Internet News

 2018: February

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 Updated: 'N' for No...

China gets even for aggressive in trying to stifle internet debate about a proposal to let the president reign for life.


Link Here 1st March 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Chinese censors are battling to silence criticism of Xi Jinping's bid to set himself to reign over China for the rest of his life.

The Communist party claim that the move is an acknowledgement of overwhelming support for Xi. However, there has been widespread online push-back in China since it was announced on the eve of an annual political congress in Beijing. So the Chinese censors have ramped up their efforts to stifle discontent with the proposal.

In a blog post, Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania China expert, said censors had taken quick, drastic action after the internet was flooded with complaints. For instance the following earch terms have been blocked on Twitter-like Weibo:

  • Ten thousand years, used as a term like Long live!
  • Disagree
  • Xi Zedong, a hybrid of the names of Xi and Chairman Mao Zedong
  • Shameless
  • Lifelong
  • 'Personality cult'
  • Emigrate
  • Immortality
  • the letter N, for unknown reasons, perhaps even a typo

China has also been aggressive in criticising the west for joining in the debate.

Update: The amazing banned memes from China

1st March 2018. See article from indexoncensorship.org

China is having a meme moment and it's driving the censors mad

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

  The age of uncertainty...

The BBC notes that it is only few weeks until age verification is required for porn sites yet neither the government nor the BBFC has been able to provide details to the BBC about how it will work.


Link Here 28th February 2018
The BBC writes:

A few weeks before a major change to the way in which UK viewers access online pornography, neither the government nor the appointed regulator has been able to provide details to the BBC about how it will work.

From April 2018, people accessing porn sites will have to prove they are aged 18 or over.

Both bodies said more information would be available soon.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was named by parliament as the regulator in December 2017. (But wasn't actually appointed until 21st February 2018. However the BBFC has been working on its censorship procedures for many months already but has refused to speak about this until formally appointed).

The porn industry has been left to develop its own age verification tools.

Prof Alan Woodward, cybersecurity expert at Surrey University, told the BBC this presented porn sites with a dilemma - needing to comply with the regulation but not wanting to make it difficult for their customers to access content. I can't imagine many porn-site visitors will be happy uploading copies of passports and driving licences to such a site. And, the site operators know that.

 

  Trusted flaggers...

The Daily Caller reveals how Google uses 100 social justice groups as YouTube censors


Link Here 28th February 2018  full story: YouTube Censorship...YouTube censor videos by restricting their reach
The conservative US news website, the Daily Caller, has revealed that Google has recruited several social justice organisations to assist in the censorship of videos on YouTube.

The Daily Caller notes:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting YouTube in policing content on their platform. The left-wing nonprofit -- which has more recently come under fire for labeling legitimate conservative organizations as hate groups -- is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube's Trusted Flaggers program.

The SPLC and other program members help police YouTube for extremist content, ranging from so-called hate speech to terrorist recruiting videos.

All of the groups in the program have confidentiality agreements. A handful of YouTube's Trusted Flaggers, including the Anti-Defamation League and No Hate Speech, a European organization, have gone public with their participation in the program. The vast majority of the groups in the program have remained hidden behind their confidentiality agreements.

YouTube public policy director Juniper Downs said the third-party groups work closely with YouTube's employees to crack down on extremist content in two ways:

First, the flaggers are equipped with digital tools allowing them to mass flag content for review by YouTube personnel. Second, the partner groups act as guides to YouTube's content monitors and engineers designing the algorithms policing the video platform but may lack the expertise needed to tackle a given subject.

We work with over 100 organizations as part of our Trusted Flagger program and we value the expertise these organizations bring to flagging content for review. All trusted flaggers attend a YouTube training to learn about our policies and enforcement processes. Videos flagged by trusted flaggers are reviewed by YouTube content moderators according to YouTube's Community Guidelines. Content flagged by trusted flaggers is not automatically removed or subject to any differential policies than content flagged from other users.

 

  The censorship machines are coming...

It sounds like big business has got at MEPs rewriting copyright law. Perhaps Brexit is a good thing after all


Link Here 28th February 2018  full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
Last week, the European Parliament's MEP in charge of overhauling the EU's copyright laws did a U-turn on his predecessor's position. Axel Voss is charged with making the EU's copyright laws fit for the Internet Age, yet in a staggering disregard for advice from all quarters, he decided to include a obligation on websites to automatically filter content.

Article 13 sets out how online platforms should manage user-uploaded content appears to have the most dangerous implications for fundamental rights. Never mind that the new Article 13 proposal runs directly contrary to an existing EU law -- the eCommerce Directive - which prohibits member states from imposing general monitoring obligations on hosting providers.

Six countries -- Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, and the Netherlands -- sought advice from the Council's Legal Service last July, asked specifically if the standalone measure/obligation as currently proposed under Article 13 [would] be compatible with the Charter of Human Rights and queried are the proposed measures justified and proportionate? But this does not seem to have been addressed.

The aim of the rule, which is in line with the European Commission's proposals more than a year ago, is to strengthen the music industry in negotiations with the likes of YouTube, Dailymotion, etc. Under Voss' revised Article 13, websites and apps that allow users to upload content must acquire copyright licenses for EVERYTHING, something that is in practice impossible. If they cannot, those platforms must filter all user-uploaded content.

The truth is that this latest copyright law proposal favors the rights-holders above anyone else. And we though MEPs represented the people.

 

  Veil...

MIT details new privacy service where web browsers are served with encrypted images that leaves little for trackers and snoopers


Link Here 27th February 2018

Today, most web browsers have private-browsing modes, in which they temporarily desist from recording the user's browsing history.

But data accessed during private browsing sessions can still end up tucked away in a computer's memory, where a sufficiently motivated attacker could retrieve it.

This week, at the Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium, researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard University presented a paper describing a new system, dubbed Veil, that makes private browsing more private.

Veil would provide added protections to people using shared computers in offices, hotel business centers, or university computing centers, and it can be used in conjunction with existing private-browsing systems and with anonymity networks such as Tor, which was designed to protect the identity of web users living under repressive regimes.

"Veil was motivated by all this research that was done previously in the security community that said, 'Private-browsing modes are leaky -- Here are 10 different ways that they leak,'" says Frank Wang, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science and first author on the paper. "We asked, 'What is the fundamental problem?' And the fundamental problem is that [the browser] collects this information, and then the browser does its best effort to fix it. But at the end of the day, no matter what the browser's best effort is, it still collects it. We might as well not collect that information in the first place."

Wang is joined on the paper by his two thesis advisors: Nickolai Zeldovich, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and James Mickens , an associate professor of computer science at Harvard.

Shell game

With existing private-browsing sessions, Wang explains, a browser will retrieve data much as it always does and load it into memory. When the session is over, it attempts to erase whatever it retrieved.

But in today's computers, memory management is a complex process, with data continuously moving around between different cores (processing units) and caches (local, high-speed memory banks). When memory banks fill up, the operating system might transfer data to the computer's hard drive, where it could remain for days, even after it's no longer being used.

Generally, a browser won't know where the data it downloaded has ended up. Even if it did, it wouldn't necessarily have authorization from the operating system to delete it.

Veil gets around this problem by ensuring that any data the browser loads into memory remains encrypted until it's actually displayed on-screen. Rather than typing a URL into the browser's address bar, the Veil user goes to the Veil website and enters the URL there. A special server -- which the researchers call a blinding server -- transmits a version of the requested page that's been translated into the Veil format.

The Veil page looks like an ordinary webpage: Any browser can load it. But embedded in the page is a bit of code -- much like the embedded code that would, say, run a video or display a list of recent headlines in an ordinary page -- that executes a decryption algorithm. The data associated with the page is unintelligible until it passes through that algorithm.

Decoys

Once the data is decrypted, it will need to be loaded in memory for as long as it's displayed on-screen. That type of temporarily stored data is less likely to be traceable after the browser session is over. But to further confound would-be attackers, Veil includes a few other security features.

One is that the blinding servers randomly add a bunch of meaningless code to every page they serve. That code doesn't affect the way a page looks to the user, but it drastically changes the appearance of the underlying source file. No two transmissions of a page served by a blinding sever look alike, and an adversary who managed to recover a few stray snippets of decrypted code after a Veil session probably wouldn't be able to determine what page the user had visited.

If the combination of run-time decryption and code obfuscation doesn't give the user an adequate sense of security, Veil offers an even harder-to-hack option. With this option, the blinding server opens the requested page itself and takes a picture of it. Only the picture is sent to the Veil user, so no executable code ever ends up in the user's computer. If the user clicks on some part of the image, the browser records the location of the click and sends it to the blinding server, which processes it and returns an image of the updated page.

The back end

Veil does, of course, require web developers to create Veil versions of their sites. But Wang and his colleagues have designed a compiler that performs this conversion automatically. The prototype of the compiler even uploads the converted site to a blinding server. The developer simply feeds the existing content for his or her site to the compiler.

A slightly more demanding requirement is the maintenance of the blinding servers. These could be hosted by either a network of private volunteers or a for-profit company. But site managers may wish to host Veil-enabled versions of their sites themselves. For web services that already emphasize the privacy protections they afford their customers, the added protections provided by Veil could offer a competitive advantage.

"Veil attempts to provide a private browsing mode without relying on browsers," says Taesoo Kim, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, who was not involved in the research. "Even if end users didn't explicitly enable the private browsing mode, they still can get benefits from Veil-enabled websites. Veil aims to be practical -- it doesn't require any modification on the browser side -- and to be stronger -- taking care of other corner cases that browsers do not have full control of."

 

 Offsite Article: The UK will block online porn from April. Here's what we know...


Link Here 25th February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
Age verification of all pornographic content will be mandatory from April 2018. But there are still a lot of grey areas

See article from wired.co.uk

 

  Cheating people of their right to free speech...

Bangladesh tried and failed to shutdown Facebook to prevent cheating in school exams


Link Here 24th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Bangladesh...Internet censors to track down supposed blasphemy

Now is the season of school final exams in Bangladesh and the government is trying hard to cope with the issue of exam questions leaking online.

Leaking exam questions have become a regular phenomenon in public examinations like Junior School Certificate (JSC), Senior School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC), medical college and university admission tests, and state-owned bank recruitment exams over the last several years in Bangladesh.

Mostly using Facebook and WhatsApp, people sell exam questions ahead of the nationwide examinations. A few hours before the exam, the questions are often given away for free. The offenders in most of these cases have not been identified. These leaks have cast a shadow over the quality of exams and the process of assessing students.

In January, the Education Minister hinted that Facebook would be shut down during the exams to prevent these leaks.

On February 11, 2018, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission instructed all internet service providers in Bangladesh to shut off mobile internet and reduce broadband speeds to 25 kbps from 8:00am-10:30am on exam days throughout the remainder of February.

But on February 12, 2018 morning, within an hour from the start of the internet shutdown, the government backtracked and ordered ISPs to ensure uninterrupted internet service. It took some hours for the ISPs to implement the new order and things were normal again. The authorities have instead imposed a mobile phone ban near the exam halls.

Netizens criticized the move, using sarcasm and satire to express their dissatisfaction and protest the rash and whimsical decision.

For now, with demand for exam questions increasing, the leaks continue. How the government will choose to combat the problem, short of an internet shutdown, remains to be seen.

 

 Offsite Article: Why the world's biggest porn company is backing the UK's new age law...


Link Here 24th February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
And why the adult industry is worried. By Lux Alptraum

See article from theverge.com

 

  The hare is off and running, 2 months left to download enough porn to last a lifetime...

The government has now officially appointed the BBFC as its internet porn censor


Link Here 23rd February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
The DCMS has published a letter dated 21st February 2018 that officially appoints the BBFC as its internet porn censor. It euphemistically describes the role as an age verification regulator.

Presumably a few press releases will follow and now the BBFC can at least be expected to comment on how the censorship will be implemented..

The enforcement has previously being noted as starting around late April or early May but this does not seem to give sufficient time for the required software to be implemented by websites.

 

  Immoral censorship...

Turkey is set to extend internet TV censorship to the likes of Netflix and YouTube, and also to personal social media accounts


Link Here 23rd February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
The Committee to Protect Journalists rather optimistically calls on Turkish authorities to scrap the article of a draft bill that would expand internet censorship in Turkey.

The Parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission has now passed article 73 of the bill, which would require online broadcasters, including YouTube and Netflix Turkey, to be licensed and regulated by the federal TV and radio censor RTÜK, according to news reports. Article 73 would also extend RTÜK's authority to personal social media accounts.

Parliament still needs to approve the bill's remaining articles before it schedules a vote on the bill but it has more than enough votes to pass and become law,

Government Minister Ahmet Arslan, who oversees internet censorship, has claimed that:

Censorship does not exist in Turkey ...[BUT]... Only broadcast material that goes "against national security [and the] moral order of the country" would be blocked if the bill becomes law.

 

 Offsite Article: The dangerous trend for automating censorship, and circumventing laws...


Link Here 22nd February 2018
Deals between companies and governments to automate acceptable content online are too common. By Ruth Coustick-Deal

See article from openmedia.org

 

 Offsite Article: Inside the UK Age Verification Law...


Link Here 20th February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
What the new regulations mean for your US business

See article from avn.com

 

  First the Daily Mail demands that porn sites verify age...

Now when they are all set to go, the Daily Mail decides that porn sites are not fit and proper companies to be trusted with implementing the checks


Link Here 18th February 2018
As the introduction of age verification for websites approaches, it seems that the most likely outcome is that Mindgeek, the company behind most of the tube sites, is set to become the self appointed gatekeeper of porn. Its near monopoly on free porn means that it will be the first port of call for people wanting access, and people who register with them will be able to surf large numbers of porn sites with no verification hassle. And they are then not going to be very willing go through all the hassle again for a company not enrolled in the Mindgeek scheme. Mindgeek is therefore set to become the Amazon,eBay/Google/Facebook of porn.

There is another very promising age verification system AVSecure, that sounds way better than Midgeek's AgeID. AVSecure plans to offer age verification passes from supermarkets and post offices. They will give you a card with a code that requires no further identification whatsoever beyond looking obviously over 25.  18-25 yea olds will have to show ID but it need not be recorded in the system, Adult websites can then check the verification code that will reveal only that the holder is over 18. All website interactions will be further protected by blockchain encryption.

The Mindgeek scheme is the most well promoted for the moment and so is seem as the favourite to prevail. TheDaily Mail is now having doubts about the merits of trusting a porn company with age verification on the grounds that the primary motivation is to make money. The Daily Mail has also spotted that the vast swathes of worldwide porn is nominally held to be illegal by the government under the Obscene Publications Act. Notably female ejaculation is held to be obscene as the government claims it to be illegal because the ejaculate contains urine. I think the government is on a hiding to nothing if it persists in its silly claims of obscenity, they are simply years out of date and the world has move on.

Anyway the Daily Mail spouts:

The moguls behind the world's biggest pornography websites have been entrusted by the Government with policing the internet to keep it safe for children. MindGeek staff have held a series of meetings with officials in preparation for the new age verification system which is designed to ensure that under-18s cannot view adult material.

Tens of millions of British adults are expected to have to entrust their private details to MindGeek, which owns the PornHub and YouPorn websites.

Critics have likened the company's involvement to entrusting the cigarette industry with stopping underage smoking and want an independent body to create the system instead.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has found that material on the company's porn websites could be in breach of the Obscene Publications Act. A search for one sexual act, which would be considered illegal to publish videos of under the Obscene Publications Act, returned nearly 20,000 hits on PornHub. The Mail on Sunday did not watch any of the videos.

Shadow Culture Minister Liam Byrne said:

It is alarming that a company given the job of checking whether viewers of pornography are over 18 can't even police publication of illegal material on its own platform.

A DCMS spokesman said:

The Government will not be endorsing individual age-verification solutions but they will need to abide by data protection laws to be compliant.

 

  Images of compromise...

Google tweaks its Image Search at the behest of Getty Images


Link Here 18th February 2018
Google has tweaked its Google's image search to make it slightly more difficult to view images in full size before downloading them. Google has also added a more prominent copyright warning.

Google acted as part of a peace deal with photo library Getty Images.  In 2017, Getty Images complained to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.

Google said it had removed some features from image search, including the view image button. Images can still be viewed in full size from the right click menu, at least on my Windows version of Firefox. Google also removed the search by image button, which was an easy way of finding larger copies of photographs. Perhaps the tweaks are more about restricting the finding of high resolution version of image rather than worrying about standard sized images.

Getty Images is a photo library that sells the work of photographers and illustrators to businesses, newspapers and broadcasters. It complained that Google's image search made it easy for people to find Getty Images pictures and take them, without the appropriate permission or licence.

In a statement, Getty Images said:

We are pleased to announce that after working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognised and we have withdrawn our complaint.

 

  The pits of world censorship...

Turkish TV company fined for unbeeped strong language on its internet player


Link Here 18th February 2018
Turkey's TV censor RT3cK has set a new precedent by issuing a fine to a channel that included strong language language on its website that was beeped out when broadcast on TV.

The fine came when Show TV posted a clip of a sweary character from the hit mafia TV show Çukur (The Pit)  without the usual heavy censorship on its website.

A draft law that would enable RT3cK to regulate online video content is in the works, but the body appears to have begun regardless.

 

 Offsite Article: Out and out overblocking...


Link Here 18th February 2018
Sky UK block gay-teen support website deemed pornographic by its algorithms

See article from gaystarnews.com

 

  Wash your mouth out with (Dove) soap...

Unilever boss lays into Facebook and Google saying algorithms do not produce a squeaky clean enough environment for the Unilever brand


Link Here 17th February 2018
  Lynx advert from Unilever

Since their ascendance in the 2000s, Google and Facebook have largely defined how ads and other corporate content would appear, where they would flow, and the metrics of online advertising success.

On Monday, one top advertiser, Unilever, went public with its criticism, calling social media little better than a swamp and threatening to pull ads from platforms that leave children unprotected, create social division, or promote anger or hate. That comes a year after Procter & Gamble adjusted its own ad strategy, voicing similar concerns. ,

Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer, said in a speech Monday to internet advertisers.

Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children -- parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us. This is a deep and systematic issue -- an issue of trust that fundamentally threatens to undermine the relationship between consumers and brands.

Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents many big entertainment and news organizations added:

The technology, it appears, is actually allowing bad actors to amplify misinformation and garbage while at the same time squeezing out the economics of the companies that are actually accountable to consumer trust.

Update: Center Parcs outraged at the Daily Mail for its advert placement

17th February 2018. See  article from bbc.com

Center Parcs has announced it has stopped advertising in the Daily Mail. It took the decision after its advert appeared in an online article by columnist Richard Littlejohn that criticised diver Tom Daley and his husband David Lance Black, who are expecting a child . Littlejohn claimed children benefit most from being raised by a man and a woman.

Center Parcs was responding to a complaint from a person who tweeted:

My son so wants me to book at your parks, but how can I do that if you support homophobia?

Center Parcs responded:

We take where we advertise very seriously and have a number of steps to prevent our advertising from appearing alongside inappropriate content. We felt this placement was completely unacceptable and therefore ceased advertising with the Daily Mail with immediate effect.

 

  Endangering porn stars...

German courts finds that Facebook's real name policy is illegal and a Belgian court tells Facebook to delete tracking data on people not signed up to Facebook


Link Here 17th February 2018  full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy

Germany

In a ruling of particular interest to those working in the adult entertainment biz, a German court has ruled that Facebook's real name policy is illegal and that users must be allowed to sign up for the service under pseudonyms.

The opinion comes from the Berlin Regional Court and disseminated by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, which filed the suit against Facebook. The Berlin court found that Facebook's real name policy was a covert way of obtaining users' consent to share their names, which are one of many pieces of information the court said Facebook did not properly obtain users' permission for.

The court also said that Facebook didn't provide a clear-cut choice to users for other default settings, such as to share their location in chats. It also ruled against clauses that allowed the social media giant to use information such as profile pictures for commercial, sponsored or related content.

Facebook told Reuters it will appeal the ruling, but also that it will make changes to comply with European Union privacy laws coming into effect in June.

Belgium

Facebook has been ordered to stop tracking people without consent, by a court in Belgium. The company has been told to delete all the data it had gathered on people who did not use Facebook. The court ruled the data was gathered illegally.

Belgium's privacy watchdog said the website had broken privacy laws by placing tracking code on third-party websites.

Facebook said it would appeal against the ruling.

The social network faces fines of 250,000 euros a day if it does not comply.

The ruling is the latest in a long-running dispute between the social network and the Belgian commission for the protection of privacy (CPP). In 2015, the CPP complained that Facebook tracked people when they visited pages on the site or clicked like or share, even if they were not members.

 

  Is internet censorship thriving under the radar in the UK?...

YouTube videos that are banned for UK eyes only


Link Here 17th February 2018
  outside UK UK

The United Kingdom's reputation for online freedom has suffered significantly in recent years, in no small part due to the draconian Investigatory Powers Act, which came into power last year and created what many people have described as the worst surveillance state in the free world.

But despite this, the widely held perception is that the UK still allows relatively free access to the internet, even if they do insist on keeping records on what sites you are visiting. But how true, is this perception?

...

There is undeniably more online censorship in the UK than many people would like to admit to. But is this just the tip of the iceberg? The censorship of one YouTube video suggests that it might just be. The video in question contains footage filmed by a trucker of refugees trying to break into his vehicle in order to get across the English Channel and into the UK. This is a topic which has been widely reported in British media in the past, but in the wake of the Brexit vote and the removal of the so-called 'Jungle Refugee Camp', there has been strangely little coverage.

The video in question is entitled 'Epic Hungarian Trucker runs the Calais migrant gauntlet.' It is nearly 15 minutes long and does feature the drivers extremely forthright opinions about the refugees in question as well as some fairly blue language.

Yet, if you try to access this video in the UK, you will find that it is blocked. It remains accessible to users elsewhere in the world, albeit with content warnings in place.

And it is not alone. It doesn't take too much research to uncover several similar videos which are also censored in the UK. The scale of the issue likely requires further research. But it safe to say, that such censorship is both unnecessary and potentially illegal as it as undeniably denying British citizens access to content which would feed an informed debate on some crucial issues.

 

 Offsite Article: Forgive her Lord for she knows not what she does...


Link Here 17th February 2018
US Judge rules that embedding a tweet can be copyright infringement

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 Commented: Maybe more about asking why Google can't do the same...

The UK reveals a tool to detect uploads of jihadi videos


Link Here 15th February 2018  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

The UK government has unveiled a tool it says can accurately detect jihadist content and block it from being viewed.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC she would not rule out forcing technology companies to use it by law. Rudd is visiting the US to meet tech companies to discuss the idea, as well as other efforts to tackle extremism.

The government provided £600,000 of public funds towards the creation of the tool by an artificial intelligence company based in London.

Thousands of hours of content posted by the Islamic State group was run past the tool, in order to train it to automatically spot extremist material.

ASI Data Science said the software can be configured to detect 94% of IS video uploads. Anything the software identifies as potential IS material would be flagged up for a human decision to be taken.

The company said it typically flagged 0.005% of non-IS video uploads. But this figure is meaningless without an indication of how many contained any content that have any connection with jihadis.

In London, reporters were given an off-the-record briefing detailing how ASI's software worked, but were asked not to share its precise methodology. However, in simple terms, it is an algorithm that draws on characteristics typical of IS and its online activity.

It sounds like the tool is more about analysing data about the uploading account, geographical origin, time of day, name of poster etc rather than analysing the video itself.

Comment: Even extremist takedowns require accountability

15th February 2018. See  article from openrightsgroup.org

Can extremist material be identified at 99.99% certainty as Amber Rudd claims today? And how does she intend to ensure that there is legal accountability for content removal?

The Government is very keen to ensure that extremist material is removed from private platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. It has urged use of machine learning and algorithmic identification by the companies, and threatened fines for failing to remove content swiftly.

Today Amber Rudd claims to have developed a tool to identify extremist content, based on a database of known material. Such tools can have a role to play in identifying unwanted material, but we need to understand that there are some important caveats to what these tools are doing, with implications about how they are used, particularly around accountability. We list these below.

Before we proceed, we should also recognise that this is often about computers (bots) posting vast volumes of material with a very small audience. Amber Rudd's new machine may then potentially clean some of it up. It is in many ways a propaganda battle between extremists claiming to be internet savvy and exaggerating their impact, while our own government claims that they are going to clean up the internet. Both sides benefit from the apparent conflict.

The real world impact of all this activity may not be as great as is being claimed. We should be given much more information about what exactly is being posted and removed. For instance the UK police remove over 100,000 pieces of extremist content by notice to companies: we currently get just this headline figure only. We know nothing more about these takedowns. They might have never been viewed, except by the police, or they might have been very influential.

The results of the government's' campaign to remove extremist material may be to push them towards more private or censor-proof platforms. That may impact the ability of the authorities to surveil criminals and to remove material in the future. We may regret chasing extremists off major platforms, where their activities are in full view and easily used to identify activity and actors.

Whatever the wisdom of proceeding down this path, we need to be worried about the unwanted consequences of machine takedowns. Firstly, we are pushing companies to be the judges of legal and illegal. Secondly, all systems make mistakes and require accountability for them; mistakes need to be minimised, but also rectified.

Here is our list of questions that need to be resolved.

1 What really is the accuracy of this system?

Small error rates translate into very large numbers of errors at scale. We see this with more general internet filters in the UK, where our blocked.org.uk project regularly uncovers and reports errors.

How are the accuracy rates determined? Is there any external review of its decisions?

The government appears to recognise the technology has limitations. In order to claim a high accuracy rate, they say at least 6% of extremist video content has to be missed. On large platforms that would be a great deal of material needing human review. The government's own tool shows the limitations of their prior demands that technology "solve" this problem.

Islamic extremists are operating rather like spammers when they post their material. Just like spammers, their techniques change to avoid filtering. The system will need constant updating to keep a given level of accuracy.

2 Machines are not determining meaning

Machines can only attempt to pattern match, with the assumption that content and form imply purpose and meaning. This explains how errors can occur, particularly in missing new material.

3 Context is everything

The same content can, in different circumstances, be legal or illegal. The law defines extremist material as promoting or glorifying terrorism. This is a vague concept. The same underlying material, with small changes, can become news, satire or commentary. Machines cannot easily determine the difference.

4 The learning is only as good as the underlying material

The underlying database is used to train machines to pattern match. Therefore the quality of the initial database is very important. It is unclear how the material in the database has been deemed illegal, but it is likely that these are police determinations rather than legal ones, meaning that inaccuracies or biases in police assumptions will be repeated in any machine learning.

5 Machines are making no legal judgment

The machines are not making a legal determination. This means a company's decision to act on what the machine says is absent of clear knowledge. At the very least, if material is "machine determined" to be illegal, the poster, and users who attempt to see the material, need to be told that a machine determination has been made.

6 Humans and courts need to be able to review complaints

Anyone who posts material must be able to get human review, and recourse to courts if necessary.

7 Whose decision is this exactly?

The government wants small companies to use the database to identify and remove material. If material is incorrectly removed, perhaps appealed, who is responsible for reviewing any mistake?

It may be too complicated for the small company. Since it is the database product making the mistake, the designers need to act to correct it so that it is less likely to be repeated elsewhere.

If the government want people to use their tool, there is a strong case that the government should review mistakes and ensure that there is an independent appeals process.

8 How do we know about errors?

Any takedown system tends towards overzealous takedowns. We hope the identification system is built for accuracy and prefers to miss material rather than remove the wrong things, however errors will often go unreported. There are strong incentives for legitimate posters of news, commentary, or satire to simply accept the removal of their content. To complain about a takedown would take serious nerve, given that you risk being flagged as a terrorist sympathiser, or perhaps having to enter formal legal proceedings.

We need a much stronger conversation about the accountability of these systems. So far, in every context, this is a question the government has ignored. If this is a fight for the rule of law and against tyranny, then we must not create arbitrary, unaccountable, extra-legal censorship systems.

 

 Extract: Flawed Social Media Law...

Human Rights Watch criticises the recent German internet censorship law that leaves social media companies with little choice but to take down any complained about posts without due consideration


Link Here 15th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

The new German law that compels social media companies to remove hate speech and other illegal content can lead to unaccountable, overbroad censorship and should be promptly reversed, Human Rights Watch said today. The law sets a dangerous precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online by forcing companies to censor on the government's behalf. Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch said:

Governments and the public have valid concerns about the proliferation of illegal or abusive content online, but the new German law is fundamentally flawed. It is vague, overbroad, and turns private companies into overzealous censors to avoid steep fines, leaving users with no judicial oversight or right to appeal.

Parliament approved the Network Enforcement Act , commonly known as NetzDG, on June 30, 2017, and it took full effect on January 1, 2018. The law requires large social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, to promptly remove "illegal content," as defined in 22 provisions of the criminal code , ranging widely from insult of public office to actual threats of violence. Faced with fines up to 50 million euro, companies are already removing content to comply with the law.

At least three countries -- Russia, Singapore, and the Philippines -- have directly cited the German law as a positive example as they contemplate or propose legislation to remove "illegal" content online. The Russian draft law, currently before the Duma, could apply to larger social media platforms as well as online messaging services.

Two key aspects of the law violate Germany's obligation to respect free speech, Human Rights Watch said. First, the law places the burden on companies that host third-party content to make difficult determinations of when user speech violates the law, under conditions that encourage suppression of arguably lawful speech. Even courts can find these determinations challenging, as they require a nuanced understanding of context, culture, and law. Faced with short review periods and the risk of steep fines, companies have little incentive to err on the side of free expression.

Second, the law fails to provide either judicial oversight or a judicial remedy should a cautious corporate decision violate a person's right to speak or access information. In this way, the largest platforms for online expression become "no accountability" zones, where government pressure to censor evades judicial scrutiny.

At the same time, social media companies operating in Germany and elsewhere have human rights responsibilities toward their users, and they should act to protect them from abuse by others, Human Rights Watch said. This includes stating in user agreements what content the company will prohibit, providing a mechanism to report objectionable content, investing adequate resources to conduct reviews with relevant regional and language expertise, and offering an appeals process for users who believe their content was improperly blocked or removed. Threats of violence, invasions of privacy, and severe harassment are often directed against women and minorities and can drive people off the internet or lead to physical attacks.

...Read the full article from hrw.org

 

 Updated: Images blocked by default...

Tumblr changes the way that its safe mode works, possibly related to impending UK porn censorship


Link Here 13th February 2018
tumblr is an image sharing website. It has just announced that it will changesafe mode wrks. In a email to wisers, tumblr writes: the way that its

Hi

Last year we introduced Safe Mode, which filters sensitive content in your dashboard and search results so you have control over what you see and what you don't. And now that it's been out for a while, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to try it out.

Over the next couple weeks, you might see some things in your dashboard getting filtered. If you like it that way, that's great. If you don't, no problem. You can go back by turning off Safe Mode any time.

tumblr.

Update: Are the safe mode changes related to impending UK porn censorship?

13th February 2018. See  article from dazeddigital.com

Tumblr has long been one of the freest spaces on the internet for porn and sex-positive content, thanks to lax guidelines compared to Facebook or Instagram. Porn creators, fetish community artists, and more were able to share work with little trouble. Tumblr made a major change last year with the introduction of a Safe Mode that initially filtered NSFW content if users chose to enable it. Now though, Tumblr is making Safe Mode the default setting for users.

The Safe Mode feature hides sensitive images -- for example nude images, even, as Tumblr's guidelines note, if artistic or education nudity like classic art or anatomy. As Motherboard reports , it's a function that claims to give users more control over what you see and what you don't, updating the Safe Search option that the platform introduced back in 2012 that removed sensitive stuff from the site's search results.

Rolling out the default setting means users will have to go out of their way to switch back and see unfiltered content. An email sent to Tumblr users last week states that they want to make sure everyone has the chance to try it out.

Many adult content creators are concerned this will affect their work and space on the platform. Tumblr user, freelance artist, and adult comic-maker Kayla-Na told Dazed of her frustrations: I understand wanting to make Tumblr a safer environment for younger audiences, but Tumblr has to remember that the adult community is still part of the website as a whole, and shouldn't be suppressed into oblivion.

See full article from dazeddigital.com

Perhaps the Tumblr safe mode has also been introduced as a step towards the UK's porn censorship by age verification. The next step maybe for the safe mode to mandatorily imposed on internet viewers in Britain and can only be turned off when they subject themselves to age verification.

 

  Sneaky tricks...

Instagram is trying to inform posters that their post has been saved, snapped or recorded before it self destructs


Link Here 13th February 2018  full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo hsaring website gets heavy on the censorship
Some users have reported seeing pop ups in Instagram (IG) informing them that, from now on, Instagram will be flagging when you record or take a screenshot of other people's IG stories and informing the originator that you have rsnapped or ecorded the post.

According to a report by Tech Crunch , those who have been selected to participate in the IG trial can see exactly who has been creeping and snapping their stories. Those who have screenshotted an image or recorded a video will have a little camera shutter logo next to their usernames, much like Snapchat.

Of course, users have already found a nifty workaround to avoid social media stalking exposure. So here's the deal: turning your phone on airplane mode after you've loaded the story and then taking your screenshot means that users won't be notified of any impropriety (sounds easy for Instagram to fix this by saving the keypress until the next time it communicates with the Instagram server). You could also download the stories from Instagram's website or use an app like Story Reposter. Maybe PC users just need another small window on the desktop, then move the mouse pointer to the small window before snapping the display.

Clearly, there's concerns on Instagram's part about users' content being shared without their permission, but if the post is shared with someone for viewing, it is pretty tough to stop then from grabbing a copy for themselves as they view it.

 

 Offsite Article: Prohibition never works, and internet smut is no exception...


Link Here 13th February 2018
Imagine, for a moment, what it take to successfully ban pornography in the United States. By Peter Suderman

See article from reason.com

 

 Offsite Article: Jailing everybody...


Link Here 12th February 2018
Katie Price petitions parliament to make internet insults a criminal offence, with the line being drawn somewhere between banter and criminal abuse. And to keep a register of offenders

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Fake news has a long history....


Link Here 12th February 2018  full story: Fake News...Declining respect for the authorities is blamed on 'fake' news
Beware the state being keeper of the truth'. By Kenan Malik

See article from theguardian.com

 

  Fake blame...

Matt Hancock rules out creating a UK social media censor


Link Here 10th February 2018
The UK's digital and culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has ruled out creating a new internet censor targeting social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

In an interview on the BBC's Media Show , Hancock said he was not inclined in that direction and instead wanted to ensure existing regulation is fit for purpose. He said:

If you tried to bring in a new regulator you'd end up having to regulate everything. But that doesn't mean that we don't need to make sure that the regulations ensure that markets work properly and people are protected.

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee are now investigating whether Russian groups used the platforms to interfere in the Brexit referendum in 2016. The DCMS select committee is in the US this week to grill tech executives about their role in spreading fake news. In a committee hearing in Washington yesterday, YouTube's policy chief said the site had found no evidence of Russian-linked accounts purchasing ads to interfere in the Brexit referendum.

 

  Curtain twitching...

The miserable Twitch game streaming website will close down anything remotely sexy including the attire of live streamers


Link Here 10th February 2018

Amazon's game-streaming site Twitch is cracking down on sexy content in a bid to make the platform more family-friendly. In particular the site as putting a stop to so-called bikini streamers who wear skimpy outfits to increase their subscriber count, or attract donations.

Some streams involved a squats for subs dynamic, where scantily clad game streamers would perform squats in front of a camera in return for new channel subscribers.

The Amazon-owned gaming website, which is the world's most popular place to live-stream video games, has introduced a strict dress code that will come into effect later this month.  Transgressors will be banned from the site. Twitch explained:

We're updating our moderation framework to review your conduct in its entirety when evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive.

The company is planning to examine a whole host of elements, including stream titles, camera angles, emotes, panels, clothing, overlays, and the chat box too.

As far as clothing goes, Twitch recommends wearing something you'd be comfortable in at a shopping centre.

Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant.

 

 Offsite Article: Gagging orders: The internet surveillance nobody can talk about...


Link Here 10th February 2018  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
The Investigatory Powers Act has heralded a new era of secret state surveillance

See article from alphr.com

 

  The CLOUD Act...

A Dangerous Expansion of US Police Snooping on Cross-Border Data


Link Here 9th February 2018  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Snooping continues after Snowden revelations

This week, Senators Hatch, Graham, Coons, and Whitehouse introduced a bill that diminishes the data privacy of people around the world.

The Clarifying Overseas Use of Data ( CLOUD ) Act expands American and foreign law enforcement's ability to target and access people's data across international borders in two ways. First, the bill creates an explicit provision for U.S. law enforcement (from a local police department to federal agents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to access "the contents of a wire or electronic communication and any record or other information" about a person regardless of where they live or where that information is located on the globe. In other words, U.S. police could compel a service provider--like Google, Facebook, or Snapchat--to hand over a user's content and metadata, even if it is stored in a foreign country, without following that foreign country's privacy laws.

Second, the bill would allow the President to enter into "executive agreements" with foreign governments that would allow each government to acquire users' data stored in the other country, without following each other's privacy laws.

For example, because U.S.-based companies host and carry much of the world's Internet traffic, a foreign country that enters one of these executive agreements with the U.S. to could potentially wiretap people located anywhere on the globe (so long as the target of the wiretap is not a U.S. person or located in the United States) without the procedural safeguards of U.S. law typically given to data stored in the United States, such as a warrant, or even notice to the U.S. government. This is an enormous erosion of current data privacy laws.

This bill would also moot legal proceedings now before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the spring, the Court will decide whether or not current U.S. data privacy laws allow U.S. law enforcement to serve warrants for information stored outside the United States. The case, United States v. Microsoft (often called "Microsoft Ireland"), also calls into question principles of international law, such as respect for other countries territorial boundaries and their rule of law.

Notably, this bill would expand law enforcement access to private email and other online content, yet the Email Privacy Act , which would create a warrant-for-content requirement, has still not passed the Senate, even though it has enjoyed unanimous support in the House for the past two years .

The CLOUD Act and the US-UK Agreement

The CLOUD Act's proposed language is not new. In 2016, the Department of Justice first proposed legislation that would enable the executive branch to enter into bilateral agreements with foreign governments to allow those foreign governments direct access to U.S. companies and U.S. stored data. Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post broke the story that these agreements (the first iteration has already been negotiated with the United Kingdom) would enable foreign governments to wiretap any communication in the United States, so long as the target is not a U.S. person. In 2017 , the Justice Department re-submitted the bill for Congressional review, but added a few changes: this time including broad language to allow the extraterritorial application of U.S. warrants outside the boundaries of the United States.

In September 2017, EFF, with a coalition of 20 other privacy advocates, sent a letter to Congress opposing the Justice Department's revamped bill.

The executive agreement language in the CLOUD Act is nearly identical to the language in the DOJ's 2017 bill. None of EFF's concerns have been addressed. The legislation still:

  • Includes a weak standard for review that does not rise to the protections of the warrant requirement under the 4th Amendment.

  • Fails to require foreign law enforcement to seek individualized and prior judicial review.

  • Grants real-time access and interception to foreign law enforcement without requiring the heightened warrant standards that U.S. police have to adhere to under the Wiretap Act.

  • Fails to place adequate limits on the category and severity of crimes for this type of agreement.

  • Fails to require notice on any level -- to the person targeted, to the country where the person resides, and to the country where the data is stored. (Under a separate provision regarding U.S. law enforcement extraterritorial orders, the bill allows companies to give notice to the foreign countries where data is stored, but there is no parallel provision for company-to-country notice when foreign police seek data stored in the United States.)

The CLOUD Act also creates an unfair two-tier system. Foreign nations operating under executive agreements are subject to minimization and sharing rules when handling data belonging to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and corporations. But these privacy rules do not extend to someone born in another country and living in the United States on a temporary visa or without documentation. This denial of privacy rights is unlike other U.S. privacy laws. For instance, the Stored Communications Act protects all members of the "public" from the unlawful disclosure of their personal communications.

An Expansion of U.S. Law Enforcement Capabilities

The CLOUD Act would give unlimited jurisdiction to U.S. law enforcement over any data controlled by a service provider, regardless of where the data is stored and who created it. This applies to content, metadata, and subscriber information -- meaning private messages and account details could be up for grabs. The breadth of such unilateral extraterritorial access creates a dangerous precedent for other countries who may want to access information stored outside their own borders, including data stored in the United States.

EFF argued on this basis (among others) against unilateral U.S. law enforcement access to cross-border data, in our Supreme Court amicus brief in the Microsoft Ireland case.

When data crosses international borders, U.S. technology companies can find themselves caught in the middle between the conflicting data laws of different nations: one nation might use its criminal investigation laws to demand data located beyond its borders, yet that same disclosure might violate the data privacy laws of the nation that hosts that data. Thus, U.S. technology companies lobbied for and received provisions in the CLOUD Act allowing them to move to quash or modify U.S. law enforcement orders for extraterritorial data. The tech companies can quash a U.S. order when the order does not target a U.S. person and might conflict with a foreign government's laws. To do so, the company must object within 14 days, and undergo a complex "comity" analysis -- a procedure where a U.S. court must balance the competing interests of the U.S. and foreign governments.

Failure to Support Mutual Assistance

Of course, there is another way to protect technology companies from this dilemma, which would also protect the privacy of technology users around the world: strengthen the existing international system of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). This system allows police who need data stored abroad to obtain the data through the assistance of the nation that hosts the data. The MLAT system encourages international cooperation.

It also advances data privacy. When foreign police seek data stored in the U.S., the MLAT system requires them to adhere to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements. And when U.S. police seek data stored abroad, it requires them to follow the data privacy rules where the data is stored, which may include important " necessary and proportionate " standards. Technology users are most protected when police, in the pursuit of cross-border data, must satisfy the privacy standards of both countries.

While there are concerns from law enforcement that the MLAT system has become too slow, those concerns should be addressed with improved resources, training, and streamlining.

The CLOUD Act raises dire implications for the international community, especially as the Council of Europe is beginning a process to review the MLAT system that has been supported for the last two decades by the Budapest Convention. Although Senator Hatch has in the past introduced legislation that would support the MLAT system, this new legislation fails to include any provisions that would increase resources for the U.S. Department of Justice to tackle its backlog of MLAT requests, or otherwise improve the MLAT system.

A growing chorus of privacy groups in the United States opposes the CLOUD Act's broad expansion of U.S. and foreign law enforcement's unilateral powers over cross-border data. For example, Sharon Bradford Franklin of OTI (and the former executive director of the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board) objects that the CLOUD Act will move law enforcement access capabilities "in the wrong direction, by sacrificing digital rights." CDT and Access Now also oppose the bill.

Sadly, some major U.S. technology companies and legal scholars support the legislation. But, to set the record straight, the CLOUD Act is not a " good start ." Nor does it do a " remarkable job of balancing these interests in ways that promise long-term gains in both privacy and security." Rather, the legislation reduces protections for the personal privacy of technology users in an attempt to mollify tensions between law enforcement and U.S. technology companies.

Legislation to protect the privacy of technology users from government snooping has long been overdue in the United States. But the CLOUD Act does the opposite, and privileges law enforcement at the expense of people's privacy. EFF strongly opposes the bill. Now is the time to strengthen the MLAT system, not undermine it.

 

 Extract: Hate speech thrives underground...

The EU is failing to engage with platforms where the most hateful and egregious terrorist content lives.


Link Here 8th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states

Illegal content and terrorist propaganda are still spreading rapidly online in the European Union -- just not on mainstream platforms, new analysis shows.

Twitter, Google and Facebook all play by EU rules when it comes to illegal content, namely hate speech and terrorist propaganda, policing their sites voluntarily.

But with increased scrutiny on mainstream sites, alt-right and terrorist sympathizers are flocking to niche platforms where illegal content is shared freely, security experts and anti-extremism activists say.

See  article from politico.eu

 

 Offsite Article: Facebook moderator: I had to be prepared to see anything...


Link Here 8th February 2018  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
It's mostly pornography, says Sarah Katz, recalling her eight-month stint working as a Facebook moderator

See article from bbc.com

 

  Unacceptable...

Government outlines next steps to make the UK the most censored place to be online


Link Here 7th February 2018

Government outlines next steps to make the UK the safest place to be online

The Prime Minister has announced plans to review laws and make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online as the Government marks Safer Internet Day.

The Law Commission will launch a review of current legislation on offensive online communications to ensure that laws are up to date with technology.

As set out in the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper , the Government is clear that abusive and threatening behaviour online is totally unacceptable. This work will determine whether laws are effective enough in ensuring parity between the treatment of offensive behaviour that happens offline and online.

The Prime Minister has also announced:

  • That the Government will introduce a comprehensive new social media code of practice this year, setting out clearly the minimum expectations on social media companies

  • The introduction of an annual internet safety transparency report - providing UK data on offensive online content and what action is being taken to remove it.

Other announcements made today by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Matt Hancock include:

  • A new online safety guide for those working with children, including school leaders and teachers, to prepare young people for digital life

  • A commitment from major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter to put in place specific support during election campaigns to ensure abusive content can be dealt with quickly -- and that they will provide advice and guidance to Parliamentary candidates on how to remain safe and secure online

DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said:

We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and having listened to the views of parents, communities and industry, we are delivering on the ambitions set out in our Internet Safety Strategy.

Not only are we seeing if the law needs updating to better tackle online harms, we are moving forward with our plans for online platforms to have tailored protections in place - giving the UK public standards of internet safety unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:

There are laws in place to stop abuse but we've moved on from the age of green ink and poison pens. The digital world throws up new questions and we need to make sure that the law is robust and flexible enough to answer them.

If we are to be safe both on and off line, the criminal law must offer appropriate protection in both spaces. By studying the law and identifying any problems we can give government the full picture as it works to make the UK the safest place to be online.

The latest announcements follow the publication of the Government's Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper last year which outlined plans for a social media code of practice. The aim is to prevent abusive behaviour online, introduce more effective reporting mechanisms to tackle bullying or harmful content, and give better guidance for users to identify and report illegal content. The Government will be outlining further steps on the strategy, including more detail on the code of practice and transparency reports, in the spring.

To support this work, people working with children including teachers and school leaders will be given a new guide for online safety, to help educate young people in safe internet use. Developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety ( UKCCIS , the toolkit describes the knowledge and skills for staying safe online that children and young people should have at different stages of their lives.

Major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have also agreed to take forward a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) to provide specific support for Parliamentary candidates so that they can remain safe and secure while on these sites. during election campaigns. These are important steps in safeguarding the free and open elections which are a key part of our democracy.

Notes

Included in the Law Commission's scope for their review will be the Malicious Communications Act and the Communications Act. It will consider whether difficult concepts need to be reconsidered in the light of technological change - for example, whether the definition of who a 'sender' is needs to be updated.

The Government will bring forward an Annual Internet Safety Transparency report, as proposed in our Internet Safety Strategy green paper. The reporting will show:

  • the amount of harmful content reported to companies

  • the volume and proportion of this material that is taken down

  • how social media companies are handling and responding to complaints

  • how each online platform moderates harmful and abusive behaviour and the policies they have in place to tackle it.

Annual reporting will help to set baselines against which to benchmark companies' progress, and encourage the sharing of best practice between companies.

The new social media code of practice will outline standards and norms expected from online platforms. It will cover:

  • The development, enforcement and review of robust community guidelines for the content uploaded by users and their conduct online

  • The prevention of abusive behaviour online and the misuse of social media platforms -- including action to identify and stop users who are persistently abusing services

  • The reporting mechanisms that companies have in place for inappropriate, bullying and harmful content, and ensuring they have clear policies and performance metrics for taking this content down

  • The guidance social media companies offer to help users identify illegal content and contact online, and advise them on how to report it to the authorities, to ensure this is as clear as possible

  • The policies and practices companies apply around privacy issues.

Comment: Preventing protest

7th February 2018. See  article from indexoncensorship.org

The UK Prime Minister's proposals for possible new laws to stop intimidation against politicians have the potential to prevent legal protests and free speech that are at the core of our democracy, says Index on Censorship. One hundred years after the suffragette demonstrations won the right for women to have the vote for the first time, a law that potentially silences angry voices calling for change would be a retrograde step.

No one should be threatened with violence, or subjected to violence, for doing their job, said Index chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. However, the UK already has a host of laws dealing with harassment of individuals both off and online that cover the kind of abuse politicians receive on social media and elsewhere. A loosely defined offence of 'intimidation' could cover a raft of perfectly legitimate criticism of political candidates and politicians -- including public protest.

 

  A new YouTube badge will mark state propaganda...

YouTube announces that it will indicate when news videos are from state funded sources


Link Here 6th February 2018  full story: Fake News...Declining respect for the authorities is blamed on 'fake' news

Greater transparency for users around news broadcasters

Today we will start rolling out notices below videos uploaded by news broadcasters that receive some level of government or public funding.

Our goal is to equip users with additional information to help them better understand the sources of news content that they choose to watch on YouTube.

We're rolling out this feature to viewers in the U.S. for now, and we don't expect it to be perfect. Users and publishers can give us feedback through the send feedback form. We plan to improve and expand the feature over time.

The notice will appear below the video, but above the video's title, and include a link to Wikipedia so viewers can learn more about the news broadcaster.

 

 Offsite Article: Russia's Internet Censorship on the rise...


Link Here 6th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
A new report has revealed the escalating internet censorship situation in Russia, with a record number of cases being reported in the past year.

See article from vpncompare.co.uk

 

 Extract: Deepfakery...

Trailblazing censorship for the trailblazing technology of fake celebrity porn videos


Link Here 5th February 2018
  I've spent years of study perfecting a spell to turn Hermione into a porn star, and some spotty muggle has beaten me to it.

In recent weeks there has been an explosion in what has become known as deepfakes: pornographic videos manipulated so that the original actress' face is replaced with somebody else's.

As these tools have become more powerful and easier to use, it has enabled the transfer of sexual fantasies from people's imaginations to the internet. It flies past not only the boundaries of human decency, but also our sense of believing what we see and hear.

There are some celebrities in particular that seem to have attracted the most attention from deepfakers.

It seems, anecdotally, to be driven by the shock factor: the extent to which a real explicit video involving this subject would create a scandal.

Fakes depicting actress Emma Watson are among the most popular on deepfake communities, alongside those involving Natalie Portman.

As the practice draws more ire, some of the sites facilitating the sharing of such content are considering their options - and taking tentative action.

Gfycat, an image hosting site, has removed posts it identified as being deepfakes - a task likely to become much more difficult in the not-too-distant future.

Reddit, the community website that has emerged as a central hub for sharing, is yet to take any direct action - but the BBC understands it is looking closely at what it could do.

...Read the full article from bbc.com

 

 Offsite Article: When censorship is left to commercial interests that are not interested...


Link Here 5th February 2018
Private Censorship Is Not the Best Way to Fight Hate or Defend Democracy: Here Are Some Better Ideas. By the EFF

See article from eff.org

 

  More internet censors...

NSPCC campaigners call for an internet censor who can fine social media companies


Link Here 3rd February 2018  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection
Political campaigners at the NSPCC have called for the establishment of an internet censor who can fine social media sites that break censorship rules. This is included in an NSPCC report highlighting unimplemented recommendations from Tanya Byron's government report on child safety launched 10 years ago.

Tanya Byron writes in the foreword:

Ten years ago I was asked by Government to produce a report on child safety online, and consider what action should be taken to make the digital world a safe place for children.

Much has changed over the last decade, but one thing has not: Government is failing to do enough to protect children online. I made 38 strong recommendations for action that urgently needed addressing to keep children safe. In four areas the landscape has changed so much that the recommendations are no longer applicable. But 53 percent of the remaining recommendations have either been ignored by Government or have only been partially followed through.

What are the implications of this? We know that by age four 53 percent of children use the internet, and by the age of 10 almost half have their own smartphone. Yet online safety has not been made mandatory on the school curriculum and social networks are left to make up their own rules, without regulation from Government. Meanwhile the responsibility for keeping children safe online falls heavily on parents -- who might struggle to keep up to date with the latest trends, or worse -- on children themselves, who might feel peer pressure to prioritise online popularity over online safety.

Last year the Government pledged to make the UK the safest place to be online, and some progress has been made -- albeit in a fragmented way. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's forthcoming Internet Safety Strategy will create a code of practice for social networks. But after ten years of social networks marking their own homework, that code is expected to be voluntary and will not include anti-grooming measures as part of its remit and under the new Data Protection laws the Information Commissioner's Office is due to draw up rules that will give children extra protections online. This is an important step, but these rules will not be directly enforceable.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was created as a result of my recommendations; but it will soon remove 'child' from its title and focus on general internet safety. Age verification will soon be introduced for pornography, but there are still no age checks for online gaming. That means children are protected from buying 18-rated games in shops, but can still download them easily online.

We all have a part to play in keeping children safe. But that responsibility must absolutely start with Government and industry. I urge Government to take heed of this report. The online world moves too fast for Government to drag its feet for another decade. Tanya Byron

 

  Introducing the British Board of Film and Internet Censors...

Houses of Commons and Lords approve the appointment of the BBFC as the UK's internet porn censor


Link Here 2nd February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites

House of Commons

Delegated Legislation Committee

Proposal for Designation of Age-verification Regulator

Thursday 1 February 2018

The Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Margot James)

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Proposal for Designation of Age-verification Regulator.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 introduced a requirement for commercial providers of online pornography to have robust age-verification controls in place to prevent children and young people under the age of 18 from accessing pornographic material. Section 16 of the Act states that the Secretary of State may designate by notice the age-verification regulator and may specify which functions under the Act the age-verification regulator should hold. The debate will focus on two issues. I am seeking Parliament's approval to designate the British Board of Film Classification as the age-verification regulator and approval for the BBFC to hold in this role specific functions under the Act.

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab)

At this stage, I would normally preface my remarks with a lacerating attack on how the Government are acquiescing in our place in the world as a cyber also-ran, and I would attack them for their rather desultory position and attitude to delivering a world-class digital trust regime. However, I am very fortunate that this morning the Secretary of State has made the arguments for me. This morning, before the Minister arrived, the Secretary of State launched his new app, Matt Hancock MP. It does not require email verification, so people are already posting hardcore pornography on it. When the Minister winds up, she might just tell us whether the age-verification regulator that she has proposed, and that we will approve this morning, will oversee the app of the Secretary of State as well.

Question put and agreed to.

House of Lords

See article from hansard.parliament.uk

Particulars of Proposed Designation of Age-Verification Regulator

01 February 2018

Motion to Approve moved by Lord Ashton of Hyde

Section 16 of the Digital Economy Act states that the Secretary of State may designate by notice the age-verification regulator, and may specify which functions under the Act the age-verification regulator should hold. I am therefore seeking this House's approval to designate the British Board of Film Classification as the age-verification regulator. We believe that the BBFC is best placed to carry out this important role, because it has unparalleled expertise in this area.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)

I still argue, and I will continue to argue, that it is not appropriate for the Government to give statutory powers to a body that is essentially a private company. The BBFC is, as I have said before204I do not want to go into any detail -- a company limited by guarantee. It is therefore a profit-seeking organisation. It is not a charity or body that is there for the public good. It was set up purely as a protectionist measure to try to make sure that people responsible for producing films that were covered by a licensing regime in local authorities that was aggressive towards certain types of films204it was variable and therefore not good for business204could be protected by a system that was largely undertaken voluntarily. It was run by the motion picture production industry for itself.

 L ord Ashton of Hyde

I will just say that the BBFC is set up as an independent non-governmental body with a corporate structure, but it is a not-for-profit corporate structure. We have agreed funding arrangements for the BBFC for the purposes of the age-verification regulator. The funding is ring-fenced for this function. We have agreed a set-up cost of just under £1 million and a running cost of £800,000 for the first year. No other sources of funding will be required to carry out this work, so there is absolutely no question of influence from industry organisations, as there is for its existing work—it will be ring-fenced.

Motion agreed.

 

 Offsite Article: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance...


Link Here 2nd February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
XBiz publishes an interesting technical report on how the various age verification tools will work

See article from xbiz.com

 

  The Origin of Facebook's World...

Facebook defends art censorship case in France saying that the complaint has been made to the wrong part of the company


Link Here 2nd February 2018  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Frederic Durand-Baissas, a primary school teacher in Paris, has sued Facebook in French court for violating his freedom of speech in 2011 by abruptly removing his profile.

Durand-Baissas' account was suspended after he posted a photo of Gustave Courbet's The Origin of the World , a painting from 1866 that depicts female genitalia.

The case was heard on Thursday. His lawyers have asked a Paris civil court to order Facebook Inc. to reactivate the account and to pay Durand-Baissas 20,000 euros ($23,500) in damages. Durand-Baissas also wants Facebook to explain why his account was closed.

Lawyers for Facebook argued the lawsuit should be dismissed on a technicality, that Durand-Baissas didn't sue the right Facebook entity. The teacher should have sued Facebook Ireland, the web host for its service in France, and not the California-based parent company, Facebook Inc., they claimed. Facebook Inc. can't explain why Facebook Ireland deactivated Mr. Durand-Baissas' account, lawyer Caroline Lyannaz said in court.

Facebook's current policy appears to allow postings such as a photo of the Courbet painting. Its standards page now explicitly states: We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.

The civil court's ruling in Durand-Baissas' case is expected on March 15.

 

  But at least it helps keeps China's businesses out of the west...

China official bans censor evading VPNs from the end of March


Link Here 1st February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
China will begin blocking overseas providers of virtual private networks (VPN) used to circumvent its Great Firewall of government censorship at the end of March, official media reported.

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) chief censor Zhang Feng said VPN operators must be licensed by the government, and that unlicensed VPNs are the target of new rules which come into force on March 31. He said that China wants to ban VPNs which unlawfully conduct cross-border operational activities.

Any foreign companies that want to set up a cross-border operation for private use will need to set up a dedicated line for that purpose, he said. They will be able to lease such a line or network legally from the telecommunications import and export bureau.

Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said it had carried out a recent survey of U.S. companies in the country that showed that the inability to access certain online tools, internet censorship, and cybersecurity were impeding their operations.

An internet user surnamed Zeng told RFA that the new regulations could also hit any Chinese businesses that need unimpeded communications with the outside world. He explained:

I have a friend who is a businessman, and makes things mainly for export, and this has already affected his order book. He usually uses WhatsApp to communicate [with customers] and now it's very hard to log on, and this has really affected business. In future, he won't be able to log on at all, so he told me he will likely have to shut down his factory.

 

  Scary stuff...

The Daily Mail does its bit on Porn Hub's AgeID scheme that will require porn viewers to enter personal details, which are then checked out by the government, and then to ask customers to believe that their details won't be stored


Link Here 1st February 2018  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
The Daily Mail explains

Online ID checks will require viewers prove they are 18 before viewing any porn online, as part of the Digital Economy Act 2018.

Users will need to make their AgeID account using a passport or mobile phone to confirm their age.

The information will then be passed to a government-approved service to confirm the user is over 18.

A MindGeek spokesman claimed

We do not store any personal data entered during the age-verification process.

But Gizmodo is sceptical of this because AgeID privacy policy small print reads that it may be used:

to develop and display content and advertising tailored to your interests on our Website and other sites. It also states: We also may use these technologies to collect information about your online activities over time and across third-party websites or other online services.

So basically MindGeek has the option of tracking your porn habits and your general non-porn browsing so it can sell you better ads.

 

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