Britain has some ludicrous and dated prohibitions on aspects of porn that are commonplace in international porn sites. For example the government requires that
the BBFC cut fisting, squirting, gagging on blow jobs, dialogue references to incest or underage sex.
It would be ludicrous to expect all of the worlds websites to remove such commonplace scene from all its films and videos. The originally proposed porn censorship law would require the BBFC to identify sites with this commonplace material, and ISPs would
have then been forced to block these sites. Of course this would have meant that more or less all websites would have had to be banned.
Someone has obviously pointed this out to the government, perhaps the Lords had spotted this in their scrutiny.
The Daily Mail is now reporting that this censorship power will be dropped form the Digital Economy Bill. The age verification requirement will stand but foreign websites complying with age verification will not then be blocked for material transgressing
some of the stupid UK prohibitions.
A source at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has acknowledged that the proposals were imperfect , but said the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which covers sex shops, was too outdated to be used to regulate the internet.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport actually went further and said extreme material, including violent pornography and cartoons depicting child sex abuse, will be allowed to stay online as long as distributors put in place checks to ensure it
cannot be viewed by children. (But note that downloading films including what is defined as extreme pornography and cartoon child porn would still be illegal). There will be no change to the capability of the IWF to block child porn (and occasionally,
illegal adult porn).
Of course pro-censorship campaigners are not impressed by the lost opportunity for total porn censorship. Helen Lewington, of the morality campaign group Mediawatch-UK, claimed that the decision to allow extreme sites to operate behind the age
verification barrier risked giving them a veneer of respectability . She called on peers to reject the amendments this evening. She added:
We are deeply concerned by the Government's apparent change of direction. These proposals will permit some forms of violent pornography to be viewed behind age verification checks.
This will unhelpfully allow what is illegal offline to be legally viewed online, and may in the long term lead to some regarding such material as acceptable.'
Pro censorship campaigner John Carr revealed that the government will now be reviewing the rules on what is currently prohibited from UK adult porn. He set out his pro-censorship stall by claiming that reducing censorship for adults would somehow
endanger children. He claimed:
In his speech on the Digital Economy Bill, last Monday night in the House of Lords, Lord Ashton referred to the Secretary of State's announcement in the context of there being a need for a wider discussion about the effects of pornography in society as a
whole, not solely in respect of children. I would hope there will be an opportunity to contribute to that aspect of the review. I accept it was never envisaged that the Digital Economy Bill was to be a trigger for a wider debate about what sorts of
pornography are more or less acceptable, whether being viewed by children or not. However, just because children cannot view certain types of material that have been put behind an age verification wall, it does not mean that its continued availability to
adults does not constitute a threat to children. Such material might encourage, promote or appear to legitimize or condone harmful behaviours which either directly or indirectly put children at risk.
Offsite Comment: Lib Dems lay into the governments censorship efforts
To add to the list of obnoxious new laws such as the new offence of driving while being a suspected illegal immigrant and giving the police
unfettered access to innocent people's web histories, the Tories have waded into the swamp of online pornography and they are completely out of their depth.
The Digital Economy Bill, another universal answer to everything they couldn't get through when we had one hand on the reins of power, professes to protect children from online pornography.
Nonetheless, if we are to prohibit access to online adult material unless there is an age-verification solution in place, the privacy of those who are being forced to part with their sensitive personal information in order to verify their age, must be
protected. We have already seen user databases for a couple of major porn sites, containing sensitive personal information, being hacked and the details traded on the dark web. When details of users of the Ashley Madison site were leaked, it reportedly
led to two suicides.
The state of Utah has enacted a censorial local law banning cinemas that sell alcohol from screening R rated movies. And indeed state officials tried to ban such a cinema from showing Deadpool.
This resulted in a challenge to the Utah ordinance on the grounds that censorship is unconstitutional. Utah officials are now trying to get that legal challenge quashed. They are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed over liquor and Deadpool
, claiming it is somehow not suppressing First Amendment-protected ideas or expression.
The Utah Attorney General's Office argues the law should remain in place because it reduces adverse secondary effects. It claims that:
Judicial opinions and alcohol experts confirm what is commonly known: that combining alcohol and sexual content is an 'explosive combination,' that can lead to sexual aggression and sexual violence, increased drinking, and reported and unreported crime.
The Statute's purpose and effect are to reduce these adverse secondary effects that result from combining alcohol and sexually explicit images.
The state argues that Brewvies' First Amendment free expression rights are only slightly inconvenienced by the law saying:
Plaintiff is free to show whatever sexually explicit R-rated films it chooses, so long as it does not serve alcohol at the same time, and individuals can see the same movies at other theaters. Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to serve beer
while showing movies.
Outlast 2 is a first person survival horror shooter from Warner Brothers. It is PEGI 18 rated in Europe and and M rated in the US.
Kotaku Australia has learned that Outlast 2 has been banned in Australia, predominately for the depiction of implied sexual violence.
Australia's Censorship Board provided a detailed explanation of the reasons to Kotaku. The censors identified multiple scenes where sexual violence is implied in hallucinatory scenes involving the main character, Blake.
One particular scene shows a female creature thrusting against the main character while his wife is tied up in chains. The censors explained:
[ Spoilers! hover or click text ]
In one cut-scene in the game ... a female creature prepares Blake for a ritual. She says, I want to see your true face. Your seed will burn this world. Shortly afterwards, he objects to having psycho-active dust blown into his face, yelling, Nope! Nope!
before he stumbles into a forest clearing.
His vision blurring, he witnesses what appears to a ritualistic orgy. His wife, Lynn, calls out for his help, saying, It hurts! Oh god!, as she hangs from chains on a raised platform at the front of the clearing. Humanoid creatures, their skin
grey, spattered with blood and scarred, implicity have sex as others pray, or chant, or gesticulate.
One creature has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex, another sits astride the pelvic region of a creature prone on the ground, moving their hips rhythmically as they too implicitly have sex. Two other pairs of
creatures in the clearing are also implicitly having sex.
As Blake yells for the creatures to Get away from her! a female creature, her greyish breasts bared, pushes him onto his back, holds his arms to the ground and repeatedly thrusts her crotch against him. As Blake protests, saying No! Stop that!
the creature thrusts again, before placing its face over his midsection and then sitting up and wiping its mouth.
Although much of the contact between the creature and Blake is obscurred, by it taking place below screen, the sexualised surroundings and aggressive behaviour of the creature suggest that it is an assault which is sexual in nature. The Board is of the
opinion that this, combined with Blake's objections and distress, constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence.
In the Board's opinion, the above example constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore cannot be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game is therefore Refused Classification.
The Board's report also notes that the game could be passed R18+ should the offending scene be cut.
Social media giants Facebook, Google and Twitter will be forced to change their terms of service for EU users within a month,
or face hefty fines from European authorities, an official said on Friday.
The move was initiated after politicians have decided to blame their unpopularity on 'fake news' rather than their own incompetence and their failure to listen to the will of the people.
The EU Commission sent letters to the three companies in December, stating that some terms of service were in breach of EU protection laws and urged them to do more to prevent fraud on their platforms. The EU has also urged social media companies to do
more when it comes to assessing the suitability of user generated content.
The letters, seen by Reuters, explained that the EU Commission also wanted clearer signposting for sponsored content, and that mandatory rights, such as cancelling a contract, could not be interfered with.
Germany said this week it is working on a new law that would see social media sites face fines of up to $53 million if they failed to strengthen their efforts to remove material that the EU does not like. German censorship minister Heiko Mass said:
There must be as little space for criminal incitement and slander on social networks as on the streets. Too few criminal comments are deleted and they are not erased quickly enough. The biggest problem is that networks do not take the complaints of their
own users seriously enough...it is now clear that we must increase the pressure on social networks.
Pakistani has threatened to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content considered insulting to Islam. The government's Fderal
Investigation Agency (FIA) is also in talks with Interpol to identify supposedly blasphemous content.
The FIA has sent a formal request to Facebook but the company's management has yet to respond. Pakistan's interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan urged Facebook to comply:
I hope that the management of Facebook will respect the religious sentiments of 200 million Pakistanis and tens of millions of users of Facebook in Pakistan and will cooperate in that regard.
These requests come after the Islamabad high court ordered the government to start an investigation into online blasphemy and threatened to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam, lawyers told AFP.
Thailand, who have a repressive lese majeste law, which metes out extreme punishments for minor criticisms of royalty, has been accused
of insulting Myanmar's historic royalty.
A Thai soap opera that appears to depict Burmese palace intrigue has angered some in Myanmar including a descendant of Myanmar's last king. Soe Win, the great-grandson of King Thibaw, has called for the show to be cancelled as it is insulting . He
We have asked Thais this, would they accept it if one of our companies here did the same thing about their country.
But producers of the historical drama, called Plerng Phra Nang (A Lady's Flames) , have insisted it is purely fictional.
The lady in question is Ananthip, a character who schemes to seize control of the kingdom. Some have observed she closely resembles Hsinbyumashin, a real-life Burmese palace consort who orchestrated the massacre of scores of royals so that Thibaw could
ascend the throne. Thibaw abdicated and the Burmese monarchy was abolished in 1885, when British forces defeated and invaded Burma.
Earlier this week
we explained how the tide is turning against the European Commission's proposal for Internet platforms to adopt new compulsory copyright filters as part of its upcoming Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. As we explained, users and even
the European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) have criticized the Commission's proposal, which could stifle online expression, hinder competition, and suppress legal uses of copyrighted content, like creating
and sharing Internet memes .
Since then, a leaked report has revealed that one of the European Parliament's most influential committees has also come out against the proposal
. As the IMCO committee's report had done,
the report of the European Parliament's Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee not only criticizes the upload filtering proposal (aka. Article 13, or the #censorshipmachine), but renders even harsher judgment on a separate proposal to require online news
aggregators to pay copyright-like licensing fees to the publishers they link to (aka. Article 11, or the
). We'll take these one at a time.
JURI Committee Scales Back the EU's Censorship Machine
The JURI committee would maintain the requirement for copyright holders to "take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightsholders for the use of their works." But the committee rejects
the proposed requirement for automatic blocking or deletion of uploaded content, because it fails to take account of the limitations and exceptions to copyright that Europe recognizes, such as the right of quotation. The committee writes in an
The process cannot underestimate the effects of the identification of user uploaded content which falls within an exception or limitation to copyright. To ensure the continued use of such exceptions and limitations, which are based on public interest
concerns, communication between users and rightsholders also needs to be efficient.
The committee also affirms that the agreements between rightsholders and platforms don't detract from the safe harbor protection for platforms that Europe's E-Commerce Directive already provides (which is analogous to the DMCA safe harbor in the U.S.).
This means that if user-uploaded content appears on a platform without a license from the copyright holder, the platform's only obligation is to remove that content on receipt of a request by the copyright holder.
We would have liked to see a stronger denunciation of the mandate for Internet platforms to enter into licensing agreements with copyright holders, and we maintain that the provision is better deleted altogether. Nonetheless, the committee's report, if
reflected in the final text, should rule out the worst-case scenario of platforms being required to automatically flag and censor copyright material as it is uploaded.Â
European Link Tax Faces its Toughest Odds Ever
The leaked report goes further in its response to the link tax, recommending that it be dropped from the new copyright directive altogether. Given the failure of smaller scale link tax schemes in Germany and Spain , this was the only sensible position
for the committee to take. The Explanatory Statement to the report correctly distinguishes between two separate aspects of the use of news reporting online that the Commission's original proposal incorrectly conflates:
Digitalisation makes it easier for content found in press publications to be copied or taken. Digitalisation also facilitates access to news and press by providing digital users a referencing or indexing system that leads them to a wide range of news and
press. Both processes need to be recognised as separate processes.
Instead of introducing new monopoly rights for publishers, the JURI committee suggests simplifying the process by which publishers can take copyright infringement action in the names of the journalists whose work is appropriated. This would address the
core problem of full news reports being republished without permission, but without creating new rights over mere snippets of news that accompany links to their original sources. Far from being a problem, this use is actually beneficial for news
The JURI committee report is just a recommendation for the amendment of the European Commission proposal, and it will still be some months before we learn whether these recommendations will be reflected in the final compromise text. Nonetheless, it is
heartening to see the extreme proposals of the Commission getting chiseled away by one of the Parliament's most influential committees.
The importance of this shouldn't be underestimated. Although the above proposals are limited to Europe at present, there is the very real prospect that, if they succeed, they will pop up in the United States as well. In fact, U.S. content industry groups
are already advocating for the adoption of an upload filtering proposal stateside. That's why it's vital not only for Europeans to speak out against these dangerous proposals, but also for Internet users around the world to stand on guard, and to be
ready to fight back.
Twitter is continuing its campaign to add controls and warnings to tweets.
It now presents a warning when users click on a profile that may include sensitive content . The warning greys out the profile's tweets, bio and profile picture, but gives users the option to view the profile if they wish.
Twitter used to only mark individual tweets with a sensitivity warning, but has now expanded this to censor whole profiles unless users agree to view them.
The warning message given with the greyed out profile says:
Caution: This profile may include sensitive content. You're seeing this warning because they tweet sensitive images or language. Do you still want to view it?
Twitter did not publicly announce the new feature, and tweeters with profiles being greyed out are not informed by Twitter.
In the next step in the Chinese government's quest for total thought control it has issued a ban on the sale of foreign publications without an import
The new rules came into effect on the online shopping platform Taobao on Friday banning sellers from offering overseas publications. Taobao said the change, which also includes foreign services relating to publications, will enter into
force on March 10, 2017.
An employee who answered the phone at Taobao said the ban included books, movies, and games that hadn't already been given government approval:
If it comes from overseas, then basically, it's not allowed, for the time being at least. Any imported publications will need an import certificate under this system, and they need to be reported to the authorities. Only then can they be sold.
Pan Lu, of the Hubei-based rights group Rose China, said the administration of President Xi Jinping is currently tightening control over every aspect of public discourse. Pan said:
They are clamping down on ideology and public opinion. They can't afford to allow a pluralistic value system to seep into China via the consumer market for foreign publications.
The Chinese Communist Party is terrified that its own single-party ideology is bankrupt, and it is trying to shore up its grip on power by controlling what people think.
Hangzhou-based writer Zan Aizong said the new rules would make it much harder for people to get hold of foreign literature:
This will mean that people will have to resort to selling it on the quiet, because if you are found at the border to have political books in your bag, you will be detained, Zan said.
It's very hard to get books into the country from overseas.
He said the only option left will be to try to download e-books from outside the complex network of blocks, filters, and human censorship known as the Great Firewall.
The Premier League has secured a court order to help tackle rights-infringing video streams of football matches via Kodi set-top boxes. The order gives the league the means to have computer servers used to power the streams blocked.
Until now, it could only go after individual video streams which were relatively easy to re-establish at different links.
There have been several arrests of people selling set-top boxes pre-installed with both Kodi software and additional third-party add-ons that make it possible to watch copyright-infringing film and TV streams.
According to a recent survey commissioned by the security firm Irdeto, Kodi boxes are particularly prevalent in the UK.
It reported that 11% of Brits that admitted to watching pirated streams in a survey said they did so via a Kodi box. Doing so is not thought to be illegal. Derbyshire County Council trading standards officers recently explained:
Accessing premium paid-for content without a subscription is considered by the industry as unlawful access, although streaming something online, rather than downloading a file, is likely to be exempt from copyright laws,
That might seem a surprising position for an enforcement department to take, but support for it comes from an authoritative quarter. The European Commission doesn't believe that consumers who watch pirate streams are infringing. From the user's
perspective they equate streaming to watching, which is legitimate. The European Commission gave its view during the hearing of an important case currently before Europe's highest court involving the Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, which wrote in its
summary of the hearing:
The case concerns the sale of a mediaplayer on which the trader has loaded add-ons that link to evidently illegal websites that link to content. For a user such a player is plug & play . This king of pre-programmed player usually are offered
with slogans like never pay again for the newest films and series and completely legal, downloading from illegal sources is prohibited but streaming is allowed . In summary the pre-judicial questions concern whether the seller of such a
mediaplayer infringes copyright and whether streaming from an illegal source is legitimate use.
It has also been reported that the UK government is considering new laws against streaming pirated content, but discussions are at an early stage