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2013: April

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Offsite Article: Facebook: news provider or social network?...

Link Here27th April 2013
Channel 4 commenter seems to be bitching that it is unfair that news reported via social networks isn't subject to the same taste and decency restraints as Channel 4 news

See article from



Offsite Article: How the Cookie Law Crumbled...

Link Here27th April 2013
XBIZ reports on the downfall of the nonsensical EU law to require consent for cookies. It achieved nothing beyond wasting time and money, adding to the administrative burden that is making EU industry uncompetitive

See article from



Update: Taking Down Notes...

Google report a 33% increase in requests for censorship

Link Here26th April 2013
Full story: Google Transparency Reports...Google reveals the scale of copyright claims

Google have reported that requests for Google to censor content or searches has risen by about a third since their last transparency report. 

From July to December 2012, Google received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content, an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that received during the first half of 2012. The report states:

As we've gathered and released more data over time, it's become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown. In more places than ever, we've been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services. In this particular time period, we received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates.

Notable stats include:

  • There was a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where we received 697 requests to remove content from Google  platforms (an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year.
  • In Russia, a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, Google received six requests. But in the second half of the year, Google received 114 requests to remove content, 107 of them citing this new law.
  • Google received inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos containing clips of the movie Innocence of Muslims . Google restricted videos from view in several countries in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints.



Update: People's Hero...

Nick Clegg announces that the Snooper's Charter isn't going to happen

Link Here25th April 2013
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has just announced that the Communications Data Bill is dead. He said on LBC:

What people dub the snoopers' charter, that's not going to happen -- certainly with Lib Dems in government.

Big Brother Watch commented:

Nick Clegg has made the right decision for our economy, for internet security and for our freedom.

Recording the websites we look at and who we email would not have made us safer, as some of the country's leading cyber security academics argued this week. It would have made Britain a less attractive place to start a company and put British companies in the position of being paid by the Government to spy on their customers, something that oppressive regimes around the world would have quickly copied.

Rather than spending billions on another Whitehall IT disaster that tramples over our civil liberties and privacy on an unprecedented scale, we should focus on ensuring the police have the skills and training to make use of the huge volume of data that is available. If small, technical changes to existing legislation are required, then they should be properly thought through before being subject to the widespread consultation and comprehensive assessment this plan sorely lacked.

Dr Julian Huppert MP, Lib Dem spokesperson for Home Affairs and a member of the Joint Committee on the draft Communications data Bill, said:

I am delighted that Nick Clegg has stood up for the British public on this. He was right to demand that these proposals be published as a draft, which gave us all a chance to see just how badly thought through the Home Office proposals were. And he is now right to say that what the Home Office propose is unacceptable. Spending billions of pounds to keep track of every website we go to, and what we do on facebook or google, is simply wrong. If we want to actually cut crime, spend the extra money on the police.



Update: Public Internet to be Censored as Suitable for Kids...

Cameron set to ban anything remotely adult from public internet networks

Link Here24th April 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

The Prime Minister is to announce a Government-backed censorship rules which will mean that all adult themed content is blocked in public spaces such as cafes and railway stations where children are likely to be present.

Cameron said:

We are promoting good, clean, WiFi in local cafes and elsewhere to make sure that people have confidence in public WiFi systems so that they are not going to see things they shouldn't.

Talks have been taking place for months between ISPs and government officials over the new censorship rules. It is not clear whether the internet firms will automatically impose the restrictions on access -- or whether it will be the duty of shops and other public areas used by children to bar adult content.

Industry sources said that the decision on whether to automatically restrict access in hotels could prove a more contentious issue.

Offsite Comment: Half Baked

25th April 2013. See  article from



Update: Open Letter to ISPs...

Joint letter sent to BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk by ORG, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch, asking ISPs to stand up for their customers.

Link Here24th April 2013
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

Sent to:

Neil Berkett, Virgin Media
Jeremy Darroch, Sky
Dido Harding, TalkTalk
Warren Buckley, BT
Jeremy Woodrow, Royal Mail
Ronan Dunne, O2
Richard Tang, Zen Internet

One year ago, it became public knowledge that the Government intends to introduce legislation relating to communications data. We did not learn of this in Parliament, but in media leaks.

It has become clear that a critical component of the Communications Data Bill is that UK communication service providers will be required by law to create data they currently do not have any business purpose for, and store it for a period of 12 months.

Plainly, this crosses a line no democratic country has yet crossed -- paying private companies to record what their customers are doing solely for the purposes of the state.

These proposals are not fit for purpose, which possibly explains why the Home Office is so keen to ensure they are not aired publicly.

There has been no public consultation, while on none of your websites is there any reference to these discussions. Meetings have been held behind closed doors as policy has been developed in secret, seemingly the same policy formulated several years ago despite widespread warnings from technical experts.

That your businesses appear willing to be co-opted as an arm of the state to monitor every single one of your customers is a dangerous step, exacerbated by your silence

Consumers are increasingly concerned about their privacy, both in terms of how much data is collected about them and how securely that data is kept. Many businesses have made a virtue of respecting consumer privacy and ensuring safe and secure internet access.

Sadly, your customers have not had the opportunity to comment on these proposals. Indeed, were it not for civil society groups and the media, they would have no idea such a policy was being considered.

We believe this is a critical failure not only of Government, but a betrayal of your customers' interests. You appear to be engaged in a conspiracy of silence with the Home Office, the only concern being whether or not you will be able to recover your costs.

We urge you to withdraw your participation in a process that in our view is deeply flawed, pursuing a pre-determined solution that puts competition, security and privacy at risk in an unprecedented way.

With best wishes,

Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group
Nick Pickles, Director, Big Brother Watch
Sam Smith, Technologist, Privacy International

Update: ISPs respond

25th April 2013. See  article from

Responding to the letter, ISPA UK pointed out the active role of ISPs in criticising the draft Bill.

ISPs have been open in their approach, with a number of ISPs and ISPA giving evidence publicly to the Joint Committee that criticised the draft bill. It is for the government to publish its proposals, and when it does, we will examine the new draft bill closely alongside our members, parliamentarians and other stakeholders as part of the open parliamentary scrutiny the bill will receive. ISPA members recognise the needs of law enforcement, however want to see a bill that is workable and proportionate and takes into account the recommendations of the joint committee.



Offsite Article: The Economist Explains...

Link Here24th April 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
How does China censor the internet?

See article from



Offsite Article: Web censorship: the net is closing in...

Link Here24th April 2013
Across the globe governments are monitoring and censoring access to the web. And if we're not careful millions more people could find the internet fractured, fragmented and controlled by the state

See article from



Update: Hackers Running Onion Rings Around the Police...

Japanese police call on ISPs to voluntarily block anonymous communications using Tor

Link Here23rd April 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Japan...Japan considers internet censorship

Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) is to urge ISPs to voluntarily block communications using anonymisation software Tor .

The move follows a case where PCs were remotely hijacked by computers using the Tor system, which allows users to mask their online identities and locations by routing connections through several servers. This case cause much embarrassment to the Japanese who incompetently arrested, detained and extracted confessions under duress from the innocent victims of the hijacked computers.

A panel ofthe NPA, which was looking into measures to combat crimes using the Tor system, compiled a report on April 18 stating that blocking online communications at the discretion of site administrators will be effective in preventing such crimes.

According to the NPA, while the IP addresses of site visitors are normally known to the visited sites, the Tor system enables users to visit sites or dispatch information without revealing their identities. Over the past several years, the Tor system was misused in a number of crimes including the posting of online murder threats on Internet bulletin boards, theft of money from accounts via illegal accesses to Internet banking sites, postings on dating sites by those seeking relationships with children, and leakages of security information from the Metropolitan Police Department.

The police somehow neglected to mention the other side of the coin where the Tor system is utilized by citizens in pro-democracy movements in the Middle East to escape government suppression.

The planned access restrictions are therefore expected to be opposed by the internet industry. Communication privacy is our lifeline. We won't be able to accept such a request, said an industry insider.



Offsite Article: Suffocatingly Expensive Government Snooping...

Link Here23rd April 2013
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
The Home Office is trying to trap Britain. In the past Downing Street has listened to entrepreneurs, but are other Departments hampering their plans? By Sara Kelly of Coalition for a Digital Economy

See article from



Update: Micro-Exemptions...

The Government proposes to exempt micro-companies (less than 10 employees) from having to sign up to the planned news censor

Link Here20th April 2013

The Government writes about the need for bloggers and small media companies having to sign up to the proposed news censor:

Following the initial debate in Parliament, we have refined the clauses to make it absolutely clear that small blogs are outside of the scheme.

The amendments, which have cross-party agreement, make clear that small blogs will not be classed as relevant publishers , and be considered by the House of Commons on Monday April 22.

The provisions in the Crime and Courts Bill clauses detail the four tests that must be met to be considered a relevant publisher, which are:

  • publish news-related material

  • publish in the course of a business

  • written by different authors

  • subject to editorial controls

Micro-business blogs

The amendments clarify the government's position on small blogs by further defining the exemption for blogs that are classed as micro-businesses - business with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover below 2 million. This is the definition used by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Despite not falling under the definition of relevant publisher, any publication that is exempt as a micro-business as a result of these amendments could still choose to join a regulator and receive the legal benefits otherwise only available to relevant publishers in the regulator. That means protection from exemplary damages. It also means that use of the arbitral arm in the regulator will be taken into account by the court when awarding costs.

Additional exemptions

The clauses also list certain categories of publications which are exempt, even when those tests are met. These exemptions include special interest titles, scientific or academic journals, broadcasters and book publishers as as well as a public body, charity or company that publishes news about their activities.



Offsite Article: Graphic Complaints...

Link Here19th April 2013
Australia's internet censor reports that February 2013 was a slow month for website blocking

See article from



Control Freaks Thwarted...

High Court nixes claims that website owners can control who browses their websites by claiming copyright over the temporary files created when reading a web page

Link Here18th April 2013

The supreme court has thankfully ruled that opening newspaper articles in a browser via a website link is not somehow a breach of the newspaper's copyright.

The ruling comes after a three-year legal between the Newspaper Licensing Agency and a media monitoring company, Meltwater, which charges PR companies for alerts about their clients. After a dispute over fees that has already been through the high court and court of appeal, the supreme court was asked to look at the narrow question of whether the copyright of newspapers was infringed when a user browses content online.

Five supreme court judges led by the president, Lord Neuberger, found against the NLA's arguments that browsing would constitute a breach of copyright because the newspaper article would be temporarily stored in the users' computer.

The supreme court said it could not be a breach of copyright as it was a temporary page and the European Court of Justice had already ruled this would be an exception to copyright law, because it was a necessary part of the technical process supporting the internet experience. The supreme court said if it had found otherwise, it would have been:

An unacceptable result, which would make infringers of many millions of ordinary users of the internet across the EU who use browsers and search engines for private as well as commercial purposes.

But the supreme court has decided that the copyright issues surrounding web browsing are so important that it has referred the case it was examining to the European Court of Justice to ensure that the ruling applies uniformly across the EU.

Jorn Lyssegen, chief executive of Meltwater, said he was

Very pleased that the supreme court over-ruled the previous rulings by the court of appeals and the high court that the simple act of browsing the internet could be copyright infringement.



Searching for a Nice Little Earner...

Japanese man wins court order to prevent Google from linking his name to criminal activity in the internet search autocomplete facility

Link Here17th April 2013

A Japanese court has ordered Google to delete search terms related to a Japanese man who claimed that searches for his name autocompleted to include defamatory phrases. Google has also been ordered to pay 300,000 yen ( 2,000) in damages for supposed mental anguish .

The ruling comes a year after Google rejected the court's initial demands to censor its autocomplete function in 2012, in part arguing that it wasn't subject to Japanese regulations.

The man has not been named, but his lawyer, Hiroyuki Tomita, said that Google's autocomplete function suggested searches that led to over 10,000 defamatory results suggesting his client had been involved in criminal acts. The man claimed that this resulted in the loss of his job, and his failure to find further employment.

Google has previously been quoted saying:

These searches are produced by a number of objective factors including popularity of search terms. Google does not determine these terms manually -- all of the queries shown in Autocomplete have been typed previously by other Google users.



Offsite Article: Pretty Graphs and Censorial Figures...

Link Here8th April 2013
Australian internet censor reveals that it blocked 149 website URLs in January 2013 and that 30% of them weren't even banned content

See article from



Offsite Article: Forget me not: campaigners fight for control of online data...

Link Here 5th April 2013
Advocating a nightmare world where historical fact will be re-written to suit those who complain loudest and have the most most money to demand their version of the truth in court

See article from



Update: Appeasing the Lynch Mob...

Police arrest 3 atheist bloggers in Bangladesh

Link Here3rd April 2013
Full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief

Three 'atheist bloggers' were arrested and paraded at a news conference following muslim extremist demands to kill the blasphemous bloggers.

Deputy commissioner of Dhaka police, Molla Nazrul Islam said that the three had hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions. He added that the three could face 10 years in jail if convicted under the country's cyber laws which outlaw defaming a religion.

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan said the three arrested men were among 84 atheist bloggers named in a list handed over by an Islamist group to a government panel probing alleged blasphemy against Islam on the Internet.

Meanwhile, a group of bloggers protested the overnight arrests of the three men and said their detention meant the government is caving in to pressure from Islamist groups. Scores of bloggers held hands to form a human chain in Dhaka to protest the arrests. Fahmidul Haq, a blogger and Dhaka University professor said:

We demand their release. The future of Bangladesh is bleak if the freedom expression of the bloggers is curbed.



Update: As Ready As They Will Ever Be...

Egypt censors ready to block internet porn. They just need a list of websites

Link Here1st April 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites

Egypt is ready to start blocking pornographic websites. Sherif Hashem, deputy head of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority said:

The companies providing Internet service in Egypt have installed filters in their networks since January to block any content demanded by the judicial authorities in Egypt,.

Hashem now asks that concerned authorities specifically define what websites should be blocked so that the government can ask Internet providers to block them. He explained:

There is no such thing as blocking such sites as a whole, but they must be specified.

In November, the former prosecutor general sent official letters to the communications and information technology minister, the interior minister and the head of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority ordering that they block pornographic websites.

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