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8th December

 Update: Today France and Canada, tomorrow Russian and China...

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Google battles the Canadian courts who demand that copyright infringing search links should be removed worldwide
Link Here
google canada logoTwo dozen human rights and civil liberty groups have thrown their weight behind Google's challenge of a Canadian court decision it warns could stifle freedom of expression around the world and lead to a diminished internet of the lowest common denominator .

In an appeal heard on Tuesday in the supreme court of Canada , Google Inc took aim at a 2015 court decision that sought to censor search results beyond Canada's borders.

In 2012, Canadian company Equustek won a judgment to have a company banned from selling a counterfeit version of Equustek's product online. Google voluntarily removed more than 300 infringing URLs. But as more sites popped up, Equustek went back to court -- this time seeking a worldwide ban. A court of appeal in British Columbia sided with Equustek in 2015, ordering Google to remove all of its search results linked to the company. It is this ruling that Google is now appealing.

The human rights groups are focusing on the question at the heart of the precedent-setting case: if one country can control what you see on the internet, what is to prevent other countries from doing the same?  Gregg Leslie of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said:

It's a worrisome trend, where we see individual countries trying to regulate the internet worldwide. And of course the consequences of that would mean that even countries like Russia and China could do the same thing and that will really affect the content available on the internet.

 

8th December

 Commented: False blame...

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After years of laws handing over our wealth to US and international corporations, the EU has decided to blame the resulting social unrest on tech companies not deleting hate speech quickly enough.
Link Here
european commission logoThe European Commission has called on tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and other major names to implement more aggressively measures in order to censor online hate speech. The alternative is to face new EU legislation that would force the tech companies to censor more quickly.

The Financial Times reports that a study commissioned by the EU justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, found that YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook have struggled to comply with the hate speech voluntary code of conduct that was announced earlier this year. Amid national security concerns and heightened racial tensions, mostly resulting from unpopular EU refugee policies.

In Germany, the government-led effort has been particularly aggressive. Germany is one of the European nations where the ongoing refugee crisis has reinvigorated the far-right and sparked a backlash against government policy. Reuter reports that Heiko Maas, the German Justice Minister, recently said that Facebook should be made liable for any hate speech published on its social media platform and it should be treated as a media company.

According to The Verge, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft agreed in a code of conduct announced in May to review and respond within 24 hours to the majority of hate speech complaints. However, only 40% of the recorded incidents have been reviewed within 24 hours, according to the commission's report. That figure rose to 80% after 48 hours.

According to PCMag, two advocacy groups have criticized those efforts in France. In May, the two rights groups announced their plans to sue Google, Twitter, and Facebook for failing to remove from their platforms homophobic, racist and other hateful posts. News articles have so far failed to point out that maybe some of these groups are making some false claims about  material being censorable. Perhaps the media companies were right to not remove all of the posts reported.

EU justice ministers will meet to discuss the report's findings on 8th December.

Offsite Comment: Social Networks Must Stand Against Censorship

bloomberg logo7th December 2016. See  article from bloomberg.com

The pressure for social networks to censor the content that appears on them just won't cease, and the networks are bending. Censorship, however, is not what users want. Nor is it technically possible, even if the platforms won't admit it.

 

7th December

  Maybe best to not go there...

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But surely a proposed new French law banning 'false information' on anti-abortion websites is incendiary stuff in what is essentially a religious debate
Link Here
France flagLawmakers in France have voted to ban misleading anti-abortion web sites. After a heated debate, the French National Assembly passed a bill to outlaw websites spreading misinformation about abortion. Pro-abortion activists have accused Pro-Life campaigners of pretending to give neutral information while putting pressure on women not to have abortions.

The new law, which still has to pass the Senate, extends an existing law against physical intimidation over abortion to digital media and would extend the scope of a 1993 law, which criminalizes false information related abortions, to digital media.

Providing false information on abortion online would be punishable by up to two years in prison and a 30,000 euro fine, a stipulation that pro-life advocates were quick to ridicule.

In the current fad for blaming all society's ills on 'false' news and information this adds an interesting possibility of religious commandments being tested in court as false information. The underlying religious view is that abortion is bad simply ecause their god said so.  And surely opponents will understandably see this as false information.

Bruno Retailleau, who heads the Republicans party group in the Senate, says the bill is totally against freedom of expression. He claimed the bill went against the spirit of the 1975 law legalizing abortion, which called for women to be informed of alternatives.

 

5th December

 Comment: Porn is not conveniently organised in easy to block packages...

The politician behind Britain's porn censorship now thinks it might not even work. By Rob Price
Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified

business insider logoIt was Conservative MP and former minister John Whittingdale who introduced the bill. But now, the BBC is reporting that he's worried it might not actually work. He told Parliament:

One of the main ways in which young people are now exposed to pornography is through social media such as Twitter, and I do not really see that the bill will do anything to stop that happening.

This gets neatly at a key problem with the porn filter: The internet is not neatly divided into pornography and non-pornography. As I wrote last week , it's technically simple to block dedicated fetish websites. But plenty of sites mix porn with non-pornographic content, or include both conventional and non-conventional material -- raising serious questions as to how the filter could ever work in practice.

...Read the full  article from businessinsider.com

 

4th December

 Offsite Article: Facebook's verified badges giving fake news 'authenticity'...

Link Here  full story: Fake News...Declining respect for the authorities is blamed on 'fake' news
Facebook logoHow is Facebook meant to algorithmically spot 'fake' news when the subtle use of an apostrophe can so easily change fact into fiction

See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

1st December

 Petition: Encryption is under threat in Europe!...

Tell the EU Council: Protect our rights to privacy and security!
Link Here
access-now logoThe Council of the EU could undermine encryption as soon as December. It has been asking delegates from all EU countries to detail their national legislative position on encryption.

We've been down this road before. We know that encryption is critical to our right to privacy and to our own digital security. We need to come together once again and demand that our representatives protect these rights -- not undermine them in secret. Act now to tell the Council of the EU to defend strong encryption!

Dear Slovak Presidency and Delegates to the Council of the EU:

According to the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will meet in December to discuss the issue of encryption. At that discussion, we urge you to protect our security, our economy, and our governments by supporting the development and use of secure communications tools and technologies and rejecting calls for policies that would prevent or undermine the use of strong encryption.

Encryption tools, technologies, and services are essential to protect against harm and to shield our digital infrastructure and personal communications from unauthorized access. The ability to freely develop and use encryption provides the cornerstone for today's EU economy. Economic growth in the digital age is powered by the ability to trust and authenticate our interactions and communication and conduct business securely both within and across borders.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression has noted, encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age.

Recently, hundreds of organizations, companies, and individuals from more than 50 countries came together to make a global declaration in support of strong encryption. We stand with people from all over the world asking you not to break the encryption we rely upon.

Sign the  petition from act.accessnow.org

 

1st December

  Too Late!...

Encryption, privacy and security has just been killed by the British government
Link Here
arms of the british governmentjpg logoAmong the many unpleasant things in the Investigatory Powers Act that was officially signed into law this week, one that has not gained as much attention is the apparent ability for the UK government to undermine encryption and demand surveillance backdoors.

As the bill was passing through Parliament, several organizations noted their alarm at section 217 which obliged ISPs, telcos and other communications providers to let the government know in advance of any new products and services being deployed and allow the government to demand technical changes to software and systems.

Communications Service Providers (CSP) subject to a technical capacity notice must notify the Government of new products and services in advance of their launch, in order to allow consideration of whether it is necessary and proportionate to require the CSP to provide a technical capability on the new service.

As per the final wording of the law, comms providers on the receiving end of a technical capacity notice will be obliged to do various things on demand for government snoops -- such as disclosing details of any system upgrades and removing electronic protection on encrypted communications.

 

30th November

 Update: The blind leading the blind...

Britain and Bangladesh start processes to censor internet porn.
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Bangladesh...Internet censors to track down supposed blasphemy

Bangladesh flagThe Bangladesh and UK governments have started a process to block pornographic websites and stop publication of offensive contents in the countries.

Ragged Union JackThe Bangladesh Telecommunications Division and British Board of Film Censors have formed committees to detect and block websites that contain pornography, vulgar picture and video contents, according to a news agency report.

The committees will make a three-level technical proposal by listing such websites ad contents within a week, State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim said. The process to block these will start after getting the list and proposal, she said after a meeting on controlling offensive internet contents at the Secretariat .

A director general of telecoms regulators BTRC will head the committee, which will comprise representatives from National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC), internet service providers (ISPs), mobile-phone operators and law-enforcing agencies. David Austin of the BBFC will spearhead UK censorship efforts.

Tarana said the drive against internet pornography will continue even after blocking the listed porn websites. And no doubt speaking for the UK too, she said:

The availability of internet pornography and offensive content is creating a negative social impact on all the citizens, including the adolescents.

 

30th November

 Update: Walling off the Russian internet...

Russia is getting Chinese help to censor its internet
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Great Firewall of ChinaRussia wants to step up its ability to censor the Internet, and it's turning to China for help. China's Great Firewall is the envy of the Putin regime.

The Russian government recently passed a series of measures known as Yarovaya's laws that require local telecom companies to store all users' data for six months, and hang on to metadata for three years. And if the authorities ask, companies must provide keys to unlock encrypted communications.

There has been some skepticism as to whether such laws would -- or even could -- be enforced but earlier this month Russia's internet censor, Roskomnadzor, blocked all public access to LinkedIn.

What's more, it is now clear that Russia has been working with authorities in charge of censoring the Internet in China to import some aspects of the Great Firewall that have made it so successful. According to the Guardian , the two countries have been in close talks for some time, and the Chinese digital equipment maker Huawei has been enlisted to help Russian telecom companies build the capacity necessary to comply with Yarovaya's laws.

 

29th November

 Update: Lib Dems to oppose internet censorship...

A rare occurrence these days, politicians that are standing up for the rights of the people
Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
Lib Dems logoThe Liberal Democrats are to oppose plans to censor internet porn sites in the name of 'protecting the children'. Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, said:

Liberal Democrats will do everything possible to ensure that our privacy is not further eroded by this Tory government.

Clamping down on perfectly legal material is something we would expect from the Russian or Chinese governments, not our own. Of course the internet cannot be an ungoverned space, but banning legal material for consenting adults is not the right approach.

The Internet Service Provider Association has also said moves to force providers to block adult sites that do not age verify has the potential to significantly harm the digital economy . ISPA chair James Blessing said:

The Digital Economy Bill is all about ensuing the UK continues to be a digital world leader, including in relation to internet safety. This is why ISPA supported the government's original age verification policy for addressing the problem of underage access of adult sites at source.

Instead of rushing through this significant policy change, we are calling on government to pause and have a substantive discussion on how any legal and regulatory change will impact the UK's dynamic digital economy and the expectations and rights of UK Internet users.

 

28th November

  Above the law...

TiSA trade agreement seeks to grant the likes of Facebook, legal immunity from challenges of their censorship procedures
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
tisa logoThe Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is another reprehensible trade agreement seeking to put big corporations ahead of the people when it comes to the law of the land.

Tisa's latest wheeze is to suggest that censorship procedures adopted by social networks should be granted impunity from criticism, reproach or even legal control via the law of the land.

Under leaked proposals from TiSA, social networks and other online services could be granted legal immunity when censoring any content, as long as it's deemed harmful or objectionable.

The measure is one of several internet-related proposals being advanced by TiSA, according to a leaked section of the agreement published by Greenpeace and the German digital rights blog Netzpolitik .

The draft proposal, which is dated September 16, 2013, effectively guarantees online services' ability to censor such content in Europe without needing to accept any legal liability or public accountability--whether that curation is done by a human or an algorithm.

At a time when there is so much debate about whether Facebook over censors or under censors, or that it somehow controls the thought of zombie masses, gullible to a few lies, enabling the subversion of western democracy, it seems strange to consider granting the orgnisation impunity from law.

Of course our politicians rather prove how easy it is to overrule rational thinking with a few bullshit claims about how granting big corporations immense power, will magically right all the wrongs of our failing economies.

 

28th November

 Offsite Article: Prurient digital economy bill is blind to harm it will cause...

Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
national villainsIn placing the BBFC as official guardians of morality, alternative depictions of sexuality such as that by the growing feminist pornography movement and the BDSM community are threatened. By Vonny Moyes

See article from thenational.scot

 

27th November

 Offsite Article: What the New British Porn Bill Means for You...

Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
vice logoThe BBFC is famous for enforcing bizarre notions about what can be depicted in film, based on outdated laws surrounding obscenity

See article from vice.com

 

26th November

 Update: 48 breeds of snoopers...

So who will be watching over your shoulder as you surf the internet
Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
1984 snoopers
 
Welcome snoopers!
 

The police, NHS and the tax man will now be able to hack into your phones and check your browsing history after the Snoopers' Charter was passed by Parliament last week.

The bill, officially called the Investigatory Powers Bill, forces electronic data to be stored by internet providers for 12 months, which can be subsequently collected by law enforcement.

Now a blogger has created a list of all the people who will be able to request to view your internet history. And the snoopers are...

  • Metropolitan police force
  • City of London police force
  • Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
  • Police Service of Scotland
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • British Transport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police
  • Royal Navy Police
  • Royal Military Police
  • Royal Air Force Police
  • Security Service
  • Secret Intelligence Service
  • GCHQ
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Department of Health
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Crime Agency
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
  • Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
  • Competition and Markets Authority
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
  • Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
  • Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • Gambling Commission
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
  • Information Commissioner
  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
  • Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
  • Office of Communications
  • Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
  • Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Scottish Ambulance Service Board
  • Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

 

26th November

 Offsite Video: For those that hold the opinion that Britain is bastion of Western liberal values...

Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
the britisher on porn videoPorn Censorship in Britain 2016: The Digital Economy Bill. By the Britisher

See video from YouTube

 

23rd November

  First the Snooper's Charter, now the Fraudster's Charter...

Website blocking will open up age verification to credit card fraud
Link Here  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet

open rights group 2016 logoWhen you legislate at break-neck speed, and fail to consult, things will go wrong. This is absolutely the case with Age Verification (AV) in the Digital Economy Bill, which now seems set to include website blocking to bolster use of AV technologies. This is likely to lead to high risks of credit card fraud and privacy abuse.

Currently the BBFC are pinning their hopes on being able to specify some kind of privacy and safety standard through their ability to regulate arrangements that deliver age verified material. Sites must deliver pornographic material:

in a way that secures that, at any given time, the material is not normally accessible by persons under the age of 18

The regulator can issue then guidance for:

types of arrangements for making pornographic material available that the regulator will treat as complying

The claim is that this mechanism allows the guidance to specify what kind of AV is private and secure.

However, if the BBFC are told to block non-compliant websites, in practice they will have to accept any system that websites use that verifies age. To do otherwise would be highly unfair: why should a site with legal material, that uses their own AV system, end up blocked by the BBFC?

This will especially apply to systems that require registration / credit card tests. There are plenty of paysites already of course. These are not privacy friendly, as they strongly identify the user to the website - and they have to do this to minimise fraudulent payment card transactions. That's alright as a matter of choice of course, but dangerous when it is done purely as a means of age verification.

If asking for credit card details becomes common or permissible, and a credible ask in the minds of UK citizens, then the government will have created a gold mine for criminals to operate scam porn sites targeted at the UK, inviting people to supply their credit cards to scam sites for Age Verification . In fact you could see this being extended to all manner of sites that a criminal could claim were blocked until you prove you're over 18 .

verified by visa fraud

Once credit card details are harvested, in return for some minimal/copyright infringing porn access at a scam porn site, then criminals can of course resell them for fraud. Another easy to understand example of a criminal abusing this system is that you could see criminals typo-squatting on relevant domain names such as youporm.com and asking for a credit card to gain access. Anything that normalises the entry of credit card details into pages where the user isn't making a payment will increase the fraudulent use of such cards. And if a website is validating credit cards to prove age, but not verifying them, then the internationally agreed standards to protect credit card data are unlikely to apply to them.

Website blocking makes these scams more likely because the BBFC is likely to have to sacrifice control of the AV systems that are permissible, and a diversity of AV systems makes it hard for users to understand what is safe to do. During the committee stage of the Digital Economy Bill, we argued that the AV regulator should be highly specific about the privacy and anonymity protections, alongside the cyber security consequences. We argued for a single system with perhaps multiple providers, that would be verifiable and trusted. The government on the other hand believes that market-led solutions should be allowed to proliferate. This makes it hard for users to know which are safe or genuine.

If website blocking becomes part of the enforcement armoury, then websites that employ unsafe but effective, or novel and unknown, AV systems will be able to argue that they should not be blocked. The BBFC is likely to have to err on the side of caution - it would be an extreme step to block an age-verifying website just because it hadn't employed an approved system.

The amount of website blocking that takes place will add to the scamming problem and open up new opportunities for innovative criminals. The BBFC seems to be set to have an administrative power to order ISPs to block. If this is the case, the policy would appear to be designed to block many websites, rather than a small number. The more blocking of sites that users encounter, the more they will get used to the idea that age verification is in use for pornography or anything that could possibly be perceived as age-restricted, and therefore trust the systems they are presented with. If this system is not always the same, but varies wildly, then there are plenty of opportunities for scams and criminal compromise of poorly-run Age Verification systems.

Security and privacy problems can be minimised, but are very, very hard to avoid if the government goes down the website blocking route. What MPs need to know right now is that they are moving too fast to predict the scale of the problems they are opening up.

 

23rd November

 Offsite Article: Recommending VPNs...

Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
BBC logoThe BBC makes a few suggestions for not falling prey to the Snooper's Charter

See article from bbc.com

 

23rd November

 Offsite Article: What is 'fake' news anyway?...Anything a politician claims?...

Link Here
new york times logoNew York Times advocates internet censorship of supposed 'fake' news

See article from commondreams.org

 

22nd November

 Update: Your database entry: Verified Porn User...

The Digital Economy Bill is primarily reprehensible for introducing mass internet censorship, but don't forget it also enables the rapid sharing of government databases to more or less any official who makes a request
Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified

open rights group 2016 logoSo what is wrong with the Digital Economy Bill?
 
Well, Part 5 of the Bill will fundamentally change the way our personal information is handled, shared and controlled whenever we hand it over to government. 
 
That means that whenever we file a tax return, apply for a driving licence, register a birth, death or marriage, apply for benefits or deal with a council, court or other public authority, all of the data we share, we will have no control of.

Because if Part 5 of the Bill becomes law:

  • As soon as you share anything with the government, you will be blocked from having any further control over how your personal information and sensitive data is shared around government, with councils, other government bodies and business. 

  • You will not be allowed to change your data if there is a mistake or error.

  • You will not be asked permission or informed if an official shares, uses or looks at your data.

  • You will not be allowed to opt out of your data being shared.

  • Your birth, death, marriage and civil registration documents will be shared in bulk without your consent.

Data sharing is a fact of life and a great deal of good can come from the sharing of data, but as soon as our data is digitised it is insecure and open to exploitation.
 
We see this every time we read of a big company suffering a data breach or data hack. And government aren't immune, in 2014/15 government experienced 9,000 data breaches possibly down to poor data sharing practice, certainly down to not understanding data protection laws.
 
Our data is us -- it is who we are, what we do, how we live and who we know. If we don't know where it is going, who it is shared with, why it is used and what we can do to control access to it, the future of all our personal information is at risk.

If you are worried please write to your MP this week and tell them, because without challenge this Bill will pass and control of our personal information will be lost to Government forever.

See how to help at bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

 

21st November

 Update: Wake Up Britain! Oppose UK internet censorship...

Reasons why the government's plan 'to protect children online' is not just dreadful but extremely alarming.
Link Here

BBIC Banned

It's already been announced that the government are to press ahead with their controversial plans to create a huge database of the all the activities of every internet user in the UK . Every time you visit any website, the time and date and the name of the website will be recorded. There are no exemptions.

Such a system of blanket surveillance has not been used or proposed in any other country.

You might think then, that after such an announcement, they would have been a little muted for a short while in proposing yet more heavy handed legislation aimed at the internet. Not a bit of it. Now they really seem to have the bit between their teeth and are charging full steam ahead with, if possible, even more draconian powers.

In the 1980's, as a result of the backlash against video nasties , the government handed complete censorship of all video media to the British Board of Film Censors, now renamed the British Board of Film Classification (because they don't like to be thought of as censors). A bit like the ministry of propaganda preferred to be called the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984. Appropriately enough, this bill was made law in 1984.

Now, the latest proposal is to effectively hand censorship of the entire internet over to the same people!

The argument is that if a website which is unsuitable for children does not have adequate checks in place to verify the users age, the BBFC will be able to block it. This might sound reasonable in theory but in practice it will culminate in a monstrous invasion of internet freedom and dangers for internet users. Here's why:

  1. Most people know that such controls can be effectively by-passed with use of a proxy servers, or on a phone or tablet a simple app which redirects internet traffic through a secure unfiltered connection. The problem with this is that it introduces a whole new level of risk and exposure to criminality. Traffic can be routed, without the user knowing, via servers which are known to contain criminal content thus giving the appearance that the user has been accessing child pornography, terrorist information or other material which could incriminate them.

  2. Amongst the honest firms who run proxy servers there are con-men and criminals waiting to catch the unwary. Ransom demands and other criminal activity is often the actual business which is sitting behind a link for what appears to be a proxy server. If you don't believe me, please do your own research.

  3. Identification will be a nightmare. Making porn or other websites take credit or debit card details as a check of age is preposterous. Very few people would want to trust giving their credit or debit card details to a website just to even see what is on it.

  4. It's even been suggested that these websites could cross check the UK electoral roll. How's that supposed to work? Presumably not so anybody can give the name and address of someone they dislike and that goes down on the government's list of names and addresses of people who've visited dodgy websites?

  5. The BBFC can not just censor but entirely block any web site that contains anything they disagree with! For example if the site contains anything which they would not allow in a BBFC certificated video. They would argue that it was their duty . Since a website containing any nudity at all, or discussion of sex, or any other thing which is not suitable for children , should be behind an age protected barrier, this will allow them to block any web site they wish. If a site with discussion about something which is not suitable for a small child, say in the US or Canada, cannot be bothered to deal with the BBFC, it can simply be blocked completely in the UK if the owners do not cravenly submit to the demands of a government censor in another country! Not that the websites will probably care, having written off internet users in the UK the same way as they would people who are blocked from access by any other dictatorial government around the world.

  6. In addition to websites being blocked, if a server contains a small amount of anything which is unsuitable for children, the domain itself, containing many other web sites, can be blocked. Because most countries in the world are more broad minded and less adamant about state control of what people see than the UK, nobody else will have noticed that UK users are being blocked from access to perfectly normal information just because their domain has been blacklisted.

  7. Who is going to pay for this work to be done? The BBFC can currently pay for their video censorship work because the Video Recordings Act requires that by law firms in the UK have no option but to pay their fees ranging from several thousand pounds for each video submitted.

    How do you think the BBFC is going to get on with the owners of foreign websites?

    Ah, hello Mr Dirty Website Owner, this is the BBFC here, we want you to follow our regulations and pay us or fees or I'm afraid I'll have to inform you that her majesty's government will block UK users from access to your website.

    Mr Dirty Website Owner's response is something which you can probably imagine yourself. It probably involves some rather colourful language telling the BBFC where they can stick their regulations and fees.

  8. The government has already required ISPs to provide filtered child friendly internet connections for anyone who wants it. However, since the population have generally been less than enthusiastic about uptake of filtered internet connections the government has decided that this is not good enough and so you *will* have a censored internet connection *and like it* even though 70% of households in the UK have no children.

  9. If this truly was a matter of protecting children, then the problem would lie with the 10 to 15 % of homes with children, where the adults have not switched on the filters. It would be far more sensible to amend the law to require homes where children are present to have the filters switched on. But this just proves that it *isn't* just a matter of protecting children, what they really want is *total* control, and you don't get that with a opt in scheme. The plan is to censor the internet to the extent that these filtered connections are no longer required.

  10. Going back to proxy servers again, since this is such an easy way to avoid the censorship, and since, unfortunately, proxy servers allow access to anything, even stuff 99.9% of people really don't want to see, this will give the government a *perfect excuse* to ban proxy servers as well. And there you have it: TOTAL INTERNET CENSORSHIP. You could probably still download and install a proxy server, but if you are detected using it you could be marched down to the local police station for questioning, and since there is no excuse to be using a proxy server as they will be illegal, they can assume you were planning a terrorist attack or watching child pornography and throw you in jail. Sorry, I mean detain you in a cell pending trial, for the public good.

WAKE UP BRITAIN! Please don't allow the control freaks to take over your county. Print this article out, send it to your MP - don't let MPs simply be carried along by misguided nanny state meddling in basic democratic freedom under the guise of protecting the children . The onus should be on parents to switch on the filters that have already been provided, not treat every adult in the UK as a child.

This proposed legislation is a continuation of the very slippery slope towards total state surveillance and control which has already been approved. If you don't stand up to this next level of state control, what will they think they can get away with next?

Don't take this warning lightly, unless enough people object they will steamroller ahead with it and you will loose your freedom. Unless you want your internet to be suitable for a pre school toddler with a vast number of other harmless pages and websites blocked as a result, send this article to your MP now and ask for his or her comments.

 

21st November

  Freedom on the Net 2016...

Annual Report from Freedom House reveals a 6th consecutive year of declining internet freedom
Link Here

freedom on the net 2016Key Findings

  • Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.

  • Two-thirds of all internet users -- 67 percent -- live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship.

  • Social media users face unprecedented penalties, as authorities in 38 countries made arrests based on social media posts over the past year. Globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing, or merely "liking" content on Facebook.

  • Governments are increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, which can spread information quickly and securely.

Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests.

The increased controls show the importance of social media and online communication for advancing political freedom and social justice. It is no coincidence that the tools at the center of the current crackdown have been widely used to hold governments accountable and facilitate uncensored conversations. Authorities in several countries have even resorted to shutting down all internet access at politically contentious times, solely to prevent users from disseminating information through social media and communication apps, with untold social, commercial, and humanitarian consequences.

Some communication apps face restrictions due to their encryption features, which make it extremely difficult for authorities to obtain user data, even for the legitimate purposes of law enforcement and national security. Online voice and video calling apps like Skype have also come under pressure for more mundane reasons. They are now restricted in several countries to protect the revenue of national telecommunications firms, as users were turning to the new services instead of making calls through fixed-line or mobile telephony.

 

20th November

 Offsite Article: Ofcom's Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2016...

Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Ofcom logoUse of network level website blocking systems has increased since 2015 among parents of 5-15s. Around a third now use them (33% for parents of 3-4s and 31% for parents of 5-15s).

See article from ofcom.org.uk

 

20th November

 Offsite Article: Fear of the future...

Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
Thailand flagThai website shutdowns soar after king's death

See article from westmanjournal.com

 

19th November

 Update: Quick, buy shares in VPNs, there will soon be a massive new uptake...

UK government decides that it will censor nearly all internet porn
Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified

karen bradleyBritain's minister of censorship culture has said that the government will move block the vast majority of internet porn, both domestic and foreign.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley threatened:

We made a promise to keep children safe from harmful pornographic content online and that is exactly what we are doing. Only adults should be allowed to view such content and we have appointed a regulator, BBFC, to make sure the right age checks are in place to make that happen. If sites refuse to comply, they should be blocked.

In fulfilling this manifesto commitment and working closely with people like (MPs) Claire Perry and Kit Malthouse who have worked tirelessly on internet safety issues, we are protecting children from the consequences of harmful content.

The powers will be brought forward in amendments to the Digital Economy Bill later this month.

Porn websites will be allowed to stay open if they adopt onerous age validation but as yet no one has come up with a solution that is accurate, cheap, convenient and secure enough to be viable.  The only currently acceptable method is to allow porn only to those willing to pay with credit cards, (debit cards not allowed). Not only do you have to go through the hassle of filling in credit card details, you have to trust potentially dodgy foreign websites with your ID information, you have to pay before being able to see what is on offer. Needless to say, the UK adult online trade that has been subjected to this suffocating censorship regime have been forced to either go bankrupt or go abroad.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), will be given powers to make ISPs censor porn sites which do not put age checks in place to make them inaccessible to children.

On a slightly more positive note The BBFC said any verification mechanism must provide assurances around data protection and it would consider those that already exist and ones currently being developed. It is understood the government is working with the BBFC to determine the best mechanism that confirms eligibility rather than identifying the user.

 

18th November

 Update: Snoop On...

The Snooper's Charter has passed the Houses of Parliament
Link Here

arms of the british governmentjpg logoThe Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill) has now been passed by both House of Parliament and is expected to become law within the next few weeks.

Executive Director Jim Killock responded:

The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the UK's shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.

The IP Bill will put into statute the powers and capabilities revealed by Snowden as well as increasing surveillance by the police and other government departments. There will continue to be a lack of privacy protections for international data sharing arrangements with the US. Parliament has also failed to address the implications of the technical integration of GCHQ and the NSA.

While parliamentarians have failed to limit these powers, the Courts may succeed. A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, expected next year, may mean that parts of the Bill are shown to be unlawful and need to be amended.

ORG and others will continue to fight this draconian law.

About the IP Bill

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, three separate inquiries called for new surveillance laws in the UK. It was recognised that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) had failed to limit surveillance and allowed the creation of surveillance programmes without parliamentary debate or assent. In response, the Government published the draft IP Bill in November 2015.

The IP Bill is a vast piece of legislation that will extend not limit surveillance in the UK. It will mean that:

  • Internet Service Providers could be obliged to store their customers' web browsing history for a year. The police and government departments will have unprecedented powers to access this data through a search engine that could be used for profiling.
  • The security services will continue to have powers to collect communications data in bulk.
  • The police and security services will have new hacking powers.
  • The security services can access and analyse public and private databases, even though the majority of data will be held about people who are not suspected of any crimes.

For more information about the Bill and what it means, visit ORG's campaign hub .

 

18th November

 Updated: UnlinkedIn...

Russian internet censor is about to block LinkedIn for failing to allow Russian access to the internet activity of local users
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
linkedin logoThe professional social network LinkedIn is the first casualty of a Russian law that requires control of foreign websites via their Russian data being stored on a server located in Russia. This ensures that there is a local access point should the authorities wish to view the internet activity of Russian users.

LinkedIn's days in Russia are now said to be numbered, after a Moscow court gave the Russian internet censor Roskomnadzor permission to block the professional social network. The company hasn't moved its servers to Russia, and kept storing information about third parties who are not registered users of the network, thus failing to comply with another section of the new law.

The website will be blocked as soon as Roskomnadzor receives the reasoning (that accompanies) the court decision, after which LinkedIn will be added to a list of websites refusing to comply with personal data laws,

Russian President Vladimir Putin's Internet advisor German Klimenko told Kommersant that large companies had enough time to migrate their data. This not only concerns Facebook and Twitter, he added, singling out the social media platforms, which haven't complied with the law so far either, this applies to all foreign companies.

roskomnadzor logoUpdate: Blocking today

18th November 2016. See  article from bbc.com and article from fortune.com

Social network LinkedIn is now set to be blocked today in Russia. The country's internet censor, Roskomnadzor, said LinkedIn would be unavailable in the country within 24 hours.

Some internet providers have already cut access to the site, which has more than six million members in Russia.

In 2014, Russia introduced legislation requiring social networks to store the personal data of Russian citizens on Russian web servers. It is the first time the law has been enforced against a US-based social network.

The U.S. government said on Friday it was deeply concerned over Russia's decision to block public access to networking site LinkedIn, saying it created a precedent that could be used to justify blocking other sites operating in Russia.

Maria Olson, spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said Washington urged the Russian authorities to restore access immediately to LinkedIn, and said the restrictions harmed competition and the Russian people.

 

18th November

 Offsite Article: Why Thailand Should Worry About an 'Improved' Computer Crime Act...

Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking
thai government logoBecause it's only an 'improvement' for government internet control

See article from khaosodenglish.com

 

15th November

  Perhaps Facebook can sort out the mess...

Yvette Cooper calls on social media websites to censor posts that criticise or insult islam and immigration
Link Here
home affairs committeeYvette Cooper MP is Chair of parliament's Home Affairs Committee. The Committee is today holding a session hearing views about hate crime, including a session specifically on Islamophobia in the coming weeks.

Cooper said in a statement introducing the session:

No one should ever find themselves targeted by violence or hatred because of the colour of their skin, their religion, gender, sexuality or disability.

Yet we are seeing reports of rising hate crime linked to political events like the US Presidential Election or the EU referendum - from the terrible murder of a Polish man in Essex, to assaults on young Muslim women on US university campuses.

The Trump campaign, and the reports of hate crime in the US since the election, should be a warning to all of us about the dangers of whipping up hatred and prejudice.

In a democracy, political disagreement should never provoke violence, hatred or discrimination. Campaigners and political leaders have a responsibility to ensure their rhetoric does not inflame prejudice or become a licence for hate crime.

We are concerned by reports of increasing hate crime in Britain over the last few years, including increasing online threats, harassment and abuse. And we want to examine far right extremism in Britain, and the threat it poses.

We want to look at whether and why hate crimes have increased, at what can be done to prevent and prosecute hate crime. Victims should have the confidence to know that if they report incidents, they will be taken seriously by the criminal justice system. And because this no longer only happens on the streets, the Committee will be assessing how social media companies can use their technological capabilities and resources to respond to a tide of hate. Online and offline hate crime can no longer be seen as separate, they are intrinsically linked and must be tackled together.

Political debate -- in this country and around the world -- should be strong and robust ...BUT... should seek to calm tensions, not inflame them. Free speech is a fundamental right in the UK and it should be afforded to everyone --free from intimidation and abuse.

 

15th November

 Petition: Stop UK censorship of legal content...

ORG petition against the censorship of online adult porn
Link Here  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified

org censoredIn the Digital Economy Bill, the Government wants erotica and pornography websites to make sure their users are over 18. This could threaten our privacy by collecting data on everyone in the UK who visits erotica and pornography sites. Making sure all porn sites go along with it is unworkable. So a group of MPs want Internet Service Providers to block websites that don't comply. Sign our petition to say no to censorship of legal content.

MPs are putting pressure on the Government to add measures to the Bill that would force Internet Service Providers to block erotica and pornography websites that don't verify the age of their users.

This equates to censorship of legal content - potentially affecting tens of thousands of websites and millions of people.

Blocking websites is a disproportionate, technical response to a complex, social issue. The UK's children need education, not censorship, to keep them safe.

Sign the petition from openrightsgroup.org

 

13th November

 Update: Censoring links breaks the internet...

Users Around the World Reject Europe's Upload Filtering Proposal
Link Here  full story: Copyrighting hyperlinks...EU propose copyright extension to hyperlinks

save the link openmediaUsers around the world have been outraged by the European Commission's proposal to require websites to enter into Shadow Regulation agreements with copyright holders concerning the automatic filtering of user-generated content . This proposal, which some are calling RoboCopyright and others Europe's #CensorshipMachine , would require many Internet platforms to integrate content scanning software into their websites to alert copyright holders every time it detected their content being uploaded by a user, without any consideration of the context.

People are right to be mad. This is going to result in the wrongful blocking of non-infringing content, such as the fair use dancing baby video . But that's only the start of it. The European proposal may also require images and text -- not just video -- to be automatically blocked on copyright grounds. Because automated scanning technologies are unable to evaluate the applicability of copyright exceptions, such as fair use or quotation, this could mean no more image macros , and no more reposting of song lyrics or excerpts from news articles to social media.

Once these scanning technologies are in place, it will also become far easier for repressive regimes around the world to demand that Internet platforms scan and filter content for purposes completely unrelated to copyright enforcement -- such as suppressing political dissent or enforcing anti-LGBT laws. Even when used as originally intended, these automated tools are also notoriously ineffective, often catching things they shouldn't, and failing to catch things they intend to. These are among the reasons why this new automatic censorship mechanism would be vulnerable to legal challenge under Europe's Charter of Fundamental Rights, as we explained in our last post on this topic .

A Filtering Mandate Infringes the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability

Two years ago, well before the current European proposal was placed on the table, EFF and our partners launched the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability . Despite not being a legal instrument, the Manila Principles have been tremendously influential. It has been endorsed by over 100 other organizations and referenced in international documents, such as reports by United Nations rapporteurs and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), along with the Global Commission on Internet Governance's One Internet report.

According to the Manila Principles (emphasis added):

Intermediaries should be shielded from liability for third-party content

  • Any rules governing intermediary liability must be provided by laws, which must be precise, clear, and accessible.

  • Intermediaries should be immune from liability for third-party content in circumstances where they have not been involved in modifying that content.

  • Intermediaries must not be held liable for failing to restrict lawful content.

  • Intermediaries must never be made strictly liable for hosting unlawful third-party content, nor should they ever be required to monitor content proactively as part of an intermediary liability regime .

Forcing Internet platforms ( i.e ., intermediaries) into private deals with copyright holders to automatically scan and filter user content is, effectively, a requirement to proactively monitor user content. Since sanctions would apply to intermediaries who refuse to enter into such deals, this amounts to an abridgment of the safe harbor protections that intermediaries otherwise enjoy under European law . This not only directly contravenes the Manila Principles, but also Europe's own E-Commerce Directive.

The Manila Principles don't ban proactive monitoring obligations for the sake of the Internet intermediaries; the ban is to protect users. When an Internet platform is required to vet user-generated content, it has incentive to do so in the cheapest manner possible, to ensure that its service remains viable. This means relying on error-prone automatic systems that place copyright holders in the position of Chief Censors of the Internet. The proposal also provides no recourse for users in the inevitable cases where automated scanning goes wrong.

That doesn't mean there should be no way to flag copyright-infringing content online. Most popular platforms already have systems in place that allow their users to flag content --for copyright infringement or terms of service or community standards violations. In Europe, the United States, and many other countries , the law also requires platform operators to address infringement notices from copyright owners; even this is the subject of considerable abuse by automated systems . We can expect to see far more abuse when automated copyright bots are also put in charge of vetting the content that users upload.

Europe's mandatory filtering plans would give far too much power to copyright holders and create onerous new barriers for Internet platforms that seek to operate in Europe. The automated upload filters would become magnets for abuse -- not only by copyright holders, but also governments and others seeking to inhibit what users create and share online.

If you're in Europe, you can rise up and take action using the write-in tool below, put together by the activists over at OpenMedia. This tool will allow you to send Members of the European Parliament your views on this repressive proposal, in order to help ensure that it never becomes law.

Take action: Save the Link

 

11th November

  Justifying the insulting cartoons...

Spanish prime minister considers law to ban internet memes that target him and his party
Link Here
mariano rajoySpain's ruling Popular Party (PP) has presented a censorship proposal to Congress that could result in the banning of memes, social network users' way of gaining comic revenge on the politicians that rule our lives.

The censorship law will target the spreading of images that infringe the honour of a person , by demanding that the butt of the joke gives permission for their images to be used in that way

The proposal is a disgraceful attack against the sometimes irreverent humour and political expression in memes, many of which have poked fun at the PP's leader and conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.

Sources from the PP haves said that the proposal is merely an idea at this stage, and tries to deflect criticism by noting that it does not censor memes that are non-insulting.

So far the only impact of the reform proposal is to have sparked a fresh wave of memes aimed at Rajoy and the PP government, with dozens of social network users posting new gags accompanied by the hashtag #SinMemesNoHayDemocracia - no democracy without memes.