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Asia Pacific Censorship News


2020: July-Sept

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The Social Dilemma...

New Zealand film censor addresses a Netflix documentary that includes extracts from a film banned by the censor


Link Here20th September 2020
Full story: Film censorship in New Zealand...At the Office of Film and Literature Classification
David Shanks, the New Zealand Chief Censor, writes:

There's a new documentary out on Netflix which is trending on social media and making headlines around the world.

Social Dilemma looks at how social media companies are exploiting human psychology and using surveillance and data mining to keep people addicted, all to make a huge profit. It explores impacts like the declining mental health of populations, the rise of fake news and conspiracies, and giving terrorists a platform to promote hate and livestream their crimes.

It was the part about livestreaming that brought it to my attention. We received a complaint from a member of the public last week -- just after the documentary was released -- saying that it contains excerpts from the Christchurch terrorist's video which he livestreamed on Facebook on 15 March 2019.

I had banned that same video in New Zealand days after the attacks. I classified it as an unlawful (objectionable) publication in New Zealand for its promotion of terrorism and extreme violence.

So was it illegal for Netflix to stream this documentary in New Zealand?

The answer is no. As we detailed in guidance we issued at the time , classification of the livestream video in its entirety doesn't mean that every excerpt from the livestream is unlawful, although we had urged media to demonstrate extreme care in the treatment of this material.

The clips that are used in Social Dilemma support the documentary's narrative, yet it's important to remember that they show a real-life atrocity in New Zealand, that happened only last year, and they show real people. The timing couldn't be worse. Survivors and relatives of those who were subject to the attacks have only recently worked through the sentencing process.

I watched the documentary, and I was deeply concerned about this.

I asked Netflix to change their age rating for this documentary from 7+ to 13+ and to add a warning for Violence, including brief images from the Christchurch terror attacks, suicide references and content that may disturb. I also offered other options - to put up a warning screen at the start of the documentary or remove the footage of the attacks altogether but those options weren't taken up.

Netflix has since updated their rating and warning, which I appreciate.

The good news is that this type of situation is less likely to come up in the future. A recent law change means that from late next year, Netflix and other streaming services will be required by law to display New Zealand age ratings and content warnings on all films, shows and documentaries.

If you plan to watch Social Dilemma, I recommend that you watch with care and consider those around you that may be triggered by the content.

 

 

Concentrating minds...

Chinese censors order that local media remains silent about the western backlash to Mulan's Xinjiang connections


Link Here11th September 2020
Mulan is a 2020 USA / Canada / Hong Kong children's action adventure by Niki Caro.
Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen and Li Gong. IMDb

A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

China is very much looking forward to the wide distribution of the new live action Disney film Mulan. But is not so keen on letting Chinese people know that the rest of the world is talking about the films links to the repression of muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Partly shot in Xinjiang, Mulan's credits included thanks to the authorities there, which prompted calls overseas for a boycott of the movie.

Now Chinese censors have told local media outlets not to carry any news stories about the western backlash to the movie.

 

 

Scratch scratched...

China bans website of coding language for kids


Link Here8th September 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
According to Greatfire.org, a site that monitors internet censorship in China, internet users in China cannot access Scratch's website anymore.

Scratch programming language was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. There are around 60 million kids who use Scratch's interactive programming features to learn how to make games, animated stories, and more. A total of 5.65% or 3 million Scratch users reside in China.

The censorship seems re lated to a Chinese news report about the projects on Scratch on August 21. It claimed that the platform harbored a great deal of humiliating, fake, and libelous content about China, that included placing Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in a dropdown list of independent countries.

The report says that any service distributing information in China has to comply with the local regulations. It also suggested that Scratch's website and user forum had been banned in the country.

It is unclear whether the ban is temporary or a permanent one. In any case, if the ban is proven permanent then China will probably whip up a home-baked alternative.

 

 

Live action protest reaction...

Asian activists call for a boycott of Disney's Mulan over star's support for China in the Hong Kong democracy dispute


Link Here7th September 2020
Mulan is a 2020 USA / Canada / Hong Kong children's action adventure by Niki Caro.
Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen and Li Gong. IMDb

A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

Disney's Mulan is facing calls for a boycott in some Asian countries. Liu Yifei, the live-action film's star, first angered fans last year with comments supporting Hong Kong's police, who have been accused of violence towards pro-democracy protesters.

Now Thai and Taiwanese activists are also telling people not to see Mulan.

During a period of unrest Chinese-born actress Liu Yifei - who's an American citizen - shared a post from the government-run Beijing newspaper People's Daily on Weibo saying:

I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.

 

 

Price war...

Facebook says that if Australia forces social media to share news stories then Facebook will ban its users from sharing news articles


Link Here1st September 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
Facebook explains in a blog post:

Australia is drafting a new regulation that misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect. When crafting this new legislation, the commission overseeing the process ignored important facts, most critically the relationship between the news media and social media and which one benefits most from the other.

Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram. This is not our first choice -- it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia's news and media sector.

We share the Australian Government's goal of supporting struggling news organisations, particularly local newspapers, and have engaged extensively with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that has led the effort. But its solution is counterproductive to that goal. The proposed law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers. Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers.

The ACCC presumes that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true. News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us. Still, we recognize that news provides a vitally important role in society and democracy, which is why we offer free tools and training to help media companies reach an audience many times larger than they have previously.

News organisations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook for this precise reason, and they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories. This in turn allows them to sell more subscriptions and advertising. Over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook's News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge -- additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers.

We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and, during discussions over this legislation, we offered to invest millions more. We had also hoped to bring Facebook News to Australia, a feature on our platform exclusively for news, where we pay publishers for their content. S ince it launched last year in the US, publishers we partner with have seen the benefit of additional traffic and new audiences.

But these proposals were overlooked. Instead, we are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits. Unfortunately, no business can operate that way.

Facebook products and services in Australia that allow family and friends to connect will not be impacted by this decision. O ur global commitment to quality news around the world will not change either. And we will continue to work with governments and regulators who rightly hold our feet to the fire. But successful regulation, like the best journalism, will be grounded in and built on facts. In this instance, it is not.

 

 

Censorship Ideology...

Best selling economics book won't be sold in China after the author refused to implement censor cuts


Link Here31st August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
A best selling economics book by the French economist Thomas Piketty appears unlikely to be sold in mainland China after he refused requests to censor it.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has expressed admiration for Piketty's work, but Capital and Ideology , which was published last year, has not made it to the mainland China market due to sections on inequality in the country.

Piketty told the Guardian the Chinese publisher Citic Press had sent his French publisher a list of 10 pages of requested cuts in June from the French edition of the book, and a further list in August related to the English edition. He said:

I refused these conditions and told them that I would only accept a translation with no cut of any sort. They basically wanted to cut almost all parts referring to contemporary China, and in particular to inequality and opacity in China.

The passages highlighted by the Chinese publishers as requiring censorship  include one referring to the post-communism societies of regions including China becoming hypercapitalism's staunchest allies, as a direct consequence of the disasters of Stalinism and Maoism. Other sections reference the opacity of Chinese income and wealth data, capital flight and corruption.

 

 

Getting to the children...

Hong Kong school text books are downgraded from liberal studies to 'patriotic' studies


Link Here20th August 2020
Hong Kong publishers have been told to remove content that is sensitive to China from secondary school textbooks.

Discussions on civil disobedience, photos of certain protest slogans and even the names of some political parties have been excised from books used to teach critical thinking to the city's teenagers.

Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed government claimed the edits were required with a view to sieving out the inaccurate parts from the past.

Education has been a particular target of Beijing's ire, with liberal studies, a secondary school class that teaches critical thinking, winding up pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong who have called for more openly patriotic education.

 

 

Offsite Article: Popular Children's Books Purged as 'Inappropriate'...


Link Here13th August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
Across China, bestsellers are being removed from shelves as part of the campaign against wrong think children's books

See article from bitterwinter.org

 

 

These protocols must be effective then...

Chinese national firewall blocks https when used with TLS 1.3 and Encrypted SNI.


Link Here9th August 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
The Chinese government has deployed an update to its national firewall, to block encrypted HTTPS connections that are being set up using the latest internet standards for encryption.

The ban has been in place since the end of July, according to a joint report published this week by three organizations tracking Chinese censorship -- iYouPort , the University of Maryland , and the Great Firewall Report.

In particular China is now blocking HTTPS+TLS1.3+ESNI.

TLS 1.3 is the latest encryption standard that can be used to implement https. Server Name Indication is used to specify which website is required when several websites are hosted using the same I address. By default it is unencrypted letting ISPs and snoopers know which website is being accessed even when using https. ESNI (Encrypted Server Name Indication) closes this loophole.

Other HTTPS traffic is still allowed through the Great Firewall, if it uses older versions of the same protocols -- such as TLS 1.1 or 1.2, or SNI (Server Name Indication). This rather suggests that these old encryption standards are now compromised.

Per the findings of the joint report, the Chinese government is currently dropping all HTTPS traffic where TLS 1.3 and ESNI are used, and temporarily banning the IP addresses involved in the connection, for small intervals of time that can vary between two and three minutes.

Note also that this news about Chinese censorship probably informs us about snooping capabilities in the UK. Presumably GCHQ and UK ISPs would be similarly blinded by HTTPS+TLS1.3+ESNI, whilst still being able to block and snoop on older standards.

 

 

Playing the repression game...

China commences requiring real name ID verification for all online gaming


Link Here4th August 2020
The Chinese government has begun rolling out its real-name identification system for video games nationwide, while also removing over 15,000 unlicensed games from the Chinese App store.

The law includes the extension of an existing social media real-name requirement, where everybody has to provide a form of valid identity information. Both Tencent and NetEase reportedly begun using their own verification systems.

The authentication system aims to be rolled out in September.

Chinese developers were further compounded by 15,000 unlicensed games being removed from the Chinese App Store since July 1st, in preparation of an August 1st deadline. This was due to those games lacking permission from the Chinese National Press and Publication Administration.

One of the drivers behind the latest moves is that in-game messaging and voice systems in more obscure have enabled people to evade the country's repressive censorship stranglehold on communications.

 

 

Miserable gits in Cambodia...

MPs table bill to ban girls from wearing short skirts


Link Here3rd August 2020
A Cambodian proposal to ban girls wearing short skirts and men's shirtless has been tabled in parliament. MPs supporting this proposal have claimed that this will not only stop the increasing sexual violence in society but also strengthen Cambodian culture. If this resolution is passed in Parliament, the local police will get the right to take legal action against those wearing such clothes.

If the proposal gets approval from many Cambodian government ministries and the national parliament, it will be implemented from early 2021. After this, if a man appears shirtless in public places or a woman / girl in short skirt, then they will be fined.

 

 

Religious re-education...

Chinese film censors have new rules that ban many Bible stories


Link Here27th July 2020
Full story: Christianity in China...Restricting Christianity
China's new censorship laws effectively ban film content that portrays the life of Jesus Christ.

The broad new guidelines to make films fit the Communist party line include 20 categories that will now be outlawed. The categories include any content that promotes contentious history -- and film-makers believe this includes the life of Jesus . Other banned categories include the depiction of sacred relics and demonic possessions and content showing miracles and healing.

A Chinese film-maker said:

The guidelines almost entirely ban such content. If we film the life of Jesus, avoiding the content banned by the guidelines, we will only be presenting Jesus as an ordinary person. This is unacceptable to Christians.

Of course it may not be wise for Christians make too much of a fuss lest the government decides that religious re-education may be in order for Christians as well as Muslims.

 

 

An epidemic of censorship...

Wuhan Diary book doesn't get released in Wuhan


Link Here21st July 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
A book that recounts life in the Chinese city of Wuhan while under a strict coronavirus lockdown has been effectively banned in China, its author said in a recent written interview with Kyodo News.

Chinese critics have been trying to thwart publication of the book titled Wuhan Diary , whose English version has received international recognition, although the country's authorities have not officially prohibited it, said the novelist known as Fang Fang.

The book is a collection of 60 posts from her account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, regarding daily life during the so-called world's harshest coronavirus lockdown as well as, what she described as, the dark side of the authorities.

A publisher had prepared to distribute the book domestically but shied away from doing so out of fear of getting pressure from critics, she said.

 

 

Offsite Article: Former Chinese web censor exposes how TikTok staff in China censor American users...


Link Here19th July 2020
'These people living in fear of the Chinese Communist Party were there to censor American people's speech'

See article from reclaimthenet.org

 

 

Updated: Duffy Recommends...

365 Days, an erotic thriller on Netflix


Link Here16th July 2020
Full story: Film censorship in New Zealand...At the Office of Film and Literature Classification
365 Days (365 DNI) is a 2020 Poland drama by Barbara Bialowas.
Starring Michele Morrone, Anna Maria Sieklucka and Bronislaw Wroclawski. BBFC link IMDb

Massimo Torricelli, a young and handsome boss of a Sicilian Mafia family, has no other option but to takeover after his father has been assassinated. Laura Biel is a sales director in a luxurious hotel. She has a successful career, but her private life lacks passion. She is taking one last shot to save her relationship. Together with her partner and friends, she takes a trip to Sicily. Laura does not expect that Massimo, the most dangerous man on the island, will get in her way, kidnap her, hold her captive and give her 365 days... to fall in love with him. "365 dni" is the first Polish erotic film. It is based on the best-selling novel of the same name from author Blanka Lipinksa.

A British singer named Duffy is asking Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to remove the sexy film 365 Days claiming that it glorifies rape and sex trafficking.

365 Days is an erotic thriller from Poland that has been likened to Fifty Shades of Grey . It is quite sexy for Netflix and has become the services's biggest movie of the summer. The film is is about a mobster who kidnaps a woman he's been stalking, holding her captive for an entire year so that she'll fall in love with him. Naturally, she eventually does fall for her hunky captor and has a lot of sex with him, in various positions filmed from many angles.

The films detractors have organised a petition against the film which has been signed by about 54,000 people.

Now Duffy has weighed in against the film citing her own experience with being drugged in a restaurant and being abducted. She found the premise of 365 Days was just a little too familiar to the singer, so she wrote an open letter calling Netflix irresponsible for airing the film.

Update: Noted by the New Zealand film censor

7th July 2020. See article from rnz.co.nz

 When it was first launched in New Zealand, 365 Days carried a rating of R16, but that was bumped up after Chief Censor David Shanks got involved. Shanks said:
We felt that age rating was inadequate, we thought that this was more at the 18-plus level. We also wrote to Netflix and advised that they should warn for sexual violence as well as potentially highly impactful content in this film that viewers should be warned about.
Shanks said it was frustrating that the legislation his office operated under was from 1993, and therefore did not cover streaming services. But there was a bill before parliament which if passed, would change that and allow for Netflix to rate films more in line with New Zealand standards.

 

Update: A petition to ban 365 Days

16th July 2020. See article from standard.co.uk

A petition to ban the Polish Netflix film has gained about 70,000 signatures.

The Change.org petition's author, fitness influencer Mikayla Zazon, wrote:

Netflix clearly stands on the side of the abusers by having a movie that glorifies, romanticizes, and condones sexual assault trending on their top 10 recommended movies to watch around the globe.

As a social media public figure and a victim of these crimes, I am outraged and heartbroken that this movie shows up on teens' 'watch next' recommendation.

By taking down this movie on Netflix, we can protect sexual violence in adolescent women and adult women. And we can prevent boys from seeing such horrific behaviour as permission to sexual assault and rape women.

 

 

The bigger they are, the harder they fall...

Philippine's main TV channel shutdown seemingly because it criticises the president


Link Here11th July 2020
One of the Philippines' largest broadcasters, ABS-CBN, has been refused a new licence after being forced off air in May.

Government critics say the refusal is directly connected to the channel's criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte. In particular the broadcaster had refused to broadcast Duterte's campaign ads in 2016.

On Friday, an overwhelming majority of a parliamentary committee rejected as undeserving ABS-CBN's request for a 25-year extension of its franchise.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, commented:

This is a black day for media freedom in a country previously regarded as a bastion of press freedom and democracy in the region, Today's vote to deny the franchise renewal is an astounding display of obsequious behaviour by Congressional representatives, kowtowing to Duterte by agreeing to seriously limit media freedom in the Philippines.

Although a commercial operation, ABS-CBN is very similar to the BBC. With more than 70 years of TV and radio history, it has shaped the Filipino psyche with entertainment and news programmes for all of the family. But like the BBC, its critics say it represents the rich and powerful, as an old, mainstream media offering, is out of touch with the will of social media users here

 

 

Updated: Ticking privacy bomb...

TikTok comes under scrutiny in Australia over revalations that the app snoops on users sending passwords and users' private data back to China


Link Here7th July 2020
Full story: TikTok Snooping...Chinese App comes under fire for snooping on users
Chinese video app TikTok has been accused of being a data-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in news reports quoting an unnamed federal parliament member.
 A mysterious whistle-blower said the government is facing pressure to ban the app, as was recently done in India. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

Members of the armed forces in Australia and the US have been told not to use the app on any Defence-issued device.

There's a possibility TikTok representatives could be called before an ongoing Senate Inquiry into Foreign Interference on social media.

Update: America too

7th July 2020. See article from aljazeera.com

The United States is considering banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, over allegations Beijing is using them to spy on users. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

I don't want to get out in front of the President, but it's something we're looking at.

US politicians have raised concerns over t he handling of user data by TikTok saying they were worried about China's laws requiring domestic companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

In an apparent attempt to distance itself from China, Tik Tok said it would pull its popular video sharing platform from app stores in Hong Kong. It came as a growing number of tech companies suspended compliance with data requests from the Hong Kong government, citing concerns over a new national security law imposed by Beijing on the financial hub.

 

 

So how will notorious censors respond to being censored themselves?...

Ofcom censures Chinese propaganda channel for parading a Briton making a forced confession


Link Here 6th July 2020
Full story: Diplomatic Censorship at Ofcom...Ofcom get caught up in international relations

China 24, News Hour
CCTV News, 27 August 2013, 12:00 and 14 July 2014, 21:002

CCTV News broadcast China 24, a news programme which reported on the arrest of Peter Humphrey and included footage of him appearing to confess to a criminal offence. It then broadcast a follow up report during News Hour, which reported on Mr Humphrey's subsequent conviction and included footage of him apologising for having committed the offence. He was named in both programmes, although his face was blurred.

Ofcom found that:

  • The programmes included footage of Mr Humphrey which had the potential materially and adversely to affect viewers’ perception of him. The Licensee did not take sufficient steps to ensure that material facts had not been presented, omitted or disregarded in a way that was unfair to Mr Humphrey.
     

  • The Licensee had not provided Mr Humphrey with an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the allegations of wrongdoing being made about him in the programmes as broadcast.
     

  • Mr Humphrey had a legitimate expectation of privacy in relation to the filming and subsequent broadcast of the footage of him without his consent. In the circumstances, Mr Humphrey’s legitimate expectation of privacy was not outweighed by the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas without interference. The Licensee had therefore unwarrantably infringed Mr Humphrey’s privacy in respect of the obtaining of the material included in the programmes and in the programmes as broadcast.

Ofcom also considers that the breach of Rules 7.1 and 8.1 of the Code is serious. We are therefore putting the Licensee on notice that we intend to consider the breach for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

 

 

Hong Kong hand over...

US social media companies respond to China taking control of Hong Kong by ending the hand over of data to the Hong Kong government, lest this is now a proxy for the Chinese government


Link Here6th July 2020
Major internet and social media platforms said Monday they will stop processing requests for user data made by Hong Kong law enforcement authorities while they carry out an assessment of a controversial security law imposed by China on the city.

Facebook and its messaging service WhatsApp said in statements that they would pause the review of information requests from the Hong Kong government pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts. Facebook said the company believes freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions.

A Google spokesperson told CNN Business that when the law took effect, they paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities, and we'll continue to review the details of the new law.

Facebook and WhatsApp said they only comply with information requests from law enforcement authorities in accordance with their terms of service and only when the requests are in line with international human rights standards.

 

 

Unfree Speech...

Books vanish from Hong Kong book libraries in fear of new security law imposed by China


Link Here5th July 2020
Books written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city's libraries after Beijing imposed a repressive new national security law.

Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city's most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well known pro-democracy lawmaker.

Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law. He wrote on Facebook:

White terror continues to spread, the national security law is fundamentally a tool to incriminate speech, using a phrase that refers to political persecution.

Searches on the public library website showed at least three titles by Wong, Chan and local scholar Chin Wan are no longer available for lending at any of dozens of outlets across the city.

 

 

Tibetan Buddism...

Chinese printers refuse to print Australian book over the phrase 'Tibetan Buddism'


Link Here3rd July 2020
Chinese printers have banned an Australian book by Miro Bilbrough because it contained the phrase 'Tibetan Buddhism'.

Miro Bilbrough had to change printers after the Chinese censor attempted to removed the phrase Tibetan Buddhism from her manuscript. Bilbrough's upcoming memoir, I n the Time of the Manaroans , due to be printed in China before the words Tibetan Buddhism, were requested to be removed from the manuscript.

Bilbrough, who grew up in New Zealand, said leaving the words in the book was non-negotiable. She said China had overt, geo-political views about Tibet, by not recognising it as a country. She added:

That is what censorship is, they are symbolically erasing Tibet. I did feel quite sick when I read the email.

She was pleased publisher Victoria University Press was on the same page as her, saying:

I'm really happy that Victoria University Press is taking the book elsewhere -- and not pandering to this very overt censorship.

The use of the phrase Tibetan Buddhism, related to a discussion of the concept of karma, and the book itself was not about Tibetan sovereignty, but about the experience of being a child of hippies in 1970s New Zealand.


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