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UK Government Watch

2011: April-June

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27th June   

Update: Secretive Government...

Rights holders present secret paper to the government proposing website blocking
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

The Open Rights Group has learnt that detailed website blocking proposals have been presented by rights holder groups to Ed Vaizey.

The paper was submitted by the Football Association Premier League; the Publishers Association; BPI (British Recorded Music Industry); the Motion Picture Association; and the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television.

The paper itself has not been published or circulated, despite requests to rights holder groups. The meeting on 15 June, where the paper was presented, was closed to ORG or any other rights group. Consumer Focus did attend, as the official consumer watchdog.

However, it is unclear if Consumer Focus or anyone else is able to show us the proposal. In essence, we have a secret website blocking proposal tabled by rights holders, that may become a self-regulatory , privatised, censorship platform for the UK.

It is unacceptable for trade groups and government to conduct policy in this way. Censorship proposals must be made and discussed in public. Many of us will oppose any censorship that impacts directly and widely on free expression.

UPDATE: Consumer Focus have published a response to the secret paper. This says the core of the proposal is that:

The trade associations are proposing that the Applications Court of the High Court issues permanent injunctions on the basis that a Council and expert body have come to the view that the evidence submitted by copyright owners is valid and the blocking access to the website is appropriate.

Update: Secretive Paper Leaked

27th June 2011. See  article from
See  paper [pdf] from

The paper has now been leaked.

Under the plans copyright owners would identify websites they believe are infringing their copyright and an expert body would then decide whether to recommend that a court issues an injunction banning the site from hosting infringing material, according to the documents.

Internet service providers (ISPs) that sign-up to the code will then block access to the sites, the documents said.

Under the new code rights holders should inform websites that they are taking infringement action against them where possible and website owners should be able to appeal against ISPs blocking access to their sites, the document said.

Details of the proposals were first revealed by blogger James Firth who posted about the secret meeting on his website. Firth said a Government contact had told him Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, had commented on the proposals, saying if it's a voluntary scheme, go and do it . This implies that Government does not need to be involved, Firth said in his blog.


25th June   

Offsite: By Autumn or Else!...

Jeremy Hunt bangs the table to demand internet porn blocking and quick
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Internet companies are to be forced to shield children internet pornography.

ISPs are to be given until the autumn to develop a website blocking system based on one already used to restrict access to child abuse sites. If not, laws will be introduced to make them comply.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: We are telling people that if they do not co-operate in bringing forward measures that will deal with this issue fast, we will legislate and regulate.

Research suggests that four in every five children aged 14 to 16 admit regularly accessing explicit photographs and footage on their home computers.

Only 3% of pornographic websites require proof-of-age before granting access to sexually explicit material, and two-thirds do not even include any adult-content warnings.

Under the proposed system, pornographic sites will be blocked until an adult user specifically requests access. Another possibility is a movie-type rating system only allowing adult users in the home to view such sites.


24th June   

Offsite: Parliament Itching for Regulation...

Vaizey bangs the table to demand internet porn blocking
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

The pressure is mounting on ISPs to come up with a means of making the internet safe for children. At a meeting in Westminster this week, hosted by Claire Perry MP, the pro-blocking camp was out in force. Culture minister Ed Vaizey told the meeting that he didn't care how it was done, he just wanted it done. He warned the ISPs that Parliament was itching for regulation and that they had to get ahead of the curve.

He was quick to add that it's not a free speech issue, no one was proposing that adults would be stopped from accessing content, it was just a matter of giving parents the tools they need.

...Read the full article


17th June   

Update: Libel Arbitration...

Government considers the Press Complaints Commission for a first stage arbitration step before libel cases can go to court
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Ken Clarke's Justice Department is considering sending rich and famous claimants to the Press Complaints Commission for arbitration before they are allowed to take their case to court.

Ministers say the system would be cheaper and quicker, and hope it could deter foreigners from flocking to our courts in so-called libel tourism .

At a meeting of a Parliamentary Committee investigating changes to defamation laws, Justice Minister Lord McNally told MPs that he was tempted to make complainants go to the PCC first: I do think that a credible Press Complaints Commission -- one that had general respect and could deliver non-legal fast justice in areas where people complained of press abuse -- is preferable to the law. If complainants want a rapid correction then mediation does offer a cheap and speedy way of addressing that.

Clarke said that the PCC would have to beef itself up to be able to take on the role, and would have to do more to ensure it had the confidence of the public.


14th June   

Fixing Red Tape...

Government proposes to simplify the range of age restrictions imposed on the retail trade
Link Here

On the roadmap towards our goal
of red tape reduction,
we are introducing a new 15 1/2 rating
as a transitionary step between
the current BBFC 15 rating and
the proposed  simplified 16 rating.

Some age restrictions of the sale of computer games, weapons and films could be lifted under Government plans to simplify regulations for retailers.

Vince Cable will tell a British Retail Consortium audience that reforms to age restricted products would be the first concrete measure to come out of the Government's Red Tape Challenge campaign.

The Business Secretary said that retailers and trading standards officers had complained about the confusing array of different age restrictions, from 12 and 15 for films and computer games to 17 for cross bows and air rifles on top of the more common 16 and 18 age restrictions.

The review could also consider whether restrictions on certain products remain appropriate. Retailers are banned from selling Christmas crackers, party poppers, liquor chocolates, aerosol paints and petrol to minors.

Local authority guidance can create confusion. Surrey County Council, for instance, says the Fireworks (Safety) regulations 1997 require retailers not to sell poppers, caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, serpents and throw-downs to anyone who you feel or looks under the age of 16 years . However, shops must also display signs stating: It is illegal to sell adult fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 .

A Business Department spokesman said the plans were still being developed, but would tackle the wide range of different age restrictions. It makes compliance difficult and enforcement difficult too, he said. We are looking to simplify these. It is exactly what we had in mind when we launched the challenge. Something that offers consumers the same protections but reduces the compliance burden on business.

The spokesman said one option being considered was to have only two different age restrictions, 16 to 18 for example .


12th June   

Ofcom PIN Pricks...

Government wisely decided not to act on Ofcom call for PIN number age verification for internet video on demand
Link Here

It has emerged that the government has not acted on a recommendation from the TV and internet  censor Ofcom, which said last year that the law should be changed so that sexually explicit content on video-on-demand websites could not be seen by children.

The government asked Ofcom last year to examine whether the law should be changed to protect children from pornographic material that was easily available on some adult sites, including, which allowed paying members to download a wide range of pornographic material.

Many of them also offer some sexual material as try before you buy content that can be easily viewed without a credit card or account number.

Ofcom recommended in a report passed to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) nine months ago that the government should pass legislation forcing those sites to protect their free trial content with a pin number. But the coalition has not published Ofcom's report or acted on its recommendations.

Predictably Labour has tried to claim a few morality votes from this technically infeasible Ofcom suggestion.

Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, said: David Cameron's commitment to act on Bailey's recommendations rings hollow now we know his government has suppressed this important report. It is either incompetence or a deliberate attempt to keep the public and parliament in the dark. Ofcom's report should be published without delay so we can consider its findings and take the necessary action.

The DCMS said the report was still being considered by ministers. It said: The government is committed to protecting children from accessing harmful material and DCMS has requested advice from Ofcom and others regarding regulation of video-on-demand services. There is a range of views on whether new measures are required and we are currently considering options.

The proposals would only affect UK websites that are monitored by ATVOD, the internet video on demand censor.


8th June   

Offsite: Lack of Evidence and Misleading Stats...

Bailey Report on Sexualisation: A first look
Link Here
Full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report
One thing that stands out in reading the Bailey review is that the way in which the results are interpreted is very leading. For instance, on the question of advertising in public spaces, the reviews claims that 40% of parent respondents had seen something they regarded as inappropriate or offensive.

Clearly, context is missing: the distinction between whether offensive adverts were seen once ever, or every day, is not made. And of course, it would be just as easy to present the statistic the other way round, and get a different interpretation entirely. 60% of parents had not seen anything they regarded as offensive in public advertising.

...Read the full article

Won't you fuck off, Reg Bailey

See article from

I'd like to discuss the evidence base which underpins the report's main findings...


Well that was short and sweet, wasn't it?

The simple fact is that there is no evidence base behind the reports main findings. There are few moderately interesting references, pretty much all of which are dealt with in an entirely cursory manner, but otherwise there's no substantive discussion of the existing evidence base and the report makes no effort whatsoever to gather any new empirical evidence whatsoever. There's a bit of data from a poorly conceived/constructed questionnaire which falls short of push-polling only for lack of competence on the part of its designer(s) and feedback from focus groups which, in research terms, is the next best thing to worthless...

...Read the full article

The TV watershed: not in front of the children

See  article from by Mark Lawson

Recently, I happened to mention to a senior politician and a long-serving TV executive scenes of drunken sex in the programme Geordie Shore, a variant of Big Brother in which eight young people from the north-east share a house and are encouraged to jump on each other, an outcome accelerated by the provision of a fridge filled with booze, a hot-tub and a so-called shag-pad .

Good God, what channel is that on and at what time? was the response from both of the people I told. But that reaction is, as they say, so last century. Although notionally screened at 10pm on MTV -- a suitably late slot in both Ofcom and Cameron/Bailey terms -- it is one of the shows most often down-loaded on sites such as iTunes.

Although these portals require buyers to tick a box acknowledging that they are over the age of 18, this defence depends entirely on honest self-declaration. Most parents of teenagers will tell you that Geordie Shore and many other post-watershed shows are being watched on computers and mobile phones at all times of day by viewers well under the age of 18.

The Cameron/Bailey emphasis on broadcasting border patrol fails to acknowledge that time and place are becoming ever more irrelevant to television viewing.

...Read the full article


7th June   

Update: Protecting the Rich and Adulterous...

Government threatens legal action against twitter users who break privacy injunctions
Link Here

People who use Twitter to breach privacy injunctions may face government legal action.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said that individuals could be prosecuted for contempt of court for publishing sensitive material. Enforcement was normally a matter for whoever had taken out a privacy order. But Grieve told the BBC he would take action himself if he thought it necessary to uphold the rule of law.

In an interview with Radio 4's Law in Action programme, the attorney general said that individuals who used Twitter or other internet sites to undermine the rule of law could face the consequences of their actions. He was referring to court powers to fine or even imprison people who deliberately break court rulings.

Grieve explained that enforcement of orders made in civil cases was normally a matter for whoever had taken them out. A claimant could go to court and seek to have people punished if they had broken the terms of an injunction.  But when asked if he should bring contempt proceedings himself for breach of a privacy order, Grieve said he would take action if he thought it necessary.

Law in Action is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 7 June at 1600 BST and Thursday 9 June at 2000 BST, Or via iPlayer or podcast.


7th June   

Offsite: Voluntary for the Moment...

Media Industry relaxed about the Bailey report
Link Here
Full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report
The media and advertising industries are taking a relaxed view of government-backed plans to clamp down on sexualised imagery such as raunchy music videos and scenes on TV shows, inappropriate ad campaigns and a call for tougher internet controls for parents.

For the industry, the threat of legislation has receded. Cameron has on numerous occasions voiced his concerns about the role of the media and advertising in the commercialisation of childhood, but the Bailey report's recommendations call for voluntary regulation.

On Monday, Cameron called for a summit in October -- an industry-wide meeting of retailers, advertisers, broadcasters, magazine editors, video games and music industry chiefs and regulators -- to gauge progress with the ultimate threat of legislation in 18 months if tighter voluntary controls are not implemented.

However, the media and advertising industries are confident they can deliver what has been asked.

...Read the full article


6th June   

Update: The World is a Nasty Place...

Reg Bailey publishes his whinge at modern society: Letting Children be Children
Link Here
Full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report
Rag Bailey has now published his hardly independent review on sexualisation and rather reveals his nutter stance by claiming that the world is a nasty place and that in an ideal world, adult entertainment would be shunned by society. He says:

  We believe that a truly family-friendly society would not need to erect barriers between age groups to shield the young: it would, instead, uphold and reinforce healthy norms for adults and children alike, so that excess is recognised for what it is and there is transparency about its consequences.

Bailey's summary reads:

The Review has encountered two very different approaches towards helping children deal with the pressures to grow up too quickly. The first approach seems to suggest that we can try to keep children wholly innocent and unknowing until they are adults. The world is a nasty place and children should be unsullied by it until they are mature enough to deal with it. This is a view that finds its expression in outrage, for example, that childrenswear departments stock clothes for young children that appear to be merely scaled-down versions of clothes with an adult sexuality, such as padded bras. It depends on an underlying assumption that children can be easily led astray, so that even glimpses of the adult world will hurry them into adulthood. Worse still, this approach argues, what children wear or do or say could make them vulnerable to predators or paedophiles.

The second approach is that we should accept the world for what it is and simply give children the tools to understand it and navigate their way through it better. Unlike the first approach, this is coupled with an assumption that children are not passive receivers of these messages or simple imitators of adults; rather they willingly interact with the commercial and sexualised world and consume what it has to offer. This is a view that says to do anything more than raise the ability of children to understand the commercial and sexual world around them, and especially their view of it through the various media, is to create a moral panic. The argument suggests that we would infantilise adults if we make the world more benign for children, so we should adultify children.

This Review concludes that neither approach, although each is understandable, can be effective on its own. We recognise that the issues raised by the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood are rooted in the character of our wider adult culture and that children need both protection from a range of harms, and knowledge of different kinds, appropriate to their age, understanding and experience. Parents have the primary role here but others have a responsibility to play an active part too, including businesses, the media and their regulators. Above all, however, we believe that a truly family-friendly society would not need to erect barriers between age groups to shield the young: it would, instead, uphold and reinforce healthy norms for adults and children alike, so that excess is recognised for what it is and there is transparency about its consequences. The creation of a truly family-friendly society is the aspiration: in the meantime, we need a different approach.

Reg Bailey's recommendations are:

  1. Ensuring that magazines and newspapers with sexualised images on their covers are not in easy sight of children. Retail associations in the news industry should do more to encourage observance of the voluntary code of practice on the display of magazines and newspapers with sexualised images on their covers. Publishers and distributors should provide such magazines in modesty sleeves, or make modesty boards available, to all outlets they supply and strongly encourage the appropriate display of their publications. Retailers should be open and transparent to show that they welcome and will act on customer feedback regarding magazine displays.
  2. Reducing the amount of on-street advertising containing sexualised imagery in locations where children are likely to see it. The advertising industry should take into account the social responsibility clause of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code when considering placement of advertisements with sexualised imagery near schools, in the same way as they already do for alcohol advertisements. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should place stronger emphasis on the location of an advertisement, and the number of children likely to be exposed to it, when considering whether an on-street advertisement is compliant with the CAP code.
  3. Ensuring the content of pre-watershed television programming better meets parents' expectations. There are concerns among parents about the content of certain programmes shown before the watershed. The watershed was introduced to protect children, and pre-watershed programming should therefore be developed and regulated with a greater weight towards the attitudes and views of parents, rather than viewers as a whole. In addition, broadcasters should involve parents on an ongoing basis in testing the standards by which family viewing on television is assessed and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) should extend its existing research into the views of parents on the watershed. Broadcasters and Ofcom should report annually on how they have specifically engaged parents over the previous year, what they have learnt and what they are doing differently as a result.
  4. Introducing Age Rating for Music Videos. Government should consult as a matter of priority on whether music videos should continue to be treated differently from other genres, and whether the exemption from the Video Recordings Act 1984 and 2010, which allows them to be sold without a rating or certificate, should be removed. As well as ensuring hard copy sales are only made on an age-appropriate basis, removal of the exemption would assist broadcasters and internet companies in ensuring that the content is made available responsibly.
  5. Making it easier for parents to block adult and age-restricted material from the internet: To provide a consistent level of protection across all media, as a matter of urgency, the internet industry should ensure that customers must make an active choice over what sort of content they want to allow their children to access. To facilitate this, the internet industry must act decisively to develop and introduce effective parental controls, with Government regulation if voluntary action is not forthcoming within a reasonable timescale. In addition, those providing content which is age-restricted, whether by law or company policy, should seek robust means of age verification as well as making it easy for parents to block underage access.
  6. Developing a retail code of good practice on retailing to children. Retailers, alongside their trade associations, should develop and comply with a voluntary code of good practice for all aspects of retailing to children. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) should continue its work in this area as a matter of urgency and encourage non-BRC members to sign up to its code.
  7. Ensuring that the regulation of advertising reflects more closely parents' and children's views. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should conduct research with parents and children on a regular basis in order to gauge their views on the ASA's approach to regulation and on the ASA's decisions, publishing the results and subsequent action taken in their annual report.
  8. Prohibiting the employment of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing. The Committee of Advertising Practice and other advertising and marketing bodies should urgently explore whether, as many parents believe, the advertising self- regulatory codes should prohibit the employment of children under the age of 16 as brand ambassadors or in peer-to-peer marketing – where people are paid, or paid in kind, to promote products, brands or services.
  9. Defining a child as under the age of 16 in all types of advertising regulation. The ASA should conduct research with parents, children and young people to determine whether the ASA should always define a child as a person under the age of 16, in line with the Committee of Advertising Practice and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice codes.
  10. Raising parental awareness of marketing and advertising techniques. Industry and regulators should work together to improve parental awareness of marketing and advertising techniques and of advertising regulation and complaints processes and to promote industry best practice.
  11. Quality assurance for media and commercial literacy resources and education for children. These resources should always include education to help children develop their emotional resilience to the commercial and sexual pressures that today's world places on them. Providers should commission independent evaluation of their provision, not solely measuring take-up but, crucially, to assess its effectiveness. Those bodies with responsibilities for promoting media literacy, including Ofcom and the BBC, should encourage the development of minimum standards guidance for the content of media and commercial literacy education and resources to children.
  12. Ensuring greater transparency in the regulatory framework by creating a single website for regulators. There is a variety of co-, self- and statutory regulators across the media, communications and retail industries. Regulators should work together to create a single website to act as an interface between themselves and parents. This will set out simply and clearly what parents can do if they feel a programme, advertisement, product or service is inappropriate for their children; explain the legislation in simple terms; and provide links to quick and easy complaints forms on regulators' own individual websites. This single website could also provide a way for parents to provide informal feedback and comments, with an option to do so anonymously, which regulators can use as an extra gauge of parental views. Results of regulators' decisions, and their reactions to any informal feedback, should be published regularly on the single site.
  13. Making it easier for parents to express their views to businesses about goods and services. All businesses that market goods or services to children should have a one-click link to their complaints service from their home page, clearly labelled complaints . Information provided as part of the complaints and feedback process should state explicitly that the business welcomes comments and complaints from parents about issues affecting children. Businesses should also provide timely feedback to customers in reaction to customer comment. For retail businesses this should form part of their code of good practice (see Recommendation 6), and should also cover how to make it.
  14. Ensuring that businesses and others take action on these recommendations. Government should take stock of progress against the recommendations of this review in 18 months' time. This stocktake should report on the success or otherwise of businesses and others in adopting these recommendations. If it concludes that insufficient progress has been made, the Government should consider taking the most effective action available, including regulating through legislation if necessary, to achieve the recommended outcome.


6th June   

Update: Action Man...

David Cameron arranges October meeting to check on progress towards Reg Bailey's nutter world
Link Here
Full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report

David Cameron has backed demands to introduce wide-ranging changes to supposedly prevent the sexualisation of children.

Cameron said the Reg Bailey report represented a giant step forward for protecting childhood and making Britain more family-friendly .

In a letter to Bailey, the Prime Minister supported his proposals to ban raunchy billboard ads near schools and to forbid celebrities under 16 from marketing products aimed at children.

He also welcomed plans to make it easier for parents to block explicit material on laptops and mobile phones by ensuring such devices are issued with anti-pornography controls turned on by default.

And he revealed that he will grill companies and regulators at a Downing Street summit in October on the progress they have made to stamp out child access to adult material.In another victory today for the campaign, major retailers will sign a new code of conduct banning the sale of padded bras and other adult-themed clothes to young girls.

In his letter, Cameron said he was particularly keen to see rapid progress on a single website for parents to report inappropriate images, products and services. This not only seems entirely sensible, but also relatively easy and simple to introduce. I see no reason why the website cannot be up and running in good time to get feedback from parents for our October meeting.

Cameron said October's meeting will check what retailers, advertisers, broadcasters, magazine editors, video games manufacturers, music producers, internet and phone companies and regulators' have done to act on your specific recommendations .


26th May   

Dangerous Tweets...

Scottish government agree proposal to ban threatening communications about football
Link Here

New laws against soccer sectarianism could be in place by the start of the next football season after proposals won the support of the Scottish cabinet.

The Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Communications Bill would see football supporters who cause sectarian disruption at matches or online jailed for up to five years.

Currently people who cause disruption at matches can be charged with breach of the peace, with a maximum one-year sentence. Online hate crime, such as comments posted on Twitter, will be included in the legislation and would carry the same punishment.

A spokesman for Alex Salmond said that the Bill is focused on particular areas of the issue of sectarianism and is part of a much wider and comprehensive effort to eradicate the problem .

The Bill is expected to be presented to Parliament by the middle of June and completed by the end of the month.

Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham has been given special responsibility to tackle the issue.


18th May   

Update: Private Vices and Public Gags...

Justice Secretary indicates that he will introduce a privacy law
Link Here

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has indicated that a new privacy law will be introduced after warning that the public is not entitled to know about the sex lives of footballers [and politicians?] .

Clarke said there were areas of privacy where Britons could expect to be protected, but added he was uneasy about the use of super-injunctions, which prevent the public from knowing if a gagging order has even been obtained.

Last week, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that more than 80 injunctions have been taken out by well-known people, including Premier League footballers, actors and an MP.

Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, will this week present an official report to the Government on injunctions, which is expected to recommend more public scrutiny of their use.

Clarke said: 

Plainly, I believe in the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this country, even when sometimes it is exercised provocatively ...HOWEVER... I also think there are areas of privacy where an individual is entitled to have it protected.

It is probably right to say that Parliament passing a privacy act might well be the best way of resolving it. But we need to get somewhat nearer to a consensus, and one needs to know exactly how we are going to strike this balance.


4th May   

Updated: Bailey Bollox...

All society's ills to be cured by banning gay kisses from pre-watershed TV
Link Here
Full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report

Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until the watershed under nutter inspired Government plans to stop children being exposed to supposedly indecent images.

A review launched with the backing of David Cameron is expected to recommend that sexually suggestive scenes currently allowed before the 9pm watershed, such as the famous lesbian embrace on soap opera Brookside, should not be shown until later in the evening.

The inquiry is being led by Mothers' Union chief executive Reg Bailey.

The Daily Mail said that Bailey is likely to focus on more restrictive watershed rules. A source close to the inquiry said: It is hard to protect children in the internet and mobile-phone age but we have to do something.

Sources also suggested that raunchy dance routines, such as those by pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on last year's X Factor final, could also fall foul of more censorial watershed rules.

Bailey is also understood to be looking at a ban on sexy advertisements in public places. The source added: Some of those huge poster advertisements for bras and knickers leave precious little to the imagination and they are there for all our children to see.

Bailey is examining restricting internet pornography by enabling parents to ask ISPs to block adult websites at source rather than relying on parental controls.

Update: Mothers' Union chief executive Reg Bailey is not speaking for the Mothers' Union

4th May 2011. See  article from

Clarification on reports published in print and online 1st and 2nd May 2011.

Mothers' Union explicitly refutes all allegations regarding the banning of lesbian kisses on television before or after the watershed as claimed by the media this week, including in The Sun and the Daily Mail newspapers.

The Bailey Review as conducted by the Department of Education is independent of the Mothers' Union's Bye Buy Childhood Campaign and therefore, any recourse to statements against Mothers' Union are unfounded and should be directed to the Department of Education.

The Mothers' Union's Campaign is gender inclusive and is therefore, neither targeted towards or against any type of relationship and should not be expressed as such.


20th April   

Update: State Internet censor...

Government to press ahead with ISP website blocking
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

The UK government appears to be pressing ahead with plans to filter the internet to prevent porn and filesharing.

Jeremy Hunt had seen some common sense about the plan by asking Ofcom to review if it was workable, it seems that plans to block 100 P2P sites are going ahead anyway.

According to the Guardian there are plans to build a quango similar to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). This would scour the net for illegal images of children, obscene adult content and non-photographic child sexual abuse hosted in the UK and filesharing.

According to the Guardian there is a plan b which involves having a judge rule whether a site should be blocked after an industry agreed voluntary code has been satisfied.

Apparently the government does not want to block whole sites just the parts of them where there is pirated material, which is a greater challenge than domain name blocking.


8th April   

Update: 'Offensive' Terrorism?...

Government advertise website to report terrorism and extremism on the internet
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Information leaflets and posters have been sent to every police force in the UK advising the public on how to identify and report offensive or illegal terrorism related content.

Security minister, Baroness Neville-Jones, said that it's vital that online extremism is taken seriously: I want to encourage those who come across extremist websites as part of their work to challenge it and report it through the DirectGov webpage.

By forging relationships with the internet industry and working with the public in this way, we can ensure that terrorist use of the internet does not go unchallenged.

Websites reported to Directgov via its online form are referred to the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit. The specialist team of police experts work with industry and partners in the UK and abroad to investigate and take down illegal or offensive material if necessary.

In the last year, reporting through Directgov has led the government to remove content which has included beheading videos, terrorist training manuals and calls for racial or religious violence.

The Reporting extremism and terrorism online website defines what content is of interest:

What makes offensive content illegal

Not all offensive content is illegal.

The Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006 made it illegal to:

  • have or share information that could be useful to terrorists
  • share information that urges people to commit or help with acts of terrorism
  • glorify or praise terrorism

Examples of what makes terrorist or extremist content illegal are:

  • speeches or essays calling for racial or religious violence
  • videos of violence with messages of praise for the attackers
  • chat forums with postings calling for people to commit acts of terrorism
  • messages intended to stir up hatred against any religious or ethnic group
  • instructions on how to make weapons, poisons or bombs


1st April   

The Great Firewall of Britain...

Ed Vaizey confirms plans for a website blocking scheme
Link Here

Minister Ed Vaizey has confirmed to Open Rights Group that Government ministers are talking to copyright lobby groups and ISPs about a voluntary “Great Firewall of Britain” website blocking scheme.  We need you to act now.

They want to block websites that music and film companies accuse of copyright infringement. 

But a 'self regulatory' censorship scheme places decisions about what you can and cannot look at online in the hands of businesses. It would remove the vital judicial oversight required by existing powers. Inevitable mistakes would lead to the censorship and disruption of legitimate traffic from businesses, publishers and citizens. And there is little evidence it will have any beneficial effects for the creative economy.

The good news is that the Minister has promised to include civil society groups in future discussions. We need to be there to counter the pressure rights holders are exerting on decision makers.

You can do your bit by letting your MPs know that website blocking is not acceptable and that the voice of civil society needs to be part of the discussions. Please email them now to tell them to oppose web blocking.

Read more on the legal and technical background here

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