Pandora Blake has done sterling work in opposing ATVOD's nasty censorship grab of anything on the internet with video. She writes in a blog entry about the inevitable attempt by ATVOD censors to get their own back:
I thought I was going to be devastated to receive the letter, but when I opened it I just felt numb. I'd known it was coming. It was inevitable. I'm one of the most visible producers in the UK porn scene who is standing up and opposing the new laws. I've
been writing blogposts, appearing on TV, distributing free protest videos and generally making a nuisance of myself. They joined my website for 5 days in January, so I already knew they were aware of me. It was only a matter of time before they sent the
I'm absolutely horrified by this, especially as Pandora is so conspicuously ethical (to the extent, to be honest, of sometimes pissing off other spanking erotica producers).
Another, nasty piece of empire-building by the toxic twats of ATVOD. Pandora's probably a target because she has been so vocal in her opposition to this idiocy. Not a clever move on the part of ATVOD, since they have managed to rally to Pandora's support
at least one of that class of person whom they might have expected to be porn-bashing cheerleaders for censorship, the robustly feminist Guardian journalist Zoe Williams.
There are a few factors that make this whole thing particularly stressful which I haven't mentioned yet. The most significant is this: if and when ATVOD issue their Determination against me (that is, the final step of their investigation process), they
are likely to out me. The way they are likely to do this is by publishing my legal name as the Service Provider of the site Dreams of Spanking on the list of 2015 Determinations on their website. Nearly all of the providers ATVOD have targeted so far
this year have been listed by their legal name.
This is depressing. It looks very much as if they're going after Pandora because she's had the bottle to stand up to these idiots. I very much hope that Jackman resolves the issue for her.
The whole thing seems ridiculous. This protecting children twaddle (where the children are adolescents aged 14-17) is a complete nonsense. Is the average modern young man REALLY so technically inept that he can't beat parental controls ?
The Motion Picture Association has obtained a High Court order requiring UK ISPs to block access to five sites that offer the
popular Popcorn Time software. In addition, the Internet providers must block several more torrent and streaming sites.
More than 100 websites have been blocked in recent years and now the court has issued the first injunction against domains that offer no direct links, but only software.
The order, obtained by Hollywood's Motion Picture Association (the overseas arm of the MPAA), targets five popular Popcorn Time forks: popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, and isoplex.isohunt.to.
In his order Judge Birss notes that the Popcorm Time software has little to no legal use. Instead, he mentions that it's mostly used to download and stream pirated movies and TV-shows:
It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that that is its purpose. No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content. The point of
Popcorn Time is to infringe copyright. The Popcorn Time application has no legitimate purpose.
Over the past year Popcorn Time has become a major threat to Hollywood so it doesn't come as a complete surprise that the applications are now being targeted. Previously the movie studios took down code repositories on Github, for example.
The letter below was sent to Peter Wanless, CEO of the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), on 10th March. It is
signed by leading academics, sex educators, journalists and campaigners.
Dear Mr Wanless,
We write to express our deep concern about a report you published last week, which received significant press coverage. The report claimed that a tenth of 12-13 year olds believe they are addicted to pornography, and appears to have been fed to the media
with accompanying quotes suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people.
Your study appears to rely entirely on self-report evidence from young people of 11 and older, and so is not -- as it has been presented -- indicative of actual harm but rather, provides evidence that some young people are fearful that pornography is
harming them. In other words, this study looks at the effects on young people of widely published but unevidenced concerns about pornography, not the effects of pornography itself.
It appears that your study was not an academic one, but was carried out by a "creative market research" group called OnePoll. We are concerned that you, a renowned child protection agency, are presenting the findings of an opinion poll as a
serious piece of research. Management Today recently critiqued OnePoll in an article that opened as follows: "What naive readers may not realise is that much of what is reported as scientific is not in fact genuine research at all, but dishonest
marketing concocted by PR firms."
There have been countless studies into the effects of porn since the late 1960s, and yet the existence of the kinds of harm you report remains contested. In fact, many researchers have reached the opposite conclusion: that increased availability of porn
correlates with healthier attitudes towards sex, and with steadily reducing rates of sexual violence. For example, the UK government's own research (1) generated the following conclusion in 2005: "There seems to be no relationship between the
availability of pornography and an increase in sex crimes ...; in comparison there is more evidence for the opposite effect."
The very existence of "porn addiction" is questionable, and it is not an accepted medical condition. Dr David J Ley, a psychologist specialising in this field, says: "Sex and porn can cause problems in people's lives, just like any other
human behavior or form of entertainment. But, to invoke the idea of "addiction" is unethical, using invalid, scientifically and medically-rejected concepts to invoke fear and feed panic." (2)
Immediately following the release of your report, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the Tories would be introducing strong censorship of the Internet if they win the next election, in order to "protect children" from pornography.
The Culture Secretary's new announcement would probably lead to millions of websites being blocked by British ISPs, should it come into force. We would point out the experience of the optional "porn filters", introduced in early 2014, which
turned out in practise to block a vast range of content including sex education material.
The BBC news website quotes you as saying, in response to the minister's announcement: "Any action that makes it more difficult for young people to find this material is to be welcomed." We disagree: we believe that introducing Chinese-style
blocking of websites is not warranted by the findings of your opinion poll, and that serious research instead needs to be undertaken to determine whether your claims of harm are backed by rigorous evidence.
Jerry Barnett, CEO Sex & Censorship
Frankie Mullin, Journalist
Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland
Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University
David J. Ley PhD. Clinical Psychologist (USA)
Dr Brooke Magnanti
Feona Attwood, Professor of Media & Communication at Middlesex University
Martin Barker, Emeritus Professor at University of Aberystwyth
Jessica Ringrose, Professor, Sociology of Gender and Education, UCL Institute of Education
Ronete Cohen MA, Psychologist
Dr Meg John Barker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University
Kath Albury, Associate Professor, UNSW Australia
Myles Jackman, specialist in obscenity law
Dr Helen Hester, Middlesex University
Justin Hancock, youth worker and sex educator
Ian Dunt, Editor in Chief, Politics.co.uk
Ally Fogg, Journalist
Dr Emily Cooper, Northumbria University
Gareth May, Journalist
Dr Kate Egan, Lecturer in Film Studies, Aberystwyth University
Dr Ann Luce, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University
John Mercer, Reader in Gender and Sexuality, Birmingham City University
Dr. William Proctor, Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University
Dr Jude Roberts, Teaching Fellow, University of Surrey
Dr Debra Ferreday, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Lancaster University
Jane Fae, author of "Taming the beast" a review of law/regulation governing online pornography
Michael Marshall, Vice President, Merseyside Skeptics Society
Martin Robbins, Journalist
Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn (University of Western Australia)
Dr Lucy Neville, Lecturer in Criminology, Middlesex University
Alix Fox, Journalist and Sex Educator
Dr Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Durham University
Chris Ashford, Professor of Law and Society, Northumbria University
Diane Duke, CEO Free Speech Coalition (USA)
Dr Steve Jones, Senior Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University
Dr Johnny Walker, Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University
Update: NSPCC's shoddy political campaigning gets picked up by the Independent
13th April 2015.
The open letter has been picked up by both the Independent and the website politics.co.uk
The Independent leads
NSPCC accused of risking its reputation and whipping up moral panic with study into porn addiction among children
The NSPCC has been accused of deliberately whipping up a moral panic with a study suggesting a tenth of all 12- to 13-year-olds fear they are addicted to pornography.
In an open letter to the child protection organisation's chief executive Peter Wanless, a group of doctors, academics, journalists and campaigners criticised the NSPCC for suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people
Meanwhile politics.co.uk note that the NSPCC research was hogwash
How the NSPCC lost its way.
Late last month, the NSPCC released some startling findings. A tenth of all 12-to-13-year-olds were addicted to porn, it found. One in five had been shocked or upset by the things they'd found online. Twelve per cent had made their own porn.
The findings were widely reported . Immediately afterwards, culture secretary Sajid Javid promised new censorship measures, with a regulator ensuring adult sites have age verification technology to prevent young people accessing porn.
The cycle from research to reporting to promises of legislation was accomplished in the space of a morning. It was a remarkably effective operation.
The only problem was, it was all nonsense. The NSPCC research was hogwash.
Children addicted to porn Don't believe everything the surveys say
OnePoll was behind a recent survey revealing that 20% of people believe that smoking has improved their career opportunities . This one was commissioned by an E-cigarette company . A poll commissioned during National Ferry Fortnight for Discover
Ferries -- which had just invested heavily in improved seating -- revealed that travellers really hate aircraft seats. You get the picture.
Thank you for your letter detailing your concerns about our recently launched porn campaign for young people and a poll that was published with it.
As you will be aware the NSPCC has a long tradition of campaigning on difficult issues that affect children. Our work is solely designed to make the most difference to the protection of children. Through our various services, including ChildLine, we
listen to the voices of children day in day out and it is essential that we respond to their concerns and help them confront and address issues that they find worrisome. Porn is a subject which has always drawn strong debate but that doesn't mean that we
should shy away from what children are telling us.
As you will expect we make no judgment on adults viewing porn. But we know through those who call ChildLine, that children can be worried and upset by the effect pornography is having on them. A recent European-wide piece of research into violence and
abuse in teenage relationships found a high proportion of boys in England regularly viewed pornography, and one in five harbored extremely negative attitudes towards women. High levels of sexual coercion and in some cases violence within teenage
relationships were reported. We believe that as a society we need to ensure that children are both protected and educated in the best way possible. Rather than seek to restrict debate we seek to promote it for it is only when subjects are not allowed to
remain in the shadows that they can be properly dealt with.
As a campaigning organisation, the NSPCC uses a wide range of methods to listen to the voices of children, parents, carers and professionals. We continue to explore how sensitive subjects, including pornography, are affecting young people. This will no
doubt uncover difficult and complex issues; and we must work together as a society to address these challenges.
Twitter has announced new censorship rules related to tweets deemed to be abusive. Twitter explains in a blog post:
First, we are making two policy changes, one related to prohibited content, and one about how we enforce certain policy violations. We are updating our violent threats policy so that the prohibition is not limited to direct, specific threats of
violence against others but now extends to threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others. Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior. The updated
language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.
On the enforcement side, in addition to other actions we already take in response to abuse violations (such as requiring users to delete content or verify their phone number), we're introducing an additional enforcement option that gives our support team
the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people.
Second, we have begun to test a product feature to help us identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach. This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account
itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive. It will not affect your ability to see content that you've explicitly sought out, such as Tweets from accounts you follow,
but instead is designed to help us limit the potential harm of abusive content. This feature does not take into account whether the content posted or followed by a user is controversial or unpopular.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) does some sterling work in restricting child abuse material on the internet. In its latest Annual Report, the IWF outlines its extension of its operations to seek out child porn rather than just respond to reports
Unfortunately the IWF also has a role as an internet censor of adult pornography which is deemed to be criminally obscene. The IWF generally plays down the role, as it would surely prefer to stick to more commendable areas of work, but nevertheless,
reports on its adult censorship activity:
Other Criminal Content
3,016 reports alleged criminally obscene adult content. However, almost all were not hosted within the UK and therefore not within the IWF's remit.
9 were assessed as criminally obscene and hosted in the UK. In each case we worked with the police to obtain their agreement with the assessment and approval for removing the content. We then contacted the website owner to remove the content.
We remain strongly committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. We expect the industry to establish a mechanism for independent self-regulation, which delivers proper redress for individuals, as set out in the Royal
Charter, and agreed by all parties in Parliament. We made a promise to victims of the phone hacking scandal. We stand by that promise and will keep it.
We will defend press freedom We will continue to defend hard-won liberties and the operation of a free press. But
alongside the media's rights comes a clear responsibility, which is why we set up the public, judge-led Leveson Inquiry in response to the phone-hacking scandal, created a new watchdog by Royal Charter and legislated to toughen media libel laws.
Because the work of the free press is so important we will offer explicit protection for the role of journalists via the British Bill of Rights and we will ban the police from accessing journalists' phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other
sources without prior judicial approval.
We will protect intellectual property by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies. And we will build on progress made under our voluntary anti-piracy projects to
warn internet users when they are breaching copyright.
We will stop children's exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material and age-rating for all music videos.
We will work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites.
The culture of everyday sexism will be declining, with young people taught in school about respect in relationships and sexual consent.
Online, people will no longer be worried that the government is monitoring their every keystroke, a Digital Bill of Rights will have enshrined enduring principles of privacy and helped keep the internet open.
We share the hope of Lord Justice Leveson that the incentives for the press to sign up to genuinely independent self-regulation will succeed. But if, in the judgment of the Press Recognition Panel, after 12 months of operation, there is significant
non-cooperation by newspaper publishers, then -- as Leveson himself concluded -- Parliament will need to act, drawing on a range of options including the legislative steps necessary to ensure that independent self-regulation is delivered. Where possible,
we would seek to do this on the same cross-party basis that achieved the construction of the Leveson scheme by the Royal Charter.
Securing liberty online
Safeguard the essential freedom of the internet and back net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all lawful content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular
products or websites.
Make it clear that online services have a duty to provide age-appropriate policies, guidance and support to the children and young people who use their services.
The Green Party supports a world of open, freely flowing information. We don't want disproportionate or unaccountable surveillance or
censorship. We want a transparent state but we want control over the data that our digital lives create. We need copyright laws that reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies. Above all we want democratic political control of this
technology. We would:
Support and protect internet freedeom
Limit the censoring or takedown of content or activity to exceptional circumstances, clearly set out within a comprehensive legal framework.
Introduce more satisfactory law on so-called malicious comments made on social media than the blanket and crude section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
Support the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics and for the cross-party Royal charter. But if this is to supported by all the major newspapers we will support legislation to implement the Leveson system of independent press
Strengthen controls on advertising directed at children.
We will need to update our investigative laws to keep up with changing technology, strengthening both the powers available, and the safeguards that
protect people's privacy. This is why Labour argued for an independent review, currently being undertaken by David Anderson. We will strengthen the oversight of our intelligence agencies to make sure the public can continue to have confidence in the
vital work that they do to keep us safe.
Labour have provided a rather vague statement on their plans. They call for "strengthening the powers available" but it isn't clear which powers they think need strengthening. We are also unclear on which safeguards they think need to be put
into place to protect people's privacy. Improving oversight of the intelligence agencies is an important area to reform. In our view though, it is also important that the powers and capabilities of the intelligence agencies, as revealed by Edward
Snowden, are limited to targeted surveillance on people suspected of crimes. Labour have not committed to any change to the bulk collection of our internet use that GCHQ currently undertakes. It is disappointing that a party which makes so much of its
support for the Human Rights Act elsewhere in its manifesto does not see the human rights of privacy, freedom of speech and association as important enough to change its approach to state surveillance.
We will keep up to date the ability of the police and security services to access communications data -- the 'who,
where, when and how' of a communication, but not its content. Our new communications data legislation will strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs, even as technology develops. We will
maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content of suspects' communications, while continuing to strengthen oversight of the use of these powers.
We will ban the police from accessing journalists' phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other sources without prior judicial approval.
The Conservatives want to increase the surveillance powers available to the police and intelligence agencies. Like Labour, there is no detail on which powers they would strengthen in particular. They say they will introduce "new communications data
legislation" which we can only assume is a revamped Communications Data Bill - commonly known as the Snoopers' Charter. The bulk collection of the content of our communications revealed in the documents released by Edward Snowden is not addressed.
It is right that police should need judicial approval before they can access journalists' phone records but judicial authorisation for surveillance should be sought before surveillance on all of us, not just journalists. There is no explicit mention of
David Cameron's previously stated principle that all communications should be accessible by the state even when they have been encrypted.
Ensure judicial authorisation is required for the acquisition of communications data which might reveal journalists' sources or other privileged communications, for any of the purposes allowed under RIPA; and allow journalists the
opportunity to address the court before authorisation is granted, where this would not jeopardise the investigation.
Ensure proper oversight of the security services.
Establish in legislation that the police and intelligence agencies should not obtain data on UK residents from foreign governments that it would not be legal to obtain in the UK under UK law.
Oppose the introduction of the so-called Snooper's Charter. We blocked the draft Communications Data Bill and would do so again. Requiring companies to store a record of everyone's internet activities for a year or to collect
third-party communications data for non-business purposes is disproportionate and unacceptable, as is the blanket surveillance of our paper post.
Set stricter limits on surveillance and consider carefully the outcomes of the reviews we initiated on surveillance legislation by the Royal United Services Institute and the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David
Anderson QC. We are opposed to the blanket collection of UK residents' personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies. Access to metadata, live content, or the stored content of personal communications must only take place without
consent where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or to prevent threats to life.
Uphold the right of individuals, businesses and public bodies to use strong encryption to protect their privacy and security online.
The Liberal Democrats give much greater detail on what they would like to see on the issue of surveillance than Labour or the Conservatives. This should be welcomed. We are happy to see that they oppose the blanket collection of UK residents' personal
communications by the police or intelligence agencies. It will be interesting to see whether they retain their opposition to blanket collection if the reports mentioned above in their manifesto do not share their position. There is also a good commitment
to the right to use strong encryption online. We welcome the Liberal Democrat's call for judicial authorisation before journalists' communications data is accessed but we think this should be necessary before bulk collection of our communications is
Oppose any case for secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden. We do accept that government law enforcement agencies may occasionally need to intercept communications in specific circumstances.
Such specific surveillance should be proportionate, necessary, effective and within the rule of law, with independent judicial approval and genuine parliamentary oversight.
Replace the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which has failed
to regulate the deployment of undercover police;
to support the confidentiality of journalistic sources;
to support legal confidentiality; and
to enshrine an open and effective right of redress.
The Green Party have released a manifesto with very strong commitments on surveillance reform in line with the calls of the Don't Spy On Us campaign. They are the only party to mention Edward Snowden in their manifesto! Their calls for targeted
surveillance that is proportionate and with independent judicial authorisation are very welcome. They also note the problem that victims of inappropriate surveillance do not currently have a right of redress; another of the Don't Spy On Us principles.
Currently, British intelligence is fragmented between a number of agencies, including MI5, MI6, GCHQ and BBC Monitoring. All have different funding streams and report to different government departments. This generates a significant overlap in work and
resources and risks exposing gaps in the system.
UKIP will create a new over-arching role of Director of National Intelligence (subject to confirmation hearing by the relevant Commons Select Committee), who will be charged with reviewing UK intelligence and security, in order to ensure threats are
identified, monitored and dealt with by the swiftest, most appropriate and legal means available. He or she will be responsible for bringing all intelligence services together; developing cyber security measures; cutting down on waste and encouraging
information and resource sharing.
At our recent civil liberties hustings in Brighton Pavilion, the UKIP candidate said that his party opposes "all general surveillance". There is no sign of that in their manifesto. They say nothing about which surveillance powers GCHQ should
have, how they should be overseen and how they should get oversight. There are currently two reviews of surveillance being carried out and their manifesto mentions neither of them. It is surprising, to say the least, that after nearly two years of news
about GCHQ surveillance, UKIP's only response is that there are too many intelligence agencies and that too many resources are being wasted.
Ambulance-chasing law firms are exploiting the European Court's ruling on the right to be forgotten to drum up business, leading to a rise in the number of
newspaper articles being deleted from Google search results.
The companies, some of which have no legal background but say they specialise in reputation management , have sensed an easy opportunity to make money by offering to cleanse the internet of embarrassing references to their clients on a no-win
no-fee basis, media lawyers said.
The service can amount to little more than filling in Google's one-page form requesting that a particular link is removed from search results -- which can easily be completed for free by the client themselves.
Last month alone The Independent was informed by Google that links to 13 news articles had been removed from its search results, marking a sudden rise on previous figures when only a handful had been hidden each month. Mark Stephens, a media law
specialist at London firm Howard Kennedy said:
You've got ambulance-chasing lawyers who are, I think, trying to attract custom for cases which you don't need a lawyer for. People are being asked to pay for something when there's no good reasons to do so -- you can do this online, for free, for
He added that the problem was not restricted to the UK, with media organisations across Europe feeling the chilling effects of the ruling as unscrupulous companies realised that citing the ruling could be an easy way to make money.
Instagram has updated its censorship rules to give users more insight into how it polices content on its site. Nicky Jackson Colaco,
director of public policy for Instagram said:
We're not changing any of the policies. But the company has added in detail around questions we've gotten over and over, and into places where [users] needed more information.
Parent company, Facebook also updated censorship rules several weeks ago. And many of the policies outlined in Instagram's latest guidelines are the same as the one's Facebook explained in its latest rewrite. These include specific prohibitions against
messages that support or praise terrorism an or hate groups, serious threats of harm to public or private safety and clear statements against abuse of all kinds. Rules common to both websites say:
We remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages.
On the question of nudity, Instagram says that nudity in general-- and pornography specifically -- is off-limits. But photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed, the guidelines say, Nudity in photos of
paintings and sculptures is OK, too.
The Green Party has published its manifesto with the promise to oppose secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward
Snowden and to replace the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000, which empowers hundreds of UK state agencies to conduct covert mass surveillance on individuals. The manifesto continued:
We do accept that government law enforcement agencies may occasionally need to intercept communications in specific circumstances. Such specific surveillance should be proportionate, necessary, effective and within the rule of law, with independent
judicial approval and genuine parliamentary oversight.
This compares with the Conservative manifesto pledge to re-introduce the Snooper's Charter, the Communications Data Bill
The Green Party also pledged to support and protect internet freedom and to limit surveillance - presumably both online and offline - and data retention by government agencies. At the same time, it supported the extension of EU data protection laws and
expressed opposition to large US data-driven companies .
It would also oppose efforts to apply patents to software, limit online censorship and the takedown of content or [online] activity . However, the manifesto wasn't explicit in terms of the kinds of content referred to.
The Green Party also pledged to introduce a more satisfactory law on so-called malicious comments made on social media than the blanket and crude section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 .
But the Green Party are ban happy in other areas and it seems that the miserable gits have got horse racing in their sights. Reprehensible!
Vladimir Putin once said half the Internet is nothing but porno materials. While a major academic study in 2010 found that, in
reality, just 4% of websites were pornographic, it's an undisputed fact that there is indeed a lot of adult-rated material on the Web.
If the Russian court system gets its way, however, the number of legal pornographic websites on the RuNet could drop to zero. That's right: a district court in Tatarstan has banned 136 porn sites, and the language of its ruling implies that all Internet
porn is hereby against the law.
On April 13, 2015, the newspaper Izvestia reported that a court in Tatarstan's Apastovsky district has ordered Roskomnadzor, the federal government's media censor, to add 136 websites to its Internet blacklist, if the sites fail to purge themselves of
all pornographic content within the next three days. The list of websites includes xHamster, one of the most popular destinations for pornography in the world.
The local district attorney's office, which petitioned the court to crack down on Internet porn, cited in its suit obscure international agreements from the early twentieth century, Izvestia reported.
First, prosecutors pointed out that international treaties constitute an integral part of Russian law according to the Russian Constitution, even arguing, rather unorthodoxly, that international obligations take priority over domestic legislation, when
the two are in conflict. Then, prosecutors cited the Convention for the Suppression of the Circulation of Obscene Publications, signed in Paris in 1910, and the subsequent international agreement signed in Geneva in 1923, both of which ban the
production, possession, and distribution of pornographic materials.
The signatories to these international accords were, of course, the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union, and the Apastovsky district attorney says today's Russian Federation is still bound by these agreements.
According to an adult-film maker who spoke to Izvestia, Russian law is very vague about regulating pornography. The only law on the books, he says, is Article 242 of the federal criminal code, which delineates several illegal types of distribution, but
does not clearly define legal ways to advertise, disseminate, and trade in porn.
How did the Tartarstan prosecutors flag 136 websites, Russia's largest-ever single ban request, for Roskomnadzor's blacklist? The district attorney's office says it searched Yandex (Russia's leading Internet search engine) for the terms Kazan
prostitutes and porno video. Film experts at the Ministry of Culture then examined the websites on this list and confirmed that they are indeed brimming with pornographic content.
It remains unclear if Roskomnadzor will block these websites across Russia or only in Tatarstan. It is also unknown if Roskomnadzor and the Apastovsky district attorney will stop with these 136 websites, or wage a larger campaign against the millions of
other porn sites online.
Whatever happens, this is just the latest episode in a broader crackdown on the Internet that has taken place in Russia since Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012. For some Russian Internet users, like musician Sergei Shnurov, Putin's third
presidential term has already spoiled porn, whatever happens in Tatarstan.
China's government has threatened to shut down Sina , one of the country's most popular news websites unless it improves censorship , state media
reported via the Xinhua news agency. Sina is the fourth most visited website in China, according to ranking service Alexa.
The censors whose job it is to officially distort news facts, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), claimed that Sina:
Distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media hype.
The CAC will seriously punish Sina, with possible measures including a complete shut down of its Internet news services , Xinhua added.
The report did not provide specifics on which of Sina's news offerings had fallen foul of censors, but said the CAC accused Sina of spreading illegal information related to rumors, violence and terrorism , and advocation of heresies .
Following copyright threats from large media companies a New Zealand ISP has taken down its VPN service. Lightbox, MediaWorks, SKY, and TVNZ had threatened legal action against services that bypass geo-restrictions on sites such as Netflix and Hulu.
Other ISPs offering similar products are currently standing firm.
For a relatively small fee, users of the most popular VPN services can tunnel out of their country of origin and reappear in any one of dozens of countries around the world. This opens up a whole new world of media consumption opportunities.
Citizens of the United States, for example, can access BBC iPlayer just like any other Brit might, while those in the UK looking to sample the widest possible Netflix offering can easily tunnel right back into the U.S.
This cross-border content consumption is not popular with entertainment companies and distributors. It not only undermines their ability to set high prices on a per-region basis, but also drives a truck through hard-negotiated licensing agreements.
Lightbox, MediaWorks, SKY, and TVNZ said in a joint statement:
We pay considerable amounts of money for content rights, particularly exclusive content rights. These rights are being knowingly and illegally impinged, which is a significant issue that may ultimately need to be resolved in court in order to provide
future clarity for all parties involved,
Unlimited Internet became the first ISP to respond to media company pressure by pulling its geo-unblocking service known as TV VPN after receiving a warning letter from a lawfirm. The letter, which has been sent out to several local ISPs,
threatens Unlimited Internet that its VPN service infringes the Copyright Act of 1994.
Currently there are no signs that other ISPs intend to follow suit.
The open source code sharing depository, GitHub, has been put under a prolonged distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack seemingly from
It seems likely that the attack were targeting GitHub projects that help circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
cope with the massive load.
Anti-censorship campaign group Greatfire.org said in a blog post the attacks are an effort to shut down its GitHub-hosted project , and an extension of an attack on anti-censorship groups by Chinese authorities.
Greatfire goes on to point the finger for the attacks directly to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The group argues that the CAC is deliberately trying to weaponize its Great Firewall to perform international attacks. The Greatfire team
This is a frightening development and the implications of this action extend beyond control of information on the internet. In one quick movement, the authorities have shifted from enforcing strict censorship in China to enforcing Chinese censorship on
internet users worldwide.
China has upgraded the website-blocking systems, dubbed The Great Firewall, so it can blast foreign businesses and organisations off the internet.
Researchers hailing from the University of Toronto, the International Computer Science Institute, the University of California Berkeley, and Princeton University, have confirmed that China is hijacking web traffic and redirecting advert server requests
so as to overpower sites critical of the authoritarian state.
This weaponized firewall has been dubbed the Great Cannon by the researchers, and typically hijacks requests to Baidu's advertising network in China. Anyone visiting a website that serves ads from Baidu, for example, could end up unwittingly silencing a
foreign site disliked by the Chinese authorities.
Rights groups have asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule on the legality of the UK's mass snooping regime.
Amnesty International, Liberty and Privacy International have jointly filed a legal complaint with the court. The three organisations claim that the surveillance carried out by GCHQ breaches the European Convention on Human Rights that enshrines certain
freedoms in law.
A similar legal challenge mounted in the UK last year saw judges rule that the spying did not breach human rights.
Nick Williams, legal counsel for Amnesty said in a statement:
The UK government's surveillance practices have been allowed to continue unabated and on an unprecedented scale, with major consequences for people's privacy and freedom of expression.
Information that had come to light in the last 12 months showed, said Amnesty, that there were flaws in the oversight system. One revelation concerned arrangements GCHQ has with its US counterparts to get at data it would be difficult for the UK agency
to get permission to acquire. There were also loopholes in UK laws governing surveillance being exploited by GCHQ to expand its spying abilities, it said.
The European Commission is considering creating an EU-wide complaint procedure for people whose websites are wrongly blocked by ISPs.
Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová said in a letter that:
The Commission is analysing the need for a specific initiative on notice-and-action procedures to bring legal certainty and transparency to the way online intermediaries take down content that is alleged to be illegal.
The concept will be published in the planned Digital Single Market legislative package, due to be presented next month, but there are no specific details of the process expected as yet.
Council of Europe human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks said two weeks ago:
The blocking of internet sites without prior judicial authorisation which recently started in France is a clear example of the risks that such measures represent for human rights, and particularly for freedom of expression and the right to receive and
He urged lawmakers to ensure that any blocking measures:
Are subject to effective democratic control and that the persons at whom they are directed have an effective remedy available to challenge them.
Turkey got itself in a censorship mess in attempt to block a few news images.
Two gunmen, from a far-left group, took a prosecutor hostage at an Istanbul courthouse last week. Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was apparently taken hostage because he headed an investigation into the 2013 death of a boy during anti-government protests.
Images were published in news reports showing the prosecutor being held at gunpoint. The gunmen and the hostage were later killed in a police 'rescue'.
Turkish authorities decided that the images were anti-government propaganda . and set about censoring them. Newspapers were stopped from printing the images, but it was not so easy to stop the images circulating on social media. So Turkey promptly
blocked access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others in their entirety. In total, 166 websites which shared the images were blocked by the court order.
The blocks on Facebook and Twitter were later lifted after they both sites later took down the censored images. But not before the Turkish people had come to see how repressive their government has become.
Millions of social media users tried to post comments or videos on their favourite platforms only to find that they were blocked. But the block did not stop people from tweeting. Newspapers and individuals alike shared guidelines on how to circumvent the
ban. The hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became the number one trending topic worldwide.
The government has been trailing this policy by forcing onerous age verification requirements on British adult Video on Demand websites.
Unfortunately there is currently no economically viable way to implement age verification and the net result is that pretty much the entire British VoD business has either been forced to close or else move overseas.
Widening out the policy to all internet porn will not do anything to make age verification practical and so the only possible outcome is that all internet porn will have to be blocked by the ISPs. Perhaps a few sites with a massively comprehensive
selection of porn (think porn Amazon) may be able absorb the administrative burden, but they will for sure be American.
Anyway this is what the Tories are proposing:
It's time to protect children online
By Sajid Javi, Culture & Censorship Secretary, writing for the Daily Mail
Imagine a 12-year-old-boy being allowed to walk into a sex shop and leave with a DVD showing graphic, violent sexual intercourse and the subjugation of women.
You would, quite rightly, ask whether society should allow such a young mind to view hard-core pornography. I'm sure we'd all agree that the answer would be an emphatic no .
Yet each and every day children right across our country are being exposed to such images. And it's happening online.
The internet has been an amazing force for good in so many ways. But it also brings new threats and challenges for us to contend with. I'm a father of four young children and I know all too well that the online world can be a worrying place for mums and
dads. After all, even the most attentive and engaged parents cannot know for sure which websites our children are visiting and what images they're seeing. Culture and Media Secretary Sajid Javid is setting out plans to shield youngsters from easy access
to hardcore online pornography
Culture and Media Secretary Sajid Javid is setting out plans to shield youngsters from easy access to hardcore online pornography
In 2015 anyone, regardless of their age, is only ever two clicks away from the kind of material that would be kept well away from young eyes in the high street. And allowing young people to access pornography carries alarming consequences both for
individuals and for society. It can lead to children pressuring each other to try out things they've seen online, and sharing inappropriate sexual pictures and videos. And it can lead to children having unhealthy attitudes towards sex AND relationships.
It is because of these types of concerns that we have long restricted and regulated adult content in the offline world -- whether that is magazines, TV programmes, DVDs or video-on-demand content. Such protections are taken for granted, and, as the Daily
Mail has argued for years, it's time our approach to the online world caught up.
So today we are announcing that, if the Conservatives win the next general election, we will legislate to put online hard-core pornography behind effective age verification controls.
Of course adults should be perfectly free to look at these sites. But if websites showing adult content don't have proper age controls in place -- ones that will stop children looking at this kind of material -- they should and will be blocked
altogether. No sex shop on the high street would be allowed to remain open if it knowingly sold pornography to underage customers, and there is no reason why the internet should be any different.
An independent regulator will oversee this new system. It will determine, in conjunction with websites, how age verification controls will work and how websites that do not put them in place will be blocked.
One thing is absolutely clear: the Conservative Party's commitment to child safety online. For the past five years we have been working with industry on A voluntary basis, an approach that led to the creation of default-on family filters. But filtering
is just one way in which we can keep our children safe online. Now we can -- and must -- go further to give our children the best start in life.
There will be some who say that this exercise is futile, that websites and children alike will find ways to get around this law. And I agree that there are always people who try to avoid legal restrictions. But we must not let the best be the enemy of
It is right that we act now and do what we can to restrict this content. It is right that we have the same rules applying online as we do offline. And it is right that we do everything we can to protect our children.
If we fail to take action, there is every chance that the sort of things children see on these websites will be considered normal by the next generation. That is not the sort of society I want to see and it's certainly not the sort of society I
want my children to live in.
Over time Britain's laws have evolved to reflect our most deeply held values and beliefs, and the protection of children has long been a sacrosanct principle at the heart of that. I don't believe that we should abandon such an important principle simply
because the latest threat to our young people comes from a technology that also brings incredible benefits.
There is a choice at this election, and it is between a party which backs families wants to give children the best start in life, and a chaotic Labour Party with no plan.
We are clear: adults should and will be free to view legal content, but we would never stand by and allow that 12-year-old boy to buy hardcore pornography from a sex shop.
It's time to make sure our children are just as well protected online as they are on the high street.
Some of China's biggest video streaming sites have been warned that they face punishment after failing to remove sexy or violent Japanese cartoon video clips. The ministry noted that 12 offending clips on Todou alone had attracted more than one million
China's Ministry of Culture said the firms had hosted anime that glorified violence and terrorism, and contained vulgar erotic elements. Net firms Baidu, Tencent and Youku were among those named as offenders.
The announcement coincides with the introduction of wider restrictions on the use of foreign online clips. Streaming sites are now censored by publication licences required to be able to add other countries' TV series and movies, which will be
censored by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) on an individual basis.
Three specific examples of indecent anime cartoons are mentioned in a statement posted to the Ministry of Culture's website:
Blood-C, a series about a sword-wielding teenage girl who fights monsters in her town. It is accused of containing a particularly bloody beheading scene that would cause extreme discomfort
Terror in Resonance, a series involving two teenagers who carry out a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. Officials said this glorified violence and criminal activities
High School of the Dead, a show about a group of students struggling to survive in a world overtaken by zombies. The programme, which was given a certificate 15 when released in the UK.
The firms involved have been told they will learn what penalties they face at a later stage.
The political organisation, Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, is lobbying parliamentary candidates to sign up
for oppressive policies to ban all businesses from working with age restricted websites who don't sign for onerous and unviable age verification requirements.
The political campaign group, Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, is an umbrella organisation funded by Action for Children, BAAF, Barnardo's, Children England, Children's Society, ECPAT UK, Kidscape, NCB, NSPCC, and Stop It Now!
CHIS has launched its Digital Manifesto which it is sending to all the major political parties contesting seats in the forthcoming General Election to the UK Parliament. The manifesto asks the parties to commit themselves to the policy
recommendations which are put forward. CHIS has more or less guaranteed political support by cunningly tacking on the internet censorship measures to a raft of measures targeting child porn.
Perhaps the most oppressive section in the document is:
Data protection and access to age restricted goods and services
39. The government should consider ways to ensure stricter compliance with the decision in R v Perrin (CCA 2002)15 in respect of adult pornography sites. Perhaps the Gambling Commission's experience in certifying age verification systems could be brought
to bear in this area. The Authority for Television on Demand's remit could be extended to enable them to advise or adjudicate on whether particular sites are covered by the decision in R v Perrin.
40. Legislation should be introduced to make it illegal for any bank, credit card company or other form of business or association to provide any services or facilities to companies or organisations that publish pornography on the internet but do not
have a robust age verification process in place.
41. Legislation should be brought forward to provide for the development of regulations governing the online sale of age-restricted goods and services. It should be a crime for any bank, credit card company or other organisation to provide financial or
other services to websites selling age restricted goods or services without a robust age verification system in place.
42. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) should issue clear, research-based advice and guidance on the respective rights and responsibilities of all the parties where online data transactions involving children are concerned. These regulations
should specifically address but not be limited to data transactions linked to the engagement of children in e-commerce.
43. In particular, the ICO should consider setting, or asking parliament to set, a legally defined minimum age below which verifiable parental consent will always be required in an online environment (though this should be balanced to avoid overly
restricting the children's activities online). This should apply for all types of data transactions, or for those transactions linked to e-commerce, or both.
Comment: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored
2nd April 2015. Thanks to Alan
Two thoughts spring to mind here.
1. How can these outfits claim to be charities when they are engaged in naked political activity by campaigning for changes in the law? Would it be worthwhile to mount a challenge with the Charity Commissioners?
2. I note their enthusiasm for the decision in R v. Perrin. You covered this case at the time, and it was pretty outrageous. Perrin, a straight Frenchman, had acquired as a going concern an American business, one of whose activities was a gay scat site.
(Nothing else it did involved porn.) Perrin ensured that the site complied with American federal law and the law of the states in which the porn was filmed and the servers housed. It was Perrin's misfortune to live in Sussex. He was nicked on the basis
that since the stuff could be downloaded here it was published here. The charities are creaming their pants over this case because the jury only found Perrin guilty in relation to the free samples, not the stuff behind the paywall.
Incidentally, the case was met with outrage and incomprehension in France, where Le Nouvel Observateur had to explain the bizarre concept of obscene publication to its readers.