A football fan who sent a Twitter insult about Premier League referee and cancer survivor Mark Halsey following last weekend's Liverpool v Manchester United game has been cautioned by police.
Liverpool supporter John Wareing tweeted: I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies , after the official sent off Reds midfielder Jonjo Shevley and handed United a late penalty that gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side a 2-1 win.
Commenting on the incident, easily offended DS Tony Lunt of Greater Manchester Police spouted:
Clearly the victim and his family were very distressed by the extremely offensive comments posted on Twitter. We take all reports of abuse on social networking sites very seriously as these remarks can and do have a devastating impact on
As a result of our investigation, we have cautioned a man who has admitted responsibility for some of the messages. This individual was very apologetic and realises that in a moment of stupidity he posted deeply derogatory remarks about the
victim and completely regrets his actions.
Our inquiries are ongoing to identify anyone else who posted these offensive messages.
Social networks cannot be trusted to protect children online Social networking sites cannot be trusted to protect children's safety online and must be independently regulated. By John Carr, member of the UK Council for Child internet Safety.
A leaked document from the CleanIT project shows just how far internal discussions in that initiative have drifted away from its publicly stated aims, as well as the most fundamental legal rules that underpin European democracy and the rule
The European Commission-funded CleanIT project claims that it wants to fight terrorism through voluntary self-regulatory measures that defends the rule of law.
The initial meetings of the initiative, with their directionless and ill-informed discussions about doing something to solve unidentified online terrorist problems were mainly attended by filtering companies, who saw an interesting
business opportunity. Their work has paid off, with numerous proposals for filtering by companies and governments, proposals for liability in case sufficiently intrusive filtering is not used, and calls for increased funding by governments of new
The leaked document contradicts a letter sent from CleanIT Coordinator But Klaasen to Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom in April of this year, which explained that the project would first identify problems before making policy proposals. The promise to
defend the rule of law has been abandoned. There appears never to have been a plan to identify a specific problem to be solved – instead the initiative has become little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for
terrorist offences) for the online security industry.
CleanIT wants binding engagements from internet companies to carry out surveillance, to block and to filter (albeit only at end user - meaning local network - level). It wants a network of trusted online informants and, contrary to
everything that they have ever said, they also want new, stricter legislation from Member States.
CleanIT (terrorism), financed by DG Home Affairs of the European Commission is duplicating much of the work of the CEO Coalition (child protection), which is financed by DG Communications Networks of the European Commission. Both are,
independently and without coordination, developing policies on issues such as reporting buttons and flagging of possibly illegal material. Both CleanIT and the CEO Coalition are duplicating each other's work on creating voluntary rules for
notification and removal of possibly illegal content and are jointly duplicating the evidence-based policy work being done by DG Internal Market of the European Commission, which recently completed a consultation on this subject. Both have also
been discussing upload filtering, to monitor all content being put online by European citizens.
Key measures being proposed:
Removal of any legislation preventing filtering/surveillance of employees' Internet connections
Law enforcement authorities should be able to have content removed without following the more labour-intensive and formal procedures for 'notice and action'
Knowingly providing links to terrorist content (the draft does not refer to content which has been ruled to be illegal by a court, but undefined terrorist content in general) will be an offence just like the
Legal underpinning of real name rules to prevent anonymous use of online services
ISPs to be held liable for not making reasonable efforts to use technological surveillance to identify (undefined) terrorist use of the Internet
Companies providing end-user filtering systems and their customers should be liable for failing to report illegal activity identified by the filter
Customers should also be held liable for knowingly sending a report of content which is not illegal
Governments should use the helpfulness of ISPs as a criterion for awarding public contracts
The proposal on blocking lists contradict each other, on the one hand providing comprehensive details for each piece of illegal content and judicial references, but then saying that the owner can appeal (although if there was already a judicial
ruling, the legal process would already have been at an end) and that filtering such be based on the output of the proposed content regulation body, the European Advisory Foundation
Blocking or warning systems should be implemented by social media platforms -- somehow it will be both illegal to provide (undefined) Internet services to terrorist persons and legal to knowingly provide access to illegal
content, while warning the end-user that they are accessing illegal content
The anonymity of individuals reporting (possibly) illegal content must be preserved... yet their IP address must be logged to permit them to be prosecuted if it is suspected that they are reporting legal content deliberately and to permit
reliable informants' reports to be processed more quickly
Companies should implement upload filters to monitor uploaded content to make sure that content that is removed -- or content that is similar to what is removed -- is not re-uploaded
It proposes that content should not be removed in all cases but blocked (i.e. make inaccessible by the hosting provider -- not blocked in the access provider sense) and, in other cases, left available online but with the domain
Iranian authorities have announced that they are permanently blocking access to Google Mail and would instead create a national email service.
Google confirmed that there had been significant decline in Google Mail traffic to Iran and said this was not due to a technical problem on its part. It also said it was aware that Google Mail users in Iran were having difficulties in accessing
Reporters Without Borders said:
The Iranian government has never hidden the fact that it regards new media, especially the Internet, with the utmost suspicion because of the very visible presence of its opponents on social networks. Its response is to slow or sever connections
in an attempt prevent its critics from organising and prevent damaging reports and images from circulating within the country or being sent abroad.
Blocking Google Mail takes the drive to control Iranian cyber-space to a new stage and officialises the war already launched against website-based email services, which are harder to monitor and which have won over the public by their use of
Farsi. But this strategy is doomed to failure. Most Iranian Internet users know how to sidestep censorship and access blocked websites and pages.
As for the creational of a national email service, if it really goes ahead, we doubt that it will be a success because no one is fooled. Its aim would be to increase online surveillance.
Update: A timely further reason for blocking Google Mail
Although an Iranian block on Google Mail was already in progress, it has now been repackaged as an action against the Innocence of Muslims video that has resulted in violent muslim protest around the world.
Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice, said Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an Iranian official with the state-run body in charge of online censorship and computer crimes, according to the semi-official Ilna
Khoramabadi claimed the decision was taken after Iranians pressed the authorities to filter the sites because of links to the film.
The Young Journalists Club, an Iranian semi-official news agency that broke the news, said the move was in reaction to YouTube's refusal to take down the anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims.
At midnight in Tehran, Google was still accessible, according to citizens who spoke to the Guardian, but some said they could not access their Gmail accounts as some internet service providers appeared to have blocked the service.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecution has made a statement after deciding to pursue a case involving insulting tweets. Starmer said:
On 30 July 2012 Daniel Thomas, a semi-professional footballer, posted a homophobic message on the social networking site, Twitter. This related to the Olympic divers Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield. This became available to his followers. Someone
else distributed it more widely and it made its way into some media outlets. Mr Thomas was arrested and interviewed. The matter was then referred to CPS Wales to consider whether Mr Thomas should be charged with a criminal offence.
The Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send a communication using a public electronic communications network if that communication is grossly offensive. It is now established that posting comments via Twitter constitutes sending a
message by means of a public electronic communications network. It is also clear that the offence is committed once the message is sent, irrespective of whether it is received by any intended recipient or anyone else. The question in this case is
therefore whether the message posted by Mr Thomas is so grossly offensive as to be criminal and, if so, whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.
There is no doubt that the message posted by Mr Thomas was offensive and would be regarded as such by reasonable members of society. But the question for the CPS is not whether it was offensive, but whether it was so grossly offensive that
criminal charges should be brought. The distinction is an important one and not easily made. Context and circumstances are highly relevant and as the European Court of Human Rights observed in the case of Handyside v UK (1976), the right to
freedom of expression includes the right to say things or express opinions ...that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population.
The context and circumstances in this case include the following facts and matters:
(a) However misguided, Mr Thomas intended the message to be humorous.
(b) However naive, Mr Thomas did not intend the message to go beyond his followers, who were mainly friends and family.
(c) Mr Thomas took reasonably swift action to remove the message.
(d) Mr Thomas has expressed remorse and was, for a period, suspended by his football club.
(e) Neither Mr Daley nor Mr Waterfield were the intended recipients of the message and neither knew of its existence until it was brought to their attention following reports in the media.
This was, in essence, a one-off offensive Twitter message, intended for family and friends, which made its way into the public domain. It was not intended to reach Mr Daley or Mr Waterfield, it was not part of a campaign, it was not intended to
incite others and Mr Thomas removed it reasonably swiftly and has expressed remorse. Against that background, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Wales, Jim Brisbane, has concluded that on a full analysis of the context and circumstances in which this
single message was sent, it was not so grossly offensive that criminal charges need to be brought.
Before reaching a final decision in this case, Mr Daley and Mr Waterfield were consulted by the CPS and both indicated that they did not think this case needed a prosecution.
This case is one of a growing number involving the use of social media that the CPS has had to consider. There are likely to be many more. The recent increase in the use of social media has been profound. It is estimated that on Twitter alone
there are 340 million messages sent daily. And the context in which this interactive social media dialogue takes place is quite different to the context in which other communications take place. Access to social media is ubiquitous and
instantaneous. Banter, jokes and offensive comment are commonplace and often spontaneous. Communications intended for a few may reach millions.
Against that background, the CPS has the task of balancing the fundamental right of free speech and the need to prosecute serious wrongdoing on a case by case basis. That often involves very difficult judgment calls and, in the largely
unchartered territory of social media, the CPS is proceeding on a case by case basis. In some cases it is clear that a criminal prosecution is the appropriate response to conduct which is complained about, for example where there is a sustained
campaign of harassment of an individual, where court orders are flouted or where grossly offensive or threatening remarks are made and maintained. But in many other cases a criminal prosecution will not be the appropriate response. If the
fundamental right to free speech is to be respected, the threshold for criminal prosecution has to be a high one and a prosecution has to be required in the public interest.
To ensure that CPS decision-making in these difficult cases is clear and consistent, I intend to issue guidelines on social media cases for prosecutors. These will assist them in deciding whether criminal charges should be brought in the cases
that arise for their consideration. In the first instance, the CPS will draft interim guidelines. There will then be a wide public consultation before final guidelines are published. As part of that process, I intend to hold a series of
roundtable meetings with campaigners, media lawyers, academics, social media experts and law enforcement bodies to ensure that the guidelines are as fully informed as possible.
But this is not just a matter for prosecutors. Social media is a new and emerging phenomenon raising difficult issues of principle, which have to be confronted not only by prosecutors but also by others including the police, the courts and
service providers. The fact that offensive remarks may not warrant a full criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean that no action should be taken. In my view, the time has come for an informed debate about the boundaries of free speech in
an age of social media.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a far-ranging piece of legislation that was passed by the Senate in June and made official last week. A government official said that the new
law is intended to curtail a number of offenses frequently committed on the internet, but that it also prohibits certain content-related behavior.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview that punishable acts under the new law include offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data system, illegal access, illegal
interception, data interference, system interference and misuse of devices.
The law also includes offenses such as computer-related forgery, fraud, libel and identity theft, as well as content-related offenses such as cybersex and child pornography.
The Act is particularly miserable in sections defining banning webcam girls, sex video chat or cybersex. The act defines cybersex as the wilful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious
exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favour or consideration .
The law states that the regional trial court shall have jurisdiction over any violation of the provisions of this Act including any violation committed by a Filipino national regardless of the place of commission... if any of the elements was
committed within the Philippines .
Anyone breaking the law faces a fine of 250,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000; £ 3,700) and a jail term of up to six months.
One of the authors of the law, senator Edgardo Angara, said the act was needed to detect, investigate and suppress cybercrime such as hacking, cybersex, identity theft, spamming, and child pornography online.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police are now meant to set up a cybercrime unit to exclusively handle cases involving violations of this act . To deal with these cases, the authorities are planning to
create cybercrime courts with specially trained judges.
Philippine media organisations have expressed concerns that it may also be used to curb press freedom because it lists internet libel as cybercrime. According to the act, someone found guilty of libellous comments online, including comments made
on social networks and blogs, could be jailed for up to 12 years with no possibility of parole.
Iceland is considering internet censorship in the form of a default block on adult related material.
It is reported that the country's two largest ISPs, Vodafone and Siminn kind of like the idea of blocking adult related sites, assuming that technical issues can be worked out.
A Vodaphone spokesperson, Hrannar Petursson, reportedly claimed that it's all in the name of customer safety, and has nothing... nothing! to do with censorship. Viruses and malware, Petursson explained, are often found on porn sites.
He spewed: It's not a big deal, anyway. Customers can always ask the ISP to allow the porn sites, gambling sites, and related sites.
Jordan's King Abdullah has endorsed a new repressive media law.
The legislation requires electronic publications in Jordan to get a licence from the government.
It also gives the authorities the power to block and censor websites, whose owners will be held responsible for comments posted on them.
Human Rights Watch accused the government of using such legislation to go after opponents and critics . The organisation said the dangers of the amendments to the Press and Publications Law arose from its vague definition of the electronic publications
which would be affected, the new executive power to block websites, and the unreasonable restrictions on online content, including comments posted by website users.
The legislation's definition of electronic publication is an electronic site on the internet with a fixed address that offers publication services . Any that publish news, investigations, articles, or comments, which have to do with the
internal or external affairs of the kingdom must register with the commerce ministry and get a licence from the culture ministry.
The culture ministry will have the authority to block websites that are either unlicensed or deemed to be in violation of any law, and to close the website's offices without providing a reason or obtaining a court order.
The owner, editor and director of an electronic publication will share the responsibility for comments posted on their website, and be obliged not to publish any containing information or facts unrelated to the news item or if the truth has
not been checked , or if they violate laws .
Government representatives in Tunisia have confirmed that the country has officially brought its repressive Internet censorship policies, known as Ammar 404, to an end.
According to Information and Communication Minister Mongi Marzoug this has been brought on by the recent revolution in Tunisia and the interim government will now try to promote access to information and freedom of expression. The launching of
the country's National Forum of Internet governance will be the end of Ammar 404, he said.
Tunisia will also try to prove to the world that they have truly ended censorship as he presented the main objectives of the upcoming ICT4All conference to be held in Tunisia.
Google lists eight reasons on its YouTube Community Guidelines page for why it might take down a video. Being cited as the cause of riots is not among them. But after the White House warned that a crude anti-Muslim movie trailer had
sparked murderous violence in the Middle East, Google acted.
Access to a 14-minute clip from The Innocence of Muslims was blocked in Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
Legal experts and civil libertarians, meanwhile, said the controversy highlighted how Internet companies, most based in the United States, have become global arbiters of free speech, weighing complex issues that traditionally are the province of
courts, judges, and occasionally, international treaty.
Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor said:
Notice that Google has more power over this than either the Egyptian or the U.S. government. Most free speech today has nothing to do with governments and everything to do with companies.
Less than a quarter of parents are in favour of default online content blocking, a new survey has found.
Only one-fifth of UK parents believe default filtering of harmful content is the best system for protecting youngsters online, according to TalkTalk. YouGov, working on behalf of the ISP, found 78% of adults with children in their household are
opposed to this solution, which would automatically block adult related material.
Instead, 37% of respondents favour giving broadband customers an active choice, in which they are asked when they sign up for an account whether or not they want content to be blocked. A further 30% insisted that websites should only be blocked
if they ask for it.
In March, TalkTalk introduced an active choice system for broadband subscribers. Known as HomeSafe, the network-level parental controls allow customers to choose the type of content their kids can view while browsing the web. So far, the
system has been activated by about one in three new customers - roughly equivalent to the number of households with dependent children.
Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, said: We believe that giving customers an active choice about using controls like HomeSafe is the most effective way to engage them in internet safety.
Sky has announced that its public Wi-Fi service, The Cloud, will begin blocking adult related content as standard from October.
The move means shops, venues and other commercial buildings covered by The Cloud's network that want a children's internet service will have their wireless broadband filtered automatically.
Lyssa McGowan, Sky's brand director for communications products said:
We believe this will give parents the peace of mind that when their children access content over Sky networks outside the home, where we can't offer individual parental controls, they will be similarly protected as when in the home.
The Cloud will be the first Wi-Fi operator in the UK to take this step.
Telcos face being regulated by the government if they fail to block websites offering advice on suicide, the health minister Norman Lamb has warned. He said that one of the areas of concern was the lack of awareness about websites offering
guidance on suicide.
This week, the government has launched a campaign in England to help prevent people from committing suicide, especially those considered to be in at-risk groups. The Department of Health said that it wanted to work:
with the media, and with the internet industry through members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents ensure their children are not accessing harmful suicide-related websites, and to increase the availability and
take-up of effective parental controls to reduce access to harmful websites.
The Sunday Times reported that Lamb had bluntly noted ahead of today's strategy that regulation would follow if internet service providers did not step in to offer protection. He said:
These horrific suicide websites are just one example of the dangerous and disturbing online content which, without proper controls, our children can access almost at any time.
The Register contacted broadband industry lobby group ISPA, which said:
A previous government review found that the law on encouraging suicide was fit for purpose for the digital age. ISPs will remove content they host that is illegal once notified, but are not always best placed to judge on whether content is
illegal or not.
Parents should take responsibility for stopping their children seeing internet pornography, the new Culture Secretary has said.
Maria Miller said the Government was considering calls to make internet companies block access to online pornography. But the Conservative MP insisted that parents had the first and foremost responsibility for monitoring their children's
use of the internet.
Miller added that the Government could play a role in advising parents on how to block damaging material on home computers. In an interview Maria Miller, a mother of three, said:
I think responsibility is very strongly with parents to make sure that they really understand how their children are using the internet . . . to make sure they are safe.
I think probably the awareness of those sorts of pieces of software you can buy or indeed what you can do is not as high as it needs to be
Reporters Without Borders reiterates its condemnation of the confusion resulting from a new Russian law intended to protect minors from harmful content. Approved by the Duma in July, it allows the authorities to compile a website
blacklist. Reporters Without Borders said:
The law's vagueness and inconsistencies render its repressive provisions even more threatening and are encouraging journalists to censor themselves. The vague definition of 'harmful content' leaves too much room for interpretation and increases
the probability of overblocking. How are the media to cover natural disasters, wars and sex crimes with these constraints?
As defined, the requirement to put age ban labels on content is absurd and dangerous. On the grounds of protecting minors, this law is likely to place serious obstacles on the media's ability to provide the public with general news coverage. We
urge parliament to clarify this law and to strike out those provisions that violate the constitution and international agreements that Russia has ratified.
Under the final version of the law, the media are supposed to prevent children from seeing content that contains violence, sex or rude words and content that encourages them to smoke or drink alcohol. To this end, every offending story, video or
photo will have to be labelled banned for minors under the age of 6, 12, 16 or 18.
Vladimir Pikov, the spokesman of Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) explained that all online media except news agencies were required to put age ban
labels on their content but print media that cover politics and current affairs were not. Each individual article or item was supposed to be labelled, but if that proves too complicated, the entire website must be labelled.
To avoid any risk, many online media representatives have decided they may have to label their entire site as banned to those under the age of 18 even if this could have a big impact on their readership and could result in their site being
blocked by some Internet Service Providers, public WiFi networks and public institutions such as schools.
The independent newspaper Kommersant's lawyers say its entire website will be labelled banned to those under the age of 16 from today onwards. Although news agencies are supposed to be exempt, Interfax has already decided to label its website
only for adults.
The one sided consultation into whether UK internet users should have to opt-in in order to access adult content has now closed. The response forms provided by the government were only relevant to parents and ISPs. Presumably the government
didn't want to hear any negative comments from anyone else caught up censorship scheme.
Over 2,000 responses had been submitted by the eve of the deadline, the Department for Education told the BBC.
Proposals for an opt-in system are supported by several MPs, but fiercely opposed by internet rights campaigners. Internet service providers (ISPs) have also voiced concerns, favouring instead an active choice system. This method, already
in place at several ISPs, prompts a new customer to choose if they want anything vaguely adult to be blocked out by their provider.
The findings of the consultation are due to be published later in the year.
A nutter petition signed by about 110,000 people demanding internet companies block access to hardcore pornography as a default setting to protect children is being handed to the Government. Strangely such a system has never been on the table.
The current ISP systems block a much wider range of material: hardcore, softcore, and even just textual information about adult topics.
Peers, MPs and church figures are among those who have signed the Safetynet petition demanding ISPs be made to compulsorily block access to pornography on computers, mobile phones and tablets, organiser Premier Christian Media (PCM) said.
The petition, written as a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the previous Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, claims one in three 10-year-olds has "stumbled upon pornography online" and that youths aged 12 to 17 are the largest consumers of
MP Claire Perry told the BBC:
We quite happily accept watersheds on TV and we are happy to accept adult films sitting behind PIN systems on satellite channels.
Somehow when it comes to the internet, all bets are off and the onus is entirely on the consumer. Continue reading the main story Porn plans
However, the petition has been criticised by some campaigners for citing surveys with small sample sizes. In particular, a statistic claiming that one in three under-10s had been exposed to pornography online was taken from an issue of
Psychologies Magazine in 2010. The magazine had surveyed a group of 14-16 year olds at one North London school, asking them if they had seen porn before the age of 10.
Any organisation that quotes statistics based on a once in a life time occurrence and then presents them as if this was regular usage is certainly telling porkies.
Ms Perry distanced herself from the bollox statistics presented with the petition. That is their number, she told the BBC, referring to campaign organisers Safermedia, which was a small scale anecdotal study.
Re: Department for Education consultation on parental internet controls
We write to you as the consultation on parental controls closes. In recent years there have been two comprehensive reviews into the issue of child safety online, the Byron Review and the Bailey Review. They considered a wealth of academic
expertise, parental concerns and technical input and both arrived at the same conclusion -- parents are the best people to decide what their children can see.
To ignore these in-depth and comprehensive reviews and instead adopt a system of default blocking would be a short sighted and dangerous step, while doing little to empower parents or children. As Ofcom recognised, blocking is trivial to
circumvent and it is likely a default blocking system would lull parents into a false sense of security. A more complex, connected world needs parents to engage more with their children on issues of safety, privacy and personal development --
default blocking undermines this dialogue.
Government agreed that industry would have until October 2012 to implement the Active Choice model, one that puts parents in control of whether filters are applied to their home Internet connection or the devices their children use to go online
and allows them to choose which solution best suits them. Last year the Foreign Secretary said It is important to distinguish between government encouraging people to make more use of existing protections as a matter of choice, and the
government deciding what people can and cannot do online. We hope that the Government stands firm to this and continues to support the Active Choice system as the best option for children, parents, the economy and civil liberties.
Recent research by the Open Rights Group and the LSE Media Policy Project into default adult content filters used by UK mobile broadband providers has highlighted significant issues, such as the mistaken blocking of perfectly innocent websites
that had nothing to do with adult content. The over-blocking of legitimate sites undermines the UK's attractiveness as a place for digital businesses to grow and erodes all citizens' choice while doing little to empower parents or ensure that
children stay safe online.
We do not believe that default filtering across the UK, mandated by Government, should be the way forward. Instead the emphasis should now be on improving parental control filters, so that parents have the right tools to protect their children
from harm and can teach them how to be safe as they start to explore the world for themselves.
Nick Pickles, Director, Big Brother Watch
Agnes Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
Mike O'Connor CBE, Chief Executive, Consumer Focus
Jeff Lynn, Chairman, The Coalition For A Digital Economy
Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group
Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship
Dominique Lazanski. Head of Digital Policy, Taxpayers Alliance
Professor Ross Anderson, Chair, Foundation for Information Policy Research
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has sharply criticised the government's snooper's charter , designed to track internet, text and email use of all British citizens, as technologically incompetent .
He said Wikipedia would move to encrypt all its connections with Britain if UK ISPs were mandated by the government to keep track of every single page accessed by UK citizens.
The entrepreneur said he was confident there would be a general move to encryption across the internet if British-based communication service providers were required to collect and store data for 12 months from overseas companies, such as Google
and Facebook, for possible access by the police and security services.
He said the British government would have to resort to the black arts of hacking to break encryptions: It is not the sort of thing I'd expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the
Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry, he told MPs and peers.
Pakistan's government has issued a key policy directive to block all blasphemous and pornographic material on the internet by installing an effective modern blocking system.
Following the personal interest shown by the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and after consulting President Asif Ali Zardari, the Ministry of Information Technology has already issued directions to the Pakistan Telecommunication
Authority (PTA) to update the system for effective monitoring and control of supposedly blasphemous and pornographic material.
Pervaiz Ashraf had initiated the move a few months back as minister for information technology and after having been shown supposedly blasphemous material that is freely available to internet users in Pakistan because of non-availability of
The policy directive has been drafted cautiously to ensure that the move does neither affect the freedom of information in any manner nor allows the authorities to misuse the facility beyond the mandated goal of blocking only blasphemous and
pornographic material. Just like Pakistan doesn't allow the misuse of its blasphemy laws.
The dictate requires:
PTA to establish at the earliest a dedicated unit while allocating appropriate funds/budget and human resources, supported by the state of the art technical solutions and upgraded call centre, with the mandate to take requisite measures for
proactively and independently blocking the websites displaying the blasphemous and pornographic content.
Pakistan will set up a monitoring team focusing on supposedly detrimental material to Islam and obscene material being released on the internet and being replicated in Pakistan. All anti Islamic sites would be fully monitored round the clock and
remedial actions would be taken.
The decision was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Interior, Senator Rehman Malik and attended by Federal Secretary Interior, Secretary Information Technology, Chairman PTA, Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior,
Director FIA and other senior officers of the two ministries.
With less than a week to go before the close of the adult content filtering consultation, Open Rights Group is urging people to let the Department for Education know that default blocking would be disastrous.
Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:
We know filters always block the wrong sites. Casual mentions of sex get sites blocked. Health education sites are blocked. Even chat sites, bars and clubs are considered reasonable to block for children.
So you don't want to induce adults to live with this sort of filtering. But that is what the Daily Mail and Premier Christian Media have convinced the Department of Education to do.
We need an outbreak of common sense to stop this, before we find the Daily Mail's Nanny State becomes a reality.
A law requiring South Korea's internet users to use their real names on websites has been struck down by a panel of judges.
The country's Constitutional Court said the rule restricted freedom of speech and undermined democracy.
The requirement was introduced in 2007 supposedly to tackle cyber-bullying. But the judges said users had switched to overseas sites where they continued to conceal their identity, putting local services at a disadvantage. There had also been
complaints that the system had made it easier for cybercriminals to commit identity theft.
The internet real-name system stipulated that news media sites with more than 100,000 visitors a day had to record the real identities of visitors who had posted comments.
The idea behind the law was that users' details could be disclosed if the victims of malicious reports wanted to sue for libel or infringement of privacy. But the eight judges unanimously voted against the law saying the public gains achieved had
not been substantial enough to justify restrictions on individuals' rights to free speech. They said that the policy discouraged people from criticising influential people and groups because of fears they would be punished.
Over two hundred Jordanian websites went dark on Wednesday, in a SOPA-like protest of draft legislation that would allow the government to block and censor Internet content. The action was coordinated by a grassroots organization of tech savvy
Jordanians and the editors of various Jordanian websites, with blackout screens on dozens of widely read digital news sites and blogs.
The Internet blackout protest was originally planned for September, in response to the demand of a conservative grassroots group, Ensaf, that the government filter pornography sites. The government's tepidly supportive attitude to Ensaf, combined
with the many followers it had garnered for its Facebook page, gave rise to concerns that a wide consensus in favor of banning online porn would provide the government with an opportunity to give itself more power to control the Internet.
When the details of the draft legislation was released last week, the activists' fears were confirmed. The proposed amendment to the existing Press and Publication Law, if passed and enforced, would indeed grant the government sweeping powers to
censor and block online content, stifling debate and the free expression of opinion. And so the protest was coordinated and carried out within four days.
The draft legislation includes articles that would hold online media accountable for any comments left by their readers, and would prohibit them from publishing any comments deemed irrelevant to the published article. Moreover, online media
organizations would also be required to archive all comments left on their sites for at least six months. However, the most troublesome amendment essentially requires online media to register with and obtain a license from the Press and
Publications Department, paying a fee of roughly $1,400 (lowered from an initially proposed $14,000), and giving the government the ability to block sites failing to comply. Bringing online news sites in to the folds of the Press and Publications
law would therefore require them to be mandatory members of the Jordan Press Association, and undergo the same regulations governing print publications, including appointing an editor-in-chief who has been a member of the association for a
minimum of four years.
Parliament's decision on the proposed new law is pending.
A multitude of online publications have just been handed DMCA takedown notices for seemingly innocuous posts, triggering speculation that Microsoft is trying to censor negative comments prior to Windows 8's official launch
The US Department of Justice has seized the domain names of three websites offering pirated Android apps.
With help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com. In their place visitors to the sites now see the familiar FBI seizure banner.
The domain seizures are the first of their kind against rogue mobile app marketplaces.
Leading up to the actions FBI agents downloaded thousands of popular Android apps from the websites without charge. FBI Special Agent Brian Lamkin who led the operation described this type of online piracy as a growing problem that can't be
A German consumer protection group has sent Facebook a cease and desist letter that claims the website breaches German privacy law.
Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (Federation of German Consumer Organizations) says Facebook has one week to stop automatically giving third party applications information about its users without their explicit consent.
The group said in a statement Monday that if Facebook fails to comply by Sept. 4 it will sue the California company.
Germany has stricter laws than most countries on data protection. These give consumers significant rights to limit the way companies use their information.
The Indian government has banned bulk text messages in an attempt to halt the exodus of thousands of migrant workers from Bangalore and other cities following false warnings of attacks on them.
An estimated 15,000 people from Assam and states in north-eastern India, many of whom suffer racial abuse and discrimination in other parts of the country, have fled India's IT capital and other cities including Chennai, Mumbai and Pune, after
receiving text messages warning them of imminent attacks.
The messages spread panic among the minorities who were already fearful following recent clashes between members of Assam's Bodo tribe and Bangladeshi settlers in the state.
A member of the Bodo tribe working as a security guard in Hyderabad was attacked and told to go home . By the time a series of text warnings went viral on Wednesday, thousands of migrant workers from the north-east besieged train stations
in Bangalore and other cities.
Two special trains were deployed by Indian Railways to help about 6000 people return to their homes.
Update: India under religious 'cyber attack' from groups in Pakistan
The Indian government said it would share with Pakistan evidence of its people and organisations uploading inflammatory and objectionable content on the Internet to incite religious sentiments in India, which led to the exodus of northeast people
from various States.
Meanwhile, the government blocked 89 more websites on which morphed images and fake videos were uploaded from across the border.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik that New Delhi would share with Islamabad all evidence of the involvement of certain Pakistani groups and individuals in the uploading of morphed images and
videos to spread rumours and create communal tension in India, Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists here. Investigations revealed that a majority of these images were uploaded in Pakistan.
The Home Ministry has identified more websites and blogs carrying hate messages, pictures and videos. On its directions, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEIT) has blocked 89 more websites, taking the total number of
sites jammed in the past three days to 245.
This episode has turned out to be the biggest instance of cyber warfare against India in recent times. The focus is on a Pakistan-based militant group said to be behind doctoring images and videos and uploading them on Facebook, Twitter and
Twitter might face legal action if the popular microblogging site does not comply with Indian government's demand to censor supposedly objectionable content posted by its users.
Stung by the misinformation campaign that spread via SMS, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in past weeks, the Indian government now seems to be moving ahead with its initial threat to tighten the noose around social media.
In the wake of widespread discontent on the social media over its decision to block certain Twitter accounts, including that of journalists, the government has been spinning a line on censorship.
Following fake messages about the Assam violence, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that social media accounts which have posted objectionable and inflammatory content are being blocked but claimed there was no censorship.
We are only taking strict action against those accounts or people which are causing damage or spreading rumours. We are not taking action against other accounts, be it on Facebook, Twitter or even SMSs. I assure you about this.
There is no censorship at all. We decided on taking action because there were pictures of Myammar etc online, which were disturbing the atmosphere here in India. I am again reassuring you.
The government's clarification came in the wake of it asking Twitter to block some imposter accounts of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and other social media sites. Twitter has agreed to block all fake accounts using the name of the PMO.
Update: India censors images of Muslim unrest in Burma as these were being captioned as occurring in India
India has blocked access to certain pages of the ABC's website as part of a crackdown on internet content which it claims incites racial hatred.
The government has blamed internet activity for fanning fears that resulted in thousands of migrants fleeing to the north-east last week from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.
The government says the migrant workers feared they were going to be attacked by Muslim mobs, so it responded by blocking more than 300 websites it says incite hate and panic.
The blocked material includes web pages, images and links on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, the ABC and Qatar-based Al Jazeera.
Among the blocked content were photographs by AFP and other news agencies from Burma in the British Daily Telegraph, a parody Twitter account pretending to be from prime minister Manmohan Singh and dozens of YouTube videos.
India's home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde said that the government sought to block the Burma online photos because they were disturbing the atmosphere here in India . The government said photographs of clashes in Burma were circulating on
the internet with fake captions claiming the scenes were from the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, where 80 people have died in recent ethnic violence.
Indian ISPs have routinely blocked web domains on government orders but there was something unique about the latest blocking that we haven't seen before in India.
Airtel employed keyword based filtering and any web page that had the term youtube anywhere in the URL was being blocked. For instance, the Wikipedia website was accessible but the page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/youtube was not as it
contained the youtube keyword.
After word spread on Twitter, Airtel quickly unblocked the site and issued a statement to The Wall Street Journal saying:
Bharti Airtel is in compliance with all government directives on public access to websites. In continuation with this, select URLs as notified by the government have been blocked.
The massive wave of DMCA takedowns sent by rightsholders to Google in recent months is growing at an astonishing rate. During the past month the number of takedown requests received by the search giant doubled to almost 1.5 million URLs per week.
To put that into perspective, exactly one year ago weekly URL takedowns numbered just 131,577 per week, an increase of 1,137%.
During the week starting August 13, Google received takedown requests for 1,496,220 URLs, up 35% on the record set just two weeks earlier and a huge 1,137% increase over the 131,577 URL takedowns requested August 8 2011.
Google says that during the last four weeks it was asked by 1,825 copyright owners and 1,406 anti-piracy reporting organizations to remove 5,733,402 URLs across 32,545 domains, truly huge numbers which on recent trends look likely to increase.
Filled with descriptions such as creeping plague of pornography , the filthy tide of pornography , Pornography is so often heartless, grotesque and violent , damaging rubbish , and violent heartlessness of porn . References to addiction are thrown in for good measure.
Of course she starts with the usual: I prize freedom of speech, and loathe censorship... BUT ...
Interestingly the first article includes a picture that resurrects the Two thirds of the public want online porn to be blocked.
The PCC had this to say in regards to a complaint about this:
Mr Martin Robbins complained to the Press Complaints Commission under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice about an article which reported that two thirds of the public backed the newspaper's campaign for an automatic block on
online porn . The complainant said that the survey on which the article was based found that only 36% agreed with the statement that people`s internet service should be filtered unless they ask for it not to be (i.e. an opt-out
basis). The 66% figure referred to the number of people who said that a filtering service should be available if they want it (i.e. an opt-in basis).
While the newspaper maintained that its interpretation of the study had been reasonable, the matter was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the online article and the marking of the newspaper's cuttings for future reference.
More Believable Statistics
Meanwhile in The Telegraph a poll revealed only a third support blocking, with a quarter absolutely against it:
Police and prosecutors in the UK are accused of being incredibly heavy-handed when dealing with insulting internet messages.
It follows several cases where young people have been arrested, fined or jailed after posting insulting comments on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Bernie Hogan from the Oxford Internet Institute monitors what happens in other countries. He said that although the UK was leading the way in cracking down on this type of online abuse, by comparison we are incredibly heavy-handed .
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said in a statement: People have a right to publish their views but when these views become indecent, threatening or offensive then the individuals they affect also have the right to report them.
The police will assist with any prosecution.
Index, which campaigns for freedom of expression, say the cases are silly and the police only pursues them because they are easy prosecutions .
Malaysian activists and bloggers are staging an online black-out for one day to protest against changes to a law they say restricts free speech online.
They have replaced their home pages with black screens critical of the Evidence Act, revised in April, for Internet Black-out Day.
Critics say the law makes people unfairly liable for content published from networks and personal devices. The revised law means that Malaysians could get into trouble even if their devices or internet connections have been hacked into, critics
Premesh Chandran, founder of online news site Malaysiakini, said that the burden of proof on internet users was unfair.
In other words, if defamatory comments are posted on a blog, the blog owner is likely to be sued or charged with criminal defamation, Malaysiakini said in a statement on its website.
The Saudi Arabian government is objecting to a number of proposed new Internet top level domains, including .gay, .bar, .baby and .islam.
The country claims that the .gay domain would promote homosexuality and would be offensive to many societies and cultures. Saudi's internet censor spouted: Many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to
their culture, morality or religion.
Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) filed objections to 31 domain extensions with anything having to do with sex, gambling, drinking and religion, primarily on cultural and religious grounds.
Saudi has objected to domains including .porn, .sexy, .adult, .hot, .sex, .dating and .virgin laughably claiming that:
pornography undermines gender equality and threatens public morals.
The country is more sensibly objecting to .islam because the applicant is a private company that cannot represent the whole or even a majority of the worldwide Muslim community. It argues that all religious communities should have a say in
any approval of any related domain extensions, or they should be banned altogether.
The suffixes are some of the 1,930 top-level domain names currently being considered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization in charge of managing Internet naming standards. ICANN opened up the
application process to the public, charging $185,000 for each nomination, and announced the list of candidates in June. So far, the group has received 6,185 comments from individuals, organizations, companies and governments, including 166 from
the Saudi Arabian government
The public can submit objections until September 26.
It has been alleged that this guidance has been issued to the judiciary:
Judicial office holders should be acutely aware of the need to conduct themselves, both in and out of court, in such a way as to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.
Blogging by members of the judiciary is not prohibited. However, officer (sic) holders who blog (or who post comments on other people's blogs) must not identify themselves as members of the judiciary. They must also avoid expressing opinions
which, were it to become known that they hold judicial office, could damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general.
The above guidance also applies to blogs which purport to be anonymous. This is because it is impossible for somebody who blogs anonymously to guarantee that his or her identity cannot be discovered.
The author of the blog asks:
So long as judges avoid expressing opinions which.... could damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general why can't they blog as judges. They can give interviews, write books, newspaper and magazine
articles and lecture as judges so long as they do not compromise their impartiality - why can't they write on blogs as judges?
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block numerous 'scandalous' internet sites, specifically the audio recording of a sensual conversation between two notable opposition
The footage of a press conference in which a lady TV news anchor, Aysah Sana, claimed that she and a man working with a state organisation have secretly got married and they have a son, is also to be blocked. She made the allegations against the
boss of a TV channel who she accuses of betraying her.
This is the first time that the PTA has moved swiftly to order blocking of 'scandalous' websites. Wahajus Siraj, Convener of the ISP Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), said the process on ordering of blocking of websites have become non-transparent
and questionable, as it seems that Inter-Ministerial Committee is being used as tool to censor internet for political gains instead of going after the intended anti-Pakistan or blasphemous websites.
One leading ISP said that with five GSM service providers and numerous broadband service providers are to challenge the order.
ISPs also pointed out that blocking popular social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can create major unrest among millions of subscribers which then has a direct impact on the revenue of ISPs.
Google has announced that it will lower the search engine rankings of websites that receive a high number of DMCA takedown requests, independent of whether the linked content is lawful or not.
The algorithm change is the result of extensive lobbying efforts by Hollywood and the major music labels, and could severely degrade the rankings of websites such as The Pirate Bay, FilesTube, and even YouTube.
Google's Amit Singhal writes in a blog post:
Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.
The move may also encourage media companies to issue even more takedown notices.
Australia's Advertising Standards Board has issued a judgment in which it said comments made by fans of a vodka brand's Facebook page were ads and must therefore comply with industry self-regulatory codes and therefore consumer protection
The ruling will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.
Non compliant companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook brand pages.
A media lawyer is warning that the Advertising Standards Board's ruling on Smirnoff's Facebook page will put the onus back on companies to be more vigilant about the nature of the comments people are posting to their company pages. John Swinson,
a partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, said the board's ruling turned people's opinions into statements of facts .
Swinson said that if, for example, a member of the public posted a comment on Smirnoff's site that claimed it was the purest Russian vodka and would lead to success with the opposite sex and Smirnoff failed to remove it, the company could be
liable on a number of counts.
Although the Advertising Standards Board dismissed the original complaint about Smirnoff, which centred on sexism, under-age drinking and obscene language, it ruled industry codes applied not only to what a company was posting on its Facebook
page but to the user-generated comments that followed.
The board's determination also cited a recent case of a health company, Allergy Pathway, which was fined for allowing misleading and deceptive testimonials to remain on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
According to the Court of Appeal's Judgment in the recent case of R v GS  private one to one text chat on the internet can be subject to the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA).
This means that anyone using the internet to discuss sexual fantasies may be at risk of committing a criminal offence.
Prior to this judgment it was presumed that the OPA did not apply to one to one conversations between individuals. This position was clearly overturned by paragraph 21 of Lord Justice Richards' lead Judgment wherein it was stated that:
In our judgment, to publish an article to an individual is plainly to publish it within the meaning of the Act.
You could be committing a criminal offence next time you discuss your deepest fantasies with someone online. Alarmist? Only slightly.
A ruling slipped out quietly by the Appeal Court earlier this year, and lurking in the background while the substantive case to which it applied came to court, makes it plain: the act of publishing as defined within the Obscene Publications Act
can take place with an audience of just one individual.
That means it is therefore perfectly possible for the content of online chat, should a jury decide that it is capable of depraving or corrupting , to be judged obscene - and as such for one or both participants in that conversation
to be guilty of a criminal offence that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, and a stint on the sex offenders' register.
This is legal dynamite - and in one single judgment catapults the UK to the back of the queue on a range of international indices on freedom of speech.
A US Court of Appeals has ruled that a site that embeds copyrighted videos from another site is not committing copyright infringement.
Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter ended with a ruling in favor of the defendant, Marques Gunter, the sole proprietor of myVidster.com. The case began in 2010 when the adult video production company, Flava Works, sued video bookmarking website
myVidster,for copyright infringement.
The court ruled that embedding a video that infringes on copyrighted material is not a violation of copyright law. For example, if you found an episode of The Simpsons on YouTube and embedded it in your blog, you would not be violating any
copyright laws. The uploader to YouTube carries the responsibility for obtaining the required permissions. The user content host, YouTube could be held liable once informed by the copyright holder.
The court's decision also protects those who watch illegally uploaded copyrighted videos. Judge Richard Posner wrote:
...As long as the visitor makes no copy of the copyrighted video that he is watching, he is not violating the copyright owner's exclusive right ... His bypassing Flava's pay wall by viewing the uploaded copy is equivalent to stealing a
copyrighted book from a bookstore and reading it. That is a bad thing to do (in either case) but it is not copyright infringement.
A Democrat-sponsored cybersecurity measure that the Obama administration claimed necessary to protect the nation's infrastructure was blocked by Republicans opposed to what they considered to be undue regulation.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 needed 60 votes to move to a vote by the full Senate, thanks to a Republican filibuster of the measure.
The measure, sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins started life as nasty piece of work that was more about surveillance than security. It would also have enabled substantial internet censorship.
However it was watered down to meet the objections of anti-regulation Republicans who argued that forcing companies to meet minimum security standards would be unduly burdensome. The latest version made the security standards voluntary.
Meanwhile, privacy advocates largely supported the revised bill after it was amended to include provisions designed to preserve civil liberties and the privacy of users that might be threatened by increased information sharing between businesses
There were a flurry of late amendments, including one to prevent warrantless tracking of consumers via GPS and one to protect consumers from monitoring by ISPs. But pro-business Republican objections -- and the filibuster -- ruled the day,
although a gun control amendment that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) refused to withdraw may also have influenced opposing Republicans.
The United States will oppose a bid to revise a global treaty to bring the Internet under UN control, the head of a US delegation has said.
The U.S. will submit its formal proposal for the December conference held by the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency which set global telecom rules, said Terry Kramer, the special envoy named for the talks.
Kramer reiterated Washington's position opposing proposals by Russia, China and others to expand the authority of the ITU to regulate the Internet.
U.S. officials, lawmakers and technology leaders have expressed concern that the December conference to be held in Dubai could seek changes threatening the openness of the Internet and its so-called multi-stakeholder model. Some in the
U.S. say the effort could give governments greater authority to filter or censor information.
The French Supreme Court has ruled that Google should censor the words torrent , rapidshare and megaupload from its Instant and Autocomplete search services.
Music industry group SNEP asked the court to stop the terms from being suggested in Google's searches because, it claimed, Google was thereby facilitating piracy.
A lower court rejected the request from SNEP because it said that these links did not constitute infringement of copyright in and of themselves. However, the Supreme Court has reversed the decision, saying that the relief sought by the group was
likely to prevent or partially stop infringements.
The search firm actually already blocks piracy-related terms from Autocomplete, but on its own terms. The web giant announced back in December 2010 on one of its blogs that it was taking steps to stop copyright infringement, including
blocking search terms closely associated with piracy.
So if the authorities want to invent a new angle to a law they prosecute someone, offer a lenient sentence for pleading guilty, then take the inevitable successful prosecution as justification for an extended law.
Kent Police have set a legal precedent after successfully prosecuting a man for making lewd comments about children during a private online conversation.
Gavin Smith was charged in 2010 with nine offences of publishing an obscene article. Under the Obscene Publications Act, it is an offence to supply material ( interpreted as distribute, circulate, sell, hire, give, or lend) , that
tends to deprave and corrupt those view it.
When the case first came before magistrates, it was discharged on arguments of no case to answer. However the CPS said they had received new evidence in this matter and, following a review, decided to re-charge Smith.
At his first trial at Maidstone Crown Court in November last year, the court heard that Smith had online conversations in which he spoke about molesting and spanking children. His counsel claimed Kent Police were on a moral crusade by
prosecuting Smith under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The jury in the trial was discharged by Judge Charles Macdonald QC after hearing legal arguments.
His barrister Roger Daniells-Smith told the court on that occasion: This is a test case. We say it is part of a political campaign by Kent Police. We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the law, to try to get this material
included as extreme pornography. But their arguments to have online conversations included fell on stony ground , he said: They therefore had nothing other than to try (to prosecute) under this act.
But the court decision was subsequently appealed by the Crown Prosecution Service, with the Court of Appeal ruling in their favour.
Smith was due to go on trial for a second time this week. But after being given a Goodyear direction , in which a judge indicates what the likely sentence would be if a defendant pleads guilty, Smith admitted all nine offences after being
told that the sentence would likely be a suspended jail term or community order.
Adjourning sentence for reports, Judge Philip St.John-Stevens described the case as unusual .
The case could now open the doors for police forces across the country to charge suspected offenders for online conversations.
Comment: Private conversations considered publication
12th July 2012. Thanks to Angelus
Disclaimer: I am not a legal professional, but...
> Kent Police have set a legal precedent...
Kent Police have not set a legal precedent - to my understanding, only a judge in a Crown Court or higher can set a binding legal precedent.
>...after successfully prosecuting a man...
They did not successfully prosecute anyone in this case - the accused pleaded guilty, which is a very different thing.
This case mirrors very closely recent cases in the USA, where despite strong constitutional protection of freedom of speech, people are regularly threatened with ridiculous sentences unless they plead guilty.
A private conversation is just that - private - and should in no wise be considered publication . To say that such a conversation could constitute the giving of obscene materials is outrageous, and this approach should have
been stamped on by any half-competent counsel.
Comment: A private telephone conversation may now also be regarded as a publication
29th July 2012. Thanks to Angelus
Well, it seems I have been completely wrong-footed by this latest judgement, which does set a legal precedent. The section of the OPA in question, 1(3)(b), For the purposes of this Act a person publishes an article who ... in the case of an
article containing or embodying matter to be looked at or a record, shows, plays or projects it or, where the matter is data stored electronically, transmits that data is clearly and unambiguously intended to apply to audiovisual material (
record meaning a gramophone record), not text. In order to be able to apply this section to online chat, a chat session must effectively be treated as an audiovisual experience, which given its capability of exchanging audiovisual data (even
something as simple as a smiley) is perhaps not too much of a stretch for a legal mind.
However, online chat did not exist when the OPA was first enacted. So, in cases like this, it is part of the duty of the higher courts to examine laws to determine Parliament's clear intention when the legislation was first enacted and
reinterpret it for the current situation. Although the OPA's definition of publishing is drawn very widely, it was clearly and obviously never intended to apply to private, interpersonal behaviour, and in this respect the Court of Appeal
has now committed a grave error. So grave that it now raises the possibility that, because telephone systems are now all digital and store audio data (albeit temporarily) at several points along the signal route, a private telephone conversation
may now also be regarded as a publication .
Two brothers were arrested for supposedly hurting religious sentiment by posting an 'inappropriate' picture of a deity on a social networking site.
The youth who had failed Class X examinations four times in a row was apparently angry with the deity for not answering his prayers and posted the picture of the deity as an act of revenge, police said.
According to senior PI N Mhetar of Shahu Nagar police station,
Mani Tirupati had prayed to the deity to help him clear his class 10 mathematics paper but he failed for the fourth time. With the help of his brother, he posted an inappropriate picture of the deity on a social networking site.
The picture started doing the rounds of the site earlier this week, and police tracked him down. They were arrested under Section 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its
religion or religious beliefs) and Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act. They have been remanded in police custody till July 30th.
Pakistan's Supreme Court has heard reports about supposedly growing vulgarity and obscenity in society due to the contents of internet websites and television shows, including Indian channels.
The 'human rights' division of the apex court sought the views of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on the matter.
PEMRA chairman Abdul Jabbar informed the court that the local market was flooded with smuggled and pirated CDs, DVDs, decoders, dishes and cards, which are proliferating obscenity through broadcast media and distribution service .
Jabbar further said PEMRA cannot fully eradicate this menace and it will only be possible with coordinated efforts of all other relevant agencies .
PEMRA has framed a code of conduct for programmes and advertisement whereby no content that is obscene, vulgar, indecent or against cultural values can be aired.
The PTA said in its response that Pakistan could not stop blasphemous and pornographic material as the current filtration system had limited capabilities and could block a maximum of 500,000 web links.
The PTA had received a list of 779,000 porn websites and had approached the Information Technology Ministry for assistance. It has currently blocked the most viewed pornographic websites.
Court of Appeal's Judgment says private one to one text chat on the internet can be subject to the Obscene Publications Act. This means that anyone using the internet to discuss sexual fantasies may be at risk of committing a criminal offence.
The Cour de cassation, France's highest court of appeal, has overturned two court orders which required Google to remove copyright infringing items and to block users from uploading these items again in future.
The court ruled that such take-down, stay-down orders contravene the e-Commerce Directive, which forbids EU Member States from imposing a general obligation on ISPs to monitor the content stored on or passing through their networks. The
orders were also found to conflict with the French Law for Trust in the Digital Economy (2004).
Tajikistan plans to create a volunteer-run body to monitor Internet use and reprimand those who openly criticise President Imomali Rakhmon and his government, the head of the Central Asian country's state-run communications service said.
Beg Zukhurov said the organisation, while awaiting official registration, had already brought several Internet users to task for publishing insults against well-known personalities . Volunteers for this organisation will track
down and identify the authors of such comments, Zukhurov told reporters.
Asked what would happen to anybody identified by the new organisation, he replied: I don't know. Probably, they will be shown the error of their ways.
According to Recombu, Claranet ISP wants to produce a website blocking system to address child protection concerns. But rather than just using common sense to define what should be blocked, it turned to religious groups to decide.
To make matters worse, Claranet wants to use volunteer guardians to decide on the blocking. This means that it will not even be recognised people from churches or religious groups, just those who want to have a go at censorship.
In religious groups, the sorts of people who volunteer for this kind of thing are a special breed who often think that their own religious leaders have got it wrong. These are the sort who think that Jesus tells them to censor all references to
ankles, or that other religions are run by demons.
The company says it is recruiting volunteer guardians from a number of different organisations. A statement said that it had an Islamic advisor and that campaigner Sara Payne was on the team.
The Claranet guardians will be asked to choose whether they think 140 different categories of internet content are appropriate for the kids of today. The guardians can choose to add or remove individual websites from the blacklists. The
blacklists are created by a third-party company that Claranet refused to name.
And as TechEye says:
Of course, most people who want a religious filter are the types who want to be told about sex or relationships by someone who has sworn not to have done either.
Wikipedia shut down its Russian-language page on Tuesday to protest at a bill that would boost government control over the internet amid a crackdown on those opposed to the regime of President Vladimir Putin.
The page was replaces with a Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle, and the words imagine a world without free knowledge written in block letters underneath.
The bill, due to be considered by parliament on Wednesday, will lead to the creation of a Russian analogue to China's Great Firewall the website warned in a statement. The bill calls for the creation of a federal website banned list and
would have to be signed into law by Putin before coming into effect. Internet providers and site owners would be forced to shut down websites put on the list.
The bill's backers, from Putin's United Russia party, claim that the amendments to the country's information legislation would target child pornography and sites that promote drug use and teen suicide. But critics, including Russian-language
Wikipedia, warned that it could be used to boost government censorship over the internet.
Russia's parliament has voted to approve a law that would give the government the power to force certain internet sites offline without court intervention.
The bill still needs to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law. It must also be approved by Russia's upper house, the Federation Council of Russia.
The Moscow Times reported that deputies amended the law to removed a reference to harmful information , replacing it with a limited list of forbidden content. The blacklist is now restricted to sites offering details about how to commit
suicide, material that might encourage users to take drugs, images featuring the sexual abuse of children, and pages that solicit children for pornography. If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers and web hosting
companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.
But critics have complained that once internet providers have been forced to start blocking certain sites, the government may seek court orders to expand the blacklist.
Despite criticisms and Wikipedia protests, Russia's upper house of parliament passed a controversial draft law today that would give the government far-reaching power over the internet in the country.
The New York Times reports that the Federation Council of Russia passed the legislation 147 to 0, with three members abstaining, and matches the version that passed the lower house, the State Duma, earlier this month.
Strident objections from the Russian-language version of Wikipedia, the country's Yandex search engine, and the Russian social networking site Vkontakte may have been responsible for minor changes to the language used in the law, which saw the
blanket term harmful information swapped for the more specific types of dangerous content it now specifies.
The bill will now be making its way to the desk of President Vladimir Putin, and once signed will become law.
Sri Lanka will amend its current media law in order to bring in all news websites and electronic media into its censorship net, the government said, a week after it raided and temporarily closed down two anti-government websites.
The amendments to the Press Council Law enacted in 1973 will allow the government to order websites and electronic media to follow media codes in addition to print media.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Reuters:
We will bring amendments to the Press Council Law to include the electronic and web media to ensure accountability.
Manik de Silva, a director of Sri Lanka's Press Complaint Commission and a member of the country's Editor's Guild said:
This is obviously to control the media. Any strengthening of media laws will be used to further the interest of political parties in power rather than the national interest.
A few people, (described as 'dozens') took to the streets in Jordan to urge the government to block pornographic websites in the country, the Jordan Times reported.
Internet in the country has mostly been uncensored by authorities, however nutters have launched campaigns on Facebook calling on authorities to block sites they claim inflict any negative physical or psychological impact on the younger
generation, the newspaper reported.
The government should immediately instruct telecom companies and internet services providers to block these websites, spouted Ammar Al Saket, who launched a campaign on Facebook.
Saudi Arabia is studying new laws to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties, a Saudi paper said on Sunday.
Within the next two months the Shura Council will reveal the outcome of study on the regulations to combat the criticism of the basic tenets of Islamic sharia, unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter told al-Watan, adding that there
could be severe punishments for violators.
Criticism penalised under the law would include that of the religious character Mohammed, early Muslim figures and clerics, it said.
The (regulations) are important at the present time because violations over social networks on the Internet have been observed in the past months, the sources said. Refering to the case of thw Saudi blogger and columnist Hamza
Kashgari. He was was arrested for tweeting comments deemed as insulting to Mohammad. Kashgari said that there were things he liked and disliked about him.
Chinese internet users were barred from searching the truth on its leading social media website. Attempts to search for the phrase were blocked on the Twitter-like site Weibo.com, which boasts 300million users.
Users noticed that if they typed in the Chinese characters for the truth , they received a message refusing to display any results. It read: According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for 'the truth cannot
It is not known how long the phrase search was blocked and if China's controlling Communist government intervened. But under Chinese law, social media firms are also required to self-censor.
Qi Zhenyu, head of social media for iSun Affairs, a Hong Kong-based current affairs online magazine that is banned in China, said of Weibo:
It is not unusual but it is quite ironic this time -- you can't simply block the truth.
Whenever there is a word that upsets them, they just go ahead and block [but] most of the time you can't really explain why they censor a certain word.
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Russian parliament has passed a law establishing a central register of banned websites. The new laws are ostensibly designed for child protection, but the real aim is to take control over the country's burgeoning social networks
The United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimously agreed that access to the Internet is a basic human right, in a resolution stating that access to the Internet and online freedom of expression should be guaranteed.
US ambassador Eileen Donahoe told reporters:
It's the first ever U.N. resolution affirming that human rights in the digital realm must be protected and promoted to the same extent and with the same commitment as human rights in the physical world.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton commented, obviously having a knock at UK's persecution of Twitter users:
This resolution is a welcome addition in the fight for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online.
We are witnessing an alarming surge in the number of cases involving government censorship and persecution of individuals for their actions online - sometimes for just a single tweet or text message.
The public is being invited to submit evidence on the government's plans for a Snooper's Charter.
This comes as a parliamentary committee launches its inquiry on the draft Communications Data Bill. Conservative peer Lord Blencathra, David Maclean, chairs the joint committee of MPs and peers holding the inquiry and stressed a privacy-security
balance. He said:
Each and every one of us will be affected by the bill.
This committee wants to ensure that the draft bill will ensure a sufficient balance between an individuals' privacy and national security.
We intend very thoroughly to examine the government's proposals and hope to hear from interested bodies and organisations about exactly how the changes in technology and the way we use it should be reflected in legislation about access to
Offsite: Snooped internet records will be made available to foreign police
Foreign police forces will be able to obtain details of the British public's internet use, emails and text messages.
In a controversial move, MPs were told that officials in Europe and the US will be able to take advantage of the Home Office's proposed snoopers charter.
The information could be used for pursuing UK citizens for crimes which allegedly took place while they were on holiday or over the internet.
In response to a parliamentary question, ministers said police and public authorities overseas would also be free to request access to the mountains of information which will be stored. British officials will then decide whether the data should
In theory, every nation is free to lodge a request, although Britain's long-standing partners in the EU, plus countries such as the US and Canada, are most likely to be successful.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said he was worried about the exposure of young people to all sorts of material .
He claimed there could be a link between the easy access to internet pornography for children with emerging research about increasing violence among teenage boyfriends and girlfriends.
The news came after a schoolboy rapist had escaped a jail term because the judge said he had viewed internet pornography. The 14-year-old boy was freed and given a three year community order with supervision after he was found guilty of raping a
four year old girl.
The judge in Cambridge justified the sentence on the grounds that the boy had been sexualised by the corruption of pornography , and blamed society for what happened.
Asked about the case on BBC Radio Five Starmer declined to comment on the case or the sentence. But he added: I myself have been concerned about the exposure of young people to all sorts of material, and the emerging research tends to suggest
that there is a lot of abuse within teenage relationships.
Last year, in a speech, Starmer warned that the UK was clearly at risk of a whole new generation of domestic violence in teenage relationships. He published figures that suggested 13 year olds to 15 year olds were as likely to experience
violence as youths aged over 16. The cited research was carried out by Bristol University and the NSPCC found those from poorer backgrounds are twice as likely to be abused as their better-off counterparts.
The Department of Education has partly resumed its public consultation after recently being taken offline for privacy failures.
The online response form is still removed though. Data provided by users of this service was erroneously made available to other users of the service.
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 pornography.
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.
The questionnaire consults on the merits of three proposed solutions .
Active Choice : customers are presented with an unavoidable choice or series of choices through which they consciously choose whether or not they want filters and blocks installed on their internet service or internet-enabled device.
Opt-in : where the internet service is provided with filters already in place to block access to certain websites (e.g. legal pornography), and the customer has to tell their ISP they wish to opt in to these sites if they want to
Active choice plus : A system that combines features of both systems, where customers are presented with a list of online content that will be blocked automatically unless they choose to unblock them.
Launched by a large coalition of privacy groups, Web sites, and individuals, the Declaration of Internet Freedom is the start of a process striving to keep the Internet free and open. The organizations and people who kicked off this process
are looking for other Internet users to discuss the ideas, share their own thoughts, and sign the declaration.
The Declaration of Internet Freedom advocates five basic principles:
Expression : Don't censor the Internet.
Access : Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
Openness : Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
Innovation : Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don't block new technologies, and don't punish innovators for their users' actions.
Privacy : Protect privacy and defend everyone's ability to control how their data and devices are used.
The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said the government will seek to remove two crucial sections of the Digital Economy Act that would have allowed it to impose Web site blocking at the ISP level.
According to DCMS, the department in charge of the Digital Economy Act (2010), the government will seek to repeal sections 17 and 18 of the law.
The two sections are arguably the most controversial elements of the act. Section 17 allows the government to seek a court order against any location on the Internet deemed to facilitate or actively infringe copyright, while section 18
sets out the approvals process the government must go through to get such orders granted.
The decision to seek the repeal of the two sections follows a report in May 2011 by Ofcom, the U.K.'s communications regulator, which concluded that the measures would not work in practice. We do not think that sections 17 and 18 of the Act
would meet the requirements of the copyright owners, the report said.
It said using the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 through the courts was a faster and more efficient way to get sites blocked. The government said a few months later that it would not bring forward the site-blocking provisions.
Britain is, once again, looking at the possibility of applying pressure on internet users to filter out pornography, a policy loved by politicians and disliked by internet providers that, like a cat with a hairball, comes up every few months.