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 2010: February
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28th February   

Crazy Advert Censors...

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Australian advert censor has a whinge at Pamela Anderson in a bikini
Link Here

Crazy Domains ad with Pamela Anderson A TV advert featuring Pamela Anderson in a gold bikini rubbing against another scantily clad woman while being sprayed with milk has crossed the line in bad taste and been banned from Australian television.

But the advertiser, Crazy Domains, a business that registers internet domain names, is fighting the decision. A spokesman for the Perth company said the ad was no worse than some music video clips.

The Advertising Standards Bureau upheld a complaint about the ad, after receiving more than 40 submissions, stating it went too far in objectifying women. It's meant to be a cheeky, over-the-top depiction but in the bureau's view it did cross the line, bureau chief executive Fiona Jolly said.

Crazy Domains managing director Gavin Collins said the ad was tongue in cheek and blamed feminist bloggers for stirring up complaints. He asked for a review of the decision. This decision makes no sense and is completely un-Australian – we're certainly not going to take this lying down, Collins said. Have you seen Video Hits on a Saturday morning? There are much more graphic and sexually explicit images on that show every week ... during a morning timeslot.

Jolly said the ASB was conducting research about the issue of sexualised imagery of women: That's an area where there seems to be more complaints coming.

 

28th February   

Updated: Labour Growing Up Obsessed by Sexualisation...

Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

Home Office propose UK censorship measures to curtail child 'sexualisation'
Link Here  full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

Sexualisation of Young People Review A review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has just been published.

Commissioned by the Home Office, the review forms part of the government's strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence.

Key recommendations include:

  • the government to launch an online one-stop-shop to allow the public to voice their concerns about marketing which may sexualise children, with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action.
     
  • the government should support the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites
     
  • broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed
     
  • the government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate compliance with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups
     
  • games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to unlock the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.
     
  • lads' mags to be confined to newsagents' top shelves and only sold to over-15s
     
  • a ratings system on magazine and advertising photographs showing the extent to which they have been airbrushed or digitally altered.
     
  • The exemption of music videos from the 1984 Video Recordings Act should be ended. The report in particular criticises lyrics by N-Dubz and 50 Cent for their tendency to sexualise women or refer to them in a derogatory manner, and singles out the rap artist Nelly for a video showing him swiping a credit card through a young woman's buttocks. But it adds that, while degrading sexual content is most apparent in rap-rock, rap, rap-metal and R&B, it is to be found across all music genres.
     
  • jobcentres should be banned from advertising vacancies at escort agencies, lapdancing clubs and massage parlours.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: We will now consider the full list of recommendations in more detail and continue to ensure that young people's development and well-being are a top priority.

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said:

Children today are growing up in a complex and changing world and they need to learn how to stay safe and resist inappropriate pressures. That is why we are making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory so that we can teach children about the real life issues they will face as they grow up.

PSHE already includes teaching about advertising and body image and from 2011 will include issues around violence against women and girls. The PSHE curriculum is age appropriate to give children and young people the right information at the right time to help them make the best choices and to develop their confidence.

Offsite: Let children be children

28th February 2008. See article from guardian.co.uk by Frank Furedi

Frank FurediWe can't hide all sexual images from children but we can stop reading their behaviour through a prism of adult motives

It is difficult not to feel disturbed by the sexualisation of childhood. We live in a world where a significant proportion of 11-year-olds have been regularly exposed to pornography and where many actually believe that what they see is an accurate depiction of real-life relationships.

It is tempting to panic in response to this development and lose sight of the real problem. Sadly, the Home Office report published today proposes the tired old strategy of protecting children from exposure to sexual imagery. The report's addiction to banning and censoring is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. The real problem is not simply inappropriate sexual imagery but a highly sexualised adult imagination that continually recycles its anxieties through children.

...Read the full article

Offsite: The inevitable nonsense from the Daily Mail

28th February 2008. See article from dailymail.co.uk by Liz Jones

She Wolf Shakira The woman is naked - or looks like she is. Only a flesh-coloured leotard covers her body. Her long blonde hair tumbles down her back. She's in a cage, sliding her fingers provocatively in and out of her mouth.

A scene from a cliched pornographic film? Sadly not. The woman in question is Shakira, a pop superstar and the fourth richest singer in the world.

The images can be seen in the video for her single, She Wolf , which will be watched obsessively, again and again, by thousands of young men and women, many of whom will form the opinion that writhing in a cage is precisely the way sexy women should behave.

 

28th February   

Harried by Censors...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
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Melon Farming Fresh

 

Old cuts to the Clint Eastwood film The Dead Pool
Link Here

Dead Pool DVD Clint Eastwood The Dead Pool is a 1988 US cop film by Buddy Van Horn

The BBFC waived their cuts for the 2002 Warner DVD.

Previously the BBFC cut the 1989 cinema release and 1989 Warner video

From cuts details on IMDb :

  • edits made to images on a TV screen combining footage of a woman screaming in a car and a shot of a woman being attacked by a dog (the latter of which was stock footage from the 1977 film The Pack)

 

28th February   

Updated: MultierChoice...

Satellite porn channel under consideration for South Africa
Link Here  full story: Satellite Sex in Africa...MultiChoice consider adding porn channel

DStv logoDStv, the South African satellite pay-TV is considering broadcasting pornography in one if its channels or creating a new channel, Die Burger newspaper reports.

The newspaper reports that MultiChoice has been immersed with requests for adult entertainment on DStv.

Jackie Rakitla, general manager of corporate affairs at MultiChoice, is quoted as saying: At this stage we're merely doing research to determine the extent of interest in adult content, and we're looking at the feasibility of implementing such a service.

MultiChoice is looking different broadcasting options, such as the broadcasting of mixed pornography - hardcore porn between 21:00 and 05:00 and soft porn between 05:00 and 21:00 – or hardcore porn 24 hours per day, or soft porn 24 hours per day on DStv.

Nutters Unimpressed

Based on article from mg.co.za

Christian Action NetworkIf DSTV went ahead with plans for a channel featuring pornographic content, it would be like pouring fuel on the fires of sexual abuse and exploitation , the Christian Action Network have claimed.

CAN international coordinator Taryn Hodgson said in a statement that considering the high incidents of rape, child abuse and sexual violence against women, it was unacceptable for DSTV to be be considering a porn channel.

Should DSTV introduce such a channel they would be supporting those that exploit, objectify and degrade women, she said: Porn violates women's constitutional rights to dignity and equality.

CAN has urged its affiliates, who are DSTV subscribers, to fill in the channel's online survey on the issue. Should DSTV go ahead with such a channel, the Christian Action Network will urge its affiliates to cancel their DSTV subscriptions, Hodgson said.

Update: Ministry of No Fun

9th March 2010. Based on article from eyewitnessnews.co.za

South Africa flagIMinister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya said she would fight the launch of a DSTV pornography channel.

 

28th February   

Updated: Naked Prudery...

Campaigners challenge art censorship in Temecula, California
Link Here

banned nude The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a letter to Temecula, California, City Management protesting the censorship of an artwork to be displayed at a city-owned gallery.

Jeff Hebron's painting, which had been selected for inclusion in Visual Expressions 2010, was removed from the exhibition because it depicted a nude figure.

I am writing on behalf of the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of over 50 national non-profit organizations united in defense of free expression, regarding the removal of Jeff Hebron's work from Visual Expressions 2010. The removal of the artwork from an exhibition at the gallery of The Merc, a city-owned theater and gallery space, raises serious First Amendment concerns. We urge the City to apologize for removing Mr. Hebron's work and to draft exhibition policies that are consistent with First Amendment principles.

It is our understanding that Mr. Hebron's work, which had been selected for inclusion in Visual Expressions 2010 based on its artistic merit, was removed from the exhibition upon a request by the City Management. Apparently, according to the City Management, a painting of a nude figure does not belong in a gallery where families with children may come.

It is not the role of a public official to shield the eyes of the public from work because he subjectively decides it is not family-friendly. As a public gallery, the gallery at The Merc is governed by the free speech clause in the First Amendment, meaning that the selection of art in the gallery should be based on viewpoint-neutral criteria such as creative excellence, cultural significance and intellectual richness. The arbitrary, subjective, and vague determination of what might be appropriate for the venue has led in this case to the impermissible imposition of an individual's viewpoint on the whole community and is likely to be found in violation of First Amendment principles.

Simple nudity is not sufficient ground for excluding artwork from public exhibition. If it were, a vast amount of great art, including masterpieces like Michelangelo's David, would be off limits.

....

We urge you to reconsider your decision in this matter and make it clear to the public – through a carefully drafted policy – that work like the one you recently censored will be allowed in future exhibitions at the gallery at The Merc and other City venues.

Svetlana Mintcheva Director of Programs National Coalition Against Censorship

Update: Temecula does not believe in censorship...BUT...

28th February 2010.  Based on article from swrnn.com

Temecula logoAfter days of silence, the city of Temecula has accepted responsibility for the removal of a nude oil portrait from the Visual Expressions 2010 exhibit at The Merc in Old Town. Jeff Hebron's nude oil portrait was removed from the Visual Expressions 2010 exhibit at The Merc by Temecula city officials because of concern that children would view it.

Temecula Mayor Jeff Comerchero said that Temecula artist Jeff Hebron was sent a letter of apology in which the city expressed remorse for the withdrawal last month of Hebron's nude oil portrait from the exhibit.

The city's not in the censorship business, he said: ...BUT... neither does the city want the reputation of exposing children to art that's not appropriate.

SWRNN obtained a copy of the letter that was signed by the mayor. In it Comerchero said, On behalf of the City of Temecula, I wish to apologize to you for the removal of your art work.

Hebron said that he was aware that a letter of apology was offered by the city and that he was overwhelmed and thrilled at the gesture: It was never my intention to make the city look bad, but the First Amendment is important. We're Americans. All I am asking for is the chance for people to see my art and let them make their own judgments, Hebron said.

 

28th February   

Update: Front Against Censorship...

Maltese anti-censorship group protest in Valletta
Link Here  full story: Front Against Censorship...Censored article leads to Maltese protest

National Protest Against Censorship Many with red crosses painted on their mouths, a crowd of about 300 people, including politicians and personalities from various cultural fields, walked down Valletta's main thoroughfare to protest against censorship in a Maltese society that does not tolerate what is out of the norm .

Organised by 11 student organisations who came together to form the Front Against Censorship, the protest attracted a strong presence of actors, students, writers and theatre personalities.

We came here to make history. We believe that no one has the right to determine what other people can read, Ingram Bondin, from Front Against Censorship, said.

In the sight of the protest were five laws on censorship, which, the promoters insisted, are antiquated and outdated and carry harsh prison sentences.

They are calling on the authorities to repeal the law banning anyone from making any form of artistic criticism of the country's official religion and to eliminate the Stage and Film Classification Board's power to censor or ban plays and films.

They also want to remove a clause in the Press Act stipulating that print material cannot carry any criticism of public morals and to abolish the Broadcasting Authority's power to ban adult programmes after 9 p.m.

The promoters of the protest also want to see changes to the Pornography Act which, they believe, contains a blanket definition of sex.

 

28th February   

Updated: Morality Committee...

Cambodia sets up committee to specify websites to block
Link Here

CambodiaA Cambodian government morality committee will soon begin holding bimonthly meetings to review Web sites featuring racy images of Khmer women, and will consider blocking access to those deemed in conflict with national values.

The committee includes officials from the Post and Telecommunications Ministry as well as the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Interior Ministry.

Ros Sorakha, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said: As young Cambodians have access to such technologies, they indulge and commit wrongdoings that deviate from our customs and traditions by accessing and replicating erotic and pornographic pictures over Internet sites. She was addressing the annual conference of the National Committee for Upholding Cambodian Social Morality, Women's and Khmer Family Values.

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who is also president of the morality committee, said the monitoring of objectionable Web sites is entirely consistent with its mission: If we can stop the flow and influence of foreign culture, then we can maintain our own culture and traditions and foster values for our women.

Update: Cambodia to block websites 'against the principle of the government'

28th February 2010. Based on article from phnompenhpost.com

Telecom Cambodia logoAn official for Telecom Cambodia (TC) has indicated that the state-run company would seek to block access to Web sites it deems inappropriate , should it be granted control over the country's domestic and international Internet exchange.

If any Web site attacks the government or any Web site displays inappropriate images or pornography, or it's against the principle of the government, we can block all of them, said Chin Daro, TC's deputy director, during an interview at the company's offices. If TC plays the role of the exchange point, it will benefit Cambodian society because the government has trust in us, and we can control Internet consumption.

Government officials have long been looking to funnel all Internet service providers (ISPs) through a state-run central exchange point, and they have recently indicated that they plan to execute the change as soon as possible, according to industry insiders.

Chin Daro also said during the interview that he believed the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications was looking to grant the monopoly as soon as the necessary infrastructure was in place.

 

27th February   

Kick-Ass Trailers...

Red band trailer hype
Link Here  full story: Kick-Ass...Movie hype featuring cussing teen assassin

Kick-Ass trailersTrailers for upcoming teen super hero movie, Kiss-Ass , have been published on the internet with a red-band notional over 17 age verification check.

Scott Mendelson, film critic of huffingtonpost.com , reports

My take is the whole manufactured controversy over Lionsgate's red-band Kick-Ass trailers is pretty simple. At the end of the day, trailers are supposed to give you an accurate look at what kind of movie you're going to be seeing. Granted, not every trailer accomplishes this, and many are quite deceptive, but that's the general idea. At the end of the day, red-band trailers for R-rated movies are more likely to be accurate in regards to tone and content than an all-ages green-band trailer. So, one could argue, that studios make red-band trailers to best advertise the kind of movie that they are selling. And, they do take certain steps to make sure that said previews are not easily viewed by those who otherwise wouldn't be allowed to see such films. Of course kids will invariably get around these barriers, but that's the nature of childhood.

But here's the issue: Let's say that Lionsgate didn't put out these R-rated trailers, specifically for a film that could easily be advertised as a family-friendly PG-13 superhero comedy about teenagers becoming costumed vigilantes. Frankly, profanity and violence aside, the film feels aimed at ten-year old boys anyway. Which is why, slight digression, even if it's as stupid as it looks, I'll probably be less offended by it than Wanted, which presumed itself to be intelligent, quasi-feminist, adult entertainment. Anyway, we all know that even with these trailers available online, there are still going to be any number of clueless parents who take their kids to see Kick-Ass over opening weekend fully expecting a feel-good teen comedy variation on Spider-Man . It happened with South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut and it'll happen here too.

Interesting to note the 11 year old using 'fuck' and 'cunt' in the trailer and also to ponder about adult versus child comic book violence.

The BBFC have gone with an uncut 15 for Kick-Ass with the comment: Contains strong language, once very strong, & strong bloody comic violence

 

27th February   

Advertising their Intentions...

ASA to extend their advert censorship remit to online commercial websites imminently
Link Here

ASA logoThe UK government through psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulos reported that it supports the ASA in taking steps to extend existing standards to include commercial websites .

An ASA spokesman said that the industry body shares many of the concerns expressed in the review in general, and added that steps were already well-advanced to address its online remit in particular.

The industry is in very advanced stages at tackling concerns surrounding the online regulatory gap by extending the ASA's remit online and we welcome that, he said: The concerns are being addressed by the Advertising Association and, although no date has been set, changes are imminent. Everything is changing so incredibly quickly it is important we keep on top of the industry requirements. The remit extension to include online will help do that.

 

27th February   

Update: Ruddy Well Won't Apologise...

Kevin Rudd responds to internet filtering TV questions
Link Here
Kevin Rudd

  Apologise, me?

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd threw more wood on the fiery debate about the government's internet filtering plans, saying it wouldn't apologise for pushing ahead with the initiative.

The politician took several strongly worded questions from a viewer of Channel 7's Sunrise program, who asked why the government was implementing a plan that he claimed would fail in its objective to protect the children, and whether Rudd could guarantee business would not suffer a loss in productivity from decreased internet speeds.

In response he neglected to mention the wide range of banned material such as 18 rated mainstream video games. Instead Rudd pointed to just part of the Refused Classification material the filter aims to block. What does it involve? Acts of child abuse. Acts of sexual abuse against children, including material which also provides 'how to' kits in terms of conducting terrorist acts . I think this stuff is filthy, I can't stand it. I think these are the right measures. You're running a business, we're pro-internet, but we don't make apologies for this.

The news came as efforts have stepped up within Rudd's own party to push an amendment to the legislation to implement an opt-out option for Australians who don't want their internet to be filtered. Labor Senator Kate Lundy is hoping to gain the support of other Labor MPs and senators in the days before the legislation is tabled in Federal Parliament.

Australia's Pirate Party last night said the opt-out idea was censorship lite and a hollow response to community concerns that the filtering project could lead to legitimate online information being blocked off from Australians.

Facebook logoOn Sunrise , Rudd also commented on the supposedly offensive material being posted on social networking site Facebook related to several traumatic events in Queensland, such as the death of schoolgirl Trinity Bates.

Rudd said he would investigate an idea being promoted by Sunrise and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to set-up an online ombudsman to deal with such complaints. He said it was obvious which material went too far, and rejected any criticism that it was draconian to address offensive online material: This is where we get into this really stupid debate, with what I describe as extreme civil libertarianism, which says any such move in that direction means soviet communism, a'la 1980 . Look, it's not like that. People out there, mums and dads, they know where the balance lies.

 

27th February   

Updated: Seven Censored Paragraphs...

MI5 said to be involved in the torture of Binyam Mohamed
Link Here

Old BaileyMI5 faced an unprecedented and damaging crisis after one of the country's most senior judges found that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a culture of suppression that undermined government assurances about its conduct.

The condemnation, by Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls, was drafted shortly before the foreign secretary, David Miliband, lost his long legal battle to suppress a seven-paragraph court document showing that MI5 officers were involved in the ill-treatment of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed.

Amid mounting calls for an independent inquiry into the affair, three of the country's most senior judges – Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Lord Neuberger – disclosed evidence of MI5's complicity in Mohamed's torture and unlawful interrogation by the US.

So severe were Neuberger's criticisms of MI5 that the government's leading lawyer in the case, Jonathan Sumption QC, privately wrote to the court asking him to reconsider his draft judgment before it was handed down.

The court's final ruling forced the Foreign Office to publish a seven-paragraph summary of 42 classified CIA documents that were handed to MI5 before Witness B travelled to Pakistan to interrogate Mohamed. These show that MI5 was aware that Mohamed was being continuously deprived of sleep, threatened with rendition and subjected to previous interrogations that were causing him significant mental stress and suffering . If administered in the UK, the summary says, it would clearly be in breach of undertakings about interrogation techniques made by the British government in 1972.

Miliband told MPs that the ruling was leading to a great deal of concern in the US. In a statement to the Commons he said he had fought to prevent the release of the information to defend the fundamental principle that intelligence shared with the UK would be protected.

Update: Less than Frank

27th February 2010. Based on article from independent.co.uk

In a ruling that raises questions about the conduct and regulation of MI5, the Court of Appeal said officers had suppressed evidence of their alleged involvement in the torture of Binyam Mohamed while he was imprisoned by America.

The judicial criticism was made fully public after The Independent and other media groups successfully challenged a decision by the court to remove a paragraph from a draft judgment because of an objection raised by the Government.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, accused officers of having a dubious record over the coercive interrogation of the former Guantanamo Bay detainee. Lord Neuberger said some officers had been less than frank about what they knew about Mohamed's ill-treatment.

The paragraph in question explains how MI5 had stressed to a parliamentary committee that it operated in a culture that respected human rights and that coercive techniques were alien to the service's general ethics, methodology and training .

Lord Neuberger's final paragraph says: Yet in this case that does not seem to have been true: as the evidence shows, some Security Services officials appear to have a dubious record relating to actual involvement, and frankness about any such involvement, with the mistreatment of Mr Mohamed when he was held at the behest of US officials.

 

27th February   

The Devils...

Warner Brothers are sitting on the Director's Cut of The Devils
Link Here

Devils Special Restored Vanessa Redgrave Mark Kermode points out that, despite being finished and waiting on the shelf for five years, the director's cut of The Devils has still not been released by Warner Brothers.

Mr. Kermode also says in his video blog Kermode Uncut - film school 101:deadpossessfilm school 101   that film fans should try and do something to remedy such apparent inactivity.

Thus, I thought it appropriate to forward this suggestion so any fans can participate in the debate should they wish to.

 

27th February   

Update: Dangerous Books...

Salman Rushdie to tell his story about life under threat of death
Link Here  full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world

Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie is to write a book about the decade he spent in hiding while living under a fatwa issued by the then-Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini.

Rushdie said: It's my story, and at some point it needs to be told. That point is getting closer, I think, added Rushdie.

Rushdie was forced into hiding in 1989 when Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill the author, claiming that his book The Satanic Verses insulted Islam.

At one point the bounty on Rushdie's head rose to £1.8m. The Japanese translator of the work was killed, the Norwegian and Italian translators barely survived assassination attempts, and an attempt on the life of the Turkish translator in 1993 resulted in a riot causing the deaths of 37 intellectuals who had gathered in Sivas, Turkey, for a cultural festival.

D'Souza doubts that the book will be a straight diary . There are a huge number of incidents that people may not be aware of, she said. There were times when he was absolutely under threat. But he will make it into a novel of a kind.

 

27th February   

Coming Down Hard...

UAE bans Heavy Rain video game
Link Here

Sony Heavy Rain PS3 Despite rave reviews that critics have been showering on the PlayStation 3's latest game to hit the market, Heavy Rain will not see any shelf life in the UAE.

The videogame's nationwide launch was aborted after the UAE's censor, the National Media Council, reportedly pulled the plug on the sales and promotion of the title, which has attracted global controversy for its depiction of nudity and violence. This decision, despite Heavy Rain' s 18+PEGI rating, signals the government's intent on cracking down on games that are deemed unfit for the audience because of their content.

A sequence where one of the main characters is forced to go topless at gun point and perform a seductive dance at a club, were among the more 'objectionable' aspects that probably led to the banning of the game. Heavy Rain has been described by its publisher's Quantic Dream as psychological thriller, with four professionals on the trail of the Origami Killer, who preys on boys between eight and 13 and then subsequently drowns them in rainwater.

 

27th February   

Updated: Australia Inspires the Repressive...

Indonesia looks to Australia's internet censoring proposal
Link Here

Indonesia flagTifatul Sembiring, the Indonesian Minister of Information and Communications publicly announced recently an outline of plans to filter content on the internet by using a system like the one Australia has chosen for their censoring efforts.

The proposed plan, by means of a monitoring committee would determine what online content is to be blocked at the internet service provider level. Under the new system, ISPs would be prohibited from distributing, transmitting, or otherwise making accessible content such as pornography and anything else deemed illegal or immoral.

Access to content containing, supposed lies and misleading information will also be banned in Indonesia.

Article 4 in particular looks to target gambling in the country. Websites that have any connection to gambling are prohibited which could change the outlook for online gambling adversely in the nation.

People who use the web feel this is a dangerous plan that spells the end of freedom of expression and the right to information. Opposition to the proposed plan is growing fast with journalists and political reporters leading the charge. The youth of Indonesia also feel their right to free expression will be removed if this law takes effect.

Media activists and the Alliance of Independent Journalists have been very vocal saying that this is a clear violation of political and internet freedom, denouncing the plan as ambiguous and ill-conceived. At least 1400 Facebook members have responded with protest letters. Although the government has said this is just a first draft, the protests continue with growing support.

Update: Rejected

27th February 2010. Based on article from prachatai.com

The Indonesian government rejected a controversial draft regulation on multimedia content which had sparked protests by both journalists and online users, media reports said.

According to KOMPAS.com, Minister for Communication and Information (MCI) Tifatul Sembiring said he will erase it , acknowledging that it threatens freedom of the press in the country.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself said during a cabinet plenary meeting on 18 February that the draft proved to be a sensitive issue that caused debates among the public. He added that further consideration on the draft should be given.

The Jakarta Globe quoted MCI spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto as saying that the proposed regulation provides for a 30-member multimedia content team that would act on public complaints about disturbing content, and would only order Internet service providers to block Web sites that it felt were displaying material already banned under Indonesian law.

Update: But

1st March 2010. Based on article from thejakartapost.com

Communications and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring said he would press ahead with a planned bill to monitor Internet content, despite claims it would violate freedom of expression.

The minister, however, said he would only resume the public deliberation of the bill once the protests surrounding it had subsided.

This draft regulation has apparently jangled some nerves in the public, Tifatul told a hearing with the House of Representatives' Commission I on defense, foreign affairs and communications.

I've thus decided to implement a cool-down period while we analyze all the suggestions from the public.

He did not say how long the Communications and Information Technology Ministry would draw out that period.

Once everything has calmed down, we'll meet again with the House *to discuss the draft regulation*, he added.

Tifatul said the bill had been in the works since 2006, three years before he became minister.

 

27th February   

Clearing the Airwaves...

Thai Radio stations had been warned in the run up to Thaksin asset seizure case
Link Here

National Telecommunications CommissionThailand's National Telecommunications Commission had been investigating about 20 community radio stations for allegedly trying to incite violence in the run up to Thaksin's asset forfeiture verdict.

NTC acting secretary-general Thakorn Boonyasith said the stations were accused of violating operating regulations.

Some have been accused of encouraging listeners to cause chaos as the ruling on ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's 76.6-billion-baht asset seizure trial draws near. Others are alleged to have offended the monarchy.

The NTC says there are about 6,600 registered community radio stations across the country which are granted 300-day permits. They are prohibited from slandering anyone, inciting violence or damaging the institution of the monarchy. Those who do will have their permits revoked for a year. Thakorn said the stations in question had been asked to send their archived broadcasts for the past 30 days to the NTC for examination.

Thakorn said he had sent a letter to all community radio stations last week warning them to comply strictly with the regulations.

 

26th February   

Circus Christi...

Granada art exhibition closed due to nutter intimidation
Link Here

Circus Christi exhibition logo An art exhibition portraying Jesus as the gay son of a prostitute has been closed after the organisers at Granada University in Spain admitted that furious protests from churchgoers meant that they could no longer guarantee the safety of its creator, Fernando Bayona.

The exhibition also shows Jesus having sex with Mary Magdalen before turning gay. There is a lot of anger and there have been some very serious threats to both the artist and our staff, said a worker at the university.

 

26th February   

Update: Cruelty to Tigers...

Peta have a bit of fun at the expense of Tiger Woods
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

Tiger Woods Peta adThough Tiger Woods has lost many of his lucrative endorsement deals since his widely publicized cheating scandal, there's one ad the pro golfer may not care to be a part of.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is looking for a local advertiser in Woods' neighborhood of Windermere, Florida to erect a billboard that will feature his image, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

PETA's ad will reportedly include the message, Too much sex can be a bad thing … for little tigers too. Help keep cats (and dogs) out of trouble: Always spay and neuter!

Though it may be difficult to find an advertiser willing to post the billboard, Virginia Fort, a campaigner for the animal rights organization, says the ad isn't intended to offend the golfer: It's a fun, tongue-in-cheek approach. We hope these billboard companies will understand .

As it turns out, Woods isn't too amused by the organization's new campaign. According to TMZ.com, PETA may pull their plans to post the ad, explaining, In light of conversations we have had with Mr. Woods' attorneys, plans to run our billboard are on hold at this time.

 

26th February   

Updated: Shrink Me Windows...

Odeon cinemas refuse to show Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Link Here

Alice Wonderland Blu ray Johnny Depp Tim Burton's new film version of Alice in Wonderland will not be screened at Odeon cinemas in the UK, Irish Republic and Italy, the cinema chain says.

The move is in response to the Disney studio's plan to reduce the period in which it can be shown only in cinemas from the standard 17 weeks.

Odeon said it would set a new benchmark, leading to a 12-week window becoming rapidly standard .

Odeon's decision will not affect the film's Royal premiere on Thursday, which is coincidentally set to take place at the Odeon Leicester Square in central London. Nor will it affect its plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria - territories where Disney intends to observe the normal DVD release window.

The Odeon & UCI Cinema Group is Britain's largest cinema chain with more than 100 sites nationwide.

Disney told the BBC that one of the main reasons for the decision was to bring the film to customers more quickly, thereby helping to beat piracy. It said if a cinema stopped showing a film before the 17 week exclusivity period, the audience did not have a legitimate way to see the movie - potentially leading to piracy.

Update: Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

26th February 2010. Based on article from homemediamagazine.com

In another win for packaged media and The Walt Disney Co, Great Britain's Odeon Cinema Group said it has agreed to shorten the theatrical window for the March 5 2D/3D release of Alice in Wonderland to 12 weeks from the typical 17-week run.

Odeon also reported it will show Alice in Wonderland in its cinemas in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria. The largest theatrical chain in the United Kingdom, with 834 screens, earlier this week threatened to boycott the fantasy adventure film staring Johnny Depp after Disney asked European theater operators to scale back the release window so it could expedite the title's retail availability on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

 

26th February   

Offsite: Head in the Clouds...

Oz censorship debate censored on Comms minister's website
Link Here

Conroy cloudIf you're planning to censor free speech on the internet, what better approach to take than to, er, censor debate about how you're planning to censor free speech on the internet? Brilliant.

That, according to one sharp-eyed Register reader, is the game being played by Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, whose ministerial website is currently set up so as not to show searches on embarrassing terms such as ISP filtering .

...Read full article

 

26th February   

Updated: Grow Up Australia...

Major Australian retailer supports R18+ for video games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Grow Up petition Australia's largest videogame retailer has joined the movement to add an R18+ rating category for interactive entertainment.

EBGames is promoting its pro R18+ stance in all 350 of its Australian storefronts, where it will display signage and offer shoppers the ability to sign a petition. The retailer is also promoting the cause on its website and linking to an online petition for those in favour of adding the adult rating category.

Kotaku reports that EBGames did its due diligence in advance of publically supporting the issue; the company polled its customers on the issue and found that 84% were in favour of the addition of an R18+ rating category.

EB Managing Director Steve Wilson said: With the release of the Government's discussion paper, we knew as a company that we needed to act on this issue as it continues to cripple our industry and cost local jobs. We did however want to be sure that our customers were as passionate about the matter as we are. This is not a call for violent video games, but rather a call for a better classification system that brings Australia in line with the rest of the world and other Australian entertainment industries, such as films.

Update: Petition of 16,000

26th February 2010.  See article from gamepolitics.com

The partnering of advocacy group Grow Up Australia and retailer EB Games has resulted in strong backing for the addition of an R18+ rating category for videogames in Australia.

GameSpot reports that the pair's initiative has resulted in 16,055 signatures on their pro R18+ petition, which will now be sent to the Attorney General's department. EB Games had called attention to the movement via in-store signage and with links and images on its website.

Public responses to the Discussion Paper are due by February 28. Following the submission period, responses will be compiled into a report for Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor and other state and territory Attorney Generals.

 

26th February   

Update: Vaguely Constitutional...

John Stagliano fails to convince court that obscenity laws are unconstitutional
Link Here

Evil Angel logoA federal judge in Washington, D.C., refused to dismiss a case against pornography producers who were charged with trafficking hard-core porn films across state lines and displaying illicit movie trailers online.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected their claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.

John Stagliano and Evil Angel Productions Inc. claimed that federal laws criminalizing the interstate trafficking of obscenity were unconstitutional. They argued that the law barring a Web site from displaying obscene materials was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, because made online material subject to the community standards of the most conservative jurisdictions in the country.

But Judge Leon said the law was confined to a very narrow legal definition of obscenity. He said he is certain that online material will be judged as a whole and not individually according to obscenity laws, quashing filmmakers concerns that the trailer would be taken out of context.

Federal obscenity statutes require items to be judged in context of surrounding work. The government will have to show that the trailer is obscene in the context of the Web page, Leon said.

He also rejected their claim of a right to sexual privacy, saying such a right does not cover the distribution of obscene materials. He said the producers' case pales in comparison and does not even remotely approach the sexual privacy cases concerning homosexual rights and rights to obtain birth control. However you look at it, obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment, Leon concluded.

Update: Trial Set

26th March 2010. See article from xbiz.com

A federal judge has set a July 7 trial date for the obscenity case against John Stagliano and his two production companies, Evil Angel Productions Inc. and John Stagliano Inc.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, at a status conference in Washington at 3 p.m., set the trial date one month and one day after he rejected Stagliano's claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.

Leon said last month that obscene material is not protected by the 1st Amendment: Having considered the defendants' overbreath of arguments, I am not convinced that such strong medicine is warranted in this case. Nor am I convinced that the federal obscenity statutes are unconstitutionally vague as applied to Internet speech.

 

25th February   

Update: Would You let this Man Censor the Internet?...

Opposition unites against powers to let the government change censorship of the internet without consultation
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Blair Revolution Revisited Peter Mandelson Controversial proposals that would give Lord Mandelson unprecedented powers to amend censorship laws will be jettisoned next week when the Government suffers the first large defeat of its flagship media plans.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat lords will unite to vote down Clause 17 of the Digital Economy Bill, which has been criticised by internet giants such as Google and Yahoo!, when the Bill is put to vote in its report stage.

The Government maintains that the plans are necessary to future proof the Bill against emerging methods of piracy.

But internet firms and the Opposition said that despite attempts by Lord Mandelson to water down the proposals and increase parliamentary scrutiny of any fast-tracked legislation, via measures such as a 60-day consultation period, the proposals still allowed ministers to impose arbitrary measures.

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative Shadow Culture Secretary, said his party will vote against the clause next week. He added: The Government has failed to address any of the concerns we raised with them. They still want a wide ranging and unconstitutional power yet can't tell us what they want to use it for.

 

25th February   

Update: Justice Gives Way to Victim Advocacy...

Google execs sentenced for bullying video posted on YouTube
Link Here

YouTube logoThree Google executives were convicted in Italy of allowing film of an autistic schoolboy being bullied to be posted online in a ruling that could profoundly change the way in which video clips are put on the internet.

The three Google executives — David Drummond, senior vice-president and chief legal officer, George Reyes, Google's former chief financial officer, and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel — were each given a six-month suspended prison sentence, but were cleared of defamation charges. A fourth defendant, Arvind Desikan, senior product marketing manager, was acquitted.

Alfredo Robledo, the prosecutor, said that he was very satisfied with the verdict in the case, adding: Protection of human beings must prevail over business logic. Robledo said that the video, which was posted on September 8, 2006, had remained online until November 7 and should have been taken down immediately.

Google said that it would appeal against the ruling. The American company said that the decision attacked the principles of freedom on which the internet is built. Bill Echikson, a Google spokesman, said: It's the first time a Google employee has been convicted for [violation of] privacy anywhere in the world. It's an astonishing decision that attacks the principle of freedom of expression.

Italian bloggers also criticised the verdict, with one blogger on the La Stampa website declaring: From today we are less Western and more Chinese.

Matt Sucherman, vice-president of Google and its deputy general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, conceded that the video was totally reprehensible , but said that Google had taken it down within hours of being notified of it by Italian police and that none of those convicted had had anything to do with it. He said: They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video's existence until after it was removed.

Sucherman said that the ruling by the judge, Oscar Magi, meant that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload. If social networks and community bulletin boards were held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the web as we know it will cease to exist and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.

 

25th February   

Update: Potential to Destroy Belarus...

Council for Morality bans Rammstein gig in Belarus
Link Here  full story: Rammstein Censored...Rammstein wind up nutters and censors

Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da According to Deutsche Welle, the metal band Rammstein has again managed to achieve worldwide infamy: this time, they've been declared a danger to the citizens of Belarus by that country's officials.

The ominous-sounding Council for Morality announced earlier this week their intent to ban Rammstein from entering the former Soviet republic – claiming that their music promotes violence, masochism, homosexuality and other abnormalities, and could potentially destroy the Belarusian state system.

This came despite assurances from the band's promoters that they do not intend to spread violent, perverse, cruel or Nazi ideology in their concerts.

 

25th February   

Update: Save Our Babes...

Babe and Adult Channel Viewers Association
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

BACVA logo I think melonfarmers maybe interested to know a group of members at www.babeshows.co.uk forum and myself are launching a new campaign/organisation to represent adult viewers in the UK.

We are calling ourselves BACVA (Babe and Adult Channel Viewers Association) and our campaign blogsite is at www.bacva.blogspot.com .

We would welcome anyone interested in improving the rights of adult viewers to view adult material on UK TV to join us.

From www.bacva.blogspot.com

Re Ofcom's ongoing assault on Babe channels

Ofcom's hypocrisy is self-evident. Of the dozens of hardcore channels available in the UK via non-$ky satellite systems, Ofcom have proscribed (banned) just one in the last 5 years, despite the fact these systems have no mandatory PIN protections and children under 18 could easily access them. Moreover, Ofcom received over 30,000 complaints re the BBC airing Jerry Springer: The opera and did nothing, nada, zip, ziltch. Yet they get ONE complaint from some over-sensitive desexualised cretin and launch a full frontal attack on programmes many tens of thousands of people are quite happy with. It's not Democratic, balanced or remotely right. Indeed, it is discriminatory and likely illegal sexual discrimination on the grounds of our orientation toward open acceptance of sexually explicit material in favour of those who wish to restrict and control our enjoyment of life - there's a reason many of us are angered by Ofcom's actions, and this is it! Our rights are being ignored and abused!

 

25th February   

Anyone But England...

Police have a word with Scottish T-Shirt company
Link Here

Anyone But England T-Shirt A Scottish clothing company has been warned by police over t-shirts expressing the hope that Anyone but England wins this summer's World Cup. World Cup Anyone but England t-shirt.

Police have warned proprietors of the Slanj clothing store in Aberdeen that the garment could cause offence.

An impromptu visit from an officer raising concerns over the shirt's sentiments left staff at the shop flabbergasted .

The visit was not in response to a complaint, and no action has been taken against the company.

However, Grampian Police claim that they would be neglecting their duty if the matter was not addressed.

PC Kirk Hemmings said: The primary role of any police force is to preserve the peace and we would be failing in our duty if we did not make people aware of the potential for disturbance such a window display could cause. The Grampian area, in common with the rest of the country, has recorded incidents relating to nationality and we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that incidents of this nature are kept to a minimum.

Ross Lyle of Slanj said: To be honest we're absolutely flabbergasted: We have been selling this T-shirt for the past three months and we've had a great response. Even the English people who come into the store think it's a laugh and just a bit of tongue-in-cheek football banter.

The t-shirt is described on Slanj's website as A light hearted dig at our English neighbours and their prospects in the forthcoming World Cup, not that we're bitter or anything, just because we didnae qualify!

 

25th February   

Nasty Murders...

The Toolbox Murders released on US Blu-ray
Link Here

Toolbox Murders Blu ray Cameron Mitchell The Toolbox Murders is a 1978 US film by Dennis Donnelly

Blue Underground have recently release an All Regions Blu-ray of the video nasty, The Toolbox Murders.

The publicity material reads:

In a quiet apartment complex in Los Angeles, a deranged handyman goes on a killing spree, savagely murdering immoral women with the tools of his trade - claw-hammers, screwdrivers, power drills and even a deadly nail gun! But these gruesome massacres are just the beginning of this landmark epic of violence and depravity that was vilified by critics, banned by censors, and treasured by splatter fans worldwide. This is... THE TOOLBOX MURDERS!

Cameron Mitchell (BLOOD AND BLACK LACE), Wesley Eure (LAND OF THE LOST), Aneta Corseaut (THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW), Marianne Walter (adult film star Kelly Nichols) and former child actress Pamelyn Ferdin (CHARLOTTE'S WEB) star in this notorious sickie. Now experience one of the most shocking exploitation films of all time at its bloody best, as THE TOOLBOX MURDERS is presented here uncut, uncensored, and newly remastered in blood-curdling High Definition from its original negative!

EXTRAS: Audio Commentary with Producer Tony DiDio, Directory of Photography Gary Graver and Star Pamelyn Ferdin I Got Nailed in THE TOOLBOX MURDERS - Interview with Star Marianne Walter Theatrical Trailer TV Spots Radio Spots

The last UK submission to the BBFC was substantially cut

 

25th February   

Skating on Egg Shells...

Ofcom consider the term 'faecal matter' justified in the context of Dancing on Ice
Link Here

Dancing on Ice logoDancing on Ice
ITV1, 31 January 2010, 18:15

Dancing on Ice is a well-established programme format in which, over a series of weeks, a collection of ice-skating pairs consisting of one celebrity and one professional skater compete in an ice-skating talent contest. Each week, after each couple has performed, their performances are judged and given a mark by a panel of judges.

Ofcom received 443 complaints concerning this particular edition of the programme, regarding the comments made by one of the judges, Jason Gardiner, about the performance by the former Olympic swimmer, Sharron Davies. Complainants considered the comments offensive and upsetting and unsuitable to be heard by children.

Ofcom noted that as part of his comments about the initial routine performed by Sharron Davies and her professional partner, Pavel Aubrecht, Jason Gardiner said the following: It was like watching faecal matter that won't flush – it goes around and around and around and in the end it doesn't go anywhere.

Ofcom considered the complaints under:

  • Rule 1.3 (children must be protected by appropriate scheduling)
  • Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach

It is well-established in these types of programmes that the judges comment on performances in a manner that some may find offensive.

In this particular edition, after the initial routine performed by Sharron Davies and Pavel Aubrecht, Jason Gardiner made the following remarks:

OK, I'm giving you a '2' for improved leg lines and arm lines – absolutely – but for me this is also about performance and your skating is on one level; and I don't know what it was – it was just like – the brown costume and everything. It was like watching faecal matter that won't flush – it goes around and around and around and in the end it doesn't go anywhere. You've got to give me a performance level, there's got to be some sort of a journey with you.

Ofcom recognised that the reference to faecal matter was potentially offensive to a number of people. However, under Rule 2.3 broadcasters can transmit offensive content, as long as it is justified by the context. In this case, Jason Gardiner used what Ofcom believed was unusual language to Ofcom to describe the performance of Sharron Davies.

However, Ofcom considered that Jason Gardiner is well established as the acerbic nasty judge on Dancing on Ice, and seems quite content to play up to his pantomime villain image within the format of the show. This was demonstrated by the fact that every comment he makes is almost invariably booed by the audience, as was the case regarding the comments he made about Sharron Davies on this occasion.

Ofcom also considered that Jason Gardiner's remarks were fleeting and seemed to be a passing reference to a combination of the colour of Sharron Davies' costume and a comment on what Jason Gardiner perceived to be the poor standard of her performance.

In addition, we considered that the comment: was not dwelt upon; could be considered to be more of a medical term rather than a more commonly-used offensive word; was used in the context of a value judgement about a performance, rather than against a particular person, by a judge in a talent competition, whose role is to provide critical judgements on different performances; and would have been likely to have been recognised as part of the cut and thrust of this contest, by the majority of the audience, familiar with this programme format.

Ofcom considered that the content, though potentially offensive to some in the audience, was justified by the context. It therefore was not in breach of Rule 2.3.

We noted that a number of complainants expressed concern that the term faecal matter was unsuitable to be heard by children who might have been watching. While Dancing on Ice is intended for a family audience, it is not a programme that is primarily aimed at children. Ofcom considered that most children would be unfamiliar with this term. In any event, we consider that, while some may consider it to be offensive, the word is an accepted medical term rather than a commonly-used form of offensive language. Therefore, Ofcom considered that the content in this case was appropriately scheduled, and was not in breach of Rule 1.3.

 

25th February   

Update: A Stereotypically Censorial Race...

Australia quick to propose extending state internet filtering facilities to include alleged racist material
Link Here

Australian Human Rights Commission logoThe Australian Government is considering a blitz on online racism, including the possibility of extending the proposed internet filter to block anything moderately deemed as racist content.

Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland has requested that the Australian Human Rights Commission undertake a sweeping review of arrangements for dealing with racist material on the internet .

According to Fairfax Media, options on the table include providing the Human Rights Commission with the power to order internet service providers to remove racist content.

While freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights, this is not at the expense of the rights of people, while using the internet, to be treated with equality, dignity and respect, McClelland said.

Fairfax notes that such changes – which are opposed by civil libertarians – could have significant ramifications for online news websites that offer readers the opportunity to comment, and for ISPs working with the commission to voluntarily remove racist material.

The proposals would shift liability to website owners for comments made by others, an outrageous attack on social and new media. Having said that, it's not that surprising giving the nanny state Australian Government is planning to introduce Chinese style censorship this year as well. Goebbels would be proud.

 

25th February   

Internet Unblocked...

Indian internet censors ease up on porn
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

India flagEarlier this month we had reported about The Chief Justice of India's decision to shut down any obscene or pornographic websites online – this had also led to the shut down of famous desi pornographic toon site – savitabhabhi.com.

Now there has been another update to the IT law and according to which the government have dropped the power to block pornographic websites purely on the ground of obscenity.

This new update to the IT law is a welcome change as this would lead to the shut down of any website in India only if it violates basic state laws or intimidates people.

Shut down decisions now rest completely with the Judiciary (only courts) and an websites can only be shut down on the following 5 grounds:

  • *overeignty and integrity of India
  • defence of India
  • security of the state
  • friendly relations with foreign states and
  • public order

Under the old provision, the government could ban websites to prevent incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense' including obscenity.

 

25th February   

Cutting the Good with the Bad...

UN urges Bahrain's internet censors to ease down
Link Here

UN logoBahrain was urged to take a softer approach to Internet censorship by United Nations Development Programme Arab Knowledge Report director Dr Ghaith Fariz.

The government's alleged policy of blocking politically-motivated websites and newspapers could be cutting the bad with the good, said Dr Fariz.

Dr Fariz claimed that although blacklisting pornographic content could be justified from a moral standpoint, there was a fine line when censoring other subjects.

We are advocates of total freedom [ ...BUT... not for porn] . In many cases, websites may be blocked for good or bad reasons - we are not here to judge. Unfortunately, what tends to be happening more frequently is that in the name of combating the evil we seem to be killing a lot of the good. We have called, and we still call, for people to understand that the veering principles of blocking specific sites can be abused and has been abused - intentionally or unintentionally.

Dr Fariz was speaking at a Press conference at the United Nations headquarters in Hoora. He was outlining the findings of the Arab Knowledge Report 2009, the first in an annual series to be published in association with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation.

 

24th February   

Update: Fighting Back Quacks...

Simon Singh has his day in the Court of Appeal
Link Here  full story: Simon Singh vs Chiropractors...Chiropractors take science sceptic to libel court

Pen protest at courtSimon Singh's libel case v the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was heard at the Court of Appeal in front of three of the most senior judges in England and Wales: Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley.

They heard arguments from both barristers on the meaning of Simon's article and on whether it was fact or comment and their judgment is expected in 6 - 8 weeks. A crowd of supporters greeted Simon as he arrived at the court.

Simon said after the hearing: First of all, thanks to everyone who came to the Court of Appeal today, and everyone who has been so supportive over the last two years. Without your goodwill, I probably would have caved in a long time ago.

I am delighted the Court of Appeal has decided to reconsider the meaning of my article about chiropractic, and I am particularly glad that three such eminent judges will make the ruling. They grilled both sides on all aspects of the appeal. However I should stress that whatever the outcome there is still a long way to go in this libel case. It has been almost two years since the article was published, and yet we are still at a preliminary stage of identifying the meaning of my article. It could easily take another two years before the case is resolved.

More important than my particular case is the case for libel reform and I know that you share my concern on this matter. My greatest desire is that journalists in future should not have to endure such an arduous and expensive libel process, which has already affected the careers of health journalists such as Ben Goldacre, and which is currently bearing down on the eminent cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst. If Peter loses his case then he will be bankrupted. Please continue to spread the word about libel reform.

Simon's solicitor Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave LLP said: It was encouraging to see three such senior judges taking such an interest in the appeal, and the BCA's counsel was given a thorough grilling by the court. What was significant was that the Lord Chief Justice said he was surprised that the BCA had not taken the opportunity offered them back in 2008 to publish their side of the story in the Guardian, rather than insisting Simon apologise and beginning proceedings. He also said it was a waste of both parties' time and effort. I hope that this is borne in mind by MPs when they grapple with the need for libel reform.

 

24th February   

Turning the Airwaves Brown...

Paxman forced to apologise after reading Gordon Brown's words
Link Here

Jeremy PaxmanNews presenter Jeremy Paxman was forced to apologise after he read out a swear word live on Newsnight.

The presenter was interviewing journalist Andrew Rawnsley, whose book The End Of The Party has triggered accusations of bullying against Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Reading a passage from the book, Paxman said: Brown went berserk with [US political advisor] Bob Shrum. 'How could you do this to me, Bob?' Brown screamed at a shaking Shrum. 'How could you fucking do this to me? '

Immediately after reciting the quote, Paxman was told by his editor to issue a full apology for repeating the swear word.

Apparently I'm told by our editor I have to apologise for quoting what you said the Prime Minister said, so honour satisfied now, he said during the live broadcast.

 

24th February   

Slave to Political Correctness...

No smoking advert grabs attention in France
Link Here

Slave to smoking advert A campaign to discourage young people from smoking shows male and female teenagers kneeling in front of a man, as if being forced to have oral sex. A cigarette takes the place of the man's sexual organ. The caption reads: Smoking is to be a slave to tobacco.

The campaign, which was devised for a pressure group supporting the rights of non-smokers, has been attacked as scandalous and potentially counter-productive by feminist and pro-family campaigners.

Marco de la Fuente, the leader of the project for the BDDP et Fils ad agency, said: The old arguments – tobacco is bad for you – don't work any more. The message here is that tobacco is a form of submission. In the popular imagination, oral sex is the perfect symbol of submission.

Gérard Audureau, the president of Les Droits des Non-fumeurs (The Rights of Non-smokers), the pressure group which commissioned the ads, said health arguments did not reach teenagers. Young people think that they are invincible, immortal, he said. Fear of sexual exploitation worries them more than illness.

Opposition to the ads – to be shown in bars, clubs and newspapers – has been widespread. Florence Montreynaud, of the feminist pressure group Chiennes de Garde (Guard Bitches), said that it was inadmissible that an image implying underage sex should be exploited, even in a good cause.

Christiane Terry, of the conservative group Familles de France, said she will lodge a complaint with the French advertising standards watchdog. Mixing up tobacco dependence and sex is ridiculous and scandalous, she said.

The non-smokers' rights group says it does not care if adults are shocked by its posters. Audureau said: Very few anti-smoking campaigns catch the attention of the young. You have to use extreme images to make them take notice.

 

24th February   

Update: Meet the Censor...

Chinese censors to interview all prospective webmasters
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaChina has tightened controls on internet use, requiring anyone who wants to set up a website to meet the censors and produce ID documents.

The technology ministry claimed the measures were designed to tackle online pornography, but internet activists see it as increased government censorship.

A number of websites are now being registered overseas in an attempt to avoid controls.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday lifted a freeze introduced in December on registration for new individual websites. But the technology ministry said would-be website operators would now have to submit identity cards and photos of themselves, as well as meeting censors before their sites could be registered.

 

24th February   

Offsite: Today is a good day for free expression...

Select Committee reports on privacy and libel
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Commons logoWhen the culture, media and sport select committee began its work more than a year ago, many feared the worst.

Yet the more they probed and the more they heard from organisations defending free expression, the more the MPs began to understand the vital need to distinguish between investigative journalism, a noble cause, and prurient journalism, a less salutary one. Some aspects of the report are disappointing. One that relates to privacy is potentially alarming. On balance though this is an important step forward, giving cross-party support for fundamental change to England's hideous libel laws.

The committee details the enormous costs faced by publications, particularly small ones, in defending themselves. The report criticises law firms for deliberately stringing out suits so they can ratchet up costs and force people into settling and apologising, even where they have nothing to apologise for. It stops short of reversing the burden of proof, but it does suggest reinforcing the defence in court for brave reporting and making it harder for companies to sue to protect their reputations. The committee's chairman, the Conservative MP John Whittingdale, says he and his colleagues were eager to correct the balance which has tipped too far in favour of the plaintiff .

The MPs denounce the ease with which foreign-based oligarchs, sheikhs and their like have used avaricious legal firms and pliant judges to chill the free speech of NGOs, authors and others – so much so that US Congress has considered legislation to protect Americans from British courts. They criticise Jack Straw, the justice secretary, for not tackling the problem of libel tourism , and the damage to the country's reputation, describing the measures taken by US legislators as a humiliation.

...Read full article

See also article from business.timesonline.co.uk

Rules for reporting:

  • No legislation on privacy
  • Press Complaints Commission to recommend prior notification to the subject of articles, subject to a public interest test
  • A new law to clarify Parliamentary privilege and ensure free and fair reporting
  • The burden of proof should be reversed in the case of big corporations so that they must prove libel and not the defendant
  • Action to curb the use of super-injunctions and research to discover the extent of their use
  • A new regulator, a Press Complaints and Standards Commission, with powers to fine and halt publications

 

24th February   

Update: Banging On...

Ofcom get well wound up by Bang Babes
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Babe ChannelBang Babes is an adult sex chat service, owned and operated by Bang Channels Limited, and available freely without mandatory restricted access on the channels Tease Me and Tease Me 3 (Sky channel numbers 912 and 959). Both channels are situated in the adult section of the Sky electronic programme guide ( EPG ). These channels broadcast programmes after the 21:00 watershed based on interactive 'adult' sex chat services: viewers are invited to contact onscreen female presenters via premium rate telephony services ( PRS ). The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the PRS numbers.

Ofcom have published multiple whinges about these programmes:

Bang Babes, Tease Me 3, 30/31 October 2009, 23:20 to 00:20

The complainant said the content included in the programme was too sexually explicit to be available without mandatory restricted access.

Bang Babes, Tease Me 3, 7 November 2009, 21:45 to 22:30

The complainant here was concerned that the presenter was wearing inadequate underwear which resulted in images of her anus being shown.

Bang Babes, Tease Me, 13/14 November 2009, 23:45 to 00:30

The complainant was concerned that the broadcast included prolonged graphic and intrusive images of vaginal and anal detail, and of simulated masturbation.

Promotion of the www.bangbabes.tv website address – for all broadcasts

In addition, after viewing the content complained of Ofcom noted that during all three broadcasts the website www.bangbabes.tv was promoted. When accessed by Ofcom this website featured images of a strong sexual nature equivalent to BBFC R18-rated material ( R18-rated equivalent material ) which could be readily viewed without appropriate protections. Although this R18-rated equivalent material was not broadcast on-air, Ofcom was concerned that it appeared on a website being promoted on Ofcom licensed services freely available without mandatory restricted access from 21:00.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.241 ('adult-sex' material is restricted to overnight services with mandatory restricted access)
  • Rule 2.1 (generally accepted standards)
  • Rule 2.3 (material which may cause offence must be justified by context) of the Code.

And predictably Ofcom found that all of these rules had been Breached

Ofcom also had a go at The Pad, the daytime equivalent to Bang Babes

The Pad Tease Me, 6 November 2009, 12:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 15:00

The Pad is a televised daytime interactive chat programme broadcast without mandatory restricted access. It is broadcast on the Tease Me channel, which is located in the adult section of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide ( EPG ) on channel number 912. Tease Me is owned and operated by Bang Channels Limited ( Bang Channels or the Licensee ). Viewers are invited to contact onscreen female presenters via premium rate telephony services ( PRS ). The presenters generally dress and behave in a provocative and/or flirtatious manner.

The complainant suggested that the material broadcast was too strong for transmission at these times.

Ofcom viewed the material and noted that both broadcasts featured the same presenter. On both occasions she was wearing skimpy black PVC knickers and a skimpy boob tube top with Playmate written on it. During both broadcasts she was shown lying on her back with her legs wide open for prolonged periods of time. While doing so she repeatedly gyrated and thrust her pelvis as though miming intercourse. While in this position the presenter also stroked her stomach and pulled down the side of her knickers in a sexually provocative manner. The presenter also lay on her front during the programmes for prolonged periods of time. While in this position she pulled down her knickers to reveal the top of her bottom, and also raised her bottom in the air and repeatedly gyrated her pelvis in a sexual manner.

Ofcom found this programme to be in breach of

  • Rule 1.3 (children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling).

Ofcom found more examples

TMTV Tease Me TV (Freeview), 3 November 2009, 05:00

Also found in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3

Ofcom also wanted to have a whinge about:

Bang Babes Tease Me TV (Freeview), 23 November 2009, 3:00

Early Bird Tease Me TV (Freeview), 23 November 2009, 7:30

But recordings were not available so Ofcom had a whinge about that instead.

And Ofcom re-affirmed their intention to punish Bang Media for these transfressions:

Ofcom explained in Broadcast Bulletin 151 that as a result of these breaches, it was notifying the licensee that it was considering the imposition of statutory sanctions.  In the current Broadcast Bulletin (152), Ofcom has published further breaches of the Code as regards services for which Bang Channels holds the licences, Tease Me and Tease Me 3.

As is made clear in Broadcast Bulletins 151 and 152, these breaches are serious and/or repeated and are therefore being considered by Ofcom for statutory sanction.

Bang Media and Bang Channels are controlled by the same person and all editorial compliance decisions regarding both Bang Media and Bang Channels are taken by one compliance team, For these reasons Ofcom will consider for sanction together all serious and/or repeated Code or licence breaches for which Bang Media and Bang Channels are responsible.

 

23rd February   

Competition: Apocalypse of the Dead...

3 copies to be given away to readers of Melon Farmers
Link Here

Apocalypse of the Dead DVD The Give Away:

Just email Dave at webmaster@melonfarmers.com by midday on  8th March 2010. Mention Apocalypse of the Dead and I will enter you in a draw for the three region 2 DVDs available to Melon Farmers readers.

Only one entry per reader and you must be at least 18 years old to enter. 

The Movie:

Apocalypse of the Dead, a film full of blood-thirsty mutants by Milan Konjevic and Milan Todorovici starring Ken Foree

Transporting valuable human cargo of state prisoners across a hazardous war zone, a group of Interpol mercenaries headed by Agents Reyes and Milius are forced to make an unscheduled detour when they encounter the remnants of a catastrophic ecological disaster.

Trapped in hazardous wasteland, miles from help and civilization, they find themselves beseiged by a vast army of rampaging, blood-thirsty mutants, ravenous creatures who will stop at nothing to devour every human in existence. As Reyes and Milius fight for their lives and to protect their precious cargo, they realize their only chance for escape is in joining forces with the treacherous criminals in their care. But these men have a past as deadly and terrifying as the monsters out for their blood.

See also YouTube trailer

Apocalypse of the Dead trailer

Result:

Congratulations to Phil, Dave and Gavin

 

23rd February   

Christian Peoples Alliance...

UK christian political party look to extend Australian ISP blocking idea to all R18 porn
Link Here

Christian People's Alliance logoMeasures outlined by the secular parties to tackle the premature sexualisation of children don't recognise the gravity of the problem, according to Christian Democratic candidates planning to contest coming General and local elections.

Speaking to party supporters over the weekend in Newham, the Christian Peoples Alliance leader, Cllr Alan Craig, said that Britain should adopt and extend policies on sexual imagery being introduced by Australia's Labour government. These require mandatory ISP filtering of Refused Classification(RC)-rated internet content.

The Christian Peoples Alliance forms the opposition on Newham Council and represents one of the most deprived parts of the capital.

According to Cllr Alan Craig, the pledges don't go far enough: As welcome as David Cameron is to the discussion about the sexualisation of children, both he and Ed Balls have failed to grasp the gravity of the problem, especially as it impacts inner city districts such as Canning Town. Here children are begetting children.

The problem is pervasive and complex, linked to issues of social inequality and the disempowerment of young men. The reality is that it is internet imagery, social networking sites and the ubiquity of new generation, internet-enabled mobile phones which are feeding sexual desire. Adolescents are saturated with media images that suggest it is their right to express themselves in sexual relationships. The social consequences are devastating.

Alan Craig said that instead of optional filtering , stronger measures are needed to require big internet and phone providers in Britain such at Sky, Virgin Media and British Telecom to mandatory block R18 material sent down broadband into family homes or to mobiles. He is pointing to what the Australian government says is the ability of internet filtering to deal with the problem.

 

23rd February   

Offsite: Melanie Phillips Recommends...

Inglourious Basterds, Law Abiding Citizen and the Killer Inside Me
Link Here

Inglourious Basterds DVD Brad Pitt The first was the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds .

I should have remembered that Tarantino's signature is extreme and graphic violence, even though it is purportedly tongue-in-cheek - and an in-joke on other movies - and is therefore considered the last word in fashionable postmodern irony.

What's more disturbing by far than the actual images of blood and gore, however, is the psychopathic sadism and indifference to suffering displayed by the Brad Pitt character and his band of killers, who beat heads to pulp and twist fingers in open wounds.

All of this is played for laughs. But what exactly are we supposed to be laughing at? Sadism? Suffering? Genocide?

Yet for such a stomach-turning farrago, Tarantino receives mass adulation. Apart from the Baftas, Inglourious Basterds has received eight Academy Award nominations and the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. Michael Winterbottom

Law Abiding Citizen Bruce McGill The second shock to my system at 38,000ft up was the American thriller Law Abiding Citizen.

...what makes it so repellent is the extreme sadism of the murders that the vengeful victim carries out, slowly dismembering his family's attacker in order to inflict upon him as much agony as possible - and in which the perpetrator of this torture, the supposed victim of injustice, takes a psychopathic pleasure.

If there's supposed to be some message in these movies about revenge or justice, it certainly evaded me. These are simply exceptionally nasty, cynical pieces of celluloid trash.

The slickness in their making barely disguises the fact that these films are seriously sick. What is so disturbing is the sadism - the fact that the characters take such pleasure in causing other human beings extreme agony.

Killer inside Vintage Crime Lizard In one of the latest examples, the British director Michael Winterbottom has defended scenes in his film The Killer Inside Me that portray extreme violence against women.

This, apparently, depicts brutal scenes of rough sex and murder; the violence, carried out to a soundtrack of classical music, is depicted in close-up shots that leave little to the imagination.

So awful is all this that, when the movie was screened last weekend at the Berlin Film Festival, there were walk-outs and booing.

Winterbottom claimed he had deliberately set out to shock. If you make a film where the violence is entertaining, I think that's very questionable, he said.

That's why it is so sick. Winterbottom says it wouldn't lead to actual violence against women because such acts are depicted as ugly and the central character, a policeman with a secret liking of sadomasochistic sex, is an unattractive figure.

But this isn't how such films work on people's psyche. Their main danger is that they have in general a desensitising or brutalising effect - and may indeed inspire a few disturbed individuals to commit acts of violence themselves.

They break the taboos against extreme behaviour simply by portraying that behaviour - and thus help destroy the constraints that preserve elementary norms of decency.

...Read the full article

Comment: War on Fictional Violence

25th February 2010. From Dan

Saw the bit about Melanie Phillips and in flight torture porn. To hear a woman who supports the illegal mass murder of thousands of Iraqis and the Israeli war machine's slaughter of Palestinians bleating about the damaging effects of violent films is hilarious!

 

23rd February   

Yake Lizard...

Chinese netizens seize on propaganda pun to represent the internet censor
Link Here

reclining lizardA new mythical animal is on the prowl on the Chinese internet.

The Yake lizard is the latest creation of China's nimble and imaginative netizens as a way to poke fun at the authorities and their bid to corral online debate and to block access to sites the censors deem inappropriate.

Internet satirists were inspired by the language used by a Uighur artist performing on the Spring Festival Gala show, noted for wholesome family entertainment peppered with propaganda.

When the artist from the restive, mainly Muslim western Xinjiang region performed the song The Party's Policies are yakexi – using the Uighur word for good , Chinese netizens were not convinced. After all, seven months ago angry Uighurs took to the streets, leaving nearly 200 people - mostly Han Chinese- dead after a night of rioting.

Netizens pounced on the word to ridicule the song – and the censors. They soon found a suitable pun, and the Uighur word became Yake lizard. The word xi in Chinese can mean lizard.

China's most popular blogger, the youthful writer and racing driver Han Han, then set up a competition, offering 5,000 yuan (£500) to the creator of the best new lyrics for the Yake Lizard song.

All this has helped to ensure the Yake lizard has become an internet mascot within the confines of the Great Firewall of China. Blogs and chatrooms have created certain characteristics for the legendary lizard. One noted that the creature used to flourish in the Soviet Union but was now virtually extinct there and to be found mainly in mainland China, North Korea and Cuba.

 

22nd February   

Ofcom Bare their Fangs...

Man with talent for eating snakes alive does not impress the TV censor.
Link Here

Snake eater on ARY Dum Hai Tou Entertain Kar
ARY Digital, 3 December 2009, 11:00

ARY Digital is a general entertainment channel serving a UK Pakistani audience, and is broadcast on cable and satellite platforms.

Dum Hai Tou Entertain Kar ( Entertain, if You Dare ) is a Pakistani talent show.

Ofcom received a complaint that in this particular episode a contestant came on stage with a live snake and proceeded to bite the live snake's head off, and then skin the snake with his hands and teeth while continuing to eat it. The complainant considered this content was inappropriate for broadcast.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3 (children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling)
  • Rule 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision:   Breach of 1.3 and 2.3

In this case, a talent show contestant was shown bringing a live snake on stage. After holding the live snake in his teeth, the contestant was then shown biting the snake's head off. The programme then continued to show the contestant biting into the snake and gradually ripping off and eating the skin and flesh of the animal to leave just its skeleton.

Ofcom noted that this whole sequence lasted several minutes and, at several times, the shocked reactions of both the studio audience and two judges were shown on screen. Ofcom considered that this explicit and graphic killing, and then eating, of a snake by the talent show contestant was clearly unsuitable for children and had the potential to cause offence to viewers in general.

This is because the snake was clearly alive before its head was bitten off and no measures appeared to have been taken before the killing to lessen any pain; the contestant proceeded to skin and then devour the snake's flesh in front of the audience; the whole sequence lasted several minutes, including a number of close ups; and the sequence was designed purely for entertainment.

In Ofcom's view this material was not appropriately scheduled so as to provide the necessary protection to child viewers. The programme was broadcast at a time when there was a material chance that children, including some of the very youngest children, may have been in the audience. As a consequence, Ofcom considered that this was a breach of Rule 1.3.

Concerning Rule 2.3, for the reasons set out above this material had the potential to offend. The issue was therefore whether it was justified by the context.

This offensive content was not justified by the context which primary purpose is a programme to entertain the audience and was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

Ofcom considered that ARYs' compliance procedures have been shown to be seriously inadequate by this case. In particular, we are concerned that the broadcaster had not viewed this particular episode at all prior to broadcast. Instead on its own admission it based its compliance decisions for this programme, and the whole series from which it came, on viewing only one episode in this series.

In addition, we are concerned that despite attempts to communicate with its transmission department following the 2 December broadcast, ARY was not able to prevent the programme, including the Snake Contestant content, being repeated on 3 December 2009.

Breach of 1.3 and 2.3

 

22nd February   

Update: Unwanted...

Australian online public not impresses by mandatory state internet censorship
Link Here

EFA lgoElectronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) have welcomed survey results showing Australian Internet users might not vote Labor again at the next election due to Internet filtering.

The preliminary results of the Australian Broadband Survey 2009, conducted by Whirlpool, found that 92% respondents did not support the idea of mandatory Internet filtering.

The survey also found 83% of respondents said that the introduction of mandatory Internet filtering might affect their vote at the next Federal election.

The results highlight widespread community disagreement with the Government's plan, said Peter Black, EFA's campaign manager. These results also show that Australians believe the Government would be better off focusing on increased education and law enforcement, instead of an impractical and costly policy of Government censorship.

When asked what the Government should focus on in terms of internet safety, 82% supported educating parents, 64% said educating children, 44% said law enforcement, 42% said subsidising desktop filter software, and 34% said subsidising ISP-level opt-in filters, with only 3% supporting mandatory Internet filtering.

The survey was successfully completed and verified 21,775 times by respondents aged 18 years of age or older. The full results of the Survey are expected to be published soon.

These results confirm that people who understand the issue overwhelming oppose the Government's policy, Black said: The big challenge now is to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians, who perhaps aren't particularly computer or Internet savvy.

That is why last week EFA launched the Open Internet campaign, centred around a new website, OpenInternet.com.au , blog, and Facebook fan page, that together will act as campaign hub for all the different individuals and organisations that are campaigning against the Government's mandatory Internet filtering policy.

 

22nd February   

Update: Unblockable Internet Blocking Law...

Unwanted German internet censorship law comes into force
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flagA new bill to censor Germany's internet has been signed into law by Germany's president. There's only one problem: The government has decided it no longer wants it. They are now in the awkward position of relying on opposition help to repeal the legislation. 

The German coalition government, which pairs Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, has decided it no longer wants the law, which was massively opposed by Internet users. Instead of blocking access to Web sites, it now wants to delete offensive Internet content instead.

The SPD is now set to introduce a bill before the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, on Feb. 25 which would repeal the new law, thereby overturning the legal basis for blocking Internet access.

The original Access Impediment Law was hugely controversial in Germany. There was massive opposition from Internet activists, who saw it as an attempt to censor the Web and an attack on the right to freedom of expression. Users feared that access to harmless sites could also be blocked and that the access restrictions could easily be circumnavigated by savvy surfers.

The issue also caused a certain amount of political fallout. Then Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a member of the CDU who is now German labor minister, was behind the initiative to combat child pornography. Critics dubbed her Zensursula, a portmanteau word combining her name and the German word for censorship. The issue also cost the SPD support among Internet users and helped boost the newly founded Pirate Party, which campaigned in the 2009 election on an Internet freedom and civil rights platform and got an impressive 2% of the total vote.

 

21st February   

Update: Unsafe Propaganda...

Government to tell TV producers to include more references to condoms and STDs
Link Here

Dept of Health logoThe Government will this week order television chiefs to include more references to condoms and sexually transmitted diseases in their story lines.

Officials will reveal that they have analysed popular TV shows and concluded that not enough sex scenes feature the characters discussing contraception.

A report, called Mis-selling Sex , to be launched by the Department of Health, will call on television writers to include more dialogue about condoms and plot lines featuring the consequences of unsafe sex such as unwanted pregnancies and disease.

It will also call for more slang words to be used in order to connect with teenagers. Gillian Merron, the Public Health Minister, said: Young people relate to the programmes they watch on TV, so it's important that they see both realistic and responsible portrayals of sex and contraception.

It's not for Government to say what happens on TV ...BUT... we can have conversations with broadcasters to help them have a more positive impact on attitudes to sex. I'm encouraged that some broadcasters are working to address these issues, and hope others will follow suit.

Her report analysed 350 episodes of programmes popular with 16-24 year olds including EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Holby City, Home & Away and Neighbours . American favourites such as CSI, My Name is Earl, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Desperate Housewives were also studied.

Researchers found that only 7% of sexual content featured discussion of safe sex. Of the 102 encounters of actual sex, only three couples used condoms. 13% of sexual encounters where contraception was not featured dealt with any kind of consequence, such as pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Of the 99 instances of unsafe sex, nine characters regretted their behaviour.

 

21st February   

Potential for Abuse...

Scottish ministers consider new offence of sending threatening or harassing emails
Link Here

Kenny MacAskillMinisters in Scotland are considering a new law which would help stop people stalking and harassing their victims by text or online.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill wants a new offence outlawing threatening, alarming or distressing behaviour .

The government will seek to change this by lodging an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, which is going through parliament.

Once the new powers are enshrined in law they will give prosecutors the ability to act against stalkers who send threatening messages via email, text, phone calls and on internet sites such as Facebook.

MacAskill said: Stalking can be a deeply frightening crime for victims and we want to ensure that the small minority of perpetrators who engage in this criminal activity are brought to justice. We want to send out the message loud and clear that if you carry out this offence, there will be no escape, there will be no wriggle room to exploit and you will be met with by the full force of law.

A government spokesman said the proposed offence would cover not only the sending of threatening or harassing emails, text messages or phone calls, but also persistent following, pursuing or spying on someone.

 

21st February   

Update: A Sexualised Government...

Government report to recommend magazine age ratings and photoshop warning on all glamour images
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

Zoo MagazineChildren are being sexualised from an increasingly early age by computer games, pornography and sex-related slogans, a government report will warn.

The study was written by clinical psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos for the Home Office. She said: Little boys are always told 'aren't you clever, aren't you strong'. Little girls are told 'aren't you pretty?' even in 2010. They are adhering to what society expects and internalising behaviours.

Papadopoulos cited the example of the computer game Miss Bimbo , where the aim of the game is to accumulate boob jobs and marry a billionaire.

The report, due out later this month, will suggest imposing age restrictions on lads' magazine such as Zoo and Nuts and introducing a symbol to signify when a image in a magazine has been airbrushed.

Papadopoulos told the Times Educational Supplement: It's a drip-drip effect. Look at porn stars and look at how the average girls looks now. We are hypersexualising girls, telling them their desirability relies on being desired. They want to please at any cost. And we are hypermasculinising boys. Many feel they can't live up to the porn ideal, sleeping with lots of women.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: We know that many parents are concerned about the pressures that their teenage and even pre-teen daughters are under to appear sexually available at a younger and younger age, and about the negative impact this may be having on boys too.

 

21st February   

Suicidal Sausage...

ASA turn down complaint about Peperami competition advert
Link Here

Peperami assisted suicide advertAn internet banner ad, for Peperami salami, appeared on Brand Republic's website and stated $10 000 TO KILL ME IN THE MOST CREATIVE WAY . A cartoon Peperami was shown holding a sign that stated ASSISTED SUICIDE .  

A complainant objected that the ad was likely to cause distress and serious offence, in particular to those who had related personal experiences, in light of recent public debates about assisted suicide.

Unilever said the ad appeared in media specific to the ad industry, which was selected to ensure the ad reached a highly creative audience, rather than the general public, in the hope that many would take up the creative challenge. They acknowledged the ad would have been seen by a wide range of people and a small number might be offended but believed it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. They believed visitors to the Brand Republic website were likely to be aware of the history of Peperami advertising and the Peperami Animals sadistic tendencies and would understand the humorous tone of the ad as well as the deliberate and topical play on words. Unilever said, although it was a sensitive matter, they felt the reference to assisted suicide was justified in the context.

ASA Decision: Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that assisted suicide was a sensitive issue and was distressing for those affected by it. We noted the ad was targeted specifically at those who might want to enter the competition and considered most members of the public who saw it would understand that the ad used a play on words intended to refer to the competition, and its brief. We considered viewers were likely to find the concept of assisting the suicide of an item of food ridiculous rather than offensive or distressing. We noted some might find the ad distasteful but concluded it was unlikely to cause distress or serious or widespread offence.

 

21st February   

Diary: Modernisation...

Protest against censorship in Malta
Link Here

Malta flagA protest to convince Parliament to reform outdated and theocratic censorship laws is being held by the Front kontra c-Censura on Wednesday 24th February at 5 p.m., starting from City Gate in Valletta to Parliament.

The organisation told a news conference this morning that it had invited all political organisations to join since it believed that censorship affected everyone. It was very concerned that several bodies, including the University Students' Council and the Studenti Demokristjani Maltin, refused to take part.

Spokesman Ingram Bondin said that last year there were six cases of censorship, the most obvious and controversial being the Realta short story Li Tkisser Sewwi, the Nadur Carnvial and the play Stitching.

The protest, he said, was being organised to fight outdated laws on censorship which carried harsh punishment, including a prison term. The people should have the freedom to say something shocking and not be silenced. This was even allowed by the European Court of Human Rights which in a judgement said that freedom of speech could be shocking.

Bondin said the organisation would like to see the law which did not allow one to artistically criticise the official religion of the country repealed. It would also like to see the Board of Stage and Film Classification, which had the power to censor plays and films from appearing and being held, lose this power.

It wanted the removal of a clause in the Press Act which said that one could not publish anything that criticised public morals and it called for an amendment to the law removing the powers of the Broadcasting Authority to censor adult programmes aired after 9 p.m.

The organisation said it was also calling for the decriminalisation of pornography. The Pornography Act called for the setting up of a committee whose role was to define pornography. This committee has not met since 1975 and it should be removed.

 

20th February   

Diary: Back in Court...

Simon Singh due in Court of Appeal
Link Here  full story: Simon Singh vs Chiropractors...Chiropractors take science sceptic to libel court

Old BaileySimon Singh vs British Chiropractic Association
Court of Appeal, London
Tuesday 23rd February

Simon Singh's libel case with the British Chiropractic Association appears before the Court of Appeal in London next week on Tuesday 23rd February. His case will be heard by three of the most powerful legal figures in the UK, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley and has been named one of the top ten cases to watch in 2010 by The Lawyer magazine.

You can join Simon, me and others to wish Simon good luck at 9.45 am on Tuesday on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice (Strand, WC2A 2LL). You are also welcome to stay for part or whole of the Court of Appeal hearing starting at 10.30am. This is open to the public and quite a spectacle.

Ahead of Simon's case we are holding a Science Libel Survivors Rally in London on Monday night. This is a joint event of Westminster Skeptics and Sense About Science on the eve of Simon's hearing. Simon will be joined by other libel defendants including Peter Wilmshurst, Dave Osler, and Ben Goldacre and special guests including Professor Raymond Tallis to tell us how libel laws are impacting on science and scientists. You are warmly invited to this interesting and exciting event in The Monk Exchange pub, Strutton Ground, London, SW1H 0HW from 19.00. More at westminster.skepticsinthepub.org

Last week Simon asked for supporters to persuade others to sign up to libel reform and the result was spectacular, with 10,000 new names in a week. Many of you did a great job, and it would be brilliant if you could continue to encourage others to sign www.libelreform.org/sign so that we add another 10,000 names this week. As Simon said in the previous newsletter, and we can probably trust his maths, if everyone persuaded just one more person to sign up then we would reach 100,000 signatories within a month.

Keep an eye out for stories on Simon's case in the Sunday Times this weekend and in The Times and the Guardian on Monday and you can listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme Science on Trial at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00qps87

Also the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will release a report on Wednesday 24th February that, amongst other issues, will look at the impact of English libel law on free expression. We submitted evidence to the Committee of how our libel laws are unjust and against the public interest and we hope they will make serious and far-reaching proposals for reform.

 

20th February   

Update: Apple Throws a Wobbler...

Another blitz on adult related apps on iTunes
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Grab the Wobbly Bits app Apple is stirring up yet another censorship brouhaha with its latest changes to App Store policy.

The company recently began blocking screenshots for apps that are outside the acceptable age range in Parental Controls in iTunes. According to iPhone developer ChiliFresh, it seems that all overtly sexual apps might be expunged from the App Store too, which is making some users uneasy about Apple's power once again.

Last month developers were notified that all screenshots for the App Store had to be free of objectionable material and be acceptable for a 4+ rating.

Many of the apps in question were essentially collections of racy pictures (some more racy than others), so a screenshot amounted to soft-core porn for some. If they could be made appropriate, they wouldn't show much of the app at all.

Despite these changes, however, it appears Apple intends to purge the App Store of all apps with sexual overtones. Developer ChilliFresh got a notice from Apple that its app Wobble iBoobs was being removed from the App Store due to a policy change on apps with overtly sexual content. An e-mail from the App Store review team explains the change:

The App Store continues to evolve, and as such, we are constantly refining our guidelines. Your application, Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored), contains content that we had originally believed to be suitable for distribution. However, we have recently received numerous complaints from our customers about this type of content, and have changed our guidelines appropriately.

We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store, which includes your application. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you believe you can make the necessary changes so that Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored) complies with our recent changes, we encourage you to do so and resubmit for review.

Though Apple refrained from commenting on what particular issue may have sparked this policy change, Ars has discovered a campaign by the Parents Television Council that may be at least partly to blame.

 

20th February   

Putting the Guns Down and Sharing a Prayer...

Israel whinges at Spanish art exhibit
Link Here

Eugenio Merino artA display by a Spanish artist, including a candelabrum growing out of the barrel of an Uzi sub-machinegun and a sculpture of a haredi figure standing on a priest, who kneels on a prostrate Muslim, has drawn fire from the Foreign Ministry.

The Israeli Embassy in Madrid issued a statement protesting the display at the International Art Fair in the Spanish capital.

Values such as freedom of speech and creative freedom are sometimes used to disguise stereotyping, prejudice and provocation for the sake of provocation, the statement said. The sculptures are two of five works on display by the well-known artist Eugenio Merino.

Merino denied that he had tried to provoke. The aim was to display the wonder in the co-existence of the three religions, each making a common effort to reach God, he told reporters.

 

20th February   

Fragrant Whinges...

ASA dismiss complaints about scent advert
Link Here

212 Men TV advert A TV ad, for a men's fragrance, showed a man and a woman in an apartment. The couple were shown in a state of undress and were gazing at each other and embracing on a bed. The voice-over stated 212. 212 Men. Carolina Ferrera, New York . The ad was given an ex-kids scheduling restriction by Clearcast. Issue

Three viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive and inappropriate for broadcast before 9pm when children might be watching.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the ad featured a number of sequences showing a couple embracing and looking into one another's eyes and that the ad had a mild sexual overtone. Although we noted the couple were naked from the waist up, we considered that the majority of sequences in the ad focused on head shots and images of the couple looking into each others eyes which were suggestive but not sexually explicit.

We agreed with Puig and Clearcast that an ex-kids restriction, which prevented the ad from being broadcast in or around children's programming, was sufficient for the ad's content. Although we understood the ad may have been distasteful to some, we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to most adult viewers or cause distress to children who might see it.

 

20th February   

Update: Culturally Immoral...

ECHR rule against Turkey's ban on book considered part of European literary heritage
Link Here

Eleven Thousand Rods Apollinaire The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey of a violation of freedom of expression in the context of the book The Eleven Thousand Rods (Les onze mille verges) by French writer Guillaume Apollinaire published in 1907. The book was censored in Turkey and its publisher, Hades Publishing owner Rahmi Akdas,, was convicted by a Turkish court.

The decision was announced by the ECHR on 16 February. The court declared that there nothing to say against the protection of moral values. Nevertheless, Acknowledgment of the cultural, historical and religious particularities of the Council of Europe's member States could not go so far as to prevent public access in a particular language, in this instance Turkish, to a work belonging to the European literary heritage .

Publisher Akdas was sentenced to a monetary fine of 684 Turkish Lira (TL) on the grounds of obscenity and harming inner feelings of the people by publishing the work which contains graphic descriptions of scenes of sexual intercourse, even though it is a fictional work. On 11 March 2004, the Court of Appeals approved the decision and decreed for the seizure and destruction of all copies of the book.

 

20th February   

Shared Concern...

17 year old jailed for 'highly disturbing' racist material
Link Here

Old BaileyA boy from Norfolk who posted highly disturbing white supremacist videos online has been given a two-year conditional discharge.

The boy, 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted two charges of inciting racial hatred on or before 22 April 2008 at King's Lynn Youth Court.

The boy was 15 when he was arrested for posting videos on YouTube. The Crown Prosecution Service believes he is the youngest person in England and Wales prosecuted for the offence.

The boy also put material on a website he had set up himself, the court heard.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer Viv Goddard said: This is thought to be the first time the CPS has prosecuted someone as young as this defendant for incitement to racial hatred after posting racially-inflammatory material on a social networking site. Young people need to realise that it is not a joke to post hate-filled material on video-sharing websites or sites they set up themselves. The material in this case was not just offensive but highly disturbing in its violence and imagery.

Viewers to his site had to agree to statements before they were allowed access, the lawyer said. These statements included I do swear and verify that I am of the white race and I am not or have never been a follower of the Jewish religion . The boy also stipulated that viewers believe in the segregation of the races and have never engaged in an inter-racial relationship .

 

20th February   

Earn Less Work More...

Chinese artist finds political play on Sarkozy words censored in Paris
Link Here

Ecole des Beaux-ArtsIf the Chinese artist Ko Siu Lan had expected more democracy by studying in France, he must have been gravely disappointed by an incident of censorship that raises questions about the country's dedication to freedom of expression.

As Le Monde and Agence France-Presse report, the thirty-two-year-old student at Paris's art academy Ecole des Beaux-Arts hung a set of banners on the academy's facade that play on a 2007 election slogan from president Nicolas Sarkozy: Travailler plus pour gagner plus (Work more to earn more).

By contrast, Ko's black banners feature the words EARN, LESS, MORE, WORK. But her installation was dismantled after hanging only a few hours on the Beaux-Arts building located in the city's sixth arrondissement. The reason? The academy judged that the work could be viewed as making an attack on the neutrality of the public service while instrumentalizing the establishment.

The artist denounced a brutal censorship, without discussion. The school has proposed to reinstall the work inside the building—a solution that Ko does not find satisfactory. The artist is not alone.

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë also denounced a targeted censorship that is particularly frightening, since it calls into question the role and legitimate expression of artists in the city and our collective life.

The French socialist party—Parti socialiste (PS)—also denounced the act as censorship but demanded that the work be reinstalled on the Beaux-Arts facade. It's clearly an act of censorship for political reasons toward a work of art, said the PS party. While expressing its total condemnation of the work's dismantling, the party expressed its complete solidarity with both the artist and the curator of the exhibition.

 

19th February   

Update: Knobhead of the Year Award...

Liam Gallagher gets his name on the Brit Awards Ofcom complaints sheet
Link Here  full story: Brit Awards...Sttrong language and alcohol at Brit Awards

Whats Story Morning Glory Liam Gallagher lost his cool with Peter Kay after the comedian insulted him during the BRIT Awards. While accepting Best Album of the Last 30 Years on behalf of Oasis, Gallagher threw out a few choice words, hurled a microphone and tossed the trophy into the crowd.

Gallagher's onstage speech consisted of him telling the crowd that the best in the fucking world live forever . He thanked all of his band mates somewhere in there, except for his brother Noel. Afterward, Kay, who was hosting the event, remarked to the millions watching that Gallagher was knobhead.

Afterward Gallagher went backstage for an interview for ITV2's live backstage coverage, which was conducted by his wife Nicole Appleton. During the interview, he said fucking twice, and then when the interview was at an end, he left his wife red in the face by blurting that it was nice and then asking if they could all take loads of class A drugs .

No doubt Ofcom got plenty of complaints.

 

19th February   

Update: Hard Apology...

US campaign against the word 'retard' comes to the UK
Link Here  full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

Vinne Jones The retard controversy swirling around public figures in the US has also been noted in the UK.

Channel 4 has 'enraged' disability charities and disabled people, with its initial refusal to apologize for the Channel 4 program Big Brother's Big Mouth , broadcast on 29.1.10, in which Vinnie Jones accused Davina McCall of walking like a retard, and gave the audience a demonstration of what a retard walks like. Davina McCall responded by saying: I do not walk like a retard.

Channel 4 originally said that participants should be able to talk without censure, but after an active Facebook campaign by disabled people and groups did apologize privately to two individuals. A spokesman admitted that the original defensive response was a mistake and there should have been an on-air apology.

It has now made its apology public, saying: We would normally respond to an inappropriate comment of that nature by asking the presenter to admonish the person responsible and apologize to the audience, but on this occasion, this did not happen. We have removed their comments from the Video on Demand version of the program.

A spokesman for Vinnie Jones said: On behalf of Vinnie Jones I'd like to apologisze for any offense caused by comments made on Big Brother's Big Mouth on January 29th 2010. While the show was live and the conversation was unscripted and off the cuff, Vinnie in no way meant to upset anyone and fully appreciates the choice of word was inappropriate.

The matter has gone to Ofcom which has ruled against the first complaint from Nicky Clark, who runs a campaign to boost disabled talent on-screen, saying that although the matter was sensitive the word was not aimed against people with a learning disability. How strange, then, that so many people with a learning disability feel it was! As Mark Goldring, the chief executive of the learning disability, Mencap, comments, it's both offensive and insulting.

 

19th February   

Updated: Government Blocking Blocked...

Protests against Polish government internet censorship achieve a 'rethink'
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Poland...In the name of dangerous gambling

Poland flagA proposed Register of Prohibited Internet Pages and Services built censorship controversy among bloggers and internet users in Poland.

The register is supposedly a measure against child pornography and other illegal content. But it is written in such a way that has bloggers fearing for their freedom of expression.

The register's critics suggest the confusing legislation will be overused affecting innocent bloggers and internet users.

The bill which suggests the new register does not state which content will get a webpage on the register and predicts the introduction of a mandatory hindrance in access to pages and services that include illegal content, Finance Ministry spokesperson Magdalena Kobos said, though it remains unclear what kind of hindrance that should be.

The Ministry suggests self-censorship to users who want to keep off the register, though it worded this basic instruction somewhat differently.

Polish PM suggests a rethink

Based on article from blogs.wsj.com

Polish Internet surfers appeared to have won a vital battle against censorship plans of the Polish center-right government when Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote an open letter to the online community saying the Cabinet's plans could be revisited.

The debate comes in response to protests from tens of thousands of Polish surfers who joined groups on community portals speaking out against a government-drafted bill that, if upheld by the Constitutional Tribunal, will create a register of banned websites and services.

The government's plan, adopted by Parliament last year and sent for a constitutional probe by the president, is part of a wider set of radical anti-gambling measures that Tusk ordered in response to a lobbying scandal involving senior members of his party.

Surfers fear freedom of speech may fall victim to the government's crackdown as the bill may tempt the public administration to ban not just gambling sites, but whatever content it disagrees with.

Update: Internet Blocking Abandoned

19th February 2010. Based on article from blogs.wsj.com

Polish surfers have just scored a major victory — under the weight of their online protests, Prime Minister Donald Tusk decided to abandon plans for Internet censorship, which are just one step from becoming the law.

In a statement on the prime minister's website, his office have said that after consultations between Tusk and NGOs the government decided to scrap the register of banned Internet websites, originally designed to block gambling sites.

 

19th February   

Putting the Swiss Knife into Video Games?...

A ban on 'killer games' to be put before Swiss parliament
Link Here

Switzerland flagA resolution has passed unanimously in the Commission for Legal Affairs and would make it illegal to sell games rated PEGI 16 or 18 to under-age minors. Swiss parliament will now have a chance to vote on the measure.

A second, and more troubling motion, would call for a complete ban of violent and adult-themed videogames within the country. This motion passed too, though with a closer vote of nine to three, and will also head off to parliament for vote.

One of the backers of this proposal is Social Democrat Evi Allemann who said:

Such games do not make each one a killer, but they increase the willingness of those who are already vulnerable. A blanket ban on such games therefore seems appropriate and proportionate, especially since they do not have any worth protecting cultural and social content and there are thousands of other exciting games that work without such extreme violence.

Surely a nutter that will wind up the game playing public.

 

19th February   

Free Speech Haven...

Iceland considers proposals to become the world's first free speech haven
Link Here  full story: Reporting Safe Haven in Iceland...Haven from libel tourism with protection for sources

IcelandSome countries are tax havens. Set up a company there, or transfer your money, and pay less in taxes. Switzerland is renowned for being a good place to open a bank account if you want your money to be ultra-safe and ultra-secret. Now, if some Icelandic MPs have their way, Iceland might become the world's first (and only) haven for journalists and a preserve for freedom of speech.

A proposal is being put forward in Iceland's parliament that will resemble, but may not be identical in every respect, to the proposal, put up by the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative Proposal :

Proposal for a parliamentary resolution for Iceland to strongly position itself legally with regard to the protection of freedoms of expression and information. Parliament resolves to task the government with finding ways to strengthen freedoms of expression and information freedom in Iceland, as well as providing strong protections for sources and whistleblowers.

In this work, the international team of experts that assisted in the creation of this proposal should be utilized.

To this end,

the legal environment should be explored such that the goals can be defined and changes to law or new law proposals can be prepared.

the legal environments of other countries should be considered, with the view to assemble the best laws to make Iceland leading in freedoms of expression and information.

the first Icelandic international prize should be established, The Icelandic Freedom of Expression Award.

With the goal of improving democracy, as firm grounding will be made for publishing, whilst improving Iceland's standing in the international community.

The legislative initiative outlined here is intended to make Iceland an attractive environment for the registration and operation of international press organizations, new media start-ups, human rights groups and internet data centers. It promises to strengthen our democracy through the power of transparency and to promote the nation's international standing and economy. It also proposes to draw attention to these changes through the creation of Iceland's first internationally visible prize: the Icelandic Prize for Freedom of Expression.

Just as countries, like Canada and the UK, are in the midst of what can only be called a crisis with respect to freedom of expression, it is good to hear that there is a chance -- a good chance -- that freedom of speech and expression will find a refuge, if necessary, in Iceland.

 

19th February   

Update: Filtering out the Criticism...

New Zealand quietly moves close to implementing state internet filtering
Link Here

NZ Internal AffairsNew Zealand has quietly been working on its internet filter, due for launch by the end of next month.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) began work on the filter in response to community expectations that the government and the internet service providers (ISPs) should do more to provide a safe internet environment, New Zealand's DIA said in a statement.

Branded the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, the filter uses White Box software from Netclean of Sweden. According to New Zealand's National Business Review, it cost DIA NZ$150,000, which then further customised it.

It has been trialled for two years and features a blacklist of more than 7000 child pornography websites, which, like Australia's list, will remain private, because the department believed displaying a list would make a directory for offenders to use, the DIA said in its statement.

The system operates by populating the routing tables of a participating ISP so that a request for the [internet protocol] IP address of a website containing child sexual abuse images results in a first 'hop' to the Department's server, it said.

If there is a match to the particular web page that is being blocked then the requester is presented with a blocking page stating that access to the requested page is illegal. If there is no match, then the requester is permitted through to the internet.

The Department's system preserves the anonymity of any person that is blocked by not keeping a record of their IP address. Users who believe they have been prevented from accessing legitimate content may fill in an anonymous request that a site on the filtering list be checked.

Furthermore, the system will be overseen by an Independent Reference Group, nominated by the DIA, made up of representatives from enforcement agencies, the Office of Film and Literature Classification, child welfare groups, ISPs and internet users.

The New Zealand system will be voluntary for ISPs and aims to be milder than the Australian one, by just focussing on child porn instead of refused classification sites which also include subjects such as fetishes and terrorism.

This could be why the NZ filter has not been greeted with the same level of outrage that Australia's has been, though opposition to it has surfaced, from groups who fear it could extend to other objectionable areas and become compulsory like Australia's planned filter. They also have voiced concerns about the fact that unlike the Australian filter plan, which has come under much public scrutiny, the New Zealand equivalent has bypassed parliamentary procedures such as Bills, white papers and select committee processes.

 

19th February   

Update: Censor Cuts Mean Income Cuts...

Australian video games trade organisation, iGEA, criticises lack of R18+
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

The lack of an R18+ classification for electronic games has been linked to an increase in piracy and poor sales of titles that were toned-down to meet Australia's top M15+ rating.

Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) CEO Ron Curry said while Australia is pondering introducing an R18+ rating for games, Australian retailers were losing money to piracy and overseas imports.

Sales are significantly less for modified games, Curry said. People will import the full unmodified game over the Internet or get a pirate version.

Local Sega game developer Dan Toose said the classification laws did not have a big impact on Australian game development, but said it could cost developer studios millions to redesign titles to be passed under the M15+ rating.

What really takes the time is quality assurance testing, which can take more than two weeks... it can cost modern game development studios half a million dollars a month to [modify] games, Toose said. It is bad to put that on the shoulders of developers.

Toose said the opposition to the law makes no sense whatever because the R18+ classification was recognised as distinctly adult content. He said the new rating would stop children being exposed to more graphic content that is squeezed into the M15+ rating under the current scheme.

 

19th February   

Who's a Stinky Stupid, Baby, Bedwetter?...

ASA allow advert citing medical context
Link Here

bedwetter adA moving internet banner ad on the British Medical Journal Learning website showed a young boy looking miserable next to the headline WHO'S A STINKY, STUPID, BABY BEDWETTER? The next frame showed the young boy smiling next to text which stated MELT AWAY THE MISERY OF BEDWETTING WITH DESMOMELT .

The complainant, a doctor, objected that the ad was offensive and demeaning to patients who suffered from this condition.

ASA Decision: Not upheld

The ASA understood the BMJ front page could be accessed online by anyone and that it contained a link to the BMJ Learning site. We understood that the ad appeared on the front page of the BMJ Learning site, which was open to unregistered users. However, we accepted that the ad was aimed at medical professionals and that the BMJ Learning Site was designed for and aimed at that audience.

Whilst we acknowledged that the headline WHO'S A STINKY, STUPID, BABY BEDWETTER? could be shocking, we considered that it was intended to elicit sympathy for the child depicted, by referring to the taunts they might receive from others. We understood the ad was intended to highlight the product to medical professionals as a potential prescription product which could help alleviate bedwetting. Whilst we accepted the ad might be distressing to some readers who saw it, we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence in the professional medical contexts in which it was presented.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code 5.1 (Decency: offence) but did not find it in breach.

 

19th February   

Diary: The Big Libel Gig...

Stars of UK Comedy and Science Stand Up Against Unfair Libel Laws
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Libel Reform Campaign logo The Big Libel Gig
Sunday 14 March 2010
Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue,London

The Big Libel Gig will raise funds to support the Coalition for Libel Reform. An eclectic line-up, including Dara O Briain, Tim Minchin, Marcus Brigstocke, Robin Ince, Ed Byrne, Shappi Khorsandi, Professor Brian Cox, Simon Singh, Professor Richard Wiseman, Dr Peter Wilmshurst and Dr Ben Goldacre, is supporting the campaign for a public interest defence to protect writers, bloggers, academics, human rights activists and performers.

The Big Libel Gig is the brainchild of comedian Robin Ince - whose previous successes include the annual Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People shows and who will be hosting the evening – and Simon Singh, the science author and broadcaster, who will be talking frankly about the impact of libel fears on scientific debate.

Stars of the show will tell the audience that England's unjust libel laws are preventing free speech and open criticism of big corporations and powerful institutions. They will call for others to support the campaign for a public interest defence and join them in signing the petition for libel reform at www.libelreform.org. The Big Libel Gig will be the culmination of Libel Reform Week, which will raise awareness of English libel laws and urge political parties to commit to major reforms before the election, in the interests of fairness, the public interest and free speech.

Funds raised from The Big Libel Gig will be donated to the Coalition for Libel Reform, established by the charities Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense About Science.

 

18th February   

Sh*t Censors...

ASA whinge at poster for The Descent Part 2
Link Here

Descent Part 2 DVD A poster for the horror film The Descent Part 2 featured an image of a screaming girl's face covered in blood with what appeared to be bloody scratches down it. Behind her, emerging from a red glow, was a monster with his mouth open, baring his teeth. Text from a review at the bottom of the ad stated THE FEEL SH*T SCARED FILM OF THE DECADE .

Eighteen complainants challenged whether the language and imagery used in the ad was offensive and whether the imagery could cause fear or distress, and was therefore appropriate for public display where children might see it.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted that the poster had not been targeted to reach a particular audience, but had appeared in places that were easily visible to all, including children. We noted that the text THE FEEL SH*T SCARED FILM OF THE DECADE was prominent and, although asterisked, we considered the meaning and intention of the word SH*T was clear. We recognised that it was therefore difficult for parents who wanted to ensure that children were not exposed to swearing to avoid it, and we considered that the use of SH*T on this poster, that could be seen by children, was likely to be considered unacceptable. We further considered that it was likely to cause serious offence to some readers who would not expect such language in an untargeted medium.

We also considered that the image of the screaming girl, covered in blood and scratches, with the monster behind her was an aggressive and threatening image. Although we considered that that image was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, we did consider that it could cause distress to younger children. We therefore concluded that, in the context of an untargeted medium where it could be seen by a general audience including children, the poster was unacceptable.

 

18th February   

Updated: Conspiracy to Censor...

BBFC cuts to The Da Vinci Code
Link Here

Da Vinci Code Blu ray The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 US drama by Ron Howard

The BBFC passed the Extended Version for the 2009 Sony Blu-ray 15 uncut

Previously the UK Theatrical Version was submitted for the 2006 cinema release and 2006 Sony DVD. It was passed 12 after cuts: The BBFC advised the company that sound levels during some acts of violence may be too impactful for 12A and that the film was likely to receive a 15 classification. The final score and sound effects on the completed film included differences in sound levels which reduced the strength of some acts of violence to an extent which made the film acceptable at 12A.

Thanks to Gavin Salkeld:

None of the musical score was changed or reduced in any way. As for the cuts:

  • Update, added: Silas breaking the thieves' necks has had the sound effects reduced in volume. In the theatrical cut, the second neck break happens off-screen, but you see both in the extended cut.
  • The impact of Silas striking the nun with the slab was reduced in volume
  • The impact sounds of Fache kicking the air traffic controller were reduced in volume

 

18th February   

Update: Freak Bitch...

Whingeing about Lady GaGa at the Brit Awards
Link Here  full story: Brit Awards...Sttrong language and alcohol at Brit Awards

Bad Romance Lady Gaga V iewers have complained about Lady Gaga's language at the Brit Awards.

The New York singer used an electronic sound pad to repeatedly say freak bitch during her performance at the pre-watershed time of 8.45pm. She was singing her tracks Telephone and Bad Romance .

 

18th February   

The R Word...

US campaign against the word 'retard'
Link Here  full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

End the Word White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized recently for using the word retarded during a private meeting last summer, telling advocates for the disabled that he will join their campaign to help end the use of the word.

In a statement, Special Olympics Chief Executive Tim Shriver and five other disability rights advocates said Emanuel had sincerely apologized for the earlier comment during a strategy meeting, which was reported in the Wall Street Journal: We are happy that he will join more than 54,000 other Americans in pledging to end the use of the R-word at www.r-word.org, and that he committed that the administration would continue to look for ways to partner with us, including examining pending legislation in Congress to remove the R-word from federal law, they said in the statement.

Controversy about Emanuel's use of the word erupted more broadly after former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called on President Obama to fire his chief of staff. In a statement on her Facebook page, she asked: Are you capable of decency, Rahm Emanuel?

 

18th February   

Update: Fearful of Comment...

200 lese majeste cases in Thai courts
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand flagOn February 5 an unidentified man was arrested for comments he posted to a webboard. His house was searched, his computer confiscated as evidence, his family frightened, and friends panicked. These are ordinary people who express opinions that the authorities consider dangerous, and the mainstream media never allows. The Internet is their only outlet.

The police released this man on February 6, told him to stop making comments on the webboard, and they will let the case go away quietly. 

How many other cases there are there like this one? It is a perfect method of intimidation and creating fear without having to do the paper work to the end, not having to bother the court, and without public attention. Many Thais now say they will withdraw from the internet exchanges, at least for a long while.

The government announced last month (Jan 2010) that they would set up a committee to oversee the cases to prevent the abuses of the law. During the past year, the convictions in three cases were severe (18, 10 and 7 years of prison).

A dozen more people were arrested, charged for lèse majesté, either by the lèse majesté law or under the Computer Crimes Act 2007 which is a lèse majesté law in disguise. The CCA has not been used against pornography or identity theft but solely for lèse majesté. Four recent arrests were for translating news from Bloomberg about the monarch's health, for spreading so-called inauspicious rumours after the downturn in the Thai stock market.

An unconfirmed source reports there are about 200 lèse majesté cases in court at the moment. We can imagine how widespread the intimidation and fear is.

 

18th February   

Update: Buggered...

Jokey image of politicians gets Malaysian blogger arrested
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flagA blogger, who had allegedly posted doctored images of Kelantan Mentri Besar, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. The image is reported to have Nik Abdul Aziz having anal intercourse with Anwar.

Kelantan PAS Security Committee, secretary Mohamad Ibrahim, lodged a report after discovering the pictures on the Internet.

According to another news report, the blogger is currently being held under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which relates to improper use of network facilities or network service to comment, request or suggest in a communication which is obscene, false, offensive, or used to abuse, threaten or harass another person.

If convicted, the blogger faces a maximum one year jail term and/or a maximum fine of RM50,000.

 

18th February   

Braving a Repressive Climate...

Lady boy contest in Sharia Indonesia winds up the easily wound up
Link Here

Indonesia flagUlemas in Aceh have lambasted a transvestite contest held at the hall of state radio station RRI in Banda Aceh.

We strongly deplored the contest as this event has tainted the implementation of the strict sharia law in Aceh, secretary general of Aceh Ulema Association Tgk Faisal Ali said.

Faisal said that the contest was inappropriate whatsoever because it was clearly against the sharia law, which had been implemented in the whole province: Whatever the reasons, it is against the sharia law and we ask the organizers to be responsible for the event which is not in line with the local culture and Islam.

Transvestites in Aceh joined the contest to select the Aceh Cultural and Social Envoy 2010, an event which was also designed to enable transvestites to hold a get-together.

 

18th February   

Offsite: Serial Censorship...

Australian censors ignored by magazine publishers
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

Donald McDonaldTwice yearly the Australia's chief censor, Donald McDonald, reports to nutter senators on matters censorial.

This year he highlighted a certain ineffectiveness in the censorship of adult magazines.

Donald McDonald explained:

In estimates hearings senators have expressed concerns about the illegal sale of some adult magazines—concerns shared by the board. Continuing the practice I have described to you in recent hearings, I have called in for classification 440 adult films and 36 adult magazines since July 2009. Unfortunately, none of the publishers of these films and magazines complied with these notices; thus, they have all been referred to relevant state and territory law enforcement agencies for appropriate attention and action. I am not in a position to advise you what actions these agencies may or may not have taken with regard to these referrals.

The board continues to audit adult magazines that are covered by a serial classification declaration, and since July the board has revoked the classification of seven magazines which featured content not permitted in the classification. This revocation also applies to future issues of that publication covered by the declaration. While the board has been conducting rigorous audits since the first serial declarations were granted, our audit schedule will be increased from this year onward to include an audit of every periodical covered by a declaration to ensure that publishers do not abuse the system by including higher level or entirely illegal content.

Since we last met, the board has also given further consideration to the issuing of serial declarations. When deciding whether to issue a serial classification declaration, the board considers, among other things, the classification history of the periodical, statements from the applicant about the content of future issues and how the applicant intends to comply with conditions imposed by the board. Given the recent history of noncompliance by some distributors, the board has been tending to issue shorter serial declarations—up to 12 months, rather than 24 months.

...Read full article

 

18th February   

Offsite: Interview with a Censor...

AustraliaGamer interview games censor
Link Here

Australian Film Classification Boardaustraliangamer.com interviewed an Australian games censor:

I had the pleasure of interviewing a Senior Member of the Classification Board (who shall remain nameless because we don't want to be the cause or effect of anything against the board). The questions were fair, as you will see, and the answers were really good. Like I said this really opened my eyes and I now have a new found respect for the job of a Classifier on this board.

...Read full article

 

17th February   

One Blur Fits All...

International TV censorship reinforces homophobia
Link Here

E! Channel logoCensorship of homosexuality on New Zealand pay TV channels set to continue for some time yet despite a number of gay people objecting to a man-on-man kiss being blurred on the E! channel.

Viewers expressed their concern to GayNZ.com after Sky TV's E! channel blurred over a scene from the movie I Love You Philip Morris of actors Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor kissing. They felt it was unnecessary and conveyed the message that two men kissing is somehow shameful or unpalatable.

They don't censor scenes from movies and shows where there is violence and all sorts of gross stuff, why should they think two men tenderly kissing was an affront, argued Raymond of Auckland. Why would they put a large oval 'modesty patch' over two men kissing? asked Dominic of Wellington.

The American producers of the E! entertainment news programme say the scene was blurred because of the restraints placed upon us due to the international nature of our programmes and channels.

The E! spokesperson said New Zealand viewers see an international version of the programme that goes out worldwide just hours after it is assembled. We have to ensure our content is compliant in all of the territories that we transmit in, and unfortunately there are some territories that same sex kissing is required to be blurred.

Gay New Zealand television producer Glenn Sims of RedFlame Media says he understands where the E! producers are coming from, but believes that the conservative sociology of the American TV marketplace which got so indignant about a flash of nipple in prime-time a few years ago is just as much to blame as the institutionalised homophobia of some of our Asia/Pacific neighbours such as Singapore and Malaysia. Censoring such gay-themed content reinforces homophobia, he acknowledges.

E! says it tries to be sensitive to the different requirements of each territory and claims to be in the process of overcoming the technical hurdles that will allow us to create territory-specific versions of our shows.

 

17th February   

Update: Refused Censorship...

Australian Library Association joins in the criticism of internet censorship plan
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

ALIA logoAustralia's strongest critics have been swift and vocal in their condemnation of the filtering, citing concerns over freedom of speech, and referring to the filter as handing control of the internet to the moral minority .

But there still fears among those with more moderate views that the filtering system might be a step too far, with groups such as the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Inspire Foundation claiming that the subjects covered by Refused Classification are too diverse to successfully implement a ban.

And now search giants Google and Yahoo have joined in the call for the Australian government to rethink the controversial plan, making public their submissions to the government's consultation process.

 

17th February   

Gothika Filipina 2...

Art censored in Kuala Lumpur to be exhibited in Manila
Link Here

Gothika Filipina 2Igan D'Bayan's painting titled Gothika Filipina 2 should have been included in the Asian International Art Exhibition (AIAE) held from November 2009 to January 2010. But the curators didn't allow the painting to join the display at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Invited to participate in the prestigious annual exhibit together with nine other prominent Filipino visual artists, D'Bayan was surprised when he was told by Lay Ann Orlina, wife of sculptor Ramon Orlina who chairs the Federation of Asian Artists (FAA)-Philippine Committee, that there was a potential problem with his painting.

D'Bayan was given several options: submit another (presumably less provocative) painting, cover the offending area, or stand by his work and be willing to face the consequences. The flummoxed artist replied that he would stand by what he had painted.

Igan subsequently received an email saying that his painting couldn't be accepted for the exhibit because the secret part of a woman was painted too clearly, and that they hoped the artist could replace it with other works that don't bring any bad interpretation from or to the audiences (sic).

Igan D'Bayan will now hold a one-painting show of Gothika Filipina 2 at The Crucible Gallery at the Art Walk, fourth floor, SM Megamall A, Manila, starting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. The internationally censored painting will be on view until Feb. 28.

 

17th February   

Offsite: Named as Incompetent...

Government retreats over Internet Domain Name Registries
Link Here  full story: Amending the VRA...Digital Economy Bill and video censorship

House of Lords logoOur previous blog article: Digital Economy Bill 2009 seeks to crush UK Internet Domain Registry industry with bureaucratic red tape and unfair legal costs was almost correct in its analysis of just how appallingly badly draughted clauses 18 to 20 of the notorious twice disgraced, unelected, Labour Minister Mandelson's Digital Economy (destruction of) Bill was, as originally published:

Digital Economy Bill [HL] House of Lords debates, 26 January 2010,

Lord Young of Norwood Green (Government Whip; Labour): I turn to the amendments in question. Following representations made by the industry, the Government realised that the scope of the domain name provisions in the Bill could have unintended consequences.

Specifically, the definitions in Clause 18 as currently drafted would bring any organisation or company in the UK that runs its own name server within the scope of the powers-that was not intended.

Similarly, the UK-based domain name registry operations of some third countries are also caught. Again, that is not what the Government had in mind when they proposed this draft legislation.

...Read full article

 

16th February   

Mary Whitehouse Syndrome...

The thrill of being appalled by pornography and other obscenities
Link Here

Mary WhitehousePsychiatrists are to give official recognition to dozens of new mental disorders, including a condition nicknamed Mary Whitehouse syndrome — the thrill of being appalled by pornography and other obscenities.

Absexuality appears to have been inspired by the zeal of Whitehouse, the campaigner who railed against smut on television.

Although there is no evidence that Whitehouse got a kick out of salacious viewing, there is no disputing her passion for attacking broadcasters if she felt their standards had slipped

emark points out though: Sadly I think the Times have got it wrong - I don't think this is in the DSM proposal (I can't find it on www.dsm5.org ), rather it's a proposal by someone else, Carol Queen.

The condition is one of many mood disorders and personality traits that are likely to be added to the next edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatrists' bible.

The disorders, which also include hypersexuality — the desire for multiple partners, perhaps characterised by the golfer Tiger Woods — reflect changing social patterns. Critics believe, however, that their classification as psychiatric problems may lead them to be exploited for profit by drug companies.

emark notes: The Times also falsely define hypersexuality as merely "the desire for multiple partners". It's sad to see this level of misreporting, especially on an issue that many people won't know much about.

Other new conditions include sluggish cognitive tempo disorder, which some would regard as simple laziness, and relational disorder, in which two people — often a separating couple — struggle to get on. People who whinge constantly may be suffering negativistic personality disorder. Intermittent explosive disorder — otherwise known as adult tantrums — is also defined for the first time.

Comment: Self Diagnosis

Dan adds

How to diagnose Mary Whitehouse Syndrome....

  • Do you get a kick out of watching sex, porn and filth on TV just to get offended?
     
  • Do you feel the need to write to the Daily Mail in utter outrage every time you see a bare breast on TV?
     
  • Do you often get offended by things you haven't seen or heard and which you just read about in the right-wing tabloid press?
     
  • Have you ever thought of joining Mediawatch UK?

If the answer to any of the above is yes then you have Mary Whitehouse Syndrome!

 

16th February   

Update: Over Blocking Assured...

French internet blocking being fast tracked
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

France flagFrench lawmakers will vote today on a proposal to filter Internet traffic. Part of a new security bill, the measure is supposedly to catch child pornographers. Once the filtering system is in place, though, it will allow the government to censor other material too.

The National Assembly has already spent two days debating the grandly titled Bill on direction and planning for the performance of domestic security, known as Loppsi II in French, with deputies voting to reject all the amendments that sought to limit the Internet filtration provisions.

If adopted as such, the law will oblige ISPs to block the access to the sites included on a list established by the French administration without any judicial control, under the pretext of the protection of children. When the need to fight against the dissemination of images and representations of minors according to the provisions of article 227-23 of the criminal code justifies it, the administrative authority notifies the persons mentioned at item 1 (i.e.ISPs) the Internet addresses of online public communication services that are subject to the provisions of this article for which these persons must prevent the access without delay says article 4 of the law.

Lionel Tardy also proposes to force the administrative authority to specify to the ISPs which are the filtering techniques they can use to block paedophilic sites. The law must not resume to ordering the blocking of the access to certain Internet sites, but indicate to ISPs what techniques they may use. The obligation they bear should be an obligation of means and for that, the means that can be put in force must be listed said the deputy.

Deputies had sought to amend the text to require blocking only of specific URLs or documents, not of entire sites, so as to reduce collateral damage, and to require that a judge review the list of blocked URLs each month to ensure that sites were not needlessly blocked. Those amendments were, however, rejected, as was one making the filters a temporary, experimental measure until their effectiveness was proven.

Similar arguments on over-blocking were raised by Aurélien Boch from Internet users association OBEDI who explained: when an address is filtered, all the sites hosted by the same server will be filtered whether it is the site of Nouvel Observateur or a pornographic site. He also pointed out that as the list will be secret, it will be impossible to verify which sites are filtered .

 

16th February   

Updated: Synod in a Fantasy World...

Church of England synod have a whinge at computer games
Link Here

SynodTighter official regulation of violent computer games was called for by nutters of the Church of England general synod last night.

In a brief debate, members queued up to condemn the availability of ultra-violent games and the relative lack of restrictions on what children can see.

The church is still whingeing about Manchester Cathedral being used without permission in the violent game Resistance: Fall of Man. The cathedral staff secured an apology - but not the withdrawal of the game from its worldwide market.

The cathedral's dean the Very Rev Govender Rogers told the synod: Sony's response was: What is the church worried about? It's just a game. I had to tell them: It may just be a fantasy game to you, but violence is really serious on the streets of Manchester. We eventually managed to elicit a grudging apology.

Initiating the debate, synod lay member Tom Benyon, a former Tory MP, said: There is a bubbling sewer of gratuitously violent and sexual pornography and games all around us … I have seen [their] pernicious effect: a family member saw a so-called game and he had nightmares. The images remained with him for months.

Benyon offered to show members extracts of violent games on a compilation DVD: Why is it acceptable, indeed lawful, to portray the killing and burning of a woman in Fatality, the sawing up of a woman in Mortal Combat, playing football with severed heads; the chainsaw killing of a man in Saw III, rape, torture and so on? I have all these terrible games collected and if anyone has the courage to watch it, please do so.

We are in a great muddle over regulation and the cost… can be seen in the rising crime statistics year by year. To control this material by expecting parents to control their children with warnings is like King Canute's performance with his waves. This is not just a matter of conscience and morality. It's a public health and an economic issue.

The synod called on the government to review the regulatory system for advertising video games to prevent the targeting of children, offered support for carers and parents to prevent children, young people and vulnerable adults being damaged - and promised that the church would keep an eye on the games market to monitor what was being released.

Update: Games Save Lives

16th February 2010. Thanks to David. See article from uk.videogames.games.yahoo.com

This should get the Jack Thompsons of the world - and the Church of England's General Synod, who were blaming the world's ills on violent video games last week - mightily confused...

The Vancouver Sun, reports that a Texas teenager has been arrested after bragging online about an upcoming killing spree.

A British Columbian gamer may have saved the lives of American teenagers after reporting comments by an Xbox LIVE gamer based in San Antonio, Texas. According to the report, the disgruntled US teen was bemoaning recent grades and began naming specific targets for a possible high school shooting.

The Texas teen was promptly taken into custody by local police, and now faces charges.

Port Alberni RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik told the Vancouver Sun: This incident demonstrates the power of the electronic world and how different enforcement agencies can quickly work together to protect the citizens they serve, regardless of obstacles such as international barriers. In this case, the suspect was quickly arrested and no one was hurt thanks to the information received from a concerned citizen.

 

16th February   

Update: Disappearing Childhood...

The Art Censorship Guide published in Australia
Link Here

Art Censorship Guide After her exhibition was closed and her house raided by police, the Archibald Prize-winning artist Cherry Hood made a pivotal decision. She would no longer depict nude children but would concentrate on portraits instead. About a decade on, she has never returned to the subject that provoked the police action.

The works were of naked girls aged about four upwards, onto which she painted penises. They were a comment on gender stereotyping, a theme that has long concerned Hood. All the images of girls were photographs in freely available publications.

Her case is outlined in The Art Censorship Guide , just published by the National Association for the Visual Arts. It is a reminder that action against artists has a long history in Australia.

But Hood's decision to change her art practice is one many artists are facing in the wake of the Bill Henson controversy, according to NAVA's executive director, Tamara Winikoff. The introduction a year ago of Australia Council guidelines for working with children has increased the pressure on artists to steer away from contentious subjects.

It's meant that people who may not have taken any notice have now become self-conscious, Winikoff says. It means that the critical role that art can play is being silenced.

NAVA's guide argues that the visual arts are the prime target for censors and zealots. It provides information about threats to artistic freedom and how to deal with them, outlining the existing laws, the role of key bodies including the Classification Board, and provides advice on what to do if the police call.

The 100-page guide encourages artists to speak up if a work is censored or restricted or if an artist is intimidated.

No Australian artist has been found guilty of exploiting or harming children within their art practice as far as NAVA is aware. Existing laws are adequate and the Australia Council guidelines are having a chilling effect on the making and distributing of images of children, Winikoff says: Perfectly legitimate images of children are disappearing from the public domain because everybody is too nervous, she says.

 

16th February   

State Censorship...

Organisers of New Mexico adult film festival fined
Link Here

Pornotopia logoAn Albuquerque judge has fined a group responsible for organizing an adult film festival.

The Guild Theatre near Central and Carlisle has hosted the Pornotopia film festival— an event that has attracted both porn lovers and controversy.

After three years, the judge decided the theatre that has hosted the Pornotopia film festival is not zoned for adult entertainment, but organizers say the show will go on. The festival will likely be held somewhere else though.

Matie Fricker, the co-owner of Self Serve, a sex store in Nob Hill, is trying to figure out where she can host Pornotopia later this year. She has organized the festival since it started in 2007.

A Metro Court judge fined the Guild Theatre $500 for a building code violation stemming from one of the previous festivals, saying the theatre is not zoned for adult entertainment.

City officials admit there have been no formal complaints from the public about the event, but now their legal department is checking to see if the Guild can be fined for the other two festivals.

 

15th February   

Update: Back in Business...

BBFC notification of the re-enactment of the Video Recordings Act
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

The BBFC have updated their website re the the re-enactment of the Video Recordings Act:

BBFC logo On 21 January 2010, the Video Recordings Bill received Royal Assent. This Bill corrects a procedural error that meant the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA) was not enforceable against individuals in UK courts. It repeals and revives the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), restoring the public protection provided by a robust video classification system. It sets out the statutory requirement for videos, DVDs and some video games to be classified and age rated by the British Board of Film Classification.

The voluntary classification scheme the BBFC has been running since the discovery of the VRA's lack of enforceability ends with immediate effect. Henceforth, all classification certificates issued by the BBFC will be pursuant to the VRA.

The BBFC will issue replacement certificates in accordance with the VRA for all those works for which it issued certificates under the voluntary scheme between 1 September 2009 and 21 January 2010. So no customer need withdraw from sale any work for which a voluntary certificate was issued.

All classification certificates issued by the BBFC in accordance with the VRA since 1984 are valid, and remain so following Royal Assent of the Video Recordings Bill. Any video recording containing an unclassified video work which has been released in the interim period will need to be withdrawn from sale now the new Act is in force, unless the work can claim exemption.

The BBFC would like to thank its customers for complying with the provisions of the VRA by continuing to submit works to the BBFC for classification on a voluntary and best practice basis during the period of the VRA's unenforceability.

 

15th February   

Update: Pig's Nipples at Facebook...

Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is Not Obscene!
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Suckling PigsFacebook routinely deletes from its site photos of breastfeeding. It has labelled them obscene and pornographic. It says that it has rules for what is allowed on its site, but its careless actions show it does not.

Facebook's clueless manner of censoring is not just pointless but harmful. There are other ways to deal with unwanted material than by immature, arrogant, and foolish removal of what one doesn't like, especially when photos of breastfeeding are claimed to harm children, a claim Facebook has made for years.

Here is a recent photo Facebook removed. Could Facebook have a bad case of nipplephobia?

Based on article from theotherpaper.com

A charge led by Facebook administrators to delete pictures of breast-feeding moms from its pages may land the social media site in the middle of a class action lawsuit.

There have been rumblings since last December. A lot of people are really eager to call Facebook to task and we're considering whether a class action lawsuit will be viable, said Stephanie Muir, a Canadian administrator for the Facebook group, Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is Not Obscene! We want to hit them in the pocketbook so they'll actually pay attention. Facebook is getting away with something they would not be able to get away with outside the virtual world. It's basically discrimination.

Facebook fired a warning shot recently to show it's serious about taking down the group's page by deleting Muir's personal page as well.

The group is still there. And I have created a different account for myself, said Muir. But everything I previously had is gone, including every single post I've ever made.

Muir said Facebook initially told the group they were in copyright violation and that's why they were going to be removed: One of our administrators in Scotland e-mailed an inquiry and the response said, 'We're sorry, our message was in error. It's not a copyright violation, it's nudity and explicit sexual content that your group has been removed, They said in their statement it wasn't the breast-feeding, it was the nipples that were the problem. They're very inconsistent, which is a great source of irritation. They have changed their story a number of times.

We're going to continue to keep a strong presence . It's still a mystery to me how anyone could feel so strongly to interfere with a community of a quarter of a million people. You know, you have options; if you see a breast-feeding woman (or her picture), you can either harass her or you can use your neck and swivel your head in the other direction. We ultimately just want them to leave breast-feeding pictures alone.

 

15th February   

Lick but don't Swallow...

Turkish play gets death threats in Istanbul
Link Here

Yala Ama Yutma posterTurkish playwright Ozen Yula has written a play that has angered Islamic fundamentalists in Istanbul.

Ozen Yula, a leading Turkish playwright who is spending most of 2010 working and teaching in Cleveland, got an unwelcome invitation earlier this month.

It was an invitation to join a list of people who wound up dead, hunted or silenced after being condemned in Vakit, Istanbul's most widely followed Islamic-fundamentalist newspaper.

Yula earned that distinction as the author of a comedy that was scheduled to open at the Kumbaraci50 theater in  Istanbul.

In the play, Yala, Ama Yutma (Lick but don't Swallow), an angel gets sent back to Earth to do good works in the body of a pornographic movie actress. Or maybe the play is about a porn star who dreams she's an angel. Like many serious comedies, it's ambiguous.

But ambiguity is not something Islamic fundamentalists tend to appreciate. Vakit (Turkish for Time ) condemned Yula and his play for smearing human dirt on angels, according to one translation of the newspaper's online Turkish text.

Deliberate or not, the Vakit story has touched off a sensation. The mayor of Beyoglu, a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party  shut down the venue where the play was supposed to premiere Monday.

 

14th February   

Zed Grade Whingeing...

Cheryl Cole's Parachute video offends the easily offended
Link Here

Parachute Cheryl Cole's new video has reportedly offended the perennial Hindu whinger Rajan Zed.

The Girls Aloud singer has been accused of portraying the Indian goddess Kali, in her video for her new single Parachute .

Kali is associated with divine energy and is widely worshipped in the faith.

According to Digital Spy, Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has said: The goddess Kali is highly revered in Hinduism and she's meant to be worshipped in temples, and not to be duplicated in music videos for publicity stunts or thrown around loosely for dramatic effects. This should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed. The inappropriate use of Hinduism concepts and symbols is not OK.

 

14th February   

Update: Cartoon Justice...

US man jailed for 6 months for possessing Japanese anime
Link Here  full story: Dangerous Anime in the US...Japanese anime open to prosecution

US Dept of JusticeA US comic book collector has been sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to importing and possessing Japanese manga books supposedly depicting illustrations of child sex and bestiality [presumably referring to the usual many tentacled monsters].

Christopher Handley was sentenced in Iowa almost a year after pleading guilty to charges of possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. Without a plea deal with federal authorities, he faced a maximum 15-year sentence.

The man was charged under the 2003 Protect Act, which outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and which lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Handley was the nation's first to be convicted under that law for possessing cartoon art, without any evidence that he also collected or viewed genuine child pornography.

Comic fans were outraged, saying jailing someone over manga does not protect children from sexual abuse. I'd say the anime community's reaction to this, since day one, has been almost exclusively one of support for Handley and disgust with the U.S. courts and legal system, Christopher MacDonald, editor of Anime News Network, said in an e-mail.

Congress passed the Protect Act after the Supreme Court struck down a broader law prohibiting any visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity, including computer-generated imagery and other fakes. The high court ruled that the ban was too broad, and could cover legitimate speech, including Hollywood productions.

In response, the Protect Act narrows the prohibition to cover only depictions that the defendant's community would consider obscene.

 

14th February   

The Story of Emmanuelle...

Emmanuelle uncut on Blu-ray
Link Here

Emmanuelle on Blu-ray Emmanuelle is a 1974 French erotic film by Just Jaekin

Emmanuelle is scheduled for its first [uncut] Blu-ray release on 1st March 2010.

The Story of Emmanuelle

See cuts details from sbbfc.co.uk :

  • The BBFC cut the 1974 cinema release by at least 2:44s for an X certificate

Cuts were made to the film, principally to reduce the sexual detail. As well as reducing the amount of implied thrusting, oral sex and masturbation in a number of sequences, the Board deleted an entire scene showing a night club act in which a woman 'smokes' a cigarette with her vagina.

Perhaps surprisingly given the later treatment of the film, a sequence in which Emmanuelle is raped in an opium den as part of her 'sexual education' was left largely intact, with only minimal cuts to reduce the amount of thrusting seen.

  • In 1979 the BBFC now under James Ferman went on a crusade against the depiction of sexual violence. They revoked the X certificate and asked for a further 1:01s of cuts to delete the rape scene.

The sex cuts required on film in 1974 were no longer necessary by contemporary standards and only two cuts were insisted upon for 1990 video release, namely:

  1. to remove the woman smoking a cigarette through her vagina and
  2. to remove the entire rape in the opium den, as cut on film in the late 70s.

Unfortunately, a duplication error led to the uncut version being released on video in 1991, leading to a major and costly product recall.

  • Some cuts waived when Momentum DVD submitted in 2001

The cut to the smoking of the cigarette was waived as tasteless but not harmful or illegal

  • the rape scene was still reduced to establishment
  • All cuts were finally waived when the uncut Optimum DVD was  submitted in 2007. From the 2007 BBFC Annual Report:

It was given much consideration before it was judged that in the full context of an uncut classification it was clearer that there was no endorsement of the ‘rape myth'. It was consequently passed ‘18' without cuts.

 

14th February   

Bird Brained Censorship...

Old cuts to Crystal Hunt
Link Here

Crystal Hunt Donnie Yen Crystal Hunt is a 1991 Hong Kong action film by Hsia Hsu

The BBFC cut the 1993 TVB video by 46s.

  • At 7 mins - In cockfight sequence, remove all sight of birds in contact.

 

14th February   

Update: Digital Economy Bill...

Video Recordings Act amendments discussed in Lords Committee
Link Here  full story: Amending the VRA...Digital Economy Bill and video censorship

House of Lords logoThe Digital Economy Bill was discussed in Lords Committee on 8th February 2010.

A long list of amendments were discussed and withdrawn. Here is a brief summery of these.

Exemptions: Amendment 246 Moved by Lord De Mauley

This was an unneeded suggestion to add to the list of material that would exempt a video game from the need for classification. In reality the list in the original bill is sufficient, but this issue has become something of a band wagon issue having received press attention. So a fair few lords lined up to add their name to the cause including Baroness Howe of Idlicote, The Lord Bishop of Manchester and Lord Addington.

Government Censorship Power: Amendment 247 Moved by Lord De Mauley

Rightfully questioned the powers being given to the Secretary of State in the name of future proofing games censorship.

BBFC as R18 Experts: Amendment 248 Moved by Lord De Mauley

This amendment relates to the BBFC retaining powers to classify games containing R18 pornography. It also questioned whether both the VSC and the BBFC should duplicate the work of differentiating between 18 and R18 material. The BBFC seem to be held as the 'experts' in identifying porn.

At least the debate seemed to assume that  R18 is here to stay and no seemed to be taking the opportunity of the bill to re-ban porn.

Hybrids: Amendment 250 Moved by Lord Howard of Rising Also amendment 251 Moved by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

These amendments raised the dual censor issue of what to do with hybrid media, ie games containing video or DVDs containing games etc

Duty to promote online safety: amendment 251A Moved by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

(1) It shall be the duty of internet service providers and mobile phone operators to take such steps, and to enter into such arrangements-

(a) to bring about, or to encourage others to bring about, a better public understanding of online safety;
(b) to provide prominent, easily accessible and clear information on filtering options of public electronic communication services for the purposes of online safety-

(i) at the time of purchase of the service; and
(ii) to make such information available for the duration of the contract.

(2) In this section online safety means safe, responsible use of the internet and other communication devices by children and young people.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote said she was speaking for children's charity CARE and wanted to make the availability of parental control facilities to be made more prominent. Again there were lords queuing up support this amendment. The government pointed out that in reality it is far too complex a question for a sentence to be attached to this bill and that the issues are being widely discussed for future measures.

Age Verification Schemes: amendment 251A Moved by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

Additional protection from harmful material through online on-demand programme services using age verification scheme

For section 368E(2) of the Communication Act 2003 (harmful material), substitute-

(2) An online on-demand programme service must not contain any material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen.

(3) If an online on-demand programme service contains the following material, the material must only be made available using a clearly identifiable and robust age verification scheme to determine that the person purchasing or otherwise obtaining access to the material is not under eighteen-

(a) material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen;

(b) material which is contained in a video work for which a classification certificate has been issued containing the statements mentioned in section 7(2)(c) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (recordings to be supplied only in licensed sex shops);

(c) material which falls within subsection (4) unless it is contained in a video work for which a classification certificate other than one containing the statements mentioned in section 7(2)(c) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (recordings to be supplied only in licensed sex shops) has been issued.

(4) Material falls within this subsection if it is pornographic and portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following-

(a) an act of penetration of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person's body or anything else;
(b) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex;
(c) the performance by a person or an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal;
(d) an act of masturbation;
(e) an act of ejaculation;
(f) human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions; or
(g) an act of restraint or violence which is associated with sexual activity.

(5) In this section-

classification certificate and video work have the same meaning as in the Video Recordings Act 1984;

pornographic has the same meaning as in section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (possession of extreme pornographic images).

Perhaps the easiest practical attack on the availability of porn and lords drew parallels with the age controls inherent in physical R18s being limited to sex shops.

Lord Davies of Oldham for the Government said: My Lords, I am happy to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester on these points, but I cannot accept the amendment because we have a law in place that achieves its effect. Section 368E(2) of the Communications Act was introduced by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 and requires that, if an on-demand programme service contains material which might cause serious impairment to children or young people, it should only be shown in a way that would ensure that they do not usually see it or hear it. The regulations are in response to a European Union directive that applies to all on-demand programme services all the time.

I accept entirely the anxieties of the noble Baroness about these issues, which prompted her to table the amendment, but the question is whether we should go further than the present regulations. We are in discussion about this with Ofcom and the Association for Television On-Demand, the leading video-on-demand industry body to make sure that any moves we make are the right ones to ensure that children are adequately protected. If it turns out on reflection that it is necessary for the Government to take action, we can introduce further regulations under the same provision as those in force at present, to strengthen and reinforce the protection. I reassure the noble Baroness that she has raised an important topic but her amendment is not necessary.

Fees: Amendment 254 Moved by Lord Howard of Rising

This amendment questioned whether the government were right to withdraw from powers to control censorship fees.

Content Advice: Amendment 255ZA Moved by Lord Howard of Rising

This amendment discussed exactly how mandatory content advice labelling should be. Very mandatory or just a bit mandatory.

 

14th February   

Update: Gcensors...

Gmail blocked in Iran
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

old gmail logoIran's telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google's email services, saying a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out.

A Google spokesman said in a statement, We have heard from users in Iran that they are having trouble accessing Gmail. We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic, and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly. Whenever we encounter blocks in our services we try to resolve them as quickly as possibly because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online.

The move marks another effort by the regime to close the gap with its opposition in controlling Iranian cyberspace, according to Internet security experts. The government has a tight grip over old media—television, radio and newspapers—but learned during the unrest following the contested election last June that the opposition and its supporters dominated new media, including social networking Web sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The primary purpose for doing this is to control communication and mine that communication, so the government can crack down on dissenters and people who threaten the government, said Richard Stiennon, founder of Internet security firm IT-Harvest: If the government can induce the population to use a state-controlled email service, it would have access to the content of all of those emails, he added.

Silencing the Opposition

Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

The US has accused Iran of seeking a near-total information blockade to silence anti-government protesters.

The allegations came after opposition supporters clashed with security forces as Iran marked the anniversary of the 1979 revolution. The US government said it had information that the telephone network was taken down, SMS messages blocked, and internet communication throttled .

Official events were held across Iran, but the main gathering was at Tehran's Azadi Square. State TV showed tens of thousands of people filling the streets. Amateur footage purportedly showing opposition protests has been appearing on the video-sharing website YouTube, including at least one rally in the Tehran underground.

 

14th February   

Offsite: Dave Blame...

Demonising Films is Child's Play
Link Here

Child's Play DVD For people of a certain age the recent conviction of two brothers from Edlington, aged ten and eleven, for the torture and near killing of two other children of a similar age will, no doubt, bring back memories of the abduction and murder of Liverpool toddler James Bulger and, somewhat inevitably, the spectre of the video nasty.

…of course, blaming videos is not as popular as it used to be and even the Tories are reduced to making half-hearted links: On each occasion, are we just going to say this is an individual case? That there aren't any links to what is going wrong in our wider society, in terms of family breakdown, in terms of drug and alcohol abuse, in terms of violent videos, in terms of many of the things that were going wrong in that particular family? was the strongest tone David call me Dave Cameron was willing take but, although it was not exactly the ban this filth stance that his ancestors took, the same old line was being trotted out. When looking for scapegoats film is still one of the easiest targets.

...Read full article

 

13th February   

Update: TV Dumbed Down...

Berlusconi effectively bans TV politics shows for regional election
Link Here

Italy flagSilvio Berlusconi's supporters in the Italian parliament have outraged opposition MPs and journalists with a controversial clampdown on political talk shows ahead of next month's regional elections.

The ruling PDL Party's majority on the parliamentary watchdog that oversees public broadcaster RAI forced through rules that mean the state broadcaster's most popular talk shows will have to scrap their political content – or face a transfer from mid-evening to graveyard shifts. Programmes such as Ballarò and Annozero, which have frequently held Berlusconi to account for alleged sex scandals and even Mafia links, will be the main victims of the month-long clamp down that prompted accusations of censorship.

Political content will be allowed – but only if all 30 or so parties standing in the elections are represented on every show, which programme-makers said would make their formats unworkable.

The Prime Minister began his surprise intervention by hitting out at his perceived nemesis, the left-wing judiciary, before launching into a spectacular rant against the programme and RAI. Earlier that month Berlusconi described RAI's other flagship debate show Annozero as a criminal use of public television after it broadcast the first live interview with the call-girl Patrizia D'Addario, in which she dismissed the premier's claims he was unaware she was a call girl when they slept together.

 

13th February   

Religion of No Love...

Valentine's Day not for Brunei
Link Here

Valentines Day DVD Julia Roberts The Hollywood film Valentine's Day , starring Julia Roberts, has been banned in Brunei following recent warnings from religious leaders declaring that Valentine's Day is not for Muslims because it encouraged promiscuous activity .

 

13th February   

Complainants Get All Pumped Up...

Complaints about Alan Titchmarsh Show item about sex toys
Link Here

Advanced clitoral pump After internet complaints about the featuring of two items from Nice n Naughty, a leading adult toy retailer, on the Alan Titchmarsh Show . Nice n Naughty has commented in support of both the show and the specific feature which contained the items.

The show went out at 5pm on Wednesday the 10th of February and was part of a pre Valentine's Day special.

The controversy was caused when the show featured a piece of sexual furniture called the Inflatable Tilt Master and a sexual aid called the Advanced Clitoral Pump, which some viewers deemed inappropriate for this type of show.

Nice 'n' Naughty Trish Murray, Director of Nice n Naughty comments, This type of product is always going to cause controversy with some people but the complaints which have been made are unfounded. We at Nice 'n' Naughty feel that the show handled the issues discussed in an appropriate manner and was definitely suitable for a mainstream audience.

The sex toy industry has become mainstream within the UK with over 2.5 million sex toys sold every year and an annual growth in the market place of 20%+ year on year.

Trish went on to suggest that by featuring such products, the show has in fact done a public service by raising the issue of sexuality and relationships within a mainstream forum.

Nice n Naughty has been an on and offline retailer of adult toys and adult fun since 1999, and have an open and honest approach to a couple friendly adult industry. Their website says: Our Mission is to help people enjoy completely fulfilling sexual relationships by stimulating their imaginations and giving them the opportunity to try different, exciting experiences and break down taboos .

 

13th February   

Hobbled by Nutters...

Whinges about Doctors daytime TV soap storylines
Link Here

DoctorsThe mother of a child caught up in the 1996 Dunblane massacre has joined a few angry viewers complaining about storylines in BBC1 daytime soap Doctors .

Viewers complained following a week long storyline in which a teenager held captive a group of his friends while he went on the rampage with a gun. He is featured boasting that he is trying to emulate the Columbine massacre before turning the gun on his friends.

The BBC bills the soap, which broadcasts at 1.45pm, as a drama series following the lives and loves of staff and patients at a busy West Midlands surgery. In the past few weeks a few viewers have been 'stunned' to see both a Misery -style kidnapping plot and a crazed gunman open fire in a college.  One of the show's key characters was drugged and tied to a radiator in scenes reminiscent of Stephen King's horror Misery starring Kathy Bates.

One woman, named only as Scarlett, whose son attended Dunblane Primary School at the time when 16 children and their teacher were killed by gunman Thomas Hamilton in 1996, contacted the BBC's Points of View message board to make a complaint. She said: I really feel the hostage story is definitely in very bad taste, especially being shown very early afternoon. I could only watch a few minutes this afternoon, before having to switch the TV off, because it brought back a great deal of upset, trauma and awful tragic memories. I really object to this kind of horrible storyline being shown, in a week long episode, at this time of day. It is totally utterly inappropriate.

The BBC confirmed it had 106 formal complaints about the kidnapping and shooting storylines, while many more have deluged message boards to record their distaste.

A BBC spokesman said: Over the course of a year Doctors produces more than 200 episodes of the programme, and as a result, we tell a wide variety of stories, which are all told in a way that is appropriate for our daytime audience. The programme has a strong history of tackling difficult issues in a sensitive and responsible way. We do take on board comments and hope that viewers will enjoy the many stories we will be telling in the future.

 

13th February   

Digital Economy Bill...

Changes to the Video Recordings Act being debated in Parliament
Link Here  full story: Amending the VRA...Digital Economy Bill and video censorship

House of Lords logoThe Digital Economy Bill has started its progress in Parliament starting in the House of Lords. It has already been discussed in committee and will next be heard at the Report Stage in the Lords on the 1st March 2010.

There are several sections of interest to Melon Farmers:

  • Online infringement of copyright

    This includes open ended and general powers for the government to censor the internet in the name of copyright protection
     
  • Powers in relation to internet domain registries
    Setting up another tool for the government censorship of the internet
     
  • Video recordings Act

The Government are making the following basic changes

  • This section separates out video censorship into two sections, video games censorship (PEGI ratings will be implemented by the Video Standards Council) and video works censorship (as implemented by the BBFC).
     
  • The current exemptions from mandatory games classification will be reduced so that anything that would be rated 12 or upwards will now be subject to mandatory vetting by the games censors.
     
  • The government seem to be adding a new power for the censors to revoke as well issue certificates
     
  • People submitting video works are to be forced to agree to a 'code of practice' re the labelling of their products.
     
  • There's also added complex wording targeting more complex mixtures of media
     
  • And of course the government have added the power to change the Video Recordings Act at any time in the future via an order of the secretary of state

40 Classification of video games etc

(1) Section 2 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (exempted video works) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) after video work insert other than a video game,
(b) after paragraph (a) insert or, and
(c) omit paragraph (c) (and the word or before it).

(3) After that subsection insert—

(1A) Subject to subsection (2) or (3) below, a video game is for the purposes of this Act an exempted work if—

(a) it is, taken as a whole, designed to inform, educate or instruct;
(b) it is, taken as a whole, concerned with sport, religion or music; or
(c) it satisfies one or more of the conditions in section 2A.

(4) After section 2 of that Act insert—

2A Conditions relating to video games

(1) The conditions referred to in section 2(1A)(c) are as follows.

(2) The first condition is that the video game does not include any of the following—

(a) depictions of violence towards human or animal characters, whether or not the violence looks realistic and whether or not the violence results in obvious harm,
(b) depictions of violence towards other characters where the violence looks realistic,
(c) depictions of criminal activity that are likely, to any extent, to stimulate or encourage the commission of offences,
(d) depictions of activities involving illegal drugs or the misuse of drugs,
(e) words or images that are likely, to any extent, to stimulate or encourage the use of alcohol or tobacco,
(f) words or images that are intended to convey a sexual message,
(g) swearing, or
(h) words or images that are intended or likely, to any extent, to cause offence, whether on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation or otherwise.

(3) In subsection (2) human or animal character means a character that is, or whose appearance is similar to that of—

(a) a human being, or
(b) an animal that exists or has existed in real life, but does not include a simple stick character or any equally basic representation of a human being or animal.

(4) The second condition is that the designated authority, or a person nominated by the designated authority for the purposes of this section, has confirmed in writing that the video game is suitable for viewing by persons under the age of 12.

(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section—

(a) by amending the first condition, or
(b) by adding a further condition (or by amending or removing such a condition).
(6) Regulations under this section may make provision by reference to documents produced by the designated authority.

(5) In section 3 of that Act (exempted supplies), after subsection (8) insert—

(8A) The supply of a video recording in the form of a machine of a type designed primarily for use in an amusement arcade is an exempted supply unless the video game (or, if more than one, any of the video games) that it contains—

(a) depicts, to any significant extent, anything falling within section 2(2)(a), (b), (c) or (d) or (3), or
(b) is likely to any significant extent to stimulate or encourage anything falling within section 2(2)(a) or, in the case of anything falling within section 2(2)(b), is likely to any extent to do so. The supply of any other video recording is an exempted supply if the recording is supplied for the purpose only of its use in connection with a supply that is an exempted supply under subsection (8A).

(6) At the end of that section insert—

(13) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section and the regulations may, in particular—

(a) add a case in which the supply of a video recording is an exempted supply for the purposes of this Act, or
(b) repeal a provision of this section.

41 Designated authority for video games etc

(1) After section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 insert—

4ZA Designated authorities for video games and other video works

(1) The power to designate a person by notice under section 4 includes power to designate different persons—

(a) as the authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of video games (the video games authority), and
(b) as the authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of other video works (the video works authority).

(2) Where there are two designated authorities, references in this Act to the designated authority, in relation to a video work, are references to the designated authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of the video work, taking account of any allocation in force under section 4ZB.

4ZB Designated authorities: allocation of responsibility for video games

(1) Where there are two designated authorities, the video games authority may, with the consent of the video works authority, allocate to that authority responsibility—

(a) for a class of video games, or
(b) for video games, or a class of video games, when (and only when) they are contained in a video recording that is described in the allocation (whether by reference to its contents, to the manner in which it is, or is to be, supplied or otherwise).

(2) If an allocation is in force—

(a) the video works authority is responsible for making arrangements under this Act in respect of the allocated video games, and
(b) the video games authority ceases to be responsible for making such arrangements.

(3) An allocation—

(a) must be made by a notice, and
(b) may be withdrawn at any time by a notice given by the video games authority with the consent of the video works authority.

(4) When making or withdrawing an allocation under this section, the video games authority must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(5) A notice under this section must be—

(a) sent to the Secretary of State, and
(b) published in such manner as the video games authority considers appropriate.

(6) A question as to which designated authority is responsible for making arrangements in respect of a video game may be conclusively determined by the video games authority.

4ZC Designated authorities: video works included in video games

(1) The video games authority may make such arrangements in respect of video works included in video games as it considers are necessary for the purposes of fulfilling its responsibilities in respect of video games.

(2) Where there are two designated authorities, the arrangements made by the video games authority under section 4 must, to the extent that the video games authority considers appropriate, include either or both of the following—

(a) arrangements for having regard to any classification certificate issued by the video works authority in respect of a video work included in a video game;
(b) arrangements for obtaining and having regard to a determination by the video works authority as to the suitability of all or part of a video work included in a video game.

(3) For the purpose of determining the extent to which arrangements described in subsection (2)(a) or (b) are appropriate, the video games authority must—

(a) consult the video works authority, and
(b) have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(4) In this section, suitability means suitability for the issue of a classification certificate or suitability for the issue of a classification certificate of a particular description.

(2) Schedule 1 (which contains further amendments of the Video Recordings Act 1984) has effect.

Schedule 1 Classification of video games etc: supplementary provision

1 The Video Recordings Act 1984 is amended as follows.

2

(1) Section 4 (authority to determine suitability of video works for classification) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)(b)—

(a) in sub-paragraph (i), after issue insert or revocation, and
(b) in sub-paragraph (ii), after issuing insert and revoking.

(3) After subsection (1B) insert—

(1C) The arrangements made under this section may require a person requesting a classification certificate for a video work to agree to comply with a code of practice, which may, in particular, include provision relating to the labelling of video recordings.

(4) After subsection (3) insert—

(3A) The Secretary of State must not make a designation under this section unless satisfied that adequate arrangements will be made for taking account of public opinion in the United Kingdom.

(5) For subsection (5) substitute—

(5) No fee is recoverable by, or in accordance with arrangements made by, the designated authority in connection with a determination in respect of a video work or the issue of a classification certificate unless the designated authority has consulted the Secretary of State about such fees.

(6) Omit subsection (6).

(7) After that subsection insert—

(6A) When making arrangements under this section, the designated authority must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(6B) The Secretary of State may not issue guidance about the matters to be taken into account when determining the suitability of a video work for the issue of a classification certificate or a classification certificate of a particular description.

(8) In subsection (8)—

(a) after Act insert—

(a) , and

(b) at the end insert , and

(b) references to the designated authority, in relation to a  classification certificate, are references to the person or persons designated under this section when the certificate is issued, (but see also section 4ZA(2)).

3 In section 7 (classification certificates), at the end insert—

(3) For the purposes of this Act, a video work is not a video work in respect of which a classification certificate has been issued if every classification certificate issued in respect of the video work has been revoked.

4 After that section insert—

7A Classification certificates for particular video recordings

(1) A classification certificate issued in respect of a video work may be issued so as to have effect only for the purposes of a video recording that is described in the certificate (whether by reference to its contents, to the manner in which it is, or is to be, supplied or otherwise).

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a video recording contains a video work in respect of which a classification certificate has been issued if (and only if) a classification certificate that has been issued in respect of the video work has effect for the purposes of the video recording.

5 In section 8 (requirements as to labelling etc), omit subsections (2) and (3).

6

(1) Section 11 (supplying video recording of classified work in breach of classification) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) for containing substitute , or no video recording described in the certificate, that contains,
(b) for a video recording containing that work substitute such a video recording, and
(c) after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(3) In subsection (2), after paragraph (b) (but before or) insert—

(ba) that the accused believed on reasonable grounds that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.

7

(1) Section 12 (certain video recordings only to be supplied in licensed sex shops) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsections (1) and (3)—

(a) for containing substitute , or no video recording described in the certificate, that contains, and
(b) for a video recording containing the work substitute such a video recording.

(3) In subsection (6)—

(a) for containing substitute , or no video recording described in the certificate, that contains, and
(b) for a video recording containing that work substitute such a video recording.

8

(1) Section 13 (supplying video recording not complying with requirements as to labels etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(3) In subsection (2), before paragraph (a) insert—

(za) believed on reasonable grounds that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.

9

(1) Section 14 (supplying video recording containing false indication as to classification) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(3) In subsection (2)(a), after sub-paragraph (i) (but before or) insert—

(ia) that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.

(4) In subsection (3)—

(a) after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(5) In subsection (4)(a), before sub-paragraph (i) insert—

(ai) that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.

10

(1) Section 22 (other interpretation) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), at the end insert—

video games authority and video works authority have the meaning given in section 4ZA.

(3) In subsection (2), after Act insert (and subject to regulations under subsection (2A)).

(4) After subsection (2) insert—

(2A) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the circumstances in which, for the purposes of this Act, a video recording does or does not contain a video work.

11 After section 22 insert—

22A Regulations

(1) Regulations under this Act are to be made by statutory instrument.

(2) Every power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under this Act includes—

(a) power to make different provision for different purposes, and
(b) power to make transitional or saving provision.

(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations under section 2A or 3 may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(4) Any other statutory instrument containing regulations under this Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

12 Until such time as section 2A of the Video Recordings Act 1984 comes into force, section 22A(3) of that Act has effect as if the words 2A or were omitted.

 

13th February   

Update: High Score...

R18+ for games consultation off to a very positive start
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Grow Up petition Only 1% of processed responses to government survey against an adult rating for games; more than 6,000 responses received in total so far.

A Senate Estimates Committee Hearing last week unveiled that out of 1,084 processed responses thus far, only 11 had been anti-R18+.

The government's public consultation process is aiming to find out the Australian public's view on the introduction of an adult classification for games in Australia and was launched by the Federal Attorney-General's Department in December last year. Submissions for the process will close on February 28, 2010.

 A spokesperson for the Federal Attorney-General's Department told GameSpot AU last week that the results of the public consultation would be distributed to all of Australia's Attorneys-General to inform their decision whether Australia should have an R18+ classification for computer games. From there, all of the Attorneys-General will need to unanimously agree on its introduction before it can be passed as law in Australia.

Consultation Responses to be Published at Kotaku

Based on article from kotaku.com.au

Submissions for the R18+ national classification consultation close 28 February. To promote good thinking, we want to see what you've got to say. The guidelines request a 250-word comment at the end of each submission. Send us yours and we'll publish some of the best.

In case you're yet to state your case, here's how to do it.

The call for public consultation (AG.gov.au)
The Bond University Interactive Australia report (for helpful research insights)

When you have sent in your submission, send Kotaku an email with your 250-word comment from the end of your document. We'll choose some of the best we receive and publish them for everybody's benefit. We can only get better at dealing with the ill-informed by enhancing our own best arguments.

 

13th February   

Update: Showing Uzbekistan in a Bad Light...

Photographer found guilty of defamation of Uzbekistan
Link Here

Umida Ahmedova photo A prominent photographer and film-maker in Uzbekistan has been found guilty of slandering the nation through her work.

Umida Akhmedova had been facing up to three years in prison for a series of photos and a film portraying people in Uzbekistan as backward and poor.

But after announcing the guilty verdict, the judge said the photographer would automatically be pardoned under an amnesty.

Ms Akhmedova said she would still appeal against the conviction.

Last month the Uzbek government decided to prosecute the photographer for an album of work, published in 2007, depicting rural life scenes in Uzbekistan, and for a documentary film. The film, The Burden of Virginity , focused on the experiences of young women immediately before and after marriage.

But a panel of experts appointed by the government ruled that her work would damage Uzbekistan's spiritual values. The panel concluded in its report that the photo album does not conform to aesthetic demands , a throwback to Soviet jargon, and that it would damage the country's spiritual values .

 

13th February   

Update: The Lost Appeal of Saudi Justice...

Man given extreme sentence for boasting about his sex life loses his appeal
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBCA Saudi Arabia appeals court has upheld a sentence of five years in jail and 1,000 lashes for a man who boasted on TV of his sex life, reports say.

Mazen Abdul Jawad was convicted in October of immoral behaviour under the country's strict Islamic law code.

Sentences of two years in jail and 300 lashes were upheld for three friends of his who were also on the programme.

The men can appeal again to a higher court.

 

12th February   

Synod in a Fantasy World...

Church of England synod have a whinge at computer games
Link Here

SynodTighter official regulation of violent computer games was called for by nutters of the Church of England general synod last night.

In a brief debate, members queued up to condemn the availability of ultra-violent games and the relative lack of restrictions on what children can see.

The church is still whingeing about Manchester Cathedral being used without permission in the violent game Resistance: Fall of Man. The cathedral staff secured an apology - but not the withdrawal of the game from its worldwide market.

The cathedral's dean the Very Rev Govender Rogers told the synod: Sony's response was: What is the church worried about? It's just a game. I had to tell them: It may just be a fantasy game to you, but violence is really serious on the streets of Manchester. We eventually managed to elicit a grudging apology.

Initiating the debate, synod lay member Tom Benyon, a former Tory MP, said: There is a bubbling sewer of gratuitously violent and sexual pornography and games all around us … I have seen [their] pernicious effect: a family member saw a so-called game and he had nightmares. The images remained with him for months.

Benyon offered to show members extracts of violent games on a compilation DVD: Why is it acceptable, indeed lawful, to portray the killing and burning of a woman in Fatality, the sawing up of a woman in Mortal Combat, playing football with severed heads; the chainsaw killing of a man in Saw III, rape, torture and so on? I have all these terrible games collected and if anyone has the courage to watch it, please do so.

We are in a great muddle over regulation and the cost… can be seen in the rising crime statistics year by year. To control this material by expecting parents to control their children with warnings is like King Canute's performance with his waves. This is not just a matter of conscience and morality. It's a public health and an economic issue.

The synod called on the government to review the regulatory system for advertising video games to prevent the targeting of children, offered support for carers and parents to prevent children, young people and vulnerable adults being damaged - and promised that the church would keep an eye on the games market to monitor what was being released.

 

12th February   

Comment: Foot in the Door...

Concerns as French lawmakers approve internet censorship in the name of child protection
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

France flagDuring the debate over the French security bill (LOPPSI), the government opposed all the amendments seeking to minimize the risks attached to filtering Internet sites.

The refusal to make this measure experimental and temporary shows that the executive could not care less about its effectiveness to tackle online child pornography or about its disastrous consequences.

This measure will allow the French government to take control of the Internet, as the door is now open to the extension of Net filtering.

Moreover, whereas the effectiveness of the Net filtering provision cannot be proven, the French government refuses to take into account the fact that over-blocking - i.e the collateral censorship of perfectly lawful websites - is inevitable2.

Protection of childhood is shamelessly exploited by Nicolas Sarkozy to implement a measure that will lead to collateral censorship and very dangerous drifts. After the HADOPI comes the LOPPSI: the securitarian machinery of the government is being deployed in an attempt to control the Internet at the expense of freedoms , concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

 

12th February   

It'll All End in Tears...

Viewers complain about tearful Sky News interview with Peter Andre
Link Here

Sky NewsITV censor Ofcom have received 865 complaints from viewers 'enraged' by Peter Andre's recent Sky News interview.

Kay Burley seemed to ambush the star with a clip of Dwight Yorke blasting him for trying to adopt his and Katie Price's son Harvey and then proceeded to ask Peter how he would feel if Alex Reid tried to adopt his two children.

Peter broke into tears as he insisted: No one is going to take away my kids. I will fight to the death.

Ofcom have not yet decided whether or not to take launch a probe into Sky's actions.

 

12th February   

Is It Safe?...

YouTube adds safety mode to filter searches
Link Here

Is It Safe? YouTube have added a Safety Mode feature to the video-sharing site that allows users to screen out potentially objectionable content.

We know that some of you want a more controlled experience, Jamie Davidson, an associate product manager at Google-owned YouTube, said in a blog post: That's why we're announcing Safety Mode, an opt-in setting that helps screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don't want others in your family to stumble across while enjoying YouTube.

Activating Safety Mode will not return any results for a search using the keyword naked or sex, for example.

Safety Mode can be turned on or off through a link at the bottom of the YouTube page.

 

12th February   

Update: Lowest Common Denominator...

US court rules that the legality of porn is determined by the most repressive 'community' in the US
Link Here

US Dept of JusticeOne of the issues we've talked about repeatedly over the years is the question of what is the internet jurisdiction .

If you think that just because it appears on the internet, anyone's laws apply, then you reach an untenable situation where all online content is controlled by the strictest, most draconian rules out there. That makes little sense.

And yet some courts still think this is the appropriate interpretation of the law.

In the US it's already troubling enough that the issue of indecency is measured on an amorphous community standards basis, but when it comes to the internet, what community applies?

A recent ruling in the 11th Circuit Court of appeals on a pornography case, the court seems to have made a ruling that effectively says all online content should be held to the standards of the strictest communities. Thus, an erotica website targeting a NY subculture should be held to the standards of a southern bible belt rural community? That seems ridiculous, but it's what the court said.

In this case, a guy who produced porn content in California was tried in Tampa, Florida, because investigators downloaded his content there:

The Atlanta-based court rejected arguments by Paul Little (Max Hardcore)'s attorneys that applying a local community standard to the Internet violates the First Amendment because doing so means material can be judged according to the standards of the strictest communities.

Other courts, including one in California, have found differently on similar questions, so it seems likely that, at some point, this issue will finally go back to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will focus on what counts as community standards rather than whether or not laws against obscenity even make legal sense under the First Amendment.

 

12th February   

Updated: Go to Hell!...

CBS refuses version of TV advert for Dante's Inferno game
Link Here

Electronic Arts Dantes Inferno PS3 A Super Bowl advertisement for Electronic Arts' Dante's Inferno game has fallen victim to CBS censors.

An original version of the ad had utilized the tagline Go to Hell, but that phrase was deemed to over the top for viewers of this Sunday's big game and CBS rejected it. The Hollywood Reporter blog reports that EA will instead substitute the more sedate tagline Hell Awaits instead.

Update: Hell Banned

12th February. See article from gameslatest.com

Dante's Inferno is not being released in the Middle East. In a move that surprised absolutely no one, EA states that, Electronic Arts has decided not to release Dante's Inferno in the Middle East after an evaluation process which is based on consumer tastes, preferences, platform mix and other factors.

After first setting our eyes on Dante's Inferno last year, it seemed like one of those titles that might never hit the retail shelves in UAE. Dealing with the afterlife, the game focuses on Hell and its 9 circles of sinners within. Such a premise itself is a very touchy topic within the region, one of the reasons why we think Darksiders got banned here.

In fact, this region is so sensitive to such topics that God of War is also banned over here just because it has the word God in the title, despite being based on Greek mythology!

 

12th February   

An Education in Censorship...

Malta proposes to replace police censorship by government censorship
Link Here

Malta Education MinistryThe word censorship was not mentioned once in a draft cultural policy document published by a working group commissioned by Education Minister Dolores Cristina. But the authors of the report clearly hint at plans to remove the censorship board from the remit of the Commissioner of the Police, and place it under the wings of Education Ministry.

The working group, chaired by the Malta Council for Culture and Arts (MCCA) executive director Davinia Galea said: In terms of freedom of expression, the Ministry responsible for culture shall initiate the process of updating Maltese legislation in this regard to make it reflect 21st century reality, the report states. This will commence by placing responsibility of the classification board within the Ministry responsible for culture.

Changes in legislation proposed within the policy – such as that of classification and the legal status of artists, will now require parliamentary approval.

 

11th February   

Update: Conroy Down the U Tube...

Google refuses to censor Australia's wide range of banned YouTube videos
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

YouTube logoGoogle says it will not voluntarily comply with the government's request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad refused classification (RC) content rules.

As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of banned RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.

YouTube's rules already forbid certain videos that would be classified RC, such as sex, violence, bestiality and child pornography. But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.

Google said all of these topics were featured in videos on YouTube and it refused to censor these voluntarily. It said exposing these topics to public debate was vital for democracy.

In an interview with the ABC's Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, so we're currently in discussions with Google about ... how we can work this through . What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws, Conroy said: Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government.

Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy's comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not helpful or relevant . YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can't give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube .

The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.

 

11th February   

More Code...

The Da Vinci Code uncut on Blu-ray
Link Here

Da Vinci Code Blu ray The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 US drama by Ron Howard

Thanks to Callum:

There is now an uncut blu-ray edition of the Da Vinci Code (doesn't change the fact it's an awful film)

The BBFC passed the Extended Version for the 2009 Sony Blu-ray 15 uncut

Previously the UK Theatrical Version was submitted for the 2006 cinema release and 2006 Sony DVD. It was passed 12 after cuts: The BBFC advised the company that sound levels during some acts of violence may be too impactful for 12A and that the film was likely to receive a 15 classification. The final score and sound effects on the completed film included differences in sound levels which reduced the strength of some acts of violence to an extent which made the film acceptable at 12A.

 

10th February   

Update: Operation Titstorm...

Anonymous fight back against Australia's ludicrous ban on young looking adults in porn
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

Operation TitstormHacking attacks, dubbed Operation Titstorm , have targeted the websites of Senator Stephen Conroy and the Australian Parliament House, taking them both down with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) for a period of time.

Anonymous' Operation Titstorm is protesting Australia's upcoming Internet censorship legislation, in particular the proposed banning of images of small-breasted females and female ejaculation, and also claims it will follow up with pornographic emails, spam faxes and prank calls to government offices.

Australia's laws on internet censorship are already among the most restrictive in the western world. Their government filters more internet content than any other Parliamentary Democracy. For some elements within the Government, including Telecommunications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy, this still is not enough. Late in January of 2009 he proposed legislature that would lead to mandatory ISP filtering for all of Australia. The stated goal is to prevent Australia from viewing 'illegal and unwanted content' on the Internet, Anonymous said in an email release to Australian media.

The ambiguity of the term 'unwanted content' is completely unacceptable. No government should have the right to refuse its citizens access to information solely because they perceive it to be 'unwanted'.

 

10th February   

Saviour Censor...

Maltese authorities get wound up by festival song lyrics and people dressing up as Jesus
Link Here

Nadur CarnivalMusic spontaneity will, after all, be allowed during the Nadur carnival celebrations as police are no longer insisting that performing rock bands submit their planned repertoire for vetting.

In a statement the police said they had reconsidered the decision but did not explain what exactly led to this change of strategy.

The statement was issued in reaction to a story published in The Sunday Times in which a concerned band member said the Nadur local council and police were requesting to vet lyrics before the event in an attempt to eliminate offensive or vulgar language.

The police denied ever asking for the lyrics and said the original decision, to see the song repertoire, was taken with the cooperation of Nadur mayor Miriam Portelli. Portelli had explained it was the police who had suggested vetting lyrics but she did not know why.

Dressing Up as Jesus

The council urged those attending the spontaneous carnival to respect public order and decency. The Nadur carnival, which kicks off on Friday, has established a reputation for spontaneity. The celebrations traditionally attract thousands of people to Gozo for the five-day festivities, creating a series of management problems.

Last year, controversy arose when some revellers dressed up as Jesus Christ and as nuns. Amid condemnation from the bishops, the revellers ended up in court for choosing costumes deemed to be illegal and offensive to the Roman Catholic religion. One young man was given a one-month suspended jail term for dressing up as Jesus. This was deemed as excessive censorship by some who argued it threatened the spontaneous character of the Nadur carnival.

In reaction to this, last year, a group was set up on Facebook with a page entitled Friends of Jesus: Nadur 2010 which said it was organising a peaceful protest against a modern-day inquisition . The group said it hoped to encourage hundreds of people to dress up as Jesus in an attempt to overwhelm any fear of retribution by numbers .

 

10th February   

Bloody Hell!...

Drag Me to Hell is uncut on DVD
Link Here

Drag Hell Blu ray Alison Lohman Drag Me to Hell is a 2009 US horror by Sam Raimi

Thanks to Mark who reports that the DVD version of Drag Me to Hell contains the nose bleed scene and the cat death scene as per the director's cut. So it seems the DVD is actually the Directors cut, it just don't state it on the DVD case. The Blu-ray case indicates that it contains both the Director's Cut (noted as the Unseen Version) and the Theatrical Version

The BBFC passed the Director's Cut or Unseen Version 15 uncut for the 2009 Lions Gate DVD/Blu-ray

The BBFC passed the Theatrical Version 15 without cuts for the 2009 cinema release and as an extra version for the 2009 Lions Gate Blu-ray

See pictorial cuts details from movie-censorship.com

  • When Christina hits Mrs. Ganush's head with the stapler the first stroke has been filmed in a different way and the second stroke including the close-up of a cramp sticking in her forehead has been removed completely.
  • The close ups of Mrs. Ganush's biting Christina's chin is shorter.
  • The scene showing Christina shoving a ruler into Mrs. Ganush's mouth has been edited.
  • Christina doesn't spit out  bugs in the nightmare sequence.
  • Christina's nosebleed is bloodier in the unrated version.
  • The killing of the cat has been toned down for the Theatrical Version.
  • The scene with an arm being thrust down Christina's throat is longer in the unrated version
  • When the zombie is hit on the head with the anvil the bloody red become brown in the Theatrical Version.
  • A spade being driven into a corpse's mouth was shortened in the Theatrical Version.

Review from UK Amazon : Great Style

Drag Me To Hell has the same humour of the Evil Dead films only with a far bigger budget because Sam Raimi made it mega big with the Spider Man films.

Drag Me To Hell is a bit creepy and was one of the best horror films to come out last year. There is lots of blood with some humour which is nice to see.

Is the curse to be broken or will the sexy Alison Lohman be dragged down to hell by this scary demon goat!

If you like the Evil Dead films then you should enjoy this film too.

 

10th February   

Cold Sweat Re-heated...

New release for Cold Sweat with Charles Bronson
Link Here

Cold Sweat DVD Charles Bronson Cold Sweat is a 1970 Italy/France/Belgium crime thriller by Terence Young

The 1986 VPD video, 1997 Warner video, 2004 Cinema Club DVD and 2010 Optimum DVD are all 15 uncut

Previous videos/DVDs have been slated for poor image quality but I don't know about the new Optimum DVD set for release on 22nd February 2010.

The BBFC cut the 1971 cinema release for an A certificate:

From cuts details on IMDb

  • Cut to remove the sound of a neck break
  • cuts to a brief scene of nudity
  • edits to the shooting of a man with a flare gun.

Review from US Amazon : Entertaining

This is not the greatest Bronson movie ever made but it is nonetheless entertaining. It does have one spectacular car chase or rather motorcycle pursuit on winding roads of south of France.

There are some nice performances and it's fun to see James Mason play a villain although he's a likable one. Liv Ullman is fine and Jill Ireland plays a hilarious rich hippie chick.

There are the usual plot absurdities but Bronson is the reason we watch these movies and he's no different here. He's a very likeable tough guy trying very hard to be nice around bunch of incorrigible villains.

 

10th February   

Offsite: Day Time Porn Banned...

Berlusconi has stepped up his campaigns against his television rivals
Link Here  full story: Sky Control...Berlusconi targets competing broadcasters

Index on Censorship logoWe're barely into the new decade and already reading about freedom issues in Italy is like scanning a long war bulletin. The situation was poor 20 years ago, but it has worsened since Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's entrance in politics. In the last six months it has taken the steepest downhill path one could imagine. In the 80s and '90s Berlusconi's television channels represented editorial innovation and business success. But in the last 10 years Italian's appetite for the Berlusconi style of programming has waned.

No doubt prompted by the economic success of Murdoch's Sky Italia satellite platform, Berlusconi has begun using his government to pass laws that damage Sky TV to the sole advantage of the bottom line of his TV media empire. He is passing laws to protect his privacy, while at the same time classifying as top secret information about illegal wiretaps on intellectual and political leaders of the opposition. Nevertheless, during his recent visit to Israel, Berlusconi accused the Italian press of orchestrating the harshest ever media campaign against a prime minister.

In a law which took effect last week, movies and shows forbidden to under 14s will be banned on any TV platform up to 10.30 pm, even if it's pay per view. This is a clear blow to Murdoch's Sky, as they have just launched a series of pay-per-view 24/7 porn channels. Looking through this legislation I realised something funny: while movies like Grease are to banned, live shows with almost naked girls will still be legally broadcasted. In fact this law was always in place, it has just been extended to the new satellite platform, but as an Italian I had never noticed its impact, as I am pretty used to seeing semi-erotic dances on most of Italian channels, at any time of the day. Indeed, Berlusconi made his fortune on "immoral" TV. As an anonymous commenter wrote on the site of Republica, if this law was to be respected, we would need to shut down all of Berlusconi's television stations from 7am to 10.30 pm.

...Read full article

 

10th February   

Bad History...

Indian film makers and censor taken to court over the depiction of history
Link Here

Aayirathil Oruvan posterThe pro Tamil group, Chozhar Peravai's, president TVK Azhagiri has filed a petition in the High Court against producer Dream Valley Corporation and director Selvaraghavan for making the film Aayirathil Oruvan .

The petitioner has also included the Censor Board for certifying the film. According to the petitioner, the film depicts the people of the 13th Century Chozha period in a bad light whereas it was one of the most civilized cultures in the world. TVK Azhagiri has sought a ban on Aayirathil Oruvan .

The issue was taken up for hearing on February 5, 2010. The judge, after hearing the petitioner, has ordered to issue a notice seeking an explanation from Dream Valley Corporation, director Selvaraghavan and the Censor Board before February 17th.

 

10th February   

Dangerous Words...

Book seized at Cairo Book Fair over criticism of repressive Libya
Link Here

Egypt flagThe Cairo International Book Fair saw security and government forces rear their ugly face when a Libyan author had his book confiscated and banned from the festival.

According to local reports, the publisher of the text critical of the Libyan government, was also arrested.

The book, The Leader is cutting his hair , has been taken by Egyptian security forces in a raid at the international book fair. All copies of the book have been taken and it is unclear what action will be taken against the publisher.

Author Idris Ali, is a Nubian writer who lived in the North African nation in the late 1970s.

The book is about the repressive regime in Libya, [Muammar] Gaddafi's dictatorship, Ahmed Ezzat, from the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, was quoted as saying.

 

9th February   

Italy Screams...

Supporting the scary hype for Paranormal Activity
Link Here

Paranormal Activity Limited Collectors Featherston A low-budget horror film has caused a stir among politicians in Italy after teenage cinemagoers were traumatised by the movie.

Paranormal Activity, a box-office hit in Italy, has caused terror among youngsters.

An Italian news agency reported that emergency services took dozens of calls, especially in southern Naples, from cinemagoers shocked by the film.

Several panic attacks lasting more than half an hour took place, an emergency response worker said: The most serious case is that of a 14-year-old girl who was brought to the hospital in a state of paralysis.

The Italian parents' association noted that admission to the movie is restricted in the United States, Britain, Germany and The Netherlands and asked for an age limit of 18 in Italy.

Defence minister Ignazio La Russa said: For the past two weeks a trailer has been shown obsessively on TV, and is terrifying thousands of children.

Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the Italian fascist dictator and head of a parliamentary committee on children, said the film had highly distressing content and was causing panic attacks and psychological problems among youths. I don't think we can ban Paranormal Activity now, but surely we need to study how to warn parents of the risks their children are incurring.

See BBFC comments from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC have passed the UK cinema release 15 uncut with the following comment:

BBFC logo Paranormal Activity is a US horror film that presents as a case history conveyed through hand-held camera footage seemingly filmed by the performers and which relates how a young American couple are threatened by paranormal manifestations in their new house. It was passed 15 for strong language and threat.

At 15 , BBFC Guidelines for language state that There may be frequent use of strong language (eg 'fuck'). and this film contains strong language that fits within this guideline and the frequency of which exceeds the 12A/12 rubric.

As for horror, this film's content exceeds the 12A/12 Guideline which states that Moderate physical and psychological threat may be permitted, provided disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained. . This film features frequent strong threat and menace from the opening minutes until the final scene as the couple's camera records offscreen sounds and manifestations that graduate in frequency and intensity to the point where the threat becomes tangible and physical. The film's hand-held camerawork lends the horror and intensity a greater sense of realism and immediacy as the film's power is not reliant on gore or special effects but instead, credibly depicts an unknown force with growing power overwhelming the lives of a young couple in a realistic domestic setting. The lack of sadistic or sexualised elements meant that the film is permissible at 15 , but the strength, frequency and sustained nature of the threat and terrorisation meant that it was not allowable at 12A/12 .

Paranormal Activity also contains an oblique moderate sex reference to unseen sexual activity, additional mild sex references and mild language.

 

9th February   

Update: Hands off the Net...

Italian parliamentarians request that the government back off from treating bloggers and YouTube as broadcasters
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flagItalian lawmakers on committees in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies (upper and lower houses of parliament) have requested sweeping changes in a proposed broadcasting law, particularly in the section governing the internet, which had aroused widespread condemnation.

Deputy Communications Minister Paolo Romani, who was responsible for promoting the broadcasting  law, said the government would take rigorous account of the lawmakers' suggestions.

Blogs with amateur videos, online newspapers, search engines and the online versions of magazines are free, and editorial responsibility does not fall on providers who host content generated by others, Alessio Butti, the government lawmaker who drew up the text approved by the Senate committee, told reporters.

The Chamber and Senate Commissions have proposed significant and positive changes to the draft broadcasting law, Marco Pancini, senior European public policy counsel for Google Italy, said in a prepared statement. Under the original draft of the broadcasting law, which the government says enacts a European Union directive, YouTube risked being treated as a conventional television broadcaster, requiring a special licence from the government and assuming editorial responsibility for all material uploaded to its website.

Paolo Nuti, president of the Association of Italian internet Providers (AIIP), said he welcomed the change of heart expressed by the parliamentary committees but pointed out that their recommendations were not binding on the government.

Bloggers were also quick to welcome the government's apparent U-turn. This is a new U-turn made necessary by the incompetence of the geriatric ward that, unfortunately for us, on both sides of the political spectrum, occupies Italy's seats of power, said Andrea Guida, writing on the blog geekissimo.

 

9th February   

Update: Ratty Australia...

I'm a celebrity TV show fined for cruel bush tucker
Link Here  full story: I'm a Celebrity...TV show done for cruel bush tucker

Celebrity Get Out Here DVD ITV has been fined 3,000 Australian dollars (£1,672) after contestants on its show, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! , killed and ate a rat.

The fine, for animal cruelty, was issued by the RSPCA in Australia, where the show was filmed last year.

The animal was killed for a TV show, that's not appropriate, said RSPCA chief inspector David Oshannessy.

A spokesman for ITV said: ITV has apologised for the mistake which led to this incident. He continued: The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise in New South Wales, and accepts that further inquiries should have been made.

 

9th February   

Updated: Slashed...

Indonesian slasher movie banned in Malaysia
Link Here

Rumah DaraAn Indonesian movie Rumah Dara (literally Maiden House) starred Shareefa Danish and Julie Estelle has been banned in Malaysia.

The slasher movie is the first Indonesian film that cannot be seen in the Malaysian theaters.

Member of Information Commission at the House of Representatives (DPR) Tantowi Yahya said Malaysia applies its own mechanism of censorship. Tantowi said he has yet to watch the movie. Prior to being premiered in Indonesia on January 22, the movie had been on the theaters in Singapore, North America and Korea.

Rumah Dara is the first slasher movie directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel, who are widely acknowledged as The Mo Brothers.

Update: Slashed by the Indonesian Censor

9th February 2010. See article from thejakartaglobe.com

Indonesia flagThey're most likely strangers to Indonesian movie fans as their debut feature-length film, Rumah Dara (Dara's House) — the story of a twisted family that kill its guests — was only released in local theaters a couple of days ago.

But prior to its domestic premiere, the movie, originally titled Macabre , was screened at a number of film festivals around the world, and left quite an impression.

In their first feature, the self-styled 'Mo Brothers' show a natural feel for genre rules that makes this fresh meat for gore hounds, proclaimed Derek Elley, in a film review for the Los Angeles-based entertainment magazine Variety.

Writing for The Austin Chronicle, an alternative newsweekly in Texas, Richard Whittaker said the movie may put the Southeast Asian nation on some gore hounds' maps. … This may be the bloodiest film of the [Fantastic Fest Film] festival.

In September last year, a new Indonesian film law was introduced, increasing the amount of government control over the film industry, largely through its censorship agency. The typical violence of a slasher film is still considered taboo and usually prohibited.

Rumah Dara, according to its directors, was subjected to this harsh scrutiny and some of the close-up scenes of violence were cut.

But Kimo reassured horror buffs that the cut scenes were just a very small part of the movie and did not affect the integrity of the film: We thought that it could've been so much worse, he added. We could've been banned.

The film has also faced public criticism for its extreme violence, with one reporter saying after a press screening that the film had no value and was immoral.

 

8th February   

Big Drips at London Underground...

Massive Attack album art banned by London Underground
Link Here  full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship

Heligoland Massive Attack The band Massive Attack have been banned from advertising their new album Heligoland on the London Underground because it looked like graffiti.

Robert 3D Del Naja who had to redesign his artwork for stations, said: They won't allow anything on the Tube that looks like street art.

They want us to remove all drips and fuzz. It's the most absurd censorship I've ever seen.

 

8th February   

Updated: Ofcom Abuse...

Sri Lanka used Ofcom to curb Channel 4 News reports
Link Here

Sri LankaThe scandal of Britain's libel laws and their facility for libel tourism is well known. So too is our cavalier attitude to freedom of speech. But the idea that a country with one of the worst records for press freedom and human rights could use UK broadcast regulations to challenge legitimate reporting of allegations of cold-blooded killings in a brutal civil war surely takes the UK to a new place.

Last year we broadcast a video showing nine bound and naked men, two of whom were shot, on camera, by soldiers who appeared to be wearing Sri Lankan army uniform. On the night in question I made it clear that while we couldn't authenticate this video, sent to us by a group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, it raised matters of such importance that further investigation was warranted. The Sri Lankan high commission immediately denied the atrocities that the video appeared to show.

Two weeks later, at a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka said independent analysis had declared the video a fake . It mounted a high-profile global campaign to discredit the report, protesting outside Channel 4's London headquarters. The Sri Lankan government opened up a second front in the UK, filing a series of complaints with Ofcom – one for accuracy and impartiality, one for fairness and privacy. What had begun as a media campaign to try to destroy the credibility of our news report had become a private battle using the UK's broadcast regulator. It was a battle in which they were initially allowed to hide anonymously behind the confidential nature of the procedures.

Battle was spared by the findings of a UN committee which concluded that the tape did appear authentic, and dismissed Sri Lanka's analysis. Strangely, on the eve of the UN report's publication the government of Sri Lanka dropped its Ofcom complaints.

...Read full article

Comment: Ofcom not exploited

8th February 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk by Chris Banatvala, Director of standards, Ofcom

Ofcom logoJon Snow is absolutely right when he says that Ofcom's complaints function must not be used by governments to curb … investigative reporting [to] hide from public scrutiny . But, contrary to the suggestion contained in your headline, Ofcom did not allow the Sri Lankan government to exploit our procedures, when it complained about Channel 4 News broadcasting footage of the apparent atrocities committed against the Tamils.

Ofcom has an excellent track record in defending freedom of speech for legitimate investigative journalism (for example, our decision in Channel 4's Undercover Mosque ).

In this Sri Lankan case, Ofcom did not take forward the Sri Lankan government's fairness complaint and rejected its impartiality and accuracy complaint.

Ofcom has a statutory duty to ensure that broadcasters comply with the broadcasting code, irrespective of the identity of any complainant. As the Channel 4 News presenter points out – only parliament can change that.

 

8th February   

Twitter Ethics...

Mexico gets wound up my motorists who warn others about police checkpoints via Twitter
Link Here

Twitter logoTwitter users are fast becoming public enemy No. 1, at least in Mexico City, where they have angered authorities by warning one another of roadside alcoholimetro — or Breathalyzer — checkpoints set up by the police.

But the case against the Twitter is about more than alcohol. Mexico is, after all, a country at war — at least according to President Felipe Calderon, who launched the crackdown on drug cartels shortly after taking office. Three years later, the streets of border cities like Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana remain full of soldiers. In many ways, the government is still playing catch-up to the nation's criminals.

In this context, the issue of the Twitter has quickly expanded into an argument over whether public safety takes priority over free speech in a country struggling to contain serious social ills. Fearing that kidnappers and drug cartels use Twitter, Facebook or MySpace to communicate, the Mexican government is considering a bill to restrict social networking websites and to set up a police force to monitor them.

The Twitter feed in question, Anti Alcoholimetro, doesn't hide its intent. On any given night, a dozen people write in listing the time and location where they saw a police checkpoint, helping others to avoid it.

The government's response has been erratic. At first, city officials said tweeting the location of police checkpoints was a crime, akin to helping someone break the law, and vowed to find a way to prosecute Twitterers. But after a media frenzy, they quickly backed down.

Yet the right to tweet is far from guaranteed, even in the relatively liberal capital of Mexico City. Article 320 of the city's penal code prescribes prison terms of up to five years for those who in any way help a delinquent avoid investigation by the authorities or escape their actions.

If that seems vague, it is. But federal lawmakers are quickly working on specific legislation to track down and punish Twitterers who break the law or help others escape it.

 

7th February   

Update: Expanding Repression...

China's action against porn websites extends to advertisers, and payment services providers
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaIn a latest action against the online porn industry, China has reinforced its arsenal of laws now in effect.

The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate said that the new rules would target wireless carriers, along with advertisers, advertising agents, third-party payment platforms and websites if they are found to be involved in the porn business for profits.

Measures against porn websites are already in operation but now others involved in the online porn business will have to prove that they were unaware of any porn content on the websites. However, a single complaint from any netizen could foil the attempt, according to the rule's definition of awareness.

The rule also enhances the protection for teenagers younger than 14 by cutting the conviction threshold in half. For instance, as few as 10 video clips verified as porn will carry the sentence of making, copying, publishing, selling and circulating porn articles for making profits, according to the rule.

 

7th February   

Registered as Repressive...

Iraq proposes the licensing of media outlets and journalists
Link Here

Iraq flagThe Iraqi government plan to impose restrictive rules on broadcast news media represents an alarming return to authoritarianism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. CPJ denounced the rules and called on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government to abandon their repressive plan.

CPJ's review of the plan found rules that fall well short of international standards for freedom of expression and that appear to contravene the Iraqi constitution, which provides for a free press. The new rules would effectively impose government licensing of journalists and media outlets, a tool that authoritarian governments worldwide have long used to censor the news.

The rules would also bar coverage that the government vaguely describes as incitement to violence. CPJ research shows that such broad and unspecified standards are often used by repressive governments to silence critical coverage.

The regulations suggest either a lack of understanding of the news media's role in a democratic society, or a deliberate attempt to suppress information and stifle opposing views, said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. Either way, the rules should be rescinded immediately so that the media can do its job free of government intimidation.

 

6th February   

Updated: Ghostly Hype...

Horror film winds up Indonesian islamic body
Link Here

Hantu Puncak Datang BulanA new Indonesian horror movie about a menstruating ghost has run foul of the country's highest Islamic body.

Hantu Puncak Datang Bulan (The Menstruating Ghost of Puncak) made its debut in Jakarta and was quickly condemned by senior clerics in the mainly Muslim country.

I watched that horror movie... it contains sex scenes, violence and decapitation. I call on the film censorship board not to approve its screening, Indonesian Ulema Council official Amirsyah Tambunan told AFP.

Muslims have the right to watch the film but I suggest they don't because it contains scenes that are against Islamic principles, he added.

But Tambunan said he council, which is the highest Islamic body in the land, had no plans to pass a fatwa or religious edict forbidding Muslims from watching the film.

Update: Spirited Off

6th February 2010. Based on article from news24.com

An Indonesian production company said it had now withdrawn a film about a menstruating ghost from the cinemas following protests from conservative Muslims who considered it pornographic .

The film, Hantu Puncak Datang Bulan , has been put off indefinitely due to the controversy, said Evelyn Nainggolan, manager for K2K Production.

I was surprised by the brouhaha surrounding the film, Nainggolan said. The film has passed censorship and it's intended for adults.

 

6th February   

Updated: Leaking Finances...

Wikileaks still seeking funds
Link Here  full story: Wikileaks Funding...Wikileaks suspends website citing lack of funds

Wikileaks Wikileaks.org, a whistleblower website that allows people to publish uncensored information anonymously, has suspended operations owing to financial problems.

Its running costs including staff payments are $600,000 (£377,000), but so far this year it has raised just $130,000 (£81,000).

The website claims to be non-profit and relies on donations. A statement on its front page says it is funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public . WikiLeaks does not accept money from governments or corporations.

Investigative journalist Paul Lashmar said he had been startled by the effectiveness of WikiLeaks in publishing suppressed information. However he thought that the funding issue would not be easily resolved: (Web) users aren't interested in how the people behind sites make their money, he said. The problem for the self-funding model is that sites like WikiLeaks will not find it easy to attract funding through advertising. At some point people who care about free speech will realise that free speech has to be funded, otherwise it's not free.

Update: Minimum Achieved

6th February 2010. Based on article from thelondondailynews.com

Much to the annoyance of government departments and big business everywhere, whistleblower website Wikileaks has been saved.

In December it cease publishing leaked documents, concentrating on raising donations, this week they succeeded yet staff have still not been paid. That target of around £400,000 has not been reached.

Their main site is still dedicated to raising money and there is no indication when normal operations will resume.

In an update via Twitter late on Wednesday night, Wikileaks announced that it had reached its minimum target: Achieved min. fundraising goal. ($200k/600k); we're back fighting for another year, even if we have to eat rice to do it.

 

6th February   

Update: Shock Tactics...

Advert censor finds Baby P related PETA advert offensive
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

PETA advertA poster, for an animal rights campaign group, featured a picture of Steven Barker. Text next to the picture stated Steven Barker: Animal Abuser, Baby Abuser, Rapist. PEOPLE WHO ARE VIOLENT TOWARDS ANIMALS RARELY STOP THERE . Further text underneath stated Report cruelty to animals immediately PeTA . Issue

A complainant challenged whether:

  1. the ad was offensive and distressing, used unnecessary shock tactics and exploited the death of Baby P
  2. the ad, which was also located in the area where Baby P lived and died, was particularly offensive and distressing to residents of that area.

ASA Assessment:   Upheld

The ASA noted PETA's argument that the purpose of the ad was to inform the public to report animal cruelty in order to prevent future acts of violence towards humans. We considered, however, that advertisers who wished to refer to current or emotive news stories in their marketing should take particular care over how such stories were used, in order to avoid accusations of exploitation or shock tactics. We also considered that they should not cause fear or distress without good reason.

We noted that, although Baby P died in August 2007, his death was a high-profile, emotive case which continued to get extensive press coverage. We acknowledged that some people might therefore find the reference to the Baby P case in the poster exploitative. We considered that the claim and image used in the ad had been used in a shocking way merely to attract attention and that the reason did not justify the means in this case. We therefore also considered that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and distress to some people.

Furthermore, we noted that the poster had appeared in the area where Baby P had lived and died. We considered that the ad was likely to be particularly sensitive for residents of that area, and was likely to cause serious offence and distress to some residents.

We therefore concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.

 

6th February   

Fascist Censorship...

iMussolini app withdrawn over accusations of 'misuse' of media clips
Link Here

iMussolini app An iPhone application that allows users to download speeches by the former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has been withdrawn. Its developer says he is removing it after legal threats.

The application has also faced protests from Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors who described it as offensive.

IMussolini, as the application is known, has become the most popular iPhone download in Italy. It is a 25-minute collection of video and audio clips from 100 of Mussolini's speeches.

But now it has been withdrawn after a row with the film institute where the pictures came from. The institute says the application is an aberration, far removed from the educational purposes for which the clips should be used.

 

6th February   

Ignoble Libel Action...

Irish blogger pays 100,000 Euro in libel settlement
Link Here

Ardmayle blog logo A blogger has agreed a €100,000 settlement after libelling Niall Ó Donnchú a senior civil servant, and his girlfriend Laura Barnes. It is the first time in Ireland that defamatory material on a blog has resulted in a pay-out.

In December 1, 2006, a blogger who styles himself as Ardmayle posted a comment about the couple and the sale of James Joyce manuscripts under the headline Barnes and Noble . Following a legal complaint, he took down the blog and in February 2007 he posted an apology which had been supplied by Donnchú's and Barnes' lawyer, Ivor Fitzpatrick solicitors.

I subsequently discovered that these remarks were inaccurate, Ardmayle said. I unreservedly apologise to both Laura Barnes and Niall Ó Donnchú respect of this post.

However, the pair subsequently issued separate proceedings. It is understood that the €100,000 settlement was agreed shortly before the case was due before the High Court. A full defamation trial before a jury can cost €700,000-€800,000 in legal costs for both parties.

It is understood that the blogger has paid only a small proportion of the €100,000 damages, and was recently made redundant from his job. In addition to the settlement, he must pay his own legal costs.

The case is likely to have a chilling effect on the Irish blogosphere, which generally takes a casual attitude to defamation and people's reputations. The Ardmayle action was settled before a new Defamation Act came into effect on January 1.

Comment: Trouble in the Blog O'Sphere

See also article from blog.indexoncensorship.org by Dr Eoin O'Dell, a Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Law in Trinity College Dublin

There's nothing new in online defamation; the same basic legal principles apply online as they do offline; the medium may change, but the legal consequences of the message remain the same. But the story does raise some interesting legal issues. Mark Coughlan on TheStory.ie pointed out that, before the storm blew up this week, Ardmayle had been little known, to say the least , and he quite rightly queried the actual damage the blog had done to the plaintiff's reputations. UCD law lecturer TJ McIntyre picked up that point:

The level of damages in defamation reflects the extent of publication — i.e. the extent to which the defamatory material was actually read. This is not (despite the best efforts of plaintiffs' lawyers) the same as the extent to which it might have been read. Consequently (leaving aside other factors such as the gravity of the allegations) damages should be greatly reduced where the audience can be shown to be negligible. Potential readability worldwide notwithstanding.

...Read full article

 

6th February   

Censors on High...

Saudi satellite censors Iranian news channel
Link Here

Al Alam logoThe Committee to Protect Journalists called for Saudi-run satellite operator Arabsat to return to air the Iranian-owned Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam, which was stopped from broadcasting o January 27 without prior notice.

In a statement published on its Web site, Al-Alam said that Arabsat, in continuation of its censorship policies and as a move to confront the news networks which reflect the realities of the world, has today once again cut broadcasting of the Al-Alam network. Al-Alam was previously taken off the air by both Arabsat and the Cairo-based satellite service provider Nilesat in November. Both cited a contractual breach without elaborating further.

Al-Alam was previously taken off the air by both Arabsat and the Cairo-based satellite service provider Nilesat in November. Both cited a contractual breach without elaborating further.

We urge Arabsat officials to resolve any outstanding technical difficulties they may have and put Al-Alam back on the air as soon as possible, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. Viewers have a right to receive information from multiple sources, even critical ones.

Al-Alam has been a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia's involvement in the insurgency in northern Yemen, Mohamed Dehavi, an Al-Alam spokesman, told CPJ: We do not believe that this is a technical issue like Arabsat is claiming, but rather a political one aimed at censoring Al-Alam's coverage of current events.

 

5th February   

China's Unnatural Disaster...

China censors Oscar nomination show
Link Here

china's Unnatural Distaster China has censored this year's nominations for the Academy Awards, blocking out the name of a documentary about the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake.

China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province , was one of five films nominated for best documentary short.

The movie shows the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, when over 70,000 people died, including 10,000 children, who were killed as their shoddily-built school buildings collapsed around them.

The 40-minute film shows how the parents are stonewalled and ignored by Communist party officials. It was blocked from being aired in China, and the words unnatural disaster have been censored from the Chinese internet.

When the film garnered its Oscar nomination, Chinese media outlets either removed the film from their reports, or omitted the entire category.

There is also speculation that the Oscar ceremony itself may not be aired live in China because of the potential embarrassment if the movie wins.

 

5th February   

Update: Prudes Ban Sexpo Poster...

Easily offended in Australia
Link Here  full story: Sexpo Adverts...Whinging at adverts for sex shops and expos

Sexpo advertA billboard west of Brisbane, which features a bikini clad actress, has been slammed as inappropriate and too rude by the local council.

The billboard advertises Brisbane's 2010 Sexpo event next month.

Ipswich Councillor Trevor Nardi said the billboard was not only a distraction for drivers but too sexual for its busy location and should be taken down immediately.

The Advertising Standards Bureau said yesterday it was yet to receive any objections.

I'm definitely not a prude, ...BUT... I don't think we need billboards like this in our face, Cr Nardi said: I don't think it's appropriate and I don't think many people in the community would find it in good taste.

The Sexpo billboard has now been removed by owners Bishopp. It will be relocated in coming days.

 

5th February   

Social Justice?...

Cameron considers blamist Iain Duncan Smith for department of Social Justice
Link Here

David Cameron plans to bring back right-wing Tory Iain Duncan Smith to head a new Whitehall department if he wins the general election.

He wants to break up Ed Balls' Department for Children, Families and Schools, which was only created in June 2007 by Gordon Brown, and give Mr Duncan Smith charge of a new Department for Children and Social Justice.

Meanwhile an article on timesonline.co.uk illustrates that Duncan Smith is somewhat inappropriate for the role.

Innocence, Ian Duncan Smith warns, is being destroyed by children's television and computer games. We are driving children to lose their childhood, and some video games are incredibly violent, like Grand Theft Auto . They are meant to be 18 but nobody cares what it says on the label.

Politicians also need to do more to deal with alcohol abuse. We are an alcohol-obsessed country, more than almost anyone else in the world, but in Westminster they are terrified of doing anything about it. They are scared stiff of upsetting the electorate. I would hope Cameron is brave enough to confront that. Alcohol is every bit as dangerous as illegal drugs. You can argue that it's more dangerous than heroin because it's easier to get.

There should, he says, be a swingeing tax on all wine, beer and spirits. We are into unpopular territory now, but to deal with something like alcohol that is damaging the fabric of the nation, we need to raise prices. There is a direct connection between the price of alcohol and consumption.

He also thinks the 24-hour licensing laws must be reversed. This was absolutely driven by the drinks industry, determined to sell more alcohol.

Offences of engaging in, advertising and facilitating paid-for sexual activities (1) The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (asp 9) is amended as follows. (2) After section 11 insert—

 

5th February   

Update: Turkishness Insults Europe...

OSCE unimpressed by Turkeys repressive censorship law
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

OSCE logoA senior official at the world's largest intergovernmental organization focusing on media freedoms has lambasted Turkey for imposing restrictions on Internet sites and criticized media accreditation methods to ban reporters from attending press conferences.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) media representative Miklos Haraszti told Today's Zaman in Strasbourg last week that Turkey needs to reform or abolish Law 5651, commonly known as the Internet Law, which restricts access to popular Web sites including video-sharing Web site YouTube. He also warned that changes made to notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which makes it a crime to attack the Turkish nation in the media, are inadequate and that the government simply needs to get rid of that law.

It puts Turkey in bad company with countries like Iran and China, though Turkey is basically a free country, Haraszti said, stressing that Turkey should either reform or abolish the Internet Law in its current form. He warned that the practice is simply not in line with OSCE commitments and other international standards on freedom of expression. The government does have tools to go after illegitimate sites and punish those who violate laws. But do not block whole access to Web sites. It is not solving problems, he remarked.

 

4th February   

Cheesy ESRB Ratings...

US games raters caught being all moralistic
Link Here

Dead Alive Paradise Sony PSP psxextreme.com spotted an interesting games rating review on the official US games rating website.

Now, it's hardly surprising that Dead or Alive: Paradise for the PSP would land the M -Mature rating but surprisingly enough, it seems the ESRB's description is more out of line than the content itself. As you can see, whoever wrote it is plenty disgusted with the game, and even used the word creepy along with an expanded opinion that reads as follows:

This is a video game in which users watch grown women dressed in G-string bikinis jiggle their breasts while on a two-week vacation. Women's breasts and butts will sway while playing volleyball, while hopping across cushions, while pole dancing, while posing on the ground, by the pool, on the beach, in front of the camera.

There are other activities: Users can gamble inside a casino to win credits for shopping; they can purchase bathing suits, sunglasses, hats, clothing at an island shop; they can gift these items to eight other women in hopes of winning their friendship, in hopes of playing more volleyball.

And as relationships blossom from the gift-giving and volleyball, users may get closer to the women, having earned their trust and confidence: users will then be prompted to zoom-in on their friends' nearly-naked bodies, snap dozens of photos, and view them in the hotel later that night.

Parents and consumers should know that the game contains a fair amount of cheesy, and at times, creepy voyeurism—especially when users have complete rotate-pan-zoom control; but the game also contains bizarre, misguided notions of what women really want (if given two weeks, paid vacation, island resort)—Paradise cannot mean straddling felled tree trunks in dental-floss thongs.

Since that story broke, the US game rating board has pulled its summary of the Tecmo Koei title, and apologized for its inappropriate remarks.

Here's what the ESRB had to say on the matter:

The rating summary for Dead or Alive Paradise was posted to our website in error, and we have since replaced that version with the corrected one. We recognize that the initial version improperly contained subjective language and that issue has been addressed.

Our intention with rating summaries is to provide useful, detailed descriptions of game content that are as objective and informative as possible. However they are ultimately written by people and, in this case, we mistakenly posted a rating summary that included what some could rightfully take to be subjective statements.

We sincerely regret the error and will work to prevent this from happening again in the future.

The Replacement ESRB rating now reads:

This is a collection of mini-games, based on the Dead or Alive game series, in which players assume the role of a bikini-clad female character on vacation on a tropical island.

Players engage in daily activities that can include hopping across floating pads on a pool and beach volleyball. Players earn credits after each activity that can be used to purchase new outfits, accessories, and gifts to give other female characters on the island. Players can earn additional credits at the island casino as they wager credit in slot machines and in games of poker and black jack. Some purchasable outfits include string bikinis, one-piece thongs, and sling bikinis. Sling bikinis and thongs often provide very little coverage of breast and bare buttocks.

Throughout the game players can view characters engaging in variety of activities—pole dancing, stretching, gyrating to music, and climbing trees. Characters are frequently displayed in compromising position (e.g., buttocks up in the air, legs splayed open, straddling tree trucks, etc.) during these activities. These scenes can often feel voyeuristic as players control the camera to rotate, pan, and zoom in on various body parts as they photograph the characters in different poses.

 

4th February   

Harried by Whingers...

Advert censor finds no problem with Harry Brown poster
Link Here

Harry Brown DVD Michael Caine A poster for the film Harry Brown was divided in two sections, and featured a teenage girl and two teenage boys in the upper part of the poster. The girl had her arms wrapped tightly around herself and appeared unhappy. Both boys were holding guns; the centre boy looked menacing and the other boy was naked from the waist up. The bottom half of the poster featured a picture of Michael Caine behind a gun target. Text in the centre of the target stated ONE MAN WILL TAKE A STAND .

A complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and glamorised and condoned gun crime and violent behaviour.

ASA Decision: Not upheld

The ASA noted that the young people featured in the ad were not glamorous or aspirational figures, and that the two guns were not being brandished in a threatening or aggressive manner, but were pointing away from the reader. We recognised that the content of the poster communicated the theme of the film, and we considered that the text ONE MAN WILL TAKE A STAND at the bottom of the ad explained the film's storyline. Whilst we acknowledged that the ad would not be to everyone's taste, we considered that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, or condone and glamorise gun crime and anti-social behaviour.

 

4th February   

Over a Barrel...

Austrian feminists easily offended by recruitment advert
Link Here

Austrain recruitment ad A recruitment advert for the Austrian army showing young women chasing a tank for a joy-ride has been axed after outraged feminists went on the offensive.

The advert was commissioned to sex-up the image of the military, which has had trouble in recent years getting men to enlist.

Do you want a joy-ride, ladies? yells a macho member of the tank crew, causing the women to race after the armoured vehicle. The pun in the question was fully intended, admitted the Austrian military.

But feminists were predictably easily offended. Judith Goetz, who is in charge of feminist issues at the Austrian Students' Union, said: It is totally archaic to show such an obviously sexist video when women are part of the Austrian military.

The video opens with a macho-looking man with legs spread wide sitting on the hood of his Audi car surrounded by four young women. He is interrupted in his effort to persuade them to join him for a joy-ride when a tank comes to a screeching halt in front of his car.

A soldier climbs out of the tank's hatch, rubs his hand suggestively along the cannon, jumps down in front of the girls and asks them if they would like to go for a joy-ride in his vehicle instead. The girls screech in excitement and begin to follow him. Then come to the Austrian army. Then you can drive a tank! the soldier says. He speeds away pursued by the shrieking women.

Our clip is so dorky it's brilliant, said Colonel Johann Millonig, of the army's marketing department. But the feminist cyber-war on the high command. So many e-mails were received that defence minister Norbert Darabos asked the army to remove the video from the ministry's website.

 

4th February   

Justice Challenged...

India's Chief Justice suggests that porn websites should be banned
Link Here

India flagChief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan suggested that the government should impose a ban on websites that exclusively display pornography and hate speeches.

For local jurisdiction there are problems on account of the structure of the flow of information over the internet. End users can fake identities using proxy servers to misguide the investigating agencies. The government can place ban on websites that exclusively circulates pornography and hate speeches.

However, it would not be right to place a blanket ban on all categories of websites. It is also important to distinguish between intermediaries such as network service providers, website operators and individual users for the purpose of placing liabilities.

 

4th February   

Update: Insulting Sultan...

Malaysia prosecutes blogger for supposedly insulting Sultan
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flagA Malaysian court has charged a blogger with posting comments that insulted a late state sultan.

Khairul Nizam Abdul Ghani pleaded not guilty at a court in central Negeri Sembilan state. He was accused of insulting Sultan Iskandar Ismail of southern Johor state, who died Jan. 22, The Star and New Straits Times newspapers reported.

He was charged with improper use of network facilities by transmitting comments deemed obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive. The offense carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine.

It was unclear what Khairul Nizam wrote. It has been removed from his blog and lawyers and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last year, several people were charged with posting allegedly derogatory comments. One pleaded guilty and was fined 10,000 ringgit ($3,000). The others are on trial.

 

3rd February   

Updated: Registered as Repressive...

South Australia bans anonymous political internet comments
Link Here

South Australia flagSouth Australian laws censoring anonymous political comment on the internet have sparked national and international outrage, with readers comparing the draconian laws to those in Nazi Germany and China.

More than 600 people have posted comments on the AdelaideNow website - most vehemently against the Rann Government's legislation which will force internet bloggers and anyone publishing a comment on next month's state election to supply their real name and postcode.

A poll reveals more than 90% of readers are against the laws, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 for media organisations who do not hand over such information to the Electoral Commissioner.

In an extraordinary response to the story, readers have compared the law to those used in Nazi Germany, China, George Orwell's 1984 and North Korea. The state Liberal Party - which supported the law - also drew fire from readers.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law would not impinge on free speech and claimed that he expected The Advertiser and AdelaideNow to publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me .

In a press conference, Atkinson said the law was all about honesty . He conceded it would be difficult to police but the most egregious and outrageous breaches of the new laws would be identified.

The new law, which came into force on January 6, requires internet bloggers, and anyone making a comment on next month's state election, to publish their real name and postcode when commenting on the poll.

The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on The Advertiser's AdelaideNow website, as well as other news sites such as The Punch, the ABC's The Drum and Fairfax newspapers' National Times site. It also appears to apply to election comment made on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, also requires media organisations to keep a person's real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.

Update: Anonymous Blogging Back On

3rd February 2010. Based on article from arstechnica.com

The cries of the outraged citizenry have had an effect. While defending the new rules as recently as yesterday, Michael Atkinson has suddenly backed off from them. He sent a statement to AdelaideNow, one remarkable for its candor.

From the feedback we've received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened. I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively... It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps.

South Australia's Premier, Mike Rann, knows his way around the tweet-o-sphere, and he backed up Atkinson's comments with his own Twitter commentary.

For many young people, and even the not so young, internet is their parliament of ideas and information, said one. Then, immediately after: AG has listened. So no debate will be stifled. No political censorship of blogs or on-line comments whether named or anon.

 

3rd February   

Branch Censors...

Old cuts to John Wayne's Green Berets
Link Here

Green Berets Blu ray John Wayne The Green Berets is a 1968 US war film by Ray Kellogg and John Wayne

The 2010 Warner Blu-ray is uncut but with a 12 certificate.

Previously the Warner video of 1986 and video/DVD of 1998 were rated PG uncut.

The 1968 cinema release was cut by the BBFC

From cuts details on IMDb

  • edited shots of a man impaled with a tree branch

 

3rd February   

Voice of Burma...

Burmese journalist sentenced to 13 years in jail
Link Here

Burma flagReporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association condemn the 13-year jail sentence passed on journalist Ngwe Soe Lin by a special court inside Rangoon's Insein prison on 27 January. He is the second video reporter for a Burmese exile radio and TV station based in Oslo to be convicted in the space of a month.

The military junta has again expressed its phobia of uncontrolled video reporting by imposing a heavy prison sentence on a Democratic Voice of Burma video journalist, the two organisations said. He should be freed at once, as should Hla Hla Win, the young women reporter who was given a 20-year sentence four weeks ago after providing DVB with video material.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association added: As regards media freedom, we believe that none of the conditions are being met for this year's elections to be considered free and democratic. At least 15 journalists and netizens are currently detained in Burma.

Aye Chan Naing, the head of the Oslo-based DVB, confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that Ngwe Soe Lin worked for the station. Referring to the sentence, he said: It is a clear sign of the nature of the threats hanging over those who work as journalists, and on the control that is going to be exerted over the media prior to the elections.

 

3rd February   

Offsite: Journal of Censorship...

Morocco loses a beacon of freedom
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Le Journal The closure of the daring magazine Le Journal Hebdomadaire is a sign of renewed authoritarianism in Morocco

Last Thursday, I learned from the man behind Le Journal, Abou Bakr Jamai, that bailiffs had come to the magazine's office, just as its journalists were putting the final touches on a new issue, to seize its assets. A series of crippling libel fines and debts to the tax authorities had driven it to bankruptcy. We can already officially announce the death of Le Journal, Jamai told me. I was shaken to learn that no more issues of Le Journal would appear, although not surprised. It had become clear for several years that the palace – whether the king himself or his coterie of advisers – had given up on trying to co-opt or intimidate the magazine, as it has done with many other publications, and would sooner or later succeed in pushing it into oblivion by economic means.

...Read full article

 

2nd February   

Update: Glorified Censors...

UK police set up national internet terrorism unit
Link Here  full story: Glorified Censorship...Home Office extend cleanfeed to terrorist websites

Ragged Union JackTerrorist websites will be targeted by a new national police unit.

Government officials and senior police officers hope the small team will better co-ordinate work to silence online extremists. They want to replicate the success of police in hunting down paedophiles.

The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) will handle tip-offs from members of the public about suspect sites.

Investigators will work with internet service providers to remove illegal content or alert authorities overseas.

The move came after it emerged that the government has never used powers granted under the Terrorism Act 2006 to close down a website.

Speaking in the House of Lords last November, security minister Lord West said police forces preferred to use informal channels to shut sites.

CTIRU, comprising five detectives and civilian employees from forces across England and Wales. They will remove sites containing information about weapons and targets that could help terrorists strike, as well as those promoting extremist groups.

 

2nd February   

Update: Front Against Censorship...

Maltese anti-censorship Facebook group starts up
Link Here  full story: Front Against Censorship...Censored article leads to Maltese protest

National Protest Against Censorship A protest opposing Malta's censorship laws will be organised at City Gate on February 24, with organisers seeking as many people as possible to make their voices heard.

The organising group, Front Kontra ċ-Ċensura , was set up in the wake of a 21-year-old editor of a student newspaper facing Court charges over an article.

The October edition of Realtà featured a short story – Li Tkisser Sewwi by Alex Vella Gera – whose explicit content led the university to remove it from campus and to report its editor, Mark Camilleri, to the police.

The Front includes the Realtà Collective, the newspaper's producers, and a number of other groups, including the youth wings of Alternattiva Demokratika and the Labour Party as well as Unifaun Theatre Productions, whose production of the play Stitching was banned in early 2009.

The group's Facebook page has attracted over 3,000 members and it hopes that it will similarly attract large numbers its upcoming protest.

The group plans to organise a National Protest Against Censorship to attract a larger crowd. Starting at City Gate at 1700h on February 24, the group aims to move down Republic Street to the Palace, where it will present proposals to remove artistic censorship to MPs as they enter the building.

In the meantime, Camilleri is awaiting his arraignment in Court. He faces a possible jail term for distributing obscene or pornographic material and for injuring public morals or decency.

 

2nd February   

Controlling...

Proposed TV censor for Panama
Link Here

Panama flagPanama's Parliament has proposed creating a consultative censorship board to 'regulate' the content of TV networks to controlling programmes with high content of violence.

The move was welcomed by the parliamentary commission of population, environment, and development and will be taken to the parliamentary plenary session for discussion and later approval.

 

1st February   

Update: Little Hitlers at eBay...

Dad's Army game banned at eBay
Link Here

Dad's Army gameAuction site eBay has backed down after banning the sale of a rare Dad's Army board game for promoting hatred and racial intolerance .

The game, originally released in the mid-70s at the height of the much-loved TV series' popularity, was deemed offensive because it contains a picture of a swastika.

Just like the opening title sequence of the show, the board game box depicts arrows bearing swastikas and Union Jack flags moving across a map of Europe.

Seller Dave Davidson, who bought the game at a car boot sale, was amazed when eBay removed his item from the site. He told the Worcester News: I want to expose eBay for what they are - a laughing stock. They allow coins and stamps with swastikas and there are hundreds of novels which are war stories that have them. It's ridiculous that they can't use any common sense. Dad's Army is the most harmless TV programme in the world.

Davidson discovered his item had been removed from the site when he received an e-mail from eBay.

He told the paper it explained that his listing breached the company's offensive material policy. It said: We don't allow sellers on eBay to list items that promote violence, hatred, racial or religious intolerance, or items from organisations that promote these views. We don't allow items or memorabilia associated with the Nazi Party.

However, the site has now said it will allow him to sell the game but Davidson has decided to hang on to it: I think I'll keep it as a souvenir to political correctness gone mad.

 

1st February   

Update: Turkishness Insults Europe...

Council of Europe unimpressed by Turkeys repressive censorship law
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Council of Europe flagAndrew McIntosh, the author of a report on media freedom for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has warned that Turkey is in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and as such the European Court of Human Rights may impose sanctions on Turkey for its notorious Article 301, which restricts freedom of expression for members of the media.

British MP Andrew McIntosh told Today's Zaman: The report is unequivocal about Article 301. It says Article 301 violates Article 10 of the European convention. If a case was started, that opinion, which is the view of PACE, can be tested in the court of law.

The report said the Assembly welcomes amendments made to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK] but deplores the fact that Turkey has not abolished Article 301. Criminal charges have been brought against many journalists under the slightly revised Article 301, which still violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Turkish deputies, addressing the floor, objected to McIntosh's proposition and claimed that the European court has not made a ruling and that the report erroneously states that the amended article still violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Ertuğrul Kumcuoğlu from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) even tabled an amendment to delete the proposition from the report.

PACE argued that the changes in Article 301 have not substantially reduced the number of court cases in which writers or journalists have been prosecuted for their published opinions.

PACE further recommended that the Committee of Ministers call on the government of Turkey to revise their defamation and insult laws and their practical application in accordance with assembly resolutions. In January 2009 the IPI criticized attempts to prosecute Turkish cartoonists for lampooning senior government figures.

 

1st February   

Offsite: Superinjunctivitus...

Could Trafigura and Terry signal the demise of the superinjunction?
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Libel Reform Campaign logo It is a measure of how deeply the Trafigura fiasco affected the public psyche that much of the anger (and humour) directed at footballer John Terry online on Twitter and other social networks concerned his legal representatives Schillings' use of a superinjunction, rather than his alleged extra-curricular activities.

...Read full article

 

1st February   

Update: Christian Games Baddies...

Australian Christian Lobby come out against the R18+ rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

ACL logoThe campaign to add an R18+ videogame rating category in Australia has gained an additional but predictable enemy, the Australian Christian Lobby.

The group's policy website features a section on the game ratings debate, in which the idea that an adult videogame rating category is needed Down Under is sharply rebuked:

The potential for violent and sexually explicit interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated, graphic and interactive. It is also naive to think that R18+ games could be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends.

If any changes are to be made to the classification system it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren't wrongly getting through in this category.

The group encourages website visitors to attempt to stop the introduction of an R18+ category by writing a submission to the government in advance of the February 28th deadline for responses to the Discussion Paper.

 

1st February   

Equality of Inbrededness...

Cornishness not protected by equality law
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EHRC logoCalling Cornish people inbred is acceptable in law because they are not a distinct racial group, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has ruled.

The Kernow branch of the Celtic League complained to the EHRC about the use of the term and other mockery of the people of Cornwall in the media.

But the commission said it was powerless to prosecute anyone because under the Race Relations Act, the Cornish did not exist as a separate nationality from the English.

In this reply to the Celtic League, Qaiser Razzak, the South West regional manager of the EHRC, said that in order for any remedy to be available in domestic (UK) legal proceedings, the Cornish would need to be defined as a racial group under the Race Relations Act, which had not yet been done.

To date, case law has not established the Cornish as a 'racial group', for the purposes of the Race Relations Act, so currently, it is not clear whether any claim of racial discrimination against Cornish people would be successful.

He added that a European treaty, which the UK was bound to follow, set down protection for national minorities . However, although binding on the UK Government, it has not been implemented into domestic law and does not therefore provide a right to bring any legal proceedings, he said.

Last month, the Kernow branch of the Celtic League said it utterly condemned repeated descriptions of Cornish nationals as inbred , and other insulting phrases, in newspapers and on the Internet.

 

1st February   

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Dangerous Pictures or Dangerous Animals?
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Tiger porn

Endangered species

Despite the odd absurd anomaly, such as an attempt to prosecute for a depiction of a woman having sex with a cartoon tiger, the UK government's “extreme pornography” laws have not have proved to be the threat to free expression.

Critics of the extreme porn law, which took effect a year ago this week, may be feeling a sense of ironic let-down on its anniversary, as legislation supposedly passed to protect the innocent from extreme sadists appears to have turned, all too rapidly, into the “Safeguarding Vulnerable Animals Act”.

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