UK Internet Censorship


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Someone's telling stories...

The BBFC has made a pretty poor show of setting out guidelines for the technical implementation of age verification, and now the Stop Age Verification campaign has pointed out that the BBFC has made legal errors about text porn


Link Here 25th March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The BBFC seems a little behind the curve in its role as porn censor. Its initial draft of its guidelines gave absolutely no concern for the safety and well being of porn users. The BBFC spoke of incredibly sensitive identity and browsing date being entrusted to adult websites and age verifiers, purely on the forlorn hope that these companies would follow 'best practice' voluntary guidelines to keep the data safe. The BBFC offered next to no guidelines that defined how age verification should work and what it really needs to do.

As time has moved on, it has obviously occurred to the BBFC or the government that this was simply not good enough, so we are now waiting on the implementation of some sort of kite marking scheme to try to provide at least a modicum of trust in age verifiers to keep this sensitive data safe.

But even in this period of rework, the BBFC hasn't been keeping interested parties informed of what's going on. The BBFC seem very reluctant to advise or inform anyone of anything. Perhaps the rework is being driven by the government and maybe the BBFC isn't in a position to be any more helpful.

Anyway it is interesting to note that in an article from stopageverification.org.uk , that the BBFC has been reported to being overstepping the remit of the age verification laws contained in the Digital Economy Act:

The BBFC posts this on the Age verifiers website :

All types of pornographic content are within the scope of the legislation. The legislation does not exclude audio or text from its definition of pornography. All providers of commercial online pornography to persons in the UK are required to comply with the age-verification requirement.

Except that's not what the legislation says :

Pornographic material is defined in s.15 of the act. This sets out nine categories of material. Material is defined in that section (15(2) as material means204 (a) a series of visual images shown as a moving picture, with or without sound; (b) a still image or series of still images, with or without sound; or (c) sound;

It clearly doesn't mention text.

The BBFC need to be clear in their role as Age Verifier. They can only apply the law as enacted by Parliament. If they seek to go beyond that they could be at risk of court action.

 

 

Commented No they're not thinking of the children...

The Guardian suggests that the start of internet porn censorship will be timed to help heal the government's reputational wounds after the Brexit debacle


Link Here 25th March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The Observer today published an article generally supporting the upcoming porn censorship and age verification regime. It did have one interesting point to note though:

Brexit's impact on the pornography industry has gone unnoticed. But the chaos caused by the UK's disorderly exit from the European Union even stretches into the grubbier parts of cyberspace.

A new law forcing pornography users to prove that they are adults was supposed to be introduced early next month. But sources told the Observer that it may not be unveiled until after the Brexit impasse is resolved as the government, desperate for other things to talk about, believes it will be a good news story that will play well with the public when it is eventually unveiled.

Comment: The illiberal Observer

25th March 2019. Thanks to Alan

Bloody hell! Have you seen this fuckwittage from the purportedly liberal Observer?

Posh-boy churnalist Jamie (definitely not Jim) Doward regurgitates the bile of authoritarian feminist Gail Dines about the crackpot attempt to stop children accessing a bit of porn. This is total bollox.

It's getting on for sixty years since I spotted that my girl contemporaries were taking on a different and interesting shape - a phenomenon I researched by reference to two bodies of literature: those helpful little books for the amateur and professional photographer in which each photo of a lady was accompanied by F number and exposure time and those periodicals devoted to naturism. This involved no greater subterfuge than taking off my school cap and turning up my raincoat collar to hide my school tie. I would fervently hope that today's lads can run rings round parental controls and similar nonsense.

 

 

Offsite Article: Britain's Pornographer and Puritan Coalition...


Link Here 21st March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
Backlash speculates that the UK's upcoming porn censorship will play into the hands of foreign tube site monopolies

See article from backlash.org.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: Why an internet regulator is a bad idea...


Link Here 20th March 2019
Full story: Internet Safety Bill...UK Government seeks to censor social media
We should be stripping away curbs on speech -- not adding more. By Andrew Tettenborn

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Mental health issues...

Parliamentary group calls for Ofcom to become the UK internet censor


Link Here 18th March 2019

An informal group of MPs, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing has published a report calling for the establishment of an internet censor. The report clams:

  • 80% of the UK public believe tighter regulation is needed to address the impact of social media on the health and wellbeing of young people.
  • 63% of young people reported social media to be a good source of health information.
  • However, children who spend more than three hours a day using social media are twice as likely to display symptoms of mental ill health.
  • Pressure to conform to beauty standards perpetuated and praised online can encourage harmful behaviours to achieve "results", including body shame and disordered eating, with 46% of girls compared to 38% of all young people reporting social media has a negative impacted on their self-esteem.

The report titled, #NewFilters to manage the impact of social media on young people's mental health and wellbeing , puts forward a number of policy recommendations, including:

  • Establish a duty of care on all social media companies with registered UK users aged 24 and under in the form of a statutory code of conduct, with Ofcom to act as regulator.
  • Create a Social Media Health Alliance, funded by a 0.5% levy on the profits of social media companies, to fund research, educational initiatives and establish clearer guidance for the public.
  • Review whether the "addictive" nature of social media is sufficient for official disease classification.
  • Urgently commission robust, longitudinal research, into understanding the extent to which the impact of social media on young people's mental health and wellbeing is one of cause or correlation.
Chris Elmore MP, Chair of the APPG on Social Media on Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing said:

"I truly think our report is the wakeup call needed to ensure - finally - that meaningful action is taken to lessen the negative impact social media is having on young people's mental health.

For far too long social media companies have been allowed to operate in an online Wild West. And it is in this lawless landscape that our children currently work and play online. This cannot continue. As the report makes clear, now is the time for the government to take action.

The recommendations from our Inquiry are both sensible and reasonable; they would make a huge difference to the current mental health crisis among our young people.

I hope to work constructively with the UK Government in the coming weeks and months to ensure we see real changes to tackle the issues highlighted in the report at the earliest opportunity."

 

 

Offsite Article: Don't be a verified idiot...get a VPN!...


Link Here 18th March 2019
The Daily Mail highlights the dangers of identity checks for porn viewers and notes that the start date will be announced in April but could well be several months before is fully implemented

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: Don't be a verified idiot...


Link Here 16th March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
Get a VPN. The Guardian outlines some of the dangers of getting age verified for porn

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Offsite Article: A review of age verification methods...


Link Here 14th March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
This is how age verification will work under the UK's porn censorship law

See article from wired.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: What could possibly go wrong?...


Link Here 13th March 2019
UK porn censorship risks creating sex tape black market on Twitter, WhatsApp and even USB sticks

See article from thescottishsun.co.uk

 

 

Censoring in a digital world...

Lords committee supports the creation of a UK internet censor


Link Here 10th March 2019
The House of Lords Communications Committee has called for a new, overarching censorship framework so that the services in the digital world are held accountable to an enforceable set of government rules.

The Lords Communications Committee writes:

Background

In its report 'Regulating in a digital world' the committee notes that over a dozen UK regulators have a remit covering the digital world but there is no body which has complete oversight. As a result, regulation of the digital environment is fragmented, with gaps and overlaps. Big tech companies have failed to adequately tackle online harms.

Responses to growing public concern have been piecemeal and inadequate. The Committee recommends a new Digital Authority, guided by 10 principles to inform regulation of the digital world.

Chairman's Comments

The chairman of the committee, Lord Gilbert of Panteg , said:

"The Government should not just be responding to news headlines but looking ahead so that the services that constitute the digital world can be held accountable to an agreed set of principles.

Self-regulation by online platforms is clearly failing. The current regulatory framework is out of date. The evidence we heard made a compelling and urgent case for a new approach to regulation. Without intervention, the largest tech companies are likely to gain ever more control of technologies which extract personal data and make decisions affecting people's lives. Our proposals will ensure that rights are protected online as they are offline while keeping the internet open to innovation and creativity, with a new culture of ethical behaviour embedded in the design of service."

Recommendations for a new regulatory approach Digital Authority

A new 'Digital Authority' should be established to co-ordinate regulators, continually assess regulation and make recommendations on which additional powers are necessary to fill gaps. The Digital Authority should play a key role in providing the public, the Government and Parliament with the latest information. It should report to a new joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, whose remit would be to consider all matters related to the digital world.

10 principles for regulation

The 10 principles identified in the committee's report should guide all regulation of the internet. They include accountability, transparency, respect for privacy and freedom of expression. The principles will help the industry, regulators, the Government and users work towards a common goal of making the internet a better, more respectful environment which is beneficial to all. If rights are infringed, those responsible should be held accountable in a fair and transparent way.

Recommendations for specific action Online harms and a duty of care

  • A duty of care should be imposed on online services which host and curate content which can openly be uploaded and accessed by the public. Given the urgent need to address online harms, Ofcom's remit should expand to include responsibility for enforcing the duty of care.

  • Online platforms should make community standards clearer through a new classification framework akin to that of the British Board of Film Classification. Major platforms should invest in more effective moderation systems to uphold their community standards.

Ethical technology

  • Users should have greater control over the collection of personal data. Maximum privacy and safety settings should be the default.

  • Data controllers and data processors should be required to publish an annual data transparency statement detailing which forms of behavioural data they generate or purchase from third parties, how they are stored, for how long, and how they are used and transferred.

  • The Government should empower the Information Commissioner's Office to conduct impact-based audits where risks associated with using algorithms are greatest. Businesses should be required to explain how they use personal data and what their algorithms do.

Market concentration

  • The modern internet is characterised by the concentration of market power in a small number of companies which operate online platforms. Greater use of data portability might help, but this will require more interoperability.

  • The Government should consider creating a public-interest test for data-driven mergers and acquisitions.

  • Regulation should recognise the inherent power of intermediaries.

 

 

Offsite Article: Best VPNs to avoid the UK's Porn Age Verification...


Link Here 10th March 2019
At least somebody will do well out of porn censorship

See article from vpncompare.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: Age old censorship...


Link Here 8th March 2019
The Daily Mail reports on vague details about a proposal from the Information Commissioner to require age verification for any website that hoovers up personal details

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 

Maybe realisation that endangering parents is not a good way to protect children...

Sky News confirms that porn age verification will not be starting from April 2019 and notes that a start date has yet to be set


Link Here 6th March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

Sky News has learned that the government has delayed setting a date for when age verification rules will come into force due to concerns regarding the security and human rights issues posed by the rules. A DCMS representative said:

This is a world-leading step forward to protect our children from adult content which is currently far too easy to access online.

The government, and the BBFC as the regulator, have taken the time to get this right and we will announce a commencement date shortly.

Previously the government indicated that age verification would start from about Easter but the law states that 3 months notice must be given for the start date. Official notice has yet to be published so the earliest it could start is already June 2019.

The basic issue is that the Digital Economy Act underpinning age verification does not mandate that identity data and browsing provided of porn users should be protected by law. The law makers thought that GDPR would be sufficient for data protection, but in fact it only requires that user consent is required for use of that data. All it requires is for users to tick the consent box, probably without reading the deliberately verbose or vague terms and conditions provided. After getting the box ticked the age verifier can then do more or less what they want to do with the data.

Realising that this voluntary system is hardly ideal, and that the world's largest internet porn company Mindgeek is likely to become the monopoly gatekeeper of the scheme, the government has moved on to considering some sort of voluntary kitemark scheme to try and convince porn users that an age verification company can be trusted with the data. The kitemark scheme would appoint an audit company to investigate the age verification implementations and to approve those that use good practises.

I would guess that this scheme is difficult to set up as it would be a major risk for audit companies to approve age verification systems based upon voluntary data protection rules. If an 'approved' company were later found to be selling, misusing data or even getting hacked, then the auditor could be sued for negligent advice, whilst the age verification company could get off scot-free.

 

 

AgeID scarily will require an email address and ID to view PornHub...

There's also a rather unconvincing option to use an app, but that seems to ID your device instead


Link Here 4th March 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
Pornhub and sister websites will soon require ID from users before being able to browse its porn.

The government most recently suggested that this requirement would start from about Easter this year, but this date has already slipped. The government will give 3 months notice of the start date and as this has not yet been announced, the earliest start date is currently in June.

Pornhub and YouPorn will use the AgeID system, which requires users to identify themselves with an email address and a credit card, passport, driving licence or an age verified mobile phone number.

Metro.co.uk spoke to a spokesperson from AgeID to find out how it will work (and what you'll actually see when you try to log in). James Clark, AgeID spokesperson, said:

When a user first visits a site protected by AgeID, a landing page will appear with a prompt for the user to verify their age before they can access the site.

First, a user can register an AgeID account using an email address and password. The user verifies their email address and then chooses an age verification option from our list of 3rd party providers, using options such as Mobile SMS, Credit Card, Passport, or Driving Licence.

The second option is to purchase a PortesCard or voucher from a retail outlet. Using this method, a customer does not need to register an email address, and can simply access the site using the Portes app.

Thereafter, users will be able to use this username/password combination to log into all porn sites which use the Age ID system.

It is a one-time verification, with a simple single sign-on for future access. If a user verifies on one AgeID protected site, they will not need to perform this verification again on any other site carrying AgeID.

The PortesCard is available to purchase from selected high street retailers and any of the UK's 29,000 PayPoint outlets as a voucher. Once a card or voucher is purchased, its unique validation code must be activated via the Portes app within 24 hours before expiring.

If a user changes device or uses a fresh browser, they will need to login with the credentials they used to register. If using the same browser/device, the user has a choice as to whether they wish to login every time, for instance if they are on a shared device (the default option), or instead allow AgeID to log them in automatically, perhaps on a mobile phone or other personal device.

Clark claimed that AgeID's system does not store details of people's ID, nor does it store their browsing history. This sounds a little unconvincing and must be taken on trust. And this statement rather seems to be contradicted by a previous line noting that user's email will be verified, so that piece of identity information at least will need to be stored and read.

The Portes App solution seems a little doubtful too. It claims not to log device data and then goes on to explain that the PortesCard needs to be locked to a device, rather suggesting that it will in fact be using device data. It will be interesting to see what app permissions the app will require when installing. Hopefully it won't ask to read your contact list.

This AgeID statement rather leaves the AVSecure card idea in the cold. The AVSecure system of proving your age anonymously at a shop, and then obtaining a password for use on porn websites seems to be the most genuinely anonymous idea suggested so far, but it will be pretty useless if it can't be used on the main porn websites.

 

 

Six shooters...

Internet giants respond to impending government internet censorship laws with sex principles that should be followed


Link Here 1st March 2019
Full story: Internet Safety Bill...UK Government seeks to censor social media
The world's biggest internet companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter are represented by a trade group call The Internet Association. This organisation has written to UK government ministers to outline how they believe harmful online activity should be regulated.

The letter has been sent to the culture, health and home secretaries. The letter will be seen as a pre-emptive move in the coming negotiation over new rules to govern the internet. The government is due to publish a delayed White Paper on online harms in the coming weeks.

The letter outlines six principles:

  • "Be targeted at specific harms, using a risk-based approach
  • "Provide flexibility to adapt to changing technologies, different services and evolving societal expectations
  • "Maintain the intermediary liability protections that enable the internet to deliver significant benefits for consumers, society and the economy
  • "Be technically possible to implement in practice
  • "Provide clarity and certainty for consumers, citizens and internet companies
  • "Recognise the distinction between public and private communication"

Many leading figures in the UK technology sector fear a lack of expertise in government, and hardening public sentiment against the excesses of the internet, will push the Online Harms paper in a more radical direction.

Three of the key areas of debate are the definition of online harm, the lack of liability for third-party content, and the difference between public and private communication.

The companies insist that government should recognise the distinction between clearly illegal content and content which is harmful, but not illegal. If these leading tech companies believe this government definition of harm is too broad, their insistence on a distinction between illegal and harmful content may be superseded by another set of problems.

The companies also defend the principle that platforms such as YouTube permit users to post and share information without fear that those platforms will be held liable for third-party content. Another area which will be of particular interest to the Home Office is the insistence that care should be taken to avoid regulation encroaching into the surveillance of private communications.

 

 

The BBFC didn't turn up...

Open Rights Group met to discuss the BBFC's age verification scheme with its voluntary privacy protection


Link Here 28th February 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

We met to discuss BBFC's voluntary age verification privacy scheme, but BBFC did not attend. Open Rights Group met a number of age verification providers to discuss the privacy standards that they will be meeting when the scheme launches, slated for April. Up to 20 million UK adults are expected to sign up to these products.

We invited all the AV providers we know about, and most importantly, the BBFC, at the start of February. BBFC are about to launch a voluntary privacy standard which some of the providers will sign up to. Unfortunately, BBFC have not committed to any public consultation about the scheme, relying instead on a commercial provider to draft the contents with providers, but without wider feedback from privacy experts and people who are concerned about users.

We held the offices close to the BBFC's offices in order that it would be convenient for them to send someone that might be able to discuss this with us. We have been asking for meetings with BBFC about the privacy issues in the new code since October 2018: but have not received any reply or acknowledgement of our requests, until this morning, when BBFC said they would be unable to attend today's roundtable. This is very disappointing.

BBFC's failure to consult the public about this standard, or even to meet us to discuss our concerns, is alarming. We can understand that BBFC is cautious and does not wish to overstep its relationship with its new masters at DCMS. BBFC may be worried about ORG's attitude towards the scheme: and we certainly are critical. However, it is not responsible for a regulator to fail to talk to its potential critics.

We are very clear about our objectives. We are acting to do our best to ensure the risk to adult users of age verification technologies are minimised. We do not pose a threat to the scheme as a whole: listening to us can only result in making the pornographic age verification scheme more likely to succeed, and for instance, to avoid catastrophic failures.

Privacy concerns appear to have been recognised by BBFC and DCMS as a result of consultation responses from ORG supporters and others, which resulted in the voluntary privacy standard. These concerns have also been highlighted by Parliament, whose regulatory committee expressed surprise that the Digital Economy Act 2017 had contained no provision to deal with the privacy implications of pornographic age verification.

Today's meeting was held to discuss:

  • What the scheme is likely to cover; and what it ideally should cover;

  • Whether there is any prospect of making the scheme compulsory;

  • What should be done about non-compliant services;

  • What the governance of the scheme should be in the long tern, for instance whether it might be suitable to become an ICO backed code, or complement such as code

As we communicated to BBFC in December 2018, we have considerable worries about the lack of consultation over the standard they are writing, which appears to be truncated in order to meet the artificial deadline of April this year. This is what we explained to BBFC in our email:

  • Security requires as many perspectives to be considered as possible.

  • The best security standards eg PCI DSS are developed in the open and iterated

  • The standards will be best if those with most to lose are involved in the design.
     

    • For PCI DSS, the banks and their customers have more to lose than the processors

    • For Age Verification, site users have more to lose than the processors, however only the processors seem likely to be involved in setting the standard

We look forward to BBFC agreeing to meet us to discuss the outcome of the roundtable we held about their scheme, and to discuss our concerns about the new voluntary privacy standard. Meanwhile, we will produce a note from the meeting, which we believe was useful. It covered the concerns above, and issues around timing, as well as strategies for getting government to adjust their view of the absence of compulsory standards, which many of the providers want. In this, BBFC are a critical actor. ORG also intends as a result of the meeting to start to produce a note explaining what an effective privacy scheme would cover, in terms of scope, risks to mitigate, governance and enforcement for participants.

 

 

Akin to the actions of a totalitarian state....

Chelsea Russell's ridiculous conviction for quoting rap lyrics quashed on appeal


Link Here 27th February 2019
Full story: Trivial Insults and Jokes...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

In 2017, Chelsea Russell, a Liverpool teenager with Asperger's syndrome, paid tribute on her Instagram profile to a 13-year-old friend who died when he was hit by a car. She quoted the lyrics of a rap song, I'm Trippin" by Snap Dogg, alongside the phrase 'RIP Frankie Murphy. Many other teenagers used the lyrics to pay tribute to Murphy.

A year later, Russell's profile came to the attention of the police, who decided to arrest her and have her charged. The lyrics she quoted Kill a snitch nigga, rob a rich nigga were found in court to be grossly offensive and Russell was convicted of a hate crime . For nothing more than quoting rap lyrics, she was placed on an eight-week, 8am-to-8pm curfew, fitted with an ankle tag, and fined 585.

Last week, the conviction was overturned on appeal. Russell's defence lawyer slammed the initial verdict as ridiculous, akin to the actions of a totalitarian state.

Offsite Comment: Chelsea Russell and the depravity of PC

27th February 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Fraser Myers

 

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