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2012: July-Sept

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Dangerous Text...

Nutter MP introduces Private Member's Bill to criminalise text deemed to be child porn

Link Here26th September 2012

Tory MP Paul Beresford has introduced a Private Member's Bill to amend section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to apply additionally to the possession of prohibited written material about children. This is the section that criminalises the possession of cartoons and drawings deemed to depict child porn.

This Bill is expected to have its second reading debate on 19 October 2012. This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 12 September 2012 under the Ten Minute Rule.

The details of the bill are not yet published, And hopefully never will be.



Update: The UK is the New Iran...

Wikipedia founder criticises the government's Snooper's Charter

Link Here6th September 2012

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has sharply criticised the government's snooper's charter , designed to track internet, text and email use of all British citizens, as technologically incompetent .

He said Wikipedia would move to encrypt all its connections with Britain if UK ISPs were mandated by the government to keep track of every single page accessed by UK citizens.

The entrepreneur said he was confident there would be a general move to encryption across the internet if British-based communication service providers were required to collect and store data for 12 months from overseas companies, such as Google and Facebook, for possible access by the police and security services.

He said the British government would have to resort to the black arts of hacking to break encryptions: It is not the sort of thing I'd expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry, he told MPs and peers.



Update: Uncorroborated, Undigested and Unmediated Comment...

Peter Mandelson speaks on press censorship

Link Here31st August 2012
Full story: Leveson Inquiry...Considering UK press censorship and regulation

New Labour bigwig, Peter Mandelson, is still banging on in favour of press censorship. He has written to the Financial Times (hidden behind a paywall):

Let us be under no illusion: how we come to grips with the fact that the internet is giving public access to a flood of uncorroborated, undigested and unmediated news , all in the name of free speech, is becoming one of the defining issues of the 21st century. In my evidence to the Leveson inquiry I described this as a runaway train hurtling down the track towards us with no one in control.


The bigger question is how the domestic media market can be made economic and subject to any form of regulation in an era when, a click away, there is access to information that respects no national boundaries and the laws of no single national parliament or the basic standards of conventional journalism.

The point is that the printed product now plays second fiddle to digital content. Newspaper revenues are competing not just with each other but against the social media, Facebook and Google, with the entire English-speaking world providing the marketplace.

If regulation of content is going to have a future, is this where it will have to go?



Update: Public Order Act Insults Freedom...

Peers wonder why the government is dragging its heels on reform

Link Here17th July 2012
Full story: Public Order Act...Enabling police censorship

A couple of weeks ago, Lord Mawhinney tabled an amendment in the House of Lords to remove the word insulting from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. It's one of those catchall provisions with a very low prosecution threshold that tarnishes our reputation for freedom of expression. It has served to nobble those engaged in mischievous, but harmless, pranks, street preachers and those pouring scorn on religion.

Lord Mawhinney claimed in his speech to be something of an expert on insults,  but from the receiving end He said:

I am probably one of the very few in your Lordships' House who has been insulted and sworn at by people who are now Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the other place and, indeed, your Lordships' House, although I hasten to add that they were not Members of your Lordships' House when they were swearing at me and insulting me. It must also be remembered that I was chairman of the Conservative Party for two years. I know about being at the receiving end of insulting and swearing, and I am willing to join those police officers who do not much like it. However, that is not an excuse for curbing freedom of expression.

He noted that the Government consultation had closed six months ago, and Government responses are supposed to be made within three months. Just what was the problem, particularly as he had heard a well informed leak that the consultation responses had overwhelmingly been in favour of repeal? He added:

I say to the Minister that last year a poll of Members of Parliament showed that 62% were in favour of removing the word insulting from Section 5. The Christian Institute, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, the National Secular Society and ACPO are all in favour of it, and --- for goodness' sake --- it is even Liberal Democrat policy to take Section 5 without the word insulting in it.

Lord Henley, the Minister winding up, as expected, did not make any commitments but looked somewhat exposed, given not one peer had spoken in support of retaining insulting and the Government had been so late in responding to the consultation. He was pretty well reduced to pointing out that the wording originated in 1839.



Update: Big Bother...

Ofcom receives 1,225 complaints about racist abuse and Parliament receives 1 from Keith Vaz

Link Here14th July 2012
Full story: Big Brother...Whinging about Channel 4's Big Brother
Keith Vaz has had a whinge about Big Brother via an Early Day Motion in Parliament. It has only attracted 5 signatures so far.

EDM 382: Racism in the Big Brother House

That this House:

  • strongly condemns recent abusive comments made in the Big Brother house in the Channel 5 television programme Big Brother, some of which have been perceived as racist;

  • notes, in particular, that a total of 1,225 complaints were made by members of the public following those comments, 1,108 of which followed one specific, particularly severe comment;

  • further notes that Big Brother has been warned in the past about racist comments made in the Big Brother house; and

  • calls on Ofcom to ensure that Big Brother enforces its rules more effectively.



Update: Calling for Evidence (Rather than Snooping Around for It)...

Parliamentary inquiry calls for evidence about the proposed 'Snooper's Charter'

Link Here 6th July 2012
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

The public is being invited to submit evidence on the government's plans for a Snooper's Charter.

This comes as a parliamentary committee launches its inquiry on the draft Communications Data Bill. Conservative peer Lord Blencathra, David Maclean, chairs the joint committee of MPs and peers holding the inquiry and stressed a privacy-security balance. He said:

Each and every one of us will be affected by the bill.

This committee wants to ensure that the draft bill will ensure a sufficient balance between an individuals' privacy and national security.

We intend very thoroughly to examine the government's proposals and hope to hear from interested bodies and organisations about exactly how the changes in technology and the way we use it should be reflected in legislation about access to communication data.

Offsite: Snooped internet records will be made available to foreign police

10th July 2012. See  article from

Foreign police forces will be able to obtain details of the British public's internet use, emails and text messages.

In a controversial move, MPs were told that officials in Europe and the US will be able to take advantage of the Home Office's proposed snoopers charter.

The information could be used for pursuing UK citizens for crimes which allegedly took place while they were on holiday or over the internet.

In response to a parliamentary question, ministers said police and public authorities overseas would also be free to request access to the mountains of information which will be stored. British officials will then decide whether the data should be provided.

In theory, every nation is free to lodge a request, although Britain's long-standing partners in the EU, plus countries such as the US and Canada, are most likely to be successful.

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