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Censor Watch

2014: March

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Wotak Hunt...

Ludicrous whinge about an allusion to the possibility of a joke on Match of the Day

Link Here31st March 2014

Match of the Day
BBC One, 31st August 2013

A complainant contacted BBC Audience Services on 2 September 2013 to complain about a comment made by Gary Lineker on Match of the Day on 31 August 2013.

Gary said:

The two signings that Ian Holloway talked about are ... have confirmed Jimmy Kebe the winger from Reading and also from Huddersfield the right back Jack Hunt - have to be very careful with that one. Next, Manchester City versus Hull City...

Gary stressed the letter H on the word Hunt, apparently in order to avoid the possibility of a mis-interpretation of the word Hunt , which, following the word Jack , might have either been heard by some viewers as a verbal use of the word 'cunt'.

The complainant felt that for Gary to say he had to be very careful with that one was a crude and inappropriate comment about Jack Hunt's name on a family show .

Audience Services responded on 12 September 2013 saying that it was most definitely not the case that Gary Lineker had made an offensive comment . They noted that no laughter had accompanied the comment be careful with that one , and that nothing had followed which could be interpreted as crude or inappropriate . Audience Services apologised if the complainant had found the comment unacceptable, but said there was certainly no intention to cause offence .

The complainant was not satisfied with the response and made a follow-up complaint on 8 October 2013 and then escalated his complaint to the Trust. He said that it was indisputable that Gary Lineker was: making a reference to the worst word in the English language. He said that the sentence had no purpose other than to emphasise the potential c word trip-up .

The BBC Editorial Complaints Committee Decision

The Committee considered the response of Audience Services in relation to Match of the Day and noted that Audience Services had apologised for any offence that had been caused, but had assured the complainant there had been no intention to cause offence and Gary Lineker had not used offensive language. Trustees noted that the complainant had watched with his teenage son and regretted any embarrassment he may have felt. However Trustees considered that the comment made by the presenter was elliptical and would be within the expectations of the audience of the very well established programme.

The Committee therefore decided that this appeal did not qualify to proceed for consideration.



Update: The Modern World Sits in Judgment of Religion...

Transport for London, unsurprisingly prefers not to carry adverts featuring religious satire. And christians do not understand why

Link Here31st March 2014
Full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship
There is an exhibition at St Marylebone Church of the work of 20 artists' representations of the Stations of the Cross. Throughout Lent, some of these have been approved by TfL to appear on the London Underground.

But not Antony Micallef's Kill Your Idol , a representation of the first station, where Jesus is condemned to death, this time by an X-Factor style panel of judges.

A spokesperson for TfL said the poster was rejected because it did not comply with the firm's advertising policy. She pointed to a clause that concerns causing widespread or serious offence to members of the public and another referring to advertisements that do not comply with the law or incite someone to break the law.

It is the view of St Marylebone's Rector, the Reverend Canon Stephen Evans, that this work raises:

Important contemporary questions about the fickleness and shallowness of fame and celebrity, success and failure. About who has the power to say just who is going to be a 'hit' and who a 'miss'.

It is not an image that could cause offence, it's not obscene; it is just a very, very strange decision.

But of course the decision is nothing to do with nuances of offence. It's just that everybody knows that religion and satire simply do not mix, and anything coming anywhere close is simply best avoided for fear of either violence or else a station load of moaning minnies. It seems that religion these days is not really very welcome in the normal world, it causes far too much trouble in the world.



Obituary: Harry Novak...

Sexploitation King does aged 86

Link Here31st March 2014

Sinful Dwarf Unrated Uncut TorbenHarry Novak (January 12, 1928 -- March 26, 2014), the sexploitation king, produced and distributed a prolific number of exploitation films from the early 60s to the mid-70s, including William Rotsler's cult classics The Agony of Love and Mantis in Lace and the influential monster nudie Kiss Me Quick ! among many others.

His mondo documentary film Mondo Mod is considered a seminal surfer cult movie, offering early glimpses of southern California's surfing and biker subcultures, and was a film that proved successful enough that it was eventually distributed widely to North American drive-ins by exploitation powerhouse Box Office International Pictures

But really, Wiki's selected filmography best describes his enormous contribution to the exploitation genre:



Update: Chinese internet censorship enables new opportunity for corruption...

It is one of the fundamental tenets of censorship that the censors are somehow more moral than the rest of us

Link Here 31st March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Chinese authorities have prosecuted an Internet policeman who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media.

He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials.

It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.



Updated: But Don't Bother Searching for 'Free Speech'...

US court finds that search engines can impose political censorship if they want too

Link Here31st March 2014
A U.S. judge has ruled that the Chinese search engine Baidu has the right to block pro-democracy works from its query results, dismissing a lawsuit that sought to punish the company for Internet censorship.

The lawsuit against Baidu, originally filed in 2011 by eight activists in New York, claimed that the Chinese search engine had violated U.S. laws on free speech. This was because Baidu had been censoring pro-democracy works on its search engine for not only its users in China, but also for those accessing the site from New York.

But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled against the activists, and said requiring Baidu to include pro-democracy works in its search results would run afoul of the U.S.'s free speech laws.  In his ruling, Furman compared Baidu's blocking of pro-democracy works to a newspaper's right to exercise editorial control to publish what it wants. In Baidu's case, the company has created a search engine that favors certain political speech.

Update: Appeal

31st March 2013. See  article from

A group of activists are hoping to appeal a U.S. judge's ruling that treated the censorship on Chinese search engine Baidu as free speech.

In making the ruling, District Judge Jesse Furman equated the censorship to a newspaper exercising its editorial right to publish what it wants. But Stephen Preziosi, lawyer for the eight pro-democracy activists, said in an email Saturday that the comparison was wrong, and that the court had a fundamental misunderstanding of how search engines work.

The appeal is planned to be filed later this week, Preziosi wrote.



Commented: ATVOD: Phisherman's Friend...

Internet censor wants us to type credit card details and personal ID information into dodgy foreign porn websites

Link Here31st March 2014
Full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video
UK Video on Demand censor ATVOD has called for the law to be changed to require pornography sites to carry out age checks before granting access.

It said credit and debit card operators would be forbidden from processing payments from British customers to sites that did not comply. It claimed that the matter was so urgent that it was critical the legislation is enacted during this Parliament .

To back up its demand, the body commissioned market research firm Nielsen Netview to install equipment that monitored the online habits of 45,000 desktop PC and laptop users over the course of a month. The survey indicated that over the period:

  • 6% of children aged 15 years or younger had accessed an adult website
  • 5% of visitors to such sites had been under-18
  • One website alone - Pornhub - had been visited by 112,000 boys in the UK aged between 12 and 17-years-old Of the wider population,
  • 23% of those who had used the net over the month had visited an adult site Visitors to adult sites spent an average of 15 minutes looking at them during each visit and typically clocked up two-and-a-half hours of time in total over the month

Atvod added that the survey probably underestimated the scale of the issue since smartphone and tablet use was not included in the figures.

The regulator already forces UK-based sites to carry out onerous and impractical age verification checks before explicit photographs and videos can be viewed. This can be done by requiring valid credit card details (sorry debit card holders, these simply wont do)  or other personal information that can be cross-referenced with the electoral roll or another ID database. (or used for phishing or identity theft)

Sex and Censorship,  a free speech campaign group, - said the move would prove ineffective.

It won't make any difference to the sites that give all their videos away for free and sell advertising because they don't need credit card processing, said Jerry Barnett.

And some sites are already accepting bitcoin and other anonymous online payment systems. A clampdown on card payments would just accelerate this trend.

Even if implemented, this measure would have no effect on the range of content available to British consumers.

It seems strange that ATVOD aren't considering the far more practical solution of a central verification authority that is a bit more trustworthy (but not much with NSA and GCHQ snoopers) than a foreign porn site. Then for adult websites to enforce this external age verification without being able to monitor people's personal details.

Perhaps ATVOD are happier to see websites suffocated by their impractical and dangerous rules than be allowed to thrive under a more efficient age verification scheme.

In the ATVOD press release ATVOD chair and censorship advocate Ruth Evans claimed:

We do not advocate censorship.There is nothing in the ATVOD Rules which interferes with the right to provide sexually explicit material to an adult online.

[ ...UNLESS... of course that person doesn't hold a credit car. ..OR doesn't want to provide credit card details for a quick look round. ..OR... Doesn't want to risk ID theft or phishing by typing in dangerous ID details...]

Offsite Article: Empire Building

31st March 2013. See  article from

ATVOD censoring porn to keep itself in a job, says campaigner

... Read the full article

Update: As if this measure would really prevent young men from gaining access to porn

31st March 2013. Thanks to Alan

Where does ATVOD recruit idiots to work for it?

This idiocy about protecting children really pisses me off. When I was a hormonal post-pubertal lad, more than half a century ago, I had no problem finding back-street newsagents with no qualms about selling me a mucky magazine. Are today's media-savvy young men and women going to be prevented from gaining access to porn, whatever ATVOD or control-freak parents say?

In any case, how would ATVOD ban payments? I've never yet encountered a porn site which asks you to pay directly to Filthy Films Inc. Payments are through processors like CC Bill, which guarantee discretion, so that if your vanilla other half happens upon your Barclaycard bill he/she doesn't know that you're subscribing to Burning Bums Spanking. If they do somehow ban CC Bill, Verotel, etc. it will just be a gift to pirates with no interest in prohibiting access by young people.



Updated: ASA rule on email privacy (not that there is any)...

We only read your emails for 'good' reasons not like the other lot, who read your emails for any old reasons

Link Here30th March 2014

A radio ad, for Microsoft Outlook, began with a character who stated, Ymay ivatepray e-mailway isway onway ofway eirthay usinessbay. The voice-over then stated Pig Latin may be hard to understand, but you probably need it if you use Gmail, because Gmail scans every word of your e-mails to sell ads. But doesn't. And you can choose to opt out of personalised ads. To stop Gmail from using your e-mails, use Learn more at and keep your e-mails ivatepray .

Two complainants challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that Outlook offered greater privacy than Gmail, because they understood that Outlook also scanned the contents of all e-mails, for purposes other than targeting ads.

Microsoft Corporation stated their belief that offered greater privacy than Gmail because the latter scanned e-mails for the purpose of targeting ads, whereas only undertook protective scanning for viruses and spam. They considered that the scanning of e-mails for ad targeting in the Gmail system was a significant privacy issue, particularly as users could not opt-out, and referred to news articles which they believed reflected concerns of both consumers and regulators.

Microsoft stated that the ad focused on the scanning of e-mails for ad targeting, as this was a key distinguishing feature between and Gmail of which consumers might not be aware. They referred to a survey conducted on their behalf by a third party that stated that 64% of consumers are unaware that some e-mail providers scan e-mail content in order to target ads, and that 83% considered it an invasion of privacy.

Microsoft said that to not undertake protective scanning of e-mails would be irresponsible. They believed that it was expected, accepted and encouraged by both consumers and government regulators, and that it was an issue of great importance within the industry. They explained that this protective scanning was not mentioned in the ad because, unlike scanning to target advertising, scanning for viruses and spam was standard practice of which consumers were likely to be aware. Therefore, they considered that omission of this practice in the ad did not render it misleading. They also highlighted that protective scanning did not involve the collection and retention of consumer data, unlike scanning to target ads. They said that the superiority claim in the ad was limited to scanning for ad targeting, and that the ad made no claims (whether explicit or implied) that did not use any other form of e-mail scanning.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

We acknowledged that scanned e-mails for viruses and spam messages, and that this was not referred to in the ad. However, we understood that this was standard practice for e-mail providers and considered that listeners were likely to expect this type of scanning to be carried out as a matter of course. We noted that the ad referred explicitly to Gmail scanning e-mail content for the purposes of targeting ads, and that this reference was immediately followed by the statement doesn't . We considered that listeners were likely to appreciate that this statement was only in relation to scanning for ad targeting, rather than protective scanning, and that the ad did not state or imply that no other forms of scanning were utilised. We noted Microsoft's belief that the two types of scanning were different, as targeting required the collation and retention of data whereas protective scanning did not, and considered that the use of personal data was likely to be a privacy concern for some consumers. Because the ad made clear that the privacy claims were in relation to ad targeting, which does not carry out, we therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.

Offsite Article: Microsoft: Let's be clear, WE won't read your email -- but the cops will

30th March 2013. See  article from

Redmond rewrites T&Cs AGAIN -- and taps up privacy warriors for help

...Read the full article



Copyright Wrong Righted...

Open Rights Group report on new government legislation to allow parody of copyrighted material and to make personal copies of music already owned

Link Here29th March 2014

After pressure from Open Rights Group supporters over the last week, the Government has just published its proposed changes to copyright law.

The new laws will finally give us the right to parody and legalise personal copying of our digital media. We're also seeing important changes allowing non-commercial research to carry out text and data mining.

The laws should come into force on 1st June but we're not done yet. MPs and Peers first have to approve them.

Back in February 2011 we made an important submission to Professor Ian Hargreaves' Review of Intellectual Property. Professor Hargreaves then published recommendations on copyright that the Government accepted and were the basis of the changes that they published today. Despite promising to bring the changes in, the Government were very slow to make the reforms. In November last year ORG wrote to them urging them to get a move on. Lord Younger replied in December promising them in the New Year to come into force this April.

But again, the reforms were slow in coming. So over the last week ORG supporters sent over 350 unique emails to Vince Cable and Lord Younger demanding that they publish the changes to copyright.


The parody exception is fairly simple. The draft law itself is only two pages long! It says that using a work for the purposes of carcature, parody or pastiche does not infringe copyright in the work. It also makes clear that contracts can't be written to make using a work for parodic purposes an infringement of copyright.

  • Under current legislation, parody can only be made lawfully by obtaining permission from the rights holder
  • Amendment : Parody,caricature and pastiche are legalised under 'fair use'

Personal copies for private use

The personal copies exception is a bit more complicated. It will finally allow you to make back up copies of music, films or ebooks you have purchased or been gifted. That doesn't include computer programmes though. You can also convert your files to another file format or to play on a different device. And you can make personal copies of your files in the cloud.

There are limitations on the copying. For example, you cannot pass these copies or the original files on to another person. And you can't make any commercial gains from making the copies either.

The new legislation brings in restrictions on rightsholders or vendors imposing technical or contractual measures to stop you from making private copies. This is one area where we'll be looking for greater clarity on how to interpret the new law.

  • Under current legislation, consumers are not allowed to make a private copy of a work they have purchased
  • Amendment : Private copies from one device to another are allowed on items owned by consumers
  • Making copies of streamed or borrowed works is still not permitted
  • Making copies of owned work, for friends and family, is not allowed
  • If you want to sell the original work and have made any personal copies, they must first be deleted.


  • Under current laws, quotations can only be used for news, criticism or review
  • Amendment : The use of quotations will not constitute copyright infringement if it is under 'fair dealing' and the original source is acknowledged



Update: Morality Lectures...

Scottish university lecturers call for the censorship of lads' mags

Link Here29th March 2014
Full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills
University lecturers have backed plans to censor lads' magazines from Scottish universities.

Academics from the UCU Scotland union are demanding shops on campus are either banned from selling the publications or at least prevented from putting them on display.

The union's annual congress in Stirling heard that the sale of lads' magazines was part of a supposedly growing culture of sexism at Scottish universities that had to be tackled.

Janice Aitken, UCU Scotland's equalities spokeswhinger, said such:

We have to think about the impact it has on a female student entering a university shop to find magazines on sale that depict women as sex objects. It is equally important that male students are also aware that the university views these sort of magazines as unacceptable.



A Fashion for Taking Offence...

HM pulls a vest featuring a star and skull at the request of jewish organisation

Link Here29th March 2014
H&M has pulled a vest from sale after receiving complaints that it was anti-Semitic. The top featured a jewish style star emblazoned with a skull. A spokesperson for H&M said:

Please accept our most sincere apologies that this has caused offence. We understand the criticism and in response to this have decided to remove the T-shirt from all stores with immediate effect.

Mark Gardner, director of communications at a jewish organisation called Community Security Trust, said that fashion brands need to be more mindful when deciding on religious-inspired prints.

Fashion statements can work in diverse ways and if you randomly saw somebody wearing this in the street, then you might well believe it to be anti-Semitic and purchased from a neo-Nazi website or similar. It is for H&M to decide if they care about such things, but would they risk such reactions with a Christian crucifix or a Muslim crescent?



Torrents of Rulings...

European ISPs can be required by law to block copyright infringing web sites

Link Here29th March 2014

In a verdict handed down today the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that EU ISPs can be required to block access to sites engaged in copyright infringement. The decision follows the advice of the Advocate General in a case involving the now-defunct streaming site

A notable case originating from Austria has been on hold pending a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The dispute saw movie companies Constantin Film Verleih and Wega Filmproduktionsgesellschaft complain that local ISP UPC Telekabel Wien had been providing subscriber access to illegal streaming site, a site now shuttered following police action.

The movie companies previously obtained interim injunctions to have UPC block the site, despite UPC arguing that it couldn't be held responsible for a site that it had absolutely nothing to do with. UPC also noted that there was no court ruling indicating its customers had broken the law.

To settle the matter the Austrian Supreme Court asked the Court of Justice to clarify whether a company that provides Internet access to those using an illegal website could be required to block that site. Now the Court of Justice handed down its long-awaited decision.

The Court found that a person who makes copyrighted material available to the public without permission from rightsholders is using the services of the ISP of the people accessing that content. EU law does not require a specific relationship between the person infringing copyright and the intermediary against whom any injunction has been issued, the Court found.

Addressing UPC's concerns that none of its customers had been deemed by a court to have acted unlawfully, the EU Court said that proof was not necessary as the law is in place not only to bring an end to infringement, but also to prevent it.

The take-home from today's ruling, which follows last year's advice from the Advocate General, is clear: ISPs can be required to block access to infringing sites but any injunction must be balanced and proportional.



Extract: From the BBFC Labyrinth of Archives...

BBFC reveal the background of a U certificate rather than the expected PG

Link Here28th March 2014

Columbia-EMI-Warner, the distributor of Jim Henson's 1986 Labyrinth , anticipated a PG rating for the film.

Upon examination, however, the BBFC considered the film to be suitable at the U category. Whilst the creatures of The Dark Crystal were previously described by the BBFC examiners as frightening and monster like (albeit in the fairytale tradition), and the overall tone rather sombre , the examiners of Labyrinth considered this film to be a lighter prospect, with sequences ... which aim at suspense and excitement , which are perhaps initially scary for children, but it soon debriefs them with humour and explanation .

...Read the full article



Offsite Article: The internet censorship programme you're not allowed to know about...

Link Here 28th March 2014
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
The secretive development of a process to censor websites associated with terrorism. By Jane Fae

See article from



Updated: Silencing the Twittering...

Twitter blocked in Turkey over leaked evidence of alleged government corruption

Link Here28th March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
Turkey has blocked Twitter after its prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened to "root out" the social media network where wiretapped recordings have been leaked. These records were reported to reveal government corruption, hardly what the government needs ahead of local elections.

Twitter as blocked by Turkey's telecommunications censor (TIB) with a statement citing court orders relating to the recordings. But the Internet Technologies Board, BTK claimed nonsense about it being to avoid the possible future victimisation of citizens.

Erdogan had made repeated threats to shut down social media sites after audio recordings of his alleged conversations suggesting corruption were leaked. Two weeks ago he suggested that a total ban on sites like Facebook and YouTube were in his thoughts. The point was dismissed days later by the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, but Erdogan then repeated his claims. We will wipe out all of these, Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a political rally.

Offsite Article: Turkey's Twitter Ban Collapse Fueled By VPNs and DNS Tricks

23rd March 2013. See article from

Friday's news that the Turkish government had banned its citizens from accessing Twitter was depressing but an opportunity to be embraced. Forewarned is forearmed, and the fact that Turks are learning how to beat censorship with VPNs and DNS tricks better prepares them for the future.

...Read the full article

Update: Deeper blocking

24th March 2013. See  article from

Turkey has stepped up its efforts to block access to Twitter after many users found ways to flout its ban. Internet service providers in the country are now blocking the addresses used by the site, making it significantly more difficult to get around the restrictions, analysts have said.

Initially, Turkish internet service providers (ISPs) were simply redirecting traffic to a government webpage by forcing the DNS servers, which send to the correct IP addresses for the site they are trying to access, to redirect away from Twitter's homepage.

Now, however, ISPs have begun blocking the IP addresses used by Twitter themselves, according to an analysis carried out by internet monitoring firm Renesys. And a Turkish government webpage confirmed the block, citing court orders.

Update: Court overturns government censorship

27th March 2013. See  article from

Turkish Twitter users are expected to regain access to the website after a local court issued a stay of execution on last week's decision by a local telecommunications authority to ban the website.

According to some local media reports, the ban will be lifted as soon as the administrative court in Ankara informs Turkey s Telecommunications Authority of the ruling.

In a first official remark, deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc, said the Turkish government would implement the court ruling:

We will implement the court's decision. We might not like the court decision, but we will carry it out.

Update: YouTube blocked

28th March 2013. See  article from

The Turkish government reinforced its heavily criticised censorship of social media by blocking YouTube a week after it restricted access to the micro-blogging platform Twitter. The latest curbs came hours after an audio recording of a high-level security meeting was leaked on the video-sharing website.

Several similarly incriminating recordings, allegedly showing massive government corruption and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's direct influence on the media, have been leaked on social media in recent weeks. Erdogan has dismissed the allegations as lies and blackmail, accusing the opposition of trying to undermine the success of his Justice and Development party (AKP) ahead of critical local elections on Sunday.

Update: Tor website blocked

28th March 2013. See  article from

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an continues to double down on Internet censorship. A week after Turkish ISPs blocked Twitter Turkey's telecommunications authority has blocked YouTube . The block began to be rolled out hours after a leaked recording published anonymously on YouTube purported to show a conversation in which Turkey's foreign minister, spy chief, and a top general appear to discuss scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against militants in Syria.

The fallout from the Erdogan government's censorship spree has not been limited to platforms that host embarrassing political content. When Turkish Internet users handily circumvented the original Twitter block by using Google's DNS servers, Google's DNS was itself blocked. Now it appears that just as Turkey's ISPs are rolling out a block on YouTube, they are also blocking access to the Tor Project's website , where users can download the Tor Browser Bundle. The Tor browser is a powerful tool in the censorship circumvention toolbox because it is exceptionally difficult to filter Tor traffic . Mirror Mirror

For users in Turkey who have already downloaded the Tor Browser Bundle, censorship circumvention should continue without a hitch. And for the users who have not yet done so, it's not too late. The Tor project's website has many mirrors:

Update: TV station closed down

29th March 2013. See  article from

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTU K) has suspended the national broadcast license of Kanaltu rk TV, citing an administrative decision from years ago, a legal controversy that adds to concerns that state agencies are stepping up a clampdown on any voice critical of the government.

The decision came as the government dragged its feet on lifting the Twitter ban, which was deemed illegal and unconstitutional by both an Ankara court and the Constitutional Court. The government's tightening grip on any form of media is of serious concern ahead of local elections.

RTUK cited a 2010 decision of an administrative court which states the TV station cannot broadcast nationally but is allowed to broadcast regionally.

Update: ...But Erdogan still gets the country's support in elections

1st April 2013.  See  article from

Erdogan's increasingly Islamist and imperialist AKP won a solid majority in voting across Turkey on Sunday, in what is seen as a referendum on his rule

In Sunday's vote across Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an's increasingly Islamist and imperialistic Justice and Development AK party appeared to receive an overwhelming majority of the votes cast.



Commented: Crimes Against Political Correctness...

Government supports amendment to increase the penalties for internet insults

Link Here27th March 2014
Full story: Insulting UK Law...UK proesecutions of jokes and insults on social media
The government is supporting calls for harsher penalties for internet insults. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has backed Conservative MP Angie Bray's demands for changes to the law.

According to the Evening Standard , Grayling agreed that the legislation needed to be tightened to protect victims from malicious comments being directed at them via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Offences under the Malicious Communications Act currently only carry prison sentences that are no longer than six months, because such cases are heard at magistrates' courts. The proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, which will be discussed in Parliament on Thursday, could change that, presumably by allowing Crown Court scale punishments.

Comment: If we want to live in a society without offence we will live in a society without free speech

27th March 2013. See  article from

Kirsty Hughes, CEO of Index on Censorship, said:

Index is deeply concerned at the government's apparent intention to deepen the criminal penalties for grossly offensive communications sent through the internet or social media. Just last year, the then Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer put out a very sensible set of guidelines to limit the number of arrests for social media posts that may be offensive to some but did not constitute a criminal offence. Now we are going backwards. Offence is a subjective concept and if we want to live in a society without offence we will live in a society without free speech.

Offsite Comment: Free speech will suffer if politicians get tough on offensive tweets

27th March 2013. See  article from by Robert Sharp

Thanks to online abuse, MPs may be about to remove our right to be offensive. But giving offence is a vital part of democracy

...Read the full article



Offsite Article: Why is parodying Sky's Captain America filtering adverts still illegal?...

Link Here 27th March 2014
Captain America, Marvel Comics' World War II supersoldier, is the star of Sky Broadband's latest advert. And he's taking a break from fighting 1940s comic book bad guys to promote Sky's default Internet filters.

See article from



Google Takedown Notices Surge 711,887 Percent in Four Years...

The increase can be credited to a few copyright holders and industry groups such as the RIAA, who started an avalanche of takedown requests after the SOPA and PIPA bills died in Congress.

Link Here 27th March 2014



Bumper year...

MPAA Releases Their 2013 US Box-Office Statistics Report

Link Here27th March 2014



The Other Woman...

Distributors set to appeal against an R rating from the MPAA

Link Here26th March 2014
The Other Woman is a 2014 USA comedy by Nick Cassavetes.
Starring Cameron Diaz, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Kate Upton. YouTube icon IMDb

The romantic comedy has just been rated R by the MPAA for some sexual references.

The distributors were not impresses and intend to appeal this decision, presumably seeking a PG-13.



Glorious mind blowing freedom of all out war...

ASA dismisses whinges that Battlefield 4 adverts glamourised war

Link Here26th March 2014

a. A TV ad for the computer game Battlefield 4 included a voice-over which stated, If you're into rushing headlong into chaos, changing the map with one well placed shot, base jumping off of a sky scraper, joy riding tanks and the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war. We'll see you there. The ad featured scenes from the game. The ad was given an ex-kids restriction by Clearcast.

b. A VOD ad for the computer game Battlefield 4, which was the same as TV ad (a) was seen on 4OD, ITVplayer and STVplayer.

c. A website ad for the same game on the advertisers own website included images of the game and the claims Witness the glorious chaos of all-out war in the Battlefield 4 Multiplayer Launch Trailer and Get intel on the single player campaign and learn about the glorious chaos of all-out war in Battlefield 4 multiplayer . Issue

39 complaints were received.

  1. All complainants objected that ads (a), (b) and (c), particularly the claims the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war and the glorious chaos of all-out war were offensive because they glamorised war.

  2. Some of the complainants challenged whether ad (a) had been inappropriately scheduled for broadcast on Remembrance Sunday and on the days around it.

  3. Some of complainants objected that ads (a), (b) and (c) were offensive and disrespectful to servicemen and woman and their families and to ex-members of the armed forces and their families.

  4. Some of complainants challenged whether ad (a) was inappropriate for broadcast when it might be seen by children.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted EA's intention was to draw attention to the multi-player functionality. However, we noted that although website ad (c) included several references to multi-player , TV ad (a) and VOD ad (b) made no clear reference to that functionality. We considered that consumers would understand from the text in ad (c) and the voice-over in ads (a) and (b) (both the words and the way in which they were delivered by the actor with a sense of thrill), alongside the images of footage from the game which included tanks, shooting and explosions both on the battlefield and city streets, that playing at war through the game was exciting and thrilling. Although we understood some consumers would find the voice-over the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war in ads (a) and (b) and the text Witness the glorious chaos of all-out war in ad (c) to be distasteful and upsetting, we considered that within the context of the ads in their entirety, those claims would be understood by consumers to be in reference to game-play and not to war itself. We therefore concluded that the ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence

2. Not upheld

We noted that some complainants had seen ad (a) on or around Remembrance Sunday but noted no specific complaints were received about the ad being broadcast around programmes specifically dedicated to Remembrance Sunday . Although we understood some consumers found the timing to be distasteful, we considered that the ad would be understood to be about game-play and not war itself and that the broadcast of the ad campaign around this time was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

3. Not upheld

Although we understood some consumers, including servicemen and women and their families (along with ex-members of the armed forces) may have found the voice-over the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war in ads (a) and (b) and the text Witness the glorious chaos of all-out war in ad (c) to be distasteful and upsetting, we considered that within the context of the ads in their entirety, those claims would be understood to be reference to game-play and not to war itself. We therefore concluded that the ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that they were not disrespectful to those who had directly experienced or been directly or indirectly affected by war.

4. Not upheld

We noted the ad was given an Ex-kids restriction meaning that it was not broadcast around programmes that were directly targeted at young children. We also noted EA's media buying agency only bought advertising space after 19.30 because the game itself had an PEGI 18 rating. Although we understood some viewers would be concerned that older children may have seen the ad if watching after 19.30, we considered there was nothing within the content of the ad that made it unsuitable for older children and noted the featured game-play did not include footage which directly reflected the given PEGI rating. We therefore considered that the given ex-kids restriction was sufficient. We concluded that ad (a) did not breach the Code.



Complainants Are Always Right...

New Zealand planning news laws to allow bullies to censor the internet

Link Here26th March 2014

New Zealand's biggest telecommunications company says proposed laws to clamp-down on online abuse will inevitably abused for malicious censorship.

Speaking before MPs, John Wesley-Smith from Telecom said under the proposed laws internet firms that hosted websites or social media forums would end up removing content as soon as someone complained, to avoid potential penalties. The complaints system would also effectively give censorship power to complainants who might be acting maliciously themselves. He said:

We are concerned that this will create unhealthy sensitiveness for online content hosts to remove any content that is complained about. This raises questions about censorship and freedom of speech.

For content that it did not control, such as third-party websites, the problem would be more pronounced and Telecom's only recourse would be to shut them down entirely, he said.

Telecom was speaking before the justice and electoral select committee which is considering a bill that would criminalise harmful digital communication . It would also create a new authority to consider complaints and issue take-down notices, including against internet service providers.



Update: Rumours of Repression...

China to initiate a new training programme for 2 million propaganderists and 'opinion monitors'

Link Here26th March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

The Chinese government has revealed an expansion of internet censorship with a new training programme for the estimated two million opinion monitors Beijing organised last year.

Training will target the whole range of state workers including law enforcement, academia and state businesses.

The training course will reportedly cost 6,800 yuan ($1,108) and graduates will receive a certificate according to one of five levels -- assistant analyst, analyst, senior analyst, manager and senior manager. The test will take three hours and participants will be required to take a refresher course at a later date.

Once trained, monitors will supervise the posting of social media messages, deleting those that are deemed harmful. Beijing claims to have deployed advanced filtering technology to identify problematic posts, and will need to rapidly filter out false, harmful, incorrect, or even reactionary information, according to state press agency Xinhua.

Alongside the announcement about the training course, the government emphasised its concern over the spreading of rumours, which have recently become a euphemism for political discussion, including possible corruption of senior officials online. Those who spread rumors would be severely punished, the statement confirmed.



99 Atributes of Blasphemy...

Saudi clerics ban TV cartoon superhero series

Link Here26th March 2014
Saudi Arabia's senior clerics have banned muslims from watching the Islam-inspired TV cartoon series, The 99 .

The television series based on a superhero comic book is being aired by Saudi-owned satellite channel MBC3, based in the United Arab Emirates.

But in a fatwa published on Saudi websites claims the series to be blasphemous because the superheroes of its title are based on the 99 attributes ascribed to the religious character Allah in the Koran. The clerics, led by the kingdom's mufti, Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, said:

The 99 is a work of the devil that should be condemned and forbidden in respect to Allah's names and attributes.

The original comic strip version has been sold around the world and has also spawned a merchandise range and a theme park in Kuwait as well as the Arabic-language television series.



Update: Floods of Intolerance...

Indonesia's film censors ban Noah

Link Here25th March 2014
Indonesia's film-censorship board has banned Darren Aronofsky's upcoming movie Noah on the grounds that it showed an image of Noah who is considered to be a prophet in the religion of islam.

The censorship board defended its decision claiming that the film was against religious teachings and values. Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi, a member of the board, told the Indonesian news portal

We have our own authority. We adjust it in accordance with society's values which uphold religious and unity values. We won't just follow in the footsteps of another country.

The chairman of the censorship board said the story presented in Noah ran counter to the relevant verses in the religious book, the Koran. Mukhlis Paeni told the Indonesian news portal

There are many considerations. The first thing is the content of Noah is against our beliefs or not according to the story in the holy book.

Respected Indonesian film director Joko Anwar criticized the country's Film Censorship Board (LSF) for its narrow-minded ban:

If there is a fear that the film will cause unrest and protest from some groups then the government should create a situation conducive to people growing up instead of always limiting them to a narrow-minded condition.

We don't need to get worried about a movie which they claim might corrupt religious teachings. Nowadays, with the easy access to YouTube, banning a movie is a waste of effort. Secondly, if we are talking about film, we should see it as a work of art. Art is an interpretation of the filmmaker, so it should not be banned.



Update: Big Fat Lawyer Earnings...

The Traveller Movement obtains judicial Review of Ofcom investigation into claims against the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings TV series

Link Here25th March 2014
Full story: Big Fat Gypsy Wedding...TV winds up the easily offended
The Traveller Movement, a campaign group supporting gypsies and travellers, has won permission to seek a judicial review against the TV censor Ofcom.

The group claims that Ofcom conducted a flawed and biased investigation into accusations by the movement and eight individual women that the The Big Fat Gypsy Weddings series on Channel 4 perpetuated racist stereotypes.

They also complain the Channel 4 series broke broadcasting regulations regarding consent, sexually exploited traveller children and caused untold harm to social cohesion by reinforcing misconceptions and prejudices.

Ofcom has indicated it will defend its actions and contends the gypsy case is unarguable.



Offsite Article: The NSA is burning down the web, but what if we rebuilt a spy-proof internet?...

Link Here 25th March 2014
To realize what we've given away, imagine going totally offline. Better yet, believe in what a truly secure online life might look like. By David Byrne

See article from



Offsite Article: Payment Police...

Link Here25th March 2014
US Government agency proposes data mining individuals' financial transactions

See article from



Updated: Kylie Minogue's Sexercise...

As recommended by the Daily Mail, Mediawatch-UK and Safermedia

Link Here24th March 2014
Hundreds of music fans have apparently taken to social networking websites to criticise the Kylie Minogue after she posted raunchy footage on YouTube to accompany her latest single, Sexercise .

A few fans condemned the video, which shows her writhing on gym equipment, as soft porn , and said her outfit of a white leotard and stiletto heels was inappropriate. Others argued she was using sex to mask the mediocre quality of the music.

However the whingers are a tiny minority of the 917,000 viewers that have watched the video so far.

Vivienne Pattinson, of campaign group Mediawatch-UK, said:

It's just reinforcing the idea that your worth is defined by your hotness rather than anything else you have to offer, and that can be really damaging for the self-esteem of young girls.

Pippa Smith, of the religious moral campaign group Safermedia, said:

This latest release is very disappointing as she will understand perfectly well that she is a role model for young girls and children.

Update: An even more ludicrous attempt to conjure up some 'outrage'

24th March 2013. See  article from

The Daily Mail tries to hype up Kylie's pretty sexy but modest dress:

Just days after attracting controversy with a very racy music video, Kylie Minogue has flaunted her body in a red, dominatrix-style bandage dress while performing at London nightclub G-A-Y.

The 45-year-old showed off her famous figure on Saturday night in a shiny, tight red dress, which she teamed with red peep-toe stilettos for her performance at the gay bar.



Offsite Article: Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge...

Link Here24th March 2014
Dreaming up a gay angle

See article from



Update: Searching for Privacy...

Google encrypts all mail to restrict mass surveillance by NSA and GCHQ

Link Here23rd March 2014
Amid revelations that the US National Security Agency has the ability for the mass interception of data going between servers and other computers, tech giant Google now says it will encrypt all messages sent through its Gmail email service to restrict prying eyes from looking at private messages.

In a blog post made by head Gmail security engineer Nicolas Lidzborski, Google said that every time a user checks or sent email, it will be encryped as the data goes to and from Google's servers.

Although Google has given Gmail users the ability to sign into their accouints through an encrypted connection (known as HTTPS) since 2010, Gmail will now automatically default users to the more secure network.

In addition, every single email message you send or receive---100 percent of them---is encrypted while moving internally, the post reads. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers---something we made a top priority after last summer's revelations.

However, Google hasn't NSA-proofed Gmail completely. The agency still has the ability to send out National Security Letters compelling a company to release information. And the federal government hasn't been shy requesting data from Google. In a transparency report , Google said that for the first half of 2013, it received 25,879 requests for user information from government agencies and courts.



Update: You're Going to Hell...

Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptists, dies aged 84

Link Here23rd March 2014
The former leader of a US 'church' that was widely known for its inflammatory anti-gay protests has died, his family has said.

The Reverend Fred Phelps Sr, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, died on Wednesday evening at 84.

The church, made up mostly of his family, rose to international notoriety with its practice of picketing funerals of fallen US troops.

It claimed their deaths were punishment for America's tolerance of gay people.  Their signs read Thank God for dead soldiers and Thank God for 9/11 and the like, and bore messages offensive to gay and lesbian people.

In 2011 the church won a major legal victory when the US Supreme Court ruled it could not be sued for monetary damages for inflicting pain on grieving families.



Offsite Article: Vince Cable - Can we have our freedom to joke now please?...

Link Here 23rd March 2014
Open Rights group call on the government to remember their promises about copyright reforms which seem to have stalled

See article from



Less Solid...

Metal Gears Solid: Ground Zeroes censored in Japan

Link Here22nd March 2014
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a 2014 Japan combat game. It is as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Hideo Kojima, in an interview with Weekly Famitsu , mentioned that thanks to the Computer Entertainment Ratings Organization (CERO) , the Japanese video game ratings board, part of the Japanese version has been censored.

That part got flagged by CERO so the production was changed that way, but in the North American version [of Ground Zeroes ] you can see everything, Kojima said when his interviewer expressed amazement of how far the content of Ground Zeroes went.

Reports mention that the missing details are from a waterboarding torture scene. other reports mention a candidate rape scene.



Extract: Egypt: Secularists and conservatives battle over music videos...

Music censors ban 20 sexy pop videos

Link Here 22nd March 2014

In a move that has sparked concern among Egyptian secularists, the country's censorship committee this week banned 20 music videos allegedly containing heavy sexual connotations and featuring scantily-dressed female singers and models.

The banning of the video clips comes amid heated debate on raunchy music videos broadcast on some of the Arab satellite channels. In recent years, an increasing number of popular Arab female singing-stars have challenged social norms and broken cultural taboos by revealing more flesh in their video clips. The trend has stirred controversy in Egypt's deeply conservative Muslim society with many Egyptians rejecting what they describe as the pornification of pop music . They insist that the graphic, semi-porn sexual scenes featured in some of the music videos are not in line with Islamic tradition and culture .

...Read the full article



Moral Discrimination...

Gay HIV awareness poster in Japan gets a censorship touch-up

Link Here22nd March 2014
Last December, an HIV-awareness billboard commissioned from gay artist Poko Murata appeared in the Tokyo gay district of Shinjuku Ni-chome. The billboard, advertising the AIDS pharmaceutical company Viiv Healthcare, featured a ring of Japanese men alongside the text, There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together.

In January, Murata received a complaint from the Shinjuku district office that his billboard was contrary to public order and morality because of one of the men in his ad was wearing only underwear. After re-drawing the man in a slightly unzipped pair of shorts, the office continued to complain because the man's underwear was still visible.

The artist himself considers the complaint an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays, especially considering that the district has numerous advertisements for straight bars featuring real-life women in skimpy underclothes.

A clothed version of Murata's sign was placed over the original earlier this week.



Offsite Article: Is BT handing over data on Brits in bulk?...

Link Here22nd March 2014
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee Big Brother Watch's Director raised this issue and revealed that BT had refused to deny that it hands over data in bulk:

See article from



Offsite Article: Nymphomaniac is the Latest Pawn in Turkey's Battle Over Censorship...

Link Here 22nd March 2014
The banning of the movie takes on a very political symbolism about the perilous state of freedom in Turkey

See article from



Philosophy of Disbelief...

Bangladesh online book seller censored by death threats

Link Here21st March 2014
A popular Bangladeshi online bookstore has stopped selling books by a well-known writer after an Islamic militant issued death threats on Facebook to the website's owner. said in statement that it has stopped selling books authored by Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born engineer and author who is currently living in the United States. Roy pioneered the popular Bangladeshi online blogging site Freethinker and rose to prominence with his books on philosophy, scientific thought and human rights issues.

The decision to withdraw his books was prompted by death threats posted to Facebook by Farabi Shafiur Rahman, an Islamist extremist allegedly linked to the hardline Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami.

Farabi accused Roy of defaming Islam and the religious character Mohammed and accused chairman Mahmudul Hasan Sohag of promoting atheism by selling Roy's books. In his Facebook post, Farabi specified the office address of and called upon his Islamist friends in the adjacent locality to attack. He also told Sohag that he would suffer the same fate as Ahmed Rajib Haider, a popular blogger known by the psuedonym Thaba Baba, who was hacked to death last year by machete-wielding Islamic militants. released a statement saying:

A review committee has already started working to shape a policy under which no book that raises controversy will be shown on our site.

Roy commented:

My books are mostly on modern science and philosophy. These are not the books criticizing religious scriptures or any particular religion. They are mainly scientific books having references from reputed journals, books and newspapers.

He added that his books have never generated complaints over their content and that one of his books was on Bangladesh's annual best sellers' list.



Index Freedom of Expression Awards...

2014 winners

Link Here21st March 2014

This year's Freedom of Expression Awards 2014 were awarded to a diverse group of remarkable individuals and organisation from the young female Egyptian Rapper to a Pakistani internet campaigner, from an Indian digital pioneer to an Azerbaijani newspaper.

The Freedom of Expression Awards recognise the bravest journalists, artists and activists from around the world. From Edward Snowden to FreeWeibo and David Cecil to Colectivo Chuhcan, their remarkable true stories remind us that the right to free expression must be defended at all costs. Index is proud to bring these voices to London and shine a light on their work for the world to see.

Index Arts award: Mayam Mahmoud , Egyptian Hip-hop Artist A finalist on Arab's Got Talent, Hijab wearing Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud uses hip-hop to address issues such as sexual harassment and to stand up for women's rights in the country that, after the hope of Tahrir Square, is slipping back into authoritarianism.

Google Digital Activism award: Shubhranshu Choudhary , Indian Journalist Choudhary is the brains behind CGNet Swara, a mobile-phone based news service that allows some of India's poorest citizens to upload and listen to hyper-local reports in their own dialect, no smartphone required! CGNet Swara is both circumventuing India's strict radio licencing laws and creatively providing an outlet for those overlooked people on the wrong side of the digital divide.

The Guardian Journalism award: Azadliq , Azerbaijani independent Newspaper One of the last independent media outlets in Azerbaijan, Azadliq has continued to report on government corruption and cronyism in spite of increasing pressures and a financial squeeze enforced by the authorities.

Doughty Street Advocacy award: Shahzad Ahmad , Pakistani Campaigner Shahzad Ahmad leads the fight against online censorship in Pakistan. He has sued the Pakistani government over their suspected use of surveillance software, FinFisher, and he is suing the government over its ongoing blocking of YouTube which is depriving his people of one of the world's most popular video channels.



Update: Unwholesome Whinges...

One Million Moms rant about cereal advert featuring gay families

Link Here21st March 2014
Full story: One Million Moms...Moralist whingers against anything sexy
Perennial moral campaigners of One Million Moms have their latest whinge against a US cereal advert:

Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves for their latest Honey Maid and Teddy Graham cracker commercial where they attempt to normalize sin. Right away it shows two men with a baby, followed by other families, and ends with different families pictured including the one with two dads. This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement wholesome. The ad states, Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. This is wholesome.

One Million Moms stands up for Biblical truth which is very clear in Romans 1:26-27 about this particular type of sexual perversion.

Honey Maid is also using the hashtag #thisiswholesome. There is concern about the way this ad is pushing the LGBT agenda, but an even greater concern is the way that they are changing the meaning of the word wholesome.

This is truly sad. If this is what Honey Maid thinks is wholesome, then my family will no longer purchase Honey Maid or Nabisco products.



Commented: Suffocating the Film Industry...

Britain tweeks film censorship law to increase red tape and censorship costs for its local industry

Link Here21st March 2014
Full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill
These are good times for British film fans. The UK is lucky to have some of the best DVD labels in the world ( Arrow , the BFI , Masters of Cinema , Odeon , Second Run , Second Sight , Nucleus...) producing essential releases of that cater for every taste.

But this golden age could be coming to an end, courtesy of some well-meaning government legislation. From May, the way home video material is classified is changing: material that is currently exempt from classification will have to be vetted by the BBFC.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) decided that the best way to stem the tide of tabloid claims of pop video filth is to tighten up BBFC ratings. And they came up with some new and expensive regulations.

The main change is that any documentary material that contains clips of things that might be considered unsuitable for children will no longer be exempt from classification. So any DVD extra (an interview, for example) that contains a clip from the main feature will have to be scrutinised again. A single use of the word 'fuck' is enough to put the work in 12 rated territory and hence need expensive vetting by the BBFC.

A 90 minute film on DVD/Blu-ray will set you back £ 615 plus VAT, according to the fee calculator on their website. No big deal to the major labels but potentially calamitous for the knife-edge economics of the independent sector. It was Marc Morris, of Nucleus Films who first sounded the alarm about these changes and he offers a case study of the impact they'll have on industry.

The documentary Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide proved a big hit, but parts of the material, particularly the framing documentary were exempt from classification. Morris estimates it would cost between £ 6,000- £ 7000 more had the documentary been made after the new law comes in.

Alan Byron, MD of Odeon Entertainment notes:

The economics behind collector's releases will now dictate that extra features are reduced and more vanilla editions will appear.

It goes without saying that all this was pushed through without consulting any of the labels it affects -- and there's been virtually no communication from either the DCMS or BBFC to explain that the changes were even happening

 Francesco Simeoni of Arrow Films concurs:

The new legislation has serious implications for niche labels, says . Our audience is very much on an international level and so we must compete with territories that do not have to contend with such costs. Whether we choose to include content for our releases has a whole new set of financial considerations which means we are at a significant disadvantage to our competitors.

...Read the full  article

Comment: Not Exempt from criticism

20th March  2013. From Stuart

We know all this, and it's not as bad as this article is making out. The BBFC podcast explains in great detail about scrapping the E certificate, and it's not about suffocating the industry. It's about informing the public about what the contents are in the DVD which some viewers might find objectionable, which gives them a choice on whether to watch it, or not.

This is not the 80s, the Whitehouse/Ferman days are long gone.

Offsite Comment: Extras Tax

21st March  2013. See  article from by film director Pat Higgens

I haven't had any argument with the BBFC for a long time.

Until this week, when they announced a potentially catastrophic change to their policy.

Not catastrophic to the big boys, of course. Not catastrophic to the Harry Potter s or Star Trek s of this world. As usual, shit rolls downhill towards the guys at the bottom.

In fact, this change of BBFC policy would probably be unnoticed by everybody except small independent distributors and the filmmakers whose films are distributed by them.

Filmmakers like me.

...Read the full article



Commented: Suffocating the Adult Industry...

Culture Media Sport Committee calls for the prosecution of adult websites viewable by children

Link Here21st March 2014
The cross party Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published a report on Online Safety.

Conservative MP John Whittingdale, chair of the committee and pro-censorship sound bite provider for the tabloid press, said the current relatively unfettered access to adult pornography online represented a failure to protect children. While more regulation is not necessary, he said:

Those who profit from the internet must demonstrate the utmost commitment to protecting children and should be prosecuted and penalised if they don't.

The report particularly concurs with ATVOD's suggestion that adult websites that can be viewed by children should be prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act on the grounds that such material depraves and corrupts children. But given that millions of kids have already viewed such content, and there is no real sign of any mass child depravity, then this legal contention is provably bollox.

A selection of the committee's recommendation relating to censorship are:

  • 8. We welcome the Government's decision to include pornographic depictions of rape in the definition of extreme pornography. It has been illegal to publish such images for many years; outlawing their possession is long overdue.

  • 9. There is clearly a need to obtain wider international consensus and cooperation in relation to combating criminally obscene adult material and terrorist material and we urge the Government to use all the influences it can bring to bear to bring this about within a transparent, legal framework.

  • 10. We believe that the existing obscenity laws already proscribe the publication of adult material in ways that make it readily available to children. However, we are concerned that no prosecutions have been brought despite the proliferation of pornography sites which make no attempt to restrict access by children. We welcome the Government's declared intention to legislate to clarify the law in this area. However, in the meantime, we urge the prosecuting authorities to use the existing law to crack down on the worst offenders in order to put pressure on all suppliers of hardcore pornography to make greater efforts to ensure that such material is accessible only by adults.

  • 11. The Government should seek agreement with other European Union Member States to ban on demand programme services that make pornography readily available to children. We further urge the Government to engage with other international partners, particularly the USA, with the aim of securing a similar outcome more widely.

  • 12. We believe that, as part of its existing media literacy duties, Ofcom has an important role in monitoring internet content and advising the public on online safety. However, we are anxious to avoid suggesting a significant extension of formal content regulation of the internet. Among the unintended consequences this could have would be a stifling of the free flow of ideas that lies at the heart of internet communication.

  • 13. Providers of adult content on the internet should take all reasonable steps to prevent children under 18 from accessing inappropriate and harmful content. Such systems may include, but will not necessarily be restricted to, processes to verify the age of users.

  • 14. We have no reason to suppose that Nominet has either the resources or inclination to police the internet. Age verification, while ideal, is not the only way of preventing children from accessing unsuitable content. However, we believe that no .uk site should offer unimpeded access to adult pornography to children. This should be made a condition of registration.

  • 15. Site blocking is highly unlikely to be a suitable approach for adult pornography or violent material much of which is legal (at least if it is unavailable to minors) and which is prevalent on the internet. However, blocking should be considered as a last resort for particularly harmful adult websites that make no serious attempt to hinder access by children.

  • 16. We welcome the introduction of whole home filtering solutions that prompt account holders with a choice to apply them. We encourage all internet service providers to offer their customers this valuable service. Ofcom should monitor the implementation of this filtering and report back on its level of success and adoption.

  • 18. We agree that the availability and performance of filtering solutions must be closely monitored, both for efficacy and the avoidance of over-blocking. It should also be easy for websites inadvertently blocked to report the fact and for corrective action to be taken.

  • 19. Websites that provide adult content should signal the fact clearly to enable filters better to take effect. A failure on the part of the operators of such sites to do so should be a factor in determining what measures should be taken against them.

  • 20. Filters are clearly a useful tool to protect children online. Ofcom should continue to monitor their effectiveness and the degree to which they can be circumvented.

  • 21. We welcome the introduction of ParentPort but believe Ofcom should seek to promote and improve it further. For example, more use could be made of it to collect data on complaints concerning children's access to adult material.

  • 22. We further recommend that Ofcom regularly reports on children's access to agerestricted material, particularly adult pornography and the effectiveness of filters and age verification measures. Ofcom is well-placed to fulfil this role given the work it does on its Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report.

  • 23. We note comments on the state of, and access to, sex and relationships education. We are aware this is a politically contested subject but believe the Government should take into account the views of the young people who gave evidence to us of the value and importance of good quality mandatory sex and relationship education as policy develops. In the mean time, teachers have many opportunities to use their professional judgement in advising children both on online safety and on respect for each other. We believe there is scope for providing teachers with clearer signposting of the advice and educational resources that are already available.

  • 31. Ofcom should monitor and report on complaints it receives, perhaps via an improved ParentPort, regarding the speed and effectiveness of response to complaints by different social media providers.

Offsite Comment: A barrister also asks whether hardcore porn really depraves and corrupts

20th March  2013. See article from

The government would need to establish that viewing ordinary adult pornography is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt its audience. Whatever your views about pornography, this is a high threshold and would need to be backed up with reliable evidence -- for example, from child psychologists and teachers.

...Read the full article

Offsite Comment: MPs, stop bundling child abuse in with pornography

21st March  2013. See  article from by Liat Clark

Every time the government rampages about legal online pornography in the same breath as online child abuse content, it is damaging

...Read the full article



Update: Moving to healthier Climes...

Theresa May tries to persuade Yahoo not to flee her snooper's wonderland

Link Here21st March 2014
Theresa May summoned internet giant Yahoo to an urgent meeting to raise security concerns after the company announced plans to move to Dublin where it is beyond the reach of Britain's snooping free-for-all.

By making the Irish capital rather than London the centre of its European, Middle East and Africa operations, Yahoo cannot be forced to hand over information demanded by the police and security agencies through warrants issued under Britain's controversial anti-terror laws.

Yahoo has had longstanding concerns about securing the privacy of its hundreds of millions of users -- anxieties that have been heightened in recent months by revelations from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. The company said this represented a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy .

The Guardian reported that it had been told that Charles Farr, the head of the office for security and counter-terrorism (OSCT) within the Home Office, has been pressing May to talk to Yahoo because of anxiety in Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command about the effect the move to Dublin could have on their inquiries.  A Whitehall source explained:

There are concerns in the Home Office about how Ripa will apply to Yahoo once it has moved its headquarters to Dublin. The home secretary asked to see officials from Yahoo because in Dublin they don't have equivalent laws to Ripa. This could particularly affect investigations led by Scotland Yard and the national crime agency. They regard this as a very serious issue.

The move to make Dublin will take effect from Friday.



Offsite Article: Less gore in store for Walking Dead reruns...

Link Here21st March 2014
US censorship discussions about airing the cable TV hit, Walking Dead, on broadcast TV

See article from



Recommended by Tesco and the Gloucester Citizen newspaper...

Tesco bans The Hospital, an 18 rated low budget horror

Link Here 20th March 2014
The Hospital is a 2013 USA horror by Tommy Golden and Daniel Emery Taylor.
With Jim O'Rear, Daniel Emery Taylor and John Dugan. YouTube iconBBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed 18 uncut by the BBFC for strong violence, sex and sexual violence for:

  • 2014 Point Blank R2 DVD at UK Amazon released on 3rd March 2014 (But read the reviews first, some are appalling)

Tesco censors have removed a horror film featuring strong sexual violence from sale in all stores nationwide after being alerted to the content by the Citizen, a local newspaper.

The Hospital is rated 18 by the BBFC and was on sale for £ 8 in a Gloucester Tesco store. The theme of the film was about snuff movies being filmed at the abandoned hospital. It features scenes of rape of both men and women as well as scenes of sexual torture using an electric drill.

Matt Holmes, the easily shocked and rather unobservant Content Editor of the Citizen, said:

I love horror films and I am not easily shocked... BUT ... I wasn't prepared for the graphic sexually violent scenes depicted in this film.

I would have no problem with the film being sold online or available for rent but I didn't expect to see it for sale in Tesco.

I was also surprised having watched it that there was nothing on the cover warning of the extreme nature of the content as you normally see on films like this.

Actually the DVD's cover describes the film as bloody, violent and creepy as hell and said it was the sickest film since Rosemary's baby. (admittedly Rosemary's baby is hardly the 'sickest' film around)

The newspaper adds that the BBFC warning does not make reference to the extreme sexually violent content of the film.

Actually the BBFC consumer advice reads: Contains strong violence, sex and sexual violence :.

A Tesco spokesperson said:

The Hospital is approved for general release and rated 18. However, on this occasion, we've made the judgement to remove it from sale. We are always pleased to listen to feedback and remain focused on offering the most popular titles to our customers.



Chinese TV censors catch up with internet TV...

New rules to require state censorship of Internet TV

Link Here20th March 2014
New rules will require censorship approval for all streaming video. China's media censor has introduced a policy of censor first, broadcast later for local Internet companies streaming TV shows and movies, which could mean further control over online distribution of Hollywood content in China.

From now on, online companies will have to employ government-approved censors to vet content and obtain a censorship license, then monitor content before it is broadcast, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) said in a statement on its website:

Service companies broadcasting Internet audio and video programs, such as online dramas and microfilms etc, should have qualified personnel examining the content, who meet the requirements for checking and have been trained by state or provincial Internet video and audio programs industry associations.

Online companies like Sohu, Youku Tudou and Baidu have been showing TV shows such as House of Cards and Modern Family after doing their own internal censorship.



Offsite Article: China's suprise freedom of speech crackdown on WeChat...

Link Here 20th March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
The design of the WeChat website meant that free speech was for a while preserved because messages between users remained relatively private and insulated from the wider internet. But Beijing wasn't impressed.

See article from



Update: Resuscitating the Film industry...

Australia tweeks film censorship law to reduce red tape and censorship costs for its local industry

Link Here19th March 2014
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
The Australian government has introduced legislation to reform the National Classification Scheme, primarily to make it faster and more cost effective to classify content for mobile platforms and online games.

Films that are released in 2D and 3D versions won't have to be classified twice, a measure for which the industry had long lobbied.

Independent distributors had also complained about the costs of having small films classified but their push for cheaper fees fell on deaf ears.

However festivals and cultural organisations will no longer have to submit cumbersome applications to the Classification Board for a formal exemption before they screen material, providing they satisfy criteria in the Classification Act.

The legislation will remove the need for reclassification when minor changes are made to computer games such as software updates or bug fixes, or when a new song is added to a karaoke game.

The reforms are the government's first response to proposals by the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the National Classification Scheme.

The Commission delivered further recommendations:

  • Abolish the legally binding age restriction on MA15+ rating so it becomes an advisory guidance.
  • Apply uniform classification categories to content aired across all platforms, including online and mobile.
  • Rename the RC (refused classification) category as Prohibited.
  • Retain the Classification Board for films and computer games but create a single agency to regulate the classification of media content, handle complaints and educate the public about the scheme.
  • Empower the Classification Board to review appeals, replacing the independent Classification Review Board.

But the prospects for widespread changes were ruled out by the state and federal Attorneys-General, who indicated last year that they would merely consider areas for short-term reforms.



Update: Chief Book Censor McCarthy...

Ireland appoints a new book censorship board

Link Here19th March 2014
Full story: Book Censorship in Ireland...Minister for censorship investigated by how own censor board

A new book censorship board has been appointed by the Government with the sole purpose of reviewing Justice Minister Alan Shatter's novel Laura .

The minister's fictional tale of a married politician involved in a secret affair is the only book to be reported to the Censorship of Publications Boards in the last five years.

The office is due to be abolished by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan. But beforehand it must determine if Shatter's novel is suitable for sale in Ireland.

The board's chairman will be Cork solicitor Shane McCarthy and the other members are barrister Sinead Prunty, lecturer Noelle O'Connor, librarian Georgina Byrne, and retired policeman Philip Moynihan.



Updated: ASA Wins an Oscar for Phony Outrage...

Advert censor responds to 5200 complaints by banning a Paddy Powers advert joke referencing the Oscar Pistorius trial

Link Here19th March 2014

We have today ordered that a national press ad for the bookmaker, Paddy Power be withdrawn with immediate effect. On the back of an unprecedented number of complaints, we are investigating whether the ad is offensive for trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability; we are also challenging whether, in doing so, it brings the good reputation of advertising generally into dispute.

Following the complaints, ASA Chairman, Lord Smith, has taken the unusual step of directing the advertiser to withdraw the ad from circulation pending the outcome of the investigation. In exceptional circumstances ASA procedures under the Advertising Code allow us to take interim action and have ads amended or withdrawn pending investigation.

The national press ad included an image of an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated IT'S OSCAR TIME , MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY .

We consider the ad may be seriously prejudicial to the general public on the ground of the likely further serious and/or widespread offence it may cause. We are also concerned that the good reputation of the advertising industry may be further damaged by continued publication of this ad.

The ASA is not investigating complaints about the ad appearing on Paddy Power's own website. The advertiser is based in Ireland and as a consequence the material on its website falls outside our remit.

The ad should remain out of circulation in all UK media until the investigation, which is being fast tracked, has been considered by the ASA Council and its decision is published on our website We welcome Paddy Power's willingness to cooperate.

Comment: Job Done

10th March 2013. See  article from

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain ordered the offending, and many would say offensive, advert pulled just days after it appeared, following over 5,200 complaints and an online petition with more than 122, 000 signatures. But by then the ad had appeared in news stories worldwide, reproduced in full Technicolor, taking up large swathes of newspaper space that Mr Power didn't have to pay for. Job done, we'd say.

Update: ASA claims that Paddy Power brought advertising into disrepute

19th March  2013. See  article from

An ad for a bookmaker, which appeared in The Sun on Sunday, included an image similar to an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated IT'S OSCAR TIME , MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY . Issue

1. 5525 complainants, who variously believed the ad was insensitive by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and also disability, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. The ASA challenged whether the ad brought advertising into disrepute.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA welcomed Paddy Power's cooperation in responding promptly and their confirmation that the ad would not be repeated in the UK pending the outcome of the investigation, as directed by the ASA.

1. Upheld

We acknowledged that, while the bet offered was likely to be seen as distasteful by some readers, the ad was for a product we understood was offered legitimately. We also acknowledged that the ad made no explicit reference to death or violence.

However, we considered that by making reference to a high profile murder trial, the ad would be interpreted by readers as being inextricably related to the sensitive issues surrounding the trial, and to be making an implied reference to the person who had died. The CAP Code stated that references to anyone who was dead must be handled with particular care. We considered the ad, in particular the text IT'S OSCAR TIME and MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS , was likely to be interpreted as making light of the issues surrounding the trial, which included the death of a woman who had been shot by her boyfriend. We also considered the text MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY was likely to be seen as making light of the serious decision making process involved in that trial. We therefore considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of The Sun on Sunday by trivialising the sensitive issues surrounding the murder trial.

We acknowledged that the ad made no visual reference to Oscar Pistorius's disability and that the reference IF HE WALKS would be understood to be related to the outcome of a criminal trial. However, we considered that text would also be understood by readers as a clear reference to Oscar Pistorius's disability. We again considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and we were concerned that using the pun IF HE WALKS made light of disability. The CAP Code stated that particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of disability and we considered that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of The Sun on Sunday.

For the reasons given, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.

2. Upheld

We acknowledged that the ad had appeared in the context of a high profile murder trial that had received extensive media coverage and was of interest to the public. We considered it would therefore have been reasonable to foresee that serious or widespread offence was likely to be caused by placing an ad that sought commercial advantage based on that trial and which made light of the sensitive issues involved. Given the content of the ad, and the prevailing circumstances at the time of its publication, we concluded that it brought advertising into disrepute.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Paddy Power to ensure their future ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and did not bring advertising into disrepute.



What possessed Prime TV to falsely use BBFC rating symbol?...

Ofcom censure Prime TV for daytime exorcism complete with a false BBFC PG warning

Link Here 19th March 2014

Maya Khan Morning Show
Prime TV, 11 September 2013, 16:00

Prime TV is a general entertainment satellite channel. Predominantly serving the Pakistani community, it primarily broadcasts in Urdui. The licence for this service is held by PAK (UK) TV Ltd.

Maya Khan Morning Show is a general interest magazine programme hosted by the Pakistani presenter, Maya Khan.

Ofcom received a complaint that the programme broadcast on 11 September 2013 featured what purported to be real-life exorcisms carried out on two girls, aged 17 and 11, who had allegedly been possessed by jinni .

A 55 minute segement featured an 11 year old girl, Muqades, together with her mother and the same three Islamic Pirs.

At one point, Mt Nuri, one of the Pirs, blew into Muqades' eyes saying: Present yourself [referring to the alleged jinni possessing the girl] .

Muqades began growling like an animal, at which point Nuri put his hand around the girl's throat and the following exchange took place:

Nuri: I will burn you to ashes. Do you want to get burned or tell your name? I am not against you but against your act which you are doing with this girl. Tell your name. Introduce yourself. Perhaps we could help each other. Speak up.

Muqades: [speaking in a deep growling voice] Will you not beat me up?

Nuri: Yes. Carry on .

Nuri blew into Muqades' eyes and grabbed and held her by her hair. He then raised a bottle of holy water and said:

Will you tell your name or should I burn you? Should I burn you?

Ofcom considered:

Rule 1.27: Demonstrations of exorcisms, occult practices and the paranormal (which purport to be real), must not be shown before the watershed (in the case of television) or when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio). Paranormal practices which are for entertainment purposes must not be broadcast when significant numbers of children may be expected to be watching, or are particularly likely to be listening.

Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context (see meaning of context below). Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion, beliefs and sexual orientation). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.27 and 2.3

We considered that the presentation of the two purported exorcisms in this programme was likely to be capable of distressing and upsetting child viewers. Both Annam and Muqades were presented as possessed by evil spirits which needed to be cast out. They both appeared to be in pain and anguish, and shouted and screamed, as though their behaviour was controlled by such spirits. We considered that this likelihood of upsetting child viewers was increased because the subjects of the purported exorcisms were both under 18, one of them only 11 years old.

We noted the Licensee's representations that it had recognised that the content of this edition of Maya Khan Morning Show was not suitable for daytime transmission and it had been broadcast as a result of an error . We concluded that the programme was in clear breach of Rule 1.27.

Ofcom noted that the programme began with the following written warning (in English):

General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitetable [sic] for some children. Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A 'PG' film should not disturb a child around eight or older. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more sensitive children.

Ofcom considered that this particular warning also failed to give any specific advice about the type of content featured in the programme. In addition, the warning was contradictory, indicating to viewers that some scenes may be unsuitable for children yet unaccompanied children of any age may watch.

In addition, we noted that this warning was accompanied by the triangular symbol for the British Board of Film Classification's ( BBFC ) PG (Parental Guidance) certificate. The symbol was also shown throughout the programme in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Ofcom was very concerned at this use of the BBFC's Parental Guidance symbol on a programme that had not been certified by it.

While the Licensee may have considered it was suitable to apply a rating to the programme, it was clearly inappropriate to do so in a way which was likely to have led viewers to believe this version had been officially certified by the BBFC, when in fact it had not.

This episode of Maya Khan Morning Show was broadcast at 16:00 on a Wednesday well before the watershed and, as we have already pointed out, contained material that had the potential to cause considerable offence. Taking all the factors into account, Ofcom concluded that this potentially offensive material was not justified by the context. Ofcom noted from the Licensee's representations that it: did not seek to justify the broadcast of this programme before the watershed; said that it had been shown as a result of an uncharacteristic error ; and, had taken various measures to ensure a similar mistake would not happen again.

Ofcom was concerned about the nature of the breaches in this case. We therefore considered it appropriate to record breaches of Rules 1.27 and 2.3, and further to put the Licensee on notice that there should be no recurrence of similar compliance failures.

Breaches of Rules 1.27 and 2.3



Update: Unrated and Well Rated...

Distributors of Nymphomaniac opt for a restricted unrated theatrical release

Link Here19th March 2014
The steamy Danish drama Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 hits US multiplexes in limited release Friday.

Distributor Magnolia submitted the sexually-graphic Nymphomaniac to the Motion Picture Association of America ratings board earlier this year, and unsurprisingly it came back with an NC-17. Instead of submitting to the MPAA's edit suggestions for an R rating, Magnolia decided to release the film unrated. Magnolia's sr. vice-president of marketing and publicity Matt Cowal told TheWrap:

It's not a huge distinction. But we went this route rather than accept the restrictions on promotions and marketing materials that an NC-17 would require.

In the last five years, more than 1,000 movies have been released without a rating, while only three have gone out with an NC-17. The most recent prior to Blue is the Warmest Color was William Friedkin's Killer Joe , which grossed almost $2 million in 2012; the top-grossing was Steve McQueen's Shame , which grossed $3.9 million in 2011.

So while many exhibitors shy away from unrated fare, Magnolia will turn to independents and smaller chains for screens when it expands over the next few weeks.

The critics have been impressed but at this point no one expects Nymphomaniac to run up major grosses.




YouTube to build version spefically for under 10s

Link Here19th March 2014
YouTube is said to be working on a version of its site designed specifically for children aged 10 and under, according to new reports.

The new site would feature content specifically created for children free from inappropriate videos or comments they may stumble across on the full version.

The Information has reported the new version could help to set parents' mind at ease, according to three insiders briefed on the new development. The report states that Google has already approached developers and creators about the generation of new child-orientated videos.



Extreme Censors...

New Labour shadow ministers show their nasty censorial colours

Link Here18th March 2014
the current and soon to be extended prohibitions on 'extreme' porn are inevitably not enough for New Labour. Shadow ministers, Diana Johnson MP, Dan Jarvis MP and Helen Jones MP want more:

A year after the prime minister's announcement we have Clause 16 of the criminal justice and courts bill which will add realistic depictions of rape to the list of banned forms of pornography. While this is a welcome step, we need to be clear that this falls a long way short of equating offline and online restrictions. The government's proposal will not ban violent pornography that doesn't include penetration (and it's important to remember we're only talking about hardcore porn, not normal films, documentaries, or art). Nor will the government's plans ban videos where the actress is portrayed as being a child or even depictions of rape which a normal, non-aroused, individual would not find realistic.

This means that hardcore porn showing a woman being raped at gunpoint --crying and protesting throughout -- could avoid the ban if it was badly acted (and, let's face it, isn't all porn badly acted?). It would also mean that a video of a woman bound and gagged while being assaulted would not be banned unless it also showed penetration, regardless of how realistic it seemed. Nor would it do anything about the increasing number of videos portraying underage sex. These are pornographic videos featuring women over-18 who look far younger.

Normally these women will be very small, totally flat-chested and have all traces of pubic hair removed. Their immaturity is emphasised by clothes associated with pre-teens and childlike behaviour and speech. These girls are intended to look pre-pubescent. This is often highlighted by pairing them with male actors in their 50s or 60s who they will have sex with. It looks just like child abuse but it's perfectly legal and readily accessible from Google.

Banning such content would not be about criminalising porn-viewers, but it would be about preventing easy access to material which normalises sexual violence and abuse. Just as internet companies have acted to make it harder to access child abuse, they need to do the same for extreme porn. Politicians can set the agenda on this.

..Read the full article



Update: Ofcom go for the throat...

TV censor gets aggressive about an aggressive altercation shown in Channel 5's Big Brother

Link Here18th March 2014
Full story: Big Brother...Whinging about Channel 4's Big Brother

Big Brother
Channel 5, 15 July 2013, 22:00

Big Brother is a well-known reality show, broadcast by Channel 5.

Ofcom received 165 complaints regarding this programme. Complainants objected to an altercation between two Housemates Daley Ojuederie ( Daley ) and Hazel O'Sullivan ( Hazel ). In summary, complainants were offended by:

  1. Daley's threatening behaviour towards Hazel (which led to Daley being called to the Diary Room by Big Brother to account for his actions); and

  2. Big Brother intervening too late after Daley's threatening behaviour started

The sequence commenced with Daley and Hazel initially in their separate beds within the Luxury House laughing and joking, when a pillow fight between the two ensued.

Daley was shown standing on Hazel's bed, looking over Hazel, who was lying on the bed. Hazel then reached up and pulled down Daley's shorts. He jumped off the bed and pulled his shorts back up.

The argument developed until...

Daley was then shown crouching down with his face very close to Hazel's.

Daley: [Whispering] Let me tell you something, little girl, have some respect for your fucking elder, 'cause if you don't...

Hazel: What will you do about it?

Daley: I'll finish you .

Hazel: [Sitting up in bed] I think I'd finish you quicker .

Daley: What are you talking about? Huh?

Hazel: Huh? It's OK, I'm not afraid of aggressive men .

At this point Daley used one hand to push Hazel down on to her bed by her throat, while saying:

Daley: Pipe down and go to sleep now, do you understand me?

Hazel then made an attempt to grab Daley's neck in a similar fashion, which Daley resisted.

Daley: Who do you think you are? Fucking Terminator or something?

Daley was shown leaning over Hazel, who was still lying on her bed, and then pinning Hazel's arms down by the sides of her body.

Daley: Don't fuck with me, do you understand?

Daley: [Miming hitting his head against Hazel's] Before I nut you one

Big Brother then interrupted the exchange as follows:

Big Brother: This is Big Brother. Would Daley come to the Diary Room?

Daley was summarily evicted from the Big Brother house.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 which states:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

In this difficult case Ofcom's view is that Channel 5 did take a number of steps to seek to contextualise the offence in this case, including compressing the incident into one broadcast so that viewers could see the outcome, and ultimately evicting Daley from the House as a result of his violent behaviour.

However, the decision not to edit the material for the purpose of limiting offence --despite its clear potential to cause offence -- coupled with the generalised nature of the pre-broadcast warning 40 minutes before the incident and the lack of clarity that Daley's conduct was unacceptable when Big Brother first intervened led Ofcom to conclude that the offence to viewers was not justified by the context.

For these reasons, on balance, Channel 5 did not apply generally accepted standards and Rule 2.3 was breached.



Update: Celebrity Endorsement...

Hacked Off rounds up 200 celebrities to feature in an advert pushing for press censorship

Link Here18th March 2014
More than 200 celebritiies, from JK Rowling to Rowan Williams, feature in Hacked Off ad supporting the press censorship system rejected by publishers.

More than 200 leading figures from the arts and academia, including writers, film-makers, actors, comics and broadcasters, have signed a declaration of support for a system of press censorship underpinned by royal charter.

They include Danny Boyle, Michael Palin, Sir Tom Stoppard, Sir David Attenborough, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Dame AS Byatt, Irvine Welsh, Bob Geldof, Ian McEwan, John Cleese, VS Naipaul, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Their names appear in full-page advertisements published in three national titles. The declaration, and the assembling of the names, has been organised by Hacked Off.

But the royal charter has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of newspaper and magazine publishers, who are on the verge of creating a new regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso). Its founders have said they will not seek recognition under the royal charter, which they regard as state restriction on press freedom .



Update: Stamping Down...

Thai woman prosecuted for stepping on a picture of the king

Link Here18th March 2014
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
A Thai Criminal Court began hearing the case of a 65-year-old woman who stepped on a picture of the country's king in July 2012 and was prosecuted for violating the lese majeste law.

Thitinan was accused of defaming the King by allegedly stepping on the King's picture during a pro-establishment rally in front of the Constitutional Court in July 13, 2012. The protesters at the rally brought charges against her with the police and would testify against her in the hearing.



Offsite Article: Some authors believe that One-star Amazon reviews amount to 'bullying'...

Link Here 18th March 2014
Author Anne Rice petitions: 'Protect Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum Participation'

See article from



Walking on Water...

BBC religious police think they are beyond reproach in censoring Eliza Doolittle

Link Here17th March 2014
The BBC asked pop star Eliza Doolittle to drop a reference to Jesus when performing a song on the radio.

Doolittle was asked to re-word her love song Walking On Water for an appearance on the Radio 2 breakfast show, hosted by Chris Evans, because she refers to Jesus walking on water, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Her lyric refers to putting on a pair of trainers to run across the water to a yearned-for love. She told the Mail on Sunday that she had to change the lyrics from:

Sometimes I wish I was Jesus, I'd get my Air Max on and run across the sea for you.


Sometimes I wish it was easy to get my Air Max on and run across the sea for you.

BBC bosses are facing justified accusations they were oversensitive over Doolittle's religious reference.

Now the BBC claimed there had been a misunderstanding , and that the corporation would not request a singer alters their lyrics.



Update: Riyadh International Book Censorship Fair 2014...

10,000 copies of 420 books seized at Saudi censorship event

Link Here17th March 2014
Saudi censors have banned hundreds of books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. The local Okaz daily reported that organisers at the Riyadh International Book Fair had confiscated more than 10,000 copies of 420 books during the exhibition.

Local news website reported that members of the kingdom's notorious religious police had protested at blasphemous passages in works by the late Darwish, widely considered one of the greatest Arab poets, pressing organisers to withdraw all his books from the fair. Other banned books include:

  • Works by Iraq's most famous modern poet, Badr Shaker al-Sayyab
  • Iraqi poet, Abdul Wahab al-Bayati
  • Palestinian poet Muin Bseiso.
  • When will the Saudi Woman Drive a Car? by Abdullah al-Alami,
  • The History of Hijab
  • Feminism in Islam.
  • Books by Azmi Bishara, a former Arab Israeli MP who left the Jewish state in 2007
  • Revolution , a book by Wael Ghonim, a secular Egyptian and former Google executive who became an icon of the country's 2011 uprising



Comment: A Bafta for the Makers of Grand Theft Auto...

And the fine achievement is greeted with nothing but miserable whinges from the likes of Mediawatch-UK

Link Here17th March 2014
Full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has honoured Rockstar Games, the company behind the Grand Theft Auto series, with its illustrious Fellowship award. They will now be presented with the prize for their revolutionary approach to games . They have also been commended for bringing the medium to the masses .

But this fine achievement is met only with a barrage of whinges from moral campaigners, courtesy of course, the Daily Mail.

Pippa Smith of Safer Media, a religious campaigner against violence, sex and bad language in the media, said:

We have had a lot of concerns about Grand Theft Auto, and we would not agree with this at all. A Bafta Fellowship is a very prestigious award and it is giving out a very dangerous message.

Grand Theft Auto is obviously hugely popular and makes an awful lot of money, so as far as the gaming industry is concerned, it is a big money spinner.

But it is horrifying that they are being recognised in this way. We know for sure that people are affected by the violence in these games, and in this particular case players are even encouraged to kill prostitutes.

Vivienne Pattinson, director of lobby group Mediawatch UK, said:

My biggest criticism is that we know that children who are a lot younger than the age limit of these games are playing them. Gaming companies have a very important role to play in making sure that under-age children are not exposed to these games.

They are marketed in places where children are likely to see them, on the sides of school buses for example, and for Bafta to be giving them an award at a time when there is still a lot of work to be done in protecting children from this kind of violence is wrong.

I can appreciate the quality of these games are good. But we cannot just hold our hands up and say that the content doesn't matter.

Offsite Comment: GTA, The Baftas And How The Daily Mail Make Morons Like Mediawatch-uk Look Even More Ridiculous

17th March 2013. See comment from

  So the Daily Mail is whipping up outrage over the Grand Theft Auto games being given a BAFTA award. This is a classic example of the Daily Mail trying to make outrage over absoloutly nothing. To demonstrate that there outrage and controversy they've wheeled out two of their favourite rent-a-quotes, Pippa Smith from Safermedia and Vivienne Pattison from Mediawatch-uk.

...Read the full comment



Music Censorship...

Camden council gets high court approval for restrictions on busking

Link Here16th March 2014
Full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors
New licensing restrictions on buskers in Camden have been declared lawful by the high court.

Busking without a licence is to become a criminal offence in Camden, punishable with fines of up to £ 1,000. As well as implementing a fine, officials can confiscate instruments.

It is proposed that licences can be obtained on standard conditions for a 12-month period at a fee of £ 19. They can only be used by solo or dual performers. The conditions restrict hours of performing from 10am-9pm, and also restrict the use of certain types of instruments, such as drums, wind instruments and the use of sound amplification.

The restrictions were due to be imposed for the first time last month, but the council agreed to await the outcome of the legal challenge before going ahead.

Comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey and musician Billy Bragg are among celebrities who took to the streets to protest over the restrictions being introduced by the council in the north London borough after noise complaints by local residents. Bragg, who spent his early career busking around London, said licensing would hurt a fundamental aspect of UK culture.

But Mrs Justice Patterson, sitting in London, ruled that Camden council had adopted a policy that was both necessary and a proportionate response to the issue of busking .

The ruling was a defeat for the Keeping Streets Live Campaign, which was ordered to pay £ 7,500 in legal costs.

David Wolfe QC, appearing for the campaign group, asked for permission to appeal, arguing that the ruling raised important legal issues and would have an impact on street entertainment across London. The judge refused permission, which means the campaigners will now have to consider asking the court of appeal itself to hear their case.



A Snap Shot of Hungarian Repression...

Photographers required to get the permission of everyone featuring in a photo

Link Here16th March 2014
From 15 March it is against the law in Hungary to take photographs without the permission of everyone in the photograph. According to the justice ministry, people taking pictures should look out for those who are not waving, or who are trying to hide or running out of shot .

Officials say expanding the law on consent to include the taking of photographs, in addition to their publication, merely codifies existing court practice. However, Hungary's photographers call the law vague and obstructive, saying it has left the country of Joseph Pulitzer and photography legend Robert Capa out of step with Europe .

Akos Stiller, a photojournalist at the weekly HVG, the New York Times and Bloomberg, says the new regulation is another unwanted complication for his profession in Hungary. Can we take photos of strangers: say people looking at a shop window? Do we shoot first and ask permission later? he asked.

Marton Magocsi, senior photo editor at news website Origo, said having to ask for permission beforehand is quite unrealistic in any reportage situation . Meanwhile, some judges who have overseen hundreds of such cases are privately saying they have no idea how to rule on cases under the new code.



Update: Sanitised Soap...

Insiders reveal some the censorship rules sanitising Chinese TV dramas

Link Here16th March 2014
Industry insiders have disclosed some of the hidden censorship rules that restrict TV dramas and movies in China.

Taboo topics involving ghosts and home-wreckers are avoided in accordance to China's film censorship system, a recent NetEase report has revealed . China's administrative provisions on TV content restrict dramas from publicizing heresy or superstition [ie religion], a policy that industries have long struggled with, as stories involving spirits and immortals are deeply embedded in Chinese myths.

Another rule forbids plot lines that threaten social morality, for example, people who break up marriages in TV shows must never be glorified and should always end up in misery.

TV shows with plots involving children born out of wedlock are not allowed, as China's family planning policy looks down on the idea of illegitimate children. Young love and campus violence is also a big no-no, as such topics are believed to have an impact on the psychological health of minors, according to the report.



Qatar Recommends...

Love Comes Later, a novel by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Link Here16th March 2014
A new novel by an English professor has been banned there with little explanation for the reason.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar  said her book, Love Comes Later , highlights the dilemmas facing those from traditional societies with modern ambitions. She said she offered to consider a separate edition for Qatar when the book was submitted to the ministry of culture for approval, but received no reply.

Although one Qatari media report focused on a single kiss, Rajakumar did not speculate on the reason for the censorship:

The distributor's agent told me the officials told him, the book was banned because it was about 'Qatar and Qataris,' she said by email. They did not further elaborate to me or to the distributor.

The decision to ban the book for sale in Qatar does not prevent the rest of the world from reading it or my writing it. Nor did the content prevent the dozen or so Qatari male and female citizens from reading early drafts, offering ideas, or supporting the book even now.

On her website Rajakumar said she wrote Love Comes Later knowing there was a possibility it would not be published in the country where it was set. So she tried to write within the sensibilities of the public culture, which means the big three objections of sex, atheism and politics are not included in her examination of life in Qatar for modern twentysomething Qataris. She writes:

There's a death by car accident; reluctant engagements; difficult conversations with parents; and of course, one passionate kiss



Offsite Article: UK gov wants 'unsavoury' web content censored...

Link Here16th March 2014
The UK minister for immigration and security has called for the government to do more to deal with 'unsavoury', rather than illegal, material online.

See article from



BBFC Podcast Episode 19...

Classifying content on mobile phones

Link Here15th March 2014

In this episode of the BBFC podcast, we talk to David Austin, Assistant Director, BBFC and Hamish MacLeod, chair of the Mobile Broadband Group about how the BBFC Mobile Classification Framework works.

An interesting but rather ludicrous episode with participants patting themselves on the back for providing a well though out framework for determining an 18 rating and then the mobile companies earnestly trying to following it.

All this while in reality sites are blocked for trivial automated reasons that appear to have nothing to do with following guidelines. I bet no one has ever read the BBFC guidelines, let alone trying to tailoring a blocking algorithm to meet them.

However it is good of the BBFC to publish their decisions when they are called into adjudicate claims against the ISP blocking. See the first batch at adjudications of blocking disputes [pdf] .



Updated: Stop UKIP...

UKIP deputy leader tries to censor tour by satirical comedy act

Link Here15th March 2014
Jonny and the Baptists have wound up the UKIP political party with their Stop Ukip Comedy Tour.

The comedy duo have come under fire for their song about Ukip that suggests the party believes all Eastern Europeans live off benefits and won't let us watch Jim Davidson and wants the Queen's jubilee [to] be every day.

Despite Nigel Farage insisting politicians should let people tell their jokes, The Stop Ukip Comedy Tour has been inundated with complaints from party supporters targeting venues.

Ukip's deputy leader Paul Nuttal has condemned the distasteful satire , calling on the Arts Council to investigate funding given to theatres hosting the act. He spouted:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and Ukip is very much the party of free speech ...BUT... I think it is wrong that taxpayers money is being used to back this production.

This blatantly party political rubbish is being staged to coincide with the run-up to the Euro elections in May and I am appalled that one of the venues in the much lauded Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. I would have hoped they had higher standards than giving this show house room.

I have written to the Arts Council about this matter and also the Royal Exchange expressing my views about this distasteful satire.

The website Chortle has reported that in fact the pair have received no funding for their tour apart from ticket sales.

Update: Thanks UKIP, more gigs added

15th March 2013. See  article from

A campaign by Ukip to stop a comedy tour called Stop Ukip has backfired massively.

After leaders attempted to censor musical comedians Jonny & the Baptists' new satirical show, the group has now proudly announced additional dates to their tour schedule following an outpouring of support from the industry and general public, alongside soaring ticket sales across the country.

The Huffington Post UK reported last week that Ukip suffered a serious sense of humour fail after launching a battle to stop the comedy duo from touring. But contrary to the intentions of Ukip supporters, news of their campaign against the comedy show quickly saw thousands taking to Twitter to express support for the group -- including fellow comedians Marcus Brigstocke, Dara O'Briain and Robin Ince as well as local councillors, MEP Catherine Bearder and members of the public.

In just three days, Jonny & the Baptists' official UKIP comedy music video achieved over 10,000 additional YouTube views

The comedians said:

The only victory to be claimed is for fans of the Streisand Effect, once again showing that an attempt to censor something only ends up publicising it more.

Every ticket sold on this tour goes directly to paying our rent and keeping us off the streets - so if anyone else wants to start a campaign against us, our landlord would be very grateful.



Update: In Check...

Russia Blocks Access to Major Independent News Sites

Link Here15th March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia and its repressive state control of media

Russia's government has escalated its use of its Internet censorship law to target news sites, bloggers, and politicians under the slimmest excuse of preventing unauthorized protests and enforcing house arrest regulations. The country's ISPs have received orders to block a list of major news sites and system administrators have been instructed to take the servers providing the content offline.

The banned sites include the online newspaper Grani, Garry Kasparov's opposition information site, the livejournal of popular anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, and even the web pages of Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is majority owned by the state-run Gazprom, and whose independent editor was ousted last month and replaced with a more government-friendly director.

The list of newly prohibited sites was published earlier today by Russia's Prosecutor General, which announced that the news sites had been entered into the single register of banned information after calls for participation in unauthorized rallies. Navalny's livejournal was apparently added to the register in response to the conditions of his current house arrest , which include a personal prohibition on accessing the Internet.

EFF is profoundly opposed to government censorship of the Internet, which violates its citizens right to freedom of expression, guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are especially concerned about the censorship of independent news and opposing political views, which are essential to a thriving civil society. Russians who wish to circumvent government censorship can continue to read these websites via the Tor Browser, which they can install using the Tor Browser Bundle .



Extract: Moral Panic...

Sex and Censorship submission to parliament arguing against extensions to the Dangerous Pictures Act

Link Here15th March 2014

Response to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

1. Submitted on behalf of the Sex & Censorship campaign.

2. Written by Jerry Barnett and Dr David Ley, a psychologist specialising in sexuality. Dr Ley's website is at: Summary

3. This is a response from Sex & Censorship, a campaigning body, to the non-consensual pornography provisions (Clause 16) in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

4. Sex & Censorship was set up in 2013 by Jerry Barnett, in response to growing concerns over the censorship and repression of sexual expression in the United Kingdom. Jerry has been an advocate for free speech and sexual freedom for a number of years. We are a non-profit organisation that aims to counter moral panics in the media and campaign for policy-making that is evidence-based and not driven by moral agendas.

5. Clause 16 is an amendment to the existing extreme porn law that was introduced in section 63 of the the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. We believe that the original law does not serve the public interest, and is draconian, and that this new amendment will make it worse, and should be removed. In outline, our objections are as follows:

  • The proposed law results from a moral panic over rape porn rather than any evidence of harm.

  • Although headlined as rape porn , the wording of the law would criminalise consenting (but perhaps non-standard) sexual activity.

  • The law blurs the distinction between consensual and nonconsensual sex, and so may hinder, rather than help, attempts to reduce sexual violence.

  • There has been no evidence presented that viewers of the content in question may be driven to commit sexual violence as a result of viewing it.

  • Conversely, there is evidence that such content may serve as an outlet for people who are prone to sexual violence and may reduce rather than increase their likelihood to commit harm.

  • In general, possession laws are draconian as they place an impossible burden of legal and technical knowledge on members of the public.

  • Censorship itself is harmful to free expression. Censorship laws should, therefore, only be introduced in response to compelling evidence of harm rather than on the basis of moral values alone.

...Read the full submission



Offsite Article: NSA Disease...

Link Here15th March 2014
How the NSA Plans to Infect Millions of Computers with snooping Malware

See article from



Offsite Article: Britain is treating journalists as terrorists -- believe me, I know...

Link Here 15th March 2014
A journalists gives a little insight in the dangers of reporting the NSA/GCHQ revelations

See article from



Update: Unsavoury Censorship...

British Government granted facility for Google to instantly consider consider takedown requests for YouTube videos. Also the Government wants to censor unsavoury but not illegal content

Link Here14th March 2014
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
Google gives UK internet censors super flagger status to give high priority requests to get YouTube videos taken down.

YouTube will instantly screen any content flagged by British security officials. The censors will be able to flag multiple videos at scale rather than needing to flag each offending video.

The UK's security and immigration minister, James Brokenshire, worryingly told the Financial Times the government has to do more to deal with material that may not be illegal but certainly is unsavoury and may not be the sort of material that people would want to see or receive.

Brokenshire also said issues being considered by the government included a code of conduct for internet service providers and companies. The government, he added, was also keen to explore options where search engines and social media sites change their algorithms so that unsavoury content is less likely to appear or is served up with more balanced material.

Google confirmed that the Home Office had been given powerful flagging permissions on YouTube but stressed that Google itself still retained the ultimate decision on whether to remove content for breaching its community guidelines.



Searching for Tiananmen Square...

Google hides search terms from Chinese state snoopers via encryption

Link Here14th March 2014
China will no longer be able to block certain websites and search terms now that Google has begun encrypting searches in the country.

The move is part of Google's global expansion plan to close loopholes that allow government intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and even hackers, to see users' Internet activity. As a result, China's website censoring system won't be able to detect when users search for banned or politically charged content, such as Tiananmen Square.

Google's global encryption rollout will cripple several countries' ability , such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, to pinpoint users who are searching for banned terms or posting forbidden content. The only other recourse is to block the search site entirely.

This is the final step in the process, Peter Eckersley, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's technology projects director told ThinkProgress. Google started its quest to encrypt searches in 2010 when it allowed users to manually type in https instead of http before the Web address. It's a small change, but it's going to make it vastly more difficult for spies --- NSA, Chinese government or Iranian government --- to see what people are searching for on Google, Eckersley said.



Aberrant use of legislation...

Backlash submission to parliament arguing against extensions to the Dangerous Pictures Act

Link Here14th March 2014

1. Backlash is an umbrella organisation composed of volunteers, which provides academic, legal and campaigning resources in defence of sexual freedom of expression. We support the rights of competent adults to participate in consensual sexual activities; and to watch, read or create an actual record or fictional interpretation of this in any media. We were established in 2005.

2. Our core legal work has focused on clarifying and challenging the law which prohibits the possession of 'extreme pornography'. Alongside our legal adviser Myles Jackman (a solicitor advocate at Hodge, Jones & Allen LLP), we provided support in the successful defences in R v Holland , R v Webster and R v Walsh against such charges. Mr Jackman was awarded the Law Society's Junior Lawyer of year 2012-2013 awar   d in recognition of his work challenging the legal framework imposing regressive sexual morality in obscenity cases.


3. The amendment to ban 'rape pornography' risks criminalising more than a million otherwise law-abiding people in the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, there is no evidence of any corresponding public benefit from the proposed prohibition. Conversely there is a strong risk (based on our experience with the present extreme pornography offences contained within S63 (7) of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008), that any such prosecutions will be disproportionally deployed against sexual minorities; at significant cost to public funds that could be spent investigating crimes that provably harm the general public.

4. There is a significant amount of bondage themed material catering for those who enjoy submissive fantasies. Fantasy and fictional portrayals of 'forced' sex, which are likely to be the vast majority of images criminalised under the proposed amendment, are too commonly enjoyed to be reasonably subject to prohibition.

5. Hence we propose the amendment should either be rejected, or limited in scope to only prohibit images that are provably produced in circumstances where there is an absence of consent (either to the acts portrayed in the images or dissemination of the images themselves).

6. Should the legislation be enacted, we would therefore appeal for absolute clarity in the meaning and operation of the law: to enable the public to identify the difference between an "act which 'realistically' depicts rape" and the huge quantity of material that depicts sex and bondage.

Evidence of widespread impact on law-abiding citizens

7. Systematic academic research of the consumption of pornography and the prevalence of violent sexual fantasies in the population of the United Kingdom is lacking. However, the most persuasive recent evidence is taken from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project: 2007. [1] Based on a representative sample survey of 19,000 adults in the United Kingdom, it found that: 86% of men and 56% of women had viewed pornography. [2] 29% fantasise about playing a dominant or "aggressive" role during sex; 33% fantasise about playing a submissive or "passive" role during sex; 4% fantasise about being "violent" towards someone else; 6% fantasise about violence being vested on themselves by another person. [3]

8. Thus around 2.2 million men and women have violent sexual fantasies of some kind, and nearly a third of all British adults fantasise about sexual domination and submission.

9. These statistics indicate that the number of men and women interested in fantasy pornographic depictions of non-consensual sexual encounters is likely to be very high. A central, perhaps conservative, estimate might be around 930,000 men and 640,000 women. There is no evidential link to suggest that any of these individuals pose a risk of committing sexual offences.

10. Crucially, fantasy rape scenarios are shared by both men and women, in which neither of whom are established as the passive or dominant participant in such a fantasy sexual encounter. Hence both men and women fantasise about aggressive sex in both the dominant and submissive role.

11. Yet the argument in favour of criminalising extreme pornography has been characterised as a means of "protecting" women and supporting women's interests and standing in society. The above figures suggest that these claims ignore the impact of criminalisation on a large number of female viewers of pornography. Since it is widely held that the prosecution and possible resulting punishment of women within the criminal justice system can be particularly damaging, the committee might be well placed to consider whether exposing the private sexual fantasies of women in Court proceedings could actually lower their social standing.

12. As it can be psychologically and personally destructive for an individual of any gender to have their private consensual fantasies exposed for public scrutiny; such prosecutions should need to be justified only to combat extra-ordinary threats to the general public.

13. Our work in defending innocent people facing prosecution and trial for offences under S63(7) CJIA 2008 has revealed that a large proportion of defendants give serious consideration to suicide.

14. By way of comparison with existing legislation, fewer than 0.5% of individuals surveyed acknowledged fantasising about necrophilia (S63(7)(c) CJIA 2008), and only 3% acknowledged fantasising about bestiality (S63(7)(d) CJIA 2008. [4] Hence the proposed ban on 'rape pornography' extends the reach of this legislation to much more commonly held sexual fantasies.

15. When the criminalisation of possession of extreme pornography was first proposed, Ministers predicted a handful of cases. The Regulatory Impact Assessment that accompanied CJIA 2008 predicted around 30 convictions per annum (at Appendix 1 we set out MoJ and CPS data on the number of prosecutions). With 1,348 prosecutions in the year 2012/13 alone, we now know that far more cases have been prosecuted than Parliament or the public were led to believe would proceed, with an implied cost of more than £13 million to the criminal justice system in 2012/2013 (about the same as the total annual budget of the Government Equalities Office).

16. Given the fact that far more people enjoy submissive and domination themed fantasises and the material depicting this, than those who seek the four categories of material prohibited by S63(7) CJIA 2008, the Committee should consider whether many thousands more people will fall foul of the proposed "rape" category alone.

17. Furthermore, certain 'extreme images' are not possessed for the purpose of sexual arousal (and are therefore not 'pornographic' under the act) but are viewed as jokes in bad taste. Also, they can come into an individual's possession unintentionally (and sometimes without knowledge) while browsing the Internet for unrelated material (for example via pop-up webpages or malware). Thus the range of people affected by the amendment extends to ordinary Internet users, not just viewers of pornography with particular themes.

No evidence of harm to public

18. Milton Diamond is an international expert on human sexuality. In a recent evidence review of the effects of pornography on society, he concluded: 'objections to erotic materials are often made on the basis of supposed actual, social or moral harm to women. No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence. It is relevant to mention here that a temporal correlation between pornography and any effect is a necessary condition before one can rationally entertain the idea that there is a positive statistical correlation between pornography and any negative effect.' [5]

19. While the claim that access to pornography harms women is very poorly evidenced, there is some evidence that pornography may have some beneficial effects. Increased access to pornography is associated with decreases in sexual assaults. [6] The evidence for no harmful effects on society or women from pornography is a strong finding in the academic literature. The evidence for positive benefits is weaker but indicative. There is a risk that extending the definition of extreme pornography could lead to more violence against women rather than less.

Evidence of harm to protected minorities

20. The most prominent prosecution under extreme pornography legislation was of barrister Simon Walsh, a former aide to Boris Johnson, whose legal practice had included investigating corruption within British police forces. His career in public life was severely impaired by a prosecution. His intimate life as a gay man was revealed to the public without his consent.

21. Such prosecutions threaten the reputation of the Crown Prosecution Service as an impartial public servant by showing that gay men risk having their lives destroyed in court over intimate acts which are consensual, safe and commonly practiced within the LGBT community.

22. The proposed amendment will criminalise material that depicts same-sex material. It will not only criminalise material that depicts women, but also a huge amount of material available that depicts gay sex and sexual penetration with themes of domination and submission.

23. This highlights a particular problem with defining 'extreme pornography' around the concept of obscenity. Obscenity is not a useful concept for directing how police and prosecutors should make use of the law. The requirement that obscene material 'deprave or corrupt' the viewer is arcane, and not based on any scientific or psychological test. As a result, law enforcement risks ending up treating 'extreme' as simply a synonym for 'marginal', or non-mainstream material used by sexual minorities. The Government has not presented adequate evidence showing that sexual minorities will not be subject to a disparate and disproportionate impact from this amendment.

Experience of aberrant use of legislation

24. Backlash arranges advice for members of the public facing charges of possession of extreme pornography under the existing legislation. As we have suggested, the number of people technically in breach of the law is orders of magnitude higher than those actually prosecuted. The police could not realistically hope to have the resources necessary to investigate this. Instead, cases are passively acquired, often through police investigations of other unrelated allegations; and malicious allegations.

25. In our experience, women are at least as likely as men to become the subject of police investigations which threaten to expose their private sex lives in personally damaging ways. We have encountered former partners making malicious allegations to the police regarding possession of pornography. People who have suffered a falling out in the workplace or in a business arrangement have been subject to abusive threats and allegations regarding their pornography usage and sexual interests.

26. In such cases, the police are often required to investigate, taking up their resources. But since possession of consensual adult pornography is essentially harmless, it means that the police are unnecessarily drafted in to assist the persecution of an individual to satisfy a private animus.

27. The committee might recall that one of the key reasons for decriminalising homosexuality was not because of widespread moral acceptance of homosexuality (which was to come somewhat later) but because the prohibition had become a 'blackmailer's charter'. The ban on homosexual acts had not caused people to stop engaging in such acts, but it had exposed many otherwise law-abiding citizens to being branded criminals. Extorting money, or favours, from homosexuals in return for not revealing their sexual orientation was commonplace. [7]

28. In extending the regulation of extreme pornography to popular sexual fantasy material, the Government risks reintroducing this sort of scenario and making blackmail over private sexuality a common problem once again.

Proposals for amendment

29. Given the scale of risk associated with this proposed legislation, we strongly advise that this amendment be abandoned. However, the legislation could be focussed more narrowly on genuinely abusive situations where there is actual non-consensual abuse and harm.

30. It should be noted that when S63 CJIA 2008 was debated in the Lords an assurance was given, in response to concerns expressed regarding the need to properly define the law that guidance would be issued to the public. However clear guidance on two categories (S63(7)(a) and (b) was never issued. As a consequence the legislation has been used in a way that Parliament never intended (R v Walsh) and hence we appeal to the committee to take this opportunity to repeal S63(7)(a) (life threatening) and (b) (serious injury). These two categories never have and probably never can be clearly defined.

31. If, despite this evidence, legislation is enacted it is vital that absolute clarity be provided to the public, to ensure that people can clearly determine material which is legal to possess and that which could result in a lengthy custodial sentence and inclusion on the sex offenders register. The penalties are so extreme that the public must be given absolute certainty and clarity.



Exploiting the Dangerous Pictures Act...

Dramatic police raids and national press coverage over a few dangerous pictures

Link Here14th March 2014

A school at the centre of an alleged extremist Muslim takeover has been hit by another scandal as a teacher was arrested over extreme [adult] pornography . Police initiated a raid to coincide with the arrests of another teacher and a teaching assistant from a different school in the city.

Park View School, whose pupils are almost 100 per cent Muslim, was one of a number of Birmingham state schools said to be targeted by radicals in an underground operation called Trojan Horse , which aimed to undermine head teachers and ensure schools were run on Islamic principles .

West Midlands Police said the arrests of staff from Park View and Golden Hillock schools were part of a continuing investigation dating back to April 2013.

Following the arrests, Park View Educational Trust issued a statement which read:

The police have informed us that the arrests are in connection with suspicion of possession of extreme pornography. While the nature of the pornography is described as extreme there is absolutely no suggestion from the police that it involved minors. We would like to reassure parents that we are cooperating fully with the police to support their investigations into individuals at both schools.

Update: More

16th March 2013. See  article from

Two more men who work with children, including a teacher from Sandwell, have been arrested on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography.

The investigation started in April 2013 as a result of an ongoing inquiry into the sharing of extreme pornography.



Updated: Out of Time...

ATVOD rebuff substantive legal challenge about their very existence by playing for time

Link Here14th March 2014

  Look Mr Atvod, that isn't legal debate, that's just simple denial and contradiction...
...No it isn't

Some Common Sense is a group describing itself as a loose alliance of individuals opposed to the introduction of government regulation of the internet in the United Kingdom.

The group has initiated a legal challenge to the very existence of ATVOD querying how it claimed its supposed powers to charge websites for censorship and then to impose fines without this actually being explicitly mentioned in UK law.

The group is focusing on challenging an enforcement action against the Jessica Pressley website run by JP Media.

The group writes:

In fact the issues lie with secondary legislation, specifically the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 & 2010 (si. 2009/2979 & si. 2010/419). We contend that the regulations confer no power on ATVOD or Ofcom to make rules or requirements that might be breached. One cannot breach a requirement to employ CAC systems , for instance, unless one is bound to comply with such a requirement. Accordingly, we will claim, Ofcom had no power to direct that an alleged service provider be sanctioned for failing to comply with any order, rule, regulation or subordinate instrument that ATVOD had no power to make.

Also we contend that the Regulations which became s.368NA, and s.368D(3)(za), which Ofcom found JP Media to have contravened in its notice of 23 September, are void and always were void. This is so, we will claim, because the Secretary of State did not have power to impose taxation as delegated legislation under the enabling Act. Fees required to be paid to Ofcom or the appropriate regulatory authority are taxation meeting those principles defined in Lower Mainland Dairy Products Sales Adjustment Committee v Crystal Dairy, Limited (British Columbia) [1932] UKPC 70; [1933] AC 168 . See paragraph 12 of the letter before action.

It is the strength and simplicity of these arguments that have given us confidence to consider applying for judicial review.

The group wrote to ATVOD about is legal claims

See article from

ATVOD recently wrote back simply to say that the claims are 'without merit' and the time limit to challenge the Jessica Pressley decision has lapsed anyway. Adding that ATVOD don't accept that Some Common Sense have the legal standing to call for a Judicial review

See  article from

Some Common Sense replied asking that ATVOD address the claims rather than simply denying them.

See  article from

Extract: Out of Time

14th March 2013. See  article from

  Some Common Sense decide not to continue with the legal action related to the Jessica Pressley ban and explain as follows:

Very reluctantly, we felt it necessary to stop short of filing this claim with regards to the Jessica Pressley ban. Bringing legal proceedings is a serious matter which carries risks of heavy costs or of producing a counterproductive result. In this case, for relatively complicated technical reasons, we decided at the last minute to draw back from issuing the claim. This doesn't mean that we've abandoned the argument. It just means that on the particular case of the Jessica Pressley banning order we won't be going to Court. We are still looking for an opportunity to bring a challenge to the DCMS/Ofcom/ATVOD's unlawful arrogation of powers that only belong to Parliament and thereby to interfere with liberty of expression on the Internet.

...Read the full article



Update: Call for penalties for false copyright claims...

The company behind WordPress explains how false copyright take down requests are being abused for the purposes of censorship

Link Here14th March 2014
General Counsel for Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has spoken about how the DMCA process is being manipulated to stifle freedom of expression.

During a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the limitations of copyright liability for online service providers, the blogging platform called for clear legal consequences for those who abuse the system.

Speaking during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Section 512 of Title 17 , Automattic General Counsel Paul Sieminski spoke about his company's experiences with the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA. Noting that the process works well overall, Sieminski said that shortcomings in the system negatively affect freedom of expression and adversly impact companies like Automattic.

Sieminski says that significant resources are being diverted away from product development at Automattic in order to deal with overbroad and abusive DMCA takedown notices. On the one hand the company wants to ensure freedom of speech, but balancing that with its legal commitments under the DMCA is not an easy task:

At Automattic, we've seen an increasing amount of abuse of the DMCA's takedown process. The DMCA's takedown process provides what can be an easy avenue for censorship: simply send in a DMCA notice claiming copyrights in a piece of content that you don't agree with. Regardless of whether you own the copyright, the service provider that hosts the content must take it down or risk being out of compliance with the DMCA.

Sieminski went on to detail several cases where the DMCA had been abused to stifle speech, including one elaborate scam in which someone tried to undermine the work of science journalists by copying their work, backdating it, and claiming copyright in order to take down the original content. Although the journalists filed a counter-notice, it took the full 10 days mandated by the DMCA to get it put back online.

Another case involved a UK-based journalist who reported on a freely-given press statement. The source of the press release changed his mind on having it published, claimed copyright, and had the journalist's work taken down under the DMCA. Concerned about submitting to the jurisdiction of a US court (those submitting a counter-notice are required to reveal their name and address and agree to be sued in federal court), the journalist chose to back down. His report remains censored to this day.

As reported here on TF on many occasions, wrongful DMCA notices are sent on a daily basis, many the product of automated systems that lack the finesse to correctly identify infringement, much less consider fair use situations. Add these notices to the millions already being sent and they often go undetected, taken down by nervous service providers wary of becoming liable for the infringements of others.

According to Automattic, a solution needs to be found. Sieminski explained:

The DMCA system gives copyright holders a powerful and easy-to-use weapon: the unilateral right to issue a takedown notice that a website operator (like Automattic) must honor or risk legal liability.

The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don't, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system. I'd urge the Committee to add such penalties to the DMCA to deter and punish these types of abuses.



Not So Free Speech...

BBC censored by the Birmingham Central Mosque

Link Here14th March 2014
The BBC has controversially dropped a debate on homosexuality from a live panel discussion show because of objections from Birmingham Central Mosque in which the programme was being filmed.

As first reported by Breitbart London, the BBC Three live debate and discussion show aimed at young people, Free Speech , had intended to ask the question, When will it be accepted to be Muslim and gay? However the show's host Rick Edwards, announced that the debate would not take place as planned. He told the audience:

We were going to debate that question today, but after speaking to the Mosque, they have expressed deep concerns with having that discussion here.

The producers of the show, Mentorn Media say the debate will happen on its next show on 25 March.

Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the National Secular Society said:

After agreeing to allow a programme called Free Speech to be filmed at the Mosque, it is absurd and counterproductive to then censor the topic being discussed.

It is unfortunate that the BBC allowed itself to be censored on this occasion by reactionary imams, but this was a place of worship, and perhaps the BBC would do well to choose religiously neutral venues to hold such debates in future.

Update: Censored by threats violence

15th March 2013. See  article from



Classified U for Untapped Market...

BBFC move into classifying apps

Link Here14th March 2014
The BBFC has awarded a U classification to Hopster, a subscription based TV and learning iPad app for children.

This is the first time the BBFC has classified an app as part of its online classification service.



Update: Taken for a Ride...

China bans the Rolling Stones from singing Honky Tonk Women

Link Here14th March 2014
The lyrics for Honky Tonk Women were apparently too much for Chinese censors after the song was vetoed from the Rolling Stones' second ever show in the country.

Mick Jagger said, according to a posting on the band's official Twitter feed:

About now we'd usually play something like Honky Tonk Women ... but it's been vetoed, f

He did not give a reason.

Concert-goers confirmed Jagger's comments at the packed show.

The song describes a bar-room queen who tried to take me upstairs for a ride.



Update: Hoping to Avoid Payback Time...

Westminster Council go to the Supreme Court to fight against compensation and costs resulting from overcharging for sex shop licence fees

Link Here13th March 2014
Full story: Unfair Sex Shop Licences...Court battle over unfairly high sex shop licence charges
Westminster Council has received permission from the UK Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal decision requiring the council to pay large sums in compensation for overcharging sex shops for licences.

European law requires that council licence fees should reflect the costs of administration rather than be used as a tax to raise revenue.

Westminster City Council had charged enormous licence fees way beyond the cost of admin saying that it wanted to use revenues raised to take enforcement action against unlicensed businesses.

The council lost the case and were ordered to pay costs and pay back the overcharge. The council accepted it was wrong to charge the amount it did but refused to accept the costs and restitution charged to it, and took the case to the Court of Appeal the following year. However in May 2013 Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Beatson upheld the High Court judgment.

And it is this decision that Westminster Council will challenge in the Supreme Court. Westminster Council will argue its case against: Tim Hemming (t/a Simply Pleasure Ltd), James Poulton, Harmony Ltd, Gatisle Ltd t/a Janus, Winart Publications Ltd, Darker Enterprises Ltd, and Swish Publications Ltd.

No date has yet been listed for the case.



Offsite Article: Pornography to be taught in schools...

Link Here13th March 2014
But what exactly will be taught?

See article from



Thanks for Sharing...

Life as a PC addict is hard for ASA

Link Here12th March 2014

A TV ad for the film Thanks for Sharing began with a shot of a city, followed by quick shots of two billboards featuring women in their underwear. A voice-over stated, Life as a sex addict - it's hard. Further scenes showed a male character being caught filming up his female boss's skirt, and rubbing his groin against a woman's bottom on a subway train. Another male character was shown on dates with a woman, followed by a scene in which she was seen approaching him seductively, wearing lingerie, and saying, Hey baby, you wanna dance? The voice-over stated Thanks for Sharing.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction.

The ASA received five complaints:

1. Two complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, irresponsible and harmful, because it depicted non-consensual sexual acts and a women dressed in a sexually provocative way.

2. All the complainants challenged whether the ad was suitable for broadcast at times when children might be watching.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged the ad included scenes of non-consensual sexual behaviour, but noted the incident in which the man filmed up his boss' skirt was described as the reason he was sacked from his job, and when he rubbed himself against a woman on a subway train she turned and punched him in the face. We considered the ad conveyed that the man's actions were unacceptable and that it was right that he was punished for them. We acknowledged the ad also included a scene in which a woman in lingerie approached a man in a sexually provocative way, but we noted there was no explicit nudity, the scene was brief and there was no physical contact between the characters.

We concluded the ad did not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment, crime or anti-social behaviour, and that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or harm.

2. Upheld

As noted above, whilst we concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread harm or offence, we considered its sexual content meant that it was not suitable for children, and we therefore considered the ex-kids restriction imposed by Clearcast was appropriate.

However the ASA found that some of TV programmes around the adverts did in fact appeal to kids and so upheld the complaints about the scheduling.



Enemies of the Internet 2014...

Entities at the heart of censorship and surveillance. The Annual report from Reporters without Borders

Link Here12th March 2014

Natalia Radzina of Charter97, a Belarusian news website whose criticism of the government is often censored, was attending an OSCE-organized conference in Vienna on the Internet and media freedom in February 2013 when she ran into someone she would rather not have seen: a member of the Operations and Analysis Centre, a Belarusian government unit that coordinates Internet surveillance and censorship. It is entities like this, little known but often at the heart of surveillance and censorship systems in many countries, that Reporters Without Borders is spotlighting in this year's Enemies of the Internet report, which it is releasing, as usual, on World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (12 March).

Identifying government units or agencies rather than entire governments as Enemies of the Internet allows us to draw attention to the schizophrenic attitude towards online freedoms that prevails in in some countries. Three of the government bodies designated by Reporters Without Borders as Enemies of the Internet are located in democracies that have traditionally claimed to respect fundamental freedoms: the Centre for Development of Telematics in India, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom, and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.

The NSA and GCHQ have spied on the communications of millions of citizens including many journalists. They have knowingly introduced security flaws into devices and software used to transmit requests on the Internet. And they have hacked into the very heart of the Internet using programmes such as the NSA's Quantam Insert and GCHQ's Tempora. The Internet was a collective resource that the NSA and GCHQ turned into a weapon in the service of special interests, in the process flouting freedom of information, freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

The mass surveillance methods employed in these three countries, many of them exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, are all the more intolerable because they will be used and indeed are already being used by authoritarians countries such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to justify their own violations of freedom of information. How will so-called democratic countries will able to press for the protection of journalists if they adopt the very practices they are criticizing authoritarian regimes for?

Private sector and inter-governmental cooperation

The 2014 list of Enemies of the Internet includes "surveillance dealerships" -- the three arms trade fairs known as ISS World, Technology Against Crime and Milipol . These forums bring companies specializing in communications interception or online content blocking together with government officials from countries such as Iran, China and Bahrain. Here again, the contradictory behaviour of western democracies should be noted. France hosted two of these forums in 2013 -- TAC and Milipol. At the same time, it issued a notice in December 2013 requiring French companies that export surveillance products outside the Europe Union to obtain permission from the General Directorate for Competition, Industry and Services (DGCIS).

The censorship and surveillance carried out by the Enemies of the Internet would not be possible without the tools developed by the private sector companies to be found at these trade fairs. Ethiopia's Information Network Security Agency has tracked down journalists in the United States thanks to spyware provided by Hacking Team , an Italian company that Reporters Without Borders designated as an Enemy of the Internet in 2013. Even the NSA has used the services of Vupen , a French company that specializes in identifying and exploiting security flaws.

Private-sector companies are not the only suppliers of surveillance technology to governments that are Enemies of the Internet. Russia has exported its SORM surveillance system to its close neighbours. In Belarus, Decree No. 60 on "measures for improving use of the national Internet network" forces Internet Service Providers to install SORM.

China has begun assisting Iran's uphill efforts to create a Halal Internet -- a national Internet that would be disconnected from the World Wide Web and under the government's complete control. An expert in information control ever since building its Electronic Great Wall, China is advising Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the Supreme Council for Cyberspace and the Working Group for Identifying Criminal Content. Deputy information minister Nasrolah Jahangiri announced this during a recent visit by a delegation from China's State Council Information Office.

China's pedagogic zeal has not stopped there. The Zambian Watchdog website reported in February 2013 that the Zambian government is working with China to install an Internet surveillance network. The blocking of the Zambian Watchdog and Zambia Reports websites in June and July 2013 showed that Zambia wants to be able control online information. China is also represented in Uzbekistan by ZTE, a Chinese company that opened an office there in 2003 and has since become the country's main supplier of modems and routers.

National security as pretext

The NSA and GCHQ, Ethiopia's Information Network Security Agency, Saudi Arabia's Internet Services Unit, Belarus' Operations and Analysis Centre, Russia's FSB and Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service are all security agencies that have gone far beyond their core duties by censoring or spying on journalists and other information providers

The tendency to use national security needs as grounds for riding roughshod over fundamental freedoms can be found in other agencies named in this report. In Colombia, a digital surveillance unit that was almost certainly run by the Colombian government intercepted more than 2,600 emails between international journalists and spokesmen of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombian (FARC) during recent peace talks between the FARC and Colombian government representatives .

Ignoring the objections of many human rights groups , France's parliament cavalierly adopted a Military Programming Law in December 2013 that allows the authorities to spy on phone and Internet communications in real time without asking a judge for permission. The grounds given are vague and general, ranging from the need for "intelligence affecting national security" and "safeguarding the essential elements of France's economic potential" to "preventing terrorism, criminality and organized crime."

In Tunisia, the government gazette announced the creation of a Technical Agency for Telecommunications (ATT) on 12 November 2013 for the purpose of monitoring communications in order to assist judicial investigations into "information and communication crimes." Its sudden creation by decree without any consultation with civil society triggered immediate concern, as it revived memories of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), the symbol of online censorship under ousted President Zine el-Abine Ben Ali. The lack of any safeguards and mechanism for controlling its activities is particularly alarming.

Dangerous monopoly of infrastructure

In countries such as Turkmenistan, Syria, Vietnam and Bahrain, the government's control of Internet infrastructure facilitates control of online information. In Syria and Iran, Internet speed is often reduced drastically during demonstrations to prevent the circulation of images of the protests.

More radical measures are sometimes used. In November 2012, the Syrian authorities cut the Internet and phone networks for more than 48 hours. In China, the authorities disconnected the Internet for several hours on 22 January 2014 to stop the circulation of reports about the use of offshore tax havens by members of the Chinese elite . In Sudan, the authorities disconnected the Internet throughout the country for 24 hours on 25 September 2013 to prevent social networks being used to organize protests.pour satisfaire to

Censors enlist Internet Service Providers

Internet Service Providers, website hosting companies and other technical intermediaries find themselves being asked with increasing frequency to act as Internet cops.

Some cases border on the ridiculous. In Somalia, for example, the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab banned using the Internet in January 2014 . As it did not have the required skills or technical ability to disconnect the Internet, it ordered ISPs to terminate their services within 15 days. Ironically, to ensure that the public knew of the ban, it was posted on websites sympathetic to Al-Shabaab.

More insidiously, gender equality and anti-prostitution laws in France have increased the burden of responsibility on technical intermediaries for blocking content after being notified of it. Article 17 of the law on gender equality requires ISPs and hosting companies to identify and report any content inciting or causing hatred that is sexist, homophobic or anti-disability in nature.

In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro has forced ISPs to filter content of a sensitive nature. The authorities ordered them to block about 50 websites covering exchange rates and soaring inflation on the grounds that they were fuelling an "economic war" against Venezuela. This did not prevent a wave of protests against shortages and the high crime rate. On 24 February, when many photos of the protests were circulating on Twitter, the authorities ordered ISPs to block all images on Twitter .

In Turkey, the latest amendments to Law 5651 on the Internet, voted on 5 February 2014, turn ISPs into instruments of censorship and surveillance , forcing them to join a new organization that centralizes requests for content blocking or removal. If they do not join and install the surveillance tools demanded by the authorities, they will lose their licence. Law 5651 also requires ISPs and other technical intermediaries to keep user connection data for one to two years and be ready to surrender them to the authorities on demandpour satisfaire to. The law does not specify what kinds of data must be surrendered, in what form or what use will be made of them. Experts think the required data will be the history of sites and social networks visited, searches carried out, IP addresses and possibly email subjects.

Draconian legislation

Legislation is often the main tool for gagging online information. Vietnam already has penal code articles 79 and 88 on "crimes infringing upon national security" and "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam" but the information and communications ministry decided to go one step further with Decree 72 . In effect since September 2013, this decree restricts the use of blogs and social networks to the "dissemination" or "sharing" of "personal" information, effectively banning the sharing of news-related or general interest content.

In Gambia, the government gave itself a new legislative weapon in July 2013 by getting the national assembly to pass amendments to the Information and Communications Act -- the main law limiting freedom of information. The amendments make the "spreading of false news against the government or public officials" punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a fine of 3 million dalasis (64,000 euros).

In Bangladesh, four bloggers and the secretary of the human rights NGO Odhika were arrested in 2013 under the 2006 Information and Communication Technology Act , which was rendered even more draconian by amendments adopted in August. Its definition of digital crimes is extremely broad and vague, and includes "publishing fake, obscene or defaming information in electronic form."

The Electronic Crimes Act that Grenada adopted in 2013 prohibits use of "an electronic system or an electronic device" to send "information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character." Here again, vaguely-worded legislation is posing a real threat to freedom of information.

Permission to publish

The creation of a licencing system for news websites serves as an administrative and sometimes economic barrier and is a widely-used method for controlling online information.

In Singapore, the authorities have created a major economic barrier for online news media . Under a measure that took effect in June 2013, news websites that post more than one article a week about Singapore and have more than 50,000 Singaporean visitors a month need a licence that requires depositing "a performance bond" of 50,000 Singaporean dollars (39,500 US dollars). The licence has to be renewed every year.

Since 2007, news websites in Uzbekistan have had to register with the authorities just as radio, TV and print media already did. The registration procedure is arbitrary and accreditation depends on an inspection of content. In Saudi Arabia, the websites of traditional media have had to obtain a licence from the information and culture ministry since 2001 . The licence has to be renewed every three years.

This overview of censorship and surveillance is far from exhaustive. During the coming months, we will probably learn about more surveillance practices from Edward Snowden's files, which Glenn Greenwald and other journalists have been serializing since June 2013. The latest and perhaps most outrageous practice to come to light so far is GCHQ's "Optic Nerve" programme, used to capture the personal images of millions of Yahoo webcam users . It suggests that there are no limits to what the intelligence agencies are ready to do.

What forms of response are possible in order to preserve online freedom of information? We think it is essential to:

  • Press international bodies to reinforce the legislative framework regulating Internet surveillance, data protection and the export of surveillance devices and software. Read Reporters Without Borders' recommendations.

  • Train journalists, bloggers and other information providers in how to protect their data and communications. Reporters Without Borders has been doing this in the field for several years. It has organized workshops in many countries including France, Switzerland, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

  • Continue to provide information about surveillance and censorship practices. That is the purpose of this report.



Updated: Anally Sensitive...

Console versions of South Park: The Stick of Truth censored in Europe

Link Here12th March 2014
Ubisoft has censored the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of 18-rated comedy role-playing game South Park: The Stick of Truth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The PC version remains unaffected. reported on a note sent to press alongside copies of the game that revealed the changes, which amount to seven scenes of about 20 seconds each:

  • A mini-game in which the doctor is performing an abortion on the player.
  • A mini-game in which the player is performing an abortion on the character Randy.
  • Five anal probing scenes involving someone actively being probed. The scenes play out as normal before and after the active probing sequences.

Each censored scene is replaced by an image background and a description text selected by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Ubisoft said.

Speculation suggests that the censorship was applied to the entire region to appease the lowest common denominator of game censors, ie those in Germany.

Meanwhile in Australia

See  article from :

Ubisoft has said in a statement that a cut version of The Stick of Truth has now been accepted by the country's game censor:

A modified version has now been approved for release, under the guidance of R18+. No full sequences have been removed from the game, only small sections amounting to less than five minutes of game play. These modifications in no way detract from the narrative of the game, meaning the player will still enjoy an authentic South Park experience.

Update: Probing for the uncensored footage

4th March 2013. See  article from
See anal probe scene from YouTube
See abortion scene from YouTube

An columnists writes:

South Park wouldn't be South Park without a healthy dose of controversy, so it should come as no surprise that the just-released Stick of Truth South Park video game has its fair share. Originally, when it was revealed that the game would be censored in Australia, absolutely no-one was surprised, as Australia censors pretty much everything these days. What was a little more surprising was the news that the same offending scenes would be cut from the European versions of the game.

Thankfully, for all our Australian, European, African and Middle Eastern Escapists, the review copy I received was completely uncensored, and I have uploaded video footage of the two censored sequences for you to enjoy (and stick it to your censorship boards).

First up is the anal probe scene , in which the player character is dragged past three other characters who are being actively probed, is then probed himself, and then has to help rescue Randy Marsh without accidentally probing him.

The second sequence, the abortion scene , starts with the doctor performing an abortion on the player character, and ends up with the player performing an abortion on, once again, Randy Marsh (poor Randy).

Update: De-censorship Mod

11th March 2013. See  article from

South Park fans living in Australia, Europe, Africa and The Middle East were somewhat dismayed to learn that their version of South Park: The Stick of Truth . would be censored . I was able to upload the scenes so affected users could see what they were missing out on, but now, those clever PC modders have done one better, creating a patch for the Steam version of the game that allows everyone to enjoy it fully uncensored. Hooray for anal probes!

You can find the patch on the Steam community forums here , and to install it, you simply need to download this file and extract it into the game's directory. Fans are reporting that the patch works perfectly, allowing them to see the removed anal probe and abortion scenes, as well as the Nazi zombies for those users in Germany.



Offsite Article: Is Hong Kong's media under attack?...

Link Here12th March 2014
A brutal knife attack on veteran Hong Kong editor Kevin Lau in February has prompted an immediate public outpouring of fear about the future of press independence in China's freest city.

See article from



Naked Repression...

Self-censorship on the rise in Iran's underground art scene

Link Here12th March 2014



Offsite Article: Torrents of take down notices...

Link Here12th March 2014
VPN services are often advertised as tools to get uncensored access to the Internet, but this is not always the case. Ironically, many VPN providers ban BitTorrent traffic on U.S. and U.K. servers over piracy concerns.

See article from



Undressed Andress Redressed...

Irish film poster censorship pays off 50 years on

Link Here11th March 2014
One of the lots at a sale of historical memorabilia at Whyte's auction room in Dublin caught the eye:

A 1962 poster for the first James Bond movie, Dr No, with a dress hand-painted over the original bikini-clad image of Ursula Andress, and described by the auctioneers as the dying vestige of Irish censorship (EUR600-EUR800).



Update: Big Brother to Appoint Regional Little Brothers...

China is set to to decentralise the censorship of local films

Link Here11th March 2014
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids
China's film censor is planning to decentralize the censorship process for local movies, granting bureaus in the provinces the power to censor films.

As it stands, filmmakers face lengthy waiting periods for approval of their movies from the Film Bureau in Beijing (SARFT), which is part of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

The move is due to happen in April and is limited to local films. The censorship of imported Hollywood films, and co-productions with international firms, will remain under the control of the central Film Bureau in Beijing.

SARFT will retain responsibility for the censorship of national films, for censoring movies produced by central government and military film production companies, and the censorship of imported films and co-productions with overseas firms. It will also be responsible for reviewing the films that are censored by the provincial bureaus, responsible for handling the film release license and responsible for the censorship of the film if the film production company has some objections to the decision..



Update: No Exploration of the Unintended Consequences...

Uganda rethinks porn law as it ends up encouraging vigilante thuggery

Link Here11th March 2014
Full story: Ugandan Ethics Minister...Nutter minister rants about gays and miniskirts
[Note that other reports say that the miniskirt prohibition was actually removed from the bill prior to being passed, but it was discussed as part of the law throughout the period when the bill was being debated.

Around 200 women took to the streets of Uganda's capital  defending their right to wear miniskirts. The demonstration came after the government approved a new law that bans indecent outfits for women.

The BBC reports that the demonstrators, some wearing now-forbidden miniskirts, gathered in Kampala to protest the draconian law, arguing it provides a free pass for sexual harassment and encourages blaming the victim.

The new rule is part of a piece of anti-pornography legislation that lists indecent show ... of sexual parts of a person for primary sexual excitement as a form of pornography, Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor explains. And just in case that sounds confusing, The nutter Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo was on hand to clarify: If your miniskirt falls within the ambit of this definition then I am afraid you will be caught up by the law. Earlier, he added that this includes anything above the knee.

Activists say that since the ban became law there has been an explosion of vigilantes attacking and stripping women who they consider to be dressed inappropriately, according to Daily Monitor. We shall not allow women to pass on the road with skimpy dresses. Undressing them in public is the only way to stop them, one man told the newspaper.

Activist Patience Akumu, from campaign group End Miniskirt Harassment, told Voice of America that the government is letting mobs harass women over their clothing in order to score cheap political points in the conservative society. I think women have become an easy target, a scapegoat for all the problems, she added.



Floods of Intolerance...

Darren Aronofsky's Noah banned across the Middle East

Link Here10th March 2014
Censor boards in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have informed Paramount they will not release the Biblical epic which is release later this month. Similar rulings are expected in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, according to Paramount insiders.

The National Media Council (NMC), the UAE film censor, confirmed that the film had been banned for reasons of religious intolerance. Juma Obaid Al Leem, director of the Media Content Tracking Department at the NMC said:

The film conflicts with all religions. Out of respect for these religious sentiments, we are banning the film.

In Egypt, the leading Sunni Muslim institute Al-Azhar issued a statement condemning the movie, saying it should be banned in that country.

Al-Azhar renews its rejection to the screening of any production that characterizes Allah's prophets and messengers and the companions of the Prophet [the religious character Muhammad], the statement read. Therefore, Al-Azhar announces the prohibition of the upcoming film about the Allah's messenger Noah.

The film was not without censorship issues in the US. The studio was said to be concerned that the director's version may not go down well with the religious. However screenings with test audiences did not convince the studio that was a need for change. So the original director's version got the go ahead. However as a gesture of goodwill toward religious groups, Paramount agreed to alter the marketing materials for Noah to make clear that it is a creative rather than a literal adaptation of the Bible story. A disclaimer was added to posters:

The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis.



Small Arms Advert?...

Italian minister easily offended by used of Michelangelo's David in a gun advert

Link Here10th March 2014
Italy's government is threatening legal action against a US small arms company over a supposedly offensive advertisement showing Michelangelo's David holding a rifle.

Rome's censorship minister Dario Franceschini has pleaded with Illinois-based ArmaLite to withdraw the promotion for a bolt-action rifle:

The advertising image of the armed David (is) wrong and violates the law. We will act against an American company that must withdraw immediately the campaign.

Angelo Tartuferi, the director of the Accademia Gallery museum where David has been on display since the 1870s, claimed the ad was in bad taste as well as completely illegal, reports the BBC. The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted, he added .



Offsite Article: Germany offers frightening glimpse at copyright trumping privacy...

Link Here 10th March 2014
'If you've nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear', the snooper's mantra goes, but it's more and more impossible to know what will and won't be punished

See article from



Update: Ultra-Ludicrous...

Malaysian bans a Ultraman comic book that uses the word 'Allah'

Link Here9th March 2014
Malaysia has banned an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word Allah to describe the Japanese action hero.

The Home Ministry claimed in a statement that the Malay-edition of Ultraman, The Ultra Power contained elements that can undermine public security and societal morals. It claimed Ultraman is idolised by many children and equating the lead character, Ultraman King, with Allah would especially confuse Muslim children and damage their faith .

The government demands that the word Allah should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns its use by others would confuse Muslims and tempt them to convert. It also warned that use of the word can provoke the community and threaten public safety.

Ultraman is a fictional Japanese superhero who fights monsters and first appeared on television in the 1960s. A line in the book said Ultraman is considered and respected as Allah, or the Elder, to all ultra heroes .



But will the wording satand up to close examination?...

Massachusetts state legislators pass law to ban 'upskirt' photography

Link Here9th March 2014
Massachusetts lawmakers have approved a bill targeting those who take photographs of the sexual or other intimate parts of people in public. The bill makes such offences punishable by up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

After the legislation's unanimous approval, state Senate President Therese Murray said:

Women and children should be able to go to public places without feeling that they are not protected by the law.

The bill states that anyone who photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils a person's sexual or intimate parts without consent should face a misdemeanor charge. The crime becomes a felony - punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine - if the accused secretly takes indecent photographs of anyone under the age of 18.

Governor Deval Patrick has already said he will sign the measure into law.

The bill was prompted by the case of Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 after police received complaints that he had used his mobile phone to take photos and videos up the skirts of female passengers on the Boston subway.



Losing Friends...

Turkish prime minister threatens to ban YouTube and Facebook

Link Here9th March 2014
Turkey's desperate sounding prime minister has warned that his government could ban social media networks YouTube and Facebook after a raft of online leaks added momentum to a spiralling corruption scandal.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already increased his government censorship of the Internet, generating criticism at home and abroad about rights in the once EU-hopeful country. Erdogan told private ATV television in an interview:

There are new steps we will take in that sphere after March 30... including a ban (on YouTube, Facebook),

Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has come under mounting pressure since last week, when audio recordings were leaked in which Erdogan and his son allegedly discuss how to hide vast sums of money.



Update: Parents TV Council Recommend...

The uncut version of Reign available on the internet

Link Here9th March 2014
Full story: Parents TV Council...US moralists whinge at TV sex and violence
The clean up TV moralist group, The Parents Television Council whinged on their website about a US TV series, Reign :

The Parents Television Council condemned the CW Network for its plans to give children online access to a more sexually explicit version of tonight's episode of Reign by adding in scenes that the network's own standards department cut and then posting the episode on the channel's web site tomorrow, without age verification mechanisms.

Dan Isett, PTC director of communications and policy said:

The CW Network is doing parents no favors by allowing children unfettered access to sexual content from this young adult and teen-targeted show online. It's appalling that a broadcast network would flaunt broadcast standards in this manner and the network should be condemned for this action.

This is nothing more than a network ploy to increase attention for its show, but it comes at the expense of children. Anyone with common sense should realize that online standards for broadcast networks should be the same as they are on television. There's a reason that the CW Network's own standards department cut the two sex scenes from the broadcast version -- they weren't appropriate for television. So what makes them appropriate to post online where presumably children will be able to watch them with no rating or blocking capability? Nothing. The CW Network should be ashamed.



Update: Damn Silly Whinge...

One Millions Moms recommend Red Robin's Damn Great Burger

Link Here9th March 2014
Full story: One Million Moms...Moralist whingers against anything sexy
The religious morality campaign group, One Million Moms, writes:

Red Robin's new burger The D.G.B. - short for That's One Damn Great Burger - has an ad campaign that is following a trend of using profanity in its advertising. Red Robin is replicating a form of media that is intended to be naughty and catchy, but it should be avoided if a company is concerned with its reputation.

Marketing campaigns using profanity are never appropriate, especially when advertising food for a family restaurant. Offensive ads cause parents to lose their appetites and their respect for a company.



Flame On...

BBFC vs Channel 5. Zathura and lessons in home built flame throwers

Link Here8th March 2014
Zathura: A Space Adventure is a 2005 USA family action comedy by Jon Favreau.
With Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo and Dax Shepard. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

Zathura is a strange film. Not only is it a non apologetic rip off of the considerably more successful Jumanji, but it's also incredibly watchable. The premise (while simple), is about as appealing to children as it gets. Two pre teen brothers are trapped in a sci fi Jumanji-esque board game, that carries out all of the games forfeits in the real world, resulting in CGI carnage for all involved.

Sadly though these plot points weren't enough to stop the BBFC getting their heavily starched undies in a twist.

As is often the case, they were more concerned with the real life elements of this film. And by element, I mean fire. Like a lot of family friendly American films, Zathura features the BBFC's much feared IMITABLE TECHNIQUES. And to be honest, I kind of agree with them. Showing a 7 year old the results of dousing a couch in flammable liquid as a way of salvation is a pretty dumb thing to do. Yes you can argue that they would struggle to find such combustible fluids that easily around the house, you can't argue that they can (and will) find a can of deodorant, another fire friendly everyday item that the films protaganists use (with great ease) to light up Kristen Stewart (I imagine several Twilight haters relish this scene). Both techniques are shown to be very simple to do, and are done with THE BEST INTENTIONS. So, yeah, maybe the BBFC had a valid point, and may have actually thought outside the box for the greater good..................

Unlike Channel 5. It's now 11.20am, the film started at 10, and wouldn't you know it, British kids are now being shown how to ignite their sisters and make a couch flammable.



Update: A Happy World...

Bloggers note effective Chinese censorship of the terrorist station attack

Link Here8th March 2014
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
After last week's knife attack on Chinese people in Kunming by muslim terrorists, in which 29 people were hacked to death, the state council information office issued the following directive:

Media that report on the knife attack incident that occurred March 1 at the Kunming railway station must strictly adhere to Xinhua News Agency wire copy or information provided by local authorities.

Do not treat the story with large headlines; do not publish grisly photos. Please respond to confirm that you have received this message. Thank you.

The censorship seems to have been effective and this was noted by Chinese microbloggers. Ye Taijin wrote:

It is as if nothing happened in Kunming. If we didn't have Weibo and WeChat, we would still be living in a happy world like the one presented on the evening new on China Central Television.



Update: A Morality Based Policy...

Danish researchers warn against criminalising the purchase of sex Such a move would lead to a more insecure existence for workers in the industry

Link Here8th March 2014
Dozens of Danish researchers have protested against the EU parliament's decision last week to recommend that EU member states criminalise the purchase of sex.

The 26 researchers, who specialise in the areas of prostitution, sex work, human trafficking and sexuality, have signed their names to a petition because they argue that criminalising the purchase of sex will lead to a more insecure existence for sex workers.

They further contend that the EU politicians are ignoring the vast research about the issue, including reports from the UN, World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch, which recommend decriminalising sex work.

Christian Groes Green, a researcher at Roskilde University and one of the petition's signees, told

When the EU chooses to ignore the research results, then it's down to ideological beliefs that it is morally wrong to sell one's body. The parliament has chosen to ignore all the international research that argues against criminalising buying sex.

The researchers point to Sweden where the criminalisation of sex work has weakened the prostitutes' trust in the authorities and driven them underground and made them more dependent on pimps and other criminals.

It's problematic that they have ignored the research and it goes against tendencies in other areas such as drug abuse, which has been decriminalised. Apparently, it is different with buying sex: a battle based on old-fashioned ideas and beliefs. That's why we've signed this protest.



Offsite Article: Campus censorship: the fightback starts here...

Link Here8th March 2014
It's time for students to throw off the censors' shackles.

See article from



Withering Vine...

Twitter's service for short user uploaded videos, decides to prohibit sexual content

Link Here7th March 2014
The Twitter-owned, six-second looping video service, Vine, has announced that it had updated its terms of use to prohibit sexually explicit content from appearing on the service. the announcement read:

For more than 99 percent of our users, this doesn't really change anything. For the rest: we don't have a problem with explicit sexual content on the Internet ---- we just prefer not to be the source of it.

Practically since launch, Vine has been trying to figure out how to handle adult content, For example Apple forced the company to change the age limit on its iOS app to 17 or older due to the potential for sexual content. Twitter, Vine's parent company, allows users to upload photos and has similar safeguards for explicit content in place, but does not have an age gate on its app.

The ban on sexually explicit content does not ban all nudity though. In an explainer , Vine said that nudity in a documentary or artistic context is allowed. In addition to those already-fuzzy parameters, Vine also said that nudity that is not sexually provocative is allowed.



Offsite Article: Nonsense Morality...

Link Here7th March 2014
Religious researchers find that 35% of American men find porn morally acceptable. Many of the other 65% find it immoral, but watch it anyway

See article from



Update: State censorship queried but not restricted...

Australian authorities continue to use powers to force ISPs to block websites

Link Here6th March 2014
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

The Australian Federal Police, the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC), and one unnamed agency have indicated to the government that they would likely seek to keep using powers in the Telecommunications Act to force ISPs to block websites.

In April 2013, following a bungle by ASIC that resulted in accidentally blocking customer access to 250,000 websites when the agency was just seeking to block websites associated with investment fraud, it was revealed that three government agencies had been using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to compel ISPs to block customer access to websites on their behalf.

Following public backlash, and amid cries of censorship and criticism over the lack of transparency over the power, the then-Labor government promised to review the power, and improve the oversight and transparency of the process.

At the time, despite the controversy, it seems that internally agencies had indicated to the government that they intended to continue using the power. A briefing document from a meeting convened by the Department of Communications in May 2013, and published online under Freedom of Information revealed that the three agencies the department had discovered to be using section 313 indicated that they will continue to so in the future.

The heavily-redacted briefing document showed the police had used the power 21 times between June 2011 and February 2013 to request ISPs to block websites listed on the Interpol worst of child abuse websites , and would continue to do so in the future.

The Department of Communications told ZDNet in December that it was still in consultation with government agencies on the use of the power.

Attorney-General George Brandis indicated last month that he is considering giving the power to the Federal Court to give injunctions to ISPs to force the companies to block copyright-infringing websites such as The Pirate Bay.



Update: Viewers whinge at racist storyline in Emmerdale...

But not to worry, it is all politically correct propaganda and the bad guy comes around to realise the error of his ways.

Link Here6th March 2014
Full story: Emmerdale...Viewer whinges about ITV soap
Producers of Emmerdale have defended their decision to develop a racism storyline, despite ludicrous whinges to teh TV censor Ofcom.

Easily offended viewers expressed their 'outrage' last week after a scene aired in which new character William, played by Dudley Sutton, made a racist remark to Ruby Haswell, played by Alicya Eyo.

After begrudgingly agreeing to hire Ruby, a health care professional, to become his new carer, William remarked: Slaves weren't you? You'll be used to hard work.

Ofcom have confirmed they received 15 complaints about the episode.

However a spokesperson from Emmerdale said it was an important issue to address. The storyline will be developed further and the character of William will appear in six more episodes:

In subsequent episodes we see Ruby challenge William about his racism and confront him with the hurt that such language causes.

In the end, through professionalism and determination she succeeds in making him aware that his remarks aren't just casual 'banter', as he believes, but are deeply offensive. As a result he is seen to change his ways.



Offsite Article: Governments are spying on our sexual lives. Will we tolerate it?...

Link Here 6th March 2014
The intrusion of the state's prying eyes into human intimacy and our use of webcams is yet another reason to express the greatest possible civic outrage against 'dataveillance'

See article from



Silly Complaints about Silly Songs...

ASA dismisses whinges about carol singers in a KFC christmas advert

Link Here5th March 2014

  Singing all our stupid songs

Two TV ads and a VOD ad for KFC:

  • a. The TV ad featured a song about making peace with those around you at Christmas time and featured various scenes such as two women fighting over a toy in a shop and a group of children who broke a window during a snowball fight. One of the scenes featured a group of carol singers outside an old man's house whilst the song lyrics stated We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs and the reply Normally I'd hose you down, but now it just seems wrong .

  • b. A shorter version of the TV ad featured the same part of the song and lyrics.

  • c. The VOD version of the ad was the same as ad (b).

Thirty complainants challenged whether the lyrics all our stupid songs in ads (a), (b) and (c) were likely to cause serious and widespread offence because they mocked an element of Christian worship.

KFC believed it was a tongue-in-cheek ad which took a humorous look at the commercialised hype around Christmas. They said the ad typified the perspective of a very stereotypical grumpy old man, based on Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, who was usually irritated by everything about Christmas, particularly Christmas songs. They said that the ad showed that this year he had seen the error of his ways and that the lyrics sung were vocalising the mind-set of the Ebenezer Scrooge character, demonstrating how he normally saw the world.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted the storyline about the Carol singers featured them cheerfully singing We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs and considered that viewers would understand this to be an ironic reference to the old man's normal reaction when he heard Carol singers at his door.

We considered that whilst some viewers may have found the lyrics in reference to the Carols to be flippant and at the expense of Carol singers, we noted the ad made clear that the Carol singers were outside someone's house and were not in a Church or any other place of worship and that they were therefore not representative of Christian singing or the Christian faith more generally. We considered that viewers would understand that in this context, the Carol singers featured in the ad were representative of Carol singing in general (which included faith based songs and non-faith based songs) which are part of British Christmas tradition and which are sung by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Whilst we understood that some people of the Christian faith felt that the song lyric in the ad ridiculed their faith, we considered that most viewers would not interpret the lyrics as mocking Christianity (in total or in part) and concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence



Offsite Article: Fun Links...

Link Here5th March 2014
Full story: Human Centipede...Hype spreads mouth to arse
Check out the first image from Human Centipede 3.

See article from



Update: Turkey Recommends Nymphomaniac...

Film censors ban Lars Von Trier's erotic epic

Link Here4th March 2014
Turkish censors have banned Danish director Lars Von Trier's cmovie epic Nymphomaniac from theatres for its extensive nudity and no-holds-barred sex scenes.

The first part was planned to be screened in Turkey on March 14 and the second part on March 21. But Turkey's cinema board, which includes representatives from the culture, interior and education ministries, banned the movie outright by a majority vote on Monday.

Yamac Okur, a dissenting member of the board, said the decision was tantamount to censorship .

Barring any cinema movie from commercial screening is unacceptable. It could have been displayed by age rating. Otherwise, it is censorship.

Update: Classified as porn

7th March 2013. See  article from

Turkey's film board banned the film outright on a vote of six to two that Nymphomaniac be classified as pornography.

The board includes members of Turkey's cultural, interior and education ministries as well as a psychologist and a sociologist.

This film is in the porn category...because of its explicit sexual scenes, Turkey's cinema general director Cem Erkul told AFP: It also depicts extreme violence against women.



Updated: Video Nasties The Definitive Guide Part 2: Draconian Days...

Jake West on Draconian Days, part 2 of his hit documentary

Link Here 4th March 2014
The horror genre has long been plagued by issues of censorship. Director Jake West exhumes its history in his latest film Feature by Chris Fyvie:

It encourages us to understand history, and to see the kind of things that happen with moral panics, says director Jake West of his new documentary, Video Nasties: Draconian Days , which covers the passing of the notorious Video Recordings Act of 1984 and the heavy-handed tenure of James Ferman as director of the BBFC.

It was a period that must be almost unfathomable for a generation of genre fans now able to access any and all uncut material at the click of a mouse, where films were arbitrarily subjected to the scissor treatment by overzealous bastions of perceived good taste:

You had a huge amount of censorship going on, and often there was nothing clear from the BBFC as to what their policies were or why they were doing this; they were kind of making it up as they went along.

...Read the full article

Update: Ferman couldn't really please anybody most of the time

4th March 2013. See  article from

Day two of FrightFest in Glasgow saw the world premiere of Jake West's documentary Video Nasties: Draconian Days .

Draconian Days is a fascinating and thorough continuation of the first documentary, and director Jake West, producer Marc Morris and the BBFC's David Hyman were on hand for a Q&A after its premiere. Mostly revolving around the audience sharing their memories from the video nasty era.

Starting with the Video Recordings Act of 1984, the documentary mainly revolves around James Ferman's BBFC era until 1999. Hyman (who appears in the film) feels that the documentary captures the tightrope Ferman had to walk without being overly anti-BBFC.

I think it's well balanced in the sense that it shows James Ferman was caught between a rock and a hard place, explained Hyman. His instincts were to support film-makers because he thought he could identify with them, but he also had to serve the public trust so he couldn't really please anybody most of the time.



Offsite Article: Why Lebanon censors Frank Sinatra, Puss in Boots, and The West Wing...

Link Here 4th March 2014
A look inside the bizarre world of the country's censorship policies. By Tracey Shelton

See article from



Offsite Article: K-pop booms while censorship looms...

Link Here3rd March 2014
The South Korean music style K-pop has become a success story of music export and glamour, but a long history of censorship still affects music markets nationwide

See article from



Licensed to Moralise...

Belfast sex shops closed down by council

Link Here2nd March 2014
Back in January local papers reported that six sex shops in the centre of Belfast were under threat after moralists on Belfast City Council's Health and Safety Committee rejected their applications for operating licences.

The shop owners were also warned they could face fines of up to £30,000 if they continue trading without a licence.

The decision to closed down the shops supposedly in response to a few vague complaints from local who residents who voiced concern at the contents of shops on Gresham Street and North Queen Street.

It is believed that the shop owners are considering legal action if they are forced to comply with the council decision. One shop owner expressed his disbelief that shops in Belfast were being refused licences when cities such as Glasgow and Manchester were not.

As a result several shops closed down in February:

  • Bliss Adult Play Things, 1 Smithfield Square West
  • MissTique, 27 Gresham Street
  • Naughty but Nice 2 Smithfield Square



Updated: Diplomatic Censorship?...

Court orders Google to censor Innocence of Muslims video based on spurious copyright claim

Link Here2nd March 2014
Full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie
Based on a copyright claim that is dubious at best, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals has ordered Google to take offline a video that is the center of public controversy. We can still talk about it, but we can't see what we are talking about. We're hard-pressed to think of a better example of copyright maximalism trumping free speech.

The case was brought by an actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, who was tricked into performing in a short anti-Islamic film (she was told the film was about something very different) and, as a result, found herself subject to death threats. Garcia then filed a lawsuit against Google and several others, claiming the video infringed her copyright in her performance (approximately 5 seconds of a 13 minute video). Then she asked the court to require Google to take the video down. The district court wisely refused, noting that Garcia's copyright interest was unclear at best. Garcia appealed, and today the Ninth Circuit agreed with her, and ordered Google to take down all copies of the video and take reasonable steps to prevent further uploads.

The merits of this case are indeed doubtful. Very doubtful. Garcia is claiming a copyright interest in her brief performance, a novel theory and one that doesn't work well here. After all, Garcia herself admits she had no creative control over the movie, but simply performed the lines given to her. There may be a context where an actor could assert some species of authorship, but this doesn't seem to be one of them. Movie makers of all kinds should be worried indeed.

There are other problems with the legal analysis, but the decision is equally if not more troubling for the signal it sends. Based on nothing more than a tenuous (at best) copyright claim, the court has ordered a service provider to censor a video that has been the subject of considerable debate and comment, with only the most cursory analysis of the speech harms it will cause. If Garcia had brought a claim under virtually any other theory, we expect the court would have taken more care. Unfortunately, it seems copyright exceptionalism has won the day.

Update: Appeal

1st March 2013. See  article from

As expected, Google has quickly filed an emergency motion for a stay on the horrific 9th Circuit ruling that the company needed to take down all copies of the Innocence of Muslims film and block it from being re-uploaded anywhere. Google has made it clear that it will fight this decision, starting with asking the 9th Circuit for an en banc rehearing (ie a case heard by a large panel of judges).

Appeals courts don't often grant requests for en banc hearings and, as such, often don't grant stays (basically holding off enforcing the order). However, with this case generating so much attention (and condemnation), hopefully enough of the judges in the 9th Circuit agree that it's worth rethinking Judge Kozinski's order.

Google's motion lays out the basic argument, highlighting that the ruling simply invents new law and ignores precedents that the court is bound by. It also highlights how the ruling seems to get some rather basic issues flat out wrong. Furthermore, it highlights that there is real harm from the censorship imposed by the ruling, while leaving the video up for a little more time is unlikely to create any additional harm (if it ever created any harm in the first place).

Update: Appeal Denied

2nd March 2013. See  article from

Google has been rebuffed in its effort to restore an anti-Muslim video on YouTube, shot down by a federal appeals court that on Friday rejected arguments that requiring the company to take it down will cause irreparable harm because of its impact on online free speech.

In a brief order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals denied a stay of a ruling earlier this week ordering Google to remove the Innocence of Muslims video from YouTube. The appeals court ordered YouTube to comply with the order within 24 hours, although Google lawyers already indicated in court papers they have already taken down the video.

Google argued the video should be restored on YouTube while the company presses an appeal of this week's decision, but the 9th Circuit refused. Google warns the ruling could have damaging free speech implications for the online world and make it too easy for anyone to get an order removing video content from a website:

Under the (9th Circuit ruling), minor players in everything from Hollywood films to home videos can wrest control of those works from their creators, and service providers like YouTube will lack the ability to determine who has a valid copyright claim.

Update: Fighting On

8th March 2013. See  article from

Google has been denied two emergency stay motions against the decision by a divided three-judge panel. It vowed to continue resisting. We strongly disagree with this ruling and will fight it, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

People who search for the video find a black screen with a short message from Google repeating its pledge to fight the decision. If the company fails to persuade the same judges to reverse their ruling its last resort will be the supreme court, which may choose not to hear the case.



Update: Morality in Media Recommends...

Annual Dirty Dozen list of top porn providers

Link Here2nd March 2014
Full story: Morality in Media...Misreable campaigners for censorship
Morality in Media announces the 2014 Dirty Dozen List , a compilation of the leading facilitators of pornography in America.

Patrick A. Trueman, President of Morality in Media said:

Once again Attorney General Eric Holder tops our Dirty Dozen List for his support of pornographers over children and families. As the pandemic of harm from pornography grows, Holder gives criminal pornographers the green light to proceed by stopping all enforcement of federal obscenity laws.

Among others, the latest List includes the social networking site Tumblr for its embrace of pornographic offerings, PlayStation for it's live streamed pornography and sexually violent games, and Verizon for its FIOS TV porn offerings including many with child or teen themes, sexual slavery plots, and racial overtones.

The full list includes:

  • Attorney General Eric Holder -- Mr. Holder refuses to enforce existing federal obscenity laws against hardcore adult pornography, despite the fact that these laws have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and effectively enforced by previous attorneys general.

  • Verizon -- Verizon pushes porn into our homes now through hardcore pay-per-view movies on FIOS, smartphones, and tablets and as an Internet Service Provider with insufficient filtering options.

  • Sex Week -- Yale and other colleges and universities repeatedly offer Sex Week on campus. Porn stars are routinely invited to lecture and pornography that glamourizes fantasy rape is screened.

  • Playstation -- PlayStation's live-streaming abilities are filling thousands of homes with live porn and the PlayStation Store sells hundreds of pornographic and sexually violent games.

  • Facebook -- Facebook has become a top place to trade pornography, child pornography and for sexual exploitation. Facebook's guidelines prohibit such behavior, but the company is doing little to enforce them.

  • Barnes & Noble -- This Fortune 500 Company is a major supplier of adult pornography and child erotica. They regularly put pornography near the children's sections in their stores and provide free, unfiltered porn publications on their Nook e-reader.

  • Hilton -- This hotel chain, like Hyatt, Starwood and many other top hotel chains, provides hardcore pornography movie choices. Porn channels are often the first advertisement on their in-room TVs.

  • American Library Association -- The ALA encourages public libraries to keep their computers unfiltered and allow patrons, including children, to access pornography.

  • Google -- Google's empire thrives on porn. Porn is easily available, even to children, through YouTube, GooglePlay, Google Images and Google Ads.

  • Tumblr -- This popular social media blogging site bombards users with porn. Users must only be 13 and the filters do not work.

  • 50 Shades of Gray -- This bestselling book series and upcoming movie are normalizing sexual violence, domination, and torture of women. Oprah Winfrey Network, Broadway and other mainstream outlets have even promoted this abusive lifestyle.

  • Cosmopolitan Magazine -- The magazine is a full-on pornographic, how-to sex guide, encouraging women to accept the pornified culture around them. They specifically market this content to teen girls.



Indian film censor jailed for accepting bribes...

What's the point of film censorship if the censors are more corrupt than the viewers?

Link Here2nd March 2014
An Indian court has sentenced an official of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to one year's imprisonment after he was caught accepting a bribe.

The anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that the anti-corruption branch laid a trap for Rajasekar on receipt of a complaint that he demanded a bribe of Rs.10,000 for viewing a film and issuing the necessary certificate. He was caught red handed accepting the bride.



Offsite Article: Forum Trolls...

Link Here2nd March 2014
How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations. By Glenn Greenwald

See article from



Update: Despoiled...

Virgin introduces its website blocking system

Link Here1st March 2014
Virgin Media has introduced its website blocking system, to censor access to anything and everything remotely adult.

Called Web Safe, this will initially be presented as an option to new customers and will appear during the installation of a new broadband connection. They will be able to decide whether to implement the website blcoking or not.

Existing customers will also have access to the blocking system, with Virgin Media contacting the entire subscription base with instructions by the end of 2014.

As with similar schemes offered by Sky and BT, Virgin Media's Web Safe programme works at network level, and is not able to offer different options for different family members. So if the blocking is turned on, it will work across all devices that connect to that home network.

It is too soon to say whether Virgin Media's filter system will suffer from the same issues as reported with its rivals, including the over-zealous blocking of websites. However the blocking is more simplistic than other ISPs with just a simple on/off option.



Bloody Whingers...

ASA dismisses complaints about website banner from the film poster for Carrie

Link Here1st March 2014

A large banner ad, shown on the e-mail log-in page, promoted the film Carrie . The ad featured an image of a female character covered in blood, standing in front of a car with one of her arms outstretched. The image of the car was partially obscured by the log-in form, but appeared to be at an angle, and the bonnet was compressed as though it had impacted another object with force. The ad also included an imbedded trailer that had to be clicked before it was shown.

  1. One complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to cause undue fear or distress; and

  2. One complainant, who reported that his young daughter was upset when she viewed the ad, challenged whether it was inappropriate for display where it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad featured a cropped version of the official poster for the film Carrie and appeared to all Yahoo Mail users prior to log-in. We understood that the film was in the horror genre, and that the image of Carrie covered in blood with her arm outstretched towards a car, which appeared to have stopped due to an unforeseen force, reflected that genre. Whilst we acknowledged that some viewers might find the image unsettling, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress.

2. Not upheld

We understood that the image appeared prior to log-in, and had not been age-gated and could therefore appear to consumers of any age who purposefully or accidentally navigated to the page, including children. We considered, however, that younger children would not have a Yahoo Mail account and were unlikely to be using the internet to access Yahoo Mail unsupervised. Although we acknowledged that the some younger children might not like seeing the image of Carrie covered in blood, we did not consider that it was likely to cause harm to children. Therefore, we concluded that the ad was not unsuitable for display where it could be seen by children.



Update: Big Brother Caught Watching You Wank...

GCHQ bulk capture of images every 5 minutes during everybody's Yahoo video calls

Link Here1st March 2014
Politicians and human rights groups have reacted angrily to revelations that Britain's spy agency disgracefully intercepted and stored webcam images of millions of people with the aid of its US counterpart.

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 reveal that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

In one six-month period in 2008, the agency collected webcam images, including substantial quantities of sexually explicit material, from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

The Optic Nerve documents were provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. They show that the programme began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012.

The Tory MP David Davis said:

We now know that millions of Yahoo account holders were filmed without their knowledge through their webcams, the images of which were subsequently stored by GCHQ and the NSA . This is, frankly, creepy.

The Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert said he was:

Absolutely shocked at the revelation. This seems like a very clear invasion of privacy , and I simply can not see what the justification is.

Nick Pickles, the director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said intercepting and taking photographs from millions of people's webcam chats was as creepy as it gets .

We have CCTV on our streets and now we have GCHQ in our homes. It is right that the security services can target people and tap their communications, but they should not be doing it to millions of people. This is an indiscriminate and intimate intrusion on people's privacy.



Thuggery Wins...

Pakistan newspaper concedes defeat to Taliban extremists and ceases to report on terrorism

Link Here1st March 2014
When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis. It made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights.

But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by muslim extremists of the Pakistani Taliban .

The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January. The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.

Immediately following the killings, the paper's editor, Kamal Siddiqi, sent an email to staff outlining the paper's new policy. Henceforth there would be nothing against any militant organisationand its allies like the Jamaat-e-Islami, religious parties and the Tehrik-e-Insaf , the rightwing party led by Imran Khan , that strongly opposes military operations against the TTP. There would also be nothing on condemning any terrorist attack , nothing against TTP or its statements and no opinion piece/cartoon on terrorism, militancy, the military, military operations, terror attacks .

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