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28th September

 Offsite Article: U-tube censors...

Link Here
federal elections commission logo US election censors consider banning social media as it is supposedly a form of communication that targets non ethnic voters

See article from washingtonexaminer.com

 

28th September

  Will Facebook buy it?...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Nude Portraits Without Nipples Challenge Censorship Policies
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
nippleless psoes

 

23rd September

  Recruiting censors on the cheap...


Nice 'n' Naughty

YouTube to create an army of Stasi snitches and whingers, rewarding them for flagging videos as inappropriate
Link Here
tubeheroes YouTube is looking for what if calls, heroes to snitch on videos and inappropriate comments, but early feedback has been overwhelmingly negative with users describing it as crowdsourced censorship.

Users who join the Heroes program will earn points for adding captions and subtitles to videos, flagging inappropriate videos and answering questions on the site's Help forum.

Accruing points will earn them with rather underwhelming and cheapo 'privileges' like joining video chats with others in the Heroes program, exclusive previews of upcoming product launches and the ability to flag abusive videos en masse instead of one at a time.

However, YouTube employees ultimately make the final decision on what to do with content marked as inappropriate.

Users on YouTube made their voices heard almost immediately, with an overwhelming number of Dislikes on the announcement video. It currently has over 200,000 Dislikes compared to 3,000 Likes, after nearly 600,000 views.

 

22nd September

 Update: Porn register...


Nice 'n' Naughty

South Africa works on an internet censorship bill that requires adult video websites to log the names and addresses of all viewers in a register available for government perusal
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in South Africa...Proppsal to block all porn from South Africans
South Africa flag If the Films and Publications Amendment Bill is passed in its current form, South Africans may no longer upload videos to online channels, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram -- unless they register as a distributor and pay a censorship registration fee.

A spokesperson from the Democratic Alliance party, Phumzile van Damme, said that government is increasingly overplaying its hand with regard to freedom of speech:

There seems to be a firm hand in a broader project of censorship that is very worrying.The 'Internet Censorship Bill' in its current form gives government wide-sweeping powers to censor content on the internet.

The bill seeks to restrict the distribution of digital films in that such content needs to be pre-classified by the Films and Publications Board. The terminology used in this provision is broad enough to include all digital videos and films, also user-generated video materia uploaded to social media platforms.

A section in the bill states that any person who distributes a film or game classified as X18 must keep a register when access to the content is granted to a user. The user's name, address and age will be captured in the register and the CEO of the Films and Publications Board will have access to this register.

Van Damme commented:

This is an unjustifiable breach of the right to privacy, which includes the right to not have your private communications infringed.

south africa film censor logo Meanwhile as the bill is being discussed in parliament, South Africa's film censors have demand that Google censor seraches for adult material.

The Film and Publication Board has stated it is unacceptable for people to be able to access pornography with a Google search. The FPB made the statement during a parliamentary hearing into submissions on what has been called its Internet censorship bill. Lawyer Nicholas Hall quoted the FPB during the IESA's submissions on the FPB Amendment Bill.

FPB: It is unacceptable that you can type in Pornography and get access to porn, Google needs to take steps to address this

 

20th September

 Offsite Article: If You Build A Censorship Machine, They Will Come...

Link Here
MPAA logo EFF notes that MPAA are fighting censorship of smoking on film whilst seeking censorship for uses of film that they do not approve

See article from eff.org

 

19th September

  Complainants about insults are always right, especially when they are rich...

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has put forward a bill that will allow for rampant, unaccountable censorship of the Italian internet, without rule of law or penalty for abuse.
Link Here

Italy flag Under a proposed law supposedly targeting cyber bullying and revenge porn, a website manager of Italian media, including bloggers, newspapers and social networks would be obliged to censor "mockery" based on "the personal and social condition" of the victim -- that is, anything the recipient felt was personally insulting.

The penalty for failing to take action is a fine of ?100,000. Truthfulness is not a defense in suits under this law -- the standard is personal insult, not falsehood.

Let's start with what this won't do: it won't stop bullying, harassment or revenge porn in Italy. The majority of services on which Italians express themselves are not based in Italy, and those with Italian sales-offices, etc, can and will simply move offices rather than face a ?100,000 fine every time someone insults someone else online.

But what it will do is create a tool for easy censorship without due process or penalty for misuse. The standard proposed in the bill is merely that the person on the receiving end of the argument feel aggrieved. Think of the abuse of copyright takedowns: online hosts already receive millions of these , more than they could possibly evaluate, and so we have a robo-takedown regime that lets the rich and powerful routinely remove material that puts them in an unflattering light.

The standard set by the proposed Italian law allows for purely subjective claims to be made, and for enormous penalties to be imposed on those who question them before undertaking sweeping acts of censorship.

Internet-savvy Italian deputy Stefano Quintarelli has proposed an amendment that makes the law marginally saner: under his amendment, failure to act on a censorship notice wouldn't automatically give rise to a fine; rather, it would make the person who ignored the complaint a party to any eventual civil penalty imposed by a court of law.

That is a step in the right direction, but it is really just a plaster over a gaping chasm of bad, reactionary lawmaking. The people who are genuinely aggrieved will continue to struggle for justice; the genuine bad actors (like revenge-porn sites) will continue with impunity out of Italian jurisdiction, and the rich and the powerful will get a force-multiplier for silencing their critics without meaningful penalties for abuse.

The Berlusconi years gave Italy a reputation for political chaos. In the post-Berlusconi era, we'd hoped for better. By seriously considering ideas as bad as this one, the Italian chamber of deputies continues to make Italian politics into a global joke.

 

18th September

 Offsite Article: No refuge from mass snooping...

Link Here
de-cix logo Internet exchange DE-CIX challenges the legality of Germany mandating devices to enable mass internet surveillance

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

17th September

 Update: Deviant censors...

Intolerant Indonesia seeks to ban gay networking apps
Link Here  full story: Gay Intolerance in Indonesia...Gay life winds up the intolerants
grindr logo Indonesia is planning to ban gay networking apps , in the latest demonstration of the country's growing intolerance toward the LGBT community.

A government official confirmed that authorities are already moving to block at least three apps, Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy.

But the ban could be much broader. According to Buzzfeed , more than 80 websites and applications geared toward sexual and gender minorities could fall under the injunction. AFP cited communications ministry spokesperson Noor Iza as claiming that such websites promote sexual deviancy.

The spokesperson said that letters had been sent to three online service providers requesting that the apps be blocked, but it is unclear whether they will adhere to the bid.

 

14th September

 Offsite Article: Not much to like about Facebook...

Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logo Facebook is imposing prissy American censorship on the whole rest of the world. By Jane Fae

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

13th September

  Instagram to offer service to block posts using selected phrases...

I think I will block anyone suggesting a 'change.org petition'
Link Here
instagram logo The photo-sharing website Instagram has unveiled a new moderation system which lets users automatically censor unkind or inappropriate comments.

Users will now be able to select words they find troubling or concerning and then ban any comments which use the unmentionable phrase.

The Sun rather 'unkindly' comments:

This is likely to be warmly welcomed by the gentle souls of Generation Snowflake , who have a pathological fear of encountering views they disagree with.

Instagram's guide to banning nasty comments reads:

Go to your Profile and tap the Options menu (gear icon). Click Comments.

There, you can select Hide Inappropriate Comments, which will hide any comments using a standard list of keywords.

You can also add custom keywords you'd like to filter out. Any comments containing these keywords will be hidden.

If a comment is posted with one of these keywords, it will only appear to the commenter and the commenter's followers and will be hidden for everyone else.

This feature will hide violating comments on old and new posts alike.

If you turn the comment filter off or remove custom keywords, any comment with those keywords will be unhidden.

 

11th September

 Commented: Shoddy standards...

Cheapo Facebook censorship makes the news again for banning iconic war photo
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
iconic naplam girl photo Facebook's first line of censorship is handled by cheap worldwide staff armed with detailed rules prohibiting nearly all forms of nudity. If bad decisions get sufficient publicity then the censorship task is escalated to employees allowed a little more discretion. These senior censors than have to laugh off the previous crap decision by saying it was all some silly mistake and that it couldn't possibly be a reflection of Facebook censorship policy.

And so it was Facebook's censorship of an iconic Vietnam war photo featuring a naked girl in the aftermath of napalm attack.

Norway's largest newspaper published a front-page open letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, slamming Facebook's decision to censor the historic photograph of nine-year-old Kim Phuc running away from a napalm attack and calling on the CEO to live up to his role as the world's most powerful editor .

Facebook initially defended its decision to remove the image, saying:

While we recognize that this photo is iconic, it's difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others.

On Friday, following widespread criticisms from news organizations and media experts across the globe, Facebook reversed its decision, saying in a statement to the Guardian:

After hearing from our community, we looked again at how our Community Standards were applied in this case. An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our Community Standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography. In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.

Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed.

Offsite Comment: Facebook needs an editor

11th September 2016. See  article from theguardian.com

The Guardian What Facebook has to do now is think very hard about what it really means to be a publisher, said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. If they don't, she warned, this is going to happen to them over and over again. 'We need more than just algorithms'

Whether Facebook and media executives like to admit it, the social media site now plays a vital role in how people consume news, carrying an influence that is difficult to overstate. Studies have repeatedly found that Facebook has become the primary news source for many people, and that publishers' revenues have been hit hard as a result.

Facebook wants to have the responsibility of a publisher but also to be seen as a neutral carrier of information that is not in the position of making news judgments, said Jim Newton, a former Los Angeles Times editor who teaches journalism ethics at the University of California, Los Angeles. I don't know how they are going to be able to navigate that in the long term.

Bell said Facebook was a spectacularly well resourced and brilliant organization from a technological perspective -- and that its editorial efforts should start to reflect that rigor and dedication. Some have called for someone responsible for tough newsroom decisions to take over: an editor in duties and title.

...Read the full article from theguardian.com

 

9th September

  Big business granted control over internet hyperlinks...

European Copyright Ruling Ushers in New Dark Era for Hyperlinks
Link Here

European Court of Justice In a case which threatens to cause turmoil for thousands if not millions of websites, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided today that a website that merely links to material that infringes copyright, can itself be found guilty of copyright infringement, provided only that the operator knew or could reasonably have known that the material was infringing. Worse, they will be presumed to know of this if the links are provided for "the pursuit of financial gain".

The case, GS Media BV v. Sanoma, concerned a Dutch news website, GeenStijl , that linked to leaked pre-publication photos from Playboy magazine, as well as publishing a thumbnail of one of them. The photos were hosted not by GeenStijl itself but at first by an Australian image hosting website, then later by Imageshack, and subsequently still other web hosts, with GeenStijl updating the links as the copyright owner had the photos taken down from one image host after another.

The court's press release [PDF] spins this decision in such a positive light that much reporting on the case, including that by Reuters , gets it wrong, and assumes that only for-profit websites are affected by the decision. To be clear, that's not the case. Even a non-profit website or individual who links to infringing content can be liable for infringing copyright if they knew that the material was infringing, for example after receiving notice of this from the copyright holder. And anyway, the definition of "financial gain" is broad enough to encompass any website, like GeenStijl, that runs ads.

This terrible ruling is hard to fathom given that the court accepted "that hyperlinks contribute to [the Internet's] sound operation as well as to the exchange of opinions and information in that network", and that "it may be difficult, in particular for individuals who wish to post such links, to ascertain whether [a] website to which those links are expected to lead, provides access to works [that] the copyright holders ... have consented to ... posting on the internet". Nevertheless, that's exactly what the judgment effectively requires website operators to do, if they are to avoid the risk of being found to have knowingly linked to infringing content.

There are also many times when knowingly linking to something that is infringing is entirely legitimate. For example, a post calling out a plagiarized news article might link to the original article and to the plagiarized one, so that readers can compare and judge for themselves. According to this judgment, the author of that post could themselves be liable for copyright infringement for linking to the plagiarized article--madness.

This judgment is a gift to copyright holders, who now have a vastly expanded array of targets against which to bring copyright infringement lawsuits. The result will be that websites operating in Europe will be much more reticent to allow external hyperlinks, and may even remove historical material that contains such links, in fear of punishing liability.

 

8th September

  More censors to solve Britain's terrorism problem...

Government pushes for the likes of Facebook to employ thousands of censors to vet peoples posts before being published
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

home affairs committee Government censors are struggling to stop the spread of extremist messages on the internet despite taking down 1,000 videos a week, the Home Secretary has admitted. Amber Rudd said she was in talks with social media websites about setting up a new industry standard board to agree the rules setting out when sites should be taken down.

The new home secretary was grilled by MPs on the House of Commons' Home Affairs committee about what more could be done to force US sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to take action. It is alarming that these companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts Home Affairs select committee report

Rudd said that major internet companies could take more responsibility:

Because the speed these damaging videos get put up and then we manage to take down -- at the moment we are taking down 1,000 a week of these sites -- is too slow compared to the speed at which they are communicated.

I do think more can be done and we are in discussions with industry to see what more they are prepared to do.

We would like to see a form of industry standard board that they could put together in order to have an agreement of oversight and to take action much more quickly on sites which will do such damage to people in terms of making them communicating terrorist information.

Rudd said the new industry standards board could be similar to an existing board which protects children from sexual exploitation, presumably referring to the IWF.

The committee's report said:

It is alarming that these companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts and that Twitter does not even proactively report extremist content to law enforcement agencies.

These companies are hiding behind their supranational legal status to pass the parcel of responsibility and refusing to act responsibly in case they damage their brands. If they continue to fail to tackle this issue and allow their platforms to become the 'Wild West' of the internet, then it will erode their reputation as responsible operators.

Internet companies should be required to co-operate with Britain's counter-extremism police and shut down accounts immediately.

 

8th September

 Offsite Article: Governing Google...

Link Here
Private Power Online Information Flows Large Internet corporations are increasingly exerting an influence over the social and political aspects of our lives as well as economically influencing the marketplace. Google is foremost among them. By Angela Daly

See article from opendemocracy.net

 

3rd September

 Offsite Article: We want GCHQ-style spy powers to hack cybercrims...

Link Here
nca logo UK police angle for more internet powers

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

2nd September

  Vloggers are fuming (but not effing and blinding)...

Changes at YouTube mean that many video makers are now prevented from monetising their videos due to a ban on contentious content in videos deemed suitable for advertising
Link Here
youtube advertising logo A change in YouTube's content moderation system has left many video creators uncertain of their place on the platform. Over the past day, users have been posting notices from Google, saying that certain videos were being barred from accepting advertising via YouTube's ad service. The videos were often arbitrarily flagged for reasons that seemed unfair, unclear, or outright censorious.

YouTube have explained that the changes are due to a change of process rather than a change of rules, and have added that a new appeal process has been introduced for those considering that they have been unfairly treated.

The Google rules for videos suitable for advertising are as follows:

Content that is considered "not advertiser-friendly" includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown

 

1st September

 Update: Cameron's dubious exemption from net neutrality rules...

Euro internet and telecoms regulator casts doubt on the legality of UK ISP website blocking systems
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
berec logo ISPs that block access to websites with adult content or block ads could be breaking EU guidelines on net neutrality even if customers opt in. EU regulations only allow providers to block content for three reasons: to comply with a member state's laws, to manage levels of traffic across a network, or for security.

Blocking websites with adult content has no clear legal framework in UK legislation, and providers have relied on providing the ability to opt in to protect themselves from falling foul of the rules. However, an update to guidelines issued by EU body Berec says that even if a person indicates they want certain content to be blocked, it should be done on their device, rather than at a network level. The updated guidelines say:

With regard to some of the suggestions made by stakeholders about traffic management features that could be requested or controlled by end-users, Berec notes that the regulation does not consider that end-user consent enables ISPs to engage in such practices at the network level.

End-users may independently choose to apply equivalent features, for example via their terminal equipment or more generally on the applications running at the terminal equipment, but Berec considers that management of such features at the network level would not be consistent with the regulation.

Frode Sorensen, co-chair of the Berec expert working group on net neutrality said the updated guidance made it clear that it had found no legal basis for using customer choice to justify blocking any content without national legislation or for reasons of traffic management or security.

David Cameron said in October last year that he had secured an opt-out from the rules enabling British internet providers to introduce porn filters. However, Sorensen said he was not aware of any opt-out, and the net neutrality rules introduced in November, after Cameron made his claim, said they applied to the whole European Economic Area which includes the UK.

 

1st September

  Censored by Google...

writer and artist Dennis Cooper had his long running literary blog censored by Google without explanations
Link Here
Wrong Stories Cooper Dennis Dennis Artist and author Dennis Cooper has re-launched his popular blog after months of legal disputes with Google who censored his previous blog.

The artist posted a message on the blog's Facebook account o explain Google's reasoning for erasing his 14-year-old blog. According to Cooper, someone had reported a post on DC's Blog, which was hosted on the Google-owned Blogspot, from 10 years ago as they felt it constituted child abuse images, and Google immediately deactivated his account.

Cooper's troubles started two months ago when his Gmail was disabled without reason. He later attempted to log into his blog and received a notice saying it was suspended due to a violation of Google's terms of service. Cooper lost 10 years' worth of correspondence in his emails, all his blogposts, and a gif novel called Zac's Freight Elevator, which was slated for release in the coming months.

Cooper told the Guardian that Google originally provided no explanation for taking down his site and didn't respond to the lawyers he enlisted ; even Google employees who were fans of his work were unable to uncover what happened. According to Cooper's Facebook post, Google began negotiating with his lawyer on 15 July and eventually agreed to provide all the data from his disabled blog, the data from his 10 years of correspondence in his Gmail account and his novel. The data from his site will be put up on a new site, post-by-post.

See new blog at denniscooperblog.com

 

31st August

 Offsite Article: The Streisand Project...

Link Here
streisand logo Turkish internet censorship inspires the Streisand Project to gather together a powerful set of censorship circumvention technologies

See article from dailydot.com

 

30th August

  Germany's Censorship Face...

Ministers continue to pressurise Facebook into pre-censoring posts
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany flag Thomas de Maiziere, Germany's interior minister has said that Facebook should be more proactive in removing racist and violent content from its sites:

Facebook has an immensely important economic position and just like every other large enterprise it has a immensely important social responsibility.

Facebook should take down racist content or calls for violence from its pages on its own initiative even if it hasn't yet received a complaint.

The German government has been critical of Facebook in the past as it is the main medium for people to express their discontent about the government's refugee policies.

De Maiziere said he recognized Facebook's efforts to develop software that can better identify outlawed content and praised its efforts to fight child pornography. He added though:

But it's up to the company to ensure those terms are upheld. A company with a good reputation for innovation will have to earn a good reputation in this area.

Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who now heads the Counter Extremist Project (CEP) in New York, a non-profit group that maintains a database of information about extremist groups, said about Facebook:

Of all the companies, Facebook has done the most, but they're all just starting to recognize that the weaponization of social media platforms is not good business and not good for society.

CEP is completing testing of a new software tool that will identify new images and videos published on social media sites by Islamic State and other extremist groups, and remove them instantly wherever they occur, much as already done with child pornography images.

 

30th August

  National Internet...

Iran implements first phase of its plan to censor the implment by cutting off the outside world
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Iran flag Iran has announced it has completed the first phase of its long running plan to operate a "national internet".

An inauguration ceremony was held on Sunday by the country's communications and censorship minister, Mahmoud Vaezi. 

Iran already blocks access to overseas-based social media services - including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - many users still access them via proxy sites and virtual private networks (VPNs). So the government is trying to totally cut off access paths to the outside world.

The government says the goal is to create an isolated domestic intranet that can be used to promote Islamic content and raise digital awareness among the public. It intends to replace the current system, in which officials seek to limit which parts of the existing internet people have access to via filters - an effort Vaezi described as being "inefficient".

According to a report by Mehr, a Tehran-based news agency :

  • the first phase of the rollout involves providing access to e-government services and domestic web pages
  • a second phase, due in February 2017, will add domestic video content
  • a third phase, due in March 2017, will introduce further services and provide support for companies involved in international trade

The British human rights campaign group Article 19 has criticised the plan:

Given Iran's record in violating its human rights commitments based on civil and political (including religious and ethnic) grounds, the development of projects such as the national internet are especially concerning.

The National Internet Project could pave the way for further isolation, surveillance and information retention. [It] risks severely isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the online world, limiting access to information and constraining attempts at collective action and public protest."