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29th December   

Chipping in to the Debate...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Censorship or payment card fraud protection
Link Here

chipandpin A Cambridge University professor has accused the bank cards industry of censorship over the publication of a paper about a flaw in chip and PIN technology.

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University's Computer Laboratory, said: This was absolutely unacceptable. It was a very, very nasty attempt at censorship.

The UK Cards Association (UKCA) wrote to the university to try to remove the online publication of research which shows how a £20 hand-held device could be used to buy goods without entering the correct PIN. Melanie Johnson, chair of the UKCA, wrote to the university saying the publication oversteps the boundaries of what constitutes responsible disclosure .

She said the paper, The Smart Card Detective , by MPhil research student Omar Choudary, places in the public domain a blueprint for building a device which purports to exploit a loophole in the security of chip and PIN . She said the type of attack described was difficult to undertake and unlikely to interest genuine fraudsters but said the level of detail published was worrying and asked for the research to be removed.

But Anderson said exposing vulnerabilities in the system was an example of responsible disclosure and said the industry had been guilty of sitting on their butts and doing nothing since he and fellow scientists first revealed the flaw in late 2009.

 

26th December   

Website Bullies...


Nice 'n' Naughty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

26th December   

Offsite: Dangerous Ideas Indeed...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Let's make 2011 the year of free speech
Link Here

Spiked logo We should take to task the film censors, advert-banners and political blacklisters who think they know better than us.

Unfortunately, in 2010 the idea that the public needs to be protected from dangerous ideas did not get ousted alongside the New Labour government. Instead, in the disparate spheres of politics, culture, education and advertising, words, opinions and images continue to be censured, corrected, silenced and removed from public view in the name of protecting us from harm.

...Read the full article

 

25th December   

Offsite: Uncritical Press...

Porn Block – a realistic proposal from the UK government?
Link Here

tra boynton This proposal is likely to be politically popular – at least in some quarters. It taps into fears parents may have around sexualisation and risks to young people. It appeals to sex negative/conservative voters. It also removes responsibility from parents who may lack confidence or familiarity with the internet and be uncertain what young people might be seeing online or know how to address this. Like many discussions within the sexualisation debate (which this is falling under) it may seem intuitively a good move, yet there are numerous problems associated with this proposal.

Press coverage of this story has been largely uncritical. In that it has presented the proposals set out by the government without any real discussion of how workable they may be or the issues related to potential blocks that might put young people at risk. Moreover the media have not been particularly careful to focus on the wide range of evidence addressing media effects in this area (and particularly about young people's use of online porn). Instead most media coverage have backed up their stories with the quote from a survey from Psychologies magazine that 1/3 of young people have seen online porn (when aged under 10).

This represents part of the problem with the media on this issue. Journalists appear to believe that online porn does cause harm to young people and therefore rather than thinking more critically about sexualised culture and youth, they accept studies that support their position.

...Read the full article

 

23rd December   

Update: Britain Easily Menaced...

Robin Hood airport jokey tweet to be re-examined in the High Court
Link Here  full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

Old Bailey Paul Chambers, who was convicted of sending a menacing communication after he joked on Twitter that he would blow Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport sky high , has won the right to appeal the decision, Index on Censorship has learned.

It is believed the case will now go before the High Court in spring 2011.

David Allen Green, the solicitor and blogger who has been advising Chambers, welcomed the decision by Doncaster Crown Court:

This provides the High Court with a welcome opportunity to provide guidance on the correct scope of Section 127 of the Communications Act. It will be the first time the High Court will consider what a menacing communication means under this section.

 

21st December   

Update: Conflict of Interests...

Police to pay damages for acting unlawfully in arresting a street preacher
Link Here  full story: Preachers in the UK...Preachers come under censorship duress
Modern bible

   Meek was so 19th century. Updated it reads:
The easily offended will inherit the Earth

Christian street preacher Dale Mcalpine is to receive £7,000 in damages after Cumbrian police admitted wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and a breach of his human rights.

According to the Christian Institute, which funded Mcalpine's legal defence, Cumbrian police have accepted that they acted unlawfully.

Mcalpine was arrested in April by Cumbrian police in Workington after he mentioned that homosexuality was among the sins listed in the Bible. His comments were not made in his main public sermon but in response to a question about homosexuality put to him by a passerby.

He was arrested by PC Craig Hynes for a racially aggravated offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act and, after being detained at the station for more than seven hours, was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words to cause harassment, alarm or distress . The charges were later dropped.

The arrest sparked fears for freedom of speech for Christians and was also criticised by prominent gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The Christian Institute is appealing to the Government to amend Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which makes it a criminal offense to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour in a way that could alarm or distress another person. It wants the Government to repeal the word insulting .

 

12th December   

Offsite: Censorship Interchanged with Political Correctness...

Art has no chance against politically correct nutters armed with masking tape
Link Here

hampstead town hall logo The atmosphere in the atrium at Hampstead Town Hall was relaxed and mellow. I enjoyed discussing the artwork on the walls with the young people passing through on their way to media workshops and the older people waiting for classes in literature and art appreciation.

I was a volunteer at GFEST, London's LGBT arts festival during November 2010. It featured more than 80 artists in exhibitions, theatre, dance and performance, short films and workshops.

However on a Friday afternoon, Subodh Rathod, GFEST's administrative director who has also been looking after the exhibition, asked me to help cover some of the artworks for the weekend.

I am very taken aback at this request and Subodh told me that the management of the centre were concerned that the artwork might be seen by young people and their parents. It wasn't clear to us why this was a problem, but it was clear that if we didn't do it they would shut down the show.

The Town Hall is managed by Interchange, a social enterprise which provides and hosts community services such as the WAC arts and media project for young people.

We were intrigued and bemused by the criteria this equal-opportunities charity had devised. Acting on instructions from Interchange staff, we covered up 10 of the 21 photos and paintings.

This made me wonder even more about how and why Interchange's decision to mask some of the artwork was made. Craig Huxley, the Events Manager at Interchange said his impression is that reactions to the exhibition have been varied, from the majority which have been very positive, to a few older people who complained but were then found to be taking a closer look at the exhibits .

Craig said the real issue is that four- and five-year-old children and their parents use the building at the weekend and there was a feeling that the parents might not like the images and titles of the artworks. He also said that when public events are held security is always an issue as it is difficult to control who enters the building and there might be inappropriate behaviour .

He told me that decisions were made at a meeting of senior managers, including the child protection officer. Each manager saw slides of the artworks and, on the basis of suggestions made by individuals, a general consensus was reached as to the 10 artworks which might cause offence.

Homophobia, it seems, is alive and well at Interchange. And it's not only the artists and the LGBT community who were silenced. By censoring this exhibition, Interchange effectively prevented young people, their families and the general public from enjoying and engaging with this exhibition.

...Read the full article

 

12th December   

Update: Police Arrest First and Don't Even Ask Questions Later...

Police to pay damages for automatically arresting anti-gay preacher without making inquiries first
Link Here  full story: Preachers in the UK...Preachers come under censorship duress

Old Bailey A street preacher has been awarded more than £4,000 in damages after a judge ruled it was wrong for police to arrest and handcuff him for speaking out against homosexuality.

Anthony Rollins was preaching in Birmingham city center in June 2008 when a member of the public, John Edwards, took offense at comments he made describing homosexual conduct as morally wrong.

According to the Christian Institute, which backed Rollins' case, police arrived on the scene after receiving a call from Edwards and PC Adrian Bill proceeded to handcuff Rollins without any further inquiry.

Birmingham County Court ruled that PC Bill had committed assault and battery against Rollins by handcuffing him unnecessarily. Judge Lance Ashworth QC said in his ruling that the arrest demonstrated a lack of thoughtfulness. He ruled that hehad made the arrest as a matter of routine without any thought being given to Rollins' Convention Rights , which pertain to free speech and religious liberty.

After his arrest, Rollins was taken by PC Bill to the station where he was held for three hours but never questioned for his account of events. He was charged with breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act but the charges were dropped before the case came to trial.

Rollins decided to sue West Midlands Police after a complaint he made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about his treatment was rejected.

 

8th December   

Rubbish Decision...

Critically acclaimed children's book dropped from Blue Peter book prize shortlist
Link Here

Trash Andy Mulligan Organisers of a BBC children's book prize have admitted that they had made a mistake by initially shortlisting a novel which contained swearing and violence.

Andy Mulligan's Trash has now been dropped from the Blue Peter book prize shortlist which will be announced to viewers later.

But its content has led to bosses of the BBC1 children's programme dropping it from the favourite story category of the awards.

Reacting to the decision to drop his book from the shortlist, Mulligan told the Daily Telegraph: I'm sad because I thought when Blue Peter chose the book they were declaring their passion for literature. Sadly the fall-back position is one of fear. It's part of the insidious process that bans snowball fights.

The BBC said: Trash, by Andy Mulligan, should not have been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards because it contains scenes of violence and swearing that are not suitable for the younger end of our audience. We regret the mistake that was made in the initial judging but we do not believe the book is appropriate for children as young as six.

The adventure story follows three young boys who work sorting waste on a Third World rubbish dump and has drawn acclaim from critics.

Review from UK Amazon : Inspirational

Andy Mulligan has vividly brought to life the world of kids who live on rubbish dumps all over the world. Seeing them in a documentary does not really convey the experiences of these children, their feelings, their hopes and dreams and the harsh reality of surviving in such a hostile environment. Fiction can be so much better at conveying the truth than documentary.

Raphael finds a bag on the dump and inside is a key which opens up a can of worms he and his friends could never have dreamt of in their worst nightmares. Assisted by his friends Gardo and Rat (aka Jun Jun), he slowly unravels the mystery he has stumbled upon and falls foul of the authorities in the process. Children in his world are expendable and disappear easily, despite the efforts of charity workers such as Father Juilliard and voluntary worker Olivia at the Mission School. However, these wily and resourceful children, albeit uneducated, show themselves capable of outwitting the adults and solving the riddle. They face danger with courage and loyalty and eventually the story resolves itself into a very satisfying conclusion. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the story well told, although the rapid changes in point of view can be slightly distracting, and I would recommend this book to anyone.

 

8th December   

Update: Arrested Over a Condom Leak?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Britain not Sweden opposes bail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Bail granted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Weak Case

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

Rape case against the WikiLeaks chief weak

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

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

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

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

Update: Automatic Extradition

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Extradited

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

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

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

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

Update: Ecuador grants political asylum

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

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

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

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

 

2nd December   

The Great, the Good, the Worthy and the Not...

Liberty's Human Rights Award Winners 2010
Link Here

Liberty logo Human Rights Long Walk Award

No2ID

For their tireless campaign to publicise the threat to liberty and personal privacy posed by the introduction of ID cards – central to bringing about a Bill to repeal the Identity Cards Act and to scrap ID cards and the National Identity Register.

Human Rights Young Person of the Year Award

Young Legal Aid Lawyers

For their outstanding commitment to providing quality representation, advice and access to justice for those who could otherwise not afford it, despite the constant cuts and restrictions to legal aid work and the lack of financial sponsorship or reward.

Human Rights Arts Award, in association with Southbank Centre

Nicolas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham & The Tricycle Theatre

For their proud record of highlighting some of the most important human rights issues of the day, including this year's The Great Game focusing on British intervention in Afghanistan. With recent productions also examining the de Menezes Inquest and Deepcut Barracks deaths, the Tricycle Theatre is an inspirational example of how art with a social conscience need not require creative compromise.

Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award

Karon Monaghan QC

For her leading contribution towards a range of cases in the fields of equality, civil liberties,and human rights, including Eweida v. British Airways, HJ and HT v. Secretary of State for the Home Department and JM v. UK, and her continuing commitment to eradicate discrimination, injustice and protect essential rights and freedoms.

Independent Voice of the Year

Rt Hon David Davis MP

For his steadfast commitment to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in the fight against terrorism. In particular for his work in holding the Government to account over allegations of collusion in torture during the war on terror and the part he played in securing a public inquiry into the treatment of detainees abroad. Also for his public, principled, and robust opposition to the unfair and ineffective control order regime.

Human Rights Close to Home Award

Sally Hyman

For her valiant campaign with Katie Miller, Bob Miller, Patricia Ross and Tracy Hynes in support of a secondary school pupil facing forced deportation to Iraq – bringing new and much-needed attention to the shameful ordeal of child detention and bureaucratic nightmare of the asylum system for the young and vulnerable.

Human Rights Campaign of the Year Award

The Guardian – The Torture Files

For Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor's meticulous investigation into Britain's complicity in the use of torture. Their campaign shone a light on this shameful chapter in British history and they continue to uncover uncomfortable truths about the UK's role in the war on terror at home and abroad.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Lord Bingham of Cornhill

Lord Bingham proved an inspiration to anyone – legal professional or lay person – who holds dear their hard-won rights and freedoms and believes that human rights are universal and non-negotiable. Having held office as Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and Senior Law Lord, he was Britain's most distinguished legal mind.

 

2nd December   

Update: Hones Comment...

'Fair Comment' law examined in the UK Supreme Court
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Uk Supreme Court This appeal required the Supreme Court to consider the defence of fair comment in defamation proceedings, in particular the extent to which the factual background giving rise to the comment had to be referred to with the comment itself and be accurately stated.

The respondents are members of a musical group known as The Gillettes or Saturday Night at the Movies.

The appellants provide entertainment booking services.

The Gillettes appointed the booking agency to promote their acts, entering into a contract which included a re-engagement clause, under which any further bookings at the same venue in the following 12 months had to be made through the appellants.

The booking agency arranged a booking for the Gillettes at Bibis restaurant in Leeds. The Gillettes agreed to perform again at Bibis three weeks later without reference to the agency.

The agency emailed the band to complain of the breach of the re-engagement clause. A band member replied, contending that the contract was mearly (sic) a formality and holds no water in legal terms and that the other Gillettes were not bound by the re-engagement clause as they had not signed the contract.

The booking agency thereafter posted a notice on their website announcing that they were no longer representing the Gillettes as they were not professional enough to feature in our portfolio and have not been able to abide by the terms of their contract and that following a breach of contract Craig Joseph who runs The Gillettes and Saturday Night at the Movies has advised 1311 Events that the terms and conditions of "contracts hold no water in legal terms". For this reason it may follow that the artists obligations for your booking may also not be met….'

The Gillettes issued proceedings for libel, alleging that the posting meant that they were unprofessional and unlikely to honour any bookings made for them to perform.

The booking agency relied principally on the defences of justification and fair comment. Both were struck out in the High Court. The Court of Appeal reinstated the defence of justification but upheld the striking out of fair comment.

Judgement

The Supreme Court unanimously allows the appeal and holds that the defence of fair comment should be open to the agency.

A 'fair comment' must indicate in general terms the facts on which the comment is based, so that the reader was in a position to judge for himself how far the comment was well founded

However this defence had originated in respect of comments about work products such as books and plays, which necessarily identified the product. It had been complicated by developments which extended the defence to cover the conduct of individuals, where this was of public interest.

Today many people take advantage of the internet to make public comments and the defence would be robbed of much of its efficacy if readers had to be given detailed information to enable evaluation of the comment.

The Supreme Court agreed that there was a case for reform of a number of aspects of the defence of fair comment which did not arise directly in this case.

The whole area merited consideration by the Law Commission or an expert committee. The only more general reform being made by this judgment was the re-naming of the defence from fair comment to honest comment .

Applying the law to the facts of this case, the posting by the booking agency referred to the breach of contract relating to the Bibis restaurant, and to the Gillettes' email, and these facts could be relied on. The email arguably evidenced a contemptuous approach to the Gillettes' contractual obligations to the agency. The email as quoted arguably evidenced a contemptuous attitude to contracts in general.

It would be a matter for the jury to decide whether the inaccuracy in the quotation made a significant difference.

The defence should therefore be reinstated.

 

28th November   

Update: Media On Notice...

Government prepares for Wikileaks revealing of diplomatic communications
Link Here

Wikileaks Governments, organisations and media across the world have been put on alert as whistleblowing site Wikileaks looks set to release millions of diplomatic communications.

As Wikileaks prepares to expose a huge cache of classified diplomatic communications, the US has warned allies that new revelations may lead to public embarrassment. The cables are expected to expose sensitive foreign policy issues including corruption allegations against foreign governments and leaders, and clandestine US support for terrorism.

In what appears to be a harm minimisation strategy the US government has embarked on an impressive briefing campaign, reaching out to allies across the world.

In its efforts to manage the release and ensure its views are represented in the ensuing debate, the US has been vocal. In an email the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs to the Senate and House Armed Services Committee Elizabeth King said: State Department cables by their nature contain everyday analysis and candid assessments that any government engages in as part of effective foreign relations…. The publication of this classified information by WikiLeaks is an irresponsible attempt to wreak havoc … It potentially jeopardizes lives.

As news breaks that the UK government has issued a DA notice, effectively asking to be briefed by newspaper editors before any new revelations are published it worth noting that there is no obligation on media to comply. DA-notices point to a set of guidelines, agreed by the government departments and the media. In this case newspaper editors would speak to Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee prior to publication.

Guido Fawkes

The Guido Fawkes' Blog has now published the DA Notice letter . He also wonders if he is the first blogger to have received such a letter.

Hopefully the DA Notice issues will be restricted to genuine security concerns and won't be extended to hide mere embarrassment of officials etc.

Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee

See  article from  blogs.news.sky.com by Simon Bucks, Vice-Chair of the committee

Sky News have published an interesting article on the work of the DA Notice committee.

 

27th November   

Offsite: Whatever happened to freedom of speech?...

Very Daily Mailish but worth a read
Link Here

max hastings We live in a democracy in which it is widely supposed that anything can be said and anything done - at least by celebrity television performers.

Yet within politics, freedom of speech is more drastically constrained than ever before. Seldom have those who govern us been so much inhibited in what they feel able to say or write, not by legislatively-imposed censorship, but by a smothering blanket of supposed propriety and oppressive liberal values.

...read the full  article

 

26th November   

Update: In the Domain of Censors...

Nominet to block UK internet domains on police request
Link Here  full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

  nominet logo Police will effectively get more powers to censor websites under proposals being developed by Nominet, the company that controls the .uk domain registry.

Following lobbying by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Nominet wants to change the terms and conditions under which domain names are owned so that it can revoke them more easily in response to requests from law enforcement agencies.

The changes will mean that if Nominet is given reasonable grounds to believe [domains] are being used to commit a crime it will remove them from the .uk registry.

Nominet said: There are increasing expectations from Law Enforcement Agencies that Nominet and its members will respond quickly to reasonable requests to suspend domain names being used in association with criminal activity and Nominet has been working with them in response to formal requests.

At present, there is no specific obligation under Nominet's terms and conditions for owners to ensure their domain names are not used for crime.

Despite this, last December, at the request of the Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), Nominet revoked the domain names of 1,200 websites it said were being used to sell counterfeit designer goods. For legal cover, it claimed the owners breached their contracts by supplying registars with incorrect details.

Plans for more such action, which was taken without any court oversight, are likely to raise concerns over the potential for increased censorship online.

Last week, for example, the PCeU contacted the ISP hosting Fitwatch, a website the Met alleged was offering supposedly illegal advice to student protestors, and had it taken down. Mirror sites and copies of the information it carried quickly sprang up across dozens of hosts, making the attempted censorship ineffective. By working through Nominet, however, it would be much easier for police to centrally block such efforts by revoking the domain name of any website republishing the allegedly illegal information.

Apparently aware of such concerns, Nominet said it will consider creating an appeals process, and that it will only act if the incident was urgent or the registrar failed to comply [with a police request to revoke a domain name] .

 

26th November   

Update: New Blasphemy...

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

25th November   

Update: An Open Letter to David Cameron...

Calling for urgent reforms to UK libel law
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Facebook logo Dear Prime Minister

We are writing to ask that you introduce urgent reforms in the Government's proposed draft Defamation Bill to protect open discussion on the internet.

The English law of defamation is having a disproportionate, chilling effect on online writers, e-communities and web hosts:

  • The libel laws have not been updated to address the rise of online publication. The current multiple publication rule, dating back to 1849, defines every download as a publication and a potential new cause of action.
     
  • Internet service providers can be held liable for comments they host and therefore are inclined to take down material or websites even before the writer or publisher has been made aware of a complaint. Such intermediaries usually have no access to the background or relevant facts and should not be expected to play judge and jury in determining whether a writer's material is defamatory or not. This is a decision that can and should only be made by the direct parties involved.
     
  • Online blogs and forums are available around the world and there appear, in practice, to be few restrictions on material published substantially on matters and concerning parties and reputations elsewhere being the subject of legal action in English courts.
     
  • The Internet is used for publication by millions of ordinary citizens for whom the current defences to an action for defamation have not been developed.

We ask that the Government's draft Bill provide the following protection for discussion on the Internet:

  1. ISPs and forum hosts – intermediaries - should not be forced to take down material without a determination by a court or competent authority that the content is defamatory. The claimant should in the first instance approach the author rather than an uninvolved intermediary.
     
  2. There should be a single publication rule and a limitation period of one year from original publication.
     
  3. Claimants in libel law should demonstrate that there has been a substantial tort in the jurisdiction in which they bring proceedings.
     
  4. There should be a public interest defence in cases where the material is on a matter of public interest and the author has acted in accordance with expectations of the medium or forum.

Signed

Richard Allan, Director of Policy EU, Facebook

Emma Ascroft, Director, Public & Social Policy, Yahoo! UK & Ireland

Lisa Fitzgerald, Senior Counsel, AOL (UK) Limited

Nicholas Lansman, Secretary-General, Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA), which represents providers of Internet services in the UK and has over 200 members representing 95 per cent of the access market.

Justine Roberts, CEO, Mumsnet

 

24th November   

Obituary: Countess Dracula...

Ingrid Pitt dies aged 73
Link Here

Countess Dracula Special Ingrid Pitt Hammer horror actress Ingrid Pitt, best known for starring in cult classics such as Countess Dracula, has died at the age of 73.

The Polish-born star passed away at a hospital in south London after collapsing a few days ago.

She was regarded by many fans as the queen of Hammer Horror films.

The star's death comes weeks after film-maker Roy Ward Baker, who directed Pitt in The Vampire Lovers , died at the age of 93.

Pitt's daughter Stephanie Blake told the BBC News website that her mother's death had come as a huge surprise . After the actress collapsed recently, doctors had told her was she suffering from heart failure. She could be incredibly generous, loving, and she'll be sorely missed, Mrs Blake said.

She added that she wanted her mother to be remembered as the Countess Dracula with the wonderful teeth and the wonderful bosom .

She began her career with fairly minor roles in several Spanish films in the mid-1960s. But in 1968 she landed a supporting role in war movie Where Eagles Dare , appearing alongside Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. The actress got her breakthrough role two years later in the horror thriller The Vampire Lovers , which was a box office success.

Several Hammer movies followed, firmly establishing her as one of the key women of British horror of the 1970s. Her other film credits included The Wicker Man (1973), Who Dares Wins (1982), Smiley's People (1982) and Wild Geese II (1985).

 

24th November   

Locating Responsibility...

Court jurisdiction over internet content is governed by server location (and location of control)
Link Here

Old Bailey A company is responsible for making available internet-hosted material in the country where its host server is based, not in the country where the material is read or used, the High Court has said.

The Court ruled that the law should be applied to material hosted on the internet in the same way that it applies to satellite television, meaning that the jurisdiction covering infringing material is that of the country from where the material was broadcast.

The Scottish and English football leagues and Football Dataco claimed that Sportradar of Switzerland and its German subsidiary infringed their copyrights and database rights when it published live football data on the internet for use by betting companies.

Sportradar said that the English courts did not have jurisdiction to hear a case based on the database rights question because it had not made available any content in the UK.

The Court agreed, saying that the making available takes place where the server is, even if the use of material takes place somewhere else.

The judgment, a preliminary ruling in a case which will continue to a full trial, clarifies the liabilities of online publishers and restricts those liabilities in some key respects the country from which they publish.

 

23rd November   

Update: Blowing the Legal System Sky High...

Twitter Joker, Paul Chambers, appeals to the high court
Link Here  full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

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

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

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

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

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

 

23rd November   

Update: Bloggers and Libel Law...

So you've had a threatening letter. What can you do?
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

libel letter what can you do A new guide to the libel laws for bloggers has just been published.

The guide, entitled So you've had a threatening letter. What can you do? , is published by Sense About Science in association with Index on Censorship, English PEN, the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the Association of British Science Writers and the World Federation of Science Journalists.

To coincide with the guide's publication, Sense About Science is making available a summary of the effects of the English libel laws on bloggers, drawn from cases that have come to attention since the start of the Libel Reform Campaign and from the recent survey of bloggers. The summary identifies the particular ways in which online forums are affected by the current laws, notably:

  • the individual and non-professional character of much online writing, and therefore the more pronounced inequality of arms, particularly where people are writing about companies, institutions and products;
  • related to the above, the relative lack of familiarity with libel law and access to advice about handling complaints;
  • the liability of ISPs, leading to material being removed without consultation with authors;
  • and the vulnerability to legal action arising from the international availability of Internet material, and it being possible to republish old material by downloading it.

Reform of English libel law has been promised, and if campaigners are successful, then changes that will give better defences to online publishers and writers may come into force in 2012.

This leaflet is certainly not a substitute for legal advice, but it does provide information which other bloggers and writers who have experienced libel threats say they wished they had known at the outset.

 

21st November   

Offsite: Enlarged Threats...

Now the libel law sharks are going for the little guy
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

boob job It is a sad truth about the British media that a story's chances of making the newspapers increase in proportion to an editor's ability to attach breasts to it. The tale of how the makers of Boob Job tried to undermine freedom of speech by threatening Dr Dalia Nield was no exception to the rule.

I don't mean to mock. The press does not argue strongly enough for the freedom on which its business and our liberties depend and it was good to see journalists defend the doctor.

The Mail had asked her opinion of Rodial's claim that its £125 jars of Boob Job would expand breasts by half a cup size if a woman rubbed the cream into her chest for 56 days on the trot. Dr Nield is one of Britain's foremost cosmetic surgeons. She gave every impression of not believing a word of Rodial's hype. She told the Mail that women needed a lot more data from Rodial and wondered whether the cream would do more harm than good. For this, Rodial sent her a letter threatening defamation proceedings. Quite rightly, reporters protested about yet another attempt by our wretched legal profession to silence informed debate on matters of public interest.

...Read the full article

 

20th November   

Update: Clumsy...

Differing sensitivities to a Transformers toy named Spastic
Link Here  full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

transformers spastic The launch of a new Transformers character called Spastic has been scrapped after fans vented fury over the name.

The new robot toy was ditched after US maker Hasbro was left stunned by the outcry in Britain over the insulting term.

Bosses of the US toy firm - unaware of how offensive the word is regarded here - were shocked at the anger the name sparked when they proudly revealed the toy on its website.

But the company insisted the toy will go on sale with its original name in the US as planned in January.

Last night Hasbro said: We intended no offence by the use of the name Spastic. It will not be available via traditional retail channels in Europe, including the UK.

The word spastic , regarded as derogatory in Britain, is used to describe people suffering severe forms of cerebral palsy with reduced control of their muscle movements. It is used widely in the US as a casual term for clumsiness or an overexcited person.

In US slang the word spastic is often shortened to spaz - and has been used in TV show Friends and by golfer Tiger Woods, although they were only criticised for using it in Britain.

 

20th November   

Update: Take That!...

Howard Donald superinjunction lifted
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Howard Donald Celebrity Party Mask A superinjunction banning new organisations from naming Take That singer Howard Donald has been lifted by the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, Lord Justice Kay and Lord Justice Sedley, but an order banning a former girlfriend, singer Adakini Ntuli, from selling her story is still in place.

The initial injunction was granted earlier this year by Mr Justice Eady.

Superinjunctions have a disastrous effect on free expression, said John Kampfner, Index on Censorship's Chief Executive. Celebrities are increasingly pursuing privacy actions in order to dictate what is published about them.

 

17th November   

FITWatch: We're Back...

Police get website taken down re suggestions for student protestors to avoid prosecution
Link Here

fitwatch back fitwatch.org.uk describes itself as a website: Resisting and monitoring Forward Intelligence Policing.

These are the police who video and photograph people at demonstrations and the like with view to databasing and identifying protest leaders etc.

The police hit the headlines by getting fitwatch.org.uk ejected by their web hosts. This was over an article advising student protestors to get rid of evidence such as clothing, lest the police come knocking on their door looking for protestors to arrest.

The ban was short lived as FITwatch.org.uk rearranged web hosting somewhere else. FITwatch.org.uk explains:

We're Back

And with a secure server, massive coverage and a clear message that we're here to stay.

On Monday night we received notification that our site had been suspended due to attempting to pervert the course of justice due to our posting offering advice to the Millbank students. Whilst the email requesting the site be closed on the basis it was being used for criminal activity came from DI Paul Hoare, from the Police Central e-crime Unit, the authorisation to close was given much closer to home, by acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson. Hodgeson, who was involved in the first Fitwatch case, and has sat through many of our trials and appeals, evidently finally had enough and decided to shut us down.

However, through totally underestimating the power of social media, this pathetic attempt has failed miserably. Within minutes of networking what had happened, people were re-publishing the post anywhere and everywhere. There are now over 100 sites carrying the original post – we haven't managed to count them all. We have been overwhelmed by the support and solidarity and send massive thanks to everyone who's offered to help and reposted the information. If we haven't replied personally, it's only because we've been inundated, and haven't had time.

This was a real attempt to squash dissent and criticism of the police, as well as attempting to stifle common sense advice to protesters subject to a witch hunt by the right wing press. The solidarity given by so many people has ensured this hasn't happened, and has shown we can fight back. Even if we were to be arrested and prosecuted now, we would still be grateful to CO11 for the amount of publicity they've generated for us.

We're back, and we're stronger than ever.

 

17th November   

Updated: Twitter Twits...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Throwing Stones at Gareth Compton

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

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

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

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

He has since apologised.

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

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

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

Update: Radio 5 Live

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Moralising about easy offence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Prosecution Continues

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

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

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

 

15th November   

Updated: UK Justice is a Joke...

Tweeters unimpressed by the persecution of an obvious joke
Link Here  full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communications Act 2003

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

Thanks to eMark
See article from legislation.gov.uk

Royal Arms Section 127 Improper use of public electronic communications network

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offsite Comment: The Menace of Section 127

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

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

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

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

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

...read the full article

 

13th November   

Petition: Twitter Joke Trial...

I do not consider @pauljchambers tweet to be 'obviously menacing
Link Here  full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

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

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

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

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

Sign the  petition

2708 signatures so far as of 13th November 2010

 

12th November   

Update: UK Justice is a Joke...

Appeal against airport tweet prosecution fails
Link Here  full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

12th November   

Hounded by the PC Gestapo...

Cardiff councillor hauled over the coals for nazi jibes
Link Here

cardiff council logo The former Labour group leader on the Cardiff Council admitted he was shaken to the core when an ombudsman's provisional report indicated he might ludicrously be branded anti-semitic for repeatedly referring to Jewish council leader Rodney Berman's coalition administration using nazi allusions.

After a three-day hearing by an Adjudication Panel concluded, he was handed the minimum sentence of a two-month suspension from council duties, with chairman Hywel James ruling Cook had breached his code of conduct by repeatedly showing a lack of respect for a colleague and bringing the office of councillor and City Hall into disrepute.

James said it was only his swift and unreserved apology, refraining from further disrespect and his co-operation with the ombudsman that spared him a longer ban from his £20,000-a-year council duties after his previously cordial relationship with Berman broke down over the supposedly profoundly offensive slurs.

The trouble started in summer 2008 when the councillor's leaflet called intense electioneering by the Liberal Democrats blitzkrieg tactics and described activists as stormtroopers .

Seven months later, in a budget meeting in February last year, infuriated about the curtailing of the debate, the councillor taunted Berman and his colleagues that his next leaflet would carry the headline Nazi stormtroopers censor council .

Just 30 minutes later, after a visibly upset Coun Berman urged him to withdraw such highly offensive remarks, the then Labour leader again suggested coalition tactics were reminiscent of the tactics Nazi Germany used in 1933 to silence political opposition, and failed to withdraw the accusation.

The furore resulted in thecouncillor being released from his post as Labour leader to fight to restore his reputation. That fight concluded with the panel clearing him of anti-semitism and bullying but telling him his goading of Berman, while aware of the grave insults his words implied, went far beyond fair and robust debate the public was entitled to expect of its representatives.

 

11th November   

Update: Inciting Violence...

Man arrested for website encouraging attacks on MPs over Iraq war
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

roshonara choudhry Police have arrested a man on suspicion of encouraging muslims to attack MPs.

The individual is thought to be involved with a website that praised the stabbing of the MP Stephen Timms and published a list of other MPs who voted for the war in Iraq, along with details of where to buy a knife.

West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit arrested the man and conducted a search of his home in the Dunstall area of Wolverhampton. Officers seized computer and electronic equipment, police said.

The man was being questioned under section one of the Terrorism Act 2006 on suspicion of encouraging an act of terrorism.

Detective Chief Inspector John Denley said: We are treating the contents and implications of this blog very seriously, and have taken action this morning to progress our investigation.

The website, Revolution Muslim, was hosted in Bellevue, Washington, and was taken down by the Americans at the request of the Home Office.

The website praised Roshonara Choudhry, who tried to stab Timms to death during a constituency surgery in Beckton, East London.

The website said: We ask Allah for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of jihad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote.

The statement added: If you want to track an MP, you can find out their personal website after typing their name in this website.

A link on the website took the reader to the site of Tesco Direct for a £15 kitchen knife, similar to that used by Choudhry.

The site also featured videos and statements by Awlaki and by former members of al-Muhajiroun, Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Update: Charged

21st November 2010. See article from  guardian.co.uk

A man appeared in court charged with soliciting murder and offences under the Terrorism Act in relation to a blog listing MPs it claimed voted for the Iraq war. Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, from Wolverhampton, was arrested last week over the blog, which allegedly called for action against the MPs.

The details appeared on a website that was said to have radicalised a young woman who went on to stab the former minister Stephen Timms during an advice surgery in east London in revenge for the Iraq war. Ahmad appeared handcuffed as he stood between two security officers in the dock at London's City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 29 November.

 

8th November   

Update: Bournemouth Film Censors...

A Serbian Film leaves Bournemouth with censorial legacy
Link Here

Bournemouth Council logo Licensing officers will double up as film censors following the row about plans to show A Serbian Film in Bournemouth.

The town's Pier Theatre is volunteering to have its licence amended so it cannot show films that have not been rated by the BBFC unless they have been shown to the local council.

The decision means licensing officers will have to vet any such films, including the low-budget and student movies that have been the backbone of other festivals at the venue. If officers have concerns about a film, they will refer to councillors on the borough's licensing board.

The row was sparked after organisers of the British Horror Film Festival planned to screen the movie A Serbian Film in an uncut version which had not been passed by the BBFC. The film was pulled from the event, but officers did vet several unrated short films and succeeded in getting another 17-minute movie dropped.

 

7th November   

Comment: Dangerous Trolling...

Man faces jail over offensive comments posted on celebrity tribute websites
Link Here
dont feed the troll

  Just ignore him!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Troll Jailed

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

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

He was jailed for 18 weeks for sending malicious communications .

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

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

Offsite Comment: Do not jail the troll

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

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

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

... Read the full article

 

5th November   

Update: Private Publications...

Obscenity prosecution re-opened over private online chat
Link Here  full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

Crown Prosecution Service The prospect of a dramatic extension of the Obscene Publications Act is once more back on the agenda, as the Crown Prosecution Service last week re-opened a case in which an individual is accused of obscene publishing in respect of a private online chat.

A prosecution was originally brought in May of this year against Gavin Smith whose log of a private online chat he had with another individual was deemed by Kent Police to be obscene.

When the case first came before magistrates, it was discharged on arguments of no case to answer.

The CPS have since received new evidence in this matter and, following a review, have decided to re-charge Smith. There will now be a hearing on 30 November.

 

30th October   

Internet Censor...

Ed Vaizey proposes mediation service to censor websites on grounds of privacy or 'accuracy'
Link Here  full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

ed vaizey Ed Vaizey, the minister responsible for internet regulation is planning a new mediation service to encourage ISPs and websites to censor material in response to public complaints.

Vaizey said internet users could use the service to ask for material that is inaccurate or infringes their privacy to be removed. It would offer a low cost alternative to court action, he suggested, and be modelled on Nominet's mediation service for domain disputes.

The communications minister said he will soon write to ISPs and major websites including Facebook and Google to discuss the initiative. He conceded that industry is likely to resist any attempt at greater regulation, but he is keen to set up a system of redress for the public: I'm sure that a lot of internet companies would say that is almost impossible, but... one does at least want to make an attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet companies on this issue.

 

27th October   

Updated: British Horror Film Festival 2010...

A Serbian Film makes an impression on Bournemouth councillors
Link Here

british horror film festival 2010 logo British Horror Film Festival
30th October 2010
The Pier Theatre, Bournemouth

Also showing:

  • Needle
  • Devils Playground
  • Voodoo Lagoon

Bournemouth's licensing committee agreed they would not ban A Serbian Film from the forthcoming British Horror Film Festival at the Pier Theatre if it was classified by the BBFC.

But the BBFC will not issue the film with a certificate unless almost four minutes of footage is cut from it first – something the distributor has not yet done.

Cllr David Kelsey, vice-chair of the licensing board, said he would still be uncomfortable with the film being shown, even after the cuts.

I downloaded it last night and I would not recommend it to a member of my family, he told the meeting: It's the most disgusting, vile thing I've ever sat down and watched. It was absolutely unbelievable. I think cutting five minutes from it would not be enough. Even that would leave a lot of scenes that I would not want to see in a public cinema. I just find it amazing what people can actually get away with in the cause of art nowadays – to me that's just not art.

Chairman of the board Cllr Andrew Morgan suggested they write to Pier Theatre manager Ian Goode to inform him councillors would not be happy with the unclassified version of the film being shown. He also recommended the council take Goode up on his offer to vary the Pier Theatre's licence to specifically prevent unclassified films from being shown there.

We're not stepping into the shoes of the BBFC, if they want to show a classified film it's not our role to stop it, he said.

Stuart Brennan, director of the British Horror Film Festival, said it was up to the film company and distribution company to decide whether they wanted to make the cuts required to gain an 18 certificate: If there is a copy of the film that we can show by the time the festival goes ahead then we will show the cut version, he said.

Update: A Serbian Film Cancelled

25th October 2010. Based on article from  horror-movies.ca

a serbian film poster A few days ago Bournemouth council announced that A Serbian Film will only be approved to be shown once it is certified by the BBFC.

The festival director Stuart Brennan has issued this statement: This is an unfortunate situation for us to be in. We believe strongly the film should be shown, however this new demand has left us in a position where we are left with little choice but to remove the film from our line up, as we cannot guarantee the film will be certified in time.

A statement issued on behalf of Revolver Entertainment Ltd, the UK distributor for the film reads: Revolver Entertainment Ltd. have decided with regret to withdraw A Serbian Film from exhibition at the forthcoming British Horror Film Festival in Bournemouth. The film has been submitted to the British Board of Film Classification but does not, as yet, have a confirmed 18 certificate. While the film and any potential cuts are still under review the film cannot be screened as per the council's decision

Update: More on the cancellation

27th October 2010. Based on article from  bournemouthecho.co.uk

BBFC logo Although the BBFC has issued the film with an 18 certificate for video after almost four minutes of cuts were made, it has yet to issue a certificate for theatrical exhibition.

Sue Clark, BBFC spokesperson told the Daily Echo yesterday that they expected to issue the film version with an 18 certificate.

She said: We have seen the DVD version and they have made the cuts that we requested. If they send the same version in for cinema release there is no reason why we couldn't have that ready for the end of the week.

Alan Jones

A leading film critic has backed A Serbian Film and called for the public to be allowed to judge it for themselves. Alan Jones, who contributes to Radio Times and Film Review, organised the Film4 FrightFest event in August, from which the film had to be pulled after Westminster council refused permission to show it uncut.

He said dropping the film had been a tragedy . I have seen the film numerous times now and have discussed it at length with director Srdjan Spasojevic. Sure, the subject matter is as shocking as they come, but what you actually see on screen in the uncut version, is brilliantly handled so you think you saw what you didn't, he said.

He said the film was a compelling and provocative work of utter hatred and anger against the treatment the Serbian government meted out to its people.

Jones added: That this film has become such a controversial cause celebre – only in the UK and Turkey, I may add – is yet again another example of how the BBFC can tell responsible adults over the age of 18 what they can and can't see. I find that more outrageous than anything seen in the movie.

 

27th October   

Update: Licensed to Censor...

Government responds to petition for an end to the censorship of live music via licensing
Link Here  full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

A petition to the government closed a few months ago. It read:

pub band We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop criminalising live music with the Licensing Act, and to support amendments backed by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and the music industry, which would exempt most small-scale performances in schools, hospitals, restaurants and licensed premises.

Submitted by Phil Little of Live Music Forum.

Under the Licensing Act, a performance by one musician in a bar, restaurant, school or hospital not licensed for live music could lead to a criminal prosecution of those organising the event. Even a piano may count as a licensable entertainment facility . By contrast, amplified big screen broadcast entertainment is exempt.

The government says the Act is necessary to control noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety, even though other laws already deal with those risks. Musicians warned the Act would harm small events. About 50% of bars and 75% of restaurants have no live music permission. Obtaining permission for the mildest live music remains costly and time-consuming.

In May, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity and for unamplified performance by one or two musicians. The government said no. But those exemptions would restore some fairness in the regulation of live music and encourage grassroots venues.

Update: Government Response

27th October 2010. See  article from  hmg.gov.uk

The Petition closed with 16,949 signatures.

UK Government arms The Government responded:

Currently the Coalition Government is reviewing the situation concerning live music performance at smaller venues, and the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose MP, is considering the result of the Consultation on Live Music which closed in March.  

The Coalition is committed to cutting Red Tape, to encourage live music and is keen to find the best way forward.  A number of options are being considered and the Minister will make an announcement in due course.

 

25th October   

Update: Will Libel Lawyers be Allowed on Judgement Day?...

'Holy man' granted right to appeal to resume libel action against journalist
Link Here

Old Bailey At the High Court in London, Lady Justice Smith granted Indian national [who's never visited Britain] 'His Holiness [self proclaimed]' Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj the right to appeal in his libel case against British journalist Hardeep Singh. The case will now go before three judges at the Court of Appeal to decide whether it should proceed to a full trial.

Hardeep Singh said: I've been fighting this case for three years already; this adds a minimum of another six months of torment. If I lose, it will cost me over £1 million, let alone my costs so far and a tenth of my life. This feels like the biggest game of poker you can possibly play: all for exercising my right to free expression.

He added: I'm hoping the government take reform of our libel laws seriously and we get a robust bill in the New Year.

Mike Harris from Index on Censorship said: When individuals like Hardeep Singh risk £1m and bankruptcy all for a single newspaper article, it really hits home how important libel reform is. I hope the government backs the Libel Reform campaign's call for wholesale reform of our libel laws so free speech is protected.

Sνle Lane from Sense About Science said: Change in the libel laws cannot come soon enough. Singh's case highlights that the laws as they stand are unfair, unduly costly, out of date and against the public interest. Until we have a clear, strong public interest defence against libel actions writers, bloggers, NGOs and journalists will be forced to back down in the face of threats.

The case centres on an article that Hardeep Singh wrote in August 2007 for the Sikh Times, a British newspaper, in which he claimed that Jeet Singh was an accused Cult leader whose teachings were not in line with mainstream Sikh doctrine.

In May 2010 Mr Justice Eady threw the case out with no right to appeal. Eady's judgment held that secular courts should not make a judgment on a religious dispute.

The application for appeal was granted on the limited basis that there are arguable issues in Singh's article that do not tread on the forbidden area of doctrinal dispute.

 

23rd October   

Offsite: Still Fettered...

Lady Chatterley trial - 50 years on.
Link Here

Lady Chatterleys Lover Anniversary Classics Fifty years ago this week, amid extraordinary international publicity, the Old Bailey was the venue for a trial that did more to shape 21st-century Britain than hundreds of politicians put together. The case of the Crown versus Penguin Books opened on Friday, October 21, 1960, when courtroom officials handed copies of perhaps the most notorious novel of the century, D H Lawrence's book Lady Chatterley's Lover, to nine men and three women, and asked them to read it. They were not, however, allowed to take the book out of the jury room. Only if Penguin were acquitted of breaking the Obscene Publications Act would it be legal to distribute it.

What followed, said one eyewitness, was a circus so hilarious, fascinating, tense and satisfying that none who sat through all its six days will ever forget them . But it was a circus that changed Britain forever.

On November 2, after just three hours' deliberation, the jury acquitted Penguin Books of all charges. Almost immediately, the book became a best-seller. In 15 minutes, Foyles sold 300 copies and took orders for 3,000 more. Hatchards sold out in 40 minutes; Selfridges sold 250 copies in half an hour. In one Yorkshire town, a canny butcher sold copies of the book beside his lamb chops.

And yet there was another side to the story, often ignored by the history books. Outside intellectual high society, most ordinary people in 1960 remained deeply conservative, and the Home Office was flooded with letters of protest. In Edinburgh, copies were burned on the streets; in South Wales, women librarians asked permission not to handle it; from Surrey, one anguished woman wrote to the home secretary, explaining that her teenage daughter was at boarding school and she was terrified that day girls there may introduce this filthy book .

...Read the full article

Comment: What an exaggerated article

From readers comments by IanBB

What an exaggerated article. The fetters were off . Were they indeed? How then did Britain remain the most censored country in Europe, how then did Britain enact the infamous Video Recordings Act in 1984 that brought in Draconian censorship to stop people watching a few erotic videos and bad foreign horror movies? How then did it take until the year 2000 to partially legalise real pornography- that is, showing the act itself- still under the rigorous control of that arch-quango, the BBFC?

How then did the (Labour) government just last year bring in new censorship laws controlling mere cartoons, the breaking of which laws doesn't just mean a fine or a short prison sentence, but the total ruin of the convicted person via the Sex Offenders Register?

Offsite: The trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover

23rd October 2010. See  article from  guardian.co.uk by Geoffrey Robertson QC

Old Bailey The Old Bailey has, for centuries, provided the ultimate arena for challenging the state. But of all its trials – for murder and mayhem, for treason and sedition – none has had such profound social and political consequences as the trial in 1960 of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover . The verdict was a crucial step towards the freedom of the written word, at least for works of literary merit (works of no literary merit were not safe until the trial of Oz in 1971, and works of demerit had to await the acquittal of Inside Linda Lovelace in 1977). But the Chatterley trial marked the first symbolic moral battle between the humanitarian force of English liberalism and the dead hand of those described by George Orwell as the striped-trousered ones who rule , a battle joined in the 1960s on issues crucial to human rights, including the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion, abolition of the death penalty and of theatre censorship, and reform of the divorce laws. The acquittal of Lady Chatterley was the first sign that victory was achievable, and with the guidance of the book's great defender, Gerald Gardiner QC (Labour lord chancellor 1964–70), victory was, in due course, achieved.

 

18th October   

Update: Free Speech Issue...

Authorities drop Public Order Act prosecution over graphic abortion pictures on protest placard
Link Here  full story: Abortion Protests in UK...Public order, censorship and religious arseholes

abort67 placard Two pro-life nutter protesters are celebrating after hearing that they will not be facing a criminal prosecution for a silent vigil outside an abortion clinic.

The two Christian protesters, Andy Stephenson and Katherine Sloane were arrested twice by police in Brighton this summer for standing outside the BPAS clinic in silent protest with a banner showing an early aborted child. The police asked them to take down their banner but on both occasions they were arrested after they refused. Stephenson tried to explain to the police that they had a lawful right to protest. On the second occasion they were held for fourteen hours at Brighton police station and questioned under caution. They have now heard that the threatened criminal prosecution against them had been dropped.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: We are really pleased that common sense has prevailed after pressure was brought to bear. It is not appropriate to silence and to censor those who speak out against abortion. The freedom to engage and provoke public debate on this matter of life and death must continue to be safeguarded.

Ann Furedi, the head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service which runs the Wistons clinic, said she fully supported the right of pro-life activists to demonstrate against abortion clinics .. BUT... Furedi added: There is a distinction between freedom of expression and actions that are designed to distress people who are accessing legal, medical services.

 

14th October   

Little Reason...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

11th October   

Offsite: Gagging for Publicity...

Stars Boost Use of UK Gag Rules
Link Here

Old Bailey Recent months have brought a flurry of activity that show restrictive privacy injunctions are alive and kicking. At least seven soccer players, television personalities and other high-profile figures have obtained privacy injunctions since July, according to court records and people familiar with the situation.

Some tabloid newspapers now are being served with an injunctions per month on average, say people familiar with the situation. The broadsheet Guardian newspaper has received notice of at least eight injunctions so far this year, including at least two super injunctions, according to one of its lawyers, Gill Phillips. That comes on the heels of 10 injunctions last year, she said.

On Thursday, a judge extended an injunction obtained by an unnamed television star against his ex-wife, who alleges they had a sexual relationship after he remarried. According to a public court order, the TV personality denied the allegation and claimed that his former spouse had threatened to reveal details of their relationship unless he paid her money.

Thursday's order didn't prohibit the media from reporting its existence, but it barred the press from divulging the celebrity's identity.

...Read the full article

 

9th October   

Police Dick Heads...

Police quick to act on a nutter complaint that a dick shaped hedge somehow threatens public order
Link Here
topiary dick

  A topiary impression of
police intelligence

A Fenland man's topiary skills landed him with the threat of an £80 on the spot fine by police after a complaint was made about his phallic-shaped hedge.

Ian Ashmeade has been forced to reshape his garden hedge after a an easily offended member of the public complained that it was offensive.

Ashmeade admits the phallic-shaped hedge was a bit naughty, but says it has always been a source of much amusement in the village.

But officers from Cambridgeshire police took a miserable view this week after a member of the public complained and ordered Ashmeade to prune the offending foliage or face an £80 fine for public order.

The hedge has stood proudly for eight years before the complaint this week which prompted police to act.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: Officers received a complaint from a member of the public regarding the shape of a shrub. Officers went round at the weekend and asked the man to change its shape or he would be fined for a public order offence.

 

9th October   

He Didn't Crack...

Man jailed for refusing to divulge password for encrypted disk drive
Link Here
police threaten guy

  Uncrackable encryption my arse!
Give us your password or
we'll break your legs

A young man has been jailed for 16 weeks after he refused to give police the password to his computer.

Oliver Drage, 19, was arrested in May 2009 by police tackling child sexual exploitation.

Police seized his computer but could not access material on it as it had a 50-character encryption password.

He was formally asked to disclose his password but failed to do so, which is an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, police said.

Officers are still trying to crack the code on the computer to examine its contents.

Det Sgt Neil Fowler, of Lancashire police, said: Drage was previously of good character so the immediate custodial sentence handed down by the judge in this case shows just how seriously the courts take this kind of offence.

 

8th October   

Updated: Sky Express Migration Propaganda...

TV political commentator accused of libel after labelling Migration Watch figures as propaganda
Link Here

migration watch uk logo Sally Bercow, the political commentator has reportedly been threatened with libel action by the chair of rightwing think tank Migration Watch over a Sky News newspaper review.

Bercow received a letter from Sir Andrew Green's solicitors last month demanding an apology and legal costs for comments she made while reviewing the day's papers for Sky News on 18 August, according to Index on Censorship.

Green has threatened legal action over Bercow's comments about a Daily Express story on migration and youth unemployment, in which the paper quoted figures from a Migration Watch study.

Among other things, Bercow said the article grossly oversimplified the migration debate, and that such oversimplification was dangerous propaganda .

Bercow is understood to be willing to go to court to defend herself and sees the case as proof of the need to reform English defamation law, Index on Censorship reported.

Update: Libel Threat Dropped

8th October 2010. Based on article from  indexoncensorship.org

MigrationWatch has released a statement saying that it no longer intends to sue political commentator Sally Bercow for libel.

It was revealed by Index on Censorship last week that Bercow had been threatened with legal action over comments she made about a Daily Express story on migration and unemployment. Bercow said that the story, which quoted figures from a MigrationWatch study, grossly oversimplified the migration debate, and that such oversimplification was dangerous propaganda .

MigrationWatch wrote in a statement:

In a discussion programme on Sky News on 18 August, Mrs Bercow associated Migrationwatch with Mosley and Hitler. When we heard about this, we asked for a copy of the program and obtained a transcript of precisely what she had said. After taking advice from counsel we asked our solicitors to write to her seeking an apology and an undertaking not to repeat such an allegation. In their response, solicitors for Mrs Bercow said that she did not intend to (and did not) allege that Migrationwatch is a fascist or racist organisation , that she was expressing an honest opinion about the handling of a Migrationwatch report by the Daily Express and that she had a right to do so in a democratic society.

Migrationwatch are strongly in favour of free speech. We accept her assurances about her intentions, and consider that important and sensitive issues such as immigration should be debated without descending into derogatory language and associations.

In view of the assurance contained in her solicitor's letter, we do not intend to take the matter further.

 

7th October   

Death is Not Justice...

Anti-capital punishment exhibition shunted out of sight in Belfast
Link Here

poster for tomorrow org logo Poster for tomorrow will be in Belfast for 10/10/10, but not in the City Council premises. The exhibition will take place in form of a protest against the City Council decision of taking out 30 posters from the exhibition.

We were open to removing a couple of posters from the exhibition, but instead the council proposed to put 30 posters in a room with controlled access (in their own words) on the 1st floor of the City Hall building. We don't consider this decision to be a fair one: although this isn't strictly censoring the posters, it feels like a politically correct decision to effectively cut the exhibition by a third and remove the said posters to a place where no one can see them (or at least see them with an added degree of difficulty). We haven't accepted this offer nor do we plan to do so.

We'd like to point out that Belfast is the only city in the world in which our exhibition encountered this sort of resistance, out of a list that includes much more problematic cities such as Tbilisi, Marrakech, Beirut and 5 cities in Iran including Tehran.

Reacting to people getting hanged

Based on article from  bbc.co.uk

The organiser of an anti-death penalty exhibition in Belfast said he is cancelling the event because he feels it has been censored. Herve Matine said councillors wanted to split up the exhibition of 100 posters at the city hall - some of which show people who have been hanged.

He said they wanted the more graphic images to be displayed inside with what he called controlled access .  Matine said he was contacted on Tuesday by the city hall and told that councillors wanted 30 of the posters to be displayed inside in a room on the first floor.

The posters were due to go on display for four days on Thursday.

Councillors approved the exhibition in September on the understanding that they had the option of vetoing specific posters if deemed controversial or offensive .

Matine said the exhibition was about highlighting the brutality of a death sentence: I want everyone to react when people in some countries get hanged, that's why we want to have public awareness about this horror.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston said he welcomed the exhibition's withdrawal: The whole purpose of the exhibition is to be as disturbing and provocative as possible and that was never going to be appropriate to take place in a public park in the centre of our city. People use Belfast City Hall grounds every day as a place to rest, relax and meet people.

It is a public park. Even people passing by might have seen these posters and I think it would be very inappropriate and disturbing to have posters like that erected.

The Death Is Not Justice campaign is due to show the exhibition in 100 cities worldwide.

 

6th October   

Verdict on Trial by Internet...

Jury internet research will not invalidate trials
Link Here

jury Although trials have been put at risk by jurors using the internet to research cases they're deciding, judges accept it is inevitable

Judges are giving up trying to stop juries using Google, Facebook and Twitter to access potentially false and prejudicial information about defendants, Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, has warned.

High-profile criminal trials, such as that of Baby P, have been put at risk by material posted abroad but widely available online – and Macdonald admits that the consequences can be serious.

But although policing the accuracy of information on the internet is an unmanageable task , Macdonald said, it should not invalidate a trial if jurors are found to have conducted online research while a case is in progress.

This is a serious point and we struggled with it, in criminal justice, for years trying to protect juries from what they might read about a case on the internet, material they weren't supposed to know about while they were trying it, Macdonald said.

In essence, we're finally giving up and just concluding that you have to expect juries to try cases fairly and they're told to do that so I think this is a serious issue around privacy, because policing the internet is really, I think, an unmanageable task.

I don't think juries should be 'allowed' to do online research, he added. But I do think we need to assume this will occasionally happen and that it should not invalidate a trial. We have to expect them to follow directions to try the case on the evidence. Otherwise, jury trial will go.

 

4th October   

Better in Tune with the Politically Correct...

Motor show models wind up Brighton fringe photographers
Link Here

better in tu A photographer has accused Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF) of censoring his exhibition after the organisers asked for three images to be taken down.

Belgium photographer Herman Van den Boom was selected to appear at Brighton Photo Fringe, curated this year by Martin Parr.

Van den Boom's work, Better in Tune , is a photography project about Car-tuning and Car-babes, the photographer says. The underlying idea of the project is that of the world as a desire representation in a mediated society. While the photographer first submitted the work to Parr, it arrived too late to form part of the Biennial. However, claims the photographer, Parr suggested he submits it to the Fringe festival, which accepted the work.

On 30 September, Van den Boom hanged a selection of 10 images. However, according to the photographer, when the Fringe's two directors - Helen Cammock and Woodrow Kernohan – visited the exhibition, they asked the photographer to take down four images, which, they argued, were offending to women, claims Van den Boom. There's no nudity at all. It might be an unflattering photograph, but doesn't that mean that it shouldn't be shown? he tells BJP. These are car-babes. The music is loud. It's not a beautiful world, but the world it's like it. I'm just documenting it. They say it's degrading. They say that these images could offend the public, and contact the landlord of the building and make problems.

Van den Boom's exhibition is expected to open on 02 October and run for two weeks. Currently, only seven images are shown in a different layout as originally intended.