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EU Censorship News

2022: Jan-March

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Using censorship heavy artillery without caring about the collateral damage...

French censors bang the table demanding age verification but there are no data protection laws in place that protect porn users from being tracked and scammed

Link Here 9th March 2022
Pornhub, Pornhub, XHamster, XNXX and XVideos do not comply with French rules contrived from a law against domestic violence.

The French internet censor Arcom (previously CSA) took legal action on March 8 and requested the blocking of 5 pornographic sites: Pornhub, Pornhub, XHamster, Xnxx and Xvideos. The censor sent an injunction to the platforms and left 15 days to comply with the law. The websites did not comply.

Since the vote on the law against domestic violence in 2020, an amendment specifies that sites can no longer be satisfied with asking Internet users to declare that they are of legal age by clicking on a simple box.

Depending on the judge's decision, ISPs will be forced or not to block access to the incriminated sites. In case of blocking, visitors to the pornographic site will be redirected to a dedicated Arcom page.

Distributors of pornographic content are therefore required, in theory, to check the age of their visitors. But how? There is currently no legally defined method to achieve this. The censor itself has never given guidelines to the platforms.

In fact data protection authorities have rather put a spanner in the works that has left the industry scratching its head. In an opinion issued on June 3, 2021, the National Commission for Computing and Freedoms (Cnil) decreed that a verification system which collects information on the identity of Internet users would, in this context, be illegal and risky. Such data collection would indeed present significant risks for the persons concerned since their sexual orientation -- real or supposed -- could be deduced from the content viewed and directly linked to their identity.

Faced with these legal contradictions, Senator Marie Mercier, rapporteur for the amendment, has simply banged the table harder:

I don't want to know how they are doing, but they have to find a solution . The law is the law.

Porn tube websites have explained their reluctance to implement. The option to use third-party verifiers may prove very expensive for a business model based on a high number of users making up for low advertising income per users. An estimate denied by the Tukif site, says that the cost of a verification service goes from 0.0522c to 0.222c per user, a cost to be multiplied by their 650,0000 unique daily visitors.

It is presumed that many porn users will be very reluctant to hand over dangerous ID proof to porn websites so blocking the entry of some audiences, while discouraging others will lead to collapsing income.

The websites also note that as the regulator hasn't attempted to block all porn tube sites then users will be more likely to swap to unrestricted websites rather than submit to ID verification on those website mandated to do so.



Innocent people reported to the government...

Google and Meta win a complaint against Germany's internet censorship law

Link Here4th March 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
A German court has ruled against the country's hate speech law, saying it is illegal to share innocent users' data with law enforcement.

In 2018, Germany passed a controversial law requiring social media companies to remove criminal content and report it to law enforcement. Last May, the German parliament amended the law, passing even stricter and wider regulations for social media companies. The expanded version of the law took effect in February.

Google, Meta, and Twitter filed legal complaints against the law in January 2022. In its complaint, Twitter argued that:

We are concerned that the law provides for a significant encroachment on citizens' fundamental rights.In particular, we are concerned that the obligation to proactively share user data with law enforcement forces private companies into the role of prosecutors by reporting users to law enforcement even when there is no illegal behavior.

On March 1, Cologne's administrative court ruled on Meta's and Google's complaint. The court argued the online hate-speech law violated EU law because it allowed users' data to be shared with law enforcement even before it is determined if a crime has been committed.

The decision can be appealed at a higher court.



No age verification option...

Twitter responds to German porn age verification requirements by totally blocking all Germans from adult content that has been flagged by a state internet censor

Link Here13th February 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Twitter has been blocking the profiles of adult content creators in Germany since late 2020, with at least 60 accounts affected to date.

The move comes in response to a series of legal orders by German regulators that have ruled that online pornography should not be visible to children and must be hidden behind age-verification systems.

As Twitter doesn't have an age-verification system in place, it has responded to legal demands by outright blocking the selected accounts for anyone in Germany.

The German approach to selecting accounts to ban seems scattergun. There are thousands of Twitter accounts that post adult content, and those the internet censors has reported to Twitter appear to have large followings or are subject to individual complaints.

Anyone trying to view one of the blocked accounts in Germany sees a message saying it has been withheld in Germany in response to a legal demand. The exact number of accounts blocked in this way is unknown. One pornographic account displaying this message has more than 700,000 followers.

The policy of totally blocking all German users may encourage a large scale take up of VPNs so that users can continue to view their favourite accounts. Of course Twitter could itself block access via well known VPNs but it seems likely that this would cause widespread disruption to worldwide users living in repressive countries that try to block Twitter entirely.



Shooting the messenger...

German internet censors get wound up by the encrypted messaging app Telegram

Link Here27th January 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The German government has recently made it clear that it will impose fines and sanctions on the social messaging app Telegram if it continues to ignore the authorities' requests.

In April 2021, the federal government sent two letters to the social media company, demanding that Telegram appoints a contact person in Germany and make it easier for users to report illicit content. More recently, the German police sent multiple requests to Telegram, to try and get them to comply with the NetzDG censorship law. Telegram has yet to respond to these requests.

Now, politicians in Berlin have made it clear that they plan to get tough with Telegram. Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said: Telegram, like everybody else, has to adhere to our laws.

Technology experts have warned that banning Telegram would be difficult, both technically and constitutionally. On the one hand we are celebrating Telegram's lack of censorship and its importance for democratic movements in Belarus and Iran, and on the other, we are then disabling the service here, said digital journalist Markus Reuter.



Legal anlysis...

Several EU countries are investigating the legality of Google Analytics within the GDPR

Link Here15th January 2022
Full story: EU GDPR law...Far reaching privay protection law
The legal basis of the statistics service Google Analytics is proving shaky across the EU. The Austrian data protection censor has determined that the use of Google Analytics' on websites in the European Union is not compatible with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Now the Dutch Authority for Personal Data (AP) has warned: Please note: The use Google Analytics' may soon be banned.

Google Analytics is a free service providing websites with detailed information about usage such as key information about how many users a site has and which pages they are reading. The websites allow Google to place cookies on their behalf that allow Google to track websites visits. It is that tracking that may transgress GDPR rules and note that it also one of the reasons for those silly cookie consent pop-ups that merely serve to train web users to mindlessly click on any pop-up that impedes their viewing.

The Dutch data protection censor has updated its Google Analytics privacy-friendly setup guide and has announced that it is investigating two complaints about the use of Google Analytics in the Netherlands.  The AP would like to conclude this investigation in the near future, namely early 2022. Then itwill be able to say whether Google Analytics is allowed or not.

Meanwhile Germany and Austrian data protection censors are also wrestling with a related case. A complaint about data usage by an Austrian website spilled over to Germany when the website withced to Germany. The censors are now debating both the data complaint and the jurisdiction issues.



Searching for consent...

France's data protection censor hands out massive fines on Google and Facebook for failing cookie consent requirements

Link Here5th January 2022
Full story: EU ePrivacy Law...The Cookie Law: EU regulate consent for tracking cookies
France is being very aggressive over enforcing the silly EU cookie law that nags and trains internet users to blindly click on website popups.

By announcing fines of euro 150 million for Google and euro 60 million for Facebook, the French privacy watchdog CNIL went much further than other EU data protection censors have gone to rein in the trackers, which allow advertisers to target people with tailored ads as they move around the internet.

Under the e-Privacy Directive, the CNIL is free to take direct action against companies that otherwise would be overseen by the Irish Data Protection Commission, because the GDPR gives prime enforcement power to the country where the company is legally established. Many tech companies have their EU bases in Dublin.

The French data protection censor has so far zoned in on two key violations: failing to allow users to refuse cookies as easily as it is to accept them, and automatically placing cookies on people's devices before they even have a chance to accept or refuse them. These are widespread violations across the web, but so far only the CNIL seems serious about tackling them.

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