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US Censorship News


2020: April-June

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Upodated: Brand censorship...

Brands demand that Facebook censors news that offends identitarian sensitivities


Link Here27th June 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
Facebook has said it will start to label potentially harmful posts that it leaves up because of their news value. The move comes as the firm faces growing pressure to censor the content on its platform.

More than 90 advertisers have joined a boycott of the site, including consumer goods giant Unilever on Friday. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was started by US civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd in May while in police custody. It has focused on Facebook, which also owns Instagram; and WhatsApp. The organisers, which include Color of Change and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have said Facebook allows racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.

Unilver said it would halt Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advertising in the US at least through 2020.

In a speech on Friday, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg defended the firm's record of taking down hate speech. But he said the firm was tightening its policies to address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they're showing up across our community. In addition to introducing labels, Facebook will ban ads that describe people from different groups, based on factors such as race or immigration status, as a threat. He said:

A handful of times a year, we leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies if the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm. Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms.

We will soon start labelling some of the content we leave up because it is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case.

He added that Facebook would remove content - even from politicians - if it determines that it incites violence or suppresses voting.

 

Update: Coke too

27th June 2020. See article from bbc.co.uk

Coca-Cola will suspend advertising on social media globally for at least 30 days, as pressure builds on platforms to crack down on hate speech. chairman and CEO James Quincey said:

There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media.

He demanded greater accountability and transparency from social media firms.

 

 

Banning strong encryption...

US Senators introduce bill requiring device makers to include a backdoor to circumvent encrypted logins


Link Here26th June 2020

Three Republican senators introduced a bill this week to codify lawful access, a legal framework that would demand that device makers incorporate a backdoor to allow law enforcement to access nw weakly encrypted digital devices with signed court orders. The bill's authors are Senators Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn. Cotton said in a statement:

Tech companies' increasing reliance on encryption has turned their platforms into a new, lawless playground of criminal activity. Criminals from child predators to terrorists are taking full advantage. This bill will ensure law enforcement can access encrypted material with a warrant based on probable cause and help put an end to the Wild West of crime on the Internet.

The bill appears to be a formal codification of what top judicial officials have sought for well over two decades: enhancing the government's ability to bust through now weakened encryption, which can make data on a cellphone or a computer almost unreadable to anyone who does not have the password to decrypt it.

Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society commented:

This is the full-frontal nuclear assault on encryption we've been fearing would come, but which no lawmaker previously had dared to put forth.

Andrew Crocker, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said:

This bill is simply blind to reality.  It is blind to the fact that as millions of us march in the streets and shelter in place, we've never been more dependent on secure communications and devices. It is blind to the expert consensus that there is no way to provide access to securely encrypted data without a backdoor, something that legislating a prize for a magical solution simply cannot change, he said.

 

 

Updated: The answer to too much censorship is more censorship...

US Government details internet censorship proposals via reducing safe harbour provisions known as Section 230 protections


Link Here 21st June 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
The Justice Department unveiled proposals late Wednesday to limit big tech platforms' legal protections from being sued for moderating content - a move which follows Donald Trump's accusations of conservatives being censored by web giants.

The proposals from Attorney General Bill Barr's department would dilute the ability of internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter to declare content objectionable and remove or downplay it at will.

The Democratic-controlled House is unlikely to take up a Republican proposal and in the Senate it would need either to be tabled by Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader or forced on to the agenda with 60 votes, neither of which seem likely in an election year.

Update: William Barr Says Social Media 'Starting to Censor' Views Is Problematic

21st June 2020. See article from bloomberg.com

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said social media giants are starting to censor views and antitrust law can be used to address their dominance, doubling down on Justice Department proposals to limit legal protections for online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Barr said on Fox News:

Internet platforms are taking down views based on whether they agree with the viewpoint or not, which makes them a publisher rather than a neutral platform, voiding the liability protection they enjoy under the law

 

 

Updated: A Twitter spat...

Donald Trump threatens social media with the removal of Section 230 protections


Link Here30th May 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
A draft of the executive order announced by Donald Trump via Twitter in response to the platform's attempt to fact-check his tweets proposes a radical modification of Section 230, the so-called First Amendment of the Internet.  It asks the FCC to examine whether actions related to the editing of content by social media companies should potentially lead to the firms forfeiting their protections under Section 230. The section says that social media and internet forums are not generally responsible for the content of posts by their users (at least until the companies become aware of illegal content).

The executive order also orders a review of alleged 'unfair or deceptive practices' by Facebook and Twitter and calls on the government to reconsider advertising on services judged to 'violate free speech principles.'

Section 230 has ensured the legal protection of platforms from liability for third-party content since the popularization of the internet in the mid-1990s.

Reuters described the executive order as an extraordinary attempt to intervene in the media that experts said was unlikely to survive legal scrutiny. However Section 230 protections have already been removed for content relating to sex work and constitutional rights didn't help fend off censorship included in the FOSTA Act.

 

Offsite: Let's go through Trump's terrible internet censorship order, line by line

30th May 2020. See article from theverge.com

 

 

Political cleansing...

Donald Trumps election team tried to take down a cartoon mocking the president's bleach suggestion


Link Here29th May 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance

Donald Trumps re-election team has failed in attempt to censor Nick Anderson's cartoon mocking Trump's laughable suggestion that injecting disinfectant could protect against Covid-19.

The cartoon is a reference to the 1978 Jonestown massacre , where more than 900 people died after drinking cyanide-laced punch at the order of cult leader Jim Jones.

The Pulitzer-winning cartoonist put his cartoon The Trump Cult up for sale on the online retailer Redbubble this month. But Redbubble pulled Anderson's illustration from sale following a trademark infringement claim made by Trump's campaign organisation, Donald J Trump for President Inc .

Anderson said that he believed the copyright claim was made due to his depiction of Maga hats, and described the situation as absurd.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and other free speech organisations subsequently got involved, sending a group letter to Redbubble that accused Trump's campaign of having misused Redbubble's reporting mechanism and arguing that the work and those who publish it are protected by the first amendment.

Redbubble reinstated Anderson's cartoon this week citing the usual excuse that the censorship was all some ghastly mistake.

 

 

A shot of bleach in the arm of social media...

Trump plans to set up a panel to counter social media bias in generally censoring right wing opinions


Link Here24th May 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
President Trump plans to create a panel to examine cases of bias against conservatives and suppression of free speech on social media, reported The Wall Street Journal. Last week the president tweeted:

The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events. Thank you Michelle!

It is not clear what department the panel would fall under or what authority it would have. However, the WSJ talked to sources that said the plans might lead to the creation of a commission that would work with agencies such as the Federal Communication Commission and the Federal Elections Commission.

In May 2019, the White House launched a tool that allowed people to share their experiences with political censorship but nothing really came of it. At a Social Media Summit held last July , several conservatives voiced concerns about censorship on social media and the shadow-banning of their content.

 

 

Mounting hostility...

China threatens sanctions against US lawmakers who promote laws to sue China for losses incurred over coronavirus


Link Here17th May 2020
China has reportedly threatened to sanction a Houston congressman, Dan Crenshaw, who has promoted legislation allow let U.S. citizens to China for costs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Crenshaw is one of at least four U.S. politicians identified by China for abusing litigation against China.

Now China's Global Times has reported that China is threatening that the four lawmakers should expect Chinese sanctions that will make them feel the pain,

The Global Times named Crenshaw and three other Republicans as targets: Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey. All have called for legislation allowing Americans to sue China over the outbreak. Two state attorneys general, also Republicans -- Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Lynn Fitch of Mississippi -- who have sued China to recover costs from the outbreak were also named.

 

 

Snoop on...

Senate bill to restrict snooping of people's browsing history fails by one vote


Link Here14th May 2020
Full story: US Internet Snooping Post Snowden...Internet snooping continues in the US
The US government continues to have the right to snoop on internet users' browsing histories, as well and also internet search histories. A bill that would have stripped the government of its right to conduct the searches with no warrant failed in the Senate.

The bipartisan bill, an amendment to a surveillance authority first established under the 2001 Patriot Act, was sponsored by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, and Montana Republican Steve Daines. But the amendment required 60 votes to move forward, and the final Senate vote was 59-37 in favor.

 

 

Maverick lawmaker...

US Senator Tom Cruz announces bill to defund Hollywood film makers that Kowtow to Chinese censorship pressure


Link Here1st May 2020
US Senator Ted Cruz will introduce legislation cutting off Defense Department assistance for US movie studios that permit China to censor their content,

Cruz said the bill, called the Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act, (SCRIPT), would bar Hollywood studios from doing business with the Pentagon if they accommodate Chinese censors. He said:

For too long, Hollywood has been complicit in China's censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profits. The SCRIPT Act will serve as a wakeup call by forcing Hollywood studios to choose between the assistance they need from the American government and the dollars they want from China.

It is common for major Hollywood films to work with the Pentagon in order use Defense Department assets such as jets, tanks or naval bases. Cruz's legislation would prohibit the DoD from providing access to such assets to US studios that censor films for screening in the Communist nation.

A cited example of Chinese censorship was the removal of a Taiwan flag from Tom Cruise's flying jacket in the film Top Gun.

The senator's office said he would introduce the bill when the Senate is next in session.

 

 

Distanced from free speech...

Facebook censors anti-lockdown protests if prohibited by the state


Link Here21st April 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
Facebook says it will consult with state governments on their lockdown orders and will shut down pages planning anti-quarantine protests accordingly.

Events that defy government's guidance on social distancing have also been banned from Facebook.

The move has been opposed by Donald Trump Jr and the Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. They note that Facebook is violating Americans' First Amendment rights.

Facebook said it has already removed protest messages in California, New Jersey and Nebraska. However, protests are still being organized on Facebook. A massive protest took place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon that was organized on the Facebook group Pennsylvanians against Excessive Quarantine Orders.

 

 

Offsite Article: Ridiculous Ways Anime Were Censored for American TV...


Link Here 20th April 2020
American distributors cut anime down back in the day. Here are a few cases of bizarre cuts

See article from cbr.com

 

 

Includes random items...

The ESRB introduces a new consumer advice label for games with loot boxes


Link Here16th April 2020

In April 2018 the ESRB began assigning Interactive Elements to physical video games with the In-Game Purchases and Users Interact notices. The In-Game Purchases Interactive Element informs parents and other consumers of when a game offers the ability to purchase additional items without leaving the game. To provide even greater transparency about the nature of in-game items available for purchase the ESRB will now begin assigning a new Interactive Element: In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).

This new Interactive Element, In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items), will be assigned to any game that contains in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency (or with virtual coins or other forms of in-game currency that can be purchased with real world currency) for which the player doesn't know prior to purchase the specific digital goods or premiums they will be receiving (e.g., loot boxes, item packs, mystery awards).

In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) will be assigned to all games that include purchases with any randomized elements, including loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more. Games that have the In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) notice may also include other non-randomized paid elements.


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