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2013: Oct-Dec

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Updated: Legislation without Thought...

2nd Reading in the House of Lords for Elspeth's Howe's ludicrous bill to demand British websites implement onerous ATVOD style age verification before granting access to any 'adult' content, even MelonFarmers

Link Here7th December 2013
Full story: Online Safety Bill...Elspeth Howe proposes onerous website age verification
Last year Elspeth Howe sponsored a private members bill that more or less mandated ISP porn blocking software along the lines of that currently being introduced. However it had a nasty twist that all pornographic images be restricted to users opting in to porn access from their ISPs and that allowable porn sites had to implement onerous ATVOD style age verification systems such as demanding a credit card (debit cards are unacceptable) payment prior to any access to porn.

This year Howe has reintroduced her bill with an even nastier kick in the teeth. She want all adult content, not just porn, to be restricted to sites that impose ATVOD style age verification.

The Bill receives its 2nd read in the House of Lord today. The relevant section of the bill reads:

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.

Update: Passed 2nd Reading

7th December 2013. See  Hansard from

The bill passed 2nd Reading after 3 hours of censorial politicians patting each other on the back for this ludicrously worded proposal. Nobody was interesting in actually thinking through the consequences of the proposal. A fine example of how crap law is generated.



Update: Supporting the Guardian's publications about state surveillance...

Open letter to the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee. By Index on Censorship

Link Here 3rd December 2013

Dear Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP,

Index on Censorship is writing to you ahead of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee's hearing on counter terrorism.

We believe that the Guardian's publication of details of GCHQ's digital surveillance techniques has been very much in the public interest.

Mass data retention and monitoring is a hugely important issue. As more and more of our lives are lived online, it is only right that British people should know how and why the security services gather and monitor digital information. We should be able to debate whether the security services are acting legitimately, legally and proportionately, or are going beyond what is suitable and proper in any democratic, rights-based society. The Guardian's revelations should be the beginning of a public debate on how this work is done, and with what oversights.

We are concerned that rather than a debate being opened up, the focus has instead been on criticising the Guardian's work, with even the Prime Minister threatening to take action against the newspaper if it did not take ?social responsibility?. Index on Censorship maintains that the Guardian has shown great social responsibility in investigating, reporting and publishing the details of this story, having maintained open communication with security services and the DA Notice committee.

The Guardian has also lived up to the responsibility of a free press to reveal facts and issues of interest to the public. A British newspaper should be able to report on these issues without fear of retribution. But comments made by politicians and the security services made have led many round the world to question Britain's commitment to press freedom. For example, the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists rightly pointed out that: ?Governments around the world look to the UK as a model for media policies, but in this case, Cameron seems to be taking a page from the book of less enlightened governments that invoke social responsibility to ward off valid criticism.?

Finally, Index on Censorship is troubled by the use of counter-terror measures to detain David Miranda, the partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. We believe the use of terror legislation to obtain journalistic materials, without court oversight, is a threat to free expression and to anyone involved in journalism. As part of a coalition of newspapers, journalists? organisations and campaigners which submitted an intervention to the judicial review of Mr Miranda's detention at Heathrow airport, we are concerned that using Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 against people engaged in journalistic activities runs a real risk of conflating journalism--particularly journalism investigating the intelligence services--with terrorism.

Yours sincerely

Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive

Index on Censorship



Commented: More Questions than Answers...

David Cameron announces that ISP level website blocking will be applied to terrorist websites

Link Here28th November 2013
Full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
Prime Ministers Questions, 23rd October 2014

Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab):

Two weeks ago, the head of the Security Service warned about the extent of Islamist extremism. This week, two individuals have been charged with serious terrorist offences. What is the Prime Minister going to do in January when, as a result of his Government's legislation, some of those whom the Home Secretary has judged to pose the greatest threat to our security are released from the provisions of their terrorism prevention and investigation measures?

The Prime Minister:

We have put in place some of the toughest controls that one can possibly have within a democratic Government, and the TPIMs are obviously one part of that. We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force---it met again yesterday---setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites. Now that I have the opportunity, let me praise Facebook for yesterday reversing the decision it took about the showing of beheading videos online. We will take all these steps and many more to keep our country safe.

Offsite Comment: Who decides what we can read

28th November 2013. From

The Prime Minister told Parliament on October 23 that:

We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force --- it met again yesterday --- setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites.

Such an announcement has not been preceded by a public consultation, or any engagement with civil liberties and freedom of speech organisations. The threat the freedom of speech is only too clear.

As we have previously warned around the shift of the child safety debate from illegal content to legal content, there is a danger that politicial figurues become embroiled in deciding what we can and cannot see online. The starting point should be if material meets a criminal threshold, can those involved be prosecuted. Blocking must never become an easier alternative to prosecution.



Update: MP Ann Coffey Recommends...

Robin Thicke, gifted writer of trivial lyrics that can undermine a generation

Link Here27th November 2013
Stockport MP Ann Coffey has backed calls for better sex education, warning that both the music and porn industries have a lot to answer for .

She attacked Robin Thicke's hit Blurred Lines for supposedly encouraging rape . She was speaking as a probe into child sexual exploitation among gangs, launched by the children's commissioner in the wake of the Rochdale grooming scandal, concluded teens have a deeply worrying lack of understanding about the boundaries between consent and coercion.

Coffey, chair of the all parliamentary group on missing and runaway children and adults, dubbed the findings chilling :

You only have to listen to and watch current explicit music videos to understand how difficult it must be for some young people to understand the idea of consent.

The noxious Robin Thicke song Blurred Lines has now been banned from about 20 student unions because they believe it promotes rape because its lyrics describe a woman as an 'animal' who 'wants it.

If young boys really believe that, then it gives no space for the idea of consent from young girls.

She somehow neglected to comment on possible influences that have contributed to the disproportionate amount of members of the Pakistani community featuring in child exploitation gangs. Probably not very likely to be related to Robin Thicke songs.



Extract: Open Season on Internet Censorship...

Parliamentary committee enjoys a talking shop of countless ideas for censorship

Link Here20th November 2013
Full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been listening to countless ideas for internet censorship.

Under the heading of Online Safety the committee has been hearing evidence from campaigners, ISPs, ofcom etc. And all the evidence seems to be in favour of censorship.

Tuesday 29 October 2013: 2nd session to hear evidence

See  uncorrected transcriptoin of oral evidence from ISPs and Jim Gamble via

Tuesday 19 November 2013: 3rd session to hear evidence

See  TV recording of oral evidence from Ofcom and Claire Perry via

For example.  Claire Perry said internet firms are currently not doing enough to tackle bullying online and called for more prosecutions of people who make online threats, that she described as misogynistic.

She said bullying would be "driven down" if users could choose to block communication from anonymous users. Perry, who received online threats over the summer, said there should be an online verification process, so people can see if they are dealing with other users who have supplied their real names or chosen to remain anonymous. She said:

Having been on the receiving end of a storm of Twitter abuse, I don't think the companies do enough. Part of the problem is anonymity of usage.

People post about how they'd like to rape you and kill you because they think you don't know who you are. If there was some way of the company knowing and being prepared to verify that identify and to show you that verification, I think it would lead to a diminuation in that kind of behaviour.



Bingeing on Outrage...

MPs enjoy a good whinge about boozy mobile apps

Link Here10th November 2013
A miserable health minister has called for a ban on supposedly dangerous mobile phone apps that he claims encourage young people to binge-drink.

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem Minister for Care, called on Google and Apple to launch an urgent investigation into irresponsible drinking games sold through their online markets, which he claims could fuel drink-related health problems and anti-social behaviour.

The calls followed a Mail on Sunday article digging around for 'outrage' uncovered hundreds of alcohol-related apps and promotions on social media sites that critics claim target youngsters and popularise excessive drinking. This newspaper identified more than 340 alcohol-related apps available to download on the Google and Apple stores. Some of them have been downloaded tens of thousands of times by British users.

Examples of drinking games online include Let's Get Wasted on Google Play, which has been downloaded 8,000 times in the UK, either for free or for just 83p.

The game selects a player roulette-style and they are instructed to drink what the app suggests. Volumes are decided at random. Players monitor their alcohol levels through stages including tipsy , boozy , well-oiled , drunk and loaded. If a player refuses a drink, the game makes a chicken noise. The winner is the first to reach the final stage of wasted .

After The Mail on Sunday alerted him to the games, Lamb obliged with an 'outraged' sound bite:

It's pretty abhorrent and I condemn those organisations because it promotes behaviour which has a massive impact on our A&E departments and police forces. The damage that it can do is immense, so I think the people who promote these apps should think again.

Conservative MP Andrew Percy, a member of the Health Select Committee, called the apps dangerous and backed Lamb's call for a ban.



Offsite Article: Getting it off their chests...

Link Here7th November 2013
Full story: Page 3 Girls...Miserable campaigners whinge about page 3 fun
Scottish MPs line up to have a whinge about the Sun's Page 3

See article from



Offsite Article: Vengeful MPs, their Monty Python press charter...

Link Here13th October 2013
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor
A lethal threat to free speech. By Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator

See article from



Update: Introducing the State's Right to Impose an Unfair Trial...

All parties agree on rules for Britain's news censor

Link Here 12th October 2013
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor
Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, has announced that the main political parties had agreed rules for the new news censor who will police journalists' conduct and deal with complaints.

MPs have proposed a system underpinned by statute, compelling newspapers to submit to the new regime. Those that refuse to participate would face deliberately unfair trials in the event of libel cases.

The latest plan was drawn up in talks between Miller for the Conservatives, Harriet Harman for Labour and Lord Wallace of Tankerness for the Liberal Democrats. It is expected to be approved by the Privy Council on Oct 30.

Following criticism from the industry, politicians agreed that people filing complaints against newspapers could face a fee under the new regulatory regime, to deter speculative or frivolous claims. They also agreed that editors could be involved in drawing up a new code of conduct for the press, which would be approved by the news censor.

Offsite Comment: The secret state is just itching to gag the press

12th October 2013. See  article from . By Jonathan Freedland

Get regulation wrong, and it won't be tales of Cheryl Cole that are censored, but revelations like those of Edward Snowden

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