Melon Farmers Original Version

UK Internet Censorship


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Offsite Article: Internet Villains...


Link Here20th September 2019
After siding with the censors against DNS over HTTPS, the UK ISP trade association chair is interviewed over future directions for government internet censorship

See article from ispreview.co.uk

 

 

Culture of censorship...

Culture Secretary makes a speech about censoring our internet along the lines of TV


Link Here19th September 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan's made the keynote address to the Royal Television Society at the University of Cambridge. She took the opportunity to announce that the government is considering how to censor internet more in line with strict TV censorship laws.

She set the background noting how toxic the internet has become. Politicians never seem to consider that a toxic response to politicians may be totally justified by the dreadful legislation being passed to marginalise, disempower and impoverish British people. She noted:

And this Government is determined to see a strong and successful future for our public service broadcasters and commercial broadcasters alike.

I really value the important contribution that they all make to our public life, at a time when our civil discourse is increasingly under strain.

Disinformation, fuelled by hermetically sealed online echo chambers, is threatening the foundations of truth that we all rely on.

And the tenor of public conversations, especially those on social media, has become increasingly toxic and hostile.

Later she spoke of work in progress to move censor the internet along the lines of TV. She said:

The second area where we need to adapt is the support offered by the Government and regulators.

We need to make sure that regulations, some of which were developed in the analogue age, are fit for the new ways that people create and consume content.

While I welcome the growing role of video on demand services and the investment and consumer choice they bring, it is important that we have regulatory frameworks that reflect this new environment.

For example, whereas a programme airing on linear TV is subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, and the audience protections it contains, a programme going out on most video on demand services is not subject to the same standards.

This does not provide the clarity and consistency that consumers would expect.

So I am interested in considering how regulation should change to reflect a changing sector.

 

 

Offsite Article: British ISPs fight to make the web LESS secure...


Link Here 15th September 2019
Full story: UK Concerns over Encrypted DNS...UK internet censors vs DNS over HTTPS
Why Britain's broadband providers are worried about a new technology that guards against online snooping

See article from itpro.co.uk

 

 

Immersive and addictive technologies report published...

Parliamentary committee whinges about the lack of age verification in games and their monetisation via loot boxes


Link Here 12th September 2019
Full story: Harmful Content...2007 Parliament Inquiry: Internet And In Video Games:

Call to regulate video game loot boxes under gambling law and ban their sale to children among measures needed to protect players, say MPs. Lack of honesty and transparency reported among representatives of some games and social media companies in giving evidence.

The wide-ranging report calls upon games companies to accept responsibility for addictive gaming disorders, protect their players from potential harms due to excessive play-time and spending, and along with social media companies introduce more effective age verification tools for users.

The immersive and addictive technologies inquiry investigated how games companies operate across a range of social media platforms and other technologies, generating vast amounts of user data and operating business models that maximise player engagement in a lucrative and growing global industry.

Sale of loot boxes to children should be banned Government should regulate loot boxes under the Gambling Act Games industry must face up to responsibilities to protect players from potential harms Industry levy to support independent research on long-term effects of gaming Serious concern at lack of effective system to keep children off age-restricted platforms and games

MPs on the Committee have previously called for a new Online Harms regulator to hold social media platforms accountable for content or activity that harms individual users. They say the new regulator should also be empowered to gather data and take action regarding addictive games design from companies and behaviour from consumers. E-sports, competitive games played to an online audience, should adopt and enforce the same duty of care practices enshrined in physical sports. Finally, the MPs say social media platforms must have clear procedures to take down misleading deep-fake videos 203 an obligation they want to be enforced by a new Online Harms regulator.

In a first for Parliament, representatives of major games including Fortnite maker Epic Games and social media platforms Snapchat and Instagram gave evidence on the design of their games and platforms.

DCMS Committee Chair Damian Collins MP said:

Social media platforms and online games makers are locked in a relentless battle to capture ever more of people's attention, time and money. Their business models are built on this, but it's time for them to be more responsible in dealing with the harms these technologies can cause for some users.

Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm. Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up. We challenge the Government to explain why loot boxes should be exempt from the Gambling Act.

Gaming contributes to a global industry that generates billions in revenue. It is unacceptable that some companies with millions of users and children among them should be so ill-equipped to talk to us about the potential harm of their products.

Gaming disorder based on excessive and addictive game play has been recognised by the World Health Organisation. It's time for games companies to use the huge quantities of data they gather about their players, to do more to proactively identify vulnerable gamers.

Both games companies and the social media platforms need to establish effective age verification tools. They currently do not exist on any of the major platforms which rely on self-certification from children and adults.

Social media firms need to take action against known deepfake films, particularly when they have been designed to distort the appearance of people in an attempt to maliciously damage their public reputation, as was seen with the recent film of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Regulate 'loot boxes' under the Gambling Act:

Loot box mechanics were found to be integral to major games companies' revenues, with further evidence that they facilitated profits from problem gamblers. The Report found current gambling legislation that excludes loot boxes because they do not meet the regulatory definition failed to adequately reflect people's real-world experiences of spending in games. Loot boxes that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance should be considered games of chance played for money's worth and regulated by the Gambling Act.

Evidence from gamers highlighted the loot box mechanics in Electronic Arts's FIFA series with one gamer disclosing spending of up to £1000 a year.

The Report calls for loot boxes that contain the element of chance not to be sold to children playing games and instead be earned through in-game credits. In the absence of research on potential harms caused by exposing children to gambling, it calls for the precautionary principle to apply. In addition, better labelling should ensure that games containing loot boxes carry parental advisories or descriptors outlining that they feature gambling content.

  • The Government should bring forward regulations under section 6 of the Gambling Act 2005 in the next parliamentary session to specify that loot boxes are a game of chance. If it determines not to regulate loot boxes under the Act at this time, the Government should produce a paper clearly stating the reasons why it does not consider loot boxes paid for with real-world currency to be a game of chance played for money's worth.

  • UK Government should advise PEGI to apply the existing 'gambling' content labelling, and corresponding age limits, to games containing loot boxes that can be purchased for real-world money and do not reveal their contents before purchase.

Safeguarding younger players:

With three-quarters of those aged 5 to 15 playing online games, MPs express serious concern at the lack of an effective system to keep children off age-restricted platforms and games. Evidence received highlighted challenges with age verification and suggested that some companies are not enforcing age restrictions effectively.

Legislation may be needed to protect children from playing games that are not appropriate for their age. The Report identifies inconsistencies in age-ratings stemming from the games industry's self-regulation around the distribution of games. For example, online games are not subject to a legally enforceable age-rating system and voluntary ratings are used instead. Games companies should not assume that the responsibility to enforce age-ratings applies exclusively to the main delivery platforms: all companies and platforms that are making games available online should uphold the highest standards of enforcing age-ratings.

 

 

A Bully's Charter...

MPs and campaigners call for 'misogyny' to be defined as on 'online harm' requiring censorship by social media. What could go wrong?


Link Here7th September 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

MPs and activists have urged the government to protect women through censorship. They write in a letter

Women around the world are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than men. In Europe, 9 million girls have experienced some kind of online violence by the time they are 15 years old. In the UK, 21% of women have received threats of physical or sexual violence online. The basis of this abuse is often, though not exclusively, misogyny.

Misogyny online fuels misogyny offline. Abusive comments online can lead to violent behaviour in real life. Nearly a third of respondents to a Women's Aid survey said where threats had been made online from a partner or ex-partner, they were carried out. Along with physical abuse, misogyny online has a psychological impact. Half of girls aged 11-21 feel less able to share their views due to fear of online abuse, according to Girlguiding UK .

The government wants to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online, yet in the online harms white paper, abuse towards women online is categorised as harassment, with no clear consequences, whereas similar abuse on the grounds of race, religion or sexuality would trigger legal protections.

If we are to eradicate online harms, far greater emphasis in the government's efforts should be directed to the protection and empowerment of the internet's single largest victim group: women. That is why we back the campaign group Empower's calls for the forthcoming codes of practice to include and address the issue of misogyny by name, in the same way as they would address the issue of racism by name. Violence against women and girls online is not harassment. Violence against women and girls online is violence.

Ali Harris Chief executive, Equally Ours
Angela Smith MP Independent
Anne Novis Activist
Lorely Burt Liberal Democrat, House of Lords
Ruth Lister Labour, House of Lords
Barry Sheerman MP Labour
Caroline Lucas MP Green
Daniel Zeichner MP Labour
Darren Jones MP Labour
Diana Johnson MP Labour
Flo Clucas Chair, Liberal Democrat Women
Gay Collins Ambassador, 30% Club
Hannah Swirsky Campaigns officer, René Cassin
Joan Ryan MP Independent Group for Change
Joe Levenson Director of communications and campaigns, Young Women's Trust
Jonathan Harris House of Lords, Labour
Luciana Berger MP Liberal Democrats
Mandu Reid Leader, Women's Equality Party
Maya Fryer WebRoots Democracy
Preet Gill MP Labour
Sarah Mann Director, Friends, Families and Travellers
Siobhan Freegard Founder, Channel Mum
Jacqui Smith Empower

Offsite Patreon Comment: What will go wrong?

See subscription article from patreon.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Well invading Iraq certainly counts as a global change...


Link Here 30th August 2019
Tony Blair's Institute for Global Change is set to solve all the world's problems by calling for the censorship of extremist or organisations even when they are not inciting violence

See article from buzzfeed.com

 

 

Updated: The latest internet censorship nightmare from the EU...

The EU ups the internet ante and the UK will require video websites to be licensed by the state censors of Ofcom


Link Here 12th August 2019
Full story: EU Internet Video Censorship...EU extends censorship to all video websites
Requirements for Video Sharing Platforms in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is the regulatory framework governing EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media. The government launched a consultation on implementing the newly introduced and amended provisions in AVMSD on 30 May, which is available here .

One of the main changes to AVMSD is the extension of scope to cover video-sharing platforms (VSPs) for the first time. This extension in scope will likely capture audiovisual content on social media sites, video-sharing sites, pornography sites and live streaming services. These services are required to take appropriate measures to: protect children from harmful content; protect the general public from illegal content and content that incites violence or hatred, and; respect certain obligations around commercial communications.

The original consultation, published on 30 May, outlined the government's intention to implement these requirements through the regulatory framework proposed in the Online Harms White Paper . However, we also indicated the possibility of an interim approach ahead of the regulatory framework coming into force to ensure we meet the transposition deadline of 20 September 2020. We now plan to take forward this interim approach and have written to stakeholders on 23 July to set out our plans and consult on them.

This open letter and consultation sent to stakeholders, therefore, aims to gather views on our interim approach for implementing requirements pertaining to VSPs through appointing Ofcom as the national regulatory authority. In particular, it asks questions regarding:

  • how to transpose the definition of VSPs into UK law, and which platforms are in the UK's jurisdiction;

  • the regulatory framework and the regulator's relationship with industry;

  • the appropriate measures that should be taken by platforms to protect users;

  • the information gathering powers Ofcom should have to oversee VSPs;

  • the appropriate enforcement and sanctions regime for Ofcom;

  • what form the required out of court redress mechanism should take; and

  • how to fund the extension of Ofcom's regulatory activities from industry.

Update: The press get wind of the EU censorship nightmare of the new AVMS directive

12th August 2019. See article from bbc.com

The government is considering giving powers to fine video-sharing apps and websites to the UK's media censor Ofcom.

The proposal would see Ofcom able to impose multi-million pound fines if it judges the platforms have failed to prevent youngsters seeing pornography, violence and other harmful material.

Ofcom are already the designated internet censor enforcing the current AVMS censorship rules. These apply to all UK based Video on Demand platforms. The current rules are generally less stringent than Ofcom's rules for TV so have not particularly impacted the likes of the TV catch up services, (apart from Ofcom extracting significant censorship fees for handling minimal complaints about hate speech and product placement).

The notable exception is the regulation of hardcore porn on Video on Demand platforms. Ofcom originally delegated the censorship task to ATVOD but that was a total mess and Ofcom grabbed the censorship roles back. It too became a bit of a non-job as ATVOD's unviable age verification rules had effectively driven the UK adult porn trade into either bankruptcy or into foreign ownership. In fact this driving the porn business offshore gave rise to the BBFC age verification regime which is trying to find ways to censor foreign porn websites.

Anyway the EU has now created an updated AVMS directive that extends the scope of content to be censored, as well as the range of websites and apps caught up the law. Where as before it caught TV like video on demand websites, it now catches nearly all websites featuring significant video content. And of course the list of harms has expanded into the same space as all the other laws clamouring to censor the internet.

In addition, all qualifying video websites will have to register with Ofcom and have to cough up  a significant fee for Ofcom's censorship 'services'.

The EU Directive is required to be implemented in EU members' laws by 20th September 2020. And it seems that the UK wants the censors to be up on running from the 19th September 2020.

Even then, it would only be an interim step until an even more powerful internet censor gets implemented under the UK's Online Harms plans.

The Telegraph reported that the proposal was quietly agreed before Parliament's summer break and would give Ofcom the power to fine tech firms up to 5% of their revenues and/or block them in the UK if they failed to comply with its rulings. Ofcom has said that it is ready to adopt the powers.

A government spokeswoman told the BBC.

We also support plans to go further and legislate for a wider set of protections, including a duty of care for online companies towards their users.

But TechUK - the industry group that represents the sector - said it hoped that ministers would take a balanced and proportionate approach to the issue.  Its deputy chief executive Antony Walker said:

Key to achieving this will be clear and precise definitions across the board, and a proportionate sanctions and compliance regime, said

The Internet Association added that it hoped any intervention would be proportionate. Daniel Dyball, the association's executive director.said:

Any new regulation should be targeted at specific harms, and be technically possible to implement in practice - taking into account that resources available vary between companies.

The BBC rather hopefully noted that if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we will not be bound to transpose the AVMSD into UK law.

 

 

Cryptic motives...

Group of parliamentarians rant against DNS over HTTPS in a letter to the press


Link Here12th August 2019
Full story: UK Concerns over Encrypted DNS...UK internet censors vs DNS over HTTPS

Web browser risk to child safety

We are deeply concerned that a new form of encryption being introduced to our web browsers will have terrible consequences for child protection.

The new system 204 known as DNS over HTTPS -- would have the effect of undermining the work of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF); yet Mozilla, provider of the Firefox browser, has decided to introduce it, and others may follow.

The amount of abusive content online is huge and not declining. Last year, the IWF removed more than 105,000 web pages showing the sexual abuse of children. While the UK has an excellent record in eliminating the hosting of such illegal content, there is still a significant demand from UK internet users: the National Crime Agency estimates there are 144,000 internet users on some of the worst dark-web child sexual abuse sites.

To fight this, the IWF provides a URL block list that allows internet service providers to block internet users from accessing known child sexual abuse content until it is taken down by the host country. The deployment of the new encryption system in its proposed form could render this service obsolete, exposing millions of people to the worst imagery of children being sexually abused, and the victims of said abuse to countless sets of eyes.

Advances in protecting users' data must not come at the expense of children. We urge the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport to address this issue in the government's upcoming legislation on online harms.

  • Sarah Champion MP;
  • Tom Watson MP;
  • Carolyn Harris MP;
  • Tom Brake MP;
  • Stephen Timms MP;
  • Ian Lucas MP;
  • Tim Loughton MP;
  • Giles Watling MP;
  • Madeleine Moon MP;
  • Vicky Ford MP;
  • Rosie Cooper MP;
  • Baroness Howe;
  • Lord Knight;
  • Baroness Thornton;
  • Baroness Walmsley;
  • Lord Maginnis;
  • Baroness Benjamin;
  • Lord Harris of Haringey

The IWF service is continually being rolled out as an argument against DoH but I am starting to wonder if it is still relevant. Given the universal revulsion against child sex abuse then I'd suspect that little of it would now be located on the open internet. Surely it would be hiding away in hard to find places like the dark web, that are unlikely to stumbled on by normal people. And of course those using the dark web aren't using ISP DNS servers anyway.

In reality the point of using DoH is to evade government attempts to block legal porn sites. If they weren't intending to block legal sites then surely people would be happy to use the ISP DNS including the IWF service.

 

 

Offsite Article: IPVanish pitches to keep porn users safe from age verification...


Link Here 2nd August 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
How would the UK adult content block harm digital rights?

See article from ipvanish.com

 

 

Offsite Article: UK YouTube head hypocritically speaks out against proposed government censorship...


Link Here20th July 2019
Full story: YouTube Censorship...YouTube censor videos by restricting their reach
YouTube does not want government censors to silence people the government doesn't like, whilst YouTube actively censors people it does not like, especially those on the right

See article from reclaimthenet.org

 

 

Negligent UK lawmakers devised an age verification scheme with no data protection for porn users...

Now it appears that users who try to protect themselves with VPNs may be unknowingly handing their browsing data over to the Chinese government


Link Here17th July 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

ICO's Data Protection Training
The Pavlov Method
 
nodding dog
 ☑  Yes I won't read this message. and yes you can do what the fuck you like with my porn browsing data
 ☑  Yes please do, I waiver all my GDPR rights
 ☑  Yes I won't read this message. and yes, feel free to blackmail me
 ☑  Yes you can do anything you like 'to make my viewing experience better'
 ☑  Yes, no need to ask, I'll tick anything
With callous disregard for the safety of porn users, negligent lawmakers devised an age verification scheme with no effective protection of porn users' identity and porn browsing history.

The Government considered that GDPR requirements, where internet users are trainer to blindly tick a box to give consent to the internet companies doing what the fuck they like with your data. Now internet users are well conditioned like Pavlov's dog to tick the hundreds of tick boxes they are presented with daily. And of course nobody ever reads what they are consenting to, life's too short.

After a while the government realised that the total lack of data protection for porn users may actually prevent their scheme form getting off the ground, as porn users simply would refuse to get age verified. This would result in bankrupt AV companies and perverse disinsentives for porn websites. Those that implement AV would then experience a devastating drop off in traffic and those that refuse age verification would be advantaged.

So the government commissioned a voluntary kitemark scheme for AV companies to try and demonstrate to auditors that they keep porn identity and browsing history safely. But really the government couldn't let go of its own surveillance requirements to keep the browsing history of porn users. Eventually some AV companies won the right to have a scheme that did not log people's browsing history, but most still do maintain a log (justified as 'fraud protection' in the BBFC kitemark scheme description).

well Now it appears that those that try to avoid the dangers of AV via VPNs may be not s safe as they would hope. The Henry Jackson Society has been researching the VPN industry and has found that 30% of VPNs are owned by Chinese companies that have direct data paths to the Chinese government.

Surely this will have extreme security issues as privately porn using people could then be set up for blackmail or pressure from the Chinese authorities.

The government needs to put an end to the current AV scheme and go back to the drawing board. It needs to try again, this time with absolute legal requirements to immediately delete porn users identity data and to totally ban the retention of browsing logs.

Anyway, the Henry Jackson Society explains its latest revelations:

Chinese spies could exploit Government's new porn laws to gather compromising material on businessmen, civil servants and public figures, say think tanks.

They say Chinese firms have quietly cornered the market in technology that enables people to access porn sites without having to register their personal details with age verification firms or buy an age ID card in a newsagent.

The new law require those accessing porn sites to prove they are 18 but the checks and registration can be by-passed by signing up to a Virtual Private Network (VPNs). These anonymise the location of a computer by routing its traffic through a server based at remote locations.

It has now emerged through an investigation by security experts that many of the VPNs are secretly controlled by Chinese owned firms -- as many as 30% of the networks worldwide.

It means that a VPN users' viewing habits and data can not only be legally requested by the Chinese Government under its lax privacy laws but the VPNs could themselves also be state-controlled, according to the Adam Smith Institute and Henry Jackson Society.

Sam Armstrong, spokesman for the Henry Jackson Society, said:

A list of billions of late-night website visits of civil servants, diplomats, and politicians could -- in the wrong hands -- amount to the largest-ever kompromat file compiled on British individuals.

Those in sensitive jobs are precisely the types of individuals who would seek to use a VPN to circumvent the trip to the newsagent to buy a porn pass.

Yet, the opaque ownership of these VPNs by Chinese firms means there is a real likelihood any browsing going through them could fall into the hands of Chinese intelligence.

 

 

Commented: YouTube speaks out against the censorship proposed in the Online Harms white paper...

YouTube is reluctant to censor drill music videos


Link Here16th July 2019
Full story: Drill Music...Drill music videos banned by UK police
Ben McOwen Wilson the head of YouTube UK said that the website not remove drill music videos from the platform saying that they provide a place for those too often without a voice.

He Said that YouTube must work with government and regulators to find a balance on removing content.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, McOwen Wilson had a knock at the vague government internet censorship plan outline in the Online Harms white paper. He said it was right that anything which is illegal offline should not be permitted online, but added that deciding when to remove videos which were legal but could be considered potentially harmful was a greater issue facing the tech industry.  He said:

Drawing a line on content that should be removed isn't always clear. For example, as communities are working to address the issue of gang violence, we too find ourselves developing the right way to play our part.

While some have argued there is no place for drill music on YouTube, we believe we can help provide a place for those too often without a voice.

To strike this balance, we work with the Metropolitan Police, community groups and experts to understand local context and take action where needed.

Offsite Comment: YouTube is right to defend drill

The British state's war on rappers is authoritarian and racist.

16th July 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Jason Reed

 

 

Today's the day when porn internet censorship was to have begun...

Margot James apologises for the delay whilst the Open Rights Group points out the scheme is still not safe for porn viewers


Link Here15th July 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

ICO's Data Protection Training
The Pavlov Method
 
nodding dog
 ☑  Yes I won't read this message. and yes you can do what the fuck you like with my porn browsing data
 ☑  Yes please do, I waiver all my GDPR rights
 ☑  Yes I won't read this message. and yes, feel free to blackmail me
 ☑  Yes you can do anything you like 'to make my viewing experience better'
 ☑  Yes, no need to ask, I'll tick anything

Digital Minister Margot James has apologised for the six-month delay on the so-called porn block, which had been due to take effect today (16th July). It is designed to force pornography websites to verify users are over 18.

But the law has been delayed twice - most recently because the UK government failed to properly notify European regulators. James told the BBC:

I'm extremely sorry that there has been a delay. I know it sounds incompetent. Mistakes do happen, and I'm terribly sorry that it happened in such an important area,

Of course the fundamental mistake is that the incompetent lawmakers cared only about 'protecting the children' and gave bugger all consideration to the resulting endangerment of the adults visiting porn sites.

It took the government months, but it finally started to dawn on them that perhaps they should do something to protect the identity data that they are forcing porn users to hand over that can then be pinned to their porn browsing history. They probably still didn't care about porn users but perhaps realised that the scheme would not get of the ground if it proved so toxic that no one would ever sign up for age verification at all.

Well as a belated after thought the government, BBFC and ICO went away to dream up a few standards that perhaps the age verifiers ought to be sticking to try and ensure that data is being kept safe.

So then the whole law ended up as a bag of worms. The authorities now realise that there should be level of data protection, but unfortunately this is not actually backed up by the law that was actually passed. So now the data protection standards suggested by the government/BBFC/ICO are only voluntary and there remains nothing in law to require the data actually be kept safe. And there is no recourse against anyone who ends up exploiting people's data.

The Open Rights Group have just written an open letter to the government to ask that government to change their flawed law and actually require that porn users' data is kept properly safe:

The Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Re: BBFC Age Verification Privacy Certification Scheme

Dear Secretary of State,

We write to ask you to legislate without delay to place a statutory requirement on the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to make their privacy certification scheme for age verification providers mandatory. Legislation is also needed to grant the BBFC powers to require compliance reports and penalise non-compliant providers.

As presently constituted, the BBFC certification scheme will be a disaster. Our analysis report, attached, shows that rather than setting out objective privacy safeguards to which companies must adhere, the scheme allows companies to set their own rules and then demonstrate that these are being followed. There are no penalties for providers which sign up to the standard and then fail to meet its requirements.

The broadly-drafted, voluntary scheme encourages a race to the bottom on privacy protection. It provides no consistent guarantees for consumers about how their personal data will be safeguarded and puts millions of British citizens at serious risk of fraud, blackmail or devastating sexual exposure.

The BBFC standard was only published in April. Some age verification providers have admitted that they are not ready. Others have stated that for commercial reasons they will not engage with the scheme. This means that the bureaucratic delay to age verification's roll-out can now be turned to advantage. The Government needs to use this delay to introduce legislation, or at the least issue guidance under section 27 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, that will ensure the privacy and security of online users is protected.

We welcome the opportunity to bring this issue to your attention and await your response.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Killock Executive Director Open Rights Group

 

 

A new blasphemy law...

The National Secular Society Government online harm plans could curb free expression


Link Here6th July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

The National Secular Society has warned that government plans to require social media companies to censor hateful and offensive content could act as a de facto blasphemy law.

In its response to the government's white paper on online harms , the NSS said efforts to confront and challenge hateful speech and behaviour must not undermine free speech on religion.

The white paper outlines plans to create a regulator with the power to fine online platforms and block websites. The regulator will be required to create guidance for social media companies, outlining what constitutes hateful content online.

The guidance would include content which is not necessarily illegal, content which may directly or indirectly cause harm to other users and some offensive material in that definition.

The NSS said censoring content that could be considered offensive would severely restrict freedom of expression, including the freedom to criticise or satirise religion. The society added that the question of offence was an entirely subjective matter.

The NSS also noted that a requirement on companies to demonstrate 'continuous improvement' in tackling hateful material could encourage them to be more censorious.

The NSS also challenged a claim in the white paper that offending online is just as serious as that occurring offline. The NSS said this line lowered the threshold for hate crimes, because people's ability to commit such crimes is much more limited online than offline.

The society raised the example of a man who was recently arrested on suspicion of hate crime after publishing a video on Facebook of himself mocking Islamic prayer in a hospital prayer room. The NSS noted that threats of death and violence were made towards the man and were reported to the police, but no action appeared to have been taken against the perpetrators to date.

The NSS also criticised the government's definition of hate crime which is contained within the white paper. The definition says hate crimes include crimes demonstrating hostility on the grounds of an individual's actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

The NSS said this definition was too broad, meaning any incident in which an individual demonstrates hostility toward another individual based on the listed characteristics could be treated as a hate crime.

The society said strong critics of religion or Christians who preach that gay people will go to Hell were examples of those who risk being charged with hate crimes.

NSS spokesperson Megan Manson said the white paper had given too much ground to those who attempt to shut down legitimate expression, including on religion.

The government should treat the fundamental right to free expression as a positive value in its attempts to promote social cohesion. Instead it has proposed cracking down on what people can say on social media, based largely on vague and broad definitions of what constitutes 'hateful' material. In the process it risks significantly undermining free expression for all and stirring social resentment.

Ministers must not treat the civil liberties of British citizens as an afterthought in their efforts to tackle online harms.

 

 

The ICO has a Baldric inspired 'cunning plan' to require age verification for nearly all websites...

But the News Media Association points out that it would force websites to choose between being devoid of audience or stripped of advertising


Link Here4th July 2019
Full story: ICO Age Appropriate Design...ICO calls for age assurance for websites accessed by children
For some bizarre reason the ICO seems to have been given powers to make wide ranging internet censorship law on the fly without needing it to be considered by parliament. And with spectacular incompetence, they have come up with a child safety plan to require nearly every website in Britain to implement strict age verification. Baldric would have been proud, it is more or less an internet equivalent of making children safe on the roads by banning all cars.

A trade association for news organisations, News Media Association, summed up the idea in a consultation response saying:

ICO's Age Appropriate Code Could Wreak Havoc On News Media 

Unless amended, the draft code published for consultation by the ICO would undermine the news media industry, its journalism and business innovation online. The ICO draft code would require commercial news media publishers to choose between their online news services being devoid of audience or stripped of advertising, with even editorial content subject to ICO judgment and sanction, irrespective of compliance with general law and codes upheld by the courts and relevant regulators.

The NMA strongly objects to the ICO's startling extension of its regulatory remit, the proposed scope of the draft code, including its express application to news websites, its application of the proposed standards to all users in the absence of robust age verification to distinguish adults from under 18-year olds and its restrictions on profiling. The NMA considers that news media publishers and their services should be excluded from scope of the proposed draft Code.

Attracting and retaining audience on news websites, digital editions and online service, fostering informed reader relationships, are all vital to the ever evolving development of successful newsbrands and their services, their advertising revenues and their development of subscription or other payment or contribution models, which fund and sustain the independent press and its journalism.

There is surely no justification for the ICO to attempt by way of a statutory age appropriate design code, to impose access restrictions fettering adults (and children's) ability to receive and impart information, or in effect impose 'pre watershed' broadcast controls upon the content of all currently publicly available, free to use, national, regional and local news websites, already compliant with the general law and editorial and advertising codes of practice upheld by IPSO and the ASA.

In practice, the draft Code would undermine commercial news media publishers' business models, as audience and advertising would disappear. Adults will be deterred from visiting newspaper websites if they first have to provide age verification details. Traffic and audience will also be reduced if social media and other third parties were deterred from distributing or promoting or linking titles' lawful, code compliant, content for fear of being accused of promoting content detrimental to some age group in contravention of the Code. Audience measurement would be difficult. It would devastate advertising, since effective relevant personalised advertising will be rendered impossible, and so destroy the vital commercial revenues which actually fund the independent media, its trusted journalism and enable it to innovate and evolve to serve the ever-changing needs of its audience.

The draft Code's impact would be hugely damaging to the news industry and wholly counter to the Government's policy on sustaining high quality, trusted journalism at local, regional, national and international levels.

Newspapers online content, editorial and advertising practices do not present any danger to children. The ICO has not raised with the industry any evidence of harm, necessitating such drastic restrictions, caused by reading news or service of advertisements where these are compliant with the law and the standards set by specialist media regulators.

  blackadder cast
The Information Commissioner's Office has a 'cunning plan'

Of course the News Media Association is making a strong case for its own exclusion from the ICO's 'cunning plan', but the idea is equally devastating for websites from any other internet sector.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham was called to give evidence to Parliament's DCMS Select Committee this week on related matters, and she spoke of a clearly negative feedback to her age verification idea.

Her sidekick backtracked a little, saying that the ICO did not mean Age Verification via handing over passport details, more like one of those schemes where AI guesses age by scanning what sort of thing the person has been posting on social media. (Which of course requires a massive grab of data that should be best kept private, especially for children). The outcome seems to be a dictate to the internet industry to 'innovate' and find a solution to age verification that does not require the mass hand over of private data (you know like what the data protection laws are supposed to be protecting). The ICO put a time limit on this innovation demand of about 12 months.

In the meantime the ICO has told the news industry that age verification idea won't apply to them, presumably because they can kick up a hell of stink about the ICO in their mass market newspapers. Denham said:

We want to encourage children to find out about the world, we want children to access news sites.

So the concern about the impact of the code on media and editorial comment and journalism I think is unfounded. We don't think there will be an impact on news media sites. They are already regulated and we are not a media regulator.

She did speak any similar reassuring words to any other sector of the internet industry who are likely to be equally devastated by the ICO's 'cunning plan'.

 

 

Offsite Article: How about exemptions from Government censorship for ALL internet forums?...


Link Here3rd July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Press Gazette apposes the government's internet censorship proposals in the Online Harms white paper but only calls for the exemptions for themselves

See article from pressgazette.co.uk

 

 

Belatedly filed...

The EU notes that it has now received notification of the BBFC rules on censoring adult porn


Link Here2nd July 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The implementation of teh UK's new pron censorship regime was recently delayed by 6 months due not not filing the details with the EU as required by European law. Well the BBFC censorship rules have now been duly filed.

The EU websites note that they were filed on 1st July 2019 and there is now a period for people to comment up until 2nd October 2019.

When announcing the delay censorship minister Jeremy Wright noted that at the end of this period another month or so may required to respond to comments.

The EU website noted above provides for comments but maybe only MEPs and the like can hold of the process by asking questions or making comments. Or perhaps any European can comment.

 

 

Offsite Article: The UK Is Trying to Censor the Internet...


Link Here 2nd July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Here's what the Online Harms White Paper means for UK internet users

See article from pcmag.com


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