Censor Watch

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  The Digital Economy Act 2017...

Introducing the general censorship of online adult pornography in the UK


Link Here 31st May 2017
arms of the british governmentjpg logoThe Digital Economy Bill was enacted  on 27th April 2017. It contains two provisions enabling the censorship of all online adult pornography viewed in the UK, whether it be from  the UK or from abroad.
  • Material considered 'extreme' under previous UK laws will be banned from being published on UK sites, and blocked by ISPs if originating from abroad.
  • Pornography, except the 'extreme' content mentioned above, will only be made available by UK ISPs if it implements strict age verification of viewer to ensure that they are provably 18 years old. This requirement applies to both foreign and domestic websites and applies to both hardcore and softcore porn.

Internet censors will be appointed by the government to: identify websites publishing extreme content; identify websites requiring age verification; and to approve age verification methods.

The censors will be able to enforce the banning of websites with large fines for the offending websites and for companies providing services such as hosting, advertisement, or payment facilities. Foreign websites out of the reach of these enforcement actions will be blocked by ISPs.

The Definition of extreme porn banned under the act

Firstly, it must be pornographic . The definition of pornography in the CJIA isn't terrible: it's an image "of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal". I think that's fair enough. However it's not down to the intention of the creator, but the interpretation of the court.

Secondly, it must be extreme . This means it is (interpreted as being) "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" and it portrays "in an explicit and realistic way" any of the following:

  • An act threatening a person's life
  • An act which results (or is likely to result) in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals
  • An act which involves (or appears to involve) sexual interference with a human corpse
  • A person performing (or appearing to perform) an act of intercourse (or oral sex) with an animal (whether dead or alive).
  • An act which involves the non-consensual penetration of a person's vagina, anus or mouth by another with the other person's penis, a part of the other person's body, or anything else.

The Definition of legal porn requiring age verification

The overarching definition of pornographic material that requires age verification is material that ' was produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal'.

The material covered by the act is limited to audio, still pictures and video. Text content is notably not coveredd by this act .

The Act specifies that both softcore and hardcore material is covered by the act. It specifically includes:

  • Softcore 18 rated material, or material that would be classed 18 if submitted to the BBFC
  • Hardcore R18 rated material, or material that would be classed R18 if submitted to the BBFC
  • Beyond R18 material that would be cut by the BBFC but does not go as far as 'extreme porn' which is banned under this act. This means that fisting, choking, squirting, wet sex, are now all considered legal for sale online as long as age verification is in place.

Privacy and the use of personal data provided in the age verification process.

The act disgracefully provides no protection for porn viewers and any data that they may provide in the age verification process.

There is a wishy washy paragraph in the guidance for the bill:

The process of age verifying for adults should be concerned only with the need to establish that the user is aged 18 or above, rather than seeking to identify the user. The privacy of adult users of pornographic sites should be maintained and the potential for fraud or misuse of personal data should be safeguarded 206 The role of the Regulator should be to focus on the ability of arrangements to verify whether someone is over 18 and should be assured that age verification arrangements will protect a user's privacy.

As Lord Paddick replied in a Lords debate, this is not reassuring; it is only guidance and does not have teeth at all. The vague wording does not go into enough detail. If an age verification provider did not comply with this advice the regulator would have little power to force them.

Pandora Blake concludes:

So, the Digital Economy Bill contains no requirement that the age verification solutions themselves be regulated. They can retain and share your data, and there's no limit on how much (or what sort of) data they ask for.

My conclusion? The Lords don't care about user privacy or cyber security. In the end, despite months of expert campaigning by the Open Rights Group and others, the Bill contains no safeguards against AV providers compiling databases of our porn browing histories which will be deeply vulnerable to leaks, hacks and data breaches.

Implementation and the role of the BBFC

Pandora Blake has summarised current speculation on how implementation is likely to pan out. She writes:

The BBFC has been nominated by Government as the new notification regulator for online porn. Their job will be to find sites that don't have age verification in place, and notify them that they need to become compliant. If the site doesn't comply, the BBFC can then notify any ancillary service providers - i.e. billing processors, advertisers, sources of funding, internet hosts and others that facilitate the site serving pornographic content - and ask them to withdraw services from the non-compliant website. If the ancillary service providers also refuse to co-operate, the BBFC's final recourse is to notify Internet Service Providers and get them to refuse to serve the site, so that no-one in the UK will be able to view it (unless they're using Tor or another proxy/VPN).

It has been said that another regulator will also be chosen, separate from the BBFC, with power to impose financial penalties to non-compliant websites in the UK. Fines are supposed to be the next step up from notifying ancillary service providers, leaving ISP blocking as a last resort. But the enforcement regulator hasn't been designated yet, and no-one knows who it's going to be.

For the BBFC to take on responsibility for ISP blocking happen represents a significant mission creep of their duties. When they were initially selected they were not originally meant to have any enforcement duties at all; and yet the BBFC is now very close to becoming the sole regulator, removing the need for a separate enforcement body.

The BBFC have previously expressed uncertainty that they had the resources to handle enforcement, as it seemed that the task of notification was already going to stretch their capacity. But following an exchange of letters with the Minister they have agreed to take on the additional task of notifying ISPs. So the BBFC are now handling the lion's share of the work of enforcement, and the theoretical other regulator has still not been selected.

The draconian penalty of ISP blocking threatens to be liberally applied. In the case of UK websites, fines might provide some incentive to comply, but few site owners in other countries will respect financial penalties imposed on them by the BBFC. It's not even clear that fines will be an option when the regime first comes into effect: I was alarmed by the Minister's statement that we will continue to consider the appropriate timing for introducing financial penalties for non-compliant providers and decide who the regulator for this will be, which makes it sound an awful lot like age verification could start being enforced by the BBFC with ISP blocking as the main available sanction, without any enforcement regulator or system for financial penalties yet in place.

In terms of the BBFC's powers, it's entirely possible that ancillary service providers based overseas won't respect their authority. Billing companies probably will, but overseas web hosts and advertisers are less likely to co-operate. The Earl of Erroll, who has been working closely with the Digital Policy Alliance throughout the drafting of this Bill, said in the third debate that I think that the notice and take-down -- the blocking -- is the only thing that will work. Fines will not work; it is probably a waste of time even trying them. It therefore seems as though ISP blocking is turning from a last resort into the most likely penalty - creating a hugely disproportionate regime of national censorship.

At the time of write these censorship provisions are scheduled to come into force in May 2018.

 

  Liar Liar...

UK radio stations have censored a political song despite reaching the top 10


Link Here 30th May 2017
liar liar video A song accusing Theresa May of being a liar has reached number three in the iTunes charts and the top 10 radio charts. Liar Liar Ge2017 , produced and performed by Captain Ska, skewers the Prime Minister on the NHS, education and poverty, and her party's several recent U-turns including calling the snap election.

The chorus and easy-to-sing-along melody, She's a liar, liar, you can't trust her, no no no no, has helped the song to number 3. Profits generated from downloads between 26 May and 8 June will be split between food banks in the UK and the People's Assembly Against Austerity.

Radio stations have refused to play the song. The Big Top 40 Show on Capital FM and Heart announced the song had made the Top 10, and skipped to the song in ninth position.

A petition calling on radio stations to play the song and oppose censorship has been signed by about 3000 people

 

  Fantasy Games...

Uzbekistan bans 34 computer games for propagating violence and disturbing 'inter-religious harmony'


Link Here 30th May 2017
UzbekistanUzbekistan has banned a long list of computer games claimed to be distorting values and threatening stability. The list includes global hits like Grand Theft Auto and innocuous classics like The Sims.

The ban makes it illegal to import and distribute the games. Authorities claims the games could be used to propagate violence, pornography, threaten security and social and political stability.There is also concern they might disturb civil peace and inter-ethnic and inter-religious 'harmony'. Another reason given is the potential distribution of false information about Uzbekistan and the distortion of its historic, cultural and spiritual values.

One would have thought that religion might be a more provable and obvious candidate for propagating violence, threatening security, or causing social and political instability.

The list of 34 games ranges from ego-shooters to horror or erotic games and has been approved by a government commission. It lists Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Doom, and The Sims.

 

 Offsite Article: BBFC Podcast Episode 67...


Link Here 30th May 2017
Pete's Dragon DVD Classifying remakes of children's cartoons, part 2

See article from bbfc.co.uk

 

  Crying out for change...

A Surrey council amends its cinema rules to allow for parent and baby screenings of 15 and 18 rated films


Link Here 26th May 2017
tandridge district council logoA Surrey council has introduced a policy to allow parents with babies to attend 15 and 18 rated films at cinemas in the district.

Although BBFC 15 and 18 certificates specify that nobody under that age can attend cinema screenings, councils are the ultimate authority for specifying rules and licensing conditions for cinemas in their areas.

Parents are now being offered the chance to watch 15 and 18 rated films with their young children under Tandridge District Council rules.

Some mothers and fathers in the council area had expressed their wish to watch more adult films in parent and baby cinema club screenings.

Tandridge Council has decide to enable this, in theory giving parents the opportunity to watch Quentin Tarentino's Pulp Fiction , Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick, with their children.

However council officers will decide what is and isn't appropriate viewing on a case by case basis. The council said:

It is anticipated that scenes of strong violence and gore, sex and strong threat will lead to greater concern around viewing by children of that age than will strong language, mild nudity and discriminatory content.

This approach will only apply for screenings advertised and restricted to 'parent and baby' only.

 

 Update: Extreme optimism...

Theresa May claims that social media censorship will be a panacea for religious violence


Link Here 26th May 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Theresa MayTheresa May has urged world leaders to do more to censor online extremism, saying the fight against so-called Islamic State is moving from the battlefield to the internet.

Speaking about counter-terrorism at the G7 summit in Sicily, the PM said more pressure should be put on tech companies to remove extreme material and to report such content to the authorities. She led a discussion on how to work together to prevent the plotting of terrorist attacks online and to stop the spread of hateful extremist ideology on social media.

She said that the industry has a social responsibility to do more to take down harmful content. She acknowledged that the industry has been taking action to remove extremist content, but said it has not gone far enough and needs to do more.

She called for an international forum to develop the means of intervening where danger is detected, and for companies to develop tools which automatically identify and remove harmful material based on what it contains, and who posted it.

Update: Norway too

26th May 2017 See article from telegraph.co.uk

Norway is considering introducing uniformed police profiles which would patrol Facebook looking for criminal activity.

Kripos, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public. It would mean police gaining access to closed groups and interacting with members as they search for evidence of criminal activity.

Police in Norway and elsewhere have previously used fake Facebook profiles to investigate crimes including smuggling alcohol and tobacco.

 

  Intrusive snooping...

Internet companies are attempting to block a US bill requiring that users permission is obtained before gathering people's web browsing history for commercial purposes


Link Here 26th May 2017
US SenateLobbyists for Google, Facebook, and other websites are trying to stop the implementation of a proposed law in the US that would strengthen consumer privacy protections online.

Representative Marsha Blackburn last week proposed a bill that would require broadband providers and websites to obtain users' opt-in consent before they use Web browsing history and application usage history for advertising and other purposes or before they share that information with other entities. The rule in Blackburn's BROWSER Act is similar to a previous proposal blocked by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump.

Currently the internet industry claims to be self regulating with mechanisms in which websites let visitors opt out of personalized advertising based on browsing history. However these rules do not restrict internet companies from gathering such intrusive personal information.

Naturally, lobbyists are trying to stop this from taking effect. The Internet Association yesterday issued a statement claiming that the bill will somehow diminish consumer experience and will stifle innovation. The Internet Association's founding members include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, eBay, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Reddit, Spotify, Twitter, and about 30 other Web companies.

 

  Symbolic censorship...

Statue of justice removed from the Bangladesh Supreme Court


Link Here 26th May 2017
themis dhakaWorkers have begun to dismantle the statue of a Greek goddess from Bangladesh's Supreme Court complex, after an outcry from muslim extremists.

The sculpture of Themis, the goddess of justice, wearing a sari was less than six months old, but Islamist groups demanded its removal. They claimed it hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. The censorship had been demanded at mass protests in Dhaka. The protesters claimed that the figure, which held the familiar sword and scales of justice in her hands, amounted to idolatry.

The statue's creator  Mrinal Haque said it is being removed to maintain peace.

 

  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul...

BBFC advised category cuts required for a U rated cinema release


Link Here 23rd May 2017
Poster Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long H 2017 David Bowers Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is a 2017 USA family comedy by David Bowers.
Starring Alicia Silverstone, Charlie Wright and Tom Everett Scott. BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed U for very mild bad language, rude humour after BBFC advised pre-cuts for:

  • 2017 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice. The company was advised that it was likely to be classified 12A but that their preferred U classification could be achieved by removing a single use of discriminatory language ('spaz'). When the film was submitted for formal classification that word had been replaced with a less offensive term ('dork') and the film was classified U.
Summary Notes

A Heffley family road trip to attend Meemaw's 90th birthday party goes hilariously off course thanks to Greg's newest scheme to get to a video gaming convention. This family cross-country adventure turns into an experience the Heffleys will never forget.

 

 Obituary: Roger Moore...

The Man With the Golden Gun dies aged 89


Link Here 23rd May 2017

View Kill DVD Roger Moore Sir Roger George Moore KBE (14 October 1927 203 23 May 2017) was an English actor. He played the British secret agent James Bond in seven feature films between 1973 and 1985. He also played Simon Templar in the television series The Saint between 1962 and 1969.

Moore took over the role of Bond from Sean Connery in 1972, and made his first appearance as 007 in Live and Let Die (1973). The longest serving Bond to date, Moore portrayed the spy in six more films.[1][2] Appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991, Moore was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for services to charity. In 2008, the French government appointed Moore a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

His family announced his death in Switzerland from cancer on 23 May 2017

Roger Moore's classic take on James Bond did not trouble the censors too much but two of his films were cut:
Octopussy is a 1983 UK/US James Bond action film by John Glen.
With Roger Moore, Maud Adams and Louis Jourdan. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb
A nipple slip was cut from the opening credits but otherwise uncut.
A View to a Kill is a 1985 UK/US James Bond action film by John Glen.
With Roger Moore, Christopher Walken and Tanya Roberts. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb
Cut by the BBFC at the advice screening stage and the cuts have persisted for all releases since

The BBFC commented:

The film was originally viewed by the BBFC in an incomplete form, with the music score unfinished and the opening and closing credits missing.

During this advice screening, the BBFC requested that a heavy crotch kick and a double neck chop, both given by Bond, be removed from the film to get a PG rating. These cuts occur during the fight in the hidden room under Zoran's stable. If you watch the scene closely, or even frame by frame, the scene is somewhat sloppy in a couple of places. When the film was edited, the pre-cut version was submitted for a formal rating.

During this stage of classification, the Board asked for an alteration to the opening titles on a shot of an almost nude woman. Its hard to speculate which woman this refers to, but viewing the titles it seems likely that it could be the woman seen through a scope near the beginning, who becomes defocused and blurry whenever she turns the front of body towards the camera, or the mirrored image of the dancing women at the end as Michael Wilson's name appears. She too, goes out of focus on a profile shot where her nipples almost become clearly visible.

 

 Update: The published rules are fake...

Facebook's real censorship rules are leaked


Link Here 21st May 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logoThousands of pages of internal documents from Facebook have been leaked, revealing the censorship rules used to identify user content that is to be censored.

Among the rules detailed in documents obtained by the Guardian are those covering nudity, violence and threats.

A threat to kill the US President would be deleted, but similar remarks against an ordinary person would not be viewed as credible unless further comments showed signs of a plot.

Other rules reveal that videos depicting self-harm are allowed, as long as there exists an opportunity to help the person.  Videos of suicide, however, are never allowed.

Film of child and animal abuse (as long as it is non-sexual) can remain in an effort to raise awareness and possibly help those affected.

Aside from footage of actual violence, Facebook must also decide how to respond to threats of it, what they call credible threats of violence. There is an entire rulebook for what is considered credible and what is not. Statements like someone shoot Trump will be deleted by the website, but comments like let's go beat up fat kids, or I hope someone kills you will not. The leaked documents state that violent threats are most often not credible, until specific statements make it clear that the threat is no longer simply an expression of emotion but a transition to a plot or design.

Facebook's rules regarding nudity now makes allowance for newsworthy exceptions. like the famous Vietnam War photo of a naked young girl hit by napalm, and for handmade art. Digitally made art showing sexually explicit content is not allowed.

 

  Backward Together...

The conservative manifesto on internet censorship


Link Here 21st May 2017
tory manifesto 2017 mock upBuried at the very end of the Conservative election manifesto is a line of text that could have an enormous impact on how Britons use the internet in the future.

Conservative advisers suggested to BuzzFeed News that a future Tory government would be keen to rein in the growing power of Google and Facebook.

The proposals -- dotted around the manifesto document -- are varied. There are many measures designed to make it easier to do business online but it's a different, more social conservative approach when it comes to social networks.

Legislation would be introduced to 'protect' the public from abuse and offensive material online, while everyone would have the right to wipe material that was posted when they were under 18. Internet companies would also be asked to help promote counter-extremism narratives -- potentially echoing the government's Prevent programme. There would be new rules requiring companies to make it ever harder for people to access pornography and violent images, with all content creators forced to justify their policies to the government.

The Manifesto states:

Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline.

It should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground, as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading pornography online as it is in the high street, and as difficult to commit a crime digitally as it is physically.

New laws will be introduced to implement these rules, forcing internet companies such as Facebook to abide by the rulings of a regulator or face sanctions: We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law.

A levy on tech companies -- similar to that charged on gambling companies -- would also be used to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms. The Conservatives even see this model going further, announcing their desire to work with other countries develop a global set of internet regulation standards similar to those we have for so long benefited from in other areas like banking and trade.

May's manifesto also raises concerns about online news, warning it is willing to take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy, while pledging to ensure content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online.

On a more positive note, the Conservative party manifesto contained one significantly welcome provision, which was that the party would not proceed with implementing the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry, and would repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 -- both measures that RSF has campaigned for. RSF and other free expression groups viewed Section 40 as threatening to press freedom, particularly its cost-shifting provision that, if implemented, could have held publishers that did not join the state-approved regulator liable for the costs of all claims made against them, regardless of merit.

In contrast, both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos stated that the parties would disgracefully move forward with the unjust stage two of the Leveson Inquiry.

 

 Offsite Article: Virtually consent free...


Link Here 21st May 2017
Samsung Gear VR W/Controller - Latest Edition If a user created a VR version of their real life girlfriend would they do things to her that they knew she would refuse in the real world?

See article from independent.co.uk

 

  A taste for censorship...

Uganda bans the Dutch film The Dinner Club.


Link Here 18th May 2017
1-BLU-RAY SPEELFILM - DE EETCLUB Blu-ray The Dinner Club ( De eetclub) is a 2010 Netherlands thriller by Robert Jan Westdijk.
Starring Bracha van Doesburgh, Thom Hoffman and Halina Reijn. IMDb

Karen and Michel move with their daughter to an exclusive residential area. She soon finds a new close circle of friends: the women of the Dinner Club, and their husbands. But when two of the Club members commit suicide under suspicious circumstances, Karen starts to have second thoughts about her new friends. She has to choose: will she reveal the truth and dish the dirt, or will she protect the interests of the Dinner Club?

The Embassy of The Netherlands in Kampala, Uganda announced that the Uganda's censorship board has banned a Dutch film, The Dinner Club, after accusing it of glorifying homosexuality .

The embassy made the announcement in a Facebook post that it deplored the decision to ban the film. It then published the full list of objections from the media council which also include using lurid language and smoking, especially by women. The Uganda Media Council described the film as women forming a:

Dinner Club which is, in reality, a sort of brothel, and said the film included scenes of gay men sauntering away drunk. While glorifying homosexuality two women say marriage (presumably to men) is hard work! This is against Ugandan values.

The council also objected to one man calling another a hot chick .

The film was released in 2010 and was due to be shown at a European film festival in Uganda. But the Embassy of the Netherlands said it will no longer taking part in the festival.

 

  The Punisher Unpunished...

An uncut version shown on Spike TV


Link Here 16th May 2017
The Punisher Lungren UNRATED Version The Punisher is a 1989 Australia/US film by Mark Goldblatt.
With Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr. and Jeroen Krabbé. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

The Theatrical Version was cut in the US and further cut by the BBFC. The BBFC cuts were waived in 2013, but it is still the cut US version. The film is Uncut in Germany, Austria and Australia.

Thanks to David who noted that the uncut version of The Punisher was shown on UK Spike TV a couple of nights ago. This is as per the uncut Germany/Austria/Australia version.

 

 Update: Ending the god given right to ban the criticism of religion...

Petitioners call for the abolition of Denmark's blasphemy law


Link Here 16th May 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech

Denmark flagDenmark's blasphemy ban was recently revived when a man was charged for burning the Quran. Signatories argue that an expression grossly offensive to religious believers merits protection as peaceful 'free speech'.

We the undersigned respectfully urge the Danish Parliament to vote in favour of bill L 170 repealing the blasphemy ban in section 140 of the Danish criminal code, punishing "Any person who, in public, ridicules or insults the dogmas or worship of any lawfully existing religious community".

Denmark is recognized as a global leader when it comes to the protection of human rights and freedom of expression. However, Denmark's blasphemy ban is manifestly inconsistent with the Danish tradition for frank and open debate, and puts Denmark in the same category as illiberal states where blasphemy laws are being used to silence dissent and persecute minorities. The recent decision to charge a man -- who had burned the Quran -- for violating section 140 for the first time since 1971, demonstrates that the blasphemy ban is not merely of symbolic value. It represents a significant retrograde step in the protection of freedom of expression in Denmark.

The Danish blasphemy ban is incompatible with both freedom of expression and equality before the law. There is no compelling reason why the feelings of religious believers should receive special protection against offense. In a vibrant and pluralistic democracy, all issues must be open to even harsh and scathing debate, criticism and satire. While the burning of holy books may be grossly offensive to religious believers it is nonetheless a peaceful form of symbolic expression that must be protected by free speech.

Numerous Danes have offended the religious feelings of both Christians and Muslims without being charged under section 140. This includes a film detailing the supposed erotic life of Jesus Christ, the burning of the Bible on national TV and the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed. The Cartoon affair landed Denmark in a storm of controversy and years of ongoing terrorist threats against journalists, editors and cartoonists. When terror struck in February 2015 the venue was a public debate on blasphemy and free speech.

In this environment Denmark must maintain that in a liberal democracy laws protect those who offend from threats, not those who threaten from being offended. In this environment Denmark must maintain that in a liberal democracy laws protect those who offend from threats, not those who threaten from being offended.Retaining the blasphemy ban is also incompatible with Denmark's human rights obligations. In April 2017 Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagtland emphasized that "blasphemy should not be deemed a criminal offence as the freedom of conscience forms part of freedom of expression". This position is shared by the UN's Human Rights Committee and the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression and Religion.

Since 2014,The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and Malta have all abolished blasphemy bans. By going against this trend Denmark will undermine the crucial European and international efforts to repeal blasphemy bans globally.

This has real consequences for human beings, religious and secular, around the globe. In countries like Pakistan, Mauritania, Iran, Indonesia and Russia blasphemy bans are being used against minorities and political and religious dissenters. Denmark's blasphemy ban can be used to legitimize such laws. In 2016 the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief pointed out that "During a conference held in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) [in 2015], the Danish blasphemy provision was cited by one presenter as an example allegedly indicating an emerging international customary law on "combating defamation of religions".

Blasphemy laws often serve to legitimize violence and terror. In Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh free thinkers, members of religious minorities and atheists have been killed by extremists. In a world where freedom of expression is in retreat and extremism on the rise, democracies like Denmark must forcefully demonstrate that inclusive, pluralistic and tolerant societies are built on the right to think, believe and speak freely. By voting to repeal the blasphemy ban Denmark will send a clear signal that it stands in solidarity with the victims and not the enforcers of blasphemy laws.

Jacob Mchangama, Executive director, Justitia
Steven Pinker, Professor Harvard University
Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, Exiled editor of Shuddhashar, 2016 winner International Writer of Courage Award
Pascal Bruckner, Author
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Human Rights Activist Founder of AHA Foundation,
Dr. Elham Manea, academic and human rights advocate (Switzerland)
Sultana Kamal, Chairperson, Centre for Social Activism Bangladesh
Deeyah Khan, CEO @Fuuse & founder @sister_hood_mag.
Fatou Sow, Women Living Under Muslim Laws
William Nygaard, Publisher
Flemming Rose, Author and journalist
Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship
Kenan Malik, Author of From Fatwa to Jihad
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director Article 19
Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America
Pragna Patel - Director of Southall Black Sisters
Leena Krohn, Finnish writer
Jeanne Favret-Saada, Honorary Professor of Anthropology, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes,
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Fariborz Pooya, Host of Bread and Roses TV
Frederik Stjernfelt, Professor, University of Aalborg in Copenhagen
Marieme Helie Lucas, Secularism Is A Women's Issue
Michael De Dora, Director of Government Affairs, Center for Inquiry
Robyn Blumner, President & CEO, Center for Inquiry
Nina Sankari, Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation (Poland).
Sonja Biserko, Founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
James Lindsay, Author
Mahal Mali, Publisher and editor, Areo Magazine
Julie Lenarz - Executive Director, Human Security Centre, London
Terry Sanderson President, National Secular Society
Greg Lukianoff, CEO and President, FIRE
Thomas Cushman, Professor Wellesley College
Nadine Strossen, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, New York Law School
Simon Cottee, the Freedom Project, Wellesley College
Paul Cliteur, professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University
Lino Veljak, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Lalia Ducos, Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universals Rights , WICUR
Lepa Mladjenovic, LC, Belgrade
Elsa Antonioni, Casa per non subire violenza, Bologna
Bobana Macanovic, Autonomos Women's Center, Director, Belgrade
Harsh Kapoor, Editor, South Asia Citizens Web
Mehdi Mozaffari, Professor Em., Aarhus University, Denmark
Øystein Rian, Historian, Professor Emeritus University of Oslo
Kjetil Jakobsen, Professor Nord University
Scott Griffen, Director of Press Freedom Programmes International Press Institute (IPI)
Henryk Broder, Journalist
David Rand, President, Libres penseurs athées, Atheist freethinkers Tom Herrenberg, Lecturer University of Leiden
Simone Castagno, Coordinamento Liguria Rainbow
Laura Caille, Secretary General Libres Mariannes General
Andy Heintz, writer
Bernice Dubois, Conseil Européen des Fédérations WIZO

 

 Update: The BBFC will have its work cut out...

The Open Rights Group wonders whether the Digital Economy Act will lead to the blocking of 4.6 million porn sites


Link Here 14th May 2017

open rights group 2016 logo A Freedom of Information request to the DCMS has revealed that porn company MindGeek suggested that the BBFC should potentially block millions of porn sites if they didn't comply with Age Verification requirements outlined in the Digital Economy Act.

MindGeek, who are also developing Age Verification technology, said that the Government's plans to prevent children from seeing pornography would not be effective unless millions of sites could be blocked.

Notes made by the company and sent to the DCMS state:

A greylist of 4M URLs already exists from Sky, but lets assume that's actually much smaller as these URLs will I suspect, be page- level blocks, not TLDs. The regulator should contact them all within that 12 months, explaining that if they do not demonstrate they are AV ready by the enforcement date then they will be enforced against. "On the enforcement date, all sites on the greylist turn black or white depending upon what they have demonstrated to the regulator.

Corey Price, VP of Pornhub, separately noted:

It is our corporate responsibility as part of the global tech community to promote ethical and responsible behavior. We firmly believe that parents are best placed to police their children's online activity using the plethora of tools already available in modern operating systems. The law has the potential to send a message to parents that they no longer need to monitor their children's online activity, so it is therefore essential that the Act is robustly enforced.

Despite the law, those seeking adult content can still circumvent age verification using simple proxy/VPN services. Consequently the intent of the legislation is to only protect children who stumble across adult content in an un-protected environment. There are over 4 million domains containing adult content, and unless sites are enforced against equally, stumbling across adult content will be no harder than at present. If the regulator pursues a proportionate approach we may only see the Top 50 sites being effected 203 this is wholly unacceptable as the law will then be completely ineffective, and simply discriminate against compliant sites. We are therefore informing, and closely monitoring the development of the regulations, to be published later this year, to see if they achieve the intended goals of the Act.

MindGeek could stand to gain commercially if competitor websites are blocked from UK visitors, or if the industry takes up their Age Verification product.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

There is nothing in the Act to stop the BBFC from blocking 4.6 million pornographic websites. The only constraint is cash.

This leaves the BBFC wide open to pressure for mass website blocking without any need for a change in the law.

When giving evidence to the Public Bill Committee , the chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification, David Austin implied that only tens of sites would be targeted:

We would start with the top 50 and work our way through those, but we would not stop there. We would look to get new data every quarter, for example. As you say, sites will come in and out of popularity. We will keep up to date and focus on those most popular sites for children.

 

  NHS ransom shows GCHQ putting us at risk...

Government snoops prove unable to keep their backdoor access tools safe from hackers


Link Here 14th May 2017

open rights group 2016 logo The NHS ransom shows the problems with GCHQ's approach to hacking and vulnerabilities, and this must be made clear to MPs who have given them sweeping powers in the IP Act that could result in the same problems recurring in the future.

Here are four points that stand out to us. These issues of oversight relating to hacking capabilities are barely examined in the Investigatory Powers Act , which concentrates oversight and warrantry on the balance to be struck in targeting a particular person or group, rather than the risks surrounding the capabilities being developed.

GCHQ and the NSA knew about the problem years ago

Vulnerabilities, as we know from the Snowden documents, are shared between the NSA and GCHQ, as are the tools built that exploit them. These tools are then used to hack into computer equipment, as a stepping stone to getting to other data. These break ins are at all kinds of companies, sites and groups, who may be entirely innocent, but useful to the security agencies to get closer to their actual targets.

In this case, the exploit, called ETERNALBLUE was leaked after a break in this April. It affects Windows XP. It has now been exploited by criminals to ransom organisations still running this software.

While GCHQ cannot be blamed for the NHS's reliance on out of date software, the decision that the NSA and GCHQ have made in keeping this vulnerability secret, rather than trying to get it fixed, means they have a significant share of the blame for the current NHS ransom.

GCHQ are in charge of hacking us and protecting us from hackers

GCHQ are normally responsible for 'offensive' operations, or hacking and breaking into other networks. They also have a 'defensive' role, at the National Cyber Security Centre , which is meant to help organisations like the NHS keep their systems safe from these kinds of breakdown.

GCHQ are therefore forced to trade off their use of secret hacking exploits against the risks these exploits pose to organisations like the NHS.

They have a tremendous conflict of interest, which in ORG's view, ought to be resolved by moving the UK defensive role out of GCHQ's hands.

Government also needs to have a robust means of assessing the risks that GCHQ's use of vulnerabilities might pose to the rest of us. At the moment, ministers can only turn to GCHQ to ask about the risks, and we assume the same is true in practice of oversight bodies and future Surveillance Commissioners. The obvious way to improve this and get more independent advice is to split National Cyber Security Centre from GCHQ.

GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre had no back up plan

We also need to condemn the lack of action from NCSC and others once the exploit was known to be "lost" this April. Hoarding vulnerabilities is of course inherently dangerous, but then apparently not having a plan to execute when they are lost is inexcusable. This is especially true given that this vulnerability is obviously capable of being used by self-spreading malware.

GCHQ are not getting the balance between offence and defence right

The bulk of GCHQ's resources go into offensive capabilities, including hoarding data, analytics and developing hacking methods. There needs to be serious analysis to see whether this is really producing the right results. This imbalance is likely to remain the case while GCHQ is in charge of both offence and defence, who will always prioritise offence. Offence has also been emphasised by politicians who feel pressure to defend against terrorism, whatever the cost. Defence--such as ensuring critical national infrastructure like the NHS is protected -- is the poor relation of offensive capabilities. Perhaps the NHS ransom is the result.

 

  Widespread offence of 1 complainant and 1 PC extremist advert censor...

ASA bans online casino advert from Daily Star Wins for a casino featuring sexy female croupiers


Link Here 11th May 2017

daily star wins video A TV ad for StarWins.com, seen on 17 January 2017, began with a shot of two men standing at a bar in a pub next to a table where a man and a woman were chatting to each other. One of the men at the bar watched a woman as she walked past before a voice-over stated, Allow me to introduce you to Star Wins and one of the men pulled out his mobile phone and swiped the screen. The men were transported to a casino. The camera panned from a woman in a sequined dress dancing on a stage to the men as they walked down a flight of stairs. As they reached the floor of the casino the voice-over stated, For you card sharks we've got real female croupiers who can handle that as a woman wearing a sequined gold dress walked between them. The men watched her as she walked towards and past them and turned to look behind them to continue watching her as she walked to join the other dancers on stage. The men smiled at each other and continued further into the casino. The voice-over stated, Or if roulette is your thing, we'll put you in a spin 24/7 as the two men walked past a table where two female croupiers wearing tight, low-cut dresses stood with two female and one male gambler. The croupiers watched the men closely as they walked past. The men then approached a roulette table where a female croupier stood, along with a group of mainly female gamblers. One of the men flipped a chip onto the table while staring intently at the croupier. The voice-over continued, You'll be surprised where it can take you. Star Wins. Get in the game as the men were shown throwing chips into the air in celebration, surrounded by the group of women. A final shot showed them celebrating back at the bar in the pub. The couple at the table next to the bar turned to smile at them.

1. One complainant, who felt the ad was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive.

2. The ASA challenged whether the ad suggested that gambling could enhance personal qualities, and linked gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

1. Upheld

The ASA noted that all the casino employees seen in the ad were women and that the majority of the people present in the casino were women. While in the casino the men only interacted with each other or with women (rather than other men), and when interacting with women in each case either the men or the women gave each other intense looks which suggested they were appraising them physically. We considered the ad put particular visual emphasis both on the generally high proportion of women in the casino and on the physical attractiveness of the female casino employees to the two male protagonists.

We considered that the combination of those visual emphases with the voice-over specifically highlighting that Daily Star Wins (which provided only online casino services) employed real female croupiers, served to depict the presence of physically attractive women as the key attraction of Daily Star Wins. We considered the ad therefore objectified women, and concluded it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence on that basis.

2. Upheld

When the men were initially shown in the pub the only person who paid attention to them was the barman serving their drinks. We noted that in contrast, in the casino they exchanged intense looks with the female casino employees, a group of people (mainly consisting of women) began to gather around them as they approached the roulette table, and that group had grown when they were shown winning and celebrating. We considered that all those aspects of the ad together created an impression that the men's interest in and eventual success at gambling had gained them recognition and admiration, and made them more popular and attractive to women. We concluded the ad therefore suggested that gambling could enhance personal qualities, and that it linked gambling to seduction and enhanced attractiveness.

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Bear Group Ltd t/a Daily Star Wins to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence through the depiction of or objectification of women. We also told them to ensure their ads did not suggest that gambling could enhance personal qualities, or link gambling to seduction or enhanced attractiveness.

 

 Update: Austria unfriends free speech...

Austrian court demands worldwide censorship of Facebook postings insulting a politician


Link Here 11th May 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logoAn Austrian appeals court has ordered Facebook to remove political criticism of an Austrian politician. the court ruled that posts calling Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig a lousy traitor of the people and a corrupt klutz are somehow hate speech.

The ruling by the Austrian court doesn't just require Facebook to delete the offending posts in Austria, but for all users around the world, including any verbatim repostings. That would be an aggressive precedent to set, since Facebook has historically enforced country-specific speech laws only for local users.

Facebook has removed the posts in Austria, which were posted by a fake account. It has yet to remove the posts globally because it is appealing the case.

American legal experts speaking to The Outline called the ruling troubling, and warned of the potential ramifications Facebook and its users could face as a result. Daphneth Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Outline that the ruling sends a signal to other countries that they too can impose their laws on the rest of the world's internet. She asked:

Should Facebook comply globally with Russia's anti-gay laws, or Thailand's laws against insulting the king, or Saudi Arabia's blasphemy laws? Would Austria want those laws to dictate what speech its citizens can share online?

 

 Update: Blocking criticism...

Thai military government tries to get heavy with Facebook over users' criticism of the monarchy


Link Here 11th May 2017
Facebook logoMilitary authorities in Thailand have warned Facebook to take down content criticising the monarchy, or face legal action.

Facebook has been given until next Tuesday to remove about 130 items from pages viewable in Thailand. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission told the BBC that Facebook had already co-operated in blocking some pages, but that more than 130 judged to be illegal by the authorities remained visible in Thailand.

Facebook says it does consider requests from governments to block material, and will comply if it breaks local laws.

Any comment critical of the monarchy can result in prosecution under Thailand's strict lese-majeste law, even if the criticism is justified. Those convicted face extreme prison sentences.

Thailand's military government that seized power in Thailand in 2014 has made great efforts to suppress any criticism of the monarchy. Thousands of websites have been blocked, and people caught sharing, or even liking Facebook posts deemed unflattering to the monarchy have been prosecuted.

 

  An ugly comment...

An episode of ITV's Benidorm attracts complaints about a cleft lip comment


Link Here 11th May 2017
benidormTV censor Ofcom has received 118 complaints from viewers about the ITV comedy series Benidorm.

The complaints were about a comment insulting a karaoke performer with an apparent cleft lip. Sherrie Hewson's character joked in the final episode of the series on May 3 when referring to karaoke performer as having a voice like a thirteen-year-old girl and a face like a dropped pie.

The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) penned an open letter to ITV demanding an apology for the remark which had left them extremely disappointed . The letter read:

We at the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) were extremely disappointed to hear of an ignorant and highly offensive comment on the ITV programme 'Benidorm' which aired on 3rd May 2017.

Outraged complaints have been pouring in to us from our community of parents and patients since the show aired.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: We will assess these complaints before deciding whether or not to investigate. This phrase usually means that any complaints are already in the waster paper basket.

 

 Extract: Nanny State Index 2017...

Britain is the 2nd most miserable place in the EU after Finland


Link Here 11th May 2017

nanny state index 2017 The UK has seen a rising tide of lifestyle regulations in recent years. Its smoking ban, introduced in 2007, allows fewer exemptions than that of almost any other country and was extended to cars carrying passengers under the age of 18 in 2015 (2016 in Scotland). In 2008, Britain became the first EU country to mandate graphic warnings on cigarettes and cigarette vending machines were banned in 2011. A full retail display ban followed in 2015. In May 2016, the UK and France became the first European countries to ban branding on tobacco products ('plain packaging') in May 2016.

The UK has some particularly punitive sin taxes. It has the highest taxes on cigarettes and wine in the EU and the second highest taxes on beer. There are relatively few legal limits on where alcohol can be advertised but there are strict guidelines on content. Off trade alcohol discount deals such as buy-one-get-one-free are banned in Scotland.

Anti-smoking policies are now being rolled out to food and soft drinks. A ban on 'junk food' advertising to children was extended to digital media in December 2016 and a UK-wide tax on sugary drinks is expected to be implemented in 2018. There is a ban on sugary drinks in Scottish hospitals and both the Scottish and Welsh governments support minimum pricing for alcohol. Britain's Nanny State Index score for food and soft drinks arguably makes the country seem more liberal than it is because it does not include the food reformulation scheme which has led to chocolate bars shrinking and food products becoming less tasty as Public Health England pushes food manufacturers towards reducing sugar, salt and fat content. Although this scheme is technically voluntary, it is backed up with the threat of legislation.

 

  A longer wick...

The uncut version of John Wick 2 looks set for UK and Irish home video, at least for Blu-ray


Link Here 9th May 2017
John Wick: Chapter 2 Blu-ray John Wick: Chapter 2 is a 2017 USA action crime thriller by Chad Stahelski.
Starring Ruby Rose, Keanu Reeves and Bridget Moynahan. BBFC link IMDb

In this next chapter following the 2015 hit, legendary hitman John Wick [Keanu Reeves] is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins' guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world's deadliest killers.

Previously the UK cinema release suffered BBFC category cuts for a 15 rating. The BBFC commented at the time:

Company chose to reduce bloody injury detail in a suicide scene in order to obtain a 15 classification. Cuts made in accordance with BBFC Guidelines and policy. An uncut 18 classification was available.

Presumably the cut UK Theatrical Version was then passed 16 for frequent strong bloody violence for cinema release in Ireland.

Now the Irish film censors at IFCO have revealed that the Uncut Version will be released on Home Video with an 18 rating. The IFCO websites notes that it has passed both the cut and uncut versions for 18 rated home video with the cut version noted with a PAL running time (suggesting DVD) and an NTSC running time for the uncut version (suggesting Blu-ray).

AS DVD and Blu-ray releases are generally shared with the UK, then we can assume that the uncut version will soon appear on the BBFC website.

 

  Keeping Up with Appearances...

ASA dismisses whinges about Protein World advert featuring Khloe Kardashian


Link Here 9th May 2017

can you keep up with a kardashian advertA poster and digital outdoor ad for Protein World, seen in February 2017:

a. The poster was seen on the London Underground network and featured Khloe Kardashian in a swimsuit with text that stated Can You Keep Up with a KARDASHIAN? . Text further stated Take the protein world 30 Day Challenge .

b. The digital outdoor ad featured the same text and image as ad (a).

Fourteen complainants, who believed the ads promoted an unhealthy and competitive approach to dieting, objected that the ads were socially irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA understood that the Copy Advice team had seen the ads prior to them appearing and advised that they were likely to be acceptable.

We considered that the ads promoted Khloe Kardashian's body image as desirable and aspirational; this was supported by her pose and the airbrushed style. However, we did not consider that she appeared to be out of proportion or unhealthy.

We considered that people would understand the phrase Can you keep up with a Kardashian? was double entendre; to be understood as referencing both the popular TV series Keeping up with the Kardashians which Khloe Kardashian appeared in and the use of Protein World's products to achieve a desirable body image. We further considered that readers would regard Take the 30 Day Challenge read in conjunction with the former phrase and the product name The Slender Blend to mean that if they used Protein World's products and followed the challenge regime they could lose weight.

We acknowledged that the use of the terms Can you keep up with ... and challenge could be interpreted as having a competitive quality, but we did not consider that the terms or the ads overall encouraged excessive weight loss or other extreme or potentially harmful dieting behaviour. We therefore concluded the ads were not socially irresponsible.

 

 Updated: Why are people so ready to believe ludicrous claims?...

Irish police investigate Stephen Fry for blasphemy over an old TV programme highlighting the nastiness and injustice of God


Link Here 9th May 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law
stephen fry gay byrne video Police in Ireland are investigating a complaint of blasphemy regarding comments made by Stephen Fry on a television programme shown on Ireland's state broadcaster, RTE in 2015?.

Under Ireland's Defamation Act 2009 a person who publishes or utters blasphemous material shall be guilty of an offence .

While being interviewed on The Meaning of Life TV programme, Fry was asked what he would say to God if he had a chance. Fry replied:

I'd say 'Bone cancer in children, what's that about?' How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?

Fry's humerous and powerful reply on YouTube has been viewed more than seven million times.

A member of the public, who asked not to be identified, said he made the complaint against Fry more than two years ago at Ennis garda station in County Clare. After hearing nothing for 18 months, the complainant wrote to the head of the Irish police, Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan. The man was then contacted by a detective from Donnybrook garda station in Dublin to say they were looking into the blasphemy claim.

Gardai logoUpdate: Police see the light and drop the prosecution

9th May 2017 See  article from independent.co.uk

An Irish police investigation into allegedly blasphemous comments made by Stephen Fry has been dropped after detectives decided there were not enough people who had been outraged by the remarks. A source told the Irish Independent:

This man was simply a witness and not an injured party. Gardai were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people. For this reason the investigation has been concluded.

Offsite Comment: Stephen Fry and the new blasphemy laws  

9th May 2017 See  article from spiked-online.com

Spiked logoThe complaint itself should not worry us. Of far greater significance is the fact that the police feel compelled to take complaints like this seriously. One would expect them to point out that a citizen's private sensibilities are no concern for the state, and that even unpleasant people may exercise their right to say unpleasant things.

...Read the full  article from spiked-online.com

 

  The price of censorship...

Censorship fees outlined on Video on Demand services for the privilege of being censored by Ofcom


Link Here 9th May 2017

Ofcom logoVideo on Demand censor Ofcom has detailed its new censorship fees regime for on-demand programme services ( ODPS ) under section 368NA of the Communications Act 2003.

Fees will be charged according to the turnover of the company running the service according to the following table:

Category Turnover (£ millions) Annual Fee (£)
A 50+ 4146
B 10-50 2073
C < 10 0

This new fees regime will be introduced with immediate effect.

 

 Offsite Article: Download your free porn now whilst you still can!...


Link Here 9th May 2017
metro newspaper logo UK newspapers warn internet users that porn websites will soon be censored by the BBFC

See article from metro.co.uk

 

 Update: Blog Off!...

China extends repressive online news censorship to smaller entities


Link Here 4th May 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

cac china internet censor logoThe Chinese government has issued new censorship rules extending its repressive control over online news content.

Companies that publish, share or edit news will need a government licence, and senior editors must be approved by the authorities. Other staff will be required to undergo government training and assessment, and receive official accreditation.

The legislation will bring online news providers into line with traditional news media operating in the country.

From 1 June, when the rules come into force, they will be expected to follow information security protocols , including emergency response measures such as increased vetting following disasters.

The list of providers and platforms covered includes websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant messaging tools and internet broadcasts .

Organisations that do not have a licence will not be allowed to post news or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, or other areas of public interest .

 

 Updated: Disgraceful Tories...

Comments on the passing of the Digital Economy Bill which feeds British porn viewers to the scammers, blackmailers and ID thieves


Link Here 2nd May 2017  full story: UK Internet Porn Content Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn

open rights group 2016 logo The Digital Economy Bill (DEBill) will require that porn sites verify the age of their users in order to prevent under 18s from viewing pornography. Despite concerns that this will leave porn users vulnerable to hacks and security risks, the Government has failed to amend the Bill so that privacy is written into the legislation. Instead, Codes of Practice will place the responsibility for protecting people's privacy with porn sites not the companies supplying age verification technology.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

Age verification is an accident waiting to happen. Despite repeated warnings, parliament has failed to listen to concerns about the privacy and security of people who want to watch legal adult content.

As we saw with the Ashley Madison leaks, the hacking of private information about people's sex lives, has huge repercussions for those involved. The UK government has failed to take responsibility for its proposals and placed the responsibility for people's privacy into the hands of porn companies.

Censorship regime

The Bill will also enable the creation of a censorship regime as the BBFC will be given powers to force ISPs to block legitimate websites without any judicial process. These powers were added to the Bill, when it became apparent that foreign porn sites could not be compelled to apply age verification. During parliamentary scrutiny, they were extended to include other content, not just pornography, raising further concerns about the threat to free speech.

Killock added:

These new powers will put in place a vast system of censorship which could be applied to tens of thousands of adult websites. The BBFC will be under pressure to censor more and more legal content. This is a serious assault on free speech in the UK.

Almost 25,000 ORG supporters signed a petition calling for the Government to reject plans for blocking legal pornography.

pandora blake Comment: Royal Assent

2nd May 2017 See article from pandorablake.com Thanks to Alan

The Digital Economy Bill has received the royal assent. Interesting comments and links on Pandora Blake's blog. Apparently a thrilling thirteen parliamentary jobsworths could be arsed to turn up for the final debate in the House of Comics. I would think it's now in the interest of porn producers, as well as their British customers, to drop any restrictions on access via VPNs and to help UK punters get round any attempted firewall.

Pandora seems to know more about the matter than the 650 political twats together!

See latest news from pandorablake.com

See also a good write up of how the bill will effect porn sites and their readers from pandorablake.com

 

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