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Melon Farmers



26th December   

Website Bullies...

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LittleGossip site goes adult college students only after schools gossip was criticised for bullying
Link Here

littlegossip logoA website for young people to share gossip has been shut down and then reopened for over-18s only and with all schools removed from the listings.

Some teachers and parents had alleged Littlegossip.com was being used as a platform for children to post personal and sexual smears against their peers. Users can post gossip anonymously about people at their college or university. Other users can then vote on whether the posts are true or false.

One concerned father, named only as Dave, contacted the BBC to warn other parents about the site. It's cyber-bullying at its worst, he said. Seriously, kids are going to take their lives because of this site. Dave said his daughter couldn't believe what was said about her friend: She was fascinated by it - but then she saw so much hate on there.

The school involved has blocked access to the site and said it was extremely concerned about the malicious potential of this website .

Other organisations have condemned Littlegossip. The National Association of Head Teachers said it harmed the lives of both teachers and pupils, and has called for it to be closed down.

Emma-Jane Cross from the charity Beatbullying said the site was worrying because it seems to have the sole purpose of identifying and victimising vulnerable young people - something she described as unacceptable . In this instance, we would invite government and internet service providers to work with us and take collective responsibility to ensure websites like these are taken offline as a matter of urgency.

 

23rd December   

Comment: Chaps vs Women...

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Shaun writes to Claire Perry about a new angle she has introduced to the internet blocking debate
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Claire PerryClaire Perry is one the MPs most prominently campaigning for internet censorship.

She has just brought a new dimension to the debate with a tweet that caught the interest of the internet community.

She wrote on twitter:

100% of negative or abusive commentary about opt in system for internet porn is from the chaps. Women 100% positive (so far)

Shaun has emailed her to take issue with the comment:

Dear Ms Perry MP

I am sorry but I have to take issue with statements you have made! On your twitter site you wrote: 100% of negative or abusive commentary about opt in system for internet porn is from the chaps. Women 100% positive (so far)

In fact this isn't true. Please check out the responses on the Daily Mail web site .

For example Cheryl (presumably a girl) replied there:

If you don't want your kid to see porn, then don't leave them with a computer or anything that can access the internet, in their bedrooms or allow internet access on mobile phones. Keep all devices that access the internet in the family area and simply disconnect the modem when you do not want your kids going online.

Also I bet at least 50% of all the internet porn your kids have seen comes not from the friendly home PC, but from their friends houses, their friends mobiles and even their school IT room. - Cheryl86, mansfield uk, 19/12/2010 22:40

But the truth of a statement doesn't seem to be all that important to politicians does it ?

There are other women there who do NOT support your idea. You will find that the MAJORITY of people there, who are traditionally your OWN supporters do not want this.

MS Perry - I voted conservative on the ground we would get increased freedoms after the years of NL nannying which people are SICK TO DEATH of. It seems you folks are going to be even worse, and I won't be voting conservative again unless things change very quickly. Yes there's going to an opt in so you can get the internet uncensored, so you say! The problem is that people simply do *not* trust you. They believe that a slippery slope with mission creep will come to pass and eventually only government approved material will be allowed.

MS Perry in political speak: Censorship of this kind has no place in any kind of free and democratic country.

I have children now in their late teens, who have been online for over TWELVE years. There are ways you can monitor their access and restrict what they do without this. The internet IS NOT a child's playground.

If you persist in running a censored feed you should set it up yourselves (the government I mean) PAY for it, and then offer it to ISPs as an option, to connect through it, for those who want it. That way you cannot blame the ISPS or fine them when it fails, which it surely will.

As for comparison with child abuse filters, already in existence, this is unfair for the following reasons:

1: The number of such sites is very small compared with the number of so called Adult sites

2: The effectiveness of the child abuse filters cannot be tested as to bypass them and download the material would turn you into a criminal. Few would dare risk that I think.

3: Adult censorship systems will be tested to destruction by both sides, those for, and those against. Those who are for, will make sure it works properly and complain when it does not. Those against, will test it, so they can say We told you so and information how to bypass the scheme will be plastered all over the web.

MS Perry, censorship is a necessary evil and should be kept to a minimum in any kind of free country. We are not China or North Korea. Or is that the kind of environment you politicians really want to create for your children ?

It took me a long time to wish New labour was out of power. I think I've got to that position with the current coalition already.

If you think men are against this, it is simply because men tend understand the workings of the internet more, and certainly trust the government LESS when it goes on these kinds of moral crusades. You should not really keep taking a pot shot at men as you do. This is insulting and sexist. Yes we might be more stimulated by explicit images. There is some truth in that. That however is a product of evolution. It does not mean we don't care about keeping our children safe. However I really would like to see more evidence of the harm, before you go on a censorship crusade. I have followed this debate for some years, ever since realised exactly how much censorship was imposed on our media back in the nineties, compared with the much more free countries of Europe.

If you do have a censored feed, it should be one which is requested by PARENTS. I should not have to ask my ISP for my freedom of choice, and perhaps be put on a list of people who have done this. (Another fear of many people, who are against this)

I am not a constituent, but I would be grateful for your reply, and any reassurances you might care to offer.

BTW: I find it APPALLING that a political posturing group such as SaferMedia have been granted charitable status, when I don't think there is anything remotely charitable about their activities. As far as I can tell, they exist simply to try to persuade politcians to impose a narrow-minded Christian agenda on everyone else. I have asked the charities commission to review their decision in light of their political activities.

 

21st December   

Update: One Size Fails All...

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Commentators unimpressed by Ed Vaizey's nutter pandering website blocking
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
teletubbies-sun

  Baby Brother's watching YOU

Ed Vaizey doesn't seem to have found many takers for his ideas about website blocking at ISP level. Very few commentators can see any way whatsoever that a single shared blocking scheme can fit the requirements of the whole family.

Perhaps he would be better off suggesting some more advanced networking architectures where multiple users can have individually tailored internet connections depending on their login.

But as for the shared scheme, it deserves nothing but derision.

Phantom on the Melon Farmers Forum asks:

If something like this is set up, who will be doing the filtering? Will the people doing the filtering really be sensible, reasonable people? Or will they be experts headhunted from the BBFC and various moral pressure groups?

Does anyone here think that such a new internet regime would conduct itself fairly and reasonably? Would their be a level playing ground, whereby melonfarmers could have a raunchy pic in an advert on its pages and it would get the same treatment as, say, Amazon? Are people absolutely certain that, the presence of advertisements to adult product sites would not be a wonderful excuse to close down access to sites such as melonfarmers?

People doing the filtering are invariably going to be a collection of the usual suspects.

Any idea of an appeal system will be pretty much a joke, as the whole undertaking will be so bogged down with the sheer scale of the task of finding all adult sites, that it will dedicate virtually no time to appeals.

Aside from that, appeals would be handled from the position of defending the credibility of the organisation. i.e. We must have been right, as we're the experts. Therefore the appeal must be unjustified.

The last thing Britain needs right now is another panel of self important experts on matters decent. Given that this government is supposed to be interested in cutting the number of quangos their desire to create yet another one, strains credulity.

More busy bodies with clip boards. More self appointed moral guardians. More high handed injustice in the name of protecting us all.

And a good point from the Guardian

Those are all great reasons not to waste untold millions of pounds either creating a government great firewall , or requiring ISPs to do the same. But here's the most important reason of all: it won't work.

Any think-of-the-children internet filter has a fundamental problem: if it's effective enough to actually block adult content, it will also be irritating enough that almost everyone will turn it off.

An effective filter would have to censor Flickr, which has a large amount of adult imagery. It has to censor every blogging platform: Tumblr, for example, has a whole swathe of porn blogs, and there are untold numbers of sex bloggers writing reams of explicit text. And it has to censor YouTube, particularly if 4chan decide to flood it with porn again. Facebook could probably be let through, thanks to its strong filtering policies – although right now, most mobile providers block it for under-18s anyway.

If an adult content filter allows those sites through, it fails. And if it blocks those sites, then hardly anyone will use it – and it fails.

And of course practical and monetary concerns from the ISP industry

See article from bbc.co.uk

In response to the government proposal, Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Ispa industry body, said:

Ispa firmly believes that controls on children's access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down.

ISPs currently block child abuse content which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent. Blocking lawful pornography content is less clear cut, will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content and is only effective in preventing inadvertent access.

Trefor Davies, chief technology officer at ISP Timico said:

Unfortunately, It's technically not possible to completely block this stuff

He said the sheer volume of pornographic material online and the number of ways that people access it, via the web, file-sharing networks, news groups, discussion boards and the like, made the job impossible.

While some proponents of a national pornographic filtering scheme cite the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as an example of how such a scheme might work, Davies said it was not a good guide. Such a system would not work if it was used to deal with millions of porn sites, chat rooms and bulletin boards.

If we take this step it will not take very long to end up with an internet that's a walled garden of sites the governments is happy for you to see.

Shaun on the Melon Farmers Forum notes that even Daily Mail readers don't want it:

And what happens (politically) when censored connections still show porn?

You can bet your last dollar that the censorship will be tested to destruction by the zealots. When it fails (which I am sure it will) who will take the blame for the failure?

Remember, it will be tested to destruction because the material under test isn't illegal to seek out. No one DARE test the effectiveness of the online system of censorship of child porn because to do so, can easily make you a criminal. It isn't the case with adult porn is it?

Most people don't want your censorship Mr Minister. Read the responses in the Daily Mail here:
Internet-pornography-Parents-allowed-block-sexual-imagery

 

20th December   

Update: Opting in to Nutter Ideas...

Government pushes for internet porn blocking by ISPs
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

ed vaizey.The UK Government is push for ISPs to block internet pornography unless parents request it.

The biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes.

Instead of using parental controls to stop access to pornography - so-called opting out - the tap will be turned off at source. Adults will then have to opt in.

It follows the success of an operation by most British internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent people inadvertently viewing child porn websites. Ministers want companies to use similar technology to shut out adult pornography from children.

TalkTalk is already introducing a new free service early next year called bright feed, which allows people to control the internet so that all devices are automatically covered without the need to set up individual controls.

Homeowners can either specify which adult sites they want to receive or put a cinema-style classification on their feed to restrict what is received according to age ranges, such as U, 12 or 18.

Vaizey said: This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it's the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children. I'm hoping they will get their acts together so we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.

Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes and a keen lobbyist for more restrictions, said: Unless we show leadership, the internet industry is not going to self-regulate. The minister has said he will get the ISPs together and say, 'Either you clean out your stables or we are going to do it for you'. There is this very uneasy sense for parents of children that we do not have to tolerate this Wild West approach. We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our children aren't stumbling across things we don't want them to see.

Previously the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) has told MPs that such a blanket ban would be expensive and technically difficult to operate.

But Miranda Suit, co-founder of the political 'charity' Safermedia, which held a conference on internet porn at the Commons last month, said: Technically we know it can be done because the ISPs are already removing child porn after the government put pressure on them. In the past, internet porn was regarded as a moral issue or a matter of taste. Now it has become a mental health issue because we now know the damage it is causing. We are seeing perverse sexual behavior among children. Legislation is both justifiable and feasible.

 

15th December   

Update: US News Censorship...

Newspaper websites blocked at the US Air Force
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

China flagThe US air force has blocked employees from accessing the websites of the Guardian, the New York Times and other news organisations carrying the WikiLeaks US embassy cables.

At least 25 sites that have posted WikiLeaks files had been barred, said Major Toni Tones of the US air force's space command in Colorado. He siad this was on grounds of hosting inappropriate materials .

According to the Wall Street Journal, staff who attempt to access the blocked sites instead see an on-screen message saying: Access denied. Internet usage is logged and monitored.

The air force's move follows instructions by the government that staff should not access the cables.

Update: Twitter supporters under US pressure

12th January 2011. See article from guardian.co.uk

An Iceland MP who is also a former WikiLeaks volunteer says the US justice department has ordered Twitter to hand over her private messages.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP for the Movement in Iceland, said on Twitter that the USA government wants to know about all my tweets. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?

She said she was starting a legal fight to stop the US getting hold of her messages, after being told by Twitter that a subpoena had been issued. She wrote: department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info – I got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over.

 

14th December   

Update: Iceland Cools on Visa and MasterCard...

Iceland speaks of action against Wikileaks censorship by credit card companies
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

Ethically Correct VisaCredit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.

People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it, Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said: They said this decision was taken by foreign sources.

The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.

Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.

WikiLeaks' payment processor, the Icelandic company DataCell ehf, said it would take immediate legal action against the companies to make donations possible again.

 

13th December   

Update: Book Censorship on Amazon...

Erotica titles being removed from Amazon.com
Link Here

wicked lovelyA discussion thread on Amazon's Kindle Community forum notes that Amazon has begun removing some previously-published books or stories from its store, and from the Kindle archives.

Readers who have previously downloaded them to their Kindles can keep them there, but cannot re-download them (and will be refunded the price of purchase assuming Amazon can still find the purchase record).

The story whose removal sparked the discussion was an erotica title called Wicked Lovely by author Jess C. Scott. The tale dealt with incest, and involved a love scene between a 17 and an 18-year-old. However, Amazon would not tell Scott specifically what caused the removal of her novel. The only response she has received, after repeatedly trying to contact Amazon for more information, is a form letter.

In addition to Jess Scott, Selena Kitt and Esmerelda Green have also had books with an incest theme recently banned from the site. All of them, incidentally, high in the rankings and in visibility.

Selena also reports a print book missing, a title which she published through Amazon-owned Createspace.

 

9th December   

Update: An Anonymous Attack...

Activists target credit card companies who denied service to Wikileaks
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

AnonymousAnti-censorship activists have attacked the websites of credit card giants Mastercard and Visa.

The attacks came after the Anonymous group pledged to pursue firms that have withdrawn services from Wikileaks.

Mastercard payments were disrupted but the firm said there was no impact on people's ability to use their cards.

Visa's website also experienced problems. The attacks came after both companies stopped processing payments to the whistle-blowing site.

Entries on the Twitter page of Operation Payback, the Anonymous campaign, said the Visa site had been taken down. Visa's website was later restored and spokesman Ted Carr said its processing network, which handles cardholder transactions, was working normally.

But in a day of fast-moving developments, the Anonymous Twitter page then went down, replaced by a message from Twitter saying the account had been suspended.

An Anonymous member told AFP news agency the group would extend their campaign to anyone with an anti-Wikileaks agenda .

PayPal, which has stopped processing donations to Wikileaks, has also been targeted. The firm claimed the Wikileaks' account had violated its terms of services. But PayPal's Osama Bedier told the Le Web conference

On 27 November the State Department, the US government, basically wrote a letter [to Wikileaks] saying that [its] activities were deemed illegal in the United States.

And as a result our policy group had to make the decision of suspending their account. It's honestly, just pretty straightforward from our perspective and there's not much more to it than that.

Anonymous is also helping to create hundreds of mirror sites for Wikileaks, after its US domain name provider withdrew its services.

Coldblood of Anonymous said that the group was beginning to wind down the DDoS attacks so that it could concentrate on using other methods which are more focused on supporting Wikileaks and making sure the Internet stays a free and open place .

 

9th December   

Update: Student Warning...

US students warned that online discussions related to Wikileaks may endanger future security clearance
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

us dept of state logoA State Department official warned students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs this week that discussing WikiLeaks on Facebook or Twitter could endanger their employment prospects.

The official, a former student of the school, called the career services office of his alma mater to advise students not to post links to Wikileaks documents, nor to make comments on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

The school careers office passed on the message to students:

From: Office of Career Services

We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.

The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.

 

9th December   

Update: Safe in Swiss Hands...

Swiss domain registrar keeps Wikileaks on the web
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

Switzerland flagWikiLeaks received a boost when Switzerland rejected growing international calls to force the site off the internet.

The whistleblowers site, which has been publishing leaked US embassy cables, was forced to switch domain names to WikiLeaks.ch after the US host of its main website, WikiLeaks.org, pulled the plug following mounting political pressure.

The site's new Swiss registrar, Switch, today said there was no reason why it should be forced offline, despite demands from France and the US. Switch is a non-profit registrar set up by the Swiss government for all 1.5 million Swiss .ch domain names.

The Swiss Pirate Party, which registered the WikiLeaks.ch domain name earlier this year on behalf of the site, said Switch had reassured the party that it would not block the site.

Laurence Kaye, leader of the UK-based Pirate Party, tonight told the Guardian: International Pirate Parties now have an integral role in allowing access to WikiLeaks. I wish some of our other politicians had the same guts.We support the WikiLeaks project as access to information is the prerequisite for an informed and engaged democracy.

 

9th December   

Gossip and Slander...

Turkey's PM wound up by leaked State Department cables
Link Here

Wikileaks Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accused U.S. diplomats of spreading gossip and slander after leaked State Department cables alleged corruption in his government and portrayed him as an Islamist.

He suggested the release of the trove of cables may be propaganda aimed at damaging relations between the United States and its allies.

The diplomatic messages at times show concerns that European Union candidate Turkey is shifting its allegiances from the West and Israel toward Iran and other Muslim countries since Erdogan took office in 2002.

Edelman's cables also portray Erdogan as an authoritarian, distrustful leader of his ruling AK Party and say that he believes God appointed him to lead Turkey.

 

8th December   

Update: Arrested Over a Condom Leak?...

Julian Assange arrested and held without bail in London
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

Metropiltan Police badgeThe whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said last night it would not to be gagged by the imprisonment of its founder, Julian Assange, after a judge refused him bail at a dramatic extradition hearing in London.

Assange who is wanted in Sweden over claims he 'sexually assaulted' two women, was in Wandsworth prison last night after district judge Howard Riddle claimed there was a risk he would fail to surrender if granted bail. Assange denies the allegations.

Despite Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan, the campaigning journalist John Pilger, the film director Ken Loach and others offering to stand surety totalling £180,000, the judge said the Australian Assange's weak community ties in the UK, and his means and ability to abscond, represented substantial grounds for refusing bail.

He was remanded until 14 December, when the case can be reviewed at the same court. His legal team said he would again apply for bail at that hearing.

Last night Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, confirmed it would continue publishing US diplomatic cables. In a statement he said: This will not stifle WikiLeaks. The release of the US embassy cables – the biggest leak in history – will still continue. We will not be gagged, either by judicial action or corporate censorship.

The refusal to grant Assange bail came on a day when increasing pressure was brought to bear in the US on companies and organisations with ties to WikiLeaks. As Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate's homeland security committee, urged businesses to sever their ties with the website, Visa suspended the payment of donations to the website through its credit card.

Michael Mukasey, a former US attorney general, said last night that American lawyers should try to extradite Assange to the US for betraying government secrets. Mukasey implied that the Swedish sexual accusations may only be a holding charge. When one is accused of a very serious crime, he said, it's common to hold him in respect of a lesser crime … while you assemble evidence of a second crime.

After the ruling – with supporters waving A4 printouts reading Character Assassination and Protect Free Speech – his solicitor, Mark Stephens, emerged from court to claim the prosecution was politically motivated and pledged WikiLeaks would not be cowed. Assange was entitled to a high court appeal, he said, adding the judge was impressed with the number of people prepared to stand up on his client's behalf. [Those supporters] were but the tip of the iceberg, he said. This is going to go viral. Many people believe Mr Assange to be innocent, myself included. Many people believe that this prosecution is politically motivated.

Assange was arrested by appointment at a London police station at 9.20am after a European arrest warrant was received by the Metropolitan police extradition unit. He appeared in court at 2pm, where he spoke to confirm his name and date of birth and to tell the court: I do not consent to my extradition.

Update: Britain not Sweden opposes bail

16th December 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

The decision to have Julian Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden, as previously thought, the Guardian has learned.

The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the WikiLeaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.

It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor's office told the Guardian it had not got a view at all on bail and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail.

Lawyers for Assange reacted to the news with shock and said CPS officials had told them this week it was Sweden which had asked them to ensure he was kept in prison.

Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden's prosecutor's office, told the Guardian: The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it.

Update: Bail granted

17th December 2010. bbc.co.uk  Based on article from bbc.co.uk

The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has vowed to continue my work and to protest my innocence after being freed on bail.

Mr Justice Ouseley ordered Assange be released on payment of £240,000 in cash and sureties and on condition he resides at an address in East Anglia.

Assange's solicitor, Mark Stephens, said after the court appearance the bail appeal was part of a continuing vendetta by the Swedes .

Assange is accused of having unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom. He is also accused of the unlikely sounding offence of having unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.

The judge imposed strict bail conditions including wearing an electronic tag, reporting to police every day, observing a curfew and residing at a specified residence.

A full extradition hearing should normally take place within 21 days of the arrest. Mr Assange was arrested on 7 December, so this should be by 28 December. However, in such a high profile case, it is possible that a full extradition hearing will not take place for several months.

Update: Weak Case

6th February 2011. See article from telegraph.co.uk

Rape case against the WikiLeaks chief weak

Details in a police file of the rape case against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, reveal a series of apparent contradictions and inconsistencies in the evidence against him.

Assange faces extradition to Sweden on a European Arrest Warrant. He has not been charged but is wanted for further questioning.

Mark Stephens, Mr Assange's lawyer, said: This is the third time people have sought to prejudice the outcome of Julian Assange's case by leaking information.

Kirsty Brimelow, a barrister asked by Stephens to independently review the evidence against Assange, said: I do not consider that the evidence would reach the charge threshold in this country; let alone sustain a prosecution.

Update: Automatic Extradition

28th February 2011. See article from telegraph.co.uk

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticised the unjust European arrest warrant system after a judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face sex offence charges.

The ruling against him came as a result of a European arrest warrant system run amok , he claimed.

He said: There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merit of the allegations made against me, no consideration or examination of even the complaints made in Sweden and of course we have always known we would appeal.

Launching into a criticism of the system, he said 95% of European arrest warrants were successful and he welcomed a pending review of UK extradition procedures due in June.

Update: Extradited

6th November 2011. See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his High Court bid to block extradition to Sweden, where he faces rape allegations.

Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Ouseley said that Assange must return to Sweden on a European arrest warrant to face rape and sexual assault allegations made by two Swedish women after a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.

The Australian could now be sent to Sweden within 10 days, unless as expected he decides to appeal the decision.

Update: Ecuador grants political asylum

17th August 2012. See article from guardian.co.uk

A major diplomatic row over the fate of the fugitive Julian Assange erupted after the WikiLeaks founder was offered political asylum by Ecuador to escape extradition from Britain over allegations of serious sexual assaults.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, responded by warning the Ecuadorean government that diplomatic immunity should not be used to harbour alleged criminals. He said Assange would be arrested if he leaves the embassy in London where he has lived for nearly two months.

Ecuador's decision has also angered the Swedish authorities, who wish to question Assange and the two women who claim he assaulted them during a trip to the country in 2010. Assange denies the assault claims and says he fears being sent on to the United States where he could face political persecution for releasing thousands of secret US cables.

 

5th December   

Updated: Wikileaks Under Attack...

Attacked on several fronts
Link Here  full story: US vs Wikileaks...US aggressively attacks Wikileaks over leaked cables

Wikileaks Wikileaks has been disrupted after the company providing its domain name cut off its DNS service.

The website main domain name at wikileaks.org is no longer associated with the underlying IP address of http://213.251.145.96/

EveryDNS.net claimed it had terminated services because Wikileaks.org had come under massive cyber attacks.

But Wikileaks has already reappeared using a Swiss web domains name wikileaks.ch . In a surprising twist, the .ch address is also hosted by EveryDNS.

Wikileaks has also used the micro-blogging site Twitter to urge its fans to redistribute its IP address so it can be viewed at any time.

Experts say it is likely that Wikileaks has done deals with lots of web hosting companies, although many are likely to back away from dealing with the controversial site in the light of recent web attacks.

In France, Industry Minister Eric Besson has called for a ban of Wikileaks on French servers. One of the mirror sites, Wikileaks.ch, is currently hosted on servers in France.

Paul Mutton, a security analyst at internet services firm Netcraft said using a Swiss domain could be Wikileaks anticipating the next line of attack - having its IP address de-registered: Moving to a non-US domain makes sense. Its previous domain was registered with a US company and as such has to work within US laws, with potential for the government to lean on it and get it suspended.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is currently reported to be staying at a secret address in the UK. In a question-and-answer session on the website of the Guardian newspaper, he said there had been threats against his life: We are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a super power.

Wikileaks initially used the online store Amazon to host its site but the company ended the agreement on Wednesday - a move 'welcomed' by US officials. Amazon claimed that it had not removed Wikileaks because of a government inquiry. Instead it said Wikileaks had failed to adhere to its terms of service.

Meanwhile the press have been reporting that there is now some sort of international arrest warrant issued against Julian Assange on supposed rape charges.

But the Daily Mail has researched the Swedish cases and has found that they are very minor indeed. It seems that the 'crime' is sex by surprise, carrying a penalty of $715, and is related to condom use. See article from dailymail.co.uk

Update: Not So Pally

5th December 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Paypal logoPayPal has frozen WikiLeaks' account in the latest action against the whistleblower website, which has been posting leaked US embassy cables online.

The decision by the online payment site – which WikiLeaks had used to raise funds for web hosting and other costs – has been announced with a posting on PayPal's blog.

PayPal said: PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal acceptable use policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We've notified the account holder of this action.

Update: Visa Denied

8th December 2010. Based on article from observer.com

Ethically Correct VisaMastercard and Visa have declared they are suspending payments to Wikileaks, effectively blocking their customers from donating to the organization.

As Jeff Jarvis points out over at HuffPo, I can use Visa and Mastercard to pay for porn and support anti-abortion fanatics, Prop 8 homophobic bigots, and the Ku Klux Klan. But I can't use them or PayPal to support Wikileaks, transparency, the First Amendment, and true government reform.

There is a difference, of course, between being an ideological outsider, or even a proponent of hate speech, and the #1 enemy of the state.

Update: Money is No Longer Safe in a Swiss Bank

9th December 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Switzerland flagThe Swiss post office's bank, PostFinance, has frozen the accounts of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The whistle-blowing website says the freeze includes a defence fund and personal assets worth 31,000 euros.

Update: Bank of America Censors

19th December 2010. Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

Bank of America has halted all transactions for WikiLeaks, joining other institutions that refuse to process payments for the website that has exposed a trove of US government cables.

Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks, the largest US bank said in a statement.

This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments. [yeah yeah]

Update: Pipped by Apple

23rd December 2010. Based on article from gamepolitics.com

Apple logoThe Wikileaks app has been censored by the iOS App Store because it 'violates the company's developer guidelines', Apple claimed.

The $1.99 WikiLeaks app was only up on the App Store for three days. The developer had promised to donate $1 from every sale to groups that support online democracy.

Apple's statement echo those of governments around the world who claim that Wikileak's activities put people's lives in danger.

Offsite: Mirror sites taken down

24th December 2010. See article from thetechherald.com

Wikileaks In at least three separate cases, sites hosting mirrors of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have been taken down due to pressure from the hosting provider. The reason for the takedowns is said to be severe violations of the host's Terms of Service (ToS), illegal activities, or the potential for DDoS attacks related to the mirror's contents.

The host in question, SiteGround, appears to be suspending the WikiLeaks mirrors on behalf of its upstream provider SoftLayer. In all three cases, SoftLayer reported domains hosting mirrored Cablegate content as being in violation of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and ToS. As a result, SiteGround suspended the accounts and gave mixed reasons for doing so.

...Read the full article

 

28th November   

Update: Scarred by Facebook Censorship...

British woman allowed to post images of scars to raise breast cancer awareness
Link Here

Facebook logoSocial networking site Facebook is to allow photographs of a woman who had surgery for breast cancer after it removed them from her profile.

The pictures of Anna Antell from Oxfordshire, were initially deemed to be nudity and taken down.

Facebook now says it supports her right to share her experience and the images of her post-op scars can be published.

Ms Antell, who said it was brilliant news , will again upload the images which she hopes will raise awareness. One of the pictures which was removed depicts Ms Antell covering one breast while showing the scar tissue of the removed breast.

She said: I think it is really good they have realised that it is a valid thing; me showing a bare shoulder and a scar is not offensive.

Update: Acquitted

14th March 2011. See article from bbc.co.uk

A breast cancer survivor's Facebook page has been blocked after she published a photo of her reconstructed breasts following her operation.

Melissa Tullett put the picture on the website after she had a double mastectomy. The social networking site blocked her page and removed the image because it said it broke its rules on nudity. Ms Tullett said she had only intended to offer encouragement to fellow breast cancer sufferers.

It was to show other women that after such an ordeal you can come out of it with your dignity and your womanhood again, and that it's not all frightening. They [Facebook] just told me that I'd uploaded a photo that violated their terms of use and that they were deleting the photo. But they didn't actually tell me they were disabling my account .

Ms Tullett's page has since been reactivated, but she has been told not to repost the picture.

 

26th November   

Update: New Blasphemy...

British police arrest 15 year old girl for Koran burning
Link Here  full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

Facebook logoA 15-year-old girl has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after allegedly burning an English-language version of the Qur'an – and then posting video footage of the act on Facebook.

The teenager, from the Sandwell district of Birmingham, was filmed on her school premises burning the book. Police have confirmed the incident was reported to the school and the video has since been removed.

It is believed the girl was allegedly filmed setting the book alight while other pupils looked on. Two Facebook profiles have also been removed from the site.

It is understood that the group who published the version of the Qur'an that was set alight has visited the school to 'talk' to pupils.

Speaking about the latest incident in Birmingham, a spokesperson for West Midlands police said: A 15-year-old girl was arrested on Friday 19 November on suspicion of inciting religious hatred. She has been bailed pending further enquiries.

 

23rd November   

Update: Blowing the Legal System Sky High...

Twitter Joker, Paul Chambers, appeals to the high court
Link Here

Old BaileyPaul Chambers is to appeal to the high court over conviction for his joke Twitter message about Robin Hood airport

Ben Emmerson QC, a senior human rights lawyer, will lead a three-strong legal team for Paul Chambers whose conviction in the so-called Twitter joke trial has become an international cause celebre.

Dismissed as a foolish prank by almost everyone involved, including police officers and airport security staff, the 140-character threat has landed Chambers, 27, with a criminal conviction and fines and costs totalling over £3,000.

He was originally convicted of menace by Doncaster magistrates this summer. The tweet read: Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!! . It was found in a routine web search by the airport and, although rated non credible , passed to South Yorkshire police.

Chambers appealed to Doncaster crown court last month. But Judge Jacqueline Davies, sitting with two magistrates, described the message as clearly menacing and ruled that Chambers, whom she described as an unimpressive witness , must have known that it might be taken seriously.  Davies said in her judgment: Anyone in this country in the present climate of terrorist threats, especially at airports, could not be unaware of the possible consequences. The message is menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.

 

22nd November   

Update: Freedom in Re-tweet...

China follows Britain's lead in persecuting Twitter jokers
Link Here

Twitter logoA woman in China has been sentenced to a year of hard labour after posting a message on the social networking website Twitter.

The fiancee of human rights activist Cheng Jianping told the BBC she had been accused of disrupting social order, but her message had been a joke.

She had repeated a Twitter comment urging nationalist protesters to smash Japan's pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, adding the words Charge, angry youth .

At the time, China and Japan were embroiled in their worst diplomatic row in recent years over a group of uninhabited, but disputed, islands in the East China Sea. Groups of young Chinese had been demonstrating against Japan, publicly smashing Japanese products.

Cheng Jianping's fiance, Hua Chunhui, told the BBC he first posted the short message on Twitter, ridiculing the demonstrators, saying their actions were nothing new and if they really wanted to make an impact they should smash the Japanese Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. Ms Cheng then retweeted the mocking message, he said, forwarding it and adding the words charge, angry youth .

Ten days later she was detained by police for disrupting social order and has now been sent to the Shibali River women's labour camp.

 

22nd November   

Fun Loving Pastor...

Pastor who ranted at Facebook over fidelity issues enjoys the odd threesome with his wife
Link Here
uniting people to people logo

  Living Word Christian Fellowship Church
Uniting People to People...
Threesomes a speciality

A New Jersey pastor who slammed Facebook as a portal to infidelity – and told married church leaders to delete their accounts or resign – has admitted to having a three-way sexual relationship with his wife and a male church assistant.

The Rev Cedric Miller, the leader of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune Township, confirmed that he given evidence in 2003 in a criminal case against the assistant involved in the Miller's threesome. The relationship had ended by that time, and the case was eventually dismissed.

Miller hit the headlines this week when he issued his Facebook edict. He said it came about because much of the marital counselling he has performed over the past year and a half has concerned infidelity that stemmed from the social network site.

He claimed that Facebook ignites old passions and ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions. He had previously asked married congregants to share their login information with their spouses and now plans to suggest that they give up Facebook altogether.

 

17th November   

Updated: Twitter Twits...

Newspaper columnist threatens to call police after being easily offended by stoning jibe on twitter
Link Here  full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook

yasmin alibhai brownThe newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has said she will report a Conservative councillor to the police after he posted a message on Twitter saying it would be a blessing if she was stoned to death.

Birmingham councillor Gareth Compton  called it a glib comment in reaction to the writer's appearance on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live breakfast show.

Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really, he tweeted from his iPhone.

Alibhai-Brown ludicrously claimed that she regarded his comments as incitement to murder. The journalist, who writes columns for the Evening Standard and the Independent, told the Guardian: It's really upsetting. My teenage daughter is really upset too. It's really scared us. You just don't do this. I have a lot of threats on my life. It's incitement. I'm going to the police – I want them to know that a law's been broken.

She added that she regarded Compton's remarks as racially motivated because he mentioned stoning.

The councillor claimed she had said, with reference to David Cameron's trip to China, that no politician was morally qualified to speak out about human rights abuses, including the stoning of women, bar the likes of Nelson Mandela.

Compton, who later apologised on Twitter, added: Twitter is a forum for glib comment of the moment. It was a glib comment. Who could possibly think it was serious? Obviously I apologise. No offence was intended.

Update: Throwing Stones at Gareth Compton

12th November 2010. Based on article from bbc.co.uk

West Midlands police logoA Conservative Birmingham City councillor has been arrested over ludicrous allegations that he called on Twitter for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to be stoned to death.

Erdington councillor Gareth Compton made the remark about the newspaper columnist on his Twitter page. He called it a glib comment in reaction to the writer's appearance on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live breakfast show. Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really, he flippantly tweeted from his iPhone.

Police said he had been arrested under the Communications Act 2003 and bailed.

He has since apologised.

Alibhai-Brown said she found his attitude loathsome and that a flippant apology was not enough.

The Conservative Party has said his membership has been suspended indefinitely pending further investigation.

Roger McKenzie, Unison's West Midlands regional secretary, said he had been inundated with complaints from city council workers outraged at Compton's comments and he called on Compton to resign from the council. He said: Birmingham is a multicultural city and the council's workforce reflect this. It is clear that Councillor Compton is out-of-touch with both his city and the council staff. It is wholly unacceptable for a public official to make such racist comments. Councillor Compton must resign his seat immediately.

Update: Radio 5 Live

15th November 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk by Evan Harris

Radio 5 Live logoAs the Telegraph reports the controversial tweet included the hashtag #R5L at the end. This would alert those who see the tweet to the fact he is responding to something he had just heard on Radio 5 Live. In other words, it provides important context.

Alibhai-Brown had, on the 5 Live programme, been arguing, in the context of David Cameron's China visit, that no western politician who supported the war in Iraq had neither the moral authority to lecture China about human rights nor lecture Iran about stoning.

Compton clearly thought this was a ridiculous point and expressed that view aggressively via his tweet:

Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.

Update: Moralising about easy offence

16th November 2010. Based on article from birminghampost.net

yasmin alibhai brownThe easily offended newspaper columnist who threatened to call the police after a Birmingham councillor joked that she should be stoned to death has announced that she does not want him to face charges.

Newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said: My objections have been made and there is no need for more . She said she had decided not to press charges against Birmingham Councillor Gareth Compton (Lab Erdington), who made the comment using internet messaging service Twitter last week.

Writing in The Independent, she said: Some crazed demons on Twitter believe anything goes. Written words matter and hold meanings beyond that narcissistic urge to send off instant thoughts. The Tory councillor who sent out a vile and scary message about me says it was a joke. After some thought I decided I will not press charges. My objections have been made and there is no need for more.

But she said she was disturbed by some of the comments made about the incident, and her response, in blogs and on Twitter: Yet having read many blogs and tweets that followed the incident, I do wonder whether our manners and morals will survive and if English itself, the best thing about us, is now seriously endangered.

Of course the Crown Prosecution Service may yet decide to press charges themselves.

Update: Prosecution Continues

17th November 2010. Based on article from birminghampost.net

West Midlands police logoPolice are continuing an investigation into allegations that a Birmingham councillor called for a newspaper columnist to be stoned to death, despite the journalist announcing she did not want him to face charges.

West Midlands Police said it would be up to officers and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to charge Coun Gareth Compton (Con Erdington) who made the comment using internet messaging service Twitter last week.

 

15th November   

Updated: UK Justice is a Joke...

Tweeters unimpressed by the persecution of an obvious joke
Link Here

Old BaileyTwitter users angry at the conviction of a man who threatened to blow up an airport in a Twitter joke showed their support for him in their thousands, and thumbed their nose at the law by republishing the words that landed him in trouble.

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant yesterday lost his appeal against his conviction and £1,000 fine for a comment he made in jest when he was concerned he might miss a flight to Belfast.

Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!! he wrote in January.

Chambers was controversially prosecuted under a law aimed at nuisance calls – originally to protect female telephonists at the Post Office in the 1930s – rather than specific bomb hoax legislation, which requires stronger evidence of intent.

Civil liberties lawyers criticised his conviction as did the Twitter community, which reacted with a vengeance today to his failed appeal. Under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus – a reference to the film in which Spartacus's fellow gladiators show their solidarity with him by each proclaiming I am Spartacus – thousands of people have retweeted Chambers' original message. As a result of the show of support for Chambers the #IAmSpartacus was the second most popular worldwide subject being referred to on Twitter at the time of writing.

The 'judge' who rejected Chambers' appeal is unlikely to see the funny side of it, having dismissed his lawyers' arguments that he should not be punished for a foolish prank . 'Judge' Jacqueline Davies called the tweet menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed . She also ordered him to pay a further £2,000 legal bill for the latest proceedings.

Communications Act 2003

A disgraceful law that Burma, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and China would be proud of.

Thanks to eMark
See article from legislation.gov.uk

Royal ArmsSection 127 Improper use of public electronic communications network

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he-

(a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he-

(a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,
(b) causes such a message to be sent; or
(c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

(4) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to anything done in the course of providing a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (c. 42)).

Offsite Comment: The Menace of Section 127

15th November 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk by Evan Harris

evan harrisThis law is rarely used, and indeed the Chambers case may be the first example of the menacing aspect being raised. As far as I can see, the term menacing is undefined in law while in contrast there is a reasonably high threshold for obscene or grossly offensive established in case law.

Whether a tweet referring to blowing up an airport or asking that someone be stoned to death is menacing or not critically depends on the context, including whether or not it was meant in jest or merely as a rhetorical flourish and whether it actually constituted a real menace rather than a potential one. It is to be expected that the judge in the Chambers case will explain in her written judgment why she considered the words to be a menace despite the context and explanation set out by the defence. It will be interesting to see whether she discusses context in her judgment at all.

I believe that to protect free expression of humour (however bad) on the internet there needs to be an amendment made to the law to ensure that menace convictions do not take place where messages are, in their context, not menacing and where in addition they have not been reasonably treated as such by those to whom they may be said to target. This will require primary legislation.

Perhaps Paul Chambers will take his case to the high court and win, which will set a precedent, and perhaps Gareth Compton will not be charged. But that is no longer satisfactory because it is likely that there will be more complaints to the police and that the police will continue to over-react. Either way, a change in the law is needed because the chill on irreverent expression on the internet will remain.

...read the full article

 

13th November   

Petition: Twitter Joke Trial...

I do not consider @pauljchambers tweet to be 'obviously menacing
Link Here

Old BaileyAs reported in The Guardian's article Twitter joke trial: Paul Chambers loses appeal against conviction of November 11th 2010, Judge Jacqueline Davies stated that Paul Chambers tweet:

Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!

was menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.

We the undersigned, as ordinary people, do not see it in that way and are not alarmed. Because the Judge's statement is factually incorrect, we believe the conviction should be overturned.

Sign the petition

2708 signatures so far as of 13th November 2010

 

12th November   

Update: UK Justice is a Joke...

Appeal against airport tweet prosecution fails
Link Here

Old BaileyA man who posted a Twitter message threatening to blow up an airport is facing a £3,000 bill after losing an appeal against his conviction.

Paul Chambers said he acted in frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow.

The trainee accountant from Doncaster, who now lives in Northern Ireland, was found guilty in May of sending a menacing electronic communication.

A judge at Doncaster Crown Court refused to quash his conviction. He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,600

After the hearing, actor and Twitter fan Stephen Fry tweeted that he would pay Chambers' fine: He tweeted: My offer still stands. Whatever they fine you, I'll pay.

Chambers's barrister had argued the conviction should be quashed because his tweet was not menacing .

The message Chambers sent to his 600 followers in the early hours of 6 January said: Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!

His counsel Stephen Ferguson told the appeal hearing that even the police officer investigating the case branded it a foolish comment posted on Twitter as a joke for only his close friends to see .

He said the prosecution had failed to prove his client had any intention to threaten anyone or that he thought there was any risk someone would interpret the tweet in this way.

 

12th November   

Updated: Defending the Indefensible...

Internet storm kicks off about eBook on Amazon.com
Link Here

amazon com logoTechCrunch reported that Amazon is selling an eBbook titled The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure . The book itself is a disgrace – a how-to guide for pedophiles. It includes, among other things, tips on how to get away with it and how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases by purchasing condom-like products for children too small to use actual condoms.

The story hit the internet and prompted Amazon.com to issue the statement:

Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.

For the moment the eBook remains available for sale and download.

Update: Removed

12th November 2010. Based on article from samueljscott.com

Amazon later removed the e-book in question from its store but has seemingly not commented further to the media on the matter.

Offsite: Arrested

21st December 2010. See article from telegraph.co.uk

A man who wrote a how-to guide for paedophiles was arrested and will be extradited to Polk County, Florida to face obscenity charges, after police there ordered a copy of the book that has generated online outrage.

Florida' obscenity law – a third-degree felony – prohibits the distribution of obscene material depicting minors engaged in conduct harmful to minors.

Legal experts questioned whether Greaves' right to free speech would come into play if there's a trial. If prosecutors can charge Greaves for shipping his book, they ask, what would prevent booksellers from facing prosecution for selling Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita,

Update: Convicted

11th April 2011. See article from bbc.co.uk

Phillip Greaves has been sentenced to two years' probation. He pleaded no contest to a charge of distributing obscene material depicting minors engaged in harmful conduct. Greaves will serve the sentence in Colorado, his home state, and will not have to register as a sex offender.

 

7th November   

Comment: Dangerous Trolling...

Man faces jail over offensive comments posted on celebrity tribute websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Trolls...Internet users jailed for trolling
dont feed the troll

  Just ignore him!

A man who trawled the internet leaving reportedly obscene messages on tribute sites for dead people is facing jail after being brought to court under a rarely-used law.

Colm Coss found Facebook memorials to victims of high-profile tragedies around the world - and added comments said to be sexual slurs. His targets included a site dedicated to Jade Goody.

He was prosecuted under the Communications Act 2003, which governs all communications networks including internet, e-mail, mobile phone calls and text messages.

Coss  also posted comments about a car crash victim in Australia, and a dead baby in the U.S. Coss targeted the sites purely for his own amusement and to get a reaction, Manchester magistrates were told.

He was only caught when he sent residents on his street photos of himself saying he was an internet troll . The neighbours rang police. When Coss was arrested, he admitted the offence.

Matthew Siddall, prosecuting, said: The defendant told police that he finds the comments amusing. He said it causes reaction.

District Judge Khalid Qureshi told Coss: This crosses the custody threshold.

Coss was granted bail and will be sentenced later this month.

Update: Troll Jailed

30th October 2010. Based on article from bbc.co.uk

An internet troll who posted obscene messages on Facebook sites set up in memory of dead people has been jailed. Colm Coss posted on a memorial page for Big Brother star Jade Goody and a tribute site to John Paul Massey, a Liverpool boy mauled to death by a dog.

He was jailed for 18 weeks for sending malicious communications .

He was charged under the Communications Act 2003, for sending malicious communications that were grossly offensive.

Chairwoman of the bench Pauline Salisbury said: You preyed on bereaved families who were suffering trauma and anxiety. We know you gained pleasure and you aren't sorry for what you did.

Offsite Comment: Do not jail the troll

Thanks to pbr
7th November 2010.  Based on article from guardian.co.uk by Ally Fogg

The GuardianHowever vile Colm Coss's online behaviour may have been, sending him to prison sets a dangerous precedent.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the prime objectives of the justice system were to protect physical wellbeing, integrity and property rights. With very little debate or awareness, we have slipped into a society where the justice system is equally concerned with protecting the intangible sensibilities of the individual. In that sense, this issue overlaps significantly with those around blasphemy and protection from religious insult. I can see no rational reason why causing severe, grievous offence to Jade Goody's admirers should be an imprisonable offence while causing severe, grievous offence to Christians or Muslims should be considered freedom of speech. It cannot be the role of the law to dictate which flavours of offence are reasonable and which are not. I cannot see any reason why an Islamic organisation, to take just one example, could not use this precedent to press charges against anyone who participated in the recent, juvenile Everybody Draw Mohammed Day that circulated online and grew in support on Facebook. And talking of pressing charges, is there anything to now stop Facebook UK or any other site host from dealing with persistent and egregious trolls by calling in the police and handing over IP addresses?

... Read the full article

 

28th October   

Queer Kissing Flashmob...

Gay kissing in front of the pope doesn't impress Facebook
Link Here  full story: Protesting the Pope...Protests against catholic impositions

Queer KissingSame sex couples from all over the world have deliberate to snog each other in the Cathedral square in Barcelona in front of the Pope next month.

A group on Facebook, Queer Kissing Flashmob, which managed to receive 12,000 users to agree to go along on November 7 and display their love in public, has been closed down by Facebook, claim the organisers.

This has added greater fuel to the fire, and one of the organisers, Marylθne Carole, expressed her disbelief that a couple kissing in public could be considered outrageous in this day and age.

It's difficult to understand how the noble and loving behave of kissing your partner can still be defined as revolutionary in the 21st century, she commented.

It appears to be a form of censorship, and yet it was only started by a group of friends who have no connections to any political group or any kind of gay association.

Those who intend to go to Barcelona on November 7 say they will make a point of kissing their other halves in the Cathedral square just as Pope Benedict XVI walks out of the door.

 

26th October   

Update: Careful Where You Click...

Monitoring website and advert browsing may out gay Facebook users
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

Facebook logoFacebook might be inadvertently outing its gay users to advertisers, according to a new study.

Researchers have discovered that different targeted advertising is being sent to users' accounts if they have described themselves as gay or straight.

The discovery could mean that people who wish to keep their sexuality private may be sharing it with advertisers without their knowledge.

A team from Microsoft and Germany's Max Planck Institute created six fake profiles: two straight men, two straight women, a gay man and a lesbian. They wanted to see if Facebook targeted ads based on sexuality, and so the profiles were left otherwise completely the same.

The team then monitored what ads each virtual user was sent over a period of a week. They found that the ads displayed on the gay man's profile differed substantially from those on the straight one. Many of these adverts were not obviously adverts for services that only gay men would require, and half of them did not mention the word gay in the text.

The researchers write in the paper: The danger with such ads, unlike the gay bar ad where the target demographic is blatantly obvious, is that the user reading the ad text would have no idea that by clicking it he would reveal to the advertiser both his sexual-preference and a unique identifier (cookie, IP address, or email address if he signs up on the advertiser's site).

The loophole means that any advertisers who collect data such as Facebook IDs could match a person's sexual preference with their unique ID and their name.

Last week it emerged that vast amounts of data – including the names of individual members and their online friends – were passed to internet advertising firms, with tens of millions of people thought to have been affected. The leaks were possible even when members had deliberately set their privacy options to the maximum secrecy levels.

Security experts warned that the details could be used – when combined with other publicly available information – to build up a detailed picture of an individual's interests, friendship circle and lifestyle.

Around 25 different advertising and data firms were receiving the information, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal found. It was passed to them by firms whose apps – games and other features – operate on Facebook and not by the social networking site itself.

 

19th October   

Purple Spirit...

Facebook speak soothing words about gay hate and bullying
Link Here

Facebook logoFacebook is working with a gay-advocacy group to reduce the amount of hate speech and bullying on the online social hub.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said it reached out to Facebook last week after Internet bullies flooded a page set up to honor teens who recently killed themselves in response to anti-gay hate.

The page, set up by a Facebook user, asks supporters to wear purple next Wednesday in memory of the teenagers. Purple represents spirit in the rainbow flag that's the symbol of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Facebook said that its policies prohibit hateful content and that it has systems in place to take down such posts as soon as possible. But the company also said it wants its users to be able to express unpopular opinions and as such must strike a careful balance between removing harmful content and letting people speak freely.

 

15th October   

Update: MoneyLeaks...

Pressure being applied to WikiLeaks
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

moneybookers logoThe whistleblowing group WikiLeaks claims that it has had its funding blocked and that it is the victim of financial warfare by the US government.

Moneybookers, a British-registered internet payment company that collects WikiLeaks donations, emailed the organisation to say it had closed down its account because it had been put on an official US watchlist and on an Australian government blacklist.

The apparent blacklisting came a few days after the Pentagon publicly expressed its anger at WikiLeaks and its founder, Australian citizen Julian Assange, for obtaining thousands of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, in one of the US army's biggest leaks of information. The documents caused a sensation when they were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and German magazine Der Spiegel, revealing hitherto unreported civilian casualties.

WikiLeaks defied Pentagon calls to return the war logs and destroy all copies. Instead, it has been reported that it intends to release an even larger cache of military documents, disclosing other abuses in Iraq.

Moneybookers moved against WikiLeaks on 13 August, according to the correspondence, less than a week after the Pentagon made public threats of reprisals against the organisation. Moneybookers wrote to Assange: Following an audit of your account by our security department, we must advise that your account has been closed … to comply with money laundering or other investigations conducted by government authorities.

 

14th October   

Little Reason...

Internet censor justifies 'I Hate Ryanair' domain removal over a tiny income
Link Here

i hate ryanair logoA website set up to criticise Ryanair has been shut down by an internet censor on a technicality about earning the owner a small sum of money.

The founder of IHateRyanair.co.uk – whose strapline was The World's Most Hated Airline – was forced to surrender the web address after the budget carrier complained to the domain name dispute resolution service.

The UK internet domain controller Nominet, ruled that the stinging criticism and passenger horror stories published on the site were not sufficient grounds for it to be scrapped. I Hate Ryanair website ...HOWEVER... it ruled that a small profit made by Robert Tyler from sponsored links on the site meant he abused domain name rules.

Disgruntled passengers' comments have filled the pages of the website since it was set up three years ago by Tyler.

Ryanair complained that the site took unfair advantage of the brand's name and claimed it hosted damaging and defamatory articles including false comments about its safety, maintenance and operating standards.

It featured free links to rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic under the heading Sites we like. From January to May 2010 it also displayed commercial links to third party sites offering travel insurance and foreign currency, which earned Tyler a £322 profit.

Tyler argued that while Ryanair has some goodwill and reputation in legal terms, it has also built up substantial dissatisfaction over its services. It has become synonymous with trying to obtain maximum money from customers using unappealing revenue generating techniques, he added.

Nominet Adjudicator Jane Seager claimed the links to third party websites that earned Tyler money were problematic. [He] only earned money because of the traffic to the website, and such traffic must have been influenced by the domain name.

Tyler had effectively taken unfair advantage of Ryanair's rights in order to gain a financial advantage and therefore should forfeit the domain name, she said.

The website has now found a new home at www.IHateRyanair.org

 

7th October   

Censorial.ly...

Libya revokes domain of vb.ly link shortening service
Link Here

violet blue vblyThe Libyan government has removed an adult-friendly link-shortening service from the web, saying that it fell foul of local laws.

It could have an impact on similar services registered in Libya.

The website vb.ly was revoked and the site taken offline by NIC.ly, the body that controls Libyan web addresses.

Co-founder of vb.ly Ben Metcalfe warned that other ly domains are being deregistered and removed without warning. We eventually discovered that the domain has been seized because the content of our website, in their opinion, fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.

URL shortening is a technique that allows users to significantly condense often long web addresses to more manageable and memorable links. The Libyan crackdown could come as a blow to other url shortening services such as bit.ly, which is particularly popular on Twitter where all messages have to be limited to 140 characters.

Alaeddin ElSharif from NIC.ly told vb.ly co-founder Violet Blue that a picture of her on the website had sparked the removal: I think you'll agree that a picture of a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand isn't what most would consider decent or family friendly.

 

6th October   

No Pressure...

Climate change campaign film blown out of all proportion
Link Here

no pressure videoA short film scripted by leading British comedy screenwriter Richard Curtis on behalf of the 10:10 environmental campaign achieved the dubious distinction of becoming one of the more short-lived propaganda tools designed to help save humanity after it was withdrawn following complaints about its graphic scenes of exploding climate change refuseniks.

The four-minute video was taken down from the 10:10 website and plans to distribute it to cinemas were ripped up after members of the public and key backers of the campaign, including the charity ActionAid, said they were appalled by its portrayal of zealous greenhouse gas activists using a red button to blow up reluctant supporters, such as the actress Gillian Anderson and former footballer David Ginola.

Fox News Psychologist Sees Red

Based on article from foxnews.com

A British television advertisement to promote the 10:10 climate change campaign to reduce carbon emissions has created a psychologically traumatizing series of commercials, which show how violent the environmental movement could become.

This series of advertisements is a window on the souls of Mr. Curtis, his partners and the 10:10 initiative. It defines them as a group that must believe, somewhere deep inside them, for real, that those who do not agree with their ideas should be annihilated. It discloses that they are so committed to their environmental/political beliefs that they might actually condone the murder of children and adults if it were to further their cause.

If this were a series of videos showing people being blown up for not believing in God, there would be a campaign to shut down the organization promulgating the videos. It would be a very healthy thing for a campaign to be launched to shut down the 10:10 initiative. We have names for mass murderers (at heart), posing as change agents: terrorists, Nazis and psychopaths. They're good names because they tell us what we might have to lose if we lose our right of free speech to the likes of the folks who made and distributed these videos.

Mr. Curtis and the 10:10 campaign have done psychological injury to anyone young who sees these ads, because it will be hard for that child to dismiss the association between speaking his or her mind and being butchered. If this man makes a film, I will not see it. If there is a campaign to shut down the organization with which he works, I will donate my money and time. If there's one thing we should have learned in our long history of defending liberty, it is to not doubt the presence of its enemies among us.

 

28th September   

Googling for Word Associations...

Damages for libelous search suggestions
Link Here

google france logoA French court has found Google guilty of libel after a man's name was linked to several unflattering words, including rape and Satanist in the search suggestions.

A Paris tribunal ordered Google to pay one euro of damages and 5,000 euros of costs to the plaintiff for public defamation.

The plaintiff sued Google after the tools Google Suggest and Related Searches linked the words rape , sentenced , Satanist , prison , rapist to his name.

In February he was given a three-year suspended sentence for the corruption of a minor.

A Google spokeswoman told Reuters that his company is planning to appeal the decision.

 

25th September   

Update: Gaining Face...

Canadian privacy commissioner pleased by Facebook changes
Link Here  full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy

Facebook logoThe Canadian privacy commissioner is happy with changes made by Facebook, following an investigation of the site's policies last year.

Jennifer Stoddart said the social network had vastly improved the sharing of personal information with third-party developers.

She believes that Facebook now provides users with clear information about privacy policies.

In May the social network made wide-ranging changes to its site. These changes came about partly as a result of pressure from privacy commissioners and campaigners around the world.

One of the major concerns of the Canadian commissioner was the way Facebook gave third-party developers virtually unrestricted access to Facebook users' personal information. The new model means developers must inform users of the data they need and seek consent to use it.

We're also pleased that Facebook has developed simplified privacy settings and has implemented a tool that allows users to apply a privacy setting to each photo or comment they post, said Stoddart.

 

24th September   

Update: Dangerous Talk...

Double suicide linked to encouragement on internet forum
Link Here  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

geric intert forumUsers of a website who helped a stranger couple commit suicide have been warned they face up to 14 years in jail.

Joanne Lee and truck driver Steve Lumb were found dead in a Vauxhall Astra parked alongside an area of overgrown wasteland on an industrial estate. They had gassed themselves after meeting just hours earlier after making contact on the internet.

It has emerged that Miss Lee, who used the user name Heaven's Little Girl, received advice and encouragement on a German hosted internet forum in the days leading up to her death.

Cyber friends had given her tips on how to successfully kill herself and expressed their sorrow that she had failed to end her life on previous suicide attempts.

Miss Lee had written: I haven't the strength to do this alone. I have all the ingredients and want to do it ASAP. You should... be willing to pick me up when it is time to (kill myself). If you are "very" serious, please email me .

Answering the advert Lumb then drove 200 miles to Braintree, Essex, and shortly after the pair were dead.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed that anyone who promotes or encourages suicide on a website could face prosecution and jail. She added that even if no suicide attempts take place as a result of the information, the author could still be found guilty of an offence.

The law was amended last year to deal with cases such as these. It reads:

Under section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 (as amended by section 59 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009) it is an offence to do an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person with the intention to so encourage or assist.

The person committing the offence need not know the other person or even be able to identify them.

Brooks Newmark, Conservative MP for Braintree, Essex, said: We need to do far more to deal with these suicide websites which unfortunately lead to tragedies like this. It's not a question of more regulation but of better regulation and also figuring out how we can close down websites such as these.

 

22nd September   

Transparency Report...

Google shows counts of government requests to block or takedown data
Link Here

google transparency Google has lately found itself on the receiving end of criticism from privacy and transparency advocates. But with two new tools, Google is trying to convince them that the company is on their side.

Google has introduced a new tool called the Transparency Report. It publishes where and when Internet traffic to Google sites is blocked, and the blockages are annotated with details when possible. For instance, the tool shows that YouTube has been blocked in Iran since the disputed presidential election in June 2009.

The Transparency Report will also be the home for Google's government requests tool, a map that shows every time a government has asked Google to take down or hand over information, and what percentage of the time Google has complied. Google introduced it in April and updates it every six months. Government requests could be court orders to remove hateful content or a subpoena to pass along information about a Google user.

The transparency project was the brainchild of engineers during their 20 percent time, the time that Google allots for people to work on their own projects.

Google Explains

See Transparency Report from google.com

Transparency is a core value at Google. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we maximize transparency around the flow of information related to our tools and services. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.

We've created an interactive map of Government Requests that shows the number of government inquiries for information about users and requests for Google to take down or censor content. We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.

Our interactive Traffic graphs provide information about traffic to Google services around the world. Each graph shows historic traffic patterns for a given country/region and service. By illustrating outages, this tool visualizes disruptions in the free flow of information, whether it's a government blocking information or a cable being cut. We hope this raw data will help facilitate studies about service outages and disruptions.

UK censorship requests

See Government Requests from google.com

Interesting to see that the UK is predictably high up the list of state censors. Second to none in terns of data requests and only behind Brazil and Libya in terms of blocking requests

1343 data requests.
48 removal requests, for a total of 232 items 62.5% of removal requests fully or partially complied with.

  • Blogger
    • 1 court orders to remove content
    • 1 items requested to be removed
  • Video
    • 3 court orders to remove content
    • 32 items requested to be removed
  • Groups
    • 1 court orders to remove content
    • 1 items requested to be removed
  • Web Search
    • 8 court orders to remove content
    • 144 items requested to be removed
  • YouTube
    • 6 court orders to remove content
    • 29 non-court order requests to remove content
    • 54 items requested to be removed

 

20th September   

Offsite: Skinbook Closed...

Nudist social networking site doesn't take off
Link Here

skinbook logotwo years ago Karl Maddocks created Skinbook, a website that claimed to be the world's largest nudist social network. Thousands of people have flocked to the site that has many of the same features and functions as Facebook — except everyone on it was naked.

Skinbook saw itself as a safe haven for those intrigued about stripping off in public, but without having to meet the strict regulations of many nudist clubs. It did have some rules though. Blank profiles were not accepted, or overtly sexual chatter. The site claims to have had 150,000 applicants but only 10% made the grade.

But now the Skinbook experiment seems to have come to a bitter end.

As a network set up to be apart from the existing naturist and nudist organizations, Skinbook BY DESIGN was divisive. In a Time Magazine article, which claimed that Skinbook was the only genuine nudist social network, Maddocks is quoted as being repulsed bysingle elderly guys in sandals and socks , clearly drawing some sort of line in the sand between young and old, labeling existing nudist resorts as being cultish and weird .

In addition, Skinbook only accepted 10% of its applicants, certainly rejecting a lot of real nudists. One has to speculate whether or not their membership, which they claimed averaged between 35 and 40 years of age, was deliberately skewed by the administrators.

...Read the full article

 

19th September   

Update: Privacy Aware...

Diaspora, a social network website, personally controlled by users
Link Here

diaspora logoDevelopers have been given their first glimpse of a community-funded and open alternative to Facebook.

Diaspora describes itself as a privacy-aware, personally-controlled social network.

It was conceived earlier this year by four US students during a period when Facebook came under fire for its privacy settings.

The open-source project has now released its first code to developers and also published screenshots.

This is now a community project and development is open to anyone with the technical expertise who shares the vision of a social network that puts users in control, the team said in a blog.

Many of the features shown on the site will be familiar to people already on social networks such as Facebook, including the ability to share messages, photos and status updates. The team said they are currently working to integrate the site with Facebook and to make it easy for people to take control of and move their personal data.

They aim to launch the first public product in October.

 

18th September   

Update: Facing the Other Way...

Facebook bans pages supporting Iranian stoning victim
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Facebook logoMaryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi, have had their pages on Facebook disabled.

Both were campaigning to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from being stoned to death in Iran.

Maryam and Mina have asked for support in their campaign to get their Facebook pages reinstated.

ICAS' Abbas Goya has started a campaign on Facebook itself.

Update: One Restored, One to Go

22nd September 2010. From Maryam Namazie

By the way, Facebook had disabled Mina and my accounts recently right before the 18 September day of action for Sakineh and against stoning. After many letters of protest from supporters, and an open letter to Facebook founders by a number of well-known personalities, my account has been enabled again, though Mina's has not. Please keep writing to Facebook until they enable her account as well.

 

16th September   

Offsite: Faceless Censors...

Facebook fudges policy in page-purging pickle
Link Here

Facebook logoFacebook yesterday vigorously denied suggestions that it responds selectively to complaints, or that it favours the blocking of politically progressive links over the slightly more reactionary. Still, there are red faces today at Facebook Central over the strange and divergent fate of two controversial pages.

...Read the full article

 

16th September   

Offsite: Flagged After the Horse Has Bolted...

YouTube Live Unfiltered: Good Idea, Bad Idea?
Link Here

youtube live logoSteve-O, best known for his work on the MTV show Jackass, has a history of doing stunts bordering on the obscene or inappropriate in front of the camera. He even broadcast his downward spiral of cocaine usage once on YouTube, in a chilling video. So who thought it was a good idea to put him in front of the camera in an online video segment testing Google's new YouTube Live service on Monday?

...Read the full article

 

13th September   

Offsite: American Values...

Is US prudishness ruining the internet?
Link Here

Facebook logoIs US dominance of the internet – and particularly of the social networking space – leading to the export of US prudery across the globe? Or is the growing debate on international censorship a little more complicated?

As Becky Dwyer, a US citizen and, as member of CAAN Scotland, a campaigner for less censorship in the UK put it: Isn't this more about American Corporations forcing conformity upon private individuals rather than 'American' values?

...Read the full article

 

11th September   

Instant Censorship...

Google instant (sensibly) bans porn terms from being predicted from partially typed words
Link Here

Google logoThe Web is buzzing about Google's latest advancement, Google Instant, which doesn't even wait for the user to click the search button after typing a query. It simply goes straight to the page by predicting what you will type, as you type it.

However, it's been discovered that the autocomplete excludes certain terms related to pornography, violence and hate speech, according to Google. The feature also happens to exclude the words bisexual and lesbian while allowinghomosexual, gay, queer, dyke, transvestite, and transgender to be searchable instantly.

A petition at Change.org urges the search engine giant to reverse the censorship, as the terms are not exclusive to pornography.

Google's FAQ

Based on article from google.com

Q: If an offensive or lewd word is a fraction of my query, will Google push these results in front of me as I type?

A: As always, we provide options to filter the content you see in search. You can choose to set SafeSearch to filter out explicit content, and parents can lock SafeSearch to the strict setting. In addition, autocomplete excludes certain terms related to pornography, violence and hate speech.

 

10th September   

Prudes to Censor Internet Advertising...

Can't we chuck the ASA on the bonfire, too?
Link Here

Spiked logoWe don't need a prudish and unaccountable watchdog to decide how products and services are presented to us.

The Lib-Con chancellor George Osborne has announced a bonfire of the quangos with a wide range of bureaucratic, regulatory bodies being scaled back or biting the dust. Even media and telecoms regulator Ofcom is facing significant cuts. One body bucking this trend, however, is the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which will be recruiting new staff to police vast swathes of the internet previously outside of the watchdog's remit.

For the ASA, the internet is better described as the Wild West Web .

This is now changing. Apparently, in response to a formal recommendation from a wide cross-section of UK industry , the ASA will now extend its coverage to all marketing communications emanating from the UK online, including advertising on Facebook and Twitter as well as the websites of companies and organisations of all sizes. Even members of the public could be censured online if it is found that they have been asked by companies to partake in marketing initiatives. It will be – in the words of ASA chairman Chris Smith -the most comprehensive approach to the regulation of advertising in website space anywhere in the world .

...Read the full article

 

2nd September   

Up Against the Facebook Wall...

Philippines president takes a hammering on Facebook
Link Here

president benigno aquinoA hostage drama in the Philippines on August 23, 2010 tested the patience and tolerance of the Philippine government, particularly newly installed President BenignoNoynoy Aquino III.

The hostage crisis and the alleged mishandling of the entire situation was seen by almost everyone which illicited various reactions. The question is, where will they air their grievances and disappointments? Where else but to use the world's most popular social networking site to date - Facebook.

President Aquino created his Facebook page to promote transparency, but now angry netizens and President Aquino detractors are flooding the page with negative comments, strong language and insults.

And because of the barrage of negative posts, President Benigno Aquino or whoever is in-charge of this page censored his Facebook page after users ignored an appeal to stop bashing the Philippine government.

His Facebook account is followed by 1.9 million readers.

 

27th August   

Update: Constitutional Challenge...

Wikileaks may cause US to reassess balance between free speech and security
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

supreme court logoUS supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor has said the court is likely to have to rule on the issue of balancing national security and freedom of speech due to WikiLeaks posting a cache of US military records about the Afghan war.

Sotomayor said the incident, which has been condemned by the Pentagon, was likely to provoke legislation in Congress that would require judicial scrutiny.

Her comments came in response to a question about security and free speech by a student at Denver university. The judge said she could not answer because that question is very likely to come before me . She said the incident, and others, are going to provoke legislation that's already being discussed in Congress, and so some of it is going to come up before [the supreme court] .

Sotomayor said the balance between national security and free speech is a constant struggle in this society, between our security needs and our first amendment rights, and one that has existed throughout our history.

 

27th August   

Just Say Now...

Face book bans marijuana leaf from political campaign advert
Link Here

facebook banned advert An ad, which depicted a marijuana leaf, began running on Aug. 7. Just over a week later, Facebook pulled it, saying the image violated its policy against promoting smoking.

Organizers at Just Say Now, a bipartisan coalition fighting to legalize and regulate marijuana just like alcohol, said they spent roughly $5,000 on the ads, which received about 38 million views in the week they ran.

Michael Whitney, the group's online campaign director, said Facebook's move is akin to striking a candidate's face from his posters while he's running for office. Marijuana legalization is on the ballot this November in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and South Dakota.

We are talking about free political speech, Whitney said. We aren't encouraging people to do anything illegal.

Facebook said they have no problem with Just Say Now advertising on its pages as long as it uses a different image, Andrew Noyes, the manager of Facebook's public policy communications, said in an e-mail to The New York Times.

The image of a marijuana leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies, he said, adding that Facebook does not permit images of drugs, drug paraphernalia or tobacco in any advertisements.

Just Say Now began its campaign earlier this month, arguing that legalizing marijuana would reduce crime at the border and could yield an additional $40 billion in revenue annually.

Update: Leaf claim just a fig leaf

26th September 2010. See article from fdlaction.firedoglake.com

After the social network banned our ads last month for showing a marijuana leaf, we decided to play by their rules and not show leafs in our ads. So we submitted ads to Facebook for our Just Say now store, but blurred out the pot leafs so you couldn't see the obviously offensive plant leaf.

Not good enough, said Facebook. Even though we complied with Facebook's censorship of pot leafs, all of our ads were rejected. And the rejection came with some blatantly false statements, and a harsh warning.

The content advertised by this ad is restricted per section 5 of Facebook's Advertising Guidelines. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads of this type. Ads for this product, service or site should not be resubmitted.

Facebook is making yet another political decision to ban Just Say Now from advertising our campaign for marijuana legalization on the social networking site.

 

25th August   

Name and Shame...

Software that recognises and names photos posted on the internet
Link Here

face recognition softwareA software company is developing revolutionary software which provides the ability to identify people from photographs posted on the internet.

Face.com has produced technology that can identify individuals on social networking sites and online galleries by comparing their image against a known picture of them.

It means detailed profiles of individuals can be built up purely from online photographs and critics have said it could lead to exploitation by employers.

The software works be creating an algorithim of the face - a measurement of the arrangement of features including the eyes, nose and mouth.

The company says it is 90 per cent accurate when scanning typical images which appear on social networking sites.

Face.com has previously limited the availability of the software over concerns about invasion of privacy. But it has now released the Photo Finder software to developers building applications allowing people to search for anyone on the internet.

Gil Hirsch, chief executive of Face.com, told The Sunday Times: We have launched a service that allows developers to take our facial recognition technology and apply it immediately to their own applications. The technology is already being used by 5,000 developers. You can basically search for people in any photo. You could search for family members on Flickr, in newspapers, or in videos on YouTube - but it would take a lot of processing power.

 

20th August   

Update: Intrigue...

Wikileaks publishes encrypted file for insurance against prosecution
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Wikileaks A novel use of encryption by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks could challenge the legal system for years to come, according to an influential observer of the hacking community.

Emmanuel Goldstein, editor of 2600 The Hacker Quarterly magazine, made his comments in reference to an encrypted file recently posted on the Wikileaks site.

Some suspect the file - as yet unopened - contains further sensitive material. It has been reposted around the web and is available for anyone to download.

Wikileaks recently published 76,000 secret US military logs detailing military actions in Afghanistan; an act the US authorities described as highly irresponsible. The website now says it will release 15,000 further sensitive documents, once it has completed a review aimed at minimising the risk that the release could put people's lives in danger.

The release of the logs has led many to wonder what action the US might take against Wikileaks. Now it seems the site may be using encryption as insurance against legal and other threats to the information it holds.

The insurance.aes256 file has been posted alongside the already published leaked war logs and can be downloaded by anyone. Leaked video of July 2007 helicopter attack in Baghdad Some have speculated that the insurance file is another video

From the file name, it is believed that it has been encrypted using the AES256 algorithm - described as extremely strong by Professor Whitfield Diffie, of the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway University, London. Prof Diffie believes that AES256, which he says has been extensively studied could prove too tough even for US intelligence agencies to break.

While no-one knows what the insurance file contains, this has not prevented the contents becoming a matter of considerable speculation. Some suspect that the file contains a further leaked US military video, others that it is another tranche of US military logs - perhaps this time from Iraq. Or it could just be an imaginative bluff.

 

20th August   

On by Default...

Facebook kindly adds a facility to relay your location to busy bodies, stalkers, burglars and state snoopers
Link Here

Facebook logoFacebook Places , which will launch in the US only at first, will allow users to check in at a location

Facebook app Facebook Places is a location based service allowing users to share their location. The new tool is bound to spark criticism from data privacy campaigners.

The feature allows users to check in at locations which will then be shared with their friends and Facebook network but it is likely to raise concerns over safety. Users will also be able to browse shops, clubs and nearby venues to see which friends are nearby, leading to concerns it could put individual's security at risk.

What we see with Facebook is a massive learning curve. Every time they make a change, consumers scramble to figure out the privacy settings, said Rainey Reitman, spokeswoman for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in the US. Location data is tied to people's safety – if people know where you are, they know where you're not. Your location data is some of the most sensitive data we have. I expect we'll see from the get-go people who don't understand how to control the privacy settings.

The service will launch in the US only at first. Reitman said users should be particularly judicious about who they accept as friends, and be aware that even information shared with an intimate network could be copied and pasted elsewhere. Don't post anything online you wouldn't want to get out publicly to anyone.

Yang said protections include notifying a user as soon as they are tagged at a place, and offering a complete opt-out of places tags. Users under 18 can only share location with their immediate friends network and their real-time location will only be seen by friends at the same location.

Critics will note that once a user decides to check in at a location, the primary location setting is switched on by default, which means any places tags automatically being shared with immediate friends. But the service does offer a range of protections and controls including the option to detag locations, notifications if friends add your location and the option to disable Places entirely.

Widespread smartphone take-up has allowed location services such as Foursquare and Gowalla to flourish. Facebook has been watching the development of these services, which are setting up a steady stream of promotions and prizes with venues and retailers to reward loyal customers who check in regularly.

Initially available as an update to Facebook's app for Apple iPhone, updated apps for BlackBerry, Android and other handsets are expected in the next few months. A version will also launch for the UK.

 

14th August   

Troll Abuse...

Facebook to automatically reject messages identified as trolling
Link Here

Facebook logoFacebook, the social networking site, has pledged to develop new security measures to combat a growing surge in cyber bullying and abuse by strangers.

Engineers at Facebook are reportedly working on new systems to fight the trend of trolling , where anonymous online users bombard victims with offensive messages or abuse.

Reports have claimed a growing number of tribute pages had been targeted including those in memory of the Cumbria shootings victims and soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

At present users can only manually delete abusive messages. But in efforts to combat the growing trend, Facebook officials said they were working on new systems that automatically delete abuse.

Administrators of such sites will also be given new advice on how to cope with trolls and be given access to the new tools.

A Facebook spokesman said that: Users who send lots of messages to non-friends, for example, or whose friend requests are rejected at a high rate, are marked as suspect. We've built extensive grey lists that prevent users from signing up with names commonly associated with fake accounts.

Through the reporting process our team is also able to identify additional accounts using the same IP address so it is possible in certain situations to proactively remove multiple fake accounts.

 

11th August   

Update: No Liberty at Facebook...

Facebook takes down topless Statue of Liberty picture
Link Here

statue of liberty go toplessGoTopLess.org is calling for a public protest after an image at the organization's Facebook page depicting the Statue of Liberty with bare breasts was removed by Facebook staff. The disputed image was a photo of a painting by GoTopless member Donna Grabow.

The incident began when GoTopLess president Nadine Gary received an e-mail from Facebook staff on July 18 explaining the reason for the photo's removal. It read, in part:

You uploaded a picture to 'NEW YORK National Go Topless Day: A March for Women's Equal Rights! AUG 22 that violates our Terms of Use, and this picture has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use.

Brigitte Boisselier said:

I'm asking all my friends on Facebook and those who believe in equal rights for men and women to post the picture that was taken down, Boisselier said. Some frustrated individuals can't see a nipple without freaking out or feeling offended, but we've already had enough discrimination against the female body. I'm asking all women on Facebook to stand for equal topless rights by posting this photo to their own pages. And I'm also asking all men who can appreciate a female body without feeling guilty to do the same.

The female chest is beautiful and children shouldn't be told it's sinful to look at it. That sort of repression causes frustration and guilt that they will experience as adults, which is such a ridiculous waste. Bare female breasts are seen on all European beaches at this time of year, but as far as I know, incidence of rape and other sexually violent incidents is lower in Europe than in America.

Artist Grabow agrees that Facebook's action was discriminatory and wrong.

Censorship of this painting denies freedom of speech and expression and reflects American prudishness, she said. What's funny is that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French government, and all the French people I know smile when they see this feminized painting. In fact, Europeans just laugh when they learn that Facebook is censoring innocent images like this one. After all, images of nude statues are displayed everywhere else without protest, including in school books.

 

11th August   

Update: Dangerous Leaks...

Wikileaks asked to delete civilian names from disclosed Afghanistan war reports
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Wikileaks Wikileaks has been urged by human rights groups to censor previously secret files on the Afghanistan war to protect civilians who have worked alongside the US and other foreign forces from reprisals.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and three other groups have sent a series of emails to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange calling for the names of Afghan civilians to be removed from the 77,000 classified military documents published by the online whistle-blower last month, and from any documents disclosed in the future.

Nader Nadery, of the commission said: There was no consideration about civilian lives , noting a rise in assassinations of Afghan civilians seen as government collaborators.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, the Open Society Institute and the International Crisis Group have also been involved in exchanges about the released documents.

A WikiLeaks spokesman said the group had requested help from NATO to check the files prior to publication to ensure the lives of civilians were not put at risk: For this reason, we conveyed a request to the White House prior to the publication, asking that the International Security Assistance Force provide us with reviewers, he said. That request remains open. However, the Pentagon has stated that it is not interested in 'harm minimization' and has not contacted us, directly, or indirectly to discuss this offer.

 

29th July   

Update: List Mania...

Apple occupy 3 places in the top 10 of nutters and censors
Link Here

Blonde Wet Complete Story ebook Apple has been accused of censoring its iBookstore chart after the top ten list became dominated by pornographic short stories.

One day the best-selling ebook was Blonde and Wet: The Complete Story , a pornographic novella by author Carl East, whose downloadable books filled three places in the top ten list.

But the next day the list had suddenly changed and was topped by The Perfect Murder , a whodunnit novella.

Apple's apparent coyness at the literary tastes of its readership may be a reflection of sensibilities in the US.

Carl East, a 54-year-old amateur author from Hull, has been shocked by the success of his pornographic fiction. He has written more than 70 titles, including the Confessions of a Nymphomaniac series, which sell for as little as 49p each.

Three of his short books were at first, second and seventh in the top ten before they were apparently pulled by Apple.

'Experts' have said that it is likely that East's books are so popular on the iPad because people can download them without the embarrassment of buying a book in a conventional shop.

An Apple spokesperson said the firm had no comment to make.

 

20th July   

Updated: Obligatory Blogetery Block...

73,000 blogs taken down by US authorities
Link Here

bgetery logoBlogetery.com, a little-known WordPress platform used by more than 70,000 blogs, was shut down by its Web hosting company more than a week ago and nobody seems willing to say why or who is responsible.

BurstNet, the Web-hosting company, informed Blogetery's operator that service was terminated at the request of some law enforcement agency but wouldn't say which one. As for the reason, BurstNet hasn't made that clear either. In an e-mail to Blogetery's operator, BurstNet managers did say that they had little choice but to terminate service.

Please note that this was not a typical case in which suspension and notification would be the norm, BurstNet wrote to Blogetery's operator. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.

Initially commentators suspected that perhaps file sharing issues were behind the take down but this was denied.  In an interview, a BurstNet spokesman declined to identify the law enforcement agency that ordered Blogetery shut down or provide the reason but did say that it had nothing to do with copyright violations.

BurstNet hinted at something more serious in a forum article from webhostingtalk.com .

In repose to a refund request and a dump of Blogetery data, BurstNet wrote: [This] should be the least of his concerns. Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot.

Update: Inspire

20th July 2010. Based on article from news.cnet.com

inspire magazine More details are surfacing about why Blogetery.com, a blogging platform that claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, was mysteriously booted from the Internet by its Web-hosting company.

The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of Burst.net, Blogetery's Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery's servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for Burst.net, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that the material allegedly found on Blogetery's server is connected to an online magazine called Inspire , which debuted recently. Numerous news outlets reported over the past weekend that Inspire is designed to help recruit new members to al-Qaeda. According to Fox News, the title of one article was Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.

Citing intelligence sources, Fox reported that Khan is Web savvy and his magazine represents al-Qaeda's most ambitious terrorist recruitment tool to date.

 

19th July   

In the Poo...

Coca Cola takedown Facebook campaign over scat reference
Link Here

Dr Pepper 12 x 355ml Coca-Cola has been forced to pull an internet campaign after parents accused the company of using hardcore pornographic references to target children on Facebook.

A Facebook promotion for Dr Pepper, part of the Coca-Cola drinks range, posted a reference to a notorious pornographic film on the wall of an underage girl.

As part of the promotion, users allowed the company to hijack their Facebook status box, posting apparently embarrassing messages under their names.

More than 160,000 people signed up for the hoax statuses, which included: Lost my special blankie. How will I go sleepies? and What's wrong with peeing in the shower?

But the marketing drive backfired when a parent complained that her 14-year-old daughter's hijacked status claimed that she had watched a hardcore pornographic film which is notorious for the obscene practices it depicts. The status referred to the film by name, and the mother said she was particularly distressed after finding that her daughter had subsequently searched for it on the internet.

[The reference is to 'Two Girls One Cup' which is an extreme scat thing. It seems quite well known in the social networking world, more as a foil for reaction than any hint of the real thing. Eg there are YouTube videos of people watching the unseen porn video and reacting nauseously. This information seems to have been omitted from the newspaper articles on the story].

Rickman wrote on the parents' networking site Mumsnet: I am absolutely fizzing with rage and disgust, and want a full apology and explanation. Other Mumsnet users reacted furiously to news of the disgusting promotion, and praised Rickman for bringing it to light.

Coca-Cola has since apologised and announced an investigation into its promotion procedures. Executives said they had approved the offending message without realising its true meaning.

 

12th July   

Updated: Midwest American Puritanism...

Facebook easily offended by porcelain nipples
Link Here

jeweller advertSydney jeweller Victoria Buckley has lashed out at Midwest American puritanism on Facebook after the social networking site threatened action against her for having pictures of nude porcelain dolls on her fan page.

The dolls are pictured posing with the jeweller's products and feature in posters that form part of Buckley's visual merchandising displays in her George Street store windows.

Buckley was bombarded by warnings from Facebook, which said the pictures of the dolls constituted inappropriate content and breached the site's terms of service. The high-end porcelain figures show little more than nipples.

The frustrated Buckley told Jeweller: It just takes one click from one Midwest American puritan and the whole [online marketing campaign] gets taken down. Facebook has removed the offending images from her fan page, but Buckley has posted them on a new Facebook group called Save Ophelia - exquisite doll censored by Facebook .

Buckley told Jeweller: I don't care if they close this group down but I do care if they close my fan page down.

On the Save Ophelia page, she says: I feel I have a right to photograph my jewellery with Ophelia [the doll] as I see fit. Facebook disagrees with this, because, even if hundreds of people appreciate what you do, it only takes ONE complaint to have the whole thing taken down.

Update: Facebook Apologies

12th July 2010. Based on article from smh.com.au

Facebook logoA Sydney jeweller has castigated Facebook for its opaque and arbitrary moderation system after the site apologised for censoring her images of a nude porcelain doll posing with her works.

The social networking site admitted that it had made a mistake in removing Victoria Buckley's photos, after last week sending her several warning notices for publishing inappropriate content and erasing both censored and uncensored versions of the image from Facebook.

We've investigated this further and determined that we made a mistake in removing these photos, Facebook said in a statement: Our User Operations team reviews thousands of reported photos a day and may occasionally remove something that doesn't actually violate our policies. This is what happened here. And while we believe the doll would benefit from clothing to protect her fair skin, we apologise for the mistake and encourage Victoria Buckley Jewellery to upload these photos again if they so choose.

 

11th July   

Update: Selling Cyber Arms to China...

France and Netherlands question IT equipment sales to internet censors
Link Here

france netherlandsFrance and the Netherlands have called for international guidelines to prevent private firms from exporting high-tech equipment that could be used for Internet censorship.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said there must be concrete measures taken to ensure that the Internet remains a universal forum and singled out Iran for blocking access to anti-government websites.

We must support cyber-dissidents in the same way that we supported political dissidents, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a meeting in Paris attended by some 20 countries including the United States and Japan.

France and the Netherlands plan to hold a ministerial-level meeting in October to flesh out the guidelines for firms who sell technology that could be used to suppress democracy.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has accused German engineering giant Siemens and Finnish telecoms firm Nokia of supplying Iran with technology to help it suppress dissent. The firms have denied the charges.

Jean-Francois Julliard, from the media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF, accused French phone equipment provider Alcatel of selling bugging equipment to Myanmar. He also singled out networking giant Cisco for allegedly selling encoders to China.

 

8th July   

Spin Wind Up...

SpinProfiles website taken down unduly quickly by hosting company
Link Here

spinwatch logo Anyone looking for the website SpinProfiles – uncovering the dark corners of PR and raising questions about lobbying – will have had a harder time finding it recently. And why? Because it was virtually shut down by its web firm, 1&1 Internet.

And why did that happen? Because it posted what has become a controversial profile of Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, rightwing thinktanker and son of the famed journalist Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens didn't like it. More than that, he didn't like the location. SpinProfiles and sister site Spinwatch are run by Professor David Miller, who also has a site called Neocon Europe. Hitchens says that his profile appeared on that site in pretty unsavoury company, and thus he didn't want to be featured on any website owned by Prof Miller.

He asked for the profile to be taken down – but here's the thing: he doesn't say anything in it was defamatory, and furthermore he says he never sought to have the site shut down. 1&1 took it upon themselves to remove the site after Spinwatch refused to remove my profile, Hitchens told us.

1&1 says it acted within the agreed rules following complaints to protect its legal position. But the upshot is that a site came down because someone featured there raised an objection. Even the complainant didn't ask for that.

So much for the brave new world.

Reply: Spinwatch must offer right of reply

15th July 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

David Miller's Spinwatch websites exploit free speech and those profiled, as I was, should be able to disassociate themselves

On Cif last week, David Miller wrote a piece complaining that I had his website, SpinProfiles, shut down. As his article argues, he does indeed have the right to free speech, but this is not a one-way street, and the people who his projects target have a right to object to witch-hunts and harassment.

...Read the full article

 

6th July   

Not Worth a Foot...

Lebanon Facebook users arrested over trivial insult of president
Link Here

Lebanon flagLebanon's president, Michel Sleiman, may have more than 60,000 Facebook fans, but it took the opinions of just three people for things to get unfriendly. The three  were arrested for allegedly defaming the president on the social networking website.

There is currently no specific law governing the publication of online content in Lebanon. People can – and do – say what they want across a variety of networking sites. However, it is a crime to criticise the president of the republic, as his position supposedly represents the entire country. Knock Sleiman and you knock Lebanon.

The barbs, some of which were reposted on Sleiman's official page, were not particularly caustic. You're worth my foot, as one commenter wrote, is hardly a fierce indictment of Sleiman's presidency. Similarly, you're like a snake; all you do is from under the table, should not ruffle a man hardened by a career spent in the Lebanese army. If these are the worst jibes he has to endure, Sleiman can consider his political life charmed. The accusation that Sleiman was the king of racism and sectarianism probably grated harder.

The three young men have now been charged but released on bail.

The arrests are the first to be linked to online comments and while it was a state prosecutor who initiated the judicial proceedings, the president has been kept abreast of all developments. Sleiman, who after all has the power of pardon, said he could not allow such comments to go unpunished, labelling them an abuse of freedom .

 

2nd July   

Arse Licking to Complainants...

Arbitrary censorship on Facebook
Link Here

bride of prideElaine Miller says she can't understand how the image of a woman's panty-clad ass can be considered offensive, but Facebook pulled the photo and sent her a warning.

I don't think much of censorship, says Miller, a leatherdyke who hosts a variety of BDSM events for queen women in Vancouver.

Miller says Facebook pulled the photo announcing a Bride of Pride play party, then sent her an online warning explaining how she had violated the site's terms of use.

Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group or that contain nudity, drug use, violence or other violations of terms of use, the message informed her.

This policy is enforced in order to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site, the message added.

When asked to explain why this particular photo was removed, a Facebook spokesperson told Xtra: We literally have dozens of content standards, and respond to user reports of inappropriate content. We have a policy against nudity and in such cases, have removed photos that have been flagged to us by Facebook users. The particular photo in question exposes the naked buttocks of a female and violates our terms for appropriate content. When flagged, all reports are closely reviewed and action is taken if photos are deemed offensive.

 

18th June   

Update: Bubble Prick...

Chatroulette to be censored?
Link Here  full story: Chatroulette...Website providing random webcam link ups

ChatRouletteChatroulette has been on the rise since earlier this year, when it suddenly became an international phenomenon. It has been the source of numerous viral videos, but it's also been the source of voyeuristic male masturbators. Currently the company is looking for investors in Russia and the U.S.

However, it looks like the service lost some of its steam in the month of May. According to web analytics firm comScore, U.S. traffic dropped nearly 7% from 1.564 million visitors in April to 1.327 million in May.

While Chatroulette's decline doesn't surprise us, it has to be troubling to Andrey Ternovskiy, Charoulette's 17-year-old founder. He seems to be taking action though, reportedly working on software to weed out the penises that have plagued Chatroulette's reputation.

What is Chatroulette really about, though? Is Chatroulette a social utility for people to meet each other through video? Is it an entertainment tool for groups of friends? Or is it just an anonymous network where anything goes?

These are important questions for Ternovskiy to answer before a turnaround becomes possible. Legitimizing the service by weeding out the genitalia may make it more viable to investors, but it could potentially accelerate its decline, not reverse it. It all depends on how people want to use the service.

 

12th June   

Offsite: Malcontent...

Are porn sites dangerous to visit?
Link Here

isec logoVisitors to porn sites are at serious risk of being exploited by cyber criminals, a study has suggested.

It found that many sites harboured malware or used shady practices to squeeze money out of their visitors.

By creating their own porn sites researchers found that many consumers were vulnerable to known bugs and vulnerabilities.

Competition among porn sites makes the online adult industry ripe for abuse by hi-tech criminals.

They have almost inadvertently created a whole ecosystem that's easy to abuse for cyber crime on a large scale, said Dr Gilbert Wondracek, a computer security expert from the International Secure System Lab, which led the study. Hidden danger

Dr Wondracek said the team embarked on the study to find out the truth of the widely held view that porn sites are dangerous to visit

,,,Read the full article

 

9th June   

Heroes and Villains...

ISPA announce nominations for their Internet Awards
Link Here

ISPA logoISPA, the Internet Service Providers’ Association, has announced the finalists for the 2010 Internet Hero and Internet Villain awards.

The highly-prized Internet Hero award is bestowed upon an organisation or individual who has made a significant contribution to the Internet industry in the past year, whilst the dreaded title of Internet Villain recognises those that ISPA feels have had a negative impact upon the sector.

The winners of the two special awards will be selected from the finalists based on votes by members of the ISPA Council. They will be announced, along with the winners of the twelve other ISPA awards, at a glittering awards ceremony hosted at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square on Thursday 8th July.

Internet Hero – sponsored by Eclipse Internet

  • Bridget Fox - For organising a grass roots challenge to the Digital Economy Bill
  • Data.gov.uk - for showing the value of datasets and how the public can utilise government information
  • Tom Watson MP, and all those who showed up to vote against the DE Bill, for their informed opposition to the Bill
  • Zip It, Block It, Flag It campaign - for focusing on internet safety for parents and young children
  • 38 Degrees Campaign - for mobilising public opposition to the Digital Economy Bill

Internet Villain

  • ACS Law - for their aggressive, heavy-handed approach to targeting alleged copyright infringement via P2P networks
  • The European Commission and the Council of Ministers - for conducting ACTA negotiations in a secretive manner and for failing to engage with stakeholders on an issue that is of vital importance for Europe's digital economy
  • Lord Clement-Jones - for introducing amendment 120a to the Digital Economy Bill without sufficient research or understanding of the consequences
  • Lord Mandelson - for ignoring principles of better regulation to amend an open consultation following lobbying from an interest group
  • UK Parliament - for allowing the Digital Economy Bill to pass through the Commons without proper debate

 

6th June   

Skinbook...

A stripped down nudist version of Facebook
Link Here

skinbook logoKarl Maddocks does not approve of traditional nudists. The 25-year-old from Manchester believes that they have too many rules.

You shouldn't need to fill out application forms and pay fees to clubs, he argues. Just go to the beach and get your kit off.

As a reaction, two years ago Maddocks created Skinbook, a website that claims to be the world's largest nudist social network. Thousands of people have flocked to the site that has many of the same features and functions as Facebook — except everyone on it is naked.

Skinbook sees itself as a safe haven for those intrigued about stripping off in public, but without having to meet the strict regulations of many nudist clubs. It does have some rules though. Blank profiles are not accepted, or overtly sexual chatter. The site claims to have had 150,000 applicants but only 10% make the grade.

The site has quickly gained popularity and is beginning to approach the same size as the country's largest nudist organisation, British Naturism, thought to have about 13,000 members.

Now the site is having its own conference on July 19 in Brighton. Naked spas and beach barbecues will feature along with discussion of the future of the site.

 

1st June   

Nutter Networking...

Euro MP whinges at supposed addiction to social networking websites
Link Here

Facebook logoAn Irish Labour MEP has called for intervention and regulation by the EU for websites like Facebook, which she believes are addictive and hazardous to mental health.

The minister, Nessa Childers, who is also a psychotherapist, said that since the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified, the EU now has increased powers to legislate when there is a threat to public health in Europe .

She claimed that millions of Europeans are at risk of becoming addicted to these kinds of websites, particularly Facebook, which has over 400,000 Irish users alone.

Childers said that visiting Facebook causes intermittent reinforcement , which means that connecting with virtual friends, receiving notices and messages, etc. gives users an unpredictable high, similar to gambling and makes them feel the need to expand to fill an increasingly empty internal world creating a vicious circle. In other words, people are living virtual lives instead of real ones, using social networking to escape the pains and struggles of everyday existence.

Childers said that as a psychotherapist she has seen an increase in addiction to internet pornography, which has ruined lives, and that action is needed at international level from the EU to properly take on the disturbing trend of addiction to sites such as Facebook which are responsible for all sorts of problematic behaviour .

Childers failed to mention exactly what kind of regulations are needed though.

 

28th May   

Taking the Initiative...

The Netherlands and France to develop code of conduct for freedom of the internet
Link Here

france netherlandsThe Netherlands and France are taking the initiative to develop an international code of conduct for the freedom of traffic on the Internet, the Dutch foreign ministry has said in a statement.

The foreign ministers from both countries met in Rotterdam and expressed concern over a recent rise in Internet censorship.

A pilot group is due to meet in the coming weeks in Paris, and will bring together governments, rights organisations and web-based businesses all working to protect freedom on the Internet, the French foreign ministry said.

 

28th May   

Offsite: Dish of the Day...

Interview with an internet gore collector
Link Here

viral death logo Severed heads, mangled corpses, aborted babies. It's the kind of content that would give most people nightmares, but to members of an underground gore subculture it's a dish suitable for daily consumption.

The websites they frequent feature countless images and videos depicting real-life stomach-churning violence. Many of the images come from Mexico, where photos such as these are seen as acceptable journalistic material and are frequently published in magazines and newspapers. But while the origins of those photos can be explained easily, others cannot.

The websites deal in images taken at crime scenes, inside autopsy rooms, at the wreckage of car accidents and other places only authority figures are allowed. So who is leaking the images?

To learn more about the trade and the origins of the images, ninemsn interviewed the editor of the website, a woman who goes by the screenname JohannaXn

...Read full article

 

27th May   

God Controls all Creative Thought...

Yippy nutters buy out Clusty search engine
Link Here

yippy logoClusty used to be a pretty good search engine. Now it has fallen into the hands of nutters.

How many people will read the small print and realise their searches are randomly being censored on political / religious / moral grounds? It doesn't leave much, does it?

About the Buy Out

Based on article from pandia.com

The metasearch engines – search engines that combine data from several search engines – are not as popular as they used to be in the 1990's. But they can still add something new to your search experience, especially as regards user interface and the way they present results.

One of our favorite metasearch engines have been Clusty, owned and developed by Vivisimo. As the name implies, Clusty has been especially good at clustering search results in meaningful groups or topics of result listings. Vivisimo has now sold Clusty to a Florida based company named Yippy for US$5.6 million. The name change has already taken place. Clusty is no more. Yippy has taken its place.

Clusty.com attracts approximately 100,000 unique visitors and supports millions of search queries per month.

About Yippy

Previous Clusty users may be shocked at the new Yippy approach to searches. Yippy explain their philosphy:

Based on article from clusty.com

Censorship

Yippy.com may censor search results, web domains and IP addresses. That is, Yippy may remove from its output, in an ad-hoc manner, all but not limited to the following:

  • Politically-oriented propaganda or agendas
  • Pornographic Material
  • Gambling content
  • Sexual products or sites that sell same
  • Anti-Semitic views or opinions
  • Anti-Christian views or opinions
  • Anti-Conservative views or opinions
  • Anti-Sovereign USA views or opinions
  • Sites deemed inappropriate for children

Oh, we should say that we are a very far-out group of people. Everyone is a certified genius here and we work together for our goals for the love of it all. Good vs. Don't be Evil ... We are too smart to sell out to Porn, Gambling and other things that infect our society for profit. Good always wins, and conservative values will bring us our victory in the market place.

Summing it up !!!

God controls all creative thought it's what you do with it that defines who you are.

Are you Good or Evil?

 

24th May   

Safer Searches...

Google starts offering searches via SSL
Link Here

google ssl logo Google has begun rolling out an encrypted version of its search engine in an effort to protect Internet users from having their searches sniffed by Governments, ISPs and others on their network. The new version of Google is SSL encrypted and located at https://www.google.com .

SSL search means that an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google's servers. When you perform a search, your search terms and whatever results come back from them will only be visible to you. Anyone who might be sniffing packets on your network (such as, say, Google!) won't be able to see what you're looking up.

Google says it's only in beta for now. The reasoning for the beta tag is because SSL only covers the core search technology for the time being, and not for for searches such as Google Maps or Google Images.

Also, since SSL connections require additional time to set up the encryption between your browser and the remote web server, your experience with search over SSL might be slightly slower than your regular Google search experience, Google wrote in a blog post.

 

17th May   

Offsite: Dangerous Tweets...

Bad taste jokes have become a sackable offence
Link Here

Twitter logoAustralia has been utterly captivated over the past week, but not by the old motherland's general election or the hoopla over its own federal budget. The biggest story has concerned nothing but a couple of tweets.

It started with Australia's annual television awards (the unfortunately named Logies ), which inspired comedian and the Age newspaper columnist, Catherine Deveny, to let fly on Twitter. When Steve Irwin's 11-year-old daughter hit the red carpet, Deveny observed: I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid. On seeing fellow comedian Rove McManus, who lost his wife to cancer in 2006, she tweeted: Rove and [new wife] Tasma look so cute … hope she doesn't die, too.

It took two days of public outrage before the Age sacked Deveny, setting the Twitter and blogospheres further aflutter. Even a week after the story broke, Deveny's response on a rival website clocked over 900 comments from crowing anti-Devenyists and aggrieved free speech supporters.

...Read full article

 

15th May   

Offsite: Opting Out of Privacy...

Concerns about Facebook and privacy
Link Here

Facebook logoIn a misguided effort to manage the roiling discontent about Facebook's privacy bait and switch tactics, Vice President for Public Policy Elliot Schrage volunteered to take questions from New York Times readers.

ITworld forbids me from using the words I'd normally employ to describe what came out of Schrage. Suffice it to say it was the most egregious display of corporate doublespeak this side of Microsoft.

If you needed another reason not to trust Facebook, Schrage provided several. Here's bald-faced lie #1. A reader asked why not make everything on Facebook opt in – in other words, it's private unless the user decides to make it public. Here's Schrage's answer:

Everything is opt-in on Facebook. Participating in the service is a choice. We want people to continue to choose Facebook every day. Adding information — uploading photos or posting status updates or like a Page — are also all opt-in. Please don't share if you're not comfortable.

It's true that nobody's putting a gun to your head to join Facebook or post your naked cell photos pics (not yet, anyway). But once you do, most of your personal information – your biography, interests, posts, friends, families, relationships, location, education, and more -- are shared with everyone by default. You have to go in and change the settings to make them private.

That's not opt-in model, that's an opt-out model. Either Schrage doesn't understand the difference (which would be bad) or understands it but hopes you don't (which is worse).

...Read the full article

 

13th May   

Updated: Encyclopedia of the Politically Correct...

Removalists, deletists and censorists get their way over Wikipedia images
Link Here

Wikipedia logoFounder Jimmy Wales has poured fuel on the Wikimedia pornography row, by encouraging admins to delete images that appeal solely to prurient interests .

The comments come Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sagner reported the Wikimedia Foundation to the FBI for serving up depictions of child sexual molestation on its servers.

The report brought a scathing response from the Foundation, which claimed we don't have material we would deem to be illegal. If we did, we would remove it. The organisation denied hearing from the authorities.

However, Wales has now waded into the argument by encouraging immediate deletion of pornographic content, calling for a large-scale cleanup project of the site: Wikimedia Commons admins who wish to remove from the project all images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests have my full support . I am stating here my public support for admins who are prepared to enforce quality standards and get rid of a large quantity of what can only be characterised as 'trolling' images of people's personal pornography collections. .

In a separate post he claimed Wikimedia would be making a formal statement on the issue in the next few days.

Update: Jimmy Wales prevented from vandalising his own website

13th May 2010. Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, has given up some of his site privileges following protests by contributors angered that he deleted images without consultation.

Wales had previously urged the removal of pornographic content from the user-generated site. This followed a complaint about child pornography to the FBI from another Wikipedia co-founder and the subsequent haranguing from the nutters of Fox News.

In early April, the estranged co-founder, Larry Sanger, reported Wikimedia Commons to the FBI, alleging that the organisation was knowingly distributing child pornography .

Last week, administrators of Wikimedia Commons, a media file store widely used for Wikipedia articles, deleted hundreds of images. Some images deemed by the Wikipedia community to have educational merit have since been reinstated.

Pressure on the organisation had increased after Fox News reported the story, contacting a number of high-profile corporate donors to the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and related sites. Continue reading the main story

Wales has faced criticism from the band of volunteers who help to maintain the site, some of whom argued that the decision to delete was undemocratic and taken too quickly. They also expressed concerns that valid material might be deleted accidentally.