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2023: July-Sept

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EPG listing set to require that included streaming channels submit to UK TV censorship rules...

The UK government dreams up a new wheeze to take censorship control of streaming TV channels under current law


Link Here26th September 2023
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
The government writes:

Broadcast television in the UK is subject to a system of regulation overseen by the independent communications regulator Ofcom, which is key to ensuring protections for audiences. This regulation ensures that regulated television channels available in the UK abide by a common set of rules and standards in relation to the programmes they show.

Over the last century, the number of channels available in the UK has increased significantly 203 from a single channel in 1922 to several hundred today. This trend has been recently accelerated by the increasing availability of internet-delivered linear television, known as internet protocol (IP) delivered television. For example, Sky's newest product Sky Stream delivers content via the internet, compared to Sky Q that delivers its services via satellite.

Under the amended Communications Act 2003, in general only channels that appear on regulated electronic programme guides (EPGs) are subject to UK regulation. Which EPGs are regulated in the UK is described in legislation and under this description these currently are Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media, and YouView. This list of regulated EPGs means that many of the newer EPGs and channels utilising IP technology are unregulated and can be easily accessed by audiences on their television sets. While millions of people still choose to watch television through the traditional regulated EPGs, there are increasingly significant numbers of UK viewers accessing linear television channels and content via television sets that can be connected to the internet. Data suggests that the UK has a high proportion of these kinds of televisions, with smart televisions already in as many as 74% of UK households.

This shift is transforming the way that audiences access television, with many new services now delivered via the internet. This evolution of distribution means that there is greater choice for consumers in how they access linear television content and that there is more competition within the market for delivering services, allowing for new and innovative services to emerge.

Many of the larger providers of unregulated EPGs have voluntarily put in place terms and procedures to protect audiences from harmful content, which may result in some comparable levels of protection as the regulated EPGs while incurring lower administrative costs for the providers.

However, the introduction of these newer unregulated and self-regulated guides has resulted in a clear regulatory gap within the existing statutory regime, which could result in inconsistent protections for audiences and limited options for independent complaints handling. This also means that guides do not have to ensure other benefits for audiences like prominence for public service channels and accessibility for people with disabilities.

The government is therefore concerned that the combination of the defined set of regulated EPGs and the growth of new, IP delivered services means that there is increasingly a lack of regulation. UK audiences being able to access unregulated EPGs means there is an increasing number of linear television channels and services that are not regulated by Ofcom and to the standards audiences in the UK expect. This has the potential to cause harm, especially for children and vulnerable audiences, with no statutory protections on these unregulated services.

The lack of protections in place for these unregulated services mean that there is a range of potentially harmful content that could be shown on television with no independent recourse for action to be taken. This includes content that would be unsuitable for younger audiences that are available during the day, that would need to be shown after the watershed if regulated, such as those that include swearing, violence, and sexual content.

Moreover, an inconsistent application of statutory regulation means that EPGs delivering similar -- and often competing -- services do not currently have to comply with the same statutory requirements. This means that there is not currently a fair competitive environment between providers.

Given the landscape of changing technology and the increasing risk to audiences of unregulated content appearing on television, the government believes that legislation is required to update the EPGs that are regulated in the UK. The government is therefore consulting on whether and how to use existing powers that allow it to update which EPGs are regulated in the UK.

This 8-week consultation seeks views on whether and how the Secretary of State should exercise this power, and seeks views on a proposed approach.

In summary, the government is consulting on:

  • The impact of regulating EPGs.

  • The proposed approach for defining which EPGs should be regulated.

Responses from all individuals or organisations on the specific consultation questions and content of the consultation document are welcome.

 

 

Stirring up culture wars...

Police Scotland prepares for the enforcement of the Scottish Government's latest attack on free speech


Link Here26th September 2023
Full story: Scotland stifles free speech...Hate Crime & Public Order (Scot) Bill Hate Crime & Public Order (Scot) Bill
Preparing to enforce Humza Yousaf's latest law attacking free speech, a specialized hate crime unit has been announced by Police Scotland. With the unit scheduled to be operational by November, a comprehensive training of about 16,400 police will follow in December.

This is all in anticipation of the Hate Crime and Public Order Act, expected to be ratified early in 2024. This Act expands upon the existing law, offering a wider definition of 'vulnerable' groups and introduces the notion of stirring up hatred.

The Act allows for more severe sentencing if prejudice is based on factors such as age, race, disability, religion, transgender identity or variations in sex characteristics. No doubt it will be used to police 'wrong think' eg in the increasingly toxic culture wars surrounding gender issues.

Critics argue that a significant portion of police time may now be geared towards a subjective concept of hate crime, such as misgendering, instead of dealing with tangible violent acts.

Police Scotland remains tight-lipped about the size of the proposed unit plus the financial implications of the new laws -- a cause for concern for many.

 

 

Making Britain the unsafest place in the world to be online...

Government proposes that tech companies may be banned from fixing security vulnerabilities if they are currently being used for for spying


Link Here 31st August 2023
A proposal by the British government that should shake the tech sector and jeopardize what little trust remains, includes attempts being made to potentially ban forthcoming security updates in major technology systems if those updates would close the vulnerabilities that the government is using to spy.

The latest scheme suggests that tech giants might have to seek approval from the British government before pushing out security fixes. However, if the fix is deemed to interfere with a vulnerability being utilized by security services, the government may disallow the updates.

The UK government continues to arrogantly nurture the flawed notion that it can empower surveillance without enabling malicious actors to misuse it.

The irony of prohibiting patches cannot be understated, as tech companies primarily recognize security vulnerabilities when someone else finds and reports them. Any delay in applying patches means threats proliferate, making the area insecure and unsafe.

 

 

Offsite Article: Compromising E2EE is not possible without introducing systemic vulnerabilities and risks...


Link Here31st August 2023
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The British Computer Society is not impressed by the Online Safety Bill

See article from bcs.org

 

 

Offsite Article: Online Privacy at Risk from Awful U.K. Internet Regulation Bill...


Link Here 6th August 2023
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The legislation is also terrible on free speech and poses global risks.

See article from reason.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Age Verified by Google...


Link Here31st July 2023
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
A fascinating article speculating on how the UK's Online Censorship Bill will actually impact the internet business, as always the onerous red tape will most benefit the US internet giants

See article from regulate.tech

 

 

A new snooper's charter...

The Online 'Safety' Bill is not the only threat to British people's internet privacy and security


Link Here20th July 2023
Full story: UK Government vs Encryption...Government seeks to restrict peoples use of encryption
Apple says it will remove services such as FaceTime and iMessage from the UK rather than weaken security if new UK government proposals are made law and acted upon.

The government is seeking to update the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016. It wants messaging services to clear security features with the Home Office before releasing them to customers. The act lets the Home Office demand security features are disabled, without telling the public. Under the update, this would have to be immediate.

Currently, there has to be a review, there can also be an independent oversight process and a technology company can appeal before taking any action.

WhatsApp and Signal are among the platforms to have opposed a clause in the Online Safety Bill allowing the communications regulator to require companies to install technology to scan for child-abuse material in encrypted messaging apps and other services.

The government has opened an eight-week consultation on the proposed amendments to the IPA. , which already enables the storage of internet browsing records for 12 months and authorises the bulk collection of personal data.

Apple has made a  9 page submission to the current consultation opposing the snooping proposal:

It would not make changes to security features specifically for one country that would weaken a product for all users. Some changes would require issuing a software update so could not be made secretly The proposals constitute a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy that would affect people outside the UK.

 

 

Reviewing UK censorship laws on pornography...

The Government announces a new review that will surely be a one-sided affair inviting moralists and campaigners to whinge about porn


Link Here 4th July 2023
The UK government is reviewing porn censorship laws for adults, moving beyond the age verification requirements proposed in the current Online Censorship Bill.

No doubt the 'review' will be a one-sided whinge-fest soliciting the views of moralists, censors and law enforcers, whilst totally ignoring the views of film makers and viewers.

The Government writes:

Regulation of online pornography in the UK will undergo a thorough review to make sure it is fit for purpose in tackling exploitation and abuse, the government has announced today (Monday 3 July).

As the way we consume media and access content rapidly changes, the Review will investigate any gaps in UK regulation which allows exploitation and abuse to take place online as well as identifying barriers to enforcing criminal law. While the criminal law has been updated in recent years to tackle the presence of extreme and revenge pornography, there are currently different regimes that address the publication and distribution of commercial pornographic material offline, such as videos, and online. The government wants to ensure any pornography legislation and regulation operates consistently for all pornographic content.

The review will also look at how effective the criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies are in responding to illegal pornographic content, including considering if any changes need to be made to criminal law to address challenges law enforcement might have.

It will also consider what more can be done to provide children with information and resources about the harm caused by pornography. This will make sure that illegal and harmful content, such as that which features child sexual abuse and exploitation, or where adults are being exploited, is robustly dealt with.

The Pornography Review is a prompt response to calls for action from parliamentarians and campaign groups concerned with the prevalence and impact on both children and adults of illegal pornographic content and child sexual exploitation and abuse on pornography sites and social media.

This work is separate to, but builds on, the Online Safety Bill, which will hold social media companies and pornography services accountable for ensuring children cannot view pornography, with a new higher standard on the age verification or age estimation tools they must use.

Technology Minister, Paul Scully, said:

Keeping the public safe is the first priority of any government and with technology moving faster than ever, we cannot take our eye off the ball in exploring what more we can do.

Our Pornography Review will look closely at the laws and regulations relating to offline and online content, informing our next steps in tackling the heinous crimes of exploitation and abuse, wherever it occurs.

'Justice' Minister, Ed Argar, said:

It is vital we keep up with the pace of the online world and this review will help ensure our laws work to protect people online while punishing those who share illegal and harmful content.

The Review will seek expertise across government and significant engagement with the Crown Prosecution Service and police, industry, civil society stakeholders and regulators.

The review will also look at the role of the pornography industry in trafficking and exploiting adult performers, child sexual exploitation and abuse,¬ and how extreme and non-consensual pornographic content online is dealt with.

There are currently several criminal offences, linked to legislation such as the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the extreme porn offence at s63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008,¬ which can be committed in relation to all pornographic material,¬ whether offline or online. Some pornographic material is covered by communications offences and offences which deal with publicly displayed material in shops and other premises.

Separately, there is a very robust regime of offences tackling the possession, taking and making of indecent images of children, whether they are photographs / films, or non-photographic.

There are also different regulatory regimes, including¬ that established by the Video Recordings Act 1984, which address the publication and distribution of commercial pornographic material offline, and the video-sharing platform regime that addresses¬ some online pornography. Notes to editors

The Review will involve a range of government departments, including the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Further scope of the Review will be set out in due course.

The Review is aiming to be completed within a year.


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