UK Internet Censorship


2019: April-June

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Offsite Article: Age verification won't block porn...


Link Here 18th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
But it will spell the end of ethical porn. By Girl on the Net

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Get a VPN or fill your boots now! There's 3 months left for unhindered porn downloading...

The government announces that its internet porn censorship scheme will come into force on 15th July 2019


Link Here 17th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.

It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over.

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

Minister for Digital Margot James said that she wanted the UK to be the most censored place in the world to b eonline:

Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we've taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.

Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from government.

Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC's new green 'AV' symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC's age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said:

The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC's new green 'AV' symbol.

The change in law is part of the Government's commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week's publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.

 

 

Proven privacy concerns...

When spouting on about keeping porn users data safe the DCMS proves that it simply can't be trusted by revealing journalists' private emails


Link Here 17th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
 
  
 Believe us, we can cure all society's ills
 

A government department responsible for data protection laws has shared the private contact details of hundreds of journalists.

The Department for Censorship, Media and Sport emailed more than 300 recipients in a way that allowed their addresses to be seen by other people.

The email - seen by the BBC - contained a press release about age verifications for adult websites .

Digital Minister Margot James said the incident was embarrassing. She added:

It was an error and we're evaluating at the moment whether that was a breach of data protection law.

In the email sent on Wednesday, the department claimed new rules would offer robust data protection conditions, adding: Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns.

 

 

Offsite Article: Banish the kids...


Link Here 17th April 2019
Instead of regulating the internet to protect young people, give them a youth-net of their own. By Conor Friedersdorf

See article from theatlantic.com

 

 

More like China, Russia or North Korea...

Tory MPs line up to criticise their own government's totalitarian-style internet censorship proposals


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

Ministers are facing a growing and deserved backlash against draconian new web laws which will lead to totalitarian-style censorship.

The stated aim of the Online Harms White Paper is to target offensive material such as terrorists' beheading videos. But under the document's provisions, the UK internet censor would have complete discretion to decide what is harmful, hateful or bullying -- potentially including coverage of contentious issues such as transgender rights.

After MPs lined up to demand a rethink, Downing Street has put pressure on Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright to narrow the definition of harm in order to exclude typical editorial content.

MPs have been led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said last night that while it was obviously a worthwhile aim to rid the web of the evils of terrorist propaganda and child pornography, it should not be at the expense of crippling a free Press and gagging healthy public expression. He added that the regulator could be used as a tool of repression by a future Jeremy Corbyn-led government, saying:

Sadly, the Online Harms White Paper appears to give the Home Secretary of the day the power to decide the rules as to which content is considered palatable. Who is to say that less scrupulous governments in the future would not abuse this new power?

I fear this could have the unintended consequence of reputable newspaper websites being subjected to quasi-state control. British newspapers freedom to hold authority to account is an essential bulwark of our democracy.

We must not now allow what amounts to a Leveson-style state-controlled regulator for the Press by the back door.

He was backed by Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the Tory Party's powerful backbench 1922 Committee, who said:

We need to protect people from the well-documented evils of the internet -- not in order to suppress views or opinions to which they might object.

In last week's Mail on Sunday, former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale warned that the legislation was more usually associated with autocratic regimes including those in China, Russia or North Korea.

Tory MP Philip Davies joined the criticism last night, saying:

Of course people need to be protected from the worst excesses of what takes place online. But equally, free speech in a free country is very, very important too. It's vital we strike the right balance. While I have every confidence that Sajid Javid as Home Secretary would strike that balance, can I have the same confidence that a future Marxist government would not abuse the proposed new powers?

And Tory MP Martin Vickers added:

While we must take action to curb the unregulated wild west of the internet, we must not introduce state control of the Press as a result.

 

 

Offsite Article: The UK Government Risks Facilitating a Porn Monopoly...


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
Spare a thought for how age verification censorship affects British small adult businesses and sex workers. By Freya Pratty

See article from novaramedia.com

 

 

Well if they legislate without giving a shit about the safety and privacy of porn users...

WebUser magazine kindly informs readers how to avoid being endangered by age verification


Link Here 13th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The legislators behind the Digital Economy Act couldn't be bothered to include any provisions for websites and age verifiers to keep the identity and browsing history of porn users safe. It has now started to dawn on the authorities that this was a mistake. They are currently implementing a voluntary kitemark scheme to try and assure users that porn website's and age verifier's claims of keeping data safe can be borne out.

It is hardly surprising that significant numbers of people are likely to be interested in avoiding having to register their identity details before being able to access porn.

It seems obvious that information about VPNs and Tor will therefore be readily circulated amongst any online community with an interest in keeping safe. But perhaps it is a little bit of a shock to see it is such large letters in a mainstream magazine on the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents.

And perhaps anther thought is that once the BBFC starting ISPs to block non-compliant websites then circumvention will be the only way see your blocked favourite websites. So people stupidly signing up to age verification will have less access to porn and a worse service than those that circumvent it.

 

 

Updated Comments: The UK Government harms the British people...

The press and campaigners call out the Online Harms white paper for what it is...censorship


Link Here 12th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Newspapers and the press have generally given the new internet censorship proposals a jistifiable negative reception:

The Guardian

See Internet crackdown raises fears for free speech in Britain from theguardian.com

Critics of the government's flagship internet regulation policy are warning it could lead to a North Korean-style censorship regime, where regulators decide which websites Britons are allowed to visit, because of how broad the proposals are.

The Daily Mail

See New internet regulation laws will lead to widespread censorship from dailymail.co.uk

Critics brand new internet regulation laws the most draconian crackdown in the Western democratic world as they warn it could threaten the freedom of speech of millions of Britons

The Independent

See UK's new internet plans could bring state censorship of the internet, campaigners warn from independent. co.uk

The government's new proposals to try and protect people from harm on the internet could actually create a huge censorship operation, campaigners have warned.

Index on Censorship

See Online harms proposals pose serious risks to freedom of expressionfrom indexoncensorship.org

Index on Censorship has raised strong concerns about the government's focus on tackling unlawful and harmful online content, particularly since the publication of the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in 2017. In October 2018, Index published a joint statement with Global Partners Digital and Open Rights Group noting that any proposals that regulate content are likely to have a significant impact on the enjoyment and exercise of human rights online, particularly freedom of expression.

We have also met with officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as from the Home Office, to raise our thoughts and concerns.

With the publication of the Online Harms White Paper , we would like to reiterate our earlier points.

While we recognise the government's desire to tackle unlawful content online, the proposals mooted in the white paper -- including a new duty of care on social media platforms , a regulatory body , and even the fining and banning of social media platforms as a sanction -- pose serious risks to freedom of expression online.

These risks could put the United Kingdom in breach of its obligations to respect and promote the right to freedom of expression and information as set out in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, amongst other international treaties.

Social media platforms are a key means for tens of millions of individuals in the United Kingdom to search for, receive, share and impart information, ideas and opinions. The scope of the right to freedom of expression includes speech which may be offensive, shocking or disturbing . The proposed responses for tackling online safety may lead to disproportionate amounts of legal speech being curtailed, undermining the right to freedom of expression.

In particular, we raise the following concerns related to the white paper:

  • Lack of evidence base

The wide range of different harms which the government is seeking to tackle in this policy process require different, tailored responses. Measures proposed must be underpinned by strong evidence, both of the likely scale of the harm and the measures' likely effectiveness. The evidence which formed the base of the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper was highly variable in its quality. Any legislative or regulatory measures should be supported by clear and unambiguous evidence of their need and effectiveness.

  • Duty of care concerns/ problems with 'harm' definition

Index is concerned at the use of a duty of care regulatory approach. Although social media has often been compared the public square, the duty of care model is not an exact fit because this would introduce regulation -- and restriction -- of speech between individuals based on criteria that is far broader than current law. A failure to accurately define "harmful" content risks incorporating legal speech, including political expression, expressions of religious views, expressions of sexuality and gender, and expression advocating on behalf of minority groups.

  • Risks in linking liability/sanctions to platforms over third party content

While well-meaning, proposals such as these contain serious risks, such as requiring or incentivising wide-sweeping removal of lawful and innocuous content. The imposition of time limits for removal, heavy sanctions for non-compliance or incentives to use automated content moderation processes only heighten this risk, as has been evidenced by the approach taken in Germany via its Network Enforcement Act (or NetzDG), where there is evidence of the over-removal of lawful content.

  • Lack of sufficient protections for freedom of expression.

The obligation to protect users' rights online that is included in the white paper gives insufficient weight to freedom of expression. A much clearer obligation to protect freedom of expression should guide development of future regulation.

In recognition of the UK's commitment to the multistakeholder model of internet governance, we hope all relevant stakeholders, including civil society experts on digital rights and freedom of expression, will be fully engaged throughout the development of the Online Harms bill.

Privacy International

See  PI's take on the UK government's new proposal to tackle "online harms" from privacyinternational.org

PI welcomes the UK government's commitment to investigating and holding companies to account. When it comes to regulating the internet, however, we must move with care. Failure to do so will introduce, rather than reduce, "online harms". A 12-week consultation on the proposals has also been launched today. PI plans to file a submission to the consultation as it relates to our work. Given the breadth of the proposals, PI calls on others respond to the consultation as well.

Here are our initial suggestions:

  • proceed with care: proposals of regulation of content on digital media platforms should be very carefully evaluated, given the high risks of negative impacts on expression, privacy and other human rights. This is a very complex challenge and we support the need for broad consultation before any legislation is put forward in this area.

  • do not lose sight of how data exploitation facilitates the harms identified in the report and ensure any new regulator works closely with others working to tackle these issues.

  • assess carefully the delegation of sole responsibility to companies as adjudicators of content. This would empower corporate judgment over content, with would have implications for human rights, particularly freedom of expression and privacy.

  • require that judicial or other independent authorities, rather than government agencies, are the final arbiters of decisions regarding what is posted online and enforce such decisions in a manner that is consistent with human rights norms.

  • assess the privacy implications of any demand for "proactive" monitoring of content in digital media platforms.

  • ensure that any requirement or expectation of deploying automated decision making/AI is in full compliance with existing human rights and data protection standards (which, for example, prohibit, with limited exceptions, relying on solely automated decisions, including profiling, when they significantly affect individuals).

  • ensure that company transparency reports include information related to how the content was targeted at users.

  • require companies to provide efficient reporting tools in multiple languages, to report on action taken with regard to content posted online. Reporting tools should be accessible, user-friendly, and easy to find. There should be full transparency regarding the complaint and redress mechanisms available and opportunities for civil society to take action.

Offsite Comment: Ridiculous Plan

10th April 2019. See article from techdirt.com

UK Now Proposes Ridiculous Plan To Fine Internet Companies For Vaguely Defined Harmful Content

Last week Australia rushed through a ridiculous bill to fine internet companies if they happen to host any abhorrent content. It appears the UK took one look at that nonsense and decided it wanted some too. On Monday it released a white paper calling for massive fines for internet companies for allowing any sort of online harms. To call the plan nonsense is being way too harsh to nonsense

The plan would result in massive, widespread, totally unnecessary censorship solely for the sake of pretending to do something about the fact that some people sometimes do not so nice things online. And it will place all of the blame on the internet companies for the (vaguely defined) not so nice things that those companies' users might do online.

Read the full article from techdirt.com

Offsite Comment: Sajid Javid's new internet rules will have a chilling effect on free speech

11th April 2019. See article from spectator.co.uk by Toby Young

How can the government prohibit comments that might cause harm without defining what harm is?

Offsite Comment: Plain speaking from Chief Censor Sajid Javid

11th April 2019. See tweet from twitter.com

Letter to the Guardian: Online Harms white paper would make Chinese censors proud

11th April 2019. See article from theguardian.com

We agree with your characterisation of the online harms white paper as a flawed attempt to deal with serious problems (Regulating the internet demands clear thought about hard problems, Editorial, 9 April). However, we would draw your attention to several fundamental problems with the proposal which could be disastrous if it proceeds in its current form.

Firstly, the white paper proposes to regulate literally the entire internet, and censor anything non-compliant. This extends to blogs, file services, hosting platforms, cloud computing; nothing is out of scope.

Secondly, there are a number of undefined harms with no sense of scope or evidence thresholds to establish a need for action. The lawful speech of millions of people would be monitored, regulated and censored.

The result is an approach that would make China's state censors proud. It would be very likely to face legal challenge. It would give the UK the widest and most prolific internet censorship in an apparently functional democracy. A fundamental rethink is needed.

Antonia Byatt Director, English PEN,
Silkie Carlo Big Brother Watch
Thomas Hughes Executive director, Article 19
Jim Killock Executive director, Open Rights Group
Joy Hyvarinen Head of advocacy, Index on Censorship

Comment: The DCMS Online Harms Strategy must design in fundamental rights

12th April 2019. See article from openrightsgroup.org

Increasingly over the past year, DCMS has become fixated on the idea of imposing a duty of care on social media platforms, seeing this as a flexible and de-politicised way to emphasise the dangers of exposing children and young people to certain online content and make Facebook in particular liable for the uglier and darker side of its user-generated material.

DCMS talks a lot about the 'harm' that social media causes. But its proposals fail to explain how harm to free expression impacts would be avoided.

On the positive side, the paper lists free expression online as a core value to be protected and addressed by the regulator. However, despite the apparent prominence of this value, the mechanisms to deliver this protection and the issues at play are not explored in any detail at all.

In many cases, online platforms already act as though they have a duty of care towards their users. Though the efficacy of such measures in practice is open to debate, terms and conditions, active moderation of posts and algorithmic choices about what content is pushed or downgraded are all geared towards ousting illegal activity and creating open and welcoming shared spaces. DCMS hasn't in the White Paper elaborated on what its proposed duty would entail. If it's drawn narrowly so that it only bites when there is clear evidence of real, tangible harm and a reason to intervene, nothing much will change. However, if it's drawn widely, sweeping up too much content, it will start to act as a justification for widespread internet censorship.

If platforms are required to prevent potentially harmful content from being posted, this incentivises widespread prior restraint. Platforms can't always know in advance the real-world harm that online content might cause, nor can they accurately predict what people will say or do when on their platform. The only way to avoid liability is to impose wide-sweeping upload filters. Scaled implementation of this relies on automated decision-making and algorithms, which risks even greater speech restrictions given that machines are incapable of making nuanced distinctions or recognising parody or sarcasm.

DCMS's policy is underpinned by societally-positive intentions, but in its drive to make the internet "safe", the government seems not to recognise that ultimately its proposals don't regulate social media companies, they regulate social media users. The duty of care is ostensibly aimed at shielding children from danger and harm but it will in practice bite on adults too, wrapping society in cotton wool and curtailing a whole host of legal expression.

Although the scheme will have a statutory footing, its detail will depend on codes of practice drafted by the regulator. This makes it difficult to assess how the duty of care framework will ultimately play out.

The duty of care seems to be broadly about whether systemic interventions reduce overall "risk". But must the risk be always to an identifiable individual, or can it be broader - to identifiable vulnerable groups? To society as a whole? What evidence of harm will be required before platforms should intervene? These are all questions that presently remain unanswered.

DCMS's approach appears to be that it will be up to the regulator to answer these questions. But whilst a sensible regulator could take a minimalist view of the extent to which commercial decisions made by platforms should be interfered with, allowing government to distance itself from taking full responsibility over the fine detailing of this proposed scheme is a dangerous principle. It takes conversations about how to police the internet out of public view and democratic forums. It enables the government to opt not to create a transparent, judicially reviewable legislative framework. And it permits DCMS to light the touch-paper on a deeply problematic policy idea without having to wrestle with the practical reality of how that scheme will affect UK citizens' free speech, both in the immediate future and for years to come.

How the government decides to legislate and regulate in this instance will set a global norm.

The UK government is clearly keen to lead international efforts to regulate online content. It knows that if the outcome of the duty of care is to change the way social media platforms work that will apply worldwide. But to be a global leader, DCMS needs to stop basing policy on isolated issues and anecdotes and engage with a broader conversation around how we as society want the internet to look. Otherwise, governments both repressive and democratic are likely to use the policy and regulatory model that emerge from this process as a blueprint for more widespread internet censorship.

The House of Lords report on the future of the internet, published in early March 2019, set out ten principles it considered should underpin digital policy-making, including the importance of protecting free expression. The consultation that this White Paper introduces offers a positive opportunity to collectively reflect, across industry, civil society, academia and government, on how the negative aspects of social media can be addressed and risks mitigated. If the government were to use this process to emphasise its support for the fundamental right to freedom of expression - and in a way that goes beyond mere expression of principle - this would also reverberate around the world, particularly at a time when press and journalistic freedom is under attack.

The White Paper expresses a clear desire for tech companies to "design in safety". As the process of consultation now begins, we call on DCMS to "design in fundamental rights". Freedom of expression is itself a framework, and must not be lightly glossed over. We welcome the opportunity to engage with DCMS further on this topic: before policy ideas become entrenched, the government should consider deeply whether these will truly achieve outcomes that are good for everyone.

 

 

Vote Texit...Tory Exit...

Culture of Censorship Secretary Jeremy Wright tells British people not worry about the proposed end to their free speech because newspapers will still be allowed free speech


Link Here 11th April 2019
The Daily Mail writes:

Totalitarian-style new online code that could block websites and fine them 220million for harmful content will not limit press freedom, Culture Secretary promises

Government proposals have sparked fears that they could backfire and turn Britain into the first Western nation to adopt the kind of censorship usually associated with totalitarian regimes.

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale drew parallels with China, Russia and North Korea. Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think-tank, branded the white paper a historic attack on freedom of speech.

[However] draconian laws designed to tame the web giants will not limit press freedom, the Culture Secretary said yesterday.

In a letter to the Society of Editors, Jeremy Wright vowed that journalistic or editorial content would not be affected by the proposals.

And he reassured free speech advocates by saying there would be safeguards to protect the role of the Press.

But as for the safeguarding the free speech rights of ordinary British internet users, he more or less told them they could fuck off!

 

 

The Great British Firewall...

Zippyshare blocks itself from UK access


Link Here 11th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
Zippyshare is a long running data locker and file sharing platform that is well known particularly for the distribution of porn.

Last month UK users noted that they have been blocked from accessing the website and that it can now only be accessed via a VPN.

Zippyshare themselves has made no comment about the block, but TorrentFreak have investigated the censorship and have determined that the block is self imposed and is not down to action by UK courts or ISPs.

Alan wonders if this is a premature reaction to the Great British Firewall, noting it's quite a popular platform for free porn.

Of course it poses the interesting question that if websites generally decide to address the issue of UK porn censorship by self imposed blocks, then keen users will simply have to get themselves VPNs. Being willing to sign up for age verification simply won't work. Perhaps VPNs will be next to mandatory for British porn users, and age verification will become an unused technology.

 

 

Ensuring that the UK is the most censored place in the western world to be online...

Government introduces an enormous package of internet censorship proposals


Link Here 8th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
  The Government writes:

In the first online safety laws of their kind, social media companies and tech firms will be legally required to protect their users and face tough penalties if they do not comply.

As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure companies meet their responsibilities.

This will include a mandatory 'duty of care', which will require companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services. The regulator will have effective enforcement tools, and we are consulting on powers to issue substantial fines, block access to sites and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.

A range of harms will be tackled as part of the Online Harms White Paper , including inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.

There will be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.

The new proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.

A regulator will be appointed to enforce the new framework. The Government is now consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the Government is exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.

A 12 week consultation on the proposals has also been launched today. Once this concludes we will then set out the action we will take in developing our final proposals for legislation.

Tough new measures set out in the White Paper include:

  • A new statutory 'duty of care' to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.

  • Further stringent requirements on tech companies to ensure child abuse and terrorist content is not disseminated online.

  • Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.

  • Making companies respond to users' complaints, and act to address them quickly.

  • Codes of practice, issued by the regulator, which could include measures such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.

  • A new "Safety by Design" framework to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.

  • A media literacy strategy to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, including catfishing, grooming and extremism.

The UK remains committed to a free, open and secure Internet. The regulator will have a legal duty to pay due regard to innovation, and to protect users' rights online, being particularly mindful to not infringe privacy and freedom of expression.

Recognising that the Internet can be a tremendous force for good, and that technology will be an integral part of any solution, the new plans have been designed to promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies. The new regime will ensure that online firms are incentivised to develop and share new technological solutions, like Google's "Family Link" and Apple's Screen Time app, rather than just complying with minimum requirements. Government has balanced the clear need for tough regulation with its ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, and the new regulatory framework will provide strong protection for our citizens while driving innovation by not placing an impossible burden on smaller companies.

 

 

Offsite Article: Porn Wars...


Link Here 8th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
sex, Lies And The Battle To Control Britain's Internet. By David Flint

See article from reprobatepress.com

 

 

Community Spirit...

It's good to see the internet community pull together to work around censorship via age verification


Link Here 6th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
A TV channel, a porn producer, an age verifier and maybe even the government got together this week to put out a live test of age verification. The test was implemented on a specially created website featuring a single porn video.

The test required a well advertised website to provide enough traffic of viewers positively wanting to see the content. Channel 4 obliged with  its series Mums Make Porn. The series followed a group of mums making a porn video that they felt would be more sex positive and less harmful to kids than the more typical porn offerings currently on offer.

The mums did a good job and produced a decent video with a more loving and respectful interplay than is the norm. The video however is still proper hardcore porn and there is no way it could be broadcast on Channel 4. So the film was made available, free of charge, on its own dedicated website complete with an age verification requirement.

The website was announced as a live test for AgeChecked software to see how age verification would pan out in practice. It featured the following options for age verification

  1. entering full credit card details + email
  2. entering driving licence number + name and address + email
  3. mobile phone number + email (the phone must have been verified as 18+ by the service provider and must must be ready to receive an SMS message containing login details)

Nothing has been published in detail about the aims of the test but presumably they were interested in the basic questions such as:

  • What proportion of potential viewers will be put off by the age verification?
  • What proportion of viewers would be stupid enough to enter their personal data?
  • Which options of identification would be preferred by viewers?

 

The official test 'results'

Alastair Graham, CEO of AgeChecked provided a few early answers inevitably claiming that:

The results of this first mainstream test of our software were hugely encouraging.

He went on to claim that customers are willing to participate in the process, but noted that verified phone number method emerged as by far the most popular method of verification. He said that this finding would be a key part of this process moving forward.

Reading between the lines perhaps he was saying that there wasn't much appetite for handing over detailed personal identification data as required by the other two methods.

I suspect that we will never get to hear more from AgeChecked especially about any reluctance of people to identify themselves as porn viewers.

 

The unofficial test results

Maybe they were also interested in other questions too:

  • Will people try and work around the age verification requirements?
  • if people find weaknesses in the age verification defences, will they pass on their discoveries to others?

Interestingly the age verification requirement was easily sidestepped by those with a modicum of knowledge about downloading videos from websites such as YouTube and PornHub. The age verification mechanism effectively only hid the start button from view. The actual video remained available for download, whether people age verified or not. All it took was a little examination of the page code to locate the video. There are several tools that allow this: video downloader addons, file downloaders or just using the browser's built in debugger to look at the page code.

Presumably the code for the page was knocked up quickly so this flaw could have been a simple oversight that is not likely to occur in properly constructed commercial websites. Or perhaps the vulnerability was deliberately included as part of the test to see if people would pick up on it.

However it did identify that there is a community of people willing to stress test age verification restrictions and see if work rounds can be found and shared.

I noted on Twitter that several people had posted about the ease of downloading the video and had suggested a number of tools or methods that enabled this.

There was also an interesting article posted on achieving age verification using an expired credit card. Maybe that is not so catastrophic as it still identifies a cardholder as over 18, even if cannot be used to make a payment. But of course it may open new possibilities for misuse of old data. Note that random numbers are unlikely to work because of security algorithms. Presumably age verification companies could strengthen the security by testing that a small transaction works, but this intuitively this would have significant cost implications. I guess that to achieve any level of take up, age verification needs to be cheap for both websites and viewers.

 

Community Spirit

It was very heartening to see how many people were helpfully contributing their thoughts about testing the age verification software.

Over the course of a couple of hours reading, I learnt an awful lot about how websites hide and protect video content, and what tools are available to see through the protection. I suspect that many others will soon be doing the same... and I also suspect that young minds will be far more adept than I at picking up such knowledge.

 

A final thought

I feel a bit sorry for small websites who sell content. It adds a whole new level complexity as a currently open preview area now needs to be locked away behind an age verification screen. Many potential customers will be put off by having to jump through hoops just to see the preview material. To then ask them to enter all their credit card details again to subscribe, may be a hurdle too far.

 

 

Scary stuff: the government wanted a detailed log of your porn viewing history...

A report suggesting that government has (reluctantly) relaxed its requirements for internet porn age verifiers to keep a detailed log of people's porn access


Link Here 5th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
In an interesting article on the Government age verification and internet porn censorship scheme, technology website Techdirt reports on the ever slipping deadlines.

Seemingly with detailed knowledge of government requirements for the scheme, Tim Cushing explains that up until recently the government has demand that age verification companies retain a site log presumably recording people's porn viewing history. He writes:

The government refreshed its porn blockade late last year, softening a few mandates into suggestions. But the newly-crafted suggestions were backed by the implicit threat of heavier regulation. All the while, the government has ignored the hundreds of critics and experts who have pointed out the filtering plan's numerous problems -- not the least of which is a government-mandated collection of blackmail fodder.

The government is no longer demanding retention of site logs by sites performing age verification, but it's also not telling companies they shouldn't retain the data. Companies likely will retain this data anyway, if only to ensure they have it on hand when the government inevitably changes it mind.

Cushing concludes with a comment perhaps suggesting that the Government wants a far more invasive snooping regime than commercial operators are able or willing to provide. He notes:

Shortly. April 1st will come and go with no porn filter. The next best guess is around Easter (April 21st). But I'd wager that date comes and goes as well with zero new porn filters. The UK government only knows what it wants. It has no idea how to get it. I

And it seems that some age verification companies are getting wound up by negative internet and press coverage of the dangers inherent in their services. @glynmoody tweeted:

I see age verification companies that will create the biggest database of people's porn preferences - perfect for blackmail - are now trying to smear people pointing out this is a stupid idea as deliberately creating a climate of fear and confusion about the technologies nope

 

 

Mums want Four Play...but can they get it?...

The porn movie from the TV series 'Mums Make Porn' is used as a live test for age verification


Link Here 4th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The age verification company AgeChecked and porn producer Erika Lust have created a test website for a live trial of age verification.

The test website iwantfourplay.com features the porn video created by the mums in the Channel 4 series Mums Make Porn.

The website presented the video free of charge, but only after viewers passed one of 3 options for age verification:

  1. entering full credit card details + email
  2. entering driving licence number + name and address + email
  3. mobile phone number + email (the phone must have been verified as 18+ by the service provider and must must be ready to receive an SMS message containing login details)

The AgeChecked forms are unimpressive, the company seems reluctant to inform customers about requirements before handing over details. The forms do not even mention that the age requirement is 18+. It certainly does not try to make it clear that say a debit card is unacceptable or that a driving licence is not acceptable if registered to a 17 year old. It seems that they would prefer users to type in all their details and then tell them sorry, the card/licence/phone number doesn't pass the test. In fact the mobile phone option is distinctly misleading it suggests that it may be quicker to use the other options if the mobile phone is not age verified. It should say more positively that an unverified phone cannot be used.

The AgeChecked forms also make contradictory claims about users personal data not being stored by Age Checked (or shared with  iwantfourplay.com)... but then goes on to ask for email address for logging into existing existing AgeChecked accounts, so obviously that item of personal data must be stored by AgeChecked for practical recurring usage.

AgeChecked has already reported on the early results from the test. Alastair Graham, CEO of AgeChecked said:

The results of this first mainstream test of our software were hugely encouraging.

Whilst an effective date for the new legislation's implementation is yet to be confirmed by the British Board of Film Classification, this suggests a clear preparedness to offer robust, secure age verification procedures to the adult industry's 24-30 million UK users.

It also highlights that customers are willing to participate in the process when they know that they are being verified by a secure provider, with whom their identity is fully protected.

The popularity of mobile phone verification was interesting and presumably due the simplicity of using this device. This is something that we foresee as being a key part of this process moving forward.

Don't these people spout rubbish sometimes, pretending that not wanting to have one's credit card details, name and address details associated with watching porn is just down to convenience.

Graham also did not mention other perhaps equally important results from the test. In particular I wonder how many people seeking the video simply decided not to proceed further when presented by age verification options.

I wonder also how many people watched the video without going through age verification. I noted that with a little jiggery pokery, the video could be viewed by VPN. I also noted that although the age verification got in the way of clicking on the video, file/video downloading browser addons were still able to access the video without bothering with the age verification.

And congratulations to the mums for making a good porn video. It feature very attractive actors participating in all the usual porn elements, whilst getting across the mums' wishes for a more positive/loving approach to sex.

 

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