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Ofcom Watch


2021: Jan-March

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Ofcom thinks it can 'regulate' cancel culture, PC lynch mobs and the kangaroo courts of wokeness...

The new internet censor sets outs its stall for the censorship of video sharing platforms


Link Here24th March 2021
Full story: Ofcom Video Sharing Censors...Video on Demand and video sharing
Ofcom has published its upcoming censorship rules for video sharing platforms and invites public responses up until 2nd June 2021. For a bit of self justification for its censorship, Ofcom has commissioned a survey to find that YouTube users and the likes are calling out for Ofcom censorship. Ofcom writes:

A third of people who use online video-sharing services have come across hateful content in the last three months, according to a new study by Ofcom.

The news comes as Ofcom proposes new guidance for sites and apps known as 'video-sharing platforms' (VSPs), setting out practical steps to protect users from harmful material.

VSPs are a type of online video service where users can upload and share videos with other members of the public. They allow people to engage with a wide range of content and social features.

Under laws introduced by Parliament last year, VSPs established in the UK must take measures to protect under-18s from potentially harmful video content; and all users from videos likely to incite violence or hatred, as well as certain types of criminal content. Ofcom's job is to enforce these rules and hold VSPs to account.

The  draft guidance is designed to help these companies understand what is expected of them under the new rules, and to explain how they might meet their obligations in relation to protecting users from harm.

Harmful experiences uncovered

To inform our approach, Ofcom has researched how people in the UK use VSPs, and their claimed exposure to potentially harmful content. Our major findings are: 

  • Hate speech. A third of users (32%) say they have witnessed or experienced hateful content. Hateful content was most often directed towards a racial group (59%), followed by religious groups (28%), transgender people (25%) and those of a particular sexual orientation (23%).

  • Bullying, abuse and violence. A quarter (26%) of users claim to have been exposed to bullying, abusive behaviour and threats, and the same proportion came across violent or disturbing content.

  • Racist content. One in five users (21%) say they witnessed or experienced racist content, with levels of exposure higher among users from minority ethnic backgrounds (40%), compared to users from a white background (19%). 

  • Most users encounter potentially harmful videos of some sort. Most VSP users (70%) say they have been exposed to a potentially harmful experience in the last three months, rising to 79% among 13-17 year-olds.

  • Low awareness of safety measures. Six in 10 VSP users are unaware of platforms' safety and protection measures, while only a quarter have ever flagged or reported harmful content.

Guidance for protecting users

As Ofcom begins its new role regulating video-sharing platforms, we recognise that the online world is different to other regulated sectors. Reflecting the nature of video-sharing platforms, the new laws in this area focus on measures providers must consider taking to protect their users -- and they afford companies flexibility in how they do that.

The massive volume of online content means it is impossible to prevent every instance of harm. Instead, we expect VSPs to take active measures against harmful material on their platforms. Ofcom's new guidance is designed to assist them in making judgements about how best to protect their users. In line with the legislation, our guidance proposes that all video-sharing platforms should provide:

  • Clear rules around uploading content. VSPs should have clear, visible terms and conditions which prohibit users from uploading the types of harmful content set out in law. These should be enforced effectively.

  • Easy flagging and complaints for users. Companies should implement tools that allow users to quickly and effectively report or flag harmful videos, signpost how quickly they will respond, and be open about any action taken. Providers should offer a route for users to formally raise issues or concerns with the platform, and to challenge decisions through dispute resolution. This is vital to protect the rights and interests of users who upload and share content.

  • Restricting access to adult sites. VSPs with a high prevalence of pornographic material should put in place effective age-verification systems to restrict under-18s' access to these sites and apps.

Enforcing the rules

Ofcom's approach to enforcing the new rules will build on our track record of protecting audiences from harm, while upholding freedom of expression. We will consider the unique characteristics of user-generated video content, alongside the rights and interests of users and service providers, and the general public interest.

If we find a VSP provider has breached its obligations to take appropriate measures to protect users, we have the power to investigate and take action against a platform. This could include fines, requiring the provider to take specific action, or -- in the most serious cases -- suspending or restricting the service.Consistent with our general approach to enforcement, we may, where appropriate, seek to resolve or investigate issues informally first, before taking any formal enforcement action.

Next steps

We are inviting all interested parties to comment on our proposed draft guidance, particularly services which may fall within scope of the regulation, the wider industry and third-sector bodies. The deadline for responses is 2 June 2021. Subject to feedback, we plan to issue our final guidance later this year. We will also report annually on the steps taken by VSPs to comply with their duties to protect users.

NOTES

Ofcom has been given new powers to regulate UK-established VSPs. VSP regulation sets out to protect users of VSP services from specific types of harmful material in videos. Harmful material falls into two broad categories under the VSP Framework, which are defined as:

  • Restricted Material , which refers to videos which have or would be likely to be given an R18 certificate, or which have been or would likely be refused a certificate. It also includes other material that might impair the physical, mental or moral development of under-18s.

  • Relevant Harmful Material , which refers to any material likely to incite violence or hatred against a group of persons or a member of a group of persons based on particular grounds. It also refers to material the inclusion of which would be a criminal offence under laws relating to terrorism; child sexual abuse material; and racism and xenophobia.

The Communications Act sets out the criteria for determining jurisdiction of VSPs, which are closely modelled on the provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. A VSP will be within UK jurisdiction if it has the required connection with the UK. It is for service providers to assess whether a service meets the criteria and notify to Ofcom that they fall within scope of the regulation. We recently published guidance about the criteria to assist them in making this assessment. In December 2020, the Government confirmed its intention to appoint Ofcom as the regulator of the future online harms regime . It re-stated its intention for the VSP Framework to be superseded by the regulatory framework in new Online Safety legislation.

 

 

Updated: All men are rapists...

So peer Floella Benjamin attempts to revive porn age verification censorship because porn viewing is just one step away from park murder


Link Here17th March 2021
The pro-censorship member of the House of Lords has tabled the following amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill to reintroduce internet porn censorship and age verification requires previously dropped by the government in October 2019.

Amendment 87a introduces a new clause:

Impact of online pornography on domestic abuse

  1. Within three months of the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must commission a person appointed by the Secretary of State to investigate the impact of access to online pornography by children on domestic abuse.

  2. Within three months of their appointment, the appointed person must publish a report on the investigation which may include recommendations for the Secretary of State.

  3. As part of the investigation, the appointed person must consider the extent to which the implementation of Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (online pornography) would prevent domestic abuse, and may make recommendations to the Secretary of State accordingly.

  4. Within three months of receiving the report, the Secretary of State must publish a response to the recommendations of the appointed person.

  5. If the appointed person recommends that Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 should be commenced, the Secretary of State must appoint a day for the coming into force of that Part under section 118(6) of the Act within the timeframe recommended by the appointed person."

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would require an investigation into any link between online pornography and domestic abuse with a view to implementing recommendations to bring into effect the age verification regime in the Digital Economy Act 2017 as a means of preventing domestic abuse.

Update: Defeated

17th March 2021. See article from votes.parliament.uk

The amendment designed to resurrect the Age Verification clauses of the Digital Economy Act 2017 was defeated by 242 to 125 vodets in the House of Lords.

The government minister concluding the debate noted that the new censorship measures included in the Online Harms Bill are more comprensive than the measures under Digital Economy Act 2017. He also noted that although upcoming censorship measures would take significant time to implement but also noted that reviving the old censorship measures would also take time.

In passing the minister also explained one of the main failings of the act was that site blocking would not prove effective due to porn viewers being easily able to evade ISP blocks by switching to encrypted DNS servers via DNS over Https (DoH). Presumably government internet snooping agencies don't fancy losing the ability to snoop on the browsing habits of all those wanting to continue viewing a blocked porn site such as Pornhub.

 

 

Escalation...

Ofcom escalates censorship of China's propaganda channel CGTN by adding 225k fine to the previously announced ban


Link Here12th March 2021
Full story: Diplomatic Censorship at Ofcom...Ofcom get caught up in international relations

Ofcom has fined China's propaganda channel CGTN 225k for biased news reports about the Hong Kong democracy protests. Two fines were levied with one being explained as follows:

Ofcom has imposed a financial penalty of 125,000 on Star China Media Limited in relation to its service CGTN for failing to comply with our broadcasting rules.

Between 11 August 2019 and 21 November 2019, CGTN broadcast the following five programmes:

  • The World Today, 11 August 2019, 17:00

  • The World Today, 26 August 2019, 08:00

  • The World Today, 31 August 2019, 07:00

  • The World Today, 2 September 2019, 16:00

  • China 24, 21 November 2019, 12:15

Each programme was concerned with the protests which were ongoing in Hong Kong during this period. These protests were initially in response to the Hong Kong Government's Extradition Law Amendment Bill that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China for trial.

In Ofcom's Decisions published on 26 May 2020, in Issue 403 of the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin (PDF, 706.0 KB), Ofcom found that each of the five programmes had failed to maintain due impartiality and had breached Rules 5.1, 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code.

 

 

Advantaging foreign companies...

If anyone is stupid enough to base a video sharing internet service in the UK, then you will have to sign up for censorship by Ofcom before 6th May 2021. After a year you will have to pay for the privilege too


Link Here10th March 2021
Full story: Ofcom Video Sharing Censors...Video on Demand and video sharing

Ofcom has published guidance to help providers self-assess whether they need to notify to Ofcom as UK-established video-sharing platforms.

Video-sharing platforms (VSPs) are a type of online video service which allow users to upload and share videos with the public.

Under the new VSP regulations , there are specific legal criteria which determine whether a service meets the definition of a VSP, and whether it falls within UK jurisdiction. Platforms must self-assess whether they meet these criteria, and those that do will be formally required to notify to Ofcom between 6 April and 6 May 2021. Following consultation, we have today published our final guidance to help service providers to make this assessment.

 

 

Subliminal incitement...

Ofcom fines religious channel 50,000 for inciting religious violence


Link Here11th February 2021
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check

Ofcom has fined Khalsa Television 50,000 in relation to its service KTV for failing to comply with our broadcasting rules. A 20,000 penalty relates to a music video. A 30,000 penalty relates to a discussion programme.

Music video

On 4, 7 and 9 July 2018, KTV broadcast a music video for a song called Bagga and Shera. Ofcom found that the music video was an indirect call to action for Sikhs living in the UK to commit violence, up to and including murder. It also included brief flashes, which, when slowed down, revealed frames of on-screen text. It appeared therefore to be seeking to influence viewers by conveying a message to them or otherwise influencing their minds without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred.

Discussion programme

On 30 March 2019, KTV broadcast a live discussion programme, Panthak Masle. Ofcom found that this programme provided a platform for several guests to express views which amounted to indirect calls to action and were likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder. Ofcom also found that it included a reference to the proscribed terrorist organisation the Babbar Khalsa, and which in our view could be taken as legitimising it and normalising its aims and actions in the eyes of viewers.

Sanctions

Ofcom has imposed the following sanctions on the Licensee:

  • financial penalties of 20,000 and 30,000;

  • a direction to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom; and

  • a direction not to repeat the music video or the discussion programme.

 

 

Tit for tat...

China bans British propaganda channel BBC World Service in response to Britain banning Chinese propaganda channel CGTN


Link Here11th February 2021
China has banned the BBC in mainland China. State media reported that the British broadcaster would not have its licence renewed by China's media regulator at the start of the Chinese new year.

The move follows the decision last week by the UK TV censor, Ofcom, to strip the Chinese state broadcaster CGTN of its licence in the UK.

The Chinese authorities claimed that BBC World News was found to have seriously violated regulations on radio and television management and on overseas satellite television channel management in its China-related reports.

BBC World News was not available in most domestic news packages in China but could be viewed at some hotels.

Recent BBC reports on China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak and abuses in Xinjiang's internment camps are thought to have infuriated the authorities.

 

 

Fake news...

Ofcom bans the Chinese propaganda news channel CGTN


Link Here4th February 2021
Full story: Diplomatic Censorship at Ofcom...Ofcom get caught up in international relations

Ofcom has banned the Chinese propaganda news channel CGTN. The channel came into the focus of the tV censor for blatant propaganda and also for unacceptable reporting methods. However Ofcom has explained the ban in terms of a licence technicality, presumably for diplomatic reasons. Ofcom wrote:

Ofcom has withdrawn the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK after its investigation concluded that the licence is wrongfully held by Star China Media Limited.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) is an international English-language satellite news channel. In the UK, broadcasting laws state that broadcast licensees must have control over the licensed service - including editorial oversight over the programmes they show. In addition, under these laws, licence holders cannot be controlled by political bodies.

Our investigation concluded that Star China Media Limited (SCML), the licence-holder for the CGTN service, did not have editorial responsibility for CGTN's output. As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service, and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee.

In addition, we have been unable to grant an application to transfer the licence to an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC). This is because crucial information was missing from the application, and because we consider that CGTNC would be disqualified from holding a licence, as it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

We have given CGTN significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules. Those efforts have now been exhausted.

Following careful consideration, taking account of all the facts and the broadcaster's and audience's rights to freedom of expression, we have decided it is appropriate to revoke the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK.

 

 

Religious nanobots seek to undermine the covid vaccination campaign...

So Ofcom sanctions Loveworld, a religious TV channel


Link Here 16th January 2021
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
Ofcom has found Loveworld Limited in breach of broadcasting rules on its religious service, Loveworld.

Ofcom found that The Global Day of Prayer , a 29-hour programme broadcast on 1 December 2020, included potentially harmful and inaccurate claims about the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Global Day of Prayer contained news content and sermons with potentially harmful claims about the Coronavirus, including some statements that the pandemic is a planned event created by the deep state for nefarious purposes, and that the vaccine is a sinister means of administering nanochips to control and harm people.

Some statements claimed that fraudulent testing had been carried out to deceive the public about the existence of the virus and the scale of the pandemic. Others linked the cause of Covid-19 to the roll out of 5G technology. The potentially harmful claims made during this programme were unsupported by any factual evidence and were broadcast without context or challenge. Ofcom's investigation concluded that the broadcast failed to adequately protect audiences from harm and that news was not presented with due accuracy.

Ofcom has directed the Licensee not to repeat the programme and to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom. Given the seriousness of this breach and that it is Loveworld Limited's second of this nature, Ofcom is also considering whether to impose a further sanction.

 

 

Offsite Article: Melanie Dawes is the new self appointed high priestess of PC...


Link Here 9th January 2021
The UK TV censor is trying to deny airtime to critics of politically correct dogma. By Neil Davenport

See article from spiked-online.com


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