Chinese censors at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) have banned a popular gay-themed online drama titled Addiction from the streaming sites this week after 12 episodes. Audiences, who
will now miss the last three episodes of the drama involving a gay relationship between two Chinese teenage boys, are enraged over the censorship.
Addiction had, became hugely popular garnering over 10 million viewers. However, the show, involving the lives of four high school students portrayed by new actors, stopped streaming on various sites including v.qq.com and iqiyi.com on Monday,
reported Global Times , a media outlet closely associated with the country's Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily.
Jerry Barnett notes that the government's new porn censorship proposal is a lot wider than just Video on Demand and will require robust age verification for the likes of Google Image Search and Instagram
Indian Telecom companies including Bharti Airtel BSE 3.26% , Vodafone , Reliance Communications, Telenor and Reliance Jio Infocomm are said to be considering a plan to offer optional network level website blocking for parental control.
Telcos and Internet service providers (ISPs) are in active talks with New Zealand-based Bypass Network Services (BNSL) to deploy its Buddy Guard parental control solution, said Matthew Jackson, the company's cofounder.
Buddy Guard is aimed primarily at parents who may want to regulate the online behaviour of their children. Consumers can choose to opt for the control on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Jackson said the interest of telecom companies and ISPs in parental control had risen after last year's temporary porn ban.
The option may be debuted by one of the bigger fixed-line ISPs by February-March and by a telecom company within four months, starting with a few service areas and widening its reach gradually.
The culturally iconic comicbook Viz has had its brand page censored by Facebook .
The almost 40-year-old Viz, a parody of titles like Beano but with frequently risque language and humour, tweeted that Facebook has blocked its page. The message from Facebook warned that if the publisher makes an unsuccessful appeal to have the
page reinstated, it could face being permanently deleted.
Ian Westwood, group managing director at parent Dennis Publishing , said that Facebook has not said what content violated its content rules.
The question is what is, and isn't acceptable to Facebook, he said. We have had that Facebook page for five years. We have had correspondence with them before about stuff they haven't liked and we've taken it down. This time they have just
blocked the page and won't tell us what we've violated. We can appeal, but we don't know what we would be appealing about, we put up a significant number of posts from the print brand to social media each day.
Update: Facebook hangs its head in shame and apologises for censoring Viz
Facebook has apologised for blocking Viz magazine's brand page in 'error' . A spokeswoman for Facebook UK implied that Viz's frequently risque language and humour had triggered the content block, but that should not have been grounds for
removing the Facebook page. She unconvincingly claimed:
We want Facebook to be a place where people can express their opinions and challenge ideas, including through satire and comedy. Upon further review we found that the Viz page had been removed in error. We have now restored it and would like to
apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Offsite Comment: Mark Zuckerberg and his unfeasibly strict censorship
A Chinese ministry has issued new rules that ban any foreign-invested company from publishing anything online in China, effective next month.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's new rules could, if they were enforced as written, essentially shut down China as a market for foreign news outlets, publishers, gaming companies, information providers, and entertainment
companies starting on March 10.
Issued in conjunction with the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), they set strict new guidelines for what can be published online, and how that publisher should conduct business in China. The rules
Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures, and foreign business units shall not engage in online publishing services.
Any publisher of online content, including texts, pictures, maps, games, animations, audios, and videos, will also be required to store their necessary technical equipment, related servers, and storage devices in China.
Foreign media companies including the Associated Press, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, and the New York Times have invested millions of dollars--maybe even hundreds of millions collectively--in building up China-based
news organizations in recent years, and publishing news reports in Chinese, for a Chinese audience.
But the new rules would allow only 100% Chinese companies to produce any content that goes online, and then only after approval from Chinese authorities and the acquisition of an online publishing license. Companies will then be expected to
self-censor, and not publish any information at all that falls into several broad categories, including:
harming national unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity disclosing state secrets, endangering national security, or harming national honor and interests inciting ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination, undermining national unity, or going
against ethnic customs and habits spreading rumors, disturbing social order, or undermining social stability insulting or slandering others, infringing upon the legitimate rights of others endangering social morality or national cultural
The Government has put porn viewers on notice that perhaps it might be wise to download a few 64 Gb memory sticks worth of free porn so that they have enough to last a lifetime. The government has launched a consultation suggesting that
foreign porn websites should be blocked, censored and suffocated of funds if they don't comply with don't comply with an 18 age verification process and compliance to the discriminatory government censorship rules that ban anything slightly kinky
especially if favoured for women's porn.
The tome and ideas in the consultation are very much along primitive and unviable age verification methods that has so successfully suffocated the UK porn business. In fact the consultation notes that the UK impact on the multi billion pound porn
industry is insignificant and amounts to just 17 websites.
There seems little in the consultation that considers how the porn industry will evolve if it is made troublesome for adults to get verified. I suspect that there is already enough porn in existence on people's hard drives to circulate around and
last several life times for everybody. Perhaps this should be known as the Canute Consultation.
Anyway, the government writes in its introduction to the consultation:
The UK is a world leader in the work it does to improve child safety online, but we cannot be complacent. Government has a responsibility to protect citizens from harm, especially the young and most vulnerable.
That is why we committed in our manifesto to requiring age verification for access to pornographic material online, and are now seeking views on how we deliver on our commitment. The Consultation Survey
Our preferred method of capturing your responses to our consultation questions is via the dedicated online survey. Please click on the link to share your views with us. Other documents
In order to base policy development on evidence, DCMS commissioned experts from across the UK to conduct a review of evidence into the routes via which children access online pornography. The report of the expert panel was formally submitted in
November 2015 and provides helpful context to the issue. Please see document above.
Also published above is our regulatory triage assessment which considers the potential costs to UK businesses.
A human rights organization that monitors web-censorship and pirate site blocks in Russia has been ordered to be blocked by a local court. A legal challenge was initiated bit it failed to convince prosecutors.
When it comes to blocking websites, Russia is becoming somewhat of a world leader. Although not in the same league as China, the country blocks thousands of websites on grounds ranging from copyright infringement to the publication of extremist
material, suicide discussion and the promotion of illegal drugs.
The scale of the censorship is closely monitored by local website Roscomsvoboda. More commonly recognized by its Western-friendly URL RuBlacklist.net , the project advocates freedom on the Internet, monitors and publishes data on block, and
provides assistance to Internet users and site operators who are wrongfully subjected to restrictions.
It was advise on circumventing blocking that appears to have irked authorities, prompting a court process against the site that began in the first half of 2015. However, while the courts want the circumvention advice URL banned, it is standard
practice in Russia to block URLs and IP addresses, meaning that RuBlocklist will be blocked in its entirety.
The website next says that it will takes its case against censorship to regional court and Russia's supreme court if necessary.
Julian Huppert is a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge. He was previously the Member of Parliament for Cambridge as a Liberal Democrat, serving as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Three parliamentary committees have now reported on the Home Secretary's draft Investigatory Powers Bill. All three have raised major criticisms of both the powers proposed and the way they are set out.
The first was the report of the
Science and Technology Committee , on February 9th, which criticised the lack of clarity in the bill, and highlighted the need for integrity and security in online transactions.
Then we had the Intelligence and Security Committee, with the
first report from the new committee. Long derided as weak, too close to and too trusting of the agencies it was supposed to be overseeing, it caused ripples in the establishment with its short and to the point 15-page report.
In that report they savaged the bill, describing it as a "missed opportunity". They say that "the privacy protections are inconsistent and in our view need strengthening", and that some of the provisions -- equipment
interference, bulk personal data sets, and communications data -- "are too broad and lack sufficient clarity". The proposals around communications data are described as "inconsistent and largely incomprehensible".
Their criticisms are so deep that they express specific concern that it may not be possible to fix the bill by the end of 2016, and suggest the Home Office make sure to take the time to get it right. They say "the draft Bill has perhaps
suffered from a lack of sufficient time and preparation and it is important that this lesson is learned prior to introduction of the new legislation." Given that aspects of this legislation were claimed to be ready to be passed into law in
2012, this is utterly damning.
The largest report was that of the Joint Committee set up specifically to examine this bill, released this morning, February 11th. Whereas the one set up to consider the 2012 draft Communications Data Bill, on which I served, was chaired by the
independently minded Lord Blencathra, this one was chaired by a former chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (from its rather more cosy and quiescent days), Lord Murphy. They also had a very abridged timetable, and say on numerous
occasions that they simply didn't have the time to properly analyse important sections of the legislation.
Despite this, the 182-page report contains some heavy criticism of the bill, in many cases calling on the government to address criticisms or change the legislation, and they specifically call for some powers to be removed from the bill. In
a rather derisory remark, they say of the Home Office that:
We recommend that more effort should be made to reflect not only the policy aims but also the practical realities of how the internet works on a technical level.
This is the Home Office's third effort to get legislation in this area correct. The first effort was slated by a Joint Committee, and the replacement that was then drawn up was not deemed to be good enough even to present to parliament. This
third version has now faced a triple whammy of criticism, and it is now clear that the Home Office will have to make substantial changes if it wants to get legislation through.
I hope the Home Office will listen to the criticism, especially from the ISC, and produce a better bill for parliament. If they do, we can be in a better place than the one we have now, where RIPA and other obscure legislation gives widespread
uncodified powers in ways that were never intended. If not, I foresee a rocky road for them in parliament, and many embarrassing defeats.
If the Home Office get this right, we can benefit from both better security and better protection for privacy. If they refuse to listen, they have the power to worsen both.
Thailand's military dictators are moving to heighten its online censorship by persuading social media networks Facebook and Line to comply with court orders to remove content the government doesn't like.
The junta-appointed National Steering Reform Assembly (NSRA) will meet executives in the coming three months, council member Major General Pisit Paoin told Reuters.
A similar request was made last month to Google over content on YouTube. .
Thailand's military dictators have turned their attention to the censorship of the Line messaging app. They have arranged a meeting with managers from Line to be held at the Thai parliament.
The Thai government will call on Line to censor content that the government does not like.
Line said earlier in a statement:
The privacy of Line users is our top priority. Once we have been officially contacted, we will conduct due diligence of the related parties and consider an appropriate solution that does not conflict with our company's global standards, or the
laws of Thailand.
The Thai government also commented on three meetings with Google executives. The first was held unofficially in December 2015, while the second and third were official meetings in January. As a result, the government said it received good
cooperation from Google to reduce processing and take-down time for inappropriate [video] content from YouTube.
Google says it will remove links, censored under the right to be forgotten, from all versions of the search engine when viewed from countries where the censorship was invoked.
Now, removed results will not appear on any version of Google, including google.com. Until now, search results removed under the right to be forgotten were only omitted from European versions of Google - such as google.co.uk or google.fr.
EU internet censors previously asked the firm to do this. The French data protection authority had threatened the company with a fine if it did not remove the data from global sites, such as google.com, as well as European ones.
This censorship will be applied whenever a European IP address is detected but all users outside Europe, will still see a set of unedited results. Hopefully European VPN users operating via non European countries will also be unaffected by
The BBC understands that the change will be in effect from mid-February.
A judge at the French Supreme Court has ruled that Facebook is accountable to French law.
The ruling was made after a teacher sued the website for banning an image that he had posted of Courbet's The Origin of the World which contravened Facebook's censorship rules on nudity. The court ruled that the case comes under its
jurisdiction and it is now due to be heard by a civil court in France on 21 May.
Facebook's lawyers had argued that all users agreed to use the courts in California for litigation when they joined the site. Le Journal des Arts said that the judge called this clause abusive , while the teacher's lawyer noted that if it
were enforced, none of France's 22 million Facebook users would have recourse to French legal jurisdiction in the event of a dispute .
Facebook has also announced a change to its censorship rules to permit Photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures .
Ofcom regulates on-demand programme services (ODPS) that are notified and based in the UK, to ensure that providers apply the relevant standards. Ofcom also has a duty to advise the Government on the need for protection of consumers and citizens
in their consumption of audio-visual services, and in particular the need to protect children.
Ofcom seeks to understand people's use of, and concerns about, notified ODPS in the broader context of all on-demand and online audio-visual services in the UK, and has therefore carried out quantitative consumer research for this purpose. A
. Comparisons are made to the 2014 data throughout this report where relevant.
This survey covers the full range of audio-visual content that is available on demand and online: sourced either directly via the internet, via an app, or via a provider of a service; for example, programmes on BBC iPlayer, clips on YouTube and
films provided by ondemand services from Netflix.
In this report we examine online and on-demand consumption of audio-visual content among adults and teens, and their concerns regarding that content.
The report adds about viewer 'concerns'
The top mentions in 2015 among all concerned adults include: violence (50%), welfare of children/young people (32%), bullying/victimising (31%), racism (30%), discrimination (29%), bad language (28%) and pornography (24%). Concerns
regarding violence, bullying and racism have significantly increased among adults since 2014, while concerns regarding sexually explicit content have decreased.
The House of Commons Science and Tech Committee has published its report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, influenced by comments submitted by 50 individuals, companies, and organizations, including EFF. The report is the first of three
investigations by different Parliamentary committees. While it was intended to concentrate on the technological and business ramifications of the bill, their conclusions reflect the key concern of lawmakers, companies, and human rights groups
about the bill's dangerously vague wording.
The Investigatory Powers Bill, as written, is so vague as to permit a vast range of surveillance actions, with profoundly insufficient oversight or insight into what Britain's intelligence, military and police intend to do with their powers. It
is, in effect, a carefully-crafted loophole wide enough to drive all of existing mass surveillance practice through. Or, in the words of Richard Clayton, Director of the Cambridge Cloud Cybercrime Centre at the University of Cambridge, in his
submissions to the committee: the present bill forbids almost nothing ... and hides radical new capabilities behind pages of obscuring detail.
The bill is 192 pages long, excluding over 60 pages of explanatory notes. Our comments to the committee focused on just one aspect of the bill, what they call equipment interference. Despite our emphasis on just one small part of the bill,
our analysis revealed multiple ambiguities and broad new powers that would allow the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and the armed forces, to target electronic equipment such as computers and smartphones in order to obtain
data, including communications content. The bill also provides for the UK government to compel companies and individuals to comply with its surveillance demands, including those located outside Britain, and to bar companies from revealing that
they were the subject of such demands. As the committee says in its conclusions, We believe the industry case regarding public fear about 'equipment interference' is well founded.
The bill also includes a new mandate for data retention whose breadth is similarly ambiguous. Terms like internet connection records, telecommunications service, relevant communications data, communications content,
technical feasibility, and reasonable practicable were all criticized in the report for their vague and overbroad use. The government's excuse is that it wants to create a future-proof bill, but loose language is bad for
businesses trying to understand what obligations they are under. And it's certainly bad for civil liberties when governments exploit those ambiguities to obtain or hold onto new powers.
The details of these definitions and safeguards surrounding them should not be punted into secondary legislation. As the committee notes, a disturbing degree of detail about the Investigatory Powers Bill is deferred to future Codes of
Practice. We've been down this road before in the UK. IPB's predecessor, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) also placed its devilish details into future statutory instruments, which were often slipped past Parliamentarians with
little warning or debate. The result was years of expansion of RIPA powers, to the point where powers originally intended for the intelligence services were delegated to over four hundred public bodies. Even the head of MI5 , Lady
Manningham-Buller, who lobbied for the RIPA powers, was shocked by the eventual overreach:
I can remember being astonished to read that organizations such as the Milk Marketing Board, and whatever the equivalent is for eggs, would have access to some of the techniques. On the principle governing the use of intrusive techniques which
invade people's privacy, there should be clarity in the law as to what is permitted and they should be used only in cases where the threat justified them and their use was proportionate.
This is why, as the committee says, it is essential that this timetable does not slip and that the Codes of Practice are indeed published alongside the Bill so they can be fully scrutinized and debated.
We would go further: EFF believes that a productive discussion around the Investigatory Powers Bill can only begin once all the cards are on the table. The UK government needs to answer all the questions raised by the committee, including those
currently postponed to Codes of Practice, and embed those answers in a revised bill, which can then be more seriously considered, or it's destined for a future of abuse followed by dismantlement in the courts.
The series of successful challenges in the UK and EU against previous surveillance law and practice shows that vague and unbounded language cannot survive a serious challenge in the courts. If the UK government wants its surveillance rules to
stand the test of time, it needs to build them on a firm foundation of clarity, necessity, and proportionality.