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21st November

 Offsite Article: Banning Everything...

Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
india government logo Detailed notes from Indian government meeting about implementing massive internet censorship

See article from medianama.com

 

17th November

 Update: An Encyclopedia of Propaganda...

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Russia plans to replace US Wikipedia with Russian Wikipedia
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
wikipedia logo The Russian government is claiming that Wikipedia is US propaganda so plans to create a home grown variant able to provide proper Russian propaganda.

Newsweek notes that the move is the result of an analysis by Russia's National Library that claimed the U.S. website's content on Russia unreliable. It reported:

An analysis of [Wikipedia] showed it was incapable of providing Russian regions with reliable and comprehensive information about the life of the nation.

The Russian government claims their website will objectively reflect the country, its population and the diversity of the Russian nation, according to the statement.

 

17th November

 Update: House of Cards Collapses...

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China bans everything from internet TV
Link Here  full story: Internet TV Censorship in China...Draconian censorship
sarft logo Film and television programmes featuring one-night stands, adultery, supernatural occurrences and gambling will be banned from Chinese streaming websites in the latest episode of Beijing's continuing moral crackdown.

US streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are already effectively banned, but local sites such as Sohu, which recently release House of Cards , would be expected to suffer under the effects of the ban.

In a statement to content providers, censors also demanded the removal of content featuring depictions of sexual abuse, rape, polyamorous relationships, necrophilia, prostitution and masturbation. Violent murder, suicides, drug use and gambling were also among the subjects banned via the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) circular, as well as instances of pornography.

Prof Tan Tian of Jinan university told the Times the new regulations would radically reduce the number of movies and television shows that could be legally streamed in China.

 

16th November

 Update: Courage...

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Top musicians, actors and Nobel laureates show support for Edward Snowden, publishers and whistleblowers
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping

courage foundation logo An international coalition of more than fifty actors, musicians and intellectuals have announced their support for Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, whistleblowers and publishers. Some are also encouraging donations to the Courage Foundation --which runs the official legal defense fund for Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers, as well as fights for whistleblower protections worldwide -- with tweets and social media posts.

The courage that Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers and truthtellers have shown and continue to show is truly extraordinary and necessary in helping the public have access to their historical record through media, said Sarah Harrison, WikiLeaks Investigations Editor and Director of the Courage Foundation. WikiLeaks and Harrison ensured Edward Snowden's safe exit from Hong Kong and secured his asylum. We cannot thank these cultural icons enough for showing their support.

The announcement coincides with the expanded theatrical release of Laura Poitras' critically acclaimed documentary CitizenFour -- providing a first-hand account of Edward Snowden's disclosure of the NSA's mass surveillance program.

Signed by Susan Sarandon, Russell Brand, Peter Sarsgaard, M.I.A., Thurston Moore, David Berman, Vivienne Westwood, Alfonso Cuaròn and several other artists and intellectuals, the statement praises the work of whistleblowers such as Snowden, highlighting the need to support these individuals as they face social and legal persecution for their revelations to the public. The statement reads:

We stand in support of those fearless whistleblowers and publishers who risk their lives and careers to stand up for truth and justice. Thanks to the courage of sources like Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, and Edward Snowden, the public can finally see for themselves the war crimes, corruption, mass surveillance, and abuses of power of the U.S. government and other governments around the world. WikiLeaks is essential for its fearless dedication in defending these sources and publishing their truths. These bold and courageous acts spark accountability, can transform governments, and ultimately make the world a better place.

In addition to urging the public to stand in solidarity with Snowden and other whistleblowers, many of the artists are calling on fans to watch CitizenFour, and are raising awareness of the Courage Foundation's whistleblower defense efforts, which fundraises for the legal and public defense of whistleblowers and campaigns for the protection of truthtellers and the public's right to know generally.

The statement was signed by:

Udi Aloni, Pamela Anderson, Anthony Arnove, Etienne Balibar, Alexander Bard, John Perry Barlow, Radovan Baros, David Berman, Russell Brand, Victoria Brittain, Susan Buck-Morss, Eduardo L. Cadava, Calle 13, Alex Callinicos, Robbie Charter, Noam Chomsky, Scott Cleverdon, Ben Cohen, Sadie Coles, Alfonso Cuaròn, John Deathridge, Costas Douzinas, Roddy Doyle, Bella Freud, Leopold Froehlich, Terry Gilliam, Charlie Glass, Boris Groys, Michael Hardt, P J Harvey, Wang Hui, Fredric Jameson, Brewster Kahle, Hanif Kureishi, Engin Kurtay, Alex Taek-Gwang Lee, Nadir Lahiji, Kathy Lette, Ken Loach, Maria Dolores Galán López, Sarah Lucas, Mairead Maguire, Tobias Menzies, M.I.A., W. J. T. Mitchell, Moby, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Viggo Mortensen, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bob Nastanovich, Antonio Negri, Brett Netson, Rebecca O’Brien, Joshua Oppenheimer, John Pilger, Alexander Roesler, Avital Ronell, Pier Aldo Rovatti, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, Assumpta Serna, Vaughan Smith, Ahdaf Soueif, Oliver Stone, Cenk Uygur, Yanis Varoufakis, Peter Weibel, Vivienne Westwood, Tracy Worcester and Slavoj Zizek

 

16th November

 Updated: Ban Everything!...

David Cameron calls for more internet censorship of 'extremist' material. And no doubt the authorities will define 'extremist' as meaning more or less everything
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
David Cameron David Cameron has called for governments around the world to do more to censor 'extremist' material online. He made his comments during a visit to Australia's Parliament. He said:

The root cause of the challenge we face is the extremist narrative. A new and pressing challenge is getting extremist material taken down from the Internet. There is a role for government in that. We must not allow the Internet to be an ungoverned space. But there is a role for companies too.

Cameron then went on to detail measures already being taken in the UK to combat online extremism, including adding supposedly extremists material to ISP blocking lists, improving reporting mechanisms and being more proactive in taking down supposedly harmful material.

The British government also recently revealed plans to reduce the amount of hate material online. However, a report released in May revealed that the proposal is experiencing a number of hurdles, including opposition from ISPs and social networks, particularly those based outside the UK.

Open Rights Group has responded to the announcement that ISPs will add extremist websites to filters designed to protect children from seeing adult content. Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group said:

We need transparency whenever political content is blocked even when we are talking about websites that espouse extremist views. The government must be clear about what sites they think should be blocked, why they are blocking them and whether there will be redress for site owners who believe that their website has been blocked incorrectly.

Given the low uptake of filters, it is difficult to see how effective the government's approach will be when it comes to preventing young people from seeing material they have deemed inappropriate. Anyone with an interest in extremist views can surely find ways of circumventing child friendly filters

Update: Censorship button

16th November 2014. See article from bbc.co.uk

The UK's major internet service providers (ISPs) are to introduce new measures to tackle online extremism, Downing Street has said. The ISPs had committed to strengthening their filters and adding a public reporting button to flag terrorism-related material. In a briefing note, No 10 said the ISPs had subsequently committed to filtering out extremist and terrorist material, and hosting a button that members of the public could use to report content. It would work in a similar fashion to the reporting button that allows the public to flag instances of child sexual exploitation on the internet.

However, the BBC understands that while the ISPs agreed in principle to do more to prevent extremism, they have not actually committed to the measures outlined by No 10.

We have had productive dialogue with government about addressing the issue of extremist content online and we are working through the technical details, a spokeswoman for BT said. A spokesman for Sky said: We're exploring ways in which we can help our customers report extremist content online, including hosting links on our website. The plan presents logistical problems as extremist groups such as Isis typically use channels like YouTube or Twitter that are popular for entirely legal purposes.

 

16th November

  An Objectionable Film Censor...

New Zealand film censor threatens and ISPs proxy service claiming it lets people see objectionable uncensored films from the US
Link Here
slingshot logo New Zealand's film censor at the Office of Film and Literature Classification is threatening CallPlus subsidiary Slingshot with prosecution over the access it is providing to blocked overseas internet television services such as Netflix through its free GlobalMode service.

Inevitably, the movie trade group, the Film and Video Labelling Body, an incorporated society whose members include Sony, Universal and Paramount, said it agreed with chief censor Andrew Jack that Slingshot was breaking the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act. That was because GlobalMode provided a gateway to overseas services such as Netflix that showed programmes that had not gone through New Zealand's classification system, some of which it claimed were objectionable.

However the ISP trade group, InternetNZ said that it did not believe internet providers were responsible for what its customers did on the internet and to suggest otherwise creates a bizarre world where internet providers are held up to a different standard to other utility suppliers .

CallPlus chief executive Mark Callander has said GlobalMode is not illegal and the company does not intend to axe it despite the chief censor's legal threat.

Canterbury University law professor Ursula Cheer has said any prosecution of Slingshot would be a test case . The outcome would hinge on whether Slingshot's decision to actively promote GlobalMode as a means to access overseas television programming meant it had lost the safe harbour protections in the Act that usually shield internet providers from prosecution for the content they carry.

 

14th November

 Update: Perhaps Euro judges could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting terrorism...

Government minister Sajid Javid notes that the bad guys are getting reports of their criminal deeds censored under the EU's 'right to be forgotten'
Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
sajid javid Terrorists and criminals are being airbrushed from history as right-to-be-forgotten laws bring in censorship by the back door , the culture secretary has warned.

Sajid Javid said convictions are being removed from the internet even by those who have gone on to commit further crime, with terrorists ordering Google to remove stories about their trials. He warned that thousands of requests were being received each day by those who prefer to keep their past a secret , thanks to unelected judges in Europe.

He told an audience the European court had introduced censorship through the back door by ordering internet search engines such as Google to offer a right to be forgotten to individuals who want links to information about them to be removed.  Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, he said, was being used as:

Little more than an excuse for well-paid lawyers to hide the shady pasts of wealthy businessmen and the sexual indiscretions of sporting celebrities.

The 'right to be forgotten' is censorship through the back door.

 

13th November

  A watershed for the internet...Mediawatch-UK will be pleased...

Sky Broadband introduces option for parents to automatically set times of day when internet website blocking is in force
Link Here
Sky TV Sky's Broadband Shield parental controls tool now lets families set timers for content blocking.

The content blocks applying to all devices in the home, gives parents the choice between three pre-defined censorship levels based on ages ratings, PG, 13 and 18.

Parents were always able to switch between the three categories at will but the new Watershed tool means that settings don't have to be manually changed; timers can be applied so that the PG or 13 setting is in place during the day hours with the 18 setting coming on after bedtime. The tool can also enforce blocking levels selected for homework hours.

 

9th November

  Legal Insecurity...

UK security agencies found to have been snooping of confidential communications between lawyers and their clients
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping

gchq logo The intelligence services have routinely been intercepting legally privileged communications between lawyers and their clients in sensitive security cases, according to internal MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents.

The information obtained may even have been exploited unlawfully and used by the agencies in the fighting of court cases in which they themselves are involved, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has been told, resulting in miscarriages of justice.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under the law.

The Conservative MP David Davis, a former shadow home secretary, said past practice was to delete such material immediately if it was ever picked up. Amnesty International said the government was gaining an unfair advantage akin to playing poker in a hall of mirrors .

Their comments come after 28 extracts of internal intelligence policies showing how legally privileged material is handled by security officials were released to lawyers pursuing a claim through the IPT. The tribunal considers complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

...Read the full article

Open Rights Group's Legal Director, Elizabeth Knight said:

We already know that RIPA allows the security services to intercept all 'external communications, breaching our right to privacy. By undermining journalistic and legal privilege, RIPA also threatens our rights to free speech and a fair trial. The government cannot keep defending these abuses. We need urgent reform of this broken law now. This disclosure demonstrates the need to introduce judicial authorisation.'

 

9th November

  Legislating at the behest of media giants...

Spanish Copyright Amendments Will Shakedown News Sites and Censor the Web
Link Here

Spanish flag We've reported before on how news publishers in Germany and Ireland have demanded that Google pay royalties for the reproduction of news snippets and image thumbnails next to search results in its Google News product. In France and Belgium publishers took this claim to the courts resulting in an eventual settlement from Google, whilst in Germany, lawmakers unwisely caved in and passed legislation in 2013 to grant the special copyright-like rights in news snippets that the publishers had demanded.

Illustrating how pointless this was, Google subsequently called the bluff of the German publishers, replacing their news snippets with simple hyperlinked headings rather than paying the royalties the publishers demanded, while the befuddled publishers watched their traffic stats drop away. In a humiliating backdown reported this week, the publishers have since gone back cap in hand to Google begging it to reindex their content, snippets and all.

Last week, Spain passed a similar amendment to its own copyright law, but with a nasty twist--not only are news aggregators prohibited from including news snippets without payment, but this right to payment is made inalienable. This means that aggregators are prohibited from negotiating with the publishers to waive the payment, as has occurred elsewhere in Europe. This would also seemingly frustrate the intent of any news publisher who released their work under a Creative Commons or other open license for royalty-free use.

The same new Spanish law makes other adverse and short-sighted changes to copyright law, bowing to the lobbying pressure of large content owners.

Worst of these other measures is the criminalization of hosting a website that merely links to infringing content, exposing them to crippling fines of up to ?600,000. Liability is triggered as soon as the owner has been notified by email of the alleged infringement and fails to respond by self-censoring the allegedly infringing content. Even non-profit websites are exposed to liability, if they run advertisements to defray site expenses. This provision runs against a recent judgment of the European Court of Justice ruling that hyperlinks are not a reproduction of the copyright works they link to .

The law also newly targets businesses advertising on such websites, as well as those providing it with payment services, and authorizes the Spanish domain authority to cancel any ".es" domains under which they are hosted. (It is a shame that the Spanish legislators apparently think so little of Google News, because otherwise they might have read news snippets about a pair of ill-fated 2011 bills titled SOPA and PIPA that included similar Internet censorship provisions.)

In combination, these provisions will seriously chill speech online, casting a potential cloud of liability over website operators and the intermediaries who serve them. Rather than reducing the dissemination of copyright-infringing content, its only likely effect will be to drive Spanish websites offshore to a less hostile legal environment.

Unfortunately, it's likely too late now to do much about this ill-considered law--it is already scheduled to take effect in January 2015. This is particularly poorly timed, since the European Commission is in the midst of composing a new Directive to modernize European copyright law, which is likely to be passed in that same year. Whilst the new Directive may (we can only hope) include liberalized copyright limitations and exceptions, Spain's amendments to its copyright law go in precisely the opposite direction.

There is no doubt that technological change has hit newspaper publishers as well as other copyright owners. But a backward-looking law that penalizes innovators and threatens free speech on the Internet is not the solution.

 

8th November

 Offsite Article: BLOCKED!...

Link Here  full story: Crap Internet Blocking...Cheapo automated filters are not up to the job
strange things are happening banner logo ISP Filters are so strict that almost half ban the 'Strange Things are Happening' site - but ATVOD still want more internet censorship. by David Flint

See article from strangethingsarehappening.com

 

5th November

 Update: Government propaganda campaign against Google/Facebook encryption...

Britain's internet censors at Ofcom call for easier snooping
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
Ofcom logo In the wake of a GCHQ for increased internet mass snooping capabilities, Ofcom internet censors have chipped in with calls for Google and Facebook to make state snooping easier.

Ofcom's chief executive, Ed Richards, has said technology companies such as Google and Facebook have social responsibilities. He said:

 I think it's fair to say that there are social responsibilities that come with a media that are as prevalent and significant as those social media [companies] have become.

It's absolutely right to ask what society should expect of those organisations as responsible companies with an impact on society.

At one level what he is saying is clearly right in the sense that social media are being used by all sorts of different communities, clearly including terrorist and jihadi [groups], and are part of the way that groups like that communicate.

His comments came after the new director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, called on US tech companies to do more in the fight against terrorism in the Financial Times, declaring that privacy had never been an absolute right .

Ofcom's chair, Patricia Hodgson, seemed to suggest that snooping wasn't just targetted at terrorism but even down to supposed crimes such as extreme pornography. She said:

It's certainly the case that there has been a struggle to keep up with this shift [in] the use of social media, the most extreme abuses of it, for terrorism or illegal pornography.

There are obviously arrangements whereby the government can categorise material [relating to terrorism or illegal pornography] and issue take-down notices.

But there were very great difficulties where that material is on the cusp, that doesn't fall very clearly under those arrangements.

The chair and chief executive of Ofcom were giving evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday as part of a review of the regulator's work.

 

4th November

 Update: Beyond mass snooping...

GCHQ head wants even more capability to watch over your shoulder
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
gchq logo Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ, has accused US technology companies of becoming the command and control networks of choice for terrorists.

Privacy has never been an absolute right , according to the new director of snooping. Robert Hannigan said a new generation of freely available technology has helped groups like Islamic State (Isis) to hide from the security services and accuses major tech firms of being in denial , going further than his predecessor in seeking to claim that the leaks of Edward Snowden have aided terror networks.

GCHQ and sister agencies including MI5 cannot tackle those challenges without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web , Hannigan argued in an opinion piece written for the Financial Times just days into his new job. While not naming any company in particular, the GCHQ director wrote:

To those of us who have to tackle the depressing end of human behaviour on the internet, it can seem that some technology companies are in denial about its misuse.

I suspect most ordinary users of the internet are ahead of them: they have strong views on the ethics of companies, whether on taxation, child protection or privacy; they do not want the media platforms they use with their friends and families to facilitate murder or child abuse.

Techniques for encrypting messages or making them anonymous which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states now come as standard. These are supplemented by freely available programs and apps adding extra layers of security, many of them proudly advertising that they are 'Snowden approved'. There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learnt and benefited from the leaks of the past two years.

Executive Director Jim Killock  of Open Rights Group has responded to Hannigan's comment. He said:

Open Rights Group logo Robert Hannigan's comments are divisive and offensive. If tech companies are becoming more resistant to GCHQ's demands for data, it is because they realise that their customers' trust has been undermined by the Snowden revelations. It should be down to judges, not GCHQ nor tech companies, to decide when our personal data is handed over to the intelligence services. If Hannigan wants a 'mature debate' about privacy, he should start by addressing GCHQ's apparent habit of gathering the entire British population's data rather than targeting their activities towards criminals.

 

3rd November

 Update: Putin Bares his Chest...

Chelsea Handler vs Putin: International competition for best instagrams and best take downs
Link Here  full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo hsaring website gets heavy on the censorship

chelsea handler vs putin Chelsea Handler is an American comedienne, actress, author, television host, writer and producer. She hosted a late-night talk show called Chelsea Lately on the E! network.

Chelsea Handler's bare breasts were on Instagram for roughly half an hour after she shared a topless photo of herself riding a horse .

The pic was a protest against an unfair double standard: Vladimir Putin can freely post topless pictures on horseback anywhere online without fear of censorship, but a lady's nipples are still considered obscene by many websites. Chelsea explained: Anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better #kremlin.

Instagram repeated the censorship 3 times before Chelsea got the message the US can be more censorial than Russia and free speech does not apply when people are supposedly offended or outraged.

 

2nd November

 Update: The right to have free speech forgotten...

Pianist attempts to censor bad reviews via the 'right to be forgotten'
Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
Schumann Brahms Liasons Dejan Lazic Dejan Lazic, a concert pianist from Croatia, has demanded that a bad review of a 2010 concert he gave be removed from internet search results under the European right to be forgotten law.

Lazic wrote to the Washington Post, which published the review by classical music writer Anne Midgette, to have the article removed from search results. He claimed that the review was: Defamatory, mean-spirited, opinionated, one-sided, offensive [and] simply irrelevant for the arts , despite the fact that the original piece is in many places complimentary.

In the original article, Midgette said that his performance was lackluster given his huge talents, and prone to grandiloquence .

Lazic also claimed that his request was nothing to do with censorship ...BUT... a response to the fact that newspaper reviews are too far from the truth .

 

31st October

 Update: State Censors...

Australian government defends its wide-ranging ability to block websites without accountability
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship
australian government logo Australia's law-enforcement agency has defended its use of a law that requires ISPs to block websites government agencies deem illegal, without judicial oversight.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) claimed they need section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires telcos to enforce criminal laws, protect public revenue and anything deemed to be a matter of national security.

The AFP, financial regulator ASIC and an unidentified national security agency have interpreted the law to mean they have the power to order telcos to block websites hosting illegal material.

But ISPs have called for restrictions. They argue there is not enough oversight and that some providers had even received blocking requests from animal protection agency the RSPCA.

Between 2011 and 2013 the Department of Communications estimated 32 requests to block websites had been made. As far as it was aware, only three government agencies had used the power.

 

31st October

 Updated: Government creating new laws to suffocate British businesses selling to adults...

When will politicians ever do anything useful, like funding a convenient and free age verification system that businesses will then be keen to use?
Link Here  full story: UK Government Age Verification...Government mandates age verification for porn

DCMS logo Porn websites will be forced to check users are over 18 under a new crackdown to stop children accessing explicit material.

Mobile phone companies and credit card firms will have to ensure that someone proves they are aged 18 or over before being given access to adult websites.

Now it has emerged that plans are being drawn up to force adult websites to carry out checks on the age of users. It would cover pornography sites, as well as those selling guns and other age-restricted material, the Sunday Times reported.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working on the plans with Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom, who oversees regulation of the banking system.

However, the new rules would only cover UK-based websites to begin with.  It is already nearly impossible to run a British adult website due to onerous age verification rules and critics have noted that only one of the 1,266 adult websites visited from the UK in December 2013 was a service that is regulated in this country.

It seems very unlikely that these new rules will have any impact on the availability of porn to children. Even if new downloads were stopped tomorrow there's probably already enough knocking around and hard drives and memory sticks to last several lifetimes of playground swopsies. The only effect it will have is to add to the mountain of red tape, administrative costs and restrictive regulations that is impoverishing the west.

 

Offsite Comment: Why age checks on porn sites will do more harm than good

Telegraph logo 28th October 2014. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk by Martin Daubney

The Government's plan to introduce age verification checks only shows that politicians remain too scared to approach the porn problem in a meaningful manner.

...Read the full article

Update: Will the payment providers provide age verification?

31st October 2014. See  article from  business.avn.com

That tidbit of information, along with other reports indicating that PayPal and Visa will be taking part in the new scheme in addition to other approved methods of verification, suggests that one way the government ostensibly means to gain control of the internet is by pressuring processors to age-verify while simultaneously holding out the (dubious) promise of increased and officially sanctioned business.

 

29th October

 Extracts: So Orwell was just 30 years out...

How the police and GCHQ work round legal requirements so as to enable secretive mass snooping
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping

gchq logo British intelligence services can access raw material collected in bulk by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies without a warrant, the government has confirmed for the first time.

GCHQ's secret arrangements for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year.

The government's submission discloses that the UK can obtain unselected -- meaning unanalysed, or raw intelligence -- information from overseas partners without a warrant if it was not technically feasible to obtain the communications under a warrant and if it is necessary and proportionate for the intelligence agencies to obtain that information.

The rules essentially permit bulk collection of material, which can include communications of UK citizens, provided the request does not amount to deliberate circumvention of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which governs much of the UK's surveillance activities.

And the Police...

See  article from  bigbrotherwatch.org.uk
See  Spying on phone calls and emails has doubled under the coalition from  telegraph.co.uk

Metropiltan Police badge Big Brother Watch has published a report highlighting the true scale of police forces' use of surveillance powers.

The report comes at a time when the powers have faced serious criticism, following revelations that police have used them to access journalists' phone records.

The research focuses on the use of 'directed surveillance' contained in the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by police forces; a form of covert surveillance conducted in places other than residential premises or private vehicles which is deemed to be non-intrusive, but is still likely to result in personal information about the individual being obtained.

Although the report details how directed surveillance powers were authorised more than 27,000 times over a three year period, police forces are not compelled to record any other statistics; therefore we cannot know the exact number of individuals that these authorisations relate to.

 

29th October

  Linked Judgements...

European Court of Justice decides that embedding pre-existing video without permission is not liable to claims of copyright infringement
Link Here
European Court of Justice The Court of Justice of the European Union has handed down a landmark verdict. The Court ruled that embedding copyrighted videos is not copyright infringement, even if the source video was uploaded without permission.

The case in question was referred to EU's Court of Justice by a German court. It deals with a dispute between the water filtering company BestWater International and two men who work as independent commercial agents for a competitor. Bestwater accused the men of embedding one of their promotional videos, which was available on YouTube without the company's permission. The video was embedded on the personal website of the two through a frame, as is usual with YouTube videos.

While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement.

The Court argues that embedding a file or video is not a breach of creator's copyrights under European law, as long as it's not altered or communicated to a new public. In the current case, the video was already available on YouTube so embedding it is not seen as a new communication. T he Court's verdict reads:

The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology ... does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication.

The Court based its verdict on an earlier decision in the Svensson case , where it found that hyperlinking to a previously published work is not copyright infringement. Together, both cases will have a major impact on future copyright cases in the EU. For Internet users it means that they are protected from liability if they embed copyrighted videos or images from other websites, for example.

 

26th October

 Offsite Article: Silencing extreme views, even if they are those of internet trolls, is wrong...

Link Here  full story: Internet Trolls...Internet users jailed for trolling
edinburgh university feminist society logo Internet trolls are among the worst specimens the human race can offer. But they are not a reason to nod through another restriction on personal freedom

See article from theguardian.com

 

24th October

 Update: Reading a bit too much into 'following' someone on Twitter...

Social media told to counter terrorist propaganda with government propaganda
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Twitter logo Senior British executives from Twitter, Google and Facebook were summoned to Downing Street on Thursday and told to do more to take action to curb the online activities of extremists. The Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service are in talks about using court orders to ensure that ISPs immediately remove extremist propaganda.

The warning came as it transpired that Britain's most high-profile radical Islamist preacher, Anjem Choudary, had influenced the man involved in the Ottawa attack. Canadian terrorist Martin Ahmad Rouleau's Twitter account showed that he followed several radical preachers, including Choudary, who tweeted that he hoped that the Canadian attacker would be admitted to heaven.

However, Choudary said: The fact that someone follows you on Twitter does not mean you necessarily influenced him to do anything.

As part of the plans, the Government also wants to encourage social media sites to use so-called counter-speech tactics, which involves positive messages about Islam online to prevent extremists monopolising websites.

 

23rd October

  Toeing the Censorship Line...

Citizen Lab reveals a little about keyword censorship used in China to block Line app messages
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
line logo Messaging app Line started has increased censorship in China by adding more keywords to its region-based block list.

However researchers have revealed an increased sophistication to the system making it less noticeable to users, as edgecastcdn.net reported. The censorship software now allows users to use these words separately but not in phrases. Similar techniques have also been implemented in social media sites such as Weibo.

Censorship becomes more meticulous and does not block everything completely, said Wu Qianhua, researcher at the university. He said he thinks the new tactic is helping the regime. For example, under the new system, users could send messages that include Xinjiang or independence , but not two at the same time:

If you only hide a small part, instead of everything that is relative to a certain topic, then fewer people would be affected by censorship and more will be interested to talk about topics such as Xinjiang in a 'legal' way, Wu said. But when you hide everything, people will be more curious about how the censorship works and why it exists.

The researchers found out that if users set China as their country, the app's censorship functionality will be triggered and automatically download a bad words list from a website named Naver . However, users could also learn from a post on the lab's website on how to change their location settings and bypass the region-focused system that applies to China.

 

22nd October

 Updated: Facebook's real names policy is problematic for free speech...

From trans people to activists, there are some good reasons for some Facebook users to use a pseudonym. And yet, Facebook is unrelenting
Link Here

Facebook again made headlines this month for its refusal to allow users to represent themselves with their chosen identities. A number of users of the site, mainly drag performers, reported that their accounts had been taken down in violation of the company's real names policy that requires individuals to use their legal name for personal accounts.

...Read the full article


Update: Facebook apologises to drag queens for deleting their accounts due to fake names'

3rd October 2014. See article from itv.com . Thanks to Nick

Facebook logo As per standard procedure at the Facebook censor's office, when enough negative publicity is created, the PR department springs into life. Facebook then makes profuse apologies, claims it was all some sort of ghastly mistake, then makes an exception to the rules for the publicised case, makes no real changes, and then carries on as normal in censoring all the vast majority of people who are not quite so adept at generating publicity.

In this case Facebook has now appealed for attempting to out drag queens, Mentioning two drag queens while clarifying their policy Facebook's Chris Cox said:

Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what's been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.

Facebook has said that a single user highlighted the accounts as possibly using fake names and the reports were lost in the several hundred thousand fake name reports they process a week.

Offsite Comment: Dear Facebook: Sorry is a Start. Now Let's See Solutions

5th October 2014. See  article from  eff.org

Electronic Frontier Foundation When it comes to Facebook's real names policy, it's really clear---something needs to change. Over the last few weeks, we've joined dozens of advocates in saying so. And in a meeting with LGBTQ and digital rights advocates, Facebook agreed. Of course, admitting there's a problem is always the first step towards a solution. But what's not clear is what that solution will be.

EFF continues to believe that the best solution is simply to get rid of the real names policy entirely. But barring that, Facebook needs to find a solution that takes into account the myriad groups of people affected by Facebook's faulty policy, from undocumented immigrants, to activists in oppressive regimes, to survivors of domestic violence.

...Read the full article

Update: Facebook Bollox

22nd October 2014. See  article from  theguardian.com

Weeks after Facebook apologised for the way its real-name policy had led to the suspension of numerous drag queens' accounts, user accounts are still being suspended or deactivated for not using people's legal names.

Sister Roma, a veteran of San Francisco's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence , is one of the leaders of the campaign to get Facebook to restore these accounts and has become a key liaison between the social media giant and people whose accounts continue to be suspended or deactivated. Sister Roma told the Guardian:

Every time one or two get fixed, a handful get suspended So we really feel like we're swimming upstream, and while I'm hopeful that Facebook is doing the right thing, it's discouraging.

Sister Roma said she has fielded 300 to 400 emails from people whose accounts have been suspended or deactivated.

 

22nd October

 Commented: Is it all politicians can do, dream up new ways to imprison ordinary people?...

Government proposed to increase the penalty for internet insult to 2 years in jail
Link Here  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter
Ministry of Justice logo Internet insults could lead to two years in jail under new laws, 'Justice' Secretary Chris Grayling has said. He proposes that magistrates should be able to pass serious cases on to crown courts under the new measures.

He told the Mail on Sunday quadrupling the current maximum six-month term showed his determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob

These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.

As the terrible case of Chloe Madeley showed last week, people are being abused online in the most crude and degrading fashion.

This is a law to combat cruelty - and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob. We must send out a clear message: if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years.

Those who subject others to sexually offensive, verbally abusive or threatening material online are currently prosecuted in magistrates' courts under the Malicious Communications Act, with a maximum prison sentence of six months. More serious cases could go to crown court under the proposals, where the maximum sentence would be extended.

The law change is to be made as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill going through Parliament.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, responded to the proposed new penalties:

Big Brother Watch logo The Justice Secretary should be focusing his efforts on incidents where real harm may be caused, not casting the net wider for anything that could be deemed offensive.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the police have completely failed to properly use the existing harassment law, which itself would address the actions of anyone who poses a serious threat.

The victims of serious abuse online, or indeed offline, do not need headline grabbing policies. They need definitive action to ensure that the police know what the law is when a compliant is made. It is that action which will keep them safe, not attempts to legally blur the line between illegal behaviour and being generally offensive.

Offsite Comment: Trolling 'is' a free-speech issue, and always has been

22nd October 2014. See  article from  spiked-online.com by Tom Slater

Spiked logo The UK justice secretary's announcement on Sunday that the jail sentence for abusive online trolling is set to be quadrupled, from a maximum of six months to two years, should send a chill down the spine of all freedom-loving individuals. The fact that a panic over the phlegm-spitting, misspelled missives of a few keyboard warriors has laid the path for heavy-handed state intervention into our communications sets a dangerous precedent for the future of free expression online.

...Read the full article .

Note that the increase in sentences for internet insult is not actually a new addition to the bill, the repressive measure has been included from the beginning.