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2019: July-Sept

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Offsite Article: Internet Villains...


Link Here20th September 2019
After siding with the censors against DNS over HTTPS, the UK ISP trade association chair is interviewed over future directions for government internet censorship

See article from ispreview.co.uk

 

 

Culture of censorship...

Culture Secretary makes a speech about censoring our internet along the lines of TV


Link Here19th September 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan's made the keynote address to the Royal Television Society at the University of Cambridge. She took the opportunity to announce that the government is considering how to censor internet more in line with strict TV censorship laws.

She set the background noting how toxic the internet has become. Politicians never seem to consider that a toxic response to politicians may be totally justified by the dreadful legislation being passed to marginalise, disempower and impoverish British people. She noted:

And this Government is determined to see a strong and successful future for our public service broadcasters and commercial broadcasters alike.

I really value the important contribution that they all make to our public life, at a time when our civil discourse is increasingly under strain.

Disinformation, fuelled by hermetically sealed online echo chambers, is threatening the foundations of truth that we all rely on.

And the tenor of public conversations, especially those on social media, has become increasingly toxic and hostile.

Later she spoke of work in progress to move censor the internet along the lines of TV. She said:

The second area where we need to adapt is the support offered by the Government and regulators.

We need to make sure that regulations, some of which were developed in the analogue age, are fit for the new ways that people create and consume content.

While I welcome the growing role of video on demand services and the investment and consumer choice they bring, it is important that we have regulatory frameworks that reflect this new environment.

For example, whereas a programme airing on linear TV is subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, and the audience protections it contains, a programme going out on most video on demand services is not subject to the same standards.

This does not provide the clarity and consistency that consumers would expect.

So I am interested in considering how regulation should change to reflect a changing sector.

 

 

Updated: The latest internet censorship nightmare from the EU...

The EU ups the internet ante and the UK will require video websites to be licensed by the state censors of Ofcom


Link Here 12th August 2019
Requirements for Video Sharing Platforms in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is the regulatory framework governing EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media. The government launched a consultation on implementing the newly introduced and amended provisions in AVMSD on 30 May, which is available here .

One of the main changes to AVMSD is the extension of scope to cover video-sharing platforms (VSPs) for the first time. This extension in scope will likely capture audiovisual content on social media sites, video-sharing sites, pornography sites and live streaming services. These services are required to take appropriate measures to: protect children from harmful content; protect the general public from illegal content and content that incites violence or hatred, and; respect certain obligations around commercial communications.

The original consultation, published on 30 May, outlined the government's intention to implement these requirements through the regulatory framework proposed in the Online Harms White Paper . However, we also indicated the possibility of an interim approach ahead of the regulatory framework coming into force to ensure we meet the transposition deadline of 20 September 2020. We now plan to take forward this interim approach and have written to stakeholders on 23 July to set out our plans and consult on them.

This open letter and consultation sent to stakeholders, therefore, aims to gather views on our interim approach for implementing requirements pertaining to VSPs through appointing Ofcom as the national regulatory authority. In particular, it asks questions regarding:

  • how to transpose the definition of VSPs into UK law, and which platforms are in the UK's jurisdiction;

  • the regulatory framework and the regulator's relationship with industry;

  • the appropriate measures that should be taken by platforms to protect users;

  • the information gathering powers Ofcom should have to oversee VSPs;

  • the appropriate enforcement and sanctions regime for Ofcom;

  • what form the required out of court redress mechanism should take; and

  • how to fund the extension of Ofcom's regulatory activities from industry.

Update: The press get wind of the EU censorship nightmare of the new AVMS directive

12th August 2019. See article from bbc.com

The government is considering giving powers to fine video-sharing apps and websites to the UK's media censor Ofcom.

The proposal would see Ofcom able to impose multi-million pound fines if it judges the platforms have failed to prevent youngsters seeing pornography, violence and other harmful material.

Ofcom are already the designated internet censor enforcing the current AVMS censorship rules. These apply to all UK based Video on Demand platforms. The current rules are generally less stringent than Ofcom's rules for TV so have not particularly impacted the likes of the TV catch up services, (apart from Ofcom extracting significant censorship fees for handling minimal complaints about hate speech and product placement).

The notable exception is the regulation of hardcore porn on Video on Demand platforms. Ofcom originally delegated the censorship task to ATVOD but that was a total mess and Ofcom grabbed the censorship roles back. It too became a bit of a non-job as ATVOD's unviable age verification rules had effectively driven the UK adult porn trade into either bankruptcy or into foreign ownership. In fact this driving the porn business offshore gave rise to the BBFC age verification regime which is trying to find ways to censor foreign porn websites.

Anyway the EU has now created an updated AVMS directive that extends the scope of content to be censored, as well as the range of websites and apps caught up the law. Where as before it caught TV like video on demand websites, it now catches nearly all websites featuring significant video content. And of course the list of harms has expanded into the same space as all the other laws clamouring to censor the internet.

In addition, all qualifying video websites will have to register with Ofcom and have to cough up  a significant fee for Ofcom's censorship 'services'.

The EU Directive is required to be implemented in EU members' laws by 20th September 2020. And it seems that the UK wants the censors to be up on running from the 19th September 2020.

Even then, it would only be an interim step until an even more powerful internet censor gets implemented under the UK's Online Harms plans.

The Telegraph reported that the proposal was quietly agreed before Parliament's summer break and would give Ofcom the power to fine tech firms up to 5% of their revenues and/or block them in the UK if they failed to comply with its rulings. Ofcom has said that it is ready to adopt the powers.

A government spokeswoman told the BBC.

We also support plans to go further and legislate for a wider set of protections, including a duty of care for online companies towards their users.

But TechUK - the industry group that represents the sector - said it hoped that ministers would take a balanced and proportionate approach to the issue.  Its deputy chief executive Antony Walker said:

Key to achieving this will be clear and precise definitions across the board, and a proportionate sanctions and compliance regime, said

The Internet Association added that it hoped any intervention would be proportionate. Daniel Dyball, the association's executive director.said:

Any new regulation should be targeted at specific harms, and be technically possible to implement in practice - taking into account that resources available vary between companies.

The BBC rather hopefully noted that if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we will not be bound to transpose the AVMSD into UK law.

 

 

Offsite Article: IPVanish pitches to keep porn users safe from age verification...


Link Here 2nd August 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
How would the UK adult content block harm digital rights?

See article from ipvanish.com

 

 

I am not a number!...

No...But you soon will be. The UK government seeks ideas on creating a digital ID card


Link Here21st July 2019

The government writes:

A new call for evidence will explore the role of government and the private sector in the development of digital identities - the way people prove they are who they say they are using digital technology - and seek views on how to achieve higher levels of trust between the public and organisations checking their identities.

Err...how about making it totally illegal for organisations to use sensitive data. How about no more government laws that let age verification providers do what the fuck they like with your porn browsing data? No more 'voluntary standards' governing the keeping of porn browsing data?

The government continues:

With people increasingly required to prove their identity to access services, whether it is to buy age-restricted items on and offline or make it easier to register at a new GP surgery, these plans aim to help make doing so easier and more secure.

By cutting down on the need for physical documents, which could be misplaced or stolen, they also aim to reduce fraud. Reports suggest that unlocking the value of digital identity could add 3 per cent to UK GDP by 2030 - positioning the country as a world-leading place to develop cutting-edge innovation.

Recent figures show identity fraud is a growing problem across the UK and last year the fraud prevention service Cifas reported 189,000 incidents of identity theft.

Err... so how is it going to make it safer to put all your ID eggs in one basket and pass the basket around to all and sundry.

The government continues:

A small pilot scheme will be launched to help people speed up their applications for services, for example applying for a credit card, by allowing organisations to digitally check their identity using British passport data, where they have used this to register for government services. It will begin with companies who currently provide digital identity services to Government.

Individuals applying to access selected services online could have their identity verified this way if they choose to. The scheme will then be opened up to a small cohort of additional private sector companies for use across a range of services.

Err... like Facebook, Google, Cambridge Analytica, Ashley Madison, Pornhub...

The government continues:

No organisation would be given access to government-held data under these proposals, identity providers would simply get a yes or no as to whether the document was validly issued, and no personal data not already provided by the individual would be used or shared.

Any new solutions will be compliant with recently strengthened data protection laws and set out requirements for the secure transfer of data. There will be no central identity database and individuals will be in control of their personal data.

The pilot scheme will also test if there is a market for these new types of digital identity checking services.

 

 

Offsite Article: UK YouTube head hypocritically speaks out against proposed government censorship...


Link Here20th July 2019
Full story: YouTube Censorship...YouTube censor videos by restricting their reach
YouTube does not want government censors to silence people the government doesn't like, whilst YouTube actively censors people it does not like, especially those on the right

See article from reclaimthenet.org

 

 

Ofcom not quite so independent state censors...

Government enacts rule that requires Ofcom to run most decisions past the government 24 hours before publication


Link Here19th July 2019

Written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State Jeremy Wright updating the House on Ofcom's statutory duty to share information with Government in advance of publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003:

I would like to update the House on Ofcom's statutory duty to share information with Government at least 24 hours before publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003, inserted by the Digital Economy Act 2017. This early access to information from Ofcom is important in supporting the Government's wider policy responsibilities in safeguarding and improving the delivery of essential communications services on which consumers rely.

To commence the duty I must specify by regulations what categories of information will be exempt from this duty, following consultation with Ofcom. Our consultation with Ofcom has now concluded and I can inform the House of our intention to proceed with the implementation of the duty via a negative Statutory Instrument later in the Autumn.

The categories of information to be listed as exempt in these regulations include broadcasting content standards and broadcasting licensing enforcement. This is to ensure that there can be no accusations or perceptions that the Government has had inappropriate prior knowledge or been involved in these functions. Corporate functions will also be excluded. Other types of information Ofcom proposes to publish, which fall outside of the above exemption regulations, will need to be shared with the Government at least 24 hours before publication by Ofcom once the duty comes into force, unless there are exceptional circumstances or prior agreement is reached.

 

 

Government minister for Digital, Censorship, Media and Sport...

Margot James resigns over Brexit


Link Here 18th July 2019
Margot James has resigned as digital minister after she voted against the government for an amendment to block the next prime minister from suspending parliament and forcing through a no-deal Brexit.

James was the minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and MP for Stourbridge. Her remit included steering through the woefully inept age verification regime set to establish the BBFC as the UK internet porn censor.

 

 

Negligent UK lawmakers devised an age verification scheme with no data protection for porn users...

Now it appears that users who try to protect themselves with VPNs may be unknowingly handing their browsing data over to the Chinese government


Link Here17th July 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

ICO's Data Protection Training
The Pavlov Method
 
nodding dog
 ☑  Yes I won't read this message. and yes you can do what the fuck you like with my porn browsing data
 ☑  Yes please do, I waiver all my GDPR rights
 ☑  Yes I won't read this message. and yes, feel free to blackmail me
 ☑  Yes you can do anything you like 'to make my viewing experience better'
 ☑  Yes, no need to ask, I'll tick anything
With callous disregard for the safety of porn users, negligent lawmakers devised an age verification scheme with no effective protection of porn users' identity and porn browsing history.

The Government considered that GDPR requirements, where internet users are trainer to blindly tick a box to give consent to the internet companies doing what the fuck they like with your data. Now internet users are well conditioned like Pavlov's dog to tick the hundreds of tick boxes they are presented with daily. And of course nobody ever reads what they are consenting to, life's too short.

After a while the government realised that the total lack of data protection for porn users may actually prevent their scheme form getting off the ground, as porn users simply would refuse to get age verified. This would result in bankrupt AV companies and perverse disinsentives for porn websites. Those that implement AV would then experience a devastating drop off in traffic and those that refuse age verification would be advantaged.

So the government commissioned a voluntary kitemark scheme for AV companies to try and demonstrate to auditors that they keep porn identity and browsing history safely. But really the government couldn't let go of its own surveillance requirements to keep the browsing history of porn users. Eventually some AV companies won the right to have a scheme that did not log people's browsing history, but most still do maintain a log (justified as 'fraud protection' in the BBFC kitemark scheme description).

well Now it appears that those that try to avoid the dangers of AV via VPNs may be not s safe as they would hope. The Henry Jackson Society has been researching the VPN industry and has found that 30% of VPNs are owned by Chinese companies that have direct data paths to the Chinese government.

Surely this will have extreme security issues as privately porn using people could then be set up for blackmail or pressure from the Chinese authorities.

The government needs to put an end to the current AV scheme and go back to the drawing board. It needs to try again, this time with absolute legal requirements to immediately delete porn users identity data and to totally ban the retention of browsing logs.

Anyway, the Henry Jackson Society explains its latest revelations:

Chinese spies could exploit Government's new porn laws to gather compromising material on businessmen, civil servants and public figures, say think tanks.

They say Chinese firms have quietly cornered the market in technology that enables people to access porn sites without having to register their personal details with age verification firms or buy an age ID card in a newsagent.

The new law require those accessing porn sites to prove they are 18 but the checks and registration can be by-passed by signing up to a Virtual Private Network (VPNs). These anonymise the location of a computer by routing its traffic through a server based at remote locations.

It has now emerged through an investigation by security experts that many of the VPNs are secretly controlled by Chinese owned firms -- as many as 30% of the networks worldwide.

It means that a VPN users' viewing habits and data can not only be legally requested by the Chinese Government under its lax privacy laws but the VPNs could themselves also be state-controlled, according to the Adam Smith Institute and Henry Jackson Society.

Sam Armstrong, spokesman for the Henry Jackson Society, said:

A list of billions of late-night website visits of civil servants, diplomats, and politicians could -- in the wrong hands -- amount to the largest-ever kompromat file compiled on British individuals.

Those in sensitive jobs are precisely the types of individuals who would seek to use a VPN to circumvent the trip to the newsagent to buy a porn pass.

Yet, the opaque ownership of these VPNs by Chinese firms means there is a real likelihood any browsing going through them could fall into the hands of Chinese intelligence.

 

 

Commented: YouTube speaks out against the censorship proposed in the Online Harms white paper...

YouTube is reluctant to censor drill music videos


Link Here16th July 2019
Full story: Drill Music...Drill music videos banned by UK police
Ben McOwen Wilson the head of YouTube UK said that the website not remove drill music videos from the platform saying that they provide a place for those too often without a voice.

He Said that YouTube must work with government and regulators to find a balance on removing content.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, McOwen Wilson had a knock at the vague government internet censorship plan outline in the Online Harms white paper. He said it was right that anything which is illegal offline should not be permitted online, but added that deciding when to remove videos which were legal but could be considered potentially harmful was a greater issue facing the tech industry.  He said:

Drawing a line on content that should be removed isn't always clear. For example, as communities are working to address the issue of gang violence, we too find ourselves developing the right way to play our part.

While some have argued there is no place for drill music on YouTube, we believe we can help provide a place for those too often without a voice.

To strike this balance, we work with the Metropolitan Police, community groups and experts to understand local context and take action where needed.

Offsite Comment: YouTube is right to defend drill

The British state's war on rappers is authoritarian and racist.

16th July 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Jason Reed

 

 

Alarm Bells Identified...

DCMS will consult about online ID cards so that your porn viewing and all your PC misdemeanours on social media can be logged against your social score


Link Here14th July 2019

Despite concern among some groups of witnesses, a shift in approach in the UK Government's position seems on the horizon. The Minister for Digital and the Creative industries, for example, implied support for a universal digital ID in a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2019:

think there are advantages of a universally acclaimed digital ID system which nowhere in the world has yet. There is a great prize to be won once the technology and the public's confidence are reconciled.

On 11 June 2019, DCMS and the Cabinet Office announced their intentions to launch a consultation on digital identify verification in the coming weeks. The following actions were set out:

  • A consultation to be issued in the coming weeks on how to deliver the effective organisation of the digital identity market.

  • The creation of a new Digital Identity Unit, which is a collaboration between DCMS and Cabinet Office. The Unit will help bring the public and private sector together, ensure the adoption of interoperable standards, specification and schemes, and deliver on the outcome of the consultation.

  • The start of engagement on the commercial framework for using digital identities from the private sector for the period from April 2020 to ensure the continued delivery of public services.

Single unique identifiers for citizens can transform the efficiency and transparency of Government services. We welcome the Government's announcement in June 2019 that it will consult shortly on digital identity. While we recognise that in the UK there are concerns about some of the features of a single unique identifier, as demonstrated by the public reaction to the 2006 Identity Card Act, we believe that the Government should recognise the value of consistent identity verification. The Government should facilitate a national debate on single unique identifiers for citizens to use for accessing public services along with the right of the citizen to know exactly what the Government is doing with their data.

Offline Comment: Privacy International explains some of the reasons why this is a bad idea

14th July 2019. See article from privacyinternational.org

The debate shouldn't be about having insight into how your identifier is used. It should be about making sure that identifiers are never usable.

After all, any unique identifier will not be limited to government use. Whether through design or commercial necessity, any such number will also find it's way into the private sector. This was another fear highlighted in the mid-2000s, but it has played out elsewhere. For example, the Indian Supreme Court, in their ruling on the Aadhaar system that provided a unique number to more than a billion people, that there were dangers of its use in the private sector: Allowing private entities to use Aadhaar numbers will lead to commercial exploitation of an individual's personal data without his/her consent and could lead to individual profiling.

Given everything that's happened since, the 13 years since the 2006 ID Card Act (that was repealed in 2010) can seem like a lifetime. But it's clear that the concerns expressed then remain prescient now. Now that we know so much more about the risks that the exploitation of people's data plays - and the targeting, profiling and manipulating of individuals and groups - we should be even more fearful today of such a system than we were a decade ago. Furthermore, it's been shown that we do not need such a unique identifier for people to securely access government services online, and it's on such concepts we must build going forward.

See the full article from privacyinternational.org

 

 

A new blasphemy law...

The National Secular Society Government online harm plans could curb free expression


Link Here6th July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

The National Secular Society has warned that government plans to require social media companies to censor hateful and offensive content could act as a de facto blasphemy law.

In its response to the government's white paper on online harms , the NSS said efforts to confront and challenge hateful speech and behaviour must not undermine free speech on religion.

The white paper outlines plans to create a regulator with the power to fine online platforms and block websites. The regulator will be required to create guidance for social media companies, outlining what constitutes hateful content online.

The guidance would include content which is not necessarily illegal, content which may directly or indirectly cause harm to other users and some offensive material in that definition.

The NSS said censoring content that could be considered offensive would severely restrict freedom of expression, including the freedom to criticise or satirise religion. The society added that the question of offence was an entirely subjective matter.

The NSS also noted that a requirement on companies to demonstrate 'continuous improvement' in tackling hateful material could encourage them to be more censorious.

The NSS also challenged a claim in the white paper that offending online is just as serious as that occurring offline. The NSS said this line lowered the threshold for hate crimes, because people's ability to commit such crimes is much more limited online than offline.

The society raised the example of a man who was recently arrested on suspicion of hate crime after publishing a video on Facebook of himself mocking Islamic prayer in a hospital prayer room. The NSS noted that threats of death and violence were made towards the man and were reported to the police, but no action appeared to have been taken against the perpetrators to date.

The NSS also criticised the government's definition of hate crime which is contained within the white paper. The definition says hate crimes include crimes demonstrating hostility on the grounds of an individual's actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

The NSS said this definition was too broad, meaning any incident in which an individual demonstrates hostility toward another individual based on the listed characteristics could be treated as a hate crime.

The society said strong critics of religion or Christians who preach that gay people will go to Hell were examples of those who risk being charged with hate crimes.

NSS spokesperson Megan Manson said the white paper had given too much ground to those who attempt to shut down legitimate expression, including on religion.

The government should treat the fundamental right to free expression as a positive value in its attempts to promote social cohesion. Instead it has proposed cracking down on what people can say on social media, based largely on vague and broad definitions of what constitutes 'hateful' material. In the process it risks significantly undermining free expression for all and stirring social resentment.

Ministers must not treat the civil liberties of British citizens as an afterthought in their efforts to tackle online harms.

 

 

Offsite Article: How about exemptions from Government censorship for ALL internet forums?...


Link Here3rd July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Press Gazette apposes the government's internet censorship proposals in the Online Harms white paper but only calls for the exemptions for themselves

See article from pressgazette.co.uk

 

 

Belatedly filed...

The EU notes that it has now received notification of the BBFC rules on censoring adult porn


Link Here2nd July 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The implementation of teh UK's new pron censorship regime was recently delayed by 6 months due not not filing the details with the EU as required by European law. Well the BBFC censorship rules have now been duly filed.

The EU websites note that they were filed on 1st July 2019 and there is now a period for people to comment up until 2nd October 2019.

When announcing the delay censorship minister Jeremy Wright noted that at the end of this period another month or so may required to respond to comments.

The EU website noted above provides for comments but maybe only MEPs and the like can hold of the process by asking questions or making comments. Or perhaps any European can comment.

 

 

Offsite Article: The UK Is Trying to Censor the Internet...


Link Here 2nd July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Here's what the Online Harms White Paper means for UK internet users

See article from pcmag.com


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