The UK Column have issued a press release outlining their case against ATVOD:
The UK government has finally moved to directly regulate Youtube content and internet freedom of speech.
On the 2nd February 2014, the UK Column received a letter from ATVOD, the Authority for Television On Demand. ATVOD is a subsidiary of Ofcom, the UK government's communications regulator. The ATVOD letter gave notice to the UK Column that as the
result of a Statutory Instrument amendment to the 2003 Communications Act, the UK Column was required to notify ATVOD that it was running an on demand programme service , to pay a fee, and to submit to regulation.
ATVOD mainly chooses organisations to regulate based upon whether or not they are perceived to produce television-like programmes . In several television conversations between the UK Column and ATVOD, an ATVOD representative admitted that
there is no fixed standard for what constitutes television-like video content, and that their determinations are made on purely arbitrary opinion.
When asked by the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications Inquiry on Media Convergence and Its Public Policy Impact on the 5th February 2013 if [ATVOD] had trouble defining [television-like services], Ruth Evans Chairman of ATVOD
replied, yes. It is an evolving art.
It is on the basis of the evolving art statement that ATVOD's claims of a light regulatory burden should be seen. At present ATVOD claims to exist in order to prevent harmful material becoming available to children and to prevent hate speech. It
is clear, though, that anyone submitting to the current light regulatory framework joins a fluid and evolving regulatory framework with potentially draconian financial penalties. The penalties allowed for through the Communications Act 2003 amount
to 5% of the regulated organisation's turnover or Â£250,000, whichever is the greater amount.
Following discussion with ATVOD, the UK Column made the decision that ATVOD's requirements would be detrimental to our freedom of speech and expression on the internet, and we would not submit to regulation by ATVOD.
ATVOD subsequently issued an enforcement notice giving the UK Column ten working days to comply with their demands. Having carefully considered our options, we decided to cease the activity which ATVOD describes as an on demand television service,
and removed all UK Column video on demand content from the internet.
UK Column co-editor Brian Gerrish says:
This represents an immediate and dangerous attack on free speech on the internet and should be of massive concern to all Youtube users, as the government seems to be moving to censor individuals directly, putting them on the same regulatory
footing as global corporations like the BBC and CNN. As a government agency, ATVOD's clearly flawed working practices and their alignment to the corporate media pose a direct threat to our personal liberty and freedoms.
UK Column co-editor Mike Robinson says:
It used to be that to produce high quality studio based video content, the financial barrier to entry was very high. Today, with television studios in a box costing as little as a few hundred pounds, ATVOD seems to be attempting to extend its
remit to even the one man band producer operating out of his bedroom. This is a dangerous road to tread.
A House of Lords Communications Committee, chaired by Lord Best, will conduct a short inquiry into the legal
and regulatory framework around social media and communications offences, such as one-to-one targeted harassment and trolling .
It is a problem that is in the news on a regular basis, and yet many people do not seem to realise that communications sent via social media are capable of amounting to criminal offences under a range of statutes. These include the Offences
Against the Person Act 1861, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Malicious Communications Act 1988, and the Communications Act 2003.
The Committee will be holding two evidence sessions, which will look at whether the legislation on the issue of social media and communications offences is appropriate and fit for purpose or would benefit from clarification; whether the line
between free speech and protection of victims is clear; and more generally, whether the steps which have already been taken to deal with these problems are sufficient, or whether further action is necessary.
On a wider note, the Committee sees this piece of work as an integral part of pursuing its interest in the way changes in media and technology are likely to affect consumers' and citizens' behaviour and the way in which the legal and policy debate
needs to respond. Questions
Questions likely to be raised in this inquiry include:
Whether the law currently covering offences related to social media and communications offences is capable of adapting to the way in which people behave, given the speed of changes in technology.
If there are areas of overlap or gaps in the range of legislation covering social media and communications offences, which means that categorising the offence is not always clear.
Whether the sentences handed out for social media and communications offences are known, consistent and appropriate and, more generally, whether other approaches, such as restorative justice and education, might be more effective.
How, in responding to these issues, reform to the current package of legislation can strike an effective balance between victim protection and freedom of expression.
Google has begun removing search links to content in Europe under the right to be forgotten ruling, which obliges it exclude web pages with
supposedly outdated or irrelevant information about individuals from web searches.
Searches made on Google's services in Europe using peoples' names includes a section at the bottom with the phrase Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe , and a link to a page explaining the ruling by the
European court of justice (ECJ) in May 2014.
However searches made on Google.com, the US-based service, do not include the same warning, because the ECJ ruling only applies within Europe.
Google would not say how many peoples' search histories have been censored, nor how many web pages have been affected.
28th June 2014. From Alan
Not mentioned in the Guardian report is the difficulty for UK surfers of finding uncensored searches on the American site. If I'm in Italy, I can either search in Italian at google.it or, if I want to search in English and enter google.com, I get
the American site. But in this country, typing the URL for google.com redirects to google.co.uk. Looks like we Brits are particular disadvantaged by the absurd decision of twattish Euro-judges.
A Christian in southern Egypt has been sentenced to six years in prison and fined the equivalent of $840 on charges of
blasphemy and contempt of Islam for simply liking a Facebook page, according to International Christian Concern.
Kerolos Shawky didn't intend to insult the Islamic religion, Rafla Zekry Rafla, a lawyer representing Kerolos, told ICC. He only clicked like on the Facebook page of Knights of the Cross .
Kerolos was accused of violating Article 98(f) of the Egyptian Penal Code, which prohibits ridiculing, or insulting heavenly religions or inciting sectarian strife .
The initial accusations against Kerolos are that he had somehow incited a muslim mob who vanadalised and set alight Christian shops and homese.
In a picture, a little girl is seen lifting her dress to admire her new underpants, evidence to her of her first steps in toilet
training. But the tummy and underpants are considered by Instagram to be nudity. Adamo was warned by the site about posting inappropriate content, but not being able to recognise sexual tones in her children's photos fast enough she had her
account deleted before she could resolve it.
Adamo's account has since been reactivated after mounting furore. But an incident like this still begs the questioin: are photography sharing sites being unnecessarily rigid about content and prudish about flesh? Facebook, for instance, has only
just lifted its long held ban on the appearance of female nipple in breastfeeding photos. Advertisement
Indeed, there's a deliberate reluctance to involve themselves in the debate required for interpreting content. Blanket policies alleviate social media sites from needing to pay people, rather than inexpensive filter programs, to do specialised
decision making. Adamo, cofounder of a fashionable online baby boutique had over 36,000 followers of her family photo album on Instagram before her account was removed.
An identity authentication company is suggesting the UK online pornography industry adopt its technology when regulation is
inevitably brought in.
Peer-to-peer sites already use Veridu's technology to rate people as trustworthy or not. It works by asking an individual to setup a profile using social media logins, in much the same way an app would ask you to sign up with your Twitter or
Facebook details. The more logins the individual provides to Veridu, the richer and more reliable its verification will be. The system will then ask if you recognise friends in your social network, look for friendship links mirrored across
multiple social networks including LinkedIn, and compare age groups in your network. For the new age verification model, it could also include Paypal details (more helpful if the user has signed up with a credit card) and other details from
Veridu promises it is not storing the data it analyses, nor using it for any purpose other than to deliver a token at the end of the process that the user can then take away and show to adult content sites -- all it will say is whether that
person has been verified as over 18, and how robust that conclusion is on a specific scale.
An ad appeared at the bottom of an article on The Independendent newspaper's website alongside other ads, each of which contained
an image and text, under the heading You may also like these . A link below the ad was labelled (Keep Your Email Private!) . The ad linked to a web page run by a third-party advertiser.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was identifiable as such.
Outbrain said they provided content recommendations, most often found at the bottom of an article on a publisher's page. Their technology meant they were able to understand how and when people consumed all forms of content and could therefore
recommend relevant material based on interests, which could be via paid-for links to third-party sites or links to other content on a publisher's own site. They did not own the websites on which the content they recommended appeared and each
publisher could dictate the layout and look and feel of content such as that placed by Outbrain. They said although the content complained about had been paid for by a third party, it was not advertising in the traditional sense and their
recommendations were better described as promoted content or promoted stories .
They said their approach was in line with industry standard practices and they used the text You may also like these and Recommended by , which appeared next to their logo, to identify that the paid-for ads linked to third-party
sites. When that logo was clicked on, users were taken to a pop up headed What are these links? , which gave information about Outbrain's service and also included the text Links to 3rd party content were paid for by an Outbrain
customer . The logo also changed colour when hovered over, to make clear that it was an interactive link. They believed the average internet user would be aware that links similar to the one they provided were clickable and that they were
often used to provide additional information. However, they said they were willing to cooperate in making changes.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA understood Outbrain were responsible for the overall presentation of the contextually targeted branded content and its labelling, and acknowledged they were willing to make changes. We also acknowledged the ad appeared under the text You may also like these
and that, when viewed in its entirety, the panel of content featured the text Recommended by , which appeared next to a logo. However, we considered consumers would not necessarily realise that the various different recommendations
included formed part of the same panel and that they might not notice the Recommended by text, which appeared in the bottom corner. We also considered consumers might not realise that the logo included a link to additional
Nevertheless, we noted that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such and considered the text You may also like these and Recommended by , as well as the information provided in the pop up and in the link
below the ad, was not sufficient to ensure it was obvious to consumers that the ad was a marketing communication. Because the ad was not obviously identifiable as marketing communication, we concluded that it was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 2.1 and 2.3 (Recognition of marketing communications) and 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Outbrain to ensure future advertising placed by them was obviously identifiable as such.
Twitter has restored access inside Pakistan to dozens of tweets and accounts, after blocking them last month following official complaints about
suuposed blasphemous content.
Twitter said it had changed its May 18 decision after the government failed to provide sufficient clarification. The company said in a statement:
On May 18, 2014, we made an initial decision to withhold content in Pakistan based on information provided to us by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
We have re-examined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted. The content is now available again in
Most of the offending material concerned anti-Islam accounts, but the accounts of three US porn stars were also listed.
Britain's top counter-terrorism official has been forced to reveal a secret Government policy justifying the mass surveillance of every Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google user in the UK.
This disturbing policy was made public due to a legal challenge brought by Privacy International, Liberty, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, Pakistani organisation Bytes for All, and five other national civil liberties
The statement, from Charles Farr, the Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, claims that the indiscriminate interception of UK residents' Facebook and Google communications would be permitted under law because they
are defined as external communications .