Censor Watch

 2008: March



31st March   

Update: Pixellated Thinking...

Censor indicted for not censoring enough
Link Here

NEVA logo Head of the screening department of the Nihon Ethics of Video Association (NEVA) Katsumi Ono was indicted last week on charges involving failure to screen two DVDs that did not comply with obscenity standards.

NEVA’s panel of scholars, former journalists and film experts screens adult videos produced by 90 Japanese production companies to determine if they comply with standards and regulations.

Ono was arrested, in the beginning of March, on suspicion of assisting the sale of the explicit DVDs after approving the videos. The movies, which were released in June 2006, were allegedly approved for sale without proper screening for potentially obscene content.

The two videos contained scenes showing genitalia which were pixellated, but according to authorities, viewers could still make out body parts.

Reportedly, three other men have also been indicted in the incident.

 

31st March   

Update: Nutters Label Censors as Morally Bankrupt...

New Zealand TV censor clears Californication
Link Here  full story: Californication...US TV show picks up whinges around the world

Californication ad Nutters have called the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority "morally bankrupt" after it failed to uphold complaints about TV3 drama Californication .

Family First New Zealand laid one of five complaints with the authority which alleged the first episode broadcast in November breached standards of good taste and decency.

Complaints related to a dream sequence where a nun performed oral sex on lead character Hank Moody, constant strong language, teenage drug use and sex scenes.

National director Bob McCoskrie argued that broadcasters are consistently pushing the boundaries of what is normal and acceptable, glorifying and normalising drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, offensive language, violence and degrading treatment of women.

But in a decision released today the BSA said its decision not to uphold the complaint was based on factors such as the programme being preceded by a verbal and written warning, the Adults Only rating, a 9.30pm broadcast time, audience expectations as a result of prior publicity and the title which indicated it was likely to contain "challenging content."

 

31st March   

Update: Satanic Verses: The Play...

German play passes off without incident
Link Here

Satanic Verses book The first ever stage play based on Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses passed off without incident in Germany on Sunday with police in attendance in case of disturbances.

There had been no specific threats but there was a moderate police presence inside and outside the venue as a preventative measure after complaints from some Muslim groups, a police spokesman said.

There had been fears that Sunday's play might become another flashpoint in tensions between Europe and the Muslim world.

Such fears appeared unfounded over Sunday's play however.

On Friday the president of the German Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, told AFP that his organisation had publicly complained: We regret that the religious sentiments of Muslims are being treated in a provocative manner.

The general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, urged Muslims to remain calm and engage in a critical and constructive dialogue about the issues the play raises. But he also questioned whether the play might go too far. Freedom of expression and of art is important ...BUT... offences against what is sacred in a religion is not something we value.

 

31st March   

Update: Another Indian Film in Court...

College whinging that it was portrayed in a bad light in film
Link Here

Black & White poster An Indian professor has approached the Delhi High Court seeking to ban the screening of recently released Black and White alleging that the movie portrays his community in a bad light.

Dr Khalid Alvi, head of Urdu Department in Zakir Hussain college, has contended in his petition that the Anil Kapoor starrer portrays his community in a bad light and its screening should be stayed.

The producer, director and the script writer have intentionally produced the film with an anti-Muslim angle, he said. He alleged the film shows his community as harbouring terrorists.

The film, produced and directed by Subhash Ghai, was released all over the country early this month.

The students and the staff of the college were stunned and shocked that the college was featured in the film and used to malign their community as anti-national and unpatriotic, the petition said.

 

31st March   

Update: Novel Idea for Repression in Indiana...

Book shops selling Lady Chatterley must register as sex businesses
Link Here  full story: Registration for US Adult Business...US adult businesses must pay registration fees

Indiana state seal A new Indiana law that requires sellers of adult material to register with the state has Hoosier bookstore owners fuming about government censorship and threatening a legal challenge.

This lumps us in with businesses that sell things that you can’t even mention in a family newspaper, said Ernie Ford, owner of Fine Print Book Store in Greencastle.

Ford was talking about HEA 1042, which Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law last week. He was one of 15 independent Indiana booksellers who signed a letter last week urging Daniels to veto the legislation.

The new law that takes effect July 1 requires businesses that sell sexually explicit material to pay a $250 fee and register with the secretary of state, which would then pass the information to municipal or county officials so they can monitor the businesses for potential violations of local ordinances.

Co-sponsor Brent Steele said the law does not apply to businesses that sold sexually explicit material on or before June 30; it applies only to new businesses, those that relocate or businesses that begin offering such material after that date.

But groups representing state and national booksellers say the law casts its net too wide. A legal scholar agrees, calling it overly broad and so ambiguous that it may violate constitutional rights.

The way we read this bill, if you stock a single book with sexual content — even a novel or a book about sex education — you will have to register as a business that sells sexually explicit material, said Chris Finan, president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression: This is just outrageous from our standpoint, and we believe it is a violation of the First Amendment.

While the law does not prohibit stores from selling a book with sexual content, he said, it has a chilling effect that could force sellers to limit the scope of their offerings or get out of the business rather than being placed on a state list of businesses that sell sexually explicit works.

Finan said his group will ask the Media Coalition — a New York-based group that defends Americans’ First Amendment right to produce and sell books, movies, magazines, recordings, DVDs, videotapes and video games, as well as the public’s right to have access to the broadest possible range of opinion and entertainment — to take legal action to overturn the legislation. A decision by the coalition on whether to enter the fight is expected by mid-April, he said.

 

31st March   

Update: Welcome in Pakistan...

Long standing Pakistan ban on Indian films is being relaxed
Link Here  full story: Bollywood Banned...India films banned in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Taare Zameen Par poster Bollywood filmmakers have a reason to celebrate for it looks like a new territory is opening doors for them, Pakistan.

With comedy flick Welcome getting a positive response, now more and more distributors are releasing Hindi films in Pakistan.

The release of films like Awarapan , Goal and Welcome has shown that Pakistan may be finally working to lift its 1965 ban on Indian films.

After releasing the John Abraham and Arshad Warsi-starrer Goal in Pakistan, UTV is all set to release multi-starrer Race and Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par on march 28. Taare Zameen Par will be released without changes while Race will be edited slightly to make it acceptable for the Pakistan Censor Board.

If Pakistan opens as a free-flowing market for Bollywood films, it will open another big territory for the Hindi film industry. Right now, the two major overseas markets are only the UK and the US.

Update: On Par

12th April 2008

Taare Zameen Par has now opened in Pakistan

 

31st March   

Update: Editor Jailed...

Years of abuse take's its toll on Egypt's health
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

Egypt flag Newspaper editor Ibrahim Eissa was sentenced by an Egyptian court to six months hard labor in jail for publishing an article last year about health problems facing Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.

He was found guilty of damaging the national economy, although bankers have said it was difficult to link the drop in foreign investment at the time to the articles that were published.

Central Bank officials testified in court that investments of up to $350 million left the country on the days that Al-Dustour published the reports on the president's health.

Last year, Eissa was sentenced along with three other newspaper editors to a year in prison in a separate case for defaming Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic party. That trial also concerned newspaper articles about the president's health.

Eissa is one of the president's most outspoken critics. He has had run-ins with Egyptian authorities in the past. The paper was shut down for nearly seven years at one point.

The editor says the latest sentence sheds light on the limits to press freedom in Egypt. He says the verdict proves that Mubarak's government crushes the international right to freedom of expression.

Update: Appeal Result

3rd October 2008

The Boulak Abul Ela Appeal Court on the outskirts of Cairo reduced the six-month jail term given in March to Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dustour, to two months in prison for “publishing false information and rumors” about President Hosni Mubarak’s health. The court said Eissa’s August 2007 articles were likely to disturb public security and harm the country’s economy.

The verdict, which was issued amid tight security measures and heavy police presence both inside and outside the courtroom, took lawyers by surprise and prompted protests among journalists and human rights activists, who chanted anti-Mubarak slogans inside the courthouse.

Update: Pardoned

8th October 2008. Based on article from cpj.org

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the presidential pardon today of a two-month jail sentence against Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dustour.

On September 28, a Court of appeal in Cairo reduced a six-month jail term given in March to Eissa to two months in prison for publishing false information and rumors about President Hosni Mubarak’s health. The court said Eissa’s August 2007 articles were likely to disturb public security and harm the country’s economy.

The presidential pardon coincide with Egypt celebrates the anniversary of a 1973 war against the state of Israel.

We are relieved that Ibrahim Eissa will not serve time in jail, said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. His sentence was nothing more than retaliation for reporting the government did not like.

 

30th March   

Realistic Amendments...

Lords amendments to delete dangerous pictures or restrict them to real acts
Link Here

House of Lords logo Significant Lords amendments have been tabled to Challenge the Dangerous Pictures clauses

LORD WALLACE OF TANKERNESS
BARONESS MILLER OF CHILTHORNE DOMER

Clause 63

Page 47, line 7, leave out "both"
Page 47, line 9, at end insert ", and
(c) records an actual act (whether performed in the United Kingdom or not) in which one or more persons committed a sexual offence"

Page 47, line 30, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

"(b) is obscene as defined by section 1 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (c. 66) (test of obscenity)"

Page 48, line 2, at end insert—
"(8A) In subsection (2) of this section, "a sexual offence" is an act which, if performed in the United Kingdom, would constitute an offence under Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (c. 42)."

These limit dangerous pictures to those of real (ie not staged) acts that are obscene or illegal

They have also submitted an amendment to leave out the Dangerous Pictures clauses in their entirety.

LORD WALLACE OF TANKERNESS
BARONESS MILLER OF CHILTHORNE DOMER

Leave out clause 63,63,65,66

 

30th March   

Tits Revealed at YouTube...

YouTube censors Barbara Windsor's flash in Carry on Camping
Link Here

Barbara Windsor YouTube has been slammed for censoring the eye-popping moment Barbara Windsor bursts her bra in Carry On Camping.

Forty years after it first hit cinema screens the clip has been BUTCHERED by website censors because is it TOO saucy.

Barbara was awarded an MBE for services in cinema and broadcasting in 2000 and is famous of the scene in which her bikini top twanged off into Kenneth William’s face.

Voted the best of 30 low-budget films made at Pinewood Studios, Carry On Camping! carries a PG certificate.

The clip received more than 4,000 hits after it was posted on YouTube, but now bosses at the US-based video clips web site have decided it breaks their guidelines on "explicit" scenes.

And the flash of boobs has been EDITED OUT by YouTube.

Fans of the film are angry at the censorship of their favourite scene and are demanding a re-think by YouTube.

One fan, Gary Williams said: Even back in 1969 it got past the censors. It wasn’t deemed offensive then so why is it being censored now?

Spokesperson for YouTube, Oliver Rickman said: YouTube has clear policies that prohibit inappropriate content on the site.

 

30th March   

The Beyer Byron Report...

Mediawatch welcome Byron Report
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Safer Children in a Digital World report John Beyer director of mediawatch-uk joined the long line of groups welcoming the Byron report and said:

  • Firstly, we welcome the fact that the Prime Minister set up the review at all which we believe indicates that violence and pornography it is a matter to be taken seriously
     
  • Secondly, we welcome proposals for a uniform system of rating games and the requirement that all games involving weaponry and combat are certified
     
  • Thirdly, we welcome the tough new sanctions proposed against retailers who disregard the age classifications on games.
     
  • Fourthly, we welcome the proposals to raise awareness of game and internet content among parents and guardians and the proposals to improve information on blocking inappropriate website content.
     
  • Fifthly, we welcome the important proposal to establish a UK Council on Child Internet Safety and the recommended objectives. This could provide a forum where any aggrieved person could seek relief.
     
  • Finally, we welcome the criticism of some social network sites and the proposals for improved management and oversight of them.

In conclusion Mr Beyer said: We cannot help but wonder how these important proposals will work out in practice and how quickly any new legislation needed can be enacted. The critical thing will be the Government's response to Dr Byron's Review and how long it takes to implement the proposals. Their effectiveness must be monitored carefully and we will do our best to highlight the successes and any failings.

Comment: Has Beyer gone soft?

Thanks to Dan

John Beyer Generally Beyer believes that age ratings and giving parents more information over violent/sexual content is not enough and there should be tougher legislation to stop such content being released in the first place.

But he here is welcoming age ratings and more content information for children. Has Beyer gone soft? Maybe he might change his mind about locking up porn viewers next?

Don't bank on it though Still it's a suitable plug for Mediawatch UK's Children and the Media Booklet (to advise parents.... That the media is a toxic corrupting spawn of the devil destroying our children with violence, sex and perversions and needs to be stopped now!)

Daily Mail logo Meanwhile the Daily Mail with Anne Diamond put a suitably Ban these sick games for the sake of our children spin on the story:

See her article from the Daily Mail

According to Ms Diamond some games such as Resident Evil 4 shouldn't be allowed to be sold even to adults. Does her role as a Mum of 4 give her the authority to tell us adults what games we should and should not be allowed to play? No! And I reckon she is a worthy candidate to be included in your Hall Of Shame.

 

30th March   

Technically Censorship...

Sri Lanka director censored by a mob of film technicians
Link Here

Prabhakaran still The young Sri Lankan filmmaker Thushara Peiris has been subjected to mob attack by hundreds of Indians including film producers, directors and technicians within an Indian Laboratory premises.

Director Thushara Peiris went to India with his maiden film Prabhakaran to make its Tamil copy and he was at Gemini Colour Laboratory in Chennai since March 20.

The procedure to pass a film through Indian Censor Board is not an easy task. We have to produce an English translation of the Sinhala version of the screenplay, then the Tamil version, cast list, their background details and so many other details, Thushara explained the harrowing experience he had in India.

While I was giving these details to the Censor Board some details of the film had been leaked and misinterpretation and misleading news had been spreading about the film labelling it as an anti Tamil and anti LTTE.

As Peiris was completing the final touches to the film on Tuesday, March 25, a mob who claimed they were film producers and technicians staged a protest in front of Gemin lab and in the evening as Thusara was leaving for his hotel had attacked him.

They demanded that the film be destroyed, Peiris said.

Following a severe assault and cut on his back Thusara's dress was torn into pieces by the violent Indian mob at Gemini Lab premises. Later as the media and the police were approaching the place the assailants who introduced themselves as film technicians had given him a shirt and forced him act as if nothing had happened.

However I was kept in a room in the laboratory and was not allowed to talk to the media, Thusara claimed. After the assault a meeting was summoned with the film technicians, police and officials of the Indian Censor Board and had demanded to watch the film to which Thusara had agreed. However Thusara was made to sign a letter stating that if it contained any scene against Tamils or terrorists it would not be allowed to be screened in India.

Without seeing the film they had labelled my film as a propaganda for Mahinda Rajapaksa government which it is not. It is a film I made about the suffering and misery faced by the youth in Sri Lanka and I want every Tamil to see it, the filmmaker said.

Update: Tamil Calls for Ban

3rd April 2008

The dubbed version (in Tamil) of  Prabakaran was screened in Chennai to the agitating Tamil activists. Around 30 Tamil activists from various Tamil groups and political parties viewed the film at a preview theatre in Chennai. After seeing the film, Tamil activists have alleged that the entire film demeans Tamils in general and their freedom struggle in particular.

The film portrays Sinhalese as innocent people and demonises Tamils as war mongering and violent people , Thol Thirumavalavan (leader of Dalith Panthers of India and known LTTE sympathiser) told BBC Tamil service: If this film is released it may trigger ethnic violence against Tamils. So we are going to ask the Tamil film producers council not to give permission to release this film in Tamil Nadu or anywhere in India. We are also going to ask the censor board not to clear this film to be screened in India. We are also contemplating filing a court case seeking a complete ban on the film.

 

30th March   

Access Denied...

Book detailing the extent of world internet censorship
Link Here

Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering book A new book details the extent to which countries across the globe are increasingly censoring online information they find strategically, politically or culturally threatening.

Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering challenges the long-standing assumption that the internet is an unfettered space where citizens from around the world can freely communicate and mobilise. In fact, the book makes it clear that the scope, scale and sophistication of net censorship are growing.

There's been a conventional wisdom or myth that the internet was immune from state regulation, says Ronald Deibert, one of the book's editors: What we're finding is that states that were taking a hands-off approach to the internet for many years are now finding ways to intervene at key internet choke points, and block access to information.

Deibert heads The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. The Lab, along with Harvard Law School, the University of Cambridge, and Oxford University, has spent the last five years testing internet access in some 40 countries.

The book highlights Saudi Arabia, Iran and China as some of the most aggressive nations when it comes to net filtering. They use a variety of technical techniques to limit what their citizens can see online. But they reinforce that filtering with other methods, such as net surveillance.

Surveillance is a huge deterrent, says The Citizen Lab's Nart Villeneuve. If you talk to dissident groups in these countries, they'll tell you that they're under surveillance, that they're concerned for their safety, and that it definitely influences their online behavior.

And even as human rights and internet rights groups fight to raise awareness about internet censorship, countries such as China have responded by getting smarter in what they block, and when they block it.

John Palfrey, director of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, points out that some countries are considering whether or not to bypass the World Wide Web all together by creating what amounts to their own local area networks. We are starting to see something more like the China Wide Web, the Pakistan Wide Web, and the Iran Wide Web.

 

30th March   

Blogger Respect...

Malaysia blames bloggers for government's bloody nose at election
Link Here

Malaysia flag Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi says his long-ruling coalition underestimated the power of the Internet, in advance of this month's elections. Badawi's ruling coalition suffered its worst losses in its history, after members of the opposition used the Internet to vent their views, circumventing the country's tightly controlled mainstream media.

Speaking to an investors' conference, the Malaysian leader said his coalition certainly lost the Internet war, and said it was a serious misjudgment for it to rely solely on government-controlled newspapers and television to get out its campaign message.

Many voters say they ignored the mainstream media and turned to independent blogsites like Malaysiakini.com, where they could see news on official corruption, religious and racial tensions and other issues that the mainstream media often does not report.

Observers say readership of the country's independent blogsites has surpassed that of mainstream print media.

Malaysia's government does not openly censor blogsites, as part of promise it made in the 1990's to not interfere with the Internet. The promise was part of an effort to draw foreign investment in plans for a new high-tech industry corridor. The plans for the corridor have since stalled, leading media freedom advocates to worry about whether the government may soon start imposing restrictions on the Internet.

See full article from the Bangkok Post

Malaysia's new information minister has pledged not to impose curbs on bloggers, who have been accused by other government officials of spreading lies and undermining public stability.

Internet commentators played a key role in recent general elections by catering to voters who wanted an alternative source of news besides television and newspapers, Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek told reporters.

The remarks by Ahmad Shabery reflect a softening in the government's stance toward bloggers. His predecessor and other officials have repeatedly criticized bloggers and warned that new laws could be crafted to rein in bloggers who dispense malicious or false rumors that could stir tensions.

 

29th March   

Update: True to Stereotype...

Threats cause Fitna to be taken down from LiveLeak
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna Fitna debuted on Thursday at Web site LiveLeak.com, only to be taken down a day later following threats to LiveLeak's staff.

LiveLeak on Friday afternoon issued a statement explaining its decision: Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill-informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, LiveLeak.com has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people, from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realized LiveLeak.com is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

Perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one another's culture. We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high.


During the day that the film was available, it prompted widespread condemnation. On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decried Fitna as hate speech: I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders' offensively anti-Islamic film. There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free expression is not at stake here. I acknowledge the efforts of the Government of the Netherlands to stop the broadcast of this film, and appeal for calm to those understandably offended by it. Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.

The Organization of The Islamic Conference also denounced the film as blasphemy. OIC Secretary General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said, The film is a deliberate act of discrimination against Muslims, incitement for hatred and an act defamation of religions which is solely intended to incite and provoke unrest and intolerance among people of different religious beliefs and to jeopardize world peace and stability.

In the day that Fitna played, it was viewed over 420,000 times. More than 280 comments were posted on LiveLeak.com. And many chose to reply through countervideos, which are still online.

The film may also generate a lawsuit. The BBC reports that Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, known for his cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb-shaped turban, plans to sue Wilders for using his cartoon in the film without permission.

See full article from Reuters

Reuters summarised some of the reaction around the world which has so far being constrained to verbals.

Iran called the film heinous, blasphemous and anti-Islamic, and Indonesia, said it was an insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression.

The Saudi Arabian embassy in The Hague said the film was provocative and full of errors and incorrect allegations that could lead to hate towards Muslims.

Dutch Muslim leaders appealed for calm and called on Muslims worldwide not to target Dutch interests. Our call to Muslims abroad is follow our strategy and don't frustrate it with any violent incidents, Mohammed Rabbae, a Dutch Moroccan community leader, told journalists in an Amsterdam mosque.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he was proud of how Dutch Muslim organisations responded to the film but that it was too early to draw conclusions about the international consequences: There are reasons for continued alertness.

See full article from the BBC

The EU's Slovenian presidency said the film served no purpose other than "inflaming hatred".

In Pakistan there were small protests in several places on Friday against the film, while the government summoned the Dutch ambassador in Islamabad to lodge a protest. Pakistan said it told the Dutch ambassador that it was incumbent on the Netherlands to prosecute Wilders for defamation and deliberately hurting Muslim sentiments.

The foreign ministry in Bangladesh issued a statement calling the film "unwarranted" and "mindless".

See full article from Yahoo News

A coalition of Jordanian media said they would take Wilders to court over the film and launch a campaign to boycott Dutch products. They urged Arab leaders to review ties with Denmark and the Netherlands.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband stressed the importance of freedom of speech but said it should be combined with respect for religious and racial diversity.

Europe's top human rights authority, the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, called the film a distasteful manipulation which exploits ignorance, prejudice and fear. It is simply political propaganda and it plays into the hands of extremists who are given such a prominent role in his film," the council's secretary general, Terry Davis said.

 

29th March   

Satanic Protests...

German muslims likely to protest against Satanic Verses play
Link Here

Satanic Verses book A German Muslim group said that protests were likely against the first ever staging of a dramatized version of Salman Rushdie's controversial book The Satanic Verses in Potsdam near Berlin on Sunday.

Nurhan Soykan, spokeswoman for the central council of Muslims in Germany, told Reuters Muslims believed in a free press and freedom of opinion .... BUT... even this has its boundaries. We're worried that provocations and insults against us have increased recently. I wouldn't want to ban (the play) .... BUT... you can bet on protests from Muslim people. They can't be expected to put up with everything.

German police said they had been consulting with the Potsdam theatre and a large number of officers would be on patrol for the premiere on Sunday. We'll be monitoring the situation, police spokesman Rudi Sonntag said. Although we haven't had any indications of dangers or disturbances, we can't rule out the possibility that demonstrations will be going on.

 

29th March   

Update: UN Lynched...

Human rights in the hands of rights abusing nutters.
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo The top UN rights body has passed a resolution proposed by Islamic countries saying it is deeply concerned about the defamation of religions and urging governments to prohibit it.

The European Union said the text was one-sided because it primarily focused on Islam.

The UN Human Rights Council, which is dominated by Arab and other Muslim countries, adopted the resolution on a 21-10 vote over the opposition of Europe and Canada. 14 countries abstained in the vote.

EU countries, including France, Germany and Britain, voted against. Previously EU diplomats had said they wanted to stop the growing worldwide trend of using religious anti-defamation laws to limit free speech.

The document, which was put forward by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.

Although the text refers frequently to protecting all religions, the only religion specified as being attacked is Islam, to which eight paragraphs refer.

The resolution notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

The EU said, International human rights law protects primarily individuals in their exercise of their freedom of religion or belief, not religions or beliefs as such.

The resolution urges states to take actions to prohibit the dissemination ... of racist and xenophobic ideas and material that would incite to religious hatred. It also urges states to adopt laws that would protect against hatred and discrimination stemming from religious defamation.

 

29th March   

Warning Low Threshold...

Gary Lineker crisps advert withdrawn after complaints
Link Here

Gary Lineker advert Walker's Crirps have withdrawn a television advert that shows the top of a bus being sliced off, after dozens of complaints from Scottish viewers.

Walkers apologised for any offence caused by the advert and said it was removing the offending scene, with a new version airing from today.

The advert shows the former footballer Gary Lineker driving a bus while eating crisps. He fails to notice a low bridge and crashes into it, slicing off the top of the bus.

91 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, which is deciding whether there are grounds for an investigation.

 

29th March   

Update: Eros Go Nutter...

Shameful attitude over adult games by porn lobby group
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ certificate As previously reported, Australia has decided to put the issue of R18+ games out to public consultation.

The consultation was immediately criticised by both the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and the Eros Foundation, an adult industry lobby group.

Given what happens with R-rated films, we could have no confidence that the classification guidelines would be properly applied, ACL managing director Jim Wallace said in a statement. For example, due to loopholes in the guidelines, real sex is sometimes being shown in R-rated films. What will happen if we have R18+ games, which have even greater impact because of their interactive nature.

A spokesman for Eros shamefully said the foundation backed the ACL stance. We support the Australian Christian Lobby's point of view. Because we believe that there's too much violence out there and there are more pressing issues for the attorneys to consider such as the regulation of the X-rated film industry.

Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said the consultation process would not deliver a final decision: This is not a consultation on a proposal to introduce an R18+ level for games . It is a public consultation process seeking community views to inform our position."

Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls said he wanted censorship laws to strike an appropriate balance between freedom of expression and community concerns. It seems inconsistent that in Australia adults are allowed to view adults only films which have been classified R18+ by the classification board but not computer games with an equivalent high level content.

 

29th March   

Update: Insults Come and Insults Go...

But Turkey's repression goes on forever
Link Here

YouTube logo Turkey has banned access to Slide, a presentation application, for hosting supposedly offensive content.

Slide is one of the most popular applications on Facebook. According to the company's blog it was accused of harboring pictures and articles that are considered to be insulting to Ataturk . Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the founder of modern Turkey, and insults against him are considered an attack on "Turkishness".

See full article from Google News

However, Turkey is restoring access to YouTube after the video-sharing website removed the videos that prompted the officials to block access in the first place.

The website said that it has removed the videos a prosecutor deemed insulting to Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's founding father, who established the country after collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Update: IndyMedia Blocked

31st March 2008

Access to Indymedia Istanbul inside Turkey has been blocked by Turk Telekom.

Istanbul Indymedia ( http://istanbul.indymedia.org ) has been operating in Turkey since 2003. This initiative aims to organize its own information network without disregarding the information resources both in Turkey and abroad, and to make its voice to be heard by the masses in Turkey and abroad -despite that the internet is still a media tool which has a limited access for many people.

Indymedia can still be accessed in Turkey as follows:

Update: Pandering to Turkishness

2nd April 2008

YouTube has removed several video clips that had prompted Turkish authorities to block access to the video-sharing Web site, a move the company believes will lead to a restoration of access soon.

In a statement in Turkish sent to The Associated Press, YouTube said the company reviewed the videos that led to the most recent ban on access and removed them because of their content, which violate YouTube's content policy.

A court in the capital of Ankara imposed a ban on access to the site at the request of a prosecutor who had argued the clips were disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a war hero who founded Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

 

29th March   

Needless Swaying...

Philippines nutters whinge at daytime TV
Link Here

Philippines flag The Philippines Provincial Women's Commission (PWC) submitted two resolutions to the two giant television networks to call their attention regarding their noontime entertainment shows that unnecessarily display too much skin.

PWC Co-Chair Agnes Magpale lamented the noontime programs frequently showed women wearing very skimpy attires and all this just to hand a prize.

Short of saying the display of women garbed in extremely short clothes is a form of exploitation, Magpale during a PIA forum that tackled the observance of Women's Month this March said apart from the flaunting of too much skin, the women when walking on the stage sway needlessly.

 

29th March   

Yemeni Blog Silence...

Major Middle Eastern blog site blocked in Yemen
Link Here

Maktoob Blogs logo Maktoobblog.com, one of the most popular Arab blogging platform, has been recently blocked in Yemen cutting off Yemeni Internet users from the more than 46960 Middle Eastern blogs the service hosts. Of these, 1226 are Yemeni blogs. All of them disappeared from the Yemeni Internet.

OpenNet Initiative testing has confirmed through technical investigation, that the blog hosting service has been blocked by Yemennet ISP, a service of the government’s Public Telecommunication Corporation (PTC):

Access is blocked to the entire domain maktoobblog.com, effectively to every blog hosted by the service.

This significant blocking is expected to hinder Internet users in Yemen from blogging and reading blogs because maktoobblog.com is home of one of the largest blogging communities in the Middle East and North Africa.

 

28th March   

Update: Byron Reports...

Safer Children in a Digital World
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Safer Children in a Digital World report Tanya Byron's report entitled Safer Children in a Digital World has been published

Dr Tanya Byron said in the press release that while new technologies bring incredible opportunities to children and young people, parents general lack of confidence and awareness is leaving children vulnerable to risks within their digital worlds. Many parents seem to believe that when their child is online it is similar to watching television. Dr Byron is keen to emphasise that in fact it is more like opening the front door and letting a child go outside to play, unsupervised. Digital world risks are similar to real world risks but can be enhanced by the anonymity and ubiquity that the online space brings.

In order to improve children’s online safety, Dr Byron makes a number of groundbreaking recommendations including:

  • The creation of a new UK Council for Child Internet Safety, established by and reporting to the Prime Minister, and including representation from across Government, industry, children’s charities and other key stakeholders including children, young people and parent panels.
     
  • Challenging industry to take greater responsibility in supporting families through: establishing transparent and independently monitored codes of practice on areas such as user generated content; improving access to parental control software and safe search features; and better regulation of online advertising.
     
  • Kick starting a comprehensive public information and awareness campaign on child internet safety across Government and industry, which includes an authoritative ‘one stop shop’ on child internet safety.
     
  • Setting in place sustainable education and initiatives in children’s services and education to improve the skills of children and their parents around e-safety.

    On video games, Dr Byron recommends a range of high profile and targeted efforts to help inform parents what games are right for their children, such as:
     
  • Reforming the classification system for rating video games with one set of symbols on the front of all boxes which are the same as those for film.
     
  • Lowering the statutory requirement to classify video games to 12+, so that it is the same as film classification and easier for parents to understand.
     
  • Clear and consistent guidance for industry on how games should be advertised.
     
  • Challenging industry to provide sustained and high profile efforts to increase parent’s understanding of age ratings and improved parental controls.

 

28th March   

Update: Games R Us...

BBFC welcome Byron report but game companies aren't so sure
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

BBFC logo Responding to the Byron Report, David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said in a press release:

I warmly welcome Dr Byron’s report. She has listened very carefully to all the arguments, and exercised her independent and expert judgement.

It is clear from Dr Byron’s report that games classification is less well understood that that for films and DVDs. We all need to work hard to bring understanding up to the same level, and help parents and children make informed choices. Games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are for adults, and should be treated in the same way as ‘18’ rated films and DVDs.

Dr Byron says that when it comes to content, parents want better information on which to base their decisions. I welcome the film-style classification system and greater role for the BBFC which she recommends in paragraph 7.47 of her report.

At the BBFC we provide symbols which are trusted and understood; thorough, independent examination by skilled games players; individually tailored health warnings, and also the full reasoning for the classification covering all the key issues; a cutting edge approach to online film and games content, including independent monitoring.

We co-operate closely with the Pan European Games Information Systems (PEGI) and will continue to do so. Unlike PEGI, the BBFC has the power, in exceptional cases, to reject films, DVDs and games which have the potential to pose real harm risk. We reject an average of two to three works a year (mostly DVDs) and will continue to do so where it is necessary to protect the public. At the adult level, we respect the public expectation that adults should be free to choose except where there are real harm risks. But we do not think it would be right to remove the reserve rejection power and we are pleased that Dr Byron agrees with this.

The BBFC has been able to handle a major expansion of the DVD market over the last few years, and we are ready and able to take on the extra work envisaged by Dr Byron. We attach great importance to providing a speedy and effective service, primarily to the public, but also to the creative industries who produce films, DVDs and games. We will be talking to the Government, PEGI and the games industry about how to implement Dr Byron’s recommendations.

We are also studying very carefully Dr Byron’s recommendations on the risks children face from the internet, and believe we have a significant contribution to make in this area too.

Games Companies not so Impressed

See full article from the Financial Times

Safer Children in a Digital World report Computer games companies have warned the government that the proposed overhaul of the classification system could impose an unfair economic burden on the industry.

The industry is concerned that the BBFC would not be able to cope with rating games fast enough, slowing production and putting the country at a disadvantage.

We are concerned about whether the BBFC could do the job. We hope this wouldn't result in a slow and costly accreditation process, said Richard Wilson, chief executive of Tiga, the body representing independent games developers.

It may increase the layers of bureaucracy and expense for the industry, which has already invested time and effort in creating something they think works, said Robert Bond, games law specialist at Speechly Bircham.

Tiga is concerned that the cost of promoting a new rating system will fall solely on the shoulders of games companies, adding an extra cost they can ill afford.

The government must not burden the games industry alone with the cost of executing an information campaign about the ratings system for games. Games developers already face intense competition from government-subsidised Canadian games developers. The last thing the games industry needs is for the UK government to impose additional costs on it, Wilson said.

Jason Kingsley, chief executive of Rebellion, a games developer, said: It could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for some of the smaller, more marginal UK developers.

The games industry is calling for the government to retain the existing PEGIi system used across Europe.

The director general of the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association, Paul Jackson, said the proposals needed more work: We have a concern about the detail of the classification system she's outlined. Games publishers believe PEGI is better placed to deliver a "future-proof" system.

 

28th March   

Update: Fitna Leaks Out...

Geert Wilders' Fitna released on LiveLeak
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna A far-right Dutch MP released a provocative film about the Koran on a British website last night, a move that is likely to provoke violent repercussions from angry Muslims around the world.

The 15-minute “documentary” juxtaposing images of Islam’s holy book with the 9/11 terror attacks and other bombings was posted on the internet by Geert Wilders, leader of the small right-wing Freedom Party, after weeks of heated debate in the Netherlands about the project.

Wilders who has built his political career campaigning against the alleged “Islamisation” of the West, argued that the film was a legitimate exercise in freedom of expression; however, many mainstream politicians and Muslims said that it was gratuitously insulting.

Viewers had only a few minutes to see it on the Freedom Party website before it disappeared because of “technical difficulties”. It then became available in Dutch and English on LiveLeak, a British-based video-sharing website, sparking fears that extremists could also target British interests.

The company that runs the website defended its decision to host the film last night, saying that there was no legal reason to censor it. LiveLeak.com has a strict stance on remaining unbiased and allowing freedom of speech so far as the law and our rules allow, it said. There was no legal reason to refuse Geert Wilders the right to post his film and it is not our place to censor people based on an emotive response. The website said that it did not endorse Mr Wilders or his views.

The film opened with a Koran being opened and the text of a sura (a verse from the Koran) which it translated from Arabic as imploring the faithful to “terrorise the enemies of Allah”. It was followed by images of aircraft flying into the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11, 2001, with extracts from phone calls to the emergency services on that day.

It showed statistics of the growing Muslim population and images of female genital mutilation, a hanging of suspected gay men, beheadings and bloodied children, all following the words: “The Netherlands in future?”

The film ended with someone leafing through the Koran, and a tearing sound. The sound you heard was from a page [being torn out] of the phone book. It is not up to me, but up to the Muslims themselves to tear the spiteful verses from the Koran, a text on the screen said. Stop Islamisation. Defend our freedom, the film concluded.

The final image was a reproduction of the incendiary Danish cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb as a turban. The fuse coming from the bomb was lit and as the screen turned black there was the sound of thunder.

See full article from the Guardian

The 15-minute film, entitled Fitna - strife or division - was posted on the internet, and shortly afterwards segments were rebroadcast by TV channels.

Early reactions were muted. Yusuf Altuntas, of the Contact Group Muslims and Government, said he believed that Wilders is seeking the limits, but not crossing the line. For Mr Wilders, this is quite subtle.

The film was not as jarring as had been anticipated, said Maurits Berger, professor of Islam in the West at Leiden University. It's images and photos, headlines from recent years we already know about.

It was released the evening before a judge was due to hear a Muslim group seeking an independent review to decide whether the film violates hate speech laws. The Dutch Islamic Federation was asking the court to impose a fine of €50,000 (£39,000) every day the film continues to be available for public view.

Mohamed Rabbae, of the moderate National Moroccan Council, had appealed for calm in January when the film was discussed before release. Yesterday he had yet to see the film, but felt this is less bad than we thought he was going to do , but nevertheless it gave the impression the Qur'an justifies violence, and that is really wrong .

 

28th March   

More Dangerous Talk...

Criminal Injustice Bill given more debating time
Link Here

House of Lords logo Lords debate on the Criminal Injustice Bill has been extended

Further Report debates have been added on 27/3/08; 2/4/08; 21/4/08 and 23/4/08. Third Reading is on 30/4/08.

The timetable means that the Lords are keeping the Bill with them almost right up the 8th May dead-line which suggests all the ping-pong is being played now so that any law can get pushed through the HoC by May.

Certainly, the JCHR raised some serious objections, although leaving much material illegal.

We genuinely do believe that letters written at this stage is having an effect on the debate. Please encourage as many people as you can to have their say.

Comment: Possessed by Inconsistency

Thanks to Alan

Re JCHR comments criticising the Dangerous Pictures clauses:

It looks like a small - very small - step in the right direction, BUT...

How does the "no intention to distribute" provision make sense with regard to an offence of possession? The effect would surely be that if Mr A has dangerous pics which he has bought from a website, with the performers adequately paid, he commits an offence, while Mr B, who has hacked the private dangerous pics of his neighbour, doesn't.

They STILL seem to be taking the REA by Kelly et al. seriously. They don't seem to have noticed the research by Petley and others which demonstrates that it's rubbish.

SeeNoEvil has an interesting snippet about Salter ("Saltmines") who has now started moaning about post office closures, when it's suddenly dawned on him that the consultation process is a load of crap. Now, where has that happened before?

 

28th March   

Update: Next Level...

Australia to put R18+ games issue to public consultation
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ certificate The issue of whether to create an R18+ classification for video games will now be put to public consultation following a meeting of censorship ministers.

Specific details on how the public will be consulted have yet to be finalised but it is expected a consultation paper will be ready for the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting.

The only decision out of today's SCAG meeting was that there would be a public consultation.

Victorian Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls has pushed hard for an adults only classification for games but was greeted with significant opposition from South Australia's Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, who argued he was protecting children from "harmful material".

In a statement today, Hulls said his department's analysis of research on the issue suggested there were persuasive arguments to support an R18+ classification. He said the latest generation of gaming platforms allowed parents to control their child's access to appropriate gaming material and Australia was out of step with the rest of the developed world on this issue: I believe that censorship laws should strike an appropriate balance between freedom of expression and community concerns about depictions that condone or incite violence, as well as the principle that minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them. It seems inconsistent that in Australia, adults are allowed to view 'adult only' films which have been classified R18+ by the Classification Board, but not computer games with an equivalent high level content.

Ron Curry, CEO of the games industry body, the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA), welcomed today's decision to consult the public on the issue: Our belief is that good legislation comes from a reflection of community sentiment, so the process that the attorney-general is outlining gives us the opportunity to move this into the public forum for discussion .

 

28th March   

Putting the Zing in your Ding-a-ling...

Twinings tea advert cleared by the ASA
Link Here

Twinings Tea advert A TV advert for Twinings tea in which three white women flirt with a young black American was yesterday cleared of playing on negative racial stereotypes.

The ASA said it had decided not to uphold a lone complaint from a viewer who believed the ad suggested black men were sexually promiscuous and existed to provide sexual services for white women.

The complainant alleged that an ad for Lady Grey tea and another for Earl Grey, which also featured the black character, were both offensive and harmful.

The commercial features Stephen Fry behind the counter of a tea shop, as the black man, named Tyrone, writes a message on a noticeboard informing customers that the drink puts the zing in your ding-a-ling.

Dismissing the claims of racial bias, an ASA panel described the innuendo used to promote the aromatic beverages as unlikely to cause widespread offence.

The panel observed: Although we acknowledged the innuendo was mildly sexual, we did not consider that it was reliant on the young man's ethnic origins or a racial stereotype.

 

28th March   

Generation Y...

Cuba blocks popular blog
Link Here

Cuba flag Cuba has blocked access to the country's most popular blog, signalling an apparent government crackdown on a new generation of cyber critics.

The blog, Generación Y , received 1.2m hits last month, but its writer, Yoani Sanchez, said Cubans could no longer visit her web page.

Attempts from the island to view desdecuba.com/generaciony and two other Cuban blogs which share the server in Germany prompt an error alert, though the site can be viewed outside Cuba.

Analysts said the crackdown underlined the communist authorities' determination to keep tight control despite some cautious moves towards economic reform and greater openness since Fidel Castro stood down, and his brother, Raúl, replaced him as president.

As the most-read blogger Sanchez, a philosophy graduate, who does not disguise her identity, was seen as a litmus test of official tolerance for dissent. I think this action is directed at a phenomenon that was getting out of their hands, she told the southern Florida newspaper the Sun-Sentinel. I don't think they're coming after me personally. I think they're moving against a phenomenon of which I am a part.

Her husband, Reynaldo Escobar, a journalist, said he was surprised the clampdown had not happened sooner: It's interesting that at a time when people are waiting for the government to lift restrictions, they would apply more restrictions.

 

27th March   

Update: Byron Endgame...

Keeping parents informed and in control
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Safer Children in a Digital World report The first national strategy for child internet safety, including a streamlined system for classifying computer video games and codes of practice for social networking sites, will be set out today in a ground-breaking report for government.

The six-month study prepared by the child psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, reflects her concern that parents and children are struggling with the impact of the internet and computer games.

Her report will argue that industry and government must do more to provide information to parents on how to set timers on computers, video games and console games. She will propose:

  • New codes of practice to regulate social networking sites, such as Bebo and Facebook, including clear standards on privacy and harmful content
     
  • A gold standard for the use of console games, including clear set-up guidance for parents on issues such as pin codes and locks
     
  • Better information for parents on how to block children accessing some websites. Byron has been struck that the technology exists to impose timers and filters, but there has been little take-up, knowledge or development of the technology
     
  • A new law based on a 2006 Law Commission recommendation making it unlawful to assist suicide on the internet
     
  • A national council to implement her strategy, with a fixed timetable for industry experts; a parents' panel and child development experts to implement her recommendations.

She will also concede that academic research on the impact of the net on children and their lifestyles is inadequate.

The debate about the internet had, however, been hampered by excessive anxiety, she said, and the issue now placed great challenges before government to do more to protect and educate.

Her research has shown that parents are most worried by predators and children are most concerned by cyberbullying.

Another of her proposals is an overhaul of the video game classification system. Classifications are likely to be refined on the basis that what may be deemed appropriate for someone approaching 18 may well not be appropriate for someone of nine or 10.

The new classification system will be clearer, with one set of logos and much more explicit descriptions of content and context on the packaging. She is also likely to propose a clearer law stating when games cannot be sold under that age. The BBFC system gives no indication about contents of games or detail of why an age rating has been given.

Although social network sites have community guidelines or acceptable use policies, these are not always properly enforced. The most popular video on the website Pure Street Fight was called Girl Beat Up In Street and had been viewed 1,349,046 times.

Byron said she wanted these self-generated and hugely profitable sites to be asked to agree codes of practice on harmful content, and for an independent body to evaluate whether the site is meeting the standards it has set for itself.

 

27th March   

Never Mind the Buzzcocks...

Teachers blame the cruel cruel world of TV
Link Here

Never Mind the Buzzcocks Children's casual use of strong language is being fuelled by TV programmes such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks , the head of the largest teaching union has said.

Pupils are increasingly using sexist and offensive language, making comments about classmates' sizes or the perceived sexuality of a teacher, Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told the union's annual conference in Manchester yesterday.

He said that quiz shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks and They Think It's All Over fuelled the casual use of bad language. Programme makers and celebrities need to reflect on what's taking place. Too much cruel behaviour can be seen on television programmes.

The children's secretary, Ed Balls, will tomorrow tell a second union conference of plans to launch a campaign to protect teachers from cyberbullying. It comes after a rise in the number of pupils taking embarrassing pictures and video on their mobile phones of teachers and putting them on websites. He will say he has asked the Cyberbullying Taskforce, which until now has focused on the impact on children, to look at what measures can be introduced to protect teachers as well.

 

27th March   

Update: Google Unblocked...

German age verification continues to disadvantage local websites
Link Here

Arcor logo A German court recently threw out a petition filed by Huch Medien GmbH, the company that owns and operates AmateurStar.de, asking the court to force the German ISP Arcor to block Google.de and Google.com in order to prevent the display of adult images without age verification.

In another recent adult website-related ruling, the court ruled that Arcor is not obligated to block YouPorn.com, either.

According to German attorney Daniel Koetz, the only European member of the 1st Amendment Lawyers Association (FALA) and a bar-certified specialist in copyright and media law, websites that offer content "harmful to minors" must conform to age verification protocols established under the German Telemedia Act, or risk being blocked by German ISPs by order of the court.

In its recent rulings with respect to Arcor, however, the court decided the cases based on business competition law, and not the Telemedia Act, Koetz said, offering a hypothetical example to explain the court's reasoning.

The likes of YouPorn are still illegal under German law, Koetz told XBIZ. If 'Company A' sues YouPorn for not using an age verification system, then Company A will win. However, if Arcor provides service to YouPorn, this is not an act of unfair competition — so Company A cannot force an ISP to block YouPorn.

Koetz added that while in hypothetical example, Company A could sue YouPorn in a German court and win, YouPorn wouldn't care much, because YouPorn is not based in Germany and any judgment entered by a German court would be difficult to collect or enforce against YouPorn.

That's why nobody [in Germany] sues non-German companies, Koetz said. It's ridiculous.

Huch Medien filed its petition with the Frankfurt court in December, noting that Google's image search displayed pornographic images. Huch Medien reported the issue to Arcor directly on Nov. 20, according to reports, and waited to see if the ISP would take measures to block Google. After receiving no response from Arcor to the original report or to a subsequent formal cease and desist letter sent by the company's attorneys, Huch Medien took the matter to court.

It was clear at the time, however, that Huch Medien's goal was not so much to get Google blocked as it was a ploy to get the court to examine the Telemedia Act, and to clarify the scope of the liability exemptions offered to ISPs under the German Telemedia Act.

 

27th March   

Update: Vaguely Indonesian...

We've passed an anti-porn bill now lets define porn
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

Indonesia flag Failure to provide clear definitions in a new law banning online pornography will hamper its enforcement, the government is being warned.

Legislator Abdullah Azwar Anas of the National Awakening Party (PKB) said the government must clearly define the terms "immorality" and "pornography" contained in the law on information and electronic transactions passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The law criminalizes the use, transmission and provision of pornographic websites.

The law only briefly states providers and transmitters of information or pictures with immoral content could face a maximum sentence of six years in prison or a fine of up to Rp 1 billion (US$107,000).

Abdullah said although the terms immorality and pornography were still debated between feminist activists and conservatives, there needed to be an exact parameter upon which the two disputing groups could agree.

I think nudity certainly falls within the category of pornography, he said. The lawmaker said the government had a one-year period to draft regulations to enforce the law and publicize it before it is implemented.

National Commission for Child Protection chairman Seto Mulyadi said clear-cut definitions of immorality and pornography were important to avoid controversy over the new law.

I think pornography includes pictures or information that can arouse sexual desire. It doesn't necessarily mean nudity. In many cases, nudity can serve as an educational object, let's say for example in biology class, or as an artistic object.

Information and Communications Minister Muhammad Nuh told Reuters members of the public had asked the government to block sites with violent and pornographic content, out of concern about their negative impact as more Indonesians gain access to the Internet. Nuh's office has made available software to block websites with adult content. The software can be downloaded from the ministry's website.

It plans to begin blocking all adult sites from April 1.

 

27th March   

Update: Insulting Jail Sentence...

Turkishness proves worthy of insult
Link Here

Gagged in Turkey A court sentenced a prominent Turkish human rights campaigner to six months and 20 days in prison for insulting the army in a newspaper interview two years ago.

Legal action was taken against the campaigner, Eren Keskin, after a complaint by the Turkish general staff after she told the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that the army had undue influence on politics, the judiciary and state institutions.

Ms. Keskin was found guilty under a provision in the penal code that forbids “insulting Turkishness.” In the 15-minute hearing, Ms. Keskin said she stood by her statement but denied any intent to insult the army, adding, It was meant as political criticism. She said she would appeal the verdict.

 

26th March   

Update: Buried by Apologies...

BBC apologise about man buried alive in EastEnders
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

EastEnders The BBC has apologised to viewers for a Good Friday edition of EastEnders in which a character was apparently buried alive in a coffin. The broadcaster did not wait for the TV censor Ofcom to investigate the programme, which sparked 167 complaints.

Viewers said the scenes of philanderer Max Branning being placed unconscious into a coffin by his wife Tanya and her lover, were inappropriate for a pre-watershed programme watched by families.

The BBC said: The burial is in no way glamorised or glorified, rather we see that when pushed to the edge, Tanya’s behaviour becomes out of character, and indeed that it’s Tanya herself who ultimately suffers because of her actions. Once again we are sorry that you did not enjoy these episodes.

The scenes were carefully filmed and edited in order that Max’s ordeal was in the main implicit, rather than explicit, whilst still retaining their powerfulness. The character ultimately escaped alive.

 

26th March   

Update: Get the FCC Out of Here...

Fox refuse to pay FCC fine for pixellated nudity
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

FCC logo In an unusually aggressive step, Fox Broadcasting yesterday refused to pay a $91,000 indecency fine levied by the FCC for an episode of a long-canceled reality television show, even as the network fights two other indecency fines in the Supreme Court.

The FCC proposed fining all 169 Fox-owned and affiliate stations a total of $1.2 million in 2004 for airing a 2003 episode of Married by America , which featured digitally obscured nudity and whipped-cream-covered strippers.

Fox appealed immediately after the FCC ruling. Last month, four years later, the FCC changed its mind, saying it would fine only the 13 Fox stations located in cities that generated viewer complaints about the program. That reduced the fine to $91,000.

Despite the sharp reduction, Fox said it would not pay the fine on principle, calling it arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent, and patently unconstitutional in a statement released yesterday.

Fox has asked the five FCC commissioners to reconsider the fine without its having to pay, a move that sets Fox in a two-front indecency war: It is battling the FCC at the agency level on the "Married" fine and in the Supreme Court on other indecency fines levied at about the same time.

Last week, the Supreme Court said it would take up FCC v. Fox Television Stations this fall. The lawsuit filed by the network aims to overturn FCC fines levied in 2002 and 2003. In each case, live broadcasts of awards shows, variations of a vulgar four-letter word were uttered on the air.

 

26th March   

Indonesian Hostility...

Against people accessing porn sites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

Indonesia flag Indonesia's parliament has passed a bill criminalising those who access internet sites containing violent or pornographic material.

Anyone found guilty of the new offence could be jailed for up to three years, or have to pay a heavy fine.

The legislation allows the courts to accept electronic material as evidence in cases involving internet abuse.

It passed with wide majority support from all 10 factions in the chamber.

I think we all agree there's no way we can save this nation by spreading pornography, violence and ethnic hostility , said the Information Minister, Mohammad Nuh.

The intention is to start implementing restrictions on sites containing banned material next month, using special software.

 

26th March   

Firewall Fireworks...

BBC website unblocked in China after 10 years
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking in Olympic China...Chinese Olympics herald a lull in internet censorship

Great (fire)wall of China People in China are able to access English language stories on the BBC News website in full, after years of strict censorship by Beijing. The BBC News website has been blocked for almost a decade.

The Communist authorities often block news sites such as the BBC in a policy dubbed the "great firewall of China".

But BBC staff working in China now say they are able to access news stories that would have been blocked before.

However, the firewall remains in place for Chinese language services on the website and for any links in Chinese.

Beijing has never admitted to blocking access to BBC news stories - and there has been no official confirmation that the website has been unblocked.

Technology experts say such a development would not be possible without the approval of internet service providers - which are under strict supervision by Beijing.

Typically fewer than 100 people read BBC stories from Chinese computers - but on Tuesday that figure jumped to more than 16,000.

The Chinese authorities had promised to give foreign journalists more freedom in the run-up to this summer's Olympic Games. But analysts say that recent outbreaks of unrest in Tibet have made this promise more difficult for Beijing to uphold.

 

26th March   

Ripping Good Article...

Pages ripped out of New Zealand Sunday glossy over website link
Link Here

The Not So Invisible Woman Fairfax Media is counting the cost of a small "inappropriate" item in its Sunday Star-Times glossy magazine which led to four pages being literally pulled before the paper reached newsstands.

Fairfax hired casual staff in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to remove 4 pages from about 200,000 magazines.

The offending item is believed to have been on the editorial page with a link to a sex website, associated with article in the magazine about the erotic author Suzanne Portnoy [described in the original article as a porn queen]

Executive editor Paul Thompson said: We have our editorial standards and they are well known. My view was that this content clearly crossed the line and we could not let the magazine be distributed containing that material.

 

25th March   

Update: On the Verge of Police Censorship...

Police using licensing requirements to prevent showing of protest film
Link Here  full story: On the Verge...Police vs documentary showing them in poor light

On the Verge poster Police have intervened across the country to censor On the Verge an independent documentary about the Smash EDO campaign to shut down the Brighton's weapons manufacturer EDO MBM. So far establishments in Southampton, Chichester, Bath and Oxford as well as Brighton have come under police pressure to cancel film showings. In Brighton police intervened to prevent a showing at the Duke of York's Cinema, just one hour prior to the scheduled premiere.

Using activist, police and CCTV footage plus interviews with those involved in the campaign, On The Verge ' tells the story of one of the most persistent and imaginative campaigns to emerge out of the UK's anti-war movement and direct action scene.

Spokesman for the production company SchMovies, Steven Bishop said I am extremely disappointed but not entirely surprised by the police's action. There may be issues with certification but as we're not charging for entry this shouldn't be an issue. If the police really had problems over the certificate they could have approached us at a much earlier stage. Our film although focussing mainly on the rights and wrongs of protest shows a number of examples of questionable police behaviour – Perhaps this is why they left their move so late

Meanwhile the On the Verge Screening Tour continues. The upcoming dates this week are:
25th - Bath. Friends' Meeting Place
26th - Hereford. The Barrels Pub
27th - Bristol. Kebele Social Centre

 

25th March   

Update: A Veto on Adult Freedom...

Australia's censorship ministers gather to discuss R18+ for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ certificate On Friday, Australian censorship ministers will gather in the Barossa Valley to discuss an R18+ rating for games, but South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has vowed to block its introduction.

Any changes to Australia's censorship regime must be agreed on by all state and federal attorneys-general. Atkinson's long-standing opposition to an R18+ rating stems from his legitimate concern over harm to children from high-impact material. The minister rightly argues adult freedoms should not be placed ahead of protecting children, but as I argued in my open letter to the minister, the two are not mutually exclusive.

An R18+ category would actually help protect children, as well as bring harmonization to the classification regime, acknowledge that games are important entertainment pastime for many Australian adults, and give Australian adults the right to choose the content they wish.

The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia and groups like Electronic Frontiers Australia support the introduction of an R18+ category, while groups like Young Media Australia and The Australian Christian Lobby share Michael Atkinson's concerns.

There is evidence to suggest a large majority of Australians support the introduction of an R18+ games rating: a survey by Bond University in 2005 of over 1600 random households found 88% of Australians supported its introduction.

 

25th March   

Empty Headed Parents...

Whingeing at virtual Miss Bimbo game
Link Here

Miss Bimbo logo Parents' groups have criticised a new internet craze in which young girls give virtual characters plastic surgery and feed them diet pills.

The Miss Bimbo game gives girls an online alter ego, which they look after. They compete against other players in beauty contests to earn money so they can dress their characters in lingerie and take them to nightclubs. The aim of the game is to become the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the whole world. Players keep the girls at their target weight using diet pills.

They are given missions, including securing plastic surgery to give their "bimbo" bigger breasts and finding a billionaire boyfriend to bankroll her.

The game, which was launched a month ago, already has nearly 200,000 British players, most of whom are girls aged between nine and 16. When they run out of virtual cash, contestants can send text messages costing £1.50 each to top up their accounts.

Parents' groups fear it will fuel teenagers' desire for plastic surgery and lead to eating disorders.

Bill Hibberd, spokesman for parents' rights group Parentkind, said: It is one thing if a child recognises it as a silly and stupid game. But the danger is that a nine-year-old fails to appreciate the irony and sees the bimbo as a cool role model. Then the game becomes a hazard and a menace.

Children's innocence should be protected as far as possible. It depends on the background and mindset of the child but the danger is that after playing the game some will then aspire to have breast operations and take diet pills.


The game's creator, 23-year-old web designer Nicolas Jacquart, from Tooting, south London, said: The game is structured in such a way that it simply mirrors real life in a tongue-in-cheek way. It is harmless fun.

 

25th March   

Opinion: Arcade Zones...

A plausible way to protect children from extreme film and gaming violence in the home?
Link Here

Games Arcade Current head of the Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) John Kelleher recently replaced the decision to ‘censor’ movies and video games with age-related classification. But what exactly does this mean for parents, their children and a wider audience? There needs to be logical transparency on the issue, which is presently lacking in the public arena.

There is a perfectly safe and suitable solution for protecting children against violent images in relation to violent video gaming and film; that is simple classification and certification. Cinematic exhibition is heavily regulated; Miscreants cannot rewind violent images over and over again in this environment. The same is applicable for children. If that hypothesis is deemed correct, it must also be applicable to other areas such as video gaming. All this was suggested by British film critic Dr. Mark Kermode in 1995, which he followed by stating that ‘existing obscenity laws should be repealed with new legislation which makes it an offence, punishable by heavy fine, or a prison sentence to distribute, or show obscene material, to children’.

In relation to cinema, the position proposed almost fifteen years ago by Dr. Kermode has not changed. The failure of various democratic governments though-out the world to move on this position is a complete logical fallacy. In the case of video gaming, it is also possible for regulation to be imposed in an environment away from children. Arcades could be set up which regulate certificates (or zones) to play adult video games.

This is a feasible solution to take violent video gaming out of the home and placed in highly regulated areas away from children. It also generates a vast infrastructure which creates further jobs for the workforce, which is vital for both the video gaming industry and government. In the case of Arcades , the time is immediate to move on such an issue, as these particular institutions are almost extinct. This might ultimately make adults who do not have children of their own unhappy because it takes extremely violent video games out of their homes.

...Read full article

 

24th March   

Update: Buried by Complaints...

EastEnders gets noticed over burial alive scene
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

EastEnders A scene in BBC One soap EastEnders which showed a character being buried alive has prompted 167 complaints.

The episode, shown at 8pm on Friday night, showed character Max Branning being buried alive in a coffin by his wife and her lover.

Viewers complained that it should not have been shown before the 9pm watershed because children could find it disturbing.

The BBC said the number of complaints was proportionately small. EastEnders is known for its dramatic and gripping storylines and, from a total audience of 10 million, the number of complaints is relatively small, a spokeswoman said.

In the episode, viewers saw Max's wife, Tanya, spike his drink, causing him to collapse. She and her lover, Sean Slater, then drove Max to woodland where they buried him alive in a coffin.

 

24th March   

Update: Fear of Censorship...

US website hosts take down Fitna website
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders The website where Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders was promoting his not-yet-released anti-Qur'an film has been suspended by its US hosting service.

The site formerly showed the film's title, Fitna , the trail line "coming soon" and an image of a gilded Qur'an. Now it shows a note that the company, Network Solutions, is investigating whether the site violates its terms of service.

Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation, the note said.

How many ways are there left for me to be worked against? Wilders was quoted as saying: If necessary I'll go hand out DVDs personally.

A Dutch court will hear a complaint lodged by Muslim groups seeking to bar Wilders from releasing the film on March 28, but there is no legal barrier preventing Wilders releasing his film before then.

 

24th March   

No Profit...

The Profit, a film banned by scientology litigation escapes onto internet
Link Here

The Profit film poster Copies of The Profit , a 2001 film blocked from distribution in the United States due to a court injunction won by the Church of Scientology, appeared on the Internet Friday on peer-to-peer file-sharing websites and on the video sharing site YouTube.

Directed by former film executive Peter N. Alexander, movie critics have characterized The Profit as a parody of Scientology and of its founder L. Ron Hubbard. Alexander was a Scientologist for twenty years, and left the organization in 1997. The film was funded by Bob Minton, a former critic of Scientology who later signed an agreement with the Church of Scientology and has attempted to stop distribution of the film.

The film was released in August 2001, and was shown at a movie theater in Clearwater, Florida and at a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France. A Scientology spokesman gave a statement at the time saying the movie is fiction and has nothing to do with Scientology. The Church of Scientology later took legal action in an attempt to stop further distribution of the film. The Church of Scientology claimed that the film was intended to influence the jury pool in the wrongful death case of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who died under Scientology care in Clearwater, Florida.

In April 2002, a Pinellas County, Florida judge issued a court order enjoining The Profit from worldwide distribution for an indefinite period. According to the original court injunction received by Wikinews, the movie was originally banned because the court found that it could be seen as a parody of Scientology and so influence potential jurors.

Luke Lirot, the attorney for the film's production company, announced on the film's website on April 7, 2007 that We have absolutely no exposure for any repercussions from the court order, but that the film was still blocked from distribution due to an ongoing legal battle. Lirot wrote: all that's stopping the release of the movie is the legal battle with the partner who was compromised by Scientology (Robert Minton) and is currently using his power as partner to stop the release of the film.

On Friday, copies of the film began to circulate on peer-to-peer file-sharing websites and on YouTube. 

On Saturday, Scientology critic and Emmy award-winning journalist Mark Bunker put a streaming version of the film on his website, www.xenutv.com, and encouraged others to watch and discuss the film on a real-time chat channel.

In a post on Sunday to the message board attached to the official website for the film, attorney Luke Lirot asked that individuals stop distributing copies of The Profit over the Internet. Lirot wrote: It has been brought to my attention that several unauthorized transmissions and downloads of this protected work have taken place over the last 72 hours. Such actions are copyright violations and are unlawful. I request that any further distribution and/or dissemination of this important work cease immediately and any copies of the work that have been downloaded please be deleted. He said that unauthorized distribution of the film will only serve to harm the goal of vast distribution.

 

24th March   

Update: Refusal to Recognise any Religion Except Islam...

Saudi rejects OIC proposed law to ban defamation of religion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo The OIC representing the world's muslim countries have been passing resolutions urging UN countries to pass laws to prohibit the supposed defamation of religion.

However the Saudi Arabian parliament last week rejected a recommendation to adopt the international agreement that forbids insulting religions, prophets and clerics.

Seventy-seven members of parliament rejected the recommendation, claiming that if they adopted the agreement, they would have had to recognize the legitimacy of idolatrous religions, such as Buddhism.

The recommendation was put forward by MP Muhammad Al-Quweiha's. He wrote that the Saudi Foreign Ministry should cooperate with the Arab and Islamic bloc in the United Nations to adopt the agreement.

Al-Quweiha explained that his incentive was to prevent the ongoing campaign of insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad, in particular the cartoons and films which are shown in the US and Holland.

 

24th March   

Publicity Guru...

Contributing to the hype for The Love Guru
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love Guru Hindu leaders in the US have asked for a sneak preview of The Love Guru because they fear it may mock their religion.

In the film, Mike Meyers stars as an American who is raised in India. He eventually moves back to the US to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality.

Paramount has agreed to a pre-release showing for the religious group. A publicist said: It is our full intention to screen the film for Hindu leaders in the US once we have a finished print.

Lila D Sharma, President of India Heritage Panel, said: Hollywood is trying to make money by laughing at our holy men and in the process creating a stereotype.

 

24th March   

Virtual Jihadi...

Dodgy council decision to close building with controversial art exhibit
Link Here  full story: Virtul Jihadi...Troy uses building regs to censor art

Wafaa Bilal animation Protesters gathered at Troy City Hall in New York State speaking out about the closing of a local art venue. The crowd of protesters included professors, artists and local residents.

The citizens of Troy have had enough. They want a more free Troy. They see their civil liberties dwindling, said Professor Branda Miller of Media Art at RPI.

The Sanctuary for Independent Media became the home of a controversial art exhibit after it was suspended at RPI. The exhibit includes images from a video game in which the kill target is President Bush. Wafaa Bilal said he wants to provoke debate about the war. Opponents include Troy's DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch, who calls it un-American and pro-terrorist.

Last week, the city put a stop to public gatherings at the sanctuary, citing nonsense about long-time code violations such as doors that could be a hazard in an emergency.

Based on an article from North Country Gazette

A civil rights attorney working on behalf of the New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a formal request for information relevant to the decision to close an arts and media center on code violations after a controversial art exhibit debuted last week.

Attorney Peter Henner is investigating whether the Sanctuary’s building is being treated differently than other buildings in the city. The building was ordered closed earlier this month, a day after the opening of Iraqi- American artist Wafaa Bilal’s video game and art installation, Virtual Jihadi . The exhibit is intended to provoke thought about the roots of violence, but it angered some people who believe it is sympathetic to terrorism.

Among those upset by the artwork was Robert Mirch, public works commissioner and majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature. Mirch, who oversees code enforcement, led a protest of the exhibit last Monday outside the Sanctuary’s building.

The public deserves to know what motivated the sudden decision to close the Sanctuary, said Melanie Trimble, director of the NYCLU’s Capital Region Chapter. Public officials cannot selectively enforce building codes simply to shut down an art exhibit they find distasteful. Such behavior would be an abuse of power wholly inconsistent with the First Amendment right to free speech.

 

23rd March   

Update: A PC Brush Off...

BBC will not show Basil Brush's gypsy joke again
Link Here

Basil Brush Unleashed DVD The BBC has backed down over allegations of anti-gipsy racism in children's TV show Basil Brush .

Bosses admitted that an episode which caused offence was "inappropriate" and have told police it will not be shown again.

Officers have now decided no further action will be taken. Police have not yet told the BBC formally about the outcome of their inquiries but a source said: The episode was made six years ago. The BBC looked at it and took the view that it's not terribly offensive but it's old enough that it probably wouldn't be made in the same way if done today.

The episode was repeated on the digital channel CBBC on February 21 this year and has been released on DVD.

It features Basil and his friend Mr Stephen, who succumbs to a gipsy spell that makes him attractive to women. Having just moved into a flat above Basil's, Dame Rosie Fortune – who casts the spell – offers him heather and pegs at his front door, which he rejects.

She also offers to tell Basil his fortune and he replies: I went to a fortune teller once and he said I was going on a long journey. When Mr Stephen asks what happened, Basil replies: He stole my wallet and I had to walk all the way home.

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: This complaint has now been concluded to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

There had been no arrests.

 

23rd March   

Update: Censors Lose the Game?...

Independent previews Byron Report and suggests more censors
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Tanya Byron The Byron report, to be unveiled on Thursday, will call for action to close the "digital divide" that is exposing children to the dangers of explicit content, internet grooming by paedophiles and "cyber-bullying", without the protection of their parents. Dr Byron said: "Kids know more about the technologies than adults. They are using them more and they understand how to use them."

She will recommend that both parents and children should receive lessons in internet safety, including the use of security software, and advice on limiting the amount of personal information released. Her first simple suggestion will be that computers are positioned in shared areas of homes, such as living rooms, so that parents can keep an eye on what their children are viewing.

The classification of video games quickly emerged as a central concern among parents. The majority of new games are given a rating under a voluntary system maintained by Pan-European Game Information (PEGI). Manufacturers have to apply for a statutory BBFC rating only if their product depicts sex, gross violence, criminal activity or drug use.

Dr Byron told representatives of the gaming industry that restructuring the classification system was a fundamental "housekeeping issue".

The review is expected to recommend that all computer games are given the BBFC movie-style classification, with the possibility that the task of rating and regulating the products should be handed to a new organisation with tougher powers to prosecute offenders.

 

23rd March   

Update: Hate and Fear...

Amsterdam protest against Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders At least 1,000 people have taken part in a demonstration in Amsterdam against the planned release of a film expected to be highly critical of Islam.

Protesters objected to the planned internet release of the film by Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders.

Some protesters in central Amsterdam carried signs that said Stop the witch hunt against Muslims.

We can no longer remain silent. There is a climate of hate and fear in the Netherlands, said Rene Danen, a spokesman from anti-racism organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur (The Netherlands Shows its Colours), which organised the protest.

 

22nd March   

Update: The Arrogance of Nutters...

Nutter Brazier claims to speak for all when whinging at Manhunt 2 decision
Link Here

Julian Brazier Kent MP Julian Bazier has slammed a decision by the Video Appeals Committee to overturn a ban on the controversial video game Manhunt 2 .

Brazier said: This shows once again that the BBFC and its appeals system do not meet the concerns of the public. The public wants a significant tightening up in this vital area.

Brazier feels the time has come for action: We need a consensus that videos and video games involving extreme violence are extremely anti-social. Watching these things happen does affect people’s behaviour. We’ve got to recognise that there’s a strong link between what people watch and what they do.

 

22nd March   

Update: Fitna Fit for Ban...

Netherlands Islamic Federation ask court to preview Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders plans to release Fitna , a film attacking Islam and the Koran.

The Netherlands Islamic Federation (Nederlandse Islamitische Federatie) asked a court in The Hague to set up a panel of censors to review the film, in order to discover if there is any reason for it to be banned.

The Dutch Government, while calling on Wilders to abandon his project, has previously said there is no legal way to censor a film before it appears.

The court will rule on the association's request by March 28. Wilders has said that he will release the film "before April 1", posting it on the Internet if he fails to find a broadcaster willing to carry it.

 

22nd March   

On the Verge of Exposure...

Sussex police accused of film censorship in Brighton
Link Here  full story: On the Verge...Police vs documentary showing them in poor light

Duke of York's Brighton As one of those who turned up at the Duke of York's cinema expecting to see On The Verge , a documentary dealing with the campaign to close the EDO arms manufacturing factory in Brighton, I was disgusted to discover that because of the intervention of Sussex Police the film could not be shown.

Having seen the film at another venue later that night, I could understand why Sussex Police were so keen to prevent the people of Brighton from seeing it.

The film shows Sussex Police in a poor light. We also discover something of the closeness of the relationship between Sussex Police and the management of EDO, their solicitors and security personnel.

Paddy O'Keeffe, chair, Brighton Stop the War I was one of the many would-be film-goers turned away from the Duke of York's cinema on Monday following a call from Sussex Police to Brighton and Hove City Council and a subsequent ultimatum from a council officer to the cinema, threatening the loss of their licence. The council officer raised concerns over the lack of a certificate.

Cinema staff say they were told police had contacted the council to inform them of the potential breach of their licence.

 

22nd March   

Update: Insulting the Turkish People...

Turkey's new government internet censor blocks 300 web sites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Turkey flag Access to a total of 294 Web sites has been blocked in Turkey since November of last year following the establishment of an Internet bureau within the Department of Telecommunications.

Telecommunications Director Fethi Simsek, in an interview with a correspondent from Anatolia, said 294 Web sites have been permanently shut down for reasons such as obscenity, encouraging people to gamble and for insults directed at Turkey's founder Atatürk and the Turkish nation since last November.

Simsek said most of these Web sites were blocked for violating Article 226 of the Turkish Penal Code on obscenity, Article 227 on prostitution, Article 228 on gambling, Article 13 over the sexual abuse of children and Article 190 on the use of drugs.

 

21st March   

Diary: A Date with Tanya Byron...

Byron Review publishing date and presentation
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Tanya Byron 27th March

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has told MCV that Tanya Byron’s Review into violence in modern media is to be published next Thursday, March 27th.

The paper is widely expected to recommend a 'cinema style' unified ratings system for games – which could spell the end for either the current PEGI or BBFC classifications on software.

See full article from Spong

April 3rd, BAFTA, Piccadilly, London

Dr Tanya Byron, who leads the review process, will be speaking about it at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) headquarters in London's Piccadilly on April 3rd.

According to BAFTA: Dr Byron will be coming to BAFTA to present the thinking behind her report and take questions.

The evening is co-presented by BAFTA and Showcomotion Children’s Media Conference, reflecting the conference's role in exploring the creative, business and regulatory issues facing the entire children’s media and entertainment industry. The moderator for the evening will be Marc Goodchild, Head of Children’s Interactive and On-Demand at BBC Children's.

 

21st March   

Depressing Conclusion...

Suicide information blamed for Bridgend suicides
Link Here  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

YouTube logo Tougher regulation of the internet is needed to stop websites giving detailed instructions on how to commit suicide, a coroner said before the inquests of five of the 17 young people believed to have killed themselves in Bridgend.

Philip Walters, who has been investigating a string of suspected suicides in the area since January 2007, singled out video-sharing websites such as YouTube for criticism.

In one YouTube clip, viewed by the Bridgend coroner, an American man explains how to tie a hangman's noose and mentions his growing fanbase in the UK.

Walters said the man's diary was very disturbing and that there was no doubt it was encouraging people to take their own lives: If that was not the case, why bother to instruct people to commit suicide?

 

21st March   

Barking Mad...

Police investigate Basil Brush over trivial stereotyped gypsy gag
Link Here

Basil Brush Unleashed DVD Northamptonshire police are investigating a stuffed fox after receiving a complaint about an episode of the Basil Brush Show in which he tells a joke about a gipsy fortune teller.

The fortune teller predicts that Basil is about to embark on a long journey. Too true, because, as Basil reveals, the man then stole my wallet and I had to walk home.

But Joseph Jones, the vice-chairman of the Southern England Romany, Gypsy and Irish Traveller Network, did not find the joke very funny and thinks that the BBC should withdraw the episode: To perpetuate this myth about gipsies and travellers is wrong. If they are going to keep showing this then I look forward to them bringing back the likes of Alf Garnett to the screen.

See full article from the Northampton Chronicle

Anne Widdecombe In a national newspaper column, MP Anne Widdecombe said the move by police to investigate the allegation made a "nonsense" of race laws.

She said: The idiot complainants are the gypsies who have involved Northamptonshire Police, who have in turn approached the BBC. It is good news to know that there are no burglaries or assaults in that county because, otherwise, the police would not have found the time to investigate this rot. I don't actually object very much if someone wants to point out to the BBC that this sort of portrayal is a bit of a silly stereotype, but that is a world away from treating it as a criminal offence. The police should have told the complainants to go and get a life but instead, solemnly logged it as an offence of a racist nature.

Hate crime officers are currently investigating the complaint as "a racist incident". Insp John McKinney said: When a person feels offended and makes a complaint of this nature to our hate crimes unit we are duty bound to investigate it appropriately with the appropriate level of resources.

 

21st March   

Fucking Wowsers...

Wowser Cory Bernardi whinges at Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares
Link Here  full story: Gordon Ramsay...Gordon Ramsay stirs trouble for Australian TV censors

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD Australia's Federal Parliament will be asked to investigate swearing on TV after the strong language in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares .

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay used the word 'fuck' more than 80 times in an episode shown at 8.30pm last Thursday.

Not so Liberal Cory Bernardi will introduce a motion in the Senate today calling for a study of the effectiveness of the broadcasting code of conduct.

He said it was prompted by Ramsay's use of the word 'cunt' in an episode shown at 9.30pm earlier this month.

This was not a live show, so the station had censorship control. Channel 9 had the opportunity to beep out the word before putting it to air, Senator Bernardi said. The word used is grossly offensive to mainstream Australia. There is no justification for the use of such language in the public arena, particularly by our free-to-air broadcasters. It is concerning that the acceptance of profanity is such that a television station deems it appropriate for such offensive language to be aired, let alone relatively early."

Senator Bernardi said he was not a wowser: I like the show ...BUT... I recoil at the swearing because I think, 'Is this necessary? '

Nine Network chief classification officer Richard Lyle said Ramsay's use of the f-word was indicative of the high-stress environment in restaurant kitchens, and in another context might be bleeped out.

He said this was an example of one arm of Government not talking to the other, as the Office of Film and Literature Classification had rated the episodes M months ago. I was surprised Corey Bernardi wouldn't have checked with the OFLC, which viewed series one and The F-Word (another Ramsay program) and passed both as M with consumer advice of moderate course language.

There were only two or three complaints when it was airing at 9.30pm and a total of 60 since it went to 8.30pm and more people started tuning in."

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares was the No.1 program of the night last Thursday.

 

21st March   

Diary: Cyberspeech: The limits of Free Expression...

Index on Censorship debate
Link Here

Index on Censorship logo 25th March 2008, 7pm
Soho Theatre, Dean Street, London
Tickets £5/£3

Now that downloading the wrong kind of material can get you a prison sentence, is it time to challenge an encroachment on a fundamental liberty, or does the internet need tighter controls to combat the influence of extremism?

Index on Censorship presents a debate about the limits of free speech online, with AC Grayling, Panorama’s Shiraz Maher and Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute, chaired by Index editor Jo Glanville.

 

20th March   

Moral Turpitude...

US invaders and torturers deny entry to British author on the grounds of immorality
Link Here

Dandy in the Underworld book Controversial British author Sebastian Horsley was denied entrance into the United States as he arrived to promote his memoir of drug addiction, sex and his dysfunctional family, his publisher has said.

Seale Ballenger, spokesman for HarperCollins Publishers, said Horsley was stopped by immigration officials at New York's Newark airport after flying in from London to promote his latest book Dandy in the Underworld.

He said the flamboyant writer was accused of "moral turpitude" in connection with his former drug use, pro-prostitution stance, and controversial self-crucifixion in the Philippines in 2000.

Horsley claims to have slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes, worked as a male escort, and been in and out of rehab to treat drug addiction, with video interviews of him talking about his drug use and sex life posted on the Internet.

Ballenger said after several hours of questioning by immigration officials, Horsley was put on a plane and returned to London.

The New York Times quoted a customs spokeswoman, Lucille Cirillo, saying she could not comment on individual cases. But in an e-mail to the newspaper she explained that under a waiver program that allows British citizens to enter the United States without a visa, travellers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (which includes controlled-substance violations) or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible.

Publisher Carrie Kania, from the HarperCollins' unit Harper Perennial that published the book in the United States, said she found it hard to understand why Horsley would be denied entrance into the U.S. for "his notoriety."

Horsley's memoir was published last September in Britain with reviewers calling it both amusing and revolting.

 

20th March   

Update: Leaking through the Firewall...

WikiLeaks coordinates mass publishing of Tibet protest videos
Link Here  full story: Tibet Protests in China...China repress Tibetan protests and media coverage

WikiLeaks Wikileaks has released 35 censored videos relating to the Chinese suppression of dissent in Tibet and has called on bloggers around the world to help drive the footage through the so called "Great Firewall of China".

The transparency group's move comes as a response to the the Chinese Public Security Bureau's carte-blanche censorship of youtube, the BBC, CNN, the Guardian and other sites carrying video footage of the Tibetan people's recent heroic stand against the inhumane Chinese occupation of Tibet.

Wikileaks has also placed the collection in two easy to use archives together with a HTML index page so they may be easily copied, placed on websites, emailed across the internet as attachments and uploaded to peer to peer networks.

Censorship, like communism, seems like a reasonable enough idea to begin with. While 'from each according to his ability and to each according to his need' sounds unarguable, the world has learned that these words call forth a power elite to administer them with coercive force. Such elites are quick to define the needs of their own members as paramount. Similarly 'from each mouth according to its ability and to each ear according to its need' seems harmless enough, but history shows that censorship also requires an anointed class to define this "need" and to make violence against those who continue talking. Such power is quickly corrupted.

See full article from the Guardian

The Guardian logo Earlier this week the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, sent a formal letter of complaint to the Chinese embassy in London calling for access to the Guardian website to be restored and "henceforth unfettered".

Chinese authorities can censor online content internally using either an outright block on a specific website address, or using filtering technology that restricts access to individual online articles containing key words such as "Tibet" and "violence".

It has not been clear which technical restrictions the Chinese authorities have been using against international news websites.

However, according to reports from several internet users in China, the censorship appears to have become less draconian this week compared to the weekend, when the worst of the unrest in Tibet was taking place.

Videos on the Guardian website that had previously been inaccessible can now be viewed in China and users in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin have been able to access a range of online news stories on Tibet.

One Chinese technology blogger said that while access has improved it does not necessarily mean that the authorities have relented: Suppose there is less access from Chinese readers once they felt the site is hard to access. The censorship system will turn to other hot sites with higher sensitive hits automatically.

 

20th March   

Goddamn Censors...

ITV Evening News bleeps out 'damn'
Link Here

ITV Evening News studio shot Fascinating snippet on TV yesterday. During the ITV early evening news, there was a trailer for a breaking news item about the pastor of the church attended by Barack Obama having come out with some controversial remarks (basically saying America had asked for 9/11).

In particular he was shown saying "God BLEEP America". Naturally, I assumed that he'd said "fuck".

On the late news, the full story was shown, and the unbleeped word turned out just to be "damn".

I don't think "damn" is too strong for pre-watershed use in the UK, and I'm hazarding a guess that the first clip might have reflected excessive sensitivity by the FCC if it was lifted directly from an American source.

It wasn't even as if the word, damn, was being used as a cuss. The minister was having a rant, but doing so in the context of a sermon, where he was really suggesting that God should damn America for collective sins against black people.

 

20th March   

Update: Mass Bollox...

US political nutters pick up on Vaz's ludicrous claim that some games feature rape
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Massachusetts Last Month, British Parliamentarian and frequent video game industry critic Keith Vaz sparked a bit of controversy by claiming that interactive rape is depicted in video games.

A top aide to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino apparently offered similar commentary at yesterday’s hearing by the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary concerning HB1423, a proposal designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors.

Larry Mayes, Menino’s director of Health and Human Services, urged lawmakers to view for themselves some “Mature”-rated games, many of which award players points for shooting people, raping women or setting people on fire. Mayes pointed to several researchers who have found a correlation between such games and aggression: I’m sure you will conclude Mayor Menino is in fact right to do all he can to protect children, even if it means pushing back on a multi-billion-dollar industry.”

Game Politics said: As we asked Keith Vaz when he made similar remarks, can Larry Mayes name even a single game which features rape as a playable option?

 

19th March   

Unfree Tibet...

China succeeds in blocking news of Tibetan protests
Link Here  full story: Tibet Protests in China...China repress Tibetan protests and media coverage

Free Tibet riots China has succeeded in blocking the flow of news about its crackdown on Tibetan protesters.

While China has traditionally exerted strong control over traditional media outlets such as television, radio and newspapers, this week's developments are notable for the country's effective control of YouTube, blogs and other Internet communications.

While Western news outlets are getting information out to the rest of the world, many Chinese remain in the dark. The Wall Street Journal reported that Baidu.com, China's largest search engine, turns up no news in a search for "Tibet" (the fifth most popular search term on Baidu Monday), while searches for "Tibet riot" produce hits to pages that have been removed.

In addition, China's major Internet portals, Sina and Sohu.com, are devoid of news of the uprising and repression. And Chinese Internet video sites Tudou.com, Youku.com and 56.com, the Chinese equivalents of YouTube, are similarly vacant.

Observers are not completely sure how China is blocking all the news, the Journal reported. In some cases, entire domains are blocked; in other cases, only certain pages. While editors of state-run media frequently avoid controversial topics, independent Internet companies also cooperate with censorship; they are required to monitor user-supplied content Relevant Products/Services and delete pornography, as well as a list of forbidden topics.

The censorship raises a challenge to the much-vaunted claim that the Internet views censorship as network damage and routes around it, a claim no less a technology luminary than Bill Gates repeated last month: I don't see any risk in the world at large that someone will restrict free content flow on the Internet. You cannot control the Internet .

 

19th March   

Sketches of My Nightmare...

Banned Guantanamo sketches redrawn
Link Here

Al Hajj cartoon The US army has banned the publication of four cartoons drawn by Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to his lawyer.

The pieces, called Sketches of My Nightmare , include a drawing depicting al-Hajj, who has been on hunger strike for eight months, as a skeleton being force fed by US guards.

The drawings were submitted to the military censor but they would not permit their release.

However, detailed descriptions of the sketches were allowed through the censorship process and Lewis Peake, a political cartoonist, was able to recreate one entitled Scream for Freedom.

Al Hajj described the way he sees himself being force fed in the so-called "Torture Chair" - the restraint chair into which they are strapped twice a day to have a 110cm tube forcibly inserted into one nostril so that liquid food can be administered.

My picture reflects my nightmares of what I must look like, with my head double-strapped down, a tube in my nose, a black mask over my mouth, with no eyes and only giant cheekbones, my teeth jutting out – my bones showing in every detail, every rib, every joint. The tube goes up to a bag at the top of the drawing. On the right there is another skeleton sitting shackled to another chair. They are sitting like we do in interrogations, with hands shackled, feet shackled to the floor, just waiting. In between I draw the flag of Guantanamo – JTF-GTMO – but instead of the normal insignia, there is a skull and crossbones, the real symbol of what is happening here, he said.

Al-Hajj was seized by the US military while he was covering the war in Afghanistan for Al Jazeera's Arabic channel and has been held as an "enemy combatant" without trial or charge since 2001.

 

19th March   

Broken Promises...

Call to boycott Olympics opening ceremony
Link Here

Olympic cuffs Reporters Without Borders has urged heads of state, heads of government and members of royal families to boycott the 8 August opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games because of the Chinese government’s mounting human rights violations and the glaring lack of freedom in China.

China has not kept any of the promises it made in 2001 when it was chosen to host these Olympics, the press freedom organisation said. Instead, the government is crushing the Tibetan protests and is imposing a news blackout, while Hu Jia, a tireless human rights campaigner, is facing a possible five-year prison sentence at the end of a summary and unfair trial.

Politicians throughout the world cannot remain silent about this situation. We call on them to voice their disapproval of China’s policies by announcing their intention not to attend the opening of the Olympic Games. Britain’s Prince Charles has already said he will not go to Beijing on 8 August. Others should follow suit.

Calling for a complete boycott of the Olympic Games is not a good solution. The aim is not to deprive athletes of the world’s biggest sports event or to deprive the public of the spectacle. But it would be outrageous not to firmly demonstrate one’s disagreement with the Chinese government’s policies and not to show solidarity with the thousands of victims of this authoritarian regime.

Around 100 journalists, Internet users and cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in China just for expressing their views peacefully. Journalists have been banned from visiting Tibet since 12 March and have been expelled from neighbouring provinces. The crackdown on protests by Tibetans is taking place behind closed doors.

Chinese journalists continue to be subject to the dictates of the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which imposes censorship on a wide range of subjects. The government and party continue to control news and information and have authoritarian laws to punish violators.

 

19th March   

Old Wars...

Pakistan censor bans Taare Zameen Par
Link Here  full story: Bollywood Banned...India films banned in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Taare Zameen Par poster The Pakistan Censor Board has banded the screening of Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par in the country’s cinema halls. The movie has been banned under a regulation that says it cannot be shown as it has been shot entirely in India. Besides, no Pakistani actor is starring in the film.

The premiere of the movie in Pakistan was scheduled for April.

Besides winning seven awards in India, the movie also won the prestigious Gollapudi Srinivas National award.

 

18th March   

The Last Cuts...

BBFC cuts waived to Last House on the Left
Link Here

The Last House on the Left Last House on the Left is a seminal 1972 US horror film by Wes Craven.

The BBFC have now waived their cuts when the DVD was submitted in 2008 by Second Sight Films.

Previously Blue Underground r eleased the video after 31s of BBFC cuts in 2002. Further video releases from Anchor Bay followed in 2003 that have been edited differently but have retained the BBFC mandated cuts

The BBFC justified their cuts as follows:

Cuts required to humiliation of woman forced to urinate, violent stabbing assault on woman and removal of her entrails, and woman's chest carved with a knife.

An appeal against the cuts proved unsuccessful.

Interestingly the UK Anchor Bay release includes a DVD extra showing the deleted footage as a series of stills. (BBFC censorship only applies to video material).

The video was previously banned by the BBFC in 2001 and was twice rejected for a cinema release in 1974 & 2000.

It was released on video in the early 80s but was promptly banned as a video nasty

 

18th March   

Update: Game Slipping Away from the BBFC?...

PEGI 1, BBFC 0
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Tanya Byron Rockstar’s lawyer Lawrence Abramson not only feels that the BBFC's approach to video game classification is flawed, but that the appeals system is a major problem as well.

The Video Appeals Committee overturned the BBFC’s ban of Rockstart title Manhunt 2 , but Abramson still thinks the lack of game players in the process is troublesome.

He continued on the theme but later came up with an interesting snippet: I understand that Tanya Byron is expected to recommend that the regulation of games is taken outside of the BBFC/VAC procedure altogether and that instead the role of PEGI should be enhanced.

A BBFC spokesperson told TechRadar: The BBFC spent many hours examining Manhunt 2 . This involved experienced game players playing the game at every level. Both VAC decisions were by the narrow margin of 4:3. PEGI has no power to reject a game. The BBFC and PEGI co-operate closely.

The VAC decision was a close call. Of the seven members sitting on the Video Appeals, four members of Committee voted in favour of classifying the game against three that voted against Rockstar.

But who were these seven members of the Video Appeals Committee? We asked the BBFC, who informed us that the VAC in the Manhunt 2 case was made up of the following seven people:

  • John Wood, VAC president – former director of serious fraud office
  • Biddy Baxter, TV producer
  • Barry Davies, former deputy director of social services and chair of area child protection committee
  • Pauline Grey – district chairman of the tribunal service and member of the gender recognition panel
  • Prof John Last – former lay member of the press council, lay member of bar standards board, visiting professor at City University
  • Dr. Neville March-Hunnings, lawyer, author of ‘Film Censors and the Law’
  • Dr. Sara Levene, Paediatric safety consultant

 

18th March   

Update: An Indecent Change of Policy...

Supreme Court to hear case against the FCC
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

FCC logo The Supreme Court of the United States has announced that it will be hearing the FCC's appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that the FCC has changed its policy on fleeting expletives without adequate explanation.

It's now up to the FCC to explain to the Supreme Court why its policy has changed. This is also the first time the Supreme Court has heard a major 'broadcast indecency' case in 30 years.

 

18th March   

Constitutional Games...

Attempts to legally ban minors from buying mature games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Minnesota state seal A 2006 Minnesota law sought to fine kids - not retailers - $25 for attempting to purchase a game for which the ESRB rating deemed them too young. The law was promptly overturned by U.S. District Court Judge James Rosenbaum, who, in a novel judicial move, tried out several violent games on his law clerk’s Xbox.

Following Judge Rosenbaum’s ruling that the law was unconstitutional, Minnesota opted to appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit. That case was argued before the Court in February of last year. Now, as reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the 8th Circuit has upheld Judge Rosenbaum’s finding that the Minnesota law is unconstitutional.

From the newspaper report:

While the judges upheld Rosenbaum’s ruling that violent games are entitled to First Amendment protections, they did so reluctantly.

[Judge] Wollman wrote that whatever our intuitive (dare we say commonsense) feelings regarding the effect that extreme violence portrayed in the above-described video games may well have upon the psychological well-being of minors, precedent requires incontrovertible proof of a causal relationship between exposure to the games and some psychological harm.

The state failed to meet that burden, Wollman wrote… Indeed, a good deal of the Bible portrays scenes of violence, and one would be hard-pressed to hold up as a proper role model the regicidal Macbeth, Wollman wrote.

See full article from Game Politics

Massachusetts state seal The Massachusetts legislature will hold a hearing on Tuesday to consider House Bill 1423, a video game measure introduced last year but not acted upon.

In its current form the bill closely resembles the Jack Thompson-authored Louisiana video game law, which was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court judge in 2006. Indeed, Thompson was involved in drafting the original version of the Massachusetts bill.

Although Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been an advocate of HB1423, the main legislative sponsor is Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry.

HB1423 is a “games-as-porn” bill which would seek to restrict minors from buying violent video games under the same 'harm' rationale used to block them from buying sexually explicit materials.

Update: Game for an Appeal

17th April 2008

The state of Minnesota has filed an appeal of a recent 8th Circuit Court decision which invalidated its 2006 “fine the buyer” video game law.

Perhaps more than any previous case, the unusual Minnesota law, which would fine underage buyers of violent games $25, has a chance to beat the video game industry’s legal challenges.

Update: Sent into Study

10th May 2008

The Massachusetts measure has been “sent into study,” which essentially means it is on life support. From the Business Journal story:

Menino’s proposal, which would make it illegal for minors to buy video games with graphic content, was sent into study in March — a big win for the state’s burgeoning video game industry…

But the mayor, seeing a link between violent content and violent behavior, still is in favor of the proposal, and plans to continue to push for it on a grass-roots level, said Larry Mayes, chief of human services for the city of Boston. To get this through, we’re really going to have to do a statewide push. We want to go to the communities, particularly to the parents and sit with them and show them the material.

 

18th March   

Childish Censorship...

Photobucket end ban on pictures of babies in nappies
Link Here

Photobucket logo Photo sharing site Photobucket has quickly u-turned on a decision to ban pictures that show babies in nappies. The company originally removed such images from its site because they depicted "nudity", which it said threatened the safety and security of its users.

However, within hours of being contacted by CNET News.com, Monica M. Massad, the content moderation manager at Photobucket decided to republish the removed pictures.

My team has reviewed the images that were tossed in your account and it was determined that the images that were removed from your account should not have been removed. We have the images available to restore and are currently in the process of restoring them. Please accept our sincere apologies for the error, said Massad in an e-mail.

It is true that we reviewed our content moderation guidelines to make sure it was in line with Photobucket's terms of service and it made us more strict on child nudity, however, we were over-censoring in this case and are working to rectify that, she added.

The original ban started when US-based Good Mama Diapers sponsored a photo contest on Photobucket and posted hundreds of photo submissions on the site. On Wednesday, Jessica Thornton of Good Mama Diapers logged on to the site and noticed they were all gone.

Thornton e-mailed Photobucket customer support to find out what happened. She got a reply saying that the site recently changed its content moderation policies regarding images of children and that the photos violated the new policy, which prohibits content that contains nudity.

While we understand that in a family album type of setting, these images are innocent, we must remove the content because of the nudity and believe that this restriction is in the best interest of childrens' safety .. This policy applies to all accounts, public or private. We ask that you keep these images on your personal computers and not host them on Photobucket.com, the Photobucket e-mail said.

 

18th March   

Taking Down Buddha Pants...

Thailand to hack US sites selling merchandise with Buddhist symbols
Link Here

The Thai Information and Communications Technology Ministry is to ‘hack and crack' foreign websites deemed offensive to Thailand's revered institutions.

A March 15 report in Krungthep Turakij newspaper (www.bangkokbiznews.com) quoted a source at the ICT that the ministry could pursue legal proceedings only with websites registered in Thailand, and is now planning a ‘hack and crack' programme to hack offensive websites hosted abroad and delete their contents, because the legal process would take too long.

This approach may be somewhat illegal, but sometimes it might be worth it, if [the websites] are really unacceptable, the source said.

One website registered abroad has been found to advertise merchandise including calendars, dolls, bags, hats, glasses, watches, trousers and underwear, all with a logo of the Buddha meditating on a lotus, with the face of a dog. It was reported to have upset some Buddhists.

The Technology Centre has found that the website has its server in California, USA, and the centre has twice asked the ICT Ministry in writing to shut down the website, but it is still online. The centre has also asked the Foreign Ministry's Information Department to address the problem through diplomatic means.

If within one month the problem is still not solved, I will ask for cooperation from ‘internet cop' Pol Col Yanapol Yangyuen, Commander of Office of Technology and Information Cases under the Department of Special Investigation, to shut it down, said Booncherd. He added that his centre has cooperated with relevant agencies in shutting down 5 similar websites which made commercial use of Buddhist symbols.

 

17th March   

Update: Blanking the Censor...

Thai director to present censored film with blanks
Link Here  full story: Censored Films in Thailand...Thai censors hack away

Syndromes and a Century poster After dealing with the censorship of his film for nearly a year, Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul will finally screen his acclaimed Sang Sattawat (Syndromes and a Century), with silent, black frames to replace six scenes the Board of Censors found objectionable.

It's cynical, but actually it's a statement for the audience to make them aware that they are being blinded from getting information in this society, says the director.

Apichatpong first planned to show Syndromes last April in a limited release in Bangkok cinemas, but he cancelled the screenings when the censors said four scenes had to go. A petition against the action was started, and the director formed the Free Thai Cinema Movement to call for better treatment for filmmakers.

With the election of a new government and a new film law on the books, Apichatpong said he submitted his film to the censors again, hoping they would view it differently. The censors asked that two more scenes be excised.

I was wrong. It's worse than the first time, but it was still worth the effort. I learned that the problem with the new film law is not the law itself, but the people who will be enforcing it, he says.

For a limited-release screening by the Thai Film Foundation, Syndromes will have the six censored scenes replaced by silent, scratched black frames - the longest of which runs for seven minutes.

 

17th March   

Afghanistan Pop Idol Winds Up Nutters...

Clerics don't need a woman singer
Link Here

Afghan Star In a first for post-Taleban Afghanistan, a woman has made it to the final three in the country's version of Pop Idol .

Lima Sahar is up against two male contestants for a place in the final sing-off on Afghan Star , which has become one of the nation's most popular television shows.

Conservatives decry the fact that a woman has found success singing on TV, while others – younger Afghans – say the show is helping women progress.

With her hair tucked under a headscarf, Lima brushes off her critics, saying there can be no progress for women without upsetting the status quo. "No pain, no gain," she told reporters.

Afghanistan's clerics' council has protested to the president, Hamid Karzai, over the show. In the situation that we have in Afghanistan right now, we don't need a woman singer. We don't need Afghan Star. We are in need of a good economy, good education, said Ali Ahmad Jebra-ali, a member of the council. If Lima Sahar wins Afghan Star, how can she help the poor? This is not the way to help the Afghan people.

 

17th March   

Corrupt and Decadent...

Iranian censor bans magazines featuring Hollywood stars
Link Here

Talash magazine Iran has banned nine lifestyle and cinema magazines for publishing pictures of "corrupt" foreign film stars and details about their "decadent" private lives, the student ISNA news agency said.

The publications were banned by the press commission watchdog for publishing photographs of corrupt foreign artists and details about their decadent lives.

The most significant magazines banned are Donya-ye Tasvir (World of the Image), Sobh-e Zendegi (Morning of Life), Talash (Effort) and Haft (Seven). The commission also gave warnings to 13 other publications.

Such magazines regularly print articles and pictures of foreign film stars, as well as of Iranian actresses in the kinds of loose headscarves and tight-fitting clothes that are frowned upon by the Islamic authorities.

The latest issue of Donya-ye Tasvir carried articles about several Hollywood female stars including Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, all accompanied by pictures.

In Tehran there are only a handful of cinemas which offer a selective screening of foreign movies, which are subject to heavy censorship of any scenes where actresses are scantly dressed.

 

17th March   

Update: Russian Intelligence Insulted...

Nutters win as Happy Tree Friends banned
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Russia...Russian TV censors easily wound up

Happy Tree Friends A government decision to ban two cartoon shows on a Russian TV-channel has caused widespread debate. While some see the decision to clamp down on violence on TV as a defence of taste and decency, others see it as unnecessary censorship.

The Happy Tree Friends are a kind of extreme Tom and Jerry, aimed at young adults and heavy on stylised violence. It's a cult classic that's shown in more than 50 countries.

The Two by Two station that airs the show pulled it and another show after receiving an official government warning

The controversy began with a complaint from Russia's protestant church. One of its top officials says the station is perverting the morals of the nation. And they want the station closed down. Someone has to stop the violence. Television is a tool shaping the minds and the future of our children, Konstantin Bendas from the Union of Evangelical Christians said.

However the regulator - despite upholding the complaint says that closing TV stations is not on their agenda.

Nevertheless for Two by Two this is a serious issue. Their CEO says the channel has had thousands of messages of support and thinks the ban is an insult to the intelligence of viewers and that the complaints are unwarranted.

 

17th March   

Radio Silence...

Niger silences critical radio station
Link Here

Niger flag Niger’s official media censor summarily suspended the FM broadcasts of France-based Radio France Internationale (RFI) for three months. Authorities accused RFI of discrediting the government in connection with a day-long series of programs on Monday about the detention of RFI correspondent Moussa Kaka.

In a telephone interview with CPJ, Douda Diallo, the president of the country’s High Council on Communications, said RFI’s programs questioned the independence of Niger’s courts, and broadcast “falsehoods” over Kaka’s case “with a manifest intention to discredit Niger’s institutions.”

The re-suspension of RFI is a clear sign of an ongoing government policy to censor media outlets, whether local or foreign, for material deemed critical of the government, said CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon. We call on the authorities to reverse lift the ban on RFI and release its correspondent Moussa Kaka immediately.

Kaka, a veteran radio journalist distinguished for his coverage of several Tuareg rebellions since the 1990s, was arrested in September on anti-state charges over alleged links with a recent insurgency. Kaka had done exclusive interviews with rebel leaders last year, according to local journalists.

 

16th March   

Nub End Censors...

Anti-smokers call for 18 rating for smoking in films
Link Here

SmokeFree Liverpool advert An anti-smoking group in Liverpool is calling for all movies with smoking scenes to be given an 18 certificate.

SmokeFree Liverpool told BBC's Radio 5 Live it wanted to see the change but the film classification board said the idea was "heavy-handed".

This suggestion comes about amid research showing young people pick up the bad habit from watching films containing smoking.

One city official said Liverpool may even act alone to restrict film access. Andy Hull, the city's head of public protection and chair of SmokeFree Liverpool, said an adult rating on movies that depict smoking will reduce the number of young people lighting up: The international evidence...is that one in two children between 11 and 18 who witness smoking in movies actually experiment with - and therefore start - smoking themselves .

Hull said if the BBFC is not prepared to adopt an 18 certificate then the city will consider using licensing laws to bring in its own stricter ratings for films screened locally.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said smoking and alcohol use are already taken into consideration when a film is rated and a blanket 18 certificate for all smoking scenes is "heavy handed": To simply classify a film 18 because people smoke in it would not be popular with the public, the spokeswoman said, adding an extensive public consultation has already examined the issue to come up with existing guidelines.

For example, if a character popular with children such as Harry Potter was somehow promoting cigarettes or seen smoking, the film would be rated accordingly, she said.

Dr Stacey Anderson, of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, said the evidence of smoking's influence on young people is very clear: The more smoking a child views in films, the more likely they are to take up smoking, she said of the scientific evidence gathered in the United States and elsewhere. Anderson said characters do not even have to be smoking for there to be an adverse influence, just the sight of a pack of cigarettes or a tobacco advertisement has an effect on youth attitude. She said if part of the role of the film board is to protect young people from potential harm, then smoking should be included in those considerations.

Comment: Nannying

From Shaun on the Melon Farmers Forum

Re the BBFC's liberal decision to pass Last House on the Left uncut

Maybe they are just waking up to the fact that people are sick to death of all the nannying... See the furore on the BBC site about Liverpool wanting to censor fag smoking in their cinemas:

If such censorship isn't politically acceptable any more, they won't do it.

 

16th March   

Update: Historically Accurate Intolerance...

Jodhaa Akbar continues to wind up India
Link Here  full story: Jodha Akbar...Film controversy due to Hindu/Muslim marriage

Jodhaa Akbar The Indian Supreme Court has extended its stay on the orders passed by Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttarakhand banning the screening of Jodhaa Akbar .

The stay extension came on a petition filed by the producer, UTV Software Communication who alleged that the film was banned by Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttarakhand governments after a section of the people objected to the alleged wrong depiction of some historical characters in the film. The ban in Madhya Pradesh was lifted by the High Court.

The petitioner said, the fundamental right to speech and expression is being trampled upon by various State governments with the sole objective of gaining political mileage by banning the film. All approvals were obtained from the authorities, including the Censor Board, before releasing the film.

Offsite: Against Street Censorship

See full article from the Hindu by Rishi Vohra

Sword bearing bloodied censor The recent violence in some States over Jodhaa Akbar raises the question: Should public intolerance be allowed to hijack a medium that is exclusively the director’s space?

In his latest offering Jodhaa Akbar , director Ashutosh Gowarikar made a savvy decision in focusing on the religious tensions between Akbar’s court, full of traditional Islamists, and the Hindu Rajput c ulture of Jodhaa. Without taking sides, the maverick filmmaker wisely portrays Akbar as a secular force who wants to see “Hindustan’s” great religions coexist side by side. However, despite Gowarikar’s effective efforts in maintaining that balance, there was seen a streak of intolerance towards what some claim to be an inaccurate, rehashed version of historical facts.

Even before its release, the film invited the ire of certain groups and was subsequently banned in several States. Noted historians have claimed that the basis of the movie, the relationship between Jodhaa and Akbar, is completely faulty and incorrect. The Rajput groups of India are arguing that the name Jodhaa was the name of Jehangir’s wife.

Considering that Indian films are X-rayed by the stringent Indian Censor Board, is it appropriate for films to be subjected to further censorship demands and bans based on public intolerance? After all, should not the Censors be the ultimate authority in deciding what content is suitable for public viewing?

...Read the full article

 

16th March   

From Turkey to Tibet...

Blocking YouTube always the first step against dissent
Link Here

China protests People all over China are Twittering that Youtube is blocked. A quick ping through a network utility does show 100% packet loss, indicating that a block is likely in effect:

There were some videos uploaded to Youtube already about the demonstrations in Tibet, but this block will definitely throw a wrench anyone's plans to upload more. Chinese video sharing sites, which have been told to censor this kind of sensitive content, are all still up and running.

See full article from FACT Thai

YouTube logo Turkey has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube in response to a video clip deemed insulting to the country’s revered founding father, state-run media said.

A court in the capital of Ankara ordered the ban at the request of a prosecutor who had argued the clip was disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who died seven decades ago, the Anatolia news agency said.

It was not clear how long the ban would last.

 

16th March   

People Watching Cafes...

Jordan to keep a close eye on internet cafe users
Link Here

Jordan flag HRinfo has denounced decisions announced by the Jordanian Ministry of the Interior increasing restrictions on Internet cafes in Jordan by installing cameras to monitor users of these cafes. HRinfo also emphasized that these procedures are a real retreat from freedom to use the Internet and the right to exchange information.

The Jordanian Ministry of the Interior has recently issued new instructions for monitoring Internet cafes, which are widespread throughout Jordanian cities, obliging Internet cafe owners to install cameras at the front of their businesses in order to facilitate identification of Internet users.

In addition to the cameras, HRinfo notes that the new security measures oblige Internet cafe owners to register the users' personal data such as their names, telephone numbers and time of use, as well as the IP number of the cafe and data on the websites explored by the users.

The newly-announced policies on organizing the work of internet cafes also include obliging internet cafes owners to install censorship programs to prevent access to websites containing pornographic material, or those offending religious beliefs or promoting the use of drugs or tobacco.

HRinfo denounces these decisions, which violate the right to exchange information and the privacy of Internet users, and calls on the Jordanian government to reconsider such arbitrary decisions which would lead Jordan to join the ranks of those countries which are hostile to freedom of access to Internet.

 

16th March   

Blasphemy Against Free Speech...

EU looking to protect freedom of expression
Link Here

EU logo The European Union wants to stop the growing worldwide trend of using religious defamation laws to limit free speech.

EU diplomats in Geneva are asking United Nations human rights experts Wednesday to suggest ways to protect freedom of expression better in the face increasing legal threats.

Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, says journalists around the world face harsh penalties ranging from indirect censorship to heavy fines.

Germany says it is particularly worried about a recently signed Arab charter that limits broadcasters' rights.

Islamic countries are pushing for stricter international laws against religious defamation in the wake of Muslim anger over cartoons of their prophet Muhammad.

 

16th March   

Uneducated Representatives of the Animal World...

Russian police arrest blogger
Link Here

Russia flag Russian blogger Savva Terentyev is being charged for inciting hatred toward the authorities for a post that, among other things, labeled the police uneducated representatives of the animal world.

Terentyev said that the charges were a result of a February 2007 posting in which he chastised local authorities for raiding an opposition newspaper.

Terentyev's comments, first published by The Associated Press, come amid a government crackdown on Russian internet and media outlets: They're trash - and those that become cops are simply trash, dumb, uneducated representatives of the animal world. It would be good if in the center of every town in Russia ... an oven was built, like at Auschwitz, in which ceremonially, every day, and better yet, twice a day ... the infidel cops were burnt. This would be the first step toward cleaning society of these cop-hoodlum scum.

 

16th March   

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents...

An update from Reporters Without Borders
Link Here

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents Reporters Without Borders is making a new version of its Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents available to bloggers.

The handbook offers practical advice and techniques on how to create a blog, make entries and get the blog to show up in search engine results. It gives clear explanations about blogging for all those whose online freedom of expression is subject to restrictions, and it shows how to sidestep the censorship measures imposed by certain governments, with a practical example that demonstrates the use of the censorship circumvention software Tor.

The leaders of authoritarian countries are becoming more and suspicious of bloggers, these men and women who, although not journalists, publish news and information online and who, worse still, often tackle subjects the so-called traditional media dare not cover. In some countries, blogs have become an important new source of news. It is to protect this source that Reporters Without Borders has updated its handbook.

 

15th March   

Update: Entirely Unsuitable for the BBFC...

Manhunt 2 given 18 certificate after success at reconvened appeal
Link Here  full story: Manhunt 2...Computer game proves controversial

Manhunt 2 game cover The cut M rated version has been passed uncut after a successful appeal to the reconvened Video Appeals Committee:

The BBFC issued the following press release:

The Video Appeals Committee announced that the result of their reconsideration of the Manhunt 2 appeal remains that the appeal against the rejection of the work by the BBFC is upheld.

The Board’s decision to refuse a certificate to Manhunt 2 was successfully challenged on appeal to the Video Appeals Committee. The Board challenged the VAC’s decision by way of Judicial Review before the High Court, which quashed the decision on grounds of errors of law. The VAC has now reconsidered the appeal in the light of the High Court’s directions on the law but has decided, again by a majority of four to three, to allow the appeal on the basis that Manhunt 2 should be given an ‘18’ certificate.

In the light of legal advice the Board does not believe the VAC’s judgement provides a realistic basis for a further challenge to its decision and has accordingly issued an ‘18’ certificate.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: As I have said previously, we never take rejection decisions lightly, and they always involve a complex balance of considerations. We twice rejected Manhunt 2, and then pursued a judicial review challenge, because we considered, after exceptionally thorough examination, that it posed a real potential harm risk. However, the Video Appeals Committee has again exercised its independent scrutiny. It is now clear, in the light of this decision, and our legal advice, that we have no alternative but to issue an ‘18’ certificate to the game.

The BBFC also provided a statement about the 18 certificate:

MANHUNT 2 is a violent action game based on a psychological-horror theme. The player takes on the role of Daniel Lamb, a seemingly disturbed patient in a mental facility, who escapes from the institution in an effort to discover who he really is. As he progresses through various environments collecting clues and information about his identity, he is confronted by numerous thugs employed by "The Project"; a secretive experimental organisation, whom he must either evade or kill in order to ensure his own survival.

MANHUNT 2 has been classified '18' for very strong bloody and sadistic violence, which takes the form of stealth executions. In order to successfully despatch a target, the player-character must creep up behind the victim quietly and kill before he is discovered. The killings are achieved through a number of common items such as syringes, glass shards, pens, crowbars, spades, power-saws, clubs, baseball bats, axes, pliers and, later on in the game, firearms. Each killing is graphically portrayed as a brief video scene where weapons are seen to impact on various parts of the victim's body coupled to realistic sound effects and blood spurts. The cumulative effect of these killings creates a very strong impression of almost continuous violence and horror which is too strong to be contained at any category below '18'. The game is entirely unsuitable for anyone below this age.

Rockstar Pleased

See full article from GamesIndustry.biz

Rockstar is now working towards a new release date for the title in the UK.

We are pleased that the VAC has reaffirmed its decision recognizing that Manhunt 2 is well within the bounds established by other 18-plus rated entertainment, a company statement read.

The version of the game to be released in the UK has been confirmed as the cut version currently available in the US under a Mature rating - the version which was rejected by the BBFC the second time around.

A Rockstar spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz that due to the news of the VAC's decision only breaking earlier today, no official decision had yet been made on a release date, but discussions were expected to take place shortly.

Government Staying Out of It

See full article from GamesIndustry.biz

The UK government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport has told GamesIndustry.biz that it has no plans at the moment to intervene in the planned release of Manhunt 2 in the UK.

"The classification of Manhunt 2 is a matter for the BBFC and the Video Appeals Committee," said a spokesperson, after today's news that the VAC had reaffirmed its decision to back Rockstar in an appeal over the BBFC's refusal to certify the game.

"It is important to note that there is no conclusive evidence of any link between playing computer games and violent behaviour in real life," the spokesperson continued. "Our concern is to make sure that inappropriate material is kept away from children.

 

15th March   

Update: Humourless Appeal...

French muslims lose unlikely Mohammed cartoons case against magazine
Link Here  full story: Legal Action against Charlie Hebdo...French muslims take Charlie hebdo magazine to court

Charlie Hebdo special edition A Paris appeal court confirmed the acquittal of Philippe Val, editor of the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo , on charges of insulting Muslims by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006.

The court issued its decision in response to an appeal by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France and the World Islamic League against his acquittal by a Paris criminal court on 22 March 2007. The prosecutor’s office, which had requested his acquittal by the criminal court, asked the appeal court to uphold his acquittal.

 

15th March   

Which? Bollox...

Unhealthy ideas to impose junk censorship on the internet
Link Here

Which? Magazine Food and drink companies should be banned from marketing unhealthy snacks and drinks to young children via new media such as social networking sites and text messaging, a coalition of international consumer groups and health bodies recommends today.

The group is urging governments to adopt a code that they say would curb the rising obesity rates among children. The code would restrict junk food marketing, including outlawing the use of cartoon characters, celebrity tie-ins, free gifts and competitions aimed at younger audiences.

The federation of consumer organisations - including the UK group Which? - wants its code to be adopted by governments as part of the World Health Organisation's broader strategy to tackle obesity and diet-related disease.

The code, which will be recommended to the WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly in May, tackles the failures of the food industry to regulate itself.

Some of the world's leading food manufacturers market to children on social networking websites and internet chat programmes.

In the UK, popular brands such as McDonald's, Starburst, Haribo and Skittles have switched to the internet to target children since new rules from the media regulator Ofcom have made it difficult to advertise during children's television.

The proposed code demands a ban on radio or TV adverts promoting unhealthy food between 6am and 9pm, any promotion of unhealthy food in schools, and the inclusion of free gifts, toys or collectable items which appeal to children to promote unhealthy foods.

 

15th March   

Update: Giving India a Bad Name...

Nutter case against Richard Gere kiss dismissed as frivolous
Link Here

Gere kissing India's Supreme Court has described a legal case in which Hollywood actor Richard Gere is accused of obscene behaviour as "frivolous".

The court judge said this is the end of the matter and that Gere was free to enter India.

Last year, arrest warrants were issued for Gere after he embraced and kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty during a public appearance. Kissing in public is widely considered taboo in India.

In 2007, a court in the western state of Rajasthan ordered the arrest of Gere for sweeping Shetty into his arms at an Aids awareness event in Delhi.

Gere plans to visit India soon and his lawyer had appealed to the court to stop the arrest warrants against him.

The judges said the court believed that such complaints (against celebrities) were "frivolous" and filed for "cheap publicity". The complainants have brought a bad name to the country , the court said.

 

15th March   

Papua New Guinea Taliban...

Police shut down cinemas
Link Here

Papua New Guniea Kundiawa police have stopped people showing movies in town to prevent children from seeing explicit sexual scenes, violence and criminal activities and hearing obscene words on Television shows.

The move by police is also to stop children from missing classes after lunch as a result of watching movies.

Provincial police commander Chief Insp Joseph Tondop told The National that he personally visited all the movie houses in town to advise operators against showing movies during the day and also at night.

Tondop said operators ignored the labelling on the cassettes or CDs which are not suitable for children. He said many CDs are full of sexual scenes, violence, the use of abusive words and criminal activities, which could affect the mental growth of children. He said last week, when he visited movie houses in town he saw many children watching movies not suitable for them.

Tondop said these movie houses operate from early in the day till midnight. He said he had informed movie operators in towns to stop it. He said many children left school after lunch to watch movies till late afternoon and also in the evening till midnight.

Tondop added that if any movie house owners refused to comply with the order and continued showing movies at night, they would be arrested and charged accordingly.

 

15th March   

Nutters 2 by 2...

Russian nutters wound up by South Park
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Russia...Russian TV censors easily wound up

Happy Tree Friends Protestant nutters have urged Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to shut down the cartoon channel 2x2 for broadcasting shows they claim promote homosexuality and religious intolerance.

It is the second time in a week that the network, owned by Vladimir Potanin's Prof-Media Group, has come under fire for its content.

The Consultative Council of the Heads of Protestant Churches in Russia sent a letter to Chaika, accusing 2x2 of promoting cruelty, violence, homosexual propaganda, religious hatred and intolerance by airing cartoons such as South Park , said Vitaly Vlasenko, a spokesman for the group, which unites several Protestant denominations.

Last week 2x2 pulled two of its shows, Happy Tree Friends and The Adventures of Big Jeff , after a receiving a warning from the government media watchdog that the shows promoted a cult of violence and brutality.

Under Russian law, a second warning letter could result in the loss of the channel's broadcasting license.

 

14th March   

United Nations of Nutters...

Undermining the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo Islamic states are bidding to use the United Nations to limit freedom of expression and belief around the world, the global humanist body IHEU told the UN's Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

In a statement submitted to the 48-nation Council, the IHEU said the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) were also aiming to undermine the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Islamic states see human rights exclusively in Islamic terms, and by sheer weight of numbers this view is becoming dominant within the UN system. The implications for the universality of human rights are ominous, it said.

The statement from the IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, was issued as the UN's special investigator on freedom of opinion and expression argued in a report that religions had no special protection under human rights law.

The IHEU statement came against the background of mounting success by the OIC, currently holding a summit in Dakar, in achieving passage of UN resolutions against "defamation of religions."

The "defamation" issue has become especially sensitive this year as the UN prepares to celebrate in the autumn the 50th anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration, long seen as the bedrock of international human rights law and practice.

See full article from the Raw Story

The world's Muslim countries warned Wednesday that an "alarming" rise in anti-Islamic insults and attacks in the West has become a threat to international security. The OIC called on Europe and America to take stronger measures against 'Islamophobia' in a report prepared for the summit.

The report by a special OIC monitoring group said the organisation was struggling to get the West to understand that Islamophobia has dangerous implications on global peace and security and to convince western powers to do more.

OIC leaders have expressed renewed concern following events such as the publication in Denmark of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed and a plan by the Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders to release a film calling the Koran "fascist".

The OIC said Islam had faced constant attacks since it was created but in recent years the phenomenon has assumed alarming proportions and has become a major cause of concern for the Muslim world.

The monitoring group called on Europe and North America to do more, through laws and social action, to protect Muslims from threats and discrimination and prevent insults against Islam's religious symbols. The report added that Muslims in many parts of the world, in the West in particular, are being stereotyped, profiled and subjected to various forms of discriminatory treatment: The most sacred symbols of Islam, in particular the sacred image of of the Prophet Mohammed is being defiled and denigrated in the most insulting, offensive and contemptuous manner to incite hatred and unrest in society.

The OIC said the Muslim world must launch a campaign to show that it is a "moderate, peaceful and tolerant" religion, closely monitor and the raise the alert over anti-Islamic incidents and organise more inter-faith initiatives.

 

14th March   

India Burdened by Insurance Company...

Who advertises to lighten the burden of having a daughter
Link Here

I&B logo The federal government of India has directed TV channels not to screen an ad from a life insurance firm calling girl children a burden.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has asked the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to ask all TV channels to stop airing the advertisement immediately. We have also asked the ASCI to take action against the advertising company for making such an advertisement, a senior ministry official said.

Life insurance firm ING Vysya is behind the controversial advertisement, which has the following tagline for the girl child: hai to pyaari lekin bojh hai bhari (though loving, she is still a burden). An insurance cover for the girl child, it says, would lighten the burden. The ad has been on air for the past few months.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which received several representations against the advertisement, has sought an immediate ban on the ad. The advertisement is totally unethical. Television channels have failed in their duty to censor content before airing it, said its chairperson Shantha Sinha.

The Delhi government and several states have gone to the extent of saying the advertisement can promote female foeticide. Internet bloggers call the ad evidence of the typical “Indian bias” against the girl child. I could not have imagined that a company of international repute could air such views about the girl child, said a blogger on Youtube.

 

14th March   

Anti-Censor Pro-Ana...

How does it 'help' people to deny them their voice
Link Here

Israblog logo An aggressive campaign to shut down pro-ana (pro-anorexia)blogs has been taking place in the popular Israeli portal Israblog. Many pro-ana organizations state that they exist mainly to give anorexics a place to turn to discuss their illness in a non-judgmental environment.

There have been numerous online conversation for and against banning of these sites. Ilana, a representative of the Israeli portal, responded to the petition calling to close down blogs that encourage anorexia:

Israblog is a network of blogs created to provide every person with the means to express themselves as long as it abides by the country’s laws. Our motto, ‘life is here’, refers to all aspects of life, even the more hurtful sides can be expressed here. Any person can own a blog through our system, even if their self perception is problematic or if their body fat percentage is lower than the norm.

The second, and more important reason, is that we do not believe that erasing blogs will have a positive effect. On the contrary, it may be damaging. We realize that there exist other blogging platforms which erase this type of content, however we strongly believe that if we act in a similar manner, we will simply pass this ‘burning hot potato’ onwards without actually making positive change.

We agree that these blogs are problematic, but they also represent a true call for help. And it is best that this call will be heard here, in Israblog, a place where there are attentive listeners and arms ready to reach out and help, rather than a lonely, underground or extreme space.

One must remember that it is not possible to help someone with eating disorders by shutting her mouth. It is possible to help by providing an opposing voice, anti-anorectic, anti-bolemic.


This is precisely why we contact the psychologist Liran Rogev, from the Shahaf organization, who created the blog winning over eating disorders. In this blog, Liran describes ways to cope with eating disorders from his experience as a professional in the field. He tries to engage in supportive dialogue with those suffering from this complex issue, and suggests alternative methods of dealing.

Liran posted a list of things to remember when formulating anti-anorectic responses in pro-ana blogs. Amongst all his recommendations, we want to emphasize the last - try to make a true connection - do not criticize or be judgmental. Otherwise, the pro-ana blogger will only reach out to other people with eating disorders, something that can certainly feed this disorder and lead to a further deterioration in their health. In other words - be friends, real friends, so that those suffering from eating disorders will not seek out only other pro-ana friends.

 

14th March   

Update: Fragile Politics...

Lebanon bans Persepolis to placate Iran
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis

Persepolis The Lebanese authorities have banned Persepolis after fears it may exacerbate the fragile political situation there.

The animated pic, nominated for animated feature at last month's Academy Awards, is based on co-helmer Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical, bestselling graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the 1979 revolution.

Authorities likely want to avoid any potential fallout from offending pro-Iranian members of the Lebanese opposition, notably Hezbollah.

They want to stay on the safe side and not create any more friction, said Gianluca Chacra, of UAE distributor, Front Row Entertainment: We're still hoping for a DVD release in Lebanon.

 

14th March   

Offsite: Cross about Adverts...

Blasphemy is dead! Long live blasphemy!
Link Here  full story: New Religion for Haircare...ASA patronise christians by banning haircare advert

Thy Will be Done slogan Last week, secularists and rationalists around the UK raised a collective glass of champagne and let off some party poppers after the House of Lords agreed to add an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill abolishing the blasphemy laws. ‘It is disgraceful that such a relic of religious savagery has survived into the twenty-first century’, said Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society (1). Quite right, too. Good riddance to the ‘savage’ laws which, in erecting a forcefield of offence-detection around God, his baby Jesus and the people who worship them, were an affront to freedom of speech.

Yet this week, not seven days later, a tiny group of Christians – one might even call them a ‘sect of Christians’ – managed to get a series of adverts banned on the basis that it was offensive to Christianity.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 23 complaints about the TV promo for ghd hair products. The ads said that ghd – which makes gel, mousse, hairspray and the like – represents a new ‘religion for hair’, and featured beautiful women with ghd-enabled hairstyles praying, carrying candles, and wearing lingerie as they clasped rosary beads to their bosoms in a state of supplication. Most of the complaints were from Christians, including one from the Archdeacon of Liverpool, The Venerable (allegedly) Ricky Panter. The ASA upheld the complaints, denounced the ads as ‘offensive’, and decreed that they must never again be shown ‘in their current form’ (2).

In summary? Blasphemy is dead! Long live blasphemy!

...Read the full article

Cross about Adverts

See full article from Comment is Free by AC Grayling

What about the hair-styler advert? Twenty-three people, among them someone magnificently described as the Archdeacon of Liverpool, complained that they were offended by it. Crumbs, eh? What hordes, what enraged majorities, what anguished multitudes are here tormented by the association of four words and a Christian symbol with hair stylers, humorously confected to represent "a new religion for hair"? Are there any concerns here about "social responsibility, decency, matters of opinion and truthfulness"? No? So it is just that 23, perhaps representing 230, or maybe even 2,300, or perhaps even 23,000, people without a sense of humour or a robust enough grip on their own convictions, refuse to let the remaining 59.99 million of us see this advert.

...Read the full article

 

13th March   

Update: Literary Deprivation...

Anti safe sex nutter invited to talk to MPs about book banning
Link Here

Patrick O'Donoghue A Roman Catholic bishop has likened books which criticise the teachings of the Church to works that deny the Holocaust took place.

The Rt Rev Nutter Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster, told MPs that books critical of the Catholic faith should be banned from school libraries.

Asked if that applied to works by authors such as Karl Marx and Albert Camus, he told the Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee: Suppose you went into a school and found in the library material that said the Holocaust never took place?

Fiona McTaggart, the Labour MP for Slough, said she was extremely concerned that Catholic sixth-formers would be denied access to great works of fiction as well as non-fiction if the bishop's ban were implemented. I would not expect a school to promote material that was lies but I also would also expect children to encounter a wide range of material even if they then need to be given the tools to criticise them, she said.

But Bishop O'Donoghue defended his stance. I think there has to be a vetting of material given the age range of children in schools. There is certain material that you do not put in front of them.

The bishop's summons to appear before the committee followed a document he produced last year which angered some MPs because of its strict line on sexual morality. In Fit for Mission?, Bishop O'Donoghue wrote: The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information. "So-called" safe sex was based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids. Schools and colleges must not support charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.

 

13th March   

UN Leant On...

UN backs off from protest against Internet Enemies
Link Here

Reporters without Borders logo Reporters Without Borders yesterday organized the Online Free Expression Day, including a virtual Internet protest against censorship, but the group is incensed that a UN organization yesterday backed out of supporting the event.

UNESCO, the UN agency in charge of scientific and cultural education, was to have sponsored the protest, but let Reporters Without Borders know yesterday that it had changed its mind. We are not fooled, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement today. Several governments on today's updated list of 15 'Internet Enemies' put direct pressure on the Office of the UNESCO Director General, and deputy director general Marcio Barbosa caved in. UNESCO's reputation has not been enhanced by this episode. It has behaved with great cowardice at a time when the governments that got it to stage a U-turn continue to imprison dozens of Internet users.

Online Free Expression Day is an event meant to rally support for imprisoned journalists and bloggers, as well as to increase awareness of government censorship. Reporters Without Borders has also created a web site where Internet users from around the globe can participate in "virtual protests" in areas like Tiananmen Square in China.

Reporters Without Borders also updated its "Internet Enemies" list which now includes Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe

 

13th March   

Undercover Censorship?...

Cops don't rate RateMyCop very highly
Link Here

Rate My Cop logo A new web service that lets users rate and comment on the uniformed police officers in their community is scrambling to restore service after hosting company GoDaddy unceremonious pulled-the-plug on the site in the wake of outrage from criticism-leery cops.

RateMyCop founder Gino Sesto says he was given no notice of the suspension. When he called GoDaddy, the company told him that he'd been shut down for "suspicious activity."

Police departments became uneasy about RateMyCop's plans to watch the watchers in January, when the Culver City, California, startup began issuing public information requests for lists of uniformed officers.

Then the site went live on February 28th. It stores the names and, in some cases, badge numbers of over 140,000 cops in as many as 500 police departments, and allows users to post comments about police they've interacted with, and rate them. The site garnered media interest this week as cops around the country complained that they'd be put at risk if their names were on the internet.

Since undercover officers aren't in the database, and the site has no personal information like home addresses, that fear seems unfounded. Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, voices what sounds like a more honest concern: that officers will face "unfair maligning" by the citizens they serve.

Sesto says police can post comments as well, and a future version of the site will allow them to authenticate themselves to post rebuttals more prominently. Chief Dyer wants to get legislation passed that would make RateMyCop.com illegal, which, of course, wouldn't pass constitutional muster in any court in America.

Sesto says he'd arranged for the Texas-based hosting firm RackSpace to take over permanent hosting for RateMyCop.com. But he heard from RackSpace's lawyer minutes ago, and the deal is off.

At the moment, the site has temporary hosting on its own server, but Sesto says it won't be able to handle the kind of traffic he expects as RateMyCop.com becomes more popular. He doesn't sound too worried, and there's little doubt that he'll be able to find a hosting company.

 

13th March   

Anonymous Nutter...

Kentucky lawmaker inspired by Chinese repression
Link Here

Kentucky seal Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.

Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted.

If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.

Couch says enforcing this bill if it became law would be a challenge.

 

13th March   

Perfectly Ludicrous...

Retrial over restaurant review contended as being libelous
Link Here

Scales of justice? A Northern Ireland newspaper has won an appeal overturning the award of £25,000 in damages to a restaurant it had criticised in a review.

The Irish News welcomed the unanimous verdict by Northern Ireland's court of appeal and said it had been vindicated on "a point of principle".

If a newspaper has to be entitled to express its views, we have defended that principle and we will continue to, said the paper's editor, Noel Doran.

In a review of the Goodfellas pizza restaurant in west Belfast, food writer Caroline Workman criticised the quality of the food and drink, the staff and the smoky atmosphere.

The restaurant's owner, Ciaran Convery, claimed the article was defamatory and sued. At a trial last year, a jury awarded him £25,000 in damages.

Today the Northern Ireland lord chief justice, Sir Brian Kerr, quashed that verdict and ordered a retrial: I have decided that there was misdirection in the present case. I would allow the appeal and quash the order made in favour of the respondent .

Although I consider it likely that a properly directed jury would conclude that sufficient factual substratum existed for the comment which constituted the preponderance of the article, I cannot be certain that this is so and I would therefore order a retrial.

Convery declined to comment on today's ruling and gave no indication as to whether he would proceed with a retrial.

At the two-day appeal in January, the Irish News argued that its criticism of the restaurant was "fair comment".

Lord Lester QC, representing the newspaper, told the appeal it would be "perfectly ludicrous" if libel proceedings were to follow any adverse review in a newspaper.

 

13th March   

Who'd be Teacher...

In a 'holier than thou' environment
Link Here

Teachers have a certain
image to uphold

A teaching assistant has taken leave of absence after her pupils found pornographic videos of her. Explicit images of a teaching assistant whose record was described as "excellent", were found by pupils on the internet and spread around the school on mobile phones.

An investigation has been launched at De Ferrers Technology College in Burton on Trent, but no action has yet been taken.

The emergence of the film, shot 10 years ago, prompted calls for the teacher to be sacked. Frank Bather, a governor at the school, said: It is something that will be viewed in the gravest sense, even in this so-called enlightened age.

Others, however, warned against being too tough for something that happened a decade ago, before she entered education, leaving the possibility that she could keep her job.

 

12th March   

Censorship Syndrome...

Thai Appeal over art house cuts rejected
Link Here  full story: Censored Films in Thailand...Thai censors hack away

Syndromes and a Century poster The Thai censorship appeals committee has upheld the decision to cut four scenes from the art-house movie Saeng Satawat (Syndromes and a Century) and ordered the director to cut an additional scene as well. We upheld the verdict because the movie contains inappropriate images of doctors and monks, said Police Major-General Somdej Khaokam of the Central Investigation Bureau, who chaired the hearing yesterday.

The film's director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, appealed after the Censorship Board ordered him to cut four scenes from Saeng Satawat last April.

These scenes featured a monk playing a guitar, doctors drinking whisky, doctors kissing and two monks playing with a radio-controlled toy.

The appeal committee ordered him to also cut a scene showing statues of Prince Mahidol of Songkhla and the late Princess Mother.

Apichatpong, who defended his case before the committee, expressed his extreme disappointmentL It was like I was on trial for being a communist . But he said he would cut the film as instructed: I will release the mutilated version as a statement and as a historical record of Thailand.

 

12th March   

Still Treated as Serfs...

Civil servants to be gagged
Link Here
UK Government logo

Britishness is...
Gagging unflattering comment

Ministers have been accused of "gagging" civil servants after a junior official was threatened with punishment over her internet blog about Whitehall.

The 33-year-old woman, known as the Civil Serf, faces a reprimand and even possible dismissal from the Department of Work and Pensions.

She made unflattering observations about ministers including Peter Hain, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, and Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary. She wrote of "under-utilised" civil servants and policy announcements being endlessly recycled.

Her website was taken down on Sunday night, fuelling speculation that she had been identified or had gone to ground for fear of being found out.

Two possible culprits have now been identified and the Serf could be disciplined on Tuesday.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, is now to set out new guidance to civil servants to cover blogging and online social networks following the demise of the “Civil Serf” blogger.

Sir Gus will shortly issue guidelines to tell officials whether they can start up blogs or use social networking websites such as Facebook and YouTube, and even if they can change details on Wikipedia.

The Cabinet Office claimed that officials were drawing up the new guidelines in response to an independent report last year called The Power of Information.

The report, published in January 2007, called for the Government to clarify by last autumn how officials should respond to “the online debate” while keeping within the civil service code. Only certain civil servants, such as those dealing with the media, are expected to make public statements.

The new code is likely to restrict information disclosed on blogs or social networks and limit the individuals who can interact with them.

 

12th March   

Crossing the t's...

Christianity needs defending from gentle allusion in advert
Link Here  full story: New Religion for Haircare...ASA patronise christians by banning haircare advert
Thy Will be Done slogan

Britishness is...
Whinging about minor offence

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned the television advertisements after the company Jemella, that trades as Ghd, used “erotic” images of women combined with with the text, thy will be done, to promote a heated hair styler.

In one scene, a woman wearing lingerie sat on the edge of a bed with rosary-style beads clasped in her hands and prayed in Italian: May my new curls make her feel choked with jealousy. Another showed a woman lying on a bed, with her thoughts in Swedish and printed on the screen: May my flirty flicks puncture the heart of every man I see. A third showed a woman carrying a votive candle through to her bedroom before looking upwards and praying: Make him dump her tonight and come home with me.

Finally text stated ghd IV thy Will Be Done, with the letter “t” appearing as a cross. On-screen text then stated ghd. A new religion for hair.

The advertisement prompted complaints from the shameful Archdeacon of Liverpool, Ricky Panter, and 22 other members of the public who claimed the images were offensive to the Christian faith.

Panter told The Times last night: It seemed to me the advertisement crossed a line. I felt very uncomfortable with it. It was targeting the Lord’s Prayer and I felt it was taking the mick. This is not about censorship or about being prudish ...[BUT]... It is simply about every individual’s right to signal when they think a line has been crossed.

The advertising clearance organisation Clearcast, which had approved this and previous Jemella campaigns, claimed the advertisements did not seek to mock any particular religion and contained language that had been used by Ghd for the past seven years.

The ASA decided however that the devotion to hair prayer depicted in the advertisements went too far: The women in the ads appeared to be in prayer, the ASA said in its ruling. “Their hands were clasped and they were looking upwards towards the sky. One was holding a votive candle and another was holding a set of beads that resembled rosary beads. We also noted the images of the women in their bedrooms, some of them in their underwear and others on their beds, were presented in a way that could be seen to be erotic

The ASA concluded that the eroticised images of the women apparently in prayer, in conjunction with religious symbols such as the votive candle and the rosary beads, the use of the phrase ‘thy will be done’ from the Lord's Prayer and the image of the letter t as the Cross of Jesus, were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians.

The advertisement is still running on YouTube and on the company’s own website. The industry is at present debating how it can regulate new media. A spokesman for the ASA said: If consumers want to stop the ad appearing on a company’s website then, in the first instance, we recommend that they contact them directly.

Comment: ASA for the Succour of the Easily Offended

Thanks to Alan, 13th March 2008

Interesting to see the Archdeacon of Liverpool's whingeing and the craven response of the ASA, which seems to act as an association for the succour of the easily offended.

I notice that the archdeacon doesn't support censorship ...BUT....

Strange thing is, archdeacons have always had a lousy reputation. In the middle ages, they were so notorious for their corruption that theologians seriously debated whether they could be saved. They're not much more highly regarded today, and the favourite definition of an archdeacon in the Church of England is the crook at the head of a bishop's staff.

 

12th March   

Britishness is...

A censorial old fossil like Austin Mitchell
Link Here

Britishness is...
A censorial old fossil

Yesterday 73 year old MP Austin Mitchell demanded that softcore satellite pornography channels are banned.

MP Austin Mitchell : I watched just for the purposes of research the pornography and sex channels which are available certainly on my satellite dish. Now these are horrible actually, they should be BANNED I can't see why we are allowing them.`

This is a terrible thought if we are equipping the country to watch this degrading rubbish.

Comment: Old Fossil

Thanks to Yanis & Shaun

Does the MP know that (R)18 has a complete ban?
Does the MP know the nature of (R)18?

It should be explained if he does not like those satellite pornography channels they can be removed from the guide.

Thanks to IanG

At 73 you'd have thought people would act like adults, no?

What your 'research' should have turned up you old fart, is that the British public are being RIPPED OFF because OFCOM have decided REAL PORN cannot be shown on TV - despite having NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that this material needs to be banned. It isn't banned in France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, or the USA etc. etc. for that matter.

What EXACTLY is so 'wrong' with porn, what's so 'dangerous' or 'disgusting' about sex that stuck-in-that-past Britain keeps up this idiotic, rights-abusing charade?

 

12th March   

Strong Language Veiled...

Ofcom whinge at film, Yasmin
Link Here

Yasmin DVD Yasmin , DM Digital, 15 October 2007, 19:30

Yasmin is a film about the experiences of a young Muslim woman living in the Yorkshire town of Keighley, following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It has a 15 certificate from the BBFC.

A viewer complained about the strong language used in the programme.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.14 (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed)
  • Rule 1.16 (prewatershed use of offensive language to be justified by context; frequent use to be avoided).

The broadcaster stated that it had tried as far as possible to remove any unsuitable language. It also stated that the language used in the film was not frequent and was justified by the dramatic context.

Ofcom Decision

The film contained a number of swear words, including “fuck/fucking” as well as other sexual references. A number of other instances had been masked in part by lowering the volume of the audio.

Ofcom’s research has demonstrated that the words ‘fuck’ and ‘fucking’ are regarded as the most offensive language. By broadcasting this language in this film prior to the watershed, DM Digital was in breach of Rule 1.14 of the Code.

Although isolated use of less offensive language may be justified by context, frequent use is prohibited pre-watershed by Rule 1.16. Ofcom noted that the language complained of, together with other offensive language had occurred at regular intervals across the programme. It therefore judged that a breach of Rule 1.16 had occurred.

Breach of Rule 1.14 and 1.16

 

11th March   

More Plugged In...

Howard the Duck released uncut
Link Here

Haward the Duck DVD Howard the Duck is 1986 US comedy by Willard Huyck

The DVD was resubmitted in 2008 by Metrodome and was passed uncut albeit with a 12 certificate and now titled

This uncut region 2 DVD is available at UK Amazon

Previously, the cinema release of 1986 and the subsequent video version from CIC were both cut by 45s. They were released under the title, Howard: A New Breed of Hero

Two scenes were cut:

  • one involving Lea Thompson finding a condom in Howard's wallet
  • one where Jeffrey Jones uses a tentacle from his mouth to plug into a cigarette lighter

Both of these scenes were included in a BBC version in 1990 that was screened at 6pm! Can anyone verify if these scenes were actually missing from the UK video version?

Comments: Tongue Wagging

Thanks to Daniel

The 45 seconds of footage cut by the BBFC for the theatrical release were definitely missing from the subsequent video version.

I watched the uncut version both times it was screened on TV in the 1990's and was pleasantly surprised that the footage had been restored.

The BBC had a habit of doing this in the 90's: see also RAMBLING ROSE, cut for a breach of the child protection act for theatrical and video release but shown intact on BBC2.

I always thought HOWARD THE DUCK was a fantastic film, and it was great to see the new restored DVD.

Thanks to Wynter

I remember watching Howard the Duck on television at an early age (1990 sounds about right) and the condom scene was definitely included. I can't remember the tongue in the socket scene, so by the BBFC's reckoning it can't have been there as I was ten and would have no doubt copied it and remembered the subsequent sensation! (Or maybe it was and at ten I was able to decide that such an act would be foolish!)

 

11th March   

Always Tomorrow...

Bahrain free to delay promised press freedom
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Bahrain...Slighty improved press law

Bahrain flag Bahrain was urged yesterday to provide more protection for journalists by scraping the jail sentences in its Press law.

A report by Reporters Without Borders has issued calls for the authorities to implement legislative reforms they have been promising for years.

It also called upon them to fulfil their promises to allow more Press freedom. According to the report, reform of the Press law must not be abandoned for lack of political determination or because of pressure from the radical fundamentalists who form the majority in parliament.

The report calls also upon the government to put an end to the state monopoly on broadcasting. The organisation also urged the Information Ministry to show more restraint in its censorship of the Internet. Access to some web sites is banned. It should be the job of the courts, not the government, to regulate the Internet, the report said.

The report praised the freedom atmosphere in the Kingdom when compared to other GCC states, but highlighted that the Press freedom situation is far from satisfactory.

It appreciated the fact that no journalist has been imprisoned since March 1999, but highlights that the Press was still facing many problems. It claimed that restrictive laws and pressure from officials too often force journalists to exercise censorship.

 

11th March   

Offsite: To be Hanged for what?...

Iranian journalist to be executed
Link Here

Iran flag An Iranian Baluch journalist and civil rights campaigner, Yaghub Mehrnehad, aged 28, has been sentenced to death for an unknown offence, after torture and an unfair trial conducted behind closed doors, according to Amnesty International.

His execution is imminent. He is likely to be hanged in public, using the barbaric slow strangulation method favoured by the Tehran regime. It is deliberately designed to maximise the pain and prolong the suffering of the victim.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) have condemned the death sentence.

Mehrnehad is a journalist for the reformist newspaper, Mardomsalari (Democracy), and president of Sedaye Edalat (Voice of Justice), a lawful, government-registered cultural association in Iranian-occupied Baluchistan.

On February 19, the Iranian judicial authorities announced that Mehrnehad had been sentenced to death for belonging to the armed Jondollah organisation, also known as the Iranian Peoples' Resistance Movement. No evidence has been offered to substantiate this allegation. On the contrary, all Mehrnehad's activities have been lawful and peaceful.

His appeal against conviction has been fast-tracked, in violation of Iranian law, to prevent him from challenging what human rights organisations say is a grave miscarriage of justice.

...Read full article

 

10th March   

Update: Bully Teachers...

Nutters never learn
Link Here  full story: Bully Video Game...Scholarship Edition re-ignites moral campaigners

Bully Scholarship Edition A Bully computer game sends out the wrong signals and should be withdrawn from sale, say UK teachers.

They are part of a global coalition concerned about the impact of the game, which has been released in new formats.

Bully: Scholarship Edition trivialises and glorifies bullying in school , say opponents from eight international teacher groups.

UK retailers say they will not act as censors and will continue to sell the game to children over the age of 15.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SCTA) are part of an international group which thinks the game could encourage bullying.

Although it carries a BBFC 15 rating, campaigners fear Bully could get into the hands of much younger children. The idea of a game that rewards bullies and those who engage in brutal and savage attacks is irresponsible in the extreme
Steve Sinnott, general secretary, NUT

The game, designed by US-based Rockstar Games was originally launched in 2006 but has been updated for the new generation of games' consoles - Xbox and Wii.

NUT general secretary Steve Sinnott said: At a time when there is a growing concern about bullying in schools and the increasing violence shown towards teachers, the idea of a game that rewards bullies and those who engage in brutal and savage attacks is irresponsible in the extreme. I call upon Amazon, Game, Play and HMV to withdraw this product from sale immediately.

The Australian Education Union's federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said: We were disappointed when the game was first released in 2006 and we are appalled this new version is said to be more realistic, featuring new methods to torment and bully. The coalition of countries calling for the game to be withdrawn from shelves includes Canada, South Korea and the Caribbean.

HMV told the BBC News website they would not actively promote the game by placing adverts in national newspapers and that their approach would be more discreet, but they would not remove it from sale.

The BBFC explain their uncut 15 rating as follows:

BBFC logo BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION is a third person 'beat em up' game for the Xbox 360 console. The player character is Jimmy, a new pupil at a tough boarding school. He has to complete various missions, attend lessons and fight his way to the top of the pecking order in order to progress through the game.

This game received a '15' classification because it contains strong violence. Jimmy has a range of weapons available to him, including a catapult, fire crackers, aerosol sprays and a firework gun. Fighting does not result in blood or visible injuries, but it is a frequent part of the game play. While the frequency of the violence places it at the '15' category, the lack of detail and the way the game makes it very difficult for Jimmy to attack vulnerable characters (girls, younger pupils, etc) by sending prefects to apprehend and punish him with boring tasks helped to keep it out of the '18' category. The '15' classification was also felt to be the most appropriate category for the imitable behaviour in the game, such as using the items listed above as weapons. While the dangers may be expected to be obvious to players aged 15 and above, it was felt that this may not be so clear to younger gamers.

BULLY also contains some moderate bad language including 'bitch' and 'slut', and some mild sexual innuendo

 

10th March   

Boycott eNom...

Petition to boycott the quick to censor eNom
Link Here

Wikileaks logo I will boycott eNom, Demand Media and its front organizations, resellers and affiliated entities by all means possible to me. Because of their involvement in Internet censorship and bad customer service but only if 50 other censorship fighters will do all they can to boycott them and encourage others to do the same.

The Internet should be a global medium for free speech and all companies active on this medium should advocate for this purpose. When one of the largest actors on Internet actively and willingly censor domain names, hides information and abuses their customer's action must be taken.

Demand Media, through eNom Inc, recently locked and blocked access to an innocent Englishman’s domain names without telling him; they also refuse to release these names. Forcing him to re-register his domain names with a different suffix.

They also did the exact same thing against the whistleblower's site wikileaks, when they disabled their domain name wikileaks.info. And obviously refused to reply until threatened with mass exposure.

 

10th March   

Extraordinary Rendition of High Court Injunction...

UK Government gags SAS soldier
Link Here

UK Government logo The Labour government took out a high court injunction to prevent a former member of the British Special Air Services, Ben Griffin, from revealing further details about the government’s involvement in “extraordinary rendition”

The US administration coined the term to cover the practice of sending arrested terrorist suspects to dozens of detention facilities where torture is often carried out. Ever since reports of rendition and torture began to surface after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001, the British government has adamantly denied any knowledge or collaboration with these activities.

In his last public address before the gagging order came into force, Griffin told an antiwar rally, I will be continuing to collect evidence and opinion on British involvement in extraordinary rendition, torture, secret detentions, extra-judicial detention, use of evidence gained through torture, breaches of the Geneva Conventions, breaches of International Law and failure to abide by our obligations as per UN Convention Against Torture. I am carrying on regardless.

Griffin was served with a high court injunction banning him from speaking publicly about, or publishing material from, his time as a soldier in Iraq.

 

10th March   

Two Jibes and You're Out...

Bjork winds up China
Link Here  full story: Performers Censored in China...Quick to ban and censor star performers from the west

Declare Independence single China is to impose stricter rules on foreign rock and pop stars after singer Bjork caused controversy by shouting "Tibet, Tibet" at a Shanghai concert.

Her cry followed a powerful performance of her song Declare Independence .

Talk of Tibetan independence is considered taboo in China, which has ruled the territory since 1951. China's culture ministry said the outburst broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people's feelings and pledged to further tighten controls. We shall never tolerate any attempt to separate Tibet from China and will no longer welcome any artists who deliberately do this.

Bjork said she would like to put importance on that I am not a politician, I am first and last a musician and as such I feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions.

On her website, she said: This song was written more with the personal in mind. But the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure.

A spokeswoman from the culture ministry told the AFP news agency Bjork could be banned from performing in China if there was a repeat performance: If Bjork continued to behave like that in the future, we may consider never allowing her to perform in China .

Update: Olympic Backtracking

14th March

The Chinese Vice Minister of Culture , Zhou Heping , has now dismissed the tighter controls originally implied, saying: It was just an individual case. I don’t think it will affect an invitation of artists from all over the world to come to China and perform, particularly during the Olympic Games .

 

9th March   

Update: Terrifying Censors...

Chinese censors publish some of their guidelines
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids

SARFT logo Censors reiterated the criteria for censorship saying that films with explicit sex and fear-provoking elements must be cut or revised before release.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said in a notice on its website that the move was intended to purify screen entertainment and create a more harmonious and "green" film environment for the public, especially children.

The censor asked nationwide studios not to produce films that depict hardcore sexual activity, rape, prostitution, nudity and the like. Vulgar dialogue or music and sound effects that had a sexual connotation were also restricted.

Content involving murder, violence, horror, evil spirits and devils and excessively terrifying scenes, conversations, background music and sound effects were on the list as well.

Other films that would be banned include those that:

  • Distort the civilization and history of China or other nations
  • Tarnish the image of revolutionary leaders, heroes, important historic characters, members of the armed forces, police and judicial bodies
  • Reconstruct crimes or reveal police investigatory techniques
  • Advocate nihilism, environmental damage, animal abuse and the capture or killing of rare animals.

 

9th March   

Update: Pressing Concerns...

Press freedom is under pressure in Europe
Link Here

AEJ logo Journalists throughout Europe, both east and west, are faced with a growing pattern of censorship and pressure including physical violence and intimidation, according to a survey by the Association of European Journalists (AEJ). What's more, the EU is failing to stand up for them, the AEJ adds.

The survey, presented on 28 February in Brussels, found media freedom in retreat across much of Europe and pointed to a number of abuses by governments, including interference in editorial policies and even threats and intimidation.

The AEJ survey, which covers 20 countries, listed a number of abuses including:

  • Violence and intimidation (Russia, Armenia)
  • assault against media independence by governments (Slovenia)
  • political abuses, particularly in public broadcasting (Croatia, Slovakia, Poland
  • commercial pressure and over-concentration in mainstream media (France, Italy).

William Horsley, the survey's editor, said: Governments across Europe are showing a marked trend to use harsher methods, including heavy official 'spin' and tighter controls on journalists' access to information in order to block media criticism.

And according to Horsley, the trend is not confined to the younger democracies of Central and Eastern Europe. The open confrontation between government and the media in Slovenia is mirrored in various ways in the UK, Ireland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, among others.

In Ireland, two senior journalists from The Irish Times are facing jail sentences for refusing to reveal their sources, the AEJ heard at a recent workshop in Dublin. In Slovakia, journalist Martin Klein was condemned for publishing a satirical article about a church leader, a ruling which was subsequently upheld by Slovakia's Supreme Court despite a judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which backed the journalist.

What's more, Horsley says media organisations themselves have to share part of the blame: European media have been too slow to comprehend and report the pattern of censorship, pressure and sometimes physical violence faced by journalists in every corner of Europe.

As for the European institutions – the Council, Commission and Parliament - Horsley said they had so far failed to stand up for media freedom.

Horsley told EurActiv: If the EU neglects its own doubtful record in protecting media freedoms at home it is obvious that governments elsewhere will not take very seriously its appeals to allow media freedom and independence there.

 

8th March   

Update: Lust Caution and Revenge...

China bans Lust, Caution actress from working
Link Here

Lust, Caution Lust, Caution star Tang Wei has been banned in the Chinese media because of the sexual nature of her performance in the Ang Lee film.

An internal memo from China's State Administration of Radio Film and Television was allegedly sent to all television stations and print media in China, stating that a new television commercial starring Tang for skin care brand Pond's was to cease broadcast immediately. All print ads and feature content using the actress also were to be pulled. The memo gave no reason for the ban.

Neither Tang's manager nor SARFT could be reached for comment, but her "Lust, Caution" director weighed in on the decision Friday.

In a statement titled Reassertion of Censorship Guidelines and dated March 7, SARFT said that, it informed all major film and broadcast entities and governing bodies that it was renewing prohibitions on lewd and pornographic content and content that show promiscuous acts, rape, prostitution, sexual intercourse, sexual perversity, masturbation and male/female sexual organs and other private parts.

In addition, all awards shows in China were advised to exclude Tang and the producers of Lust, Caution from their list of guests, while discussions about the film and Tang on online forums were deleted.

 

8th March   

Freedom to Become an Ancient Artifact...

Greece proposes to regulate blogs as per the press
Link Here

Greece flag The Greek government is poised to extend the legal framework surrounding blogs after an investigation was launched regarding the alleged blackmail of journalists by colleagues through the popular blogspot press-gr.

Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos confirmed that the justice ministry is working on amending an existing law (#1187) that grants people the right to press charges against the media, journalists, editors or the organisation itself in cases of slander or libel.

Sources at the justice ministry told the Athens News that the amendment - to be brought before parliament in March - will include non-professional, not-for-profit informative blogs and websites of "editorial products" and that they will have the same liabilities as magazines and newspapers.

The same sources note that the ministry is considering the following three possible additions to the law: blog administrators will have to display their personal details on the home page of the blog; authorities will have increased powers to track down bloggers who have posted libel or defamatory comments; and the National Radio and Television Council will have increased powers to intervene in instances of libel.

The government's plans have sparked outrage among bloggers, legal exerts and internet users, who believe the amendment will violate their right to freedom of speech.

Internet lawyer Vasilis Sotiropoulos told the Athens News that the proposed bill could violate the principle of anonymity on the internet, which is protected by the constitution: Anonymity can only be declassified on the internet when a serious crime takes place, according to the Greek constitution. Everyone has the right to post comments on the basis of anonymity. If the government's plans go through, there is a real danger that personal views expressed by net users will be seen as libellous and this will have unpredictable consequences.

Nikos Drandakis, one of Greece's leading bloggers, says the proposed changes are dangerous: There are over 40,000 Greek blogs and most of them are being demonised at the moment. And all this is happening because of blackmail allegations involving one blog spot. This is really unfair, considering the blogs have opened up new avenues of communication... It shows that the government is out of touch with the realities of the internet.

Greek bloggers are planning a demonstration at the parliament on March 9 to protest the proposed amendment.

 

8th March   

Internet's Off, Election Day...

Iran to silence the election day lies and promises
Link Here

Iran flag The Iranian government might block private access to the Internet for the general legislative election on March 14.

Iran has placed many restrictions on the Internet, but it has never shut down the Internet on such a scale. Several million Iranians follow political news on the Internet, and political parties have their own active Web sites.

 

8th March   

Havana Nice Day...

US censors European travel business offering travel to Cuba
Link Here

Cuba Guantanamo logo Steve Marshall is an English travel agent. He lives in Spain, and he sells trips to Europeans who want to go to sunny places, including Cuba.

In October, about 80 of his Web sites stopped working, thanks to the United States government.

The Cuba related sites, in English, French and Spanish, had been online since 1998. Some were literary, others discussed Cuban history and culture, still others were purely commercial sites aimed at Italian and French tourists.

It turned out that Marshall’s Web sites had been put on a Treasury Department blacklist and, as a consequence, his American domain name registrar, eNom Inc., had disabled them. Marshall said eNom told him it did so after a call from the Treasury Department.

There is no dispute that eNom shut down Marshall’s sites without notifying him and has refused to release the domain names to him. In effect, Marshall said, eNom has taken his property and interfered with his business.

Marshall said he did not understand how Web sites owned by a British national operating via a Spanish travel agency can be affected by U.S. law. Worse, he said, these days not even a judge is required for the U.S. government to censor online materials.

A Treasury spokesman said Marshall’s company had helped Americans evade restrictions on travel to Cuba and was a generator of resources that the Cuban regime uses to oppress its people. It added that American companies must not only stop doing business with the company but also freeze its assets, meaning that eNom did exactly what it was legally required to do.

Marshall said he was uninterested in American tourists. They can’t go anyway, he said.

Susan Crawford, a visiting law professor at Yale and a leading authority on Internet law, said the fact that many large domain name registrars are based in the United States gives the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, control over a great deal of speech — none of which may be actually hosted in the U.S., about the U.S. or conflicting with any U.S. rights. OFAC apparently has the power to order that this speech disappear.

Unlike Americans, who face significant restrictions on travel to Cuba, Europeans are free to go there, and many do. Charles S. Sims, a lawyer said the Treasury Department might have gone too far in Marshall’s case: The U.S can certainly criminalize the expenditure of money by U.S. citizens in Cuba but it doesn’t properly have any jurisdiction over foreign sites that are not targeted at the U.S. and which are lawful under foreign law.

 

8th March   

Offsite: Confessions of a Screen Cleaner...

Decades of nonsense from the Irish censor
Link Here

IFCO logo In their decades-long crusade to preserve Ireland's innocence, the country's notoriously strict film censors banned violent movies such as A Clockwork Orange , The Wild Bunch and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre .

However, it wasn't only violent cult classics that incurred the censors' wrath. Such seemingly inoffensive titles as Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Brief Encounter, The Quiet Man and On the Waterfront were also banned or heavily censored. In all, about 11,000 films were cut and about 2,500 completely banned.

Dublin's censors sliced through celluloid with an almost zealous energy. Movie-goers watched Gone with the Wind blissfully unaware of the passionate clinches between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, which were deemed far too hot for the Irish screen.

...Read the full article

 

7th March   

Update: Unbelievable...

The nonsense of blasphemy set for abolition after Lords vote
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in the UK...Parliamentary repeals UK blasphemy laws

House of Lords logo After an acrimonious debate in which the bogeyman of secularism was repeatedly invoked, the House of Lords on Wednesday accepted the amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill that abolishes the common law of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

The amendment had originally been introduced by Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris in the House of Commons, but the Government had persuaded him to withdraw it after promising to introduce its own amendment later in the Lords. This it has now done with something less than enthusiasm.

The Bishops in the House were divided, some saying that the abolition was unnecessary and undesirable and others saying that it was inevitable and that the Church should therefore concede. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, had agreed to the Government's amendment during a consultation, but expressed strong reservations about the timing of the move.

Prominent Christian activist Baroness O'Cathain launched a blistering attack on the amendment, with particular fury aimed at Evan Harris. Lady O'Cathain maintained that abolition of blasphemy would unleash a torrent of abuse towards Christians.

Lib Dem peer Lord Avebury pressurised the Government into keeping its word by tabling his own abolition amendment.

The Government had conducted a "short and sharp" consultation with the Church of England about the amendment, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York both agreed not to oppose the abolition, although both questioned its timing.

Evan Harris said that this debate had been going on for 21 years, since the Law Commission had recommended abolition of the law, and for the Church it would never be the right time.
Lord Avebury also introduced other amendments to the Bill that would clear out some other ancient Church privileges, such as Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860, under which Peter Tatchell was charged when he interrupted a sermon by the-then Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral. Lord Avebury's amendments were rejected by the Government and opposed by the bishops.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society pointed out that although the UK blasphemy laws are in the course of abolition, there is growing pressure in the Islamic world to outlaw so-called "religious defamation", a kind of super blasphemy law. This pressure is being applied at the United Nations and its Human Rights Council. He commented: "If the United Nations Human Rights Council succumbs to the pressure from the Islamic countries to permit laws against religious defamation, it will be a major blow to freedom of expression, which underpins both democracy and civilisation itself. Nations who cherish freedom should wake up to the dangers of such moves, rather than sit idly by as they have done so far."

The following amendment was passed by 148 to 87:

BARONESS ANDREWS

144B* Insert the following new Clause—
"Blasphemy and blasphemous libel
(1) The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel under the common law of England and Wales are abolished.
(2) In section 1 of the Criminal Libel Act 1819 (60 Geo. 3 & 1 Geo. 4 c. 8) (orders for seizure of copies of blasphemous or seditious libel) the words "any blasphemous libel, or" are omitted.
(3) In sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (c. 64) (privileged matters) the words "blasphemous or" are omitted.
(4) Subsections (2) and (3) (and the related repeals in Schedule 38) extend to England and Wales only."

 

7th March   

Update: Fitna Support...

Public support for Fitna but TV companies aren't so keen
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders No Dutch public or commercial television station is willing to broadcast MP Geert Wilder’s anti-Koran film, the Volkskrant reports.

The paper says Wilders insists the entire 10 to 15-minute feature be screened, a condition no broadcaster is willing to meet.

We would not do that with a film produced by the Christian Democrats or the Liberals and also not for [Geert Wilder’s party] PVV, Herman van Gelderen, head of NRCV programme Netwerk said. We are also extremely cautious about encouraging hatred and discrimination.’

Nova editor Carel Kuyl told the paper that Wilders was willing to allow a preview of his film on the condition programme chiefs agreed to broadcast it anyway.

Wilders will now launch his film, titled Fitna , on the internet later this month. The Volkskrant reports that the press centre in The Hague, Nieuwspoort, has agreed to the presentation of Wilders' film on March 28, pending security arrangements.

Meanwhile, the AD reports that the Dutch anti-terrorism coordinator has raised the terror alarm level from ‘limited’ to ‘substantial’. Both Wilders’ film and the extension of the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan influenced the decision, the paper says.

See full article from Reuters

A majority of Dutch people want an anti-Koran film made by a politician to be broadcast even though they fear it will stoke tension with Muslims and harm relations with Arab countries, a poll showed on Wednesday.

The poll by TNS NIPO for RTL television showed that 54% thought the film should be broadcast although 76% expected it to increase tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims and 74% saw worsening relations with Arab nations.

The survey of 600 people conducted on February 29 showed that 68% expected a boycott like that seen against Denmark after cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed appeared in a Danish newspaper.

See full article from Radio Netherlands

During a meeting in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende that he will support the Netherlands if it comes under attack because of the anti-Qur'an film Fitna by populist leader Geert Wilders.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has asked Dutch ambassadors in Islamic countries to do their best to protect Dutch citizens and companies. Pakistan has also brought the issue to the attention of the European Union and the Vatican. At Islamabad's request, the matter has been placed at the top of the agenda at next week's summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Senegal.

Update: Artistic Support

14th March 2007

The Danish cartoonist behind drawings satirising the Prophet Muhammad has urged a Dutch lawmaker to air an anti-Islam film despite Muslim outrage.

Kurt Westergaard said MP Geert Wilders should show his film, despite government warnings that this would damage Dutch interests.

He said that no Danish politician would dare to block the film.

 

7th March   

Army of Censors...

Germany bans Army of Two game
Link Here

Army of Two game German gaming site areagames is reporting that the censors of Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) have refused EA's Army of Two classification, effectively banning the title from retail sale in the country.

In the UK the game was passed 18 uncut with the following BBFC comment:

Army Of Two is a third-person perspective shoot-'em-up game, in which the player is a mercenary soldier. The game contains strong bloody violence. It also contains strong language.

The violence is constant and there is quite a bit of blood, with bodies exploding in a shower of red when they are hit. However, no clear injuries or dismemberments occur. If bodies are shot after they are already dead, there is no additional bloodshed. It is possible to shoot innocents, but the characters cannot inflict violence on each other. When a player-character is injured, large blood splats cover the 'camera'.

A wide variety of weapons are available, including rocket-launchers, sniper rifles and grenades. Tampons are used to mend wounds and the player is encouraged to push buttons until the tampon fills with blood and the player-character's colleague is fixed.

The language is strong and includes frequent uses of 'fuck' and motherfucker'.

 

7th March   

Update: X in the Box For PEGI...

BBFC vs PEGI
Link Here  full story: Harmful Content...Parliament Inquiry: Internet And In Video Games:

PEGI logo UK Xbox boss Neil Thompson has said he reckons PEGI would do a better job of rating videogames than the British Board of Film Classification.

There's been much talk about whether the UK should have a single ratings system lately. (Sometimes we talk about it in the office. "Do you think the UK should have a single ratings system?" "I don't care. It's your turn to make the tea.") It's thought that Tanya Byron could make such a recommendation in her forthcoming Government review on violence in games, though nothing has been decided. Two sugars.

"We made it very clear to the Byron Report team, both as an industry and as Microsoft, strongly believe that PEGI has a lot more benefits for customers, parents and for everyone involved in the industry really," Thompson said.

"PEGI has been established for quite a few years now as the industry standard, so the industry has got behind it and invested a lot of time and effort in it, and it offers a level of in-depth information as well as a level of expertise to be honest, that the BBFC doesn't."

According to Thompson, PEGI rated nearly 2000 games last year - while the BBFC managed just 100. That's not including Manhunt 2, which was refused a rating by the BBFC for being likely to turn us all into homicidal maniacs.

"There's just a scale difference in terms of industry knowledge and industry insight that goes into these things," Thomspon observed.

The BBFC has claimed the symbols used by PEGI aren't meaningful enough, but Thompson reckons they help consumers to quickly ascertain which age groups games are suitable for. The key, he argues, is for the industry and Government to educate parents about ratings.

To read the full interview with Thompson, visit GamesIndustry.biz - where freshly squeezed information and organically grown fact are whisked up in the blender of truth to produce piping hot news soup.
 

 

7th March   

Update: Children's Games...

Michael Atkinson is vetoing adult games rating
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australian R18+ certificate South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson was cut off by interruptions in State Parliament while arguing against an R18+ classification for games.

Atkinson is the most vocal opponent to a R18+ classification for games, which cannot be introduced without the agreement of all state and Commonwealth attorneys-general.

During the speech, Atkinson began to describe five games that had been banned in Australia. As he was describing drug use in the game Narc , he was cut off by raucous interjections and returned to his seat.

Atkinson said: I have consistently opposed an R18+ classification for computer games. I am concerned about the harm of high-impact (particularly violent) computer games to children. Games may pose a far greater problem than other media – particularly films – because their interactive nature could exacerbate their impact. The risk of interactivity on players of computer games with highly violent content is increased aggressive behaviour.

I do not want children to be able to get their hands on R18+ games easily. I understand that the lack of an R18+ classification denies some adults the chance to play some games, however, the need to keep potentially harmful material away from children is far more important.

Proponents for the classification say the latest technology allows gaming platforms and computers to be programmed to allow parental locks. Today’s children are far more technologically savvy than their parents. It’s laughable to suggest that they couldn’t find ways around parental locks if R18+ games were in the home.

I have mentioned that, despite there being thousands of computer games available to consumers, only a handful are banned. I want to give some examples of games refused classification in Australia because I’m certain that fair-minded people would not want the kind of content in them to be available to children.

  • Blitz: The League
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • 50 Cent: Bulletproof
  • Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
  • Narc

I contest any idea that it is necessary for games to include material of this kind and that a game is more interesting to an adult because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material, instruction in crime or characters using illicit drugs. I remain firmly opposed to changing the classifications of computer games to allow an R-rating for games with such content.

This is a carefully considered position I have held for six years and other attorneys-general around Australia may now be coming to the same view. There are not adequate safeguards that can properly protect our children from those disturbing scenes and I know how computer-literate they are. Like other parents in Australia, I want to try to protect children from being able to access computer-generated pornography and violence.

I have not been persuaded by arguments for an R18+ classification for computer games and I will continue to oppose it.

 

7th March   

Indecent Fines...

Canada's TV regulator gears up to fine errant TV companies
Link Here

CRTC logo In the latest sign of a government crackdown on sex and violence in domestic films and TV shows, Canada's TV regulator has called for the first-ever fines for broadcast indecency.

Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), told a parliamentary committee in Ottawa that fines would sharpen and strengthen his enforcement powers over domestic broadcasters: The commission should be able to fine a broadcaster for infractions. The fines would be proportionate to the offense. They would be large enough to hurt and to serve as a deterrent.

Unlike the U.S. market where the Federal Communications Commission can impose fines on broadcast offenders, the CRTC currently punishes indecency with either on-air announcements that an infraction has occurred, or by a decision to shorten or deny a broadcast license renewal.

Von Finckenstein said both remedies are either too light or too heavy, and fines would help modulate enforcement.

His comments came as the Canadian House of Commons considers two bills aimed at the media industry. One seeks to amend the Broadcasting Act to reduce exposure by children to TV violence, while the other wants to censor domestic films and TV shows through tax policies.

 

7th March   

Visit Fuddy Duddy Scotland...

Nutters wound up by nude surfers
Link Here

Visit Scotland An agency from London decided Scotland's breathtaking scenery was best illustrated by filming three men surfing in the nude for a clever little viral ad to be circulated worldwide on YouTube, Bebo and Facebook.

Within hours of the three locals stripping off to run along one of Barra's most famous beaches, the tourism agency VisitScotland had taken a furious phone call from one of the Catholic island's parish priests.

Devout islanders, said the Very Rev Angus John Provost MacQueen, were incensed, not least because the film crew had chosen Cockle Beach, Barra's seaside landing strip near the main town of Castlebay. Two flights had just come and both planes were still on the strand there. Many people were there and they were outraged. Would you like people going stark naked running down your runway? We don't want to attract this kind of tourism to Barra. We are overbooked in the summer as it is.

The controversial footage was immediately destroyed, VisitScotland confirmed yesterday, although other adventure sports such as kayaking are still featured, fully dressed. The idea behind this particular element was to do something quirky which we're getting on YouTube and social networking sites, a spokeswoman said. But there was some feedback from the local community that they were offended by the filming. As soon as we heard that, we realised we'd misjudged that and destroyed that bit of filming.

 

7th March   

Beyer Past His Watershed...

Beyer wants to apply watershed to internet
Link Here
John Beyer

Sorry, sane adult
thinking not allowed until 9pm
...and I knock off at 5

The continuous promotion by the BBC of its iPlayer over recent weeks, and Channel 4's On-Demand service, has given rise to questions about how this ingenious facility is to be regulated so that the predominantly young people, at whom it is aimed, may be protected from offensive and harmful content, as the Broadcasting Code requires.

Ofcom, in its Draft Annual Plan for 2008/09, has drawn attention to the gap in regulation of downloading and says: These developments are exposing differences in the regulatory frameworks because many of the rules applicable to content delivered by traditional broadcasters do not apply to very similar or identical content delivered over the internet.

Ofcom says: We will encourage all content providers to promote and make available information about potentially harmful or offensive content in a form that is easy to understand. At the same time we will encourage the promotion of internet filters, firewalls and PIN access to television services that are easy to use and are effective in helping people manage their access to the media.

In the letter to Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham MP John Beyer said:

Our concern is with regulation. I have recently been in correspondence with Ofcom who tell me that the Communications Act 2003 excluded downloaded material from its regulatory oversight. Given that this Act requires Ofcom to have special regard for the protection of under-18s from offensive and harmful material we wonder whether the Government has any plans to remove the exclusion so that Ofcom does have regulatory oversight of material downloaded from the websites of broadcasters who are normally subject to their regulation.

You will not need me to point out that the ability to download programmes anytime makes the "watershed" completely redundant. We are aware that Broadcasters continue to defend offensive and harmful material shown after 9.00pm because of the watershed. This is also one of the reasons for Ofcom failing to intervene on content when many people feel it is necessary.

We would certainly value your advice on how children and young people are to be protected from harmful and offensive material in the downloading environment especially as neither Film nor Broadcasting was included in the brief given to Dr Tanya Byron.


Beyer is calling for an immediate review of the regulatory oversight of Ofcom and is recommending that it be extended to include programming that is downloaded from broadcasters who are normally subject to its jurisdiction.

 

7th March   

Inaccessible...

Press censorship in Armenia after state of emergency declared
Link Here

Armenia flag Armenian authorities should immediately lift restrictions on independent news reporting and the censorship of independent news Web sites, steps imposed when President Robert Kocharian declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Kocharian declared a 20-day state of emergency after clashes between government troops and opposition supporters in the capital, Yereven. Protesters claimed that vote-rigging marred the February 19 presidential election that ended in victory for Kocharian’s hand-picked successor, Serzh Sarkisian. Hundreds of troops were deployed in Yerevan to clamp down on the demonstrations.

As part of the declaration, Kocharian ordered media outlets to cite only official sources when reporting on national politics. Several independent and opposition news Web sites that operate under Armenian domain names were also blocked. They included Web sites run by the pro-opposition news agency A1+ and the independent newspapers Aravot (Morning) and Aikakan Zhamanak (Armenian Time), according to the news agency Armenia Today. Armenia Today reported that local Internet users received a message that said: Warning! As ordered by a state decree, some informational Web sites will not be accessible.

The Armenian Service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) was blocked within the country.

 

6th March   

Posse of Pillocks...

Brown, Vaz and Brazier on a Manhunt for blame
Link Here

Manhunt video game When 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah was brutally murdered in 2004, there were claims that his killer, 17-year-old Warren LeBlanc, was inspired to commit the crime by playing the original Manhunt video game.

That position has largely been discredited over the years. A Scotland Yard investigation of the crime showed that, while Pakerrah himself owned a copy of the game, his killer did not.

Despite that finding, the Leicester Mercury reports that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will meet with Stefan Pakeerah’s mother today to discuss their mutual concerns over violent video games.

The game violence issue is very much front-and-center in British politics these days as the Prime Minister’s government awaits the report of Dr. Tanya Byron, who has been studying the effects of games and the Internet on children. Byron’s report is due later this month.

Also meeting with Brown today are a pair of video game critics from Parliament, Keith Vaz and Julian Brazier.

Vaz spoke of the Pakeerah murder: Stefan was a young, innocent boy with a promising future. This was snatched from him in a gruesome and horrific attack. I want to discuss with the Prime Minister what can be done to stop these games being sold.

 

6th March   

True Cuts...

Cuts for the latest UK DVD version of True Lies
Link Here

True Lies DVD True Lies by James Cameron, is one of the more popular action movies of the 1990s, had some trouble at the BBFC (like a lot of the more popular action movies of the 1990s!). The cinema version escaped with only a single one second cut to remove a double-ear clap. However on video, due to the possibility of underage viewers in the home, more violence was removed. Director James Cameron was open about his dislike for the BBFC’s intervention, and took it upon himself to implement the cuts personally.

When it’s initial DVD release date arrived, the uncut dual-region encoded Australian DVD was accidentally released with all the footage left in, and was not taken off the market despite both the BBFC and Trading Standards knowing about it. However, the second DVD brought out was an edited version, but not the same version edited by James Cameron…

The list below is the most complete list of cuts available anywhere to date and applies to the latest, and cut, UK DVD version:

  • In the bathroom fight, the headbutt delivered by Schwarzenegger right after he pulls the terrorist’s coat down has been disguised by cutting away to a shot of the old man in the toilet cubicle. Unlike the video version, we hear the sound effect
  • When Arnie and the bad guy pair fall onto the floor, the shots of Schwarzenegger clapping the bad guy’s ear, just before kicking him back, have been disguised by once again cutting to a shot of the old man in the cubicle
  • Just after Schwarzenegger pulls the hand dryer off the wall, he should hit the terrorist three times hard in the face. However, all the hits have been terribly disguised by cutting away to a shot of Schwarzenegger hitting the terrorist in the neck with his arm from earlier in the fight; the terrorist flinging his coat on the floor from earlier in the fight, and a slowed-down shot of the old man wincing. This looks very bad indeed, with four frames of the terrorist’s bloody face inserted into a mass of edited footage that looks positively awful
  • Just after this, Schwarzenegger pulls the bad guy’s head into a urinal, and his head clangs into the porcelain. He should then force his head back into the bowl with another loud clang just before flushing it, but we fail to see both hits as we, again, cut away to a slowed-down shot of the old man that was used earlier in the fight
  • During the sequence where Schwarzenegger is test-driving Bill Paxton’s car, he has a vision of smacking him in the face as he makes comments about Arnie’s wife (Jamie Lee Curtis). When Paxton’s bloodied face falls backwards into shot, the shot should hold for about three seconds but we only get a quick glimpse lasting a few frames before cutting away to the zoom-in on Arnie from right before the punch. This looks totally awful, as the camera cuts back to the same shot from the footage after the punch, and is noticeable by the change of background and Arnie’s head jumping position and sudden change of expression. This looks very, very amateurish and isn’t doing poor James Cameron any favours at all
  • During the scene where Schwarzenegger is held captive by the torturer and guard, his escape from their company has been cut. When Schwarzenegger throws the trocar at the guard, we don’t see the implement make contact at all, and the camera cuts away during the whip pan. The resulting sound effect has also being entirely cut
  • Immediately afterwards, the neck break of the torturer has been removed in its entirety, and we now cut from the aforementioned whip pan to a shot of the man’s neck already broken. However, the snap of the neck still plays over this static shot which looks atrocious
  • When Arnie rams the tyre iron in the next bad guy’s chest, the second shot of him yanking the iron upwards and cracking his ribs has been removed as per the UK video. This is the only cut that doesn’t look obvious in the whole DVD
  • Shortly after, Schwarzenegger begins to take out numerous random terrorists. At one point, he slides down a rope to break one terrorist’s neck. In the DVD, the sequence does not cut away as per the video, but the profile shot of the bad guy’s head being twisted with a loud crack has been removed. The remaining footage has been slowed down to fill up the gap left by the now-cut profile shot, and looks dreadful. Just as Arnie makes contact with the bad guy’s head, we hear the sound effect of the neck snapping and cut to a profile shot of the guard falling forwards in slow motion with the sound playing, which looks laughably appalling.

The uncut region 1 DVD is available at US Amazon
The 2001 uncut region 2 DVD is still available on www.ebay.co.uk

 

6th March   

Nailed...

Bishop of Chester criticises Dangerous Pictures clauses
Link Here

House of Lords logo The House of Lords committee recently debated the Dangerous Pictures clauses of the Criminal Injustice Bill.

The proposed law was widely condemned by most speakers but no useful amendments were moved. The Lords seemed to be particularly concerned that individuals could not be clear about whether they are breaking the law or not.

Alan points out that it is interesting that the Bishop of Chester is beginning to see to see the light and talk some sense about this daft proposal.

Particularly interesting as he's by no means at the liberal end of the theolological spectrum. In fact, if there was any part of the Criminal Injustice Bill about which I would have expected him to get aerated it was the "be nice to poofters" bit, in view of his earlier form .

Anyway, the Bishop of Chester contributed to the debate:

I would welcome a thorough look at the whole issue of what pornography is and its impact on our society. Clause 113(3), as amended by Amendment No. 122B, would state:

"An image is 'pornographic' if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal".

You can see that when you go into many newsagents in our society and look not just at the top shelf but at almost any shelf these days. Many of the soft porn films seem to have been produced precisely for that purpose.

The last thing we want to do is to produce an aura where everyone is a potential criminal. In one sense, we are and we need to acknowledge that, but that produces very negative reactions in the population. One can instance all sorts of ways in which that is the case. This whole area needs very careful examination not least in terms of whether there is any link between what is published and broadcast and crime. There are definitely imitative patterns of behaviour. There are the awful tragedies of the suicides in south Wales at the moment which is an illustration of how images can be created, as it were, and behaviour follows those images and is repeated. Sexual arousal is simply part and parcel of the whole of the creative world. When one looks at David Attenborough's series "Life on Earth", one sees that much of the depiction of the way in which the creative world operates is tied in with the reality of sexual arousal—let us be honest about it. If we are going to produce laws in this sort of area, they must carefully define what they are attempting to criminalise.

The clauses also seem to move between issues of violence and issues of pornography and sexual arousal. I know that they can often be linked, but I tend to think that they are often rather different. I think, from my own perspective, of the Christian faith, which has a violent image right at its heart: that of somebody being nailed to a cross. There are ways in which you could find portrayals of central features of the Christian faith covered by these clauses. Some people find them offensive; indeed, in one sense they are. There is such a deep subjectivity here that these things need careful consideration.

While I applaud the Government's attempt to get to grips with this issue, I share a feeling that things are not right. My brief experience in your Lordships' House tells me that this number of amendments linked together usually means that the legislation is in difficulty.

 

6th March   

China Not Rated...

Censor rates all film viewers as kids
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids

China flag Hopes for film ratings in China took a step back as a senior government official here equated the creation of such a system with legalizing the production of pornography.

Liu Binjie, director of China's General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), said film ratings are "too sensitive" for the general public, and no such measures could be undertaken currently because China had yet to build a mature and orderly film market, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Under the current circumstances, a film rating system equals legalizing the mass production of pornographic publications, he said.

Currently, films seeking cinematic release in China must be approved as suitable for all audiences, with cuts requested of scenes deemed too sexual, violent, or related to horror, magic and superstition.

The ultimate authority on a film rating system will likely be the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, which regulates the production and distribution of film and television, although GAPP may have some say over whether products would be re-rated for home video release.

 

6th March   

Offsite: Grand Theft Childhood...

The surprising truth about violent video games
Link Here

Grand Theft Childhood In 2007, results from a breakthrough Harvard video game study found that children used video games to manage their feelings, the stereotype of the socially stunted gamer was a myth, and there was no obvious connection between violent games and youth crime.

Two of the researchers who conducted the study have written Grand Theft Childhood, due out this spring. Expanding on what they have already written, this authors promise to cut through the “myths and hysteria” about the affects of violent video games on children and address the real issues “parents, teachers and public policy makers” need to be concerned with.

Co-author Dr. Cheryl K. Olson was kind enough to answer some questions about the book:

The book was based on our two-year, $1.5 million research project at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School – particularly the surveys and focus groups we did with middle-schoolers and their parents, in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

From the start, our research was designed with parents in mind. We weren’t just interested in statistical significance; we wanted to help parents and policymakers understand what’s normal, when to worry about violent video games, and when video games might benefit some kids.

Game Couch: One of the findings of the original study (reported in a Massachusetts General Hospital press release) was Children who play violent games are more likely to play to get their anger out, and the study noted that while violent video game playing is up, youth crime is in decline. Doesn’t this run contrary to the popular view that violent video games indoctrinate children into a culture of violence?

Dr. Olson: Many children in our survey, as well as our focus groups with boys who play violent games, said they played games to manage their feelings. This included playing games to help get my anger out, to forget problems, to relax, and to feel less lonely. Children who played at least one M-rated video game a lot in the past six months were significantly more likely to agree that getting anger out was one reason they played video games.

...

One reassuring thing we found is that most children who play GTA don’t see the characters as role models, and don’t see the game as like real life. In fact, the “unreality” is one thing they like about the series. They can test boundaries and try things that, as one boy put it, hopefully, will never happen to you. So you want to experience it a little bit without actually being there.

One of the biggest draws of GTA seems to be not the violence but the open environment and array of choices: You can be a good guy and a bad guy at the same time. Every child will play the game differently.

...Read the full article

 

6th March   

Ghost of Edison Chen...

Hong Kong to review its obscenity law
Link Here

Hong Kong flag The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will consult the public later this year on ways to amend the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance.

HKSAR government secretary for commerce and economic development Frederick Ma told legislators that such amendments could include the development of criteria for assessing the content of an article and the assessment system itself.

According to press agency, Xinhua, Ma emphasized that enforcement of the obscenity ordinance lies with the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA), the police and the Customs and Excise Department. Xinhua noted that over the past three years, these departments have initiated 1,876 prosecutions and secured 1,829 convictions, of which 1,198 prosecutions and 1,178 convictions involved possession of obscene or indecent articles for publication.

According to Ma, given the huge volume and transient nature of internet-based information, enforcement agencies have adopted a complaint-driven approach to deal with indecent online content. According to Xinhua, over the past three years, the agencies instituted five prosecutions against publication of obscene or indecent articles over the Internet with all leading to convictions.

Xinhua quoted Ma as saying, All agencies will take enforcement action in a lawful, conscious and fair manner. All prosecutions initiated by the police will be based on sufficient evidence to support the charge.

 

6th March   

Upsetting the Censors...

Supporting the hype for Pulanvisaranai 2
Link Here

Pulanvisaranai 2 poster Selvamani, who is known for controversial films based on the current affairs of our nation, is ready with Pulanvisaranai 2 . As expected, the movie has met with a lot of problems when it was sent for censorship.

The movie is based on petrol issue and the director is believed to have made many sensational and controversial observations on the issue. Censor board members keenly watched each and every scene keeping the track record of the director in mind and they found many scenes objectionable. When they said they wanted many scenes and dialogues removed or changed, Selvamani got upset and argued with the members.

Now the tug of war between censor board and Selvamani over Pulanvisaranai 2 has begun.

 

5th March   

Update: Blasphemy Fades...

House of Lords refuses Jerry Springer appeal
Link Here

Jerry Springer: The opera DVD cover Stephen Green, national director of Stephen Green’s Voice (aka Christian Voice) has failed yet again to get the BBC and John Thoday done for blasphemy. The House of Lords refused to hear the appeal of the recent High Court decision.

Update: Nutters with a Cross to Bear

Christian Voice are not impressed by the House of Lords decision not to hear the appeal. Their solicitor wrote to the Times:

See letter from the Times

The House of Lords has decided not to hear the appeal as it was not felt by the House to have “sufficient public interest”. We believe that the House of Lords erred in declining to hear the appeal, since the High Court’s decision was bad law; indeed, one commentator described the decision as “without legal merit”.

Recently there has been another blasphemy case which we believe has fallen foul of the law, namely the grotesque statue of Jesus Christ with an erect penis in the Baltic Art Centre, Gateshead. Many Christians demonstrated against this and the strength of feeling ran high. Many expressed their desire to destroy the statue, but desisted, knowing this not to be lawful. Those same people have expressed a desire to assist in a private prosecution for blasphemy. The police have shown no interest in dealing with these grievances, as far as we are aware, and the art centre displayed the statue until the end of the exhibition. We strongly believe that it is in the public interest to prevent such lewd and offensive displays.

... Read letter

 

5th March   

Update: One Block Fits All...

Finnish internet blocking turns out to be rubbish
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Finland...Finland internet filter expands beyond its remit

Finland flag The controversy arose after the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) blacklisted censorship critic Matti Nikki's site. Matti Nikki himself is now under criminal investigation for aiding in the distribution of child pornography, as he published a large portion of the filtering blacklist on his still-censored website. MP Jyrki Kasvi has made an official inquiry in the Finnish Parliament on the matter, and Effi has filed an official complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman.

The Finnish Minister of Communication, Suvi Linden, and the NBI have been severely criticized over the filtering system, which has been under heavy scrutiny by the media. After stating that she will not tolerate discussion criticizing the filtering system, as the situation is not a matter of freedom of speech, a petition was signed by over 12,000 people demanding her resignation. This was accompanied by a Thai civil rights group questioning the blocking as child porn of a memorial site dedicated to a member of the Thai royal family. Eventually the NBI removed the memorial site from the blacklist, explaining that the DNS based system blocks only whole sites, and that there was child pornography site under the same domain; this raised questions about the efficiency of the filtering system.

The NBI have published a statement explaining their actions, at the request pf Linden. In it the NBI stated that there are filtered sites do not contain any child pornography, but claimed that it was not their fault, rather a side effect of the system. They also noted that they are planning to address this issue by switching from a DNS based filter to a URL based system.

The NBI's official position is that they block pornographic sites where the actors look too young, and sites which link to these sites.

The general opinion after analysis by multiple people is that the list of at least 1,700 sites contains a handful of actual child pornographic sites. However, some sites in the list are located in countries like the U.S., the Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany, and very few of those contain even questionable or borderline material.

Dutch journalist Karin Spaink reviewed 40 sites on the list which were physically located in the Netherlands. She concluded that some of the sites have illegal child pornography, and that four of those are also blocked in the Netherlands by their equivalent filtering system. She estimated that about half of the 40 did not contain any illegal material.

 

5th March   

No Hi5 for Thai Government...

Banning an entire networking site over an errant monk
Link Here

Hi5 logo The Thai Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair has ordered the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) ministry to keep a close watch on the use of social networking site www.hi5.com after it emerged a Buddhist monk had been using the site to woo women.

I am upset by this, he said: Any sort of misdeed caused by monks results in the deterioration of Buddhism.

Jakrapob has already consulted with ICT ministry officials to lay down possible measures to ensure that something like this does not recur: We are still determining the pros and cons of blocking the site altogether.

A new cyberlaw passed last year would require court permission to block the site, although the government has broken this law hundreds of times, and several thousands of websites are blocked without court order or explanation.

 

5th March   

Update: Animated to Whinge...

Iran continues to complain about Persepolis
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis

Persepolis The Iranian embassy in Abu Dhabi has slammed the Oscar-nominated animation film Persepolis which released in the UAE.

The movie from France is a depiction of Iranian author Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel which was released in 2003. The novel is on the list of books banned in the UAE.

The embassy however said that it will not lodge an official protest against the release of the film here.

The National Media Council’s Censorship Board reviewed the movie on Tuesday and announced that it will release it without any cuts. The movie has received a PG rating.

In this movie we see the Iranian woman as a woman who is not free. I know that the Iranian society is not an angelic one but the Iranian woman is not as represented in the film, said Dr Mohammad Hatimi, Cultural Attache, Iranian Embassy, Abu Dhabi.

He said the film paints Iran in an unrealistic way. We are against the principles that this film stands on. We believe real cinema is free cinema ...BUT... this film shines a bad light on Iranian society.

 

4th March   

Update: In the Line of Fire...

Netherlands considers banning Geert Wilder's Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders The Dutch government is consulting lawyers on whether it can ban a film by anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

It fears the anti-Koran film could trigger violence against Netherlands citizens.

Meanwhile Nato's secretary general says he fears the airing of the film will have repercussions for troops in Afghanistan.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's comments came after Afghans protested on Sunday against the film being made by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

Nato's secretary general said he was concerned about his troops after the protests against the film in Afghanistan: If the [troops] find themselves in the line of fire because of the film, then I am worried about it and I am expressing that concern, he said in a television interview.

Wilders' film is called Fitna , an Arabic word used to describe strife or discord. He has said his film will show how the Koran is an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror.

 

4th March   

Update: Supreme Expletives...

Supreme Court to consider isolated or fleeting expletives on TV?
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

FCC logo The Los Angeles Times reports that the debate over what constitutes an "indecent" broadcast may come up before the Supreme Court this week. It would mark the first time in 30 years that the question has appeared before the court.

The court last ruled on the issue in 1978, and, as The Los Angeles Times points out, media has changed dramatically since then with cable television, the internet and radio "shock jocks."

The question for the court involves "fleeting expletives" in on-air broadcasts. U2 frontman Bono used an expletive on NBC when receiving a 2003 Golden Globe Award.

Following complaints from angry viewers, the FCC made the decision to fine broadcasters who aired what the agency called isolated or fleeting expletives during daytime and early-evening hours.

However, last year, Fox and other networks sued to block the FCC's policy. An appeals court in New York put the issue on hold. Now, according to the Times, the FCC is asking the Supreme Court to clear the way so the agency's new policy can be enforced. The court may act on the FCC appeal as soon as today. If the justices vote to hear the case, arguments would take place in the fall.

According to the Times, broadcasters insist they have no wish to be free to air "indecent" language. Their concern is that when an unscripted expletive is aired that they aren't subject to huge fines.

 

4th March   

Dangerous Lack of Clarity...

Lords criticise Dangerous Pictures clauses in committee
Link Here

House of Lords logo The House of Lords committee yesterday debated the Dangerous Pictures clauses of the Criminal Injustice Bill.

The proposed law was widely condemned by most speakers but no useful amendments were moved.

The Lords seemed to be particularly concerned that individuals could not be clear about whether they are breaking the law or not

However the Government agreed to have talks between now and the report stage. A tactic they have used before without actually resulting in any changes whatsoever

 

4th March   

Binging on PC Nonsense...

Beyer and co on drinking in soaps
Link Here  full story: Queen Vic Prudes...Whinging at TV soaps centering around the pub

Holby City title screen The BBC has been criticised for its supposedly "irresponsible" portrayal of binge drinking in its top dramas.

Baroness Coussins, a peer who sits on the Advertising Standards Authority council, claims the corporation is failing to show the negative effects of abusing alcohol in shows such as EastEnders and Holby City .

Speaking at an advertising conference, Baroness Coussins said: Holby City had doctors, no less, in excessive drinking scenes.  Where are the calls for BBC programming codes, or the equivalent in the commercial sector, so the consequences of irresponsible actions have to be shown?

In October, the Portman Group, which was set up by alcohol producers to promote responsible drinking, complained to media regulator Ofcom that an episode of the hospital drama Holby City had been "highly irresponsible".

And yesterday, John Beyer, of pressure group Mediawatch UK, pointed out that two of the most popular soap operas on TV, EastEnders and Coronation Street , are mostly set in pubs, adding: The Baroness has a point. But the question is, what are the broadcasters going to do about it?

The problem is that they never seem to want to do anything about anything other than to carry on with their own agenda.


He added: Soaps are so popular with young people and it is mostly young people with disposable income that are binge drinking.

A BBC spokesman said neither EastEnders nor Holby City set out to "glamorise" alcohol but intended instead to "reflect society". A spokesman claimed the corporation always tried to handle the issue "sensitively" and said it did in fact show the negative consequences of alcohol.

 

4th March   

Things They Know Nothing About...

Vaz internationally noted for ludicrous comments about rape in video games
Link Here

Keith Vaz The time-honoured tradition of stodgy men arguing over things they know nothing about continued in England during last Friday's game censorship debate in the House of Commons, with MP Keith Vaz showing us how it's done while speaking in defense of Julian Brazier's bill to add a censorship level above the BBFC.

In comparing the interactivity of video games to movies, Vaz unleashed this little gem:

However, someone sitting at a computer playing a video game, or someone with one of those small devices that young people have these days, the name of which I forget, PlayStations or PSPs, something of that kind.

Well, whatever they are called, when people play these things, they can interact. They can shoot people; they can kill people. As the honourable Gentleman said, they can rape women.

The gentleman he is referring to is the bill's author Julian Brazier, though being completely off-base when quoting someone else doesn't excuse you from being off-base in the first place. The man can barely remember what these horribly offensive rape-machines are. When you have to struggle to remember what you were talking about in the first place it's probably a good indicator that you should sit down and shut up.

Luckily for British gamers, the House isn't completely full of uninformed idiots. Conservative MP Edward Vaizey actually took the time to check this claim out with the BBFC.

Is the honourable Gentleman aware of any video game that has as its intention the carrying out of rape or that allows the game player to carry out such an act? The BBFC and I are unaware of any such game.

Comment: A Mary Whitehouse experience

See also full article from Comment is Free by Alex Hilton

Irreversible DVD In his speech in parliament, Julian Brazier accused the film, Irreversible, of glamorising rape. It did no such thing. And while the film is extremely difficult to watch, you are left with a glimpse of how lives are destroyed by rape.

This is exactly why politicians should not set themselves up to be the arbiter of what the general population can and cannot watch on DVD and in the cinema. Politicians simply cannot be trusted to watch the films they would readily ban.

...Read the full article

 

4th March   

Taxing Freedom...

Canada to selectively deny tax breaks for offending films
Link Here

Canada flag A new bill that would give the federal Heritage Department the power to deny tax breaks for films and TV shows it considers offensive is creating shock waves in the industry.

Changes now before the Senate to the Income Tax Act that would allow the federal government to cancel tax credits for projects thought to be offensive or not in the public interest. The amendments have already been passed in the House of Commons.

The amendment to Bill C-10 would allow the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits for Canadian productions, even if federal agencies such as Telefilm and the Canadian Television Fund have invested in the production.

Representatives from the Heritage and Justice departments would determine which productions are unsuitable and therefore ineligible for tax cuts.

David Cronenberg, the Canadian director behind the critically acclaimed Eastern Promises , said the proposed plan doesn't belong in Canada: It sounds like something they do in Beijing.

You have a panel of people working behind closed doors who are not monitored and they form their own layer of censorship. Cronenberg says Canadians have a reputation for making edgy dark movies that go places other filmmakers wouldn't venture. This new panel could quash that kind of creativity, he said.

 

4th March   

Approved Propaganda Only...

US Air Force censors airmen's access to blogs
Link Here

Censored head up display The US Air Force is tightening censorship on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.

The Air Force Network Operations Center (AFNOC), under the service's new "Cyber Command," has taken over responsibility for internet censorship.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ...

Airmen can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source, he said ...

Within the Air Force, there's also a strong contingent that wants to see open access to the sites -- and is mortified by the AFNOC's restrictions. When I hear stuff this utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.... Piles of torn out hair are accumulating around my desk as we speak, one senior Air Force official writes in an e-mail. I'm certain that by blocking blogs for official use, our airmen will never, ever be able to read them on their own home computers, so we have indeed saved them from a contaminating influence. Sorry, didn't mean to drip sarcasm on your rug.

 

4th March   

Lame Blame...

Video games blamed for murder
Link Here

Alabama state seal The lawyer for a man being tried for murder is trying to convince an Alabama jury that the defendant believed he was acting out a video game when he murdered an 80-year-old man on Halloween, 2005.

Andrew Lackey does not dispute that he stabbed, shot and gouged out the eye of his victim. However, Lackey’s attorney, Randy Gladden, is pointing the finger at video games. From the newspaper report: Actions that led to a deadly confrontation between a defendant and an 80-year-old widower resembled a video game to the accused…

[Attorney] Gladden described Lackey as a computer geek who had immersed himself in video games and lived in a different world than you and I.

Tapes of a 911 call made by the victim during the fatal confrontation, however, indicate that simple greed may have been the motive. Lackey is heard to demand of the victim, Where’s the vault? seven different times. Charlie Newman’s grandson had previously told Lackey that the victim kept a large sum of money in a vault under the stairs. However, no such vault existed.

No video games were specified in the news report. However, items recovered by the police from Lackey’s car (ski mask, a knife, a police scanner, night vision goggles, stun gun) suggest that the defendant put a lot of real-world thought into planning the crime.

 

4th March   

Setting Up ISPs for the Fall...

Utah bill to award seal of approval to ISPs filtering porn
Link Here

Utah state seal A new measure under consideration by the Utah House of Representatives would create a Community Conscious Internet Provider (CCIP) designation for ISPs that agree to filter content and take measures to ensure users cannot access online pornography or other content deemed harmful to minors.

Under the bill, H.B. 407, the state’s attorney general would create the CCIP designation, which would include a “seal” that could be used in the promotional materials of any ISP that receives the designation.

Seeking the state’s seal of approval would not be without its risks, however; under the bill, any ISP that obtains CCIP status could be liable for fines of up to $10,000 for if it does not fulfil its agreement as defined by the proposed law.

Among other requirements, an ISP could be certified as a CCIP under the proposal if it agrees to:

  • Prohibit its customers by contract from publishing any “prohibited communication,” which includes material that meets the state’s definition of “pornographic” or “harmful to minors”
  • Remove or prevent access to any prohibited communication published by or accessed using the ISP’s service within a reasonable time after the ISP learns of the prohibited communication
  • Comply with any court order concerning the removal of a prohibited communication
  • Maintain a record for two years following its allocation of an IP address of the IP address, the date and time of the allocation, and the customer to whom the IP address is allocated.

It’s very difficult to figure out a way to monitor the Internet, said the bill’s sponsor, Representative Michael Morley: I think [the bill is] a positive thing for those who are looking for a site that is dedicated to fighting pornography.

Attorney Jeffrey Douglas, chairman of the Free Speech Coalition, told XBIZ there’s at least one problem with the proposal: if adopted, it would be unconstitutional: They cannot argue that this is designed to mitigate secondary effects of the material, so this would be a restriction on protected speech subject to strict scrutiny. The state simply cannot favor one form of speech over another because it does not like the one form of speech. Substitute the words ‘Democratic party’ for ‘pornography’ and you can immediately see the problem with this proposal.

Douglas added that there is no need for such government-issued seals of approval, because the market takes care of this. We don’t need a government-issued ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal. That’s what Good Housekeeping [magazine] is for. All those groups like Morality in Media can designate which ISPs are ‘family-friendly’ — we don’t need the government to do it.

 

3rd March   

Unrated Marketing Rated...

Contributing to the hype for Frontier(s)
Link Here

Frontiere(s) poster Given the tag of President Gore in the indie film community, After Dark Films CEO Courtney Solomon now has the rapt attention of Hollywood's biggest film studios. Not for the content of his next extremely grisly horror film, Frontier(s) , but rather for its unusual distribution and marketing strategy.

Distributor Lionsgate will release Frontier(s) unrated giving the film access to more screens than it would have with the NC-17 rating that it would have been given by the MPAA.

What's more, Frontier(s) will be out on DVD the weekend after its theatrical run in the top 10 markets May 9, eliminating the need for separate marketing campaigns for theater and home video.

The move is a significant gamble. As Solomon explains, a French-language horror film was never going to have enormous box-office potential, but the NC-17 rating it initially received from the MPAA would have doomed it, he said, both theatrically and on video. (Solomon noted that many of the largest theater chains, like Cinemark, won't exhibit NC-17 films, and most big video stores, like Blockbuster, won't stock them. Theaters will exhibit unrated films, and video stores will carry them, too.)

The last 40 minutes are just relentless blood and gore, said Soloman in an interview with Ad Age: It's a gorgeous-looking film.

See full article from the BBFC

BBFC logo Meanwhile the BBFC passed the film as 18 uncut with the following comments:

FRONTIER(S) is a subtitled French film that has been classified '18' uncut for very strong bloody violence.

The film contains scenes dwelling on the terrorisation of victims and the infliction of pain and injury. The inclusion of several 'strongest gory images' (mutilation) preclude the possibility of a '15' classification. However, all elements in this work are containable, uncut, by current guidelines for the '18' classification.

Current guidelines state: The BBFC respects the right of adults to choose their own entertainment, within the law.

The film also contains strong language, sex references and soft drugs use.

 

3rd March   

Update: Pompous Porteous...

Nonsense In, Nonsense Out: Australian bishops rants about video games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australian R18+ certificate Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney Julian Porteous says desensitisation to violence or sexual imagery does not promote the dignity of the human person and is not in the best interest of society.

While Bishop Porteous believes the causes of violence and crime in society is a very complex problem, the problem should not be compounded by video games that numb our natural repulsion to violence, he told The Catholic Weekly.

In regard to sexually explicit games, it reduces women in particular to mere objects of instant self gratification, Bishop Porteous said: We know from psychological research that exposure to violent video games can desensitise people to real-life violence .

 

3rd March   

Update: Filter Erection...

Israel advances towards default internet filtering
Link Here

Knesset building The Knesset has passed the first reading of a bill that will restrict Israelis' access to the Internet.

According to the bill, which passed by a majority of 46 to 20, Internet service providers would be asked to implement an apparatus that would filter out sites deemed "harmful".

The decision on the filtering of specific sites will ultimately be in the hands of the communications minister, who will be aided by an advisory committee.

The letter of the law, proposed by MK Amnon Cohen of Shas, calls for the erection of a filtering service for minors of inappropriate content on the Internet. Specifically, the bill advocates the censorship of violence, pornography and gambling websites.

Under the new law Internet service providers would be forced to offer a filtering program to their customers free of charge. Consumers would be given the chance to refuse to install the program, but it would be installed by default if a customer did not provide a response within a time frame that has yet to be finalized.

The law also states that as soon as the technology will be made available, providers will block content on their end, unlocking it only to customers over the age of 18 who explicitly request to receive the "harmful" content.

The communications minister will also be granted the power to decide on changes to the blocking program, the manner of communication between providers and their customers and even the way in which providers will verify the age of a customer requesting the unlocking of content.

Internet service providers, according to the worldwide norm, would be willing to distribute free of charge a family filtering program, MK Gilad Erdan said. The law will transform us into a type of Iran by giving the minister the authority to decide that the Shas Council of Torah Sages will determine the sites to be rejected and blocked - without any supervision or monitoring of its considerations by the Knesset.

 

3rd March   

No Cheers...

Turkey to ban alcohol from TV
Link Here

Turkish Raki As clips go, it seems pretty inoffensive: scenes of men doing Lords of the Dance impressions in a dark, water-filled basement interspersed with shots of a crowded dinner table studded with bottles of wine.

But when singer Aslizen Yentur sent the promotional video for her first album to Kral TV, Turkey’s top music station, she was told the alcohol would have to come out.

I thought it was a joke, says Yentur: The album is called Cheers . The song is based on a Greek tavern song. Was I supposed to sip yogurt drink?

Her arguments cut no ice with Kral. When the clip made its broadcast debut earlier in February, all that remained was the Irish dancing, plus a couple of lingering shots of the leading lady reclining on a red divan.

The ban has no basis in Turkish law but the censorship comes as RTUK, Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, works on new regulations that would make it illegal to broadcast scenes that encourage consumption of alcohol.

Leaked into the media mid-January, news of the plans sparked outrage, and a defensive justification from the watchdog. The draft, it insisted in a press release, is merely bringing Turkey, a candidate for European Union membership, in line with EU norms.

In this conservative country, the bill has many supporters. Nearly half the complaints RTUK received last year were from viewers upset at what they considered the excessive visibility of alcohol (and cigarettes) on TV.

Yet critics point out that European restrictions on alcohol are limited to advertising. For them, hardening official attitudes on alcohol are a symbol of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s worrying turn towards religious populism.

Drink was always an issue for conservative opinion, but until now no government paid attention to it , says Mehmet Ali Birand, a prominent commentator. Now the AKP seems to be saying ’come on, let’s give them a hand.’

 

3rd March   

Cameroon Closes Down...

Cameroon closes Radio station
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Cameroon...Cameroon closes down its broadcasters

Cameroon flag Cameroon police in the capital, Yaounde, today forced a popular radio station off the air and confiscated its equipment over commentary critical of the government during a call-in program.

Magic FM is the third broadcaster summarily closed by authorities within a week in response to critical coverage of public demonstrations fueled by a rise in prices and President Paul Biya’s bid to seek another term in office.

Editor-in-Chief Roger Kiyeck told CPJ that officers accused the station of “broadcasting irresponsibly,” and inciting tensions in connection with commentary critical of the government during his morning call-in program, Magic Attitude .

Magic FM, a leading station in Yaounde that partners with the U.S. government-funded Voice of America, is known for its pointed political coverage.

The closure of Magic FM followed last week’s back-to-back closures of leading broadcasters Equinoxe Television, and its sister station Radio Equinoxe, in connection with their pointed coverage of Cameroon’s national crisis.

Update: Condemned

10th May 2008

The British High Commissioner to Cameroon, H.E. Syd Maddicott, has vehemently condemned the ban government slammed on the Equinoxe Radio and Television in Douala and Magic FM radio in Yaounde: The cancelling of licenses of three broadcasting stations is an unwelcome move. Some have alleged that the stations in question were closed down simply because their editorial line opposed the constitutional amendment. If true this is a serious problem. The press cannot be truly free if they are only free to agree with those in power.

 

3rd March   

Update: Myanmar Nation Shuttered...

Burma closed magazine and arrests employees
Link Here

Burma flag A media rights group says Burma's military government has ordered the weekly magazine Myanmar Nation to stop publishing and has arrested two of its employees.

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange said that the arrests of Thet Zin and Sein Win show that Burma continues to crack down on the independent media, despite plans for a constitutional referendum and other promises of reform. The group said the two are being held without charge.

Tuesday, a new law connected to Burma's upcoming constitutional referendum took effect. The new law says any Burmese citizen who gives public speeches or passes out leaflets against the referendum could face up to three years in jail.

 

3rd March   

Offsite: Censorship for Transport for London...

Pre-emptive censorship is a cross we all bear
Link Here  full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship

Fat Christ poster LOver the years, unconventional representations of Christ and far-flung speculations about his true identity have attracted the ire of the devout and the sensitive.

The latest depiction of Jesus to be deemed offensive is the promotional poster for Fat Christ, Gavin Davis’ comedic play, which opened in London last night. The poster was refused advertising spots on the London Underground.

Perhaps suggesting that Jesus suffered from slow metabolism or indulged in fatty food is the ultimate form of blasphemy these days, when obesity is seen as a mortal sin.

...Read full article

 

2nd March   

Update: Unsavoury Aspects of Government...

Censoring the Japanese Web
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Japan...Japan considers internet censorship

Japan flag A Japanese government panel is proposing to govern influential, widely read news-related sites as newspapers and broadcasting are now regulated.

The government is also seeking to rein in some of the more unsavory aspects of the Internet, leaving in its wake, critics say, the censoring hand of government interference.

The panel, set up by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, said ISPs should be answerable for breaches of vaguer minimum regulations to guard against illegal and harmful content.

The conservative government, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, is seeking to have the new laws passed by Parliament in 2010.

Japan's Internet is increasing its clout, so naturally the government wants to control it, said Kazuo Hizumi, a former journalist who is the Tokyo city lawyer: The Internet threatens the government, but the new law will put the government back in control by making the ISPs directly answerable to the government. This is the untenable position we are facing in Japan.

What really strikes Hizumi and others is that there is so little public opposition or debate on a bill that would bring enormous change.

Chris Salzberg, who monitors, comments on and translates some of the Japanese blogosphere for Global Voices, an international blog round-up, said: It seems that the Web community in Japan is really pretty unaware of all of this, or else just in disbelief. It's a strange situation. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it still seems like something people should at least be paying attention to.

I'm afraid ordinary citizens don't care about these lack of rights, consequently the Internet in Japan is heading for the Dark Ages, Hizumi said.

 

2nd March   

Update: Japanese Censor Arrested...

Pixellation too Fine
Link Here

NEVA logo A chief censor at the country's largest independent screening body of adult DVDs was arrested Saturday on suspicion of aiding and abetting the distribution of obscene material.

Four others, including presidents of three adult DVD production companies, also were held on suspicion of distributing the material, police said.

Katsumi Ono head of the Nihon Ethics of Video Association's screening department, was arrested on suspicion of assisting in the sale of two highly obscene DVDs, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The four others--including Hiroyuki Gorokawa association board member and president of h.m.p, an adult DVD production company were arrested on suspicion of distributing the two DVDs, the MPD said.

The association decided to relax screening standards at a board meeting in June 2006 after adult DVD production firms called on them to do so to help sales. With the police believing that the new criteria itself is likely to be illegal, it was to make inquiries as to the responsibility of other board members.

According to the police, Ono is suspected of letting the DVDs pass the screening by disregarding the fact that "mosaic" video effects intended to obscure sexual organs were easy to see through. There are differences in what is perceived as obscene, Ono reportedly told police in questioning.

The association decided at a board meeting to introduce a new standard to allow works with more transparent or smaller mosaics to pass the screening process after member companies made complaints in spring 2006, such as: [DVDs] won't sell if standards aren't relaxed.

Eight people are on the board, and the majority of them also occupy executive positions at the production firms that pushed for the new criteria.

The police were investigating a situation in which DVDs made by those production firms that advocated the new criteria have become a de facto indicator of screening standards.

 

2nd March   

Update: Defining Moment...

Russia proposes definitions of pornography and erotica
Link Here

Russia flag It seems that Russian officials have finally learned to see the difference between erotica and pornography.

A draft law Restricting the Distribution of Erotic and Pornographic Products gives the previously non-existent [in Russia] legal definition of pornography and limits the circulation of pornographic products.

The document, prepared by the Ministry for Culture and Mass Communications, defines pornography as a detailed naturalistic image, a verbal description or a demonstration of a sexual intercourse and genitals with a view to arouse sexual excitement of a human being.

Erotica was defined as the demonstration of sexual relations between humans, which do not contain elements of pornography. Educational and medical works, as well as works of scientific and artistic value are not to be classified as either erotic or pornographic products, the draft law says.

The document also put forward a suggestion to ban the sale of pornography with the participation of underage, deceased individuals and animals. The bill excludes violence, as well as state symbols and architectural monuments from pornography-containing products.

Any other kind of pornographic production would be available in specialized stores, the activities of which should be licensed.

As for mass media, the bill allows to broadcast erotic and pornographic programs from 1:00 till 5:00 a.m. All kinds of pornography will be excluded from the Russian Internet. The publication or a pornographic material may leads to the punishment of up to six years in prison. At present moment, pornography is legally allowed on the Russian Internet with the exception of child porn, which stipulates the punishment of up to eight years in prison.

The bill currently undergoes coordination at the government.

 

2nd March   

Update: Death Threats...

Predictable threats ahead of Geert Wilders' film
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Al Qaeda has reportedly issued an order to kill a Dutch lawmaker who plans to release an anti-Koran film in March, Dutch paper De Telegraaf has reported.

In a recent message on a protected web forum on the website alekhlaas.net, which has links with Al Qaeda, the terror group called on people to "slaughter" Dutch legislator Geert Wilders.

The paper quoted the message as reading: In the name of Allah, we ask you to bring us the head of this infidel who insults Islam and Muslims and ridicules the Prophet Mohammed.

The message honored Mohammed B, who murdered Dutch director Theo van Gogh in 2004 for making a film critical of Islam, as a hero.

The forum also calls for the "terrorization" of the Netherlands to prevent the controversial film from being shown: We, the Muslim people of the world, must fight against anyone who derides Islam. The Dutch do not want Muslims living in their country because they are afraid that Islam will destroy them.

Wilders later said his film will be entitled Fitna (Ordeal) and lasts about 15 minutes. Wilders has a separate website on which his Koran film will be shown.

 

2nd March   

Safe as Safe Can Get...

An even safer internet for children
Link Here  full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

EU flag Anyone who is anyone seems to be studying the internet in terms of protecting children. Here is the EU's contribution

The European Commission has proposed a new Safer Internet programme to enhance the safety of children in the online environment. Encompassing recent communications services from the Web 2.0, such as social networking, the new programme will fight not only illegal content but also harmful behaviour such as bullying and grooming. With a budget of €55 million, the programme, which builds further on the successful Safer Internet programme started in 2005, will run from 2009 to 2013.

The proposed new programme will:

  • Reduce illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online: actions to provide the public with national contact points for reporting illegal content online and harmful conduct, focusing in particular on child sexual abuse material and grooming.
     
  • Promote a safer online environment: fostering self-regulatory initiatives in this field. To stimulate the involvement of children and young people in creating a safer online environment, in particular through youth panels.
     
  • Ensure public awareness: actions targeting children, their parents and teachers. Encourage a multiplier effect through exchange of best practices within the network of national awareness centres. Support contact points where parents and children can receive advice on how to stay safe online.
     
  • Establish a knowledge base by bringing together researchers engaged in child safety online at European level. Establish a knowledge base on the use of new technologies by children, the effects these have on them, and related risks. Use this to improve the effectiveness of ongoing actions within the Safer Internet Programme.

 

2nd March   

Setanta Claus Cleared...

Complainants are a bunch of whinging puppies
Link Here  full story: Setanta Santa...Nutters whinge about puppies/mammaries pun

Setanta Santa The advertising watchdog has cleared a Setanta TV ad campaign featuring Des Lynam which received 36 complaints that it degraded women by referring to breasts as puppies.

Setanta's Setanta Claus ad featured Lynam dressed in a yellow Santa suit in a grotto, while his scantily clad helper "Tinseltoes" - Big Brother's Thaila Zucchi - flashed her cleavage.

This prompted a male visitor to the grotto to grin, stare and absentmindedly mention a "couple of puppies".

The Advertising Standards Authority received 36 complaints that the ad was offensive as it objectified and degraded women and was sexist. Nine of the complainants also argued that the Santa theme would be of interest to children and that such an ad should not be broadcast before 9pm.

The ASA noted that some viewers might see the portrayal of Zucchi with her cleavage on display as objectifying women and that the reference Give him what he wants this Christmas could be seen by some as treating women as sex objects. However, it decided that most viewers would see it as mild sexual innuendo that was unlikely to provoke serious or widespread offence.

The ASA also rejected the nine complaints that the ad was unsuitable for children and should not be shown before 9pm. It concluded that the ad, which aired with a restriction not to be shown around programmes targeted at children, had enough differences from a real Christmas scene - such as Lynam dressed in Setanta yellow - that children would know the difference.

The ASA also said children would not understand the double entendre messages in the ad and take them at face value . Setanta's ad was cleared by the ASA.

 

2nd March   

Update This Little Pig Went to Temple...

And went wee wee wee wee, all the way home
Link Here  full story: Pooh Poohing Religion...Children's book debunking religion causes a stir

Wo bitte geht's zu Gott?, fragte das kleine Ferkel book Last month the German Family Ministry was said to be pushing to have a book it says slurs Judaism, Christianity and Islam labelled dangerous for children. The book's publisher says kids have a right to enlightenment.

The German Family Ministry is pushing for the children's book How Do I Get to God, Asked the Small Piglet, by written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon and illustrated by Helge Nyncke, to be included on a list of literature considered dangerous for young people.

The three large religions of the world, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are slurred in the book, the ministry wrote in a December memo. The distinctive characteristics of each religion are made ridiculous.

Anyway an English translation of the book  been made available as a free download (PDF file) . The accompanying images are also available to view online .

 

2nd March   

Update: Ebullient Bulent...

Turkish star in trouble for sniping at the action against Kurds
Link Here

Bulent Ersoy With the death toll in Turkey's operations against Kurdish nationalists in Iraq rising daily, one of the country's most famous pop stars was in serious trouble this week after she questioned deeply-engrained Turkish militarism on prime-time television.

I am not a mother, nor ever will be, but I would not bury my child for somebody else's war, said Bülent Ersoy, during a broadcast of Star TV's hugely popular Popstar Alaturka .

Visibly shocked, another presenter intervened to try to shut her up.

May God give me a son so that I can send him off to our glorious army, Ebru Gundes said, adding a nationalistic phrase repeated without fail at every military funeral: Martyrs never die, the fatherland cannot be divided.

But Ersoy, a transsexual, was not put off. Always the same cliched phrases, she riposted: Children go, bitter tears, funerals. And afterwards, these cliched phrases.

An Istanbul prosecutor promptly opened an investigation into her for alienating the people from military service, a crime punishable by up to three years in jail. The broadcasting watchdog announced that it was considering banning Ersoy from the screen.

These were predictable reactions in this profoundly nationalist country where criticising the conscript-heavy army is a risky business. From an early age, Turkish schoolchildren are taught that all Turks are born soldiers . School textbooks warn children that a man who has not done his military service cannot be useful to himself, his family, or his homeland.

Yet, while Ersoy's comments earned her Turkish media opprobrium, the packed audience in Star TV's studio applauded her warmly.

 

2nd March   

Text Evasion...

Fiji deports newspaper publisher who highlighted ministers tax evasion
Link Here

Fiji flag The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the Government of Fiji's deportation of a newspaper publisher and managing director, Russell Hunter, to Australia on February 26 after his paper published stories highlighting allegations of tax evasion by a government minister.

Hunter was at home when government officials arrived with a document citing his deportation. He was held overnight before being forced onto a flight to Sydney, without being given the opportunity to notify his family.

Hunter, an Australian citizen, was reportedly denied consular access and legal advice. Fiji's authorities did not advise the Australian Government of the deportation. It is understood Hunter's work visa had 18 months to run.

The action followed publication in Hunter's paper, the Fiji Sun, of allegations of tax evasion by a government minister, since named as finance minister Mahendra Chaudhry, a former prime minister.

Fiji's interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a press statement that media freedom is secure and guaranteed ... [BUT] ... He warned the media that it must recognise there are limitations to constitutional guarantees on freedom of the press.

 

1st March   

Update: Brazier Censored...

MPs wisely not sure that they want to become state censors
Link Here

Julian Brazier Julian Brazier has failed in his bid to increase censorship of video games and films containing extreme violence.

Julian Brazier's plan would have allowed more appeals against BBFC rulings. He argued standards had been "watered down" and explicit films and games were fuelling a "tide of violence".

He was supported by several Tory and Labour MPs, but both front benches opposed it. The Lib Dems said it gave MPs undue influence over censorship.

Brazier's private member's bill failed when the debate ran out of time. Private member's bills allow individual MPs to introduce legislation on a subject of their choice.

Brazier's plan would have allowed an independent jury to reverse a ruling, if 50 MPs signed a Commons motion - even after the film or game was released. During a Commons debate, he cited the example of a previously banned video, SS Experiment Camp , which was re-examined by the BBFC and released in 2005. Another film, Irreversible , featured a nine-minute rape scene he said, adding: If this is not glamorising rape then it is difficult to imagine what would be.

His bill was supported by Labour MP Keith Vaz, who represents a seat in Leicester where the mother of murdered 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah blamed his killer's obsession with the Manhunt video game - a view not supported by the trial judge.

Vaz said video games were different from films because they were "interactive": When they play with these things they are able to interact, they can shoot people, they can kill people, they can rape women and that's what is so wrong about the situation we have at the moment.

Another Labour MP, Stephen Pound, said there was a danger that in extremely violent films the sanctity of life becomes diluted , particularly when dealing with the young and impressionable.

Conservative MP John Whittingdale dismissed SS Experiment Camp as pretty tasteless and offensive but said scenes of sex and violence were mild compared to many mainstream films.
He said Mr Brazier's bill could do damage to the film industry and that the BBFC largely did a reasonably good job.

Lib Dem spokesman Don Foster suggested if MPs were to start signing a motion to get a title banned sales would absolutely rocket. I believe the proposals contained within this Bill would give politicians an undue and dangerous influence over these sorts of issues.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said the BBFC, while not getting it right every time did an extremely good job in incredibly difficult circumstances. She said the government had responded to concerns by asking Dr Tanya Byron to review whether more regulation to protect children was needed - due to report back next month. Urging MPs to await that report next month, she said legislation would not be effective on its own. Parents, internet service providers and others would also have to take responsibility.

She was still speaking as time ran out at 1430 GMT and the bill now stands no chance of becoming law.

Comment: Democracy Out of Time

From emark on SeeNoEvil

See No Evil logo I'm wondering why this private member's bill on the single issue gets debated for five hours, but the entire CJIB has slightly less for its second reading, and there wasn't enough time for people to debate the extreme porn clauses at all in the 3rd reading!

Comment: Foolish Brazier

Thanks to Wynter

Radio 5 live logo Mark Kermode successfully made Brazier look like a fool when he was interviewed on R5 Live on Friday afternoon.

Thanks to DarkAngel

Listen to the interview between Brazier and Kermode

Skip forward to the 2 hr mark, its only about 10 mins long, Brazier rehashes his tired old arguments that had only been debunked that morning, ie Manhunt being responsible for the death of a young lad, Mark Kermode rubbished his argument about films like Irreversible and pointed out to him that nobody knows more about classifying films than the BBFC who are already transparent and by allowing MP's or whoever to interfere wouldn't prevent these films from being released, it would just muddle up the classification process.

One thing Kermode should have rebuked was Braziers claims that rape and violence is going up as a direct result of the media. Which of course is nonsense!

 

1st March   

Update: We Don't Believe in Blasphemy...BUT...

Bishops backtrack on abolishing the nonsense of blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in the UK...Parliamentary repeals UK blasphemy laws

Rowan Williams Senior Anglican bishops have warned the Government that they have serious reservations about the abolition of the blasphemy laws.

Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu say in a letter today that the Government should not lightly change laws that, though their day-to-day importance may be small ...BUT... nevertheless carry a significant symbolic charge.

While not opposing abolition, they urge caution and question why the Government is pushing through the change now.

The abolition of blasphemy from the statute books moved closer this week with the tabling of a Government amendment in the House of Lords. The Bill is scheduled for debate on Wednesday.

The Government had promised in January that this would take place after a “short and sharp” consultation with the churches.

In a letter to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, the Archbishops say that the pressing need for repeal is not clear and plead for more time to to assess the impact of the new offence of incitement to religious hatred.

They call on the Government to be clear why the offences are being abolished and to spell out what the implications are for Christianity in relation to State and society: At a time of continuing debate about the nature of our society and its values, this change needs to be seen for what it is, namely the removal of what has long been recognised as unsatisfactory and not very workable offences in circumstances in which scurrilous attacks on the Christian religion no longer threaten the fabric of society. It should not be capable of interpretation as a secularising move, or as a general licence to attack or insult religious beliefs and believers.

From the National Secular Society

NSS logo The Government amendment this week comes at a considerably earlier stage than had been expected as it is very unlikely that the consultation has been completed.

What appears to have happened is that the Government has been panicked into tabling its own amendment following a near identical one being tabled by Lord Avebury. Lord Avebury is a long-time secular campaigner.

The Government is determined that changes to blasphemy are made through their amendments, to give the appearance that they are in control.

See full article from Parliament

House of Lords logo A few of the Criminal Injustice Bill amendments knocking around

BARONESS ANDREWS

144B* Insert the following new Clause—
"Blasphemy and blasphemous libel
(1) The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel under the common law of England and Wales are abolished.
(2) In section 1 of the Criminal Libel Act 1819 (60 Geo. 3 & 1 Geo. 4 c. 8) (orders for seizure of copies of blasphemous or seditious libel) the words "any blasphemous libel, or" are omitted.
(3) In sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (c. 64) (privileged matters) the words "blasphemous or" are omitted.
(4) Subsections (2) and (3) (and the related repeals in Schedule 38) extend to England and Wales only."


EARL OF ONSLOW
BARONESS STERN

145 Insert the following new Clause—
"Blasphemy
The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel are abolished."

LORD AVEBURY

148 Insert the following new Clause—
"Abolition of certain religious offences
(1) The following offences are abolished—
(a) blasphemy and blasphemous libel;
(b) any distinct offence of disturbing a religious service or religious devotions;
(c) any religious offence of striking a person in a church or churchyard.
(2) The following provisions are repealed—
(a) in section 1 of the Criminal Libel Act 1819 (60 Geo. 3 & 1 Geo. 4 c. 8), the words "blasphemous libel, or";
(b) in sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (c. 64), the words "blasphemous or";
(c) section 59 of the Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847 (c. 65);
(d) section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 (c. 32);
(e) section 36 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 (c. 100);
(f) section 7 of the Burial Laws Amendment Act 1880 (c. 41)."

 

1st March   

Update: Uncensorable Wikileaks...

Wikileaks wins case against domain name withdrawal
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

WikiLeaks logo Civil libertarians scored a decisive victory on Friday when a federal judge reversed two controversial orders meant to disable Wikileaks, a website devoted to disclosing confidential information exposing unethical behavior.

US District Judge Jeffrey S. White issued the orders two weeks ago after Wikileaks posted internal documents purporting to show that a bank located in the Cayman Islands engaged in illegal tax evasion and money laundering. One ruling demanded Wikileaks and a host of third parties refrain from posting any additional documents or linking to any documents that had already been disclosed. The other required Dynadot, the registrar of the Wikileaks.org domain name, to make the address inaccessible and to prevent its owner from transferring it to any other service.

Earlier this week, attorneys representing the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed motions in the case arguing that the White's orders violated several Constitutional protections and legal principles. Specifically, they argued the restrictions amounted to prior restraint, which under the Constitution, can only be imposed in limited situations. After more than three hours of oral argument in a San Francisco federal courtroom today, White conceded.

The court has serious questions about the concerns, as properly raised before the court, would make the granting of relief requested by the plaintiffs constitutionally appropriate, he said. He immediately rescinded both orders.

White said he may also be swayed by arguments that he didn't have the authority to issue the order because Wikileaks was not headquartered in the US. Bank Julius Baer, the Swiss-based owner of the Cayman Islands bank, had argued the group operating Wikileaks was based in California and pointed to whois records for the Wikileaks.org domain name as proof. Federal courts lack jurisdiction in cases where both the plaintiff and defendant are located outside the country.

The reversal means that while Julius Baer's case proceeds, the Wikileaks website will be free to continue operating unhindered by any kind of preliminary ruling. Dynadot attorney Garret Murai said the company would reconnect the Wikileaks.org domain name as soon as White issued a written order.

 

1st March   

Update: Dark Ages...

Internet industry quizzed about filters and user content websites
Link Here  full story: Harmful Content...Parliament Inquiry: Internet And In Video Games:

Culture Media Sport committee MPs of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee asked industry experts about filtering and user content websites.

John Carr, the executive secretary of the Children's Charities Coalition for Internet Safety, said that the industry could not be expected to be some sort of "moral arbiters" or "priests" for the public, deciding which content should be screened.

In school the headteacher sets the standards surrounding internet content, Carr added. It should be the same in the home ... there is no way we can legislate from the centre. The public policy challenge is in helping parents to understand the internet and in turn help children. Parents feel at sea about what to do. Safety software should be pre-installed and set to a high level.

Asked what he thought of the idea, Matt Lambert, head of corporate affairs at Microsoft, admitted that internet content filtering technology already provided by the company as standard with its software products was "not widely used".

But Lambert rejected the idea of a mandatory setting of content filters to a high security level, arguing that it would block too much content that posed no risk to children. Lambert said a better solution would be for parents to be better educated about what their children are looking at online and what content filters are available. Setting [filtering controls] at a high level is the equivalent to blocking the internet ... it would be living in the dark ages in my view.

Stephen Carrick Davies, the chief executive of Childnet International, a charitable body that promotes online safety for children, told the committee that one problem with policing the internet is that the concept of harmful content is difficult to define, unlike obviously illegal content such as child abuse images: Illegal content is easy [to define and regulate] while harmful is difficult. We need to recognise there is 'grey'. There is black and white but also grey.

He also pointed out that legislation against such a "grey" area could result in curbs of freedom of expression and that in a web 2.0 world of user-generated content it can often be young people themselves - those often seen as "passive victims" - who can perpetrate cyber bullying online.

Davies suggested the answer might lie in a three-pronged approach. He said this strategy would involve self-regulation by the industry; empowering, supporting and educating schools; and making sure that parents help children so they are savvy enough and equipped just as how they are when they walk down the high street.