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2011: April-June

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27th June   

Facebook Has No Balls...

Swedish gallery censors Robert Mapplethorpe art to highlight Facebook censorship
Link Here

Fotografiska, a contemporary photography museum in Stockholm, has elected to censor its own promotional material for an upcoming exhibition to draw attention to Facebook's ludicrous nudity ban.

We censored the photographs because Facebook removed our pictures, said Fotografiska spokesperson Jens Hollingby to The Local: Our purpose was to bring attention to the issue and to open a discussion

The photographs in question are by the controversial US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and form part of a major new exhibition of his work which recently opened at the museum.

Hollingby told The Local that Facebook is an important channel for the museum to market

Beneath the photographs, which are censored with a large blue rectangle with the text facebook-friendly square , the museum has explained its position:

Facebook thinks that naked bodies cause offence. They remove our photos. For them, it does not matter if it is art or not. I you would like to see the photos in their full glory, we invite you to visit us.

The exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe's work runs until October 2nd 2011.

 

20th June   

Updated: Shared Attack...

Anonymous action against Malaysian internet censorship
Link Here

While the Malaysian government has continually ensured that there would be no censorship of the Internet in the country, an alleged leaked memo requesting Malaysian ISPs to block file-hosting sites suggests otherwise.

The memo in question appears to be issued by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on May 30, and was leaked on Facebook, Malaysia-based Lowyat.Net forum, and blogs on June 9.

The MCMC, which is the country's internet censor, has yet to deny or confirm the memo's authenticity.

In the memo, the MCMC requested that Malaysian ISPs block access to ten file-hosting and sharing URLs, including Megaupload, Fileserve, and The Pirate Bay. It cited Section 268 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which states that ISPs (licensees) must try their best to prevent its network from being used for activities that contravenes with Malaysian law.

See article from globalvoicesonline.org

International hacktivist group Anonymous has carried through on its threat to attack the Malaysian government's main website www.malaysia.gov.my over the government's proposed censoring of several file sharing websites, including the Pirate Bay and Megaupload.

A few days ago, the group posted a YouTube video about its intentions to carry out the attacks at 3.30am (local time) on Thursday.

At least 50 other government websites were attacked, including the state of Sabah's tourism website, and the Tourism Malaysia website. The websites of the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Parliament, the Ministry of Finance as well as the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, which were restored before 9 am (local time).

Update: Protests

20th June 2011. See  article from  security.cbronline.com

Thousands of Malaysians took to the roads in protest of the decision made by the regulatory body Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to block 10 file-sharing websites in its effort to combat piracy.

The websites are mostly used to download pirated content including movies, TV shows and music.

The protest could be seen on Facebook as well, with over 6,500 people posting messages against the decision.

 

18th June   

Update: Half Hearted...

Euro Human Rights Commissioner doesn't believe in internet censorship...BUT...porn should be blocked
Link Here

Thomas Hammarberg, the commissioner for human rights for the Council of Europe has said that freedom on the internet is a matter for the United Nations (UN) to decide because it is an international concern.

He said the UN should look at the differences between privacy and freedom of expression on the internet and added that politicians need to become more involved in the discussion.

He criticised the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for not taking responsibility for this, as he felt this was the relevant body in charge of this area.

He said a balance needs to be struck between regulation, which would filter out pornography, incitement to war and hatred, and the right to freedom of expression. He said that some countries are imposing restrictions, while others are letting the web run wild.

He said the UN should appoint a special commission to work on this issue and that there has to be an international dimension to regulations since so many web sites are run by private companies, according to the Guardian.

Hammarberg also criticised the use of super injunctions in UK courts, like the recent one relating to footballer Ryan Giggs and Twitter. He said that it means people are not allowed to even mention that there is a court case, which is a violation of the right to free expression. ?

 

15th June   

Local Rag...

Brighton Argus threatens libel action after being called a local rag by Brighton Council
Link Here

A dispute between The Argus and Brighton and Hove City Council has taken a farcical turn with editor Michael Beard threatening legal action after the council's communications chief John Shewell described the paper as a local rag in a tweet.

It follows the publication of a story discussing the creation of a tourist tax in Brighton and Hove.

Brighton council objected to any inference that they were actually considering such a tax and made this clear ina press release and various tweets. One of the tweets from John Shewell said: Local rag runs ridiculous line that @brightonhovecc thinking of introducing tourist tax er...no we're not!

A local rag is usually considered a colloquial term for a local newspaper rather than its official derogatory definition. However, in response Beard has emailed Shewell and said: As to your comment describing the Argus as a local rag , the advice from our company lawyer is that the tweet as a whole is defamatory in that it characterises The Argus (and therefore the Editor and individual members of staff) as a rag that carelessly or incompetently publishes false or misleading information and is not to be relied on.

Shewell has also written on Twitter about the email from the Argus' editor, which he has described as bullying tactics .

 

4th June   

Update: Cut off from Free Speech...

The UN criticises three strikes legislations as disproportionate to the offence
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

The Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council has denounced three strikes laws that would cut off Internet users as a penalty for copyright infringement. The advice comes in a Report to the UN General Assembly on the Protection and Promotion of Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

While blocking and filtering measures deny users access to specific content on the Internet, States have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely. The Special Rapporteur considers cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest. In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.

The Special Rapporteur also acknowledged the importance of protecting Internet intermediaries from liability in order to protect human rights. Internet intermediaries should only act to limit the rights of their customers following a legitimate court order.

 

2nd June   

Explicit Warnings...

UK online music services to carry parental advisory logos as per CDs
Link Here

Parental warning logos are set to be introduced before songs and music videos on services such as Spotify and YouTube that contain explicit material, following recent 'concern' about supposedly risque music content available to children online.

Music industry body BPI is to update its 15-year-old Parental Advisory Scheme. Updated guidelines will expand the scheme for the well known advisory logo to appear with songs and videos available to stream or download on UK digital music and music video services.

Most audio and video streaming services including Google-owned YouTube, Spotify, Napster and Vevo do not currently have a uniform parental guidance system, according to the BPI.

We think it is important for parents to get the same standards of guidance and information online as they get when buying CDs or DVDs on the high street, said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI. We are updating our scheme for the digital age to ensure that explicit songs and videos are clearly labelled.

 

21st May   

Groan!...

Korean scientists work on porn filtering via analysing the soundtrack
Link Here

Automatic image-analysis systems are already used to catch filtered pornography before it reaches a computer monitor. But they often struggle to distinguish between indecent imagery and more innocuous pictures with large flesh-coloured regions, such as a person in swimwear or a close-up face. Analysing the audio for a sexual scream or moan could solve the problem, say electrical engineers MyungJong Kim and Hoirin Kim at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea.

The pair used a signal-processing technique to create spectrograms of a variety of audio clips, each just half a second long. They found that speech signals are normally low-pitched and musical clips have a wide range of pitches; both vary only gradually over time. In contrast, pornographic sounds tend to be higher-pitched, change quickly and also periodically repeat. These characteristics allow software to distinguish porn audio from other content.

It's quite ingenious, says Richard Harvey, a computer scientist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, who previously worked on image-based pornography detection. But image-based methods are no less accurate, he says, and only require a single frame whereas the performance of the audio method needs to analyse longer clips.

He suggests it might be better to combine both methods to weed out unusual cases: Think of that scene in When Harry Met Sally [in which a female character fakes an orgasm while fully clothed in a diner] -- the audio is very clearly pointing in one direction, but the video is not.

 

19th May   

Update: Searching for Defiance...

Google not impressed by UK website blocking measures in the Digital Economy Act
Link Here

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has warned that government plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites could set a disastrous precedent for freedom of speech.

Speaking to journalists at Google's Big Tent conference in London, Schmidt said the online search giant would challenge attempts to restrict access to the Pirate Bay and other so-called cyberlocker sites,  part of government plans to fight online piracy through controversial measures included in the Digital Economy Act.

Schmidt described website blocking as akin to China's restrictive internet regime:

I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems, he said. So, 'let's whack off the DNS'. Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say 'I don't like free speech so I'll whack off all those DNSs' -- that country would be China.

It doesn't seem right. I would be very, very careful about that stuff. If [the UK government] do it the wrong way it could have disastrous precedent setting in other areas.

Speaking at the same conference, the culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, said plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites were on schedule. He admitted that a challenge of the controversial measure is deciding which sites get blocked.

Ofcom is due to present its report on the practicability of the site-blocking measures included in the DEA to Hunt in the coming weeks.

 

19th May   

Update: Successfully Avoiding the Point...

Nominet domain seizure debate discusses everything but
Link Here
Full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

Nominet, the .uk domain name manager, yesterday held its inaugural .uk Policy Forum, a talking shop designed to give stakeholders a chance to voice their opinions about internet governance.

Over the last year or so, law enforcement in the UK and US have started to zero in on top-level domain name registries -- such as VeriSign in the US for .com and Nominet for .uk -- as a useful choke-point that can be squeezed to shut down supposedly criminal activity online.

Yesterday's event, subtitled Protection & Trust , heard from lawyers, advocacy groups, journalists, law enforcement and government, and covered topics from porn-filtering by ISPs to balancing free speech rights against the needs of law enforcement in an increasingly complex international environment.

Every attendee we spoke to yesterday called the event a success, an unprecedented venue to air views about the wider internet governance debate. A similarly positive sentiment was recorded on Twitter (#nominetpf), but this reporter was surprised by the lack of discussion about Nominet's actual powers.

As the .uk registry, Nominet has the ability, if not necessarily the authority, to unilaterally remove any .uk domain name from the internet. Whether yesterday's debate focused on security, anti-pornography measures, copyright enforcement, or freedom of speech, the exercise of this power over internet addresses was arguably the only real, practical, underlying issue.

Yet Nominet itself barely merited a mention. The organisation sometimes felt the like the elephant in the room at its own conference. Its brand was on every PowerPoint slide, but it was not until the final minutes of the very last session that any panelist started to talk in any depth about its policies. Even then, they were hurried on by moderator Sarah Montague in the interests of timing.

 

19th May   

Searching for Damages...

US residents sue Chinese search engine over censored posts
Link Here

Eight New York residents have filed a lawsuit against China and Chinese online-search provider Baidu Inc., alleging they violated the plaintiffs' U.S. constitutional rights by blocking prodemocracy speech from Baidu search results. The complaint seeks damages of $16 million, or $2 million for each plaintiff.

The plaintiffs allege their articles or videos about the Chinese democratic movement are unavailable via searches on Baidu, which the lawsuit calls an agent and enforcer of the anti-democracy policies of China. The censorship violates their rights under the U.S. Constitution, the New York constitution and New York law, the suit alleged. It didn't elaborate on why Baidu should be punished for actions that Baidu says are required by Chinese law.

Senator Richard Durbin earlier this month wrote a letter to Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li expressing concerns that the company wasn't taking measures to safeguard human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy. Durbin said he was working on legislation that would require companies to take steps to protect human rights or face liability, and that Baidu would be subject to such legislation because its shares are traded in the U.S.

 

18th May   

Updated: Polluted Children...

Mediawatch-UK to lobby BT over ISP internet blocking
Link Here
 

  

Mediawatch-UK, the nutter campaign group, says children today are the polluted generation . It will launch a campaign tomorrow to alert parents. Acting with the charity Safermedia, it will put up 10ft-high letters reading Block Porn outside BT's headquarters in London as part of a drive to encourage providers to restrict access to pornographic content.

A Mediawatch spokeswoman said: Parents seem to be unaware of the scale of their children's porn consumption. Seventy-five per cent of teenagers say their parents have never talked about porn with them.

Far from being harmless, we are seeing evidence that children's consumption of pornography is affecting their development.

Update: Block Porn

18th May 2011. Based on article from safermedia.blogspot.com
See also article from marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk

On the 7th February 2011, Ed Vaizey MP, the Minister for Culture met with the major British ISPs to discuss the potential of this suggestion. Following a good discussion, the ISPs are now looking at the technical side of implementation and the next meeting with Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, is today on the 18th May 2011.

As part of this campaign, on May 16th 2011 Safermedia travelled to central London and built a 10ft structure with coloured blocks outside the BT headquarters calling on ISPs to BLOCK PORN at the source.

 

18th May   

Secret Lack of Judgement...

US Secret Service question schoolboy about Facebook posting
Link Here

A 13 year old schoolboy faced US federal interrogation at school for what he posted on his Facebook page.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, 13-year-old Vito LaPinta posted an update to his Facebook status that got the Feds attention.

I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers, says Vito.

A week later he was called in to the principal's office. A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service . He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President. The Tacoma school district acknowledged a Secret Service agent questioned Vito.

The teen's mom says she rushed to Truman Middle School immediately and arrived to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour. I just about lost it, she said. My 13 year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he's being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.

Vito said that once his mom showed up, the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble. Now he's more careful about what he posts online.

 

9th May   

Update: Feeding Hysteria...

More Facebook nonsense about banning breast feeding pictures
Link Here
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Breast-feeding advocates are angry that Facebook has once again removed photos of mothers nursing their babies.

In the latest ludicrous censorship, last month Facebook removed breast-feeding images from Earth Mama Angel Baby's Facebook page.

Babies get hungry, explained a post on Earth Mama's website. And breasts feed babies. We don't consider either photo obscene. Each shows a human baby having lunch.

Peggy O'Mara, editor of Mothering magazine, decried the move in a lengthy blog post that called for readers to post pictures of themselves nursing on their personal Facebook pages if you agree with me that breast-feeding is normal and not obscene :

 

7th May   

Update: Censored Lest Tongues Wag...

Facebook ban kissing image for promotion of the movie, Attenberg
Link Here
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

A Swedish film distributor's attempt to use an image of two women kissing in a Facebook advertising campaign has been rejected by the ever censorial website.

Sweden-based TriArt Film was hoping to use Facebook to publicise the Greek film Attenberg , currently showing in Swedish cinemas.

Our ad for Attenberg, using the poster image of two women touch tongues, has been DISAPPROVED, TriArt said in a statement on its own Facebook page. TriArt went on to suggest that Facebook appears to have a double standard when it comes to who can be seen locking lips in advertisements running on the site, explaining that their ad for the film Tre , featuring a male-female couple engaged in a deep kiss, was approved.

We're confused, TriArt CEO Eva Esseen Arndorff said in a statement.

 

6th May   

Obsessed with Blasphemy...

Pakistan due to resume court case to decide whether to permanently ban Facebook on grounds of blasphemy
Link Here

The Lahore High Court has directed the government to submit the complete judicial record in connection with the issue of blasphemy on facebook and remarked that it would not be accepted at any cost.

The petitioner Muhammad Azhar Siddieque arguing before the court said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Communication completely has failed to detect the blasphemy on internet and especially on facebook.

The petitioner said some people who had their agenda to disgrace Mohammed and to defame the dignity of Islam. He prayed before the court to issue notice to the concerned authorities on the negligence on their part. He also prayed that PTA and Ministry for communication be directed to ban facebook on permanent basis.

The court will sit again on May 10 for further proceedings.

 

21st April   

Update: Three Kisses for ICANN...

.XXX domain finally goes live
Link Here
Full story: ICANN XXX Domain...Long debate about allowing .xxx domain

The .XXX domain has finally opened for business.

Following approval from ICANN, a US quango, the new pornography-only suffix has been added to the Domain Name System.

The first registered addresses, porn.xxx, sex.xxx and xxx.xxx are being used to promote sales of .xxx domain names.

A trade organisation, the Free Speech Coalition, said that it will make it easier for governments to block access to pornography websites and has called on pornographers to boycott .xxx. Saudi Arabia and India have already said they want to block all the new addresses.

The first tranche of addresses, which will allow brands to buy their trademarks, will reportedly go on sale in November.

Once other high-value keywords have been auctioned off, .xxx addresses are expected to cost around $70, seven times as much as a typical .com address.

 

20th April   

Update: Art Censors...

Facebook censors 19th century art
Link Here
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

A Frenchman is suing Facebook for severing his account after he posted a painting of nude woman as his profile picture.

He used an image of a 19th century oil by Gustave Coubet called The Origin of the World on the social networking site.

But he claims he missed messages and social contact from his 800 Facebook friends when the page was taken down on the eve of his birthday on February 27.

He is now demanding the site compensate him in an substantial manner for barring his access.

The unnamed man's lawyer Stephane Cottineau said repeated emails to the California based company demanding the page be reinstated had also gone unanswered.

 

19th April   

Kissed Better...

Facebook censors restore picture of gay kiss after protest
Link Here
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Facebook has apologised for removing a photo of a gay kiss taken from the  UK soap EastEnders, It was removed for being sexually suggestive and supposedly abusive .

It was used by US writer Niall O'Conghaile to accompany a blog post about the kiss-in held to support a gay couple who were kicked out of a pub.

Facebook said in a statement: The photo in question does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and was removed in error. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Hundreds of people added the image to their profiles to complain about the removal.

 

2nd April   

Grabbed by the Throat...

Facebook censors harangue university magazine and naked Swedes
Link Here

Once upon a time Facebook had an anything goes attitude to what people posted. But now Facebook walks on eggshells, fearing obscenity suits and nutter 'outrage'.

Facebook have just made the University of North Florida's newspaper, The Spinnaker , take down their profile pic, the cover of their latest edition.

The cover depicts a couple engaging in oral sex, the cover story being about the news that there may be a link between throat cancer and performing oral sex on someone infected with the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Spinnaker's Editor-in-Chief Josh Gore defended the image, which was taken of UNF students, saying that it got people to read the story and this was not pornography.

America inflicts its prudery on Sweden

See  article from  thelocal.se

Many companies use Facebook to reach the 4 million or so users in Sweden. One of these is Bjo rn Borg, who since 2007 has a large platform of user-generated content on their page. Fans upload their own images and every week the company chooses a picture, which becomes the Swedish export of the week .

The happy snapper gets rewarded with free underwear and a chance to see his or her image posted on the official Bjo rn Borg Facebook page. But this particular image, taken by Jacob Mohr Hansen from Denmark, proved too much for Facebook. The picture got many hits and many users left comments. But by the evening it had been erased.

We realized it was probably the most daring image we had ever uploaded, but were confident it was still within what is considered OK, Micke Kazarnovicz, responsible for digital communication at Bjo rn Borg, told The Local. But Kazarnovicz' Facebook account had been frozen. In order to get his account back he had to promise not to upload any more 'pornographic' images.

They saw this as pornographic, but to us it was really more a laugh, completely tongue in cheek. There is no eroticism at all in the picture, just nudity, said Kazarnovicz.

Kazarnovicz said that : Facebook needs to be more aware of the cultural differences of its users. Otherwise they are promoting a cultural uniformity that really shouldn't be pursued.


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