ATVOD, the UK Video on Demand censor, has published the result of an appeal to Ofcom which resulted in the confirmation that the Daisy
Rock UK website is subject to suffocating censorship by ATVOD.
An appeal by the service operator against an ATVOD determination in November 2014 that the website was an on-demand programme service and therefore subject to regulation by ATVOD was rejected by Ofcom.
The ruling means that the Daisy Rock UK website -- which provided access to a range of explicit sex videos - must comply with an ATVOD Rule which requires services to keep explicit sex videos behind onerous and unviable access controls which
ensure that children do not normally see them. The website operator had been found in breach of that rule in November 2014 and had brought the service into compliance pending the outcome of the appeal.
In order to fall within the scope of the regulations overseen by ATVOD, a service must satisfy a number of statutory criteria, as set out in section 368A of the Communications Act 2003. One of these is that the principal purpose of the service is the
provision of programmes the form and content of which are comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had argued that the principal purpose of the
website was to operate as a fan club for an adult porn performer and that the video content was not comparable to TV programmes. The Ofcom decision supported ATVOD's original ruling that the principal purpose of the website was to provide TV-like
programmes, noting that the provision of audiovisual material was the main offering of the service and that the videos themselves were comparable to the type of adult sex material included in certain premium subscription and pay per view television
channels -- even though the content was stronger than that allowed on UK TV.
The UK rules overseen by ATVOD implement an EU Directive which makes clear that the rules are intended to apply to services which are mass media and which compete with television broadcasts services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had
also argued that the low turnover of the service meant it was neither mass-media nor in competition with television services and therefore placed it outside the scope of the Directive. In upholding the original ATVOD decision, Ofcom also rejected this
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson commented:
The decision to uphold the ATVOD ruling makes clear once again that hardcore porn videos on adult websites may be subject to the ATVOD rules even if they are too explicit to be broadcast on UK television channels. It also makes clear that services with
low turnover fall may within our remit.
Video on Demand censor ATVOD has taken action against 8 adult companies operating 21 websites. 6 of the services
didn't abide by ATVOD's unviable and onerous age verification requirements and 2 contained spanking material, which ATVOD claims is banned under an undemocratically introduced government decree.
In fact spanking material is banned because the Crown Prosecution Service unilaterally claims that it can be successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. This claim is surely not backed up by recent jury trials, but is maintained by
offering attractive plea bargains to victims being prosecuted to accept a guilty rap rather than go to jury trial. The Crown Prosecution Service writes the porn censorship rules used by the BBFC, and ATVOD in turn, uses the same CPS defined rules as
maintained by the BBFC.
Ultimately ATVOD and the government are making the bollox claim that spanking videos are somehow likely to 'deprave and corrupt' viewers. A claim that's provably nonsense as for all the many people that enjoy the likes of Dreams of Spanking, there simply
aren't any examples of people who have been depraved and corrupted its viewing, not even ATVOD staff.
The two services which featured 'banned' material -- The Bondage Mistress Club and Dreams of Spanking are the subject of ongoing enforcement action. If they fail to become fully compliant in accordance with a strict timetable set by ATVOD,
the service providers will be referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction, a procedure which can lead to operators being fined or having their right to provide a service suspended.
The six other services -- Joybear Pictures, Sunday Sport XXXtra, UK XXX Pass, Lisa Cross, Luke's Lair and Lucy Zara -- had all failed to have in place robust mechanisms for preventing under 18s from accessing pornographic material which
would be restricted to adult licensed sex shop customers if distributed on a DVD. Two of the services -- UK XXX Pass and Luke's Lair - had allowed any visitor to view such material free of charge. The remaining four restricted access to hardcore porn to
paying customers only, but accepted the most common forms of payment which theoretically could be used by under 18s.
Following ATVOD's intervention, all six services acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed until such action could be completed. Of these, Joybear Pictures and UK XXX Pass acted in advance of the final breach ruling, while the
remaining four acted in accordance with deadlines set in Enforcement Notifications issued at the time the breach was confirmed.
ATVPD notes that two of the providers recently brought into compliance have since submitted claims -- currently under investigation - that the services have now been transferred to the control of persons based outside the UK. ATVOD has no powers in
relation to services operated from abroad and on-demand services provided from outside the UK -- but accessible within the UK - are rarely required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by ATVOD.
Comment: Amongst the authoritarian, sanctimonious twats of this world
23rd August 2015. Thank to Alan
I write from a civilised country, in which material illegal under the Dangerous Pictures Act can be shown on terrestrial telly, with the kiddiwinks
protected only by the late hour of broadcast. Maybe I should extend my holiday.
My first reaction to reading the ATVOD determination was laughter. How could anybody write this sanctimonious, po-faced drivel without rolling on the floor pissing his boxers (or her knickers) with uncontrollable, hysterical mirth? Among the
authoritarian, sanctimonious twats of this world, Johnson has shown himself to be the Michelangelo of authoritarianism, the Leonardo of sanctimony and the Raphael of twattishnesss.
One small mercy, I suppose, is that Pandora's real name is redacted. She was seriously concerned that it might be released. (I know of only two models/actresses in the spanking field who have let their demonstrable real name be known, and a couple of
others who have used the same name -- real or assumed -- for spanking and other modelling work.) The more serious aspect, of course, is that PB has had to put Dreams of Spanking on hold until she can win an appeal against this idiocy. My acquaintance
with the woman is extremely limited -- confined to the exchange of a couple of emails -- but she comes across as a thoroughly likable person.
Update: Ariel's Sponsored Caning
24th August 2015. Thank to Alan
It is interesting to note that one of the films singled out for a kicking was Ariel's Sponsored Caning - produced specifically to raise money for the fight against ATVOD, and made available free under Creative Commons.
Striking unions could face censorship on their use of social media, the TUC's general secretary has told the BBC. A consultation document linked to the
proposed Trade Union Bill suggests unions involved in industrial action should give two weeks notice if they plan to campaign via social media.
The consultation document suggests unions taking industrial action must give notice of whether it will be using social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter, blogs, setting up websites and what those blogs and websites will set out .
Ministers said social media censorship would not apply to posts by individuals.
Internet censors at the UK's Information Commissioner's Office have ordered Google to
censor links to recent news articles that highlight censorship under Europe's 'right to be forgotten'.
The censors have ordered the removal of nine links to current news stories about right to be forgotten censorship that effectively re-connect to information ordered 'forgotten'.
The search engine had previously removed links relating to a 10 year-old criminal offence by an individual after requests made under the right to be forgotten ruling. Removal of those links from Google's search results for the claimant's name spurred new
news posts detailing the removals, which were then indexed by Google's search engine.
Google refused to remove links to these later news posts, which included details of the original criminal offence, despite them forming part of search results for the claimant's name, arguing that they are an essential part of a recent news story and in
the public interest.
Google now has 35 days from the 18 August to censor the links from its search results for the claimant's name. Google has the right to appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber against the notice.
Deputy chief censor David Smith said:
The European court ruling last year was clear that links prompted by searching on an individual's name are subject to data protection rules. That means they shouldn't include personal information that is no longer relevant.
We understand that links being removed as a result of this court ruling is something that newspapers want to write about. And we understand that people need to be able to find these stories through search engines like Google. But that does not need them
to be revealed when searching on the original complainant's name.
The Government is working with the UK music industry, BBFC and digital service providers like Vevo and YouTube to take further action to protect children from
viewing inappropriate videos on the internet.
Many children have easy access to music videos online and some parents are rightly concerned that some of these contain imagery or lyrics not appropriate for a young audience.
In October 2014 a Government-backed pilot to introduce age ratings for online music videos was launched by the BBFC and BPI in conjunction with Vevo and YouTube, working with major UK music labels to introduce a new ratings system that would allow
digital service providers to clearly display an easily recognisable age rating on videos posted on the web.
UK labels supply videos ahead of release to the BBFC, and then pass on the rating and guidance given by the BBFC when releasing their videos to the two digital service providers involved -- Vevo and YouTube - who display it when the videos are broadcast
Building on the pilot, the Government has now as part of its manifesto commitment agreed with the UK music industry and with the digital service providers that the measures trialled will be now be made permanent for videos produced in the UK by artists
who are represented by major labels.
As well as working with Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, the Government is also encouraging independent UK music labels to follow suit so that the digital service providers can display appropriate age ratings on their videos too. We
can announce today that independent UK music labels will now take part in a six month pilot phase.
Joanna Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security, said:
Movies in the cinema and music DVDs are age rated to inform the viewer and help parents to make informed choices. We welcome this voluntary step from industry to bring internet services in line with the offline world.
Keeping children safe as they experience and enjoy all the benefits the Internet has to offer is a key priority for this Government's One Nation approach to help families across Britain. We will continue to work with industry to develop ways to help
parents to better protect children online from inappropriate music videos with explicit adult or violent content.
Clear age ratings are the first step but initial findings of independent research commissioned by the BBFC shows that up to 60 per cent of children aged 10 to 17 are watching music videos that they do not think their parents would approve of.
To help address this, Vevo are exploring plans to link these age ratings to additional technology on their platform that can support age controls.
On YouTube, when record labels upload a UK-produced music video rated 18 by the BBFC, they are able to age-gate access to users signed in as over 18. The new age ratings also complement YouTube's existing restricted mode which helps parents screen out
content they may not feel is right for their children. To date 132 music videos have been submitted by UK labels to the BBFC for certification and, of these, only one has been given an 18-rating -- Dizzee Rascal's 'Couple of Stacks'.
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said:
Britain is a world leader in making exciting and original music, in part because our artists have a freedom to express themselves that we rightly cherish. While we must continue to uphold this principle, it is equally important that music videos are
broadcast in a responsible way and that parents are given the tools to make more informed viewing decisions on behalf of their families.
UK record labels value the opportunity to work with Government to build on the pilot and, as a key next step, we encourage Vevo, YouTube and other digital service providers to look at how they can make filters available to parents so they can use age
ratings to screen out any inappropriate content.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said:
We welcome this agreement. Parents want to see clear and recognisable age ratings on online music videos and we look forward to building on the success of the pilot, in partnership with the industry, so that the public can have the trusted signposting
which they seek.
Nic Jones, EVP International at Vevo, said:
Vevo have been participating in the BBFC's age ratings pilot since its inception and welcome news that that scheme is to be permanently backed by UK major labels. We are very pleased that the UK independent labels -- such an important part of the UK
music landscape will now be part of this scheme. At Vevo we support artists and their creativity, however, we understand the importance and value that age ratings provide parents and music fans to help inform their viewing, enabling them to make choices
about what content they wish to watch.
Vevo will be working with the BBFC as the scheme rolls out to make sure that age ratings are displayed in the most effective way on our platform, to provide the necessary guidance for audiences in a clear way. We are also committed to making the age
ratings work as effectively as possible and will continue to explore how additional technology on the platform can support age controls to ensure that explicit content is watched only by age appropriate audiences.
Candice Morrissey, Content Partnerships Manager at YouTube EMEA, said:
We have been working with the participants in this pilot to help them display the BBFC's age ratings on their music videos on YouTube. These ratings are in addition to the controls we already provide on YouTube including the ability for uploaders to add
age warnings to videos and a restricted mode.
Government and industry are also working together to look at how lessons learned in the UK could help international partners who share our concerns to adopt a similar approach.
Offsite Article: The Telegraph recommends the top 7 outrage generating music videos
The Telegraph has run a piece that the Daily Mail would be proud of. An article seemingly bemoaning that some of the most outrageous music videos that will escape the BBFC music censors due to them not being British. And of course the Telegraph glories
in its lurid descriptions of the video with lots of illustrations of the best bits.
And for the record, the recommended music videos are:
I built this site so I would have something that was completely my own. This is the project that was meant save me from having to compromise myself, my alternative to spending the best years of my life working for other people. Dreams of Spanking
represents my creative independence, my sexual self-acceptance, and my financial stability. It's mine, I made it, it works, it was the biggest thing I'd ever done - and just as it started to pay me a wage, it's being taken away from me.
The Guardian has published an article presumably based on a government press release:
David Cameron is to give pornography websites one last chance to produce an effective voluntary scheme for age-restricted controls on their sites or he will introduce legislation that could see them shut down.
In a consultation to be launched in the autumn, the government will seek views on how best to introduce measures to further restrict under-18s' access to pornographic websites.
The industry, in the shape of either UK-based websites or internet service providers, will be given an opportunity to develop proposals to block content through payment providers, such as advertisers and other means.
The consultation will also consider the best form of legislation should voluntary agreements not work. A regulatory approach could see primary legislation introduced to make it an offence in the UK to publish pornography online without age
verification controls, possibly with a regulator to oversee and enforce controls.
The government recognises the spread of the internet makes it a challenge to find a form of legislation that would cover such sites both in the UK and internationally. The government has raised the prospect of setting up a pornography regulator
to oversee the process and fine firms that breach either legislation or the voluntary guidelines.
The aim is to ensure that the rules that apply offline apply online, giving parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children can use the internet safely.
Cameron said his government was working:
To make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content, which is currently far too widely available. I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will
face being shut down.
The minister for internet safety and security, Joanna Shields, said:
As a result of our work with industry, more than 90% of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family-friendly filters -- something we take great pride in having achieved. It's a gold standard that
surpasses those of other countries.
Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in
the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls.
UK VoD industry forced to cough up half a million quid so that 3 staff and 3 fat cats can investigate 55 complaints, of which 10 were upheld and 10 are ongoing. That's 22,000 quid spent for each happy complainant
No wonder ATVOD keep banging on about on about their campaign against hardcore porn websites. There's not much else to do.
ATVOD writes in its press release:
The Authority for Television On Demand , co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services, has today published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2015 to protect children from hardcore porn on
regulated video on demand ( VOD ) services.
Twelve services, operating across 137 websites, were found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2014-15 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be accessed by under 18's.
Of the twelve services, eight acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed, and two were the subject of ongoing enforcement activity at year end. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a person or company
established outside the UK. ATVOD has no powers in relation to services operated from abroad and on-demand services provided from outside the UK are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by
ATVOD in the UK to protect children from hardcore pornography.
Given the ability of adult website operators to place their services beyond the reach of current UK regulations, ATVOD counsels against complacency and has continued to encourage policy makers to consider how children might be better protected
from pornography online.
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:
We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.
Our enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18's. Asking visitors to a website to click an I am 18 button
or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient, if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the offline world.
ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK. We strongly support initiatives
designed to improve the take up of parental control software and worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation introduced in December 2014 which prohibits on UK based, tv-like VOD services any material
which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.
Looking forward, we note with interest the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to require age verification for access to all websites containing pornographic material.
Chairman Ruth Evans notes that she is standing down from the role in 2016.
Ruth Evans is now set lead the British government's Payments Strategy Forum, which is currently being assembled to bring together the U.K. payments industry and representatives of all those that use payment systems. She will begin her new role on
July 27 while still helming the title of chair for ATVOD.
As chair of the Payments Strategy Forum, Evans will be responsible for guiding and progressing discussions among stakeholders, including card payment systems operated by Visa and MasterCard, as well as direct debit processors. Evans' slot will be
independent of the industry but appointed by and accountable to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), the new economic regulator for U.K. payment systems that became fully operational in April.
Sky Broadband has issued a strange press release boasting of the uptake in its internet website blocking service whilst not revealing the
relevant stats that underlie the claim. The press release leads with the paragraph:
Millions more families across the UK are enjoying the internet in safety following the successful roll out of Sky Broadband Shield. Sky's award-winning free internet filtering and safety tool is now active in over 70% of the homes in the roll-out
to customers who had not previously made a choice, with the majority of families keeping the parental controls in addition to the malware and phishing protection Sky Broadband Shield provides.
One would suspect that 70% of subscribers are opting for some level of website blocking, but this does not necessarily mean that all of these are blocking adult content. Sky Broadband Shield includes the option to just block malware and phishing
sites, which is probably a popular option.
On the subject of blocking the likes of porn, then Sky just says that the majority of families select this option. The Daily Mail notes that the ISP TalkTalk said that about 36% of subscribers are families with children, so Sky's comment about the
'majority of families' probably means something over 18% of total subscribers selecting the adult content blocking levels.
Sky also make the point that far more people have turned on some level of blocking because they were forced to make a decision, than before when they were merely told that options were available. Sky writes:
Following the introduction of Sky Broadband Shield in 2013, Sky initially asked its existing customers to choose whether or not to turn Sky Broadband Shield on, and new customers were required to choose whether or not to turn it on at activation.
Beginning in January 2015, Sky then rolled Broadband Shield out to all customers who hadn't already made a choice about whether to activate it or not.
Sky took the decision to roll out Sky Broadband Shield to customers after the Government challenged ISPs to look at how they protected children and families online. By making the default position of Sky Broadband Shield on and making it
easy to adjust or decline at any time, Sky gave customers a choice about whether they wanted the protection whilst making their online safety a priority.
Sky's decision to give customers a choice about Broadband Shield whilst making the default position on meant that many more customers took an active interest in what the product offers. When customers were previously emailed and asked to
choose, less than 5% engaged. This evidence supports Sky's unique approach as the safest and easiest way to protect families online.
New rules for Internet providers across the European Union could eliminate adult website blocking in the U.K.
The telecoms single market rules, approved June 30, will go before the full European Parliament for a vote this fall. If the legislation gets a green light, it will trump existing national laws. Censorship provision were more laterly debated in
Council on July 8.
Despite the best efforts of UK Conservatives in the Parliament, the EU-wide regulation will put an end to Internet service provider-level filters for adult content, which will mean new U.K. laws by the end of next year.
Currently in the U.K., the major ISPs give users the option to block pornography or gratuitous violence. Consumers are prompted to choose whether to turn on the blocking filter when they first use their Internet connection.
While an exception for parental blocking tools was debated, it was not included in the final text.
As reported yesterday, Malta's Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici has announced new amendments to censorship laws, which he said make good
on the Labour Party's promises in opposition to prevent the further criminalisation of artists and citizens based on archaic laws pertaining to obscenity.
Obscenity laws introduced in 1975 under a Labour government, which generically outlawed articles that unduly emphasised sex, crime, horror, cruelty and violence , will be repealed.
Pornography will now be defined as something which is made with the express aim to sexually arouse, and will be allowed to be distributed to adults, provided appropriate warnings will be given.
However examples of extreme pornography will be banned outright. These are defined as an act which threatens a person's life, an act which results in a person's severe injury, rape or a non-consensual sexual activity, sexual activity
involving a human corpse, and any act involving a person an animal.
Speaking to MaltaToday, Andrew Sciberras, part of the legal team charged with assembling the new law, ensured that strong defenses are in place for however falls foul of these new amendments, and that each case will be allowed to be
considered on a case-by-case basis.
Sciberras explained that the amendments are based on the British equivalent of the same laws, which he admitted were not without their controversy . He was referring specifically to the extreme porn laws , which led to protests
following their introduction in the UK in 2008.
This law has proven to be problematic when it comes to, for example, pornography of the bondage-and-masochism (BDSM) genre, which while often suggestive of violent activity by definition, could also be presented in a fictionalized setting, and
performed in a safe environment.
Sciberras added that in all cases, the context of the work in question -- be it visual or a work of literature -- will be considered in context to determine whether its worth is solely pornographic or not
The European Union has said an exception to net neutrality rules, covering spam filtering and blocking porn, was part of its new compromise deal.
The deal included four instances when net neutrality rules need not be applied.
One of the four exceptions was filtering spam as well as allowing parents to set up parental filters that block pornography or gratuitous violence from children.
However, the commission now admits that this exemption was announced before it was actually agreed.
The three other exceptions were the blocking of illegal content; preventing the misuse of networks, for instance viruses, malware or denial of service attacks; and finally to minimise network congestion that is temporary or exceptional .