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23rd January

 Updated: We are sorry to interrupt your browsing but the government wants to censor your internet...

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Sky Broadband censor people's internet first and then ask them if they want to turn it off
Link Here  full story: Crap Internet Blocking...Cheapo automated filters are not up to the job
sky logo An Ofcom Report on Internet Safety Measures [pdf] has just been published and reveals that about 21% of parents now use website blocking systems made available by ISPs. Presumably the government would like to see this increased. And as if by magic, Sky has announced that they will be a bit more aggressive about forcing existing subscribers to make a choice about using the ISP's censorship options.

Sky Broadband have announced they will force web-filters on all customers , starting this week, unless the account-holder opts out. They say :

When trying to visit a website deemed unsuitable for children under the age of 13 during the day, customers will see a page reminding them to make a choice about filtering. At this point, they can accept the current setting, change their protection levels or simply turn Sky Broadband Shield off.

...

It's better for people to make their own choice, but until they do, we believe this process to be the safest one. Meanwhile we can ensure that they're protected from phishing, malware and sites unsuitable for young children.

The Open Rights Group comments:

Open Rights Group logo This approach will increase harm for websites and web surfers, and there is still little evidence of the benefit to children, so why are they doing it?

All ISPs promised David Cameron they would make all customers choose whether to use filters or not. Sky is not offering a choice however - they are imposing filtering unless customers opt out - an approach that the government rejected after running their own consultation. In addition, most households do not contain children so, Sky's default-on approach seems over-reaching.

Could Sky Broadband be seeking to increase adoption of web filters through "nudge" tactics in order to avoid Government criticism for a lack of uptake? Public interest in activating filters has been low since the Government started pressuring ISPs to introduce them in summer 2013. Ofcom said in July 2014 that just 8% of Sky Broadband subscribers had switched them on. The same report showed a 34% adoption-rate for competitor TalkTalk, who promote filters aggressively, and have made them the default option for new subscribers for a long time. Nudge tactics rely on the principle that most people don't bother changing defaults.

If Sky's agenda were neutral, they would block all web-access for an account until the account-holder had stated their preference about filters: on or off. Instead they intend to block only those sites "deemed unsuitable for under 13s."

If people are inconvenienced by Sky Broadband filters only as much as they are on their mobiles, many won't bother to change the defaults, as it may feel like a lot of hassle if your surfing habits fall foul of overblocking infrequently. Meanwhile others might suffer disproportionately more overblocking depending on the information they seek. We suspect resources on sexual health and sexual orientation for instance are blocked in error more often than other types of site. If you are not the account holder, and you can't get to a site you need, your only recourse would be to discuss it with the person controlling the account. That could be a parent, partner, landlord, room-mate, fellow student, etc.

Sky Broadband may claim increased popularity for filters when in reality the figures would be inflated artificially. People who don't want or need them might be too apathetic, or too reluctant to be on a list of "people who requested the bad sites", to switch them off.

Sky Broadband are asking their customers to choose but they are not giving them the information they need to make an informed choice. Their explanations about filters mention none of their disadvantages or limitations. Far from being perfect, web filters block sites nobody could object to, while failing to block others that are unquestionably adult in nature. If Sky Broadband are confused about this they could consult the Department of Dirty for advice.

Filters are not a parenting panacea and do not substitute for responsible supervision of children online. At ORG we believe parents need help understanding the web, advice on how to talk to their children about online risks, and support to be able to supervise their children effectively. Some may choose filtering as part of their solution - but the rest of us shouldn't be forced to have it just in case.

We also need more transparency about how filters work, what they block, and means of redress for website owners when things go wrong. That's why we built our checking tool at blocked.org.uk - though we would prefer ISPs to take responsibility for this themselves.

Update: TalkTalk HassleHassle CensorCensor

 23rd January 2015. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

TalkTalk logo Internet provider TalkTalk is to become the latest to censor pornographic websites by default.

Any customer who has so far ignored online prompts from the company will find adult material automatically blocked under a scheme being rolled out next month.

The move follows Sky's decision to default to a censored internet unless households specifically ask for it to be turned off. Pressure was last night building on BT and Virgin Media to introduce a similar approach to censorship.

Furthermore all TalkTalk customers will be hassled every 12 months to re-affirm their decision to allow or block websites.

 

23rd January

 Update: Snooper's Charter Resurrected...

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Disgraceful attempt by 4 snoop friendly Lords to sneak in the previously rejected Snooper's Charter
Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
house of lords red logo Four members of the House of Lords have attempted to bring back from the dead the Communications Data Bill -- otherwise known as the Snoopers' Charter. The entirety of the bill that had previously been rejected (or at least put on hold) by Parliament -- some 18 pages in all -- was added as a late amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill currently passing through the Lords. This is utterly cynical at best, and a total abuse of parliamentary procedure at worst.

The Communications Data Bill is the one which required ISPs (or any telecommunications provider') to keep a log of all activity associated with an individual or IP address. Whilst ostensibly requested for 'security reasons (being played up again in the light of the Charlie Hebdo murders in France) -- this mass retention of data is nothing less than oppressive, unwarranted, mass surveillance of the entire populace.

We know all too well from the Snowden revelations that power is abused by those who hold it -- and that there is mission creep in the data retained and the uses to which it can be put. There is no reason to think that this would be any different.

Previously the bill had been rejected in scrutiny by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for a variety of reasons - amongst them the fact that the Home Office had totally underestimated the cost involved as well as the lack of any evidence that there is any benefit to be had by requiring ISPs to hold this data. It was also requested that the Independent reviewer on Terrorism legislation, David Anderson, reviewed and commented on the bill and Parliament is still waiting for his response to the initial proposals.

Given all that, it is shocking and simply unacceptable that four unelected Lords are attempting to pass this draconian legislation, not in its own right, but as a late amendment to a current bill. It is a total abuse of parliamentary procedure and means that this legislation will not suffer the intense scrutiny that a new bill would, but instead would be passed in a backhanded fashion without review and consideration by both Houses.

The House of Lords is intended in our parliamentary system to be a revising chamber -- adding a totally new bill as an amendment to an existing one completely goes against that entire principle. The very fact that they feel it is necessary to bring the bill in this underhand manner shows that they clearly don't have any faith in the ability of the legislation to stand up to proper scrutiny.

The rushed passing of the #DRIP legislation set the worrying precedent for this kind of action by parliament when seeking to pass contentious legislation that avoids scrutiny. As a party we warned of the dangers of Parliament passing controversial and oppressive surveillance laws without appropriate time or scrutiny. Despite the calls of both ourselves and others, that bill passed into law.

 

23rd January

 Update: Virtual Prohibited Networks...

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China blocks VPNs
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
astrill vpn logo China is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook.

The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. The popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services such as Gmail this year.

China-based entrepreneur Richard Robinson said the controls have particularly hurt small- and medium-sized foreign companies that depend on VPNs. Many larger companies can afford direct connections to servers outside the country, he said.

Over the past weeks, Chinese censors have already blocked what remaining access there is to Gmail and other Google products. Google services have been periodically blocked or limited since 2010 when the company said it would no longer co-operate with China's censors. Robinson explained:

These smaller businesses, they're dependent on Gmail. And it's all in the Google services that people are really screwed.

Xiao Qiang, a professor with UC Berkeley's School of Information gave a little insight into the stepped up censorship.

We all know that China is in the middle of a very ferocious power struggle or political cleansing under the name of an anti-corruption campaign, Xiao said. That to me is a very clearly related fact with the amount of political rumours and information related to China's high politics showing up in websites outside of China.

And while the controls hurt businesses that depend on online information and tools, Chinese censors are more worried about restricting political information

 

18th January

 Offsite Article: Because encryption also safeguards information from malicious prying eyes...

Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
David Cameron The US does not seem very impressed by Cameron's idea to ban encryption on the internet

See article from theguardian.com

 

15th January

 Update: Thailand follows the UK lead...

Thailand's military dictators give the green light to a bill introducing mass snooping of all communications
Link Here  full story: Intenet Snooping in Thailand...Threatening that Facebook users should be careful what they 'like'
Thailand flag According to Thai Netizen Network, the cabinet has given the green light to the proposed Cyber Security bill to establish a National Committee for Cyber Security, under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), whose former title was the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). The Cyber Security Bill was one of eight proposed bills on telecommunications which are aimed at restructuring and tightening control of telecommunications in Thailand.

In the draft, the National Committee for Cyber Security will be operated under the supervision of the Minister of Digital Economy and Society to oversee threats to national cyber security, which is defined as cyber threats related to national security, military security, stability, economic security, and interference on internet, satellite, and telecommunications networks.

Most importantly, the committee is authorized to access all communication traffic via all communication devices, such as post, telephone, mobile phone, internet, and other electronic devices. The committee will also have the authority to order all public and private organizations to cooperate against any perceived threats to national cyber security.

 

15th January

 Offsite Article: No Sex Please, We're British...

Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn
Sex Please Were British DVD David Cameron's repressive and ludicrous porn censorship law draws US comments. New pornography regulations in the UK seem to be the latest in a series of campaigns against female sexuality. By Chris Chafin

See article from psmag.com

 

14th January

  Shocking...

Facebook introduces restrictions on violent videos posted on its pages
Link Here
Facebook logo Facebook has begun placing warnings over videos posted to its site, stating their contents might shock, offend and upset if viewed.

The alerts prevent the videos from automatically playing in feeds unless they are clicked, unlike other clips.

The site is also preventing graphic videos and photos from being shown to any user who has identified themself as being under 18 years old.

Facebook allows news reports and other documentary images depicting beheadings and other types of murder to remain online. And among the first posts to be affected are uploaded files containing video footage of policeman Ahmed Merabet being shot dead in Paris by a terrorist involved in last week's Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Inevitable some campaigners don't think the restrictions go far enough.

Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute, told the BBC he wanted cover pages to be placed over graphic material to prevent people from seeing distressing images without warning, and an age-gate system implemented to make it harder for under-18s to find the material.nner.

Arthur Cassidy, who runs a branch of the Yellow Ribbon Program suicide-prevention group, said Facebook should implement an outright ban on clips and pictures of extreme violence. He claimed that large numbers of children used the service and said it was likely that many would try to work around the new restrictions.

 

14th January

  Moral Training...

New Chinese rules require online authors to undergo propaganda indoctrination training
Link Here
sarft logo The Chinese government is to force authors publishing their work online to register with their real names, as the authorities keep up the pressure on freedom of expression.

According to new regulations from the government's Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which administers repressive control over media and publications, any authors posting literary works online must be in possession of a certificate, requiring real-name registration.

The new rules also call for further professional and moral training for authors of online literary works.

Of course things are pretty similar in the west with 'moral training' being renamed as 'cohesion sensitivity training' or 'attending an diversity awareness seminar'.

The use of a pen-name is a time-honored tradition in Chinese literature and journalism, and many writers use pseudonyms to mask their identities if they wish to write something which might be construed as critical of the regime. But pervasive state surveillance of individuals means that the authorities often know the identities of such authors.

Zhang Yu, secretary for the writers' group Independent Chinese PEN, said the move represents yet another attack on freedom of expression in China. Zhang told RFA:

This shows that they want to take their interference with writers' freedom of expression to the next level This will make it much easier for them to maintain surveillance of authors, using various types of software and other methods. In actual fact, the authorities are able to find out who an author is using various types of technology, whether they use their real names or a pseudonym.

The whole point of this [real-name] system is to create a sense of threat, so that authors will censor themselves.

 

14th January

 Offsite Article: Government Dictatorship...

Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn
arms of the british governmentjpg logo How statutory instruments replaced acts of parliament. (Or how the Government can close the entire British adult internet industry without hardly even mentioning it to parliament). By Jane Fae

See article from politics.co.uk

 

13th January

  Cameron Est Stasi...

EU and UK governments quick to call for extreme surveillance powers
Link Here

David Cameron In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris, EU ministers have issued a joint statement calling for ISPs to help to report and remove extremist material online.

The statement was signed by interior ministers from 11 European countries, including the UK's Theresa May, on 11 January, with French ministers and security representatives from the US, Canada and EU in attendance. It called for tighter internet surveillance and border controls.

But of course David Cameron wants to go further. According to the Independant, Cameron could block WhatsApp and Snapchat if he wins the next election, as part of his plans for extreme surveillance powers announced in the wake of the shootings in Paris. He said that he would stop the use of methods of communication that cannot be read by the security services even if they have a warrant.

But that could include popular chat and social apps that encrypt their data, such as WhatsApp. Apple's iMessage and FaceTime also encrypt their data, and could fall under the ban along with other encrypted chat apps like Telegram.

The comments came as part of David Cameron's pledge to revive the snoopers' charter to help security services spy on internet communications. He said: In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which [...] we cannot read? But companies such as WhatsApp have remained committed to keeping their services encrypted and unable to be read by authorities.

Politics does make for strange bedfellows. Cameron's announcement comes just days after the Iranian government decided it was taking a similar step and banned WhatsApp, along with comms software Tango and LINE.

See also Why MI5 does not need more surveillance powers after the Paris attacks  from  theguardian.com by Henry Porter.

 

11th January

 Update: Warning of increased chatter in government circles...

Government response to Paris terrorism is to resurrect the Snooper's Charter
Link Here  full story: Prostitution Law in Ireland...Government solicits public suggestions for changes to the law
Houses of Parliament Ed Miliband told the Andrew Marr Show he would not support new emergency legislation if it was modelled on the snooper's charter. He said he would adopt a cautious and considered approach in answer to calls for increased surveillance powers for the intelligence agencies.

Miliband was speaking after Lord West of Spithead, the former security minister in Gordon Brown's government, called for a revival of the data communications bill, known as the snooper's charter.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, declined to offer support for the bill, proposed by the home secretary, Theresa May, that would give the police and security services the ability to track the email and internet use of UK citizens.

West told the same programme that it would be wrong to rush in legislation. But he criticised Clegg for forcing the government to abandon the data communications bill. He said:

Normally we stop plots because we get a heads up because we know people are talking to each other. That is why that intercept is so important. Most of the plots we have stopped in this country because of that initially indicator. If they are talking then it is really difficult to do anything about it.

Responding to calls to revive the communications data bill, aka the Snoopers Charter, Emma Carr, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

Big Brother Watch logo It is wholly unacceptable for this tragedy in Paris to be used as a means to call for a return of the Snoopers Charter. It is the wrong solution and would divert resources from focused surveillance operations at a time when the agencies are already struggling to cope with the volume of information available.

The Government is introducing legislation to solve the important problem of who is using a specific Internet Protocol address, but the powers within the Snoopers Charter go too far, as recognised by a number of Political figures and two Parliamentary committees.

Instead, the government should focus on the number of failures to continue monitoring those suspected of posing a threat. Those failures should be used as a blueprint to re-evaluate the decision making and record keeping processes of the intelligence agencies, as well as the training and resources allocated within the counter terrorism community.

 

11th January

 Updated: Censorial Gits...

India introduces internet censorship by blocking some big name and important websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
india government logo The Indian government has asked ISPs and mobile operators to block access to 32 sites in the name of its censorship laws GitHub, Archive.org, Imgur, Vimeo, Daily Motion and Pastebin are some of the more familiar names included on the list.

The leader of the Bharatiya Janata political party spouted some unlikely sounding bollox that the banned websites contained some content from ISIS.

Already it seems that some ISPs have taken action and cut access to a number of the websites. The Times Of India reports that its correspondents were not able to access Pastebin, DailyMotion or GitHub using Vodafone's 3G service, although they were able to get on the three sites via rival operator Airtel's service.

The addition of GitHub, a massively popular site for the community development of code seems a particularly harmful decision for India's technology industry. And surely there will be a powerful lobby calling for the unblocking of at least this site.

Update: 4 sites unblocked

2nd January 2015. See  article from  strangethingsarehappening.com

According to IANS , the Government decided to unblock four websites after they gave assurances to the government that they will not allow pasting on Jihadi propaganda. The sites that were unblocked were Website creation & hosting site Weebly.com , Video hosting platforms Vimeo.com & Dailymotion.com and software repository gist.github.com .

The original list of censored websites is:

  1. justpaste.it/
  2. hastebin.com
  3. codepad.org
  4. pastie.org
  5. pastee.org
  6. paste2.org
  7. slexy.org
  8. paste4btc.com/
  9. 0bin.net
  10. heypasteit.com
  11. sourceforge.net/projects/phorkie
  12. atnsoft.com/textpaster
  13. archive.org
  14. hpage.com
  15. ipage.com/
  16. webs.com/
  17. weebly.com/
  18. 000webhost.com/
  19. freehosting.com
  20. vimeo.com/
  21. dailymotion.com/
  22. pastebin.com
  23. gist.github.com
  24. ipaste.eu
  25. thesnippetapp.com
  26. snipt.net
  27. tny.cz (Tinypaste)
  28. github.com (gist-it)
  29. nipplr.com/
  30. termbin.com
  31. www.snippetsource.net
  32. cryptbin.com

Update: Pastebin Unbinned

7th January 2015. See  See  article from  zdnet.com

Pastebin tells ZDNet that the Indian government's wide-ranging internet block, which had included the site , has been removed and Indian citizens are again able to access Pastebin -- but 27 sites still remain banned under the order .

According to Pastebin's statement to ZDNet, there is still no verifiable explanation for India's government-ordered internet censorship.

Update: Unblocked

11th January 2015. See  article from  huffingtonpost.in

The Indian government has ended its blocking of all the 32 websites censored for the unlikely reason that the sites were being used by terrorists.  A source said:

Order was issued on Thursday to unblock all 32 websites that were blocked following complaint of Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad that ISIS is disseminating content through them. All websites has responded that they will work with government and removed jehadi content,

 

8th January

 Offsite Article: Is it time for state-approved porn in the UK?...

Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn
Telegraph logo The demand for pornography is not going to go away, so is it time for the state to legislate, control and tax it properly, asks Martin Daubney

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

7th January

 Offsite Article: 2015 The Year to Vote for Freedom...

Link Here
Pirate Party UK Loz Kaye, leader of the Pirate Party UK sees opportunities to use the upcoming election to leverage some liberal concessions from the freedom hating Labour and Conservatives

See article from sexandcensorship.org

 

6th January

 Offsite Article: Cyber Customs...

Link Here
FTC logo The MPAA has a new plan to stop internet copyright violations at the border

See article from theverge.com

 

5th January

 Offsite Article: But nearly all crimes are defined as 'serious' crimes these days...

Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
home affairs committee Parliamentary committee accuses communication companies of not handing GCHQ key evidence to combat serious crimes such as sending offensive tweets

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

31st December

 Offsite Article: Why we should be worried about relinquishing our privacy to a secret state...

Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
index logo Edward Snowden's lawyer Ben Winzer talks to Index about his client and what the loss of privacy to the secret state means to the future of free expression. By JP O'Malley

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

30th December

 Update: Censorship Unblocked...

Thai military government allows ISPs to censor what they feel like without requiring approval from the courts
Link Here
thai blocked websoite screen Thai ISPs have been authorised to monitor and block any web pages that they feel like. Pages supposedly threatening national security or those that may be construed as insulting to the country's establishment may be censored without having to seek prior approval from courts or official censors..

The new measure was approved at a joint meeting between the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), large internet service providers (ISPs) and the police's Special Branch

After an ISP blocks a page, it is to report to the NBTC and the Information and Communication Technology Ministry without delay. Under previous law and regulations, police had to ask a court for permission to block an internet site or a web page. It is not clear who or what agency has authorised the ad hoc, freelance censorship.

The measure will apply to all types of content and not just Facebook, and covers both regular web pages and social-media posts or messages.

The move is partially in response to foreign internet companies refusing Thai censorship requests. According to the latest Google Transparency Report from July to December 2013, the US media giant did not remove any content requested by Bangkok. Among the requests during the six-month period were for 298 YouTube videos by the ICT Ministry which Google turned down because the request was for global removal .