Melon Farmers Original Version

International Censorship News


2007: April-June

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30th June   Stabbed in the Back ...
 


Peru flagPeruvian cartoonist censored

From Jerusalem Post

A well-known Peruvian cartoonist is complaining of censorship after officials at a Peruvian government-funded gallery removed three of his works, including a drawing that criticized the military for massacres of highland peasants.

The artist, Piero Quijano, referring to officials from the National Institute of Culture, said that it was a "clear" violation of freedom of expression.

In protest, Quijano removed his entire 90-piece show from the gallery where it was to run for a month. The gallery's director resigned in solidarity.

The drawing depicts four soldiers planting a rifle with a bayonet into the back of a peasant - an image mimicking the iconic World War II photograph of US Marines raising the American flag over Iwo Jima.

 

29th June   Bangkok Not So International Film Festival ...
 


Persepolis book cover Film critical of Iran censored

From Reuters see full article

Thailand has caved in to pressure from Iran and withdrawn the animated movie Persepolis , about a girl growing up and feeling repressed under Islamic rule, from next month's Bangkok International Film Festival.

I was invited by the Iranian embassy to discuss the matter and we both came to mutual agreement that it would be beneficial to both countries if the film was not shown, festival director Chattan Kunjara na Ayudhya: It's a good film, but there are other considerations.

In a letter published by several news organizations, Iran said the film presented an unrealistic face of the achievements and results of the glorious Islamic Revolution in some of its parts.

Iran's rulers are criticized in Persepolis but so are Western democracies for backing the Shah and supplying his government with weapons.

Persepolis jointly won the Jury Prize at Cannes, is based on best-selling comics by an Iranian-French emigre about her struggling with the authorities in the early days of the Islamic revolution.

Islamophobia in Western drama started in France, and producing and highlighting the anti-Iranian film Persepolis in Cannes falls in line with this Islamophobia, seethed Mehdi Kalhor, a cultural advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said Persepolis sought to sabotage Iranian culture and will not be the last anti-Iranian film .


The Bangkok film festival, which runs from 19-29 July.

 

26th June   Sikh Shootout ...
 


Shootout film posterCall to ban Shootout at Lokhandwala

From World Sikh News

Several Sikh organisations have demanded a ban on screening of Bollywood multi-starrer Shootout at Lokhandwala , alleging the film tarnished the image of the community by portraying them as "terrorists".

Scenes relating to Sikhs in the film had not only tarnished the image of the community in the world but was also affecting the minds of the Sikh younger generation, according to Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle Media Study Centre coordinator Balwinder Singh.

There is a flashback in the film where inspector Abhishek Mhatre (played by Abhishek Bachchan) is shot by a group of Sikh terrorists. The organisations urged the Central government to impose a "complete ban" on the film's screening and include a person nominated by SGPC as a member of the censor board to evaluate the objectionable scenes.

They also appealed to Sikhs across the country to "bitterly oppose" the film.

 

26th June   Update: Tube Censors ...
 


You Tube logoThailand considers unblocking YouTube

From the Bangkok Post
See also FACT who list 1000's of blocked websites

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry plans to ask the cabinet to waive a decree issued by the Council for National Security, earlier known as the Council for Democratic Reform, which has prohibited political websites, said ICT minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom.

The junta's decree, known as Order No. 5, which has banned political websites, will be lifted by the Surayud cabinet this week in order to make the people feel better now that the political situation has improved and a general election is to be held, he said.

The ICT minister who claimed to have banned only about 200 websites, 90% of which featured pornography said that Thai-based internet users will again be allowed to access www.youtube.com, the popular video-sharing website after it had been blocked for several months.

[As an aside, according to FACT, the list of blocked websites has increased to 17793 entries (representing 11329 websites). 90 political websites were added to the banned list in May 2007].

Google, the US-based parent corporation of YouTube, had offered to see to it that any lese majeste content will be kept off that website, he added.

 

25th June   Extreme Censorship ..
 

 
Russia flagRussia considers censoring internet of 'extremist' material

From Australian IT

Internet sites in Russia should be censored to combat extremist material, a senior legal official says.

Changes need to be made to the current laws. As experience shows there is often room on the internet for the spread of material of an extremist nature, Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Sydoruk said: Therefore it is necessary to draft an effective control system so that material published there corresponds to legal requirements.

Critics say the laws are also used to stifle political opponents of President Vladimir Putin and to prevent the airing of opposition views on sensitive subjects such as the conflict in Chechnya.

Television is almost entirely controlled by the authorities and only a handful of newspapers, which reach limited audiences, are considered independent.

 

25th June   Comic Judgement ..
 

 
Misshitsu comic book coverJapanese Supreme Court finds comic to be obscene

From Japan Today see full article

The Supreme Court ordered a comic book publisher to pay a fine of 1.5 million yen for distributing obscene comic books containing sexually explicit scenes, upholding a lower court ruling. The top court dismissed an appeal by Motonori Kishi, president of publisher Shobunkan Corp.

The district court had sentenced Kishi to one year in prison, suspended for three years, saying, We cannot overlook the fact that the defendant brought about a harmful influence on sexual morality by distributing the comic. According to court rulings, Kishi distributed about 20,000 copies of the Misshitsu (Honey Room) comic book containing graphic sexual scenes to 16 companies in April 2002.

The story leading up to the Supreme Court case from A Short Introduction to Japanese Censorship

In April 2002 a manga Misshitsu (Honey Room) was taken to court for the first time charged with obscenity causing a massive commotion and starting a public debate on freedom of expression and the ubiquitousness of manga with sexual content all over the country.

In January 2004 the Tokyo District Court passed sentence and punished the editor of the manga Motonori Kishi with one year in prison for violating article 175 of the Penal Code for selling and distributing obscene literature. In this instance the president of the jury declared that the manga was far too graphic.

Given the large variety of pornographic material found in all sort of formats and sold all around Japan, the court decision caused some amount of incredulity. Kishi made an appeal to the Tokyo High Court alleging a violation of freedom of expression. The sentence imposed by the Tokyo District Court was reduced in June to a fine of 1.5 million yen by the Tokyo High Court. Nevertheless, the presiding judge rejected any allegations made by the accused that Article 175 is unconstitutional as it violates freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.

 

24th June   Information Super Byway ..
 

 
Malaysia flagMalaysia to censor the internet

From X Biz see full article

Following repeated threats by ministers and members of Parliament over the past three years to control online content, the Malaysian government is setting up a task force to look into applying existing legislation on the new media without contravening the country's Bill of Guarantee against Internet censorship.

On 13 June 2007, the Cabinet decided that a task force of senior officers from ministries, a government agency, the Attorney-General's Chambers and the police will scan existing legislation that can be used to check "pornographic and seditious" online content.

An unnamed source said that websites and blogs on race, religion, politics and those critical of the government would be targetted.

More ominously, the task force will look at how the overbroad 1948 Sedition Act can be expanded to cover online material.

 

23rd June   State TV ..
 

 
Old iTV logoThailand dictates TV news

From The Nation

Several TITV employees yesterday lodged a complaint with the Thai Broadcast Journalists' Association against "government officials" dictating to them not to produce any news reports that ran counter to government policies.

The statement said government officials attended every news briefing to make sure no news content conflicted with the government's interests.

It is the first time TITV has protested publicly about the junta-installed government's reportedly close control over programming produced by the station, which was once owned by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

When it was iTV, before Thaksin was toppled by the military coup on September 19, it was known for siding with him, and it was taken over by the government last month.

The staff did not explicitly name the government agencies sending the officials but said the strict policy had begun to be enforced about a month ago when political frictions became particularly heated.

The officials threatened to use "drastic measures" against TITV if their orders to carry "one-sided" messages on news programmes were not followed, the TITV workers said.

 

17th June   Not So Comic ...
 


Canada flagCanadian Customs seize gay erotic comics

From AVN

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) recently seized a shipment of erotic comic books bound for gay adult store Priape, deeming the material obscene.

All of the seized books are French translations published by H&O Comics in France. They include the titles Dads & Boys volumes one and two and Justin volumes one and two by English artist Josman, and Arena and Gunji by Japanese artist Gengoroh Tagame.

According to Xtra.ca the comics depicted acts of father-son incest, sex with pain, sexual mutilation, defecation and vomiting. Though as the publisher, Olivier Tourtois at H&O publishing points out, … they are not harmful and no actors are harmed or exploited in their production.

Under Canadian law, anyone caught selling materials deemed to be obscene risks a two-year prison term.

 

14th June   Iranian Corruptors of the World ...
 


Iran flagThe production of porn being made a capital offence

From AVN

Iran's parliament has approved a bill that would sentence persons convicted of producing pornography to death.

Lawmakers voted 148-5 that producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corruptors of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corruptors of the world.

The main elements in...production referenced in the bill include producers, directors, cameramen and actors. According to CNN, the term "corruptors of the world" is derived from the Quran and carries a death penalty under Iran's Islamic Penal Code.

Distributors and adult website operators could also face imprisonment and death. The bill encompasses all forms of sexually explicit media, including videos, DVDs and CDs. Pornbographic books and magazines are already banned in Iran.

In order to become law, the bill must now be approved by Iran's Guardian Council.

 

13th June   Red Signal on Internet Cafes ...
 


China flagNo new internet cafes in China

From 24.com

China will license no new internet cafes this year while regulators carry out an industry-wide inspection, the government says.

Investigators will look into whether internet cafes are improperly renting out their licenses or failing to register their customers' identities, the state administration for industry and commerce said on its website.

In March, the government launched a crackdown on the transfer of internet licenses after it said some holders, including schools, were improperly renting or selling them.

A culture ministry official was quoted at that time as saying China's 120 000 internet cafes were adequate to meet the needs of the market, and no more were needed.

 

7th June   Unconstitutional ...
 


South Africa flagSouth Africa and the pre censorship of all mass media

From Legal Brief

The Film and Publications Amendment Bill may have to go back to the drawing board after the chairperson of the Home Affairs Committee, Patrick Chauke, said that Parliament would not approve drastic new controls on the functioning of print and electronic media if they were unconstitutional: We don’t want to legislate and see it going to court. We are going to speak to the state law advisers; we think we can come to an amicable solution.

The DA was scathing of the Bill. MP Dene Smuts said: Boards such as these have no automatic right to exist in a constitutional state. They cannot be thought police. That is why I find the provision that these people can exercise pre-publication censorship on hate speech so shocking. No one at all should be conducting pre-publication inspection. That is censorship of the most primitive kind, whether imposed on broadcasters or the print media, and it is plainly unconstitutional. We do need an electronic communications regulator. We do not need a censor board/

An editorial in the Mail & Guardian said what the bill does is bring the mass media into the ambit of classification, though they have been excluded for 38 years by an exemption granted to publishers and broadcasters. In addition, it seeks to give the Film and Publications Board more powers to limit free expression than are provided for by the Constitution.

In effect, the Bill would mean that most content related to the reportage of sexual conduct, incitement to imminent violence and the advocacy of hatred based on any identifiable group characteristic would be subject to pre-publication censorship.


5th June   Update: Exempt ...
 


South Africa flagSouth African media exempt from repression

From Citizen

The South African media have scored a major victory following a Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs’ ruling exempting the print and broadcast media from provisions of the controversial Films and Publication Bill.

The committee’s chairman, Patrick Chauke, said the decision to re-insert media exemption in the revised measure was a culmination of robust engagement between the committee, media and others.

This outcome was informed by the engagement with stakeholders -- it is evidence that this parliament of South Africa is not a rubber stamp but a parliament that takes peoples views very seriously, he said.

Had the committee not revised the bill and made some changes, the measure would have compelled print and broadcast media to submit certain stories to the Film and Publication Board (FPB) before publication -- something to which the media had strongly objected.

Chauke said under no circumstances would an ANC-led government have had passed a law that undermined press freedom.

 

15th June   Update: Muzzled ...
 


South Africa flagSouth African censorship bill passed

From IOL

The Films and Publications Amendment Bill has been passed by the National Assembly.

It is nothing but a smokescreen to muzzle the media, according to the Democratic Alliance. Speaking during debate on the measure in the House, DA spokesperson Sandy Kaylan said the home affairs department's intention was not primarily to fight child pornography, but to muzzle the media.

So when this amendment bill was first presented in the draft form and the reasoning behind it was that it was aimed at rooting out and eradicating child pornography, one could not help but applaud the noble intention.

However, upon a closer, detailed reading of this draft bill, it became clear that the original intention was not so honourable after all and that there seemed to be an attempt on the part of the drafters to muzzle free speech.


Some of the more controversial clauses were removed from the bill by the Assembly's home affairs committee during its passage there last month.

Kaylan said the fact that the department had brought to Parliament a draft bill with such controversial clauses, pointed to a hidden agenda.

The African Christian Democratic Party's Steve Swart said had the measure been passed in its original form, it would have had amounted to state censorship and changed the way the media reported news: This would have severely restricted the media from being able to report on news items dealing with child abuse, rape and indecent assault, declarations or threats of war, statements amounting to propaganda for war, violent demonstrations, unrest incidents, racial incidents, domestic violence and criminal activity.

The bill was adopted by the House, with the objections of the DA, and will now go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

 

12th June   A Message of Repression ..
 

 
Malaysia flagMalaysian minister threatens over SMS messages

From X Biz see full article

Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said this week that mobile phone users caught sending threats or obscene messages with pictures can be fined $14,700 or jailed for up to one year, or both.

The deputy minister said the compulsory registration of the estimated 15 million cellphone users in Malaysia would make it easy to identify senders.

 

10th June  We Can Think for Ourselves!..
 

 
ICT blocked websiteProtests against Thai internet censors

From The Nation
See also FACT

Free-Internet activists yesterday afternoon gathered in front of Bangkok's Panthip Plaza, the country's largest computer mall, to denounce the growing threat of Internet censorship that they claim now covers some 50,000 websites.

The dozen or so members of Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (Fact) also distributed CDs containing a programme to circumvent the authorities' suppression of websites and also a secret list of the 50,000 that have been blacked out.

The software will give access to any proxy site, said CJ Hinke, a leading member of the group: So we're distributing thousands of CDs before the cyberlaw is passed, making it illegal .

FACT's Sombat Boonngamanong said: It is well known that these days the Information Communications and Technology Ministry spends most of its time blocking websites that express political views not to its liking. We all know what the political climate is, though it's the people who should decide what they ought to believe or not believe. People can think for themselves!

Sombat condemned the ICT Ministry through loudspeakers, as some 50 listeners stood transfixed by the messages conveyed.

Signs with slogans including "We Can Think for Ourselves!" and "Internet Does Not Belong to CNS" were held by protesters under the watchful eyes of Special Branch police.

 

9th June   Thailand Reclaims its Voice ...
 

 
ICT blocked websiteProtests against Thai censorship

From the Bangkok Post

The pro-Thaksin Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship group held a rally outside the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry yesterday, demanding the ministry unblock its website, www.saturdayvoice.com. The website was closed down on Thursday.

ICT Ministry spokesman Visanu Mee-yu said the group still has other internet channels with several registered domain names.

Visanu said the ministry closed down the group's website because it wanted to make sure that after the Constitution Tribunal's electoral fraud verdicts, the situation, particularly in cyberspace, would not get out of hand.

There were fears the saturday voice website, among others, would stir up ill feelings against the verdict. Moreover, Visanu said, its webmasters had failed to curb users who posted provocative messages.

Media freedom advocates, spearheaded by the Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (Fact) group, have strongly criticised the website bans, saying they are a severe violation of the public's right to information and freedom of speech.

Earlier this week the Bangkok-based anti-censorship group released a report revealing what it claimed to be the ICT Ministry's ''secret blocklist'', which shows that up to 11,329 websites in Thailand had been blocked last month. In January 2004, there were only 1,247 websites on the blocklist, according to the group.

The ministry previously relied on Thai ISPs to block sites at its ''request'' but has now changed tactics to block them directly at Thailand's four internet gateways: the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT), True Internet and Buddy Broadband, Fact said.

' The ministry is, in fact, engaged in deliberate deception of the Thai public and the manipulation of public opinion for political gain,' said Fact's statement.

Fact will today hold a massive gathering at Pantip Plaza, the country's biggest computer and IT outlet, as part of its ''Free the Internet'' campaign.

 

9th June   Piss Poor Justice in New Zealand ...
 

 
New Zealand flagFined for importing pissing DVDs

Based on an article from Scoop

Wellington District Court Judge Stephen Harrop found against a “prominent Wellington town planner” for importing by post via the internet, DVDs that were classified “objectionable”.

The offences were ones of “strict liability” involved the importing a number of “objectionable publications”. Every person who commits such an offence is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000. Judge Harrop refused to grant the offender name suppression and refused to grant him a discharge without conviction, based on the defence claim that the consequences of a conviction were out of all proportion to the seriousness of a conviction. He fined him $150 on one charge and $750 on another and ordered him to pay $150 court costs. All these rulings were upheld in the High Court this week by Justice Warrick Gendall.

The mean minded Judge said people who wanted to hire the man's services as a planner and resource management consultant would be concerned with the quality of his work, but people should also be able to know who they were dealing with in a work environment. The offender’s name should therefore be made public and the nature of his offending specified.

Under s. 3(2)(d) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act (1993) a publication that “promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support… the use of urine … in association with degrading or dehumanising conduct or sexual conduct”, must be deemed “objectionable” by the Classification Office.

The victim of New Zealand justice imported fetish DVDs which included depictions of urophilia, a sexual fetish focused on urination . Describing such a sexual perversion as a “fetish”

Defence lawyer, Greg King, argued that because urophilia was considered a sexual fetish associated with urination, and was not illegal, then the depiction of such activities should also not be classified illegal, even though the Classification Act singled out the promotion of such activities as illegal. This defence argument failed.

 

8th June   Freedom Desert ...
 

 
YouTube logoYouTube blocked in Morocco

From The Times

Moroccan internet users have been unable to access YouTube since last week, amid fears that the country's government is imposing restrictions on independent media. The video-sharing site has been blocked since last Friday.

Since December last year, YouTube has hosted a series of videos entitled Western Sahara Intifada that criticise the Government's treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1976 following the withdrawal of Spain, the colonial power.

In several, cloaked figures are shown stealing through cities such as Laayoune, the region's main city, under cover of darkness and spray-painting independence messages on the walls.

Another, which was posted in December and has been viewed about 2,500 in the past month, purports to show police beating a group of women during a protest in Laayoune.

They’ve clearly blocked YouTube, Abdelhakim Albarkani, an economics student from Rabat, said: I’m worried, because YouTube allowed us to see things the state newspapers and television won’t show.

One blogger speculated that the reason for the ban was a video entitled Mohammed VI the Thief , posted earlier this month, in which the king's face is superimposed on a number of photographs including one in which a footballer grasps another's crotch, and another of scantily clad dancers.

Several sites promoting Western Saharan independence have already been blocked by Moroccan telecommunications authorities, and for much of last year Google's satellite mapping tool Google Earth was also inaccessible.

 

6th June   Soap Censors ...
 

 
Thai TV soapThai Government to censor TV programmes

From the Bangkok Post see full article

Thai television programmes with content requiring parental guidance cannot be aired before 8pm and must be watched by children in the presence of their parents, the government have announced.

Broadcasts of other programmes rated unsuitable for under-18s must also be pushed back to 10pm.

Deputy Prime Minister and Social Development and Human Security Minister Paiboon Wattanasiritham said after the cabinet meeting that programmes with a Nor rating should be watched by children only in the presence of parents.

But since most parents did not get home until late in the evening, the cabinet agreed that Nor-rated programmes should not start until 8pm.

The Chor category programmes, considered inappropriate for people under 18, should be aired only after 10pm.

The cabinet last December ruled that all television programmes must be given ratings, although so far there have been no restrictions on when they should be aired.

The time restriction for television programmes was proposed to the cabinet by the government-appointed committees on safe and creative media and media policy for social development, Paiboon said.

All television channels should adjust their programming to comply with yesterday's cabinet resolution over the next two or three months, he said.

The Department of Public Relations would be in charge of enforcing the resolution. The cabinet agreed to set up a committee comprising representatives of the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Education Ministry and civil society to rate programmes.

 

22nd May   Blogs Blocked ...
 
Blogspot

 
Blogs on blogspot are being blocked in Thailand

Users in Thailand have been reporting that ALL blogs using Google's Blogger service hosted with blogspot in the address are being blocked in Thailand.

Readers have reported that even uncontroversial blogs have been offline for the last few days.

It has not yet become clear the reason for this block.


23rd May   Update: 1000's of Blogs Blocked...
 
Blogspot

 
so as to ban a political site

From the Thai Photo Blogs

Blogspot subdomains are still being blocked by most Thai internet service providers.  There are reports that TOT, Hutch, and CSLoxinfo are 3 such ISPs have who blocked blogspot.com. Others have reported that True has not blocked blogspot.com.

According to reports, the government were aiming at blocking only saturdayvoice.blogspot.com and a few other political sites. However, their technicians 'mistakenly' blocked all the sub-domains and hence blocked thousands of blogs.


4th June   Update: Blogs Back ...
 
Blogspot

 
Thailand unblocks YouTube and BlogSpot

From Jil in Pattaya
From FACT

YouTube and BlogSpot have now been re-enabled in Thailand albeit with plenty of videos/blogs that remain individually blocked.

Censorship tactics have also changed. MICT, Thailand's Ministry of Censorship and Technology had previously relied on Thai ISPs to block the Web but has now changed tactics to block at Thailand’s four Internet gateways: Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT), True Internet and Buddy Broadband.

The list of blocked websites has increased to 17793 entries (representing 11329 websites). 90 political websites were added to the banned list in May 2007.

Update: Still Unavailable

BlogSpot sites have been restored but YouTube still seems blocked

 

30th May   Update: Turkishness = Censorship...
 


Gagged Turkish protestorTurkey internet censorship signed into law

From Reporters without Borders

Reporters Without Borders regrets that a bill passed by parliament on 4 May allowing the authorities to block websites with content deemed to have insulted the memory of the Turkish republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, was signed into law by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on 22 May.

Legal restrictions now extend to the Internet, the press freedom organisation said. Resorting to criminal penalties to punish Internet users is excessive. It shows the authorities want to force website editors to censor themselves. The possible consequences of this law are very disturbing. Will subversive content also be banned from chat forums? How far does the government want go to impose its control on online dissent?

Article 8 of Law 5651 on the “Prevention of crimes in the computer domain” calls for content to be blocked if it violates a 1951 law on “crimes against Atatrk.” The article says: “When there is sufficient evidence of the improper aspect of content (...) access must be blocked.” As well as punishing “crimes against Atatrk,” Law 5651 also punishes “inciting suicide” (article 84), “sexual abuse of children” (article 103), “prostitution” (article 227) and “inciting drug use” (article 190).

Internet Service Providers are themselves supposed to take the initiative to block access to content, which they then show to a judge who decides whether or not the blocking should continue. It will be the job of a “Telecommunication Council” to identify these responsible for the content. A complaint will then be submitted to a “Communication Presidency,” which like the “Telecommunication Council” is an entity specially created to ensure the new law’s implementation.

 

29th May   Censors Fingered ...
 


Israel flagIsrael considers fingerprint access to porn

From Online-Casinos

The Israeli Communications minister, Ariel Atias is busy drafting a bill to block free access to pornography, violence and gambling Web sites.

Atias has already succeeded in passing several important communications reforms, to the chagrin of the cellular telephone giants. Atias claims that in this multimedia era, it is unreasonable that pornography or harsh violence are meticulously trimmed from television programs, while the Internet has no censorship or control....and he is apparently trying to solve the problem with a particularly radical and aggressive move.

The proposed bill places the onus on ISPs to implement screening technology to prevent access to porn or online gambling sites unless such access is specifically requested by a subscriber who provides proof of identity and age. Atias has apparently discussed this matter with the Justice Ministry and communications professionals, in an attempt to reach an agreement on a mode for screening content.

ISPs already market optional content-screening software at the consumer end, but Atias says this is an unsatisfactory solution. He finds it hard to believe that families will voluntarily install screening software and feels content should be screened at the switching centres.

The bill is already attracting attention and opposition from groups that are concerned about its implications for invasion of privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of occupation, to name a few.

Atias seems to have applied a similar concept to controlling erotic content on cellular phones. Free access to erotic services via cellular Web portals has been stopped - in order to receive such services, adult subscribers must send a copy of their ID card to the cell phone company.

Another move to control the Internet has surfaced in the form of a proposal drafted by a political associate of Arias, who has suggested a bill calling for the use of advanced technology to achieve the same goal as the Arias bill. This proposal, by Knesset member Amnon Cohen requires that Internet users with a penchant for visiting undesirable sites will have to register with their Internet service provider (ISP), which will use a fingerprint-based biometric identification system to verify the subscriber is an adult. Without this ID such sites will be blocked.

Describing Cohen's bill as futuristic and currently impractical, Haaretz opines that such a system will be technologically possible in a few years, but in a country that has been waiting almost three years for the telephone number portability law to be implemented, the bill's chances of being passed into law are next to nil.

Cohen's bill was apparently meant to serve as a litmus test for Atias, to assess the reactions of the public, politicians and the industry regarding Web censorship in Israel.

 

28th May   Unwanted ...
 


Korea flagSouth Korea will introduce Internet censorship

From The Sydney Morning Herald see full article

South Korea will introduce an Internet 'code of ethics' to curb the distribution of pornographic material and other information deemed inappropriate.

A bill will be sent to parliament for approval this year, Vice Information Communication Minister Yoo Young-hwan said. Portal operators will be asked to filter out 'obscene', defamatory and other 'unwanted' material. If they do not, they will be punished, he said.

There are 18 home-grown portal sites in service. Younger people are especially active in creating and uploading image files and video clips. In March, a sex video clip was posted on Yahoo Korea for several hours, prompting police to launch a criminal investigation.

In response, the information ministry blocked 180 foreign websites used by South Koreans to spread 'obscene' material on the local portals.

 

26th May   Distorted Minds ...
 


China flagChinese target horror comics for children

Thanks to Sean
From ABC see full article


China has launched a nationwide campaign against horror stories aimed at children.

Beijing has ordered officials to seize copies of books and comics deemed to be terrifying publications from shops and street vendors.

A particular target of the campaign is a popular Japanese comic book series, Death Note , which features a notebook that can kill people whose names are written in it.

Chinese officials say the story misleads innocent children and distorts their minds and spirits.

 

26th May   Real Name is Censorship ...
 


China flagChinese back off from real name blogging

From Reuters

China is to back down from a plan to require bloggers to use their real names when they register Web logs, following an outcry over the proposal from the Internet industry.

Instead, the government would promote a 'self-discipline code' that would encourage, but not mandate, bloggers to register under their own names, the report said, citing draft guidelines published by the Internet Society of China.

 

25th May   Human Rights Watch ...
 


ICT blocked websiteLikens Thailand to China and Vietnam

Based on an article from the Bangkok Post

New York-based Human Rights Watch says the military-backed government has undermined Thailand's free political debate with its unprecedented crackdown on Internet critics.

Since the Sept 19 military coup that ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Thai authorities have launched a censorship campaign of the Internet that has blocked tens of thousands of websites including those deemed critical of the current government.

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch: The military-backed government promised a quick return to democracy, but it's now attacking freedom of expression and political pluralism in ways that Thaksin never dared.

Censorship of the Internet is now being carried out by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) and the Royal Thai Police, in collaboration with the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) and the Telecommunication Authority (TOT), which provide Thailand's international internet gateways.

Since the coup, the government has blocked websites on charges of threatening national security, disrupting public order, or being obscene, including the September 19 Network (www.19sep.net and www.19sep.org), the pro-Thaksin PTV television (www.ptvthai.com), the online broadcast of Saturday Voice (www.saturdaylive.org and saturdayvoice.no-ip.info) and the online broadcast of FM 87.75 Taxi Community Radio (www.shinawatradio.com).

While these websites can still be accessed from abroad, local internet surfers in Thailand will get an "Access Denied" message, and the MICT's logo saying that access to such websites has been blocked due to "inappropriate content."

The ministry has ludicrously requested Google Thailand and Google.com to block access to its cached web pages in Thailand by which blocked pages can be accessed, as well as to block by keyword search.

The ministry also did not mention the more recent blocking of the entire Blogspot.com site by some Internet providers acting on the MICT's "request". This adds thousands more websites to the Thailand block list.

Thailand, under the current government, has also passed a law to criminalise the generation, possession, storage, dissemination of and access to prohibited information on the Internet and a Bill on Computer-Related Offenses that empowers the MICT minister to intercept and seize computer data, and seek court warrants to block the dissemination of information on the Internet if such information is considered as a threat to national security. The two laws, which have yet to be passed, include stiff penalties such as a maximum of five-years imprisonment and fines up to 100,000 baht ($2,700).

Freedom of expression, including offering opinions on the Internet, is an essential basis of any functioning democracy, said Adams. Blocking critical websites resembles the behaviour of China and Vietnam. Is this the company that Thailand's leaders want to keep?

 

23rd May   Dark Days in Venezuela ...
 


Venezuela flagChavez closes popular TV channel

From The Guardian see full article

Venezuela is in crisis. Inflation is soaring. There are acute shortages of milk, eggs and meat. Violent crime is taking more than 100 lives every week. The government is in chaos. Corruption is draining the country's oil wealth.

These are the bulletins of Radio Caracas Television, the country's most influential private network. The theme is consistent: President Hugo Chávez is leading the country to ruin and if he is not stopped Venezuela will become a Cuba-style dictatorship.

At midnight on May 27, however, RCTV will be stopped. Its bleak bulletins silenced because the government is refusing to renew its broadcast licence. Critics say an authoritarian hammer is crushing free speech and what is left of Venezuela's democracy. Supporters say the government is right to replace a channel notorious for lies, manipulation and anti-Chávez propaganda.

Tens of thousands of people marched in two rival rallies at Caracas last week, one mourning the decision, the other celebrating. More are expected this week and the volume of international protest - and praise - is set to swell.

None of it will alter the decision. Chavez recently said on his own television show. It's over. His opponents cannot save RCTV, he added. Say what they say, do what they do, howl where they want, the licence will not be renewed.

RCTV's 2,500 staff have been told to continue turning up for work after May 27 in the hope that some programmes will still be made if they can be sold to other networks, and that RCTV may be able to limp on as a cable channel. But with vastly reduced audience share and advertising revenue it is unclear how long their jobs will last.

Update: RCTV Goes Dark

May 30th

RCTV stopped broadcasting at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. The broadcaster’s employees, including actors, presenters, reporters and directors, gathered in a large studio just before midnight, singing popular Venezuelan songs and pledging that they would return to the airwaves.

RCTV’s frequency was replaced by a new public service broadcaster called Venezuelan Social Television Station (TVES). The new channel began broadcasting early Monday with the national anthem and a speech by its president, Lil Rodríguez, who said that “Venezuelans just gave birth to a new alternative in television,”.

 

22nd May   Advertising a Hidden Islamist Agenda ...
 


Turkey swim suit advertA Cover Up in Turkey

From The Guardian see full article

The bikini has become the latest item to offend the Islamic-oriented authorities in Turkey. After a bungled attempt to outlaw alcohol, municipal officials in Istanbul have set their sights on billboard advertisements of the skimpy swimsuit. The ban was  revealed last week.

Lambasting the move as more in tune with Iran than a country bent on joining the EU, appalled secularists said it proved that the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party had a hidden Islamist agenda.

We've never had to get permission before and when we applied for it they told us we were hanging up immoral pictures, said Moris Eskenazi, who jointly owns one of four firms reportedly stopped from placing the adverts.

The ruling party first want to remove women wearing swimsuits from billboards and then they want to remove them from the beach, said Gulsun Bilgehan, a member of the Republican People's party (CHP) who vowed to take the issue to the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member.

 

22nd May   Update: A Censor by any other Name ...
 


India flagIndia dreams up the term 'content auditor'

From Televisionpoint.com

The draft Indian broadcasting code calls for every channel to appoint a "content auditor" to monitor programmes and slot them in appropriate certification categories.

The content auditor will be responsible for any lapse in following certification rules. The sub-committee has proposed that the content auditor be made the point of contact for any issue or complaint that may arise with regard to the programmes they broadcast.

To ensure that the auditor has enough authority, the proposed code recommends that only the senior most management of the broadcast service provider be allowed to override the content auditor. According to the proposed draft, each channel will get about two weeks to dispose of complaints and will have to either take the programme off air, modify the content and apologise, or reject the complaint after citing reasons.

One of the major proposals of the draft proposal is the implementation of a watershed format of programming. This would mean that while family programmes, certified U, are programmed any time of the day, those certified as UA will be shown only between 8 pm and 4 am. Previously it was mentioned that adult A rated films could be shown after 11pm.

 

22nd May   Googling for Censorship in Korea ...
 


Chinese Google logo Google agree to censor searches in Korea

Based on an artice from the Chosun see full article

Google has decided to block of the URLs of porn websites at a similar level as the Korean major search engines. It will also introduce technology to filter content for underage Korean users and require users of its Korean service to prove that they are old enough.

The Ministry of Information and Communication said Google has discussed with the ministry measures to limit access to content by Korean adolescent Internet users and decided to take the protective measures. Called SafeSearch, the filter technology is currently being developed by the search giant itself, and is expected to be put in place from August this year.

Korean Internet users under 19 can access only content that passes the filtering technology.

 

18th May   Creeping Government Filters ...
 


Open Net Initiative logoIncreasing state censorship of the internet

From the BBC see full article
See also the OpenNet Initiative

The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests.

The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering. Websites and services such as Skype and Google Maps were blocked, it said.

In five years we have gone from a couple of states doing state-mandated net filtering to 25, said John Palfrey, at Harvard Law School. Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, added: There has also been an increase in the scale, scope and sophistication of internet filtering.

ONI is made up of research groups at the universities of Toronto, Harvard Law School, Oxford and Cambridge. It chose 41 countries for the survey in which testing could be done safely and where there was the most to learn about government online surveillance.

Countries which carry out the broadest range of filtering included Burma, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, the study said.

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University, said the organisation was also looking at the tools people used to circumvent filtering: It's hard to quantify how many people are doing this. As we go forward each year we want to see if some of these circumvention technologies become more like appliances and you just plug them in and they work.

Few states restrict their activities to one type of content, said Rafal Rohozinski, Research Fellow of the Cambridge Security Programme: Once filtering is begun, it is applied to a broad range of content and can be used for expanding government control of cyberspace. "Cyberspace has become a strategic forum of competition between states, as well as between citizens and states.

The survey found evidence of filtering in the following countries:

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma/Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.

 

18th May   Radio Raid ...
 


Thai community radioThai radio station radio raided and shut after airing Thaksin interview

From the Bangkok Post

Broadcasting regulators yesterday raided and shut down a community radio station which ran an interview with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and threatened to crack down on thousands of illegal community radio stations.

The FM 87.75 station was raided and closed down yesterday after the Public Relations Department, the regulator of community radio stations, found that it had no licence to operate.

Department chief Pramoj Rathavinij said yesterday that he ordered drastic measures against the stations which aired comments from Thaksin for national security reasons, adding the department would take this opportunity to deal with around 3,000 illegal community radio stations across the country.

The deposed leader called three radio stations known to be sympathetic to him on Wednesday night. Besides the FM 87.75 community radio station, he called the FM 92.75 taxi drivers' community radio and the internet radio station run by the Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship website.

In the radio interviews Thaksin called for swift elections to restore democracy and confidence. He also said that he would not return to Thailand soon out of concern that his return would result in a confrontation. It was the first time Thaksin has spoken to the Thai media at home since he was removed from power in the Sept 19 coup and went to live in London.

Council for National Security (CNS) chairman Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said yesterday that he had ordered the Internal Security Operations Command to closely monitor community radio stations.

 

14th May   Hoarding Repressive Laws ...
 


'Vulgar' hoardingLaws against hoardings in India and and Bangladesh

Based on an article from the Blitz

Authorities in Bangladesh are planning actions against supposedly vulgar hoardings as well planning to ban use of foreign models in advertisements of products of various consumer items.

Meanwhile in India, worried that "obscene" hoardings will distract motorists into accidents and expose Mumbai's children to "corrupt influences," the BMC has decided to set up its own censor board to examine every hoarding before it's put up for public view and block all the "vulgar" ones from cropping up across the city.

The civic censor board will be set up in the form of a central committee at the BMC headquarters and sub-committees at the ward level. The committees will give certificates only to those hoardings that pass the obscenity test.

There is already a law against supposedly vulgar advertisements but it is rarely implemented because of a lack of machinery to enforce any restrictions.

If the proposal gets through, the BMC may consider banning cigarette and tobacco ads on city roads too.

 

17th April   Death to Shilpa Shetty ...
 


Richrd Gere kissing in Pretty WomanFor kissing Richard Gere!

From the BBC see full article

Actor Richard Gere has sparked protests in India after kissing Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty at an Aids awareness rally in New Delhi.

Demonstrators in Mumbai (Bombay) set light to effigies of the Hollywood star, while protesters in other cities shouted "death to Shilpa Shetty".

The protesters said Gere insulted Indian culture by kissing the hand and face of the Bollywood actress. Public displays of affection and sex are still largely taboo in India.

Shetty downplayed the incident, saying : it was not so obscene. This was not such a big thing for people to over-react in such a manner . I understand people's sentiments, but I don't want a foreigner to take bad memories from here. I understand this is his culture, not ours.

The Aids awareness rally focussed on India's truck driving community, with Gere leading proceedings by shouting "no condom, no sex" in Hindi. The crowd whooped with delight and whistled as the 58-year-old clasped Shetty and kissed her on the face several times.

After the actress recovered her balance, Gere offered her a gallant bow.

Protesters said his embrace of one of the country's leading ladies had been "vulgar" and demanded an apology from the film star.


1st May   Update: Indian Society Corrupt ...
 


Richrd Gere kissing in Pretty WomanAnd all due to Richard Gere's kiss

From The Telegraph see full article

An Indian court has ordered the arrest of the Hollywood actor Richard Gere after an on-stage clinch with the Big Brother celebrity Shilpa Shetty allegedly "outraged" Indian public morals.

The furore appeared to have died down until yesterday when a member of the public in the Rajasthani city of Jaipur filed a suit "in the public interest" alleging that Gere and Shetty had violated India's strict obscenity laws.

Such litigation is commonly used in India by individuals and special interest groups hoping to raise the profile of their causes or beliefs.

Such warrants are rarely enforced. It remained unclear last night whether the case would prevent Gere, a devout Buddhist who is thought to be back in America, from returning to India.

The judge, Dinesh Gupta, issued warrants against Gere and Shetty after viewing video footage of the incident which, he said, transgressed all limits of vulgarity and [had] the tendency to corrupt society.

The judge also ordered magistrates in Mumbai to serve a warrant on Shetty, who was ordered to appear in court on May 5. Last night a spokesman for Shetty declined to comment. A person convicted of public obscenity faces up to three months in prison, a fine or both.


16th May   Update: Lingering Kiss ...
 


Richrd Gere kissing in Pretty WomanLegal action against Shetty & Gere suspended for a while

From the BBC see full article

Legal action against actors Shilpa Shetty and Richard Gere has been suspended by India's Supreme Court.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Gere, while Shetty also faced obscenity charges after he embraced and kissed her during a public appearance.

The suspension stops police and courts taking action until the court decides on the case's proper jurisdiction.

The Bollywood actress' lawyer Anand Grover called the cases "frivolous" and "a total misuse of the legal process".


10th May   IP Dictatorship ...
 


ICT blocked websiteNew Thai law criminalises use of internet proxies

Based on an article from the Bangkok Post

The main immediate effect of a new bill will be to outlaw any attempt to get around government censors to access any of the tens of thousands of sites censored for moral or political purposes, or to damage the country.

The National Legislative Assembly approved the Cyber Crime Bill, which gives officials power to crack down effectively on hacking and internet-related crimes through harsher punishments.

The bill sailed through its third reading on Wednesday by a vote of 119 to 1. It requires royal endorsement before it can be formally enacted into law.

The bill regards as a crime the intention to withhold internet protocol (IP) addresses and violators are subject to severe punishment, according to the NLA special committee assigned to scrutinise the law.

The IP is a unique address used to identify computer users while communicating with others on the network. However, the committee said, "ill-intentioned users" often hide or falsify their computer addresses so that they can easily carry out illegal acts and get away with them.

Penalties apply to all illegal acts using the internet, including those carried out abroad and deemed to damage the country both directly and indirectly.


13th May   Update: Penalties under IP Dictatorship ...
 


ICT blocked websiteDetails of extreme fines and jail sentences

From SEAPA see full article

On 9 May 2007, legislators voted 119 to 1 for the bill at its third reading, which now awaits royal assent before it can be promulgated as the Computer-Related Offences Commission Act.

SEAPA is troubled by the unclear criteria on what constitute "offences", the disproportionate punishments to violators and the implications of some of the provisions on free expression.

One of the law's provisions seeks to strengthen the government's intent to manage access to, and content on, the Internet by penalising people who seek ways around government-ordered blocks and filters. The law thus penalises the use of proxy servers to access sites banned by the government.

While campaigning for more responsible use of the Internet, Thai lawmakers are also taking aim at the anonymity the Internet affords many users. Free expression online may however suffer as a result, as measures of anonymity and privacy facilitate open and equal discussions, objectivity in the evaluation of the message rather than the messenger, and information-sharing pertaining to concerns over official wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, the harsh punishments and unclear criteria defining the offences will encourage self-censorship on the Internet. For example, the law says that disseminating "improper" content is punishable with a five-year imprisonment and a fine of Baht 100,000 (approx. US$3,066), or both, under article 13. The law also holds the Internet operator or webmaster liable, with a possible five-year imprisonment or a fine of Baht 100,000 (approx. US$3,066), or both, under article 14.

Doctoring pictures of individuals that cause damage to their reputation can land one in prison for three years or with a fine of Baht 600,000 (approx. US$18,363), or both, under article 15.

Under article 11, which concerns offences that affect national security, damaging the information system of a computer can lead to a 10-year imprisonment or a fine of Baht 200,000 (approx. US$6,123), or both. Undermining national security is punishable by between three and 15 years' imprisonment or a fine of between Baht 60,000 (approx. US$1,837) and Baht 300,000 (US$9,185), or both. For endangering a life or causing death, one could face between 10 and 20 years' imprisonment.

The law also seeks to apply to acts abroad that are deemed to "damage the country, both directly and indirectly".

 

12th May   Filthy and Dirty Things in Malaysia ...
 


Malaysia's Dr MMalaysia now populated by granny rapists?

Given that the internet was uncensored and teens being teens, viewed the porn, how many actually turned out to be granny rapists?

I lived in Georgetown for a few months and used to marvel that Malaysia had installed a 'super information highway' whilst the more traditional highways still had rat infested open sewers.

From the Khaleej Times see full article

Malaysia's former prime minister wanted to censor the Internet to prevent Malaysians from accessing pornography, but was foiled because of the need to appease foreign investors.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who retired in 2003 after 22 years in power, said in an interview with independent news Web site Malaysiakini.com that he had long held the belief that the Internet is undermining moral values. They put on the Internet all those pornographic, dirty pictures and things like that. If a young boy, a teenager, sees all those things, he goes crazy and he rapes little children and rapes even his grandmother.

Mahathir said he was under pressure by foreign investors to keep the Internet uncensored because of efforts to develop Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor, a high-tech zone shaped after California's Silicon Valley that Mahathir launched in the late 1990s to house technology firms.

I was forced to say 'I will not censor the Internet', Mahathir said: But I was never convinced. Even now I'm not convinced. I don't mean censor contrary views. Contrary views (are) OK, but censor those filthy and dirty things .

 

11th May   Linked to Repression ...
 


Hong Komg flagHong Kong man fined for posting porn link on forum

From the Khaleej Times see full article

A man has been fined 5,000 Hong Kong dollars (640 US dollars) for incorporating a pornographic link in an internet forum posting in the first case of its kind in Hong Kong.

Woo Tai-wai pleaded guilty to publishing eight obscene photographs via a local internet forum in the first prosecution related to internet porn sites under the city’s obscene and indecent articles laws.

Internet Society chairman Charles Mok Nai-kwong said the court case raised several concerns. In this case, the court has given a new direction to the public concerning the responsibility of internet users, he said.

Mok added that he also believed the case could damage the freedom of information on the internet. This man posted a link on the internet which now becomes an act that constitutes the breaking of law, and my question is whether a link is being regarded as the ‘obscene article, he said.

Search engines, including Yahoo and Google, carry links to porn sites, he added.

 

8th May   Secret Beauty ...
 


Banned picture showing partial view of breast in bathAnd Vietnam will ban photo exhibition to keep it secret

From Vietnam Bridge see full article

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture and Information has recently refused to give permission for a nude photo exhibition titled Closer by female photographer Nguyen Kim Hoang, sparking a debate on censorship.

The Department of Culture and Information says: The beauty of Vietnamese women is a secret beauty. All the photos in the exhibition capture and display the most sensitive parts of the woman, so showing this exhibition to the public wouldn’t be suitable to Vietnamese values and customs.

According to Uyen Huy, Vice Secretary General of the HCM City Art Association, the most sensitive parts of the woman are nothing more than the chin, the arms, the back, the shoulders, the elbows and the breasts, and these are merely beautiful images of bodily curves and lines.

There is absolutely no obscenity, sexual stimulation, or violation of values and customs at all. Perhaps since these photos were shot at a close angle, the department hesitated, said Uyen Huy.

For her part, photographer Nguyen Kim Hoang said she was willing to shelve photos considered inappropriate if necessary. Yet, she was completely surprised to hear that her works were rejected because they were unsuitable to Vietnamese values and customs.

 

29th April   Texting Repression ...
 


Iran flagIran to filter 'immoral' mobile phone messages

From Gulf Times

Iran’s telecommunications ministry will start filtering “immoral” video and audio messages sent via mobile phones.

The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution has instructed the ministry to buy the equipment needed to prevent any misuse of Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

It did not give details of the techniques it would use to filter such messages, when it would start or how it would define “immoral” messages


1st May   Update: Death to Pornographers ...
 


Iran flagObscene intolerance in Iran

From adnkronosinternational

The culture committee of the Iranian parliament approved on Monday a bill sentencing to death producers of 'pornography', videos and films deemed vulgar by the country's censorship.

The draft law will now go to parliament where it is expected to be approved by an ample majority. Amateur porn films have a prosperous market in Iran and can fetch up to 30 euros each.

The market, tolerated for a long time, became a nationwide issue earlier this year after a porn film of popular television actress, Zohre Mir Ebrahimi, having sex with her partner, was released.

 

28th April   Mural of Censorship ...
 


BC muralDepicting censorship, revisionism and aboriginal political correctness

From Globe & Mail see full article

Murals in the rotunda of the British Columbia Legislature depicting native women as bare breasted and native men as subservient will be taken down more than 70 years after they were painted.

After a debate that touched on censorship, historical revisionism and government policies on aboriginal affairs, Liberals and New Democrats joined together to vote overwhelmingly in favour of correcting what they described as a grievous wrong. Only three of 71 legislators voted against a motion to endorse a proposal to bring down the murals.

Premier Gordon Campbell said shortly before the vote in the legislature. The decision to take down the murals sends a clear and unequivocal message that the contributions of aboriginals are valued.

Aboriginal leaders have being pressing to have the murals removed for decades, calling them offensive, demeaning and historically inaccurate. They have said that aboriginal women did not go topless in front of the European settlers. They also objected to the subservient manner of the chief before the judge.

 

24th April   Core Censorship Values ...
 


China flagYet Another Chinese Internet clean up

From AVN

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday launched a campaign to rid the country's Internet of "unhealthy" content and make it a springboard for Communist Party doctrine, according to state television report.

With Hu presiding, the Communist Party Politburo—its 24-member inner council—discussed cleaning up the Internet, and during the meeting Hu promised to place the oft-unruly medium more firmly under propaganda controls.

Development and administration of Internet culture must stick to the direction of socialist-advanced culture, adhere to correct propaganda guidance, according to a summary of the meeting read on the news broadcast: Internet cultural units must conscientiously take on the responsibility of encouraging development of a system of core socialist values.

 

20th April   Clean Internet Act ...
 


Canada flagCanadian private member's bill smells bad.

From the p2pNet

Canada's conservative MP Joy Smith has introduced the Clean Internet Act. The private member's bill would establish an Internet service provider licensing system to be administered by the CRTC along with "know your subscriber" requirements and content blocking powers.

Smith introduced it by warning against the use of the Internet to support human trafficking and added that the bill would address the fact that child pornography is not okay to put on the Internet throughout our nation, though the Criminal Code already does that.

  • an ISP licensing system to be administered by the CRTC that is defined so broadly that it would seemingly capture anyone offering a wifi connection
  • a "know your subscriber" requirement where ISPs would be required to deny service to past offenders (though the ISP would escape liability if upon learning of an offending customer, it terminated service and notified the Minister of Industry)
  • a new power that would allow the Minister of Industry to order an ISP to block access to content that promotes violence against women, promotes hatred, or contains child pornography. ISPs that fail to block face possible jail time for the company's directors and officers.
  • the Minister of Industry can prescribe special powers to facilitate searches of electronic data systems (ie. lawful access)

Given that this is a private member's bill, it is very unlikely to become law. But this bill would not look out-of-place in countries that aggressively censor the Internet.

 

16th April   Insulting Law ...
 


WPFC logoSurvey of blasphemy and defamation laws

From Scoop see full article
See also World Press Freedom Committee
See report It's A Crime [pdf]

Journalists in more than 70 countries were punished, sometimes with lengthy prison sentences, for allegedly "insulting" the dignity of officials or institutions in 2006, according to a report due for release by the World Press Freedom Committee.

It's A Crime: How Insult Laws Stifle Press Freedom updates WPFC's comprehensive 2000 survey of insult laws and includes reports of laws invoked as well as progress toward reform or repeal of such laws during 2006.

More than 10 years ago, in 1996, WPFC launched a global campaign for the elimination of insult laws, carry-overs from Roman times when emperors were considered divine and were protected by such laws from injury to their dignity. European monarchs adopted the same principle, in the form of the concept of lese majeste - offense against the sovereign.

Today, insult laws are used to discourage criticism of officials, to protect government actions from scrutiny and to punish journalists who seek and report information. This study represents a continuation of WPFC's campaign against insult laws and broadens this to include examination of the related issues of defamation and blasphemy, inspired by global protests over publication of a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

It's a Crime demonstrates that in most of those cases in which someone claims insult to his dignity or to state institutions, political differences are involved. Where the defendants are overwhelmingly editorial critics of the ruling party, dissenters, minority voices, or activists in an opposition party, the conclusion is inescapable that the insult law is an important weapon in the armory of the powerful to punish and thus chill expressions of opposition, WPFC Chairman Richard N. Winfield writes in the report's foreword.

The aim of the World Press Freedom Committee's latest study is to show how the continued use of these laws is detrimental to press freedom, and to encourage nations maintaining such laws to take a leadership role in eliminating them.

 

15th April  Cease & Desist & Capitulate & Lose Face...
 


You Tube logoTeen shows up arbitrary YouTube censorship

From Wired

A 15-year-old boy has apologized to the Australian Broadcasting Company after pretending to represent them in demanding the removal of hundreds of video clips from YouTube.

After sending a signed form telling the site to rid itself of footage, YouTube apparently not only did so without any attempt to verify the order, but threatened the original uploaders with the closure of their accounts if they re-upped the material.

ABC, it turns out, expressly didn't want the material removed. Here's their head of comedy, Courtney Gibson: But what was of concern to us was the fact that YouTube was sending copyright infringement notices to people who have been uploading Chaser clips to YouTube, threatening to shut down their access to YouTube if they persist. That's what was worrying to us.

It turns out that ABC encourages sharing the show in question, The Chaser's War on Everything , as it's the the kind of satirical comedy series that intelligent broadcasters like to have doing the viral rounds.

 

14th April   Rumours of More Porn Persecution ...
 


China flagAnother Chinese campaign against porn

I would have thought that anything to do with porn would have been banned already

Based on an article from The Times

The Chinese Government has launched another six-month campaign against online pornography, rumours and slander.

Chinese web controls are already among the world’s tightest, with internet traffic subject to automatic filters and manual monitoring. The Government encourages web use for education and business but tries to block access to material considered obscene or subversive.

The Ministry of Public Security said the campaign would target cyber strip shows and sexually explicit images, stories and audio and video clips. The boom of pornographic content on the internet has contaminated cyberspace and perverted China’s young minds, Zhang Xinfeng, a deputy public security minister, said: content that spreads rumours and is of a slanderous nature would also be blocked.

Official announcements of the latest internet campaign have focused on pornography. The Xinhua state news agency claims that a third of detainees at the Beijing Reformatory for Juvenile Delinquents were influenced by violent online games or erotic websites when they committed crimes such as robbery and rape.

Online pornography is already illegal, but it remains available to anyone who wants to search hard enough. The inflow of pornographic materials from abroad and lax domestic controls are to blame for the existing problems in China’s cyberspace, Zhang said.

Update: Complaints

10th May

The police received 13,000 complaints from the Chinese public regarding websites up for banning

 

14th April   Web of Control ...
 


Satirical cartoon depicting a naked Putin and Bush playing world domination gameSoviet style control of Russian media

From Bloomberg

President Vladimir Putin has already brought Russian newspapers and television to heel. Now he's turning his attention to the Internet.

As the Kremlin gears up for the election of Putin's successor next March, Soviet-style controls are being extended to online news after a presidential decree last month set up a new agency to supervise both mass media and the Web.

All three national TV stations are state-controlled, and the state gas monopoly, OAO Gazprom, has been taking over major newspapers; self-censorship is routine. That has left the Internet as the main remaining platform for political debate, and Web sites that test the boundaries of free speech are already coming under pressure.

In December, a court in the Siberian region of Khakassia shut down the Internet news site Novy Fokus for not registering as a media outlet. The site, known for its critical reporting, reopened in late March after it agreed to register and accept stricter supervision.

Anticompromat.ru, which wrote about Putin's pre-presidential business interests, had to find a U.S. Web server after a Russian service provider pulled the plug March 28, saying it had been warned by officials to stop hosting the site.

Last year, the authorities shut down a Web site called Kursiv in the city of Ivanovo, northeast of Moscow, that lampooned Putin as a "phallic symbol of Russia'' for his drive to boost the birthrate.

Putin isn't allowed to run for re-election in 2008 under Russia's two-term constitutional limit. Instead, he is promoting two potential successors: First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov a KGB colleague of Putin who oversees much of Russian industry, including transport and nuclear power. The two have become fixtures on state-controlled television.

 

13th April   Messing with Another Man's Life ...
 


Uganda flagUganda will re-introduce a law against adultery

From New Vision

A new, tougher adultery law to replace the one scrapped last week by the Constitutional Court is in the making. Uganda Ethics minister Dr. Nsaba Buturo told journalists yesterday that the Attorney General will soon draft the new law, to be approved by the Cabinet, before it is tabled in Parliament.

The Government has no intention of keeping quiet about this important matter that has far-reaching implications, morally, spiritually, medically and economically, Buturo said: It would be inconceivable or even reprehensible to legalise adultery. Adultery has the potential to destroy marriage, the very institution that gives meaning to and perpetuates human civilisation.

The Constitutional Court last Thursday unanimously ruled that Section 154 of the Penal Code, which criminalised adultery, was unconstitutional because it treated men and women differently. The ruling was greeted with anger by male members of the public. Some men warned that they would use violence on anybody who slept with their wives.

The adultery law prescribed different penalties and remedies for men and women. It presupposed that only married men could be aggrieved in case of adultery. The minister emphasised that adultery is still a crime as far as the country’s values and the law of God are concerned, and its scrapping was only temporary.

Buturo also warned that the country was facing coordinated pressure to adopt values that are ungodly, inhuman and basically useless . He said the Government’s stance against homosexuality, pornography and prostitution had annoyed apologists and neo-liberalists.

 

12th April   Sharing Repression ...
 


Dailymotion logoTunisia blocks video sharing site

From afrol see full article
See also Dailymotion

Tunisian authorities have followed the example of China and Thailand by blocking access to a website sharing videos. The Dailymotion site had posted some political videos and its editor now risks three years in prison.

Omar Mestiri is the editor of the Tunisian opposition online newspaper Kalima and also runs the video-sharing website Dailymotion .

But since 1 April, the Dailymotion website has been inaccessible in Tunisia, while it can still be accessed by web surfers outside the country. Also Kalima is out of reach for Tunisians. The reason is that the site is being blocked by authorities in Tunis, who control the national internet service providers.

Mestiri is now also facing a libel suit that could result in a three-year prison sentence. The suit against the courageous editor was brought by Tunisian lawyer Mohammed Baccar over an article posted on 5 September 2006 accusing him of fraud and forgery.

Mestiri was summoned by the deputy state prosecutor to respond to a charge of libel on 29 March. His lawyers have challenged the suit's legal basis on the grounds that the Kalima site is blocked in Tunisia and the article therefore could not have been accessed there.

Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) claimed that editor Mestiri is the victim of judicial harassment, adding that the lawsuit was absurd because it is based on an online article that cannot even be accessed from within Tunisia.

From IFEX see full article
See also the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group report [doc]

The Tunisian government has failed to make progress in improving free expression conditions over the past year, even further stifling dissidents, the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) has found in its fourth major report.

Since the TMG's last report in May 2006, the group has witnessed serious deterioration in the conditions related to freedom of expression in Tunisia, particularly with respect to the harassment of journalists and dissidents, threats to the independence of the judiciary, blocking of books and websites, restrictions on independent organisations, and imprisonment of the human rights lawyer Mohamed Abbou for posting articles critical of the Tunisian authorities on the Internet.

Update: Access Restored

The Dailymotion video sharing site is again accessible within Tunisia. It was blocked for 10 days

Update: Access Denied

11th September 2007

The Dailymotion video sharing site was blocked again on 1st September 2007

 

9th April  Censorship of Chat...
 


Pantip.com logoThai political chat room taken down

Based on an article from The Nation

The Thai government has shut down a popular online chat room, claiming 'national security' as the reason. The chat room hosts political discussions with a leaning towards remnants of the previous deposed regime.

The Information and Communications Technology Ministry pulled the plug on the Rajdam-noen Room chat site hosted by the pantip.com website, according to minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom.

He said it had been temporarily closed after the ministry decided several topics, or threads, undermined 'national security'. Sitthichai said the ministry would permit the pantip.com chat room to open again "after the political situation improves". He would not say when this would be.

He said the ministry asked prachatai.com and mthai.com to monitor its political web boards, which allegedly carried several threads discussing the monarchy.

Sitthichai announced he has called a meeting at police headquarters on Thursday with the caretaker police chief, Pol Gen Seriphisut Temiyavej. The subject will be how to catch and what to do with netsurfers who post messages to create division in the country, he said.

Pantip.com is the most popular chat site in Thailand and its political pages often feature feisty debate about democracy, the junta and the legitimacy of the coup. The website is considered to be pro-Thaksin Shinawatra and anti manager.co.th, the website of the Manager Group controlled by Sondhi Limthongkul.

Pantip.com founder Wanchat Padungrat yesterday said he could not understand why the chat room had been closed. He added he monitored the content of Rajdamnoen Room and found no aggressive messages insulting the monarchy.

The ministry does not specify which topics [endanger national security]. It may become sensitive for the junta. However, I am wondering why pantip.com is the only website being censored, while other political sites are untouched, said Wanchat.

Prachatai.com editor Chuwat Rerksirisuk said he and staff ensured the site carried no offensive material. It is prepared to cooperate with the ministry. He was unaware of content deemed offensive to the monarchy, although he noted the ministry informed the site of two threads considered insulting. "We moved quickly to delete them," he said.


12th April    Update: More Moderators ...
 


Pantip.com logoThe price of re-opening Pantip.com

Based on an article from the Bangkok Post

The censors at the Information and Communications Technology Ministry yesterday backtracked and lifted its ban on online political forum ''Ratchadamnoen'' after the founder of Pantip.com agreed to screen out comments offensive to the monarchy.

Founder Wanchat Padungrat said after a meeting with ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom that the minister told the web board to remove offensive opinions about the Royal Family. But any comments about the government and the coup makers could be posted, he said: More webmasters will be employed to check our content around the clock. I'm sure unseemly messages will be kept under control.

Sitthichai said the forum would be allowed to go ahead after Pantip.com webmasters assured him they could control opinions verging on attacking the monarchy and Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda.

The ministry on Tuesday ordered CAT Telecom and TOT Plc to set up two websites to counter what it said were ill-intentioned people posting views that could cause disunity in the country, and to clarify the issues promptly. Sitthichai said the websites would focus on current social and political issues. The content would be produced by the staff of the two state telecom enterprises but some might be outsourced.

 

5th April   YouTube Blocked ...
 


You Tube logoDue to disrespectful video clip of Thai king

From The Guardian

Thailand has become the latest nation to respond to a perceived slight to its national honour with a blanket ban on the video sharing website, after YouTube refused to remove a clip ridiculing the country's revered king.

The 44 second clip, titled Bhumibol Adulyadej 2 , is amateurish, distinctly juvenile and seems expressly intended to inflame the feelings of Thai people.

It shows a picture of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which is then defaced with some crudely drawn animated additions and - most seriously - placed directly underneath a photo of a woman's feet, something gravely disrespectful to Thais. The soundtrack is the Thai national anthem

Insulting the king is a serious offence in Thailand - a fact a Swiss man found out to his cost last week when he was jailed for 10 years.

After YouTube said it would not take down the clip, Thailand's military appointed government responded by blocking local access to the entire site.

It comes less than a month after a Turkish court suspended access to YouTube in response to the posting of a clip which reportedly labelled the country's modern founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a homosexual.

In limiting access to even part of the web, the countries are joining a small and distinctly unsavoury club.

The media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, lists 13 "enemies of the Internet", and none of them are exactly famed as exponents of liberty and free expression.

They range from China, with its infamous, all-encompassing "Great Firewall", to North Korea, where access is limited to a few top ranking officials and the country's official .nk domain name has yet to be even used.

Turkey and Thailand would no doubt argue that they are acting against grave slurs against the whole nation. But to outsiders, the offending clips look like teenage name calling and provocation - and let's face it, if you want to remove that from the web you're in for a struggle.


6th April   Update: YouTube Still Blocked ...
 


You Tube logoAnother disrespectful video clip of Thai king

From the Bangkok Post

A new video slideshow attacking His Majesty the King indicates that the dispute, fanned into worldwide front-page headlines by a Thai government ban on YouTube, may have only just begun.

YouTube and Google wiped out the last remnants of the offensive video slideshow which was uploaded last Sunday to demean the monarch. The offensive slideshow video of His Majesty the King that triggered the government ban on YouTube disappeared from the video-sharing website on Thursday afternoon, and the anonymous user who posted it was banned.

Some time early this morning Thailand time, the last remaining photo of the video in YouTube's search engine archive of the original video had disappeared from view.

But within an hour of the disappearance of the first video and its uploader, a subscriber using the name "thaifreespeech" and claiming improbably to live in Iceland had placed an all new video on YouTube, containing even more offensive images of His Majesty the King than the original.

"Thaifreespeech" also added an attack on Thai lese majeste laws and asked rhetorically if US people in the US (should) respect Thai traditions and rule of law.

In an hour, the number of views of the video rocketed from 122 to 7,856 and going up. Comments in the same hour early this morning Thailand time rose from nine to 160. As before, most commentators attacked the video, often in rude terms.

The ban on YouTube by Information and Communication Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom now seems to have touched off a firestorm of web-based retaliation that could see rapid escalation of offensive references to the monarchy on the Internet.

The new video, and the likelihood that many will follow, on YouTube and on dozens of other video services, raises the stakes hugely.


7th April   Update: Page Blocks ...
 


You Tube logoMore disrespectful video clips of Thai king

From the Bangkok Post

Users of the YouTube video-sharing website have placed at least seven new video attacks on the Thai king in the two days since YouTube was blocked in Thailand.

The attacks on the king got cruder and ruder and all referred to the government attempt to block views of the illegal videos by users in Thailand.

Each of the videos had dozens or hundreds of comments, almost all of them censuring or attacking the users who had uploaded them to the user-controlled video archive service.

Earlier, YouTube indicated it would help Thailand block access to certain pages rather than blacking out the whole site.

The YouTube problem poses a major dilemma for the government, which does not have the ability to impose a total block on YouTube and which only escalates the issue every time it discusses a ban.

Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said that blocking certain pages maybe a solution to the ban but: It will be a few days before we lift the ban on the entire site.


9th May   Update: YouSued ...
 


You Tube logoThailand to sue YouTube over video of king

Perhaps YouTube should sue Thailand for insult to our revered freedom of speech.

From the Bangkok Post

Information and Communications Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said he will press a criminal lawsuit against Google Inc at the Bangkok criminal court on Friday.

The suit will charge that YouTube.com, owned by Google, hosted video clips offensive to the monarchy. It was not clear where Sitthichai will charge the American company with lese majeste, defamation or a cyberlaw violation.

Google has no office in Thailand, although it does business with many Thai-based websites and businesses. Similarly YouTube.com has no offices in Thailand.

A ministry statement said the suit will take the form of a petition to the criminal court for emergency protection . Sitthichai added that the ministry is studying the case to determine if the lawsuit can be filed in an international court.

YouTube has reportedly asked the Thai government "by e-mail" to send the controversial clips deemed insulting the King as evidence so it will remove them as requested by Thailand. Sitthichai said the request showed that YouTube was "playing a game".

Sitthichai has argued that Google had bowed to China's requests to block certain topics deemed politically sensitive, such as all references to democracy, so he saw no reason why it could not act similarly over Thailand's sensitivities over its revered monarch.

The ministry has attempted to block all access to YouTube from Thailand since April 4.  That clip has long since been removed, and the surfer who uploaded it has been banned by YouTube. But because of the high profile publicity of Mr Sitthichai's censorship, at least a dozen other offensive video clips have been uploaded to YouTube.com.

Increasing government censorship of websites was cited as one of the reasons Thailand was downgraded earlier this month from 107th to 127th place out of 195 countries on the Freedom House ranking of press freedom.


11th May   Update: Google Lawsuit Dropped ...
 


You Tube logoGoogle censors bow to Thai censors

Good timing for Thailand as Google share holders have just decided not to adopt a policy of resisting censorship

From the Bangkok Post

The Information and Communications Ministry has dropped the criminal lawsuit it planned to file against Google today after the internet giant officially informed Thailand that it will remove controversial video clips from its YouTube website. ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said yesterday that he had received a letter from Google's vice-president Kent Walker to this effect.

The letter said the company did not want to encourage any wrongful act and promote hostile feelings as a result of the video clips depicting His Majesty the King, the minister said.

The letter added that it took time to find the huge number of clips sent to the video-sharing website, but they would be removed immediately after they were spotted, the minister said.

The police would have to make their own decision as to whether or not to proceed with a lese majeste charge against the US-based internet firm.

The minister had earlier said the video clips, which depict the King in unflattering ways, were an offence to the feelings of Thai people that foreigners would never understand.


12th May   Update: Insulting Freedom ...
 


You Tube logoThailand wants to trace uploaders of insulting videos

From the Bangkok Post

Just as the kerfuffle over the Internet videos appeared to be dying down and headed for a mutual resolution after YouTube.com began removing supposedly insulting videos and the government said it would reopen the site to all Thai visitors.

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry re-escalated the battle against the anti-monarchy videos, saying Thai authorities would demand YouTube.com hand over the Internet addresses of those who uploaded the clips.

The number of clips insulting the monarch has mushroomed after news spread around the world that Thailand had banned the popular site.

As of Friday night at 9 p.m. Thailand time, several of the insulting clips had disappeared from the YouTube.com site. But many others remained.

Now, ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom says authorities wanted to charge those who posted the mocking video clips with lese majeste, the crime of offending a monarch, which is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.

Sitthichai did not say what might happen if YouTube refuses to hand over the information. A decision by YouTube or its owners to give such information to the Thai government would earn Thailand and Sitthichai a firestorm of criticism across the Internet, and by civil rights groups around the world.

As of now, no one knows where the uploaders of the insulting videos live. IP addresses can be traced to an Internet company, which then would have to be compelled to match the Internet Protocol address to a specific user. There is little chance that a foreign court would allow such an invasion of privacy, but a Thai Internet provider would probably turn over such information in a case of insulting the monarchy.

Sitthichai said the ministry would unblock the YouTube website "immediately" - when all the clips were gone.

But there is great uncertainty over whether the videos will be removed. The text of the letter to Mr Sitthichai from Google vice president Kent Walker has been released, and Walker said at least two of the videos cited by a Thai complaint would stay as they did not break lese majeste laws.

They appear to be political comments that are critical of both the government and the conduct of foreigners," the letter said: Because they are political in nature, and not intended insults of His Majesty, we do not see a basis for blocking these videos .

Data provided on YouTube claimed that the five most-seen videos that are meant to be offensive to the monarchy have been seen 137,000 times - a tiny number by YouTube standards, where popular videos routinely have more than 10 million views.

 

 

23rd March   Deaf to Bloggers ...
 


Malaysia flagMalaysian media told not to quote bloggers

From Asia Media see full article

Malaysia's traditional media has been ordered not to mention, quote or pursue stories exposed by bloggers and online news sites, which are emerging as a powerful new media force.

A security ministry circular dated March 13 told top editors of a dozen mainstream newspapers and five television stations that they must not "give any consideration whatsoever" to anti-government material posted online.

Ironically the circular, issued by the ministry's secretary general, was first exposed by the independent online magazine Malaysiakini.com.

An academic, who declined to be named, told the website that the circular was a "pathetic" response to numerous exposes on the internet of high-level government corruption.


6th April   Update: Registered Blogging ...
 


Malaysia flagMalaysia considers registering bloggers

From The Sydney Morning Herald see full article

A Malaysian minister said bloggers may be forced to register their names to avoid unjust claims being posted on the Internet.

Deputy energy, water and communications minister Shaziman Abu Mansor said his department was considering an option to make surfers identify themselves so that the government can track their activities.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and a number of other ministers have launched attacks on Malaysian bloggers and Internet surfers in recent months, accusing them of spreading lies about the government.

However, Shaziman denied he was floating the idea, first mentioned by him in parliament Wednesday, to curb comments published on the Internet: It's nice to have a list of bloggers, whoever they are.

Human rights group Aliran Thursday condemned Shaziman's suggestion, saying in a statement the attacks by politicians on bloggers are a prelude to possible moves to control and censor the Internet.

Ministry officials said there were no firm proposals to register blogs but that the option was being considered because of anonymous posts.

an unnamed official said: "Some of the bloggers are anonymous, so they are using their blog to write wrong information about leaders and all those people who are in high positions.


11th April   Update: Carry on Blogging ...
 


Malaysia flagMalaysia decides not to register bloggers

From The Times

Malaysia has rejected a proposal to order local bloggers to register with the government, saying that existing laws are enough to deter internet users from posting malicious content.

Announcing his decision, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned bloggers not to publish rumours or offensive remarks, adding that laws to penalise them will be invoked when the need arises. Existing laws are sufficient. Even if they are ordered to register, some of them may not comply and resort to using other channels through foreign servers.

 

10th April   Nanny Bloggers ...
 


flamewar aheadSuggest a politically correct code of blogging conduct

From The Scotsman see full article

Blogs are online diaries where writers often condemn their employers or write racily about their love lives. But the world of blogging faced a new challenge last night as two internet pioneers called for a new code of manners for anyone tempted to pour out their heart on the web.

The call for moderation came from Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales, the creators of the hugely popular online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. The pair want to call a halt to the so-called "flame wars" that can erupt on the internet as incensed readers of blogs then vent their feelings with heated comments online.

The power of the blog was vividly illustrated last month when Sir Martin Sorrell, an advertising magnate, head of the global WPP agency, accused two former colleagues of being behind a blog that depicted him as a mafia don. The case ended when Sir Martin accepted a £120,000 payout for invasion of privacy and libel.

Other blog incidents have also proved threatening. Kathy Sierra, a blogger and author from Colorado, cancelled an appearance at a technology conference in San Diego after receiving death threats from anonymous commentators on her blog. A police investigation into the threats continues.

O'Reilly is a friend of Sierra's and her experience prompted the new attempt to clean up the blogosphere, O'Reilly and Wales suggest bloggers sign up to a "Civility Enforced" standard committing the blogger to a code of conduct designed to eliminate "unacceptable content". Wales defines that as published articles or comments designed to "abuse, harass, stalk or threaten others" or that is "libellous", "knowingly false" or that "infringes upon a copyright or trademark".

The code also commits those bloggers who sign up to it to respect confidentiality when appropriate and to respect other peoples' privacy.

Most ambitiously, the Blogger's Code asks that online writers refrain from publishing anything that they would not be comfortable saying in person. Furthermore, the code also asks that bloggers refrain from permitting commentators to post responses anonymously.

If it's a carefully constructed set of principles, it could carry a lot of weight even if not everyone agrees, said Mr Wales, who stressed that any code of conduct would be voluntary.

Other bloggers, however, believe that the proposals reflected a desire to control an arena known for its free-wheeling, buccaneering style. Andrew Sullivan, creator of his eponymous popular and long-running blog, complained that "nanny-bloggers" would stifle free speech.

This effort at "cleaning" the blogosphere deals only with the conduct of bloggers themselves. Even so, the law is catching up. In the last year a number of court cases have been settled in the US, as courts take the view that online diaries and blogs are in the public domain and that the laws of libel apply.

 

9th April   Intolerant Examination Board Head ...
 


Gagged Turkish protestorAnd shameful Turkish law

Based on an article from The Guardian see full article

Five Turkish punk rockers and their agent face up to 18 months in jail for insult after a bureaucrat took offence at their song criticising the country's unpopular university entrance exam.

The intolerant head of Turkey's central examination board, OSYM, Unal Yarimagan reportedly smiled when he first saw a clip of OSYM, Kiss My Arse by Deli (mad), a group from the western city of Bursa.

I'm a tolerant person... BUT... that didn't stop me doing my duty and checking it wasn't breaking any laws, he said. Last month, an Ankara prosecutor said it was, and a court case is due to begin on May 2.

It's ridiculous, says the lead singer and lyricist, Cengiz Sari, 24. I was 17 when I wrote that song. I was just your typical rebellious teenager.

 

8th April   Russians See Red Over Porn ...
 


Russia flagSo are drafting legislation

From Strictly News see full article

The Russian culture ministry is drafting a bill to limit the distribution of erotic and pornographic products, Russia's deputy culture minister said this week.

We are planning to submit appropriate initiatives to the government in the latter half of this year, Pavel Pozhigailo said: We envisage certain restrictions in this area.

Russia has been waging a longstanding war against pornography for many years. Statesmen and public figures at all levels release regular statements, in which they demand an end to pornography in Russia, although things have not changed. X-rated films and scenes are broadcast on federal TV channels, they can be seen in motion picture episodes and on the pages of a whole variety of specific newspapers and magazines.

Update: Latvian Model

Previous law making attempts failed because the law's wording proved inaccurate. Now the government has a precedent since an analogous law has been adopted and enacted in Latvia, Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov said: We learn this experience and are going to pass on our project (to Duma), and I think we all will join to support it since we really need this law,

 

5th April   XXL Exiled ...
 


XXL logoCanada rejects adult TV channel

From Canada.com see full article

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission have denied Videotron's bid to broadcast XXL, an adult content station from France, saying the station may be too racy for Canadian standards.

Videotron had planned to run XXL on four-hour loops, 24-hours a day and had applied for a special status for the French-language erotic station last May: We have a lot of requests from our customers to get an equivalent to the Playboy channel, but in French, said Videotron's spokeswoman Isabelle Dessureault.

However, the move was met by a lone objection from AOV TV, a Canadian adult content broadcaster based in Ontario, which argued the foreign station would compete directly with, and may even risk putting to bed, its yet-to-be-launched French-language erotic channels, Le Canal Erotique and XXX Clips.

AOV CEO Randy Jorgensen said yesterday in an interview that some of the content broadcast on the three stations would surely be duplicated because XXL uses the same international production companies, Vivid Entertainment Group, Peach Productions, and Adam and Eve Productions, as AOV does for its non-Canadian content.

We denied it because it's an adult content [channel] and a foreign provider. We did not have assurances from [Videotron] that it would comply with Canadian laws, said CRTC spokesman Denis Carmel.

In order for adult material to be broadcast in Canada it must be approved by provincial boards to ensure the content is shown at an appropriate time, doesn't depict women in an overly negative way, or perpetuates stereotypes. There was no indication that XXL would violate these standards, but there was also no indication that it planned to adhere to them either.

 

3rd April   Censorship is In Fashion ...
 


FTVIndia bans Fashion TV

Based on an article from the Times of India see full article

The I&B Ministry of the Indian Government have axed Fashion TV supposedly due to raunchy footage.

Continuing with its tirade against obscenity on television, the government's moral police has decided to wave its truncheon. No sex please, we're Indians.

To matters more banal, the I&B ministry exercised its powers under Section 20 of the Cable Television Network Regulation Act, 1995, to ban transmission of FTV.

The two-month ban follows close on the heels of a temporary ban of AXN. Justifying the move, a ministry official said, the government had earlier warned the channel on earlier occasions for showing raunchy footage but it appears that it did not have much impact on the channel.

 

30th March   Offended ...
 


Gagged Turkish protestorBy lack of law against offending Turkishness on the Internet

From The New Anatolian see full article

Main opposition deputies walked out of a parliamentary commission yesterday over its failure to include certain offences, such as crimes against Ataturk, in a new anti-cyber crime bill.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies quit the Justice Commission after it also left attacking Turkey's fundamental principles and the unitary state out of the measure.

Under the bill, all collective utilization providers, such as Internet cafes, have to get required permits from local authorities. The providers are also responsible for taking necessary measures against sites with criminal content defined in the bill's access blocking section. Those who don't block the access would be subject to fines of YTL 50,000.

The commission decided not to make changes to the access blocking crimes section. With this decision, a motion that asked the commission to add a clause on "praising crimes and criminals" within the section was rejected. But when their motion to include attacking fundamental principles, crimes against Ataturk and attacking Turkey's unitary state didn't make the bill, CHP deputies left the commission en masse.

The "access blocking crimes" section currently includes child abuse, drug trade, pornography, prostitution, supporting suicide and gambling. The commission also decided to threaten service providers who do not properly block illicit sites with two years in prison.


7th April   Update: Insulting Human Rights ...
 


Gagged Turkish protestorTurkey proposes blocks on sites insulting Turkishness

From CNN

A parliamentary commission approved a proposal Thursday allowing Turkey to block Web sites that are deemed insulting to the founder of modern Turkey.

Parliament plans to vote on the proposal, though a date was not announced. The proposal indicates the discomfort that many Turks feel about Western-style freedom of expression, even though Turkey has been implementing widespread reforms in its bid to join the European Union.

On Thursday, lawmakers in the commission also debated whether the proposal should be widened to allow the Turkish Telecommunications Board to block access to any sites that question the principles of the Turkish secular system or the unity of the Turkish state, a reference to Web sites with information on Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

 

26th March   Knee Jerks in Korea ...
 


South Korea flag
Foreign porn sites to be blocked

Based on an article from Korea Times

The South Korean government plans to block foreign pornographic Internet sites to supposedly protect teenagers from obscene video files.

The Ministry of Information and Communication called on the country's major fixed-line operators Friday to check the technical viability of the scheme.

We are set to deny access to porn sites based overseas, with details being unveiled early next week, said Suh Byung-jo, director general at the ministry: We feel obliged to come up with measures to counter the recent woes caused by adult video clips available on the internet. It may cost some investment for the Internet service providers to block overseas porn sites and the overall Internet connection speed may slightly slow down due to such steps.

Suh's remarks came in the wake of a set of mishaps early this week.

On March 18, two porn videos were posted on Yahoo Korea, the nation's second-string Web portal. More than 20,000 users downloaded the files. Unaware of this, Yahoo Korea left the clips on their site for roughly six hours.

Daum, the second-largest portal site, also carried an audio-visual file of foreign fashion models exposing their breasts for approximately seven hours last Tuesday.

On the same day, a Web surfer posted a nude photo of a woman at the top portal Naver but the company did not remove the picture for about four hours.


6th April   Update: Jerks in Korea ...
 


South Korea flag
180 porn sites to be blocked

Based on an article from Stars and Stripes

Internet pornography soon may be harder to find for people living in South Korea.

The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has decided to block about 180 foreign pornography sites by the end of May.

Targeted sites, ministry officials said, include those from which pornographic material is downloaded and then re-posted to popular South Korean portal sites such as Naver and Daum.

In addition to blocking sites, the ministry plans to construct Internet hot lines to help prevent the spread of sexually explicit material, toughen punishment for those posting pornographic material and for Internet operators who negligently allow the material to be posted, and to educate teenagers about the ethical use of the Internet.


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