Melon Farmers Original Version

Censor Watch

2015: July

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Stupid patent of the month...

Trolls Go After Sex Toy Manufacturers

Link Here31st July 2015

Recently, a company called Tzu Technologies, LLC began suing makers of sex toys for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,368,268 . This resulted in more than a few news stories (and probably a few snickers as well). But the case also shows how our broken patent system is preventing innovation in many spaces, including those we don't traditionally think about. Looking closely at the patent, and specifically at what Tzu Technologies actually claims to own, it is clear that this patent, regardless of its exciting subject matter, deserves to be called stupid.

Tzu Technologies' patent, titled Method and Device for Interactive Virtual Control of Sexual Aids Using Digital Computer Networks is a patent related to teledildonics . Essentially, computer controlled sex toys.

Tzu Technologies recently sued a bunch of small startups in the sex toy space, claiming they infringed this patent. Comingle, for example and according to their website, is a four-person team that is developing open-source sex technology. Also sued was Kickstarter, presumably for allowing another defendant, Holland Haptics, to raise money for their product the Freeble .

As this 1993 Chicago Tribune article shows, the idea of remotely stimulating a partner was nothing new in 1998 (the year the application for the patent was filed). Nor was it unknown how to do it. Howard Stern (in)famously engaged in some of his own teledildonics in the 1980s, that was later reenacted [NSFW] in his 1997 movie Private Parts .

Given this history, you might expect that, in 1998, patent applicants would need to come up with some new and non-obvious way of using a computer to control a sex toy. But like many patents that we have labeled Stupid, that's not what happened. Or at least, that's not what the inventors claimed .

Below is claim 8 of the patent, which Tzu Technologies seems to be asserting. This claim is ridiculously broad. Annotations, in bold, have been added to show just how broadly it can be read:

8. A stimulation system comprising:

[a] a hand-operable input device [a microphone] for generating a command signal [electrical signal] in response to an input [sound wave] received from a first user;

[b] a first user interface [the radio broadcast system] connected to said input device [the microphone] , said first user interface generating a control signal [radio waves] based upon the command signal [electrical signal] ;

[c] a second user interface [a radio] remotely located from said first user interface [the radio broadcast system] , said second user interface receiving the control signal [the radio waves] ; and,

[d] a stimulation device [a stereo speaker] receiving the control signal [the radio waves] from said second user interface [the radio] , said stimulation device imparting stimulation to a second user in response to the control signal [you get the idea] .

Ultimately, claim 8 of this patent is nothing more than the idea of teledildonics, dressed up in input devices signals and interfaces. That's what makes this patent, and these lawsuits, so frustrating. There was nothing novel, nonobvious, or even patentable about this claim. It never should have issued. Doing it with a computer (literally) does not make something patentable.

More and more, everyday items are incorporating software and networking technology. Unfortunately, that means more and more everyday items are at risk of being said to infringe overbroad, vague patents that never should have issued. As this patent shows, the problems with the patent system have the potential to impact many diverse fields, and until we find a way for small companies to quickly and efficiently shut down these patent trolls, we will continue to hurt innovators who are merely trying to make life more interesting.



Update: A swarm of pornographers coming across the Channel...

David Cameron's War on Porn will continue with an autumn consultation on how to censor adult websites

Link Here30th July 2015
Full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
The Guardian has published an article presumably based on a government press release:

David Cameron is to give pornography websites one last chance to produce an effective voluntary scheme for age-restricted controls on their sites or he will introduce legislation that could see them shut down.

In a consultation to be launched in the autumn, the government will seek views on how best to introduce measures to further restrict under-18s' access to pornographic websites.

The industry, in the shape of either UK-based websites or internet service providers, will be given an opportunity to develop proposals to block content through payment providers, such as advertisers and other means.

The consultation will also consider the best form of legislation should voluntary agreements not work. A regulatory approach could see primary legislation introduced to make it an offence in the UK to publish pornography online without age verification controls, possibly with a regulator to oversee and enforce controls.

The government recognises the spread of the internet makes it a challenge to find a form of legislation that would cover such sites both in the UK and internationally. The government has raised the prospect of setting up a pornography regulator to oversee the process and fine firms that breach either legislation or the voluntary guidelines.

The aim is to ensure that the rules that apply offline apply online, giving parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children can use the internet safely.

Cameron said his government was working:

To make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content, which is currently far too widely available. I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down.

The minister for internet safety and security, Joanna Shields, said:

As a result of our work with industry, more than 90% of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family-friendly filters -- something we take great pride in having achieved. It's a gold standard that surpasses those of other countries.

Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls.



Update: Peak Offence...

Ofcom clear a Top Gear joke referencing the term 'pikey'

Link Here29th July 2015
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers
Travellers have complained about Ofcom's decision to clear the BBC after Jeremy Clarkson was shown on an episode of Top Gear with a sign reading Pikey's Peak .

The Traveller Movement are 'outraged' that the communications regulator has green-lit the use of the word pikey and claim it is a victory for racist bullies .

A Traveller Movement spokesman told the Guardian:

We are appalled that Ofcom have followed the BBC Trust's line and have green-lit the use of 'pikey' on Top Gear.

Their decision that this particular use has no reference to Gypsies and Travellers is bankrupt.

The viewing public are not that stupid and Ofcom need to give them more credit. The decision is a victory for racist bullies and we will be meeting with our solicitors, Howe & Co, to consider our options.

An Ofcom spokesman said:

Following thorough investigation we found this programme did not break broadcasting rules by showing a placard which said 'Pikey's Peak'.

We found that, while some in the audience would perceive the word pikey as a derogatory term for Gypsies and Travellers, on balance there was sufficient context in the way the word was used to minimise offence.

However, we have advised broadcasters this doesn't mean the use of the word is acceptable in any programme in any context and that it is capable of causing significant offence in certain contexts.

Ofcom did not rely on the BBC Trust's findings in reaching its decision. As the UK's broadcast regulator, our team investigated this programme completely afresh and reached an independent decision.

It is Ofcom's view that the broadcaster ensured there was sufficient context in the way the word was used to minimise offence and therefore that the use of the word in the context of this programme was not in breach of [...] the Code.



Update: Gobbled up by money monsters...

Sony censors references to China in the film Pixels

Link Here28th July 2015
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids
i Pixels is a 2015 USA action comedy by Chris Columbus.
Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Michelle Monaghan. Youtube link IMDb

When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

According to some of the emails leaked from Sony, the studio heavily edited the movie Pixels to ensure it didn't fall foul of the ever-present Chinese censors.

Reuters is reporting that the original script for the movie, which made frequent references to China, was sanitized after executives felt it could hinder its global box office appeal.

For example, one scene, which featured pixelated aliens blasting a hole into the Great Wall of China, was decided to be too inflammatory for Chinese censors. Li Chow, chief representative of Sony Pictures in China, explained that although the film featured other landmarks being destroyed, it was simply better to lose the scene.

The original script also apparently contained references to a Communist Conspiracy brother hacking an email server. As you can expect, this was also stripped in an attempt to pass the movie for the Chinese market. In fact, by the end of the cull, there were no references to the authoritarian nation left in the script.

Initially, it seemed Sony execs toyed with the idea of releasing both a Chinese and international version of Pixels. Ultimately they decided this would likely backfire.



Forgotten Childhood...

Ministers plan right for people to delete any internet content that they created when under 18

Link Here28th July 2015
The government has said in a press release that ministers are calling youngsters to have the automatic right to demand the deletion of pictures and information held about them online.

Ministers are backing proposals for a string of internet rights for the under-18s to prevent them being embarrassed later on in life.

Indiscreet pictures or texts can blight job prospects, university offers or school places. However, even if potentially compromising content is deleted from a post, it can still turn up on search engines such as Google or on other websites. The former managing director of Google in Europe and one-time Facebook boss, Baroness Joanna Shields is to lead the new internet rights policy group.

The rights that businesses and groups are being urged to sign up to include giving every youngster the right to easily edit or delete all content they have created .

The move comes as the European Union also prepares to allow adults to demand any online images or text posted by them when they were under 18 be taken down. It will be known as the right to erasure

Under the UK plan, websites will be encouraged to have 'delete buttons that young people will be able to use to request information about them be removed.



Difficult Issues...

MPs call for the censorship of a website reporting on muslim extremism and promoting an incendiary exhibition of cartoons

Link Here28th July 2015
A group of MPs have called for an investigation into a well known blog, reporting on muslim extremism, that is popular with the far right.

The Gates of Vienna website has also been promoting an upcoming exhibition of cartoons of the religious character Muhammad in London. It has been organised by the former Ukip parliamentary candidate Anne-Marie Waters and is set to take place at a location in central London on 18 September.

The Labour MPs Ian Austin, Ruth Smeeth, Imran Hussain, Paula Sherriff, Wes Streeting and John Cryer have written to the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, asking her to consider if the site's owners are breaching the law. The letter reads:

It is clear that these are the ideas that inspired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik and as such it is deeply troubling that they are available to inspire others. We would urge you to investigate the Gates of Vienna website and take appropriate action if anyone involved is deemed to be promoting terrorism and civil disorder.

Austin told the Guardian that the exhibition of Muhammad cartoons was:

Clearly [intended] to provoke a reaction from British Muslims and we must all ensure this does not happen.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said an appropriate policing plan would be put in place for the event but would not comment further.



H Chief Keef...

Chicago authorities ban holographic performance from banned rapper

Link Here28th July 2015
American rapper Chief Keef has had a holographic show halted by police. The holographic projection was part of a Chicago music event called Craze Fest

Now the company behind the presentation is threatening to sue the local mayor.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott said he believed Keef was outlawed in Chicago and so took steps to prevent the performance. He said that he had heard Keef had recorded a lot of songs about gangs and gun violence.

Chief Keef has an outstanding warrant for lapsed child support payments in the state of Illinois,

Keef is reported to be very laid back about the ban with an organiser saying: He's used to the police and city always shutting him down, that's been the case since day one.



Model complaints...

Thin Top Shop mannequin causes viral offence

Link Here28th July 2015
Topshop is at the centre of hoo-hah over body image after a photograph of the thin model went viral.

Becky Hopper photographed the mannequin and later told The Independent:

I was shocked. I'd never seen one so skinny before. I genuinely haven't ever seen anyone that size.

Ms Hopper said she had been overwhelmed by the response with the post receiving more than 5,000 retweets.



Update: Holy Cow!...

US burger advert causes easy offence

Link Here27th July 2015
Full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
A current promotional advert at US fast food chain, ampm , uses the phrase 'holy cow' as an exclamation about the size of the burger.

Perennial hindu whinger, Rajan Zed, was quick to take offence, and said that cow was held sacred by Hindus and was considered the seat of many deities. Inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism added that businesses should be more sensitive to the feelings of faithful of all religions.



Moral policemen are inevitably less moral than those they lord over...

Indian film censors arrested as their copy of the film was passed on to film pirates

Link Here 27th July 2015
Three employees at the Kerala office of India's Censor Board were arrested in connection with the piracy of recent Malayalam blockbuster movie Premam .

Earlier, the anti piracy cell of the state police had found that the pirated copy of the movie uploaded on the internet had carried the water mark censor copy. This made the police suspect the involvement of staff at the Censor Board. Police had raided the censor board office and found that a section of staff used to take out copies of films submitted for censoring.



Offsite Article: Censorship Notes...

Link Here27th July 2015
Japanese comics that are too racy for Chinese censors... but still popular online

See article from



Offsite Article: Speaking of uncut versions and the TV watershed...

Link Here27th July 2015
An interview with Stewart Bridle of the Horror Channel

See article from



Update: Charlie and Snoopy...

French constitutional court approves extensive snooping powers for the state

Link Here25th July 2015
Full story: Comms Snooping in France...French database to monitor political activists

France's highest authority on constitutional matters has approved a controversial bill that gives the state sweeping new powers to spy on citizens.

The constitutional council made only minor tweaks to the legislation, which human rights and privacy campaigners, as well as the United Nations, have described as paving the way for very intrusive surveillance and state-approved eavesdropping and computer-hacking.

An 18-strong United Nations committee for human rights warned that the surveillance powers granted to French intelligence agencies were excessively broad . It said the the bill  grants overly broad powers for very intrusive surveillance on the basis of vast and badly defined objectives and called on France to guarantee that any interference in private life must conform to principles of legality, proportionality and necessity .

Amnesty International warned that the French state was giving itself extremely large and intrusive powers with no judicial control.

The bill gives the country's secret services the right to eavesdrop on the digital and mobile phone communications of anyone linked to a terrorist inquiry and install secret cameras and recording devices in private homes without requesting prior permission from a judge.

Intelligence agencies can also place keylogger devices on computers that record keystrokes in real time. Internet and phone service providers will be forced to install black boxes that will alert the authorities to suspicious behaviour online. The same companies will be forced to hand over information if asked. Recordings can be kept for a month, and metadata for five years.

A special advisory group, the National Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques, made up of magistrates, MPs and senators from the upper house of parliament, will be consulted instead of a judge.



Touch but don't look...

Film producers of The Diary of a Teenage Girl disappointed by an 18 rating

Link Here24th July 2015
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a 2015 USA drama by Marielle Heller.
Starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgrd and Kristen Wiig. Youtube linkBBFC link IMDb

A teen artist living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother's boyfriend.

The BBFC commented further in its BBFC Insight:

Strong sex scenes include mechanical thrusting, breast and buttock nudity, and implied oral sex. One scene includes brief sight of a pencil drawing of a young woman with a penis in her mouth.

Other issues include several moments of drug use, including cocaine use, the taking of LSD, and the smoking of marijuana. The film also contains strong verbal sex references and over forty uses of strong language ('fuck'). Some still pictures and short animated sequences include the sight of penises, both erect and flaccid.

The filmmakers have expressed disappointment after British film censors gave it an 18 certificate rather than a 15. Producers have been battling against an 18 certificate, arguing that it is exploring female sexuality in an open and honest way, and that other films featuring underage sex, Kidulthood, Fish Tank and The Reader, were all awarded 15 certificates. Wahida Begum of Vertigo Releasing said:

We are massively disappointed.

The film explores female sexuality with boldness and honesty in an unexploitative manner. In an age where young women are still continually being sexualised and objectified we feel The Diary of a Teenage Girl sends a very positive, reassuring message to young girls about female sexuality and body image.

It is a shame that audience will not be able legally see a film that was made by women for women of all ages.

The film is due to be released in the UK, with the 18 certificate, on 7 August.

The film is R rated in the US which would be called a 17A rating in the UK. The film is 15 rated in Australia (MA15+).



Amazon Watch recommends...

The Green Inferno

Link Here24th July 2015
The Green Inferno is a 2013 USA horror thriller by Eli Roth.
Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy and Aaron Burns. Youtube link IMDb

A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.

The US group Amazon Watch is petitioning people to boycott Eli Roth's The Green Inferno (which seems to be already being boycotted by distributors). The group writes in a petition:

Films like this have always portrayed negative stereotypes against indigenous people as brute savages. These films have psychological effect as indigenous people have been through colonial trauma assimilating to white culture being taught self hate. Westerners are unfortunately ignorant about Amazonian indigenous cultures and depicting them in such a violent story dehumanizes their peoples and couldn't be farther from reality. Shame on you.


It's a shame, we should be creating stories than accurately depict indigenous way of life which is holistic, sustainable, spiritual and harmonious with our earth and brothers and sisters. If you want to save the Amazon and stop China from buying leases to drill oil, make a story depicting the corporate shills for the murderers that they really are. You don't have to create racist, offensive, inaccurate crap to get people to care about the most biodiverse place on the earth.



Commented: Avarice...

ATVOD thwarted in its attempt to force US entertainment website Vice to cough up for expensive and useless censorship services, on the grounds it has a few UK specific pages

Link Here24th July 2015
The American entertainment website, has a page for video articles, mostly international, but a with a few of UK interest. . The website also has staff working in the UK for a company called Vice UK.

ATVOD considered that this was sufficient UK interest for the video service to be liable to ATVOD censorship which comes with a hefty price tag but absolutely nothing in return for the money.

As the website is under US editorial control and hence out of UK jurisdiction, Vice appealed ATVOD's decision to Ofcom who are the ultimate authority for censoring internet video.

Ofcom looked into the location editorial control of the website videos, which is one of the legal fundamentals of deciding the jurisdiction in charge of censorship. And Ofcom concurred with Vice, that the website is controlled from the US and so overturned ATVOD's decision.

This rather leaves ATVOD hunting around for new victims to try and pay for its expensive 'services' of looking into a trivial 55 complaints in a year about UK internet video. Existing non-adult internet video companies are rationalising and declining in numbers, whilst adult services are either closed down or driven offshore by ATVOD's impossibly onerous age verification requirements.

Comment: Wrath

24th July 2015. Thanks to Therumbler

Interesting that ATVOD targeted Vice. One of their writers, Frankie Mullen , has written articles appearing on Melonfarmers, and has questioned the validity of some of the research being used to push internet filters .

This isn't the first time someone questioning ATVOD's vision has been targeted by them. Pandora Blake from the Dreams of Spanking website wrote about her experience of ATVOD :

It seems pretty likely that my visibility as a campaigner has made me a target. In other words, ATVOD are punishing me for speaking out against them. My priorities as a loud-mouthed activist have, it seems, ended up conflicting with my priorities as a creative artist. If I'd kept my head down and stayed quiet, and not attended any protests, or argued against the regulations on the news, or done interviews with the press - if I'd not written a lot of angry blogposts or fundraised 3826 to help Backlash fight the laws - maybe I'd have been left alone a bit longer.



Licensed Monopolies...

EU plans to end the monopoly encouraging carve up of the European media market via geo restriction

Link Here24th July 2015
The European Union has launched an antitrust investigation against several large U.S. movie studios and Sky UK. The European Commission wants to abolish geographical restrictions and has sent a statement of objections over the geo-blocking practices of six major US film studios including Disney, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros.

Due to licensing agreements designed to encourage lucrative monopolies, many movies and TV-series are only available online in a few selected countries, often for a limited period. The movie studios often restrict broadcasters and streaming services to make content widely available, a practice which the European Commission wants to stop.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy said:

European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU. Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky's UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online.

The geo-blocking practices are a thorn in the side of the European Commission who now hope to abolish these restrictions altogether. Under European rules consumers should be able to access the services of Sky and other service providers regardless of where they are located. At the moment, most online services block access to content based on the country people are located, something Sky and the movie studios also agreed on.

The Commission plans to end unjustified geo-blocking, which it describes as a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.

Sky UK and the six major studios will now have to respond to the concerns.



Update: Membership Sexed Up...

Australia's Sex Party bounces back after election concerns about minimum membership requirements

Link Here24th July 2015
Full story: Australia Sex Party...Adult trade association organises a politcal party
The Australian Sex Party is back in the federal political contest, two month's after the party's registration was cancelled.

Back in May, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) determined the party should be deregistered because it was not meeting the membership requirements of 500 members to maintain registration.

The leader of the party, and elected member of the Victorian Parliament, Fiona Patten said the AEC decision provoked an angry response.

There was outrage amongst many of our members.

But deregistration appears to have worked in the party's favour. Patten explained:

What was interesting was the number of people who joined the party during this process. Even people who weren't members, but may have been voters for our party, were outraged by this process and by the prospect that we wouldn't be allowed to contest the next election. So they joined.

Patten says there are about 6,000 members of the party across the country, and a candidate will contest the next election in all states and territories.



Offsite Article: Reddit Revolt: battling the moderators...

Link Here24th July 2015
Asking moderators to protect free speech online is like asking wolves to guard sheep. By Allum Bokhari

See article from



Targeted by Hashtag Harpies...

US store Target stands up against PC bullies and refuses to pull 'trophy' t-shirts

Link Here23rd July 2015
US retailer Target has refused to stop selling an ironic T-shirt which alludes to women as trophies with a spokesperson explaining that women of all ages love the controversial item.

A few PC bullies have been flooding social media with threats to boycott the store via the inevitable petition. User Amanda R. from Milwaukee, Wisconsin started the petition last month for Target to Stop Selling Sexist "Trophy" Shirt That Demeans Women , claiming that the shirt's message encourages rape culture.  The petition has been signed by about 11,500 people and moans:

The word trophy should not refer to any person, man or woman, because we are not THINGS - we are human beings. Labeling any person as a "Trophy" is demeaning their humanity and objectifying them as a tangible object that can be bought, used, and disposed of.

Target have responded in statement to USA Today:

It is never our intention to offend anyone and we always appreciate receiving feedback from our guests,  The shirt you're describing is part of a collection of engagement and wedding shirts that are available in our women's and plus size departments.

The collection also included shirts that say "Team Bride", "Mrs" and "Bride". These shirts are intended as a fun wink and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests.



Offsite Article: Playing the PC censorship game...

Link Here23rd July 2015 catalogues some of the apps being ludicrously banned in Australia

See article from



Trust Us, We're Censors...

Ofcom boss speaks to parliamentary committee about censorship of the BBC and also of religious hate channels

Link Here22nd July 2015
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White was called to address the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee. During the course of the session White told the MPs that she is paid 275,000 a year.

She seemed keen on expanding Ofcom's remit to take on the censorship portion of the BBC Trust's current role. She did however baulk at the suggestion to take on wider governance of the BBC.

White said Ofcom already regulated various aspects of the BBC's output, including issues around decency and harm and offence, and said if the government wanted it to extend its responsibilities to bias and impartiality we will do the best possible job .

But she also warned there would be resourcing implications for the censor, which deals with around 25,000 complaints a year, a tenth of the 250,000 complaints that are received by the BBC on an annual basis.

White was quick to belittle a further option that another body entirely should pick up the BBC censorship role. White warned that concern should be taken that a new OfBeeb-style body did not clash or cause confusion with the role of Ofcom. But she laughed off suggestions of a looming turf war .

On the topic of extremist religious broadcasting, White said that Ofcom has not been hampered by lack of legislation in cracking down on extremist broadcasts following David Cameron said it should be given beefed-up powers to tackle the issue. This was identified as one of the key pillars of Cameron's five-year counter extremism strategy unveiled on Monday, in which he said Ofcom would be given new powers to take action against foreign channels that broadcast hate preachers.

White told MPs on the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee:

We haven't found that we have been unable to act because the legislation hasn't given us the powers.

Where do you place cause and effect, between television and content being a powerful influencer, and that reflecting growing views in society?  It's a very difficult judgment to make ... One suspects that it will vary by community, even by family.

She said Ofcom had a very good monitoring department that looked at potentially extremist content but added:

Depending on the detail of the prime minister's statement and how that gets reflected in legislation ... we would need to look at the team and whether it would need some extra resourcing.

Ofcom shares the government's concerns about harmful, extremist content, and we have taken action against a number of channels. We are continuing to work closely with the government to ensure audiences remain protected.

But she said the regulator's remit with regard to the internet was rather limited, to the broadcasting of stuff that looks like it's been on the television, in the terrible jargon, TV-like content . Ofcom's remit does not cover content on the open internet.



Updated: Dead Serious...

A few EastEnders complaints about gay fun in a funeral parlour

Link Here22nd July 2015
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints
A few EastEnders viweres were 'shocked' when the BBC soap aired a gay sex scene in a funeral parlour on Friday.

TV censor Ofcom received 48 complaints after Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid) was seen getting frisky with Paul Coker (Jonny Labey) in front of an open coffin containing a dead woman's body.

Twitter was inevitably 'awash' with 'shocked' comments from a few viewers criticizing the storyline, branding it disgraceful and distasteful .

The scene, which saw both teens strip off their shirts when their romp was interrupted by Paul's grandparents leading to Ben hiding under the coffin.

A BBC spokesperson responded:

The millions of regular EastEnders fans who tune in each week know and expect dramatic storylines. We are always mindful of out time slot in which we are shown and the scenes in question were implied and not explicit.

Update: BBC responds

22nd July 2015. See  article from

The BBC has published a response to the whinges about EastEnders:

EastEnders, BBC One, 16 & 17 July 2015


We received complaints from viewers who felt the scenes between Ben and Paul in the Chapel of Rest were inappropriate.


We do appreciate that for some members of the audience the scenes in the Chapel of Rest might have a particular resonance, but it wasn't our intention to cause any distress or upset to our viewers with Ben and Paul's storyline.

When the Cokers were introduced as funeral directors, it was inevitable that their work would feature in storylines, and that in keeping with the tone of the show, these would range from serious to light-hearted. We try very hard to be true to our characters and keep their comments and actions as authentic as possible, sometimes this will include actions others find disagreeable.

We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in exactly the same way as we do heterosexual relationships; ensuring depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing. In this case we were careful to ensure the scene was implied rather than explicit, but we appreciate all of the feedback we've received.

Update: Ofcom inevitably not interested

6th September 2015. See  article from

Ofcom said it assessed the complaints but concluded they didn't raise issues warranting further investigation . Its decision continued:

We found the scenes were justified in the context of a long-running plotline and sexual contact between the characters was implied rather than overt. Our rules don't discriminate between scenes involving opposite-sex and same-sex couples.



Updated: Corporate court re-bans personal CD copying...

UK high court undoes the single government measure that put people ahead of big business

Link Here22nd July 2015
Making copies of copyrighted music and videos for personal use is again illegal in the UK because of a ruling by the High Court.

The ruling quashes the 2014 regulation that made it legal to make personal copies of performances for private use as long as the person doing so has lawfully acquired the content and doesn't distribute it to anyone else. That regulation allowed people to make backups or play songs or movies in different formats but didn't allow selling copies or sharing them with family and friends.

But the High Court ruled last month that the regulation hadn't been enacted properly. The personal use exception wasn't immediately thrown out because other remedies could have been considered, but in a further hearing a judge ruled that the government was wrong legally when it decided not to introduce a compensation scheme for songwriters, musicians, and other rights holders who face losses as a result of their copyright being infringed.

The decision came after a legal challenge from Basca, the Musicians' Union, and industry representatives UK Music.

The decision to quash the law occurred quickly after last month's ruling because government officials decided not to object.

Update: Government confirms withdrawal of home copying copyright exemption

22nd July 2015. See  article from

On Friday, Mr Justice Green added a supplementary opinion to his earlier judgment, in which the Secretary of State confirmed that the UK government is withdrawing the failed law, rather than racking up further expenses for the taxpayer. What will happen now remains to be seen.



Offsite Article: Age old privacy issues...

Link Here22nd July 2015
Full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video
What's the Problem With Age Verification? By Jerry Barnett of Sex and Censorship

See article from



Offsite Article: Long time no hear...

Link Here22nd July 2015
Full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors
US anti-games campaigner, Jack Thompson, talks video game violence and censorship

See article from



Django Unbanned...

BBFC Podcast Episode 30: Django

Link Here21st July 2015
An interesting episode in a new shorter 10 minute format. The presenters suggested that the shorter podcasts may now appear more often.

Directed by Sergio Corbucci, Django (1967) is an Italian spaghetti western. The film was refused a classification until 1993, when it was rated 18. Today Django (1967) is rated 15 for moderate, bloody violence.

Listen to BBFC Head of Education Lucy Brett delve into the classification history of the film. You can read more about the film, including an Examiner report, in our From The Archive case study .




Chasing Viewers...

Transporter: The Series airs on Five in its uncut form

Link Here21st July 2015
Transporter: The Series is a Canada / France / USA / Germany action crime TV series by Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen.
Starring Chris Vance, Franois Berland and Charly Hbner. IMDb

Frank Martin is an ex special ops, who now spends his life as a transporter on the other side of the law. With three rules, he always completes his contracts. One way, or the other.

Channel 5 has recently started airing the Canadian action drama show Transporter The TV Series on Saturday nights at 9pm. (Episode 2 went out on 18th July.) The series is a spin-off of the Jason Statham film trilogy of the same name.

What's interesting, is that they're airing the uncut, original versions of the episodes, complete with four-letter-swearing, nudity and strong action violence, that were almost always cut in the USA when the show aired there last year on the TNT network, and which the BBFC would rate at 15 certificate levels. Five are warning viewers: This show contains offensive language (as apposed to the more usual contains strong language).

From Channel 5's Facebook page, it seems people aren't happy about the language.

It seems that the series was made in two versions. The original uncut version has been most widely aired but TNT opted for the watered down version. Wiki suggests that there may be other regional edits too.




Update: Dead Serious...

A few EastEnders complaints about gay fun in a funeral parlour

Link Here21st July 2015
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints
A few EastEnders viweres were 'shocked' when the BBC soap aired a gay sex scene in a funeral parlour on Friday.

TV censor Ofcom received 48 complaints after Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid) was seen getting frisky with Paul Coker (Jonny Labey) in front of an open coffin containing a dead woman's body.

Twitter was inevitably 'awash' with 'shocked' comments from a few viewers criticizing the storyline, branding it disgraceful and distasteful .

The scene, which saw both teens strip off their shirts when their romp was interrupted by Paul's grandparents leading to Ben hiding under the coffin.

A BBC spokesperson responded:

The millions of regular EastEnders fans who tune in each week know and expect dramatic storylines. We are always mindful of out time slot in which we are shown and the scenes in question were implied and not explicit.



Mike and his magic vest...

Australia censors Magic Mike XXL posters

Link Here20th July 2015
It looks like Australia have censored a Magic Mike XXL poster.

The original cinema poster features its stars showing off their bare chested torsos.

But Australian distributors have photoshopped the image and covered up the muscles with white t-shirts and vests.

The Mirror reports that the bus shelter posters have been printed on special paper which makes it look like the lads are wearing tops during the day, but at night their naked torsos are revealed.




Harmful censorship...

Parliamentary committee to grill Ofcom on internet censorship

Link Here20th July 2015
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK's House of Commons is to hold its first evidence session with the newly-appointed Chief Executive of Ofcom, Sharon White. She will appear before the Committee on Tuesday 21 July.

Amongst over topics, the agenda items include: Tackling harmful content online.



Updated: Paying for Immorality...

MasterCard and Visa censor adult services on

Link Here20th July 2015
Full story: Advertising for Adult Services...US censors advertising for adult sex services
MasterCard and Visa have supported a move to censor advertisements in the adult section of classified ad website

The credit card companies will now longer allow their card to be used for payment for such adverts.

The move comes after a sheriff in Cook County, Illinois named Thomas Dart requested that both credit companies sever ties with the site. He cites for reasons of supposed trafficking but no doubt the basis is a moral judgement against adult services.

Update: Censored by MasterCard even when the service is legal

3rd July 2015. See  article from

Thosusands of Australian sex workers say their legitimate business is being brought to a grinding halt by censorship by credit card companies instigated by a US county sherriff.

Mastercard has announced it was implementing a worldwide ban on customers placing adult ads on, an online classified advertising marketplace used widely by sex workers to promote their services.

The site has long come under fire from moralist in the US, where sex work is illegal in most states, for promoting prostitution. But the censorship still applies even where legal.

The Scarlet Alliance, which speaks on behalf of Australian sex workers, said was the primary source of clientele for many local sex workers.

Brisbane sex worker Nikki Cox said she was angry and upset about Mastercard's decision. She said:

We have fought long and hard in this country to have the rights that we do.

For a sheriff in the USA to come along and appeal to have credit card companies remove the option of using our card to pay for advertising services is a badly thought out decision on his behalf.

This is fine for the USA where sex work is illegal in 49 states but it should not have a rollover effect in Australia.

Scarlet Alliance CEO Janelle Fawkes went one step further, accusing Mastercard of discrimination.

We have anti-discrimination protection for sex workers in some parts of Australia, and much of that legislation is framed around treating sex workers differently and disadvantaging them.

This is very specifically singling out and discriminating against sex workers, which is absolutely unacceptable.

Sex workers are part of the community and are earning a legitimate income like everyone else, and they have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

Update: Free listings

20th July 2015. See  article from

The online classified web site, long used by sex workers as a low-cost means of advertising their services and screening clients, has announced that it is allowing users to post ads for free to the adult services section of its site.

Backpage has been sending e-mails to users of the adult services section of the site informing them that they could use free promo code FREESPEECH until their payment situation was resolved to post ads.

Advertisers can also still use bitcoin to pay for ads, and the company recently began allowing users to pay for credits that could be used to post ads. The credits can be purchased by money order, check or cash mailed to a P.O. Box in Dallas.



No Free Speech in Brighton...

Money grabbing Brighton council charge fees for news interviews on their turf

Link Here20th July 2015
Brighton has a reputation for permissiveness and a liberal, laid-back, independent attitude, but it appears to have taken an uncharacteristically authoritarian approach into what you can and can't do for free on its beaches and environs.

For anyone wanting take pictures or carry out an interview on its beach or in town, the city council has decreed that there is a 200 fee.

Civil liberty campaigners and champions of a free press have expressed bemusement after Brighton & Hove city council tried to charge the fee for working on its beach or other parts of the city. Caroline Lucas , the Green MP for Brighton, has investigated and expressed her concern. Index on Censorship is among the organisations that said the move ran counter to the right to freedom of expression.

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship , said:

Journalists should not be charged in order to carry out their jobs. This runs counter to all the principles that should underpin a free and independent media.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors , branded the move outrageous. He said:

Beaches and streets are public places. If local councils are to start charging for reporting the news, it is time someone reminded them that we are supposed to live in a free society.

When the Guardian asked the council again about the policy, its press office said it stemmed from a decision made by the economic development and culture committee in June last year, at which point the council was run by the Green party.

The council approved new fees and charges payable for filming in the city. In 2013-14 the council was paid more than 33,000 for 135 pieces of filming. It agreed to introduce a new structure from 2014-15 that would include an increase in charges and the introduction of a 50 administration charge and hourly rates.



The age of political correctness...

The BBFC tries its hand at age ratings for politically incorrect websites

Link Here19th July 2015
As noted in the recently published Annual Report, the BBFC are adjudicating on appeals against unfair website blocking by mobile service providers.

There's a few interesting decisions mainly in areas of age classifications for PC sensitive website themes.

For instance one of the early decisions was about banter on a sports forum featuring a 'rape gallery' highlighting attractive girls. The feature seems to have been deleted from the current forums on offer.

The BBFC reports:

A member of the public was concerned about several chat forum threads on which were available on an operator's mobile service, ranging from jokes about the Bin Laden family, to images with a sexual element, and a thread encouraging members to post pictures of people they would rape, described as a 'Rape Gallery', alongside written comments about raping these individuals.


The BBFC reviewed the content on 5th November 2013.

We partially upheld the complaint. Much of the humorous content was aimed at adolescents and was suitable, under BBFC Guidelines, for 15 year olds and above. This content therefore did not require restriction to adults only. However, we took the view that, while the Rape Gallery might have been intended to be funny, many would not find it so, and, moreover, that it posed a non-trivial harm risk by presenting women as rape targets.

We concluded that it would be classified at least 18 or R18, and might potentially be refused classification.



Update: The sword inevitably proves mightier than the pen...

Charlie Hebdo will no longer feature Mohammed cartoons

Link Here18th July 2015
The editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has said the magazine will no longer draw cartoons of the religious character Mohammed.

Laurent Sourisseau told news magazine, Stern , that the magazine had done its job and what it had set out to fulfil. The weekly magazine's editor, who is known as Riss, said:

We have drawn Mohammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to.

We've done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.

He told the German magazine he did not want to believe the magazine was possessed by Islam but maintained that he believed that they had the right to criticise all religions .



ATVOD Annual Report 2015...

UK VoD industry forced to cough up half a million quid so that 3 staff and 3 fat cats can investigate 55 complaints, of which 10 were upheld and 10 are ongoing. That's 22,000 quid spent for each happy complainant

Link Here17th July 2015
No wonder ATVOD keep banging on about on about their campaign against hardcore porn websites. There's not much else to do.

ATVOD writes in its press release:

The Authority for Television On Demand , co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services, has today published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2015 to protect children from hardcore porn on regulated video on demand ( VOD ) services.

Twelve services, operating across 137 websites, were found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2014-15 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be accessed by under 18's.

Of the twelve services, eight acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed, and two were the subject of ongoing enforcement activity at year end. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a person or company established outside the UK. ATVOD has no powers in relation to services operated from abroad and on-demand services provided from outside the UK are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by ATVOD in the UK to protect children from hardcore pornography.

Given the ability of adult website operators to place their services beyond the reach of current UK regulations, ATVOD counsels against complacency and has continued to encourage policy makers to consider how children might be better protected from pornography online.

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:

We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.

Our enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18's. Asking visitors to a website to click an I am 18 button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient, if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the offline world.

ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK. We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software and worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation introduced in December 2014 which prohibits on UK based, tv-like VOD services any material which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.

Looking forward, we note with interest the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to require age verification for access to all websites containing pornographic material.

Chairman Ruth Evans notes that she is standing down from the role in 2016.

Update: Planting a mole

23rd July 2015. See  article from

Ruth Evans is now set lead the British government's Payments Strategy Forum, which is currently being assembled to bring together the U.K. payments industry and representatives of all those that use payment systems. She will begin her new role on July 27 while still helming the title of chair for ATVOD.

As chair of the Payments Strategy Forum, Evans will be responsible for guiding and progressing discussions among stakeholders, including card payment systems operated by Visa and MasterCard, as well as direct debit processors. Evans' slot will be independent of the industry but appointed by and accountable to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), the new economic regulator for U.K. payment systems that became fully operational in April.



Update: Sincere flattery...

French MP takes inspiration from the UK and proposes default internet blocking

Link Here17th July 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

A French MP has started the ball rolling on internet censorship on the grounds that children need to be protected from X-rated sites.

MP Jean-Jacques Candelier of the Democratic and Republican Left said that he'd had enough of the scourge of freely available online pornography. He wrote to Laurence Rossignol, the Secretary of State for the Family, Elderly People and Adult Care, asking for the government to introduce an access code in France, meaning that adults who want to see pornographic content online must manually opt-in to gain entry.

Failing that, Candelier suggested a default blocking of all pornography online, a move he said was inspired by David Cameron's controversial internet filters that came into effect in the UK last year.

The MP told France TV Info:

I don't condemn the existence of these sites, but they have to be reserved for adults. We need to put in place a system of access codes that will be asked for every time someone tries to connect to these sites,



Update: UK licensed to censor the world...

Christian moralists commission propaganda survey in support of Elspeth Howe's annual attempt to enact her Online Safety Bill, requiring age verification for adult content on the internet

Link Here17th July 2015
Full story: Online Safety Bill...Elspeth Howe proposes onerous website age verification
Nearly three-quarters of people questioned for a survey for a christian morality campaign said all websites offering adult movies and pornography should introduce age-verification systems

The Government should impose age verification checks on all websites which offer pornography and 18-rated entertainment such as horror films , Fifty Shades of Grey and Game of Thrones , according to the survey.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults was conducted earlier this month for Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), which is campaigning for internet censorship.

The ComRes survey found 74% of the people they asked said the Government should require sites offering pornography in the UK to put age verification checks in place. A further 73% also said that age verification should apply to 18 rated films streamed online.

The timing of publication of the survey was timed to support Elspeth Howe's latest Online Safety Bill, which was debated in the House of Lords today. The Online Safety Bill required default website blocking for mobile phones, requires strict ID verification for adult internet video and also required foreign porn sites to get a UK licence for its operation on threat of banks denying payment services for unlicensed websites.

The Bill passed its 2nd reading in the Lords and now moved to committee. But the government did rather point out that Howe was stepping on their toes for initiatives that the government would be introducing in the near future.



Abandon hope all ye who enter Australia...

Police raid Adelaide shop for not selling the novel, American Psycho in a sealed plastic wrapper as required by Australian book censors

Link Here17th July 2015
An Adelaide bookshop owner has been gently raided by police for selling copies of the cult novel, American Psycho that were not plastic-wrapped.

The novel, by American author Bret Easton Ellis, has been classified R18 by book censors since its release in 1991, requiring it to be sold in plastic and only to those aged over 18.

It is a satirical book depicting a psychotic high-flying Wall Street worker in an era of greedy America and includes a number of very violent and graphically shocking passages.

Imprints Booksellers co-owner Jason Lake said previous editions had always been plastic-wrapped but the most recent edition was a Picador Classic with an introduction by famous Scottish author, Irvine Welsh, and it did not come plastic-wrapped. He said:

We just assumed the classification has been lifted.

It's the only book on our shelf that we ever have with a plastic wrapper.

Lake said the police were very gentle when they arrived and asked that the book be removed from the shelf. He said the raid occurred because somebody complained to police after reading in a weekend newspaper column that the book was being sold by bookshops without plastic wrapping.



Update: Illegal Snooping...

Judges 'disapplies' UK government's emergency law to continue the collection of snooping data after the original basis was found invalid in European Court

Link Here17th July 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
In a decision of great potential importance, the Divisional Court (a Lord Justice and High Court Judge sitting together) have declared section 1 of DRIPA, an Act of Parliament passed in 2014, to contravene the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as it was interpreted in the Digital Rights Ireland judgment of April 2014.

Digital Rights Ireland declared invalid the Data Retention Directive of 2006, an EU measure which had been promoted by the UK and which required all Member States to retain telecommunications data for periods of between 6 and 24 months.

DRIPA (enacted under emergency procedures in July 2014, in only four days) was the UK's reaction to Digital Rights Ireland. Its purpose was to provide a statutory basis, replacing the now-invalid Directive, for the requirement that service providers in the UK retain certain categories of data (e.g. sender/recipient, date/time/duration of communication, but not content or web browsing history) for 12 months.

The Divisional Court judgment applied the Digital Rights Ireland principles to DRIPA, disapplying the Act of Parliament to the extent that it failed to respect the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

It remains to be seen whether the Government will appeal and, if so, how quickly that appeal will be heard.



Popping Out...

Domains associated with Popcorn Time are seized

Link Here17th July 2015



Letting Off Steam...

Mr Turner heads the near empty list of public complaints about BBFC decisions

Link Here15th July 2015
It seems to be something of a tradition for the press to pick up on the handful of complaints about film classifications as the only thing worth reporting from the BBFC Annual Report.

There are hardly any complaints presumably because the age categories are set more or less in line with most peoples expectations. In addition people have positively elected to go to the cinema or watch the DVD, so are less likely to be surprised at the contents, than for more passive viewing medias like TV.

Anyway the top films that attracted a few whinges are:

  1. The film Mr. Turner , classified 12A, generated the most feedback in 2014: nineteen members of the public complained about a sex scene in the film, though it needs to be kept in mind that this is a very low figure for most complained-about film, and is a tiny proportion of those who will have seen it. In the scene in question, Turner's clothed buttocks are seen clenching vigorously, before the scene cuts to a close-up of his face and his thrusting head and shoulders. The scene is relatively brief and does not contain any nudity, but Turner does appear rather distressed. The act ends with shots of Turner sobbing, almost in an exhibition of self-loathing.
  2. The 15 classification of 12 Years A Slave generated a total of twelve complaints about the violence, including sexual violence, in the film. 12 Years A Slave tells its story in a considered and responsible manner, and contains very little in the way of blood or injury detail. The scenes of violence in the film are strong but are contextually justified. With very few clear images of the injuries inflicted, the depictions of violence serve to illustrate the very real brutality suffered by many slaves at the hands of their masters. The rape of a female slave is shocking but is shown in a discreet manner. There is no nudity and the focus of the scene remains on her impassive face.
  3. The 15 classification for Bad Neighbours received eight complaints. Correspondents raised the language, drug references and sex scenes in the film as problematic to them at 15. There is one use of the word 'cunt' as a man laments the fact that his baby has heard someone swear and worries that soon the baby will begin using the c-word .
  4. 300: Rise of An Empire is the sequel to the film 300 and was classified 15. Seven members of the public contacted the BBFC about scenes of violence, a strong sex scene, and sexual violence in the film. Although 300: Rise Of An Empire does contain strong violence, the sequences are presented in a very stylised and unrealistic manner. For example, scenes of decapitations and slow motion plumes of blood are exaggerated and very clearly rendered using computer generated images. This gives the film a visual style similar to that of the comic book the 300 films are based on.
  5. The Equalizer generated seven complaints from the public for its 15 classification. Correspondents raised the violence in the film as problematic at 15, while others complained that the film had been cut to achieve a 15 classification. Although the violence in The Equalizer is strong in places, particularly during hand to hand fight scenes, it does not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury, nor do any of the scenes qualify as the strongest gory images of the type that would require an 18 classification.



Poltergeist posters uncensored by ASA...

How come clowns haven't got a PC campaign group to get professionally 'outraged' about the near 100% depiction of clowns as sinister and/or downright evil?

Link Here15th July 2015

An ad on the side of buses and a poster for the film Poltergeist :

  • (a) The bus ad featured an image of the head of a scruffy, smiling clown doll which stated THEY KNOW WHAT SCARES YOU. POLTERGEIST .

  • (b) The poster ad featured the same clown doll and text in a darker format. Issue

Seventy two complainants, many of whom considered the ads were distressing for themselves, their children or had colrophobia (fear of clowns), challenged whether the ads were suitable for outdoor display in an untargeted medium.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that some children and adults considered that the ad was distressing especially in an untargeted, outdoor medium and that consumers with colrophobia could find the ad distressing. We noted that the ad had a dark format and the image of the clown starred out from the poster and had a scruffy appearance. However, we considered the image was not menacing and noted the ad included no other images that were likely to contribute to such an impression. The ad also included the text THEY KNOW WHAT SCARES YOU. POLTERGEIST but we considered in the context of ads for a horror movie it was not overtly threatening or suggestive of danger, rather it was likely to be understood by consumers as being a typical reflection of a movie of that format.

Although we acknowledged that some distress had been caused, because we did not consider that the overall impression of the ads was such that they were likely to cause excessive fear or distress, particularly in the context of an ad for a horror film, we concluded that they were not irresponsibly targeted in outdoor media.



Expanding Online...

BBFC publishes Annual Report covering 2014

Link Here14th July 2015

Further voluntary regulation of online content began in October, when the BBFC in partnership with the BPI, Vevo and You Tube, and UK record companies Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, launched a pilot to classify online music videos by UK artists signed to the three major labels. The pilot brings the same content standards to online music videos as that envisaged by an amendment to the Video Recordings Act, in force from 1 October 2014, requiring the classification of previously exempt music videos, and other educational, sport or religious videos, on DVD and Blu-ray. Any video featuring content at the 12, 15 or 18 level must be submitted to the BBFC for classification. BBFC Director David Cooke said:

As in 2013, the most fast-moving developments in our work have been in the non-statutory, self-regulatory area. Our work to protect children from potentially harmful media content online increased significantly and our partnership with the mobile industry to regulate, on a voluntary basis, internet and commercial content delivered via the mobile networks of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone also received praise from the Government, child protection groups and others, including the Open Rights Group. In 2014 we considered appeals in relation to 42 websites available via mobile networks, dealing with issues as diverse as assisted dying, racism, abortion, and hunting. Details of all of these cases are published on our website.

In addition to a growth in voluntary regulation, the BBFC classified more than 950 films for cinema release in 2014, making the level of theatrical submissions on a par with the 1960s.

In 2013 the BBFC Classification Guidelines review consulted more than 10,000 members of the British public about film classification and found that 75% understand that a film rated 12A is generally suitable for children aged 12 and over, but a younger child may see the film if accompanied by an adult. Because up to a quarter of those surveyed were unsure as to the meaning of the 12A rating, from July to September 2014 an advertisement to help increase awareness of what the 12A cinema rating means was broadcast in cinemas across the UK. The advertisement reminds parents to check the BBFCinsight for every 12A film before they take a child under 12 to see it.

As part of our wider education work, in 2014 the BBFC spoke to more than 12,000 teenagers, younger children and adults about its work to protect children and empower consumers. Many BBFC education sessions take place in partnership with film festivals, libraries and cinema chains. Our biggest collaboration of 2014 was with the Into Film Festival where we introduced 22 screenings at 17 cinema locations across the UK.



Update: Obfuscated Stats...

Sky Broadband says that the majority of families opt for some level of adult content blocking

Link Here14th July 2015
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Sky Broadband has issued a strange press release boasting of the uptake in its internet website blocking service whilst not revealing the relevant stats that underlie the claim. The press release leads with the paragraph:

Millions more families across the UK are enjoying the internet in safety following the successful roll out of Sky Broadband Shield. Sky's award-winning free internet filtering and safety tool is now active in over 70% of the homes in the roll-out to customers who had not previously made a choice, with the majority of families keeping the parental controls in addition to the malware and phishing protection Sky Broadband Shield provides.

One would suspect that 70% of subscribers are opting for some level of website blocking, but this does not necessarily mean that all of these are blocking adult content. Sky Broadband Shield includes the option to just block malware and phishing sites, which is probably a popular option.

On the subject of blocking the likes of porn, then Sky just says that the majority of families select this option. The Daily Mail notes that the ISP TalkTalk said that about 36% of subscribers are families with children, so Sky's comment about the 'majority of families' probably means something over 18% of total subscribers selecting the adult content blocking levels.

Of course the Daily Mail is quick to rush to the conclusion that 70% of subscribers are blocking porn ...maybe just as Sky intended.

Sky also make the point that far more people have turned on some level of blocking because they were forced to make a decision, than before when they were merely told that options were available. Sky writes:

Following the introduction of Sky Broadband Shield in 2013, Sky initially asked its existing customers to choose whether or not to turn Sky Broadband Shield on, and new customers were required to choose whether or not to turn it on at activation. Beginning in January 2015, Sky then rolled Broadband Shield out to all customers who hadn't already made a choice about whether to activate it or not.

Sky took the decision to roll out Sky Broadband Shield to customers after the Government challenged ISPs to look at how they protected children and families online. By making the default position of Sky Broadband Shield on and making it easy to adjust or decline at any time, Sky gave customers a choice about whether they wanted the protection whilst making their online safety a priority.

Sky's decision to give customers a choice about Broadband Shield whilst making the default position on meant that many more customers took an active interest in what the product offers. When customers were previously emailed and asked to choose, less than 5% engaged. This evidence supports Sky's unique approach as the safest and easiest way to protect families online.



Updated: Motherducker!: Kanye West takes requests for your favourite offensive words...

BBC have fearful contingency plans to censor the rapper's 10:15pm performance at Glastonbury

Link Here 14th July 2015
BBC bosses have been finalising contingency plans in case they can't air a lot of Kanye West's set from Saturday night's Glastonbury headline slot because of strong or 'offensive' language.

They want to avoid a repeat of ITV's embarrassment which saw the channel mute the audio during his performance of All Day, due to repeated mentions of the word 'nigger'. A BBC source said:

The set list can change at the last minute, so who knows what Kanye could say on stage?

There are contingency plans in place. A warning will be broadcast ahead of his set, advising viewers to expect bad language, but as he comes on at 10.15pm there's hope it will be acceptable post-watershed.

Given his excessive swearing at the Brits, there will be a lot of nervy execs during his performance.

But they'll have to play it by ear on the night.

Update: O go on...just a couple

28th June 2015. See  article from

West said the word 'nigger' twice within minutes of his headlining set, during the tracks Nigger in Paris and Black Skinhead.

The rapper also got the crowd to participate in his latest track All Day. The chorus for All Day features the word 'nigger' repeatedly.

Update: Motherducker!

30th June 2015. See  article from
See BBC subtitled video from YouTube

Given the post-watershed hour, the BBC decided not to bleep Kanye West for his Glastonbury performance, the BBC did though embarrass itself over a puerile attempt at censoring the strong language for the subtitles.

BBC Subtitles tried a new approach by replacing offensive words with words that sounded similarly but didn't include profanity.

This way, they got motherducker and shut the lock up and ligger / ligga and so, so many more hilarious words. Whoever was working on BBC Subtitles that night eventually lost heart and replaced all with the generic [HE RAPS].

These ludicrous substitutions certainly amused some viewers and fun was to be had by all on Twitter.

Meanwhile 44 whinged to TV censor Ofcom about the strong language.

Update: BBC official statement

1st July 2015. See  article from


We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with some of the language used by Kanye West during his headline set.

BBC Response

The performance was broadcast after the watershed and clear warning notices were given that it may contain strong language -- both at the start of the show and again, with a caption placed on screen just as Kanye's act started.

Update: Ofcom complaints dismissed

14th July 2015. See  article [pdf] from

Ofcom have noted that the 46 complaints received about strong language at Glastonbury have been dismissed and will not be taken up for further investigation.



Flagged up by Censors...

Pakistan film censors demand cuts to remove images of Indian flags

Link Here13th July 2015
The Indian film ABCD 2 has suffered censorship problems in Pakistan.

The Sindh Board of Film Censors passed the film without any cuts and with a U (Universal) certificate in Karachi on June 18. The Punjab Board of Censors also cleared it without cuts.

However the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) in Islamabad wanted passionate lip kissing shots from the song Dance, excised. The certificate further stated that Indian flags, wherever occur in the film, be excised .

The last diktat posed problems for exhibitors since the Indian tricolour waves across the film and is prominently displayed in the climax song. The only cineplex in Islamabad, after some deliberation, decided not to screen the film. But two other cinemas played it. Nadeem Mandviwalla, a leading distributor and exhibitor in Pakistan, said:

Due to excessive cutting in the film by the CBFC, specially in the end song, resulting in nearly the entire song being excised, we opted not to exhibit the film at our ME--Centaurus Cineplex in Islamabad.



Diversity in TV Censorship...

Malaysia introduces very strict censorship rules for Malay TV productions

Link Here12th July 2015

Malaysia's Film Censorship Board  (LPF), known in Malay as Lembaga Penapisan Filem, has issued bizarre new guidelines that are stricter for muslim Malay productions than for other local ethnic groups, mostly Chinese and Indian.

Apparently complaints were lodged by the public to the LPF about a local Malay drama that depicted a married couple in a bedroom scene. The complaints caused by said drama, Maid , prompted the LPF to introduce the new guidelines.

Issued on June 30, the guidelines apply mostly on local Malay productions, though any Chinese, Tamil and English productions that include a Malay cast will be subjected to the Malay productions criteria.

Some of what local TV dramas and movies will have to adhere to include:

  • No passionate scene between men and women and members of the same sex
  • No passionate kissing scene (on lips/neck)
  • No molesting/ touching of the genitals and licking between men and women or members of the same sex scene
  • No rape or sexual scene (except if filmed without lighting, behind mosquito nets, or filmed using vague shadows without sexual action)

For fans of horror movies, the below guidelines for any Malay/Chinese/Tamil/English productions will be even more horrifying than any Jasons or Ju-Ons to appear onscreen:

  • No scene showing very scary and terrifying faces of creatures/entities
  • No terrifying, nauseating and disgusting scenes

Meanwhile, action movies will have to think of a way to advance their plot without breaking any of the following guidelines:

  • No scene depicting going against the law (except if the criminals face retribution)
  • No scene or dialogue that gives a bad image to the government (example: bribing and misuse of power)

Of course, any usage of coarse language/gestures, portrayal of men as women (unless in disguise) and display of skin/genitals/genital outlines as well as anything political will also face the chopping board.

The guidelines currently address TV contents only but it is likely that they will be extended to movies playing in cinemas too.



Offsite Article: Criminal defamation of a military dictatorship...

Link Here12th July 2015
Crusading Phuketwan website shuts down as journalists prosecuted in Thai court for reporting on the plight of the Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar to Thailand

See article from



Update: Cuts not allowed...

India's loony film censor unilaterally bans 18 rated films from TV, even after extensive cuts

Link Here11th July 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
Pahlaj Nihalani, surely the most megalomaniac head that the Central Board of Film Classification (CBFC) has ever had, has resurrected an old rule from 1990 that means that 'A ' (18) rated films can no longer be aired on television even if they have been re-cut or re-censored to be eligible for a U or U/A certificate.

Nihalani claims he's simply going by the book and told 9XE that this is a result of films in recent times becoming more predominantly vulgar themes by depicting sex and featuring double meaning dialogues , which he deems as infinitely more harmful than the violence and horror that would form a staple of Hindi cinema earlier. We cannot possibly edit out a film's theme, he was quoted as saying, so how do we re-censor these films to make them U or U/A?

TV channels are legally not allowed to broadcast adult content but have previously allowed the films to be shown after CBFC cuts to a lower rating. Of course if the CBFC refuse to make the cuts then the films are then automatically banned from TV.

Of course losing TV sales will hit the pockets of producers of such films and may lead to fewer A rated films being made.



Update: Cameron's War...

Not content with impoverishing young people, David Cameron seeks to ban their favourite messaging apps

Link Here11th July 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat could all potentially be banned under the latest revision of the Government's Snoopers Charter that's being drafted at the moment.

The Investigatory Powers Bill, mentioned in the 2015 Queen's Speech , would allow the government to ban instant messaging apps that refuse to remove end-to-end encryption.

Home Secretary Theresa May reportedly plans to push the bill forward as quickly as possible, putting it in front of the Government by the Autumn.

The unconfirmed ban has caused an outcry on social media with reactions ranging from anger to disbelief that the Government would be able to take on companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.

David Cameron hinted at  such repressive measures earlier this year in the aftermath of the Paris shootings when he claimed that when implementing new surveillance powers he would have no problem banning services like Snapchat if they didn't comply. He threatened:

In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremes, with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally that we cannot read.

My answer to that question is no we must not. If I am prime minister, I will make sure it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorist safe spaces to communicate with each other.

In a damning report on government surveillance however , leading computer experts at MIT have claimed that the proposals by both the US and UK governments have 'failed to account for the risks' that are inherently associated with removing encryption. The report states:

These proposals are unworkable in practice, raise enormous legal and ethical questions, and would undo progress on security at a time when Internet vulnerabilities are causing extreme economic harm.



Update: UK internet censorship looks set to be filtered out...

Tories fail to get the EU to exempt UK website blocking from net neutrality provisions that seem to ban ISPs from interefering with people's internet feed

Link Here10th July 2015
Full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
New rules for Internet providers across the European Union could eliminate adult website blocking in the U.K.

The telecoms single market rules, approved June 30, will go before the full European Parliament for a vote this fall. If the legislation gets a green light, it will trump existing national laws. Censorship provision were more laterly debated in Council on July 8.

Despite the best efforts of UK Conservatives in the Parliament, the EU-wide regulation will put an end to Internet service provider-level filters for adult content, which will mean new U.K. laws by the end of next year.

Currently in the U.K., the major ISPs give users the option to block pornography or gratuitous violence. Consumers are prompted to choose whether to turn on the blocking filter when they first use their Internet connection.

While an exception for parental blocking tools was debated, it was not included in the final text.



Update: Making supreme sense...

Indian Supreme Court dismisses petition to block all internet porn

Link Here10th July 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
There will be no restrictions on watching porn within the confines of your own home, the Indian Supreme Court has said. The apex court declined a plea to pass an interim order to block all porn sites in India.

Hearing a petition by advocate Kamlesh Vashwani, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said: Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21 [right to personal liberty].



Obituary: Casper Bowden...

British privacy activist

Link Here10th July 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation writes:

Like so many of his friends and colleagues across the world, we were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Caspar Bowden, the British privacy activist and co-founder of the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR).

Among a community filled with perceptive advocates for a better future, Caspar Bowden stood out as one of the most prescient and the most determined. With a far-reaching knowledge of both policy and technology, he was frequently years ahead of his contemporaries in identifying upcoming issues, and never hesitated to transform his own life and career to better meet those challenges.

Caspar was a key figure in the British fight for the right to encrypt in the 1990s Crypto Wars. As a technology adviser for Scientists for Labour, he successfully convinced Britain's Labour party, then out of power, to adopt a civil liberties platform that was strongly pro-privacy and pro-encryption.

But when Labour attained power in 1997, its leadership turned its back on the party's own election promises. Instead it began drafting a potentially catastrophic law that would have mandated compulsory crypto backdoors in the UK. Caspar leapt from internal lobbying of the Labour party to co-found the Foundation for Information Policy Research, a non-partisan thinktank that intellectually dominated the opposition to Labour's new policy. What eventually became the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) would have been a far worse law without Caspar's constant interrogation of its drafters, and behind the scenes lobbying for better language, oversight, and an abandonment of backdoors and key escrow as a statutory goal.

After RIPA passed into law, Caspar joined Microsoft as its Senior Privacy Strategist. From 2002, he worked within the corporate sector to improve user privacy. His experiences at Microsoft gave him the insight and later authority to warn others of the dangerous weaknesses of the United States' legal protections for non-U.S. persons.

When he left Microsoft in 2011, he once again became an independent voice, warning others that they were sleepwalking into a surveillance state. He had surmised what Snowden's leaks ultimately confirmed: that the NSA was using the United States dominance in hosting new cloud services to spy with almost no legal limits on the rest of the world. Instead of a single political party or the British establishment, he now began to educate and inform the European Union about how its member states and citizens were being treated by the U.S. intelligence services, and how they could fight back. From this broader stage, his reputation as a deeply knowledgeable expert on surveillance spread across the world.

Caspar frequently had the frustrating experience of seeing his most pessimistic predictions disregarded as alarmist, only to turn out to be true all along. His final illness came just as Britain's Prime Minister once again made the call to eliminate strong encryption and insert dangerous and futile backdoors by force of law. Caspar passed away before he had the chance to see victory in this new, old, battle, but he left us with over twenty years of piercing analysis and compelling arguments to continue his work. It's now up to us to fulfill his wishes in compliance with the high expectations he always expected and lived by.



Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers...

Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information Principles in International Law

Link Here10th July 2015

The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in all major international human rights instruments, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The exercise of this right and the activity of journalism, whether by professional or non-professional journalists, however, sometimes leads to prosecution, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, or worse. How can journalists be protected in the face of such dangers? The answer lies in the law. Journalists operate within an international legal framework which protects their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of information, meaning that governments can be held to account. The right to freedom of expression can be limited, however, and so this Handbook also looks at how freedom of expression can be restricted in specific circumstances and how it is balanced with other rights, such as the right to privacy.

The Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers is unique in its kind as it focuses specifically on the application of international legal principles to the work of journalists. It includes decisions and recommendations made by international and regional bodies and courts in relation to various aspects of freedom of speech, including: international sources of law giving rise to freedom of expression and freedom of information principles; defamation; the right to privacy; protection of public order and morality; and national security and state secrets.



Update: Too much sexual energy...

Indian film censors ban Magic Mike XXL, but there's still an appeal board to try

Link Here9th July 2015
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
Magic Mike XXL is a 2015 USA comedy music drama by Gregory Jacobs.
Starring Amber Heard, Channing Tatum and Elizabeth Banks. Youtube link IMDb

The continuing story of male stripper, Magic Mike.

There's no kissing, no BDSM, no violence, only lots of male stripping. But the Magic Mike sequel, scheduled to open in India on July 3, is unlikely to arrive.

Pahlaj Nihalani, the loony chairperson of the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC), along with members of the Examining Committee, watched Magic Mike XXL. At the end of the screening, they announced in no uncertain terms, that the comedy-drama could not be per mitted to release in India because of all the sexual energy on display.

Tthe producers then had a second screening for an eight-member Revising Committee. Five of them were ready to clear the film with half-a-dozen cuts, the remaining three rejected it. A spokesman explained:

Since there is a difference of opinion, Warner Bros. will have to go to the appeal Tribunal or not release the film in India.

A Warner Bros. Pictures India spokesperson told Mirror:

The film stands postponed. Once cleared we will definitely release it in India.



Cruelty to Rhubarb...

Perhaps the BBC could save a bit of money by not pandering to ludicrous whingers and by quickly dismissing silly complaints about Geoffrey Boycott jokes

Link Here9th July 2015
Test Match Special is well known for easy going banter, but the BBFC threw a hissy fit when Geoff Boycott joked that England cricketer Stuart Broad wasn't smacked enough by his mother when he was little.

This ludicrously prompted an inquiry by the BBC Trust after a listener complained that it somehow condoned physical abuse of children.

Boycott was joking to Henry Blofeld about Chris Broad's tendency to think he is always right when being quick to use up limited reviews of umpiring decisions. Boycott said:

His mum didn't smack him enough when he was little, I reckon. See I grew up in that [era]. No political correctness then. You got a little clip from your mum. That sorted you out.

A listener, who also could have done with a few more parental smacks,  complained after the broadcast it had condoned the physical abuse of children and said the comments were insensitive and inappropriate .

The complaint was rejected by the BBC's editorial complaints unit, saying Blofeld and Boycott were very well known to the audience and had well-established characters .

The complaint was later escalated to the BBC Trust, but trustees ruled out an appeal saying it had little chance of success. It acknowledged the seriousness of protection of children but said the audience would have understood that there was no serious intent behind the remark . It said it was clear that the remarks were made in the context of criticising the behaviour of the player who appealed to the umpire that a cricketer was out in circumstances when it was evident he was wrong .



Offsite Article: New Zealand's Harmful Digital Communications Act...

Link Here9th July 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
Harmful to Everyone Except Online Harassers and the PC lynch mob

See article from



A little bit of Apoplexia...

PC censors get worked up over an advert for Vivastreet

Link Here8th July 2015

Two ads for Vivastreet online classified ads service:

a. A poster displayed on a bus stop pictured three women posing and looking at the camera and text which stated A little bit of Bella ... A little bit of Layla... A little bit of Nicola ... Get your own little bit at .

b. An ad on the side of a black cab featured the same image and text as ad (a).

The ASA received 24 complaints:

  1. All the complainants objected that the ads, and in particular the phrase Get your own little bit , were offensive because they were sexist and objectified women.

  2. Five complainants also objected that the ads were irresponsibly placed where children could see them.

ASA Assessment: complaints upheld

The ASA understood that the ads promoted Vivastreet's personals section, which included a subsection for escorts as well as dating. We acknowledged that some people would find the advertising of classified ads for escorts offensive because of the product being promoted. However, the fact the product would be offensive to some people was not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. We therefore considered the overall impression and context of the ads.

The image of the women in the ad was no more than mildly sexual in nature and we considered that most people who saw the ad were likely to recognise that the words used derived from the well-known song Mambo No.5. However, we considered that the words A little bit of Bella ... A little bit of Layla ... A little bit of Nicola ... Get your own little bit at , in combination with the image, objectified women and implied that they could be bought on the Vivastreet website, which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We considered that many older children were also likely to understand that implication of the ads and for that reason (and notwithstanding that the ads were not placed in close proximity to schools) it was socially irresponsible to place the ads in outdoor media because they were likely to be seen by children. Although we understood that Vivastreet were aiming the ads at a particular target market, they appeared in outdoor media and could therefore be seen by anyone. We concluded that, in that context, the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that they were unsuitable for public display.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Vivastreet to take particular care when advertising the personals section of their website, including in outdoor media, to ensure they did not objectify women or imply they could be bought, to avoid causing serious or widespread offence.



Update: It's Only Rock 'n Roll...

London Transport censors whinge about Rolling Stones exhibition advert

Link Here8th July 2015
Even in their seventies, the Rolling Stones still have the power to get the establishment hot under the collar.  A poster for their new museum exhibition has been banned for being supposedly lewd.

The advert has their trademark logo of a cartoon mouth and protruding tongue covering the crotch of a woman's bikini bottom.

While it has already been used across social media, on news websites and by major companies such as Ticketmaster, bosses at Exterion Media, censors that approve posters to appear on the London Underground and at bus stops, insisted the logo be moved up to the woman's belly button before allowing it to go ahead.

This is despite the advert already being widely used by the band online to promote Exhibitionism , which opens at London's Saatchi Gallery next year.

A spokesman for the band said:

We are dumbfounded and perplexed at this rather silly decision. Perhaps the fact that it's the Rolling Stones and controversy seems to follow them everywhere.



Update: Draw the Line Here...

English PEN publish book of cartoons as a fund raiser for Charlie Hebdo and for campaigns in support of free speech

Link Here8th July 2015
English PEN has announced the publication of Draw The Line Here , a collection of cartoons drawn in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015.

The book is a collaboration between the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation (PCO), Crowdshed, and English PEN. It features cartoons drawn by British artists in the days immediately after the attacks. The work of 66 cartoonists is featured, including Steve Bell, Dave Brown, Martin Rowson, Peter Brookes and Ralph Steadman. The book features a Foreword by Libby Purves and an introduction by Robert Sharp of English PEN.

Two themes appear repeatedly in the cartoons. The first is the black balaclava of the terrorist - a menacing yet somehow compelling image. Whether it is Jihadi John in Syria or the Paris gunmen, the masked face of the assassin has already become shorthand for murderous intolerance.

The second theme is that of a writing implement as a weapon. Pencils that counter the gun barrel, or pens held aloft like a crusader's sword. Such images are a form of wish fulfilment - if only a pen or a brush could really stop bullets.

The profits from Draw the Line Here will be shared between the Charlie Hebdo victims' fund and English PEN's free speech campaigns for embattled writers and artists around the world. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect to this book, therefore, is that the contributors have used their own freedom of expression to defend the free speech rights of others. It is a positive and creative response to a moment of destruction, and should give us cause for hope.



Drawing the Line in Malta...

Maltese government drafts legislation to repeal blasphemy laws and to legalise sex shops

Link Here8th July 2015
Full story: Censorship Law in Malta...Lawnmakers hide obscenity law behind child protection
Porn shops, cuirrently illegal in Malta, will soon be able to open on the strength of legal reforms that will allow pornographic material to be displayed so long as a clear warning is affixed outside the shop. The warning must read:

Warning. Persons passing beyond this notice will find material on display which they may consider indecent. No admittance to persons under 18 years of age.

It will still be illegal to distribute pornographic material in public places and to expose children or the unsuspecting public to pornographic material.

This is one of a series of legal reforms addressing morality and censorship. Another amendment decriminalises the vilification of religion.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said these reforms showed that government did not believe that the State ought to be the moral custodian of adults. He said:

Adults are to be treated as adults... These reforms aim to incentivise freedom of artistic expression while protecting the vulnerable,

Bonnici explained that the legal reforms -- that were in draft stage and would soon be presented in Parliament -- will include the complete removal of articles 163 and 164 of the Criminal Code. This will mean decriminalising the vilification of the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion and other religions.

The two articles made it illegal to vilify religion by words, gestures, written matter, whether printed or not, or pictures or by some other visible means.)



Attitude at Sainsbury's...

Supermarket spotted censoring fully clothed gay magazine whilst being OK with a bikini on FHM

Link Here8th July 2015
Sainsbury's has been criticised for covering up a gay magazine with a modesty board , right next to a copy of FHM featuring a woman in a bikini.

A PinkNews reader sent a photo of the board covering an issue of Attitude Magazine at the Mid City Place branch of Sainsbury's Local.

 The Attitude issue in question was the Pride Heroes edition, which featured a number of people, male and female, all fully clothed.

The Sainsbury's Twitter account responded to criticism to say:

We use modesty covers for a range of publications -- including Loaded, Zoo, Nuts, Bizarre, Front & Attitude... We do regularly review the titles covered and we'll log your feedback.



Short lived press freedom...

Sri Lank re-establishes oppressive press censors

Link Here8th July 2015
The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about Sri Lankan authorities' decision to re-establish the Sri Lankan Press Council, a media regulatory body which gives the government powers to jail journalists in connection with their reporting.

The Press Council was established under the 1973 Press Council law and is made up of members appointed by the president as well as two journalists chosen by media organizations. Under the law , outlets are forbidden from publishing documents related to cabinet decisions without the permission of the cabinet, as well as some defense and fiscal matters. The law also provides for wide-ranging punitive powers, including the imprisonment of journalists and publishers, according to local press freedom groups.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced the decision on July 2 , and appointed new members to the council that day, according to news reports. The president did not consult any local media houses or press organizations.

The Press Council was dissolved in January 2015 after Sirisena was elected president. During his presidential bid , Sirisena vowed to uphold press freedom. But his commitment to uphold press freedom has proved somewhat short lived.



Update: Long forgotten freedoms...

Russia's parliament passes bill enabling internet censorship under a local version of the EU's 'right to be forgotten'

Link Here5th July 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Lawmakers have passed a bill enabling further internet under Russia's version of the 'right to be forgotten'. The bill was rushed through parliament after only being submitted on May 29.

The new law, passed despite objections from Yandex, Russia's largest search engine, will allow people to censor search links about them that they do not like. i

The legislation is reported to be broader than the European Union's right to be forgotten initiative.

Yandex, after failing to get amendments incorporated, said it had major objections to the final version of the law said:

Our point has always been that a search engine cannot take on the role of a regulatory body and act as a court or law enforcement agency. We believe that information control should not limit access to information that serves the public interest. The private interest and the public interest should exist in balance.



Offsite Article: Pose Invariant PErson Recognition or 'Piper'...

Link Here5th July 2015
Facebook can recognise you from photos even it can't see your face. Researchers trained the software using 60,000 photos taken from Flickr It was able to correctly identify individuals with more than 83% accuracy

See article from



Offsite Article: Police still harassing photographers, this time at a Brighton shopping centre...

Link Here 4th July 2015
For all the thousands of photographers that have been harassed by the authorities, I wonder if this has ever led to a terrorist being discovered.

See article from



Offsite Artilce: Extreme Oppression...

Link Here4th July 2015
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
How a Facebook User in Thailand Was Sentenced to 50 Years in Jail for 'Defaming' the Monarchy

See article from



Age of Enlightenment...

French film classifiers overrule government and pass Gasper Noe's Love with a 16 certificate

Link Here3rd July 2015
  Love is a 2015 France / Belgium drama by Gaspar No.
Starring Gaspar No, Aomi Muyock and Klara Kristin. Youtube link IMDb

A sexual melodrama about a boy and a girl and another girl. It's a love story, which celebrates sex in a joyous way.

Gaspar No's new film Love has been given a 16 rating in France, despite a government 'recommendation' that it should receive an 18 rating.

The 3D drama, which features explicit sexual scenes, was originally rated 16, but the French culture minister Fleur Pellerin made the unusual move of interfering. Pellerin requested that there be a second review, given the sexual nature of the film. But despite this, the certificate remained the same.

The French directors' guild also stood by No and criticised Pellerin. The group said in a statement:

We have nothing to gain from being in the game of conservatism and puritanism. The 'moralisation' of works, the intimate friend of censorship, is a dangerous game. The filmmakers of ARP remain convinced that poetry, sexual as it is, [from] filmmaker Gaspar No, will remain a better educational source than that of porn debauchery permanently available on the internet.

Note that the 16 certificate in France is used for films towards the strong end of violence, and for those featuring softcore or else non pornographic real sex. The French 18 rating is reserved for hardcore pornography. UK 18 rated films not on the stronger end of the sex or violence spectrums are often 12 rated in France.



Extract: Touch of Evil...

The BBFC looks back to 1958 when it censored Orson Welles' classic crime thriller

Link Here3rd July 2015
To coincide with a nationwide re-release of Touch Of Evil, and a BFI season to mark the centenary of Orson Welles during July and August (2015), The BBFC takes a look at the censorship file for the 1958 thriller:

Touch Of Evil arrived at the BBFC for classification in April 1958, and much of the original film file is lost. BBFC examiner records do however include a cuts list for the original submission, available here, which shows the Board's concerns about scenes of violence, implied gang rape, and gore in the film. With these reductions made, the film was passed A, meaning it was more suitable for adults.

...Read the full article



Campaign: Vote Non...

Wikipedia spearheads the campaign against more crap EU censorship law that will remove the right to freely use photos of notable buildings and monuments

Link Here3rd July 2015
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
Wikipedia is campaigning against yet more censorial legislation from the EU. Wikepedia writes:

Absence of full Freedom of Panorama means we can't illustrate Wikipedia properly.  

For more than a decade, volunteers have compiled countless facts and contributed millions of hours to build Wikipedia. Photographers have donated hundreds of thousands of photos to illustrate the articles.

The reason Wikipedia can freely depict public spaces in most of the countries in the European Union is that we enjoy full Freedom of Panorama . This is an exception to copyright that allows people to make and use photographs of public spaces without restriction, while at the same time protecting the architect's or visual artist's rights.

Now, the free use of many of these images is in danger by a proposal in the European Parliament . If the restrictive text accepted by the Legal Affairs Committee is adopted in the course of the upcoming EU legislative procedure on copyright reform, hundreds of thousands of images on Wikipedia would no longer be free and thus would no longer belong in Wikipedia.

Read more

Contact a Member of the European Parliament



Iceland est Charlie...

Buccaneering Pirate Party commendably gets blasphemy law repealed in Iceland

Link Here3rd July 2015
Less than a week after Iceland's prime minister contended that his nation's fundamental values would be at risk should the insurgent Pirate Party ever come to power, the group has celebrated its first legislative success, the decriminalization of blasphemy.

Birgitta Jonsdottir , one of three Pirates in the Althing, Iceland's Parliament, was among party activists celebrating the vote in favor of their bill to repeal the prohibition on impious irreverence, which had been in force since 1940.

The measure to repeal the law , which made ridiculing or insulting the dogmas or worship of a lawfully existing religious community an offense punishable by a fine or up to three months in jail, was introduced in January , in the wake of the murderous attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo.

While the vote was underway in the Althing, The Iceland Monitor reported , all three of the party's members took the floor to say, I am Charlie. After the bill was made law, the party said in a statement , The Icelandic Parliament has issued the important message that freedom will not bow to bloody attacks.



Update: Australia measures up as a big girl's blouse...

More details on Australia's censorial new game and app banning scheme

Link Here2nd July 2015
Full story: Online Games Censorship in Australia...Online games producers try to evade censorship

In the past four months, the Australian Classifications Board has labelled 220 video games, making it illegal to sell, advertise or exhibit them in the country.

Australian newspapers have been downplaying the censorship saying that it doesn't sound so bad when one realises that the amount of bans is related to the large quantities of back catologue apps being processed via a new rapid decision program, perhaps up to 150,000 of them.

In fact that the 220 games are properly banned under censorial rules for what's allowed in adults only R18+ games. There was a lot of political opposition to allowing an adults rating at all and the final compromises rules ban games for content that would be perfectly legal in most western countries. For instance more or less anything to do with the depiction of drugs is banned from Australian games.

Examples of banned games on the list include:

  • AK47 Simulator
  • Torture the Murderer 2
  • Measure Bra Size Prank
  • Islam Today
  • Douchebag Beach Club
  • Pass the Grass
  • Time for Cocaine
  • Wrecking Miley
  • Police Bus for Criminals
  • 2015 Athletic Fruits Girls
  • Fun Swimming Pool Love Kiss

There are also several instances of the same game developer submitting multiple, obviously identical games (for example Weed Time submitted as Smoke a Bong FREE, Smoke a Bong, Smoke a Joint, Smoke a Joint FREE and Nose Dose ).

So it seems there are still serious discussions to be had around Australia's game censorship system, including the fact that Australia is much stricter than other countries when it comes to representations of sexual content and drugs, something that has resulted in the blocking of a handful of high quality, well-respected games that adult players in other countries enjoy.



Reverse Voltaires...

Five new threats to free speech today. Mick Hume's new book examines what's changed in the free-speech wars

Link Here2nd July 2015



Heads roll after William Tell misses its target...

Royal Opera House goers boo a naked rape scene in a 15 rated production of Rossini's William Tell

Link Here1st July 2015
The opening night of William Tell at the Royal Opera House has been marked by boos over a rape scene with nudity. Some opera goers also booed at the end of the performance when the production team came on stage for the curtain call.

The BBC news report suggests that the booing may not have been totally aimed at the depiction of the rape, but may be connected with fundamentalist opera goers who feel that directors should stick more closely with operas as written. And in this age of the PC bully, they feel that their views should be heard above those of the director and other opera goers.

The Opera House issued a statement after the performance of Guillaume Tell apologising for any distress caused. Director of opera Kasper Holten said:

The production intends to make it an uncomfortable scene, just as there are several upsetting and violent scenes in Rossini's score. We are sorry if some people have found this distressing. 'Brutality and suffering'.

The scene puts the spotlight on the brutal reality of women being abused during war time, and sexual violence being a tragic fact of war.

Rossini's opera of the Swiss patriot, William Tell, who shoots an arrow that splits an apple atop his son's head, was directed by Damiano Michieletto.

The Stage gave the production one star. George Hall called it:

A dire evening in which the gratuitous gang-rape scene provoked the noisiest and most sustained booing I can ever recall during any performance at this address.

Michael Arditti, the Sunday Express theatre critic said the production represented a new nadir for the opera house and heads should roll .

But some were upset at the booing in the audience. Janice Evans wrote she was:

In shock at this level of intolerance exhibited in the ROH. I felt abused by their aggression and ashamed of their disrespect for the performers.

The Royal Opera's production of William Tell will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 14th July at 5.50pm. The production is also being shown as live at cinemas and caries a BBFC 15 rating.



Arbitrary Standards...

A few people claim that they are offended by the Beach Body Ready advert and ASA claims that they are not

Link Here1st July 2015
Before investigating the issues raised below we told Protein World that, due to our concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims, the ad could not appear again in its current form.

While the ad was prohibited from appearing again solely on those grounds, we undertook a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.

A poster for a slimming product, seen on the London Underground network, stated ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY? and featured an image of a toned and athletic woman wearing a bikini.

378 complainants, who raised a range of issues around offence and potential harm, challenged whether:

  1. the ad implied that a body shape which differed from the idealised one presented was not good enough or in some way inferior and was, therefore, offensive; and
  2. the combination of an image of a very slim, toned body and the headline ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY? was socially irresponsible in the context of an ad for a slimming product.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA understood that the Copy Advice team had seen the ad prior to it appearing and advised that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We recognised that beach body was a relatively well understood term that for some people had connotations of a toned, athletic physique similar to the image of the model in the ad. We considered that it also had a broader meaning - that of feeling sufficiently comfortable and confident with one's physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment. We considered the claim ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY? prompted readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer and we did not consider that the accompanying image implied that a different body shape to that shown was not good enough or was inferior. We concluded that the headline and image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Not upheld

Although we understood the claim Are you beach body ready? invited readers to think about their figures, we did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public. For that reason, we concluded the ad was not irresponsible.



One Sided Net Neutrality...

EU seems set to allow wide ranging exemptions to net neutrality including blocking censored or age protected content

Link Here1st July 2015

The European Union has said an exception to net neutrality rules, covering spam filtering and blocking porn, was part of its new compromise deal.

The deal included four instances when net neutrality rules need not be applied.

One of the four exceptions was filtering spam as well as allowing parents to set up parental filters that block pornography or gratuitous violence from children.

However, the commission now admits that this exemption was announced before it was actually agreed.

The three other exceptions were the blocking of illegal content; preventing the misuse of networks, for instance viruses, malware or denial of service attacks; and finally to minimise network congestion that is temporary or exceptional .

However tech websites have suggested that the EU exemptions may undermine net neutrality. See The EU Could Kill Net Neutrality With a Loophole from



No wonder MPs are detached from the real world...

Newspapers reveal how internet censorship denies MPs basic internet resources such as the urban dictionary

Link Here1st July 2015
Over blocking on Westminster's internet network is denying MPs the basic tools to do their job properly.

The press have had a field day about a particular website being blocked called which rates politicians by sex appeal and presents visitors with photos of two randomly selected parliamentarians and asks which one would be preferable in bed.

Clearly some parliamentarians are given privileged uncensored internet as the Telegraph bemoans that more than 50,000 views to the website were allowed compared with 484,683 attempts to view which were censored.

The next most popular banned website was the Urban Dictionary, with 155,000 attempted views, of which 8,180 were successful. Visitors can learn the meanings behind ghetto slang with phrases such as rich rolling - or showing one's most ornate materials .

Overall the MPs made more or less zero access to content termed porn in 2014 with the reported total access count being just 394.

A member of the IT staff spoke about the partial availability of uncensored internet feeds:

The intention is that all computers are subject to the same website filtering rules. As highlighted in the response to the FOI request, these rules had not been correctly applied to some connections, this has now been rectified.



Offsite Article: I told you I was trouble...

Link Here1st July 2015
Amy Winehouse movie will not be re-edited because of criticism

See article from

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