pictures will allow The Interview to play in about 200 US cinemas as of Christmas Day, after coming under criticism from President Barack Obama for caving into pressure from North Korea

The Interview was put back into cinemas on Tuesday when Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its cancelled release.

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton that Seth Rogen's North Korea farce will be in a number of theaters beginning Thursday.

Update: Monkey

27th December 2014. See article from huffingtonpost.com

North Korea flag North Korea called President Barack Obama a monkey and blamed the US for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the comedy The Interview. The country's powerful National Defense Commission, the country's top governing body led by Kim Jong Un, said that Obama was behind the release of The Interview . It described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary. A spokesman said:

Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.

 

 Update: Responding to Censorship with Censorship...

Is Sony's crackdown a bigger threat to western free speech than North Korea?


Link Here 27th December 2014  full story: The Interview...Sony hacked possibly by North Korea and threats curtail film release
sony logo

 

  Opening up TV opportunities to internet companies...

The US TV censor proposes that Internet TV companies should be able to include broadcast TV channels


Link Here 23rd December 2014
fcc logo US TV censors of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have proposed to change their rules so as to treat internet TV companies the same as cable and satellite TV providers.

At the moment media companies are not required to offer their programming to Internet TV companies.  On the other hand rules requiring traditional cable and satellite TV to carry certain content, like broadcast TV, do not apply to internet TV companies.

Currently consumers without cable or satellite have been unable to get the same breadth of content from Internet-based TV services that they could get from a paid TV provider or in some cases over-the-air TV broadcasters.

It's this difference in regulatory classification that allowed network TV broadcasters, such as CBS, which owns CNET, to deny Aereo access to their programming, even after it offered to pay retransmission fees. Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court said that it was illegal for Aereo to retransmit broadcast TV over the Internet without paying broadcasters a retransmission fee.

Even though he didn't name Aereo outright, FFC head Tom Wheeler said that the existing rules are ultimately hurting consumers who are being denied access to content on alternative platforms. Wheele said in a statement:

Big company control over access to programming should not keep programs from being available on the Internet. Today, we propose to break that bottleneck.

Efforts by new entrants to develop new video services have faltered because they could not get access to programming content that was owned by cable networks or broadcasters.

 

 Offsite Article: EU Wants to Dictate What Content Americans Can View on US-Based Websites...


Link Here 18th December 2014  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
first amndment coalition logo That is a big step, one that even China, the master of internet censorship, has never taken.

See article from huffingtonpost.com

 

  Oft Offended Opportunists...

US TV censor isn't supporting the call for a ban of the word 'Redskins' referring to the Washington DC football


Link Here 20th November 2014
washington redskins logo Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai said in a speech at an awards event that he disagrees with recent efforts to ban broadcasters from using the word Redskins when referring to the Washington, D.C. NFL team. He said:

If the FCC took these steps, we would be squelching public debate about an issue of public concern. We would be standing in the way of media outlets reporting the news. And we would be prohibiting speech simply because we disagree with the viewpoint that is being expressed.

Pai went on to say public officials shouldn't sound an uncertain trumpet when oft-offended opportunists urge us to undermine the First Amendment. He said he thinks the FCC should heed the words of Voltaire:

I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it, adding. Anyone who takes seriously the Constitution--scholar or layman--knows the petition is meritless. The FCC should dismiss it tout suite, as Voltaire might have said.

 

  SAVE Our Liberty...

US civil liberties groups oppose a proposed law against adult adverts that will result in massive censorship of general internet advertising and also user generated content


Link Here 18th November 2014

US Senate A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act.

The bill is supposedly aimed at thwarting human trafficking but in reality would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with customers, drive traffickers further underground, and potentially expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements.

In a November 12 letter to the U.S. Senate, nine organizations--including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Internet Commerce Coalition , the Electronic Frontier Foundation , the Association of Alternative News Media, and the National Coalition Against Censorship--wrote to convey strong opposition to the SAVE Act.

The SAVE Act would do several things:

  1. create extensive record-keeping requirements for any website, online services, and print publication that hosts adult advertisements,
  2. require anyone posting an adult ad to submit photo identification,
  3. enable the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ban certain euphemisms or code words from online advertising entirely, and
  4. make websites that host user-generated ads criminally liable should any of those ads wind up promoting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a minor. Under the law, the operator of a website such as Craigslist that hosts thousands of new user-uploaded ads daily could could face up to 10 years prison if any one of these is eventually linked to child sex trafficking.

The act would mean that websites and services hosting user-generated content could be held criminally liable even if they do not have actual knowledge that an ad for illegal activity appears on their sites.

Consequently, virtually any user-generated content host--like Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Amazon or various online dating sites--will have every incentive to prohibit content that falls under the bill's broad definition of adult advertisements, which includes communications that are wholly or only partially devoted to proposing lawful commercial exchange for lawful services--in other words, speech that is unquestionably protected by the First Amendment. At best, user-generated content sites will default to taking down content that is flagged as an adult advertisement as soon as a complaint is lodged, regardless of whether the content appears to be related to child trafficking or state child exploitation crimes, or even fits the bill's definition of adult advertisement at all.

In addition, any website, online service, or print publication that hosts any content falling under the bill's definition as an adult advertisement would be required to obtain photo identification from anyone posting the content.

Rather than risk inadvertantly hosting an illegal ad without having obtained the proper identification, many sites would simply start requiring a government-issued photo ID in order to post all ads.

And perhaps most egregiously of all, the SAVE Act would empower the DOJ to ban the use of certain words in all online advertising. If the agency determined that something was a potential euphemism or code word for trafficking, web operators, publishers, and digital ad networks would be forced to censor ads containing these words or phrases.

 

  Unbleeped Pussy...

US TV now allows the use of the word 'pussy' as long as it is in a politically correct context


Link Here 12th November 2014
Mostly Sex Stuff Region NTSC Amy Schumer has revolutionized US television, and most people didn't even notice. Comedy Central approved the use of the word pussy on the network. The seemingly casual announcement of the un-bleep is actually a huge, huge victory.

However the 'victory' appears to have been won simply because Schumer is on the right side of the politically correct divide. She uses the word appropriately unlike the great unwashed. bustle.com explains:

Inside Amy Schumer aggressively attacks several women's issues, from body-shaming to sexual assault in the military, so it's important to be able to use such language. Much of the language banned by the FCC is engendered, so not only is it a victory for Comedy Central but for the (hopefully) eventual equality for language on television. (Bear with me, because this post is gonna get profane).

iAccording to the FCC, most of the language deemed obscene and inappropriate for television are lewd and sexual in context: It is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to air indecent programming or profane language during certain hours.

On the list of prohibitions, besides pussy are several synonyms for a woman's vagina. You CAN say vagina on television, however. Though dick used to be on the list, it's now allowed on network television. Some of the milder euphemisms are still banned, such as snatch, pink , twat, and clit. Though cock is also on the no-no list, there are way more words referring the female anatomy that are not allowed to be uttered without a bleep, then those referring to a man's.

bustle.com then takes time to explain a few of the basics of political correctness:

Language is so important and powerful, and now especially, what can and cannot be said on television and web-produced shows is becoming more influential on common vernacular. Even though Comedy Central airs such subversive shows like Inside Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, they still have to align to certain guidelines. And because the list of banned words contains so many alternatives for the word vagina, it creates and maintains the stigma and demonization related to a woman's body.

That's why serious attention should be paid Schumer's very funny show; she's subverting boundaries and slowly revolutionizing the language. The more artists and comedians like Schumer can change the conversation that makes the language of female sexuality as neutral as the language about men's sexuality, the better. Hopefully more networks will follow suit.

 

  Power Grab...

The US TV censor, FCC, seeks to extend remit to Internet TV


Link Here 2nd November 2014
fcc logo On October 28, 2014, in an announcement posted on the Official FCC Blog , FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated a proposal that Internet TV should come under the censorship regime of cable TV :

Today I am proposing to extend the same concept to the providers of linear, Internet-based services; to encourage new video alternatives by opening up access to content previously locked on cable channels. What could these over-the-top video providers (OTTs) supply to consumers? Many different kinds of multichannel video packages designed for different tastes and preferences. A better ability for a consumer to order the channels he or she wants to watch.

Specifically,  Wheeler proposes extending certain MVPD (cable TV provider) program access rules to Internet TV services to prevent, in his words, vertically integrated networks (i.e., cable companies that also own video content) from rais[ing] artificial barriers to competition by refusing to let their video competitors have access to the programming they own.

Notably, the proposed new rule would apply only to providers that offer linear streams of programming, and not to video-on-demand services like Netflix or Hulu.

The MVPD proposal has garnered a lot of attention from the media and for good reason. However, Wheeler's official proposal has not yet been fully released to the public, leaving a number of questions unanswered.

 

 Offsite Article: Backpage in spotlight after murder link as sex website face court test...


Link Here 22nd October 2014  full story: Advertising for Adult Services...US censors advertising for adult sex services
backpage logo Should a public forum about hook ups for sex be banned because a few bad people use it?

See article from theguardian.com

 

  Regulators force banks to censor porn...

A legal challenge filed to the US moral censorship exerted by the banking regulators


Link Here 9th October 2014
fdic logo U.S. bank regulators tried to coerce and intimidate banks in an effort to force them to sever ties to the porn industry, a trade group says.

In a court filing this week, a trade group called the Third Party Payment Processors Association accused the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp of engaging in moralistic regulation over the banking industry,.

The Third Party Payment Processors Association, a trade group formed last year to represent payment firms, accused the FDIC of using the bank-examination process to coerce and intimidate banks into cutting off relationships with payment processing firms that do business with porn merchants.

The FDIC has engaged in an improper practice of moralistic regulation of the banking industry, the legal brief says. The group wrote that regulators targeted the industry because they thought pornography was not good for consumers.

 

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