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UK Government Watch

2014: April-June

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Update: Undemocratic Government...

Scottish government reports on consultation results to introduce lap dancing licensing and then proceeds to ignore the majority view of 93% that licensing is not wanted

Link Here21st June 2014
Full story: Lap Dancing Licensing in Scotland...Scotland legislation to restrict lap dancing
The government consultation document results are reported as follows:


This report provides a summary of responses to the Scottish Government's Consultation on the licensing of sexual entertainment venues (SEV.s). The consultation ran from 24 June to 24 September 2013, and sought views on proposals to establish a new licensing regime for sexual entertainment venues such as lap dancing bars.

Number and Type of Responses

In total 1,017 responses were received. Of these 941 were largely identical in substance and reflected a campaign organised by the Scottish Association of Licensed Adult Entertainment Venues. It is presumed that the majority of these responses were from those who work in the industry together with customers. The remainder of the responses were predominately from organisations with a direct interest in the proposals such as club operators, the Police, local authorities, gender equality and violence against women groups and organisations representing mainstream arts. There was also a small number of responses from interested individual members of the public.

...Read the full consultation results [pdf]



Update: People should not be allowed to erase their [factual] history from internet...

David Cameron distinguishes between truth and factually inaccurate information on the internet. But of course this lets rich people decide what is true as backed up by expensive lawyers

Link Here 20th May 2014
People should not be allowed to erase information about them on the internet if it is true, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister was reacting to a European court ruling last week that said people had a right to be forgotten on the internet.

The ruling only compels Google and other search engines to remove the links to information, rather than the information itself. This means users of Facebook, Twitter and other social media can still share personal information about others so long as it remains online.

Since the ruling was published, more than 1,000 people have asked Google to remove links to unfavourable stories. They include a former MP seeking re-election, a man convicted of possessing child abuse images and 20 convicted criminals.

Pressed about the ruling, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said on Monday that Cameron felt that potentially a distinction had to be drawn between truth and factually inaccurate information on the internet. He said that Cameron felt it was acceptable to require that wrong information should be taken down from the internet -- but facts should remain published. The spokesman said:

Whilst taking time to consider a look at the judgment and possible implications his view is that there is potentially a distinction to be drawn between dealing with the issue of inaccurate and information that is wrong, and the collection of factually inaccurate information as distinct from what some have characterized as seeking to hide factually correct information.



Update: Who'd Be a Juror...

New UK law to censor internet news archives that may be relevant to a trial

Link Here19th May 2014
Full story: Googling for Sub-Judicy...Sub-Judicy and associated censorship

There's nothing in Google.  
He must be guilty as sin!

Ministers are seeking powers to make newspapers remove from their online archives stories about the criminal past of people facing trial.

Editors fear the move could create a black hole in the historical record by striking out previous convictions.

The planned new law is part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill now before parliament. It has been designed to restrict jurors using the internet to research a case, mid-trial.

The jurors will in future face a possible prison sentence if they are caught trying to delve into the defendant's past. But, to make it harder for them to do so, Attorney General Dominic Grieve wants the power to issue a so-called take-down order to UK newspapers.

Editors who ignored a request would face imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it meant defence lawyers could push for a complete ban on every article previously published about a defendant. He said:

The new provisions could have a highly restrictive effect upon the freedom to publish far beyond that intended and ultimately be capable of creating black holes in the historic record.

In theory, the information could be returned to the archive once the trial is complete, but it is feared some papers would not have the resources.

The laws would apply to UK newspapers, but not the likes of the Huffington Post, which receives millions of hits in Britain. Twitter would not be covered, either.



A New Leaf...

Petition leads government to rethink ban of, or council fee for leafletting

Link Here13th May 2014
Josie Middleton has been leading a campaign against council restrictions and fees for leafletting. She Writes:

Defra has responded to this campaign to change the restrictions on leafleting for small groups; it has launched a consultation, and will produce new guidance for local authorities. Defra says: We value the contribution made to communities by small scale live entertainment and events, and do not want people to be put off organising them because of unnecessary bureaucracy . Please do respond to the consultation!

Defra writes:

Defra is currently undertaking a review of its guidance for local authorities in England on Part 4 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

We are beginning our review with chapter 8 of the guidance Controlling the distribution of free literature .

We are seeking evidence on how councils in England currently control the distribution of free literature (e.g. leaflets and flyers), and what effect this is having on the promotion of small scale cultural and community events.

The consultation runs from 1 May 2014 to 26 Jun 2014



Offsite Article: Call Yourself A Fan? Lousy Sales And Internet Piracy!...

Link Here1st May 2014
Pooch considers the market economics of charging BBFC fees for DVD extras and of internet piracy

See article from



Update: A technology best reserved for more serious crimes...

Government is not keen on plans to criminalise buying sex, seemingly because it would alert people to the mass surveillance of mobile phones

Link Here22nd April 2014
Full story: Sex Work in Northern Ireland...Bill to ban paying for sex
Legislation to criminalise men for buying sex in Northern Ireland would be unworkable because the devolved government at Stormont has no powers to authorise telephone bugging operations.

The region's justice minister, David Ford, has told the Guardian he is far from convinced over the plans because mobile intercepts, crucial in prosecutions in countries which have introduced the laws, are [supposedly] rarely used, even in cases against republican and loyalist terror groups.

Police would have to intercept all calls from clients to sex workers in the province, Ford warned. He claimed only a UK cabinet minister such as the Northern Ireland secretary had the power to sign off spying operations.

In response to Democratic Unionist assembly member Lord Morrow's attempt to introduce such a law via new human anti-trafficking legislation, Ford has established a commission to explore the extent of prostitution in Northern Ireland and the efficacy of the Swedish model. Ford told the Guardian:

I think there is far too little evidence to legislate in a hurry -- the research will tell us what the position is. But I am far from convinced that what is currently being suggested such as the Swedish model would work here.

One specific issue which has been raised with me is the fact that the Swedish model largely depends upon telephone intercept evidence. Telephone intercepts can be obtained by an officer more or less the equivalent of a police superintendent in Sweden. In Northern Ireland such telephone intercepts would have to be signed by the secretary of state and I think that is a very different situation.

Certainly in terms of the proportionality of such a process these intercepts are applied against serious cases such as terrorism not issued such as those relating to prostitution, and indeed even in the case of terrorist cases not very often.

And to be honest -- not that I would know! Because the National Security Agency cannot operate yet in Northern Ireland because of objections from nationalist politicians to it working here.

As I said before my understanding is that the only person here who could sign off and authorise the use of telephone intercepts to catch men in the act so to speak would be Theresa Villiers, the current secretary of state, or any future one.

The justice minister said he was concerned that any legislation directed at people who buy sex could make matters worse for those involved in prostitution.

The issue that concerns me as minister of justice is whether there is a need for legislation to make sure the law actually deals with the problem. What we need to do is to protect the women (because they are nearly all women involved in it) and assist those who want to get out of prostitution if they want out. And in particular, that we take strong action directed against those who are trafficking human beings for any purpose. The specific issue of a ban on the purchase of sexual services, and even that is an unclear phrase, is not where I think the priority needs to be at this point.

Meanwhile nasty Tory speaks out in favour of jailing men just for buying sex

See  article from

Caroline Spelman, the former Tory environment secretary, says buying sex from prostitutes should be criminalised. She also called on more male politicians to enter into a discussion on the reform of prostitution laws. (

Spelman said she supports the Nordic approach, used in Sweden, Iceland and Norway, which makes it a crime to buy, but not sell, sexual services. Speaking to The Guardian , she said it is important for more men to make their views clear on the issue, rather assuming that men would support her miserable cause.



Commented: Brits given 8 months notice to download enough porn to last a year...

Until the industry can initiate a practical age verification scheme

Link Here 21st April 2014
Government censors have announced that legislation will be introduced by the end of 2014 that will require British adult websites to verify the age of visitors.

Government internet censors at the Department of Censorship, Media and Sport have announced their intention to initiate legislation that will require age verification by credit card (not debit cards, which are used for the large majority of porn purchases). Alternatively visitors can provide highly personal details that are simply best not provided to porn sites).

Unfortunately there is currently no other viable technology that allows viewers to conveniently and safely verify their age.

However Chris Ratcliff of TVX, speaking for the Adult Provider Network, an adult trade group representing 30 adult companies, said that a system is being developed that will hopefully allow some level of security and privacy for viewers. It seems that age can be verified once, hopefully by a trusted party, and this will provide a token that can be conveniently used to gain access to British adult websites.

Unfortunately this will not be available until the end of 2015.

In the meantime it looks likely that British adult websites will be hit impossibly hard, and that British customers will be driven overseas, at least until the DCMS can come up with a practical way to try and stop this too,

Perhaps Brits would be advised to download enough porn in the next 8 months to last a lifetime...just in case.

Comment: Laughing at an Etonian Pillock

21st April 2014. From Alan

How is Cameron proposing to identify a British porn site? Many general sites use models/actors/actresses from several countries. A site based in California that includes some pics/vids of British models is likely to laugh at the Etonian pillock.

Most sites price in US dollars and use foreign-based payment processors, most obviously CC BIll. All such processors promise discretion, not indicating to credit card providers the nature of the service provided. One hopes they would tell Cameron to take a running jump.

The worst case scenario is that totally innocuous organizations will have payments blocked by over-zealous twats like the idiot in Oxford who didn't know what a passion play is. Come to think of, that might actually be the BEST case scenario :-- if sanctimonious authoritarians succeed in stopping payments to a breast cancer awareness campaign or researchers into erectile dysfunction, it would make censorship a laughing stock.



Offsite Article: Criminalising kink: Cameron's porn crusade...

Link Here15th April 2014
Index on Censorship criticises the extension of Dangerous Pictures to include simulated rape

See article from



A New Minister of Censorship...

Maria Miller is replaced by Sajid Javid

Link Here9th April 2014
Maria Miller has resigned as Culture Secretary over the scandal about her claiming more than she should for expenses.

Sajid Javid, the Muslim son of a bus driver, has been appointed as the new culture secretary at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.



Update: Extra fees that will suffocate small UK film distributors...

Film critic writes open letter to Maria Miller asking about unfair extra expenses.

Link Here 3rd April 2014

To: Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dear Ms. Miller,
Please forgive this open letter; it's an ungainly form of communication but I approached your department for an interview and didn't hear back. So...

You might not realise it but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has undertaken a course of action that puts a number of small businesses at direct risk. Right now, Britain has some of the most exciting and inventive independent DVD labels in the world, companies doing everything from producing definitive editions of art-house classics to rescuing the forgotten treasures of British film.

The sheer quality of their work has made them indispensable to discerning viewers around the globe. Hell, if you want a recommendation, just ask the Prime Minister -- those Borgen box-sets he's so fond of are released by Arrow Films , one of our very best.

All that's under threat because of new regulations from the DCMS.

Let me explain: as it stands, the Video Recordings Act 1984 exempts certain types of material -- including documentary articles -- from the scrutiny of the British Board of Film Classification (an organisation, it's important to note, that charges heftily for its services).

Since most DVD extras -- the featurettes, interviews and visual essays that so often supplement the main feature -- are classed as 'documentaries', independent DVD labels can create high-quality special editions stuffed to the gunnels with extra material without incurring the prohibitive BBFC costs.

That's all going to change. The VRA is being amended to remove certain of the existing exemptions. While some material will remain free from classification, the changes are profound enough to have independent DVD labels extremely worried.

You're no doubt aware that all labels are facing huge problems from online piracy -- if a film can be illegally grabbed for free, why buy it? Well, a lavish suite of DVD extras is a damn good incentive to slap down the cash. But additional BBFC costs will place a huge strain on already tight budgets: this means fewer extras will be produced. Inevitably, some labels will go to the wall -- as a direct result of Government legislation.

It's important to note that these problems are unintentional: these changes are a response to parental pressure to do something about saucy music videos. Targeting physical media, though, seems a curiously toothless response in the age of YouTube: these changes look set to harm independent DVD labels and do nothing about the issue you're ostensibly trying to address.

According to the documents that lay out these changes, they were the result of a detailed consultation. However, none of the labels I have spoken to were even aware of the changes until very recently. I must ask: did the DCMS consult with ANY independent labels about the changes?

Given the impact these changes will have on businesses, I hope you'll reconsider the changes to the VRA, to prevent unintended damage. It also seems worth asking if you are prepared to meet representatives of the independent DVD labels and hear their concerns directly. Ask them nicely and they might even give you some of their discs. Then you can see for yourself just how good they are and why it would be such a loss if any went under. If you want any recommendations, I'm happy to oblige.

Yours etc.
James Oliver

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