Internet News

 2017: April

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 Update: PC PCs...

London Mayor sets up police unit to censor online insults and hate crime


Link Here 29th April 2017  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter
mayor of london logoA police unit to censor online insult and hate crime has been launched by London's mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The Online Hate Crime Hub is made up of five Met police officers who will try to identify, prevent and investigate online abuse. Sadiq Khan said officers would work with community 'experts' to develop the police's understanding of online hate .

The unit will cost £1.7m over two years. It is being funded by the Met and the Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), with £452,000 also being contributed by the Home Office Police Innovation Fund.I

Any online insult and hate crimes on the likes of Twitter and Facebook will be looked into by the unit.

City Hall said discussions were also under way with social media companies to develop appropriate online sanctions for perpetrators of online hate .

Spiked logoOffsite Comment: All hail Sadiq Khan's new Ministry of Truth

29th April 2017 See article from spiked-online.com by Guy Burchall

This is a deeply sinister and censorious move. But what's most worrying is that for something to be labelled a hate crime , it only has to be labelled as such by the alleged victim.

...Read the full article from spiked-online.com

 

 Update: An internet for children...

Political campaigners at the NSPCC call for more internet censorship in the name of child protection


Link Here 29th April 2017  full story: Social Networking Censorship in the UK...Internet censorship set to solve Britain's broken society
nspcc logoThe NSPCC writes:

We're calling on social networks to be regulated and fined when they fail to protect children after it was revealed that 4 out of 5 children feel social media companies aren't doing enough to protect them 1 .

Out of 1,696 children and young people who took part in our Net Aware research, 1,380 thought social media sites needed to do more to protect them from inappropriate or harmful content. When asked about what they were coming across on social media sites, children reported seeing:

  • pornography
  • self-harm
  • bullying and hatred.

We're calling on Government to draw up minimum standards that internet companies must meet to safeguard children. These standards must include:

  • age-ratings in line with those for films set by the British Board of Film Classification
  • safe accounts automatically offered to under 18's -- with default privacy settings, proactive filtering of harmful content and mechanisms to guard against grooming
  • fines for companies who fail to protect children.

 

 Update: An unwanted censor speaks about suicide and internet TV...

Outgoing New Zealand censor whinges at the government for slow progress in granting censorship powers over Netflix


Link Here 23rd April 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
thirteen reasons whyNew Zealand's outgoing chief censor has urged the Government to hurry up and deliver the law change it proposed on streaming services like Netflix.

Eight months since the Government announced a plan to update broadcasting rules, including making online streaming services subject to classification and content standards, chief censor Andrew Jack has revealed his frustration at what he says has been a total lack of progress.

Jack spoke to the Herald on Sunday in the final week of his six-year tenure at the top of the classification office and cited concerns around pornography as well as how issues like suicide, rape and sexual violence are being used by entertainment companies for commercial gain - beyond the reach of regulation. He whinged:

Nothing has actually happened, just nothing. And I have to say that is a source of significant frustration. We know some of this material is causing harm, we know the measures which can improve the situation, but nothing has actually happened.

The only entities winning out of the current situation are the entities selling depictions of sexual violence as entertainment.

In my view, you can't just announce you're going to do something, and not do it.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry said the Government intends to refer the bill to a select committee this year. She said:

Work on the bill has been fairly complex. It needs to be future-proofed in an era of rapid technological change, as well as being practical for existing providers and not putting barriers to the entry of new services.

In his final days as chief censor, a role he wanted to continue but was unsuccessful in seeking a third term, Jack said there were other aspects to consider, specifically around pornography and depictions of suicide and sexual violence. Jack said there was absolutely a concern over pornography becoming an unwelcome form of sex education in young generations, though more research needed to be done to understand what exactly young Kiwis are consuming online.

Jack spoke of complains about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why:

I can't talk specifically about the series you talked about because the classification office has called that in and is in the process of deciding whether that needs to be subject to a restriction or a warning on it.

Historically as a country we've tried the 'let's not talk about it' approach [to suicide] which has not been successful. We've an appalling rate of youth suicide.

Where those issues are dealt with in a positive way, it's a really good thing. But it's where you get depictions of suicide which are instructional, or two-dimensional or suggest it's a viable option for dealing with some of the tribulations life sometimes deals at you.

 

 Offsite Article: Slitheen tool smuggles browsers into cyber-Tardis...


Link Here 23rd April 2017
Doctor Who 5" Action Figure - Slitheen Doctor Who-inspired proxy transmogrifies politically sensitive web to avoid government censorship

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 Update: Blocking unblocking...

Russian government gets nasty with internet censorship circumvention services


Link Here 21st April 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia flagThe Russian government is preparing to scale-up its war on people accessing blocked webssites by hitting services that provide workarounds. A new bill developed by the government requires VPNs and other anonymizing services to stop providing access to blocked domains. If they do not, they themselves will also be blocked. Search engines also face sanctions for linking to banned sites.

When it comes to blocking websites, Russia is quickly emerging as a world leader. Tens of thousands  of sites are now blocked in the country on copyright infringement and a wide range of other censorship grounds.

Of course, Russian citizens are not always prepared to be constrained by their government, so large numbers of people regularly find ways to circumvent ISP blockades. The tools and methods deployed are largely the same as those used in the West, including VPNs, proxies, mirror sites and dedicated services such as Tor.

To counter this defiance, the Russian government has been considering legislation to tackle sites, tools and services that provide Internet users with ways to circumvent blockades. According to local news outlet Vedomosti , that has now resulted in a tough new bill.

Russia's plan is to issue a nationwide ban on systems and software that allow Internet users to bypass website blockades previously approved by telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor. This means that if a VPN, proxy or similar tool unblocks torrent site RuTracker, for example, it will be breaking the law. As a result, it too will find itself on Russia's banned site list.

The publication says it has confirmed the bill's existence with a federal official and several Internet service provider sources.

As previously reported , Russia also has search engines in its sights. It wants to prevent links to banned sites appearing in search results, claiming that these encourage people to access banned material. The new bill reportedly lays out a new framework which will force search engines to remove such links. Failing to do so could result in fines of up to $12,400 per breach, clearly a significant issue for companies such as Google and local search giant Yandex.

 

 Offsite Article: Tory porn censors...


Link Here 21st April 2017  full story: UK Porn Censorship...Digital Economy Bill introduces censorship for porn websites
The Independent What could happen after the government crackdown on online pornography

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Instagramcensorship...


Link Here 18th April 2017  full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo hsaring website gets heavy on the censorship
instagram logo The Official Full List of Hashtags Banned From Instagram

See article from bet.com

 

 Offsite Article: The key to censorship...


Link Here 18th April 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Great Firewall of China China's precision censorship machine allows some controversial keywords, but blocks combinations of them

See article from techdirt.com

 

  Running scared of popular opinion...

Germany demands that people running small streaming channels on the likes of YouTube obtain broadcasting licences and submit to the associated state censorship


Link Here 14th April 2017

Germany flagThe German broadcasting authority, the Landesmedienanstalt , has issued a temporary ruling requiring streamers using services such as Twitch and YouTube to obtain a broadcasting license to avoid penalties. This license, known in German as the Rundfunklizenz , can cost anywhere from 1000 to 10,000 euro to obtain.

The news comes after popular Twitch streaming channel PietSmiet said it was told it will need a license by April 30 if it wants to continue streaming. The changes apply to all online streamers with a very low threshold of 500 or more followers.

 

 Update: State ransomware...

The EFF comments on Dubious Anti-Pornography Legislation to Ransom the Internet being introduced by several US states


Link Here 14th April 2017  full story: US politicans and porn harms...US states claim porn to be a public health hazard

Electronic Frontier Foundation More than a dozen state legislatures are considering a bill called the " Human Trafficking Prevention Act ," which has nothing to do with human trafficking and all to do with one man's crusade against pornography at the expense of free speech.

At its heart, the model bill would require device manufacturers to pre-install "obscenity" filters on devices like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Consumers would be forced to pony up $20 per device in order to surf the Internet without state censorship. The legislation is not only technologically unworkable, it violates the First Amendment and significantly burdens consumers and businesses.

Perhaps more shocking is the bill's provenance. The driving force behind the legislation is a man named Mark Sevier, who has been using the alias "Chris Severe" to contact legislators. According to the Daily Beast , Sevier is a disbarred attorney who has sued major tech companies, blaming them for his pornography addiction, and sued states for the right to marry his laptop. Reporters Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny uncovered a lengthy legal history for Sevier, including an open arrest warrant and stalking convictions, as well as evidence that Sevier misrepresented his own experience working with anti-trafficking non-profits.

The bill has been introduced in some form Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. We recommend that any legislator who has to consider this bill read the Daily Beast's investigation.

But that's not why they should vote against the Human Trafficking Prevention Act. They should kill this legislation because it's just plain, awful policy. Obviously, each version of the legislation varies, but here is the general gist.

Read EFF's opposition letter against H.3003, South Carolina's iteration of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

Pre-installed Filters

Manufacturers of Internet-connected devices would have to pre-install filters to block pornography, including "revenge porn." Companies would also have to ensure that all child pornography, "revenge pornography," and "any hub that facilitates prostitution" are rendered inaccessible. Most iterations of the bill require this filtering technology to be turned on and locked in the on position, by default.

This is terrible for consumer choice because it forces people to purchase a software product they don't necessarily want. It's also terrible for free speech because it restrains what you can see. Because of the risk of legal liability, companies are more likely to over-censor, blocking content by default rather than giving websites the benefit of the doubt. The proscriptions are also technologically unworkable: for example, an algorithm can hardly determine whether an item of pornography is "revenge" or consensual or whether a site is a hub for prostitution.

To be clear, unlocking such filters would not just be about accessing pornography. A user could be seeking to improve the performance of their computer by deleting unnecessary software. A parent may want to install premium child safety software, which may not play well with the default software. And, of course, many users will simply want to freely surf the Internet without repeatedly being denied access to sites mistakenly swept up in the censorship net.

A Censorship Tax

The model bills would require consumers to pay a $20 fee to unlock each of their devices to exercise their First Amendment rights to look at legal content. Consumers could end up paying a small fortune to unlock their routers, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.

Data Collection

Anyone who wants to unlock the filters on their devices would have to put their request in writing. Then they'd be required to show ID, be subjected to a "written warning regarding the potential dangers" of removing the obscenity filter, and then would have to sign a form acknowledging they were shown that warning. That means stores would be maintaining private records on everyone who wanted their "Human Trafficking" filters removed.

The Censorship Machine

The bill would force the companies we rely upon to ensure open access to the Internet to create a massive censorship apparatus that is easily abused.

Under the bill, tech companies would be required to operate call centers or online reporting centers to monitor complaints that a particular site isn't included in the filter or complaints that a site isn't being properly filtered. Not only that, but the bill specifically says they must "ensure that all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible on the product" putting immense pressure on companies to aggressively and preemptively block websites to avoid legal liability out of fear of just one illegal or forbidden image making it past their filters. Social media sites would only be immune if they also create a reporting center and "remain reasonably proactive in removing reported obscene content."

It's unfortunate that the Human Trafficking Prevention Act has gained traction in so many states, but we're pleased to see that some, such as Wyoming, have already rejected it. Legislators should do the right thing: uphold the Constitution, protect consumers, and not use the problem of human trafficking as an excuse to promote this individual's agenda against pornography.

 

 Offsite Article: Why we're not taking the new porn laws lying down...


Link Here 10th April 2017
london porn film festival logo Organising the gay London Porn Film Fest against a backdrop of anti-porn and anti-sexuality UK censorship laws

See article from opendemocracy.net

 

 Update: Censor first, no questions later...

Germany approves plans to require social media to immediately censor posts that complainants do not like


Link Here 7th April 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

governmet germany logoGerman ministers have recently approved plans to fine technology companies if they fail to censor posts that are claimed to be hate speech or 'fake news'.

The law introduces fines to the tune of approximately £42.7m if technology companies do not censor complalined about posts within 24 hours of it being reported (or seven days to deal with less clear-cut cases). The approval comes one month after the draft law, the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, was unveiled.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are likely to be particularly affected.

Many have raised concerns over the censorship process. The head of the Digital Society Association, Volker Tripp, said: It is the wrong approach to make social networks into a content police.

The implementation of the law will now mean that all contended posts will now be rapidly and routinely removed regardless of the voracity of the complaint. After all this is the age when complainants are always right.

 

  Fake Blame...

Germany set to alter copyright law that currently prevents the offering of public WiFi


Link Here 7th April 2017
governmet germany logoGermany has approved a draft law that will enable businesses to run open WiFi hotspots without being held liable for the copyright infringements of their customers. Copyright holders will still have the ability to request that certain sites are blocked to prevent repeat infringement.

In most jurisdictions it's standard practice for those who commit online copyright infringement to be held responsible for their own actions. However in Germany there is a legal concept known as Störerhaftung (interferer liability) where a third party who played no intentional part in someone else's infringements can be held responsible for them. This type of liability has raised its head in a number of file-sharing cases where WiFi owners have been considered liable for other people's piracy.

As a direct result of this precarious legal position, Germany has found itself trailing behind its European neighbors when it comes to providing public Internet hotspots. Some have described the situation as an embarrassment for one of the most advanced countries in the world.

Under pressure and in response to a European Court of Justice opinion on the matter last March, the government eventually decided to rescind liability for open WiFi operators. Since then the government has been working on changes to local law to bring it into line with EU standards. A third draft presented by Brigitte Zypries, Minister for Economics and Energy, has now been adopted by the cabinet.

Should the amendments receive parliamentary approval, businesses will be free to offer open WiFi to their customers, without fear of being held liable for their actions. They will also be able to offer truly open WiFi, with no requirement to verify the identities of users or have them log in with a password.

While copyright holders won't be pleased by the changes, they will still have opportunities to clamp down on infringement. If a certain WiFi location is connected with online piracy, a properly filed complaint will require the operator to bar access to websites connected with the infringement.

 

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