Melon Farmers Original Version

UK Internet Censorship


2022: Oct-Dec

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Triple shield or triple surveillance?...

Open Rights Group reports on the latest government amendments for the Online Censorship Bill


Link Here 14th December 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

The Online Safety Bill is back in Parliament. It had been stalled for five months whilst the government made a few changes. A Parliamentary debate on Monday (5th December) revealed the shift in policy direction for the first time. It's relatively small change, with big implications.

According to the government, the Online Safety Bill is supposed to protect children. However, from a digital rights perspective it is probably the most worrying piece of legislation ever imagined to date. The government's focus is on the content it wants to ban, with little attention paid to the impact on freedom of expression or privacy. The lack of definition or precision in the text leaves wide open loopholes for over-removals of content and the possibility of government- imposed, privatised surveillance.

The emphasis was on new amendments to be tabled early next year. Self-harm content, deep fakes and the sharing of non-consensual intimate images, will be defined as new criminal offences and illegal content.

The subtle policy shift turns on a requirement for large online platforms to tackle the so-called "legal but harmful" content. This is a legally-problematic, grey area. It is about content that is not illegal but which the government wants to ban, and understood to include eating disorders, self-harm, and false claims about medicines.

The government has announced a plan to delete this requirement, but only for adult users, not for children. An amendment will be tabled next week.

A further, legally problematic, amendment requires platforms to allow adult users to filter out these kinds of harmful content for themselves. The idea is a kind of filter button where users can select the type of harmful content that they don't want to see.

In tandem, there will be an amendment that makes online platforms enforce their terms and conditions with regard to content that is not addressed by the Bill.

We have seen drafts of some of these amendments, and await the final versions.

This filter, together with the requirement to enforce terms and conditions, and an existing requirement to remove all illegal content, is what the government is calling its "triple shield". The government claims this will protect users from the range of harms set out in the Bill. It also claims the move will protect free speech. This claim does not stack up, as the underlying censorship framework remains in place, including the possibility of general monitoring and upload filters.

Moreover, the effect of these amendments is to mitigate in favour of age-gating. The notion of "legal but harmful" content for children remains in the Bill. In Monday's debate, government Ministers emphasised the role of "age assurance" which is a requirement in the Bill although it does not say how it should be implemented.

The government's position on age-gating is broader than just excluding under-18s from 'adult' content. The Secretary of State, Michelle Donelan, said that all platforms must know the age of their users. They may be required to differentiate between age-groups, in order to prevent children from engaging with age-inappropriate harmful content to be defined by the government. The likely methods will use biometric surveillance.

MPs have also passed an amendment that confirms chat controls on private messaging services. This is the "spy clause" , renumbered S. 106 (formerly S.104). It's a stealth measure that is almost invisible in the text, with no precision as to what providers will do. The government's preferred route is understood to be client-side scanning. This completes a trio of surveillance on public posts, private chats and children.

 

 

Offsite Article: What you need to know about the UK's Online Safety Bill...


Link Here 7th December 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The UK's amended Online Safety Bill covers services available in the country even if they are based elsewhere. But what does the bill entail, and if passed, how will it affect companies that conduct business online?

See article from computerworld.com

 

 

Extract: Onlne Censorship Bill...

Index on Censorship has commissioned a legal opinion by Matthew Ryder KC and finds that the powers conceived would not be lawful under our common law and the existing human rights legal framework


Link Here30th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

There has been significant commentary on the flaws of the Online Safety Bill, particularly the harmful impact on freedom of expression from the concept of the duty of care over adult internet users and the problematic legal but harmful category for online speech. Index on Censorship has identified another area of the Bill, far less examined, that now deserves our attention. The provisions in the Online Safety Bill that would enable state-backed surveillance of private communications contain some of the broadest and powerful surveillance powers ever proposed in any Western democracy. It is our opinion that the powers conceived in the Bill would not be lawful under our common law and existing human rights legal framework.

The legal opinion shows how the powers conceived go beyond even the controversial powers contained within the Investigatory Powers Act (2016) but critically, without the safeguards that Parliament inserted into the Act in order to ensure it protected the privacy and the fundamental rights of UK citizens. The powers in the Online Safety Bill have no such safeguards as of yet.

The Bill as currently drafted gives Ofcom the powers to impose Section 104 notices on the operators of private messaging apps and other online services. These notices give Ofcom the power to impose specific technologies (e.g. algorithmic content detection) that provide for the surveillance of the private correspondence of UK citizens. The powers allow the technology to be imposed with limited legal safeguards. It means the UK would be one of the first democracies to place a de facto ban on end-to-end encryption for private messaging apps. No communications in the UK -- whether between MPs, between whistleblowers and journalists, or between a victim and a victims support charity -- would be secure or private. In an era where Russia and China continue to work to undermine UK cybersecurity, we believe this could pose a critical threat to UK national security.

See full article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Curtailing free speech and taking away our protection from hackers and thieves...

The UK government announces that its Online Censorship Bill returns to Parliament on 5th December


Link Here26th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The Times is reporting that the government's Online Censorship Bill will return to the House of Commons on December 5th with a few amendments re 'harmful but legal' content.

Rishi Sunak is to introduce a compromise over the Online Safety Bill that will involve users being able to filter out legal but harmful content without it being removed by tech platforms.

The bill  has been paused while the government takes out provisions that alarmed free speech advocates. Of particular concern were sections that would have led to tech platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Google removing content that was deemed to be legal, but harmful to adults.

The government will also detail a new offence about sharing deep fake porm. Those who share pornographic deepfakes,explicit images or videos that have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent, could be jailed under the proposed changes. It is not clear how the government will take on the international porn websites where faked porn of celebrities is commonplace. Perhaps the government will have to block them all.

Meanwhile the censorship bill is causing further criticisms over governments powers to degrade encryption. This is used to keep British people safe from hackers, blackmailers  and thieves, not to mention snooping by malicious governments most notably China and Russia.

The Open Rights Group explains in an article from openrightsgroup.org :

The Online Safety Bill requires ALL online speech to be monitored for harmful content, including the private conversations you have on your phone with friends and family. Companies like Whatsapp and Signal will be required by law to break end-to-end encryption, so the Government can automatically scan your messages.

They say encryption is dangerous, but the opposite is true. Encryption keeps your information and transactions safe from criminals. It ensures your private messages stay private. If the UK Government can break encryption to read your messages, that means scammers, hackers and foreign governments can too. Save encryption, Protect the security of your phone

If they get their way, your phone will be turned into a spy in your pocket. Billions of personal messages will be ready to be hacked, sold and exploited. The Government's plan to access your private messages will help criminals and make us less safe.

 

 

Ofcom will demand that all website users hand over dangerous identity data to any website that asks...

And ICO claims that its data protection rules will keep us 'safe'....just like laws against burglary have put an end to break ins


Link Here26th November 2022

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and Ofcom have set out how we will work together to ensure coherence between the data protection and the new online safety regimes.

Our joint statement builds on our existing cooperative approach to regulation - and on our close working relationship established as co-founders of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum.

In anticipation of Ofcom taking on new duties in 2023 under the Online Safety Bill, the statement sets out our shared regulatory aims. We want:

  • people who use online services to have confidence that their safety and privacy will be upheld and that we will take prompt and effective action when providers fail in their obligations; and

  • providers of online services of all sizes to comply with their obligations and to continue to innovate and grow, supported by regulatory clarity and free from undue burden.

To achieve this, the ICO and Ofcom will work closely together to achieve maximum alignment and consistency between the data protection and online safety regimes. We will:

  • maximise coherence by ensuring our policies are consistent with each other's regulatory requirements -- and consult closely when preparing codes and guidance. We will seek solutions that enhance users' safety and preserve their privacy. Where there are tensions between privacy and safety objectives, we will provide clarity on how compliance can be achieved with both regimes; and

  • promote compliance by setting clear expectations for industry on what they must do to meet both their online safety and data protection requirements. That includes particular support through the transition for small and emerging firms to help them thrive and grow. We will take action against services that don't meet their obligations, sharing information and intelligence as appropriate and coordinating approaches to enforcement.

 

 

Offsite Article: The Online Safety Bill will make life harder for victims...


Link Here 22nd November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The chilling effect of this new legislation will be violation of privacy and infringement of free speech online. By Monica Horten

See article from newstatesman.com

 

 

Rework to the Online Censorship Bill...

The Government is discussing reworking the free speech curtailing censorship of 'legal but harmful' content into something more optional for adults


Link Here 20th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The Telegraph is reporting on significant changes being considered by the government to its Online Censorship Bill.

The government is considering backing off from the government defined censorship of 'legal but harmful' content on most websites available in the UK. The government has rightfully been taking stick for these free speech curtailing measures, particularly as the censorship is expected to be implemented mostly by mostly woke US internet giants who clearly don't care about free speech, and will over censor to ensure that they don't get caught up in the expense of getting it wrong by under censoring.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan is said to be considering the option for adults to be able to self censor 'legal but harmful' content by clicking a filter button that will order websites to block such content. Of course children will not be able to opt out of that choice. And of course this will men that age and identity verification has to be in place to esnsure that only adults can opt out.

A Culture Department spokesman said:

The Secretary of State has committed to strengthen protections for free speech and children in the Online Safety Bill and bring the bill back to the Commons as soon as possible. It remains the Government's intention to pass the bill this session.

 

 

Offsite Article: Reimagining the Online Safety Bill...


Link Here13th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Graham Smith suggests a few ideas to pare back the unviable monstrosity that currently exists

See article from cyberleagle.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Now private messages can land you in prison...


Link Here 5th November 2022
Full story: Insulting UK Law...UK proesecutions of jokes and insults on social media
The jailing of two police officers for offensive WhatsApp messages sets a terrifying precedent. By Andrew Tettenborn

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Legal but harmful bill...

Government signals that it will delete the censorship of 'legal but harmful' content for adults chapter from the Online Censorship Bill


Link Here2nd November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The Online Censorship Bill is due to be brought back to Parliament later this month when  Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan will present an amended version of the Online Safety Bill to MPs.

It is reported that controversial 'legal but harmful rules' are set to be watered down. She is scrapping sweeping legal but harmful rules which required social media companies to address content that is not illegal but is deemed dangerous.

The rules would have meant social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, were responsible for dealing with this content for both adults and children. But, amid criticism that it would have led to a widespread attack on freedom of speech by companies hoping to avoid hefty fines, it seems that the new laws will only apply to material targeted at children.

 

 

Pause for breath...

The Government pauses the Online Censorship Bill to give the new government a chance to consider its business suffocating mountain of red tape and its curtailment of free speech


Link Here27th October 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
PoliticsHome spotted the change to the House of Commons schedule last night, reporting that the Online Censorship Bill had been dropped from the Commons business next week.

A source in the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told TechCrunch that the latest delay to the bill's parliamentary timetable is to allow time for MPs to read new amendments -- which they also confirmed are yet to be laid.

But they suggested the delay will not affect the passage of the bill, saying it will progress within the next few weeks.

The change of PM may not mean major differences in policy approach in the arena of online regulation as Rishi Sunak has expressed similar concerns about the Online Safety Bill's impact on free speech -- also seemingly centred on clauses pertaining to restrictions on the legal but harmful speech of adults.

 

 

Offsite Article: Online Censorship...


Link Here27th October 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Parliament debates in Westminster Hall that 'this House has considered online harms'

See article from theyworkforyou.com

 

 

Harming British industry...

UK's internet censor threatens that the few adult video sharing websites that are stupid enough to be based in Britain should introduce onerous age verification


Link Here21st October 2022
Full story: Ofcom Video Sharing Censors...Video on Demand and video sharing

UK adult sites not doing enough to protect children

Smaller adult video-sharing sites based in the UK do not have sufficiently robust access control measures in place to stop children accessing pornography, Ofcom has found in a new report.

Ahead of our future duties in the Online Safety Bill, Ofcom already has some powers to regulate video-sharing platforms (VSPs) established in the UK, which are required by law to take measures to protect people using their sites and apps from harmful videos.

Nineteen companies have notified us that they fall within our jurisdiction. They include TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch, Vimeo, OnlyFans and BitChute; as well as several smaller platforms, including adult sites.

Ofcom is concerned that smaller UK-based adult sites do not have robust measures in place to prevent children accessing pornography. They all have age verification measures in place when users sign up to post content. However, users can generally access adult content just by self-declaring that they are over 18.

One smaller adult platform told us that it had considered implementing age verification, but had decided not to as it would reduce the profitability of the business.

However, the largest UK-based site with adult content, OnlyFans, has responded to regulation by adopting age verification for all new UK subscribers, using third-party tools provided by Yoti and Ondato.

According to new research we have published today, most people (81%) do not mind proving their age online in general, with a majority (78%) expecting to have to do so for certain online activities. A similar proportion (80%) feel internet users should be required to verify their age when accessing pornography online, especially on dedicated adult sites.

Over the next year, adult sites that we already regulate must have in place a clear roadmap to implementing robust age verification measures. If they don't, they could face enforcement action. Under future online safety laws, Ofcom will have broader powers to ensure that many more services are protecting children from adult content. Some progress protecting users, but more to be done

We have seen some companies make positive changes more broadly to protect users from harmful content online, including as a direct result of being regulated under the existing laws. For example:

TikTok now categorises content that may be unsuitable for younger users, to prevent them from viewing it. It has also established an Online Safety Oversight Committee, which provides executive oversight of content and safety compliance specifically within the UK and EU.

Snapchat recently launched a parental control feature, Family Center, which allows parents and guardians to view a list of their child's conversations without seeing the content of the message.

Vimeo now allows only material rated all audiences to be visible to users without an account. Content rated mature or unrated is now automatically put behind the login screen.

BitChute has updated its terms and conditions and increased the number of people overseeing and -- if necessary -- removing content.

However, it is clear that many platforms are not sufficiently equipped, prepared and resourced for regulation. We have recently opened a formal investigation into one firm, Tapnet Ltd -- which operates adult site RevealMe -- in relation to its response to our information request.

We also found that companies are not prioritising risk assessments of their platforms, which we consider fundamental to proactively identifying and mitigating risks to users. This will be a requirement on all regulated services under future online safety laws.

Over the next twelve months, we expect companies to set and enforce effective terms and conditions for their users, and quickly remove or restrict harmful content when they become aware of it. We will review the tools provided by platforms to their users for controlling their experience, and expect them to set out clear plans for protecting children from the most harmful online content, including pornography.

 

 

Offsite Article: How the EU's revised internet TV law affects the UK...


Link Here 21st October 2022
Full story: ATVOD Censorship on Demand...ATVOD appointed as internet TV censors
The EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive: Obligations on Providers and Incoming Reform. By Burges Salmon LLP

See article from lexology.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Coroner has a coronary...


Link Here18th October 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Coronor in Molly Russell case claims that social media should be split into adult and child sections

See article from theregister.com


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