UK Internet Censorship

 2014: July-Sept

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 Update: Anti-Pornography Default Setting...

Geraint Davies introduces nonsense private members bill for new computers to be sold with censorship enabled


Link Here 19th September 2014  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
House of Commons logo This Bill was presented to Parliament on 10 September 2014. This is known as the first reading and there was no debate on the Bill at this stage.

This Bill is expected to have its second reading debate on 7 November 2014.

This Bill is a Private Member's Bill. These are often not printed until close to the second reading debate.

So far the only available information is the smmary:

A Bill to prohibit the distribution of sexually explicit images via the internet and text message without the consent of the subjects of the images; to provide that mobile phones and other devices capable of connection to the internet be set by manufacturers as a default to deny access to pornography; and for connected purposes

 

 Update: Common Media Censorship Standards...

So what is the Government's internet censorship group up to?


Link Here 19th September 2014  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
UKCCIS logo The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) describes itself as a group of more than 200 organisations drawn from across government, industry, law, academia and charity sectors that work in partnership to help keep children safe online.

The group meets quarterly and the last published minutes reveal discussions about:

Common Media Censorship Standards

Ofcom has begun work to develop a common framework for media standards as set out in last year's Connectivity, Content and Consumers paper. Audiences continue to wish for certain fundamental protections and the safeguarding of critical freedoms. Protection of children should be the starting point of any debate about protections across media. Future protection frameworks should include a mix of regulation, self-regulation and self-imposed standards and measures that empower people to manage their and their families' access to media. Ofcom is planning to carry out research and analysis and develop options for Government

Over Blocking is presumably making it impractical for parents to opt for website blocking

The over blocking reporting process will be accessed via Internet Matters and web site owners can use this single location to reach BT, BskyB, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Details about how it will be publicised will be discussed on 11th July.

Members of the public are already able to report when they think a website has been unfairly blocked - when they attempt to access a blocked site, a splash page comes up explaining that it has been blocked and there is a link allowing the user to report. This is currently in place with all four ISPs.

Age verification

Rachel O'Connell, UKCCIS lead on age verification, poke about the age verification working group and her recent briefing paper, Age Verification: New Possibilities. E-ID provides a method to verify age and is starting to be introduced across Europe. There is an opportunity to revisit age verification, it is a big commercial opportunity and could provide an opportunity for big savings. Age is an attribute of ID, if you've proven your age with your bank, or your mobile phone company for instance, you should be able to use this so you only have to verify your age once. Rachel recommended fostering children's participation without stifling innovation.

Rachel continued that there is a strong assumption that mobile, and mobile payments will drive demand for E-ID. Vocalink for example, is introducing an app that will check age. Rachel recommended that banks are asked to start collecting data on the age of those 17 and under with bank cards - when a user makes a card payment, as well as checking that the money is available in their account, the system should also check the user's age is appropriate to purchase the product or service. Rachel felt that this would also be a priority for retail, as age verification is a fundamental need for development of online lockers, and the potential for federated age verification token would cut costs phenomenally.

ATVOD

ATVOD supports existing initiatives to improve take up of parental controls and the legislation to remove any doubt that material that would be rated R18 by the British Board of Film Classification must be put behind access controls on regulated UK-based services. There is work to be done at an EU and international level. The payments industry have made clear that they would prevent UK payments to foreign websites which allow children to view hard-core porn if it was clear that such websites were operating in breach of UK law

 

 Offsite Article: Inept Mobile Phone Censorship at EE...


Link Here 26th August 2014
ee logo Even when child protection turned off it keeps coming back on

See article from sexandcensorship.org

 

  Empire Building...

DCMS formally informs the European Commission of a draft UK regulation to incorporate ATVOD's impractical age verification rules into UK law. (And then ludicrously claims that this will not have an impact on international trade).


Link Here 18th August 2014
DCMS logo On the 7th July 2014, the UK Government Department of Culture, Media, Sport and Censorship notified the European Commission of its draft regulation to incorporate ATVOD's impractical age verification rules for accessing hardcore porn on the internet into UK law.

The DCMS document states:

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014

Main Content

Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003 (inserted by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 and 2010) transpose the requirements of Directive 2010/13/EU in relation to on-demand programme services. Section 368E(2) provides that on-demand material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen must only be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it. This draft instrument amends section 368E in two ways. First, it provides that any material that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has issued a R18 classification certificate in respect of (or any material that would have been issued such a certificate) (hard-core pornography) must not be included in an on-demand service unless it is behind effective access controls which verify that the user is aged eighteen or over. Secondly, it provides that any material that the BBFC has refused to give a classification certificate in respect of (or any material that would have been refused such a certificate) must not be included in an on-demand service at all.

Brief Statement of Grounds

In 2010 the Department wrote to Ofcom raising concerns about whether section 368E would in practice provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from sexually explicit material. Ofcom's report in 2011 recommended that the Government introduce new legislation to prohibit R18 material from being included in on-demand services unless mandatory restrictions are in place and prohibit altogether material whose content the BBFC would refuse to classify. The co-regulators, Ofcom and the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), were concerned that the evidence for children being caused harm by exposure to R18 material is inconclusive and the legislative protections currently in place were not sufficiently clear to provide certainty in this area. In the interim period pending legislative changes the co-regulators, adopting a precautionary approach, interpreted section 368E(2) as requiring R18 material to be behind access controls. This instrument has the effect of removing any uncertainty from the regulatory framework providing clarity to consumers and providers of on-demand services. It also provides the same level of protection that exists on the high street in relation to the sale of hard-copy DVDs to the provision of on-demand services. In a converging media world these provisions must be coherent. The BBFC classification regime established under the Video Recordings Act 1984 is a tried and tested system of what content is regarded as harmful for minors. This Act was notified as a technical standard - Notification No. 2009/495/UK.

Reference Documents

  • References of the Basic Texts: Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003
  • ATVOD Rules and Guidance and research report
  • Video Recordings Act 1984
  • BBFC Guidelines
  • Ofcom Report: Sexually Explicit Material and Video On Demand Services, 2011
  • Exploratory Memorandum

TBT aspect

No - The draft has no significant impact on international trade

 

  Political Twerking...

David Cameron announces that online music videos will carry age classifications from October


Link Here 18th August 2014  full story: BBFC Online Music Censors...Scheme for UK music publishers to get BBFC rating for videos
David Cameron Online music videos will carry an age classification from October as part of a pilot scheme by YouTube, music video service Vevo and the BBFC in the name of protecting children from graphic content , David Cameron has announced.

In a speech to the Relationships Alliance on Monday, the prime minister said the rules for online videos should be brought into line with content bought offline. Cameron said:

From October, we're going to help parents protect their children from some of the graphic content in online music videos by working with the British Board of Film Classification, Vevo and YouTube to pilot the age rating of these videos.

We shouldn't cede the internet as some sort of lawless space where the normal rules of life shouldn't apply. So, in as far as it is possible, we should try to make sure that the rules that exist offline exist online. So if you want to go and buy a music video offline there are age restrictions on it. We should try and recreate that system on the internet.

 

 Offsite Article: The Department of Dirty...


Link Here 24th July 2014
department of dirty video Amusing video from the Open Rights Group

See article from departmentofdirty.co.uk

 

 Update: Oh dear! Parents appreciate the choice to make up their own minds...

Just 12% of new subscribers opt for network level website blocking designed for child protection


Link Here 23rd July 2014  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
website blocking take up Ofcom has published a report outlining the uptake and implementation of optional network blocking offerings from the four main broadband ISPs in the UK.

The most interesting point was the low take up of the website blocking option from 3 of the 4 ISPs

table from report

Note 9 is that 4.5% of BT opted for network level blocking but another 4.5 opted for the more tailorable device level blocking in the form of software to run on each device.

Note 10 is that 33% of subscribers opted for virus blocking but on 4% for child protection blocking.

TalkTalk made a big thing of offering network level child protection website blocking a year before the other ISPs. So presumably many of the new subscribers that particularly wanted the blocking opted for TalkTalk.

Using an 2013 estimate of subscriber base of 7.3 million for BT, 5.2 for Sky, 4.5 for Virgin and 4.2 for TalkTalk reveals an estimate that 11.7% of new subscribers opted for network level website blocking designed for child protection.

Interesting Ofcom neglected to mention this very important low take up in its press release accompanying the report which is reproduced in full below.

Ofcom Report on Internet safety measures - Internet Service Providers: Network level filtering measures

Ofcom has today published a for Government outlining measures the UK's largest internet service providers have put in place to help parents protect children from harmful content online.

This follows an agreement between the Government and BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, the four largest fixed line internet service providers (ISPs), announced in . Each ISP committed to offer new customers family-friendly network-level filtering by the end of December 2013.

This is the second of three reports the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has asked Ofcom to produce on internet safety measures to protect children. The DCMS asked Ofcom to look at the approach taken by each ISP to implement family-friendly filtering services which block content that may be inappropriate or harmful for children, rather than assess the effectiveness of the filters.

The report also describes measures taken by ISPs to present a pre-ticked unavoidable choice to new customers on whether or not to activate the filter, and includes initial take-up data among new customers offered filters.

The filters apply to all web based internet content, on any device that is connected to the fixed broadband network in the home.

Report findings

The report finds that the four ISPs now have a network level family friendly filtering service, which is offered to new customers. New subscribers receive a prompt from their ISP during the broadband set-up process, describing the filtering service and offering the consumer a pre-ticked option to use the filtering service.

The filters allow a user to manage access in their home to a range of internet services, helping parents to prevent their children accessing content that is not appropriate for them.

There are a number of filtering categories common to all four ISPs. Suicide and self-harm, pornography, file sharing, crime, drugs, violence and hate are covered by each provider's classification systems.

By the Government's target of December 2013, BT, Sky, and TalkTalk each offered a filtering service allowing parents to restrict categories of online content, and presented new users with the unavoidable choice of whether to activate the filters.

Virgin Media launched its network level filter in February 2014. When it launched, it was not able to implement an unavoidable choice for all new customers, and estimated this was offered to about a third (35%) of new customers. To help address this shortfall, Virgin Media implemented additional ways for the customer to choose filtering, after the initial set-up.

Next steps

The ISPs are currently working towards meeting their commitment to Government to contact all their existing customers and present them with an unavoidable choice about whether or not to install the family friendly content filters by the end of 2014.

Ofcom is due to produce the third in this series of reports in December 2014. This will review Ofcom's Media Literacy research from 2014 on parental strategies for protecting children online.

Specifically, it will look at how take-up, awareness of and confidence of parents in relation to parental controls has changed since its first report published in . It will assess the broader strategies parents may adopt to improve children's online safety and will provide a more complete set of data on which to draw clearer conclusions.

 

  Courtesy of the RDI and BBFC...

More details on the level of website blocking to implemented for public WiFi


Link Here 19th July 2014
rdi logo The Registered Digital Institute is a trade group which promotes digital installation and digital service providers directly to the consumer. The institutes explains its role in setting up a standard for internet website blocking for public WiFi:

During his 2013 NSPCC speech on online safety, David Cameron announced that an agreement was in place with the UK's main Wi-Fi providers to commit to applying a level of filtering across all of their standard public Wi-Fi services, which are easily accessed by children and young people. Mr Cameron also highlighted the need to develop an industry-recognised and trusted symbol, which businesses could display to show customers that their public Wi-Fi is properly filtered. Discussions around the development of such a scheme and symbol began 12 months ago, when the RDI were asked to work in collaboration with The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), the Government and the UK's main Wi-Fi Providers, to design, develop and launch the UK-wide Friendly WiFi scheme that we see today.

RDI have also outlined the level of blocking that has been implemented and how the BBFC have been involved in the censorship process:

BBFC logo During meetings with DCMS and the UK's main Wi-Fi providers who we worked collaboratively with to design the online safety initiative, it was suggested that we contact the BBFC. We were introduced to the BBFC's Assistant Director, David Austin who kindly offered to assist us in the build of our specification for online content filtering. David hosted an initial meeting at the BBFC's London offices and provided what can only be described as an eye-opening view of how the BBFC operates and independently scrutinises films and video to ensure the highest possible level of protection and empowerment.

We learned how the BBFC had been appointed by the Mobile Broadband Group to provide an independent framework to underpin the Mobile Operators' code of practice that was set up in 2004 for the self-regulation of content on mobiles. The Classification Framework defines content that is unsuitable for customers under the age of 18 and is based on the BBFC's Classification Guidelines for film and video. The Classification Framework is also used to calibrate the filters used by the Operators to restrict access to internet content via mobile networks by those under 18. This was a major step forward to restrict content accessed via mobile networks and protect children from viewing inappropriate material whilst operating their mobile devices.

Although the specified level of content filtering within the Friendly WiFi scheme is below that which underpins the Mobile Operators code of practice, it is important that we were guided by the same technical expertise of the BBFC to support our development and advise us on future updates. The BBFC has contributed specific definitions and guided us in the use of correct and appropriate terms relating to the filtering of pornography. This is to make sure we are able to communicate the terms correctly and have the confidence that our specification is in line with what our Customers, Industry and Public expects.

The level of content filtering agreed by the main WiFi providers for their standard public WiFi offerings is the same level which has been included within the Friendly WiFi scheme. The level of filtering as follows:

  1. The standard public Wi-Fi offering will automatically filter the IWF list and participate in the IWF Self Certification process.

  2. The standard public Wi-Fi offering will also include filters to block pornography and will use generally recognised list providers to filter pornography.

No doubt the use of 'generally recognised list providers' means that the block on actual pornography will include a block on news and information websites that happen to include a few porny words in their text.

Any UK business wishing to join the Friendly WiFi scheme must meet the level of filtering standards described above. Once approved they will be authorised to display the scheme Friendly WiFi logo at their venues. At RDI, we will be working on a number of initiatives to support our Friendly WiFi customers and the Industry. As part of our service to Licensees of our scheme, we will manage consumer enquiries and deal with issues in relation to content viewed over public WiFi services. These may include reports of over blocking and under blocking. We are delighted that the BBFC have agreed to work with us by offering their support to handle enquiries of this nature. Their independent and technical expertise is essential and we look forward to a strong relationship and us working together to evolve the scheme.

 

 Update: Unfriendly WiFi...

Highly censored public WiFi sources are now kindly identifying themselves as such, so you can look elsewhere


Link Here 18th July 2014
friendly wifi logo The Registered Digital Institute (RDI), has launched what if misleadingly calls Friendly WiFi , which aims to indicate that WiFi source is highly censored and is suitable for kids. The highly censored internet feed inevitably going way beyond porn sites will be denoted with the logo shown right.

The official blurb reads:

Friendly Wifi - Public WiFi Licensing Scheme

Last summer the Prime Minister; David Cameron announced that a commitment had been made with the UK's main WiFi Providers that their standard public WiFi offering will automatically filter the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) list and block pornography, by the end of August 2013.

These filters mean that whoever accesses public WiFi is blocked from getting on certain websites, these websites will always remain blocked and filtering will also include a number of pornographic and child abuse sites.Filtering work is now compete and the idea of a Friendly WiFi logo and scheme were developed to promote the good work that has already been carried out to protect public WiFi users online.

Retailers, restaurants, hoteliers, transport companies and any other businesses offering public WiFi can now sign up to the new scheme and can display the Friendly WiFi logo to show their customers that the WiFi provided by them is filtered and safe for children and young people to use. 'Friendly WiFi Logo'

The Friendly WiFi logo is available to any UK business providing public WiFi, who are committed to supporting the need for safeguarding online content. The Friendly WiFi logo will be displayed by each business signed up to the Friendly WiFi scheme and will appear on their landing page as you sign into WiFi.

Wherever this logo is displayed on site or online, parents and young people can be assured that, the company displaying the logo has the correct filters in place and their business broadband service meets the commitment made by the WiFi providers.

 

 Offsite Article: Hey, O2 Wifi Your filters are leaky...


Link Here 17th July 2014  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
https everywhere logo Using HTTPS confounds website blocking by O2 on public wifi

See article from bawdybloke.com

 

 Update: Which ISP?...

Blocking report for MelonFarmers.co.uk


Link Here 6th July 2014  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
org blocked logo ORG have set up an internet service to check which ISPs block websites that the user is interested in. Here are the results for www.melonfarmers.co.uk .

The results presented below may be different to your experience depending on the level of filtering configured on your network.

ISP Result Last check on Last blocked on
AAISP ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
BT ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
EE blocked 2014-06-30 22:10:20 2014-06-30 22:10:20
O2 blocked 2014-07-02 17:34:56 2014-07-02 17:34:56
Sky blocked 2014-07-02 17:34:56 2014-07-02 17:34:56
TalkTalk ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
Three blocked 2014-05-27 22:21:23 2014-05-27 22:21:23
VirginMedia ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
Vodafone blocked 2014-07-02 17:34:56 2014-07-02 17:34:56

 

ORG explains the level of blocking that the website tests against:

We're testing using the default "adult content" filter levels for each network. Where an ISP provided their service with a level of filtering active by default we chose not to change these settings. For lines that came with no filtering active by default we activated the "medium" filtering level where a choice of filters was offered. If the choice was just filtering: yes or no, we chose yes. Some networks do not offer controls to activate filtering or change filter settings on their services. This means the active level of filtering varies across our test lines

Try the service at blocked.org.uk

 

 Update: Blocked...

ORG's Blocked project finds almost 1 in 5 sites are blocked by UK ISPs' filters


Link Here 2nd July 2014  full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet

org blocked logo Today, Open Rights Group relaunched www.blocked.org.uk

A Porsche broker, a political blogger and a mum hoping to read an article about post pregnancy care are among those that have been affected by Internet filters, designed to protect young people from adult content.

In 2012 we published the Mobile Filtering Report , investigating the way default blocking on mobile phones was denying people access to important information. We reported on what has seemed like rather arbitrary censorship, such as the New Wine church block. ORG analysed and drew examples from our site at blocked.org.uk which originally allowed people to submit when they found that a site had been blocked.

Now the full extent of Internet blocking can be revealed by our relaunched Blocked project .

Any web users can use the free checking tool on www.blocked.org.uk where they can instantly check to see if a website has been blocked by filters. Our tool checks the submitted url for blocks across the main Internet networks on both broadband and phone. We have test lines from 3, Andrews & Arnold, BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Plusnet, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

Through the Blocked project we wanted to find out about the impact of web filters. So far Open Rights Group has tested over 100,000 sites and found that over 19,000 - almost one in five - are blocked by one ISP or another. The problem of overblocking is not going away. Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people, from businesses to bloggers, are being affected because people can't access their websites.

We've found that there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked. Mother-of-one Marielle, said she was 'humiliated' when she visited the Three store to find out how she could order to access an article about post-partum care on her phone: "The manager told me that I couldn't access filtered articles without entering a 4 digit pin every time I wanted to read a filtered article because I had a PAYG plan." Marielle submitted a report to Three saying that the article had been incorrectly blocked but didn't get a response.

There are more personal stories on the Blocked site and we'd like to hear from you if you've been affected by filters.

We'd like to thank our supporters who committed to make this project happen. ORG's team of technical volunteers worked with us to build the systems and software for this project and we're very grateful for their time. We couldn't have done this without the support of our community, so thank you.

How you can help Blocked?

Test your url: https://www.blocked.org.uk

Spread the word: @We want as many people as possible to talk about how filtering effects them. It's only through being vocal that we'll be able to change the Government's attitude to Internet censorship.

Join ORG: By joining ORG you can help us continue to provide Blocked for free and support our on-going development of the tool.

 

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