Internet firms will be spared Government demands to impose default blocking of websites with content for adults.
A leaked email says internet firms have been assured they will not face stringent filtering systems. The revelation makes a farce of a consultation paper that was launched earlier this week asking for views on dealing with adult material.
The email says ministers wholeheartedly support active choice in which parents would have to say yes or no to adult material when setting up an internet connection.
Last month David Cameron said there was a clear case for looking at default blocks. But this has been ruled out according to the email sent on Thursday by Andrew Kernahan of the Internet Service Providers' Association to 200 members including BT, Virgin,
Sky, AOL and Cable & Wireless. He wrote:
I spoke to the Department for Education this morning about the consultation and they made it clear that UKCCIS (the UK Council for Child Internet Safety), ministers and the relevant departments wholeheartedly support active choice and not default
filtering or the so-called active choice plus solution.
The only reason they are consulting on this is because No 10 told the Daily Mail that they would consult and listen to all views. Proposals: The Government launched a consultation paper an on 'opt-in system, under which internet service providers would
automatically block pornography unless an adult asked for it to be available
This is in line with what we've been told throughout -- that government supports active choice.
Helen Goodman, who is Labour's media spokesman, said:
This email is explosive. It is very important we have a proper consultation which gives parents and children's organisations the chance to say why they want to put children first. It is time ministers stood up for ordinary people rather than big
The government is to consider putting extra pressure on computer users to filter out pornography when setting up internet accounts. The latest system, called active choice-plus , is aimed at reaching a compromise. It would automatically block
adult content, but would set users a loaded question, along the lines of whether they want to change this to gain access to sites promoting pornography, violence and other adult-only themes.
Ministers are suggesting that people should automatically be barred from accessing unsuitable adult material unless they actually choose to view it. It is one of several suggestions being put out for an e-consultation on how to shield children from
Children's minister Tim Loughton said:
The internet is transforming every aspect of society and family life - and opens up enormous opportunities for us all. But with the benefits come risks. Growing numbers of parents do not feel in control of what their families are exposed to online.
Many want to take responsibility, but all too often they do not how know how because they find the technology too difficult to use or their children are more technically advanced then they are.
There is no silver bullet to solve this. No filter can ever be 100% foolproof. There is a cottage industry of people, mostly operating outside the UK, continually creating and proliferating 'proxy' websites that provide links to adult and harmful
Automatic filtering on its own risks lulling parents into a false sense of security and there can never be any substitute for parents taking responsibility for how, when and where their children use the internet. The answer lies in finding ways to
combine technical solutions with better education, information and, if necessary regulation further down the line.
The discussion paper asks for views on three broad options for the best approach to keeping children safe online. It is an e-consultation where responses can be made online. The paper's introduction reads:
Tim Loughton, Minister for Children and Families, and Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equalities and Criminal Information are joint chairs of the executive board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). They are writing to members of UKCCIS
to seek their views and advice on parental controls. The request is to members of UKCCIS and other organisations and individuals, especially parents, who might want to respond.
I wonder if anyone will have the bottle to question the assumption underpinning this nonsense: that kids should be prevented from viewing porn.
Producers, under pressure to appear responsible , are unlikely to do so.
Thinking back to my misspent youth half a century ago, I became aware that girls were getting to be a different shape when I was about thirteen, and soon managed to acquire from a willing newsagent (who evidently didn't recognise the distinctive uniform
of the local grammar school) some of those useful little black and white magazines intended for the amateur and professional photographer . I have to admit that, since I had never used anything more sophisticated than a Kodak Brownie, all that
stuff about 1/60 at F3.5 was Greek to me. Alternatively, I could purchase that serious magazine for naturists, Health and Efficiency. You could tell how innocent nudism was, since it ensured that among the people with nothing on who appeared in
its pages were plenty of those most innocent of creatures, children. Mind you, I did wonder how the children were produced, since nobody in these magazines appeared to be equipped with genitalia.
Since my life has hardly been ruined by my teenage exposure to Kamera and H&E, I really wonder whether these clowns in Parliament are making such a bloody fuss about.
The Government has been forced to close the public consultation on blocking online pornography after it emerged visitors were able to view others' supposedly confidential responses, and personal details including passwords.
The online consultation opened on Thursday and invited views from the public on what controls broadband providers should offer or impose to prevent children accessing pornography. It collected views on an array of sensitive subjects, such as explicit
material online, parental responsibilities, cyberbullying and censorship.
Once they had completed the questionnaire, visitors were, however, able to view the names, email addresses, passwords and consultation responses of others, The Register first reported.
Department for Education technicians shut down the website after the privacy failure was reported to the Information Commissioner. A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said officials had been in contact with the regulator and an investigation
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: At a time when the Home Office wants to monitor our emails and the websites we visit and the Department for Education is consulting on forcing internet
providers to control people's internet access, this kind of fundamental security failure is nothing short of astounding.
Facebook and Twitter are changing the way girls speak and making them seem more aggressive, it is claimed.
The websites have been credited with promoting terser sentences, which can make youngsters appear rude and disrespectful. Marie Clair, of the Plain English Campaign, said:
Young people's language in general is becoming more direct in comparison to their parents and the business community because of the communication channels they're more familiar with. Worrying: Research has found that Facebook is changing the way girls
speak in a more aggressive manner
Those fast communication channels of Facebook, email and Twitter [that] they've grown up with mean they haven't got as much time to deliberate and choose their words.
That's perhaps why they come across as being more aggressive. It's not intentional. Curtness tends to be short, sharp and to the point. But it's a fine line between being curt or aggressive and being straightforward.
Anton Vickerman has been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud through surfthechannel.com in a case raising fears for internet freedom.
Newcastle crown court heard Anton Vickerman's site had up to 400,000 users a day and made about £ 35,000 a month in revenue. While UK prosecutors did not pursue a case on copyright offences, Vickerman was found guilty
of conspiracy to defraud and faces sentencing next month.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), a trade organisation of rights owners, was a driving force behind the prosecution of Vickerman, passing a dossier of evidence to police, who then arrested him in 2008.
Others, however, raised concerns about the nature of the conviction against Vickerman and the involvement of industry groups in obtaining it. UK Pirate party leader Loz Kaye said:
This was not a case brought using copyright law. The interest groups involved couldn't present a case of copyright infringement and instead decided to press for the use of the common law offence of 'conspiracy to defraud'. This is one of the most
controversial crimes in English law -- it criminalises conduct by two or more people that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.
In addition to flying in the face of recent findings in similar cases, this prosecution was driven by private interests. It is well known that the very groups representing the victim helped with the investigation, were present at the arrest, given access
to the evidence and were present at police interviews. This is deeply concerning.
A PC Pro investigation has exposed basic flaws in the TalkTalk child internet safety filter being championed by MPs.
Our investigation has revealed fundamental flaws in the TalkTalk filtering system that would potentially give children easy access to hardcore pornography.
With Google's parental controls flipped off, we accessed pages of pornographic images using Google's Image Search. Although the sites hosting the images were blocked, we were still able to click on the thumbnail images in search results to see enlarged
photos - which ironically appear over the warning that the page has been blocked.
Scottish politicians have been queuing up to blame online porn for a 10% rise in reported sexual offences in Scotland.
East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson called for ISPs to use a system of default blocking for adult content on websites. She said:
It's very difficult to pin down exactly what is causing these attitudes by young people, but given that there's very easily available pornography online -- and not just the lads mag, page three images, but really explicit, hardcore pornography -- it's
not hard to imagine that it helps to create a warped view of relationships.
Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont added:
We need to investigate measures such as having filters switched on as the default option, or blocking all adult content unless you decide otherwise.
Glasgow MP John Robertson said more needs to be done to raise parental awareness of the security tools available to them.
Internet users will be encouraged to download music and films through legal channels under measures outlined today by Ofcom.
Ofcom has published a draft code for consultation that would require large internet service providers (ISPs) to inform customers of allegations that their internet connection has been used to infringe copyright.
The code, which Ofcom is required to publish under the Digital Economy Act 2010, includes measures to help inform the public and promote lawful access to digital content such as music and films.
When notifying customers of reported infringements, ISPs must explain the steps subscribers can take to protect their networks from being used to infringe copyright and tell them where they can go to find licensed content on the internet.
Copyright owners are expected to invest in awareness campaigns to help educate consumers about the impact of copyright infringement and further to develop attractive online services to offer their content. Ofcom will report regularly to the Government on
the effectiveness of both the code and these broader initiatives from copyright owners.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's Consumer Group Director, said:
These measures are designed to foster investment and innovation in the UK's creative industries, while ensuring internet users are treated fairly and given help to access lawful content.
Ofcom will oversee a fair appeals process, and also ensure that rights holders' investigations under the code are rigorous and transparent.
How the code will work
The code will initially cover ISPs with more than 400,000 broadband-enabled fixed lines -- currently BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media. Together these providers account for more than 93% of the retail broadband market in
The draft code requires ISPs to send letters to customers, at least a month apart, informing them when their account is connected to reports of suspected online copyright infringement.
If a customer receives three letters or more within a 12-month period, anonymous information may be provided on request to copyright owners showing them which infringement reports are linked to that customer's account. The copyright owner may then seek a
court order requiring the ISP to reveal the identity of the customer, with a view to taking legal action for infringement under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.
Copyright owners can already seek such court orders under existing law, but the Code is designed to enable them to focus legal action on the most persistent alleged infringers.
Customers would have the right to challenge any allegation of infringement through an independent appeals body. Ofcom will appoint this body and require it to establish transparent, accessible appeal procedures. Copyright owners will need Ofcom approval
of their procedures for gathering evidence of infringement before they can be used under the scheme.
Changes to the code
The key proposals of the first draft code, on which we consulted in May 2010, are unchanged in the code published today. However a number of revisions have been made, including:
Evidence-gathering procedures: copyright owners' procedures for gathering evidence of infringement must now be approved by Ofcom, rather than by the copyright owners themselves. Ofcom plans to sponsor the development of a publically-available standard to
help promote good practice in evidence gathering; Notification letters: ISPs must now include, in letters to subscribers, the number of copyright infringement reports connected to their account. Appeals: Ofcom has decided that subscribers should have 20
working days to appeal an allegation of infringement. Following a direction from the Government, Ofcom has removed the ability for subscribers to appeal on any grounds they choose; they must now do so on grounds specified in the Digital Economy Act.
Beyond the code, the Digital Economy Act outlined a process for further measures which the Secretary of State might consider to help reduce online copyright infringement. These would require ISPs to take steps (such as internet bandwidth reduction,
blocking internet access or temporarily suspending accounts) against relevant subscribers in certain circumstances.
However, those measures could only be considered after the Code has been in force for at least 12 months, and would require further legislation and approval by Parliament. They would also require Ofcom to establish a further independent appeals process
with judicial oversight.
Ofcom will now consult on the revised draft code.2 Subject to further review by the European Commission, it will be laid in Parliament around the end of 2012. ISPs will then prepare to meet their obligations, and Ofcom will appoint an appeals body. Ofcom
currently expects the first customer notification letters to be sent in early 2014.
Ofcom will review the criteria for applying the code to ISPs once the obligations have been up and running for six months.
The revised draft code and consultation, which closes on 26 July 2012, can be found here.
The code includes provisions for sharing of costs between copyright owners and ISPs, as set out in a draft Statutory Instrument on costs being laid in Parliament by the Government. Ofcom is today also publishing a consultation on how these costs are
allocated. This consultation closes on 18 September 2012.
Dozens of countries have had closed-door meetings in preparation for an upcoming worldwide debate over internet censorship. The United Nations is looking at possible amendments to a telecommunications treaty that could amount to worldwide Internet
The World Conference on International Telecommunications is to be held in Dubai this December and more than 190 countries are expected to attend. One of the matters to be discussed at the conference is changes to a 24-year-old telecommunications treaty
called the International Telecommunications Regulations, according to the Associated Press.
In a U.N. document with proposed amendments to the treaty that came out last month, Russia said the public should have unrestricted access to international telecommunication services, except in cases where international telecommunication services are
used for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs or undermining the sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and public safety of other states, or to divulge information of a sensitive nature.
The ramifications of such changes to the International Telecommunications Regulations could be detrimental for citizens of countries that use the Internet to voice government opposition. For example, if Russia's suggested proposal goes through, events
such as the Arab Spring could be silenced.
The U.S. delegation has promised to block any language that would allow for any censorship.
Hamadoun Toure, secretary general of the U.N. agency that oversees the treaty, told the Associated Press that all proposals must be agreed upon to by all member states or else they would not be included in the final document.
IWF spoil their good words by continually tacking on censoring adult porn to their more laudable targets
26th June 2012
I wonder if the IWF use their own interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act when considering adult porn? Or do they follow the CPS abuse of the law and target such material as female ejaculation, fisting and golden showers?
Establishing an international arm to tackle online child sexual abuse content is at the heart of the Internet Watch Foundation's (IWF) new three-year strategy.
It outlines six strands to continue its drive to tackle online criminal content [including supposedly obscene adult porn].
The IWF will work internationally to share its expertise and skills with other countries and to strengthen its global partnerships in order to share the success the UK has seen. Susie Hargreaves, IWF Chief Executive, said:
While we continue to excel at tackling online child sexual abuse content in the UK, the next three years will increasingly focus on sharing our expertise and skills internationally.
From working closely with the online industry, we've reduced UK-hosted child sexual abuse content to less than one per cent compared to 18 per cent in 1997.
We also have a great many partnerships with other charities, police, other INHOPE Hotlines and child protection and technology experts all over the world and we feel it's our duty and the right time to have a closer focus on the international dimension.
The six strands to the IWF's strategy are:
To build on our work to make the internet free of child sexual abuse images;
Keep the UK internet free of criminally obscene adult content and non-photographic images of child sexual abuse;
To be the best at what we do internationally;
Develop a motivational and dynamic working environment
O2 is set to block its customers from accessing file-sharing site The Pirate Bay from today.
The move means customers of Be Broadband, a subsidiary of O2, will also be blocked from the site.
The ISP is the latest to fall in line following a High Court order in April. In a statement, O2 said: "The main UK internet providers were ordered by the high court to block access to specific IP addresses and URLs used by The Pirate Bay website.
We have no option but to comply with this order and will be doing so overnight.
Be Broadband posted a message about the blocking measures on its company blog. It said:
Our parent company was one of the named ISPs so we are obliged to comply.
We wouldn't chose to do this voluntarily but we need to comply with UK laws just like any UK business. We're aware of the concerns voiced by members about the broader issue.
BT has become the latest and last major UK Internet provider to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. The ISP has gone further than other providers since it also restricts access to the new IP-addresses added by the deviant BitTorrent site in
recent weeks. Nevertheless, even these additional efforts were quickly neutralized. Immediately after the block kicked in Pirate Bay added a set of new IP addresses to allow BT subscribers access again, for now at least.
BT subscribers who try to access Pirate Bay get an Error -- site blocked message.
A Pirate Bay insider told TorrentFreak that they can continue adding new addresses for years to come. For them, it's more a statement than anything else as there are already dozens of proxy sites that allow users to access The Pirate Bay just fine.
The most frequently visited proxy in the UK, operated by the local Pirate party, is already among the top 600 sites in the UK. With the new block by BT it is expected to attract even more visitors. In addition, the Pirate Party is picking up a few new
members in the process.
Interestingly, the MPAA and other copyright holders have yet to demand similar measures from US Internet providers. But maybe that's coming up next.
The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has announced the list of finalists for the title of Internet Hero and Internet Villain at the 2012 ISPA Awards.
Internet Hero Finalists
Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) for bringing high speed internet into remote rural communities, setting an example for others to follow
Ofcom -- for its independent assessment of the website blocking measures in the DEA, which they found to be neither practical nor desirable and trivial to circumvent
Reg Bailey -- for his government review into childhood sexualisation which found that giving parents and carers an active choice over what content is suitable for children and young people is preferable to default content filtering
Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague MP -- for recognising, at the London Cyber Conference, that the future internet must be without government control or censorship where innovation and competition flourish and investment and
enterprise are rewarded
Court of Justice of the European Union -- for its verdict on the Scarlet-Sabam case, which found that an injunction requiring a complicated and costly filter for copyright infringing material would not strike a fair balance between
the right to protect intellectual property and the right to conduct business
Internet Villain Finalists
The International Telecommunications Union -- for its internet governance land-grab which could lead to a less open and free internet, controlled by governments in a top-down manner
Karel De Gucht and Directorate-General Trade -- for pushing IPR enforcement standards through ACTA and disregarding the concerns from EU citizens and European Parliament in relation to the threats against fundamental rights
U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith -- for introducing SOPA: an ill-thought out, draconian piece of legislation that would have stifled innovation and free speech online
Goldeneye International (Associated with Ben Dover) -- for following in the dubious footsteps of previous speculative invoicing, by demanding £ 700 in damages from account holders who had allegedly downloaded
copyright infringing material, relying solely on IP matching and claiming that bill payers were liable for any infringement
Even the cost of setting up China's Great Firewall is reported to have cost less than $1 billion. Might it be that the scale of the nationwide monitoring system is far greater the government has so far been willing to publicly acknowledge?
In a blog post, Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst, wrote about the latest of the company's twice yearly transparency reports:
Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political
content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not.
This is the fifth data set that we've released. Just like every other time, we've been asked to take down political speech. It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not
suspect -- western democracies not typically associated with censorship.
For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.
In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn't comply with either of these requests.
Other examples include Google being asked by Canadian officials to remove a YouTube video of a citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. It refused.
Thai authorities asked Google to remove 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy, a violation of Thailand's repressive lese-majeste law. The company complied with 70% of these requests.
Pakistan asked Google to remove six YouTube videos that satirised its army and senior politicians. Google refused.
UK police asked the company to remove five YouTube accounts for allegedly promoting terrorism. Google agreed.
In the US most requests related to alleged harassment of people on YouTube. The authorities asked for 187 pieces to be removed. Google complied with 42% of them.
Update: 49% increase in censorship requests by India
India had the largest number of government takedown requests (that weren't court orders) during the reporting period. This is likely related to the ongoing legal wrangle between the search giant and India as part of that country's drive to clean up its
cyberspace. Last year, the Indian government accused Google of failing to failing to block inappropriate content in the country.
The number of content removal requests we received increased by 49% compared to the previous reporting period, Google said, regarding India.
In response, Google decided to restrict users from viewing some videos in areas where local laws banned speech that could stir up enmity between communities, but left them viewable elsewhere in the world. It also rejected a request to remove
online profiles that criticized a local politician.
Jerry Barnett speaks of three main areas of censorship affecting the adult industry:
Over recent years I have attempted to track regulations that may affect the UK adult industry. ATVOD's rule 11, which specifies that web sites are responsible for age-verifying users before any hardcore still or moving images can be displayed, is a
source of major concern.
I have made representations to ATVOD that this regulation is punitive to UK businesses as it is not possible for a web site to implement such a mechanism without losing the bulk of its customers. Furthermore, since this only applies to businesses based
in the UK, it has no effect on availability of adult content anyway -- this regulation seems to be designed solely to drive UK adult businesses either offshore, or out of business.
ATVOD's response to this has not been sympathetic -- they repeat the mantra that they are protecting children while ignoring the simple fact that these rules do nothing to reduce the availability of easily accessible adult content. My position is
that the right approach to this is for the industry to use proper labeling technologies and ensure that parents are empowered and educated in how to block adult content if they so wish. Driving the UK adult industry out of existence would simply destroy
the chance of any self-regulation.
I am currently taking legal advice on whether these regulations can be challenged and feel there are several grounds on which to challenge them.
2) Internet filtering
Claire Perry MP (backed by the Daily Mail) is pushing for the ISPs to filter out adult content at the connection level. I'm strongly opposed to this approach for several reasons -- as are a number of free speech organisations, not to mention Google. I
have met with some anti-censorship organisations that are opposing the filter and will continue to meet with more. It appears an alliance against the plans is building.
There are several problems with network-level filtering:
Do we trust the government to decide what is adult ? The experience in other online censorship exercise shows that the list of blocked sites will grow over time. The filter in Australia was extended to cover all sorts of material that the
religious right objected to. We know that many people who legally enjoy adult content would not switch off the filter (for a variety of reasons -- confidentiality, embarrassment, etc.) The filter would be easy to get around. It's likely that teenagers
would find out how to avoid it while their parents are left with a false sense of security. It takes control out of the hands of parents and puts it into the hands of a nanny state that makes moral decisions about what adults and teenagers should choose
to look at.
The Michael Peacock obscenity trial, in which he was found not guilty, seems to have undermined the case for obscenity prosecutions and for certain censorship decisions taken by the BBFC. However, the CPS and BBFC have stated that despite losing the
prosecution the guidelines remain the same.
There is an opportunity to challenge the BBFC and CPS guidelines and it is likely that lawyers will take up this opportunity later this year. I believe this will be beneficial both for the industry and for free speech, and will be supporting this action.
In the US file-sharers will soon be monitored on behalf of the MPAA and RIAA, and in the UK there are plans to monitor and store all Internet communications. To counter this people are turning to VPN services. How long before VPNs become illegal?
The government has published a draft version of a bill that, if signed into law in its current form, would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone network providers in Britain to install black boxes in order to collect and store
information on everyone's internet and phone activity, and give the police the ability to self-authorise access to this information. However, the Home Office failed to explain whether or not companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter will be brought
under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), and how they intend to deal with HTTPS encryption.
Faith in the integrity of HTTPS encryption is what makes online banking and the entire e-commerce industry possible, and Google uses it to secure its Gmail service, as do most webmail providers. The need for easy access to Gmail has been one of the Home
Office's primary justifications for the Communications Bill, but technology experts are dubious as to whether it is possible to technically and lawfully break HTTPS on a nationwide scale. At this morning's Home Office briefing, Director of the Office for
Security and Counter-Terrorism Charles Farr was asked about how the black box technology would handle HTTPS encryption. His only response was: It will.
The draft Bill includes controversial measures to require network operators to acquire communications data relating to third party services -- for example, requiring an ISP to discover and record when its customers post a message on a social networking
site, and to which other user of the site that message was addressed. The Bill does not specify what data ISPs are to acquire, nor provide any limits; the requirements for ISPs are to be set out in Orders made by the Home Secretary at a later date.
Writing in The Sun, Home Secretary Theresa May said:
I just don't understand why some people criticise these proposals. People have a right to privacy. But unless you are a criminal, then you've nothing to worry about from this new law. This isn't a snoopers' charter, it's a criminals' nightmare.
At a press and MP briefing at Parliament today, Julian Huppert MP said that he couldn't believe the bill could even be put before the House in its current form. David Davis MP remarked that, given that the RIPA process is already a disgrace , the
Home Office should be introducing a bill that introduces warrant requirements to RIPA rather than making it even easier for the police to access citizens' communications data. He also revealed that David Maclean, the most right-wing politician the
Home Office ever saw , will be chairing the committee on the bill.
Dr Gus Hosein, Executive Director of Privacy International, said: In the UK, we've historically operated under the presumption that the government has no business peering into the lives of citizens unless there is good reason to - that people are
innocent until proven guilty. This legislation would reverse that presumption and fundamentally change the relationship between citizen and state, and their relationship with their internet and mobile service providers. Yet there are still big question
marks over whether Facebook and Google will be brought under RIPA, and how far the government is willing to go in undermining internet security in order to fulfil its insatiable desire for data.
The spin doctors at 10 Downing Street have done well today. The media has bought - hook, line and sinker - the spin that the Defamation Bill will mean an end to the scourge of internet trolls.
The day after Louise Mensch's twisted cyber stalker escaped jail and in the week Nicola Brookes obtained a court order compelling Facebook to reveal the IP addresses of those who made her life a misery online, the government's spin doctors have revealed
to a breathless media that weirdos who cower behind anonymity online will no longer be able to do so. All hail the Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke!
All wonderful news - except that that is not what the Defamation Bill will provide for.
First of all, the Defamation Bill is - as the name suggests - only about defamatory statements. It will not cover comments that are offensive, unpleasant or constitute harassment, breach of confidence or an invasion of privacy - and the bulk of trolls'
comments are in those categories as opposed to being defamatory as such.
Secondly, the Defamation Bill creates a higher hurdle for those who want to bring a claim in defamation in any event. Under the proposed new law (which receives its second reading in the House of Commons today - hence the media spin), a statement will
not be defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant . What constitutes seriousness is not defined but the Bill is designed to ensure that there are fewer defamation claims in the
future, not more.
Thirdly, the spin doctors have assured the media that the new law will mean victims will no longer need to go through costly legal battles to unmask their tormentors. If only that were true. It would still be a very brave (i.e. foolish) website operator
who simply reveals the name or IP address of the author of a particular post without a court order compelling him to do so.
Children are being encouraged to take part in sexual activity by exposure to hardcore pornography on their mobile phones, the deputy children's commissioner has claimed.
Sue Berelowitz was giving evidence to the home affairs select committee which is investigating the issue of street grooming and child sexual exploitation after nine British Asian men in Rochdale were convicted for grooming and abusing vulnerable young
The case, along with several others in the north of England over the last three years, has provided some evidence that street grooming of young girls, often from children's homes, is disproportionately being carried out by Asian men who target white
victims. The five victims were plied with food, alcohol, drugs and gifts so they could be passed around a group of men for sex.
Berelowitz told the committee the issue of ethnicity was complex. She said there was a particular pattern of Asian men and white girls as revealed by the Rochdale case and others, but she said it was a pattern among many other patterns of child sexual
She said the issue of how social networking, BBM messaging and pornography was being used as part of the exploitation of children and young people, often by teenagers not much older than themselves, was of serious concern.
She said she was concerned about the viewing of pornography by young people, which contributed to the problem of child sexual exploitation.
They are watching it and then they are enacting it. Parents think they know what their child is watching ... the reality is children can get anything they like on their mobile phones and they are. This is affecting children's thresholds of what they
think is normal behaviour.
Social networking sites can be a source of real problems in this area. They [the perpetrators] are sometimes filming their victims, girls are making themselves vulnerable by filming themselves ...
The sexual exploitation and grooming of young vulnerable white girls is a particular problem in Asian communities , one of Britain's top prosecutors admitted for the first time today.
In a year when several paedophile gangs were convicted of raping and prostituting victims in north west England, Nazir Afzal says it is impossible not to notice that the perpetrators were Asian and the victims were not.
The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the region added that cultural baggage and the status of women among some men in these communities contributes to their disrespect for the rights of women.
It came as the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee announced yesterday a day of evidence next week because its members and chairman Keith Vaz are very concerned by the recent cases of child exploitation. The Labour MP for Leicester East has
previously said: I do not think it is a race issue.'
Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said: The committee were shocked to hear that the number of victims of child sexual exploitation runs into the thousands. Child grooming is a national issue that requires thorough investigation.
Back in the early days of the Web, we set up Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status messages to let people know what was going on with a Web server. Today, we still use 401 error messages for pages you're not authorized to see, 403 pages for pages you
can't see even with authentication, and the ever popular 404 for Web pages that can't be found. Now, with the rise of Internet censorship, Tim Bray is proposing a new HTTP code: 451, for Web servers and pages that are being censored,
Bray, a leading Google Android developer and co-creator of one of the first Web search engines, Open Text and XML, has proposed to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that code 451 be used for
451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons
This status code indicates that the server is subject to legal restrictions which prevent it servicing the request.
Since such restrictions typically apply to all operators in a legal jurisdiction, the server in question may or may not be an origin server. The restrictions typically most directly affect the operations of ISPs and search engines.
Responses using this status code SHOULD include an explanation, in the response body, of the details of the legal restriction; which legal authority is imposing it, and what class of resources it applies to.
The name of this code, Bray notes in passing comes from the late Ray Bradbury's classic science-fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451 . In it, Firemen no longer fight fires, but start them to burn books.
Google has announced that it will warn its Gmail users when it believes they are under attack from state forces.
The move is significant as Google's web services are used by millions of journalists and human rights campaigners across the world.
Google's vice-president of security engineering, Eric Grosse, said in a blogpost:
We are constantly on the lookout for malicious activity on our systems, in particular attempts by third parties to log into users' accounts unauthorised.
When we have specific intelligence -- either directly from users or from our own monitoring efforts -- we show clear warning signs and put in place extra roadblocks to thwart these bad actors.
Today, we're taking that a step further for a subset of our users, who we believe may be the target of state-sponsored attacks.
We believe it is our duty to be proactive in notifying users about attacks or potential attacks so that they can take action to protect their information. And we will continue to update these notifications based on the latest information.
Nutters are pushing for internet porn to be blocked in Jordan. The Pink Cross Foundation, Girls Against Porn & Human Trafficking, & Cedars Cultural and Educational Foundation are lobbying the Jordanian government. In addition about 32,000
Facebook users have added their name to petition.
The Jordanian Ministry of Communications, Information & Technology has also voiced support for internet censorship.
Steven Cooksey has created a website to help other diabetics get healthy, but a North Carolina agency tried to censor his online healthy food advice column, saying he was not a licensed dietitian.
Cooksey has filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying the state violated his free speech rights. Cooksey said in an interview with The Associated Press:
When did it become illegal to tell people to eat meats and vegetables? How is it illegal to tell people not to eat grains? We're talking about healthy eating. This is wrong.
The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition claimed it was illegal for anyone without a government-issued dietician's license to offer diet advice.
The law suit names the Board of Dietetics/Nutrition and several board members are named as defendants. The lawsuit was filed on Cooksey's behalf by the Institute for Justice, a national civil liberties group. This content-based censorship of Cooksey's
speech violates the First Amendment, the lawsuit said.
Cooksey says he never described himself as a doctor, dietician or nutritionist. His website has a disclaimer informing readers he has no special dietary qualifications.
In December, Cooksey says he started answering reader questions in a column. A month later, he received a notice from the state asking him to stop providing advice to readers, friends and family in private emails and conversations; and offering a paid
Malaysia's Evidence (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2012 came into operation on June 1. The impact of this hastily and stealthily rushed legislation could be devastating.
De facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz denies that amendments to the Evidence Act were a means for the government to curb online dissent by making Internet anonymity more difficult to maintain or ignorance to be used as an excuse.
However opposition leaders such as DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng are unconvinced. Lim said that the amendment which was passed during the last sitting of the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara will make it easier for the government to launch
selective prosecutions of members of the opposition and civil society .
According to him, a person is traditionally presumed innocent until proven guilty but the Evidence Act 2012 reverses this truism. Lim illustrates with a personal example: In other words, I am responsible for anything posted on my website and the
burden is on me to prove my innocence, not on the prosecution to prove my guilt .
Centre for Independent Journalism executive officer Masjaliza Hamzah has termed the amendments as a threat to freedom of expression and media freedom.
The amendments are clearly an indirect way to control online content as it makes online sites responsible for comments posted by readers; forget about disclaimers on the comment section.
This may force some sites to stop the comment feature because having to vet comments themselves may become untenable, and if this happens, it has a huge impact on the interactive nature of online media favoured by readers, she is reported to have said.
The bottom line is that any repressive piece of legislation which can be misused by the powers-that-be to prohibit or curtail legitimate freedom of expression by its opponents is, in essence, a bad law.
Sky has become the latest ISP to implement the court order forcing it to block filesharing website The Pirate Bay.
Everything Everywhere (EE) and Virgin Media have already taken similar action, while the order has also been extended to BT, O2 and TalkTalk.
The latter two of these three major broadband providers are still working to introduce the ban, while BT has requested more time to make the required arrangements.
Explaining its approach to protecting copyright, the pay TV giant said it has invested billions of pounds in creating high-quality content for its customers and acknowledged the importance of protecting this material against piracy. Such
protection makes sure that consumers continue to benefit from TV programmes, movies and music both now and in the future, Sky stated.
After Google published their report last week on DMCA takedowns, the American music industry group, the RIAA, is determined to make out that Google is the problem, because almost 1.25 million removed links in one year wasn't enough, and it's all Google's
fault, despite the search giant having absolutely no hand in putting any of them online.
The RIAA is claiming that Google is not being proactive enough with alleged copyright infringements. Worse, it's claimed that Google are actively hindering the RIAA, because they're not allowing the industry group free reign to have each and every
suspect link terminated perpetually.
When Google published their report on DMCA takedowns last week, the RIAA was unimpressed. In fact, they were so unimpressed by the average of ONLY 3,400+ links taken down each and every day, that they did what any well-connected lobby group would do --
it took to its blog and wrote a top-5 list of facts on why it's all Google's fault
Presumably these services were designed for parents to implement on their kid's internet devices. In this scenario, 'better safe than sorry' makes sense and the kids aren't going to worry about missing a few things. However this approach is inadequate
for a 'one size fits all' model applied to the whole family. The censors the need to ditch their gung-ho over-blocking and take a little bit more time (and money) to properly classify sites for age.
But if you are responsible for a site and have found it is blocked, you will also want to get in touch with the mobile networks concerned to check that it is blocked on their network and to get the site removed from the filters so everybody can access it
One of the points in our report was that it can be too difficult to do this - you can read about Coadec's problems trying to get their site removed from Orange's Safeguard on their blog.
The mobile networks have told us they are working on improving the way that these reports can be made, which is great. I wanted to do a quick update on progress so far. So I asked the networks what the best way to get in touch with them about this would
be. If you are trying to contact the operators to get your site unblocked, here's what the networks offer at the moment:
For the moment, Vodafone have asked that these requests go to this email address: email@example.com
They are planning to have a more specific address available soon. [The mediaRelations email address just about sys it all]
Orange and T-Mobile
The email address to use is firstname.lastname@example.org and can be used for reports relating to both Orange and T-Mobile.
O2 have a useful URL checker
, which also allows people to check sites' classification - which says whether and why a site is blocked - and to report if they consider the site to be classified incorrectly.
Three told us their official position at the moment is: if a Three customer believes a website is being incorrectly blocked then they should call our Customer Services team. We are currently reviewing how best customers can contact us to report these
The Daily Mail introduces its latest propaganda piece:
Children are being scarred for life by stumbling across internet pornography before their brains are able to cope with it, according to a leading neuroscientist.
Dr William Struthers told MPs that in eight out of ten cases, youngsters come across hard-core images by accident. If they are between nine and 14, when their bodies are becoming sexually mature but their brains are not emotionally developed,
early exposure can lead to lasting damage including withdrawn behaviour and acting out what they see onscreen.
Dr Struthers was speaking at a House of Commons seminar sponsored by Claire Perry, the Tory MP who wants to block web porn from computers unless adults opt in .
Dr Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College, Illinois, found that research subjects were able to recall the first images of porn they ever saw in remarkable detail even though they could not remember images they had seen
He said that impact was profound because although the hypothalamus, the region of the brain which controls sexual development, is preparing the body for sexual maturity, the higher thinking regions of the brain are not developed enough to deal
with viewing extreme sex.
I wonder if the MPs were informed about where Dr Struthers is coming from.
Wheaton College introduces itself on its website as follows:
Welcome to Wheaton College---a community of grace. As an academically rigorous, four-year Christian liberal arts college and graduate school, we seek to honor Jesus Christ with mind, soul, body, and strength. We praise
God for your interest and pray that in some way your contact with Wheaton College will serve the sacred purpose expressed in our historic motto: 'For Christ and His Kingdom.' ---Philip Ryken 88, Presiden t
Wheaton College is an explicitly Christian, academically rigorous, fully residential liberal arts college and graduate school located in Wheaton, Illinois. Established in 1860, Wheaton is guided by its original mission to
provide excellence in Christian higher education, and offers more than 40 undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, and 14 graduate degrees.
Dr William Struthers has written a book titled Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain . The promotional book description reads:
Pornography is powerful. Our contemporary culture as been pornified, and it shapes our assumptions about identity, sexuality, the value of women and the nature of relationships. Countless Christian men struggle with the addictive power of porn.
But common spiritual approaches of more prayer and accountability groups are often of limited help. In this book neuroscientist and researcher William Struthers explains how pornography affects the male brain and what we can do about it. Because
we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories and make attachments. By better understanding the biological realities of our sexual development, we can cultivate healthier sexual perspectives and
interpersonal relationships. Struthers exposes false assumptions and casts a vision for a redeemed masculinity, showing how our sexual longings can actually propel us toward sanctification and holiness in our bodies. With insights for both
married and single men alike, this book offers hope for freedom from pornography.
A new ISPreview.co.uk survey of 728 internet access subscribers in the United Kingdom has found that the majority of respondents
(84%) are against any proposals which might force broadband providers into imposing mandatory adult website blocks by default. The introduction of such a system, which could be applied to all internet accounts in the UK, is being sought by
campaigners led by Claire Perry MP.
According to the study, nearly all of the biggest domestic ISPs have, since last year's agreement with the UK government, started to adopt an Active Choice system that provides customers (e.g. parents) with an enforced option to
block adult web content at the point of purchase.
Some 74% of respondents to the survey said they were in favor of ISPs offering optional parental control solutions. But, when respondents were asked whether or not they thought ISPs had done enough to protect children online, more than half (55%)
said Yes, 23% gave a flat no and 22% were not sure.
ISPreview.co.uk's Founder, Mark Jackson, said:
It's encouraging to see ISPs offer customers more options to filter out adult content and we'd like to see that continue. But at the same time we should be careful not to impose mandatory opt-in internet filters, which risk lulling parents into a
false sense of security and encouraging state sponsored censorship through mission creep. Parents must be given more trust to act on their own initiative. Sadly some MPs are already proposing stiffer measures, before the 'Active Choice' solution
has even been given chance to work, which only adds to the ever growing burden of new legislation that internet providers are being asked to shoulder.
We must never forget that website blocking measures are also easy to circumvent (children often know the best methods), can restrict legitimate sites (clothing retailers, sex education/medical content etc.) and cost huge amounts of money to
develop. BT is alleged to have spent £ 500k developing its Cleanfeed solution and that's enough to put smaller ISPs out of business. We should instead be focusing on education and awareness, as well as boosting
the availability of Active Choice so that the industry can adapt through self-regulation.
Proposals forcing a default block on adult content would be a mistake , Google has said. Speaking at its Big Tent forum, the company warned
against allowing private companies to manage lists of inappropriate websites.
Sarah Hunter, Google's head of public policy, said the search giant was strongly in favour of education over technical measures. She said:
We believe that children shouldn't be seeing pornography online. We disagree on the mechanisms. It's not that easy
There is a problem about the extent to which we deskill parents by giving them simple solutions.
We should be making more effort than we've done in the past to make sure parents really do know the risks children face online.
TalkTalk ISP recently introduced an option for parents to block adult content at a network level.
It's a great way of managing what children can see. We don't see that as censorship, it's about choice, said Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's executive director of strategy and regulation. However, he warned against filters being on by default,
describing it as a slippery slope:
I think the government should be encouraging ISPs to offer [blocking]. Certainly do not force them to turn it to default on. We step over this Rubicon into a dangerous world.
TalkTalk's filtering system is managed by security firm Symantec. It administers a list of blocked sites.
Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship, warned against the privatisation of freedom of expression:
Who decides what is blocked? Who puts together these lists? This is a form of censorship.
We're talking about putting legal communication, information, either out of bounds or something you have to turn on to be part of that free world.
A federal judge has overturned part of a Utah law trying to target porn sites by making them responsible for limiting children's access
to harmful or pornographic material.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson ruled people cannot be prosecuted for posting adult content on generally accessible websites, and are not required by law to label the content that they post.
The ruling does not forbid prosecution of those who send inappropriate images or language directly to children via email, instant message or text.
A group of booksellers, artists, Internet service providers and the ACLU of Utah sued the state after the Legislature passed the Harmful to Minors Act in 2005, arguing it violated free speech rights. Benson had blocked enforcement of the law since
the lawsuit was filed in 2006.
A new report from Open Rights Group and LSE Media Policy Project reveals widespread over-blocking on mobile networks, helping to demonstrate why we shouldn't accept default-on adult Internet filtering
Today we're launching a new report called Mobile internet censorship: what's happening and what we can do about it , which is a joint publication with LSE Media Policy Project.
The report is about how mobile operators' child protection filters work. It shows how systems designed to help parents manage their childrens' access to the Internet can actually affect many more users than intended and block
many more sites than they should. It reveals widespread overblocking, problems with transparency and difficulties correcting mistakes.
We argue that mobile operators need to offer an active choice , be far more transparent and open, and provide easier ways to address errors.
More broadly, the report helps emphasise that the neo Mary Whitehouse campaign for default blocks, led by Claire Perry MP is calling for the wrong solution in looking to default on filtering. The lessons from
mobile filtering suggest fixed-line Internet filtering should concentrate on users and devices rather than networks, be properly described as parental controls (because the content blocked is far broader than adult sexual material) and
above all involve an active choice , not be set by default.
Without that guarded approach, seemingly simple, laudable goals such as protecting children through technical intervention may have significant harmful and unintended consequences for everybody's access to information.
The report is based on reports of inappropriate blocks provided to our website Blocked.org.uk
through January to March. These were cases where sites or services were blocked that should not have been. Working with a small group of volunteers, we received over 60 reports, including personal and political blogs, sites
for restaraunts, and community sites. Here are some examples:
Biased-BBC (www.biased-bbc.blogspot.co.uk) is a site that challenges the BBC's impartiality. We established it was blocked on O2 and T-Mobile on 5th March.
St Margarets Community Website (www.stmgrts.org.uk), is a community information site created by a group of local residents of St Margarets, Middlesex. Their mission is simple - help foster a stronger community
identity. We established it was blocked on Orange and T-Mobile on 8th March.
The Vault Bar (www.thevaultbar.co.uk) in London. We established that the home page of this bar was blocked on Vodafone, Orange, and T-Mobile on 6th February.
Shelfappeal.com was reported blocked on 15th February 2012 on Orange. This is a blog that features items that can be placed on a shelf.
'Tor' (www.torproject.org). We established that the primary website of this privacy tool (meaning the HTTP version of the Tor Project website, rather than connections to the Tor network) was blocked on at least Vodafone, O2
and Three in January.
La Quadrature du Net (www.laquadrature.net/en). The website of this French digital rights advocacy group was reported blocked on Orange's Safeguard system on 2nd February. La Quadrature du Net has become one
of the focal points for European civil society's political engagement with an important international treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The block was removed shortly after we publicised the blocking.
The ORG report contains mystery shopper examples to see how various phone companies handle complaints about false blocking:
Re 3 Mobile Phone Company
We reported to 3 that the site melonfarmers.wordpress.com
- a conspiracy theory discussion site - was blocked. The customer services representative asked what message we received when trying to access the site. We told them we were shown a blocking screen telling us over-18 blocking was enabled. We were
advised that 'adult sites' were automatically blocked on all pay-as-you- go 3 mobile phones.
However, we were not asked what site we were attempting to access, despite our insistence that it contained no adult material. We were then asked if we were having issues accessing other sites like Google or the BBC, and replied no. Again, the
representative concluded that the content filter was working correctly and that the site we were trying to access must have some sort of adult material on it, hence its blocking. When we asked 3 how the company classifies blocked websites, the
representative told us that 3 does not make the rules, and that the government' does. We were also informed that no record is made of sites which are reported as incorrectly blocked and our phone would be unblocked once we provided age
This experience seems somewhat at odds with the official propaganda about overblocking. In an article
, Hamish MacLeod, chairman of the Mobile Broadband Group, claimed:
Even allowing for the ORG missing a few, 60 misclassified websites does not amount to anything that could reasonably be described as 'censorship', particularly when mobile operators are happy to remove the filters when customers show they are
over 18 and will re-classify websites when misclassifications are pointed out to them.
This is how the small handful of websites that get referred to mobile operators each year are already dealt with.
Perhaps a small handful of websites because operators are told to willfully ignore such requests
Offsite Comment: ISPs Censor the BNP, Lifestyle an dTechnology Sites
A number of British mobile networks are blocking the far-right British National Party's website, it has been revealed.
Following a report by LSE Media Policy Project and Open Rights Group (ORG) on mobile internet censorship, a number of web-users alerted ORG that the BNP's website is blocked on a variety of mobile networks if child protection filters are active,
once again raising the question of the efficacy of online filtering systems.
A student in a North Rhine-Westphalia school attempted to access the German Pirate Party's website from a school computer to find
it was blocked under the illegal drugs classification.
No doubt the Pirate Party is a victim of crappy automated website blocking systems. The system itself, operated by an organization called Time for Kids, is developed by IBM. It apparently crawls the web and categorises web pages according to its
own internal algorithms.
The assumption is that when these web crawlers found the Pirate Party's pledge to legalize cannabis, the word cannabis tripped the filters and caused the site to be blacklisted.
The issue, however, is not whether this was an accidental block . The reality is that the Pirate Party was blocked and that this filtering system is blocking political debate, and is contravening the right to freedom of expression.
Monica Horten at IPtegrity points out that this wrongful categorisation happens all the time in automated filtering.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative Martin Heinrich, and a number of cosponsors filed the Password Protection Act of 2012 in the
Senate and House to prevent employers from strong-arming employers and job applicants into sharing information from their personal social networking accounts.
The PPA is sweeping in scope. It doesn't just apply to just Facebook or social networks, but rather to any situation when an employer coerces an employee into providing access to information held on any computer that isn't owned or controlled by
the employer. For example, even if the employee is looking at a social network on his or her work computer, the employer still couldn't force that employee to disclose a password, because that would allow the employer to access another computer
(that of the social network). This protection would extend to Gmail accounts, photo sharing sites and an employee's own iPhone or other smart phone.
However there is a glaring omission in that it does not afford the same protections to students. This ACLU case in Minnesota highlights how far school administrators will go to force students to divulge social network passwords. Student athletes
are so frequently coerced into allowing access to their personal pages that there are at least three different companies marketing this service.
Another bill filed last week by Representative Eliot Engel, the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA) does a better job in this regard, covering both employers and students.
TalkTalk, which provides web access to 4million subscribers, already offers new customers the option of activating
blocking for websites with adult themes. Now it has said it will be the first company to ask both new and existing subscribers whether they want to block adult content.
TalkTalk's filter, HomeSafe, blocks sites categorised as unsuitable for under-18s, including those related to pornography, suicide, self harm, gambling, dating, drugs and weapons. But it also blocks websites for strong language, references to sex
and any sites that happen to contain a few words that trigger automated classification software.
It has been available to customers since May last year, but only if they requested it. From March this year, new subscribers have been asked to choose whether or not they want the filter.
Now the company wants to force all of its customers to decide whether they want access to adult material, with a view to making them choose their settings once a year.
It is believed other internet providers will introduce a system in October which will be more tailored to devices and individuals.
After 8 years the legal battle between Google and adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 has been put to rest. The
latter accused the search giant of a variety of copyright infringement breaches which included Google's use of cached images. The case has now been dismissed without the option for further appeal.
In 2004 Google was sued by Perfect 10. The adult publisher demanded a permanent injunction against Google to prevent it from copying and distributing thumbnails of its images, and to stop the search engine from linking to websites where Perfect 10
content was hosted illegally.
Initially Perfect 10 scored a substantial victory as the court agreed with the adult company's position on Google's use of thumbnails. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed this ruling stating that this utilization of
thumbnails amounted to fair use.
What followed was a lengthy legal battle in which the adult company targeted Google with a wide range of secondary liability claims. These claims were often supported by the MPAA and RIAA, and opposed by digital rights groups such as the EFF.
After nearly 8 years of litigation and two failed requests for a Supreme Court review, the case continued at the District Court where both sides accused each other of breaking the rules. Notable is Perfect 10's quite unconventional last-minute
attempt to find more dirt on Google. Earlier this year the company called on the public to provide evidence that Google was aiding or abetting copyright infringements. The publisher went as far as offering a $25,000 bounty, which is still listed
on its website.
Living in a country that is not the U.S., Canada or the UK can be a pain sometimes, especially when it comes to accessing online content. Many online services like Netflix geo-lock their Web site to only certain countries. People in, say New
Zealand, can access these sites via proxy, but not everybody is tech savvy enough to take advantage of such technologies.
Enter FYX, a new ISP start up in New Zealand that's offering users the chance to access these geo-locked sites through their service as part of their basic service. It's a subsidiary of New Zealand ISP Maxnet, but it's differentiated itself to
perhaps keep its parent company out of legal trouble.
The new ISP's focus is on offering a much bigger Internet to New Zealanders -- the type of Internet the rest of the world have had access to for years, said Chief Internet FYX-er Andrew Schick speaking to New Zealand's National Business
NBR points out that Sky TV currently holds the rights to downloadable media like TV, film, etc in the country. It's not only damaging the growth of local services, but it keeps out other services from competing against their monopoly. It's these
kind of monopolies that users could get around with FYX.
The Court of The Hague has handed down another ruling that restricts access to The Pirate Bay website. The Court has forbidden the Dutch
Pirate Party from linking to, operating or listing websites that allow the public to circumvent a local Pirate Bay blockade. The political party is further ordered to shutdown its reverse proxy indefinitely and block Pirate Bay domains and
IP-addresses from its generic proxy.
After two Dutch ISPs were ordered to censor The Pirate Bay earlier this year there was an influx of visitors to Pirate Bay proxy sites. In an attempt to take these proxies offline the Hollywood funded anti-piracy group BREIN obtained an injunction
against one of the sites and used this to convince others to shut down as well.
The list of secondary targets included the local Pirate Party, who initially refused to give in to the demands but were later ordered to take their reverse proxy offline by the court. The Pirate Party claimed that the case against them amounted to
a restriction of their freedom of speech, and sued BREIN over the order.
The Court of The Hague then delivered its verdict, which confirms most of the earlier injunction. The Pirate Party is now forbidden from encouraging the public to circumvent the Pirate Bay blockade and from listing or hosting tools that can enable
others to do so. Should the Pirate Party fail to comply with the Court's ruling it faces fines of EUR5,000 per day to a maximum penalty of EUR250,000.
Pirate Party chairman Dirk Poot told TorrentFreak:
For many who where hoping for the law to come to the rescue of basic civil liberties, today must be a rough awakening. This ridiculously broad verdict allows BREIN to take down any site that is posting information that displeases their censors.
A first in Dutch law is that a judge has now also ordered a generic proxy to filter internet traffic as well. BREIN has created jurisprudence that will now allow them to come after any open proxy they have set their sights on.
My Government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and
intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.
So there we have it -- the Communication Capabilities Development Programme will have it's day in Parliament. We don't know what the draft clauses will be or when we will see them, but the Government remains intent on pursuing legislation in the
coming session of Parliament.
The Home Office have been very good at saying what the problem is, but seem intent on keeping the technical details of what they are proposing secret. Is it any wonder that the public are scared by a proposal for online surveillance not seen in
any other Western democracy.
The Snoopers' Charter : the Communications Data Bill is about to be published by the government.
When the coalition was elected, they promised that:
We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason (1)
Nick Clegg added:
We won't hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. (2)
Now, the government is saying that companies like Facebook and Google must keep your email and messaging records for 12 months, whether or not you are under suspicion: and that the records (not the content) must be handed over on the say-so of a
The government are asking for powers to intercept and collect information about who you talk to online by snooping on your Internet traffic, in case companies based outside the UK don't agree to hand over your information.
That makes us all a suspect. Instead of being under surveillance when there is evidence of wrongdoing, you will be under suspicion by default.
As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Government will introduce a law to protect freedom of speech and reform the law of defamation .
The libel reform campaign, nearly 100 organisations and 60,000 supporters including leading names from science, the arts and public life have been calling for legislation to reform the libel laws since December 2009. Congratulations to all on this
Now we need to see the details of the Bill and will work to ensure the reforms will do away with unwarranted chilling, bullying effects of the current laws.
Over the coming months, the Libel Reform Campaign will continue to fight for:
a public interest defence so people can defend themselves unless the claimant can show they have been malicious or reckless.
a strong test of harm that strikes out claims unless the claimant can demonstrate serious and substantial harm and they have a real prospect of vindication.
a restriction on corporations' ability to use the libel laws to silence criticism.
provisions for online hosts and intermediaries, who are not authors nor traditional publishers.
The Bill contains a number of measures of interest to ISPs, including a single publication rule and new defences for hosting providers and operators of websites with user-generated content.
The single publication rule
Currently, a claim for defamation can be brought up to one year after publication. This limitation is measured from the last time the allegedly defamatory article was published. However, viewing an article online essentially involves the host
transmitting a copy of that article over the Internet, which counts in legal terms as republishing the article. This means that there is, in effect, no time limit for making a defamation claim against the publisher of an online article, since the
law considers the article to be republished every time it is viewed.
The Defamation Bill solves this problem by introducing a single publication rule. If the Bill becomes law, the limitation period will be measured from the first time an article is published, rather than the last, as long as the manner of a
subsequent publication is not materially different from the manner of the first publication . This should go some way towards placing online content on an equal footing with offline content.
New defences for website operators
Under current defamation law, website operators and hosting providers risk being found liable for defamation if they refuse to take down content that a court later finds to be defamatory. A blogger could, for example, be held liable for failing to
remove a defamatory comment posted by one of her readers, while the ISP that hosts the blog could in turn be liable for failing to remove defamatory statements posted by the blogger.
The new Defamation Bill provides a weak looking defence in cases where the defamatory contents was posted by someone other than the website operator or host:
5 Operators of websites
It is a defence for the operator to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website. The defence is defeated if the claimant shows that---
it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement, the claimant gave the operator a notice of complaint in relation to the statement, and the operator failed to respond to the notice of
complaint in accordance with any provision contained in regulations.
This seems hardly worth having as websites are generally are not in a position to meaningfully identify posters, and so the defence simply will not apply in the vast majority of cases.
Last week the UK High Court ruled that several of the country's leading ISPs must block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. The decision is designed to limit traffic to the world's leading BitTorrent site but in the short-term it had the opposite
effect. Over the last few days The Pirate Bay has had 12 million more visitors daily than it has ever had before.
A site insider told TorrentFreak that this provided a golden opportunity to educate users on how to circumvent blocks: We should write a thank you letter to the BPI. It's not possible to buy advertising articles from leading UK
publications such as the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, but The Pirate Bay news was spread across all of them and dozens beside, for free. The news was repeated around the UK, across Europe and around the world reaching millions of people. The
results for the site were dramatic.
Another thing that's good with the traffic surge is that we now have time to teach even more people how to circumvent Internet censorship, the insider added.
Last Friday the UK High Court ruled that several of country's leading ISPs must censor The Pirate Bay website having ruled in February that the site and its users breach copyright on a grand scale. The blocks, to be implemented by Sky, Everything
Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media (BT are still considering their position), are designed to cut off all but the most determined file-sharers from the world's most popular torrent site.
In fact Virgin Media were the first off the blocks and have already started to block the site.
I don't suppose the security services will be very pleased that so many internet users are encouraged to use VPNs and proxies etc. They will now be looking for needles in much larger haystacks with some of the barn lights going dark.
Update: Seeing Orange
10th May 2012. Thanks to James
As of 9th May, The Pirate Bay has been vetoed by Orange.
Here is a screenshot of what Pirate Bay visitors get to see via Orange.
Absolutely disgusted, a total violation of internet freedom and what it is meant for.
The past few days have seen a lot of attention given to the neo Mary Whitehouse campaign for default censorship. It's important to remember that filtering systems are fallible - for example, they catch too much content, whether by accident
Today we happened upon a fine example. Through our reporting website Blocked.org.uk
, we established that the website of anti-violence advocates Conciliation Resources
is blocked by mobile networks Orange, O2 and Vodafone by their child protection filters.
Here's what Conciliation Resources actually do:
supports people at the heart of conflicts who are striving to find solutions. We work with them to deepen our collective understanding of the conflict, bring together divided communities and create opportunities for them to resolve their
I had a look around the site, and I couldn't find any pornography. Or any reason why it would be a bad idea for a young person to have access to the site.
Maybe its blocked simply because it frequently uses the word 'violence', eg in the strapline: Preventing violence, building peace.
This is clearly a mistake. But it demonstrates a key flaw with Internet filtering. It tends to block far too much content, both because the categories of blockable content are so vague and broad (see Orange's categories below) and because the
systems doing the filtering make mistakes. And because the decisions are made on the cheap as there are so many websites to get through.
Anonymizers: These sites allow you to browse the Internet and access content anonymously.
Anorexia - Bulimia: Promoting and instigating eating disorders.
Gambling: Access to online gambling such as casinos and any other online services that let you place bets.
Chat: Where you chat in real time to people you don’t know.
Bombs: Explaining how to prepare, make, build and use explosives and explosive devices.
Dating: Websites for match-making where the user can meet other people - make friends, find a partner, etc.
Forums: Where you’re invited to take part in discussions on predetermined topics with people you don’t know.
Pornography: Websites with a pornographic or sexual content.
Racism: Sites promoting racist behaviour based on culture, race, religion, ideology, etc.
Sects: Websites on universally acknowledged sects. Within this category URLs are included on organizations that promote directly or indirectly: (i) group, animal or individual injuries, (ii) esoteric practices, (iii)
content that sets a bad example for young children: that teaches or encourages children to perform harmful acts or imitate dangerous behaviour, (iv) content that creates feelings of fear, intimidation, horror, or psychological terror, (v)
Incitement or depiction of harm against any individual or group based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, religious or national identity.
Violence: Containing openly violent content and/or that promote violence or defend it.
Perhaps the blocking decisions could be made robust by allowing business and campaigns such as Conciliation Resources a straightforward process to sue for lost earnings and donations from incompetent censorship
The European Commission is considering setting up an age-based authentication system that limits where children can visit online. It says
children are in danger of finding inappropriate material because ways to control where they can go are fragmented .
The system is part of a series of proposals Brussels has put forward to make the net safer for children.
In its draft proposals, the commission warns that neglecting protections for children could have a profound impact on European societies. Current child safety measures taken by member states covering parental controls, rating content and
reporting illegal content are insufficient , according to the report. Many controls, such as filters for web pages, only work well for English, it says, and in some sectors - such as mobile apps - rating, filtering and control systems are
The report also says there is a dearth of sites specifically aimed at children where they can go to learn and play, or ones which stimulate creativity and critical thinking.
More details of the proposals are expected to be published on the 30th of May.
One in three new customers choose to activate TalkTalk's network based website blocking feature, according to a recent
TalkTalk introduced the network-based content blocking feature it calls HomeSafe in May 2011 with Active Choice for new customers, meaning that new customers are forced to make a positive choice whether or not to activate the
feature, there is no default option.
TalkTalk is considering applying this Active choice rule to existing customers too, but ordinary customer churn gradually increases the number who have faced it, which TalkTalk estimates will reach 1 million households by March 2013.
They are right. Network level blocking is not the silver bullet may have portrayed it to be. Easily avoided, it is a crude tool that carries serious risks, from blocking legitimate business content to introducing new security risks into the
A representative for freedom of the media at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that governments across the
world are posing a threat to internet freedom. The governments in the US and UK, known for their willingness to blame their political partners for violating human rights and freedoms, have turned out to be particular tough in suppressing internet
The OSCE says that one of major threats to internet freedom is inability of governments to adopt effective laws. Dunja Mijatovic, the representative for freedom of the media for the OSCE, thinks that governments are still trying to restrict or
suppress internet freedom and censor online content.
Practically complete internet freedom is a matter of deep concerns for governments both in the developing countries, where opposition bloggers and journalists are often persecuted, and in the leading western democracies. All attempts to censor
online content are usually described as measures taken as part of the war on cyberterrorism. The US and the UK have been particularly active in using this term to justify their tough online censorship.
State intrusion into private lives will be reduced after the Protection of Freedoms Bill becames law today.
It will curb local authority snooping, see the destruction of DNA samples and profiles given by innocent people and radically scale back the employment vetting process which would have routinely monitored 9.3m people.
Millions more people will be protected from state intrusion into their lives through a sweeping range of policies which will restore common sense to government.
The Protection of Freedoms Act will see:
the scrapping of the Vetting and Barring Scheme and creation of a new Vetting and Barring Service to oversee a scaled-back barring regime focused only on roles working most closely with vulnerable groups
millions of householders protected from some town hall snoopers eg checking their bins or school catchment area
the scrapping of section 44 powers, which have been used to stop and search 100,000s of innocent people
the reduction of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days
DNA samples and fingerprints of more than 1m innocent people deleted from police databases
thousands of gay men able to clear their name of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts
thousands of motorists protected from rogue wheel clamping firms
The Act follows the review of counter terrorism and security powers and the scrapping of ID cards as the coalition government delivers on its agreement to put traditional British freedoms at the heart of the Whitehall agenda.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: Snooping on the contents of families bins and security checking parents who want to help out in their children's classrooms were never needed for state security and we have brought them to an end: I have
brought common sense back to public protection with this Act.
The Protection of Freedoms Act will also see:
an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent
introduction of a code of practice for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems (overseen by a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner) to make them more proportionate and effective
restrictions on the powers of government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to enter private homes and other premises for investigations and a requirement for all to examine and slim down remaining powers
the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury
the liberalisation of marriage laws to allow people to marry outside the hours of 8am-6pm
an extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and strengthening the public's right to data
widening of the existing offence of trafficking for forced labour and ensuring that UK nationals who commit trafficking offences anywhere in the world can be prosecuted under UK law
Commencement orders enacting measures in the Act will begin from early July.
Kuwait plans to pass laws this year to censor the use of social networking sites such as Twitter, the information minister has said, in
the wake of cases of alleged blasphemy and sectarianism that have prompted protests.
Kuwaiti lawmakers have already voted in favour of a legal amendment earlier this month which could make insulting religious characters punishable by death.
Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said:
The government is now in the process of establishing laws that will allow government entities to regulate the use of the different new media outlets such as Twitter in order to safeguard the cohesiveness of the population and society.
Sheikh Mohammad said laws regulating social media needed to be passed as soon as possible: I have been asking the parliamentarians to give this priority, adding that he hoped the measures would be implemented this year.
The UK High Court has ruled that several ISPs including Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay
file sharing website.
The blocking process was established in law by the media industry action against the Newzbin2 Usenet indexing site last year. A few weeks later a conglomerate of music labels filed a lawsuit against several Internet providers, demanding that they
block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.
Nine labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner said that The Pirate Bay infringes their copyrights and that several ISPs including TalkTalk and Virgin Media should implement a blockade under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and
In February the High Court agreed that The Pirate Bay and its users do indeed breach copyright on a major scale, and this decision has now been followed by a court order.
ISPs Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay website in the weeks to come. A sixth ISP, BT, has asked for more time to consider its position.
The Open Rights Group says the court-ordered block represents the thin end of the wedge.
Blocking the Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous. It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for Internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism, ORG Executive Director Jim Killock said: Internet
censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes.
Some people think that customers should have to choose to have their internet service filtered (an opt-in service), other people think that internet services should all be filtered unless customers ask for their service to be unfiltered (an opt-out
Opt-in (someone's internet service should only be filtered if they ask for it) 57% in support
Opt-out (people's internet service should be filtered unless they ask for it not to be) 36% in support
Don't know 8%
In fact the majority polled support the option for internet blocking, not that it should be imposed by default
Reporters Without Borders has welcomed the ruling that the high court of the southeastern province of Sindh issued in response to a joint petition on 17 April by Bolo Bhi, a Pakistani civil rights group, and other human rights activists in a bid to stop
illegal website censorship by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
According to a Bolo Bhi press release, the petition asked the court to ensure that no website was blocked, censored or restricted in violation of Pakistan's Constitution.
After examining the petition, the high court served notice on the federal government and ordered the PTA not to block any website except in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act of 1996. This law regulates the PTA's control
of telecommunications networks and requires, inter alia, that this control be exercised in a fair and transparent manner.
The high court's ruling, if respected, would make it impossible for the government to introduce any nationwide website filtering system.
I've written extensively on the subject of web blocking to protect children from harmful content like pornography so I'll try and keep this short.
If you turned the internet off tomorrow you wouldn't stop kids getting hold of digital porn
General content filtering is impractical and imperfect. It doesn't even stop all accidental or incidental exposure and it certainly doesn't stop a motivated person or child getting to what they want with minimum technical knowledge.
Content filters over-block and prevent access to clean, lawful content and this impacts legitimate businesses
Even if content filters got much better, there is no one-size fits all. If you have children aged 7, 11 and 15 there is clearly content OK for a 15-year-old you wouldn't want your 7-year-old watching. So what level of content
filtering do you want enabled by default on all connections?
Well it seems that Olympic authorities are predictably going to treat spectators as shit.
Amateur Photographer reports that it will be against Olympic rules to tweet, share on Facebook or in any way share your photos of the event.
Quite how this will be policed is beyond comprehension and one would hope police officers are not going to be expected to pursue anyone seen posting photos on Instagram.
The London 2012 conditions state:
Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on
social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for
Coming after moves to restrict public demonstrations, photographers being interrogated on public footpaths and concern around heavy-handed commercial restrictions on what logos you can wear inside the Olympic village, this is yet another worrying
Rather than being the celebration organisers promised, London 2012 is rapidly risking becoming one of the most intimidating and restrictive events seen for decades.
Senior Labour MPs have supported a default block on adult websites.
Jenny Chapman, the shadow minister for justice, and Helen Goodman, the shadow minister for culture, media and sport, pledged their support.
In an article for the Daily Mail they condemned the access to pornography as a modern-day form of pollution . They wrote:
Children are regularly seeing pornography and sometimes being groomed for sex. Righting these wrongs is not an attack on civil liberties. Adults will still have the choice to access material they want to see.
But in a civilised society we must also protect our children. What we want to see is the same balance of rights and responsibilities as we have in the real world.
They also claimed that sales of televisions with internet access meant even more children will be one click from the strongest material .
They attacked Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposal, which involves asking the four major ISPs to offer new customers the chance to opt out of access to pornography. They argue it would be 2017 before the proportion of households included reached 90%.
They added that the plan does not go nearly far enough.
U.S. lawmakers have authored another bill designed to censor the internet in the name of cybersecurity.
Citing cyberattacks as a threat, some legislators have lent their support to a new act that, if passed, would let the government pry into the personal correspondence of any person they choose.
The website Change.org has created a petition
against the act and a handful of videos have been made against it along with some articles, but the American press has been mostly silent about the potential act, HR 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act
(or CISPA for short).
Opponents say the bill has vague language that could well allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private
Critics have already come after CISPA for the capabilities that it will give to seemingly any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Acts that were discarded on the
Capitol Building floor after incredibly successful online campaigns to crush them, widespread recognition of what the latest would-be law will do has yet to surface to the same degree.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online advocacy group, has sharply condemned CISPA for what it means for the future of the Internet. It effectively creates a cybersecurity exemption to all existing laws, explains the EFF, who add in a
statement of their own that There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by cybersecurity purposes.
Update: Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote
The House has passed the bill with late amendments that opened up the scope way beyond the original security basis.
Among them was an absolutely terrible change (pdf and embedded below---scroll to amendment #6) to the definition of what the government can do with shared information, put forth by Rep. Quayle. Astonishingly, it was described as limiting the government's
power, even though it in fact expands it by adding more items to the list of acceptable purposes for which shared information can be used. Even more astonishingly, it passed with a near-unanimous vote. The CISPA that was just approved by the House is
much worse than the CISPA being discussed as recently as this morning.
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for cybersecurity or national security purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of
cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
BREIN, the Dutch entertainment industry trade association, has obtained a court order forcing a proxy provider to close down on the grounds that the site facilitated access to a well known file-sharing website.
In January, the Court of the Hague ordered two of the Netherland's largest broadband providers to block the Pirate Bay via both IP and DNS blocking. However, users were still able to access the site via a number of proxy servers, some created with the
purpose of circumventing the blocking regime.
But last week BREIN obtained an injunction requiring the proxy site tpb.dehomies.nl to close down or face a fine of EUR1000 for every day the site remains online. The trade association immediately contacted the operators of a number of other proxy
servers threatening similar legal action if they refuse to close down their services. At least four complied within a week.
In their ongoing efforts to make The Pirate Bay inaccessible, the Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit BREIN is now going after the Dutch Pirate Party. BREIN is demanding that the political party ceases operating a proxy site, and is threatening to sue.
The Pirate Party is not impressed by the demands and has sent BREIN their response as a torrent, fittingly hosted at The Pirate Bay.
Proxy sites sprung up in the Netherlands to work around ISP blocking of The Pirate Bay. In the space of a few days hundreds of individuals setup proxy websites that allow customers of the ISPs to continue using The Pirate Bay.
Countering this move, local anti-piracy outfit BREIN obtained an injunction from the Court of The Hague which instructed the proxy site tpb.dehomies.nl to shut down or face a 1000 euros a day fine. The group is now using this injunction to press other
site owners to do the same.
Last week the local Pirate Party also received a letter from BREIN, demanding the shutdown of their Pirate Bay proxy site hosted at tpb.piratenpartij.nl. However, unlike the site owners that were previously contacted by the group, the Pirate Party is not
caving in. They would rather fight the case in court.
The Party informed BREIN that the proxy site will stay online. To show that The Pirate Bay can be a useful communication tool the Pirate Party sent the letter through a torrent file, hosted on the BitTorrent site at the center of the dispute.
The demands are ridiculous, Pirate Party chairman Dirk Poot told TorrentFreak:
A private lobbying organization should not be allowed to be the censor of the Dutch internet. We were also amazed to find an ex-parte decision attached, threatening Dutch minors with EUR1000 per day fines for operating their proxy. If we would have
yielded, their trick would immediately be played out against numerous other private citizens.
Last week the Dutch Pirate Party refused to cave in to the demands of Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group BREIN, who ordered the political party to take their Pirate Bay proxy offline. As expected, BREIN didn't let the case rest.The group obtained an
injunction from the Court of The Hague which ordered the Pirates to shutter the proxy within 6 hours, or face a fine of 10,000 euros per day.
So the Pirate Party kept the proxy site offline and consulted with lawyers to see what steps could be taken next. However, BREIN wasn't sitting still either and asked the Court of The Hague for a new injunction, specifically naming the Pirate Party
This injunction was issued, and the court orders the Pirates to take the proxy offline within 6 hours, or face a penalty of 10,000 euro per day. BREIN successfully argued that the proxy is an immediate threat to the effectiveness of the ISP blockade, and
submitted tweets of Pirate Party chairman who confirmed how much traffic the site received.
Faced with huge fines, the Dutch Pirate Party saw no other option than to take the proxy offline, replacing it with a list of tip and alternative proxies. Monday the Pirate Party will file a request to overturn the injunction, meaning that while BREIN
won the first battle, the war is far from over.
Update: Now Hollywood trade group attempts to gag a political party
The Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit BREIN is going all out to make The Pirate Bay inaccessible to the Dutch public. After successfully blocking The Pirate Bay through court, and then censoring proxy sites that linked to it, they are now demanding
that the Pirate Party should be banned from discussing how easily Internet censorship can be circumvented. The political party is baffled by the proposed gag-order and has asked the court to lift all censorship efforts.
The case, in which the Pirate Party asked the court to lift all censorship restrictions, was heard by the court. BREIN, however, did exactly the opposite by submitting a rather broad set of new demands essentially asking the court to gag the political
In short BREIN's demands are as follows.
The Pirate Party should be banned from operating a reverse proxy for Pirate Bay
The Pirate Party should be banned from operating a generic proxy service
The Pirate Party should be banned from linking to third-party proxies
The Pirate Party should be banned from listing new IP-addresses / domains Pirate Bay registers
The Pirate Party should be banned from encouraging people to circumvent the Pirate Bay blockade
If the Pirate Party violates the above terms BREIN asked for a penalty of EUR10,000 per day, up to a maximum of EUR250,000.
Needless to say, the demands of the anti-piracy group are unprecedented for a copyright related case. It is essentially a gag-order to enforce a previously obtained court verdict. If the court sides with BREIN this will have rather far-reaching
consequences for people's freedom of speech.
Naomi Gummer, a public policy analyst at Google, said it was a myth that laws can prevent children from viewing explicit material, because the pace of technological development would render legislation a blunt instrument .
MPs are calling on the Government to introduce an opt-in system which would mean users would be automatically excluded from accessing internet pornography unless they specifically indicated they wanted to view them.
But Miss Gummer said many parents are complicit in allowing their children to view social networking sites despite being too young and only a minority of children had been upset by what they had seen online.
She told a conference of child welfare experts:
The idea that laws can adequately protect young people is a myth. Technology is moving so fast that legislation is a blunt tool for addressing these challenges. But also the truth is that parents are complicit in their kids using underage social
networking sites. It is about education, not using legislative leavers.
She added that the extent of sexual content online was exaggerated:
25% of kids have seen sexual images, but only 14% saw them online. Of that, 4% say they were upset by the images, 2% of those images are hard-core and violent and the rest is nudity in the same way as perhaps seen in the offline world.
Meanwhile nanny statist Claire Perry doesn't believe in censorship...BUT...
While it's difficult domain to penetrate, hard numbers are few and far between, we know for a fact that porn sites are some of the most trafficked parts of the internet.
According to Google's DoubleClick Ad Planner, which tracks users across the web with a cookie, dozens of adult destinations populate the top 500 websites.
Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. LiveJasmin isn't much smaller. YouPorn, Tube8, and Pornhub, they're all vast, vast sites that dwarf
almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the internet.
Internet users are being asked to decypher hard to make out house numbers snapped by Google's Street View cameras, as part of new anti-bot checks.
The pictures of house numbers, which are taken from doors and fences on its Street View mapping service, appear on Google's websites when internet users are asked security questions in order to access their accounts. In order to gain access to the page,
web users are asked to identify a blurry house number by typing it into a box. The same image is presented to other Google users around the world at the same time. If enough people submit the same number, Google accepts they have accurately read the
photo and are therefore not bots.
Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties at Big Brother Watch, condemned the use of pictures of real house numbers as security questions: There is a serious privacy issue with identifying the individual number of people's homes .
Pickles also accused Google of using the pictures to further its own interests.
However it probably unlikely that this latest exercise has much impact on privacy. The large majority of house numbers are probably easily read by Google's computers and have probably been databased ages ago.
A Google spokesman explained that when someone types the number in correctly, Google will then sharpen up the online Street view image: We often extract data such as street names and traffic signs from Street View imagery to improve Google Maps with
useful information like business addresses and locations.
Perhaps interesting to recall that Google Street cars were also controversially listening out to detect wireless routers. Using this latest information they could now correlate a street address against the routers discovered when they did the rounds.
When a south London teenager uploaded a series of amateur rap videos to YouTube, he had no reason to believe they would make legal history.
But the videos, a vivid account of life on the road in Peckham for a young black male, quickly gained millions of views. In one, 18-year-old Matt raps about stabbing, saying: You're always chatting on, you should feel a piece of the knife,
stabbing in your head, stabbing in your chest.
In another video, teenagers make gestures and call out gang names. It was not long before the authorities took notice: last year Matt became the first person in England and Wales to be banned by law from producing music or videos that encourage violence.
Southwark council, which took out the injunction against Matt, believes YouTube has become the new playground for gang members. By all means we want people to use social media, but we do not want you to use it in ways that will incite violence,
said Jonathan Toy, Southwark council's head of community safety. This remains a big issue for us and without some form of censorship purely focusing on [violent videos], I'm not sure how we can address it.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve has described as an common sense a suggestion by MPs and peers that privacy injunctions should routinely be served on internet companies, as well as newspapers and broadcasters. Grieve told the Guardian:
That certainly seems to me an interesting suggestion. The interesting question is seems to me is, if this should be done on a more routine basis, then that seems to have some force. It is very wise; it's a suggestion of ordinary common sense
If a breach [of a court order] is brought to their attention then they will take action. But they can't act as a policeman on their network; I don't think that's necessarily helpful. They do need to act responsibly and clearly need to abide by the laws
of the land.
His intervention comes after a cross-party committee of MPs and peers urged the government to force Google to remove material banned by courts if it is not prepared to do so voluntarily.
The report, published last month by the privacy and injunctions committee, also urged Grieve to be more willing to take action against people who breach injunctions online, as happened with Ryan Giggs over his alleged affair with a reality TV star.
Claire Perry's parliamentary inquiry sponsored by Premier Christian Media has reiterated her call for a default ISP block on adult content.
Anyone wanting to view hardcore images online [or any other adult content such as Melon Farmers] would have to opt out of the default blocking, according to a panel of MPs and peers looking into child protection.
Their report said that six out of ten children download adult material because their parents have not installed filters. The use of blocking filters in homes has fallen from 49% to 39% in the last three years.
They concluded that parents were often outsmarted by their web-savvy children and felt unconfident in updating and downloading content filters. Many parents were oblivious to the type of material available on the internet and were often 'shocked'
when they realised the content that children were accessing.
Claire Perry, the Tory MP who chaired the non-governmental Parliamentary Inquiry on Online Child Protection, said:
This is hugely worrying. While parents should be responsible for their children's online safety, in practice, people find it difficult to put content filters on the plethora of internet-enabled devices in their homes.
The inquiry called for ISPs to offer one-click filtering for all devices within a year. This would block out adult content for all domestic broadband users and stop them accessing pornography on mobiles and iPads as well as PCs and laptops.
The inquiry said that the Government should launch an official inquiry into internet filtering and ministers should seek backstop legal powers to intervene should the ISPs fail to implement an appropriate solution .
Carefully selected witnesses before the inquiry pointed to changes in the availability of hard-core images: As a result, more hard-core imagery is now available in the "free shop front" of commercial porn sites, the report said. It also
found that only 3% of porn sites asked for proof of age and 66% did not contain any warning that they were for adults only.
Comment: Claire Perry's default blocking would censor adults and fail children
Commenting on Claire Perry's committee findings, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:
These recommendations, if enacted, would endanger children, create disruption for small business, and would not work technically.
Default filtering is a form of censorship. Adults should not have to opt out of censorship. Governments should not be given powers to default censor legal material that adults see online.
Our work on mobile networks is showing that default censorship is disrupting businesses, campaign groups and bloggers. Yet it is trivial for a child to avoid the network blocking that Claire Perry recommends - sites using https are invisible to network
blocks. Furthermore, default blocks may be appropriate for some older children, but too weak for others.
Parents need help, but 'default blocking' is an appalling proposal.
Comment: And for a little light relief, why not try the Daily Mail. They do a Jackson Pollox, throwing all sorts of negative terms at an empty canvas, to see what mess it makes
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who serves as an adviser to the government on how to make public data more accessible, says the extension of the state's surveillance powers would be a destruction of human rights and would make a huge amount of highly
intimate information vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials. In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee said:
The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing.
You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites ... or as an adolescent
finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.
The British computer engineer, who devised the system that allows the creation of websites and links, said that of all the recent developments on the internet, it was moves by governments to control or spy on the internet that keep me up most at night
He said that if the government believed it was essential to collect this kind of sensitive data about individuals, it would have to establish a very strong independent body which would be able to investigate every use of the surveillance powers to
establish whether the target did pose a threat, and whether the intrusion had produced valuable evidence. But he said that since the coalition had not spelled out an oversight regime, or how the data could be safely stored, the most important thing to
do is to stop the bill as it is at the moment .
New Zealand has had an internet blocking system running since March of 2010. New Zealand laudably limits the scope of the blocking to child abuse websites, so is proving uncontroversial and enjoys public support.
Mauricio Freitas of NZ's Geekzone recently trawled through various reports and briefings from the Department of Internal Affairs, the government body responsible for administering the filter. In December 2011, the system had clocked the following stats:
Seven ISPs 16.1 million requests blocked (there are multiple requests per page)
415 records in the block list covering 368 unique web sites
25 appeals presumably claiming unfair blocks
A survey by InternetNZ of 877 Kiwis recently released suggests 66% were in favour of extending the current blocking to include other material . However, the report does not indicate what other material might be.
Almost half were unaware NZ even had internet blocking, while just 19% knew for certain their ISP was applying the blocks. 56% felt the decision to be individually blocked should be voluntary.
Andrew Bowater, Head of Government Relations at Telecom NZ, asked whether the Censorship Compliance Unit can identify whether a person who is being prosecuted has been blocked by the filtering system. Using the hash value of the filtering system's
blocking page, Inspectors of Publications now check seized computers to see if it has been blocked by the filtering system. The Department has yet to come across an offender that has been blocked by the filter.
The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world . I am more worried than I have been in the past, he said: It's scary.
The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of restrictive
walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.
As the battle over the DMCA's requirements and boundaries heats up, Google, Facebook, the EFF, Public Knowledge and now the MPAA have become involved in a copyright case currently being heard by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Is it enough for a site
to perform takedowns when copyright holders demand them, or must it also take additional steps to remove repeat infringers?
Flava Works, Inc v. Gunter is an ongoing case involving an adult studio plaintiff and a user-submitted video links/video embedding site.
It has become so important that some of the world's leading Internet companies such as Google and Facebook, rights groups such as the EFF and Public Knowledge, and the biggest entertainment companies through the MPAA, have all become involved in the
First a little background. Marques Gunter owns a site called myVidster, a site designed for users to upload links and embed videos hosted on 3rd party sites. In 2010, adult studio Flava Works filed a copyright complaint against myVidster and 26 Doe users
of its service.
Flava Works alleged that Gunter had failed to correctly police his site for infringement. Although Flava did not deny that Gunter had responded to specific takedown requests, the company said that despite being made aware of them, Gunter had done nothing
to stop a sample of 26 repeat infringers who continually reposted links to infringing material on the myVidster site.
The case has been plagued by confusion over the difference between hosting a video and embedding a video hosted by someone else.
For example, a key issue in the case is whether myVidster qualifies for a safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). To qualify for the safe harbor, a service provider is required to have a policy of terminating the accounts of repeat
copyright infringers. Gunter apparently interpreted the DMCA as only requiring him to terminate users who directly infringe copyright, and he believes that bookmarking (and, consequently, embedding) a video does not qualify as direct infringement. Hence,
he didn't terminate users who bookmarked publicly available videos, even if those videos infringed copyright.
Gunter said that most of the content are embeds which are hosted on external websites, [and] I would suggest contacting the websites that are hosting your content to help stop the future bookmarking of it on myVidster.
If the Seventh Circuit adopts Judge Grady's---and the MPAA's---expansive interpretation of copyright liability, implications for the Internet economy could be far-reaching.
Numerous websites embed content from third parties they have not personally inspected. Under the theory articulated by Grady, and supported by the MPAA, these websites would be responsible for this content, exactly as if they had stored it on their own
servers. This could create a serious disincentive for sites to allow users to post embedded content, hampering the convenience and user-friendliness of the Web.
The cyber crime department of Russia's Interior Ministry says it intends to get tough on the country's ISPs when their customers share copyrighted or otherwise illegal material. Authorities say they are currently carrying out nationwide checks on ISPs'
local networks and could bring prosecutions as early as next month.
Having largely failed in their earlier bids to aggressively target individual file-sharers, in recent times copyright holders and authorities have been forced to look elsewhere for someone to blame.
Worldwide lobbying efforts have borne fruit and now it's almost routine to see ISPs dragged into the debate on illegal file-sharing and treated as if they are the reason the problem exists, or at the very least that it's their place to take
France's conservative government has unveiled new counterterrorism measures to punish those who visit extremist websites or travel to weapons-training camps abroad, in the wake of killings by an suspected Islamic extremist in southern France last month.
The measures now go to Parliament, where they may face resistance from the Socialists, who say France's legal arsenal against terrorism is already strong enough and that the proposal is a campaign ploy to boost President Nicolas Sarkozy's chances at a
Sarkozy's Cabinet gave its go-ahead to measures that would make it illegal to travel abroad to indoctrination and weapons-training camps for terrorist ends or to regularly visit websites that incite or praise deadly terrorism.
Sarkozy's government insists the measures are needed to fight the relatively new phenomenon of lone wolf terrorism by extremists who self-radicalize online via jihadist Web sites, and are hard for authorities to track.
A Domain Name Server translates the human readable URL (eg melonfarmers.co.uk) into the IP address (eg, 206.292.1.17) use by computers on the internet.
This Domain Name System has recently become a censorship tool eg by the US who have been frequently banning websites by ensuring that US DNS servers refuse to look up a banned URL. The US had threatened to introduce even more broad powers with the
introduction of the SOPA legislation.
In a response to growing attempts at censorship, various alternative DNS systems have been proposed with an emphasis on those that can't be meddled with by the authorities. The latest, called ODDNS, comes out of France.
As its name suggests, ODDNS (Open and Decentralized DNS) is an open and decentralized DNS system running on the P2P (Peer-to-Peer) model. It's creator, web developer Jimmy Rudolf, told PCinpact he invented the system with two specific aims in mind.
The first, and of most interest to people fighting censorship, is to show governments that it is not possible to prevent people from talking.
The second, of interest to anyone who owns and maintain their own domain names, is to take back control of them.
ODDNS is an application which allows everyone running the software to share information about domain names with each other, a bit like how a P2P network functions. ODDNS can supplement or even replace regular DNS.
Because domain names and related IP addresses are shared among peers in the network, they can no longer be censored.
Still under development, as expected the source code to ODDNS is licensed under GNU GPLv3. PCinpact reports that the current ODDNS website will be updated next week and the first beta release of the software will follow shortly after.
Tor is a popular program which enables people suffering internet censorship to view the entire unobstructed internet. It's basically a proxy server which encrypts the outgoing packets so that they can't be snooped on. Unfortunately, these data packets
can still be identified so the traffic can therefore still be blocked.
Computer scientists have now come up with a way to mask these data packets as Skype traffic. This makes it near impossible for the government to block the data packets. If a government were to block Skype, there would be a massive outcry from other
governments and the citizens themselves.
The goal is to make the traffic look like some other protocol that they are not willing to block, Ian Goldberg, a professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, told Ars.
SkypeMorph, as the application is called, uses traffic shaping to convert Tor packets into User Datagram Protocol packets to avoid detection. The traffic shaping also mimics the sizes and timings of packets produced by normal Skype video conversations to
further mask the connection from suspicion.
The state of Maryland just passed the first bill in the US that bans employers from asking for the social media passwords of job applicants and employees.
Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director of ACLU of Maryland, said:
We are proud of Maryland for standing up for the online privacy of employees and the friends and family members they stay in touch with online. Our state has trail-blazed a new frontier in protecting freedom of expression in the digital age, and has
created a model for other states to follow.
The ACLU of Maryland helped Robert Collins to make headlines after his employer, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, asked for his Facebook password during a reinstatement interview after a leave of absence following a
death in his family. Feeling that he had no choice --- your privacy or your livelihood? Really? --- Collins turned over his password, but, in his words, I felt violated, I felt disrespected, I felt that my privacy was invaded. But not only my privacy,
the privacy of my friends and that of my family that didn't ask for that. And, on his way out of the interview, he called the ACLU of Maryland.
It turns out that we weren't the only ones who were horrified by DOC's demands. The Maryland State Legislature took up the case, and with support from ACLU of Maryland, passed the nation's first-ever bill barring employers from asking for the social
media passwords of job applicants and employees!
But this issue is far from resolved. In states across the country, employers are demanding applicants' and employers' social networking passwords or requiring them to friend, say, an HR manager with no privacy settings, and school officials, teachers,
and coaches are demanding the same of their students and student-athletes.
To date, Lebanese internet users, and especially bloggers, have enjoyed some of the greatest Internet freedoms in the Middle East. But a new draft law by Information Minister Walid Daouk, called the Lebanese Internet Regulation Act, could put an end to
some of those freedoms.
Under the proposed law, any electronic publication affecting the morals and ethics of Lebanon, as well as anything having to do with gambling, would be illegal. The Act would also require mandatory registration of websites with the Ministry of
Information, including personally identifying information.
The Act would render online content (including advertising) subject to the same regulations as traditional print and broadcast media under the country's 1963 press law, which limits the number of press licenses issued for political publication, and encourages self-censorship. Web users would also be restricted to owning no more than a single website.
Lebanese citizens are protesting the Act on Twitter under the hashtag #StopLIRA.
Proposed legislation in Iraq has free speech and human rights watch groups on alert.
According to a translation from the Centre for Law and Democracy, Articles 3, 4, and 5 of Iraq's IT Crimes Law would impose a mandatory life sentence for anyone using a computer or the Internet to do any of the following:
compromise the unity of the state;
subscribe, participate, negotiate, promote, contract or deal with an enemy ... in order to destabilize security and public order or expose the country to danger;
damage, cause defects, or hinder [systems or networks] belonging to security military, or intelligence authorities with a deliberate intention to harm [state security].
promote ideas which are disruptive to public order ;
implement terrorist operations under fake names or to facilitate communication with members or leaders of terrorist groups ;
promote terrorist activites and ideologies or to publish information regarding the manufacturing, preparation and implementation of flammable or explosive devices, or any tools or materials used in the planning or execution of terrorist acts ;
facilitate or promote human trafficking in any form ;
engage in trafficking, promoting or facilitating the abuse of drugs .
The Act also includes provisions to punish network users who create chaos in order to weaken the trust of the electronic system of the state, provoke or promote armed disobedience, disturb public order or harm the reputation of the
country, or intrude, annoy or call computer and information network users without authorization or hinders their use.
Copyright infringement and hacking would also land users in big trouble under the Act, which proposes a 2- to 3-year prison term for either offense.
It is understood the Prime Minister is considering new rules that would oblige websites hosting such videos to introduce robust age verification systems similar to those used to safeguard children online gambling.
Music videos are currently exempt from BBFC censorship under the Video Recordings Act 2010. There are currently no legal restrictions on children downloading music videos of any kind.
The Prime Minister is understood to be disappointed with the music video industry's response to a Government report that whinged about sexualisation of childhood.
Cameron is to summon leading figures in the music video and social media world to Downing Street for a summit next month and threaten censorial new laws if more is not done to protect children.
Campaigners claim there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of sexual content and explicit language in music videos which can be accessed by very young children on computers and mobile phones.
Around 200 million videos are watched each month on Vevo, a music video website popular amongst the young. Although MTV, and other television channels, censor sexual content before the 9pm watershed the same is impractical for video-sharing websites.
Music videos were singled out for strong criticism in Let Children be Children, a Downing Street commissioned report written by anti-sexualisation campaigner Reg Bailey, head of the Mothers Union, a Church of England campaign group.
The government also remains 'concerned' by the style and promotion of so-called Lads' mags , such as Loaded, FHM and Nuts. This industry is also set to be called in to Downing Street over the summer to be asked what steps they are taking to
There is likely to be strong opposition to Government restrictions on accessing music videos online. Rio Caraeff, the chief executive of Vevo, has said that age ratings are unnecessary and would be difficult to enforce. Vevo has claimed the move would be
bad for business and would cut the royalties earned by some acts.
Elspeth Howe's Bill introduced to the House of Lords a few days ago required ISPs to default to a censored internet feed until an adult subscriber requests otherwise and verifies that they are adult.
The bill also requires internet devices to be sold with pre-installed blocking software and to provide information about internet safety.
However it is a private members bill and is rather muddying the water for alternative initiatives undertaken by industry in response to pressure from the government and nutter campaigners.
For the moment the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said it would not support the bill, as industry was already taking steps to address the issue. A DCMS spokesman said:
We understand the sentiment behind this Private Members Bill, but it isn’t something that Government would support. Much can be achieved through self-regulation and it can be more effective than a regulatory approach in delivering flexible
solutions that work for both industry and consumers.
Howe's Bill reads:
Online Safety Bill (HL Bill 137)
1 Duty to provide a service that excludes pornographic images
(1) Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access service which excludes pornographic images unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.
(2) Where mobile telephone network operators provide a telephone service to subscribers which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this service excludes pornographic images unless all the conditions of subsection
(3) have been fulfilled.
(3) The conditions are---
(a) the subscriber opts-in to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic images;
(b) the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and
(c) the provider of the service has an age verification policy which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over.
(4) In subsection (3)---
opts-in means a subscriber notifies the service provider of his or her consent to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic images.
2 Duty to provide a means of filtering online content
Manufacturers of electronic devices must provide customers with a means of 20filtering content from an internet access service at the time the device is purchased.
3 Duty to provide information about online safety
Internet service providers and mobile telephone network operators must provide prominent, easily accessible and clear information about online safety to customers at the time the internet service is purchased and shall make such
5information available for the duration of the service.
Note, the definition of “pornographic” is taken from the Dangerous Pictures Act:
An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
Ethical hacker Ankit Fadia's book is shocking, entertaining, educational and inspiring all at the same time! He dedicates it To A Free and Unblocked Internet .
Seriously, even I learned a lot and I've been circumventing government Internet censorship in Thailand and teaching others how to for the past six years.
When I met the author, Ankit Fadia, in Bangkok a few weeks ago, I asked him the only important question: Everything? Surely that's exaggeration. He told me, of course it was, and that his book was mostly intended to help users circumvent school
and workplace blocking.
After studying How to Unblock EVERYTHING on the Internet!, I just can't agree with him. Ankit pretty much covers everything I can think of. His Chapter 9 on multiple formats for a webpage's IP address is nothing short of brilliant. Turns out there are
far more formats to which that URL can be converted than government could employ people to block (see below). For my work against censorship, this is the most important chapter in How to Unblock EVERYTHING on the Internet!
Arisona's legislature has passed a bill which would update an existing telephone harassment law to apply to the Internet and other forms of electronic communication. The problem, though, is that it dramatically broadens the scope, making it potentially
criminal to even marginally offend someone when they aren't even the target of the offensive communication.
The bill reads:
It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict
physical harm to the person or property of any person.
As outlined by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:
The bill is sweepingly broad, and would make it a crime to communicate -- via any electronic means -- speech that is intended to 'annoy,' 'offend,' 'harass' or 'terrify,' as well as certain sexual speech.
Because the bill is not limited to one-to-one communications, House Bill 2549 would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.
Words like lewd or profane are not defined by statute, or in reference. Most people understand lewd to mean of a lusty or sexual nature, and profane is disrespectful of religious beliefs and practices. And how does one define
annoying, when it's so individual?
Section one of this law is so vague, in fact, that a person could be prosecuted because a friend of a friend of a friend found a Facebook post offensive. Which is ridiculous.
Right now, the only thing standing in this bill's way is the governor's signature.
Despite numerous media reports stating that Arizona's HB 2549---the now infamous bill that, as one headline put it, would censor the internet ---has moved from the legislature and is sitting on Gov. Jan Brewer's desk waiting for her John Hancock,
such is not the case, according to the Phoenix New Times.
As we've already mentioned twice before, reported Matthew Hendley this afternoon, the bill was never transferred to the governor, contrary to the numerous media reports saying it has. The bill was amended before it passed the Senate, meaning it
was returned to the House---where it's apparently been stopped.
The bill, which sponsor Vic Williams says was drafted to address online harassment and stalking, and to protect people's privacy, contains language so sloppily written that UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who is certainly no tinfoil hat-wearing Leftie,
said it would not pass constitutional muster.
There is a growing backlash against the proposals to let the security services monitor every email, phone call and website visit by politicians from both coalition parties.
Chief among the Conservative rebels was Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, who suggested the proposals were hypocritical given the Prime Minister's previous stance against the control state .
In a 2009 speech Cameron said: Faced with any problem, any crisis, given any excuse, Labour grasp for more information, pulling more and more people into the clutches of state data capture.
Rees-Mogg said: The Government ought to remember why it favoured liberty in opposition. The powers it creates may in future be used by less benevolent administrations.
David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, said the plan was an unnecessary extension of the ability of the State to snoop on people. What this is talking about doing is not focusing on terrorists or criminals. It's absolutely everybody's emails,
phone calls, web access.
Senior Liberal Democrats are also planning to rebel. They want the Government to clarify whether the legislation will allow GCHQ to access information on demand and without a warrant. The party passed a motion at its spring conference banning
communication interception without named, specific and time-limited warrants.
Tim Farron, the President of the Liberal Democrats, wrote on Twitter: We didn't scrap ID cards to back creeping surveillance by other means. State mustn't be able to trace citizens at will.
Big Brother Clegg tries the angle that there is no central database
While there will be no database, providers will be required to record all activities of their customers so they can be accessed if needed.
Nick Clegg said he was against the idea of a central database and the government reading people's e-mails at will. He claimed: I'm totally opposed as a Liberal Democrat and as someone who believes in people's privacy and civil liberties.
But in fact if the proposal is a rehash of what the police etc wanted under Labour, then they wanted the ISP's to provide access to their local databases so that the police could actually use it like a central database (albeit a little bit slower on
Clegg also claimed that the government will not ram legislation through Parliament . He said the proposals would be published in draft first to allow them to be debated.
Meanwhile Theresa May has been suggesting that the capability is primarily for tracking down terrorists and paedophiles. But of course that has always been the stated case, and it has never stopped the capability to be used for trivial snooping eg to
help councils investigate all sorts of low level nonsense.
LibDems have been fed some blather trying to get them on the government track
An internal Liberal Democrat briefing on Home Office plans to massively expand government surveillance was today passed to Privacy International. The document contains significant evasions and distortions about the proposed Communications Capabilities
Development Programme (CCDP), and is clearly intended to persuade unconvinced Lib Dem MPs to vote in favour of the proposal.
The very reason I loathe Labour with a passion is because of the obsessive control-freakery they displayed during their years in power. With their being voted out, it seemed we were rid of these big brother tendencies. Now it appears some in government
have been infected by much the same virus.
Kindly tell the Home Secretary where to stick her proposals for yet greater surveillance of communications.
The Prime Minister said that Nick Clegg was made fully aware during a meeting of the National Security Council of Home Office plans for police powers to monitor internet communications.
In a put-down to his Coalition partners, Cameron said it was important to remember that some of the most senior Liberal Democrats in government waived through the proposals before they were made public.
The Deputy Prime Minister hit back, saying he had made clear in the meeting that he would stop the laws unless civil liberties were protected.
Conservative ministers insist the new laws will simply widen the current scope of powers --- police and intelligence agencies are already allowed to monitor telephone calls, letters and emails. They dispute the idea that monitoring voice calls and other
communications over the internet amounts to snooping.
Prominent Lib Dems have expressed outrage that the changes will allow the police greater power to track online communications, such as on Facebook and Skype.
UK Police and intelligence officers are to be handed the power to monitor people's messages online in what has been described as an attack on the privacy of vast numbers of Britons.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, intends to introduce legislation in next month's Queen's Speech which would allow law-enforcement agencies to snoop on citizens using Facebook, Twitter, online gaming forums and the video-chat service Skype.
Regional police forces, MI5 and GCHQ, the Government's eavesdropping centre, would be given the right to know who speaks to whom on demand and in real time and without a warrant. Warrants would only be required to view the content of
Civil liberties groups rightfully expressed grave concern at the move. Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, described it as
An unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance as in China and Iran.
David Davis, the former Conservative shadow Home Secretary, said:
The state was unnecessarily extending its power to snoop on its citizens.
It is not focusing on terrorists or on criminals, the MP said. It is absolutely everybody. Historically, governments have been kept out of our private lives. They don't need this law to protect us. This is an unnecessary extension of the ability of the
state to snoop on ordinary innocent people in vast numbers.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had resisted greater surveillance powers when in opposition:
This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. The Coalition bound itself together in the language of civil liberties. Do they still mean it?
May is confident of enacting the new law because it has the backing of the Liberal Democrats, once strong supporters of civil liberties, but now obviously not. Senior Liberal Democrat backbenchers are believed to have been briefed by their ministers on
the move and are not expected to rebel in any parliamentary vote. A senior adviser to Big Brother Clegg said he had been persuaded of the merits of extending the police and security service powers
The Home Office said that the legislation would be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows , and said:
We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes. Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone
call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.
However these claims about not snooping on contents seem somewhat contradictory when considering the proposed extension to social networking. There the communications only exist as the contents of a web page. There are no dialled numbers and email
connections on Facebook, just the messages on your wall.
According to The Sunday Times, which broke the story, the ISP's Association, which represents communications firms, was unhappy with the proposal when it was briefed by the Government last month. A senior industry official told the paper: The network
operators are going to be asked to put probes in the network and they are upset about the idea... it's expensive, it's intrusive to your customers, it's difficult to see it's going to work and it's going to be a nightmare to run legally.
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:
Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim.
Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.
Put aside privacy – and the government has – the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of campaign group NO2ID said:
Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim.
Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.
It looks like the Home Office is setting out to leapfrog China and gain the UK an unenviable position as the most monitored society in history. The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone -- of almost all our communications
and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading -- just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.
The vague assertion that all this is needed to deal with the usual bogeyman, terrorism, is worthless. It is hard to imagine any threat that is serious enough to justify it. But something that aims to make surveillance easy will create a demand for
surveillance. Unless it is subject to proper controls from the beginning, then the pretexts for access will multiply. That would mean the end of privacy.
Put aside privacy -- and the government has -- the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?
Comment: Same Old Policy
3rd April 2012. From David
It's interesting that the new email/phone snooping thing is *exactly* the same as that about to be brought in by Labour in 2006 - methinks this one is down to the long-term Whitehall Mandarins, rather than any particular party....
The US House Foreign Affairs panel has approved legislation that seeks to bar U.S. companies from helping foreign countries in trying to censor the Internet or monitor their citizens' Internet or mobile communications.
The legislation approved by the Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee would require the State Department to identify by name in its annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices the countries that restrict access to the Internet. It also
would bar U.S. firms from exporting to these countries hardware or software that could be used to spy on or censor citizens.
The Global Online Freedom Act would also require companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission what types of information they share with repressive regimes and whether they notify users when they block
access to content at their request. Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith, R-N.J., the bill's sponsor, has said this last provision would allow human rights activists to pressure U.S. companies not to engage in such practices.
Despite this, the bill faces an uphill battle in Congress. Smith has introduced similar versions of the legislation in past years but those measures haven't gone far.
The Russian Interior Ministry has announced plans to open specialized centers to monitor online media for extremism, RIA Novosti reports.
Internal Affairs Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said that the new centers would track both text and audio-visual materials. According to Nurgaliyev, the decision was made by an interagency commission and will be implemented throughout the country by regional
Elaborating on the number of anti-extremism cases that the agency has undertaken, the minister said: Two hundred and nineteen cases of investigation and analysis were initiated in 2011. Investigative agencies filed 67 charges and issued 130 cautions,
warnings and advisories. In 47 cases, access to particular internet resources was blocked and their activities were halted.
China has intensified online censorship by closing 16 websites and detaining six people for spreading rumours of a coup amid Beijing's most serious political crisis for years.
The moves underline official anxieties ahead of this year's leadership transition, particularly since the sacking of Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai led to widespread speculation about infighting at the top.
As the mood on microblogs grew increasingly febrile, there were even claims of an attempted coup in the Chinese capital, complete with photographs of military vehicles that turned out to be from a parade three years ago.
Property tycoon Zhang Xin, who has more than 3 million microblog followers, wrote: What is the best way to stop 'rumours'? It is transparency and openness. The more speech is discouraged, the more rumours there will be.
The underlying problem is that you can't get the truth out of the government, so you might as well believe stuff flying around on the internet, agreed Jeremy Goldkorn, who runs the Danwei website on Chinese media.
The High Court has ruled that decisions made by Nominet's dispute resolution service (DRS) may not be appealed in the courts, in cases concerning accusations of abusive domain name registration.
The court held that the registration contract did not leave a role for the court, as abusive registration is a term that only has meaning within the context of the Nominet DRS and cannot itself be the cause of legal action before the courts.
The judgement overturns the ruling of the Patents County Court in a dispute between Michael Toth, who registered the domain name emirates.co.uk in 2002, and the Emirates airline, which later sought and gained possession of the domain name through
Nominet's dispute resolution service.
Toth successfully appealed to the Patents County Court for a declaration that the domain name was not registered abusively. However, the case was subsequently appealed in the High Court, which last week ruled that the such cases cannot be appealed in the
The DRS and Procedure put in place a regime in which the question of abusive registration is one for, and only for, the Expert appointed under the DRS.