Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has issued to the following press release from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media
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.
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.
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 mood-based
"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.
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.
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 weeks.
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
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
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 erections.
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 7pm.
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
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
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."
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
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.
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 writes:
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
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 parents
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.
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 blocked
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 experience.
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.
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.
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.
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, and
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.