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31st January   

Update: Rights Abusers to Pay Compensation...

European Court orders Turkey to compensate journalists
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Turkey...Not so free press

European court buildingsThe European Court of Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay a total of over 40,000 Euros to 20 Turkish journalists as compensation for having violated their rights.

In two separate cases, the Court ruled on 26 January that Turkey had violated freedom of speech laws when it suspended five newspapers and sentenced a magazine editor to prison over an article criticizing prison brutality.

Welcoming the judgment, IPI Board Member Ferai Tinc, Chairperson of the IPI Turkish National Committee, said: We would like that the law that allows [such press freedom violations] be abolished. We would like the canceling of prison sentences in cases concerning the media. No one can be imprisoned for what he has written.

In the first case, the five newspapers concerned are Gndem, Yedinci Gn, Haftaya Bak, Yaamda Demokrasi and Gerçek Demokrasi. Between 9 October and 15 December 2007, an Istanbul court ordered the suspension of all five newspapers for periods ranging from fifteen days to a month for violating the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Court stated that various articles in the newspapers supported the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an organisation that is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, including the European Union and the United States.

The second case was in connection with two articles published in February 2001 by the Turkish magazine Yeni Dnya çin Çaðr. The articles reportedly criticized a security operation in Turkish prisons which left 30 inmates dead. A graphic cover photo showed prisoners who had been burned or beaten.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in both cases that Turkey had violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights because the practice of banning the future publication of entire periodicals went beyond any necessary restraint and amounted to censorship.

IPI welcomes the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights, said IPI Director David Dadge. Particularly since Turkey is engaged in accession talks with the European Union, it is important that it abides by democratic standards of freedom of expression and the media.

In March 2009, IPI took its concerns about press freedom in Turkey to the European Commission in Brussels. It appealed to European Commission leaders to make press freedom a priority in ongoing membership talks with Turkey amid concern over verbal attacks on news organisations and continued legal hurdles to free expression in the country.

 

31st January   

Toadying to Political Correctness...

Oona King wants more diversity in the media
Link Here

Princess Frog Single Disc Widescreen Disney has been praised for breaking down barriers by featuring its first black princess in the film The Princess and The Frog . Oona King, who was Gordon Brown's senior policy adviser on equalities and diversity, is not satisfied, however.

You never see disabled people, the former Labour MP complained to Mandrake at a screening at the Mayfair Hotel in London. When are you going to see a Disney film with a disabled character in the lead role? Tell me that.

King is clearly on a mission in her new role as Channel 4's head of diversity. I think all of the media has a problem, she said: If you look at the members of the media's cultural network, all British broadcasters, none of us do well in terms of diversity. The people making film and TV have to really get their act together.

 

31st January   

Offsite: CBS Mancrunched...

Controversial adverts for the TV broadcast of the Super Bowl
Link Here

Mancrunch advert The public relations/marketing teams over at Mancrunch.com must be made up of some smart guys and gals. They used CBS's squeamishness over gay kissing to start a media firestorm. There's no such thing as bad publicity!

the banned Mancrunch.com ad is really not that racy. It's just two dudes watchin' the game together… until sparks fly. It's not like the ad shows any actual spit-swapping. If it's family-friendly enough to get posted on YouTube.

So why is CBS refusing to show it during the Superbowl?

Offsite: Two guys kissing set to steal the Super Bowl show

31st January 2010. See article from independent.co.uk by Guy Adams

Women's groups and gay activists are squaring up against opponents from the family values lobby over the contents of two very different television adverts that are due to air when the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts in next Sunday's finale of the American football season. One of the commercials carries a hard-hitting anti-abortion message, and was made by a conservative Christian organisation. The other couldn't be more different: it publicises a gay dating website called Mancrunch, and features two men holding hands on a sofa, and then passionately kissing.

Their existence immediately sparked predictable outrage from both ends of the political spectrum. Now this year's Super Bowl broadcaster, CBS, is being bombarded with calls to keep either or both of them from the airwaves.

...Read full article

 

31st January   

Petition: The Libel Reform Campaign...

England's libel laws are unjust and against the public interest
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Libel Reform Campaign logo Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.

The law is so biased towards claimants and so hostile to writers that London has become known as the libel capital of the world. The rich and powerful bring cases to London on the flimsiest grounds (libel tourism), because they know that 90% of cases are won by claimants. Libel laws intended to protect individual reputation are being exploited to suppress fair comment and criticism.

The cost of a libel trial is often in excess of £1 million and 140 times more expensive than libel cases in mainland Europe; publishers (and individual journalists, authors, academics, performers and blog-writers) cannot risk such extortionate costs, which means that they are forced to back down, withdraw and apologise for material they believe is true, fair and important to the public.

The English PEN/Index on Censorship report has shown that there is an urgent need to amend the law to provide a stronger, wider and more accessible public interest defence. Sense About Science has shown that the threat of libel action leads to self-censorship in scientific and medical writing.

We the undersigned, in England and beyond, urge politicians to support a bill for major reforms of the English libel laws now, in the interests of fairness, the public interest and free speech.

Sign petition at libelreform.org

 

31st January   

Bad Taste...

Campaign against Dead Bay Jokes group on Facebook
Link Here

Facebook logoA mother in Wrexham says she has been subjected to online abuse after campaigning against Dead Baby Jokes, a group which is putting jokes about dead babies on a social networking site.

Vicki Archer, who lost a baby through a miscarriage five years ago, was so sickened she set up her own protest Facebook group, Ban the group "DEAD BABY JOKES", which attracted 600 members.

But now her group has itself been inundated with dead baby jokes and pictures. She told the Leader: I was removed as administrator and now the group has been over-run by dead baby jokes. It's made me ill and I really wish something could be done. I'm even getting horrible inbox messages on Facebook off these sick people. I'm at the end of my tether and really don't know where to turn for help.

The online version of the Leader's story about Vicki has attracted a large number of comments from readers. But while many are against the group, a significant number say its removal would amount to a breach of free speech. And our question Should Facebook remove the dead baby jokes group? has so far seen a majority saying no .

Last week, North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham branded the group as sick and disgusting and pledged to raise the matter directly with Ofcom, the communications industry watchdog. She has now done this but said: I spoke to Rhodri Williams of Ofcom. It's his firm opinion that this is a matter for Facebook and that they should be contacted and told about the group.

 

31st January   

Updated: Court Trumps Religious Censors...

Malaysian court unbans book bout challenges facing muslim women
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia bans islamic books

Muslim challenge Islamic fundamentalism extremism Free speech advocates have been rejoicing after a Malaysian court quashed a government ban on a book about the challenges facing Muslim women.

We were hoping, we were praying that this would mark a good day for all Malaysians, said Professor Norani Othman, the editor of the banned book, Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism , a collection of essays by international scholars. It's a good day for academic freedom.

In July 2008, the Ministry of Home Affairs banned the book, published in 2005 by Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian nongovernmental organization, on the grounds that it was prejudicial to public order and that it could confuse Muslims, particularly Muslim women.

Sisters in Islam filed a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court in December 2008 on the basis that the ban was unconstitutional because it infringed upon freedom of speech and religion and gender equality.

Justice Mohamad Ariff Yusof said that he had failed to find that the facts of the case supported the decision to ban the book on the grounds that it could disrupt public order: There are just seven pages of text which are objected to out of 215 pages in the book, he said. The book itself was in circulation for over two years in Malaysia before the minister decided to ban it.

He ordered the government to pay court costs incurred by Sisters in Islam.

Noor Hisham Ismail, the senior federal counsel who represented the ministry, said he could not yet say whether the government would appeal the decision.

Professor Norani, the book's editor and a sociologist at the National University of Malaysia, said she was overjoyed by the decision and hoped that it would encourage others to produce books that questioned the politicization of Islam.

Update: 'Obvious Errors'

31st January 2010. Based on article from malaysiakini.com

Muslims have been advised to stay away from book, Muslim Women and The Challenge of Islamic Extremism . It can create doubt and disharmony among the people in the country, according to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM).

Its director general, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz Wan Mohamad said the contents of the book contravened the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Guidelines issued by Jakim in 1996.

Several obvious errors were found (in the book), he said in a statement today. He said among others, the book stated that Islamic family laws and Syariah criminal laws were promoting prejudice and discrimination against women.

The book also questioned the fatwa institution and the ban on non-Islamic scholars from discussing Islamic issues. It also promoted the re-interpretation of the verses in the Quran, especially those on gender bias, he said.

 

30th January   

The Only Ones Being Sexualised are the Nutters...

Scottish report finds few sexualising images in stores
Link Here

The Scottish ParliamentAny crackdown on sexual imagery in goods aimed at children would be fraught with difficulties , a new Holyrood report has found. The study also said that relatively few goods of this nature were aimed at children in stores. 

Holyrood's equal opportunities committee commissioned independent research after hearing in evidence sessions that items such as high-heeled slip-on shoes were available for babies and underwear items for girls had sexual slogans printed on them.

Attention was also drawn to Bratz dolls, which were condemned by the NSPCC as increasing the sexualisation of children.

The report, which has not yet been passed by the committee, said: The attempt to control the production and distribution of sexualised goods, or at least control children's access to them, is likely to be fraught with difficulties, not least in terms of how we define what is to be regulated in the first place. While it did not discourage any attempt to impose controls, it said it could be costly and have counterproductive consequences .

Many of the stores surveyed for the report, such as Tesco, Littlewoods, Debenhams, D2 Jeans and Marks & Spencer did not sell any goods with sexual imagery aimed at children.

However, Sandra White MSP, who had sat on the committee, did not accept the report's assertions. She said: This sounds like a cop-out, and I would hope the committee would reject this part of the report. I don't see how it would be difficult to control. We've just banned cigarette machines and advertising, so why can't we look at legislating (to protect] young people from sexual imagery?

Ed Mayo, co-author of Consumer Kids, a critical study of children's marketing, who gave evidence to the committee, agreed with Ms White: It's a wonderful piece of academic research, but what it doesn't do is come off the fence. We know children are exposed to sexual material more than before, but what it's difficult to work out through this study is where the responsibility lies. There's no one group that is responsible for pushing too much too young to children. Everybody is. It's a good overview, but it leaves a question mark as to what schools can do, what parents can do and what the Scottish Government can do to act on this.

The study was led by Professor David Buckingham, from the Institute of Education at London University.

 

30th January   

Update: BEREC...

European-wide telecoms regulator starts up
Link Here  full story: BEREC...European wide telecoms regulator

EU flagOfcom has welcomed the formation of a new organisation to shape, coordinate and influence European telecoms regulation.

Called the Body of European Regulations in Electronic Communications (BEREC), it is made up of 27 regulators from the European Union member states. It meets for the first time today in Brussels to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairmen, who will serve a 12 month term. BEREC replaces the European Regulators' Group, with beefed-up powers formalised under European legislation, but remains very clearly a body of independent national regulators.

The formation of BEREC is a major step forward and will improve the consistency and quality of regulation across the EU. BEREC establishes authority in the group of national regulators, working together to the common goal of serving the interests of consumers and the communications sector as a whole, said Ed Richards, Ofcom's Chief Executive.

BEREC also has an important responsibility to act as an authoritative and independent adviser to the Commission and the European Parliament on regulatory matters.

See article from ec.europa.eu

The first meetings of the Board of Regulators of BEREC and the Management Committee of the Office were held in Brussels on 28 January 2010. The 27 heads of the NRAs laid down the cornerstone for the institutional structure that will deliver the results that the legislators intended. They also discussed ways to ensure that the both BEREC and the Office will be operational as soon as possible to respond to the needs of the single market.

Although, the increased participation of BEREC in the new Article 7 procedure and the possibility to give opinions on cross-border disputes will need to wait until May 2011, the date for the transposition of the new framework to be completed, BEREC is able to carry out many tasks without the need to wait so long. BEREC is already able to:

  • disseminate best practice, assist NRAs, advise the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, and assist the institutions and the NRAs in their relations with third parties
  • deliver opinions on draft recommendations and/or guidelines on the form, content and level of detail to be given in notifications, in accordance with Article 7b of Directive 2002/21/EC (Framework Directive)
  • be consulted on draft recommendations on relevant product and service markets, in accordance with Article 15 of the Framework Directive
  • deliver opinions on draft decisions on the identification of transnational markets, in accordance with Article 15 of the Framework Directive
  • be consulted on draft measures relating to effective access to the emergency call number 112
  • be consulted on draft measures relating to the effective implementation of the 116 numbering range
  • deliver opinions on draft decisions and recommendations on harmonisation, in accordance with Article 19 of the Framework Directive
  • deliver opinions aiming to ensure the development of common rules and requirements for providers of cross-border business services
  • provide assistance to NRAs on issues relating to fraud or the misuse of numbering resources within the Community in particular for cross-border services
  • monitor and report on the electronic communications sector
  • issue reports and provide advice and deliver opinions to the European Parliament and the Council, on any matter regarding electronic communications within its competence.

 

30th January   

Internet Stasi...

Petition against state internet censorship in Poland
Link Here

Poland flagAround 80,000 have signed a letter to President Lech Kaczynski, asking him to veto a bill which would restrict internet freedoms in Poland.

Head of the Presidential Chancellery, Wladyslaw Stasiak, will meet on Friday with leaders of the movement opposing the bill on internet censorship. The protesters include academics, NGOs, businesspeople, bloggers and journalists.

The bill, drawn up last November, stipulates that all Internet providers would be obliged to block websites with dangerous content. The black list of sites would be managed by the Office of Electronic Communications, the police, intelligence agencies and the Finance Ministry.

Government filtering the Internet can be compared to gagging citizens even before they start to speak. It's something that even George Orwell could not predict in his famous novel, 1984 , says the protest letter to the President.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose cabinet came up with the controversial bill, said he wants to talk with the protesters next week.

 

30th January   

Update: Fitna Repeats...

Wilders to show Fitna in the House of Lords
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

House of Lords logoDutch MP Geert Wilders will travel to London on March 5 to show his short video compilation Fitna at the invitation of two members of the British upper house of parliament, the House of Lords.

Last February Wilders was refused entry to Britain to screen his film because the government said his presence would be a threat to public order.

But in October, a British immigration tribunal ruled Wilders should not have been refused entry.

 

30th January   

Boar Gore...

BBFC get their teeth into Chaw
Link Here

Chaw DVD Jeong Yu mi Chaw is a 2009 South Korea horror by Jeong-won Shin

The BBFC cut the 2010 Optimum DVD by 8s: Cuts were made to remove sight of unsimulated cruelty to animals (a boar being chased and attacked by dogs; a live deer strung up and struggling on a frame; a live eel being cooked).

 

30th January   

Update: Nazis at Ofcom...

Jon Gaunt wins appeal against Ofcom over Nazi accusation
Link Here

Jon GauntShock jock Jon Gaunt, who was sacked after calling a councillor a Nazi live on air, has won permission to bring a High Court challenge against the media watchdog, Ofcom.

Gaunt - known as Gaunty - lost his job with Talksport in November 2008 following the exchange, which involved a discussion about Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

The presenter, who was in care as a child, was sacked after calling councillor Michael Stark a Nazi and an ignorant pig live on air, and prompted several complaints from listeners.

When Ofcom upheld the complaints under the broadcasting code of practice, Gaunt launched an appeal, claiming his fundamental right to free speech and to criticise a professional politician had been infringed.

At a hearing at the High Court, the presenter was granted permission to bring an appeal against Ofcom. He said: The right of every British citizen to speak his or her mind, free of the fear of sanction from faceless government-appointed bureaucrats is a right that we must all protect and preserve.

Ofcom overstepped its remit in my case, and infringed the free speech which I, and every other British citizen, has enjoyed since the time of Magna Carta.

Gaunt is being supported by the civil rights group Liberty, whose director, Shami Chakrabarti, he once labelled Britain's most dangerous woman.

 

30th January   

Fashion Police...

Advert censor whinges at Fly53 fashion advert
Link Here

Banned Fly53 advert An ad for the fashion brand Fly53, which appeared in NME magazine, showed one man holding a gun against the head of a second man, who seemed to be seated. The man holding the gun had one hand held tightly against the throat of the other man, who had closed eyes and clenched teeth. The men seemed to be in a dark room. The bottom of the ad contained a list of words in small text: CONFESSION REVIVAL RETRIBUTION TORMENT ATONEMENT DIVINITY ; the word CONFESSION was highlighted. Below that, small text stated FLY53 OUTFITTERS FOR THE RESISTANCE CONCEIVED DESIGNED AND BORN INTO THE WORLD TO PROTECT AND SERVE THE 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE .

A complainant thought the ad's depiction of gun crime was offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable for display in a music magazine, because it glamorised violence.

Fly53 said the ad campaign was based on the fictitious House of Fly53 , which consumers could explore on their website. Each room in the house had a theme - Confession, Revival, Retribution, Torment, Atonement and Divinity - and was intended to show people in a state of heightened senses, with blurred boundaries between the real and surreal. The ad was based on the Confession room. Fly53 explained that to be fully accepted into the house, visitors must first confess their fashion crimes. They could then move through the house to the final room where they reached Atonement in the world of Fly53. The house was supposed to have a fantastical and cinematic feel and was not intended to be realistic.

Fly53 believed displaying the image out of the context of the House of Fly53 might have taken away the essence and story of the house, leading to the misinterpretation that the ad glamorised violence. They apologised for any offence caused and stated that, as a result of the complaint, they had withdrawn the image from advertising in print media.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA considered the way in which one man was holding a gun to the head of another, with his hand held tightly against the other man's throat, was aggressive and threatening. The seated man, who had closed eyes and clenched teeth, seemed to be frightened and suffering, and the darkness of the room in which the two men were depicted contributed to the menacing atmosphere. We disagreed that the violence depicted would be seen as cartoon-like and considered that it seemed realistic. Although the image resembled a scene from a film, we noted the ad was for a clothing brand and not, for example, a film with violent scenes, which made it more likely that its portrayal of violence would be seen as gratuitous. We considered the small text FLY53 OUTFITTERS FOR THE RESISTANCE CONCEIVED DESIGNED AND BORN INTO THE WORLD TO PROTECT AND SERVE THE 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE was incongruous when juxtaposed with an image of violence, and could be seen as glamorising it. We were of the view that any attempts to link the ad's image more closely with the House of Fly53 would not necessarily have made it any less problematic.

We considered that the ad's depiction of gun crime was likely to be seen as glamorising and condoning real violence. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and was irresponsible and unsuitable for display in a music magazine.

 

27th January   

Vulgarian...

Billy Connolly speaks of the censorship of comedians
Link Here

Billy Connolly Live Greatest Hits Billy Connolly has spoken out against censorship, complaining that comedians who swear on stage are unfairly branded vulgarian and foul mouthed .

The star, who is currently performing a string of stand-up dates at London's Hammersmith Apollo, said comedy was not about causing offence to people: I don't offend, that's not my job. My job is to make people laugh . There's a lot of deep and desperate unfairness been going on.

Speaking at Tuesday's South Bank Awards, he said: I think it was (US comedian) George Carlin who said, 'the job of a comedian is to know where the line is and to step over it'.

We will dictate where that line is and where it should be. If you swear in a book, you're some kind of clever guy, if you swear in a poem, oh how dangerous he is, you swear in a song - oh my God, what a groundbreaker!

You swear as a comedian, and you're a vulgarian and foul mouthed.

When did this happen? Who's doing the judging?

 

27th January   

Updated: Day Time Porn to be Banned...

Berlusconi censorship proposals targeted at Murdoch's revenue
Link Here  full story: Sky Control...Berlusconi targets competing broadcasters

Hot ClubItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has proposed new media rules would forbid the sale of pay-per-view pornography and other adult programming during daylight hours, a measure that would hurt revenue at News Corp.'s Sky Italia.

Rupert Murdoch's Italian satellite unit is the country's largest pay-television service and has five pay-per-view channels with adult content during the day and 22 at night. Sky Italia had 45 million euros ($63 million) in sales from porn programming, half of all pay-per-view revenue, according to a report in October in L'Espresso magazine.

Berlusconi is the country's biggest media owner and controls Mediaset, the largest private TV broadcaster and a Sky Italia competitor.

This rule goes against personal freedom, Marco Crispino, chief executive officer of pay-per-view sports and porn broadcaster Conto TV, said in an interview. The Cascina, Italy-based company's porn channel is going rather well, but if they block transmission it would hurt us economically. We made investments, bought broadcast rights, Crispino said.

Undersecretary of Communications Paolo Romani promised to change the regulations, Luca Barbareschi, a lawmaker in Berlusconi's People of Liberty party, said late yesterday in an interview: They need to be changed because they are a folly, Barbareschi, who is also a film star, said. We can't make rules that favor just one person, he said, referring to Berlusconi.

The regulations would lower the number of advertising minutes per hour allowed on pay-TV channels to 12 from 18 by 2012, while Mediaset's free-to-air broadcast channels will be able to increase advertising minutes to 12 from 6 per hour. That would also limit revenue at Sky Italia.

Update: Media regulator criticises censorship bill

27th January 2010. Based on article from google.com

An Italian government decree seeking to regulate video content on television and the Internet drew criticism from the head of Italy's telecommunications regulator, media reports said.

The new regulations, set for approval on February 5, would require satellite TV channels to obscure pornographic content during daytime and may require websites hosting video to seek a licence from the communication ministry.

The pre-emptive authorisation (of web video) ends up being a bureaucratic filter, said Corrado Calabro, head of the telecommunications authority.

The new rules have already incensed opposition and telecoms industry figures.

Former communications minister Paolo Gentiloni, an opposition politician, called it a real scandal, peppered with gifts to Mediaset , the television group owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, by hobbling suppliers of alternative entertainment at a time when Mediaset's audiences are shrinking.

Google, owner of YouTube, has expressed concern over the decree, saying it amounts to censorship and would subject the video-sharing website to the same responsibilities as a television network newscast.

 

27th January   

Update: Classified as Backward...

Chinese censors will continue to insist that all films are suitable for kids
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids

SARFT logoA movie rating system cannot be implemented at the present time, a Chinese official has said.

Zang Zengxiang, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of radio, film and television, said the bureau has been researching the feasibility of a movie rating system for several years. He said the research proved clearly that Beijing couldn't carry out a movie rating system for many reasons but he didn't explain any of them.

Audiences in the capital have grown used to spending their money on censored movies. All domestic and foreign movies must be censored in order to receive public viewing licenses from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Movies that show numerous sexual or violent scenes undergo large-scale deletions, an act that has been fiercely criticized as producing emasculated stories by some film industry insiders.

The fruitless struggle against censorship  started in 2003 with the first movie rating proposal by Wang Xingdong, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Li Yu, director of the Berlin Film Festival's nominated film Apple , which went through censorship a total of five times for its sex scenes, told METRO she never believed a rating system could be implemented under the current cultural and economical environment: We refer to censorship as an 'iron' rule, meaning that no one can move or dodge it . She added that the absence of a rating system took away the adult audience's right to watch adult scenes, and made it impossible to prevent younger moviegoers from seeing films with violence and sexual content.

 

27th January   

Diary: Music Freedom Day...

Music censorship and freedom of expression
Link Here

Music Freedom Day logoMusic Freedom Day
3rd March 2010

The annual Music Freedom Day has grown into a truly global event which inspires increasing numbers of musicians and concert organisers to join.

Mumbai, Cairo, Amman, The Hague, Paris and New York are some of the cities planning to organize Music Freedom Day events in 2010 — a day that will see the release of the Freemuse CD Listen to the banned .

Several national broadcasting stations in – among others – Germany, Norway and Sweden will produce and present special programmes on music censorship and freedom of expression, and in the Hague in Holland the day is observed with an event which will run over two days, organised by MusicForce.org.

The Dutch Human Rights Ambassador, Mr. Arjan Hamburger, will attend the opening event in Holland, which focuses on rap and hip-hop culture.

Seminar in Jordan In Amman, the capital of Jordan, plans are underway to organise a seminar focusing on the situation for alternative music. In India one of Mumbai's international music clubs plans to present Pakistani music to mark the day, and in New York, the Impossible music series plans to run a Freemuse CD launch party.

Why Music Freedom Day?

Death threats to musicians in north-west Pakistan, imprisonment of musicians in Burma, Cameroon, and Syria, radio airplay restrictions on music in Somalia, endless court cases in Turkey... You could very well get the impression that musicians are an endangered species.

Radio reports Which is why Freemuse invites you to take part in the event as well. The Music Freedom Day is an opportunity to take a thorough look at the subject – in many languages, cultures, countries and points of view. This website features several original radio interviews and radio reports which are offered to radio stations in broadcast quality, free of charge.

 

27th January   

An Image of a Nasty State...

Photographer charged with defamation of Uzbekistan
Link Here

Umida Ahmedova photo The International Association of Art Critics (AICA) has launched a campaign in support of Uzbek photographer Umida Ahmedova, who has been charged by the government with defamation, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The Paris-based art organization has published an appeal to Uzbek authorities to acquit Ahmedova. The appeal is signed by nearly 1,000 artists, art critics, journalists, and rights activists from around the world.

The AICA appeal calls on the Uzbek government to dismiss the charges against Ahmedova on the grounds that art is not journalism and cannot be viewed as an agent of defamation.

The AICA said it is attempting to draw the attention of the international community and rights organizations to Ahmedova's case. It says that if Ahmedova's case is not stopped, any photo taken on the Uzbek streets could become a pretext for legal charges.

Ahmedova was arrested on December 16 and charged with defamation and damaging Uzbekistan's image with a series of photos and videos she took in remote villages that she used for the documentaries The Burden Of Virginity and Customs Of Men And Women. The films focus on poverty and gender inequality in Uzbekistan.

 

27th January   

Offsite: Kickabout with a Hot Potato...

Controversial adverts for the TV broadcast of the Super Bowl
Link Here

Super Bowl 2010 logoIt's the biggest day of the year for US advertising with companies spending between $2.5m and $2.8m to ensure their product is seen by the widest possible audience, but this year's Super Bowl Sunday threatens to be overshadowed by controversy over one of the 30-second slots.

The advert in question? A commercial on behalf of the evangelical Christian organisation Focus on the Family, featuring the University of Florida's star quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam, which is expected to focus on her decision to ignore medical advice to have an abortion.

The almost $3m advert, which Focus on the Family says was paid for by donations, contravenes a network policy regarding the type of ads shown during the Super Bowl. Several online petitions have called on CBS to pull the ad and 2,288 people joined a Facebook group pointing out the hypocrisy by saying: Tell CBS Reject The Focus On The Family Ad Or Accept The UCC's! UCC refers to the United Church of Christ.

...Read full article

 

26th January   

Update: The Great Australian Internet Blackout...

Australian websites publicise the proposed censorship of the internet
Link Here

Australian blackout campaign Hundreds of websites have joined an Australia Day internet blackout to protest against the Government's web censorship agenda, but even the internet industry body believes it will do little to lessen the Government's resolve.

The Greens, Democrats and ISP iiNet are among the organisations that pledged to fade their websites to black today and provide visitors with information about the Government's censorship plans. The blackout is expected to last until Friday.

The blackout was the brainchild of web activist Jeff Waugh and is being supported by online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA).

Some of the websites taking part in the blackout are listed on internetblackout.com.au. The list includes a diverse selection of mostly smaller websites, ranging from personal web pages to media sites such as newmatilda.com and overclockers.com.au.

But Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, said it would take 200,000 people protesting in the streets in every major capital city for the Government to pay attention. Coroneos last week met senior bureaucrats from the Department of Broadband, who stressed to him that the Government was pushing ahead with plans to implement its internet filter legislation in the autumn session of Parliament.

I think the Government's fairly intent on their course of action to legislate filtering - I think that's almost beyond doubt, he said.

 

26th January   

India's Poor Reputation...

India to complain about showing the life in Mumbai slums in a British TV documentary
Link Here

Grand Designs 4 Complete DVD India plans to lodge a complaint against a British TV documentary on Mumbai slums, describing it poverty porn as it portrays a very wrong image of India's commercial capital and will affect its tourism.

The Indian High Commission in the UK will lodge a complaint with the British TC censor Ofcom about the content of Channel 4's' two-part documentary, Grand Designs on Dharavi Slums in Mumbai showing children living among open sewers, dead rats and toxic wastes.

According to an official, the High Commission in London granted a filming permit to Kevin McCloud, the TV presenter of the channel in the belief that he was making a programme highlighting Mumbai's architectural history.

We thought it would be about the architecture of Mumbai but it was only about slums. He was showing dirty sewage and dead rats, children playing among rubbish and people living in these small rooms.bHe never talked about architecture at all, the official said.

Describing it as poverty porn , the official said we are upset. Many people know India but for people who don't travel, they will think all of India is like this. Of course it will affect our tourism. It is not representative at all.

Channel4 and the production company, Talkback Thames, said: Kevin McCloud follows everyday life in Dharavi and the film is a balanced and insightful account of his experience there.

 

26th January   

Update: An Orgy of Whingeing...

Whinges about Big Brother reminisces about group sex
Link Here

Celebrity Big Brother 2010Viewers have been whingeing about Celebrity Big Brother after housemates talked about orgies and fivesomes before 9pm.

Nicola T, Dane Bowers, Alex Reid and Basshunter were playing a drinking game called I have never and Nicola T started it off saying I have never masturbated in the Big Brother house

Katie Price's boyfriend Alex Reid then confessed to having had a five-some, although he admitted that he doesn't remember the experience. Dane told of a six-in-a-bed romp.

Media watchdog Ofcom received several complaints about the inappropriate content of the reality TV show.

Campaign group Mediawatch called the scenes inappropriate .

 

26th January   

The Case of the Crescented Swastika...

Minnesota trial about free speech and insulting cartoons
Link Here

Minnesota state sealSetting the stage for a showdown over free speech rights, a Minnesota resident  plans to fight St. Cloud officials' decision to fine him for posting offensive anti-Muslim cartoons last month.

The city attorney's office last week cited Sidney Allen Elyea with violating a city ordinance that prohibits posting written materials on utility poles.

Elyea has admitted posting the cartoons, telling police he did so to 'educate' city residents about Islam, said his attorney, Ryan Garry. The cartoons depicted images such as Mohammed engaged in bestiality and sodomy, as well as an Islamic crescent with a swastika inside it. They were posted in front of a mosque and a Somali-owned store.

The city's complaint states that the cartoons were placed in high-pedestrian traffic areas and were placed to target local Muslim citizens. The posters were designed to harass, and they had that effect.

Although some local residents pushed for Elyea to face criminal charges, prosecutors in Stearns and Benton counties declined to do so, saying the cartoons had to be considered free speech.

Garry agreed with Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall's description of the case as classic First Amendment issue. Garry said the city's ordinance is overly broad, too vague and amounts to discriminatory enforcement.

In an e-mail, Garry wrote, the government is not punishing my client for posting a piece of paper to a telephone pole, but rather punishing him for offering an opinion on a religious and political issue that they disapprove of and find offensive. I am not defending the content of my client's political and religious speech. However, the government should know that I will vigorously fight this case to the end to defend his right to say it.

 

25th January   

####ing Google...

Google Nexus censors strong language in voice to text facility
Link Here

Google Nexus phoneOne of Google's Nexus One features is voice-to-text, and apparently is reasonably accurate, accurate to the point of censoring certain spoken words. Apparently if you try using a bit of foul language when voicing a text the censor replaces said swear word with ####, reports an article over on Cnet.

Apparently a group at Reuters discovered the Nexus One censor ability which stops swear words from being placed into a text. A spokesperson for Google had stated the censor is not directed at teaching anyone good manners; they just supposedly want to make sure swear words don't accidentally appear in texts.

The Nexus One no swearing censor seems to have cause somewhat of a stir on forums and the blogosphere with some believing the censorship is justified while others not so, and argue the freedom of speech line.

But do Google have the right to censor words? The problem is, who decides what words are inappropriate, as what is a swear word in one part of the world isn't necessarily a swear word somewhere else. The other question is can the censor be refined or turned off by the user as if not then the big brother line comes into play.

 

25th January   

Antique Fuddy Duddies...

18th century classic art covered up for day time TV
Link Here

BBC logoBBC nutters ordered an auction house to remove a neo-classical oil painting of a semi-naked woman in case her exposed nipple 'offended' viewers.

Auctioneer Alan Aldridge was being filmed for Flog it!, BBC2's daytime antique programme, when the production team asked him to take down the 19th-century oil painting. BBC Flog It! It features the mythical Greek goddess Ariadne holding a goblet of wine with her left breast exposed.

Aldridge, who runs Aldridge Auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire, offered to cover the offending nipple, but was still told to take the canvas down. neo-classical painting. He said: It is absolutely ridiculous. This is a 19th century neo-classical work of art. I can't imagine anyone getting offended over a naked female nipple these days.

Flog it! presenter Paul Martin, who lives in nearby Seend and used to run an antiques shop, defended the decision saying viewers would complain; Yes, they had to have the painting moved. It wasn't a big deal but they do get complaints about this sort of thing. You'd be surprised.

 

25th January   

Update: Chavez Speechless...

Venezuela closes TV stations that refuse to air the president's speeches
Link Here  full story: Broadcasting Censorship in Venezuela...Shut down of opposition radio and TV stations

RCTV logoA Venezuelan cable television channel critical of President Hugo Chavez has been taken off the air after refusing to air footage of the president's speeches.

Radio Caracas Television, an anti-Chavez channel known as RCTV disappeared from TV sets shortly after midnight after the government cited noncompliance with new regulations requiring that Chavez's speeches be televised on cable as well as terrestrial television.

RCTV was dropped from cable and satellite programming just hours after Diosdado Cabello, the director of Venezuela's state-run telecommunications agency, said several local channels carried by cable television had breached broadcasting laws and should be removed from the airwaves.

Cabello warned cable operators that they could find themselves in jeopardy if they keep showing those channels: They must comply with the law, and they cannot have a single channel that violates Venezuelan laws as part of their programming.

RCTV's removal from cable and satellite television prompted a cacophony of protests in Caracas neighborhoods as Chavez opponents leaned out apartment windows to bang on pots and pans. Others shouted epithets and drivers joined in, honking car horns.

They want to silence RCTV's voice, said Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the channel's most popular talk show host. But they won't be able to because RCTV is embedded in the hearts of all Venezuelans, he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas expressed concern about the decision. Access to information is a cornerstone of democracy and provides a foundation for global progress. By restricting yet again the Venezuelan people's access to RCTV broadcasts, the Venezuelan government continues to erode this cornerstone, Embassy spokeswoman Robin Holzhauer said.

 

24th January   

Gordon's Great Escape...

Gordon Ramsey thought he'd got away from whingeing Brits for a while
Link Here

Gordon Ramsays Great Escape Channel Gordon Ramsay has been criticised for his disrespectful treatment of Indian chefs in his latest show.

More than 100 viewers complained to Channel 4 about his behaviour on Gordon's Great Escape .

The restaurateur described an Indian guru as Father Christmas and repeatedly used obscenities when speaking to locals.

The three-part series, which aired last week, featured Ramsay visiting different parts of India to learn about traditional cooking methods.

In one scene, Ramsay  met a guru and learned how to cook vegetarian food. He made fun of the guru's beliefs, saying on the show: When I first saw him I thought he was Father Christmas. But I don't dig all the stuff about the food. I respect carrots, fine, but they're not living to keep us happy.

In another scene, he told a Keralan tree climber: You little fucker, making me look like a twat.

Channel 4 admitted it had received 116 complaints – more than double the average the network receives for his other show, The F Word .

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: Gordon is a passionate character and viewers know what to expect when watching his programmes. The series was broadcast after the watershed and each episode was preceded by a clear language warning.'

 

24th January   

Off to a T...

T-Shirts wind up Australian women's groups
Link Here

Roger David T-shirt T-shirt slogans supposedly condoning rape and featuring semi-naked and gagged women have 'outraged' Australian nutters.

An Australian website, run out of Los Angeles, allows designers to sell T-shirts with slogans such as It's not rape if you yell surprise , Rape, murder, arson … I like rape , and I want rape .

Country Life Roxy Music Menswear company Roger David has also been embroiled in the furore through two of its T-shirt labels. One T-shirt, by Los Angeles-based company Blood Is the New Black, shows a woman who appears gagged and roughed up. The other, by US brand Chaser LA, has two semi-naked women with a strip across their eyes. The image used by Chaser LA was largely copied from the 1974 Country Life album cover by British rock band Roxy Music.

The graphic T-shirts have angered women's groups, while a Facebook group called Roger David: NOT ok to promote violence against women! has more than 800 members.

Women's advocate and co-founder of the anti-exploitation group Collective Shout, Melinda Tankard Reist, says the T-shirts must be outlawed: [They are] mocking the serious crime of rape, she said. I don't think there has been any consideration of the message it sends sexual assault survivors.

They're taking messages you would normally find in pornography or the sex industry and mainstreaming them in what was once considered conservative menswear stores.  Is this how Roger David likes its women? Is this how it thinks women should be portrayed?

Chrystina Woody, a spokeswoman for Blood Is the New Black, suggested the T-shirts, as art, would spark debate. Art is meant to inspire and educate, and the meaning and interpretation is left in the hands of the viewer, she said via email.

 

24th January   

Cliched Censors...

Swedish gay awareness advert refused by Swedish newspapers
Link Here

ad refusal An advertisement featuring three partially naked women was deemed inappropriate for publication by two newspapers in southern Sweden, shocking officials at the sexual health organization who created the ad.

We are really surprised because we don't think it's controversial, Mikael Andersson of the Skone-based affiliate of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, told the advertising trade magazine Resumé.

Andersson's comments came after learning that two prominent newspapers in southern Sweden, Sydsvenskan and City, refused to run the advertisement, one of four in a campaign entitled 'Love has many faces'.

The campaign, which includes both print and television ads, was part of an effort by local branch RFSL to strengthen the identity of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people living in the region.

According to Sydsvenskan editor-in-chief Daniel Sandstrom, the fourth ad in the series, which featured three partially clothed women wrapped in a seemingly passionate embrace, was unacceptable.

I have no problem with printing provocative images ...BUT... the picture in question simply didn't meet standards of acceptability. I think rather that it reproduces a cliché-filled image of lesbian love.

 

23rd January   

Update: Video Recordings Act 2010...

VRA given Royal Assent and is back in force
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

House of Lords logoThe Video Recordings Bill was given Royal Assent as scheduled on 21st January 2010.

The law comes into force immediately.

 

23rd January   

Are You Being Served?...

BBC to consult over the portrayal of gay people
Link Here

Tangled Forward Grainger Wedding Slocombe The BBC is to ask the nation if its comedians should be allowed to tell jokes about lesbians and gays. The issue will be part of the most wideranging piece of research on sexuality that the corporation has commissioned.

Tim Davie, BBC director of audio and music, will chair a working group on the portrayal and inclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. It will examine how they are reflected in the corporation's use of language, tone, stereotyping, humour and scheduling.

The report was commissioned last August, months before the corporation received hundreds of complaints over a headline on the BBC News website relating to a debate on Ugandan government policy. It asked: Should homosexuals face execution? The corporation apologised and amended the headline.

2CV, a research group, will conduct the project for the BBC, with a report due this summer. It will even canvass parts of the community, such as religious bodies, that are seen as anti-homosexual.

Davie said: As a public service broadcaster, we have a responsibility to serve all of our audiences and it's vital that we reflect the differences among all of the UK's diverse communities, nations and regions.

Gay rights groups have long called for the BBC to include more gay characters in its output. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, which lobbies for lesbian, gay and bisexual interests, said: This is long overdue. Stonewall research into BBC output found that during 168 hours of programmes, gay lives were represented positively for just six minutes.

 

23rd January   

Acting Censor...

New US interim film censor announced
Link Here

Bob PisanoBob Pisano, the former head of the Screen Actors Guild, has been named interim chief executive of the Motion Picture Assn. of America as Dan Glickman exits his role five months sooner than expected.

The MPAA announced that Glickman was leaving April 1 to become president of Refugees International, an advocacy group that deals with refugee crises.

Our industry has been well served by Dan's efforts and advocacy worldwide, and we appreciate the job he has done on our behalf. He is a great humanitarian and will be very effective in his new role, said Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney Co.

Pisano has been the MPAA's president and chief operating officer, based in Los Angeles, since 2005. Pisano takes over as interim CEO immediately, though Glickman will remain on the job. Pisano has been mentioned as a possible permanent replacement for Glickman. The MPAA said he would serve as its interim chief while the search continues for Glickman's replacement.

 

23rd January   

Update: Not Very Christian...

Christians get nasty about Glasgow culture chief
Link Here  full story: Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art...Art exhbits wind up the anti-gay nutters

Glasgow Gallery of Modern ArtThe letters and emails come in a daily tide. Filth! they cry. Shame on you ; You are a very sick person ; The soul that sinneth shall DIE . For the past six months, the head of Glasgow's museums and art has been under siege from Christian fundamentalists, who have vowed to oust her from her job.

Dr Bridget McConnell, head of Culture and Sport Glasgow (CSG), the £100 million charity in charge of the city's culture, says she is alarmed by what she describes as a personal witch hunt against her.

It is almost like being physically abused, she said. You get knocked down by it every day and you pick yourself up, but then you come in the next morning and it happens all over again. It's attrition.

Since July, when a row broke out over an art exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) featuring homosexuality and religion in which comments were written on a Bible, Dr McConnell — whose organisation funded the exhibition — has been targeted by an organised group of protesters. Related Links

She has received up to 2,000 letters, e-mails and phone calls attacking her and objecting to the art show. There have been petitions and personal visits to her office. Her office has been routinely picketed by groups with a loud hailer, calling upon her to repent, and her staff have been harassed.

Police are known to be concerned at the targeting of Dr McConnell and on at least one occasion officers had to be called to demonstrations outside the art gallery when staff were seriously intimidated .

On a website linked to an English organisation called Christian Watch, www.csgwatch.com, the campaigners openly declare their intention is to have Dr McConnell removed from her post.

The controversy began last summer as a result of an exhibition called sh[OUT]!, which contained works by renowned artists such as David Hockney and Robert Mapplethorpe, and had as its theme the representation of gay people in art. The exhibition was part of a wider contemporary art programme on themes including violence against women and sectarianism. A secondary exhibition within sh[OUT], called Made in God's Image, invited visitors who felt excluded from the Bible, especially on the ground of sexual orientation, to record their names in its margins.

But some people recorded doodles and obscenities. The Bible was placed behind glass but the story reached the newspapers where, in Dr McConnell's view, it was distorted by parts of the media to suggest that people were being actively encouraged to deface the Bible. The story was picked up by the international media and stirred outrage around the world. The majority of people who are complaining didn't see the exhibition, but were responding to the Daily Mail story, she said.

On the website set up by Christian Watch, www.csgwatch.com, the protesters state their aim is to stop the city supporting events and programmes that insult Christ, the Bible, Christians and to have Bridget McConnell removed from her position .

 

23rd January   

Music Video Prude...

Nutter Australian MP pushes for censored music videos
Link Here

Amanda RishworthAustralian Labor MP Amanda Rishworth is urging music videos portraying women as 'sex objects' be censored and should be individually rated or banned from children's viewing hours.

She warned that without tough intervention the nation could be left with a generation of women with low self-esteem and body-image issues.

The call received support from the professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Clive Hamilton, who described the imagery in some music videos as almost pornographic.

Ms Rishworth, a psychologist, will introduce a private member's motion in Federal Parliament calling for further debate on the objectification of girls in mainstream media: There is no silver bullet - the industry does need to consider content and what ratings they are giving it. She said a rating of PG or M could give parents a guide to what was appropriate for their children.

This is not about being a prude ...BUT... about providing good role models, Ms Rishworth said. It's more than just sex, it's about the role women play in them. She said scantily clothed women in the clips were gyrating around men and giving suggestive looks . Many just looked like props for men, she said.

Prof Hamilton said there was nothing wrong with some censorship to protect the innocence of young girls: It's been clear for some years that the wall between music videos and pornography is becoming thinner.

A Senate report on sexualisation of children in the contemporary media made several recommendations in 2008, including urging broadcasters to review their classification of music videos with regard to sexual imagery.

 

23rd January   

Unsafe Research...

Hollywood films found to feature unsafe practices
Link Here

Elf DVD Will Ferrell Researchers claim that the main protagonists of Hollywood movies often undermine accident prevention advice given to children.

Half the scenes examined in movies aimed at children showed unsafe practices including not wearing seat belts, breaking the green cross code and failing to wear helmets on bikes.

The mistakes could give children a false sense of safety they claim which could lead to bad habits and encourage dangerous activity.

Dr Jon Eric Tongren, the lead researcher at America's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the industry was improving but had a long way to go: The entertainment industry has improved the depiction of selected safety practices and PG-rated movies . However, approximately one half of scenes depict unsafe practices and the consequences of these behaviours are rarely shown.

Dr Tongren picked out two examples to highlight the problem.

In the 2003 Christmas movie Elf , the main character played by actor Will Ferrell gets knocked down by a New York City taxi while crossing the street. He bounces back up without a scratch – which Dr Tongren said gave a false view of what happens.

And in the 2005 comedy Yours, Mine and Ours , about a family with 18 kids, the children are wearing life jackets during a boat trip — but not the parents played by Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo.

The two films were among 67 popular movies from 2003 to 2007 examined in the study including Harry Potter. From those movies, the researchers found 958 scenes involving potential injury-prevention practices. 55% of the scenes involved children. Twenty-two scenes involved either a fall or a crash, but just three of those scenes resulted in an injury

The study, published in the journal, Paediatrics, found 44% of people in motor vehicles failed to wear seat belts; 65% of pedestrians did not cross at zebra crossings, 75% of cyclists failed to wear a helmet and 25% of boaters failed to wear life vests.

 

23rd January   

Free to Disagree...

Government asked about their stance on the OIC Defamation of Religion UN motion
Link Here

House of Lords Questions
11th January 2010

Lord Patten asked the government what is their stance on the resolution promoted by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference before the United Nations General Assembly on the defamation of religion.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government share the concern of the Organisation of Islamic Conference that individuals around the world are victimised because of their religion or belief. We all need to do more to eliminate religious intolerance and to ensure that those who incite hatred or violence against individuals because of their religious beliefs are dealt with by the law.

But the Government cannot agree with an approach that promotes the concept of defamation of religions as a response. This approach severely risks diminishing the right to freedom of expression. We believe that international human rights law already strikes the right balance between the individual's right to express themselves freely and the need for the state to limit this right in certain circumstances. International human rights law provides that only where advocacy of religious hatred constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should it be prohibited by law.

We believe that the concept of defamation of religions puts in danger the very openness and tolerance that allows people of different faiths to co-exist and to practise their faith without fear. It risks changing the focus of international human rights law from examining how countries promote and protect the right to freedom of expression to censoring what individuals say. If this happened, people might feel unable to speak out against human rights abuses or hold their government to account. It is also inconsistent with the international human rights legal framework which exists to protect individuals and not concepts or specific belief systems.

For this reason the UK, along with our EU Partners and other like-minded countries, voted against the resolution put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Conference at the 64th session of the UN General Assembly on Combating Defamation of Religions.

 

23rd January   

Go Daddy Go...

Morality in the Media nutters have a go at GoDaddy
Link Here

GoDaddy advert In its never-ending campaign to decide what adults can see and hear, Morality in Media (MIM) is squaring off against web hosting company GoDaddy.com over its upcoming commercials for Super Bowl XLIV.

According to news reports, GoDaddy.com commercials will again appear during the Super Bowl game, which this year airs Feb. 7 on CBS at 6:30 p.m. EST, MIM President Robert Peters said in a press release.

It is no secret that GoDaddy.com loves to 'push the envelope' when it comes to the content of its ads, Peters continued, and it would appear that this year's Super Bowl ads may push as close to the indecency line as CBS network 'censors' will allow, which could be as close as CBS thinks it can get away with. Sure looks like lesbian strip performances to me.

Not content merely to fan the flames of homophobia, Peters also goes after GoDaddy.com for hosting legal adult websites.

But the content of [GoDaddy.com's] Super Bowl ads is not the only problem. GoDaddy.com also provides services to businesses that distribute over the internet, free of charge and without proof of age, hardcore adult pornography that depicts, among other things, urination, fisting (sticking a fist into the vagina), double penetration (sticking two penises into a female's anus [sic]), bondage, incest, teen sex, rape and bestiality.

But Peters isn't finished. No MIM press release is complete without an utter bastardization of the Constitution.

Now, it may be that GoDaddy.com is often not aware that a website it is providing one or more services to is offering for sale hardcore adult pornography on the internet. It may also be, depending on the nature of the service, that GoDaddy.com would have a defense under the law.

But if GoDaddy.com, knowing the hardcore nature of a website's content, provides some of its services to a site which is later charged with violating internet obscenity laws, I think GoDaddy.com could be charged with aiding and abetting (or facilitating) violations of these criminal laws.

 

23rd January   

Command and Control...

Pentagon censors soldiers' access to the internet
Link Here

DOD logoThe DoD (US Department of Defense) claims unconvincingly that the new policy is necessary to conserve bandwidth but the new policy is simply censorship effectively preventing soldiers from presenting graphic images of the war or seeing disturbing images that may upend morale.

The situation both in Iraq and in Afghanistan is a lot more involved than mainstream media can fathom. And, if it could fathom what is going on, it would not be allowed to report it for obvious reasons, as this would further undermine the morale of the Western world. Troops and their families at home used to be able to at least write emails to each other via blog spots and troops were also allowed to access certain parts of the internet. This is now no longer possible.

Active duty personnel are no longer able to post material themselves or view what has been put online. The Defense Department ban on popular Web sites — including YouTube, MySpace, and several others — will only apply to Defense Department computers and networks, not to PCs that connect to personal ISPs through the DoD network; however, in most theaters of operation, Defense Department computers are the only ones available to service personnel.

 

22nd January   

Angelic Upstarts...

Supporting the hype for Legion
Link Here

Legion Blu ray Paul Bettany In Scott Stewart's supernatural action thriller, Legion , which opens in the US on January 22, actor Paul Bettany portrays a machine-gun toting Archangel Michael who cuts off his wings and proceeds to help protect the unborn child of actress Adrianne Palicki at a remote diner on the edge of the Mojave desert on Christmas Eve.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has described the film as blasphemous, saying that it mocks the faith.

According to TFP, in the film, Michael - a rebel angel - becomes the hero in a fight against Gabriel and his hosts who are bent on destroying humanity because of God's anger.

The film presents a complete inversion of roles: instead of defeating Satan and the rebel angels in the great heavenly battle, the movie presents Saint Michael as the fallen angel who revolts against God, said TFP: Saint Michael's downfall was caused by his wish to save humanity when God, finding the human race no longer worthy of Him, decides to end humanity's existence.

TFP has called for individuals to let Sony know that they are insulted by the film.

Actor Dennis Quaid said that he liked the script because it was twisted: I don't think it is going to be on the Vatican must-see list.

Legion puts a negative spin on Christianity, said the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in a press release. ... [it] promises to be an abortion of a movie.

 

22nd January   

Update: Justified Criticism...

Hilary Clinton criticised Chinese internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Hillary Uncensored Internet Enabled President China said remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizing China's censorship of the Internet were unjustified and damaged bilateral ties.

In a speech in Washington, Clinton called on U.S. technology companies to resist censorship of the Internet and said perpetrators of cyber attacks such as those who targeted Google Inc. must face consequences. Clinton also said China's Internet controls could harm the Asian nation's development.

We are firmly opposed to these words and deeds which are against the facts and damage Sino-U.S. relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a Chinese-language statement posted on the ministry's Web site. We urge the U.S. side to respect facts and stop using the issue of so-called Internet freedom to make unjustified attacks on China.

Clinton's long-planned address on Internet freedom laid out the Obama administration's view of an uncensored global Internet where everyone has access to the same information, and governments and corporations don't block knowledge or steal intellectual property.

Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation, Clinton said. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's network can be an attack on all.

Clinton compared firewalls that governments in China, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and elsewhere have erected to keep out information to the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain that divided the West and the Soviet Union's sphere of influence during the Cold War.

Virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls, she said. With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world.

Google issued a statement praising Clinton's remarks. The company said it believes in unfettered access to information and will continue work with governments, human rights organizations and bloggers to promote free expression.

 

22nd January   

Blame Alert...

Tortuous brothers shown 'extreme' horror movies
Link Here

Shock Horror Two brothers who brutally attacked two young boys witnessed serious domestic violence against their mother and had a toxic home life , a court has heard.

The brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, attacked their victims in Edlington, South Yorkshire, last April.

Peter Kelson QC, representing the older brother said his client had been shown horror films at his home when he was as young as 10. He said the films were extremely violent and gruesome movies in the extreme .

The barrister said the boy also had access to his father's pornographic DVDs.

See article from dailymail.co.uk

One of the boys regularly watched his father's porn films before he was even ten. His other favourites included gory DVDs of the Saw series and the Chucky films, all of which feature grotesque and gratuitous violence.

 

22nd January   

Original Aboriginal...

Wound up by aboriginal ice dance costumes
Link Here

Aboriginal Ice Dancers Indigenous Australian leaders have expressed 'outrage' at an Aboriginal dance routine by Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin.

The Russian world champions perform in dark-skin bodysuits adorned with leaves and white body paint markings.

Indigenous leader Bev Manton has decried the ripping off of Aboriginal culture as offensive and disrespectful. From an Aboriginal perspective, this performance is offensive, Mrs Manton writes in an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald: Our dance, our ceremony, our image - and, importantly, how they are depicted - are sacred to Aboriginal Australians. Interest must be expressed in a way that is respectful. The ripping off of our art and songs is not, and nor is this depiction of my culture, she wrote.

 

22nd January   

Comment: eBay Censors...

The arbitrary vision of censorship on eBay
Link Here

Baise Moi DVD Region US NTSC I recently listed a DVD on ebay, which is readily available at on amazon, play.com, etc and my local HMV has it on the shelves. eBay have deemed this DVD unsuitable for sale, and have pulled my listing. The DVD in question was Baise Moi.

To quote eBay: Sexually orientated adult material is meant for people who are 18 years and older. Materials adult in nature are not permitted on eBay, as they breach laws in the United Kingdom and many other countries. Some items, though legal to sell to adults outside of eBay, are still restricted on the site.

So eBay, consider an 18 film to be illegal. A very dangerous precedent. What I do find strange is they allow DVDs of Lady Chatterley's Lover and copies of the Emmanuelle books to be listed. Again to quote eBay: Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader are prohibited. I thought both of the above were designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader. Maybe I am wrong.

Comment: eBay Censors Follow-up

21st January 2010. Thanks to Paul

Ken Park I concur with Trog having come-up against this a few times, most recently trying to sell Larry Clark's Ken Park DVD, being told it was banned in Australia and therefore my listing needed changing so Australian's couldn't bid on it (I live in the UK) plus it contained the dreaded Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader ! Crazy, considering films such as Caligula, 9 Songs , etc. etc. can be cheerfully traded on the site despite having similar levels of sexual activity.

A few years ago I tried to sell a copy of Puppetry of the Penis . Despite being rated only 15, eBay deemed this too strong and asked me to withdraw the DVD...

As an aside whilst shopping in Sainsbury's recently we used the self-scan facility. Scanning a bleach based product went through without a hitch, however we couldn't proceed with a 12 rated DVD without the intervention of an assistant to confirm we weren't children! Apparently it even requires intervention on PG rated DVDs too - despite being discretionary.

Comment: Re eBay Censors

22nd January 2010. Thanks to DarkAngel

I Spit on your Grave DVD cover I've had similar run-ins with Ebay myself, it seems they have a very strict policy against "strong adult content" which goes beyond pornography, however no one who works for them seems to know why this is.

I had a listing for I Spit on Your Grave pulled, I duly complained stating that it was a legimate release, not a bootleg, and that it was the toned down UK version which had been censored and rated 18 by the BBFC and was freely available from Amazon and ordinary high street stores like HMV and even WHSmiths and Woolworths (they were still going at the time).

They responded that the UK release still fell foul of their policies on strong adult material and the fact that it was available elsewhere made no difference to whether they were going to allow it.

I asked why they felt the need to prohibit this material, they said because they regarded it as being unsuitable to be sold by them. I pressed them as to why they regarded it as unsuitable, they said because their legal team had a list of films they considered in breach of this policy. So I asked why they felt the need to have such a policy, they said because they consider certain films unsuitable and round and round the answers went (in a scene rather reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch) until they eventually stopped replying to me.

It was just one circular reason after another, you couldn't pin them down as to why, so I could only conclude that they didn't know and the decision was down to someone higher up.

It does seem, judging by their arbitrary decision making, that the people who make up these lists of films to block don't really know which ones do and don't breach their policies as they are blissfully unaware of the many films with similar content that continue to be happily traded, until someone tips them off about it (I bought and sold numerous different uncut VHS and DVD versions of I Spit on Your Grave back when Ebay were still relatively new on the scene).

Also, they have been known to pull auctions solely based on a films title. A colleague of mine listed some films that had been released by the company "X-rated" (they're a German/Austrian cult movie label). Of course Ebay saw the words X rated in the description and duly pulled the lot thinking X rated referred to the content, as opposed to the name of the distributors.

I've said this before but back in the early days, Ebay were quite liberal with the sort of stuff you could sell on their site, as long as it wasn't porn. Now that they've cornered the market and wiped out the competition, they seem to be trying to impose their moral views on what can and cant pass through their site, which is probably why, according to the news this morning, more and more people are defecting to Amazon marketplace.

 

22nd January   

Update: Conroy's a Pain...

Internet censorship likely to result in painful deaths
Link Here

Peaceful Pill Handbook Revised International Thousands of elderly Australians who want the basic human right to have control over how they will die will suffer if the Rudd Government's proposed internet filtering law is passed later this year, says leading euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke.

Dr Nitschke said Communication Minister Stephen Conroy's controversial mandatory ISP filtering plan supposedly aimed at protecting Australians from online material such as child pornography and anorexia guides would also prevent elderly people, including those suffering from terminal illnesses, from locating vital information on painless end-of-life solutions.

Nitschke's online version of his banned book on painless suicide methods is available through his website, Exit International. The Peaceful Pill eHandbook discusses the exit bag and lethal drug options.

A spokesperson for Senator Conroy said Exit International would not be blocked if the ISP filter goes ahead. However, any material on the site providing step-by-step instruction on how to commit suicide would be banned by the National Classification Board.

 

22nd January   

Diary: Frightfest...

at the Glasgow Film Festival
Link Here

Glasgow Film Festival FrightFest
Glasgow Film Theatre
26-27th February 2010

Friday 26 February

  • Frozen (19:00)
  • 2001 Maniacs: Fields of Screams (21:30)
  • Stag Night  (23:40)

Saturday 27 February

  • A Lizard In A Woman's Skin  (14:00)
  • Amer (Bitter) (16:15)
  • [REC] 2 (19:00)
  • Splice (21:00)
  • Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (23:30)

 

22nd January   

Ultimate Internet Censorship...

Xinjiang without internet since rioting in July
Link Here

China flagThey arrive at a gritty desert crossroads weary from a 13-hour train ride but determined. The promised land lies just across the railway station plaza: a large white sign that says Easy Connection Internet Café .

The visitors are internet refugees from China's western Xinjiang region, whose 20 million people have been without links to the outside world since the government blocked virtually all online access, text messages and international phone calls after ethnic riots in July.

Authorities unplugged Xinjiang in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the ethnic rioting between the Han Chinese majority and the mainly Muslim Uighur minority that the government says left almost 200 dead.

It blamed overseas activists for the riots, saying they stirred up resentment in the Uighur community through websites and e-mails.

It's the largest and longest such blackout in the world, observers say.

Every weekend, dozens of people pile off the train in Liuyuan, a sandswept town on the ancient Silk Road that's the first train stop outside Xinjiang.

We must get online! We must! said Zhao Yan, a businesswoman from Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. She has rented the same private booth in the internet café every weekend since August in an uphill battle to keep her small trading business going.

 

22nd January   

Offsite: Sex on American TV...

It's increasingly uncut and unavoidable
Link Here

Secret Diary Call Girl 1 2 If sex sells, TV programmers are adding inventory to an already humongous sale.

Viewers are about to see full-frontal male nudity, heterosexual, homosexual and group sex, and graphic scenes rarely — if ever — seen on mainstream TV. And that's just on pay-cable Starz's fornication-heavy, 13-episode Spartacus: Blood and Sand , a 300 -meets- Caligula epic about the Roman Empire's notorious slave/gladiator.

MTV plans a June launch of The Hard Times of RJ Berger , a scripted comedy about a nerdy 15-year-old whose cool quotient heats up when his anatomical gift is accidentally exposed. And basic-cable network Spike's just-launched raunchy college-sports comedy Blue Mountain State showed a masturbating school mascot on the Jan. 12 premiere, while last night's episode featured a scene suggesting oral sex between a coed and jock before the opening credits.

...Read full article

 

21st January   

Update: Video Recordings Act 2010...

Passes 3rd Reading in the Lords and is set to become law
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

House of Lords logoThe Video Recordings Bill has received its 3rd Reading in the House of Lords on 20th January 2010.

The bill is scheduled to receive Royal Assent and come into immediate effect on 21st January.

So once again all videos and DVDs have to be vetted by state appointed censors and ludicrous restrictions, such as a ban on mail order porn, are restored.

 

21st January   

Update: Heavy Censors...

Rammstein banned from playing indexed songs at concert
Link Here  full story: Rammstein Censored...Rammstein wind up nutters and censors

Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da German rock band Rammstein is having more than a bit of difficulty with German censorship authorities over what songs they can and cannot play at a couple of upcoming concerts.

According to The Gauntlet, officials in the German Family Ministry will not permit the group to play any of the songs that had already been specifically blacklisted when they perform at Dortmund's Westphalia Hall.

In addition, the government agency is asking that each member of the group sign a written explanation before the concerts that the indexed songs are not played.

If Rammstein decides to call the ministry's bluff, they could face a fine of up to 10,000 €. In accordance with the country's Youth Protection Act, any fans under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian of a person to attend the concert. Fans without a parent or guardian in attendance will be sent home.

The concerts, part of the band's promotional tour for their album Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da, are both sold out, and organizers are expecting well over 10,000 fans to show up

 

21st January   

Update: Playing the Self Censorship Game...

China's online games industry self censors pending state censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaOnline game operators in Beijing will test a ratings system advising parents on sexual and violent content in their games, ahead of the introduction of government guidelines, state media said.

The move comes amid a massive nationwide government repression of Internet porn and violence—a campaign seen by some critics as a way for the country's censors to reinforce the Great Firewall of China against political dissent.

Over 30 operators have agreed to rate their games according to their suitability for children and adults this month. Gamers will need to provide their identification numbers in order to play, to prove they are old enough to view the content.

The Beijing Animation Game Industry Union's secretary-general, Liu Chungang, said the group's decision was a self-disciplinary, non-governmental act within the industry .

The culture ministry plans to introduce its own ratings system later this year, the newspaper said. Culture Minister Cai Wu was quoted by state media in December as saying his ministry had banned 219 Internet games for carrying lewd, pornographic and violent content.

 

20th January   

Schweinhunds...

Advert censor whinges at irate German stereotype
Link Here

Reed logoA radio ad, for a recruitment website, featured a man speaking to his boss who responded angrily and loudly in German. The voice-over said Boss a bit of a tyrant? Find your perfect boss on the UK's biggest job site ... .

Thirteen listeners believed the ad was offensive to Germans, because it used an outdated stereotype and implied all Germans were tyrants.

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) believed most listeners would regard the scenario as humorous and inoffensive and were likely to understand that the ranting boss was a tyrant, because he responded angrily to his colleague rather than in a calm way. The RACC said the character was a generic German-sounding orator , which they believed was a well established type in comedy culture, but they did not believe the mock angry conversation, when heard alongside the phrase Boss a bit of a tyrant? , implied that all Germans were tyrants. The RACC said they did not regard the German people as a minority group, as defined by the CAP (Broadcast) Radio Advertising Standards Code, or that the scenario would be seen as a stereotype likely to cause general or serious offence to German people.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the use of stereotypes was an inevitable part of establishing a character in a short radio ad, but nonetheless considered that such stereotypes should not perpetuate damaging misconceptions. We noted the ad used a German speaker, rather than someone speaking English, to portray the boss as a bit of a tyrant and the humour derived from a stereotype at the expense of German people. We considered that the portrayal suggested that German people were more likely to be unreasonable or aggressive to others.

We concluded that, given the extreme reaction and aggressive tone of the German speaking boss, the ad reinforced a negative and outdated cultural stereotype of German people as overpowering and tyrannical and therefore the ad had the potential to cause serious offence to some listeners.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

 

20th January   

Censorship Nazis...

Hitler cartoon on night club promotion winds up the authorities
Link Here

Poland flagPolish nightclub has come under criminal investigation after it used an image of Adolf Hitler to promote an event.

The Klub Muzyczny Sklot, located in Warsaw's bohemian Praga district, had hoped that the picture of a typically animated Hitler sporting a pair of banana-yellow glasses would attract customers to the event but so far it has only caught the eye of the prosecutor's office.

Polish law outlaws the use of images and symbols associated with totalitarian regimes if they are deemed to be promoting a political system.

Investigators are considering whether the disco's management intended to glorify Hitler or made an innocent mistake.

Conceding that the club had made a mess , one of the organisers of the event, a man known only as Ruff T., issued a hasty apology, and said that they had meant no offence.

 

20th January   

Chilling Effects...

Google removes links to satirical wiki
Link Here

Encyclopedia Dramatica Google has taken down links to a website that supposedly promotes racist views of indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal man Steve Hodder-Watt recently discovered the US-based site by searching Aboriginal and Encyclopedia in the search engine.

He tried to modify the entry on Encyclopedia Dramatica, a satirical and extremely racist version of Wikipedia, but was blocked from doing so.

Hodder-Watt then undertook legal action, that resulted in Google acknowledging its legal responsibility to remove the offensive site.

His lawyer, George Newhouse, said the site was one of the most offensive sorts of racial vilification you could possibly find . It portrays indigenous Australians in the most unsavoury light possible, and you wouldn't want a child stumbling across it, he told ABC Radio.

Newhouse said Google agreed to take the link down after he filed an official complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Newhouse believes the site would be filtered under the Federal Government's mandatory filter: Sites that promote racial vilification would actually fall within that description and therefore would be filtered.

 

20th January   

'Bloody' Censors...

Indian singer takes film censor to court
Link Here

CBFC logoIn a swift move that has taken the entire Indian film industry by surprise, firebrand Rakhi Sawant and singer-composer-lyricist ishQ Bector, have taken legal action against the Censor Board.

Recently, the Board passed a diktat that the word kamine (presumably 'bloody') be deleted or bleeped out from the mukhda (opening verse) of Bhoot ; Rakhi and ishQ's latest video from their album titled Jhagde . Challenging the censors' decision, the duo, who are also the producers of the album, have sent a show cause notice to the board.

The censors clearly have double standards, shoots Rakhi. When they can pass an entire film called Kaminey , what sense does it make to delete the word 'kamine' from our video, and that too, without giving us any reason whatsoever, she fumes.

The mukhda of the song goes Kamine tera bhoot chad gaya re. But after the word being bleeped out, our song looks completely disjointed. This has killed its impact and sabotaged our album sales, says ishQ, who has also written the lyrics.

Strangely, the Board has passed the promos of the number containing the mukhda, without any cuts, while censoring the word only in the video . Does the Censor Board have different norms for films, videos and promos? Or is it that we are being singled out just because we are smaller producers? questions ishQ.

Update: Bloody Hell

1st April 2010. See article from bollyspice.com

n a turnaround of sorts, Rakhi Sawant and IshQ Bector have emerged victorious in their battle against the Censor Board. The jhagdes finally seem to have ended (hopefully) as the Board's Revising Committee has lifted the ban on the word kamine in the duo's controversial music video Bhoot from the album Jhagde , which they produced together.

 

20th January   

Update: Early Day Condemnation...

British MPs support motion condemning Uganda's proposed anti-gay law
Link Here  full story: Ugandan Ethics Minister...Nutter minister rants about gays and miniskirts

House of Commons logo55 British Members of Parliament (MPs) have condemned Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

They have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 575) in the UK Parliament, urging the scrapping of the Bill. Support for the parliamentary motion comes from across the political spectrum, from left to right. Many more signatures are expected as MPs return to the House of Commons.

The EDM, drafted by east London Labour MP Harry Cohen, urges the Ugandan government to uphold international humanitarian law by abandoning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalizing same-sex acts between consenting adults in private, and outlawing discrimination against gay people.

That this House calls on the British Government and the European Union to press the government of Uganda not to proceed with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which violates the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights; abhors that this Bill, currently before the Uganda parliament, proposes the death penalty for repeat homosexual acts, extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for anal intercourse to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have homosexual relations and imposes life imprisonment for contracting a same-sex marriage; notes that under the provisions of the Bill membership of providing funding for gay organisations advocating gay human rights and providing condoms or safer sex advice to gay people will result in a sentence of between five and seven years for promoting homosexuality and that a person in authority who fails to report offenders to the police within 24 hours will incur a three year prison sentence; further notes that this monstrous proposed law contains extra-territorial jurisdiction so that it will apply to Ugandans who breach its provisions whilst living abroad, even in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence, and that such Ugandans living overseas could be subject to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda; and demands that the Ugandan government uphold international humanitarian law by abandoning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalising same-sex acts between consenting adults in private, and outlawing discrimination against gay people.

We hope this motion will send a signal from the British parliament to the Ugandan government that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill constitutes an outrageous attack on the human rights of Uganda's lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens, said Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay human rights group OutRage!

Even if the death penalty is dropped, the Bill will still be unacceptable. It will still violate the equality guarantees of international human rights agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, added Tatchell.

 

20th January   

Update: Free Speech Blocked...

Turkey criticised for censorial internet blocking
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

OSCE logoEurope's main security and human rights watchdog said Monday Turkey was blocking some 3,700 Internet sites for arbitrary and political reasons and urged legal reforms to show its commitment to freedom of expression.

Milos Haraszti, media freedom monitor for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said Turkey's Internet law was failing to preserve free expression in the country and should be reformed or abolished.

In its current form, Law 5651 not only limits freedom of expression, but severely restricts citizens right to access information, Haraszti said in a statement.

He said Turkey, a European Union candidate, was barring access to 3,700 Internet sites, including YouTube, GeoCities and some Google pages, because Ankara's Internet law was too broad and subject to political interests.

 

20th January   

Update: Still Repressive Domain...

China reviews ban on personal web sites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaChinese web censos banned individual domain registration without a business license in early December But an official from China's Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) told the English-language newspaper ChinaDaily that the decision may be reversed — so long as measures are in place to verify an applicant's personal information.

The decision appears to be effort to keep citizens from wandering outside China's Great Firewall for easier registration.

Banning domain name registrations for individual applicants will have a negative impact on the industry because the applicants can either turn to foreign registers or apply with false information, Qi Lin, assistant deputy with the CNNIC,said.

 

20th January   

Updated: Shameless...

Philippines TV censor suspends talent show over supposedly vulgar quips from judge
Link Here

Showtime stillABS-CBN has questioned the decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to suspend the airing of the talent program Showtime for 20 days because of supposedly “vulgar” words uttered by its contest juror Rosanna Roces on two episodes last week.

In a statement sent to Inquirer on Tuesday, ABS-CBN said it has decided to remove Roces as the show's juror in the spirit of self-regulation.

Despite this, MTRCB still imposed a 20-day preventive suspension [on] the program. Thus, the network questions the need for [this] when Roces has already been removed from the program.

The order signed on Monday by MTRCB chair Marissa Laguardia said the 20-day suspension was given to Showtime to prevent further probable violation of pertinent provisions of Section 3c of Presidential Decree No. 1986, which gives the MTRCB the authority to keep segments or scenes that are immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the country or its people, from being aired on television.

The Jan. 4 episode featured another juror, Vice Ganda, telling Roces: After splitting up [with your last boyfriend], you quickly replaced him with a horserace jockey). Roces shot back: You're shameless, a beast, a demon. Don't do that … You're not even beautiful, Vice Ganda is just your name.

In another incident report submitted on Jan. 7, Roces was singled out for her comment to a contestant. She said: Curse your teacher … these teachers are shameless …

Update: Appeals Court temporarily suspends ban

20th January 2010. Based on article from abs-cbnnews.com

ABS-CBN's popular morning program Showtime resumed airing on Tuesday, January 19.

The talent show was back on its regular time slot after a court granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Court of Appeals against the 20-day ban by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

The MTRCB had suspended the show due to controversial remarks made by one of the show's judges, Rosanna Roces. While telling student guests on the show to not limit their learning to textbooks and teacher's lessons, Roces also told them to swear at their teachers.

Update: MCRTB lose their appeal

30th September 2010.  Based on article from abs-cbnnews.com

The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board's (MTRCB) appeal seeking to reverse the appellate court's earlier decision to set aside a 20-day preventive suspension order it issued against Showtime.

Update: MCRTB Look to the Supreme Court

7th October 2010. See article from mb.com.ph

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) is keen to elevate to the Supreme Court their case against ABS-CBN noontime show, Showtime.

MTRCB chairman Consoliza Laguardia, together with MTRCB counsel, Jonathan Presquito, said they are not yet ready to give up on the case; this, even as the court of appeals recently decided to dismiss the MTRCB's motion for reconsideration concerning the reversal of the 20-month suspension order they issued against Showtime.

 

20th January   

Offsite: Losing the Consultation Game...

Michael Atkinson resigned to consultation favouring R18+
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedAustralians are right now being asked to voice their opinion on whether an R18+ rating for video games should be introduced, with the Australian Federal Attorney General seeking public submissions into the issue. But while the consultation process won't conclude until February 28, 2010, one high-profile figure in the games debate has already decided that the majority of respondents will be in favour of an R18+: vocal anti-R18+ campaigner Michael Atkinson.

He said: I don't think the discussion paper presents a fair and balanced view of the issue without pictures of the games that would be rated R18+, Atkinson said. I think the majority of the population are unfamiliar with these games and without images, they won't be able to imagine them in their mind's eye. They'll have no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include.

I also believe that very few people outside the gaming community will have a say in this public consultation, which will mean an overwhelming response in support of R18+ .

...Read full article

 

19th January   

'Expert' Censor...

Tanya Byron to advise the VSC, the new video game censor
Link Here

Tanya ByronAs the UK moves to adopt the PEGI system as a sole means for rating videogames, the Video Standards Council (VSC), which will enforce and assign actual ratings, has added additional personnel to its ranks.

One new addition to the VSC is an Expert Advisory Panel reports GamesIndustry.biz, which will feature media violence expert Guy Cumberbatch, author Geoffrey Robertson and Dr. Tanya Byron, author of the Byron Report.

VSC Chair Baroness Shephard commented:

The newly established VSC Expert Advisory Panel will play a key role. The VSC will have the ability to effectively ban a videogame from supply in the UK if it infringes the limits set out in the law. Any such decision will not be taken lightly and will involve a number of legal, clinical and psychological issues.

A trio of board members was also added to the VSC, ex-Chief Constable Tony Lake, retired Director of the Family and Parenting Institute Mary MacLeod and Chris Atkinson of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

 

19th January   

Update: Video Recordings Bill...

Lords debate replacement on VRA
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

House of Lords logoThe Video Recordings Bill has received its 2nd Reading in the House of Lords on 18th January 2010. The bill was unopposed and the short debate centred on the legal status of past prosecutions.

The committee and report stages were rubber stamped with no amendments or debate

The 3rd reading is now scheduled for 20th January 2010 and the bill will then come into force immediately on Royal Assent.

 

19th January   

Updated: Hands off the Net...

Italians to require government permission to upload videos to websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flagNew rules to be introduced by government decree will require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web, opposition lawmakers have warned.

The decree is ostensibly an enactment of a European Union (EU) directive on product placement and is due to go into effect at the end of January after being subjected to a nonbinding appraisal by parliament.

Opposition lawmakers held a press conference in parliament to denounce the new rules -- which require government authorization for the uploading of videos, give individuals who claim to have been defamed a right of reply and prevent the replay of copyright material -- as a threat to freedom of expression.

The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions, opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound, requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea, said Gentiloni's party colleague Vincenzo Vita.

The decree was also condemned by Articolo 21, an organization dedicated to the defense of freedom of speech as enshrined in article 21 of the Italian constitution. The group said the measures resembled an earlier government attempt to crack down on bloggers by imposing on them the same obligations and responsibilities as newspapers.

The group launched an appeal Friday entitled Hands Off the Net, saying the restrictive measures would mark the end of freedom of expression on the Web. The restrictions would prevent the recounting of the life of the Italians in moving pictures on the Internet, it said.

Update: National strike

19th January 2010. Based on article from variety.com

Google logoGoogle has announced it will counter regulations being drafted by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government that would police content on Google-owned YouTube.

The Internet measures are contained in a radical package of TV legislation now being pushed through parliament. The sweeping bills are also drawing fire from TV and film industry workers, who have called a national strike today to protest against other aspects of the package, including the elimination of quotas that support local indie productions.

Google's European public policy counsel, Marco Pancini, has requested an urgent meeting with Paolo Romani, the communications undersecretary who drafted the decree designed to give the government control over video content uploaded onto the Internet, similar to the authority it already has over broadcasters.

We are concerned over the fact that Internet service providers, like YouTube, that simply make content available to the general public, are being bundled together with traditional television networks that actually manage content, Pancini told paper La Stampa. It amounts to destroying the entire Internet system.

 

19th January   

Update: One Dimensional Censors...

China bans the general distribution of Avatar
Link Here  full story: James Cameron's Avatar...Avatar makes the worl'd headlines

Avatar Theatrical Release China is to pull the plug on screenings of Avatar at most cinemas and replace the Golden Globe-winning film with a 'patriotic' biopic on the life of Confucius, according to reports.

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said the state-run China Film Group has ordered cinemas across China to stop showing the 2D version of the film and to show only the 3D edition, amid concerns from China's censors that it could cause unrest. Because there are so few 3D cinemas on the mainland, the order effectively prevents general distribution of the James Cameron blockbuster.

The Central Publicity Department is said to have issued an order to the media prohibiting it from hyping up Avatar, the newspaper said.

The film opened on 4 January to queues across the country, with Imax cinemas said to be booked for weeks ahead. It was due to run until 28 February, including over Chinese new year. Instead, the reports said, the 2D version will close on 23 January.

 

19th January   

Politically Correct Del Boy...

Censor Del Boy for being racist? Don't be a plonker
Link Here

Only Fools Horses Complete DVD Is Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses racist?

The issue arises because the other day I interviewed John Sullivan, the creator of Only Fools, and he told me about the way he has to edit old episodes to cleanse them of politically incorrect dialogue. He cited an episode from the Eighties in which Del told a child to pop down to the Paki shop . That line is no longer broadcast in repeats.

I think it should be. Now, before I explain why, I must make clear that, to me, the phrase Paki shop is reprehensible and racist. I'd hate to hear it used in everyday speech. This is, after all, 2010.

But that's exactly the point: it's 2010, not the early Eighties. In the early Eighties, such a phrase was common currency. Whether we like it or not, that's how some people spoke – so it's only realistic that the odd fictional character should have spoken like that too. Tackling racism is one thing. Pretending racism never existed is another.

...Read full article

 

19th January   

Ur Nickd...

China now scanning SMS messages for supposedly offensive content
Link Here

China flagChina has started scanning phone text messages. Customers of China's two largest mobile phone networks, China Mobile and China Unicom, have had text services blocked after sending risqué messages, state media reported.

China Mobile said it was complying with police demands to report illegal texts, which included pornography and violence or promoted fraud, crime, terrorism and gambling. It said any breach meant a mobile phone would be blocked.

 

18th January   

Update: Gorging on Political Correctness...

Spanish parliament passes law banning body image adverts before the watershed
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

Spanish flagSpain has stepped up its fight against what the government sees as forces that push girls into anorexia or bulimia, with the introduction of a law banning so-called cult of the body advertising on television before the Spanish watershed.

Sellers of plastic surgery, slimming products and some beauty treatments will be prevented from advertising before 10pm.

The ban is extended to other advertisers who transmit a message to children that what matters most is how they look, or that their chances of success are linked to the type of body they have. The ban comes in a new broadcasting law that has been approved by the lower chamber of parliament and is being reviewed by the upper house.

It states: Broadcasters cannot carry advertisements for things that encourage the cult of the body and have a negative impact on self-image – such as slimming products, surgical procedures and beauty treatments – which are based on ideas of social rejection as a result of one's physical image or that success is dependent on factors such as weight or looks.

The beauty and hygiene sector is the third biggest spender on TV advertising in Spain – it spent about €500m in 2008. That year, TV stations broadcast 7,000 advertisements for dieting products and special treatments for slimming, cellulitis or other body worship products, as they are known in Spain. A further 55,000 advertising slots went to beauty products.

 

18th January   

Showing their Claws...

Air New Zealand advert offends predatory nutters
Link Here

Cougar advert Air New Zealand has drawn strong criticism with its online campaign that depicts single middle-aged women as cougars on the look out for sex with young men.

The country's national carrier came up with the documentary styled clip, showing women in their 30s, 40s and 50s hunting men in their 20s, many of whom pretend to be gay to avoid their claws.

The promotion was put up to encourage women aged 35 and above to invite their pictures with their cougar mates and enter the draw for a deal including a flight and ticket to a sporting event, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The ad has left women's rights groups and rape prevention organisations fuming and has been dubbed as derogatory for women and also for men who have been rape victims.

Kim McGregor, director, New Zealand's Rape Prevention Education said: We have also had complaints from male survivors who have been raped by women and they are very distressed that their situation is being laughed at and made out to be humorous.

An airline spokeswoman justified the ad saying it was supposed to be light-hearted but some older women had taken a bit of offence to it .

 

18th January   

Clearcast Bullies...

TV advert censor bans bullying advert suitable for 12A cinema showings
Link Here

Cybermentors ad An anti-bullying advert that was ruled 'too shocking' to appear on television has been launched online.

The film, which includes scenes where a teenage girl sews her own mouth shut, will be also be shown in cinemas before films rated 12A and above.

It is part of a £1.2 million campaign launched by children's charity Beatbullying.

The advert promotes a website, cybermentors.org.uk, which allows young people who have been bullied to help each other and discuss their problems.

A spokeswoman for Clearcast, which decides which adverts can be shown on British television, said it was felt some scenes would be viewed as offensive.

Beatbullying's chief executive, Emma-Jane Cross, said: We are proud of this advert and the way it makes you stop and understand the impact bullying can have on its victims.

But we were disappointed that Clearcast refused to let this advert go on to TV. We know that 69% of young people have been bullied and it is imperative that people know cybermentors.org.uk is there to give them support.

 

18th January   

Petition: Licensed to Censor...

Petition to exempt small venues from state music censorship
Link Here  full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

pub band We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop criminalising live music with the Licensing Act, and to support amendments backed by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and the music industry, which would exempt most small-scale performances in schools, hospitals, restaurants and licensed premises.

Submitted by Phil Little of Live Music Forum.

Under the Licensing Act, a performance by one musician in a bar, restaurant, school or hospital not licensed for live music could lead to a criminal prosecution of those organising the event. Even a piano may count as a licensable entertainment facility . By contrast, amplified big screen broadcast entertainment is exempt.

The government says the Act is necessary to control noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety, even though other laws already deal with those risks. Musicians warned the Act would harm small events. About 50% of bars and 75% of restaurants have no live music permission. Obtaining permission for the mildest live music remains costly and time-consuming.

In May, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity and for unamplified performance by one or two musicians. The government said no. But those exemptions would restore some fairness in the regulation of live music and encourage grassroots venues.

 

18th January   

Campaign: Power 2010...

Creating a wish list of policies to put Britain straight
Link Here

Power 2010 logo Our democracy is in crisis. MPs fiddle while the planet burns. Our rights and freedoms are under attack. Bankers blow billions and the taxpayer foots the bill. We can't go on like this.

We need a healthy democracy that works for all of us and not just a powerful few. POWER2010 exists to help create it. It gives you the chance to have your say on how our democracy works so that together we can change it for the better.

Do you want cleaner funding? Fairer voting? More accountability? You decide. Tell us your ideas for changing the way we run our country. Those with most support will become the POWER2010 Pledge and the focus for our national campaign at the next election.

 

18th January   

State Controlled Blogs...

Jordan court extends print controls to the internet
Link Here

Jordan flagJordan's Appeal Court has extended the reach of its print and publications law to cover electronic media, meaning that it will censor sites and blogs.

Writing in ArabCrunch, Gaith Saqer said that this:

empowers authorities to prosecute or impose fines on any electronic medium of Publishing from SMS to the Internet user from Twitter user, to facebook, to journalists, bloggers and editors for publishing online material that the law finds wrong.

In the Jordan Times online paper, Hani Hazaimeh, reports:

Electronic media editors and activists on Thursday said the recent Cassation Court's decision to subject news websites and electronic media to the Press and Publications Law will curb Internet freedom.

Executive director of global organization Article 19, Agnes Callamard stated: The court's decision empowers authorities to prosecute or impose fines on journalists, bloggers and editors for publishing online material that may be deemed offensive or imply criticism of the government, national unity or the economy… ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the extension of the Press and Publications Law will lead to wide self-censorship among the online media, especially as individual writers and commentators seek to avoid heavy fines or criminal prosecution.

 

17th January   

Old Religious Wounds...

BBC programme about 1984 battle at Sikh temple generates personal abuse aimed at presenter
Link Here

1984: A Sikh Story A BBC News presenter has been subjected to a deluge of personal abuse after fronting a documentary about one of the most controversial events in recent Indian history.

Sonia Deol was forced to delete her page on the Facebook website amid a barrage of criticism from fellow Sikhs over her film about the Indian army storming the Golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the faith's most holy shrines, in 1984.

Now protesters are planning a mass boycott of the licence fee in disgust at what they see as a slur on the controversial religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was killed in the raid.

Many Sikhs consider him a saint and are furious that in Ms Deol's documentary, 1984: A Sikh Story, he was described as a militant. They also claim he was depicted in the film in a similar way to Osama Bin Laden.

Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the assault on June 4, 1984, after Bhindranwale and up to 500 armed supporters took refuge in the holy site, apparently fearing arrest amid rising Sikh-Hindu tensions. Around 500 people died in the ensuing battle, which some Sikhs now refer to as our 9/11 . As troops moved in, Bhindranwale's followers fired missiles at Indian tanks.

The BBC has received 52 complaints about the documentary, which attracted 1.3 million viewers and was billed as Ms Deol's emotional journey back to India in a bid to discover how such an attack could ever have taken place .

However, community TV station The Sikh Channel says it received more than 8,000 calls to a phone-in about the film. Channel owner Davinder Singh Bal said: The documentary contained many sweeping statements and didn't attempt to uncover the truth of what happened. Our viewers were not happy. BT said that our exchange was going into overdrive. The BBC is not responding to the Sikh community and we are thinking about organising a campaign to invoke the non-payment of licence fees by the 700,000 Sikhs in Britain.

Dr Sadhu Singh, chairman of the Council of Sikh Temples, said many viewers were angered that the BBC showed him [Bhindranwale] looking like Bin Laden . He said: They used pictures of him wearing a turban and holding a gun. To someone who doesn't know what Sikhism is about, it would be very misleading.

A BBC source said Ms Deol's documentary was never intended to be an investigation, saying: It was her personal journey, a look at her reaction to rediscovering her faith as a Sikh. It was for a mainstream channel, BBC1 and there's only so much you can say in an hour. A lot of the attacks on Sonia have been because people think that the documentary reflected her views on Bhindranwale, but she did not give her opinions about him at all.

 

17th January   

Update: From Turban Bombs to Truck Bombs...

Details of truck bombs emerge in plot to attack Jyllands-Posten building
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Details of trucks filled with explosives and European terror networks emerge in Jyllands-Posten newspaper plot case.

US citizen David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen and native of Pakistan, are already in police custody for their alleged roles in the plot against the newspaper in retribution for its printing of the Mohammed cartoons.

Additional conspiracy charges were recently filed against Ilyas Kashmiri, who has been identified as a leader of terrorist organisation Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) in Pakistan and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani military. Neither man is in police custody.

According to documents released by US authorities, Headley met Rehman and members of the Lashkar terrorist group in Pakistan. Rehman is said to have introduced Headley to Kashmiri who allegedly came up with the idea of the truck bomb. Kashmiri is also reported to have put Headley in contact with various associates in a number of European countries who could provide Headley with money, weapons and manpower for the newspaper attack .

 

17th January   

School of Politics...

Gritty Russian TV school drama winds up the politicians
Link Here

Russia flagA raw TV drama about the lives of students in a Russian high school has sparked condemnation from teachers and politicians.

School , which premiered this week on Russia's Channel One, has painted a rough, violent picture of what students endure in school.

The series has depicted fights in school halls, classmates sharing beer and one teen boasting about making a girl pregnant, as well as references to internet porn.

Communist Party deputy Vladislav Yurchik declared the show was planned sabotage against Russian young people and called for its cancellation.

Olga Larionova, head of the Moscow education department, agrees with Yurchik, urging the channel to yank the series.

Valeria Gai Germanika, the young director of the show, says she's just showing reality: School was really like that, the 25-year-old auteur told Agence France-Press.

Channel One says it stands behind the series, releasing a statement that the show aims to understand the problems of schools, not to hide them.

 

17th January   

Updated: Google Hacked Off...

Google set to quit China after attempts to hack into Chinese human rights activists' emails
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google China logoGoogle announced in their Official Google Blog:

Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.

We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve's blog and this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.

We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

Update: Tank Man finally appears on Chinese Google

17th January 2010. Based on article from canadafreepress.com

Tank ManUsers on Google.cn's image search can now see the iconic picture of Tank Man, among other images from the massacre in the Beijing square in 1989.

Students and intellectuals protested communist rule for seven weeks in the square in 1989 in the face of a brutal security crackdown. Roughly 100,000 people are believed to have taken part in the protests - with up to 3,000 of those killed during the demonstrations.

Tank Man: One of the most iconic images of the Tiananmen Square massacre, that of a man standing alone and defenceless in a face off against four tanks, now appears on Google.cn

Update: Google Censor On

18th February 2010 Based on article from shuttervoice.com

Google will censor pornography and some other objectionable content in China as the search engine continues to try and make head way in the Internet market.

It is claimed that the company's co-founder, Sergey Brin, has admitted that pornography and other objectionable content will be censored.

However, he reportedly confirmed that Google will not politically censor searches in the Asian country.

 

17th January   

Update: A Fetish for Censorship...

The Notorious Bettie Page by Mary Harron
Link Here

Notorious Bettie Page DVD The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) is a smart, funny and engaging look at the life of one of the first pin-up sensations, the titular Ms Page. Well acted and flawlessly directed (Harron creates a perfect 50's woman's film feel and mixes black and white and colour without drawing attention to it), the film tells it's story in a matter of fact way that mirrors Page's own outlook and delivers an interesting study of a society on the brink of change.

See article from cinemascream.wordpress.com

Some time ago I wrote about Mary Harron's fantastic film The Notorious Bettie Page … well, to be honest, I spent most of the time having a moan about the rather harsh 18 cert. bestowed upon the film by the BBFC. Anyway, in true disgusted of Tunbridge Wells style I emailed the BBFC the following…

Having recently viewed The Notorious Bettie Page (Mary Harron, 2005) I was somewhat perplexed by the 18 rating. Looking on the BBFC website the only comment I can see regarding the rating is contains sexual fetish theme .

Considering that the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) have given the film a 15 rating ('15A in cinemas) due to moderate violence, sex/nudity and language (The further information on their website notes just one expletive and their guidelines for the 15A rating state that mild/moderate sexual activity/nudity is acceptable, particularly when portrayed positively .) I was wondering if you had any more information on the decision and the reasoning behind the 18 rating?

…and here is the BBFC reply…

Our classification decisions are carefully considered and made in line with published Guidelines and the available research evidence...

Our Guidelines for sex at 15 state that: "Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour". It was recognised that THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is an intelligent and rather sweet-natured film which stays within our '15' criteria on a number of issues (eg. nudity and sex). However, it was ultimately judged that placing a work that dealt with S&M and other fetish activities at '15' would confound public expectations of the our classifications. Although THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is not a 'sex work' , its detail of fetish activity just pushed this work to the 18 category. At '18' our Guidelines state that the BBFC "will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law."

Chief Assistant (Policy)

…which seems to suggest that no matter what the 'content' the subject matter is all that matters and some things, especially country matters , are just plain taboo.

 

17th January   

Updated: The Soft War...

Iran bans contact with the BBC, Voice of America and more
Link Here  full story: Iran Jams Western Media...BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle

BBC Persian TV logoIran's international isolation deepened yesterday when the regime banned contact with more than 60 highly regarded Western organisations which it accused of conspiring against the Islamic Republic.

The list includes the BBC, Voice of America and other media organisations that beam Farsi-language programmes into Iran, as well as think-tanks, academic institutions and leading non-governmental organisations from America and Europe. Having any relation ... with those groups involved in the soft war [against Iran] is illegal and prohibited, the intelligence ministry said. Citizens should be alert to the traps of our enemies and co-operate ... in neutralising the plots of foreigners and conspirators.

The list includes Yale University, the Soros and Ford foundations, the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, the liberal Brookings Institution, Human Rights Watch and USAid. Some, but not all of the organisations, have worked with universities or civil society institutions in Iran — bodies that tend to be hostile to the regime.

Four British organisations are named: the BBC, Wilton Park and Menas Associates, along with the British Centre for Democratic Studies — which appears not to exist.

The regime has repeatedly accused the BBC of being part of a British plot against it. It has expelled the organisation's Tehran correspondent and regularly jams the BBC Persian satellite television signal.

Update: European satellite company censors BBC's Persian TV

17th January 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Iran is facing mounting international protests about its jamming of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV) after the channel – which has millions of viewers and is hugely popular with opposition supporters – was taken off a satellite owned by Europe's leading operator.

The BBC said today it was actively supporting a formal complaint to the International Telecommunication Union, a UN-affiliated body, about deliberate interference from Iran. The ITU confirmed it had received representations from regulators in France, home to Eutelsat, owner of the Hotbird 6 satellite, which transmitted PTV until the end of last month.

The German state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, said it too would protest about interference with its Persian-language radio broadcasts. Voice of America Persian TV programmes have also been jammed.

The BBC said it was telling viewers how to adjust their satellite dishes to receive programmes via two other satellites that are out of range of Iranian jamming.

Eutelsat says PTV was removed from Hotbird 6 in agreement with the BBC, though sources close to the affair say the operator caved in to commercial and legal pressures from other customers broadcasting on the same transponder. Another Eutelsat satellite, Hotbird 8, provides capacity to Iranian state media channels, including English-language Press TV, which has offices in London.

 

17th January   

Lots of Laughs...

Lebanon nutters whinge about TV comedies
Link Here

Lebanon flagSupposedly racy and objectionable content on local television stations continued to draw fire after government authorities promised to see outlets tone things down. The Lebanese Women's Council strongly condemned certain television shows it deemed of a low media, cultural and moral level.

The council was referring to comedy shows that depended on low levels of entertainment and immoral jokes. It said such shows were a bad influence on Lebanese society, particularly on young people.

In a statement, the group also blamed the National Audiovisual Media Council [NAMC], the Information Ministry's Censorship Committee and local television stations for the problem. The council urged government censorship bodies to step in and ensure that audiovisual media and internet websites halt the objectionable programs and content.

For its part, the International Catholic Press Union in Lebanon also condemned the phenomenon of supposedly immoral programming, singling out OTV's weekly program LOL for censure. The union said a wide-ranging revision of the relevant legislation was required. It said the judiciary remained the proper authority for deciding whether certain programs were violating the law.

The union said that religious figures should not be outside the scope of permitted criticism, ...BUT.. added that freedom of opinion and expression didn't permit the practice of insulting others.

 

16th January   

Update: Licensed to Censor...

Bill to exempt small venues from government music censorship
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

pub band My bill would exempt small venues from the absurdities of the Licensing Act, which is stifling emerging artists

In November last year, Britain's Got Talent finalist Faryl Smith performed a song for her fans at an album signing at HMV in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The local council immediately threatened HMV with criminal prosecution because it hadn't applied for a licence.

Back in May, the headteacher of a school in Daventry had to scrap the annual musical when he was told he risked a £20,000 fine or even imprisonment because the school hadn't got a licence for the show.

And locals in Gloucestershire were bitterly disappointed last summer when a free brass band concert was cancelled at the last minute.

What links all these ridiculous situations is the Licensing Act, which stipulates that all live music performances need a licence, whatever the venue.

It is a result of these absurdities that I have introduced the live music bill which has just received a second reading in the House of Lords.

Small venues are vitally important to Britain's creative culture. Many of our most successful and popular musicians started their careers gigging in bars, student unions or cafes. The decrease in live music in small venues, as evidenced by the DCMS's most recent substantive survey into the act, is potentially denying us a generation of new performers.

The bill – which has the support of UK Music, the Musicians Union, Equity and the National Campaign for the Arts – amends the Licensing Act in three respects.

First, the bill establishes an exemption for live music in small venues. The exemption applies to a venue that has a licence for the sale of alcohol and has a permitted capacity of not more than 200 people. The live music can also only take place between 8am and midnight on the same day. This exemption is conditional on a mechanism that can trigger a local authority review and make live music in a venue licensable if complaints by local residents are upheld.

Second, the bill reintroduces the two-in-a-bar rule so that any performance of unamplified and minimally amplified live music of up to two people is exempt from the need for a licence.

Finally, the bill contains a total exemption for hospitals, schools and colleges from the requirement to obtain a licence for live music when providing entertainment where alcohol is not sold, and the entertainment involves no more than 200 persons. This will enable schools, colleges and hospitals to perform concerts and music therapy treatments which currently require licences.

The government's consultation on this issue is flawed. The proposed exemption for up to 100 people is inadequate. The live music bill, supported by the recommendation of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, proposes that a figure of 200 would result in a more effective exemption.

The timing of the consultation and the process by which an exemption can be achieved is also put in jeopardy by the imminent general election which means the bill presents the most realistic opportunity to get a small gigs exemption in place this year. You can demonstrate your support for the bill by signing up to the No 10 Downing Street petition in support of the bill's aims.

 

16th January   

Uncensored Censored...

Kuwait bans Egyptian movie over depiction of lesbians
Link Here

Bedoon RakabaKuwait has banned the screening of a supposedly controversial Egyptian film, saying that it promoted a culture of debauchery.

The film, Bedoon Rakaba (Out of Control or Uncensored), was produced in 2009 and addresses lifestyles centering on drug uses by young people and lesbianism, a taboo subject in Arab cinema and society.

According to the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan, a member of the censorship board said that some of the scenes were too hot and that the lesbianism theme was too bold. The member stressed that the scenario was very weak and failed to address the controversial issues properly.

In the film, the main character, Ahmad Fahmy, is a drug addict and an alcoholic who inherits a colossal fortune when his father dies. Actress Ola Ghanem plays the role of a lesbian who seeks to lure young girls into her way of life.

Commenting on the furore caused by the film upon its release in Egypt, Ola said that art had the responsibility to examine homosexuality trends and behaviour and to discuss the reasons and facts for their occurrence. However, the film sought only to convey the idea of same sex relationships and purposely omitted scenes of an intimate nature, she said.

 

15th January   

One Dimensional Whingers...

Italian parents' group whinges at unrestricted Avatar film certificate
Link Here  full story: James Cameron's Avatar...Avatar makes the worl'd headlines

Avatar Theatrical Release Some Italian parents are giving a big thumbs down to Avatar , the second highest grossing movie of all time.

The MPAA gave Avatar a PG-13 rating for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.

When Avatar begins playing in 910 Italian theaters, it'll do so without restriction.

As reported by Variety, the organization at the center of the debacle is Mogie. They claim, the decision represents a discrimination against the protection of Italian children.

In the UK, the cinema release was rated 12A (under 12s allowed if accompanied by an adult). The BBFC explained their decision:

BBFC logo Avatar is a 3D science fiction action adventure film about a man whose genetically engineered human-alien hybrid has been grown on a planet and is intended to persuade the indigenous population to relocate and allow the human military to drill for valuable minerals. It was passed 12A for moderate violence and intense battle scenes.

At 12A , violence guidelines state that Moderate violence is allowed but should not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if justified by the context . This film contains some battle scenes where characters are killed or injured and which show arrows piercing bodies, fight scenes where characters are occasionally heavily kicked or punched, and a fight scene between a man wearing a large metal body armour suit and repeatedly stabbing a fantastical creature. However, these scenes do not generally feature gory images, lack stronger detail and do not emphasise injuries or blood as blows or points of impact are generally impressionistic or occur offscreen, so these scenes are allowable at 12A but exceeded PG allowances.

As for the intense battle scenes, PG guidelines note that Frightening sequences should not be prolonged or intense. Fantasy settings may be a mitigating factor . The occasional intense battle scenes towards the end of the film are prolonged and intense and include scenes where the heroic characters are attacked or threatened. Although the context is clearly fantastical, it does not mitigate against the aggressive tone and overall impact which may disturb a child aged around eight or older, so these scenes are not allowable at PG although such scenes are not frequent and are not the sort of sustained disturbing sequences that would exceed the 12A horror guideline.

Avatar also contains some moderate and mild language; occasional scenes showing an older character smoking, which is not promotional or glamorous; a mild and oblique verbal drug reference and a very mild sex reference when a female character states that she and a male character are mated .

 

 

15th January   

Hate Censorship...

Home Office considers block on Hamas website for children
Link Here

image from Al FatehThe Home Office is considering blocking a childrens' website run by the Palestinian group Hamas following suggestions it incites hatred of Jews.

Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, chair of the Labour Jewish Movement, has called on ministers to block access to al-Fateh.net, a webzine launched by Hamas in 2002. Alongside baking recipes and exam advice, the fortnightly publication features tributes to suicide attackers and encourages love of jihad .

Ellman told The Register: It's nasty stuff. It incites hatred of Israel and Jews - the government should remove it.

An extract from April 2008, translated by IMPACT-SE, a Jewish education lobby group that has campaigned against al-Fateh.net across Europe, reads: Jerusalem will remain as a trust in our hands and the hands of all Muslims, and they are to unite and gather for its liberation and the liberation of the land of Palestine from the impurity of the Zionists, the descendents of apes and pigs.

In response to Ellman's parliamentary question on al-Fateh.net, policing minister David Hanson said: We are currently assessing whether there is sufficient evidence to include the al-Fateh website in the list of material provided on a voluntary basis to filtering companies for inclusion in their parental control software.

There remains nothing the government can do to prevent access where filtering software is not installed. Suggestions by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that an ISP-level filtering system similar to the Internet Watch Foundation child pornography blacklist might be created for extremist material appear to have been abandoned.

Tim Stevens, an expert on internet radicalisation at King's College London, said Ellman's call showed how powerless the government is online: Unpleasant as this site may be, it is not up to single-interest groups to determine what is and is not illegal, he said.

 

15th January   

Update: UK Internet Censorship...

Government offer concessions about draconian control powers
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Ragged Union JackMinisters have given a concession over what critics claimed were draconian powers which would enable them to crack down on online content in the name of copyright infringement.

A clause in the Digital Economy Bill would have allowed ministers to amend existing internet control laws without the need for further legislation.

Google and Facebook were among firms to complain about the measure, saying it would hamper digital innovation.

Officials said they were refining the proposals after heeding concerns.

Section 17 of the bill, which has attracted the most anger, would give ministers reserve powers to draft fresh laws to tackle net-based copyright infringement without needing parliamentary approval.

Ministers argued that such powers were needed to support copyright laws against future, more technically advanced forms of piracy. But Conservative and Lib Dem peers had both threatened to vote against the measure when it is considered next in the House of Lords.

In response, the government has tabled several amendments.

These would mean existing copyright laws could only be amended by statute if there was a significant new threat of infringement and would provide for more parliamentary scrutiny before this happened.

The Department for Business said it was not backing away from the controversial clause and its core objectives but had listened to concerns about how it was being targeted.

 

15th January   

More Gooey...

New Arrow release of Jim Muro's Street Trash
Link Here

Street Trash DVD Mike Lackey Street Trash is 1987 US comedy horror by Jim Muro Jr

Arrow have just re-released the uncut DVD. The BBFC waived their cuts for the 2000 Maingrip DVD .

Previously the BBFC cut 6s from the 1987 Avatar video

From cuts details on IMDb :

  • edits to shots of a woman's melted breast
  • edits to  a close up of a severed penis.

Review from US Amazon : Lots of Fun

The ultra-low-budget exploitation flick Street Trash certainly lives up to its name in more ways than one. Not only is it rather trashy when it comes to generally poor or histrionic acting, bawdy humor, gore, and several lingering flashes of T&A, but it is also one of the few films set in New York City's skid row that was actually filmed almost entirely in authentic skid-row venues.

The centerpiece of the paper-thin plot is a case of decades-old hooch called Tenafly Viper, discovered in the miasmic basement of a skid-row liquor store by the store's proprietor. The unscrupulous vendor decides to exploit his seemingly serendipitous find and pad his pocket by selling the stuff to local winos for a buck per bottle. But unbeknownst to him and his unwary customers, the stuff has gone sour and has transmuted into a volatile toxin that literally melts those who consume it into a pile of day-glo goo.

Though Street Trash is blatantly and disgustingly lowbrow, it is nonetheless wildly entertaining and, from a technical standpoint, very well made. The make-up FX are skillfully and artistically executed, and never have latex appliances looked so simultaneously gross and hilarious. The action does lag in a few spots, but most of the time there is a constant flow of either gore, skin, or bawdy gags. Also, in contrast to many near-zero-budget exploitation films, the cinematography is fabulous, director Jim Muro shot the entire film using a rented steadicam, and he was so skilled at it that he went on to become one of Hollywood's greatest steadicam operators. The editing is near perfect, making Street Trash look like a more mainstream, bigger-budget film.

Sick? Yes. Foul? For sure. Gross? Often. But its also a lot of fun. Street Trash is definitely not for everybody, but for those who enjoy exploitation horror flicks from the 1970s and 1980s, Street Trash is definitely one of the best.

 

15th January   

Update: Crabby Apple...

Apple censors image viewer software
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Forchan ppApple has yanked forChan from its app store.

Apple deleted the 99-cent app from its lineup. The app specializes in viewing image boards on the web and comes preloaded with images of dogs, but with a few adjustments one can customize the app to view nude women.

Apple's censorial Steve Jobs has said that he won't allow the company to distribute porn, malicious apps, apps that invade your privacy.

Based on article from softsailor.com

I made a mistake and I am sorry. Although I expected this to happen, I feel responsible for the fact that ForChan was banned by Apple from the App Store. A couple of days ago I presented you the first full porn app available at the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Why do I feel this guilt? Well, because this is not a porn app. We, the media, banned the app from the App Store. It's our fault. We introduced it as a porn app because it can browse galleries from the web, most of them happening to consist of nude girls.

ForChan shouldn't be banned because it's not a porn app. It met all of Apple's requirements, but the Cupertino-based company banned it because most of the guys there do not contemplate too much on things. Jesus Diaz, Senior Editor at Gizmodo and one of my favorite tech journalists, says that Apple should ban Safari and Bing from the App Store. I wholeheartedly agree. ForChan allows iPhone users to browser galleries, while Safari and Bing allows users to browse… everything including porn. The only difference is that Safari and Bing contains more porn than ForChan!

 

15th January   

Update: Balibo Appeal...

Journalist group to appeal Indonesian ban on the film Balibo
Link Here

AJI logoIndonesian journalists will appeal the country's decision to ban the Australian film Balibo .

Indonesia's Film Censorship Agency banned Robert Connolly's acclaimed film in December due to its political content.

Based on the true story, the film depicts Indonesian soldiers brutally murdering five Australia-based newsmen in the East Timorese border town in 1975, contradicting the official explanation they were killed in crossfire.

Indonesia's Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) has defied the ban, risking jail terms and heavy fines by staging a series of free public screenings across the country.

AJI has this week decided to go one step further by formally challenging the ban in Indonesia's State Management Court, which deals with complaints against state institutions.

In a democracy, the right to create art should not be forbidden, AJI lawyer Hendrayana, said: And as we've seen from the AJI screenings, this film does not create problems. It shows the ban is just paranoia.

 

14th January   

Update: Video Recordings Bill...

Extending the VRA to Northern Ireland
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Northern Ireland AssemblyTranscript from Legislative Consent Motion Executive Committee Business Northern Ireland Assembly debates, 11 January 2010

Nelson McCausland (DUP): I beg to move

That this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the Video Recordings Bill.

This is a short Bill that will repeal and revive certain provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984. The Bill is needed because it has recently come to light that penalties for offences under that Act are unenforceable. That is due to a failure to notify certain provisions in the 1984 Act and the labelling regulations that were made under it to the European Commission under the European Union's technical standards directive. The aim of the Video Recordings Bill is to rectify that situation.

The Video Recordings Act 1984 introduced a system of classification for video films and some video games. It created a series of offences concerning the supply of classified videos and video games to persons under certain ages. The 1984 Act also contains offences concerning the supply of unclassified material. The Act requires that videos, DVDs and certain boxed video games would be classified by the British Board of Film Classification. It makes it illegal to supply unclassified material and to supply age-restricted material to people below the specified age rating. It also limits distribution of adult films material.

Video and film classification is a transferred matter, because it is not listed in schedules 2 or 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The criminal law, and the creation of offences and penalties, remains expressly reserved under paragraph 9 of schedule 3 to the 1998 Act until the devolution of policing and criminal justice matters takes place. Without the repeal and revival of the Video Recordings Act 1984, the penalties for offences under that Act are unenforceable, and we are unable to protect the public and our children from the distribution of inappropriate and offensive material.

When passed, the Video Recordings Bill will come into force and will become the Video Recordings Act 2010. It will extend to England, Wales and Scotland, and, if the Assembly agrees to the legislative consent motion, it will extend to Northern Ireland. Consent for Northern Ireland's inclusion in the Bill has been sought from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure and from the Executive.

Both have given their consent to proceed with the proposed Bill. The Assembly must now consider the principle of extending the Bill to Northern Ireland. We need a united approach to video and film classification across the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, and to the matter of criminal offences and penalties, as well as the enforcement mechanism for those offences.

Our children and vulnerable adults must be protected. I hope that Members will agree and support the motion, which has been designed to allow a parallel timetable for delivery and to ensure that the legislation continues to be consistent across the United Kingdom.

Barry McElduff (Sinn Féin)

The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure considered the legislative consent motion on the Video Recordings Bill at its meeting on 3 December 2009. The Committee had been briefed by departmental officials on the implications of the Bill three weeks earlier on 12 November 2009.

The Committee agreed, on a without-prejudice basis, to support the motion, which will see the extension of the provisions of the Video Recordings Bill to this region. The Committee understands that the purpose of the Bill is straightforward, as the Minister outlined. Its purpose is to repeal and revive the existing provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984 in order to make the criminal offences in that Act enforceable. That will mean that proper public protections are in place around the supply and classification of age-related films and video games. The Committee welcomes that move and the positive implications for protecting children and young people.

The Committee welcomes the extension of the provisions of the Video Recordings Bill to this region, and I commend the motion to the House.

..followed by supportive speeches from other parties and members...

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved: That this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the Video Recordings Bill.

 

14th January   

Council Bullshit...

Sedgemoor council whinge at mild innuendo
Link Here

Big Bulls advertAs reported at Burnham-On-Sea.com,

The family of well-known local livestock owner Arthur Duckett introduced the poster over the Christmas period to wish him a happy 80th birthday.

It shows Duckett and his huge steer, Field Marshall, with the caption a little man with big bulls.

Duckett received a letter from Council enforcement officer David Crowle, stating: It is the council's view that the adverts are detrimental to the amenity of the area and as such will seek their removal. It asked whether Duckett woud be prepared to take down the hoardings without the need for formal action and warned that failure to abide by regulations could lead to a £400 fine or two years' imprisonment.

Quite apart from the appalling treatment of a well-liked 80 year-old man, in forcing him to remove the poster the council is pandering to the most wretched, humourless people who are apparently incapable of appreciating a mild joke with only the slightest hint of anything that could be deemed offensive.

 

14th January   

Offsite: Hu Shuli...

Rare investigative journalism in China
Link Here  full story: Hu Shuli...Rare investigative journalism in China

Century WeeklyWhen Hu Shuli abandoned the editorship of China's most influential news magazine, it looked like a victory for the forces of censorship.

Ms Hu, a resourceful and dogged editor often described as China's most formidable journalist, had made her career by testing the limits of what is allowed in China's rigid media environment. Then it suddenly looked as if she had come up hard against those limits. There was widespread speculation that the iron hand of the censor was behind her departure from the hard-hitting business magazine Caijing. Her editing career seemed to be over.

But now the fiery 56-year-old is back. She has taken a job as editor of another magazine, Century Weekly, and the first issue has just hit China's newsstands. Those worried that crusading journalism may have died a death in China need not fear – it looks like Ms Hu is keen to continue her inimitable style at her new publication.

...Read full article

 

14th January   

Offsite: Serious about Sex...

Australian Sex Party has a word about the parliamentary christian fellowship
Link Here

Australian Sex PartyMany dismissed them as a passing fad. But thanks to a wide policy platform that includes gay rights and a charismatic leader, The Australian Sex Party has shown they are a political force to be reckoned with, writes Garrett Bithell.

When was the last time we heard a politician talk positively about sex, without giggling like a little schoolboy from the front bench? When was the last time we heard a politician talk seriously and empathetically about human rights, without that dialogue being conflated by religious dogma?

In November of 2008, The Australian Sex Party was formed as a response to the increasing wowserism dominating our political landscape, and the unprecedented power of the religious right. Armed with pimped-up vans, a feisty and charismatic leader, and We're Serious About Sex as their slogan, the party launched at Melbourne Sexpo.

 

13th January   

Update: Exempt from Reason...

Andrew Dismore sponsors Video Recordings (Exempt from Classification) Bill
Link Here  full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill

Andrew DismoreAndrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab):

I beg to move, that leave be given to introduce a Bill to extend the criteria under which music and sports video works and documentaries lose their exemption from classification.

Although we passed-or perhaps I should say re-passed-the Video Recordings Bill last week, for technical reasons of urgency it was not practical to propose amendments at that stage. However, some small but highly significant amendments are needed to ensure a more robust regime for child protection. As chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I am an ardent supporter of the right to free speech and expression, but I acknowledge the need for a system of regulation that protects children from harmful content in film, videos and DVDs.

At the current time, we have a very effective system of classification. The British Board of Film Classification undertakes extensive research into public opinion about what is acceptable content. The BBFC also takes account of research evidence and the advice of psychologists, health care professionals and the police, among others, to produce guidelines, which are updated every four years, that ensure that the content that reaches children in the UK legally in the form of film, DVDs and videos is of an age-appropriate nature and is not harmful to them.

However, there are gaps in the current regime covering videos and DVDs under the Video Recordings Act 1984-the VRA-and that is what my Bill aims to address. The VRA permits a number of exemptions to the classification regime. Currently they relate not only to video games but to other video works such as music and sports videos. When the Act was passed in 1984, the assumption was that such works were unlikely to cause any concern. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has recognised that the regime for video games needs to be updated, and the Digital Economy Bill, currently in the other place, is intended to do so. As an aside, it is important to note that in doing so it should in no way undermine the classification regime for linear-non-interactive-material by confusing the responsibilities of the BBFC and those of the Video Standards Council, which is intended to be the statutory authority for classifying video games.

Except in relation to video games, exemptions are unfortunately not addressed in the Digital Economy Bill. That is a missed opportunity and the reason why I have chosen to bring forward my Bill, which would extend the criteria under section 2 of the VRA to result in specified video works losing exemption from classification. At present, exemption can be claimed for video works such as music and sports videos, which can be very popular with children. Those videos can then be sold to children perfectly legally, even if they contain material that is potentially harmful. My Bill is not intended to extend the VRA to all such exempted works, only to those that contain content that is potentially harmful, such as graphic violence, sexual content falling 12 Jan 2010 : Column 561 short of actual sexual activity, imitable dangerous behaviour and drug use. Harmless video works of football matches or artists from the The X Factor would remain exempt.

I have seen some of the less benign sport and music videos myself. For example, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's UFC Best of 2007 is a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques. It is available on the high street to any child because its distributor has, quite legally, claimed exemption from BBFC classification under the VRA. It therefore carries no age rating or consumer advice. It contains close-up images of bloody and sustained head blows, which are replayed in slow motion from every conceivable angle to ensure that the best possible view is given of the moments of impact.

Another work that I have seen is Motley Cre's Greatest Video Hits , which features topless lap dancing and a George W. Bush lookalike in a limousine with a prostitute. The packaging carries an E for exempt rating. Gorgoroth's Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam features bloody bodies being crucified and a sheep's head on a spike. The American band Slipknot is hugely popular with children, some as young as 10, as well as with teenagers. As expected from the band's reputation, its 10th anniversary DVD features strong content designed to offend parents. Among the most concerning images are those of the consequences of self-mutilation carried out by two teenage girls who have carved the name Slipknot into their arm and torso respectively, yet the video carries a letter E in a green triangle indicating that it is exempt from VRA classification.

Those are all works that parents could and should legitimately expect to be regulated, yet under the current legislation they can all be sold legally without any age restriction. Indeed, it is worth noting that some of that material is rated and age-restricted in other countries. For example, the German film classification body rated the Slipknot DVD as suitable only for those aged 16 and above and the Gorgoroth DVD as suitable only for adults.

Trading standards officers would welcome the power to prosecute the supply of such unclassified works, but believe that the current legislation exempts them because, for example, they do not contain gross violence, which is a very high threshold, or actual sexual activity. Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services, which represents local authorities on this matter, and the BBFC both support my Bill's minor amendments to section 2 of the VRA in order to broaden the criteria that determine when a video work loses its exemption. Such amendments would enable law enforcement agencies to prosecute the supply of video works that are currently exempted, to protect children from potentially harmful media content.

I understand that the Government believe that the enforcement authorities can already take such action. However, the view of those who actually have that responsibility is that they cannot, because of the very high bar set by the VRA in order to lose an exemption. For example, had the Slipknot DVD shown the two girls actually in the process of mutilating themselves with a sharp blade, that may well have constituted gross violence under the VRA, but showing the scars after the event almost certainly does not constitute violence sufficient to lose exemption from classification.

Many responsible members of the home entertainment industry voluntarily seek classification certificates for exempted video works that contain such potentially harmful material. Members of the British Video Association-the BVA-do so even though they are not legally obliged so to do. Their actions in this regard are to be commended. I understand that BVA members support amendments to the Video Recordings Act that would make it a legal obligation on distributors to have potentially harmful material classified, as proposed in my Bill, but there are distributors who do not take the same responsible attitude. That lack of a level playing field serves only to add to consumer confusion.

A parent looking through a shelf of music or fighting videos, some of which are rated 15 or 18, but some of which are marked E for exempt, is likely reasonably to draw the conclusion that the E video is suitable for younger children. Otherwise, the parents would assume, surely it would have been classified. Yet often, the content of E for exempt videos is virtually identical to or worse than that of an age-restricted product. I would therefore like to urge my hon. Friend the Minister to support this Bill.

To conclude, this Bill is aimed at modernising the VRA and improving consumer-and most particularly-parental empowerment, to protect their vulnerable children from harmful video material. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, that Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mike Gapes, Rob Marris, Mr. Virendra Sharma, Mr. Edward Timpson, John Austin, Ms Karen Buck, Clive Efford, Mr. John Whittingdale, Judy Mallaber and Keith Vaz present the Bill.

Mr. Andrew Dismore accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February and to be printed.

 

13th January   

Segregated from Reason...

South Australia finds easy offence in 18 rated Hollywood DVD covers
Link Here

South Australia flagThe South Australian government is now enforcing a law that requires all R-rated films for sale or hire to be segregated from all other movies of a lower rating. Not only that, but advertising R-rated films will also be illegal.

Essentially, this law is going to affect two types of businesses: places that sell or hire DVDs and Blu-ray films (everywhere from Target to Blockbuster), and cinemas.

The first change in the law, which says that you can't display R-rated movies alongside movies of other ratings, requires a dedicated area for all R-rated content, which needs to be clearly marked with this statement (in font at least 15mm high):

R 18+ FILMS AREA—THE PUBLIC ARE WARNED THAT MATERIAL DISPLAYED IN THIS AREA MAY CAUSE OFFENCE.

In addition to that, the item's surface area (such as a DVD cover) must not be more than 300 square centimetres (which is bigger than a DVD cover).

The other alternative given is to remove any covers or displays, other than the name of the movie (in font no larger than 1cm high) and the rating. No description, no funny quotes from Margaret Pomeranz, nothing.

The second part of the new laws restricts the ability to advertise R18+ rated films. Businesses (including cinemas) can no longer show trailers for R-rated films or display promotional material such as posters, pamphlets or other printed material. Although this probably won't be too big a problem (very few theatrical releases have been classified R18+ in recent years – most make it as MA15+) for most businesses.

 

13th January   

Sliding Backwards...

Amnesty International criticises Thailand
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Amnesty logoThailand must halt a backward slide on freedom of expression after a sharp rise in cases of people accused of insulting the revered monarchy, a leading rights group said.

Amnesty International said it welcomed a panel established by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in December to scrutinise the enforcement of Thailand's tough lese majeste laws, which carry a jail term of up to 15 years.

But the London-based group said the government should suspend the use of the law until it has scrapped provisions allowing any citizen to report another for alleged violations, and urged Thai authorities to stop censoring websites.

Amnesty International supports the prime minister's new initiative, and encourages the Royal Thai government to amend the lese majeste law so that it complies with international law and standards, an Amnesty statement said.

The group highlighted two cases since April 2009 in which Thai nationals received heavy jail sentences for allegedly defaming the royals and said that hundreds of other cases of alleged lese majeste remained active.

It said many people charged under the law had also been charged under the computer crimes act, leading to a big increase in monitoring of the Internet for any material that allegedly defames the royal family.

Amnesty said it was also concerned that the law had been characterised by the government as a matter of national security, allowing cases to be held behind closed doors.

The group said it acknowledged the nation's considerable progress under 82-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, especially in human rights, but said this made the recent roll-back in freedom of expression of even greater concern .

 

13th January   

Comment: Video Recordings Bill...

Re Commons debate replacement VRA
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Keith VazThe Video Recordings Bill completed all Parliamentary stages in the House of Commons on 6 January 2010 without opposition and has now passed to the House of Lords for consideration.

Thanks to Alan:

Scarcely credible! Is it actually compulsory to be a sanctimonious twat in order to stand for parliament? Do these deeply unsavoury see-you-next-Tuesdays ever consider that no other major European country finds it necessary to have home videos approved by a censorship body?

It confirms me in my long-held belief that there's only one person to enter parliament whose motives were beyond reproach - and we remember him on the fifth of November.

 

13th January   

Update: Rude Health...

Condom porn campaign extended to Florida
Link Here  full story: Health and Safety in Porn...AIDS and condoms in the US porn industry

AIDS Healthcare Foundation logoThe AIDS Healthcare Foundation plans to file a complaint with three Florida citizens to the state Department of Health over the lack of use of condoms in adult film productions.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AHF, said the organization has decided to ramp up its efforts beyond California, where the bulk of porn is shot: In light of the tremendous growth of adult film production in Florida, particularly in Miami and in response to repeated threats from California producers who say they will leave California and take their productions — and jobs — to other states including Florida, AHF decided to expand our adult film worker safety campaign to include Florida.

This is why we are filing 'sanitary nuisance' complaints with Florida health officials — to press for the enforcement health statutes which we believe should require the use of condoms in all adult films produced in Florida.

Florida does not have designated occupational safety and health divisions like California, Weinstein noted.

Weinstein said that AHF will back its Miami complaints with evidence from 10 adult DVDs and streamed online videos filmed or produced in the Miami area in which many performers do not wear condoms. Two of the films cited include South Beach Cruisin' No. 2 , a double-DVD film by Josh Stone Productions, and Barely Legal: Miami Girls , produced by Hustler Video.

 

13th January   

Watching TV Shortens Life...

All enjoyable activity is already frowned upon or deemed unhealthy, so now researchers find that doing nothing is equally bad
Link Here

BHDI logoIn a warning for couch potatoes everywhere, Australian research has found that relaxing in front of television for hours every day can shorten your life.

Each hour [per day?] spent vegging out in front of television increases the risk of early death by up to 18%, according to researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

Even healthy people who exercise increase the chances of premature death from heart disease by 18% for each hour spent in front of television. They have a 9% increased risk of cancer and an 11% increased risk of death from all causes claims the Australian and French team, whose findings are reported today in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

However it is not television per se that is the killer, but long periods of sitting doing nothing, said David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute who led the research. Sitting for long periods at an office desk was also bad for the health, but the research focussed on television watching as that is the most common sedentary activity

The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time, said Professor Dunstan. But technological, social and economic changes mean that people don't move their muscles as much as they used to. For many people, on a daily basis they simply shift from one chair to another - from the car to the chair in the office to the chair on front of the television.

Dr Dunstan and his colleagues tracked 8800 men and women aged 25 and over, over a period of six and a half years. The group, which did not include people already at risk of premature death from pre-existing cardiovascular disease, were tested for glucose tolerance and provided blood samples so researchers could measure biomarkers such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They were divided into three groups; those who watched fewer than two hours of television a day, those who watched two to four hours, and those who watched four or more hours a day.

Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death, the researchers said in a statement.

The next stage of the research is to test the hypothesis that taking breaks from sitting still to move around will help in the breakdown of fats and glucose.

 

13th January   

Tajik Censorship...

Criticism banned as Tajikistan government prepare for elections
Link Here

Tajikistan flagThe government of Tajikistan has blocked websites criticising it ahead of the 28th February parliamentary election, telecommunications industry sources have said

The government has a record of stifling dissent by shutting down all critical media, citing tax issues and other irregularities. The West has never judged elections in the poverty-stricken mainly Muslim country to be free or fair.

Following the government's order, access to certain (Web) resources ... has been blocked, said a source at an Internet service provider. A source at another provider confirmed the government was behind the move.

Among blocked websites were centrasia.ru, which publishes regional news and hosts a popular political discussion board, and ariana.su, which focuses on President Rakhmon and his family. Rakhmon wields sweeping powers and mainstream media never criticise him.

 

12th January   

Art Censors...

Metropolitan Museum of Art removes Mohammed images
Link Here

Metropolitan MuseumThe Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York said several images of the Prophet Mohammed were removed from a collection .

The New York Post said that the removal of the images from the museum's Islamic collection comes after a number of conservative Muslims opposed the inclusion of the Mohammed images based on their religious beliefs.

The critics reportedly wanted the images removed because images of the Prophet Mohammed are not acceptable in their religion.

A source with inside knowledge of the museum told the Post the Metropolitan's decision to pull the controversial images reflects the museum's apparent policy to avoid criticism.

 

12th January   

Update: Enemies of the Internet...

Proposed new repressive internet law in Belarus
Link Here

Belarus flagThe international human rights organisation Reporters Without Borders have made a statement of protest expressing their concern over the plans of the Belarusian government to tighten control over Internet.

The matter concerns the decree On Measures for Revising Use of the National Segment of the World Wide Web which appeared in the press on December 14, 2009. The organisation attracts attention to the fact that the freedom of speech in Belarus is considerably limited even without that.

We must emphasize our concern about this bill, which threatens online free speech and everyone's right to express their views anonymously without fear of government repression, Reporters Without Borders said. After placing most of the traditional media under its control, the regime is pursuing an offensive against new media.

The press freedom organisation added: The president's attempts to be reassuring cannot hide the repressive nature of this bill, which is liable to make netizens censor themselves. It should be abandoned so that Belarus is not added to the list of countries such as North Korea, China and Iran that Reporters Without Borders has identified as Enemies of the Internet.

The scandalous internet law proposal mentions blocking websites by the decision of state organs, identification of web users, responsibility for dissemination of information on the web, and state registration of online media.

According to the first version of the decree, hosting of Belarusian websites is obligatory transferred to Belarus, and in order to access internet even in dial-up mode, Belarusians would have to show passport to the provider first.

 

11th January   

Scissors at Dawn...

Daybreakers cut for a 15 certificate
Link Here

Daybreakers Theatrical Release Daybreakers is a 2009 Australia/US horror by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

Thanks to utternutterman

The BBFC cut 6s from the 2009 cinema release:
Company made three cuts to remove shots focussing on very strong gory violence, in order to achieve a 15 classification. Cuts made in line with BBFC Guidelines. An uncut 18 was available.

During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure the desired classification. Following this advice, certain changes were made prior to submission.

The BBFC further explained their 15 rating:

Daybreakers is a science-fiction horror film about a future world that is populated almost entirely by vampires and where the humans are either harvested for their blood or live in secret underground resistance movements. It has been passed 15 for scenes of strong, gory and bloody violence.

The film contains several scenes where vampires are killed in extremely gory fashion, with copious bloodshed and including images of severed limbs and decapitations. The guidelines at 15 state that violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain and injury and that the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable . Many of the violent scenes in the film show the blood as almost black and this lessens the impact of the bloodshed and allows these scenes to be contained at 15 . The scenes at the film's climax, in particular, show both vampires and humans being torn apart but these shots are all in the distance and very rapidly edited with much of the stronger detail carefully masked.

Daybreakers also includes some strong language and a brief scene of female nudity

 

11th January   

Update: Video Recordings Bill...

Commons debate replacement VRA
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Keith VazThe Video Recordings Bill completed all Parliamentary stages in the House of Commons on 6 January 2010 without opposition and has now passed to the House of Lords for consideration.

During the short debate Keith Vaz got a few whinges in:

Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour) :

Does the Minister intend, in his speech, to touch on the Byron review and the Government's commitment to prevent violent video games falling into the hands of young people? Are the Government still committed to the conclusions of Byron? Will the recommendations be implemented in full? When will the Digital Economy Bill come before the House? It deals with all the other issues that the Minister cannot deal with in the context of the present Bill.

Siôn Simon (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Birmingham, Erdington, Labour):

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who is a tireless advocate of his views on the subject. Yes, the Government are committed to Byron and to child safety. The work of the Internet Watch Foundation and the Department for Children, Schools and Families-led group that has been set up in an unprecedented way across Government to look at all child safety issues online is very important, groundbreaking and central to what the Government are doing. As my right hon. Friend knows, those are matters not for today, but for the Digital Economy Bill, which is now in another place.

Keith Vaz: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way to me a second time. He talked about the boxed games. One of the concerns is that when people buy video games, there is not sufficient notice on those games that they have adult content, which is central to what the Video Recordings Bill hopes to do-to ensure proper enforcement. Is there anything in the proposal or in any measure that the Government propose to introduce in the near future that will ensure that when retailers sell such games, it is clear that they have adult content-that is, by increasing the very small notification on the box that it is an adult game?

Siôn Simon: As my right hon. Friend knows, child safety, boxed games, and good information that is readily understandable by the public when adult content is included in games or DVDs are central to our approach and to the Byron recommendation that content should be clearly labelled and that content unsuitable for children should not be made available for children.

However, that is not a matter for today. None of the provisions that we are discussing today in this short two-clause Bill will affect that in any way. The size of the rating symbols on the boxes is a subject which I know my right hon. Friend and I will discuss at length in the Committee stage of the Digital Economy Bill. I look forward to that, but it is not something that I should be diverted into discussing today.

And on the subject of exempting games and sports videos from censorship:

Edward Vaizey (Shadow Minister (Arts), Culture, Media and Sport; Wantage, Conservative):

There is some concern that music and sports videos remain exempt from classification. Again, that exemption could have been removed in a draft submitted to the European Commission. There is overwhelming support for removing the exemptions. There is not a shred of logic or intellectual credibility to keeping music and sports videos exempt. Why should something be exempt just because it is of a particular genre? As I said to the right hon. Member for Leicester, East, we are worried about inappropriate content being distributed to minors and adults. Whether it is in a video game, DVD, film, a music video or something related to sport is irrelevant. The exemption is bizarre. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman agrees-he is nodding.

Keith Vaz: I do not agree that we are talking about the same thing. A film with inappropriate content is not interactive. The point about video games, which is backed up by research from America, is that the player is part of the process. Players shoot and stab people in a video game, and that is different. I accept that inappropriate content is wrong, wherever it is found, but video games are different.

Edward Vaizey: I continue to assume that the right hon. Gentleman is against hardcore pornography and offensive content. For example, a video by the band Slipknot, which includes self-mutilation by teenagers, remains unclassified. Before we get into a debate on censorship, I am not saying that that content cannot be viewed by responsible adults, or that the video by Motley Cre, which depicts a George Bush lookalike with a prostitute, could not be viewed by responsible 18-year-olds. However, I think that all hon. Members agree that it should not be viewed by a 10-year-old, and should therefore be classified so that parents know, if their 10 or 11-year-old comes home saying, I've got the latest Motley Cre video exactly what it could contain. It is extraordinary that music and sports videos are exempt. We will continue to press for the removal of that exemption. However, we are where we are; the Bill has been introduced in its current form and we do not intend to stand in its way.

...

To pick up on the comments of the right hon. Member for Leicester, East about the Byron report, which focuses on keeping children safe in a digital world, I am genuinely interested in the Under-Secretary's thoughts about how and whether content should be regulated online. As he knows, an increasing number of video distributors submit their films for classification to the BBC for an online rating, but obviously more unscrupulous dealers do not do that. The legislation does nothing to ensure that there are any sanctions against people who distribute videos online.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour):

...

My second point is about the general debate concerning video games. I am keen not to stray beyond the measures of the Video Recordings Act 1984, but there were some very interesting comments from the Front Benches about their commitment to ensuring that the thriving and innovative video games industry in the United Kingdom, and particularly in London, survives. I am not against what is being proposed, and I have never been in favour of censorship; I have always been very clear that those who are aged 18-plus should be able to buy and watch whatever video games they want. Those who are not sufficiently old should not be able to do so, however, and those retailers who are prosecuted under this Act must be dealt with very severely indeed.

I say that because I disagree with the hon. Member for Wantage, in that I do not believe that watching a film is the same as participating in a video game. I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have very young grandchildren, and I have children aged 14 and 12. A huge amount of research has been done on the issue, and it has been found that a half of all eight to 11-year-olds use the internet without adult supervision. I do not know how many Members present have children or grandchildren aged between eight and 11, but it is a real worry that a half of those in that age group are not supervised by adults when using the internet.

Some parents take the home computer out of their children's rooms and put it in a room where everyone has access to it so that they can watch over what their children are doing online. Parents have different ways of dealing with that issue, but the fact is that watching a violent film is different from participating in a video game. If a young person gets hold of Modern Warfare 2 , for example, they will be asked to participate in a terrorist attack; they will be asked to shoot at civilians in Moscow airport as part of the game. That is why the Russian Government have banned Modern Warfare 2 ; they felt that in an age when we are trying to educate our children about the need to understand the dangers of extreme violence, we should not place in their hands, under the guise of entertainment, games that allow them to act in a violent way.

I am grateful to the Minister for what he said about the Digital Economy Bill coming before this House soon, and it is always the hope of Ministers that such Bills will come to the House from the other place quickly, but I have counted that we have just 35 working days from now until 31 March. Nobody knows when the next general election will be held, of course, but there are only 35 complete working days in which legislation can be addressed in this House.

John Whittingdale (Maldon & East Chelmsford, Conservative):

The right hon. Gentleman refers to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 . It is already rated 18 and therefore it is already illegal to sell it to somebody who is under age, without the Digital Economy Bill needing to be passed. I do not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman on the necessity of passing that Bill, but there are already provisions in place that prevent children from playing that game.

Keith Vaz:

...

The Byron recommendations must be implemented in full, as doing so will help to strengthen what the Government are trying to do enormously. As far as video recordings are concerned, I pay tribute to what the Government have done over the past few years. There has been a huge leap forward since I first took up this issue, along with others, after young Stefan Pakeerah, from Leicester, was stabbed to death in a park in Leicester in circumstances similar to those found in a video game watched by his killer, Warren Leblanc. I know that the judge in that case said that there was no connection, but the mother of the young boy stabbed to death felt very strongly that there was. Following subsequent meetings with two Prime Ministers and many Ministers, the Government have pushed forward on the matter.

I welcome what the Government have done, but it remains the case that any Member of the House can walk into any video store subject to the Video Recordings Act 1984, pick up a box set and see a tiny-it is still tiny-reference to the age limit for those playing the game. Through various campaigns involving people on all sides, we increased the 18 certificate sign from about the size of a 1p piece to probably the size of a 10p or, possibly, 50p piece. Actually, we have always said that, as with cigarette packets, splashed across the front of a violent video game should be the fact that it has adult content-and good luck to over-18s who wish to buy it! That would bring the fact to the attention of retailers who might, sometimes inadvertently, sell the game to someone under the age of 18.

I was interested to hear the statistics put forward by the hon. Member for Wantage on the number of stores that have been prosecuted. I have been after those statistics for some time. They are good news. The last time some mystery shopping was done-Trevor McDonald on one of his ITV programmes sent in a load of under-18 mystery shoppers-they were sold video games for over-18s, but the stores were not prosecuted. I welcome the fact that the figures are quite high. We are going through the bother of trying to get the Bill through quickly, and we should send out a message that legislation passed by the House will be implemented and that those who break the law will be prosecuted.

Don Foster (Bath, Liberal Democrat):

...

I share the concern expressed by the current shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr. Hunt, about DVDs and videos relating to sport, religion and music that do not carry ratings but which often contain material that many of us would think inappropriate, in particular for sale to young people. Such videos include self-mutilation, erotic dancing, sex toys, drug use and so on.

The Minister's officials have made clear a point that was not picked up by the hon. Member for Wantage. They have said:

Music, sports or religious videos lose their exemption from classification if they depict sexual activity, mutilation, gross violence or other practices likely to cause offence, and that in those circumstances, it is for the appropriate enforcement authorities to take action.

The implication is that there is no need for an amendment, because other bits of legislation could be used to prosecute people distributing such material. I would be grateful if the Minister could clarify that issue, because it is one that those in probably all parts of the House want to be resolved. My concern is to find out the means by which it is going to be resolved, or whether the Minister believes, as his officials appear to be saying, that there is no problem and that action can be taken under existing legislation.

And on the subject of online distribution:

John Whittingdale:

...

I wish to make a few observations about the Video Recordings Act 1984. I always approach any such legislation with some suspicion, as I am fundamentally opposed to censorship. I believe that in a free society it is up to adults to choose what they wish to see, but there are two important qualifications to that. The first is that there will always be some material that is so unacceptable in its violent or explicitly sexual content that it is deemed to be damaging to people to view it. I accept that, and some examples have been given in the debate.

I shall return to that matter, but perhaps more important is the fact that while adults are free to choose, we have always accepted that children require protection. I join right hon. and hon. Members in paying tribute to the work of the BBFC. It is in the area of age classification that some of the most difficult decisions have to be taken. The film that required perhaps more cuts than any other, some time ago now, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , because the distributor was keen that it should be given a certificate that meant children were able to see it. The BBFC felt that it contained inappropriate material, and there was lengthy negotiation. A lot of the controversy about films such as The Dark Knight and Casino Royale is about whether they should appropriately be a 12 or a 15.

The virtue of the 1984 Act was that it extended that protection, which already existed in cinemas, to viewing in the home. The Minister gave the statistics on the extent to which viewing in the home has taken off in the past 20 years. When the Act was originally introduced back in 1984, it was accompanied by a degree of what one can only call hysteria about video nasties, and it is worth reflecting on what has happened to some of the most notorious examples of films that were widely cited at that time.

The then Minister, Mr. David Mellor, named three films in the course of the debate. The first was The Driller Killer , which was banned after the passage of the 1984 Act but then released uncut in 2002, and last night I checked and found that it is available on Amazon for £3.98. The second was Zombie Flesh Eaters . That, too, was banned under the Act but then released uncut in 2005 and can now be found on Amazon at £5.98. The third was I Spit On Your Grave , which was also on the list of prosecutable movies until 2001 but was then released, although with substantial cuts made by the BBFC, and is now widely available. Perhaps the most remarkable example is a film that was on the Director of Public Prosecution's list of films that were banned, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead , which at the time was regarded as wholly unacceptable but, indicating how tastes change, two years ago was given away free with copies of The Sun as a promotional move.

There is no question but that tastes change and that we have become more liberal, which I welcome. However, as I said, there will always be films that go beyond what is generally regarded as acceptable. The Minister mentioned one particular film, Grotesque . Two films were banned by the BBFC in 2008. The first was Murder-Set-Pieces , described as having scenes in which a psychopathic sexual serial killer...is seen raping, torturing and murdering his victims .

The second has the unlikely title of The Texas Vibrator Massacre -I leave its contents to the imagination of hon. Members. I shall return to those two films in a moment.

My hon. Friend Mr. Vaizey made the important point that there are loopholes in the existing legislation, which existed for good reasons at the time. It was not regarded as possible that a video concerning music or sport could be unacceptable. That loophole has undoubtedly been exploited. I hosted a dinner that the BBFC gave in the House just before Christmas, at which it showed us examples of some of the material that is now available in music videos and sports games that does not require certification because of the loophole in the 1984 Act. I understand why the Government did not feel able to address that matter in the Bill, but I share the wish that has been expressed that the loophole should be closed, and I hope that it will be in the Digital Economy Bill.

The second main point that I wish to make is that at the time of the passage of the 1984 Act, the world was completely different. Mr. Graham Bright, the Member who moved Second Reading, said that he defined a video recording as a video tape or video disc. It is thus a physical product. -[ Hansard, 11 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 525.]

Of course, it is now not necessarily a physical product. More and more video is being made available through online distribution, which at the time perhaps could not even have been conceived. We are seeking to address that through moves such as those by the BBFC to impose a voluntary system of regulation, but the films that we are concerned about are now very widely available. I return to the two that I mentioned, Murder-Set-Pieces and The Texas Vibrator Massacre . I checked last night and found that both those films are widely available through file sharing sites. An internet search for either with the words download or bit torrent will bring up any number of sites from which one can obtain them. Equally, they are available through cyberlockers. Both are on Megaupload and RapidShare and can be accessed without any attempt to verify the age of the person downloading them. There is serious concern about how we can continue to protect young people when it is now so easy to obtain such films.

We will debate the matter at greater length when we come to the measures against piracy through illegal file sharing that the Government are proposing to take in the Digital Economy Bill. It is worth remembering that it is not just protection of copyright that is at stake when we consider file sharing. There is equally the concern that it is being used to circumvent the protections that the House has put in place. In the most extreme cases, as I am sure the Minister will be aware, child pornography is being widely distributed through illegal file sharing. That is another reason why I share with other hon. Members the view that it is important that we get the Digital Economy Bill on to the statute book.

Having said that, I agree with the Minister that the majority of distribution of video content will still be through physical product for the foreseeable future, so it is certainly important that the Bill should be passed today and that we should reinstate the protections that we thought were already in place. However, there is a danger that we will be seen to be bolting the front door when the back door is wide open, and we will have to consider that in future.

That leads me to the more general conclusion that I suspect that there is nothing that this House can do to legislate to prevent the distribution of material online from sites that may be located on the other side of the world. When we consider what it is appropriate for people to view, we must remember that that is a matter for adults to decide. The most effective means that we can have to protect children is for parents to exercise responsibility, watch carefully what their children are doing and ensure that they are not obtaining access to content that could be damaging to them. I support the Bill, but I fear that it is beginning to look increasingly old-fashioned and outmoded given the extraordinary pace of development throughout the video sector.

Siôn Simon:

...

We have already congratulated the British Board of Film Classification on the job that it does, by which we meant the job of classifying films, but I think I ought also to congratulate it on the job that it does in lobbying Members of Parliament and providing briefing for these debates. Rarely can the entire participating body in a debate have been so thoroughly and extensively briefed by a single organisation. I visited the BBFC's offices fairly recently and heard its arguments about one or two aspects that we may not see in exactly the same way, but I think we are in accord on most of the issues that Members, in their different ways, have discussed today: that is, the central issues.

...

I am not sure whether I have fully covered the question of appeals and compensation, but in the absence of further interventions, I shall proceed to answer the questions about the potential for insertion of what might be described as the PEGI clauses of the Digital Economy Bill, which introduce the PEGI European classification system for video games in this country into this Bill.

One of the fundamental reasons why the House has considered the Bill, and why Opposition parties in both Houses have indicated that they consider it appropriate to fast-track it, is that we are not amending an existing piece of legislation which has been in force for 25 years. If the two main Opposition parties had come to us in advance and said We think it important to include the PEGI clauses , we might have been able to discuss the matter, but I do not think that that happened. We needed to act swiftly, and, legitimately, to use the special fast-track procedure. Part of the reason for concertina-ing the House's usual precautionary procedures was that we were making no change whatsoever. The point is that we need to get the legislation repealed and revived so that it can be amended during the passage of the Digital Economy Bill.

...

John Whittingdale: Is it the Government's intention to accept the other amendment that has been tabled to the Digital Economy Bill, which would remove the exemption for sport and music videos?

Siôn Simon: As things currently stand, we are not minded to accept that amendment, although I am not averse to talking about it. I take note of the uniformity of view on that matter, on the Labour Benches anyway. However, I know from my recent visit to the BBFC that it takes the strong view that we should make this change, and the BBFC is very influential in these matters.

Edward Vaizey: I should remind the Minister that on Tuesday one of his own Back Benchers, Mr. Dismore, is introducing a ten-minute Bill that would bring about this exemption, so there is all-party support for it.

Siôn Simon: I take that point. I do not have a strong, dogmatic view on this. I have considered it, and on balance I have come down on the side that says that given that it is about where we draw the line, the vast majority of content in music and sport videos does not need to be classified in this way, to the extent that it would be an intolerable burden. That is a reasonable position, and that is where I stand. We are not currently minded to accept an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to that end, although I do not take a dogmatic view on it.

 

11th January   

Update: Credited as Repressive...

China adds IMDB to its block list
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

imdb logoAccess to IMDb.com was blocked in China this week, adding the movie business Internet portal to a fast-growing list of banned Web sites featuring user-generated content, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

The site, fully named the Internet Movie Database, is owned by online bookselling giant Amazon.com, and claims over 57 million monthly visitors.

There's no Chinese-language edition of IMDb and industry insiders here say they can't understand why it's been shut down for since Wednesday.

Typically the government's censorship efforts focus on trying to block China's 338 million Web users from accessing online pornography and violence. The government seldom reacts to queries about blocking foreign Web sites or gives any official notice when such action is taken.

For clues to Beijing's beef with IMDb, a quick scan of the site turned up plenty of information relating to politically sensitive search terms such as Dalai Lama and Rebiya Kadeer — the names of members of two exiled ethnic minorities considered separatists by China's one-party government.

For instance, IMDb lists The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom, a 2009 documentary whose planned screening this week at the Palm Springs International Film Festival caused the state-run China Film Group to pull two of its films from competition in protest.

Likewise, typing Kadeer – persona non-grata for her alleged masterminding of recent violence in western China's Xinjiang region — turns up the IMDb listing for China: Rebirth of an Empire, a 2009 documentary featuring Kadeer and exiled Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng.

 

11th January   

TV Redemption...

Redemption films on Film 24
Link Here

Film 24 logoRedemption Films have agreed a deal with UK TV's Film 24 which is available on Sky Digital channel 157.

The schedule is as follows

  • January 16th Nude Vampire
  • January 23rd Nude for Satan
  • January 30th Satanic Sluts – The Black Order Cometh
  • February 6th Cold Eyes of Fear
  • February 13th Dracula's Fiancee
  • February 20th Schoolgirl Hitchhikers
  • February 27th Requiem for a Vampire
  • March 6th Living Dead Girl (English subtitles)
  • March 13th Lips of Blood (English subtitles)

Start time for them will be around midnight after a Network TV Premiere of a horror movie.

 

11th January   

21st Century Reality...

Malta to update censorship legislation
Link Here  full story: Front Against Censorship...Censored article leads to Maltese protest

Ir RealtaMaltese laws related to freedom of expression need to be updated to reflect 21st century reality according to a draft National Cultural Policy to be launched in the first week of February.

A spokesman for the Culture Ministry told The Sunday Times the draft policy had been approved by Cabinet and included the recommendation that the ministry should start a process of updating Maltese legislation.

The news comes just two days after police confirmed they will be charging a 21-year-old history postgraduate, who is also editor of student publication Realta with offences connected with distributing obscene or pornographic material after he published a graphic short story containing sexual violence. Mark Camilleri could face a prison sentence if convicted.

Camilleri said he never expected so much hassle when he chose to publish the first-person narrative about sexual violence. He said the University authorities acted irresponsibly and hypocritically , and when he tried to contact them to discuss the issue, he was always ignored: They are meant to be working in the students' interest, but instead they are doing a disservice to students. They didn't even have the decency to meet us.

The University rector banned the newspaper Ir-Realta and reported the case to the police after it carried an article in Maltese written by Alex Vella Gera. Dr Lauri said: We are not passing judgment. But since there was a possibility he broke regulations, it was our duty to inform the police. If it emerges that he didn't break the law, then we are fine.

Camilleri's case has already been taken up in solidarity by lawyers Alex Sciberras and Lara Dimitrijevic. If they lose the case, they are prepared to take it to the European Court of Human Rights.

 

10th January   

Offsite: Sing a Song of Censorship...

Andrew Dismore MP to propose extending VRA to sports and music DVDs
Link Here  full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill

Andrew DismoreSport or music videos containing cage-fighting, nudity and self-mutilation are currently available to buy without a censorship certificate.

MP Andrew Dismore will this week push to amend the current censorship law which allows these films to be exempted from the usual classification system, under the House of Commons' 10-Minute Rule.

At present videos and DVDs primarily concerned with sport, religion or music do not have to carry a classification.

These have included the cage-fighting DVD UFC Best of 2007 , a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques, which is available on the high street quite legally without age restrictions, having claimed exemption from classification.

It means there is no age rating or consumer advice, although it contains close-ups of bloody and sustained head blows, some of them in slow motion.

Tory Culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt last month called for the law to be redrawn to remove these exceptions.

Now Dismore is to begin this process, introducing classifications for the images of 'concern'.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said: As the regulator, the BBFC has been concerned for some time about the content of some very popular music and sports DVDs which have claimed exemption under the Video Recordings Act but which we believe should not be exempt. We do not have any powers to require these DVDs to be submitted for classification. We believe that it is important that material which will be attractive to young audiences should be properly labelled to enable parents to know that their children are protected from inappropriate material.

 

10th January   

Writhing Tentacles...

Extended version of Avatar set for DVD
Link Here

Avatar Theatrical Release James Cameron has generously prepared a little something special for the eager movie fans that watch his latest blockbuster, Avatar when it comes out on DVD.

Apparently, there is going to be an extended version of the scene in which human Jake Sully in his Na'vi body and the chief's daughter Neytiri have sex. The Na'vi are the native people of the planet Pandora.

While Jake and Neytiri's romantic coupling is alluded to in the theatrical release, the extended scene is said to be more graphic.

The scene was left out of the theatrical release so that the film could maintain its PG-13 rating.

 

10th January   

Offsite: TV Fit for Teletubbies...

PC-mad BBC where even church bells and Teletubbies are vetted
Link Here

Teletubbies Time DVD BBC staff say they have been forced to spend hours vetting preschool children's series and classical music concerts for sex, violence and inappropriate language under idiotic compliance rules introduced after the Jonathan Ross scandal.

taff have told The Sunday Telegraph that his legacy is a burdensome bureaucracy which stifles creativity while being unlikely to prevent further incidents.

Under the enhanced compliance procedures, which apply to most pre-recorded programmes, every second of material to be broadcast must be watched or listened to check for unacceptable content, and a seven-page form must be filled out.

Among the programmes subjected to the new procedures are parts of the BBC's Armistice Day coverage. All episodes of the Teletubbies must be vetted, despite the show being aimed at under-threes and containing few or no normal words. Also being vetted are many Radio 3 concerts of works written after 1900.

...Read full article

 

10th January   

Finger Wagging Good...

Advert with West Indian crowd enjoying fried chicken accused of racial stereotyping
Link Here

KFC cricket advertThe Australian arm of the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has had to withdraw an advertisement after accusations of supposed racial insensitivity.

It showed a white cricket fan trying to pacify a group of rowdy West Indian fans by handing around fried chicken.

When the advertisement reached America via the internet there were complaints. It was accused of reinforcing a derogatory racial stereotype linking black people in the American deep south with a love of fried food.

The advertisement from Kentucky Fried Chicken features a white cricket fan dressed in the green and gold of the Australian team surrounded by a group of West Indian supporters, who are dancing and singing to a calypso beat. He decides to quieten them down by handing around a bucket of fried chicken.

The fast food chain's head office in America said it was withdrawing the advertisement, and apologised for what it called any misrepresentation which might have caused offense.

 

10th January   

Update: Bad Apple Spoils the Raunch...

Apple censors Bild newspaper for display on iPhones
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Bild on iPhone German civil-liberties advocates have criticized computer company Apple over terms of use that stop a mass-circulation newspaper sending erotic photos and small ads from prostitutes to the iPhone. The newspaper Bild, which regulary features naked females on its front page, launched an iPhone application last month which allows paying customers to read a digital version of Bild the night before publication.

Bild has confirmed that it is whiting out escort service advertisements and soft porn to satisfy Apple's terms of use. Some liberals accuse Apple of censorship, saying it has no right to stop offensive content if that content is legal in a print publication.

Michael Konken, chairman of a German journalists' union, the DJV, said, It's interference in news reporting. That isn't right. You could call it censorship. He said Apple was a mere conduit for data: The provider is like a truck that transports the content. It's not allowed to dictate the content, he said, echoing criticisms on some liberty-minded German blogs. He said it was up to the courts to decide if content was illegal.

Helmut Heinen, president of the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers, said he too felt uncomfortable with the terms of use: Censorship is not the purpose of the platform provider, but as content sellers we worry it is the thin end of the wedge, he said.

A spokesman for Apple Germany, Georg Albrecht, said the company banned apps with content that was pornographic, illegal or in breach of privacy. But he said Apple was not making the precise guidelines public.

 

10th January   

Update: Leaving Fear Behind...

Tibetan film maker jailed for 6 years over documentary
Link Here  full story: Tibet Protests in China...China repress Tibetan protests and media coverage

Devotion Defiance Leaving Fear Behind A film-maker has been jailed in China for six years for making a documentary in which ordinary Tibetans praised the Dalai Lama.

The film, Leaving Fear Behind , was shot by Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan from a poor farming family in western Qinghai province, and his friend Golog Jigme Gyatso, a monk. The two men had spent several months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics interviewing Tibetans about the upcoming games and their views of the Chinese Government.

The 108 Tibetans spoke with remarkable openness in the interviews and had agreed to show their faces on camera.

The pair had finished shooting the documentary and smuggled the tapes out of Tibet when a riot erupted in the capital, Lhasa, in March 2008. They were arrested a few days later as unrest spread rapidly through Tibetan-populated regions of China.

On December 28 Wangchen, 35, was sentenced to six years in prison by a court in the western city of Xining. The trial received no publicity and his family were not informed. News of his prison term was finally relayed out of the country to friends and relatives who had been campaigning for nearly two years for his release.

Before making the documentary, Wangchen said: The idea of our film is not to get famous or to give entertainment. It is very difficult to go to Beijing and speak out there. So that is why we decided to show the real feelings of Tibetans inside Tibet through this film.

A statement on www.leavingfearbehind.com, where footage can be downloaded, said that Mr Wangchen had not been allowed outside legal aid and that the Government had barred a lawyer hired by his family from representing him. His wife, Lhamo Tso, said: I appeal to the court in Xining to allow my husband to have a legal representative of his own choosing.

 

10th January   

Immature Bus Company...

ESA challenge Chicago Transit Authority's games advert ban
Link Here

ESA logoThe Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has won a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) over the banning of advertisements for adult-rated videogames.

An ordinance that took effect in January of 2009 prohibited any advertisement that markets or identifies a video or computer game rated 'Mature 17+' (M) or 'Adults Only 18+' (AO). The ESA argued that such a ban unconstitutionally restricts speech in a public forum that is otherwise open to all speakers without a compelling interest for doing so.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the ESA an injunction, with Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer stating: …the advertisements the CTA wishes to ban promote expression that has constitutional value and implicates core First Amendment concerns.

 

10th January   

Update: Iranian Deviance from Human Rights...

Iran publishes long lists of websites that are illegal to access
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Iran flagThe Iranian judicial authorities have published a long list of banned Internet websites in a new crackdown on online networks, including those deemed immoral.

They said the list, drawn up by a committee of experts, bans any site that contains pornography, prostitution, sexual deviation or anything considered to be contrary to the morals of society in the Islamic republic.

Websites containing material contrary to security and social peace as well as those seen by the authorities as hostile to government officials and institutions bound to lead to crimes are also banned.

According to the list published in several Tehran newspapers, anyone found guilty of using such websites could be jailed for several years in line with a law on Internet offences passed in parliament more than a year ago.

Internet users are also prohibited from posting articles that violate religious values, that insult Islam and other recognised world religions, saints and prophets, the reports said.

Any articles that insult Imam Khomeini and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are banned, the reports added in reference to the founder of the Islamic republic and his successor. Articles contrary to the constitution, that support hostile political groups or are used as propaganda against the regime of the Islamic republic are also banned.

The sale of software that can bypass bypass filter systems used by the authorities is also forbidden, the reports said.

 

10th January   

Hard Times...

Kenya broadcasting laws come into force
Link Here

Kenya flagKenya's government has gazetted new laws that will regulate the broadcast media, setting the stage for a battle with Media Owners and journalists.

The government announced that the Kenya Communications (Broadcasting) regulations 2009 became law from January 1, this year, and TV stations must now brace for hard times including possible closure.

The chairman of the Kenya Editors' Guild, Macharia Gaitho, described the regulations as retrogressive and obnoxious. The Ministry of Information, he said, had employed subterfuge and deceit in publishing the regulations despite an agreement with media partners last year mediated by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The toughest rules include censorship of content, limiting sex talk on FM radio stations and adult movies on television to after 10pm, banning of cross media ownership and setting rules for political coverage during general elections.

Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said: There is nowhere in world where there is absolute freedom. We have to curtail some freedom for the sake of the majority, the PS said.

The new rules also introduced term licences where media owners will have seven years before reapplying for frequencies unlike in the past when the period was unlimited. Those with inactive frequencies will have to surrender them.

Any person who contravenes any provision of these regulations commits an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a fine not exceeding a million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both.

The laws state in part that a licensee shall generally ensure that no broadcasts by its station contains the use of offensive language, including profanity and blasphemy, presents sexual matters in an explicit and offensive manner, or glorifies violence.

The content should not incite or perpetuate hatred or vilify any person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, disability, religion or culture.

 

9th January   

Career Women Make Angry Mothers...

Provocative advert provokes mothers
Link Here

mumsnet logoAn advertising campaign that featured the message Career women make bad mothers has been pulled from about 4,000 billboards around the country after a vehement response by irate mothers.

The Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA) hoped that its £1.25 million campaign, which also included a slogan designed to provoke England football fans that read 1966 — It won't happen this year , would show the power of billboards to inspire debate at a dedicated website, but they underestimated the potency of maternal wrath.

Mothers did indeed go online in droves, but not to Britainthinks, the internet forum set up by the advertisers. Instead, they flocked to Mumsnet. In a message thread that ran to almost 1,000 posts, they published details of the creative agency responsible for the advert, its other clients and anyone who could be used to exert pressure to have the posters withdrawn.

Four days later, shell-shocked by the torrent of abuse directed at them, the OAA apologised and promised to remove or cover up the posters as soon as possible.

Beta, the agency that created the advert, also caved in to pressure. Garry Lace, Beta's co-founder, had demanded that Mumsnet compensate him and his company for damage to their reputations, but capitulated with an apology. He denied that he was about to commence legal proceedings against Mumsnet despite admitting that he sent an e-mail to Justine Roberts, the website's managing director, in which he threatened to engage in a process to ensure ... that we are compensated for the hurt, corporate loss and reputational damage that we have suffered .

Lace said that he had relaxed his position since Mumsnet removed some of the more personal messages, but said: If my people continue to be called fucking tossers then I will take a point of view about it.

 

9th January   

Afternoons Filtered Out...

Russia to ban adult internet content in the afternoon
Link Here

Russia flagRussian Parliament members are weighing legislation that would ban all online adult content during the day.

The nationwide plan would black out all adult content from noon to 6 p.m. and essentially regulate the industry, although it appears any such law would be impossible to police.

Some in the Duma, or Russian Parliament, reason that latchkey kids are able to surf the web unattended while their parents are working during the day. As a result, lawmakers have chosen to ban the content during one-quarter of the day.

But Internet experts point out that filtering content through a software solution does the trick as well.

Lawmakers are planning to vote on the piece of legislation at the end of the month.

 

9th January   

Parental Guidance...

Survey finds that games classifications for video games are ignored
Link Here

MyVoucherCodes logoA survey conducted by discount website MyVoucherCodes shows that a good chunk of UK parents allow their kids to play videogames inappropriate for their age.

39% of those surveyed allowed younger kids to play games outside of their designated age range, with 25% admitting they had played such games alongside their children.

Still, when compared to other types of media, videogames had the lowest numbers in the survey: 53% allowed their kids to watch movies outside of the recommended age range; while 66.0% let their offspring listen to music with explicit lyrics.

 

9th January   

Digital Economy Bill...

Fast tracking Legislation mandating PEGI ratings for video games
Link Here

PEGI logoAs time winds down to the general elections, the UK government is attempting to push-through the Digital Economy Bill.

MCVUK reports that, while some aspects of the bill are still hotly contested, politicians are hoping to fast track at least some elements of the bill, including making the Pan-European Game Information PEGI ratings system enforceable by law.

Don Foster, Bath MP, stated: Swiftness is the essence of why we are here today. It is vital that we get back on to the statute book, as quickly as possible, legislation that provides protection against the sale of inappropriate material to children and counters the ability of people to sell pirate DVDs and so on.

Shadow Culture Minister Ed Vaizey added: The Digital Economy Bill will amend the 1984 Act and bring video games into a system of statutory classification using the European rating system known as PEGI—pan European game information. Broadly speaking, hon. Members of all parties support that. Everybody recognises that video games should be classified under a statutory system.

 

9th January   

Updated: Cartoon Assassin...

Police shoot knife wielding islamic terrorist in Kurt Westergaard's home
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Kurt Westergaard Danish police have shot and wounded a man at the home of Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked an international row.

Westergaard was at home in Aarhus when a man broke in armed with a knife. Police arrived and shot the man after Westergaard pressed a panic alarm.

Police said he was shot in the knee and the shoulder after threatening officers who tried to arrest him. Preben Nielsen of Aarhus police, said the man was seriously hurt but his life was not in danger.

Danish officials said the intruder was a 28-year-old Somali linked to the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia.

Police said the man had entered Westergaard's house armed with a knife and had shouted in broken English that he wanted to kill him.

Westergaard said he had grabbed his five-year-old granddaughter and run to a specially designed panic room where he raised the alarm.

He has now been taken to a safe location, but said defiantly that he would be back, the newspaper reported.

Update: Charged

3rd January 2010. See article from news.bbc.co.uk

A Somali man has been charged with trying to kill a Danish artist whose drawing of the Prophet Mohammed sparked riots around the world.

The suspect, who was shot by police outside cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's home in the city of Aarhus on Friday, was carried into court on a stretcher.

Police say he broke into the house armed with an axe and a knife.

The suspect, who denies the charge, was remanded in custody. Police say he has links with Somali Islamist militants.

The radical al-Shabab group in Somalia hailed the attack.

Kurt Westergaard Sept 2006 I locked myself in our safe room and alerted the police. He tried to smash the entrance door with an axe, but he didn't manage Kurt Westergaard

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Muhamud Rage told AFP news agency: We appreciate the incident in which a Muslim Somali boy attacked the devil who abused our prophet Mohammed and we call upon all Muslims around the world to target the people like him.

Update: Mohammed Cartoons Reprinted

9th January 2010. Based on article from theaustralian.com.au

Norway flagThe Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has published reproductions of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by Kurt Westergaard, the victim of attempted murder last week.

In an article on Westergaard, the daily printed small versions of six out of the 12 drawings by the Danish cartoonist that had infuriated Muslims around the world when Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first published them in 2005.

Several of the drawings were seen as linking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed to terrorism and suicide bombings, including the turban bomb cartoon.

Update: Cartoon Apologist

1st February 2010.  Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

Pakistan flagPakistan's Daily Mail carries a story claiming that the Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan has strongly regretted the re-publication of the Turbomb Motoon in the pages of Aftenposten.

Robert Kvile allegedly is of the view that the Norwegian government would strive to reform understandings and to devise a strategy to stop such practices in future .

Kvile had been summoned to the office of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi.

 

9th January   

Updated: Funky Chicken...

Strangulation induced highs feature in YouTube videos
Link Here

YouTube logoChildren are posting videos on the internet showing them choking other youngsters to the point of collapse, in a craze that doctors warn has led to brain damage and death.

In one, a group of teenagers set out clear guidelines to the practice in an instructional video , while in several others British voices can be heard.

The problem has been increasingly acknowledged in the United States, Canada and France but campaigners warn that Britain is turning a blind eye. The craze is spreading on the internet largely without the knowledge of adults.

This is disturbing, highly dangerous, very risky and the practice should be avoided at all costs, said Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. The American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned recently: Parents, educators and healthcare providers should become familiar with warning signs that youths are playing the choking game.

In Britain, the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was aware of the activity and was monitoring the situation closely. There is no authoritative research on the issue in the UK, despite campaign groups compiling 86 cases of young people in Britain who may have died this way.

Known by a variety of names from funky chicken to space monkey, the game involves hyperventilating or squeezing the carotid artery in the neck for a few seconds to achieve a high. Constricting the artery cuts blood flow to the brain; when the pressure is released, the resulting rush of oxygen causes the high. Experts say it is most prevalent among high-achieving adolescents who do not want to get in trouble by taking drugs or drink. The practice is different to autoerotic asphyxiation because it is not done for sexual gratification.

In the troubling footage on YouTube, British teenagers can be seen losing consciousness, their eyes rolled back, as they collapse to the ground to the sound of their friends' laughter.

The videos show teenagers applying pressure to the necks of friends. Others try to create the high on their own, using a ligature, with a greater risk of killing themselves if anything goes wrong and help is not at hand.

One American entry on MySpace, to background rap lyrics of spaz if you want to , claims to be an instructional video on the different ways of playing the pass-out game and shows different teenagers collapsing among their friends.

Doctors warn the choking game can lead to seizures, head injuries, strokes, heart failure and brain damage. Parents are warned to look out for unexplainable headaches, bruising round the neck, bloodshot eyes or ear pain.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said officials were aware of the activity: Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, we will continue to work with the internet industry to keep young people safe online, including through reducing the availability of harmful and inappropriate content.

Update: Craze Strangled by YouTube and MySpace

9th January 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

Dozens of videos of children deliberately choking each other to the point of collapse have been deleted by two popular websites.

Last night, both YouTube and MySpace confirmed that all the videos breached their terms of use and had been deleted from the websites: We're grateful to The Independent for raising these videos with us. We'd encourage anyone who sees a video that concerns them to report it to our review team straight away, using the 'flag' button found underneath every video, said YouTube.

 

8th January   

Nutters See Red...

Complaints about Doctor Who ginger hair comment
Link Here

Doctor Who DVD Matt Smith Matt Smith transition into the new Time Lord has already caused controversy after he was accused of insulting ginger-haired people.

Around 143 viewers complained to the BBC after Matt Smith regenerated from David Tennant in the New Year's Day special, was seen looking at his new hair and crying I'm still not ginger .

Furious parents complained to the BBC that the remark would encourage bullying of ginger haired children.

The fifth series of Doctor Who is scheduled to start this spring.

 

8th January   

Demons in the UAE...

UAE bans the video game Darksiders
Link Here

THQ Darksiders PS3 The United Arab Emirates has banned THQ's game Darksiders reports gaming site GamesLatest.

The site notes that such bannings are not usually accompanied by a detailed explanation; instead an explanation typically offered is that a forbidden commodity contradicts with UAE's customs and traditions.

The game, developed by Vigil games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, involves demons and has players take the role of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In the game's setting, War is accused of breaking a scared law and inciting a war between Heaven and Hell with battling demons and angels.

 

8th January   

Victorian Ku Klux Klan...

Australians wound up by Indian newspaper cartoon
Link Here

Klu Klux Klan cartoonAustralia has condemned as deeply offensive an Indian newspaper cartoon depicting the police as members of the racist Ku Klux Klan.

The cartoon in the Delhi Mail Today newspaper portrayed a person in a white Ku Klux Klan hood and wearing a Victoria state police badge and the words: We are yet to ascertain the nature of the crime.

It follows the murder of Indian Nitin Garg, 21, in Melbourne and a string of other attacks on South Asians.

Australian officials say the attacks have not been racist, but random acts by opportunistic criminals.

The Victoria state minister of police, Bob Cameron, condemned the cartoon: Victoria Police is a very tolerant organisation and Victoria is a very tolerant state and to suggest that Victoria Police is racist is just plain wrong .

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she had not seen the cartoon but she said: Any suggestion of the kind is deeply offensive and I would condemn the making of such comment. She said police in Victoria's capital Melbourne, where Garg was murdered, had increased patrols in areas where violent attacks have taken place.

The state's police union said the drawing was based on nothing but a slow news day in Delhi .

 

8th January   

Spine-Chilling Revenge...

Advert censor not scared by Last House on the Left advert
Link Here

Last House on the Left 2009 DVD A radio ad, for the DVD release of a horror film, included audio clips of a man screaming and a male character saying I want to hear you beg for your life . The voice-over stated What would you do if the gang that attacked your daughter sought refuge in your home? 'Last House on the Left' out now exclusively at Blockbuster. A story of kidnapping, brutality and spine-chilling revenge ... . Issue

A listener believed that the ad was unsuitable for broadcast during the day when children could be listening.

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) said, at the time they cleared the ad, they advised that it should not be broadcast next to news items about violent crime in order to avoid insensitive scheduling and possible distress to some listeners. Nonetheless, although they noted the brief scream sound effect, they believed the tone of the ad was not overly threatening or frightening and the style and words of the voice-over undermined the impression of horror. They believed that, taken as a whole, the ad was unlikely to harm or distress children and therefore did not issue additional scheduling care instructions.

ASA Decision: Not upheld

The ASA noted the brief scream and the line of dialogue from the film, I want to hear you beg for your life , but also noted that the voice-over was spoken in a breezy, matter-of-fact, non-threatening way. We considered it was clear that the ad was for a film and the tone and style of the voice-over removed any potential for horror. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to harm children and had been scheduled appropriately.

 

8th January   

Goa Goes GaGa...

Bikini adverts banned in Goa
Link Here

Goa Beach advert Fighting against the slur of turning into a sex-tourism destination, the Goa tourism department has decided to censor all advertisements showing bikini babes .

Goa is a family holiday destination and not sex tourism destination. We will make sure that bikini babes do not symbolise Goa tourism in future, state Tourism Minister Fransisco Pacheco told PTI .

He said the tourism department will ask all empanelled advertisement agencies to desist from using scantily-clad women in their campaigns.

The department has already stopped such ads but I will make sure that henceforth all advertisements are scrutinised by the department before being sent for printing, Pacheco said.

 

7th January   

Update: Video Recordings Bill...

Replacement video recordings law completes in the Commons
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

House of Commons logoThe Video Recordings Bill was presented to Parliament on 15 December 2009. There was no debate on the Bill at this stage.

This Bill completed all Parliamentary stages in the House of Commons on 6 January 2010 without opposition and has now passed to the House of Lords for consideration.

Summary of the Bill:

The Bill repeals and revives, without amendment, the Video Recordings Act 1984. Its purpose is to rectify a procedural error made during the passage of the 1984 Act, thereby making the age-rated classification and supply controls contained in that Act enforceable in UK courts. The Bill would also allow the 1984 Act to be amended by the Digital Economy Bill 2009-10.

Video Recordings Bill:

1 Repeal and revival of provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984

(1) On the commencement of this Act, sections 1 to 17, 19, 21 and 22 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (regulation of the distribution of video recordings)—

(a) cease to be in force, and

(b) having been notified to the European Commission in accordance with the Technical Standards Directive on 10 September 2009, come into force again by virtue of this subsection.

(2) In subsection (1) the Technical Standards Directive means Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations.

(3) The Schedule to this Act contains transitional provision.

2 Short title, commencement and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Video Recordings Act 2010.

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

(3) This Act extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

7th January   

Update: State Blog Control...

Berlusconi exploits assault for more internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flagSilvio Berlusconi's government is exploiting the violent attack against him in order to restrict internet freedom.

Early last month, at a political rally in Milan, Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was hit with a plaster statue by a man with a long record of mental problems. His injuries were minor, he suffered a broken nose and lost a lot of blood.

Following the violent attack, Berlusconi's opponents took to social networking sites and Kill Silvio briefly became a popular Facebook group. Italian ministers blamed bloggers for creating a climate of hatred and made calls for tighter regulation. The government is now pushing for a bill that would restrict internet freedom by making it compulsory, even for blogs, to get a government permission before posting political comment on the web.

Such a measure was first envisaged in August when the press revealed that prominent members of the Lega Nord party — part of Berlusconi's ruling coalition — had created a Facebook group inciting Italians to kill illegal immigrants.

 

7th January   

Five Husbands...

Egyptian TV drama winds up the usual nutters
Link Here

Egypt flagConservative figures in Egypt are furious over an Egyptian moviemaker's plan to produce a drama series about a woman with several husbands.

Filmmaker Mustafa Mahram told Al-Arabiyya that there was no reason he should not go ahead with the series, Hajja Zahra and her Five Husbands , because it happens in real life.

Egyptian lawyer Nabil Al-Wahsh is submitting a complaint to the public prosecutor to prevent the filming of the series on the grounds that it is an affront to Islam.

These are poisonous ideas that people are calling for and we must fight them, he told Al-Arabiyya. How can this be in accord with the law and the religion? When this matter is turned into a drama, we cannot remain silent.

The issue is feeding off religious sensitivities which were already enflamed by an Egyptian newspaper's recent publication of a Saudi writer's opinion piece regarding polyandry in Al-Masri Al-Yawm. In her article, My Four Husbands and I, author Nadine Al-Budeir asked why Muslim men were allowed to marry several wives but Muslim women could not do the same.

The series is planned to be screened during the month of Ramadan. Viewer ratings soar during this month, and it has, in recent years, become the main season for launching new Arabic television series.

Mahram said the series had nothing to do with religion and dealt with a new concept prompting discussion about the dangers involved rather than promoting it.

 

7th January   

Offsite: Animated to Persecute...

North Wales Police missed Frosties connection
Link Here
Tiger porn

 Flying Mount

The CPS dropped a prosecution under the extreme porn law last week when it apparently accepted that the soundtrack on a clip of a tiger apparently having sex with a women rendered the video comical rather than pornographic.

Andrew Holland appeared at Mold Crown Court on New Year's Eve to answer two charges of possessing extreme porn. Both charges related to video clips sent to him by friends, allegedly as jokes.

The first charge involved a video clip of a woman having sex with a tiger. The tiger, according to Holland, was an animated image, rather than a real tiger.

He told El Reg that the fictional nature of the action was obvious from the fact that, at the end of the scene, the Tiger turns to camera and said: that beats doing Frosties ads for a living .

...Read full article

 

6th January   

Update: Manic Whingers...

Manic Street Preachers album cover praised by fans
Link Here  full story: Manic Street Preachers...Whinging at Manic Street Preachers album cover

Journal for Plague Lovers CD The controversial sleeve to the Manic Street Preachers' latest album has come second in a best cover art poll.

Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's all ordered the sleeve off their shelves in May amidst supposed concerns the image on Journal for Plague Lovers showed a beaten-up girl with a blood-spattered face.

Cambridge-born artist Jenny Saville's painting actually depicts a child with a port-wine stain birthmark.

Now, in a national poll of 4,000 people, fans decided only Muse's The Resistance had better artwork. The poll was conducted by sleeve framing company Art Vinyl.

Director Andrew Heeps said: It's interesting they (the supermarkets) put emphasis on shielding the image. I'm sure in many independent record stores where it was on display it did not cause any controversy whatsoever.

Peter Black, AM and Wales Liberal Democrat health spokesman, condemned the supermarkets for their decision at the time: The award is well deserved because the cover is excellent and also portrays a very important message that people with facial disfigurement are normal human beings who should not be treated as different. It shows that the supermarkets who opted to ban this cover from their shelves were wrong.

 

6th January   

Filthy Minds at the ASA...

Advert censor whinges at nightclub advert
Link Here

Filth advertA flyer, distributed in Leeds city centre for a night club, featured a collage of images including naked women and a sex toy. It was headlined Filth THE SLUT PARTY SAT OCTOBER 10TH @ THE MINT CLUB, LEEDS . The reverse included text that stated £8 ENTRY TO THE FIRST 50 SLUTS .

Issue 1. Four complainants, three of whom believed that it degraded and demeaned women objected that the ad was offensive.

Issue 2. Two complainants felt that the ad was irresponsible, because it could be seen by children.

The Mint Club said they operated the venue which had been hired to the promotional company, Filth UK, for the event. They said the flyer in question was for a regular event called Filth, which had an individual theme for each monthly event, the flyers theme was a Slut Party . They maintained that they had received no complaints and pointed out that the event was a house music dance night with a party atmosphere where over half of customers were female, many wearing fancy dress.

The Mint Club maintained that the flyers were distributed very carefully and were strictly regulated by Leeds City Council in that respect. They said the flyers were only given out to potential customers and maintained that distribution staff were instructed carefully in what they had to do. The Mint Club did not accept that children would have seen them.

ASA Assessment: 1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA noted the ad featured imagery of female nudity in a collage which centred on an image of a sex toy. Although the leaflet was intended to be in keeping with the nature of the event, we considered that the imagery, in conjunction with the title of the event, The Slut Party, and text that stated £8 ENTRY TO THE FIRST 50 SLUTS , was likely to cause serious offence to those who believed it was sexually explicit and degrading to women. We also noted several of the complainants had seen the leaflets in Leeds city centre, some of which appeared to have been discarded and were visible to people who had not been specifically selected as potential customers by the distribution staff. Consequently, we considered that there was a reasonable possibility that such material could be seen by the general public, including children. We considered that such material was unsuitable to be viewed by children and concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

 

6th January   

State Censors...

Algeria starts censoring the internet
Link Here

AlgeriaAlgeria is the latest Arab country to join the ranks of Internet filterers, leaving only Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Lebanon without widespread filtering.

The first report of a blocked site came about a week ago, when users on Twitter reported www.rachad.org, the site of political movement Mouvement Rachad to be blocked. The sites have since been reported to Herdict.

The blog Algerian Review outlines the filtering and calls on Algerian Internet users to sign a petition against the creation of a filtering regime

 

5th January   

Call of Duty...

Tom Watson MP interviewed about his support of gamers
Link Here

Tom WatsonNowGamer have interviewed Tom Watson. The MP for West Bromwich East notable for starting a Facebook group called Gamer's Voice. This takes a more mature pro-gaming approach than the usual knee jerk blame bollox that we have come to expect from most politicians.

NowGamer: It's rare to hear a political voice, let alone an MP, speak out on the side of the games industry, so how have you got involved?

Tom Watson: Well, I love games and I'm inspired by the world of games that my kids are going to grow up in. The debate in Westminster is skewed against gamers. They need their voice heard. That's why I set up Gamers' Voice.

NowGamer: You seem to feel strongly that videogames are being misrepresented in parliament. Why do you think that is?

Tom Watson: There's a toxic mix of tabloid sensationalism and busy MPs who are too busy to plug in a console and enjoy themselves.

NowGamer: The gaming audience is getting older and the content of videogames seems to be following this trend by tackling darker and more adult topics, but in your opinion can a game go too far?

Tom Watson: It's about choice. There are games that repulse me. And as a parent, there are games that I won't let me kids get anywhere near. But as long as people know what the content is like, I don't have a problem.

NowGamer: The interactivity of games is often felt to make the way in which adult content is experienced in them significantly different from when seen in films or on TV. Do you agree with this position?

Tom Watson: I've never wept or screwed up my eyes in fear at a videogame. I have for plenty of films. The people who make the argument that games are more immersive and therefore dangerous should calm down.

 

5th January   

Tribal Outrage...

Kuwait to restrict bloggers in the name of 'national unity'
Link Here

Kuwait flagA number of Kuwaiti bloggers said that government's attempt to impose censorship on blogs is unacceptable and unrealistic. The comments were made amidst expectations of the government's plan to amend the audio-visual Law after a TV show on the Al-Soor channel caused a wave of outrage amongst Kuwaiti tribes.

It was only a matter of time before these restrictions were imposed on bloggers, said Amer Al-Mutairy, a Kuwaiti blogger. He added that the government has been waiting for the right excuse to strengthen its grip on the blogging community.

The minister of information is using the instability caused by the programs aired on those two TV channels, and the whole issue of national unity, as means to impose restrictions on bloggers, said Al-Mutairy.

While he agreed that there is a group of MPs who support freedom of expression Al-Mutairy noted that some Parliamentarians have double standards about this issue. I think that, unfortunately, a large group of MPs support the media when it speaks favorably of them and discard the media when it criticizes them, he said.

Muhammad Al-Yousifi, another Kuwaiti blogger, said that the government has been wanting to place restrictions on bloggers for some time now. They have been wanting to do this since the scandal of changing the electoral districts in 2006, he said. They only got the chance to do it now with this Parliament which is mostly governmental. Especially since a number of bloggers are now attacking MPs.

Al-Yousifi said that the law is more laughable than it is scary both because of the motive to monitor blogs, and the process of monitoring blogs itself. How do they want to conduct this censorship? They can't do it, they physically can't do this, he said.

Abdul Aziz Al-Atygy, Kuwaiti blogger and a co-founder of the biggest blogging aggregation website in the Middle East, KuwaitBlogs.com, said that it will be very difficult for the government to censor or block blogs because most of the servers that contain these blogs are outside Kuwait. They don't fall under the jurisdiction of Kuwaiti law. Even if they are willing to block them, people can still access them via proxies. Governments cannot stop that and cannot identify those who access them, he said.

 

4th January   

Leaking Finances...

Wikileaks seeks funds
Link Here  full story: Wikileaks Funding...Wikileaks suspends website citing lack of funds

Wikileaks Wikileaks.org, the website founded in December 2006 as a place where whistleblowers can leak sensitive documents while remaining anonymous and untraceable, says on its default web page that the site is currently suspended until January 6, 2010 as the organization seeks additional funding.

That amount includes $532,000 sought from a News Challenge grant from the nonprofit Knight Foundation. The Wikileaks's Twitter feed, reported the site going to temporary inactive status on December 24, 2009. A message to visitors of the Wikileaks.org website says that Wikileaks is overloaded. We need your support for more servers. The Wikileaks website appeal says that,

We have received hundreds of thousands of pages from corrupt banks, the US detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN and many others that we do not currently have the resources to release. You can change that and by doing so, change the world.

The Knight proposal explains that Wikileaks plans to provide a link to local newspapers that publish stories based on documents published on the web site. And in what seems be a fascinating and valuable aspect of the localization goal, the grant proposal says that Wikileaks will allow local newspapers to add a code snippet to the newspaper's website to allow for local users to upload documents to Wikileaks. They say of this feature,

 

4th January   

Update: Ban This Game...

Campaigning against Australian internet censorship
Link Here

Ban this Game Independent developer Conor O'Kane has decided to use his powers of coding to help fight the government's current regime of video game censorship and planned internet filtering.

Dubned Ban This Game , it's a free download for both Windows and Macs, and lets you play out your fantasies of controlling a draconian censorship regime by banning games and websites.

 

4th January   

Update: Internet Filter Slowdown...

Internet censorship unlikely to be implemented before Australian election
Link Here

Inquisitr logoIn one of its most cynical moves yet, the Australian Government will delay the implementation of Internet censorship until after the next Australian Election.

In a letter to an opponent of internet censorship, Minister for Censorship, Stephen Conroy, wrote that the Government would introduce legislative amendments into Parliament to require all ISPs, starting twelve months from the passage of the legislation, to filter RC material hosted on overseas servers.

The Australian Parliament next sits on February 2, 2010. Even if the legislation were presented to the House of Representatives on February 2 (and there is no indication at this stage that it will be,) the legislation must pass the Senate (which isn't assured) and eventually return for a third reading in the House of Representatives before it passes. Given the contentious nature of the legislation, it would be fair to presume that there will be proposed amendments and/or strong opposition in the Senate for the bill. Even if it passes the Senate quickly, by the time it is passed and gains royal assent, at the very earliest the bill would be law in late February 2010, for implementation in late February 2011.

The next Australian election must be held no later than the April 16, 2011. Under the unlikely scenario that the bill passes in February 2010, internet censorship would come into law in Australia in February 2011, which even if the election hadn't been formally called, would none the less fall a week or two before the formal campaign (and the unofficial campaign would be in full swing.)

There's no way in hell that Rudd will risk implementing internet censorship in the middle of an election campaign, because it risks distracting from the Government message. It could easily become a wedge point against the Government, particularly when voters start asking why their internet connections have magically become slower all of a sudden.

More likely is that Senator Conroy is looking for the legislation to pass before Winter recess, with implementation a couple of months clear of the election.

It's the height of cynicism that the Australian Government, seeking to implement draconian internet censorship in Australia, would be so afraid of what the reaction might be they'd delay it until after the next election. Weasels of the first degree.

 

3rd January   

Guidos and Guidettes...

MTV show winds up the nutters over the use of the word 'guido'
Link Here

Jersey Shore promo pictureSnooki, the Situation, Vinny, DJ Pauly D, Ronnie, Angelina, Sammi and J-WOWW – the stars of MTV's new reality show, Jersey Shore – are distinguished by a common factor that has provoked controversy unusual even by the standards of the genre: they are Italian-American. Worse, they are self-styled guidos and guidettes .

I love guidos! I love Italian boys with muscles, screeched Angelina soon after the start of the first episode of a series that has gained notoriety almost overnight.

The problem is that guido – slang for a working-class urban Italian-American – is widely perceived by Italian-Americans as a pejorative word, like spic or wop , and the stereotype is unflattering. In its promotion for the series, which went on air last month, MTV said it had gathered the hottest, tannest, craziest guidos and assembled them in Seaside Heights, a popular beach resort.

But if the channel expected applause from the Italian-American community, it had a rude awakening. Three Italian-American groups cried foul, including Unico National, the largest Italian community organisation in New Jersey. Its president, Andrew DiMino, said: It's a term used to insult us, implying we are all uneducated people without social graces. New Jersey state senator Joseph Vitale has called on MTV's parent corporation, Viacom, to take the show off the air. It promotes hatred and insults women of this state, he said. If this were the same with African-American or Hispanic or Polish kids, there would be hell to pay.

DiMino accepted that Guido is used by some Italian-Americans – not least the eight cast members of Jersey Shore – as a self-description, but he said that didn't make such self-loathing right and likened it to black Americans calling themselves nigger.

MTV has been showered with complaints. The New York Post's Linda Stasi waded in with a fiery column in which she accused MTV of stereotyping her ethnic group as gel-haired, thuggish ignoramuses with fake tans, no manners, no diction, no taste, no education, no sexual discretion, no hairdressers (for sure), no real knowledge of Italian culture and no ambition .

MTV responded with a statement insisting that the show depicts just one slice of youth culture. Our intention was never to stereotype, discriminate or offend, it said.

 

3rd January   

Talk of Ludicrous Censorship...

Censorship stats: BBFC cut 19% of R18s in December 2009
Link Here

R18 StoryBBFC R18 cuts for December 2009

Number of items=58
No. Cuts=11
Cuts ratio=19%

The R18 cuts stats 2009:

  • January: 12 R18s cut out of 62 (19%)
  • February 16 R18s cut out of 59 (27%)
  • March: 27 R18s cut out of 101 (26%)
  • April: 19 R18s cut out of 76 (25%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 60 (36%)
  • June: 26 R18s cut out of 78 (33%)
  • July: 14 R18s cut out of 51 (27%)
  • August: 14 R18s cut out of 67 (21%)
  • September: 11 R18s cut out of 65 (17%)
  • October: 15 R18s cut out of 70 (21%)
  • November: 12 R18s cut out of 89 (13%)
  • December: 11 R18s cut out of 58 (19%)

2009: 199 R18s cut out of 836 (24%)

Cuts of interest:

Ghetto Down Low

Distributor removed verbal references to `gagging` during deep throat fellatio in line with BBFC policy, Guidelines and the Video Recordings Act 1984.

 

3rd January   

Offsite: Thrown to the Lions...

Joke tiger porn victim found not guilty
Link Here
Tiger porn

 Thrown to the Tigers

A North Wales man has been cleared of possessing an extreme pornographic image involving a tiger having sex with a woman.

The prosecution offered no evidence when it was accepted that the tiger in the clip was not real, and that it was all a joke.

It emerged in court that police and prosecutors had not previously listened to the film with the sound on. Following the act, the tiger turned to the camera and roared: That beats the Frosties advert! .

Defendant Andrew Holland appeared at Mold Crown Court today and pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Bell said that the prosecution had decided to offer no evidence against him.

When asked by Judge John Rogers QC why that was being done, she said that when the case was previously reviewed the film had no sound track. It had been further reviewed, the sound track could be heard, and it was clear that the film had been produced for the purposes of a joke rather than for sexual gratification.

The sound track confirmed that the person watching the image would realise that it was not actually a real tiger that was involved in the fact, she said.

The judge recorded a formal not guilty verdict.

The court heard how the film had been blue toothed to the defendant as a joke.

Following the hearing, defending barrister David Potter said that the prosecution now accepted that any reasonable person viewing the video would not consider it to be real and that it was produced for the purposes of a joke.

The sound track showed the tiger describing himself as Tony the Tiger, the Frosties advert character, who roars and says 'that beats the Frosties advert', he explained.

The joke meant that Holland had found himself accused in court - and on various Internet sites - of possessing an extreme pornographic image which portrayed a person performing an act of intercourse with a tiger which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

Unfortunately the persecution is not an an end, Holland faces another charge under the Dangerous Pictures Act involving the 'serious injury' clause. This will be heard in court on 17th March.

Offsite: Tiger has its day in court

3rd January 2010. See article from heresycorner.blogspot.com

It's oddly appropriate that the last day of a year notable for its stories about police powers, questionable prosecutions and state intrusion should have seen what must be one of the strangest cases on record come to court.

...Read full article

 

2nd January   

Update: The Greatest Bullshit Story Ever Told...

Atheist Ireland challenge blasphemy as it comes into force on 1st January 2010
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

http://blasphemy.ie/2010/01/01/atheist-ireland-publishes-25-blasphemous-quotes/ Atheist Ireland write:

From 1 January 2010 the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

In this context we now publish a list of 25 blasphemous quotes, which have previously been published by or uttered by or attributed to Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mark Twain, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, James Kirkup, Monty Python, Rev Ian Paisley, Conor Cruise O'Brien, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Bjork, Amanda Donohoe, George Carlin, Paul Woodfull, Jerry Springer the Opera, Tim Minchin, Richard Dawkins, Pope Benedict XVI, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, Ian O'Doherty, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Dermot Ahern.

Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.

We ask Fianna Fail and the Green Party to repeal their anachronistic blasphemy law, as part of the revision of the Defamation Act that is included within the Act. We ask them to hold a referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Irish Constitution.

We also ask all TDs and Senators to support a referendum to remove references to God from the Irish Constitution, including the clauses that prevent atheists from being appointed as President of Ireland or as a Judge without swearing a religious oath asking God to direct them in their work.

If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.

A few of my favourites

Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who's got religion'll tell you if your sin's original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!

James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death's final ejaculation. This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

Conor Cruise O'Brien, 1989: In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: 'Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.' Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.

Frank Zappa, 1989: If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine - but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad or good - and cares about any of it - to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.

Salman Rushdie, 1990: The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes. In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses.

Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can't embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.

George Carlin , 1999: Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera , 2003: Actually, I'm a bit gay. In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.

Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.

Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim body, said it was a character assassination of the prophet Muhammad . The Malaysian Prime Minister said that the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. Pakistan's foreign Ministry spokesperson said that anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence . The European Commission said that reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.

Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief. Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland's new blasphemy law.

 

2nd January   

Arresting Statistics...

Reporters Without Borders report on international arrests of bloggers
Link Here

Reporters without Borders logoReporters Without Borders has released its 2009 year-end round-up on. There are 151 bloggers and cyber-dissidents arrested, 61 physically assaulted and one died in prison in 2009. When compared with 2008, the number of bloggers arrested increased 155%. The report pointed out that China continued to be the leading internet censor in 2009 and RSF will launch a new campaign against the enemy of the Internet in coming March. Below is the summary on blogger and cyber dissidents section:

For the first time since the Internet's emergence, Reporters Without Borders is aware of more than 100 bloggers and cyber-dissidents being imprisoned worldwide for posting their opinions online. This figure is indicative above all of the scale of the crackdown being carried out in around ten countries. Several countries have turned online expression into a criminal offence, dashing hopes of a censorship-free Internet.

The Internet has been the driving force for pro-democracy campaigns in Iran, China and elsewhere. It is above all for this reason that authoritarian governments have shown themselves so determined to severely punish Internet users. This is the case with two Azerbaijani bloggers, who were sentenced to two years in prison for making a film mocking the political elite.

Although China continued to be the leading Internet censor in 2009, Iran, Tunisia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan have also resorted to frequent blocking of websites and blogs and surveillance of online expression. The Turkmen Internet remains under total state control.

This year, bloggers and ordinary citizens expressing themselves online have been assaulted, threatened or arrested as the popularity of social-networking and interactive websites has soared. Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer is still in jail, while the famous Burmese comedian Zarganar still has 34 years of his prison sentence to serve. The approximately 120 victims of Internet policing also include such leading figures in the defence of online free expression as China's Hu Jia and Liu Xiaobo and Vietnam's Nguyen Trung and Dieu Cay.

The financial crisis has joined the list of subjects likely to provoke censorship, particularly online. In South Korea, a blogger was wrongfully detained for commenting on the country's disastrous economic situation. Around six netizens in Thailand were arrested or harassed just for making a connection between the king's health and a fall in the Bangkok stock exchange. Censorship was slapped on the media in Dubai when it came for them to report on the country's debt repayment problems.

Democratic countries have not lagged far behind. Several European countries are working on new steps to control the Internet in the name of the battle against child porn and illegal downloads. Australia has said it will set up a compulsory filtering system that poses a threat to freedom of expression.

Turkey's courts have increased the number of websites, including YouTube, that are blocked for criticising the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The number of countries affected by online censorship has doubled from one year to the next – a disturbing tendency that shows an increase in control over new media as millions of netizens get active online, said Lucie Morillon, head of the Internet and Freedoms Desk. That is why Reporters Without Borders will launch a new campaign against the Enemies of the Internet on 12 March.

 

2nd January   

Update: Stitched Together...

Malta's censors reveal their guidelines
Link Here  full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded

Malta flagMalta's Board of Film and Stage Classification submitted in court a list of policy guidelines used by local censors to decide on ratings for films and theatre productions.

This was at the request of Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon in the ongoing Constitutional case regarding this year's ban on Stitching .

This is the first time that the board's internal policy guidelines have ever been made public, and what immediately leaps to the eye is an apparent contradiction between the directions given to classifiers with regard to theatrical performances, and the way these same performances are classified in practice. In the section subtitled Stage Performances , the final sentence reads: As with films, the classifier must take a decision after considering each work globally, as much for its visual impact, as for the message the work tries to put across. But members of the same board never watch a performance before deciding what rating to give a stage play. The reason for this is that the classifiers' rating has to be issued before any play can be performed in a Maltese theatre: a fact which makes it physically impossible to rate any play on the basis of its visual impact. Instead, the censors limit themselves to reading the script: which as a rule gives little or no indication of the play's effect on a visual level.

In fact, individual members of the censorship board have testified in court that they had not watched Andrew Nielsen's Stitching before deciding to ban it altogether. In justifying the ban, the Film and Stage Classification Board chairperson Theresa Friggiri cited four taboo topics that led to the decision: blasphemy; obscene contempt for the victims of Auschwitz ; dangerous sexual perversions leading to sexual servitude ; and reference to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of children ... the latter including a eulogy to the child murderers, Fred and Rosemary West. However, it remains difficult to grasp how the censors could have reached this decision after considering the work globally, as much for its visual impact as for the message it tried to get across .

The cinema section therefore features a number of specific criteria by which to rate a film. The criteria for film are: theme; language; violence; nudity; sex; horror; drugs; faith and religion. For each of the five possible film ratings – U, PG, 12, 16, 18 – the application each criterion is re-evaluated for the age-group concerned. Language, for instance, is taken into consideration before giving as U certificate, but not for 18, and so on.

No such detail is provided in the theatre section, which by way of contrast occupies only the final few paragraphs of the entire document. This section, which loosely refers to film and theatre being different media which require different approaches, appears to allow the Board maximum discretion in the absence of any clear guidelines whatsoever. A typical example concerns the guidelines for nudity on stage, which consist in a single sentence: While nudity may be permissible on film, this is not normally accepted on stage. But the guidelines offer no indication of what circumstances may make nudity acceptable on stage.

 

1st January   

Updated: Porn Repressed...

China arrests 5394 for internet porn during 2009
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaChinese police have said that their crackdown on Internet pornography has brought 5,394 arrests and 4,186 criminal case investigations in 2009 -- a fourfold increase in the number of such cases compared with 2008.

The announcement on the Ministry of Public Security's website (www.mps.gov.cn) said the drive would deepen in 2010.

Police would intensify punishments for Internet operations that violate laws and regulations , said the statement from the ministry's Internet security section. Strengthen monitoring of information, it urged, Press Internet service providers to put in place preventive technology.

The ministry did not say how many of the 5,394 suspects arrested were later charged, released or prosecuted.

 

1st January   

Diary: The Great Australian Internet Blackout...

Campaigning against Australian internet censorship
Link Here

Australian blackout campaignThe Great Australian Internet Blackout.
January 25-29th

Join us and take action!

The Great Australian Internet Blackout is a combined online and offline demonstration against imposed online censorship. We're collaborating with Electronic Frontiers Australia to make sure every Australian knows why this draconian policy is unacceptable. Contact your MP ?

The most important thing you can do! Bernard Keane explains how to write a great letter to your MP or Minister, and Electronic Frontiers Australia has all the contact details ? Black out your online profile picture ?

Change your profile picture now to spread the word and encourage your friends to join the blackout. Over 1500 Twitter users are participating already! Need a hand? ? Black out your website during Blackout Week ?

For one week – January 25-29th – Aussie websites will black out to inform an even wider audience about the threat of imposed censorship. Here's how to do it ? Celebrate Australia Day with us! ?

We will launch a nation-wide demonstration – to celebrate the freedoms Australians enjoy! – on Australia Day, January 26th 2010. Join your fellow campaigners for a positive opportunity to inform our fellow citizens and put an end to this terrible policy. Attend or organise an Australia Day party ?