Creators of Sesame Street are suing the production company behind The Happytime Murders, claiming the mainstream comedy that features ejaculating puppets and other sexual puppetry routines is appropriating its brand.
Sesame Workshop, creators of the kids show, alleges that the misuse of its brand is intent on confusing the public and infringes on it intellectual property rights. The company has initiated a lawsuit as a result of a trailer with explicit,
profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets, along with the tagline 'NO SESAME. ALL STREET'.
The Happytime Murders, set for an August, is a murder mystery revolving around puppets who exhibit raunchy behavior.
Update: Judge not impressed by Sesame Street claims
Manhattan federal Judge Vernon Broderick has rejected a request by the Sesame Workshop for a temporary retraining order to halt ads for the upcoming comedy Happytime Murders, including a YouTube trailer with the tagline, No Sesame. All
Broderick ruled that the STX film -- directed by Brian Henson, the son of the late Jim Henson, whose Muppets have been central characters in the children's mainstay since its inception in 1969 -- was geared toward an entirely different audience
than Sesame Street. He also found that the trailer's No Sesame. All Street tagline was intended to differentiate the raunchy adult film from the wholesome educational show featuring Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. The judge added:
I find the use of the tagline to disclaim -- albeit in a short and pithy manner.
Anti-gun campaigners are highlighting a school-shooting simulator video game available on Steam. According to its listing on the Steam, the game lets players slaughter as many civilians as possible in a school environment.
InferTrust called on Valve, the company behind the Steam games store - to take the title down before it goes on sale, on 6 June.
The BBC report omits the name of the game but in fact it is titled Active Shooter .
The school-shooting game is described as realistic and impressive. And the developer has suggested it will include 3D models of children to shoot at. However, the creator also says: Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only
meant to be the simulation and nothing else.
A spokeswoman for InferTrust said:
It's in very bad taste. There have been 22 school shootings in the US since the beginning of this year. It is horrendous. Why would anybody think it's a good idea to market something violent like that, and be completely insensitive to the deaths
of so many children? We're appalled that the game is being marketed.
Active Shooter comes out June 6 and calls itself a dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator where the player can be either a S.W.A.T. team member or the shooter. Developer Revived Games also plans to release a civilian survival mode where the player takes on
the role of a civilian during a shooting.
Revived Games, the developer of Active Shooter have responded to the controversy.
Due to the high amount of criticism the game's received, Revived Games added it will likely remove the shooter's role from the game before launch unless it can be kept as it is right now.
Active Shooter has been banned from Steam's online store ahead of release.
The title had been criticised by parents of real-life school shooting victims, and an online petition opposing its launch had reached about 180,000 signatures.
The PC game's publisher had tried to distance itself from the controversy ahead of Valve's intervention. Although the original listing had explicitly described the title as being a school shooting simulation, the reference was dropped. In
addition, a promise that gamers could slaughter as many civilians as possible if they chose to control the attacker rather than a police officer, was also removed.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has requested search engines Google and Bing remove some listings and ads for ticketing site Viagogo which controversially features several misleading sales ploys.
ASA today judged the site to be misleading consumers by failing to be transparent about fees, wrongfully using the term official site to suggest it was an authorised ticket agent and falsely claiming it could 100% guarantee entry to events.
The ASA had previously issued a warning to Viagogo about editing such claims on its website and advertising content. However, ASA chief executive Guy Parker said it failed to respond by the 29 May deadline.
The ASA has now referred the Geneva-based company to National Trading Standards (NTS). In addition, it issued requests to search engines Google and Bing to remove any links which would take a consumer through to a page containing non-compliant
NTS has since opened an investigation into Viagogo, which could see the company issued fines or face legal action against staff.
Meanwhile, digital minister Margot James has also urged consumers to boycott the company.
A poster for Don Broco's album Technology , seen in February 2018, included an image of a figure in the style of a religious icon, with the face replaced by a snarling dog.
Two complainants, who believed the image to be of the Virgin Mary, objected that the ad would cause serious offence to Christians.
Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
Exterion Media (UK) Ltd did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence to the public, particularly in the context of the product being advertised.
The ASA was concerned by Sony's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA understood that the image in the ad was reminiscent of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a revered icon of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Christian faith, although it was not an alteration of a specific image. We acknowledged that some
members of the Christian faith would object to the use of the image in an ad, and in particular the replacement of the face with a snarling dog. However, we considered that it was clear the ad was for an album and that the image was being
presented as artwork in that context. We also considered that the image would not be seen as mocking or derogatory towards the Madonna or Christian faith in general, and there was nothing else within the ad which gave that impression. We
concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Tommy Robinson has been jailed for contempt of court after he live-streamed himself speaking on the steps of Leeds Crown Court last Friday.
The hour-long film, which has been watched more than 250,000 times, included commentary that was prejudicial to the trial in progress concerning a grooming gang. A definite no-no for reporters.
In some haste over the course of 5 hours Robinson was jailed for 13 months, 10 months in jail for contempt of court, and a further three months for beaching a previous suspended sentence.
But for some reason the authorities issued a reporting restriction that resulted in people people being aware that Robinson had been arrested, but censored from knowing the reason why.
So the unsurprising conclusion on social media was that the authorities had arrested him for the more general censorship of his outspoken, but widely held, views on the muslim grooming gangs.
This resulted in a petition of half a million people calling to Free Tommy, it resulted in a raucous street protest in Westminster and good chunks of the Fox News viewing public in America seeing how fragile free speech has become in the UK.
...And all because someone thought it would be a good idea to prevent people knowing the facts about Robinson's arrest.
A demonstration in Moscow against the Russian government's effort to block the messaging app Telegram quickly morphed on Monday into a protest against President Vladimir Putin, with thousands of participants chanting against the Kremlin's
increasingly restrictive censorship regime.
The key demand of the rally, with the hashtag #DigitalResistance, was that the Russian internet remain free from government censorship.
One speaker, Sergei Smirnov, editor in chief of Mediazona, an online news service , asked the crowd. Is he to blame for blocking Telegram? The crowd responded with a resounding Yes!
Telegram is just the first step, Smirnov continued. If they block Telegram, it will be worse later. They will block everything. They want to block our future and the future of our children.
Russian authorities blocked Telegram after not being provided with decryption keys. The censors also briefly blocked thousands other websites sharing hosting facilities with Telegram in the hop of pressurising the hosts into taking down Telegram.
The censorship effort has provoked anger and frustration far beyond the habitual supporters of the political opposition, especially in the business sector, where the collateral damage continues to hurt the bottom line. There has been a flood of
complaints on Twitter and elsewhere that the government broke the internet.
Russia's Internet commissioner, Dmitry Marinichev, is calling on the Attorney General's Office to investigate the legality and validity of Roskomnadzor's actions against Telegram, arguing that the federal censor has caused undue harm to the
country's business interests, by blocking millions of IP addresses in its campaign against the instant messenger, and disrupting hundreds of other online services.
Marinichev's suggestion is mentioned in the annual report submitted to Vladimir Putin by Russian Entrepreneurs' Rights Commissioner Boris Titov.
Alexander Zharov, the head of Russia's state internet censor, Roskomnadzor, has said that the government's decision to block the instant messenger Telegram is justified because federal agents have reliably established that all recent terrorist
attacks in Russia and the near abroad were coordinated through Telegram.
Zharov also accused Telegram of using other online services as human shields by redirecting its traffic to their servers and forcing Roskomnadzor to disrupt a wide array of websites, when it cuts access to the new IP addresses Telegram adopts.
Zharov claimed that Telegram's functionality has degraded by 15 to 30% in Russia, due to Roskomnadzor's blocking efforts.
Zharov added that the Federal Security Service has expressed similar concerns about the push-to-talk walkie-talkie app Zello, which Roskomnadzor banned in April 2017.
Update: Apple asked to block Telegram from its app store
The secure messaging app Telegram was banned in Russia back in April, but so far, it's still available in the Russian version of Apple's App Store. Russia is now asking Apple to remove the app from the App Store. In a supposedly legally binding
letter to Apple, authorities say they're giving the company one month to comply before they enforce punishment for violations.
Despite Russian censorship efforts so far, the majority of users in Russia are still accessing the app, the Kremlin's censorship arm Roskomnadzor announced yesterday. Only 15 to 30% of Telegram's operations have been disrupted so far.
Russian internet censors also say they are in talks with Google to ban the app from Google Play.
Political correctness is supposed to be based on politeness and equality for all, but it doesn't really work out like that. It turns out to be little more than a glorified pecking order system where those who shout loudest, or can drum up the
most aggressive lynch mob, grab the best PC rules and everyone else can go to hell.
But the rules get a little difficult to rationalise and pin down when they run into officialdom. And the UK press censor had the unenviable task of adjudicating on terms used to characterise child abuse grooming gangs in the press.
A complaint was lodged by Sikh, Hindu and Pakistani-Christian groups, concerned about the liberal use of the word 'Asian' in the Sunday Mirror s investigation into child-grooming gangs in Telford. The Sunday Mirror spoke of 'epidemic levels of
child sexual exploitation' and 'that up to 1,000 girls, had been abused by Asian men'.
But the term Asian is far too broad and smears innocent communities, said the complainants. But IPSO rejected their complaint. The regulator ruled that it was not inaccurate to say the men were "mainly Asian". Nor did it give a
significantly misleading impression.
An article from Spiked comments that:
The media's use of Asian to describe grooming gangs not only masks the ethno-religious identity of the perpetrators -- it also throws Sikhs, Hindus, Pakistani-Christians and every other Asian under the bus. Gangs of Indian, Japanese and Korean
men are not rampaging across Britain's towns and cities, sexually abusing underage white girls. The men doing so are predominantly of Pakistani-Muslim heritage.
Of course the IPSO logic has to twist around the PC rule of the highest pecking order, that the word 'muslim' must never be attached to any wrong doing. Surely based on the totally reasonable logic that only a small proportion of muslims are
involved. But why then does IPSO rule that it is OK to use the word 'Asian' when only a small proportion of Asians are involved?
IPSO were on firmer ground when adjudicating on a related complaint. A complaint against The Sunday Times was upheld. IPSO ruled that the paper had published an inaccurate headline when it claimed that Asians make up 80% of child groomers. The
Muslim Council of Britain's Miqdaad Versi called for a correction to clarify that the 80% referred specifically to grooming gangs, not all child groomers.
UK police are drilling down on a genre of rap music that they claim is driving rising knife and gun crime in London.
YouTube has deleted about 30 of 50-60 targeted by the Metropolitan Police in a dedicated operation against drill music, which originated in Chicago and has become increasingly popular in Britain.
Senior officers say the videos, which frequently contain graphic threats and gun signs, glamourise violence. Detective Superintendent Mike West said the number of videos that incite violence have been increasing since late 2015.
The gangs try to outrival each other with the filming and content -- what looks like a music video can actually contain explicit language with gangs threatening each other, he added. There are gestures of violence, with hand signals suggesting
they are firing weapons and graphic descriptions of what they would do to each other.
Scotland Yard has compiled a central database of more than 1,400 indexed videos that are used to gather intelligence. Anyone identified in the videos can be targeted with action including criminal behaviour orders that can prevent them from
associating with certain people, entering designated areas, wearing hoods or using social media and unregistered mobile phones.
Det Supt West said that only videos that raise the risk of violence are flagged, rather than drill music in general.
A Russian gallery is considering removing a notable painting from display after it was vandalised by someone who took issue with the artist's take on a historical event.
'Alexander III receiving rural district elders in the yard of Petrovsky Palace in Moscow (1886)' by Illya Repin
Ilya Repin's 1986 portrayal of a highly contested historical scene depicts Tsar Ivan IV Vasilyevich allegedly getting into a fight with his son. As the tale goes, the Tsar's son died during the course of the alleged confrontation.
Many have questioned the historical veracity of this tale and even one of Repin's biggest supporters, Tsar Alexander III loathed the painting because of its apparent vulgar distortion of Russian history.
Last week, a homeless man called Igor Podporin visited the Tretyakov Gallery where the painting is displayed. According to an interview he gave to police, he looked at the painting before going to the gallery's canteen where he then drank copious
amounts of alcohol before returning to the painting and striking it. The attack has caused severe damage to the painting and its frame
This was not the first time the work was vandalised. In 1913, a gallery visitor slashed the painting with a knife while shouting no more blood. The incident led to the gallery's' curator committing suicide while the still living Repin was asked
to help restore his work.
A commentator from eurasiafuture.com called for the painting to be removed from public view saying:
With Russian history being insultingly distorted by racist regimes and bigoted media outlets throughout the world, the least a Russian gallery could do is not add fuel to this racially insensitive fire. .
Not a bad wind-up value for for a 19th century painting.
Beginning on May 10, Spotify users will no longer be able to find R. Kelly 's music on any of the streaming service's editorial or algorithmic playlists. Under the terms of a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy Spotify
is putting into effect, the company will no longer promote the R&B singer's music in any way, removing his songs from flagship playlists like RapCaviar, Discover Weekly or New Music Friday, for example, as well as its other genre- or
"We are removing R. Kelly's music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly," Spotify told Billboard in a statement. "His music will still be available on the
service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. We don't censor content because of an artist's or creator's behavior, but we want our editorial decisions -- what we choose to program -- to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does
something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."
Over the past several years, Kelly has been accused by multiple women of sexual violence, coercion and running a "sex cult," including two additional women who came forward to Buzzfeed this week. Though he has never been convicted of a
crime, he has come under increasing scrutiny over the past several weeks, particularly with the launch of the #MuteRKelly movement at the end of April. Kelly has vociferously defended himself , saying those accusing him are an "attempt to
distort my character and to destroy my legacy." And while RCA Records has thus far not dropped Kelly from his recording contract, Spotify has distanced itself from promoting his music.
Earlier this month, Swedish streaming giant Spotify announced, that it would be introducing a policy on Hate Content and Hateful Conduct . The company left the policy intentionally vague, which allowed Spotify to remove artists from its playlists
at will. When we are alerted to content that violates our policy, we may remove it (in consultation with rights holders) or refrain from promoting or playlisting it on our service, the company's PR team wrote in a statement at the time. They
added that R. Kelly -- who, over the course of his career, has been repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct -- would be among those affected.
Now, following a backlash from artists and label executives, Bloomberg reports that Spotify has decided to back off the policy a little. That means restoring the rapper XXXTentacion's music to its playlists, despite that he was charged with
battering a pregnant woman.
Part of the blowback has to do with the broad scope of the company's content policy, which seemed to leave the door open to policing artists' personal lives and conduct. We've also thought long and hard about how to handle content that is not
hate content itself, but is principally made by artists or other creators who have demonstrated hateful conduct personally. So, in some circumstances, when an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example,
violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.
Spotify says R Kelly will remain banned from its playlists.
Age verification has been hanging over us for several years now - and has now been put back to the end of 2018 after enforcement was originally planned to start last month.
I'm enormously encouraged by how many people took the opportunity to speak up and reply to the BBFC consultation on the new regulations .
Over 500 people submitted a response using the tool provided by the Open Rights Group , emphasising the need for age verification tech to be held to robust privacy and security standards.
I'm told that around 750 consultation responses were received by the BBFC overall, which means that a significant majority highlighted the regulatory gap between the powers of the BBFC to regulate adult websites, and the powers of the Information
Commissioner to enforce data protection rules.
A woman has been convicted for performing offensive songs that included lyrics denying the Holocaust.
Alison Chabloz sang her compositions at a meeting of the far-right London Forum group.
A judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court found Chabloz had violated laws criminalising offence and intended to insult Jewish people.
District judge John Zani delayed her sentencing until 14 June but told the court: On the face of it this does pass the custody threshold.
Chabloz, a Swiss-British dual national, had uploaded tunes to YouTube including one defining the Nazi death camp Auschwitz as a theme park just for fools and the gas chambers a proven hoax. The songs remain available on YouTube.
The songs were partly set to traditional Jewish folk music, with lyrics like: Did the Holocaust ever happen? Was it just a bunch of lies? Seems that some intend to pull the wool over our eyes.
Adrian Davies, defending, previously told the judge his ruling would be a landmark one, setting a precedent on the exercise of free speech.
But Judge Zani said Chabloz failed by some considerable margin to persuade the court that her right to freedom of speech should provide her with immunity from prosecution. He said:
I am entirely satisfied that she will have intended to insult those to whom the material relates. Having carefully considered all evidence received and submissions made, I am entirely satisfied that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable
doubt that the defendant is guilty.
Chabloz was convicted of two counts of causing an offensive, indecent or menacing message to be sent over a public communications network after performing two songs at a London Forum event in 2016. As there wa nothing indecent or menacing in the
songs, Chabloz was convicted for an offensive message.
See The Britisher for an eloquent and passionate defence of free speech.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board has confirmed it will cease offering free age and content ratings for online video games next month. The Short Form ratings process the ESRB currently offers for download-only and online games will be
discontinued in June. The ESRB will continue with the higher cost Long Form ratings, primarily used for physical/boxed games. A date has not yet been set for the end of the service.
Developers feared that they would be forced to pay for the higher cost rating otherwise they would not be allowed to release their titles on key platforms like Xbox that demand a content rating.
However the ESRB's official Twitter feed responding that:
Developers of digital games and apps will still be able to obtain ESRB ratings at no cost through the IARC rating process. The Microsoft Store deployed IARC years ago and has committed to making IARC ratings accessible to all Xbox developers.
So, developers should not be concerned.
The International Age Rating Coalition is a newer system for obtaining age ratings for multiple territories and storefronts with a single process. While ESRB single out the Xbox Store, it is also accepted on Google Play, the Nintendo eShop, and
the Oculus Store.
There is currently no word on when this will apply to the PlayStation Store, but an IARC press release in December 2017 said the platform would be added soon.
Update: But major US games platforms do not yet allow IARC ratings
On May 18, the ESRB announced it was putting an end to its short-form rating system. These so-called short-form ratings are what you typically find on independent digital games on Steam and the like. They're brief marks that give a rundown on
the content of a game, and are usually hard to find, especially on Steam. What you find on retail copies of video games are long-form ratings. The key difference is that short-form ratings can be given free of charge, but long-form ratings
require payment to the ESRB by a game's developer or publisher.
Console manufactures (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft), as well as online storefronts such as Steam and GOG require an ESRB rating to be sold. That means that, in effect, video game developers and publishers will now be required to pay the ESRB
before they can sell their own games.
So why is the ESRB doing this? The ESRB is keeping their lips sealed on that front, so nobody knows. It's likely an effort to promote their own subsidiary, the International Age Ratings Coalition (IARC) as a company spokesperson pointed out that
developers could still get free ratings from them. The IARC is a group created by the ESRB (read: ESA) that's trying to create a unified age rating system internationally, doing away with PEGI and CERO and any other independent software
Or is it? So far, the only platforms that accept a rating from the IARC in place of the ESRB are Nintendo, Microsoft, Google, and Oculus. The ESRB says Sony has vowed to support the IARC soon, but even then, other online storefronts like Steam or
Apple aren't on board, and the growing cottage industry of physically produced indie games will be required to go through the long-form ESRB rating process.
Pornhub, the dominant force amongst the world's porn websites, has sent a challenge to the BBFC's porn censorship regime by offering a free workaround to any porn viewer who would prefer to hide their tracks rather then open themselves up to
the dangers of offering up their personal ID to age verifiers.
And rather bizarrely Pornhub are one of the companies offering age verification services to porn sites who want to comply with UK age verification requirements.
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A New Zealand university has apologised after it seized hundreds of copies of a campus magazine that featured a cover on menstruation, sparking anger from students saying the move reinforced social stigmas and amounted to censorship.
The University of Otago said its staff this week removed 500 copies of the latest edition of student magazine Critic -- which included a cartoon character bleeding from the genitals on the cover -- over claiming that it would be
objectionable to many people.
Noting it a censorship, editor of the weekly magazine, Joel MacManus, said the menstruation issue was meant to debunk common myths, and it included articles on free sanitary products and the availability of sanitary bins on campus. The intention
was to break taboos and encourage open discussion about menstruation.
The university said in a statement posted on Twitter that the decision to remove the issue was regrettable, ...BUT... added that it was aware of some views that the magazine cover was degrading to women.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has issued to the following press release from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:
New laws to make social media safer
New laws will be created to make sure that the UK is the safest place in the world to be online, Digital Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
The move is part of a series of measures included in the government's response to the Internet Safety Strategy green paper, published today.
The Government has been clear that much more needs to be done to tackle the full range of online harm.
Our consultation revealed users feel powerless to address safety issues online and that technology companies operate without sufficient oversight or transparency. Six in ten people said they had witnessed inappropriate or harmful content online.
The Government is already working with social media companies to protect users and while several of the tech giants have taken important and positive steps, the performance of the industry overall has been mixed.
The UK Government will therefore take the lead, working collaboratively with tech companies, children's charities and other stakeholders to develop the detail of the new legislation.
Matt Hancock, DCMS Secretary of State said:
Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better. At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through
legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.
People increasingly live their lives through online platforms so it's more important than ever that people are safe and parents can have confidence they can keep their children from harm. The measures we're taking forward today will help make
sure children are protected online and balance the need for safety with the great freedoms the internet brings just as we have to strike this balance offline.
DCMS and Home Office will jointly work on a White Paper with other government departments, to be published later this year. This will set out legislation to be brought forward that tackles a range of both legal and illegal harms, from
cyberbullying to online child sexual exploitation. The Government will continue to collaborate closely with industry on this work, to ensure it builds on progress already made.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities. We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile
propaganda and that is why this Government has been taking the lead on this issue.
But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms. Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.
The Government will be considering where legislation will have the strongest impact, for example whether transparency or a code of practice should be underwritten by legislation, but also a range of other options to address both legal and illegal
We will work closely with industry to provide clarity on the roles and responsibilities of companies that operate online in the UK to keep users safe.
The Government will also work with regulators, platforms and advertising companies to ensure that the principles that govern advertising in traditional media -- such as preventing companies targeting unsuitable advertisements at children -- also
apply and are enforced online.
It seems that the latest call for internet censorship is driven by some sort revenge for having been snubbed by the industry.
The culture secretary said he does not have enough power to police social media firms after admitting only four of 14 invited to talks showed up.
Matt Hancock told the BBC it had given him a big impetus to introduce new laws to tackle what he has called the internet's Wild West culture.
He said self-policing had not worked and legislation was needed.
He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show , presented by Emma Barnett, that the government just don't know how many children of the millions using using social media were not old enough for an account and he was very worried about age
verification. He told the programme he hopes we get to a position where all users of social media users has to have their age verified.
Two government departments are working on a White Paper expected to be brought forward later this year. Asked about the same issue on ITV's Peston on Sunday , Hancock said the government would be legislating in the next couple of years
because we want to get the details right.
Update: Internet safety just means internet censorship
Just been at a hate crime event with the Met police + they told me something really useful. If you're on a bus + you witness a hate crime, if you give the police the number on the back of your Oyster/debit card, they can trace the bus + every
passenger on it to find the culprit.
Perhaps best to avoid registering your card, and topping it up via cash.
This week, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced the launch of a consultation on new legislative measures to clean up the Wild West elements of the Internet. In response, music group BPI says the
government should use the opportunity to tackle piracy with advanced site-blocking measures, repeat infringer policies, and new responsibilities for service providers.
This week, the Government published its response to the Internet Safety Strategy green paper , stating unequivocally that more needs to be done to tackle online harm. As a result, the Government will now carry through with its threat to introduce
new legislation, albeit with the assistance of technology companies, children's charities and other stakeholders.
While emphasis is being placed on hot-button topics such as cyberbullying and online child exploitation, the Government is clear that it wishes to tackle the full range of online harms. That has been greeted by UK music group BPI with a request
that the Government introduces new measures to tackle Internet piracy.
In a statement issued this week, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor welcomed the move towards legislative change and urged the Government to encompass the music industry and beyond. He said:
This is a vital opportunity to protect consumers and boost the UK's music and creative industries. The BPI has long pressed for internet intermediaries and online platforms to take responsibility for the content that they promote to users.
Government should now take the power in legislation to require online giants to take effective, proactive measures to clean illegal content from their sites and services. This will keep fans away from dodgy sites full of harmful content and
prevent criminals from undermining creative businesses that create UK jobs.
The BPI has published four initial requests, each of which provides food for thought.
The demand to establish a new fast-track process for blocking illegal sites is not entirely unexpected, particularly given the expense of launching applications for blocking injunctions at the High Court.
The BPI has taken a large number of actions against individual websites -- 63 injunctions are in place against sites that are wholly or mainly infringing and whose business is simply to profit from criminal activity, the BPI says.
Those injunctions can be expanded fairly easily to include new sites operating under similar banners or facilitating access to those already covered, but it's clear the BPI would like something more streamlined. Voluntary schemes, such as the one
in place in Portugal , could be an option but it's unclear how troublesome that could be for ISPs. New legislation could solve that dilemma, however.
Another big thorn in the side for groups like the BPI are people and entities that post infringing content. The BPI is very good at taking these listings down from sites and search engines in particular (more than 600 million requests to date)
but it's a game of whac-a-mole the group would rather not engage in.
With that in mind, the BPI would like the Government to impose new rules that would compel online platforms to stop content from being re-posted after it's been taken down while removing the accounts of repeat infringers.
Thirdly, the BPI would like the Government to introduce penalties for online operators who do not provide transparent contact and ownership information. The music group isn't any more specific than that, but the suggestion is that operators of
some sites have a tendency to hide in the shadows, something which frustrates enforcement activity.
Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the BPI is calling on the Government to legislate for a new duty of care for online intermediaries and platforms. Specifically, the BPI wants effective action taken against businesses that use the Internet
to encourage consumers to access content illegally.
While this could easily encompass pirate sites and services themselves, this proposal has the breadth to include a wide range of offenders, from people posting piracy-focused tutorials on monetized YouTube channels to those selling fully-loaded
Kodi devices on eBay or social media.
Overall, the BPI clearly wants to place pressure on intermediaries to take action against piracy when they're in a position to do so, and particularly those who may not have shown much enthusiasm towards industry collaboration in the past.
Legislation in this Bill, to take powers to intervene with respect to operators that do not co-operate, would bring focus to the roundtable process and ensure that intermediaries take their responsibilities seriously, the BPI says.
We Happy Few is a 2018 Canada survival horror from Compulsion Games
We Happy Few is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial in the city of Wellington Wells. In this alternative 1960s England, conformity is key. You'll have to fight or blend in
with the drug-addled inhabitants, most of whom don't take kindly to people who won't abide by their not-so-normal rules.
In May 2018, the Australian Censorship Board announced that We Happy Few has been banned in Australia.
The censors noted that the game's depictions of drug use related to incentives and rewards, in this case the beneficial effects of using Joy pills, could not be accommodated within the R 18+ category.
The Soma-like drug Joy is used in the game to detract the citizens of Wellington Wells from the Orwellian reality they live in.
There's no word yet on if Compulsion Games will make cuts to the game to satisfy the Board, but it s often the case.
The game is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this summer.
The game developer Compulsion Games has responded to the ban:
To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter
backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.
We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society, and the first scene consists of the player character redacting material that could cause offense to society at large, as part of his job as a government archivist. It's a society that is forcing
its citizens to take Joy, and the whole point of the game is to reject this programming and fight back. In this context, our game's overarching social commentary is no different than Aldous Huxley's Brave New World , or Terry Gilliam's Brazil
The game explores a range of modern themes, including addiction, mental health and drug abuse. We have had hundreds of messages from fans appreciating the treatment we've given these topics, and we believe that when players do get into the world
they'll feel the same way. We're proud of what we've created.
We would like to respond to the thematic side of We Happy Few in more detail at a later date, as we believe it deserves more attention than a quick PR response. In the meantime we will be talking to the ACB to provide additional information, to
discuss the issues in depth, and see whether they will change their minds.
Russia's international propaganda channel RT will not lose its UK broadcasting licence according to information reported by the Telegraph.
Ofcom has been investigating the news channel for continuously casting doubt about the Russian connection in the attempted murder of ex spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
Perhaps it is rather bizarre that a news content censors should be tasked with something that could lead to consequences such as retaliatory action and a further escalation of an already tense relationship with Russia. Surely when such risks are
involved, diplomats and the Foreign Office should be taking the lead.
Perhaps Ofcom were thinking along these lines in taking the decision not to ban the channel. In a legal document entitled Update on the RT service , Ofcom has now said:
States sometimes commit, or will have committed, acts which are contrary to these values. In our judgment, it would be inappropriate for Ofcom always to place decisive weight on such matters in determining whether state-funded broadcasters were
fit and proper to hold broadcast licences, independently of their broadcasting record.
If we did, many state-funded broadcasters (mostly those from states which may not share UK values) would be potentially not fit and proper. This would be a poorer outcome for UK audiences in light of our duties on plurality, diversity and
freedom of expression.
Ofcom were a bit more bullish at the start of the investigation saying:
Should the UK investigating authorities determine that there was an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the UK, we would consider this relevant to our ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper, the regulator said at
Also it is a little strange to note that the Telegraph's story has not been picked up by other newspapers. The Express initially published the story but withdrew it a little later.
Update: Tit for tat
24th May 2018. From the FT
Ofcom have jsut announced that that 3 further programmes on the Russian propaganda channel RT will be investigated after an Ofcom move to continuously monitor the station's output. In response, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria
Zakharova has informed reporters that relevant Russian structures have begun closely studying the content of the materials of the British mass media that are represented in the Russian Federation.
The Akal Takht, the highest seat of authority of Sikhism in India, has formed a 21-member film censor board and claimed that its clearance will have to be taken before making any movie on the Sikh religion and culture. Giani Gurbachan Singh, the
Akal Takht head claimed:
The decision was taken because of controversies over films on Sikh gurus and distortion of Sikh history in movies. Any film that plans to portray any sequence related to Sikh gurus, their kin and Sikh history will have to seek clearance from the
Sikh Film Censor Board.
Over the past few years, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has been demanding that at least two of its members be included in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), India's official film censor.
Unlike the CBFC, which comes into play after a film is complete and before its release, the Sikh board has said its approval will have to be taken for the script of any feature film, documentary, animation and play based on the Sikh religion.
A self-appointed group of MPs, that got together for the sole purpose of lobbying for the criminalisation of sex workers' clients, conduct Inquiry and recommend the criminalisation of clients! No surprise there then.
Cari Mitchell, spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes, commented:
Criminalisation, whether of sex workers or clients, drives prostitution further underground, increasing stigma, discrimination and the risk of violence.
In Ireland, reported incidences of violent crime against sex workers have risen by almost 50%. In France, a two-year evaluation of the law found 42% of sex workers are more exposed to violence and 38% have found it increasingly hard to demand use
of condom. In Norway, despite claims that sex workers have been decriminalised, forced evictions, prosecutions and increased stigma are prevalent with migrant workers particularly targeted. One sex worker explained:
Before we did not go far with the customer: we would go to a car park nearby. But now the customer wants to go somewhere isolated because they are afraid. I don't like it. There is more risk that something bad happens.
As for Sweden, the poster child for laws criminalising clients: 63% of sex workers said the law has created more prejudice; plus, there is no convincing empirical evidence that the law has resulted in a decline in sex work in Sweden, which was
the law's principal ambition.
The other "revelation" from the APPG is that there has been an increase in prostitution. Ms Mitchell commented:
Blaming the internet for a prostitution "boom" puts the APPG in the same camp as Ian Duncan Smith, who notably attributed the increase in people going to food banks on growing " awareness " of food banks.
If the APPG is truly interested in reducing prostitution why isn't their headline recommendation the abolition of benefit sanctions, directly linked with the rise in prostitution, especially on the street? It seems the APPG is more taken with
the sensationalised, sexed-up story of pop-up brothels. Sex workers feel exploited and not by prostitution.
If well-meaning MPs want to save women from sex work then take action against zero-hour contracts, low wages and exploitative bosses in the jobs that are the alternatives to prostitution. Support sex workers like we hope you support other workers
fighting to improve pay and conditions.
As for the proposal to clamp down on online advertising, evidence from the US shows that such laws (SESTA and FOSTA) make it harder for the police to identify violence.
Why did this Inquiry even need to happen? The prestigious cross-party Home Affairs Committee did a comprehensive Inquiry and recommended that sex workers on the street and working together in premises be decriminalised.
Decriminalisation isn't perfect -- we are all going to have to put our shoulder to the wheel if we want to win a fairer and more humane society, but it removes a grave injustice suffered daily by sex workers. Thousands of cis and trans women a
year are arrested, given prostitute cautions, are victims of criminal charges or civil orders and are suffering other grievous abuse and being denied protection. Decriminalisation as introduced in New Zealand has improved sex workers' working
conditions and made it easier for those who want to get out, to do so. Over 90% of sex workers said they had additional employment, legal, health and safety rights (including 64.8% who said they found it easier to refuse clients -- a key marker
Finally, on trafficking. Until there is a public apology for the fabricated statistics that claimed that 80% of sex workers are victims of trafficking, why should anyone believe this APPG's figures? Research from the Global Alliance Against
Traffic in Women found that criminalising sex workers' clients does not reduce sex work or trafficking. Instead, it infringes on sex workers' rights and obstructs anti-trafficking efforts.
Offsite Comment: Wrong to suggest criminalising the buying of sex
What baffles me is the way this shower of politicians, many of whom self-define as feminists, want to deny agency to women, as do many feminist journalists e.g. Bennett, Ellen, Moore, Bindel (who’s so rabid a rad fem that when I first
encountered her I thought the piece was a satirical parody). Zoe Williams in the Graun, to her credit, did collaborate with Pandora Blake, but in the main they seem quite oblivious to reason. Confront them with, say, Max M’s lady friend who
continued to work as a pro submissive, and occasional dome, after getting her Ph.D. and the silly buggers just ignore the evidence.
Frankie Boyle has accused BBC television producers of editing out comments he made about last week's Palestinian deaths on the Gaza border and his joke about Israel being an Apartheid state.
The outspoken comic called out the censorship after he was screened discussing left-wing antisemitism with guest David Baddiel on last Friday's episode of his New World Order chat show series on BBC2.
Responding to criticism from viewers that he had failed to address the deaths of over 60 Palestinians following demonstrations in Gaza, Boyle tweeted:
There were, of course, various jokes in this weeks's New World Order monologue about the situation in Gaza, and about Israel being an Apartheid state. Edited out for reasons nobody has yet explained to me, despite assurances to the
Ok. Happy to quote this sentiment, which I've had from literally hundreds of people, that anti-semitism in Britain should not be discussed while Israel commits warcrimes. The idea that Jewish people have collective responsibility for Israel is
racist. Have a great day
Democrats in the United States House of Representatives have gathered 90 of the 218 signatures they'll need to force a vote on whether or not to roll back net neutrality rules, while Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai has already
predicted that the House effort will fail and large telecommunications companies publicly expressed their anger at last Wednesday's Senate vote to keep the Obama-era open internet rules in place.
Led by Pai, a Donald Trump appointee, the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines in December to scrap the net neutrality regulations, effectively creating an internet landscape dominated by whichever companies can pay the most to get into the online
Telecommunications companies could also choose to block some sites simply based on their content, a threat to which the online porn industry would be especially vulnerable, after five states have either passed or are considering legislation
labeling porn a public health hazard.
While the House Republican leadership has taken the position that the net neutrality issue should not even come to a vote, on May 17 Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle introduced a discharge petition that would force the issue to the House floor. A
discharge petition needs 218 signatures of House members to succeed in forcing the vote. As of Monday morning, May 21, Doyle's petition had received 90 signatures . The effort would need all 193 House Democrats plus 25 Republicans to sign on, in
order to bring the net neutrality rollback to the House floor.
For its updated news application, Google is claiming it is using artificial intelligence as part of an effort to weed out disinformation and feed users with viewpoints beyond their own filter bubble.
Google chief Sundar Pichai, who unveiled the updated Google News earlier this month, said the app now surfaces the news you care about from trusted sources while still giving you a full range of perspectives on events. It marks Google's latest
effort to be at the centre of online news and includes a new push to help publishers get paid subscribers through the tech giant's platform.
In reality Google has just banned news from the likes of the Daily Mail whilst all the 'trusted sources' are just the likes of the politically correct papers such as the Guardian and Independent.
According to product chief Trystan Upstill, the news app uses the best of artificial intelligence to find the best of human intelligence - the great reporting done by journalists around the globe. While the app will enable users to get
personalised news, it will also include top stories for all readers, aiming to break the so-called filter bubble of information designed to reinforce people's biases.
Nicholas Diakopoulos, a Northwestern University professor specialising in computational and data journalism, said the impact of Google's changes remain to be seen. Diakopoulos said algorithmic and personalised news can be positive for engagement
but may only benefit a handful of news organisations. His research found that Google concentrates its attention on a relatively small number of publishers, it's quite concentrated. Google's effort to identify and prioritise trusted news
sources may also be problematic, according to Diakopoulos. Maybe it's good for the big guys, or the (publishers) who have figured out how to game the algorithm, he said. But what about the local news sites, what about the new news sites that
don't have a long track record?
I tried it out and no matter how many times I asked it not to provide stories about the royal wedding and the cup final, it just served up more of the same. And indeed as Diakopoulos said, all it wants to do is push news stories from the
politically correct papers, most notably the Guardian. I can't see it proving very popular. I'd rather have an app that feeds me what I actually like, not what I should like.
Drink censors from the Portman Group have ludicrously whinged at Spar for describing a range of wines as 'everyday drinking'. The phrase was used as marketing speak for commonplace and cheap. It was not used for any customer facing promotional
material. The press release included the paragraph:
Matt Fowkes , SPAR UK Wine Trading Manager added: Our new 'Everyday Drinking' range at £5 and 'Varietals' range at £6 are a result of an extensive review of our SPAR Brand wine values. We are targeting customers who buy wine by their preferred
style and key grape varieties. We've made selecting wine easier and more accessible for them.
The Portman Group published the following adjudication:
A complaint about two SPAR press releases promoting a new Everyday Wine range has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) for indirectly encouraging immoderate consumption.
The complainant, Alcohol Concern Wales, believed that SPAR, by naming the range Everyday Wine, was alluding to drinking the product everyday, going against the Chief Medical Officers' Guidelines on Low Risk Drinking which advises people who drink
regularly to have alcohol free days.
The Panel noted that the press releases were for the company's retailer audience and were not intended for consumer communication. The term everyday was used to position the product to retailers as lower priced wine. In both press releases the
wording used appeared as everyday drinking which linked the messaging to daily consumption of the product. The Panel concluded that the phrase was creating a direct correlation between low price and acceptability of everyday alcohol consumption,
although this may have been unintentional. When considered in the context of the 2016 CMOs' Guidelines the Panel agreed that the term everyday drinking was unacceptable under rule 3.2(f).
The Panel advised that all companies should carefully consider the language used in brand communications regardless of intended audience, because in a digital age there was always the potential for the communication to be seen by a wider group.
In this instance, a different phrase to categorise the range could have been used.
The Portman Group welcomed SPAR's confirmation that they would not use the term Everyday Wine in either consumer or retailer facing communications following the Panel's decision.
Multiple game developers have been tweeting about warnings received from Valve about the content included in their games distributed on Steam.
Apparently, Valve, the company behind the popular digital download platform, is cracking down on quasi-sexual content, threatening the developers involved of removal if the games are not censored before the deadline seemingly in a couple of
HunieDev,, developer of the game Huniepop tweeted:
I've received an e-mail from Valve stating that HuniePop violates the rules & guidelines for pornographic content on Steam and will be removed from the store unless the game is updated to remove said content.
All the games targeted so far have been based on anime style graphics with other examples being: Tropical Liquor, Mutiny!! and SonoHanabira.
The affected developers are particularly miffed as they have been careful to censor their games to meet the current censorship guidelines. They have also developed the idea to squeeze the games sold on Steam into the guidelines, and then offer
gamers patches to restore the uncut version.
Other digital download portals are rallying against the censorship and are offering a new home for the games affected. JAST USA, MangaGamer and Nutaku have expressed on social media the availability to host the impacted titles, encouraging
developers to contact them. Eg Jast USA have tweeted:
We're disappointed about Steam's new enforcement of their content policy, hurting good developers. VNs should be accessible to everyone, so we're making an open invitation to any VN developers who'd like to join our DRM-free store to release
Local newspaper editors from across the country have united to urge MPs not to join a disgraceful Labour-backed plot to muzzle the Press.
Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking to hijack data protection legislation to introduce newspaper censorship..
MPs will vote tomorrow on proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill that would force publishers refusing to join a state-recognised Press censor to pay the costs of claimants who bring court proceedings, even if their claims are defeated.
They would also lead to yet another inquiry into the media known as Leveson 2.
Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking a press censor.
Local newspaper editors warn today the completely unacceptable measures are an attack on Press freedom that would cause irreparable damage to the regional press.
Alan Edmunds, editorial director of Trinity Mirror Regionals, the country's largest publisher of regional and local papers, said:
We do not want our journalists facing the spectre of Leveson 2 when attempting to report on the activities of public figures, legitimately and in the public interest. Another huge inquiry would only embolden those who would rather keep
their activities hidden from scrutiny.
Maidenhead Advertiser editor Martin Trepte added:
The amendments represent an attack on Press freedom which is completely unacceptable in our society. As a point of principle, we stand united against these attacks on free speech and urge all MPs to do likewise by voting against all the
Ed Miliband served up an impassioned speech saying something along the lines of: 'think of the hacking victims', they deserve that the rest of British people should be denied the protection of a press so we can all suffer together.
But despite his best efforts, press freedom won the day and the Miliband's proposal to resuscitate the 2nd part of the Leveson report was defeated by a vote of 304 to 295. Tom Watson's amendment to withdraw natural justice from newspapers
refusing to sign up to a press censor was withdrawn after it became obvious that parliament was in no mood to support press censorship.
For the government
Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock said it was a great day for a free press.
On Tuesday, the Commons rejected yet another attempt to resurrect the £5.4million Leveson 2 inquiry into historic allegations against newspapers.
MPs were forced to act again on the issue after peers attempted to amend the Data Protection Bill, ignoring an earlier vote in the Commons last week. MPs have now voted twice to reject a backward-looking, disproportionate and costly Leveson 2
inquiry. Tuesday's vote passed by 12 votes -- 301 votes to 289 -- an even larger majority than last week.
Downing Street later urged the Lords to finally respect the wishes of the elected house. And the Lords seems to have responded.
A Tory peer who had just tried to resurrect plans for another multi-million-pound Press inquiry told his fellow plotters it was time to give up. Lord Attlee urged the Lords to abandon any more challenges.The peer, who was one of three Tories to
back a rebel amendment to the Data Protection Bill, said they should not seek to hold the legislation to ransom. He added:
We have had a good battle and now we have lost. We should not pursue it further. We should not hold a time-sensitive Bill to ransom in order to force the Government to change policy. In my opinion, that would be wrong.
The world of political correctness is a pretty nasty sort of world. It should be a place of politeness and consideration, but ends up being populated by aggressive bullies and those with a chip on their shoulders. Granted there has been some past
unfairness to put right, but what should be a shared interest in a quest for equality, turns out to better characterised as quest for revenge.
For instance, the rules of PC demand polite words for all those groups favoured by the cause, whilst insults and disparagements are positively encouraged for those groups that are not so fortunate.
And of course white men are the main whipping guys who are not allowed any modicum of politeness or respect. It is somehow perfectly correct for them to be referred to as 'pale male and stale' or to infer that all men are rapists, particularly if
they are enflamed by porn videos or a lap dance.
And the latest derogatory term for middle aged white men is 'gammon', alluding to going pink faced when angry.
The term was at the centre of a political row this week when it was used to describe middle-aged, male Brexit voters. The insult has been increasingly used by Labour supporters to mock right wing males in favour of Brexit. Northern Irish MP Emma
Little-Pengelly sparked a war of words on Twitter by noting that the term was being used to single out white people. And her rather straight forward observation was considered to be totally heretical by the PC lynch mob.
The Guardian columnist Owen Jones is a strident left winger who is notably intolerant of views contrary to his own. Ironically he is probably best known for being a prime example of a gammon. He got angry and walked out of a TV show live on
air when he got annoyed that the presenter wasn't quite 100% onboard his pet identitarian peev.
He inevitably took the stance that gammon is a perfectly good derogatory term for white men who do not agree with him, and wrote in a
Guardian piece :
No, gammon is not a racial slur. Now let's change the conversation
The crybullies of the right are hamming it up over a term of mockery to deflect from their own poisoning of the political discourse
et your hankies ready, for I am here to share a story of woe and oppression. The nation's truly subjugated minority, affluent middle-aged white men in the shires who turn pink with rage at the thought of immigrants or taxes, are under siege.
Golf clubs across the land abound with dark mutterings: you can't even racially abuse Diane Abbott on Twitter, or call for Muslims to be deported, without the fascist left crushing your rights and freedoms by disapproving of things you've said.
But the cruellest oppression since Jim Davidson left his prime-time Big Break slot has come to pass: the left are now calling socially reactionary, affluent England gammon.
Anyway the always witty and polite Britisher has offered an eloquent repost to the Own Jones piece:
If all things were equal, it would seem eminently sensible to ban 100 quid spins on a gambling machine; ban junk food shops for making people fat; ban pubs for being unhealthy... But if you do all of these you will end up with some pretty
desolate high streets, and an awful lot of people staying in and pumping all their money to the foreign media and retail giants such as Amazon, Netflix and 20th Century Fox Murdoch Sky Sports.
Government to cut Fixed Odds Betting Terminals maximum stake from £100 to £2
The maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are to be reduced from £100 to £2 to reduce the risk of gambling-related harm, Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch announced today.
The move comes off the back of a consultation with the public and the industry to ensure that we have the right balance between a sector that can grow and contribute to the economy and one that is socially responsible and doing all it should to
protect consumers and communities.
The government wants to reduce the potential for large losses on FOBT (B2) machines and the risk of harm to both the player and wider communities. Following analysis of consultation responses and advice from the Gambling Commission, the
government believes that a cut to £2 will best achieve this.
The Gambling Commission has also been tasked to take forward discussions with the industry to improve player protection measures on B1 and B3 category machines, looking at spend and time limits.
DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said:
When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand. These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined
to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all.
Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch said:
Problem gambling can devastate individuals' lives, families and communities. It is right that we take decisive action now to ensure a responsible gambling industry that protects the most vulnerable in our society. By reducing FOBT stakes to £2
we can help stop extreme losses by those who can least afford it.
While we want a healthy gambling industry that contributes to the economy, we also need one that does all it can to protect players. We are increasing protections around online gambling, doing more on research, education and treatment of problem
gambling and ensuring tighter rules around gambling advertising. We will work with the industry on the impact of these changes and are confident that this innovative sector will step up and help achieve this balance.
In addition to the reduction to FOBT stakes the government has today confirmed:
The Gambling Commission will toughen up protections around online gambling including stronger age verification rules and proposals to require operators to set limits on consumers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted.
A major multi-million pound advertising campaign promoting responsible gambling, supported by industry and GambleAware, will be launched later this year.
The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) has amended its code to ensure that a responsible gambling message will appear for the duration of all TV adverts.
Public Health England will carry out a review of the evidence relating to the public health harms of gambling.
As part of the next licence competition the age limit for playing National Lottery games will be reviewed, to take into accounts developments in the market and the risk of harm to young people.
In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, and to protect funding for vital public services, this change will be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.
Changes to the stake will be through secondary legislation. The move will need parliamentary approval and we will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure it is given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes.
B1 machines are in casinos with a maximum stake of £5 with a maximum pay-out of £10,000 (or progressive jackpot of £20,000)
B2 gaming machines, are those being talked about in bookies
B3 machines are located in casino, betting, arcade and bingo venues with a maximum stake of £2 and a maximum pay-out of £500.
ASA's code writing arm, CAP, has launched a
public consultation on a new rule to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in ads, as well as on guidance to advertisers on how the new rule is likely to be interpreted in practice. The purpose of today's announcement is to make public the
proposed rule and guidance, which includes examples of gender portrayals which are likely to fall foul of the new rule.
The consultation proposes the introduction of the following new rule to the ad codes which will cover broadcast and non-broadcast media:
Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.
The consultation comes after the ASA published a report last year - Depictions, Perceptions and Harm - which provided an evidence-based case for stronger regulation of ads that feature certain kinds of gender stereotypical roles and characteristics. These are ads that have the potential to
cause harm by contributing to the restriction of people's choices, aspirations and opportunities, which can affect the way people interact with each other and the way they view their own potential.
We already apply rules on offence and social responsibility to ban ads that include gender stereotypes on grounds of objectification, inappropriate sexualisation and depiction of unhealthily thin body images.
The evidence does not demonstrate that the use of gender stereotypes is always problematic or that the use of seriously offensive or potentially harmful stereotypes in advertising is endemic. The rule and guidance therefore seek to identify
specific harms that should be prevented, rather than banning gender stereotypes outright.
The consultation on guidance to support the proposed new rule change provides examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in future ads. For example:
An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man's inability to change nappies; a woman's inability to park a car.
Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their
romantic or social lives.
An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy's stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl's stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.
An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.
An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically "female" roles or tasks.
Ella Smillie, gender stereotyping project lead, Committees of Advertising Practice, said:
"Our review of the evidence strongly indicates that particular forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they
take. The set of standards we're proposing aims to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in ads while ensuring that creative freedom expressed within the rules continues to be protected."
Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal said:
"Amid wide-ranging views about the portrayal of gender in ads is evidence that certain gender stereotypes have the potential to cause harm or serious offence. That's why we're proposing a new rule and guidance to restrict particular
gender stereotypes in ads where we believe there's an evidence-based case to do so. Our action is intended to help tackle the harms identified in the ASA's recent report on the evidence around gender portrayal in ads."
David Austin, CEO of the BBFC has been talking to Radio 4's Front Row about the BBFC's latest public consultation.
Austin said Brits are becoming more desensitised over nudity in films and TV, with the censors planning to publish new guidelines in 2019. He told Front Row:
These days if you have an erection on screen, the issue is is it a 15 level erection or an 18 level erection.
We've been consulting with the public on this and in 2013, we liberalised slightly and we're now going back to the public as we speak and saying, 'have we got this right, have we done what you asked us to do in terms of how we classify
It's clear from the research we're doing at the moment and were doing four/five years ago and to an extent before that that the public are relaxed about nudity and don't equate it to sex.
Austin told The Sun:
We speak to the public on a large scale every four to five years to get their views on age rating key issues like violence, drug misuse, sex and discrimination.
Our 2014 Guidelines review involved more than 10,000 members of the British public.
This ensures our classification guidelines reflect public expectations. We're out speaking to the public now and will be publishing our new guidelines in 2019.
New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks warned parents and caregivers of vulnerable children and teenagers to be prepared for the release of Netflix's Season 2 release of 13 Reasons Why scheduled to screen this week on Friday, May 18, at
The Office of Film and Literature Classification consulted with the Mental Health Foundation in classifying 13 Reasons Why: Season 2 as RP18 with a warning that it contains rape, suicide themes, drug use, and bullying. Shanks said:
"There is a strong focus on rape and suicide in Season 2 , as there was in Season 1 . We have told Netflix it is really important to warn NZ audiences about that."
"Rape is an ugly word for an ugly act. But young New Zealanders have told us that if a series contains rape -- they want to know beforehand."
An RP18 classification means that someone under 18 must be supervised by a parent or guardian when viewing the series. A guardian is considered to be a responsible adult (18 years and over), for example a family member or teacher who can provide
guidance. Shanks said:
"This classification allows young people to access it in a similar fashion to the first season, while requiring the support from an adult they need to stay safe and to process the challenging topics in the series."
Netflix is required to clearly display the classification and warning.
"If a child you care for is planning to watch the show, you should sit down and watch it with them -- if not together then at least around the same time. That way you can at least try to have informed and constructive discussions with them
about the content."
"The current picture about what our kids can be exposed to online is grim. We need to get that message across to parents that they need to help young people with this sort of content."
For parents and caregivers who don't have time to watch the entire series, the Classification Office and Mental Health Foundation have produced an episode-by-episode guide with synopses of problematic content, and conversation starters to have
with teens. This will be available on both organisations' websites from 7pm on Friday night.
In response to the continued restriction and censorship of conservatives and their organizations by tech giants Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, the Media Research Center (MRC) along with 18 leading conservative organizations announced
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 the formation of a new, permanent coalition, Conservatives Against Online Censorship .
Conservatives Against Online Censorship will draw attention to the issue of political censorship on social media. This new coalition will urge Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube to address the four following key areas of concern:
Provide Transparency: We need detailed information so everyone can see if liberal groups and users are being treated the same as those on the right. Social media companies operate in a black-box environment, only releasing anecdotes
about reports on content and users when they think it necessary. This needs to change. The companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns.
Provide Clarity on 'Hate Speech': "Hate speech" is a common concern among social media companies, but no two firms define it the same way. Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, and their interpretation often
looks like an opportunity to silence thought. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don't like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can't tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn't try to regulate it.
Provide Equal Footing for Conservatives: Top social media firms, such as Google and YouTube, have chosen to work with dishonest groups that are actively opposed to the conservative movement, including the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Those companies need to make equal room for conservative groups as advisers to offset this bias. That same attitude should be applied to employment diversity efforts. Tech companies need to embrace viewpoint diversity.
Mirror the First Amendment: Tech giants should afford their users nothing less than the free speech and free exercise of religion embodied in the First Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. That standard, the result of
centuries of American jurisprudence, would enable the rightful blocking of content that threatens violence or spews obscenity, without trampling on free speech liberties that have long made the United States a beacon for freedom.
"Social media is the most expansive and most game-changing form of communication today. It is these facts that make online political censorship one of the largest threats to free speech we have ever seen. Conservatives should be given the
same ability to express their political ideas online as liberals, without the fear of being suppressed or censored," said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell.
"Meaningful debate only happens when both sides are given equal footing. Freedom of speech, regardless of ideological leaning, is something Americans hold dear. Facebook, Twitter and all other social media companies must acknowledge this and
work to rectify these concerns unless they want to lose all credibility with the conservative movement. As leaders of this effort, we are launching this coalition to make sure that the recommendations we put forward on behalf of the conservative
movement are followed through."
The Media Research Center sent letters to representatives at Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube last week asking each company to address these complaints and begin a conversation about how they can repair their credibility within the
conservative movement. As of Tuesday, May 15, 2018 , only Facebook has issued a formal response.
Twitter has outlined further censorship measures in a blog post:
In March, we introduced our new approach to improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter. One important issue we've been working to address is what some might refer to as "trolls." Some troll-like behavior is fun, good and
humorous. What we're talking about today are troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search. Some of these accounts and Tweets violate our
policies, and, in those cases, we take action on them. Others don't but are behaving in ways that distort the conversation.
To put this in context, less than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse, but a lot of what's reported does not violate our rules. While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large --
and negative -- impact on people's experience on Twitter. The challenge for us has been: how can we proactively address these disruptive behaviors that do not violate our policies but negatively impact the health of the conversation?
A New Approach
Today, we use policies, human review processes, and machine learning to help us determine how Tweets are organized and presented in communal places like conversations and search. Now, we're tackling issues of behaviors that distort and detract
from the public conversation in those areas by integrating new behavioral signals into how Tweets are presented. By using new tools to address this conduct from a behavioral perspective, we're able to improve the health of the conversation, and
everyone's experience on Twitter, without waiting for people who use Twitter to report potential issues to us.
There are many new signals we're taking in, most of which are not visible externally. Just a few examples include if an account has not confirmed their email address, if the same person signs up for multiple accounts simultaneously, accounts that
repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don't follow them, or behavior that might indicate a coordinated attack. We're also looking at how accounts are connected to those that violate our rules and how they interact with each other.
These signals will now be considered in how we organize and present content in communal areas like conversation and search. Because this content doesn't violate our policies, it will remain on Twitter, and will be available if you click on
"Show more replies" or choose to see everything in your search setting. The result is that people contributing to the healthy conversation will be more visible in conversations and search.
In our early testing in markets around the world, we've already seen this new approach have a positive impact, resulting in a 4% drop in abuse reports from search and 8% fewer abuse reports from conversations. That means fewer people are seeing
Tweets that disrupt their experience on Twitter.
Our work is far from done. This is only one part of our work to improve the health of the conversation and to make everyone's Twitter experience better. This technology and our team will learn over time and will make mistakes. There will be false
positives and things that we miss; our goal is to learn fast and make our processes and tools smarter. We'll continue to be open and honest about the mistakes we make and the progress we are making. We're encouraged by the results we've seen so
far, but also recognize that this is just one step on a much longer journey to improve the overall health of our service and your experience on it.
We're often asked how we decide what's allowed on Facebook -- and how much bad stuff is out there. For years, we've had Community Standards that explain what stays up and what comes down. Three weeks ago, for the first time, we published
the internal guidelines we use to enforce those standards. And today we're releasing numbers in a Community Standards Enforcement Report so that you can judge our performance for yourself.
Alex Schultz, our Vice President of Data Analytics, explains in more detail how exactly we measure what's happening on Facebook in both this Hard Questions post and our guide to Understanding the Community Standards Enforcement Report . But it's
important to stress that this is very much a work in progress and we will likely change our methodology as we learn more about what's important and what works.
This report covers our enforcement efforts between October 2017 to March 2018, and it covers six areas: graphic violence, adult nudity and sexual activity, terrorist propaganda, hate speech, spam, and fake accounts. The numbers show you:
How much content people saw that violates our standards;
How much content we removed; and
How much content we detected proactively using our technology -- before people who use Facebook reported it.
Most of the action we take to remove bad content is around spam and the fake accounts they use to distribute it. For example:
We took down 837 million pieces of spam in Q1 2018 -- nearly 100% of which we found and flagged before anyone reported it; and
The key to fighting spam is taking down the fake accounts that spread it. In Q1, we disabled about 583 million fake accounts -- most of which were disabled within minutes of registration. This is in addition to the millions of fake account
attempts we prevent daily from ever registering with Facebook. Overall, we estimate that around 3 to 4% of the active Facebook accounts on the site during this time period were still fake.
In terms of other types of violating content:
We took down 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity in Q1 2018 -- 96% of which was found and flagged by our technology before it was reported. Overall, we estimate that out of every 10,000 pieces of content viewed on Facebook, 7
to 9 views were of content that violated our adult nudity and pornography standards.
For graphic violence, we took down or applied warning labels to about 3.5 million pieces of violent content in Q1 2018 -- 86% of which was identified by our technology before it was reported to Facebook.
For hate speech, our technology still doesn't work that well and so it needs to be checked by our review teams. We removed 2.5 million pieces of hate speech in Q1 2018 -- 38% of which was flagged by our technology.
As Mark Zuckerberg said at F8 , we have a lot of work still to do to prevent abuse. It's partly that technology like artificial intelligence, while promising, is still years away from being effective for most bad content because context is so
important. For example, artificial intelligence isn't good enough yet to determine whether someone is pushing hate or describing something that happened to them so they can raise awareness of the issue. And more generally, as I explained two
weeks ago, technology needs large amounts of training data to recognize meaningful patterns of behavior, which we often lack in less widely used languages or for cases that are not often reported. In addition, in many areas -- whether it's spam,
porn or fake accounts -- we're up against sophisticated adversaries who continually change tactics to circumvent our controls, which means we must continuously build and adapt our efforts. It's why we're investing heavily in more people and
better technology to make Facebook safer for everyone.
It's also why we are publishing this information. We believe that increased transparency tends to lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time, and publishing this information will push us to improve more quickly too. This is the
same data we use to measure our progress internally -- and you can now see it to judge our progress for yourselves. We look forward to your feedback.
The European Court of Human Rights has overturned the Maltese courts' decision to ban the play Stitching, eight years after the controversial judgment had incensed the local artistic scene.
The ECHR awarded €10,000 as legal costs as well as €10,000 in moral damages jointly to Unifaun Theatre Productions Limited, as well as director Chris Gatt and actors Pia Zammit and Mike Basmadjian. The court's decision was unanimous, including
Maltese judge Vincent de Gaetano.
Unifaun's production had been banned in 2010 by the Maltese court, a decision confirmed by the Constitutional Court of Appeal, after it was flagged by the now defunct Film and Stage Classification Board.
The Maltese court had ruled in 2010 that it was unacceptable in a democratic society founded on the rule of law for any person to be allowed to swear in public, even in a theatre as part of a script. He pointed out that the country's values could
not be turned upside down in the name of freedom of expression.
The censorship of Stitching had a knock on effect to media censorship in Malta. The government had in 2012 changed the censorship laws , effectively stopping the possibility of theatrical productions being banned and lightening up on film
censorship bringing it more in line with other European countries.
Da Ai TV has canceled its new soap opera Jiachang's Heart, reportedly due to criticism from Chinese officials two days after the show's pilot aired, sparking concerns about the reach of Chinese censorship.
The show was inspired by the story of Tzu Chi volunteer Lin Chih-hui, now 91, who was born in the Japanese colonial era and served as a Japanese military nurse in China during World War II.
The show's trailer was panned by Chinese media, and local media reported that China's Taiwan Affairs Office sent officials to the foundation's office in Taiwan to investigate the show soon after the pilot aired on Thursday last week.
China's Global Times newspaper published an opinion piece by a Chinese official saying:
It is clear from the 15-minute trailer that the first half of the series is kissing up to Japan.
The show was duly pulled and Da Ai media development manager Ou Hung-yu explained:
The channel decided that the show's depiction of war is contrary to its guideline of purifying human hearts and encouraging social harmony.
The House That Jack Built is a 2018 Denmark / France / Germany / Sweden horror thriller by Lars von Trier.
Starring Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz and Uma Thurman.
USA in the 1970s. We follow the highly intelligent Jack over a span of 12 years and are introduced to the murders that define Jack's development as a serial killer. We experience the story from Jack's point of view, while he postulates each
murder is an artwork in itself. As the inevitable police intervention is drawing nearer, he is taking greater and greater risks in his attempt to create the ultimate artwork. Along the way we experience Jack's descriptions of his personal
condition, problems and thoughts through a recurring conversation with the unknown Verge - a grotesque mixture of sophistry mixed with an almost childlike self-pity and psychopathic explanations. The House That Jack Built is a dark and sinister
story, yet presented through a philosophical and occasional humorous tale.
Lars von Trier's The House That Jack Built premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Monday night. Variety's Ramin Setoodeh reported that 100 viewes exited in protest, while others on social media estimated half the film-goers departed early.
It's disgusting, one woman said on her way out. Maybe something to do with the depicted mutilation of women and children.
The film screened out of competition but it was the day's major festival draw for visiting critics and press, some of whom tweeted that the vile, vomitive footage should not have been made. Nonetheless, the crowd saluted von Trier with a
10-minute standing ovation.
Matt Dillon stars as the namesake knifeman, gunman, bludgeoner, and strangler. Set during the 70s, the film tracks five deaths 204 including characters played by Uma Thurman and Riley Keough Jack brags that he has lived a punishment-free
life, but he fantasizes about notoriety: David Bowie's Fame plays as he cues one victim to scream, and drags another body, wrapped in plastic, attached to his van's bumper.
Here is an update on the Facebook app investigation and audit that Mark Zuckerberg promised on March 21.
As Mark explained, Facebook will investigate all the apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014 -- significantly reducing the data apps could access. He also made clear that where we had
concerns about individual apps we would audit them -- and any app that either refused or failed an audit would be banned from Facebook.
The investigation process is in full swing, and it has two phases. First, a comprehensive review to identify every app that had access to this amount of Facebook data. And second, where we have concerns, we will conduct interviews, make requests
for information (RFI) -- which ask a series of detailed questions about the app and the data it has access to -- and perform audits that may include on-site inspections.
We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible. To date thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended -- pending a thorough investigation into
whether they did in fact misuse any data. Where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website. It will show people if they or their friends installed an app that misused data before
2015 -- just as we did for Cambridge Analytica.
There is a lot more work to be done to find all the apps that may have misused people's Facebook data -- and it will take time. We are investing heavily to make sure this investigation is as thorough and timely as possible. We will keep you
updated on our progress.
Big Brother Watch's report, released today, reveals:
South Wales Police store photos of all innocent people incorrectly matched by facial recognition for a year , without their knowledge, resulting in a biometric database of over 2,400 innocent people
Home Office spent £2.6m funding South Wales Police's use of the technology, although it is "almost entirely inaccurate"
Metropolitan Police's facial recognition matches are 98% inaccurate, misidentifying 95 people at last year's Notting Hill Carnival as criminals -- yet the force is planning 7 more deployments this year
South Wales Police's matches are 91% inaccurat e -- yet the force plans to target the Biggest Weekend and a Rolling Stones concert next
Big Brother Watch is taking the report to Parliament today to launch a campaign calling for police to stop using the controversial technology, branded by the group as "dangerous and inaccurate".
Big Brother Watch's campaign, calling on UK public authorities to immediately stop using automated facial recognition software with surveillance cameras, is backed by David Lammy MP and 15 rights and race equality groups including Article 19,
Football Supporters Federation, Index on Censorship, Liberty, Netpol, Police Action Lawyers Group, the Race Equality Foundation, and Runnymede Trust.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP and Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh MP will speak at the report launch event in Parliament today at 1600.
Police have begun using automated facial recognition in city centres, at political demonstrations, sporting events and festivals over the past two years. Particular controversy was caused when the Metropolitan Police targeted Notting Hill
Carnival with the technology two years in a row, with rights groups expressing concern that comparable facial recognition tools are more likely to misidentify black people.
Big Brother Watch's report found that the police's use of the technology is "lawless" and could breach the right to privacy protected by the Human Rights Act.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said:
"Real-time facial recognition is a dangerously authoritarian surveillance tool that could fundamentally change policing in the UK. Members of the public could be tracked, located and identified -- or misidentified -- everywhere they go.
We're seeing ordinary people being asked to produce ID to prove their innocence as police are wrongly identifying thousands of innocent citizens as criminals.
It is deeply disturbing and undemocratic that police are using a technology that is almost entirely inaccurate, that they have no legal power for, and that poses a major risk to our freedoms.
This has wasted millions in public money and the cost to our civil liberties is too high. It must be dropped."
Adults who want to watch online porn (or maybe by adults only products such as alcohol) will be able to buy codes from newsagents and supermarkets to prove that they are over 18 when online.
One option available to the estimated 25 million Britons who regularly visit such websites will be a 16-digit code, dubbed a 'porn pass'.
While porn viewers will still be able to verify their age using methods such as registering credit card details, the 16-digit code option would be a fully anonymous option. According to AVSecure's the cards will be sold for £10 to anyone who
looks over 18 without the need for any further identification. It doesn't say on the website, but presumably in the case where there is doubt about a customer's age, then they will have to show ID documents such as a passport or driving licence,
but hopefully that ID will not have to be recorded anywhere.
It is hope he method will be popular among those wishing to access porn online without having to hand over personal details to X-rated sites.
The user will type in a 16 digit number into websites that belong to the AVSecure scheme. It should be popular with websites as it offers age verification to them for free (with the £10 card fee being the only source of income for the company).
This is a lot better proposition for websites than most, if not all, of the other age verification companies.
AVSecure also offer an encrypted implementation via blockchain that will not allow websites to use the 16 digit number as a key to track people's website browsing. But saying that they could still use a myriad of other standard technologies to
The BBFC is assigned the task of deciding whether to accredit different technologies and it will be very interesting to see if they approve the AVSecure offering. It is easily the best solution to protect the safety and privacy of porn viewers,
but it maybe will test the BBFC's pragmatism to accept the most workable and safest solution for adults which is not quite fully guaranteed to protect children. Pragmatism is required as the scheme has the technical drawback of having no further
checks in place once the card has been purchased. The obvious worry is that an over 18s can go around to other shops to buy several cards to pass on to their under 18 mates. Another possibility is that kids could stumble on their parent's card
and get access. Numbers shared on the web could be easily blocked if used simultaneously from different IP addresses.
It appears that the Johnny Depp psychological horror thriller from 2004, of Secret Window, an adaptation of a Stephen King book, proved too much for The Horror Channel who censored it for the early evening showing on this Sunday night.
The jump cut is to when Depp's character finds his mutilated and very dead dog outside his wooden cabin wrapped under a sheet. All we see is a very quick 5 second jump cut and a micro flash to the dog, instead of seeing its head and then slightly
later full body shot under the sheet at 24 mins 57 secs lasting until 25 mins and 2 secs (NTSC timings).
Surprising cut since The Horror Channel often shows bloody trailers throughout the day of far worse scenes of new films going to be shown for the next month as well as current films.
Maybe suspicions of a BBFC influenced animal cruelty cuts policy here on said channel?
The Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania have claimed in a report that parents would prefer to PG-15 to a PG-13 for Hollywood movies featuring gunplay. The researchers write:
Parents are more willing to let their children see intense gun violence in PG-13 movies when the violence appears to be "justified," used in defense of a loved one or for self-protection, than when it has no socially redeeming purpose,
a new study finds.
But even when the gun violence in PG-13 movies appears justified, parents think that the movies are more suitable for teens age 15 and up, two years older than suggested by the movie industry ratings board's PG-13 rating. Parents thought movies
with unjustified but bloodless gun violence were more appropriate for 16-year-olds, the study finds.
The study, Parental Desensitization to Gun Violence in PG-13 Movies , by researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center was
published online in the journal Pediatrics on May 14 and will be in the June issue. Lead author Daniel Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), said:
"The findings suggest that parents may want a new rating, PG-15, for movies with intense violence," "Violent movies often get a PG-13 rating by omitting the consequences of violence such as blood and suffering, and by making
the use of violence seem justified. But parents of teenagers say that even scenes of justified violence are upsetting and more appropriate for teens who are at least 15."
The rise of gun violence in PG-13 movies
Past studies by APPC researchers found that gun violence in the most popular PG-13 movies has more than doubled since the rating was introduced in 1984, and now exceeds the gun violence in comparable R-rated films. In the earliest years of the
PG-13 rating, less than a third of the 30 top-grossing movies were rated PG-13 but recently more than half were PG-13. In past research on the growing acceptance of gun violence in PG-13 films, APPC researchers found that parents appeared to
become desensitized to violence as they watched successive movie clips.
The current experiment was designed to understand whether parents became more accepting of the movie violence because they were being emotionally numbed to it or whether the justification for the violence influenced them. Could justified violence
be less upsetting than unjustified violence? And could parents who repeatedly saw the kind of bloodless, justified violence featured in PG-13 movies become so accustomed to it that they experience a kind of "normative desensitization"
that leads to greater acceptance of its viewing by children?
In an online experiment, the APPC researchers showed movie clips to a national sample of 610 parents who have at least one child between the ages 6 and 17. Parents viewed a series of four 90-second clips of either justified or unjustified
violence from popular movies. The scenes of justified violence came from the PG-13 movies "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007), "White House Down" (2013), "Terminator Salvation" (2009), and "Taken" (2008). The
clips of unjustified violence came from the PG-13 movies "Skyfall" (2012) and "Jack Reacher" (2012) and the R-rated films "Sicario" (2015) and "Training Day" (2001).
Scenes from the R-rated movies were edited to remove graphic and potentially upsetting consequences such as blood and suffering to mimic the effect of PG-13 movies. (PG-13 means parents are strongly cautioned that some material "may be
inappropriate for children under 13." The more restricted R rating means viewers under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult.)
Parents less upset by justified violence
Instead of being emotionally desensitized, parents grew increasingly upset as they watched the succession of movie clips, whether the violence was justified or not (see figure above). But parents were less upset by the justified violence and more
lenient in deciding the appropriate age for a child to watch it. Most of the parents said the movies with justified violence were suitable starting at age 15, while the movies with unjustified violence were appropriate starting at age 16 (see
One exception: The parents who were frequent moviegoers were the most permissive, saying that movies with unjustified violence were suitable for 13-year-olds.
As parents watched the series of movie scenes of unjustified gun violence, they became more restrictive on the appropriate age for viewing, the study found. But that wasn't true with the justified scenes of violence, where parents' opinion of the
appropriate viewing age held steady. The researchers also found that when watching the successive justified movie clips, parents increasingly regarded the gun violence itself as justified.
Media violence and children
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been long concerned about the effects of media violence. In a statement in 2016, the academy pointed to a body of research showing that viewing violent media content can influence some youth to become more
A recent study by Ohio State University researchers found that children 8 to 12 years old who saw scenes of a PG-rated movie with guns played longer with a real gun and pulled the trigger more often than children who saw a movie without guns.
"Despite such evidence, we still don't know whether repeatedly seeing movies with justified violence teaches children that using guns is OK if they think it's justified,"
"Hollywood is exploiting the movie rating system by leaving out harmful consequences like blood and suffering from PG-13 films. By sanitizing the effects of violence, moviemakers are able to get a PG-13 rating and a wider audience for their
films. But this gun violence may be just as brutal and potentially harmful to young viewers."
Mental health campaigners have criticised the return of the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why , expressing concern that the second series of the drama about a teenager's suicide is due for release as summer exam stress peaks. The story of
17-year-old Hannah Baker's life and death continues on Friday 18 May.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists described the timing as callous, noting that suicide rates among young people typically rise during exam season and warning that the Netflix drama could trigger a further increase. Dr Helen Rayner, of the Royal
College of Psychiatrists, said:
I feel extremely disappointed and angry. This glamourises suicide and makes it seductive. It also makes it a possibility for young people -- it puts the thought in their mind that this is something that's possible. It's a bad programme that
should not be out there, and it's the timing.
The US-based series was a big hit for Netflix despite -- or perhaps because of -- the controversy surrounding the suicide storyline. The first series of 13 episodes depicted Hannah's friends listening to tapes she had made for each of them
explaining the difficulties she faced that had prompted her to kill herself.
Supporters of the first series said it was an accurate portrayal of high school life that would spark conversations between parents and their children and encourage viewers to seek information on depression, suicide, bullying and sexual assault.
The BBC has published its findings after investigating the rather blatant knock at Jeremy Corbyn on Newsnight. Newsnight used an image of Corbyn in a Russian style hat set amongst Moscow images as the back lot for a critical news piece. The BBC
BBC Two, 15 March 2018
Use of Jeremy Corbyn's image
Finding by the Executive Complaints Unit
This edition of Newsnight was broadcast at a time of heightened interest in UK/Russian relations following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. The programme focused on Jeremy Corbyn's position in the House of Commons on the previous day, and an
image of him, set against a Moscow-inspired skyline, was used as the backdrop for the introduction and a later studio discussion. 48 people complained to the Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) that the backdrop had been deliberately contrived to
convey an impression of pro-Russian sympathy on Mr Corbyn's part, on one or more of the following grounds:
that the image had been manipulated to make Mr Corbyn look more Russian than in the photograph from which it had been taken, particularly by altering the appearance of his hat;that the superimposition of the image on such a background compounded
this;that the selection of a photograph in which he was wearing what some described as a Lenin-style cap was also intended to suggest a Russian association.
Some also complained that the programme's choice of focus represented bias against Mr Corbyn.
After investigation, the ECU reached the following findings.
Manipulation of the image
Many complainants maintained that the image had been photo-shopped , in terms which reflected what the Guardian columnist Owen Jones said in the following evening's edition of Newsnight:
Yesterday, the background to your programme, you have Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline...dressed up as a Soviet stooge...you even photo-shopped his hat to look more Russian.
Some illustrated their complaints with copies of the original photograph next to a screen-grab of the equivalent image in the programme, in which the hat did appear to be slightly taller. This, however, was not the result of photo-shopping or
otherwise manipulating the image. It resulted from the fact that the screen onto which the image was projected is curved, meaning that the image as a whole appeared higher in relation to its width than it would on a flat surface.
The BBC made clear from the outset that the photograph had not been photo-shopped or manipulated to make Mr Corbyn seem more Russian, and some complainants understood this as a claim that it had been shown unaltered. However, it was immediately
apparent from the backdrop that the source images had been modified in some respects. In fact, the graphics team had increased the contrast to ensure enough definition on screen, and given the whole backdrop a colour wash for a stylised effect
(as the then Acting Editor of Newsnight explained on Twitter). Newsnight's graphics team regularly treats images of politicians from all parties, and other,s in this way, to create a strong studio backdrop for whichever story is being covered. As
a result of this treatment, much of the detail of Mr Corbyn's hat visible in the original photograph was lost, and the hat appeared in silhouette. This was the effect which suggested to some complainants a likeness to a Russian-style fur hat.
Superimposition of the image on a Moscow-inspired skyline
Visual montage is a commonly-used device in TV programmes to highlight a story or theme. The use of the technique in news programmes such as Newsnight is intended to epitomise the story rather than to express or invite a particular attitude to
it, and the montage used in the item in question was no exception. The backdrop in the previous evening's edition of Newsnight , which focused on the current state of relations between Britain and Russia, also included a Moscow-related image. As
the focus of the 15 March item was on Mr Corbyn's reaction to the claim that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent attack, it was entirely apt for the backdrop to combine his image with this backdrop.
Selection of the photograph
The photograph was chosen because it was a typical and readily recognisable image of Mr Corbyn, of a kind which has been used many times across the media without remark. Complaints about its use on this occasion focussed on the supposedly Russian
associations of the Lenin-style cap he was wearing, but this objection conflicts with the objections of those who maintained that it was the alleged photo-shopping of the hat which gave it a more Russian appearance. Neither objection has any
basis in fact.
Choice of focus
The reasons for Newsnight s choice of focus were made clear in the introduction to the item by the presenter, Emily Maitlis:
Did Jeremy Corbyn misread the mood of his party in the Commons yesterday when he refused to point the finger at Russia? Last night a group of Labour backbenchers said it unequivocally accepts the Russian state's culpability for the spy poisoning.
Overnight they were joined by senior frontbenchers, who command the defence and foreign affairs briefs. Today, Corbyn clarified, stressing his condemnation of the attack and saying the evidence pointed towards Russia. But he reiterated the need
not to rush ahead of evidence in what he referred to as the fevered atmosphere of Westminster. Is he right to go slowly? Or is more cross-party solidarity called for at a time when a foreign agent appears to be targeting people on British soil?
That is entirely in keeping with an editorial decision made on the basis of sound news judgement. The item which followed consisted of a report by David Grossman on the British left's current and historic attitudes towards Russia, and a studio
discussion whose two participants were both generally supportive of Mr Corbyn, though one of them believed he had missed an opportunity to be "crystal clear" in his condemnation. The ECU saw no grounds for regarding the contents of the
item as less than impartial or fair to Mr Corbyn.
It has become a little rare these days for moralist campaign groups to whinge about computer games but child campaigners from the NSPCC have moved to fill the void.
The NSPCC claims that the immensely popular Battle Royal online fighting game could be used to endanger children and show them violence and other damaging things.
The game, along with similar titles like PUBG, have grown rapidly in popularity in recent months, leading to awareness by 'concerned' parents. The NSPCC warning is one of several on the subject.
The NSPCC says that the voice chat tools within Fortnite could be used to contact children. The way the game works means that anyone can get in touch with anyone else playing the game, and the feature cannot be fully disabled.
The NSPCC also warns that Fortnite features cartoon violence, where players can use a variety of weapons, such as guns and axes, to kill other players, despite the fact it has been rated suitable for children to play. The group also commentes
that the game draws attention to the fact that it is offered for free but features extensive in-app purchases. Those can become expensive, the NSPCC notes, and there have been reports of children spending large amounts of money without their
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has barred one of China's most popular TV channels from airing the Eurovision song contest after it censored LGBT elements of the competition.
Mango TV was criticised for blurring rainbow flags and censoring tattoos during Tuesday's first semi-final. It also decided not to air performances by the Irish and Albanian entries.
The EBU said the censorship was not in line with its values of diversity:
It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the second Semi-Final or the Grand Final.
The Irish entry, Ryan O'Shaughnessy, told the BBC that he welcomed the EBU's decision. He will perform at the final in Lisbon on Saturday with a song about the end of a relationship. He was accompanied by two male dancers during the performance
that was apparently censored by Mango TV.
US lawmakers from both political parties have come together to reintroduce a bill that, if passed, would prohibit the US government from forcing tech product makers to undermine users safety and security with back door access.
The bill, known as the Secure Data Act of 2018 , was returned to the US House of Representatives by Representative Zoe Lofgren and Thomas Massie.
The Secure Data Act forbids any government agency from demanding that a manufacturer, developer, or seller of covered products design or alter the security functions in its product or service to allow the surveillance of any user of such product
or service, or to allow the physical search of such product, by any agency. It also prohibits courts from issuing orders to compel access to data.
Covered products include computer hardware, software, or electronic devices made available to the public. The bill makes an exception for telecom companies, which under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) would
still have to help law enforcement agencies access their communication networks.
Conan Exiles is a 2018 Norway online survival game by Funcom, either played from the first-person or third-person perspective.
Many months ago,
windowscentral.com reported that the American ESRB might give Conan Exiles an AO for Adults Only rating which could prevent it from coming to consoles. To avoid this, Funcom had to censor some adult content like exposed penises and testicles
for release in countries using ESRB ratings.
A Funcom spokesperson clarified the situation. On consoles, full nudity is only available in PEGI (Albania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and more) and USK (Germany) territories. You can activate it by downloading the Nudity add-on which
come with the game purchase.
Unfortunately, only partial nudity is available in ESRB (Bahamas, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, United States, and more) countries.
A TV ad for a gambling operator, Kwiff Ltd, seen on 2 December 2017 featured a voice-over that stated, Bet on the Ashes with Kwiff and every time you do your odds might get Kwiffed. What does getting Kwiffed feel like? It feels like the end
of a school day. The teacher says no homework tonight. But there was one thing I need you all to do. I need you to pop all these bubbles for me. Do you think you could do that? And that pretty much is what getting Kwiffed on the Ashes feels like.
The ad featured scenes showing grown men dressed in a school uniform and in one particular shot showed a female teacher open a wooden chest which was followed by the men popping some bubble wrap.
1. Three complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it was likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s.
2. One complainant challenged whether the ad featured juvenile behaviour, which was prohibited in gambling ads under the BCAP Code.
1. Not upheld
The BCAP Code stated that ads for gambling must not be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Gambling ads could not therefore appeal more strongly to under-18s than they
did to over-18s, regardless of when they were broadcast.
The ASA noted that the ad was set in a school classroom and featured men dressed in school uniform. However, the classroom was stylised in an old-fashioned manner and included blackboards and single wooden desks for pupils. We considered that
such an environment did not resemble modern day school classrooms and, consequently, did not reflect youth culture in that respect. Furthermore, the pupil characters in the ad were all grown men and did not feature any children.
Because of that, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to be of particular appeal to under-18s.
The voice-over in the ad stated What does getting Kwiffed feel like? It feels like the end of a school day. The teacher says no homework tonight. But there was one thing I need you all to do. I need you to pop all these bubbles for me. Do you
think you could do that? The ad then showed the men's reactions, who were excited in a childlike manner by the idea of popping bubble wrap. The ad then featured scenes of the men popping bubble wrap with great enjoyment.
We considered popping bubble wrap was mostly enjoyed by young children and therefore concluded that the scenes showing the men popping bubble wrap depicted juvenile behaviour, which was prohibited in gambling ads under the BCAP Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Kwiff that their future advertising must not feature juvenile behaviour.
Lost in the Fumes is a 2017 Hong Kong documentary by Nora Lam.
Starring Cres Chuang, Bamboo Chu-Sheng Chen and Leon Dai.
Edward Leung was an average student before he unexpectedly finds himself at the focal point of two Legislative Council elections. While winning over 60,000 votes in the By-election would have guaranteed Edward a seat in the next round, his
ticket to LegCo is forfeited when the regime imposes extra measures in the nomination process. Having once claimed that 'be it crawling or creeping in, I will become a councillor', he can now only take the sidelines and put the backup Baggio
Leung into the race. On the other hand, Edward finds his free days numbered as he faces three counts of rioting charges for taking part in the Mong Kok Protest. Once an eloquent rising star in politics, now he may as well be a doomed prisoner.
As the oath-taking controversy and the disqualification saga unfold, Edward retreats from the spotlight and decides to leave for further study in the United States while chaos continues to reign over Hong Kong politics.
Thanks to its politically provocative subject matter, Lost in Fumes , a documentary made by a 22-year-old on a minuscule budget, has become Hong Kong's hottest ticket in the past six months. But because of that same subject matter, no commercial
film exhibitor in the city has been willing to touch it.
The film's fate has renewed fears in Hong Kong's entertainment sector about the continued erosion of freedom of speech. Since November, it has been playing to packed houses at Hong Kong's Art Centre, at colleges and universities and in impromptu
underground community screenings. But the film's subject, Edward Leung's political stance -- which falls somewhat outside the local mainstream and is viewed by the ruling Communist Party in Beijing as a serious threat to its sovereignty over Hong
Kong -- has meant that most local business leaders would rather run a mile to avoid being associated with the film for fear of social or political reprisal.
The film's director, Nora Lam commented:
Self-censorship is a more serious issue than it appears in Hong Kong. There is nothing written and no law as yet restricting what people can say, so theoretically we still have freedom of speech, she notes. But people are afraid of the
consequences, and this fear is more far-reaching than official oppression.
We asked the BBFC to tell government that the legislation is not fit for purpose, and that they should halt the scheme until privacy regulation is in place. We pointed out that card payments and email services are both subject to stronger
privacy protections that Age Verification.
The government's case for non-action is that the Information Commissioner and data protection fines for data breaches are enough to deal with the risk. This is wrong: firstly because fines cannot address the harm created by the leaking of
people's sexual habits. Secondly, it is wrong because data breaches are only one aspect of the risks involved.
We outlined over twenty risks from Age Verification technologies. We pointed out that Age Verification contains a set of overlapping problems. You can read our list below. We may have missed some: if so, do let us know.
The government has to act. It has legislated this requirement without properly evaluating the privacy impacts. If and when it goes wrong, the blame will lie squarely at the government's door.
The consultation fails to properly distinguish between the different functions and stages of an age verification system. The risks associated with each are separate but interact. Regulation needs to address all elements of these systems. For
Choosing a method of age verification, whereby a user determines how they wish to prove their age.
The method of age verification, where documents may be examined and stored.
The tool's approach to returning users, which may involve either:
attaching the user's age verification status to a user account or log-in credentials; or
providing a means for the user to re-attest their age on future occasions.
The re-use of any age verified account, log-in or method over time, and across services and sites.
The focus of attention has been on the method of pornography-related age verification, but this is only one element of privacy risk we can identify when considering the system as a whole. Many of the risks stem from the fact that users may be
permanently 'logged in' to websites, for instance. New risks of fraud, abuse of accounts and other unwanted social behaviours can also be identified. These risks apply to 20-25 million adults, as well as to teenagers attempting to bypass the
restrictions. There is a great deal that could potentially go wrong.
Business models, user behaviours and potential criminal threats need to be taken into consideration. Risks therefore include:
Collecting identity documents in a way that allows them to potentially be correlated with the pornographic content viewed by a user represents a serious potential risk to personal and potentially highly sensitive data.
Risks from logging of porn viewing
A log-in from an age-verified user may persist on a user's device or web browser, creating a history of views associated with an IP address, location or device, thus easily linked to a person, even if stored 'pseudonymously'.
An age verified log-in system may track users across websites and be able to correlate tastes and interests of a user visiting sites from many different providers.
Data from logged-in web visits may be used to profile the sexual preferences of users for advertising. Tool providers may encourage users to opt in to such a service with the promise of incentives such as discounted or free content.
The current business model for large porn operations is heavily focused on monetising users through advertising, exacerbating the risks of re-use and recirculation and re-identification of web visit data.
Any data that is leaked cannot be revoked, recalled or adequately compensated for, leading to reputational, career and even suicide risks.
Everyday privacy risks for adults
The risk of pornographic web accounts and associated histories being accessed by partners, parents, teenagers and other third parties will increase.
Companies will trade off security for ease-of-use, so may be reluctant to enforce strong passwords, two-factor authentication and other measures which make it harder for credentials to leak or be shared.
Everyday privacy tools used by millions of UK residents such as 'private browsing' modes may become more difficult to use to use due to the need to retain log-in cookies, increasing the data footprint of people's sexual habits.
Some users will turn to alternative methods of accessing sites, such as using VPNs. These tools have their own privacy risks, especially when hosted outside of the EU, or when provided for free.
Risks to teenagers' privacy
If age-verified log-in details are acquired by teenagers, personal and sexual information about them may become shared including among their peers, such as particular videos viewed. This could lead to bullying, outing or worse.
Child abusers can use access to age verified accounts as leverage to create and exploit a relationship with a teenager ('grooming').
Other methods of obtaining pornography would be incentivised, and these may carry new and separate privacy risks. For instance the BitTorrent network exposes the IP addresses of users publicly. These addresses can then be captured by services
like GoldenEye, whose business model depends on issuing legal threats to those found downloading copyrighted material. This could lead to the pornographic content downloaded by young adults or teenagers being exposed to parents or carers.
While copyright infringement is bad, removing teenagers' sexual privacy is worse. Other risks include viruses and scams.
Trust in age verification tools and potential scams
Users may be obliged to sign up to services they do not trust or are unfamiliar with in order to access specific websites.
Pornographic website users are often impulsive, with lower risk thresholds than for other transactions. The sensitivity of any transactions involved gives them a lower propensity to report fraud. Pornography users are therefore particularly
vulnerable targets for scammers.
The use of credit cards for age verification in other markets creates an opportunity for fraudulent sites to engage in credit card theft.
Use of credit cards for pornography-related age verification risks teaching people that this is normal and reasonable, opening up new opportunities for fraud, and going against years of education asking people not to hand card details to
There is no simple means to verify which particular age verification systems are trustworthy, and which may be scams.
Market related privacy risks
The rush to market means that the tools that emerge may be of variable quality and take unnecessary shortcuts.
A single pornography-related age verification system may come to dominate the market and become the de-facto provider, leaving users no real choice but to accept whatever terms that provider offers.
One age verification product which is expected to lead the market -- AgeID -- is owned by MindGeek, the dominant pornography company online. Allowing pornographic sites to own and operate age verification tools leads to a conflict of interest
between the privacy interests of the user, and the data-mining and market interests of the company.
The online pornography industry as a whole, including MindGeek, has a poor record of privacy and security, littered with data breaches. Without stringent regulation prohibiting the storage of data which might allow users' identity and browsing
to be correlated, there is no reason to assume that data generated as a result of age verification tools will be exempt from this pattern of poor security.
A Tbilisi City Court has fined Georgian condom company AIISA and banned four of its condoms from the market for supposed unethical advertising. The condoms were said to have violated the morality and dignity of society.
The judge found the following imagery on the condom packaging unethical and offensive to the religious feelings of a particular group as well as national dignity:
Queen Tamar, a Medieval ruler of Georgia who has been sanctified by the Georgian Orthodox Church, with an inscription: Gate of Thrones in Tamar;
A left palm, with a condom on two fingers. The court considered this as representing the Blessing Right Hand by which the clergymen of the Orthodox Church depict the cross;
A photo of a panda with the text: Would Have a Wank but it's Epiphany . As the company itself explains, these are lyrics from a Georgian band's song;
Packaging that refers the 12th Century Battle of Didgori between King David the Builder and Seljuk Turk forces, which in Georgia is regarded as a historic turning point and respected both by the State and the Church.
The owner of AIISA company, Anania Gachechiladze, believes the court verdict contradicts freedom of expression and endangers the democratic state and society. She says she will appeal the court verdict and if the upper instance court upholds the
decision of Tbilisi City Court, she plans to address the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasburg. She said:
This is censorship and restriction of freedom of expression. I am not going to remove the production from sales until the case is considered by all instance courts.
The lawsuit against AIISA was filed by Tbilisi City Hall, after petitioning by the far-right and nationalist group, Georgian Idea, asking for an adequate reaction regarding the packaging of the condoms.
AIISA condoms also depict prints of various famous persons, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Stalin, Adam and Eve and many quotes from Georgia's famous poem, The Knight in the Panther's Skin , written in the era of
The University of Southern Maine has censored three works by a highly regarded oil painter after learning that the artist served six months in jail after being convicted of unlawful sexual contact nearly 20 years ago.
The censorship has prompted objections from the show's curator and the Union of Maine Visual Artists.
The paintings are by Bruce Habowski. The show's curator, Janice L. Moore, said they were removed when a relative of a victim in the sex crime called the university to complain. Where the paintings once hung are now empty hooks and open white wall
space with a signed note from Moore that says, This painting has been removed by order of the USM president. Moore added:
He was convicted for his crime and he paid his debt The act of making art, to me, it seems is a very positive thing. You are contributing to society in a positive way. I don't understand how that should be punished.
The university's communications department issued a statement about the censorship which said:
USM received a complaint from a member of the public. The complaint was not about the content of the art, but about the artist. After careful review, USM decided to remove his works from the exhibit.
Monday's ban on the popular encrypted Telegram messaging app by Iran's powerful judiciary has not been well received.
Telegram serves many Iranians as a kind of combination of Facebook and Whatsapp, allowing people inside the country to chat securely and to disseminate information to large audiences abroad. Until the court ban, the application was widely used by
Iranian state media, politicians, companies and ordinary Iranians for business, pleasure and political organizing. Telegram is believed to have some 20 million users in Iran out of a total population of 80 million.
The judiciary's Culture and Media Court banned the app citing among its reasons its use by international terrorist groups and anti-government protesters, and the company's refusal to cooperate with Iran's Ministry of Information and
Communications Technology to provide decryption keys.
The move came after extensive public debate in Iran, some conducted via the messaging service itself, about the limits of free expression, government authority and access to information in the Islamic Republic.
President Hassan Rouhani and other prominent reformers, who advocate increased freedom while retaining Iran's current Islamic system of government, argued against the proposed ban, saying that it would make society anxious.
Similarly, in the wake of the judiciary's announcement that the application would be blocked, Information and Communications Technology Minister Muhammad-Javad Azari Jahromi criticized the move on Twitter. Citizens' access to information sources
is unstoppable, he wrote the day after the decision. Whenever one application or program is blocked, another will take its place, he wrote. This is the unique aspect and necessity of the free access to information in the age of communication.
Rouhani was even more forthright in his response to the ban in a message posted to Instagram on Friday. The government policy is... a safe, but not controlled Internet, he wrote. No Internet service or messaging app has been banned by this
government, and none will be. He added that the block was the direct opposite to democracy.
Update: The judicial censorship of Telegram could be challenged by the president
Two lawyers in Tehran told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that the Iranian president has the authority to refuse to the prosecutor's order to ban the Telegram messaging app.
An attorney in Tehran specializing in media affairs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the threat of reprisals by the judiciary, told CHRI: From a legal standpoint, orders issued by assistant prosecutors must be enforced but they can
be challenged. As the target of this order, the government can lodge a complaint and ask the provincial court to make a ruling. But the question is, does the government want to take legal action or not? This is more of a political issue. In the
same manner, the judiciary had invoked security laws to shut down 40 newspapers in 2000.
Razzia is a 2017 France / Morocco / Belgium drama by Nabil Ayouch.
Starring Maryam Touzani, Arieh Worthalter and Amine Ennaji.
The streets of Casablanca provide the centerpiece for five separate narratives that all collide into one.
Egypt's film censors have banned Nabil Ayouch's film Razzia for supposedly encouraging revolution, especially that the film tells the story of the marginalized poor in search of justice in Morocco.
The film censor specifically referred to events in the movie that recall the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The censor also reported concerns with the impact of religion, as it strongly believe that projecting Razzia will inspire the sympathy and
compassion of the audience, as the movie follows the daily life of a Jewish restaurateur.
It's not the first time that the French-Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch has had to deal with censorship, as the Moroccan government banned his controversial film Much Loved in Moroccan cinemas in 2015.
Before a movie is released in German theaters, the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen ( FSK) decides on an age rating so as to protect children from 'harmful influences'.
The FSK is based on voluntary self censorship to buffer the local film industry from controversy and state censorship. The organisation is based in the German Film House in Wiesbaden. Around 280 volunteers review thousands of films every year and
decide which age groups to show - from age 6, age 12, age 16 or 18.
FSK's 280 volunteers have no connection to the film industry. They pursue different professions, but have experience in dealing with children and adolescents, and know their stages of development. FSK spokesman Stefan Linz told DW:
Five days a week, we carry out investigations in various committees.
The basis for the work of the FSK is the German Youth Protection Act, which provides for different age ratings for media. The color white means that there are no restrictions for a movie. For the age group of six to twelve years is yellow. Green
requires parenting for ages of six or twelve. From the age of 16, the category is blue, while red indicates that a movie is not considered suitable for young people under the age of 18.
The law also defines the rules of assessment of media. For example, a film may not be shown to children of a certain age group if the examiners believe that it could affect their development as self-responsible and socially competent people. Linz
Of course this is totally abstract to the assessment of content that could potentially be problematic. But not only can we say that about us, but about all forms of protection of minors around the world, especially the portrayal of violence,
sexuality, the use of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, bad role models and antisocial behavior or threats to others.
The origin of the FSK dates back to the postwar period. At that time, the Allies strove to denazify all social and social aspects in Germany, and to build the then West Germany as a democratic state with freedom of expression. Representatives of
the German film industry, who had come back from exile, together with American occupation authorities in 1948 built a voluntary self-control system for the film industry after the model of the American system of that time.
From these initiatives finally the FSK was born, which gave its first film evaluation on 18 July 1949. The film Intimitäten by Paul Martin (1944) was not suitable for young people under 16 - and may not be shown on some religious holidays.
In the former GDR, all films were controlled by socialist authorities, until after the reunification of the new states joined the FSK.
German age guidelines differ those of the USA. For example the German film Toni Erdmann , which was produced in 2016 and became a worldwide hit and received an Oscar nomination, was rated R by the MPAA in the USA. This stipulates that
young people under the age of 17 are only allowed to watch the movie when accompanied by an adult. The rationale was: The film contains heavily sexualized content, graphic nudity, violent language and short scenes of drug abuse. In Germany, the
FSK judged the same film as suitable for adolescents from the age of 12, this restriction being justified by a somewhat strange, emotionless sex scene without intercourse. The aspects cited by MPAA , that is, language, drugs and nudity, played no
role for the FSK - despite a rather extensive naked party scene.
According to Stefan Linz, the differences between age ratings by the FSK and MPAA are explained by cultural attitudes. In particular, Germans and Americans have a completely different attitude to nudity. While there has long been a large naturist
scene in Germany, public nudity in the US is still considered scandalous.
The FSK does not classify nudity in itself as problematic, says Linz, referring to documentation on nudist communities that have been released for all ages. However, FSK is less generous when nudity in a movie has a sexual meaning or occurs in a
Linz is also of the opinion that attitudes to linguistic usage also differ in the German and English-speaking world. However, this aspect also points to differences in the approach of FSK and MPAA. In the eyes of the American institution, the
repeated use of sexual terms as a swear word justifies an age restriction.
By contrast, in the FSC, numerical ratios are irrelevant when assessing language. Instead, more emphasis is placed on the specific context. Who speaks like the swear word? When a couple of bad words fly back and forth between friends, for example
in hip-hop circles, that has a very different meaning than if the same nasty word is used in a discriminatory or even directly offensive manner, says Linz.
In 2002, the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets caused a change in the rules. From then on, children between the ages of six and twelve were allowed to watch films for children from the age of 12 if accompanied by a parent.
The United Nations ironically censored an event marking World 'Press Freedom' Day.
A U.N. panel discussion on international media freedom and fake news was suddenly postponed because one of the presenters was going to mention by name countries that jail journalists.
Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists commented:
So we have a discussion in the U.N. about battling censorship, being censored, that's quite ironic, he said. I would call on us all here present to resist the politicization -- the increasing politicization of U.N. agencies whose mission is to
defend press freedom.
Alan Miller, founder of the News Literacy Project said in a statement that the panel was postponed after his organization refused a request from the UN's Alliance of Civilizations group to remove references from a video it wanted to present to
several countries that restrict press freedom including Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, Russia and Pakistan. Miller said:
I could not permit this censorship of our presentation due to the stated concern that it would offend one or more countries engaged in repression and violence against journalists, adding that the video has since been posted
on the project's website.
Nihal Saad, from Egypt, spokesperson for the Alliance of Civilizations, spouted:
The alliance asked the group to either make a comprehensive presentation of all countries where press freedom is limited, or to remove reference to specific countries that had been singled out in their report, to ensure objectivity and a more
It hasn't taken long for Germany's new internet censorship to be used against the trivial name calling of politicians.
A recent German law was intended to put a stop to hate speech, but its difficult and commercially expensive to bother considering every case on its merits, so its just easier and cheaper for internet companies to censor everything asked for.
So of course easily offended politician are quick to ask for trivial name calling insults to be taken down. But now there's a twist, for an easily offended politician, it is not enough for Facebook to block an insult in Germany, it must be
Courthouse News Service reports that a German court has indulged a politician's hypocritical outrage to demand the disappearance of an insulting comment posted to Facebook.
Alice Weidel, co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, objected to a Facebook post calling her a dirty Nazi swine for her opposition to same-sex marriage. Facebook immediately complied, but Weidel's lawyers complained it hadn't been
vanished hard enough, pointing out that German VPN users could still access the comment.
Facebook's only comment, via Reuters, was to note it had already blocked the content in Germany , which is all the law really requires.
Of course once you allow mere insults to be censorable, you then hit the issue of fairness. Insults against some PC favoured groups are totally off limits and are considered to be a PC crime of the century, whilst insults against others (eg white
men) are positively encouraged.
In the past few years, web development platform Wix, which lets users build and host their own sites, has become particularly popular with sex workers for its accessibility and customizable options. But recently, models and escorts have said
their pages are being taken down by Wix amid SESTA-FOSTA , the new internet censorship law signed last month by Donald Trump .
\you are not allowed to display content which is in a violation of any applicable laws or requirements in your geographical location. We are obligated to remove such infringing content immediately.
Nichols told the Daily Dot that she rebranded as a model available for erotic photoshoots after SESTA-FOSTA was passed, listing her time and rates without any further context in hopes that she would slide with Wix. However, the service still
terminated her account regardless, she said.
Freja Noir tweeted:
Woke up this morning to see friends' Wix sites are being deleted with no warning, even people with no explicit content and no mention of anything illegal. If you're on Wix, make backups of all your content now. They're not playing. Wow, this
really makes me so angry.
Nichols said that she's already working on getting her site back up. But she's well aware that SESTA-FOSTA is a looming presence in her field. She elaborated:
I hired a designer to build me an open-source site with a foreign domain, host, and server, she said. Not that any of that matters if the government wants to get someone badly enough.
We have today published our Annual Report, Showing More Impact. The report sets out changes in the balance of advertising regulation during 2017, a year which saw a record number of ads amended or withdrawn following ASA action (7,099), as well
as a record number of pieces of advice and training delivered to businesses (389,289).
In total, we resolved 27,138 complaints about 19,398 ads, a 14% increase in cases (meaning ads subject to action) compared to the previous year. The internet overtook TV as the most complained about medium 203 10,932 complaints about 9,951 online
ads (TV: 9,466 complaints about 4,666 ads*). The ratio between internet cases and TV cases remained comparable with the previous year at around 2:1.
We resolved 20,952 own-initiative (compliance) cases, which is further evidence of proactive action to protect consumers. This figure contributed to the record number of ads or ad campaigns that were amended or withdrawn.
Meanwhile, we delivered a record 389,289 pieces of advice and training to businesses during 2017 (a 39% increase from the previous year).
Universities minister Sam Gyimah hosts free speech summit and calls on higher education leaders to work together to create new guidance on free speech
Free speech on campus should be encouraged and those attempting to shut it down must have nowhere to hide, the Universities Minister will make clear to sector leaders at a free speech summit he is chairing today (Thursday 3
Sam Gyimah will call on higher education organisations to stamp out the 'institutional hostility' to unfashionable views that have emerged in some student societies and will urge them to work with the government following
recent reports of a rise in so-called 'safe spaces' and 'no-platform' policies that have appeared on campuses.
He will say that the current landscape is "murky", with numerous pieces of disjointed sector guidance out there, creating a web of complexity which risks being exploited by those wishing to stifle free speech.
The Universities Minister will demand further action is taken to protect lawful free speech on campus and will offer to work with the sector to create new guidance that will for the first time provide clarity of the rules
for both students and universities -- making this the first government intervention of its kind since the free speech duty was introduced in 1986.
The guidance signals a new chapter for free speech on campus, ensuring future generations of students get exposure to stimulating debates and the diversity of viewpoints that lie at the very core of the university
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:
A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling.
There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus.
That is why I am bringing together leaders from across the higher education sector to clarify the rules and regulations around speakers and events to prevent bureaucrats or wreckers on campus from exploiting gaps for their
The free speech summit will be hosted in London and brings together a wide range of influential organisations, including those that have existing guidance in this area, such as the Charity Commission, UUK and EHRC.
The Office for Students, which came into force on April 1, will act to protect free speech and can use its powers to name, shame or even fine institutions for not upholding the principle of free speech. Michael Barber, Chair
of the Office for Students, said:
Our universities are places where free speech should always be promoted and fostered. That includes the ability for everyone to share views which may be challenging or unpopular, even if that makes some people feel
uncomfortable. This is what Timothy Garton-Ash calls 'robust civility'. The Office for Students will always encourage freedom of speech within the law. We will never intervene to restrict it.
Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK Chief Executive, said:
Universities are committed to promoting and protecting free speech within the law. Tens of thousands of speaking events are put on every year across the country, the majority pass without incident. A small number of flash
points do occasionally occur, on contentious or controversial issues, but universities do all they can to protect free speech so events continue.
As the Joint Committee on Human Rights recently found, there is no systematic problem with free speech in universities, but current advice can be strengthened. We welcome discussions with government and the National Union
of Students on how this can be done.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights launched an inquiry on freedom of speech on 22nd November and issued its report on 25th March. The roundtable attendee include:
Home Office -- Matt Collins, Director of Prevent
Office for Students (OfS) -- Yvonne Hawkins, Directer of Universities and Colleges
Charity Commission - Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive
NUS - Amatey Doku, Vice President
EHRC - Rebecca Thomas, Principal, Programmes
Universities UK (UUK) - Chris Hale, Director of Policy
iHE - Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive
GuildHE - Alex Bols, Deputy CEO
Offsite Comment: Banning students from banning speakers is beyond stupid
So, the government has finally come up with a solution to the scourge of yellow-bellied censoriousness that has swept university campuses in recent years: it is going to ban it. Yes, it is going to ban banning. It is going to No Platform the No
Platformers. It is going to force universities to be pro-free speech. Which is such a contradiction in terms it makes my head hurt. You cannot use authoritarianism to tackle authoritarianism. This is a really bad thinking.
A volunteer lifeboatman who served with the RNLI for 15 years was sacked alongside his junior colleague for having mugs with naked women on them in the office.
One featured the lifeboatman's head superimposed on a naked woman's body (with modesty well hidden).
When a senior female member of staff found them at the headquarters in North Yorkshire, their jobs were brought into question.
The pair were initially told to destroy the mugs and that they would face no further action. But the men, who are not paid for their work with the RLNI, then had to go through a disciplinary hearing that looked through their private Whatsapp
messages. They were eventually let go, sparking resignations from four of their colleagues in protest, reports The Sun
An RNLI spokesman spouted PC bollox telling the BBC:
The lifeboat station should be an environment where people can expect to be treated with dignity and respect. We cannot allow bullying, harassment or discrimination in what should be a safe and inclusive environment and there will be
serious consequences for anybody who demonstrates this behaviour within the RNLI.
Our dedicated volunteers represent the values and principles of our organisation and we will not allow any behaviour that brings the work of the RNLI and our people into disrepute.
A petition has now been started by locals to revoke the sackings, which the men themselves are also believed to be appealing.
What is that makes PC bullies want to extract such vengeful and extreme punishments over trivial transgressions? It is extreme injustice to disregard extreme bravery and selflessness in saving lives in favour of easily offended PC extremists
being all offended over a trivial mug.
Update: Finalised and indeed the sacking was over a jokey mug
Following a fair and robust investigation and appeal process, we have upheld our decision to stand down two crew members from Whitby RNLI.
Volunteers are entitled to appeal against our decisions and each case is considered on an individual basis. In this case, no new evidence was presented to us and we stand by our original decision.
We recognise the years of dedication it takes to become a crew member and do not stand volunteers down lightly. But, like any emergency service, the RNLI sets high standards and expects all its volunteers and staff to set an example, not just in
terms of their maritime expertise but also in their behaviour and respect for others.
One volunteer was stood down for social media activity which targeted a member of RNLI staff without their knowledge and produced graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter.
The other volunteer produced a hardcore pornographic image of a fellow crew member on a mug. Some newspapers created their own image of a mug, but the actual image produced by the volunteer was so graphic that no newspaper would be able to print
it without breaking the law.
We will continue to challenge any inappropriate behaviours and practices by staff or volunteers, and we do this for the thousands of volunteers who are committed to doing the right thing as they operate our 238 lifeboat stations 24/7.
The remaining volunteer crew at Whitby are working closely with the RNLI to operate an effective lifesaving operation at Whitby lifeboat station. We would ask the local community to continue to support our volunteers, in what has been a
challenging time, as they remain dedicated to saving lives on the Yorkshire coast.
Spectre is a 2015 USA / UK action adventure thriller by Sam Mendes.
Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz and Ralph Fiennes.
A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.
The BBFC has detailed cuts to Spectre in a new case study. The BBFC explains:
Columbia submitted Spectre to the BBFC in August 2015, for advice on whether it was likely to meet the BBFC Guidelines criteria for 12A. At this stage the film had no title sequence, end credits were missing and some special effects work was
unfinished, but the Senior Compliance Officers (then Senior Examiners) who viewed it noted it was largely complete. The BBFC advised that a 15 rating seemed the most probable outcome, citing strong bloody detail during a scene of eye-gouging and
further bloody detail in the aftermath of the suicide of a terminally ill man.
The distributor chose to reduce or remove elements of these scenes. BBFC staff viewed a re-edited version and advised that, now without strong bloody detail, the film was likely to be classified at 12A.
The eye-gouging in the version seen for advice showed a man embedding his thumbs in a victim's eye-sockets, the withdrawal of the thumbs, and sight of the bloody injury aftermath. The 12A version of the film retained only an establishing shot of
the thumbs being inserted, together with a reverse angle shot from behind the victim's head, with thumbs emerging slightly bloody.
The original suicide scene in the version submitted for advice showed a man place a gun underneath his chin and fire, with a spray of bloody mist. Two subsequent shots showed what might have been interpreted as brain tissue hanging down from the
back of his head. In the 12A version of the film, the suicide took place off-screen, and the injury detail was reduced.
Spectre also features a scene of torture in which Bond is strapped to a chair while a villain pierces his head with a micro-drill. The scene features no graphic sight of blood or injury detail, and instead uses sound and Bond's facial
expressions to suggest his pain. A broadly similar torture scene is present in a previous Bond film -- Casino Royale , also rated 12A -- and, given the lack of detail, and the audience's expectation that Bond will survive such threats, the BBFC
considered the scene to be within the 12A Guidelines for depictions of violence.
The Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that addictive video games have a negative and damaging impact on children's lives.
The comments have been attributed to the phenomenal success of the survival shooter Fortnite. It has been downloaded more than 40 million times and has been endorsed by stars such as footballer Dele Alli and rapper Drake .
Hancock has also said that too much screen time is damaging to the lives of children. Matt Hancock told The Daily Telegraph : Too much screen time could have a damaging impact on our children's lives. Whether it's social media or video games,
children should enjoy them safely and as part of a lifestyle that includes exercise and socialising in the real world.
He also confirmed that his department is working alongside game developers to improve online safety.
It seems that Hancock is trying to dream up a few ideas designed to support the notion of requiring ID for nternet users.
Nigel Huddleston, a Tory MP and parliamentary private secretary to Mr Hancock, also called on gaming companies to take more responsibility over addictive games. He also said he wouldn't want his own 12-year-old son playing the game because of
concerns it could lead to addiction.
The wildly popular children's character Peppa Pig was recently scrubbed from Douyin, a video sharing platform in China , which deleted more than 30,000 clips. The hashtag #PeppaPig was also banned, according to the Global Times, a state-run
Chinese authorities have claimed that Peppa pig has become associated with low lifes and slackers. The Global Times whinged:
People who upload videos of Peppa Pig tattoos and merchandise and make Peppa-related jokes run counter to the mainstream value and are usually poorly educated with no stable job. They are unruly slackers roaming around and the antithesis of the
young generation the [Communist] party tries to cultivate.
We, the undersigned 26 international human rights, media and Internet freedom organisations, strongly condemn the attempts by the Russian Federation to block the Internet messaging service Telegram, which have resulted in
extensive violations of freedom of expression and access to information, including mass collateral website blocking.
We call on Russia to stop blocking Telegram and cease its relentless attacks on Internet freedom more broadly. We also call the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU), the United States and other concerned governments to challenge Russia's actions and uphold the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and privacy online as well as offline. Lastly, we call on
Internet companies to resist unfounded and extra-legal orders that violate their users' rights.
Massive Internet disruptions
On 13 April 2018, Moscow's Tagansky District Court granted Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications regulator, its request to block access to Telegram on the grounds that the company had not complied with a 2017 order to
provide decryption keys to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Since then, the actions taken by the Russian authorities to restrict access to Telegram have caused mass Internet disruption, including:
Between 16-18 April 2018, almost 20 million Internet Protocol (IP) addresses were ordered to be blocked by Roskomnadzor as it attempted to restrict access to Telegram. The majority of the blocked addresses are owned by
international Internet companies, including Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Currently 14.6 remain blocked.
This mass blocking of IP addresses has had a detrimental effect on a wide range of web-based services that have nothing to do with Telegram, including, but not limited to, online banking and booking sites, shopping, and
Agora, the human rights and legal group, representing Telegram in Russia, has reported it has received requests for assistance with issues arising from the mass blocking from about 60 companies, including online stores,
delivery services, and software developers.
At least six online media outlets ( Petersburg Diary, Coda Story, FlashNord, FlashSiberia, Tayga.info , and 7x7 ) found access to their websites was temporarily blocked.
On 17 April 2018, Roskomnadzor requested that Google and Apple remove access to the Telegram app from their App stores, despite having no basis in Russian law to make this request. The app remains available, but Telegram
has not been able to provide upgrades that would allow better proxy access for users.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers -- such as TgVPN, Le VPN and VeeSecurity proxy - have also been targeted for providing alternative means to access Telegram. Federal Law 276-FZ bans VPNs and Internet anonymisers
from providing access to websites banned in Russia and authorises Roskomnadzor to order the blocking of any site explaining how to use these services.
Restrictive Internet laws
Over the past six years, Russia has adopted a huge raft of laws restricting freedom of expression and the right to privacy online. These include the creation in 2012 of a blacklist of Internet websites, managed by
Roskomnadzor, and the incremental extension of the grounds upon which websites can be blocked, including without a court order.
The 2016 so-called 'Yarovaya Law' , justified on the grounds of "countering extremism", requires all communications providers and Internet operators to store metadata about their users' communications activities,
to disclose decryption keys at the security services' request, and to use only encryption methods approved by the Russian government - in practical terms, to create a backdoor for Russia's security agents to access internet users' data, traffic,
In October 2017, a magistrate found Telegram guilty of an administrative offense for failing to provide decryption keys to the Russian authorities -- which the company states it cannot do due to Telegram's use of end-to-end
encryption. The company was fined 800,000 rubles (approx. 11,000 EUR). Telegram lost an appeal against the administrative charge in March 2018, giving the Russian authorities formal grounds to block Telegram in Russia, under Article 15.4 of the
Federal Law "On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection".
The Russian authorities' latest move against Telegram demonstrates the serious implications for people's freedom of expression and right to privacy online in Russia and worldwide:
For Russian users apps such as Telegram and similar services that seek to provide secure communications are crucial for users' safety. They provide an important source of information on critical issues of politics,
economics and social life, free of undue government interference. For media outlets and journalists based in and outside Russia, Telegram serves not only as a messaging platform for secure communication with sources, but also as a publishing
venue. Through its channels, Telegram acts as a carrier and distributor of content for entire media outlets as well as for individual journalists and bloggers. In light of direct and indirect state control over many traditional Russian media
and the self-censorship many other media outlets feel compelled to exercise, instant messaging channels like Telegram have become a crucial means of disseminating ideas and opinions.
Companies that comply with the requirements of the 'Yarovaya Law' by allowing the government a back-door key to their services jeopardise the security of the online communications of their Russian users and the people they
communicate with abroad. Journalists, in particular, fear that providing the FSB with access to their communications would jeopardise their sources, a cornerstone of press freedom. Company compliance would also signal that communication
services providers are willing to compromise their encryption standards and put the privacy and security of all their users at risk, as a cost of doing business.
Beginning in July 2018, other articles of the 'Yarovaya Law' will come into force requiring companies to store the content of all communications for six months and to make them accessible to the security services without a
court order. This would affect the communications of both people in Russia and abroad.
Such attempts by the Russian authorities to control online communications and invade privacy go far beyond what can be considered necessary and proportionate to countering terrorism and violate international law.
Blocking websites or apps is an extreme measure , analogous to banning a newspaper or revoking the license of a TV station. As such, it is highly likely to constitute a disproportionate interference with freedom of
expression and media freedom in the vast majority of cases, and must be subject to strict scrutiny. At a minimum, any blocking measures should be clearly laid down by law and require the courts to examine whether the wholesale blocking of
access to an online service is necessary and in line with the criteria established and applied by the European Court of Human Rights. Blocking Telegram and the accompanying actions clearly do not meet this standard.
Various requirements of the 'Yarovaya Law' are plainly incompatible with international standards on encryption and anonymity as set out in the 2015 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression report (
A/HRC/29/32 ). The UN Special Rapporteur himself has written to the Russian government raising serious concerns that the 'Yarovaya Law' unduly restricts the rights to freedom of expression and privacy online. In the European Union, the Court of
Justice has ruled that similar data retention obligations were incompatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Although the European Court of Human Rights has not yet ruled on the compatibility of the Russian provisions for the
disclosure of decryption keys with the European Convention on Human Rights, it has found that Russia's legal framework governing interception of communications does not provide adequate and effective guarantees against the arbitrariness and the
risk of abuse inherent in any system of secret surveillance.
We, the undersigned organisations, call on:
The Russian authorities to guarantee internet users' right to publish and browse anonymously and ensure that any restrictions to online anonymity are subject to requirements of a court order, and comply fully with
Articles 17 and 19(3) of the ICCPR, and articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by:
Desisting from blocking Telegram and refraining from requiring messaging services, such as Telegram, to provide decryption keys in order to access users private communications;
Repealing provisions in the 'Yarovaya Law' requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to store all telecommunications data for six months and imposing mandatory cryptographic backdoors, and the 2014 Data Localisation law,
which grant security service easy access to users' data without sufficient safeguards.
Repealing Federal Law 241-FZ, which bans anonymity for users of online messaging applications; and Law 276-FZ which prohibits VPNs and Internet anonymisers from providing access to websites banned in Russia;
Amending Federal Law 149-FZ "On Information, IT Technologies and Protection of Information" so that the process of blocking websites meets international standards. Any decision to block access to a website or app
should be undertaken by an independent court and be limited by requirements of necessity and proportionality for a legitimate aim. In considering whether to grant a blocking order, the court or other independent body authorised to issue such an
order should consider its impact on lawful content and what technology may be used to prevent over-blocking.
Representatives of the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organisation for the Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU), the United States and other concerned governments
to scrutinise and publicly challenge Russia's actions in order to uphold the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and privacy both online and-offline, as stipulated in binding international agreements to which Russia is a party.
Internet companies to resist orders that violate international human rights law. Companies should follow the United Nations' Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, which emphasise that the responsibility
to respect human rights applies throughout a company's global operations regardless of where its users are located and exists independently of whether the State meets its own human rights obligations.
In a verdict with grave implications for press freedom, a Malaysian court has handed down the nation's first conviction under its recently enacted 'fake news' law.
Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, a Danish citizen, was sentenced to one week in prison and fined 10,000 ringgit (US$2,500) for posting to the internet a two-minute video criticizing police's response to the April 21 assassination of a member of the
militant group Hamas in Kuala Lumpur.
Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative said:
Malaysia's first conviction under its 'fake news' law shows authorities plan to abuse the new provision to criminalize critical reporting. The dangerous precedent should be overturned and this ill-conceived law repealed for the sake of press
The Saudi Arabia government has apologised to its citizens after supposedly indecent images appeared on big screens during a world wrestling event in the kingdom, Daily Mail reported.
A statement was released by the Saudi General Sports Authority on Twitter, which apologised for the scenes of indecent women that featured in an ad before one of the matches. The statement came a day after a promotional ad featuring female
wrestlers aired at the World Wrestling Entertainment Co's Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah.
The authority said there were shots of women who were indecent and it also said it will not show matches involving female wrestlers.
Men in the audience though cheered on the broadcast of the images during the transmission at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.
Wrestling News reported that the video during which the indecent images aired was promoting WWE Network's upcoming dual-branded PPV Best of Both Worlds show, and showed women in wrestling attire.