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UK Parliament Watch

2013: April-June

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Update: War on Sexy...

Miserable Ed Miliband whinges about sexy images in the media

Link Here28th June 2013
Full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report

Labour leader Ed Miliband, addressing a meeting of the Women in Advertising and Communications group in London, called on advertisers to do more to break down stereotypes:

Far too many of the images of women that we see in our society still don't reflect the realities of the lives we live together, don't reflect the contributions that women have made.

And we need to do something about that. I applaud the creativity, the freshness, the innovation that your industry displays often on this issue. But it is not always the case. We all know there are still too many images of women in our advertising that reflect outdated ideas about the role of men and women, boys and girls.

There is a culture of increasingly sexualised images among young people: a culture that says that girls will only get on in life if they live up to the crudest of stereotypes; a culture where pornographic images, some violent, are available at a click on a smartphone or a laptop.

He urged the Government to do more to ensure there were safer default settings on computers blocking access to pornographic content online and said schools should offer proper relationship education and encourage the aspirations of both girls and boys.

Senior Labour sources expressed concern over recent advertisements including one promoting Weetabix which showed young girls playing with dolls while boys wanted to be superheroes. Commercials from Pot Noodles, the slag of all snacks , and a Pamela Anderson advertisement for have also been highlighted.



Update: Online Safety Bill...

Elspeth Howe tries again with her House of Lords Bill to mandate ISP blocking with the censorship criteria set by Ofcom

Link Here27th June 2013
Full story: Elspeth Howe and Age Verification...Early UK bills to mandate internet age verification

The Bill passed it's first reading in the House of Lords on 14th May 2013.

The core or the bill is:

Online Safety Bill

Make provision about the promotion of online safety; to require internet service providers and mobile phone operators to provide a service that excludes adult content; to require electronic device manufacturers to provide a means of filtering content; and for parents to be educated about online safety.

1 Duty to provide a service that excludes adult content

(1) Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access service which excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.

(2) Where mobile telephone network operators provide a telephone service to subscribers, which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this service excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.

(3) The conditions are:

(a) the subscriber opts-in to subscribe to a service that includes adult content;
(b) the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and
(c) the provider of the service has an age verification policy which meets the standards set out by OFCOM and which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over.

(4) In this section, internet service providers and mobile telephone network operators shall at all times be held harmless of any claims or proceedings, whether civil or criminal, providing that at the relevant time, the internet access provider or the mobile telephone operator was:

(a) following the standards and code set out by OFCOM in section 2; and
(b) acting in good faith.

2 Role of OFCOM

(1) It shall be the duty of OFCOM to set, and from time to time to review and revise, standards for the:

(a) filtering of adult content in line with the standards set out in section 319 of the Communications Act 2003; and
(b) age verification policies to be used under section 1 of this Act.

(2) The standards set out by OFCOM under this section must be contained in one or more codes.

(3) Before setting standards under subsection (1), OFCOM must publish, in such a manner as they think fit, a draft of the proposed code containing those standards.

(4) After publishing the draft code and before setting the standards, OFCOM must consult relevant persons and organisations.

(5) It shall be the duty of OFCOM to establish procedures for the handling and resolution of complaints in a timely manner about the observance of standards set under this section.

(6) OFCOM must prepare a report for the Secretary of State about the operation of this Act:

(a) every three years from the date of this Act coming into force; and
(b) at the direction of the Secretary of State



Updated: Rubbish Politics...

Pro-censorship Green MP, Caroline Lucas, calls for the Sun to be banned from parliament

Link Here23rd June 2013
Full story: Page 3 Girls...Miserable campaigners whinge about page 3 fun

Green MP Caroline Lucas has written to the House of Commons authorities asking for The Sun newspaper to be banned from the palace of Westminster. Lucas demanded that it be removed from shops in parliament until it bins its Page Three section which features half naked women:

I do not think that a newspaper that persists in carrying images which are degrading to women should be widely available across the parliamentary estate

I am sure you will be aware that there is a strong link between the portrayal of women as sexual objects with attitudes that underpin violence and discrimination against women and girls.

Page Three should be consigned to the rubbish bin where it belongs.

Update: Early Day Motion

23rd June 2013. See  EDM from

In fact Caroline Lucas went on to table an Early Day Motion:

EDM 253: No More Page 3 Campaign

That this House is concerned about the strong link between the portrayal of women as sexual objects and attitudes that underpin violence and discrimination against women and girls;

  • notes that this has been demonstrated by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and in a Government-commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review;
  • applauds the work of the No More Page 3 campaign;observes that The Sun newspaper is available across the parliamentary estate in at least eight locations;
  • further notes that if someone is looking at page 3 of The Sun others can be subjected to it whether they like it or not; and
  • calls on the House of Commons Administration Committee to take the necessary steps to prevent the House stocking The Sun newspaper until it removes the Page 3 feature.

The motion has received 13 signatures so far

Name Party Constituency
Campbell, Ronnie Labour Party Blyth Valley
Caton, Martin Labour Party Gower
Champion, Sarah Labour Party Rotherham
Clark, Katy Labour Party North Ayrshire and Arran
Corbyn, Jeremy Labour Party Islington North
Dobbin, Jim Labour Party Heywood and Middleton
Flynn, Paul Labour Party Newport West
Lucas, Caroline Green Party Brighton Pavilion
McDonnell, John Labour Party Hayes and Harlington
Meale, Alan Labour Party Mansfield
Riordan, Linda Labour Party Halifax
Sanders, Adrian Liberal Democrats Torbay
Vaz, Valerie Labour Party Walsall South



Update: Peers Specialising in Silly Ideas...

A Labour call for specialist teachers in internet safety and moral propaganda turned down by the government

Link Here21st June 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

The government has rejected Labour calls for specially-trained teachers to be brought in to 'educate' children about the dangers of internet pornography.

Labour peer Beverley Hughes claimed such a difficult issue could not be taught properly in computer science classes: it requires teachers trained in addressing these difficult personal and social issues and that won't happen in a computing class .

But Education Minister Lord Nash said the government trusted teachers to deliver the message. And he rejected the Labour peer's call for personal and social health education to be made part of the national curriculum.



Update: IWF Perspective...

Nutter MPs, perhaps too quick to believe everything they read in the Daily Mail, ludicrously accuse Google of not blocking child abuse images

Link Here1st June 2013
Full story: Keith Vaz...Keith Vaz in votes for knighthood claim

Vince Cable, the business secretary, has said Google and other internet companies must be more proactive about policing content. He has become the first cabinet minister to intervene over the supposed shocking availability of illegal child abuse images online, urging Google to take more action to police explicit material. He spouted:

I think probably where there is some scope for taking action is getting the companies that host these sites, Google and the rest of it, to be more proactive in policing what is there.

A senior Google spokesman angrily denied it does not take appropriate action to remove illegal and extreme material from its search results. He explained that Google is regularly sent lists of illegal abuse sites and search terms from the industry-funded body, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which it then bans. The company said it had an internal structure operating around the clock to tackle these images.

Scott Rubin, Google's director of communications outside America, said:

The SafeSearch filter, which is designed to prevent sexually explicit material of all kinds from showing up in your search results, should not be conflated or confused with our dedication to keeping illegal abuse imagery out of our products. We don't rely simply on filtering technology to block child abuse images; we go beyond that.

We are very proactive and work with the right people, including the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US and the IWF, to keep child abuse content off all of our sites. Any implication we aren't doing anything or we refuse to be part of removing this material is wrong.

Keith Vaz, chair of the Commons home affairs select committee, similarly chipped in that he was appalled that child abuse images were so readily accessible online and urged the government to adhere to a commitment to establish a code of conduct with internet service providers:

The Mark Bridger case has shown that we need to act to remove such content from the internet. The committee has in the past recommended that the government establish a code of conduct with internet service providers to remove material which breaches acceptable behaviour standards. I am very disappointed that although the government said it would engage with the industry on this issue, we are yet to see any action resulting from this.

Meanwhile the IWF have reported low numbers of sites and views of illegal material, but have indicated an unsurprising reluctance to report child abuse images. Presumably massive reactions to the crime create the perception that those reporting it may get risk getting caught up in fallout.

Apparently more than 1.5 million internet users in the UK mistakenly viewed child abuse images online last year, according to the IWF -- but only 40,000 items were reported to its hotline. Google and other companies block around 1,000 sites over illegal sexual abuse imagery in a list compiled by IWF.

See also Have 1.5 million adults really “stumbled across” online child porn? from



Offsite Article: Campaigners are making impossible demands of Google over internet porn...

Link Here 1st June 2013
Why doesn't Google hit most of the content it's meant to block?... Because most paedophilic content is not accessible via Google or any other search engine.

See article from



Update: Censorship Love-In...

Censors and moralists to gather at Westminster Forum for a one-sided discussion about blocking porn and anything remotely adult

Link Here21st May 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

This seminar will bring together key perspectives on the next steps in addressing commercialisation and sexualisation of children online, including efforts being made in the UK and Europe by policymakers, business groups and third sector initiatives concerned with enabling young people to have safe access to online communities and to participate in culturally rich content. It is timed following David Cameron's commitment to new web filter proposals and the European Commission's policy European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children.

Delegates will assess the current position and emerging challenges to achieving secure online access for young people, including initiatives and practical options for empowering parents and protecting young people involving businesses, schools, government and law enforcement. Following the recent commitment to new web filtering measures through which every parent is prompted to protect their child online, the agenda includes sessions on the tools and skills available to empower young people to safely access and utilise online content, such as through age verification tools, website monitoring, age-appropriate privacy settings and single click buttons for reporting harmful content - as well as the possible unintended consequences brought about by these tools.

We are delighted that Andy Baker, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Claire Perry MP, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on preventing the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood have agreed to deliver keynote addresses at this seminar.

Further confirmed speakers include: Julian Ashworth, Director, Group Industry Policy, BT Group; Alexandra Birtles, Head of Public Affairs, TalkTalk; John Carr, Secretary, UK Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety; Will Gardner, Chief Executive Officer, Childnet International; Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF); Lisa Harker, Head of the Strategy Unit, NSPCC; Peter Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, ATVOD; Adam Kinsley, Director of Policy, BSkyB; David Miles, Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI); Simon Milner, Policy Director, UK and Ireland, Facebook; Professor Andy Phippen, Professor of Social Responsibility in Information Technology, Plymouth Business School, Plymouth University; Libby Pritchard, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Vodafone; Vicki Shotbolt, Chief Executive Officer, The Parent Zone; Raj Sivalingam, Associate Director of Telecoms and Spectrum, Intellect and Daniel Wilson, Head of International Policy, BBC.

Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health has kindly agreed to chair a session at this seminar.



Update: Stop Press...

Government plans for a news censor put on hold to give time to consider alternative plan proposed by newspaper editors

Link Here4th May 2013
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor

The Government's proposal for a Royal Charter on the future of news censorship has been put on hold after newspaper editors put forward an alternative plan.

The Royal Charter was due to be signed by the Queen when she chaired the next meeting of the Privy Council on May 15, but it has now been taken off the agenda for the meeting so the Government can hold more talks with editors.

Editors are unhappy with an element of statutory underpinning in the Government's proposal, and last month they published their own proposal for a Royal Charter, which would remove Parliament's proposed power to make changes to the regulatory system without the agreement of the industry.



Update: Contracting Out of Libel Restrictions...

House of Lords passes watered down bill that still includes many welcome reforms to UK libel law

Link Here24th April 2013
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Laws that led to London being dubbed the libel capital of the world will be reformed after peers in the Lords voted to pass the defamation bill, ending a three-year campaign led by Liberal Democrat peers Lord McNally and Lord Lester.

Libel reform campaigners said they were delighted overall that defamation reform was finally passing into law, although they were disappointed by the failure of a bid to bar private companies contracted to run schools, prisons or healthcare from suing ordinary citizens who criticised the work they do for the taxpayer. In the end it was the Lib Dems and Tories that did the dirty and killed some of the valuable reforms.

However, the bill is a landmark piece of legislation and should provide more protection for individuals and organisations, including newspapers and broadcasters, which criticise big companies.

The new law will also stop cases being taken in London against journalists, academics or individuals who live outside the country, denting the libel tourism industry, but not ending it altogether, as foreigners will still be able to lodge claims in the high court.

The bill will now return to the Commons on Wednesday for formal approval with no possibility of fresh amendments.

Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship said she was delighted that corporations will now have to prove financial loss before they sue for libel but added it was a pity the government voted against Labour's amendment to stop public money being used to stop citizen critics .

Comment: Victory for free speech as libel bill passes

25th April 2013. See  article from

Today, 24 April, saw history made. The UK parliament has passed a new Defamation Bill, which will now go on to Royal Assent. A major victory against censorship in Britain and beyond has been won, with England's notorious libel laws changed in favour of free speech.

The new law protects free speech. There is a hurdle to stop vexatious cases. We now have a bar on libel tourism so non-EU claimants will now need to prove that harm has been done here. For the first time there will be a statutory public interest defence that will ask defendants to prove they have acted reasonably (a better test than the more burdensome Reynold's test of responsible publication). There is also a hurdle to stop corporations from suing unless they can prove financial harm.

...Read the full article



Update: Government chooses business interests over citizens...

How can it be right that companies delivering public services can't be criticised by citizens?

Link Here18th April 2013
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

At a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday 16 April 2013 the Government rejected attempts to reform the libel laws to limit companies' ability to use sue individuals. The reform would have asked companies to show they had been harmed before they would be allowed to take it case. It would also have put the Derbyshire principle, which prevents public bodies from suing individuals for libel into law, and would have extended this principle to private companies performing public functions. Labour pushed the Government on this clause and forced a vote which the Government won 298 to 230.

But Minister for Justice Helen Grant MP said the Government would "actively consider" amendments to the Defamation Bill that would require corporations to show financial loss before they can sue for libel, following pressure from Shadow Minister for Justice Sadiq Khan MP. The Defamation Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday 23 April.

Tracey Brown, Sense About Science:

We are pleased that so many MPs recognise the need for corporations to show actual financial harm and grateful to the MPs who worked for this. While it is deeply disappointing that the corporations' clause has been removed, their efforts have at least led the Government to concede that this should be revisited in the Lords. It cannot be right that the court is not asked to consider whether companies have faced loss, or are likely to, before a case can go ahead. It cannot be right that citizens can't criticise delivery of public services whether by private companies or by the Government.

Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship:

It is a very unwelcome blot on an important bill that the Government voted to allow corporations to continue to pressurise and sue in ways that chill free speech

Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN :

The Government needs to do more than "actively consider" amendments.  Ministers in the House of Lords should now table an early amendment, requiring corporations to show financial loss before they sue.  We're depending on the Lords now to deliver the reform that all the parties signed up to. It's essential that companies are no longer allowed to exploit libel law to bully whistleblowers into silence. This has always been a key demand for the campaign.

Simon Singh, defendant in British Chiropractic Association v Singh:

The majority of the cases that galvanized public support for libel reform involved corporations, so the final Defamation Bill must include a clause that limits the powers for corporations to bully their critics into silence. The proposal on the table is reasonable, modest and fair. Ignoring this proposal on corporations would leave the door open to further abuses of libel law by those who want to block the public's access to information concerning everything from consumer issues to medical treatments.



Offsite Article: Blocking Free Speech Reforms...

Link Here12th April 2013
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth
edward garnierTory libel lawyer Edward Garnier tries to stitch up laws to make libel law fairer

See article from



Update: Consultation for bloggers on the new Crime and Courts Bill...

The Media Reform Coalition are surveying opinions on how to exclude bloggers and small entities from UK news censorship

Link Here 5th April 2013
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor

The Media Reform Coalition has launched a consultation for small publishers, online bloggers and journalists to speak up on the new press regulation deal.

On April 15 the House of Commons will return from Easter recess, and soon after that will consider the Crime and Courts Bill -- a crucial part of the statutory backing to the new Royal Charter which provides for independent media self-regulation.

But the Bill as currently drafted has some big problems : it doesn't adequately protect small publishers from punishments intended for media moguls and it doesn't provide the legal backing for them to join or form a regulator further down the line.

Click here to take our survey without further ado!

The House of Lords has shown clear intention to solve these issues by adding a holding amendment excluding "small-scale bloggers", but we need to lobby the Commons to transform this into something clear, versatile and workable. That's why we want your input.

Maria Miller, the relevant Secretary of State, has made noises about consulting with the 'newspaper industry' over the Easter recess. She has said nothing about engaging with other kinds of news organisations -- hence this consultation.

We hope to rally small publishers, online news sites and bloggers behind a set of proposal so that we can collectively lobby all three parties to make sure the C&C Bill does the job it should.

The consultation comes in three parts:

The survey focuses primarily on who you think should be liable for exemplary damages and cost penalties, and who you think should get the benefits It lists several options for the protection of small publishers, such as excluding non-profit organisations or setting an income threshold for inclusion as a "relevant publisher".

It also asks whether the costs benefits of joining a recognised self-regulator should be available to anyone who joins, regardless of whether they are a "relevant publisher" -- and whether respondents would join an affordable regulator if it made costs protection available to them.

The responses to the consultation will be used to provide the political parties with input on the clauses going through Parliament after the Easter recess that will affect small news organisations.

If you are a small publisher, online writer, or blogger of any kind, we want to hear from you. Please do look over our documents and take our survey -- and spread it around to as many people as you can!



Offsite Comment: Parliament has become the worst enemy of free speech...

Link Here 2nd April 2013
Too many of our laws are being used simply to silence 'unacceptable' views, writes Philip Johnston

See article from

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