UK News

 2013: Jan-March



 Offsite Article: On Joke Trials...


Link Here 5th March 2013
Keir Starmer The Director of Public Prosecutions talks to Index about Twitter, Facebook and diminishing free speech

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

  Facebook Has Created Something of a Monster...

Court hears that Facebook cannot prevent people from opening accounts as there is no ID verification system


Link Here 3rd March 2013

Old BaileyA judge has claimed that: Facebook has created something of a monster which it cannot control.

The judge had been asked by a father to prevent his daughter from accessing Facebook after she used it to post sexually suggestive pictures and had sexualised contact with older men.

Facebook explained that it was powerless to stop the girl using an account because she could create new ones under different pseudonyms and access the site from different devices. Although Facebook insists only those aged 13 or above can create a profile on their site, the social network does not use any age or identity verification systems to enforce this rule.

Mr Justice McCloskey sitting in the High Court in Belfast said Facebook's defence largely rested on the idea that it has created something of a monster which it alleges it cannot control . The requested injunction was denied as unworkable.

 

  Solid Gold Bomb...

T-shirts with rape related slogans soon get kicked off Amazon


Link Here 2nd March 2013

keep calm A company is selling t-shirts with the slogan Keep Calm And Rape Them emblazoned across the chest has perhaps unsurprisingly caused a little 'outrage'.

The online clothing store, Solid Gold Bomb, sells the short-sleeved t-shirts for between via Amazon.

Online shoppers have branded the shop and its message disgusting and disturbing .

Solid Gold Bomb's Facebook page, someone wrote under the company name that they had no idea that the message was printed and said it had been computer generated. They posted a variety of responses to Facebook users, saying they had deleted the product and saying that the message had been generated from the dictionary.

The brightly-coloured tops' message are a twist on the Keep Calm and Carry On morale-boosting slogan used in World War II by the British Government.

Amazon have now delisted the t-shirts.

Solid Gold Bomb has now closed its Twitter and Facebook accounts

 

  Searching for a New Identity...

Pictures claimed to be of Jon Venables are not taken down quickly enough for Dominic Grieve and Keith Vaz


Link Here 27th February 2013

home affairs committee Attorney general Dominic Grieve has threatened legal action against those uploading pictures claiming to be of James Bulger's killers.  Google, Facebook and Twitter have been ordered by the police to remove photographs purporting to show one of James Bulger's killers.

Police served the three web giants with the injunction that bans the purported identification of Venables and Robert Thompson, who were released with new identities in 2001 after being jailed for the murder of Bulger in Liverpool 20 years ago.

Legal experts said the breach could result in a landmark mass contempt prosecution by the government, following a number of recent cases that brought cyberspace into direct confrontation with the law.

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP and chair of the Commons home affairs select committee, asked why Twitter was not taking down the photographs that are in breach of the injunction. Sinead McSweeney, Twitter's director of public policy in Europe, appeared alongside officials from Google and Facebook, said Twitter could not be expected to proactively monitor what is published on its social network across the globe each day. But she added that Twitter has established points of contact with law enforcement in the UK and that when informed of illegal content, appropriate steps are taken by the company.

 

 Comments: Could the UK really block internet porn?...

After the news that Iceland is considering blocking online pornography, nutters have called for the UK to follow its lead. But is this even possible?


Link Here 24th February 2013  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Puritans How will the courts decide what constitutes porn?

The question of what exactly constitutes pornography, as always, is problematic no matter where such laws might be implemented. Sex is sex is sex, you say? People pay to watch fully-clothed women do unspeakable things to bowls of jelly specifically for the purposes of sexual arousal. The I know it when I see it obscenity argument, aka the Hicklin Test, is indicative of the sort of thinking that usually surrounds such issues. Would we have to appoint a Pornfinder General?

What about your own naughty photos? Would they be banned too?

People would rightly be concerned about the status of private entertainment. Would partners taking naughty pictures of each other for their private consumption be prosecuted? Or is it only paying for it that's considered problematic? In that case what about the people in Iceland who pay to advertise on swinger's websites or go to fetish club nights? Britain's culture of swinging, dogging, and fetish clubs is leaps and bounds beyond Iceland's, by the way. How can you tell the difference between images produced for free and images produced for pay, or who the intended audience is? And who gets prosecuted?

How do you delete people's hard drive?

Finally there is the reality of porn consumption in countries like Iceland and Britain that have had longstanding access to internet porn: people who view porn online don't just stream it, they save it. Would it be possible to eliminate the porn already in the country? Of course not. Would it be feasible to stop people from being able to share it through peer-to-peer applications, email attachments, and the myriad other ways of transferring files? Unlikely. Is any government prepared to institute and pay for a system by which all of the country's electronic traffic passes through some checking bottleneck?

People can and did exchange contraband information long before the advent of the internet. They always will. And if so, be prepared for early-90s computing skills re-emerging - you know, back in the pre-World Wide Web days when internet porn collectors used to share and decode files. Simply applying some iteration of a pink block filter wouldn't stop this.

Extract: Even Russia Today has published an article about the stupidity of porn blocking

24th February 2013. See  article from  rt.com

Russia Today logo A former MI5 agent Annie Machon warns, this could be a slippery slope to even more censorship from the government.

RT: If Iceland introduces this ban, what effect would that have on the rest of the world?

AM: I think it is unlikely that they will introduce it. But if they do, then I think it is very quickly going to be seen as failed. As I said people will find a way to tunnel around it, they will be up against the innovation of the porn industry. So, it would probably be a failed experiment within a year or two. But I think if a western country seen to be doing this it will be a justification for other more totalitarian regimes to say Well, you know, Iceland's doing this. So we can do it, too. And of course it might well encourage ill thought out policies in other western democracies.

RT: Critics have been pointing out that censorship technology is linked to surveillance technology. If Iceland gives the green light to this ban, can we be sure it will be just about child protection?

AM: We absolutely can't. As soon as you start allowing certain technologies to be input onto the internet to stop and censor certain information they will be misused by police, by intelligence agencies and as soon as we are aware that the internet is being censored and we might be being watched or monitored all times, then we start to self-censor as well. We will not download books or information as freely as we might in case it might be deemed radical or subversive and we are going on some domestic extremists hit-list. And then, of course, we self-censor what we say on the internet as well. So, it will be very quick to slide in some sort of Orwellian big brother dystopia.

...Read the full article

 

 Offsite Article: Blame that's about as Believable as the Film...


Link Here 24th February 2013
Paranormal Activity DVD Katie Featherston The silly 15 rated Paranormal Activity 4, watched a week earlier, blamed in a rape trial

See article from scotsman.com

 

 Offsite Article: Nobody Actually Believes that People are 'Depraved' by Obscenity These Days...


Link Here 21st February 2013
Lady Chatterleys Lover D Lawrence The Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 prohibit obscene publications, performances and photographs. Are these laws in today's society still relevant or should they be repealed. Written by Alistair Burns.

See article from duncangibbins.co.uk

 

  Justice Based on He Who Shouts Loudest?...

Court of Appeal decides that 5 weeks is long enough for Google to remove material that is claimed to be libellous


Link Here 15th February 2013

Old Bailey Google may have to act quicker to remove potentially libellous posts from its Blogger platform following a court of appeal ruling in London.

The court ruled that a gap of five weeks between a complaint being made and the removal of allegedly defamatory comments on a blogpost could leave it open to a libel action, overturning a finding in the high court last year.

The case is being seen as a landmark action because it the first time the higher court has addressed the issue of Google's liability for defamation on its blogging platform.

In a previous case, Judge Eady said Google's responsibility for online slurs was no more than that of an unfortunate owner of a wall festooned with defamatory graffiti . Eady had noted a period of five weeks had elapsed between the letter of complaint about the remarks and their removal by Blogger, but said while this was somewhat dilatory it was not outside the bounds of a reasonable response .

The court of appeal found otherwise and said five weeks was sufficiently long to leave room for an inference adverse to Google Inc .

 

 Update: 21st Century Miserabalism...

Rupert Murdoch tweets that he is considering the future for Page 3


Link Here 11th February 2013

Sun Page 2013 Wall Calendar I n a single, apparently off-the-cuff remark on the internet, Rupert Murdoch hinted that he may at last be ready to give way to Britain's miserabalists.

Responding to a fellow user of Twitter who described Page 3 as so last century , News Corp's chairman and chief executive commented:

Page three so last century! You maybe right, don't know but considering. Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas.

A News International spokesperson said the company was making no comment in relation to whether the Sun's topless Page 3 could be for the axe.

 

  Wight Plonkers...

Isle of Wight Council offended by cartoon bare back


Link Here 9th February 2013

isle of wight 2008 Ludicrous council prudes have banned a poster for the Isle of Wight music festival from appearing on taxis because of a bare back.

The illustration, showing a purple-haired mermaid, has been used by the festival for the past five years.

Taxi drivers were left baffled when council bosses rejected the art deco-inspired design for being too rude.

Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings tweeted:

Just had our @IsleOfWightFest taxi design rejected by the council for the mermaid being "naked" - hilarious!!

However, presumably due to widespread derision and newspaper pressure, the council changed its mind and relented on the ban. Bill Murphy, Isle of Wight Council head of planning and regulatory services, said:

Having looked at this issue I believe the decision was the wrong one. We will inform the taxi company that the council does not object to the design.

 

 Update: British Sky Blocking...

Sky Broadband to introduce ISP level website blocking


Link Here 7th February 2013  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Sky TV BSkyB has claimed that computer-based parental controls were not enough to protect kids who use web-based services on a variety of devices. So network-level filtering will be applied to the service at some point in 2013.

The company quietly announced its plan in a blog post by Sky brand director Lyssa McGowan:

[W]e've been investigating ways to help provide a whole-home solution in which web content can be filtered out not by a particular device, but at a household-level so that parents can define the type of access they want blocked and the filtering will apply across all connected devices in the home.

And I'm delighted to be able to confirm that Sky has committed to offering a whole-home solution to all of our more than 4 million broadband customers. We will also introduce reporting tools to parents so they will know each and every time any changes have been made to the settings they've applied, to ensure they are happy with the settings at all times.

It's not yet clear whether website blocking will be turned on by default but it would be most likely be offered as an option to those that request it.

In December, Prime Minister David Cameron described on-by-default network-level web filters as a crude system for blocking inappropriate content. The blocking is so overbroad and low quality that adults soon ask for the blocking to be removed.

 

  Wall of Censorship...

Jewish group offended at political cartoon criticising Netanyahu's policy on Palestine


Link Here 29th January 2013

scarfe cementing peaceThe Board of Deputies of British Jews has been 'offended' by a political cartoon making a point about Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's policies. The group said it had complained to the Press Complaints Commission.

cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, depicts Netanyahu building a brick wall containing the blood and limbs of Palestinians. It has the text: Israeli elections. Will cementing peace continue?

The cartoon was published in the Sunday Times, and proprietor Rupert Murdoch has apologised for a grotesque, offensive cartoon saying that Gerald Scarfe did not reflect the opinions of the Sunday Times.

The paper's acting editor, Martin Ivens, said in a statement that insulting the memory of Holocaust victims was the last thing I or anyone connected with the Sunday Times would countenance . Ivens is set to meet representatives of the Jewish community this week to discuss the controversy. In a statement, the Sunday Times said the cartoon was aimed at Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel or Jewish people.

Scarfe told the Jewish Chronicle that he very much regrets the timing of the cartoon. He said he had not been aware that it had been published on Holocaust Memorial Day.

 

 Offsite Article: What is the Government's online child protection policy?...


Link Here 25th January 2013  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Is the Daily Mail in charge of child protection policy making?

See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

 Offsite Article: Sex education will always trump web censorship...


Link Here 23rd January 2013  full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report
As Labour's Diane Abbott and Conservative Claire Perry slog it out to be this generation's Mary Whitehouse, Dr Brooke Magnanti argues that decent sex education will always trump any attempts to censor what children see online.

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Comment: Julie Burchill and The Observer...

When is censorship not censorship?


Link Here 22nd January 2013

observer logoRe an article in the Observer:

The readers' editor on why the paper was wrong to publish slurs against trans people

It actually makes me sympathise with the ridiculous Julie Burchill!

Note particularly the editor's remarks that Protestations about censorship had nothing to do with it. It's difficult to imagine a more egregious example of censorship than removing an article from the paper's online archive, as if it had never been.

How far would the Observer take its desire not to offend? Elsewhere in the same issue, the paper has a column which slags off trade unionists as stupid for opposing co-determination (See article: Davos man thrives while the rest of us pay for his excesses ). I should think that the number of people who might be offended by a purported newspaper of the left calling people stupid because they perceive accepting places on the board as class collaboration is rather larger than that offended by Burchill in the article.

 

 Offsite Article: What Do You Get When You Cross a Labour PC Extremist with a Daily Mail Diatribe?...


Link Here 22nd January 2013  full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report
Diane Abbots spews negativity about British family life that would make the most exploitative of Daily Mail Hacks green with envy

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Update: A Dangerous Fantasy...

Make believe 'terrorist' jailed for 5 years for posting terrorist material


Link Here 19th January 2013  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

HM Courts ServiceA total fantasist who posted gruesome videos on Facebook of al-Qaeda beheading captives has been jailed for five years. Craig Slee pleaded guilty to four offences under the 2006 Terrorism Act and also admitted possession of can of CS gas.

On sentencing him at Preston Crown Court, Judge Anthony Russell QC said:

It beggars belief that anyone can have an interest in such material which reveals a shocking and barbaric depravity and complete absence of any degree of humanity.

Slee also put online links to a communique by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claiming those from the west were Crusaders and encouraging terrorism.

The court heard, Slee created a false identity and set up a Facebook page - using the alter-ego Hashim X Shakur. Slee claimed to be a Muslim and provided personal information about himself, the majority of which was false. He also engaged in Facebook chat with other people and kept up his pretence of his alter-ego, claiming he had been on trips to Jalalabad, had suffered shrapnel injuries and implied he was a member of the Taliban, said police. However, the court heard Slee has no connection to the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist network or organisation.

Det Ch Supt Tony Mole, head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said:

It is clear that Slee was a total fantasist.He had no links whatsoever to any terrorist organisations, was not a radical convert and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest he engaged in any attack planning.

While Slee may not have been planning any sort of attack, he could easily have influenced someone else with the propaganda he was uploading.

 

 Offsite Article: Banged up for banging on?...


Link Here 19th January 2013
The arrest of an EDL leader for ranting against Islam on Facebook should worry anyone interested in freedom.

See article from spiked-online.com

 

  Why can't we read the Scientology book Going Clear in the UK?...

Because of Britain's anti freedom of speech libel rules


Link Here 16th January 2013

Going Clear Scientology Hollywood Prison Just the title of Lawrence Wright's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief tells you more than many books on the subject. Going Clear is a veritable book of revelations on L Ron Hubbard's sci-fi religion, exhaustively detailing its history, its methods and the depth of its weirdness.

Or so we're told. While Going Clear goes on sale in the US and the rest of Europe this week, you can't buy it in Britain. Not because it threatens national security, or features royal breasts, but because of our uniquely obliging libel laws.

Unlike in other countries, under English and Welsh law the burden of proof in defamation cases rests exclusively on the defendant, which means that if someone sues you, it's up to you to prove that it's true. If that someone is, say, a pharmaceutical company, or a church that believes in space people, then you're in for a long, expensive time in court, even if you win (legal costs here are up to 140 times higher than international norms). Hence Transworld's decision not to publish. The legal advice was that Going Clear's content was not robust enough for the UK market, they say.

 

 Offsite Article: Trans and Transgressions...


Link Here 16th January 2013
Toby Young offers his views on the PC debate about particularly un-PC comments by Julie Burchill in the Observer referring to 'chicks with dicks'. This is complete with a reprint of the article now removed by the Observer.

See article from blogs.telegraph.co.uk

 

 Updated: Vindictive or What?...

Leicestershire County Council Inquisition set to suspend councillor for watching a DVD on a council laptop in his own time whilst at home


Link Here 12th January 2013

inquisition wheelA Leicestershire county councillor faces a two-month suspension after a pornographic DVD was found in his work laptop. Councillor David Sprason stepped down as deputy council leader in November over the DVD, which was found in 2007.

A report compiled after an internal investigation claimed Sprason had showed a serious lack of judgement .

Councillor Nick Rushton, Conservative inquisition leader, said he would recommend his group endorses the suspension. A final decision on the matter will be made by the Tory group next week. The suspension would be reduced to a month if the councillor issues a written public apology, Rushton said.

The DVD was found in Sprason's work laptop in 2007, but no action was taken at the time. The DVD was viewed in private in Sprason's home outside of working hours.

Leicestershire Police have confirmed that no crime was committed.

Update: Foolish council made to look foolish

12th January 2013. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

A former county council deputy leader who stepped down over a pornographic DVD found in his work laptop will face no further suspension from his party.

However is a totally over the and nasty reaction, the Leicestershire County Conservative Group have demanded that David Sprason publically apologise for watching an adult DVD in his own time in the privacy of his own home. The council have also banned him from being reappointed as deputy leader.

His party, showing a serious lack of judgement, claimed that Sprason had shown a serious lack of judgement .

Simon Galton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, the main opposition at County Hall, said: I think his actions encouraged the story and that has made the council look foolish.

 

 Offsite Article: It might seem like a laugh but the Daily Mail's latest attack on comedy is dangerous...


Link Here 10th January 2013
The day we start allowing populist, socially conservative wings of our national press to dictate what can and can't be said is a very dark one indeed

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 Offsite Comment: The enemies of press freedom should stop handing out prizes in the name of George Orwell...


Link Here 10th January 2013
The Orwell Prize is administered by the Media Standards Trust, the same body that launched the Hacked Off Campaign. The present aims of Hacked Off is to see all of Leveson's recommendations implemented in full.

See article from blogs.telegraph.co.uk

 

  Archive Censorship...

Newspapers and Broadcasters speak out against court powers to ban website content that may be prejudicial to trials


Link Here 7th January 2013

Law Commission logoA coalition of national newspapers and broadcasters are to warn against possible changes to contempt laws that could see courts given new powers to order the removal of archive stories from their websites.

A Law Commission consultation paper on reforming contempt of court legislation has raised fears in the media industry that the proposals could fundamentally alter criminal reporting in the digital age.

The Media Lawyers Association (MLA), which represents newspapers and broadcasters, is expected to submit a response expressing concerns about a number of the proposals set out in the Law Commission's consultation paper.

Crown court judges could be given the power to order newspapers and broadcasters to temporarily remove potentially prejudicial material even if it was first published years ago, according to proposals put out for consultation by the Law Commission.

Santha Rasaiah, a director at the Newspaper Society said:

It would be unnecessary, disproportionate and onerous to introduce courts orders which would effectively require that the local media routinely identify and remove material from their archives.

David Burgess, deputy general counsel for the Independent, i and London Evening Standard, said the emphasis should be on judicial directions to the jury not to research material outside court:

The focus should not be on court orders controlling archives. When seeking to secure a fair trial, firm and clear judicial directions to the jury not to undertake independent internet searches is the sensible approach.

Only in very unusual cases should such instructions be supported or supplemented by court orders. In addition, when asserting that an archive publication creates a substantial risk that the course of justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced the applicant should be forced to demonstrate why judicial directions to the jury would not be effective in each individual case.

 

 Update: Inciteful Appeal...

Book seller wins appeal against his conviction for disseminating terrorist publications


Link Here 6th January 2013  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Old BaileyA man once described as the terrorists' favourite bookseller has had his conviction for selling books about Jihad quashed.

Material produced and distributed by Ahmed Faraz ended up in the hands of almost every major terrorist in Britain. Members of the trans-Atlantic airline gang even cited his texts in their suicide videos.

Faraz was convicted of 11 counts of possessing and disseminating terrorist publications. He was sentenced to three years in jail for running an operation to publish extremist texts and violent DVDs and distribute them around the world with the aim of priming terrorists for action.

But now his appeal against the convictions has been upheld. Court of Appeal judges found the prosecution in his original trial had been wrongly allowed to rely on the fact that the books had been found in the homes of high profile terrorists, without there being any suggestion that the offenders had actually been encouraged by the books to commit their terrorist acts.

 

  Blacklisted...

HighTide festival courts controversy with a play featuring blacked up actors


Link Here 5th January 2013

American Next Wave Contemporary Anthologies An incendiary play at this year's HighTide festival in Suffolk is to feature actors in blackface despite recent calls for a boycott of theatres that continue to employ the practice.

HighTide and the Nuffield theatre will present the UK premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's comedy Neighbours , which requires black actors in blackface to play a family of minstrel performers.

The festival's artistic director Steven Atkinson, who will direct the new production, said it was:

one of the best new plays I've read in six years of running HighTide.

It's a progressive, intellectual drama that looks at identity, specifically contemporary African American identity, he continued. The real innovation of this play is not just that it addresses head-on a contemporary taboo -- the past popularity of blackface -- but it's what the Americans call 'form forward'. It's a play that's bold in content as well as how it's told.

Promotional material describes the play:

Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins: Black face, not on my doorstep, not today.

Richard Patterson is not happy. The family of black actors that has moved in next door is rowdy, tacky, shameless, and uncouth. And they are not just invading his neighborhood-they're infiltrating his family, his sanity, and his entirely post-racial lifestyle.

This wildly theatrical, explosive play on race is an unconventional comedy which uses minstrelsy both to explore the history of black theater and to confront tensions in post-racial America.