John Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice has claimed to MPs that extreme internet pornography is causing
rapists and murderers to commit worse crimes than before the time when such horrific material was available online,
However his claim appears to be on rather shaky grounds being based on just two cases. The most senior judge in England and Wales said he had dealt with two deeply disturbing criminal cases which had been influenced and intensified by shocking
He told MPs of the House of Commons' justice select committee:
The first of the two cases has left me in no doubt that the peddling of pornography on the internet has a tremendous effect on that individual.
What's available now to download and to see is simply horrific and it played a real part in ... the way in which this particularly horrible murder was carried out.
The first case referred to by Lord Williams concerned Jamie Reynolds , a sexual deviant who killed 17-year-old Georgia Williams by hanging her at his parents' house in 2013. In the second case, former soldier Anwar Rosser murdered
four-year-old Riley Turner in a savage and gratuitous attack.
Nick Cowen, an academic and researcher at the campaign group Backlash, responded to Thomas's claims saying it was impossible to suggest that porn was making men more likely to rape and murder.
In fact, he suggested that the arrival of hardcore pornography may have even made society LESS violent:
You cannot establish a strong relationship between images someone looks at and what crimes they commit. Violent crime is actually on the decline for all manner of reasons. Some recent evidence suggests pornography may be contributing to that,
although the effect is small.
He pointed to a Home Office graph which shows the UK has become less violent since the 1990s, when internet pornography first became available.
And Some Unsubstantiated Claptrap from Safermedia
Pippa Smith, chair of the religious campaign group SaferMedia told Mirror Online about a number of cases described to her by colleagues and
psychotherapists. She told of a 18-year-old boy who had watched so much porn that he developed fantasies about punching women in the face and even began to follow strangers late at night.
Today's men are part of a guinea pig generation for porn exposure, she spouted, and the consequences could be dire:
Pornography has become much more violent and abusive and it can lead some to view ever more perverse material and even act it out. So for those who say porn is harmless, it is just not true.
Facebook has agreed to censor pages showing images of the religious character Mohammed in Turkey despite Mark Zuckerberg giving his support to
freedom of speech proclaiming Je Suis Charlie .
A court in the Turkish capital, Ankara, ruled that several Facebook pages were deemed to be insulting the Prophet Mohammed and Facebook agreed to block access on January 25. The court had threatened that if the ruling was not adhered to,
Facebook access would be wholly removed in the country.
The company's decision comes after Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook that the site followed the laws of the country but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world . The billionaire added:
I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear or violence... #JeSuisCharlie. Related Articles
Report on Internet Safety Measures [pdf]
has just been published and reveals that about 21% of parents now use website blocking systems made available by ISPs. Presumably the government would like to see this increased. And as if by magic, Sky has announced that they will be a bit more
aggressive about forcing existing subscribers to make a choice about using the ISP's censorship options.
Sky Broadband have announced they will force web-filters on all customers , starting this week, unless the account-holder opts out.
When trying to visit a website deemed unsuitable for children under the age of 13 during the day, customers will see a page reminding them to make a choice about filtering. At this point, they can accept the current setting, change their
protection levels or simply turn Sky Broadband Shield off.
It's better for people to make their own choice, but until they do, we believe this process to be the safest one. Meanwhile we can ensure that they're protected from phishing, malware and sites unsuitable for young children.
The Open Rights Group comments:
This approach will increase harm for websites and web surfers, and there is still little evidence of the benefit to children, so why are they doing it?
All ISPs promised David Cameron they would make all customers choose whether to use filters or not. Sky is not offering a choice however - they are imposing filtering unless customers opt out - an approach that the government rejected after
running their own consultation. In addition, most households do not contain children so, Sky's default-on approach seems over-reaching.
Could Sky Broadband be seeking to increase adoption of web filters through "nudge" tactics in order to avoid Government criticism for a lack of uptake? Public interest in activating filters has been low since the Government started
pressuring ISPs to introduce them in summer 2013. Ofcom said in July 2014 that just 8% of Sky Broadband subscribers had switched them on. The same report showed a 34% adoption-rate for competitor TalkTalk, who promote filters aggressively, and
have made them the default option for new subscribers for a long time. Nudge tactics rely on the principle that most people don't bother changing defaults.
If Sky's agenda were neutral, they would block all web-access for an account until the account-holder had stated their preference about filters: on or off. Instead they intend to block only those sites "deemed unsuitable for under 13s."
If people are inconvenienced by Sky Broadband filters only as much as they are on their mobiles, many won't bother to change the defaults, as it may feel like a lot of hassle if your surfing habits fall foul of overblocking infrequently.
Meanwhile others might suffer disproportionately more overblocking depending on the information they seek. We suspect resources on sexual health and sexual orientation for instance are blocked in error more often than other types of site. If you
are not the account holder, and you can't get to a site you need, your only recourse would be to discuss it with the person controlling the account. That could be a parent, partner, landlord, room-mate, fellow student, etc.
Sky Broadband may claim increased popularity for filters when in reality the figures would be inflated artificially. People who don't want or need them might be too apathetic, or too reluctant to be on a list of "people who requested the bad
sites", to switch them off.
Sky Broadband are asking their customers to choose but they are not giving them the information they need to make an informed choice. Their explanations about filters mention none of their disadvantages or limitations. Far from being perfect, web
filters block sites nobody could object to, while failing to block others that are unquestionably adult in nature. If Sky Broadband are confused about this they could consult the
Department of Dirty
Filters are not a parenting panacea and do not substitute for responsible supervision of children online. At ORG we believe parents need help understanding the web, advice on how to talk to their children about online risks, and support to be
able to supervise their children effectively. Some may choose filtering as part of their solution - but the rest of us shouldn't be forced to have it just in case.
We also need more transparency about how filters work, what they block, and means of redress for website owners when things go wrong. That's why we built our checking tool at blocked.org.uk
- though we would prefer ISPs to take responsibility for this themselves.
Internet provider TalkTalk is to become the latest to censor pornographic websites by default.
Any customer who has so far ignored online prompts from the company will find adult material automatically blocked under a scheme being rolled out next month.
The move follows Sky's decision to default to a censored internet unless households specifically ask for it to be turned off. Pressure was last night building on BT and Virgin Media to introduce a similar approach to censorship.
Furthermore all TalkTalk customers will be hassled every 12 months to re-affirm their decision to allow or block websites.
According to Thai Netizen Network, the cabinet has given the green light to the proposed Cyber Security bill to establish a National Committee
for Cyber Security, under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), whose former title was the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). The Cyber Security Bill was one of eight proposed bills on telecommunications
which are aimed at restructuring and tightening control of telecommunications in Thailand.
In the draft, the National Committee for Cyber Security will be operated under the supervision of the Minister of Digital Economy and Society to oversee threats to national cyber security, which is defined as cyber threats related to national
security, military security, stability, economic security, and interference on internet, satellite, and telecommunications networks.
Most importantly, the committee is authorized to access all communication traffic via all communication devices, such as post, telephone, mobile phone, internet, and other electronic devices. The committee will also have the authority to
order all public and private organizations to cooperate against any perceived threats to national cyber security.
David Cameron's repressive and ludicrous porn censorship law draws US comments. New pornography regulations in the UK seem to be the latest in a series of campaigns against female sexuality. By Chris Chafin
Facebook has begun placing warnings over videos posted to its site, stating their contents might shock, offend and upset if viewed.
The alerts prevent the videos from automatically playing in feeds unless they are clicked, unlike other clips.
The site is also preventing graphic videos and photos from being shown to any user who has identified themself as being under 18 years old.
Facebook allows news reports and other documentary images depicting beheadings and other types of murder to remain online. And among the first posts to be affected are uploaded files containing video footage of policeman Ahmed Merabet being shot
dead in Paris by a terrorist involved in last week's Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Inevitable some campaigners don't think the restrictions go far enough.
Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute, told the BBC he wanted cover pages to be placed over graphic material to prevent people from seeing distressing images without warning, and an age-gate system implemented to
make it harder for under-18s to find the material.nner.
Arthur Cassidy, who runs a branch of the Yellow Ribbon Program suicide-prevention group, said Facebook should implement an outright ban on clips and pictures of extreme violence. He claimed that large numbers of children used the service and said
it was likely that many would try to work around the new restrictions.
The Chinese government is to force authors publishing their work online to register with their real names, as the authorities keep up
the pressure on freedom of expression.
According to new regulations from the government's Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which administers repressive control over media and publications, any authors posting literary works online must be in possession of a certificate,
requiring real-name registration.
The new rules also call for further professional and moral training for authors of online literary works.
Of course things are pretty similar in the west with 'moral training' being renamed as 'cohesion sensitivity training' or 'attending an diversity awareness seminar'.
The use of a pen-name is a time-honored tradition in Chinese literature and journalism, and many writers use pseudonyms to mask their identities if they wish to write something which might be construed as critical of the regime. But pervasive
state surveillance of individuals means that the authorities often know the identities of such authors.
Zhang Yu, secretary for the writers' group Independent Chinese PEN, said the move represents yet another attack on freedom of expression in China. Zhang told RFA:
This shows that they want to take their interference with writers' freedom of expression to the next level This will make it much easier for them to maintain surveillance of authors, using various types of software and other methods. In actual
fact, the authorities are able to find out who an author is using various types of technology, whether they use their real names or a pseudonym.
The whole point of this [real-name] system is to create a sense of threat, so that authors will censor themselves.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris, EU ministers have issued a joint statement calling for ISPs to help to report and remove
extremist material online.
The statement was signed by interior ministers from 11 European countries, including the UK's Theresa May, on 11 January, with French ministers and security representatives from the US, Canada and EU in attendance. It called for tighter internet
surveillance and border controls.
But of course David Cameron wants to go further. According to the Independant, Cameron could block WhatsApp and Snapchat if he wins the next election, as part of his plans for extreme surveillance powers announced in the wake of the shootings in
Paris. He said that he would stop the use of methods of communication that cannot be read by the security services even if they have a warrant.
But that could include popular chat and social apps that encrypt their data, such as WhatsApp. Apple's iMessage and FaceTime also encrypt their data, and could fall under the ban along with other encrypted chat apps like Telegram.
The comments came as part of David Cameron's pledge to revive the snoopers' charter to help security services spy on internet communications. He said: In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which
[...] we cannot read? But companies such as WhatsApp have remained committed to keeping their services encrypted and unable to be read by authorities.
Politics does make for strange bedfellows. Cameron's announcement comes just days after the Iranian government decided it was taking a similar step and banned WhatsApp, along with comms software Tango and LINE.
Ed Miliband told the Andrew Marr Show he would not support new emergency legislation if it was modelled on the
snooper's charter. He said he would adopt a cautious and considered approach in answer to calls for increased surveillance powers for the intelligence agencies.
Miliband was speaking after Lord West of Spithead, the former security minister in Gordon Brown's government, called for a revival of the data communications bill, known as the snooper's charter.
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, declined to offer support for the bill, proposed by the home secretary, Theresa May, that would give the police and security services the ability to track the email and internet use of UK
West told the same programme that it would be wrong to rush in legislation. But he criticised Clegg for forcing the government to abandon the data communications bill. He said:
Normally we stop plots because we get a heads up because we know people are talking to each other. That is why that intercept is so important. Most of the plots we have stopped in this country because of that initially indicator. If they are
talking then it is really difficult to do anything about it.
Responding to calls to revive the communications data bill, aka the Snoopers Charter, Emma Carr, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:
It is wholly unacceptable for this tragedy in Paris to be used as a means to call for a return of the Snoopers Charter. It is the wrong solution and would divert resources from focused surveillance operations at a time when the
agencies are already struggling to cope with the volume of information available.
The Government is introducing legislation to solve the important problem of who is using a specific Internet Protocol address, but the powers within the Snoopers Charter go too far, as recognised by a number of Political figures and two
Instead, the government should focus on the number of failures to continue monitoring those suspected of posing a threat. Those failures should be used as a blueprint to re-evaluate the decision making and record keeping processes of the
intelligence agencies, as well as the training and resources allocated within the counter terrorism community.
The Indian government has asked ISPs and mobile operators to block access to 32 sites in the name of its
censorship laws GitHub, Archive.org, Imgur, Vimeo, Daily Motion and Pastebin are some of the more familiar names included on the list.
The leader of the Bharatiya Janata political party spouted some unlikely sounding bollox that the banned websites contained some content from ISIS.
Already it seems that some ISPs have taken action and cut access to a number of the websites. The Times Of India reports that its correspondents were not able to access Pastebin, DailyMotion or GitHub using Vodafone's 3G service, although they
were able to get on the three sites via rival operator Airtel's service.
The addition of GitHub, a massively popular site for the community development of code seems a particularly harmful decision for India's technology industry. And surely there will be a powerful lobby calling for the unblocking of at least this
According to IANS , the Government decided to unblock four websites after they gave assurances to the government that they will not allow pasting on Jihadi propaganda. The sites that were unblocked were Website creation & hosting site
Weebly.com , Video hosting platforms Vimeo.com & Dailymotion.com and software repository gist.github.com .
Pastebin tells ZDNet that the Indian government's wide-ranging internet block, which had included the site , has been removed and Indian citizens are again able to access Pastebin -- but 27 sites still remain banned under the order .
According to Pastebin's statement to ZDNet, there is still no verifiable explanation for India's government-ordered internet censorship.
The Indian government has ended its blocking of all the 32 websites censored for the unlikely reason that the sites were being used by terrorists. A source said:
Order was issued on Thursday to unblock all 32 websites that were blocked following complaint of Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad that ISIS is disseminating content through them. All websites has responded that they will work with government and
removed jehadi content,