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  Gnawing away at bad lawmaking...

xHamster teaches educationally subnormal Utah a thing or two about abstinence from sex


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Link Here 10th February 2017
xhamster logoUtah legislators have voted for abstinence-only education. Ironically, last summer, Utah passed legislation calling porn a public health crisis, because they feared it was serving as de facto sex education.

Until they make up their minds, xHamster has announced that it is rerouting all traffic from Utah to its YouTube sex ed series, The Box . xHamster explained:

Today, the Utah legislature voted against comprehensive sex ed in schools in favor of abstinence education. Ironically, over the past few years, politicians in the state have also waged a war on porn, worried that it provides inauthentic views of sexuality.

We've come up with a solution that we will hopefully satisfy them on both fronts. Beginning immediately, we're rerouting all xHamster traffic from Utah to our comprehensive sex ed series, The Box. We've been working on The Box since last year, producing videos based on questions submitted by porn viewers.

While we love porn, we don't think that it should be relied on for sex ed any more than Star Wars is a substitute for science class.

Utahns consume the most porn per capita of any state in the nation. Let's see if we can turn the thirstiest state in the nation into the most sexually aware.

 

 Update: Just how much censorship will the Digital Economy lead to?...

How the government's porn censorship bill will probably lead to practically all adult websites being banned


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Link Here 9th February 2017  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified

open rights group 2016 logo How could the power to block pornographic websites lead to massive censorship, when the BBFC thinks it wants want to censor "just" a few hundred sites.

Officials wrote to the New Statesman yesterday to complain about Myles Jackman's characterisation of the Digital Economy Bill as leading to an attempt to classify everything on the Internet. (They perhaps hadn't understood the satire .)

However, the fact of the matter is that the DE Bill gives the BBFC (the regulator, TBC) the power to block any pornographic website that doesn't use age verification tools. It can even block websites that publish pornography that doesn't fit their guidelines of taste and acceptability - which are significantly narrower than what is legal, and certainly narrower than what is viewed as acceptable by US websites.

A single video of "watersports" or whipping produces marks, for instance, would be enough for the BBFC to ban a website for every UK adult. The question is, how many sites does the regulator want to block, and how many can it block?

Parliament has been told that the regulator wants to block just a few, major websites, maybe 50 or 100, as an "incentive" to implement age checks. However, that's not what Clause 23 says. The "Age-verification regulator's power to direct internet service providers to block access to material" just says that any site that fits the criteria can be blocked by an administrative request.

What could possibly go wrong?

Imagine, not implausibly, that some time after the Act is in operation, one of the MPs who pushed for this power goes and sees how it is working. This MP tries a few searches, and finds to their surprise that it is still possible to find websites that are neither asking for age checks nor blocked.

While the first page or two of results under the new policy would find major porn sites that are checking, or else are blocked, the results on page three and four would lead to sites that have the same kinds of material available to anyone.

In short, what happens when MPs realise this policy is nearly useless?

They will, of course, ask for more to be done. You could write the Daily Mail headlines months in advance: BBFC lets kids watch porn .

MPs will ask why the BBFC isn't blocking more websites. The answer will come back that it would be possible, with more funding, to classify and block more sites, with the powers the BBFC has been given already. While individual review of millions of sites would be very expensive, maybe it is worth paying for the first five or ten thousand sites to be checked. (And if that doesn't work, why not use machines to produce the lists?)

And then, it is just a matter of putting more cash the way of the BBFC and they can block more and more sites, to "make the Internet safe".

That's the point we are making. The power in the Digital Economy Bill given to the BBFC will create a mechanism to block literally millions of websites; the only real restraint is the amount of cash that MPs are willing to pour into the organisation.

What could possibly go wrong?

 

 Update: The government put phishers, fraudsters and scammers ahead of porn viewing citizens...

Government says privacy safeguards are not 'necessary' during a House of Lords debate on the Digital Economy Bill. A parliamentary report by the Open Rights Group


Link Here 8th February 2017  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified

house of lords red logoGovernment says privacy safeguards are not "necessary" in Digital Economy Bill

The Government still doesn't consider privacy safeguards necessary in the Digital Economy Bill and they see court orders for website blocking as excessively burdensome.

The House of Lords debated age verification for online pornography last week as the Committee stage of the Digital Economy Bill went ahead.

Peers tabled a considerable number of amendments to improve the flawed Part 3 of the Bill, which covers online pornography. In their recent report, the Committee on the Constitution said that they are worried about whether a proper parliamentary scrutiny can be delivered considering the lack of details written on the face of the Bill. Shortly after the start of the debate it became obvious that their concerns were justified.

Lords debated various aspects of age verification at length, however issues of appeal processes for website blocking by Internet service providers and privacy safeguards for data collected for the age-verification purposes will have to be resolved at a later stage.

In our view, if the Government is not prepared to make changes to the Bill to safeguard privacy, the opposition parties should be ready to force the issue to a vote.

Appeals process for ISP blocking

Labour and Lib Dem Lords jointly introduced an amendment that would implement a court order process into the blocking of websites by Internet service providers. The proposal got a lot of traction during the debate. Several Peers disagreed with the use of court orders, arguing about the costs and the undue burden that it would place on the system.

The court order process is currently implemented for the blocking of websites that provide access to content that infringes copyright. However, the Government is not keen on using it for age verification. Lord Ashton, the Government Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, noted that even the copyright court order process "is not without issues". He also stressed that the power to instruct ISPs to block websites carrying adult content would be used "sparingly". The Government is trying to encourage compliance by the industry and therefore they find it more appropriate that ISP blocking is carried out by direction from the regulator.

The Bill doesn't express any of these policy nuances mentioned by the Government. According to Clause 23 on ISP blocks, age-verification regulator can give a notice to ISPs to block non-complying websites. There is no threshold set out in the clause that would suggest this power will be used sparingly. Without such threshold, the age-verification regulator has an unlimited power to give out notices and is merely trusted by the Government not to use the full potential of the power.

The Government failed to address the remaining lack of legal structure that would secure transparency for website blocking by ISPs. Court orders would provide independent oversight for this policy. Neither the method of oversight, nor enforcement of blocking have been specified on the face of the Bill.

For now, the general public can find solace in knowing that the Government is aware that blocking all of social media sites is a ridiculous plan. Lord Ashton said that the Government "don't want to get to the situation where we close down the whole of Twitter, which would make us one of two countries in the world to have done that".

Privacy protections and anonymity

Labour Peers - Baroness Jones and Lord Stevenson and Lord Paddick (Lib Dem) introduced an amendment that would ensure that age-verification systems have high privacy and data protection safeguards.

The amendment goes beyond basic compliance with data protection regulations. It would deliver anonymity for age-verification system users and make it impossible to identify users throughout different websites. This approach could encourage people's trust in age-verification systems and will reassure people to safely access legal material. By securing anonymity, people's right to freedom of expression would be less adversely impacted. Not all the problems go away: people may still not trust the tools, but fears can at least be reduced, and the worst calamities of data leaks may be avoided.

People subjected to age verification should be able to choose which age-verification system they prefer and trust. It is necessary that the Bill sets up provisions for "user choice" to assure a functioning market. Without this, a single age-verification provider could conquer the market offering a low-cost solution with inadequate privacy protections.

The amendment received wider support from the Lords.

Despite the wide-ranging support from Lib Dem, Labour and cross-bench Lords, the Government found this amendment "unnecessary". Lord Ashton referred to the guidance published by the age-verification regulator that will outline types of arrangement that will be treated as compliant with the age-verification regulator's requirements. Since the arrangements for data retention and protection will be made in the guidance, the Government asked Lord Paddick to withdraw the amendment.

Guidance to be published by the age-verification regulator drew fire in the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee's Report published in December 2016. In their criticism, the Committee made it clear that they find it unsatisfactory that none of the age-verification regulator's guidelines have been published or approved by Parliament. Lord Ashton did not tackle these concerns during the Committee sitting.

The issue of privacy safeguards is very likely to come up again at the Report stage. Lord Paddick was not convinced by the Government's answer and promised to bring this issue up at the next stage. The Government also promised to respond to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee's Report before the next stage of the Bill's passage.

Given the wide support in the Lords to put privacy safeguards on the face of the Bill, Labour and Lib Dem Lords have an opportunity to change the Government's stance. Together they can press the Government to address privacy concerns.

The Government was unprepared to discuss crucial parts of the Part 3. Age verification for online pornography is proving to be more complex and demanding than the Government anticipated and they lack an adequate strategy. The Report stage of the Bill (22 February) could offer some answers to the questions raised during the last week's Committee sittings, but Labour and Lib Dems need to be prepared to push for votes on crucial amendments to get the Government to address privacy and free expression concerns.

 

 Offsite Article: Inside the government's mad plan to catalog every video on the Internet...


Link Here 7th February 2017
myles jackman The plan is unworkable and troublingly authoritarian, says Myles Jackman.

See article from newstatesman.com

 

 Offsite Video: Government recruitment for video porn censors...


Link Here 4th February 2017  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
new goovernment jobs video Open Rights Group have fun highlighting the upcoming state censorship of porn

See video from YouTube

 

  Cheaper than ATVOD...

Ofcom proposes to charge fees for Video on Demand censorship but will limit this to large companies only


Link Here 1st February 2017
Ofcom logoOn 1 January 2016, Video on Demand censor ATVOD was sacked and Ofcom became the sole regulator for on-demand programme services ( ODPS ) under Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act ).

In this document, we are consulting on a new regulatory fees regime under section 368NA of the Act, to apply from the 2017/18 financial year onwards. Our preferred proposal is to adopt a fees structure that shares the costs of regulating ODPS only between the largest providers.

We have also provided an estimate of the 2017/18 fee that would be sufficient to meet, but not exceed, the likely cost of Ofcom carrying out the relevant functions in the financial year 2017/18.

Ofcom sets out what VoD companies had to pay under the year of ATVOD:

  • (a) ATVOD's estimated costs for the year were just over 487,000 and the fees collected were just over 488,000.
  • (b) The 40 largest ODPS providers each paid over 5,000 and accounted for over 93% of fees.
  • (c) ATVOD differentiated between those in the largest group, with the largest Super A providers paying 10,893 each for single outlet services and 14,135 for multiple outlet services (with a group cap available where there were multiple providers in one corporate group). A Rate providers paid 5,010 for single outlet services and 6,502 for multiple outlet services.
  • (d) None of the remaining 77 providers (the long tail ) paid more than 815, and 40 of these paid 204 or less. These providers accounted, in total, for under 7% of fees.

By contrast, Ofcom's estimate of estimated costs is 114,000 and this will be raised from Video on Demand companies as follows:

  • Companies with total turnover greater than 50 million: 4146
  • Companies with total turnover 10 to 50 million: 2073
  • Companies with total turnover less than 10 million: no charge

Ofcom noted that a proportionally smaller charge for the small companies may not be cost effective to collect and may discourage companies from registering for censorship either by illegal avoidance or by moving offshore.

A consultation on this preferred option and several others is open until 29th March 2017.

 

 Extract: Pornhub wants Twitter to face the full wrath of the Digital Economy Bill...

At least porn censor designate, David Austin, recognises that maybe it might not be a good idea to ban adults from accessing their porn


Link Here 31st January 2017  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
westminster eforum logoAn interesting article in Wired reports on a a recent Westminster eForum meeting when the British establishment got together to discuss, porn, internet censorship and child protection.

A large portion of the article considers the issue that porn is not generally restricted just to 'porn websites'. It is widely available on more mainstream wesbites such as Google Images. Stephen Winyard, director and VP of ICM Registry and council member of the digital policy alliance, argued that Twitter is in fact commercially benefiting from the proliferation of pornography on the network:

It's on Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, mobile apps - Skype is used hugely for adult content. But Twitter is the largest platform for promoting pornography in the world - and it takes money for it. They pay Twitter money to advertise adult content.

Another good good pint was that the Digital Censorship Bill going through parliament was targetting the prevention of children 'stumbling across' porn. Hence a bit of partial blockade of porn may somehow reduce this problem. However Adam Kinsley of Sky pointed out that partial blockage may not be so effective in stopping kids actively looking for porn. He noted:

The Digital Economy Bill's exact objectives are a little uncertain, but we are trying to stop children stumbling on pornography -- but they are not 'stumbling', they are looking for it and Twitter is where they will [find] it. Whether what the government is proposing will deal with that threat is unclear. Initially, it did not propose ISPs blocking content. When it comes to extremist sites, the Home Office asks social media platforms to take down content. The government does not ask us to block material - it has never done that. So this is a big deal. It doesn't happen with the IWF; it doesn't happen with terrorist material, and it wasn't in the government's original proposal. Whether they got it right and how will we deal with these millions of sites, is unclear.

We're not really achieving anything if only dealing with a few sites.

The Bill is incredibly complex, as it stands. David Austin, from the BBFC, pointed out that for it to implement the bill correctly, it needs to be effective, proportionate, respectful of privacy, accountable - and the

Tens of millions of adults that go online to see legal content must be able to continue to do so.

At the same time, he said:

There is no silver bullet, no one model, no one sector that can achieve all child protection goals.

...Read the full article from wired.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Digital Economy Bill Briefing to House of Lords Committee Stage...


Link Here 28th January 2017
open rights group 2016 logo Open Rights Group makes some suggestions to improve the government's internet censorship bill

See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

 Update: On more crap legislation in the making...

Commentators have their say about the Digital Economy Bill that looks set to ban porn from the internet


Link Here 27th January 2017  full story: UK Governments Consults on Age Checks for Porn...Government proposes censoring porn websites that are not age verified
parent zoner logoAs the internet censorship bill continues its progress through Parliament, news websites have been noted a few opinions and sound bites.

A couple of weeks ago David Kaye, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, wrote to ministers to warm them that their proposals could breach international law .  In his letter, he said:

I am concerned that the age-verification provisions give the Government access to information of viewing habits and citizen data. Data provide to one part of government can be shared with other parts of government and private sector companies without a person's knowledge and consent.

He also warned:

While I am cognizant of the need to protect children against harmful content. I am concerned that the provisions under the bill are not an effective way for achieving this objective as they fall short of the standards of international human rights law.

The age-verification requirement may easily be subject to abuse such as hacking, blackmail and other potential credit card fraud.

He also expressed concern at the bill's lack of privacy obligations and at a significant tightening control over the Internet in the UK.

Murray Perkins, a senior examiner with the BBFC, has indicated that the depiction of violent and criminal pornographic acts would be prohibited both online and off, in accordance with the way obscenity laws are interpreted by British prosecutors.

And the way British prosecutors interpret obscenity laws is very censorial indeed with many totally mainstream porn elements such as squirting and fisting being considered somehow obscene by these government censors.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said in an earlier statement the legislation would lead to unprecedented censorship. He noted:

Once this administrative power to block websites is in place, it will invariably be used to censor other content.

Of course pro-censorship campaigners are delighted. Vicki Shotbolt, chief executive officer for Parent Zone, gloated about the end of people's freedom to access porn.

This isn't about reducing anyone's freedom to access porn. It is simply bringing the online world more in line with the offline.

 

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