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Offsite Article: Indian censorship in the age of Netflix...


Link Here 20th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
A summary of how India censors internet TV

See article from factordaily.com

 

 

Song of Memories...

The Australian Censorship Board launches into yet another chorus of Michael Jackson's 'Just Ban it, Ban It'


Link Here 19th August 2018
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
The Australian Censorship Board has banned another console, Song of Memories published by PQube. It is another Japanese games no doubt featuring too sexy behaviour by characters of indeterminate, but young looking age.

The censors have yet to explain their reasons with just a worthless catch-all statement posted so far on their website.

 

 

Biased censored fake news...

Trump rails against discriminatory censorship by social media companies


Link Here 19th August 2018

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain that social media companies are discriminating against prominent conservatives, saying we won't let that happen. He tweeted:

Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won't let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.

.....Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don't watch at all.

The president later added:

....Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!

Trump in July said his administration will look into the practice of shadow banning on Twitter, or reducing the visibility of certain people or groups on the platform, which he alleged was happening to prominent conservative voices.

 

 

Crushing censorship...

Another repressive internet censorship law in Egypt


Link Here 19th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed a new law that tightens controls over the internet.

The legislation means websites can be blocked in Egypt if deemed to constitute a threat to national security or the economy.  Anyone found guilty of running, or just visiting, such sites could face prison or a fine.

Authorities claim the new measures are needed to tackle instability and terrorism.

But human rights groups say the government of trying to crush all political dissent in the country. The Cairo-based Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression said more than 500 websites had already been blocked in Egypt prior to the new law being signed.

Last month another bill was passed by parliament, yet to be approved by President Sisi, that would allow any social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers to be placed under supervision.

 

 

Ministry of Transport, Communications, High Technologies and Censorship...

Azerbaijan starts blocking porn websites


Link Here 18th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Azerbaijan...Bloggers make a donkey of the state
Azerbaijan's government has begun to block internet pornography sites. While this is far from the first time the country has tried to control what websites its citizens access, it does appear to be the first time it's restricting pornography.

The blocking was carried out by the Electronic Security Service of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies. The move was reportedly made due to a local court decision, but no further details were released.

In December last year, Azerbaijan's parliament adopted a new set of laws penalizing the online dissemination of banned materials. The legislation referred to a list of prohibited information that was first put into use by Azerbaijani courts in May 2017 authorizing the government to censor online information including terrorist propaganda, suicide videos, pornography and weapons-production manuals, but also gambling and defamation.

It's not clear why the ban on pornography was implemented, but it has generated some speculation online. Journalist Habib Muntazir of Meydan TV noted that on August 15, a Facebook parody page, Politicians of à ayxana, photoshopped the logo of the pornographic website Pornhub onto a picture of President Ilham Aliyev reprimanding the head of the state energy company for the country's recent blackouts. The caption read: Boss punishes sexy secretary.

 

 

Offsite Article: Facebook under pressure and a new keenness for political censorship...


Link Here 18th August 2018
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
After getting ticked off everywhere around the western world, Facebook is now kowtowing to any government who asks, this time banning a Palestinian Occupy London page

See article from rt.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Facebook under pressure...


Link Here 18th August 2018
Full story: US Crypto Wars...US authorities look to breaking the encryption used to keep people safe
US reportedly pressuring Facebook to break Messenger's encryption over MS-13 investigation

See article from theverge.com

 

 

Real news...

The return of Dr M is proving good for Malaysia as a recent censorship law, supposedly targeting fake news, is repealed


Link Here 17th August 2018
Malaysia's parliament on August 16th repealed a law against fake news introduced this year by the administration of former prime minister Najib Razak.

A bill to repeal the law was passed by the lower house of Malaysia's parliament, a day ahead of the new Pakatan Harapan government marking its first 100 days in government.

Najib's government secured a simple majority in April to pass the Anti-Fake News 2018 Bill, which set out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit (US$122,000) and jail of up to six years.

Critics denounced the law as repressive and accused Najib of trying to curb free speech ahead of a May general election as his government tried to fend off criticism over accusations of graft and mismanagement.

Najib lost the election to an opposition alliance led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who had promised to scrap the law.

Parliament debated a motion to repeal the law for about three hours before passing it by a simple voice vote.

This is a law that was clearly designed to silence criticism of the authorities and to quell public debate -- it should never have been allowed to pass in the first place, Teddy Baguilat, a board member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, said in a statement.

 

 

Letting politicians know that people's opposition is real...

Europe organises street protests against internet censorship machines and link tax


Link Here 16th August 2018

Following massive protests, the EU copyright reform plans were sent back to the drawing board last month. This means that the proposal will be opened up for changes, also to the controversial "upload filter" text. In support of this effort and to show critics that the opposition is real, the protests will soon move beyond the web, to the streets of several European cities.

After years of careful planning and negotiating, the European Parliament was ready to vote on its new copyright directive last month. With backing from large political factions and pretty much the entire entertainment industry, many assumed that proposal would pass.

They were wrong .

The Copyright Directive was sent back to the drawing board following protests from legal scholars, Internet gurus, activists, and many members of the public. Article 13, often referred to as the "upload filter" proposal, was at the center of this pushback.

The vote was a massive blow to those who put their hope on the EU's proposed copyright changes. Following the failure of SOPA and ACTA, this was another disappointment, which triggered several entertainment industry insiders to call foul play.

They claimed that the grassroots protests were driven by automated tools, which "spammed" Members of Parliament were with protest messages, noting that large tech companies such as Google were partly behind this.

This narrative is gaining attention from the mainstream media, and there are even calls for a criminal investigation into the matter.

Opponents of the upload filters clearly disagree. In part triggered by the criticism, but more importantly, to ensure that copyright reform proposals will change for the better, they plan to move the protests to the streets of Europe later this month.

Julia Reda, the Pirate Party's Member of European Parliament, is calling people to join these protests, to have their voices heard, and to show the critics that there are real people behind the opposition. Reda wrote:

We haven't won yet. After their initial shock at losing the vote in July, the proponents of upload filters and the 'link tax' have come up with a convenient narrative to downplay the massive public opposition they faced.

They're claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies. According to them, Europeans don't actually care about their freedom of expression. We don't actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests.

Thus far, nearly a million people have voiced their discontent with the copyright reform plans through an online petition. And if it's up to Reda, these people should do the same away from their keyboard.

On September 12th, Members of Parliament will vote on the future of the Copyright Directive and the protests are planned two weeks earlier, on August 26th.

Reda notes:

Our goal is clear: The Parliament must adopt alternatives for Article 11 and Article 13 that don't force platforms to install upload filters and don't threaten links and snippets with an extra layer of copyright.

The public protests will take place in several cities including Berlin, Ljubljana, Prague, Stockholm, Vienna, and Warsaw. The organizers hope to gain the same momentum as the ACTA protests did when hundreds of thousands of people marched the streets.

That would certainly make an impact.

 

 

Offsite Article: The Future of Porn Is Only Getting Worse...


Link Here 16th August 2018
Full story: FOSTA US Internet Censorship Law...Wide ranging internet cesnorship law targetting sex workers
Vice interviews award-winning feminist adult film maker Erika Lust about the impact of FOSTA/SESTA on porn, the problem with age verification checks, and the value of education over regulation.

See article from vice.com

 

 

Extract: Sorry... your search for 'trust' finds no results on Google.com...

Google found to be tracking the location of users who have turned off location tracking


Link Here 15th August 2018

When you turn off location history Google still tracks your location when you use several of its key services including Maps, search and the weather.

A report from the Associated Press has highlighted that the feature called location history is just one of the systems that Google uses to track your location for personalised services, local search and other purposes such as advertising.

When you turn off location history, Google stops automatically recording your location for features such as the Maps timeline, but it warns you that some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps. When you perform a search, access Google Maps , or get the weather, either manually or automatically through a smartphone widget, Google will still log your location.

Here's how to really turn all of it off. (Assuming that you believe that Google will actually do what it says it will){

See article from theguardian.com

Offsite Comment: Google's snooping proves big tech will not change

See article from theguardian.com by Arwa Mahdawi

Google's snooping proves big tech will not change -- unless governments step in. News that the company tracks users even when they forbid it shows that technology giants do not take our privacy seriously. They must be regulated

And one last thought. When the BBFC published their consultation of age verification requirements for porn viewing. The BBFC skated over the privacy dangers in allowing private companies to track one's tastes in porn claiming that the industry would follow 'best practise' and safeguard users. Well if one of the biggest companies in the world cannot respect the privacy of their users, then what hope is there for the rest?

 

 

Offsite Article: Beware the digital censor...


Link Here 15th August 2018
We should be extremely careful before rushing to embrace an Internet that is moderated by a few private companies, where the platforms routinely remove posts and deactivate accounts because of objections to the content. By David Greene

See article from qctimes.com

 

 

Offsite Article: The other 'brute force method'...


Link Here 14th August 2018
Australia opts out of back door requirements for encryption providers and instead chooses the approach: 'give me your key or else I'll break your legs'

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 

Inappropriate misappropriation...

French play cancelled after being on the receiving end of 'aggressive controversy'


Link Here 12th August 2018
Kanata, an upcoming French play exploring Canadian Indigenous history, was cancelled on 26 July after some of the show's producers pulled out of the project following 'aggressive controversy'.

There were no Indigenous actors cast in the Robert Lepage-directed production about fictional relationships between Indigenous Canadians and Europeans spanning 200 years.

It was set to debut at the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris this December.

The production created in a little controversy in France due to politically correct concerns about the depiction of Indigenous peoples. The controversy led to North American co-producers pulling out.

Lepage's production company Ex Machina then said in a statement:

Without their financial support, we are unable to finish creating Kanata with Théâtre du Soleil. Therefore, we are putting an end to the project.

Théâtre du Soleil described the "attempted intimidation of theatre artists" in its accompanying statement:

An intimidation unimaginable in a democratic country, that is carried out largely on social media networks in the name of an ideology that the Théâtre du Soleil does not wish to qualify here but to which it will respond with its own tools.

 

 

On a personal whim...

Victorian government bans Sky News from its railway stations over a politically incorrect interview not actually screened on the station service


Link Here 12th August 2018
The government of the Australian state of Victoria has banned Sky News from providing a news service for screening at Melbourne's train stations.

Jacinta Allan, Victoria's transport minister, took offence at a Sky News interview with the far-right extremist Blair Cottrell. The interview was not screened on the train station service but clearly rankled the politician for its political incorrectness. Allan tweeted:

I've directed @MetroTrains to remove @skynewsaustralia from all CBD station screens. Hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community.

The decision has sparked a backlash from Sky and other News Corp publications. Political editor David Speers said the Andrews government was motivated by frustration over the coverage it received on Sky, and from the Herald Sun, which is also owned by News Corp. Speers said the network had confirmed the Cottrell interview had not aired on train station screens in Melbourne .

Speers also noted that Blair Cottrell has appeared in interviews on all the other Australian news channels too.

 

 

Killing speech softly...

How the world's biggest tech companies are quietly censoring critical expression in the Middle East


Link Here 12th August 2018

Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message reflecting on religion, free expression and the controversial editorial line of the magazine:

A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Mohammed that offended him.

We stood up for this because different voices -- even if they're sometimes offensive -- can make the world a better and more interesting place.

Later that same month, Facebook agreed to restrict access to an unspecified number of pages for "offending prophet Muhammad" in Turkey at the request of local authorities.

Turkey is notorious for the number of requests it makes to internet companies to remove content for violating its local laws, but it is not the only government in the Middle East to resort to such tactic to silence critical voices.

While a number of the region's governments sometimes make direct requests for content removal -- along with exerting "soft" pressure through other means -- the failures of tech giants in moderating content in the region is a much bigger and more complex problem.

Abuse of flagging mechanisms

Across the region, social media platform "flagging" mechanisms are often abused to silence government critics, minority groups or views and forms of expression deemed not to be in line with the majority's beliefs on society, religion and politics.

In 2016, Facebook suspended several Arabic-language pages and groups dedicated to atheism following massive flagging campaigns.

This effectively eliminated one of the few (in some cases, the only) spaces where atheists and other minorities could come together to share their experiences, and freely express themselves on matters related to religion. Across the region, atheism remains a taboo that could be met with harassment, imprisonment or even murder. Jessica Anderson, a project manager at onlinecensorship.org which documents cases of content takedowns by social media platforms, told Global Voices:

[Abusive flagging] is a significant problem.

In the Middle East as well as other geographies, we have documented cases of censorship resulting from 'flagging campaigns'--coordinated efforts by many users to report a single page or piece of content.

Flagging mechanisms are also abused by pro-government voices. Earlier this year, Middle East Eye reported that several Egyptian political activists had their pages or accounts suspended and live-streams shut down, after they were reported by "pro-government trolls."  Anderson said:

What we have seen is that flagging can exacerbate existing power imbalances, empowering the majority to 'police' the minority The consequences of this issue can be severe: communities that are already marginalized and oppressed lose access to the benefits of social media as a space to organize, network, and be heard.

Failure to consider user rights, in context

This past May, Apple joined the ranks of Facebook and Twitter -- the more commonly-cited social media platforms in this realm -- when the iTunes store refused to upload fives songs by the Lebanese band Al-Rahel Al-Kabir. The songs mocked religious fundamentalism and political oppression in the region.

A representative from iTunes explained that the Dubai-based Qanawat, a local content aggregator hired by Apple to manage its store for the region, elected not to upload the songs. An anonymous source told The Daily Star that iTunes did not know about Qanawat's decision, which it made due to "local sensitivities." In response to a petition from Beirut-based digital rights NGO SMEX and the band itself, iTunes uploaded the songs and pledged to work with another aggregator.

This case does not only illustrate how "local sensitivities" can interfere with decisions about which types of content get to be posted and stay online in the region, but also shows that companies need to practice due diligence when taking decisions likely to affect users' freedom of expression rights.

Speaking to Global Voices, Mohamad Najem, co-founder of SMEX pointed out that both Facebook and Twitter have their regional offices located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which he described as one of the "most repressive countries" in the region. He said: "This is a business decision that will affect free speech in a negative way,"

He further expressed concern that the choice of having an office in a country like the UAE "can sometimes lead to enforcing Gulf social norm[s]" on an entire [Arab] region that is "dynamic and different."

Location, location, location

Facebook and Twitter have offices in the UAE that are intended to serve the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that is ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse, and presents a wide range of political viewpoints and experiences. When companies are pressured by oppressive governments or other powerful groups to respect "local sensitivities," they are being complicit in shutting down expression of such diversity. Anderson said:

"Platforms seem to take direction from louder, more powerful voices...In the Middle East, [they] have not been able to stand up to powerful interests like governments,"

Take, for example, Facebook's willingness to comply with the Turkish government's censorship demands. Throughout the years, the company was involved in censoring criticism of the government, religion and the republic's founder Ataturk, Kurdish activists , LGBT content and even an anti-racism initiative .

Facebook's complicity with these requests appears to be deeply ingrained. I spoke to a Turkish activist two years ago who told me that he believed the platform "was turning into a pro-government media." Today, the platform continues to comply, restricting access to more than 4,500 pieces of content inside the country in 2017 alone. Facebook is not transparent about the number and rates of requests it complies with.  Arzu Geybulla, a freelance writer who covers Turkey and Azerbaijan for Global Voices said:

The biggest shortcoming in [the] ways platforms deal with takedown requests is [their] lack of understanding of the political contexts. And even if there is some kind of idea of what is happening on the ground, I am not entirely sure, there is always due diligence involved.

In conference settings, representatives from Facebook are routinely faced with questions about massive flagging campaigns. They maintain that multiple abuse reports on a single post or page do not automate the process of the post or page being removed. But they offer little concrete information about how the company does see and respond to these situations. Does the company review the content more closely? Facebook representatives also say that they consult with local experts on these issues, but the specifics of these consultations are similarly opaque.

And the work of moderating content -- deciding what meets local legal standards and Facebook's own policies -- is not easy. Anderson from onlinecensorship.org said:

Content moderation is incredibly labor intensive. As the largest platforms continue to grow, these companies are attempting to moderate a staggering volume of content. Workers (who may not have adequate knowledge and training, and may not be well paid) have to make snap decisions about nuanced and culturally-specific content, leading to frequent mistakes and inconsistencies.

For activists and human rights advocates in the region, it is also difficult to know the scope of this problem due to lack of corporate transparency. Cases like that of iTunes may be occurring more often than is publicly known -- it is only when someone speaks out about being censored that these practices come to light.

 

 

This is Nigeria...

Land of music censorship and repression


Link Here 12th August 2018
A Nigerian radio station has been fined by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for playing music with vulgar and indecent lyrics in July and August.

NBC fined Global Communications Ltd 100,000 Naira (240 euros) for breaching parts of its code by airing three songs: This is Nigeria by Falz, Iskaba by Wande Coal, and See Mary, See Jesus by Olamide.

The Commission has observed with 'great concern' the continuous airing of vulgar and indecent music lyrics in spite  of warnings both verbal and written to the station.

In the case of This is Nigeria it seems likely that the censors simply do not like the criticism of the country as video depicts violent crime, criminality and less than pious religiosity.

 

 

Symbolic changes at the USK...

German games censor will no longer ban those Nazi images that are excluded from a wider German law for historical or artistic reasons


Link Here 11th August 2018
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games
The next Wolfenstein game might not even need to remove Adolf Hitler's moustache. Germany's Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (or USK), an independent, industry-funded board that oversees age and content ratings for videos games available in the country, announced on Thursday that it will now permit the sale of games featuring Nazi imagery within the country, something that had previously been banned. The USK's decision reportedly came after a heated debate involving the Nazi-killing Wolfenstein series , particularly a pair of anti--Third Reich games in 2014 and 2017 that were visibly, and somewhat humorously , self-censored in Germany in order to avoid violating a provision of the country's constitution.

Previously, video games with Nazi symbolism were heavily censored or outright banned based on the German criminal code's Section 86a , which forbids the use of symbols, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans, propaganda, and greetings relating to unconstitutional organizations in German products. Section 86a violations could be met with up to three years of imprisonment or a hefty fine.

USK will now assess games on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet a reinterpreted standard of the country's social adequacy clause that allows for Nazi imagery if it serves one of the following purposes: artistic, scientific, or if it depicts current or historical events. This metric is currently used for films screened in Germany because they are considered works of art.

 

 

Commented: Conspiracy theory comes true...

US technology giants prove that they are biased against the right, and censor Alex Jones' Infowars


Link Here 11th August 2018

Even the streaming adult video site YouPorn has joined in with the internet co-conspirators banning Alex Jones' Infowars from their platforms. This follows widespread censorship from tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Spotify--but notably, not Twitter.

In a statement, YouPorn vice president Charlie Hughes said Following news that YouTube, Spotify and Facebook have banned Alex Jones from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service.

Alex Jones is noted for a major role in propagating some of the most well known conspiracy theories in recent years, including Pizzagate and the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. His support of theories that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were faked.

Yesterday, YouTube removed Alex Jones' channel , which had 2.4 million subscribers, for violating its community guidelines, after issuing it a strike last month . On the same day, Apple removed Alex Jones' podcasts from iTunes , following similar actions from Spotify and Stitcher, and Facebook removed four Infowars pages for violating its policies against graphic violence and hate speech. Pinterest also took down Infowars' profile following an inquiry from Mashable.

Of course the stupidity of the censorship is that surely not many people take Alex Jones very seriously, its just entertainment. In censoring something that they do not like, they have surely done more harm than good by revealing that big tech marches to the tune of the PC left and is now part of the problem of an unfair and unjust establishment. The technology companies have  simply added to the fractious nature of the modern world.

 

Offsite Comment: Alex Jones and the rise of corporate censorship

11th August 2018. See  article from spiked-online.com

The banning of Infowars is an alarming act of capitalist intolerance.

 

 

More misery in Indonesia...

The government forces ISPs to set search engines and YouTube into restricted mode


Link Here 10th August 2018

This week, the Indonesian government has forced ISPs to forcibly turn on content filters on search engines by default, which can't be switched off. The new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining that the video streaming site's restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.

Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. Netizens are reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.

While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the government. The ISP tweeted:

Hi, Youtube's restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.

 

 

Guardians of repression...

China bans Sci-Fi drama over gay lead characters


Link Here 10th August 2018

A massively popular sci-fi drama in which the two lead characters are gay has been purged from one of China's top streaming platforms, as part of the continuing Chinese government campaign to stamp out what it deems harmful and obscene content from the internet, according to a report published this weekend by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.

The move to censor the series Zhenhun , aka Guardian -- of China's most popular online shows with more than 1.8 billion views over its 40 episodes since it appeared on the Youku streaming service in early July.

The case of Guardian illustrates how sensitive China's censors can be when it comes to depictions of sexuality, and gay themes. The 40-part drama is based on a popular novel, written under a pseudonym, in which the two male protagonists are clearly in a relationship. In the adaptation, according to the Morning Post , their relationship was instead presented as a bond of brotherhood in the hope of avoiding the censors.

But toning down the novel's gay themes still wasn't enough for China's censorship authorities. In order to pass the censors, the screenwriters turned this story into a science fiction drama for children, and it was still taken offline.

 

 

Justice without merit...

Count Dankula's application to appeal against his conviction for an internet joke is refused


Link Here 9th August 2018
Full story: Trivial Insults and Jokes...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

A man who suffered a miscarriage of justice after being convicted for a joke has been refused permission to appeal against a conviction for supposedly causing gross offence.

Mark Meechan, who blogs under the name Count Dankula, was fined £800 in April after being found guilty under the Communications Act over a  video joke in which he trained his girlfriend's dog to perform Nazi salutes.

A letter from the court claimed the appeal was not arguable and in each of its elements is wholly misconceived. It also dismissed arguments made by Meechan's lawyers over the judge's handling of witness evidence at Airdrie Sheriff Court in March and the meaning of grossly offensive. The letter said:

The appeal against conviction is without merit. Likewise the appeal against sentence is not arguable -- this was a deeply unpleasant offence in which disgraceful and utterly offensive material was very widely distributed by the appellant, it said. This was to the considerable distress of the community in question and -- just as disturbingly -- to the apparent approval of a large number of persons who appear to share the appellant's racist views.

Indeed it must be observed that in the circumstance the appellant was fortunate that the learned sheriff was not considering custody as an option.

 

 

Censorship and control...

American politicians are debating the need for internet regulation of social media


Link Here 9th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
US politicians are debating the need for internet censorship, social media regulation and privacy legisation.

Recently Axios' David McCabe published a fascinating policy paper from the office of Senator Mark Warner. The paper outlines a comprehensive censorship and regulatory regime that would touch virtually every aspect of social networks. It's a comprehensive starting point for discussion

The paper is notably well-versed both on the dangers posed by misinformation and the trade-offs that come with increased regulation, especially to privacy and free speech. No doubt the US debate will be echoed around the world.

So what exactly do Warner and his staff propose? The ideas are designed to address three broad categories: misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of these technologies; privacy and data protection; and competition.

Here are some the ideas presented.

Misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of technology.

  • requiring networks to label automated bots;
  • requiring platforms to verify identities, despite the significant consequences to free speech;
  • legally requiring platforms to make regular disclosures about how many fake accounts they've deleted;
  • ending legal protections on contents hosts for defamation;
  • legally requiring large platforms to create APIs for academic research;
  • spending more money to fight cyber threats from Russia and other state-level actors.

Privacy and data protection.

  • Create a US version of the GDPR;
  • designate platforms as information fiduciaries with the legal responsibility of protecting our data;
  • empowering the Federal Trade Commission to make rules around data privacy;
  • create a legislative ban on dark patterns that trick users into accepting terms and conditions without reading them;
  • allow the government to audit corporate algorithms.

Competition

  • Require tech companies to continuously disclose to consumers how their data is being used;
  • require social network data to be made portable;
  • require social networks to be interoperable;
  • designate certain products as essential facilities and demand that third parties get fair access to them.

These proposals remain far from becoming law -- but perhaps not as far as tech platforms would wish.

 

 

Howe gets animated by anime...

Elspeth Howe reveals more of the internal government debate that is delaying the BBFC internet porn censorship guidelines


Link Here 8th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
Elspeth Howe, a member of the House of Lords, has written an article in the Telegraph outlining her case that the remit for the BBFC to censor internet porn sites should be widened to include a wider range of material that she does not like.

This seems to tally with other recent news that the CPS is reconsidering its views on what pornographic content should be banned from publication in Britain.

Surely these debates are related to the detailed guidelines to be used by the BBFC when either banning porn sites, or else requiring them to implement strict age verification for users. It probably explains why the Telegraph recently reported that the publication of the final guidelines has been delayed until at least the autumn.


Categories of Porn

For clarity the categories of porn being discussed are as follows:
 

  Current   Proposed
offline online   offline online
Softcore 18 BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Hardcore R18  BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Beyond R18
(proposal by CPS)
banned BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Cartoon Porn
(proposal by Howe))
banned BBFC uncut banned banned
Extreme porn banned banned banned banned
Child porn banned banned banned banned
  • Softcore porn rated 18 under BBFC guidelines

    - Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
     
  • Vanilla hardcore porn rated R18 under current BBFC guidelines

    - Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
     
  • Beyond R18 hardcore porn that includes material historically banned by the CPS claiming obscenity, ie fisting, golden showers, BDSM, female ejaculation, and famously from a recent anti censorship campaign, face sitting/breath play. Such material is currently cut from R18s.

    - Such content will be allowed under the current Digital Economy Act for online porn sites
    - This category is currently banned for offline sales in the UK, but the CPS has just opened a public consultation on its proposal to legalise such content, as long as it is consensual. Presumably this is related to the government's overarching policy: What's illegal offline, is illegal online.
     
  • Extreme Porn as banned from possession in the UK under the Dangerous Pictures Act. This content covers, bestiality, necrophilia, realistic violence likely to result in serious injury, realistic rape

    - This content is illegal to possess in the UK and any websites with such content will be banned by the BBFC regardless of age verification implementation
     
  • Cartoon Porn depicting under 18s

    - This content is banned from possession in the UK but will be allowed online subject to age verification requirements
     
  • Photographic child porn

    This is already totally illegal in the UK on all media. Any foreign websites featuring such content are probably already being blocked by ISPs using lists maintained by the IWF. The BBFC will ban anything it spots that may have slipped through the net.


'What's illegal offline, is illegal online'

Elspeth Howe writes:

I very much welcome part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 which requires robust age verification checks to protect children from accessing pornography. The Government deserves congratulations for bringing forward this seminal provision, due to come into effect later this year.

The Government's achievement, however, has been sadly undermined by amendments that it introduced in the House of Lords, about which there has been precious little public debate. I very much hope that polling that I am placing in the public domain today will facilitate a rethink.

When the Digital Economy Bill was introduced in the Lords, it proposed that legal pornography should be placed behind robust age verification checks. Not surprisingly, no accommodation for either adults or children was made for illegal pornography, which encompasses violent pornography and child sex abuse images.

As the Bill passed through the Lords, however, pressure was put on the Government to allow adults to access violent pornography, after going through age-verification checks, which in other contexts it would be illegal to supply. In the end the Government bowed to this pressure and introduced amendments so that only one category of illegal pornography will not be accessible by adults.

[When  Howe mentions violent pornography she is talking about the Beyond R18 category, not the Extreme Porn category, which will be the one category mentioned that will not be accessible to adults].

The trouble with the idea of banning Beyond R18 pornography is that Britain is out of step with the rest of the world. This category includes content that is ubiquitous in most of the major porn websites in the world. Banning so much content would be simply be impractical. So rather than banning all foreign porn, the government opted to remove the prohibition of Beyond R18 porn from the original bill.

Another category that has not hitherto come to attention is the category of cartoon porn that depicts under 18s. The original law that bans possession of this content seemed most concerned about material that was near photographic, and indeed may have been processed from real photos. However the law is of most relevance in practical terms when it covers comedic Simpsons style porn, or else Japanese anime often featuring youthful, but vaguely drawn cartoon characters in sexual scenes.

Again there would be problems of practicality of banning foreign websites from carry such content. All the major tube sites seems to have a section devoted to Hentai anime porn which edges into the category.

In July 2017, Howe introduced a bill that would put Beyond R18 and Cartoon Porn back into the list of prohibited material in the Digital Economy Act. The bill is titled the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Amendment) (Definition of Extreme Pornography) Bill and is still open, but further consideration in Parliament has stalled, presumably as the Government itself is currently addressing these issues.

The bill adds in to the list of prohibitions any content that has been refused a BBFC certificate or would be refused a certificate if it were to be submitted. This would catch both the Beyond Porn and Cartoon Porn categories.

The government is very keen on its policy mantra: What's illegal offline, is illegal online and it seems to have addressed the issue of Beyond 18 material being illegal offline but legal online. The government is proposing to relax its own obscenity rules so that Beyond R18 material will be legalised, (with the proviso that the porn is consensual). The CPS has published a public consultation with this proposal, and it should be ready for implementation after the consultation closes on 17th October 2018.

Interestingly Howe seems to have dropped the call to ban Beyond R18 material in her latest piece, so presumably she has accepted that Beyond R18 material will soon be classifiable by the BBFC, and so not an issue for her bill.


Still to be Addressed

That still leaves the category of Cartoon Porn to be addressed. The current Digital Economy Act renders it illegal offline, but legal online. Perhaps the Government has given Howe the nod to rationalise the situation by making banning the likes of Hentai. Hence Howe is initiating a bit of propaganda to support her bill.  She writes:

The polling that I am putting in the public domain specifically addresses the non-photographic child sex abuse images and is particularly interesting because it gauges the views of MPs whose detailed consideration of the Bill came before the controversial Lords amendments were made.

According to the survey, which was conducted by ComRes on behalf of CARE, a massive 71% of MPs, rising to 76% of female MPs, stated that they did not believe it was right for the Digital Economy Act to make non-photographic child sex abuse images available online to adults after age verification checks. Only 5% of MPs disagreed.

There is an opportunity to address this as part of a review in the next 18 months, but things are too serious to wait .The Government should put matters right now by adopting my very short, but very important two-clause Digital Economy Act (Amendment) (Extreme Pornography) Bill which would restore the effect of the Government's initial prohibition of this material.

I -- along with 71 per cent of MPs -- urge the Government to take action to ensure that the UK's internet does not endorse the sexual exploitation of children.

I haven't heard of this issue being discussed before and I can't believe that anybody has much of an opinion on the matter. Presumably therefore, the survey presented out of the blue with the questions being worded in such a way as to get the required response. Not unusual, but surely it shows that someone is making an effort to generate an issue where one didn't exists before. Perhaps an indication that Howe's solution is what the authorities have decreed will happen.

 

 

Book burners...

Masked protestors attack left wing book shop wrecking displays and tearing up books


Link Here 6th August 2018
Far-right protesters have ransacked a socialist bookshop in London. The owners of Bookmarks say masked attackers wrecked displays and tore up books.

Posting on Facebook and Twitter, Bookmarks said staff were closing the shop on Bloomsbury Street in central London on Saturday evening when about a dozen people descended on it.

A far-right protest against censorship of the website Infowars took place in central London on Saturday at which protesters were seen with the same placards. Others wore Make Britain Great Again caps.

 

 

Extract: How the left made Tommy Robinson...

It was their censorship of Islamophobia that made Robinson a star. By Brendan O'Neill


Link Here 6th August 2018

The Tommy Robinson phenomenon is a product not of too much liberty, but of too much censorship. It is the cultural elite's cowardly instinct to chill open discussion about issues like Islam, multiculturalism, mass immigration and social tensions that created Tommy Robinson and his various movements, through allowing him to present himself as a seer in a time of silence. If Robinson really is the monster the left claim he is, they are his Dr Frankenstein.

See  article from spiked-online.com

See also The Britisher's even handed video analysis of whether Tommy Robinson was fairly treated in his tangle with the law from YouTube

 

 

Diary: Banned Books Week...

23 -29 September 2018. US annual event comes to Britain


Link Here 5th August 2018

UK-based organisations will host events across Britain this year to mark Banned Books Week: bringing the internationally-celebrated event to a UK-wide audience for the first time.

Mirroring a similar initiative in the United States, the organisations -- including the British Library, Index on Censorship, Royal Society of Literature and English PEN -- are encouraging libraries, book shops, schools and reading groups to hold events that celebrate the freedom to read and challenge the silencing of voices and ideas.

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, one of the groups spearheading Banned Books Week UK, said:

This year marks 50 years since we abolished government censorship of the theatre in this country. It's a good time to think about what is getting published today and why -- and who are the modern censors.

Celebrated works of literature that have experienced bans or censorship worldwide in recent years include the Harry Potter books, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird , Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and John Green's The Fault in Our Stars .

Banned Books Week will take place from September 23 to 29 2018. Events will include a special evening at the British Library marking the Theatres Act 1968, which abolished theatre censorship in the United Kingdom, as well as readings and talks across the country.

The British Library is delighted to be a partner in Banned Books Week 2018 said Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library. We are looking forward to events in the autumn in which we'll be holding conversations about theatrical censorship past and present, and encourage libraries, bookshops and schools across the country to join in by hosting their own events and getting everyone involved in debating this vital issue.

Previous Banned Books Week events have included discussions on The Satanic Verses controversy; a talk on the unsayable with cartoonist Martin Rowson; and David Aaronovitch and guests exploring tactics used to censor voices around the world. Anyone interested in hosting their own event is urged to do so under the Banned Books Banner and resources will be made available for schools and libraries later in the year.

Islington Libraries will produce a list of some of the world's best-known banned books for the occasion and everyone is encouraged to pick up a banned book.

 

 

Unfinished business...

Open Rights Group comments on the missed milestone of publishing final age verification guidelines before Parliament's summer recess


Link Here 5th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor

MPs left behind unfinished business when they broke for summer recess, and we aren't talking about Brexit negotiations. The rollout of mandatory age verification (AV) technology for adult websites is being held up once again while the Government mulls over final details. AV tech will create highly sensitive databases of the public's porn watching habits, and Open Rights Groups submitted a report warning the proposed privacy protections are woefully inadequate. The Government's hesitation could be a sign they are receptive to our concerns, but we expect their final guidance will still treat privacy as an afterthought. MPs need to understand what's at stake before they are asked to approve AV guidelines after summer.

AV tools will be operated by private companies, but if the technology gets hacked and the personal data of millions of British citizens is breached, the Government will be squarely to blame. By issuing weak guidelines, the Government is begging for a Cambridge Analytica-style data scandal. If this technology fails to protect user privacy, everybody loses. Businesses will be damaged (just look at Facebook), the Government will be embarrassed, and the over 20 million UK residents who view porn could have their private sexual preferences exposed. It's in everybody's interest to fix this. The draft guidance lacks even the basic privacy protections required for other digital tools like credit card payments and email services. Meanwhile, major data breaches are rocking international headlines on a regular basis. AV tech needs a dose of common sense.

 

 

Offsite Article: Internet shutdowns...


Link Here 5th August 2018
Internet censorship in Africa threatens democracy and the economy

See article from dw.com

 


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