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2020: Jan-March

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There are more important harms to be thinking about than Pornhub...

Miserable MPs whinge about an uptick of people entertaining themselves on Pornhub during the coronavirus lockdown

Link Here27th March 2020
Full story: Coronavirus...Internet censorship and surveillance
British MPs have claimed that that measures to reform and regulate the porn industry have faltered, putting vulnerable people at risk.

Last year attempts to introduce age verification systems into open access porn sites to stop children being able to access extreme online content stalled, and MPs are warning that regulation proposed in a new online harms bill, currently at consultation stage in parliament, does not go far enough.

Tracy Brabin, the shadow culture secretary, whinged:

The online harms bill doesn't go far enough. We have to get control over this industry, said  We have a duty of care to young people whose videos are being shared who might not want them shared, and ... to potential victims of sex trafficking and rape.

MPs from both sides of the political divide agree. Conservative MP Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, said: These are hugely important issues and [the online harms bill] is taking too long, we have been talking about this for two years now. She said the promised duty of care should include a way to hold companies to account if unlawful material is posted.

Activist Laila Mickelwait, part of a group of activists at Exodus Cry, told the Guardian: Pornhub handing out 'free' premium content is a way for them to cash in on those around the world impacted by the pandemic. Pornhub is collecting an incredible amount of user data including IP addresses by allowing web beacons and other special information targeting technology on all user devices, and monetising it for their own gain.



New government internet censors...

Oliver Dowden takes over as the Culture Secretary, Julian Knight takes over the chair of the DCMS Select Committee and Ofcom is appointed as the AVMS internet censor

Link Here16th February 2020
Oliver Dowden was appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 13 February 2020.

He was previously Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office, and before that, Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office. He was elected Conservative MP for Hertsmere in May 2015.

The previous Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan will now be spending more time with her family.

There's been no suggestions that Dowden will diverge from the government path on setting out a new internet censorship regime as outlined in its OnlIne Harms white paper.

Perhaps another parliamentary appointment that may be relevant is that Julian Knight has taken over the Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, the Parliamentary scrutiny body overseeing the DCMS.

Knight seems quite keen on the internet censorship idea and will surely be spurring on the DCMS.

And finally one more censorship appointment was announced by the Government. The government has appointed Ofcom to regulate video-sharing platforms under the audiovisual media services directive, which aims to reduce harmful content on these sites. That will provide quicker protection for some harms and activities and will act as a stepping stone to the full online harms regulatory framework.

 Matt Warman, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced:

We also yesterday appointed Ofcom to regulate video-sharing platforms under the audiovisual media services directive, which aims to reduce harmful content on these sites. That will provide quicker protection for some harms and activities and will act as a stepping stone to the full online harms regulatory framework.

In Fact this censorship process is set to start in September 2020 and in fact Ofcom have already produced their solution that shadows the age verification requirements of the Digital Economy Act but now may need rethinking as some of the enforcement mechanisms, such as ISP blocking, are no longer on the table. The mechanism also only applies to British based online adult companies providing online video. of which there are hardly any left, after previously being destroyed by the ATVOD regime.



Unsafe law...

Elspeth Howe introduces a House of Lords Bill Private Member's Bill to resurrect the deeply flawed and unsafe age verification requirements for adult porn websites

Link Here22nd January 2020
The Age Verification for porn requirements inlcuded in the 2017 Digital Economy Acts were formally cancelled in October 2019. The 2017 was deeply flawed in omission of any effective requirements to keep porn users identity and browsing data safe. In addition the regime of enforcing the rules through BBFC censorship and ISP blocking were proving troublesome and expensive.

It is also interesting to note that the upcoming Online Harms bill has also been stripped of its ISP blocking enforcement options. I suspect that the police and security forces would rather not see half the population hidng their internet usage behind Tor and VPNs just so they can continue accessing porn.

For whatever reasons the government quite rightly considered that it would be a whole lot easier just to fine companies when they get it wrong and leave all the expensive technical details of how to to do this to the websites themselves. (This approach has worked well for gambling websites, where AV has been achieved without having to employ censors to make them toe the line).

So I don't tink the government will be interested in supporting the virtue signal lords and the bill will not be given time to get anywhere.

Elspeth Howe's short bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 21st January 2020 and reads:

Digital Economy Act 2017 (Commencement of Part 3) Bill

A bill to bring into force the remaining sections of Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017.

1 The Secretary of State must make regulations under section 118(6) (commencement) of the Digital Economy Act 2017 to ensure that all provisions under Part 3 (online pornography) of that Act have come into force before 4 January 2021.

2 Extent, commencement and short title:

  1. This Act extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  2. This Act comes into force on the day on which it is passed.

  3. This Act may be cited as the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Commencement of Part 3) Act 2020.



Harmful haste when previous law failures suggest more careful consideration is required...

Sky boss supports a bill just launched in the House of Lords to hasten the appointment of Ofcom as the UK's internet censor

Link Here17th January 2020
Sky's chief executive Jeremy Darroch has urged the Government to speed up its plans for an online censor as a bill to appoint Ofcom to the job was introduced in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Darroch has written to all MPs asking for their support in establishing an internet censor that that will tackle supposed online harms.

Darroch's beef seems to be what he described as the prolific spread of misinformation, online abuse and fake news in last month's general election. He claimed it had shown the damage that unregulated online platforms are doing to our society.

A DCMS spokesperson declined to say how soon it may be before a draft bill is introduced, but Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan pledged in a speech yesterday to develop a media literacy strategy to be published in the summer, which is expected to come before the online harms legislation.

Johnson plans to precede the online harms bill with interim codes of practice ordering tech companies to clamp down on use of their platforms by terrorists and those engaged in child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Tom McNally's Online Harms Reduction Regulator (Report) Bill started its journey in the House of Lords on Tuesday. He has said he prepared the bill to keep up a momentum I fear may be lost and to provide a platform for wider public debate. Th bill appoints Ofcoms as the UK's internet censors and tasks it with preparing for the introduction of a statutory duty of care obligation for online platforms. Ofcom would have to prepare a report with recommendations on how this should be done, and the Government would be forced to produce its draft bill within a year from the publication of this report.



Whatever the morality, MPs need to be aware of what's being said in The Sun...

Eight Labour MPs support Early Day Motion calling for The Sun to banned from Parliament

Link Here 11th January 2020
Full story: Censoring The Sun...UK councils call for local newsagents to ban The Sun

EDM 48: Provision of The Sun newspaper on the Parliamentary Estate Share

Motion tabled 09 January 2020:

That this House notes with great sadness that it has been 30 years since the Hillsborough disaster where 96 people were unlawfully killed; further notes that The Sun newspaper's coverage of this event was widely criticised and that many retailers in Liverpool still refuse to sell The Sun; notes that some Members are survivors of this disaster or relations of survivors; and resolves that The Sun newspaper should not be available for reading on the Parliamentary Estate.

8 labour MPs have sponsored or supported the motion

  • Barker, Paula
  • Byrne, Ian
  • Whitley, Mick
  • Esterson, Bill
  • Johnson, Kim
  • Carden, Dan
  • Lavery, Ian
  • Hopkins, Rachel

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