Censor Watch

2008: October

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31st October   

Update: BBFC Red Lights Elspa...

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BBFC unsurprisingly unimpressed by Elspa symbols
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

The BBFC has told Edge it is taking legal advice after observing that the newly-proposed 'traffic-light' PEGI symbols bear a striking resemblance to its own.

The BBFC believes such a system is around already. Our classification symbols have been colour-coded since 1982. They're very widely recognised, and in fact they are trademark and copyright protected, a company spokesperson told Edge.

We're happy for ELSPA to make sensible improvements, but not if they encroach on the protection of the BBFC's symbols. We have these symbols using colours, using circles and using numbers, so we are now taking legal advice.


31st October   

Police Should Be Ostracised...

CD Universe

Ludicrous overreaction to gag on Have I Got News For You
Link Here

The police are deciding whether to investigate whether a joke broadcast on last week's Have I Got News For You was homophobic.

However, the BBC said the gag was designed to show up the persecution of homosexuals in Iran.

One viewer complained following the comment, which came amid a discussion over a failed Iranian bid to create to the world's biggest ostrich sandwich.

Host Alexander Armstrong said: On the plus side they do still hold the record for hanging homosexuals.

And guest Skinner joked that homosexuals are often ostracised.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed: A member of the public has made a complaint regarding comments made in the programme. The complaint is currently being reviewed.

But the BBC said: The presenter never intended for this comment to be homophobic - quite the opposite. Viewers are more than familiar with HIGNFY use of satire - in this instance aimed at the Iranian regime and not the Iranian gay community.

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said: I interpreted it as an anti-Iran joke, exposing and mocking Iran's murderous homophobic regime. It was parody and satire, I think, not an endorsement of executions.


31st October   

Update: I've Also Fucked Your Auntie...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh


Heads roll at the BBC over Russell Brand prank...
Link Here

The BBC has ordered a fundamental review of taste and decency standards across the network in an attempt to end the row about the prank phone calls that has engulfed the corporation.

The controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas, one of the most influential figures in the radio and music industries, was forced to resign, while Jonathan Ross, the highest-paid man in British broadcasting, has been suspended for 12 weeks without pay. His Radio 2 presenting colleague Russell Brand resigned on Wednesday.

The BBC Trust ordered an on-air apology to licence fee-payers for serious and deliberate breaches of editorial guidelines, and asked the director general, Mark Thompson, to write a personal apology for the scandal. He declined to comment on the future of more junior staff involved but promised to conduct a review of broadcasting guidelines.

Last night's edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks was also cancelled as it featured Brand – a subsequent version of the show was broadcast in its place. The BBC said it had no plans to show the program at a later date.

The BBC announced a raft of measures it was taking to prevent something similar happening again, including a review of compliance procedures across radio output, and a study into where the appropriate boundaries of taste and standards should lie across all BBC output. Sessions will be held with senior staff on the lessons to be learnt. The director of BBC audio and music will also ensure that all programmes are re-assessed for editorial risk and those with high risk will have additional... oversight.


31st October   

Update: Wowser Stephen Conroy...

Government struggles to find support for its internet censorship
Link Here

Wowser Stephen Conroy:
I am not a wowser
some material online,
[such as hardcore porn]
is illegal

The government election promise to censor the internet looks to be in trouble as Senate opposition grows.

The Rudd Government promised families far-reaching measures to block prohibited content at the internet server level. However Communication Minister Wowser Stephen Conroy extended the idea to censoring adults.

The idea now faces a concerted backlash against the proposal by the internet industry.

If the Liberals oppose legislation imposing server-level filtering, the Government will need the support of the Greens, Family First senator Steve Fielding and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon.

But the Greens have added their voice to Coalition concerns about the plan, with the Greens' communications spokesman calling the proposal daft.

Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam told The Age yesterday that he was concerned the Government was trying to implement a policy that was technically difficult and very expensive for taxpayers. Senator Ludlam said server-level filtering imposed a kind of censorship that runs counter to what the internet is all about. The Government would be better investing the filtering money in law enforcement and education: I think it's really quite misguided .

The industry says mandatory filtering by internet service providers - as distinct from a net nanny that families can put on their own computers - will slow internet speeds significantly.

Nutter Senator Fielding has signalled he wants a range of material blocked, including hard-core pornography and fetish material. Senator Xenophon has indicated he wants access to offshore gaming sites restricted.

The Government is still a way from producing legislation to effect its policy, but indications are that it will be difficult to achieve consensus in the Senate.

Communications Minister Wowser Stephen Conroy has launched a defence of the policy, hitting back at claims by the internet industry that the Government wants a sweeping ban on controversial content: I will accept some debate around what should and should not be on the internet - I am not a wowser [...BUT...] I am not looking to blanket-ban some of the material that it is being claimed I want to blanket-ban, but some material online, such as child pornography, is illegal. [Hardcore porn is also illegal on the internet in Australian but somehow Conroy doesn't say anything to counter the idea that it should therefore be blocked]

In response to arguments that the proposal would affect basic civil liberties and the principle that households should be able to be their own internet policeman, he said: We are not trying to build the Great Wall of China. We are not trying to be Saudi Arabia, and to say that is to simply misrepresent the Government's position.

No Clean Feed

Based on article from blogs.smh.com.au

If you're concerned about the government's plans for filtering the internet, it's time to speak up before it's too late. Visit NoCleenFeed.com , run by Electronic Frontiers Australia, for information on how to voice your concern. Do it quickly, before some holier-than-thou git decides you're not allowed to see it.

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia
Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet badge


31st October   

Update: Anti-Porn Bill Passed...

Indonesia retreats from the civilised world
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah
burkha top bikini bottom

Indonesian bikini

Indonesia's parliament has passed an anti-pornography law despite furious opposition to it.

Islamic parties said the law was needed to protect women and children against exploitation and to curb increasing immorality in Indonesian society.

The law would ban images, gestures or talk deemed to be pornographic.

Artists, women's groups and non-Muslim minorities said they could be victimised under the law and that traditional practices could be banned.

The law has prompted protests across Indonesia, but particularly on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali - a favourite destination for tourists.

Critics particularly do not like a provision in the bill that would allow members of the public to participate in preventing the spread of obscenity. We're worried it will be used by hard-liners who say they want to control morality, Baby Jim Aditya, a women's rights activist, told Associated Press news agency.

This law will ensure that Islam is preserved and guaranteed, said Hakim Sori Muda Borhan, a member of parliament from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party.

The bill must be signed by the president before it comes into effect.

Violators face up to 12 years in prison and hefty fines.


31st October   

Extreme Campaigner...

CAAN welcomes Peter Tatchell
Link Here

CAAN (Consenting Adult Action Network) extends a warm welcome to Human Rights Campaigner and co-ordinator of OutRage!, Peter Tatchell, who is the latest high profile supporter to align with their cause.

This follows their successful demonstration in Parliament Square on Tuesday, when they joined forces with Ben Westwood, in their continuing campaign against government attacks on individual sexuality.

Explaining his decision, Peter Tatchell said: The government has gone way beyond a legitimate desire to stop sexual exploitation. It is now legislating in ways that violate the sexual human rights of its citizens.

The current bill outlawing so-called extreme pornography will criminalise images of sexual acts that are perfectly lawful.

There is no evidence that Harriet Harman's proposed outlawing of soliciting for sex will help rescue the victims of sex trafficking and enslavement. It will merely drive sexual abuse and exploitation further underground, making it even harder to regulate and police.

Clair Lewis, for CAAN, said: Our focus is on sexual interaction between consenting adults. We have a simple statement of principle, which politely asks government to stay out of our bedrooms. Unless sexual activity is non-consensual, it is no business whatsoever of government what adults get up to in private.

Despite this, recent legislation – not only on extreme porn, but also on safeguarding vulnerable people – is designed to criminalise and exclude from jobs anyone whose sexuality does not meet the Government's approval.

Twenty years ago, a common accusation levelled at the Gay community, was that children were not safe left in the company of homosexuals. We now recognise this for the bigoted nonsense it always was. Yet government today are attempting the same trick when dealing with consenting adults whose sexuality does not conform to their preferences, despite the fact that what an adult does in private bears no relation to children's safety, whatever the adult's sexuality.

The government should be ashamed of themselves.


31st October   

Update: Blocked Bloggers...

Reporters Without Borders condemns Turkey's censorship of Google's blog services
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Reporters Without Borders condemns Turkey's censorship of Google's blog services, Blogger and Blogspot, by a magistrate's court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir as a result of a complaint by the Turkish TV station Digitrk. The station claims that video footage over which it has exclusive rights has been posted on blogs hosted by these services.

The blogs on these services were suddenly closed without any warning to users and without any court summonses being issued, Reporters Without Borders said: This is not just about copyright and piracy. This is yet another example of how, in Turkey, entire websites are closed just because of problematic content on a single page or blog. We call for Blogger and Blogspot to be reopened. Their closure has handicapped thousands of Internet users in Turkey.

Access to some 10 websites, including very popular ones such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Google Groups, have been blocked in the course of this year in Turkey as a result of court decisions. In most cases, access was blocked under Law 5651 on the Prevention of Crime Committed in the Information Technology Domain, which was adopted by parliament in May 2007 and took effect the following November.

Reporters Without Borders warned of the danger this law represents for online free expression when it was approved by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on 22 May 2007.

Commenting on the latest developments, Reporters Without Borders said: All this arbitrary blocking of websites has demonstrated that this law is the main source for the deterioration in online free expression. Furthermore, ISPs are forced to do the blocking of access to sites that break this law. This makes them accomplices to censorship.

The press freedom organisation added: We call for Law 5651 to be amended as quickly as possible. Rather than block an entire website, only the content regarded as 'sensitive' should be the challenged before the courts.

List of websites currently blocked in Turkey

- www.blogger.com
- www.blogspot.com
- www.youtube.com
- www.slide.com
- www.googlegroups.com
- www.antoloji.com
- www.gundemonline.com
- www.wordpress.com
- www.geocities.com
- www.kliptube.com
- istanbul.indymedia.org
- www.eksisozluk.com
- www.gazetevatan.com
- ateizm.org
- superonline.com
- richarddawkins.net


31st October   

Update: Video Censors...

China orders the closure of 10 online video sites
Link Here

China's Internet censor has ordered 10 online video sites to shut down and warned another 17, resuming an aggressive policy on such sites that had been relaxed during the summer.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said in a notice on its Web site that under the Internet Audio Video Program Service Management Regulations, there are still some Web sites posting audio and video programs containing pornography, violence and terror, endangering national security.

The 10 sites ordered to shut down include minor local sites, such as TVSou.com, TSXZ.com and Feesee.com.

Another 17 sites were officially warned to comply with SARFT regulations, including 371dvd.com, which on Tuesday prominently displayed director Gu Changwei's banned film Spring Begins (Li Chun) as one of its offerings, VeryCD.com and JPSeek.com.


31st October   

Update: Not Liable to Libel...

Canadian court that hyperlinks to defamatory material are not themselves defamatory
Link Here

The publisher of a link to defamatory material does not have any liability for that defamation, a Canadian court has ruled. Liability could only exist if the link publisher made any statement relating to the defamatory material itself, the court said.

Mr Justice Kelleher in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada ruled that a hyperlink was like a footnote in that it led to material produced by a third party which the reader did not have to follow. The publisher of the link could not be liable for someone else's content, he said.

Although a hyperlink provides immediate access to material published on another website, this does not amount to republication of the content on the originating site. This is especially so as a reader may or may not follow the hyperlinks provided, he said.


30th October   

Update: The Battle of Newman Street...

Westminster Council want Banksy CCTV mural removed
Link Here
Full story: Mural of Censorship...Council offended by critical graffiti

The case of Westminster council versus Banksy raises an interesting legal precedent. Normally permission to paint a wall is only required from a local authority if the building is of listed historic value or the painting is commercial in nature, but now artistic judgement appears to come into it.

Westminster council first sought to remove Banksy's painting One nation under CCTV on Newman street in central London on the grounds it was an unlicensed commercial.

The owner of the property itself is apparently happy for the painting to remain in place so Westminster council has now sought consultation with local residents in order to prove the painting is having a detrimental affect on the area.

Referring to the adjacent Post Office building who have sought the paintings removal since it first appeared Banksy said I don't know what next door is complaining about — their building is so ugly the 'No Trespassing' sign reads like an insult.

All of which leaves the possibility for what is believed to be the first recorded use of the 2003 Anti-social Behaviour act which for the first time gives councils the ability to enter private premises and force the removal of graffiti. A measure introduced by David Blunkett and which Banksy attacked at the time in a series of paintings and statements.


30th October   

Update: Australians Still Treated Like Children...

Nutter Atkinson shelved consideration of R18+ for games
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

The introduction of an R18+ rating for computer games has been delayed indefinitely after South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson withdrew his support for a discussion paper and public consultation process.

Censorship ministers in March agreed in principle to canvas public opinion on the proposed introduction of a R18+ classification for games and release a discussion paper on the issue, but Atkinson has refused to agree to make the report public, effectively shelving it.

The draft discussion paper, simply titled R18+ for computer games was sent to ministers last month and details the pros and cons of introducing an adults-only rating for games.

The paper would have been available to the public on the internet and provided to interested parties such as games industry groups and family associations to seek their views.

Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls, who has long supported the push for an R18+ games rating and took the lead in drafting the discussion paper, appears resigned that no changes to the classification system for games will be made anytime soon.

Spokesperson for Hulls, Meaghan Shaw, said whilst the issue is still formally on the SCAG (Standing Committee of Attorneys-General) agenda, it now appears unlikely that there will be unanimity from all jurisdictions to proceed further at this stage with introducing an R18+ category for computer games.

At the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs last week, deputy chair Senator Guy Barnett said some of us are dumbfounded as to why we do not have an R rating for video games.

We have a real problem, and this is something the Senate and the parliament is going to have to address. If we have one state opposing this, South Australia, then clearly we are not going to have any R rating of video games. That simply cannot occur as a matter of course legally.

The issue is again on the agenda for discussion at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting next month.


30th October   

Update: Branded as an Arsehole...

Brand quits and Ross suspended and 27,000 complaints and...
Link Here

The BBC's director general is to meet the corporation's governing body to discuss lewd phone calls made on comic Russell Brand's Radio 2 show.

Mark Thompson will brief the BBC Trust on a preliminary inquiry into how the calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs came to be broadcast.

Brand has now resigned from Radio 2 and Jonathan Ross has been suspended.

More than 27,000 people have now complained to the BBC about the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone prank.

MediaGuardian.co.uk understands that on the day the Brand and Ross's calls to Sachs' answerphone were recorded, a producer from the BBC rang the former Fawlty Towers actor to ask if he would mind them being used. It is claimed that Sachs said they could be, as long as they were toned down a bit.

The pre-recorded show was then run by a BBC executive, who approved its transmission on Saturday October 18.

Sachs today said he was not surprised Ross and Brand had been suspended by the BBC over their prank calls to him. He also confirmed he was not planning to take the matter up with the police: I'm not going to take it anywhere, I'm not out for revenge.


30th October   

Update: Fallout Takedown...

Fallout 3 trailer banned from the internet
Link Here
Full story: Fallout 3...World censors ban Fallout 3

Games company Bethesda recently sent out a number of e-mails asking certain websites to remove videos containing footage of the just-released Fallout 3 .

Shacknews was among the sites contacted, and according to the message they received, the takedown notices were in reaction to possible violations of the ESRB guidelines on game advertising.

In connection with ESRB's advertising guidelines, you are instructed to remove immediately any of our Fallout 3 trailers from your website, pending further notice, wrote Bethsda's vice president of marketing Pete Hines in the e-mail received by Shacknews.

It seems that Fallout 3 is a target for institutional censorship.


30th October   

Update: Pro Anti-Porn...

Reversing the social decay in Indonesia
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesian bikini

Hundreds of demonstrators in the Indonesian capital called on the government Wednesday to push through a controversial anti-pornography bill, saying it was the only way to reverse signs of social decay in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The nearly 300 protesters in Jakarta pointed to everything from racy television ads and movies to touts selling Playboy magazine at stoplights as reasons the bill must pass.

I don't want my children to go to hell because we allow pornography, said Siti, a demonstrator.

More than 100 lawmakers stormed out of Parliament on Thursday to protest an anti-pornography bill.

But a vote on the legislation  was expected to go ahead later in the afternoon.

The bill, which outlaws pornographic acts and images, is opposed by members of two parties, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) and the Christian-based Prosperous Peace Party, which together have 122 seats in the 550-seat Parliament.

They showed their displeasure by walking out, but the speaker of the house said a quorum had been reached, so the vote could go ahead.


30th October   

Update: Court Sticks Pins into Sarkozy...

French president pained by the decision
Link Here

A French court has rejected a demand from Nicolas Sarkozy, the president, for a ban on a Sarkozy doll and voodoo manual that encourages readers to stick pins in it.

The doll is decorated with some of the French leader's most famous quotes, like Get lost you pathetic a***hole – to a bystander who refused to shake his hand at an agricultural show in 2007.

Update: Undignified

29th November 2008. See article from thescotsman.scotsman.com

A doll representing the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and an accompanying voodoo manual with directions for sticking pins into the figurine can remain on sale, a court has ruled – but it must carry a notice saying it harms the president's dignity.

The court ruled that the kit constituted an offence against the personal dignity of Sarkozy. But it said it would be disproportionate and harmful to liberty of expression to ban their sale outright.

It ruled the doll may be sold provided it carries a notice of the judgment attached. The manufacturers must also pay the costs of the case as well as a symbolic 1 Euro in damages.


30th October   

Ofcom Revelation...

No free speech even when near to commonly perceived reality
Link Here

Vision for Israel
Revelation TV, 18 April 2008, 15:00

Revelation TV is a religious channel that often features discussion and personal view programmes which from time to time engage viewers with challenging debates on topical issues.

Ofcom received one complaint from a viewer who alleged that an edition of the programme Vision for Israel presented by theologian, teacher and author Dan Juster, made abusive and inappropriate comments regarding Islam. Ofcom noted that, during this hour-long programme which compared the Christian and Muslim faiths, Dan Juster stated [it was his belief that]: Islam cannot be defined as a peaceful, loving religion…Islam enforces its own viewpoint through the power of the sword through death… and Islam believes that violence is a legitimate means to establish and extend Islam.

Ofcom considered Rule 4.1 of the Code (Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes).

Ofcom Decision

In forming its decision, Ofcom bore in mind the fact that broadcasters have a right to freedom of expression which includes the broadcaster's right to transmit and the audience's right to receive creative material, information and ideas without interference ...BUT... subject to restrictions proscribed by law and necessary in a democratic society. This right is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Broadcasters should therefore always take care to ensure that material it transmits is in accordance with both the general law and the Code.

The comments made in this programme described above were said in the context of a specialised religious programme made for a particularly niche and predominantly Christian audience. Ofcom has always considered that it is possible for the follower of one religion to reject or critique other religions in the course of sermonising or proselytising and remain within the requirements for Rule 4.1. However, this Code Rule requires broadcasters to exercise the proper degree of responsibility when, for example, using hyperbole which may include more extreme views which could be deemed offensive to people in the audience who hold different views and beliefs.

In Ofcom's view it was a serious compliance error that Revelation TV did not review the content of this programme prior to transmission. As a consequence of this, the broadcaster was not able to put the potentially offensive comments into context. The broadcaster therefore did not exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of this religious programme as required by Rule 4.1.

The programme was in breach of Rule 4.1 of the Code.

Breach of Rule 4.1


29th October   

Update: Thaily Inappropriate...

Thailand to buy firewall system to censor the internet
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The Information and Communications Technology Ministry is to introduce an internet gateway system to block websites containing content Thailand doesn't like. ICT Minister Mun Patanotai will also hold a meeting with webmasters today to discuss measures to suppress lese majeste material.

The gateway system, which could cost between 100 and 500 million baht, could will be used to block websites considered inappropriate, such as those of terrorist groups or selling pornography.

However, the ministry will focus first on websites with content deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy, Mun said. Ministry officials are looking into about a thousand websites, he said. Mun said the ministry has been working with the National Intelligence Agency and the police in cracking down on anti-royal sites.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said he has assigned relevant agencies, particularly the ICT Ministry, to take strong action against offenders.

Special Branch Police are monitoring five community radio stations that are also airing political content that could be considered lese majeste, a source said.

Ayutthaya Governor Preecha Kamolbut has ordered authorities to monitor all provincial community radio and cable TV stations around the clock.

The police ordered officers to take immediate action against offenders without waiting for complaints.


29th October   

Update: My Traffic Lights are Better than Yours...

Elspa proposes its own age ratings in traffic light colours
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

The video games trade organisation, Elspa, has proposed a solution to the ongoing games ratings controversy.

Elspa supports a 'traffic-light'-type system as part of its voluntary ratings code that it says is more effective.

The BBFC dismissed the effort, saying their own colour-coded approach is well-established.

A government consultation on the matter due to finish in November aims to agree a legally enforceable ratings scheme.

Elspa's proposal would maintain the Pegi procedure and age limits, but says it has taken a lead from the food industry by adding 'traffic light' colours. Higher age limits would be red, with more general audience titles tagged green.

We're offering this idea as a direct consequence of the Byron review; the system needs to remove the potential for confusion and this is what we're doing, Elspa deputy director general Michael Rawlinson told the BBC: The system provided by Pegi is very robust, but we want to make it clearer that something that's for adults only should have that warning colour with it.

Sue Clark, a spokeswoman for the BBFC, dismissed the effort, saying that colour was not the prevalent issue in the debate: Changing the colours of the Pegi symbols is not copying the food industry. There is a system in place already which people know and understand and which in fact uses the traffic light colours, and it's called the BBFC system.

The government consultation will finish on 20 November, with a final decision expected in the new year.


29th October   

Update: Gordon Brown: 'Unacceptable'...

Britain fucker whinges at granddaughter fucker
Link Here

Gordon Brown and David Cameron weighed in to the row over a series of offensive telephone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to the veteran actor Andrew Sachs on their Radio 2 show as the media regulator Ofcom launched a major investigation into the incident.

As the number of complaints about the incident topped 10,000, Ofcom announced its inquiry and  Cameron andBrown joined other MPs in condemning the broadcaster's actions.

Brown described the prank calls as inappropriate and unacceptable , while Cameron called on the BBC to be transparent about how the programme came to be broadcast, given that it was pre-recorded.

After receiving a rash of complaints about their comments, Ofcom took the decision to launch an inquiry. In a statement, it said: All UK broadcasters must adhere to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code which sets standards for the content of television and radio broadcasting. It also deals with issues such as fairness and privacy.

Ross and Brand have since issued personal apologies to Sachs, with Ross delivering flowers and a letter to the actor's door. The BBC has also apologised over the matter, and is launching an internal inquiry. Tim Davie, director of audio and music at the BBC, said: We're going to have a full investigation, look at the facts and take the appropriate action. In an interview with the BBC, he admitted the programme was unacceptable and said clear editorial guidelines needed to be followed, but added that apportioning blame prematurely would be the wrong thing to do. Asked if anyone would take the rap, Davie said the most important thing was to conduct a fair, balanced report and then take action.

Cameron said the BBC had some very straightforward questions to answer. The main question is why did they allow this programme to be broadcast, given that it was pre-recorded? he said.

The subject of the prank calls had arisen earlier yesterday during a debate in the House of Commons, in which the Justice minister David Hanson told MPs that the broadcast was not appropriate . Later, the Tory MP Nadine Dorries called on the BBC to sack both broadcasters.

It was also claimed that should Sachs wish to take the matter further, Brand and Ross could possibly be prosecuted on the grounds of harassment.

The Metropolitan Police said it had received complaints about the comments, but would not confirm how many had been made. This will be looked at and a decision taken, but there is no police investigation at this time, a police spokesman said.

Sachs last night appeared to play down the saga. Jonathan Ross has personally delivered a letter of apology and some flowers. He made no excuses and was very frank and open. He's in a lot of trouble and I don't want to pile any more on him. My granddaughter hasn't heard from either Ross or Brand and I do think they owe her an apology.


29th October   

Propaganda Street...

Tories want TV soaps to be used for social engineering
Link Here

Popular soaps such as Hollyoaks and Home and Away are failing in their duty to tackle some of the major social problems in society, according to the Conservatives.

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, will say that soap operas such as Hollyoaks should not endorse negative social behaviour such as binge drinking

In a speech on public service broadcasting, Hunt will criticise shows popular among young viewers, saying they are riddled with references to alcohol.

It's not good enough for Channel 4 to say they are doing their bit with a Dispatches programme on alcohol abuse like Drinking Yourself to Death when 18% of the screen time in Hollyoaks was accounted for by alcohol references, he will tell an audience at the London School of Economics. Nor can Five claim to be doing their bit with Diet Doctors Inside Out when the gym instructor in Home and Away is seen with alcohol in 50% of his scenes

He will add: I'm not saying there should be no alcohol references in any soaps. To deliver large audiences, programmes need to reflect the world in which we actually live and not some Truman Show fantasy of what we would like it to be. Nor do we want to fall into the trap of co-opting broadcasters into social engineering.

...BUT... just as it would be wrong in a plural and democratic society to require broadcasters to produce programmes that meet government objectives and promote social behaviour, so it is also wrong for broadcasters to produce programmes that legitimise negative social behaviour.


29th October   

Update: Government Mellows Over a Fine Wine...

French minister supports allowing internet websites for wines
Link Here

The French minister of health supports changing the Evin Law to allow wine advertising on the internet.

Despite continued fierce opposition from anti-alcohol groups, Roselyne Bachelot told Le Figaro: When we initially drew up the Evin Law we did not take into account the internet, because at the time it was not as developed as it is today.

Despite this, national demonstrations against the law will still go ahead on Thursday.

A CIVB spokesperson told decanter.com: While we welcome the news that the internet may now be a legal method of promotion for winemakers, this has not yet been made official – and is not the only threat to French wine.

Demonstrators will cover up any signs for villages that also carry the name of an appellation - such as Saint Emilion, Pauillac or Margaux - to highlight the absurdity of the censorship.


29th October   

Update: Googling for Human Rights...

Multinational computer companies unveil initiative to better support human rights
Link Here
Full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Congressman Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the unveiling of the Global Network Initiative by a diverse group of information and communication companies and human rights organizations.

The initiative recognizes that all companies have a responsibility to protect against human rights violations, especially by authoritarian governments like China, Iran and the UK.

It's about time, Berman said: This initiative is an important, yet only a first step in better protecting freedoms of expression and privacy.

Technology companies and human rights groups that join the initiative agree to abide by a set of operating principles that are based upon internationally recognized human rights standards.

Under the agreement, participating companies would face yearly reviews to ensure that they are advancing rights of expression and privacy in their business operations. Members of the initiative intend to make the program a standard for companies around the world.


29th October   

Update: Sharia Dress Code...

Indonesia dress code lynch mob bill set to be passed
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesian bikini

Most factions in the House of Representatives are pushing for the controversial pornography bill to be passed Thursday, despite a threat by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to boycott the move and rejection from several provinces.

The passage of the bill was made possible after eight of the 10 factions at the House accepted the draft Tuesday. The PDI-P walked out of the deliberation process and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) rejected it.

Yes, we will pass the bill on Oct. 30, chairman of the special committee deliberating the bill Balkan Kaplale said.

The PDI-P walked out of deliberations for the second time after it was unsuccessful in its last-ditch attempt to change the definition of pornography and to remove an article that allows public participation in preventing pornography.

The current draft defines pornography as man-made sexual materials either in the forms of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, texts, voices, sound, moving pictures, animations, cartoons, poetry, conversations, gestures, or other forms of communicative messages through various kinds of media; and or performances in front of the public, which may incite sexual desire and or violate moral ethics in the community.

Articles 21 to 23 allow for the public to play a role in preventing pornography. It will justify people taking the law into their own hands, PDI-P lawmaker Eva K. Sundari said. Eva said she had already received text messages from several groups saying they would ensure the law was enforced.

It confirms our suspicion that it can spark conflict given that even though there is no law now, some groups have dared to attack others right under the nose of police. What will happen if they take the law into their own hands, given our weak law enforcement?.


29th October   

Banging On...

Ofcom have their regular whinge about the babe channels
Link Here

Bang Babes
Tease Me 2, 17 March 2008; 21:00–22:00

Bang Babes is free-to-air unencrypted programming available on the channels Tease Me and Tease Me 2. The channel broadcasts programmes based on interactive 'adult' chat services: viewers are invited to contact on-screen presenters 'babes' via premium rate telephony services. The female presenters dress and behave provocatively.

Ofcom received a complaint about the broadcast on Tease Me 2 on 17 March 2008. It alleged that the broadcast showed simulated masturbation and full screen images of bare breasts and nipple stimulation before 22:00.

Ofcom viewed the material. It noted that the broadcast on Tease Me 2 on 17 March from 21:43 showed prolonged close-ups and full screen images of the presenter's breasts and nipples, which were continuously massaged and stimulated and thrust into the camera. In addition, the presenter was shown lying on her back with her legs apart rubbing and touching her genital area outside of her underwear in a sexual manner before 22:00. There was also a brief sequence where the presenter placed her hands inside her underwear. These sequences were all of a highly sexualised nature.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rules 2.1 (generally accepted standards)
  • 2.3 (material which may cause offence must be justified by context) of the Code.

Ofcom Decision

It is a requirement of the Code that content which is considered to be 'adult-sex' material must be PIN protected and encrypted (Rule 1.24). In this case, Ofcom carefully considered whether the content complained of was 'adult-sex' material. It concluded that in this case it clearly was not.

In terms of the complaint about simulated masturbation, Ofcom noted that the broadcaster had stressed that a presenter acted briefly outside its own internal procedures on 17 March 2008 and that, since then, staff had received further compliance training. Broadcasters must note, as Ofcom has made clear on a number of occasions, that it is unacceptable to show simulated or real masturbation in the context of free-to-air 'adult' chat television services.

As regards Rules 2.1 and 2.3 and the 17 March broadcast, Ofcom acknowledges that the images and language on Tease Me 2 were materially less explicit than in a number of examples of free-to-air 'adult' chat service content that it has previously investigated. Ofcom concern on this occasion focussed on the content and the time of broadcast.

The prolonged and close-up full-screen shots of the presenter stimulating and massaging her bare breasts, pinching her nipples and shaking them to camera, were in Ofcom's opinion highly sexualised and not suitable for broadcast before 22:00. The images of the presenter lying on her back with her legs open, briefly simulating masturbation, and stroking her semi-naked body were also not acceptable before 22:00. All these images in Ofcom's view were sexually provocative and of a physically intrusive nature so as to be offensive, and in breach of generally accepted standards on a free-to-air channel in the adult section of the EPG shown before 22:00.

Breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3


29th October   

Update: Unappealing Dubai...

Prosecutors appeal for longer sentence for British couple caught kissing on the beach
Link Here

Two Britons who fornicated on a Dubai beach could face longer jail terms after prosecutors appealed the sentence.

Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors were convicted at Dubai's Court of First Instance earlier this month. They were sentenced to three months behind bars, fined 1,000 dirhams – £155 – and issued with deportation orders.

Hassan Matter, who represents Palmer and Acors, said prosecutors have now lodged an appeal against the sentence, saying it was not enough.

Mr Matter said the prosecution appeal would be heard on November 18 – at the same time as the defence argument. Last week, Mr Matter lodged an appeal against the convictions.

Following the convictions of Palmer and Acors, on October 16, senior persecutor Faisal Abdelmalek Ahli said he was disappointed at the length of the sentence: It's very light. It's normal for a sentence to be six months to a year for an offence such as this.


29th October   

Censors Should be Banned...

Philippine censors spoil film festival showing for Imburnal
Link Here

The Philippines independent movie, Imburnal , was set to premiere only for it to be banned that day by the film censor.

The premiere at the 10th Cinemanila International Film Festival at the Gateway mall was scrapped had to be scrapped. The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board reviewed their decision a couple of days later and passed the film R-13

Rebecca Zlotowski, a member of the Selection Committee of the Directors' Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival, expressed concern over the state of Philippine cinema: I can now understand how difficult it is for Filipino independent filmmakers to make movies .

She noted that she finds it shocking that these wonderful movies are not released commercially. It's appalling, she asserted, that these films are received well in Cannes and other international festivals, but they can't seem to find an audience in their own country.

Making matters worse is censorship, she said. The 'X' rating seems too harsh. It's nuts that these films can't be shown in commercial theaters.

Update: Uncut

23rd November 2008. See article from abs-cbnnews.com

Imburnal , the controversial Cinema One Originals winning entry by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, is set to finally be shown at the UP Film Institute Cine Adarna uncensored.


28th October   

Update: Branded as Obscene...

BBC receive 1600 complaints
Link Here

Just going to see Mr Brand dear...
He's been picking on Manuel

The BBC said today it had received 1,587 complaints by 5.30pm about the crude messages left on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone These were recorded by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on Brand's Radio 2 programme.

The messages included Ross saying that Brand had "fucked" Sachs' granddaughter and the pair joking that that the former Fawlty Towers actor might kill himself as a result.

Today the BBC apologised to Sachs, who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers , describing the broadcast as unacceptable and offensive.

The BBC also said it would review how this came about, after the pre-recorded segment of Brand's show was cleared for broadcast by a senior editorial figure from within the corporation.

From Monkey's Column in the guardian.co.uk



Fury after obscene call to TV Manuel, the Sun spluttered today as it reported Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross's calls to Andrew Sachs, in which the pair joked about Brand sleeping with the Fawlty Towers star's granddaughter Georgina Baillie.

So enraged, in fact, that it dug out a topless picture from 2005 of Georgina auditioning for Page 3.

Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

The 23-year-old granddaughter of Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has been revealed as a member of a raunchy burlesque dance group.

Aspiring actress Georgina Baillie, who goes by the stage-name Voluptua was on a European tour with the burlesque dance group - the Satanic Sluts - but cut short the trip following the fracas.

Satanic Sluts is made up of four female goths. They have performed at Glastonbury in the past with routines that boast a theatrical cheerleader massacre, voodoo sacrifice, vampire brutality and much much more.


28th October   

Thumbs Down...

Left 4 Dead game sold with censored cover art in Germany
Link Here

Left 4 Dead, UK version The USK are Germany's game classification board. And as you may already be aware, they're a conservative bunch, banning games that even Australia let slide. But this is new. Witness Germany's box art for Valve's upcoming zombie co-op shooter, Left 4 Dead

While every other region's box art shows a left hand with the thumb bitten off - zombies feast on the flesh of the living. On the German version, the thumb's simply tucked in behind the hand there. No gore.


28th October   

Blood Suckers...

Ofcom find Revenant unsuitable for an afternoon screening
Link Here

Zone Horror, 2 August 2008, 16:00

Zone Horror is a channel which broadcasts free-to-air and specialises in horror films and supernatural series. Revenant is an adult vampire comedy set in modern day Los Angeles. It is rated as “18” by the BBFC.

Ofcom received five complaints about the adult nature of this film which was broadcast on a Saturday and Sunday lunchtime. In particular, viewers expressed concerns about graphic vampire imagery, sexual scenes, drug use, and the use of the most offensive language (“fuck” and its derivatives).

Ofcom considered Rule 1.21 (BBFC 18-rated films must not be broadcast before 21:00 on any service except pay per view) of the Code.

Zone Horror said it was extremely embarrassed the film was broadcast and apologised to viewers. It acknowledged the film was not compliant with the Code. The broadcaster said Revenant had been restricted to a post-watershed timeslot but Zone Horror also wanted an edited version which could be shown at any time and asked its editing team for this to be created. In anticipation of this being feasible, the film was scheduled for an afternoon transmission. However, after it became clear to the channel that the film could not be edited to make the content suitable for a daytime slot, Revenant was not removed from the schedule and was broadcast uncut. Since this incident occurred, Zone Horror said it has introduced more robust compliance procedures.

Ofcom Decision Breach of Rule 1.21

As an unedited 18-rated film, the content of Revenant was wholly unsuitable for broadcast in the afternoon.

We acknowledge and welcome the steps introduced by Zone Horror to improve compliance. However, Ofcom was particularly concerned that after the original broadcast, the film was repeated on the next day. This was a serious breach of the Code, all the more unacceptable because the broadcaster was informed before broadcast that the programme could not be edited to make it comply with the Code.

Always Crashing in the Same Car

Turner Classic Movies is a niche film channel that shows classic films and dramas aimed at an older adult audience. Always Crashing in the Same Car is a 10 minute film that received second prize in TCM 's 2007 Classic Shorts film competition.

One viewer was concerned that the film contained the following strong language: “fuck”, “fucked” and “shit”. The viewer was concerned that such language should appear before the watershed, when young and pre-school children might have been in the audience. On reviewing a recording of the material provided by TCM, Ofcom noted that the film contained over 20 separate examples of strong language, and that as well as the above, there were several uses of “cunt” and ”cunting”.

TCM said that the scheduling of the film before the watershed was a human error by a freelance scheduler. TCM added that, since this error had occurred, the channel had changed its internal scheduling procedures to make sure all schedules, completed by a person covering for a permanent scheduler, are checked and approved prior to transmission.

Ofcom recorded this as a Breach of Rules 1.14 and 2.3


28th October   

Update: Hyping Porn Makers...

Utah cinemas ban Zack and Miri movie
Link Here
Full story: Zack and Miri Make a Porno...Supporting hype for Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Seth Rogen's  new comedy Zack And Miri Make a Porno has been banned from several U.S. cinemas - as they claim it may be too crude for viewers.

The Megaplex Theatres in Utah towns Salt Lake City, Ogden, Lehi, and Sandy have decided not to show Rogen's new movie because of its sex and nudity scenes.

A spokesperson for the chain tells New York gossip column PageSix, We feel it's very close to an NC-17 with its graphic nudity and graphic sex.

Asked why Megaplex has no problem showing the R-rated, ultra-violent Saw V. the chain's Cal Gunderson said: No comment.

Weinstein distribution chief Steve Bunnell , said he was shocked by the shutout, especially since Megaplex screened other adult comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up:   I hate to use the word 'censorship,' but . . .


28th October   

Update: God, the Nation, Barcelona...

Moroccan youngster jailed for insult of king with a minor quip
Link Here

A Moroccan youngster, aged 18, has been jailed for insulting the king, after replacing the monarch's name with that of his favourite football club.

He altered the phrase God, The Nation, The King on the school blackboard to read God, The Nation, Barcelona.

FC Barcelona says it has appointed a lawyer to look into whether they can help the boy, within the framework of Moroccan law.

The family of the boy, Yassine Belassal, is appealing against the ruling, and his father told the BBC he was preparing to write a letter to King Mohamed VI asking for a royal pardon.

An internet campaign is also under way to have Belassel freed.

Update: Unappealing Result

13th November 2008. Based on article from amnesty.org

The Marrakesh Court of Appeals in Morocco has upheld a lower court's guilty verdict against an 18-year-old student for insulting the King. Yassin Bellasal was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term and a fine of 1,000 dirhams (approximately US$115).

Amnesty International said that the verdict serves to confirm that the monarchy remains a taboo topic in Morocco and shed a different light on the image projected by the Moroccan authorities of a state, where respect for human rights has greatly improved.


28th October   

A Fashion for Appeasement...

Indian film director cuts gay kiss as too much for the censor
Link Here

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar has dropped a gay kissing scene between actors Samir Soni and Anil Kumar from his forthcoming film Fashion before it went to the censor board. He, however, plans to restore it on DVD. What a beautifully-shot scene of intimacy it is between Samir and Anil. You forget their gender. They're just two people in love expressing their feelings, Bhandarkar told IANS.

I took it out before taking it to the censor board. I thought portraying a homosexual couple was bold enough. The kiss would have been too much. But now I'm planning to restore it on the DVD,  the director said.

I think we need to get over our prudery about these things. And archaic laws are only making things worse for gay people. They're either hiding or defiantly flaunting their homosexuality in their clothes and body language, Samir said.


27th October   

Guardian Causes a Scare...

Zombie McCall attracts complaints
Link Here

It's not yet Halloween and the Guardian has been scaring people. There were more than 30 complaints last week about the Guide' s front page, which showed Big Brother presenter Davina McCall made up as a zombie for her part in Charlie Brooker's TV series Dead Set . Blood covered her mouth, dripped down her neck and moistened her fingers, in which she held the bloody, wet and stringy human body part she was gnawing.

Dead Set will be broadcast at 10pm, after the television watershed. By contrast the Guide is available from early on Saturday mornings and, since it has the TV listings for the next seven days, it hangs around the living room all week.

A father of two children under 10 called the zombie front page a misjudgment. I'm all for journalism that challenges us and pushes us out of our comfort zones ...BUT... I have to question the merits of [the] cover image. Another dad, who described himself as a great fan of all things zombie, enjoyed Brooker's piece inside the Guide, but didn't think the cover was suitable for his eight-year-old: Are you mad? A photo of a woman 'done up' as a zombie eating guts? I tore it off and put it in the bin. I have a very high tolerance level but you crossed the line on this one I think. Four children complained in person.

The Guide 's editor told me the image was thought to be cartoonish enough not to be frightening, but he said that children didn't feature in the discussions about it before publication.

It's perhaps not surprising that some journalists regard images made for adult eyes as appropriate for publication without regard to their suitability for younger children. The Press Complaints Commission code of practice doesn't contain any guidance on the subject and neither does the Guardian's own editorial code. The dominant view seems to be that newspapers are written by adults for adults and that parents must act as gatekeepers.

While it's reasonable to expect parents to be on the look-out for disturbing pictures in the main news pages, they can't really be expected to intercept everything the Guardian publishes. The Guide is about entertainment, not news, and it's probable that young children will see its front page around the house all week. It's not good enough to say that a newspaper is not obliged to consider children when it puts an image on a cover they are highly likely to see. Wouldn't it be better, as one journalist suggested, to think of front pages as before-the-watershed slots?


27th October   

Update: Soft Headed...

Australian politicians push for softcore only internet
Link Here

Censor and oppressor
Stephen Conroy

The System Administrators Guild of Australia has called on the federal government to embrace open discussion of its proposed Internet filtering regime, after allegations of attempted censorship of critics surfaced last week.

The call was made after a SAGE-AU member and Internode engineer, Mark Newton, criticised the government and its Internet filtering policy on the Whirlpool broadband forum.

Subsequently, a policy advisor for Senator Conroy is reported to have expressed serious concern about Newton's comments to a board member of the Internet Industry Association (IIA) and requested that this concern be passed to his employer, an IIA member.

SAGE-AU president Donna Ashelford defended Newton's right to criticise the government's plans, saying that SAGE-AU's code of ethics required its members to communicate with users about computing matters that may affect them:

It's reasonable to state that the issue of Internet filtering is one of substantial impact on all Internet users

The Government's own figures indicate that all of the filtering systems trialled would impact Internet performance, as well as availability of legitimate services to varying degrees. To this end, Newton has undertaken his duties under the code to the fullest, and receives the full support for his position from the organisation.

We remain concerned that the filters tested are unable to provide an effective, reliable filtering solution with the performance required for modern broadband connections.

The filters tested have demonstrated an excessively high exclusion rate of legitimate Internet content. To this end, we remain opposed to the implementation of Internet filtering in its current form and concerned about any attempts to silence legitimate discussion of Internet filtering plans.

Based on article from theage.com.au

Family First Nutter Senator Steve Fielding wants X18+ hardcore pornography and fetish material blocked under the Government's plans to filter the internet, sparking renewed fears the censorship could be expanded well beyond illegal material.

The Opposition said it would take a lot of convincing for it to support the controversial mandatory ISP filtering policy, so the Government would need the support of Senator Fielding as well as the Greens and Senator Nick Xenophon to pass the legislation.

Industry sources said Senator Fielding's sentiments validated ISPs' concerns that the categories of blocked content could be broadened significantly at the whim of the Government, which is under pressure to appease vocal minorities.

A spokesman for Senator Xenophon said, should the filtering plan go ahead, he would look to use it to block Australians from accessing overseas online casino sites, which are illegal to run in Australia.

The online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia expressed fears that the internet filters could be used as a bargaining chip every time the Government needed to pass a piece of important legislation. Any group with an axe to grind and political clout will be lobbying the Government to blacklist websites which they object to, EFA spokesman Dale Clapperton said: Having all Australians' internet access subject to a secret and unaccountable government blacklist is completely unacceptable in a liberal democracy such as Australia.

Clapperton said most adult pornography on the internet was already prohibited content under the Act, and pro-euthanasia, pro-anorexia and pro-piracy websites could easily be caught by the system.

John Lindsay, carrier relations manager at Internode, said: I don't see that what Fielding has just described to you is necessarily any different to what the public should expect from the Government's as yet unstated filtering regime, because we haven't got a clear explanation as to what the Government's actual mandatory blacklist looks like.


27th October   

Spot a Nutter...

White Ribbon Against Pornography Week
Link Here

During the 20th annual White Ribbon Against Pornography Week (WRAP), which runs Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, Americans are being called to speak out on the detrimental effects of pornography and inform others about ways to remove the "garbage" from the lives of families and local communities.

For one week, people are also asked to wear or display a white ribbon in solidarity against pornography.

WRAP Week is being promoted by the nutters of Morality in Media (MIM), Concerned Women for American (CWA) and American Mothers.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, director of CWA's Beverly LaHaye Institute, says the pornography industry has exploded in recent years. Internet pornography has grown around 19-fold. In 1998, there were less than 80,000 internet porn sites, notes Crouse. That figure grew to 1.5 million in 2003.

Today, over 15,000 new adult movie titles are released every year, Crouse reports. Furthermore, recent figures reveal 35 million visits to porn sites from American computers every month.

Since pornography is a $5 billion industry annually, it affects us all. It harms women and children, it destroys families, and it weakens communities, says Crouse.

Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, says the United States has failed miserably at protecting juveniles from pornography.

The backers of WRAP Week are asking people to complain to businesses that distribute pornography, write letters to the editor, distribute information to the community, educate community leaders about the negative effects of pornography, contact their State Prosecutor and U.S. Attorney to complain about violations of state obscenity laws, and ask state and local legislators to curtail sexually oriented businesses.

WRAP supporters are also encouraging pastors to preach about pornography as sin in their sermons this week.

Religious institutions should also be at the forefront of efforts to make persons of all ages understand that from a 'faith perspective,' viewing pornography is morally wrong (sinful, if you will) and that use of pornography is destroying countless marriages and contributing to other harmful sexual behavior, says Peters.


27th October   

Update: Defenceless Artists...

New South Wales to remove artistic defence from child porn charges
Link Here
Full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

The New South Wales Government says it will introduce tough new sex-crime laws, and may strip artists of a defence against child-porn allegations, in line with recommendations of a NSW Sentencing Council report.

NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos today said the Government would introduce a raft of changes recommended by the council.

Commissioned in September last year and chaired by retired Supreme Court judge James Wood, the council's report into the state's sex crime laws will now be used as a gold standard for new legislation to be introduced this year, Hatzistergos said.

In the wake of the Bill Henson scandal, an artistic purpose defence to charges of child pornography should be removed, the Sentencing Council said.

Stressing the reform had nothing to do with the Henson case, Hatzistergos said removing the defence would only apply to work that depicts children as the victim of torture, or physical and sexual abuse.

The child nudity so controversial in Henson's work would not be affected by such a reform, he said.

The council has recommended the introduction of a number of new offences, including voyeurism and inciting a person to commit a sexual offence.

NSW opposition leader Barry O'Farrell supported abolishing the artistic purpose defence.


27th October   

Internet Snitch Foundation...

IWF transforms from laudable child protector to reprehensible snitch
Link Here

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has extended its remit and now urges web users to snitch on illegal and obscene adult content online. Previously the organisation had laudably concentrated on child abuse images

The awareness campaign comes in response to IWF research which suggests 77% of people who find illegal content do not know how to report what they have seen.

Sarah Robertson, a spokeswoman for the IWF, said that in 2007 the organisation handled 34,781 reports from members of the public who stumbled across illegal content.

It was the IWF that reported the sex fantasy text story that is currently being prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act.


27th October   

Art Watch...

Westminster Council wound up by Banksy CCTV mural
Link Here
Full story: Mural of Censorship...Council offended by critical graffiti

Westminster city council in London decided to paint over guerilla-artist Banksy's largest work in the city.

The council ordered the removal to send a message to graffiti artists.

Robert Davis, deputy leader of the council and chair, told BBC News, If you condone this then you condone graffiti all over London.

Banksy, who conceals his identity, is famous for his political and satirical street art. His works have been found everywhere from the Gaza Strip to New Orleans.

The seven-metre-tall mural being removed depicts a child painting the words One Nation Under CCTV on the wall. A dog and police officer holding a camera are painted next to the graffiti artist.

The mural is painted on the wall of a building shared by Royal Mail and another business.


27th October   

Violent Death of the Indian Film Industry...

Indian film censor whinges about violent films
Link Here

An increase in the number of Kannada language Indian films glorifying violence is causing concern among censor board officials here who feel the continuing trend could lead to the downfall of the industry.

Unless the rot is stopped, the Kannada film industry may well lose its prominence and will be looked down by its own audiences who are right now coming to see good movies, said Chandrashekhar, chief of the regional wing of the Central Board of Film Certification: Every one in four films censored was given A certificates for being extremely violent .

Some of the violence-packed films that released this year include' Maadesha , Nanda Loves Nandita , Gaja , and Gooli .

A study report based on 2007's Kannada films was released recently and it highlighted a trend of increased violence in movies. Of the 127 films released in 2007, 24% were violent compared to 4% in Tamil and 3.5% of Telugu films.

Chandrashekhar says filmmakers should try to make quality cinema. Some producers argue that violence in movies guaranteed good business at the ticket window. But Chandrashekhar disagrees.

It is a wrong notion to believe that violent films and gangster films ensure good returns to the producer, the censor board official said quoting media reports that suggest the Kannada film industry has lost over Rs.100 million in the first nine months of this year. He maintained that increased violence kept audiences away from theatres.


26th October   

Peace Means Press Freedom...

World rankings of press freedom
Link Here

It is not economic prosperity but peace that guarantees press freedom. That is the main lesson to be drawn from the world press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders compiles every year and from the 2008 edition, released today. Another conclusion from the index - in which the bottom three rungs are again occupied by the “infernal trio” of Turkmenistan (171st), North Korea (172nd) and Eritrea (173rd) - is that the international community's conduct towards authoritarian regimes such as Cuba (169th) and China (167th) is not effective enough to yield results.

Two aspects stand out in the index, which covers the 12 months to 1 September 2008. One is Europe's preeminence. Aside from New Zealand and Canada, the first 20 positions are held by European countries.

Bringing up the rear are the dictatorships - some disguised, some not - where dissidents and pro-reform journalists manage to open cracks in the walls that enclose them. The year of the Olympics in the new Asian power, China (167th), was the year that Hu Jia and many other dissidents and journalists were jailed. But it also provided opportunities to those liberal media that are trying gradually to free themselves of the country's still pervasive police control. Being a journalist in Beijing or Shanghai - or in Iran (166th), Uzbekistan (162nd) and Zimbabwe (151st) - is a high risk exercise involving endless frustration and constant police and judicial harassment. In Burma (170th), run by a xenophobic and inflexible junta, journalists and intellectuals, even foreign ones, have for years been viewed as enemies by the regime, and they pay the price.

Finally, North Korea and Turkmenistan are unchanging hells in which the population is cut off from the world and is subjected to propaganda worthy of a bygone age. And in Eritrea (173rd), which has come last for the second year running, President Issaias Afeworki and his small clan of paranoid nationalists continue to run Africa's youngest country like a vast open prison.

Countries in bold are those mentioned on Melon Farmers most often

1 Iceland
- Luxembourg
- Norway
4 Estonia
- Finland
- Ireland
7 Belgium
- Latvia
- New Zealand
- Slovakia
- Sweden
- Switzerland
13 Canada
14 Austria
- Denmark
16 Czech Republic
- Lithuania
- Netherlands
- Portugal
20 Germany
21 Jamaica
22 Costa Rica
23 Hungary
- Namibia
- United Kingdom
26 Surinam
27 Trinidad and Tobago
28 Australia
29 Japan
30 Slovenia
31 Cyprus
- Ghana
- Greece
- Mali
35 France
36 Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Cape Verde
- South Africa
- Spain
- Taiwan
- United States of America
42 Macedonia
43 Uruguay
44 Italy
45 Croatia
46 Israel (Israeli territory)
47 Mauritius
- Poland
- Romania
- South Korea
51 Hong-Kong
- Liberia
53 Cyprus (North)
- Montenegro
- Togo
56 Chile
57 Panama
58 Kosovo
59 Bulgaria
- Nicaragua
61 Kuwait
62 El Salvador
63 Burkina Faso
64 Serbia
65 Timor-Leste
66 Botswana
- Lebanon
68 Argentina
69 United Arab Emirates
70 Benin
- Malawi
- Tanzania
73 Haiti
74 Bhutan
- Ecuador
- Qatar
- Seychelles
- Zambia
79 Albania
- Fiji
81 Guinea-Bissau
82 Brazil
- Dominican Republic
- Tonga
85 Central African Republic
86 Senegal
87 Ukraine
88 Guyana
89 Comoros
90 Mozambique
- Paraguay
92 Congo
93 Mongolia
94 Burundi
- Madagascar
96 Bahrein
97 Kenya
98 Moldova
99 Guinea
- Honduras
101 Guatemala
102 Armenia
- Turkey
104 Maldives
105 Mauritania
106 Tajikistan
107 Uganda
108 Peru
109 Côte d'Ivoire
110 Gabon
111 Indonesia
- Kyrgyzstan
113 Venezuela
114 Sierra Leone
115 Bolivia
116 Angola
- Lesotho
118 India
119 USA (extra-territorial)
120 Georgia
121 Algeria
122 Morocco
123 Oman
124 Thailand
125 Kazakhstan
126 Cambodia
- Colombia
128 Jordan
129 Cameroon
130 Niger
131 Nigeria
132 Malaysia
133 Chad
134 Djibouti
135 Sudan
136 Bangladesh
137 Gambia
138 Nepal
139 Philippines
140 Mexico
141 Russia
142 Ethiopia
143 Tunisia
144 Singapore
145 Rwanda
146 Egypt
147 Swaziland
148 Democratic Republic of Congo
149 Israel (extra-territorial)
150 Azerbaijan
151 Zimbabwe
152 Pakistan
153 Somalia
154 Belarus
155 Yemen
156 Afghanistan
- Equatorial Guinea
158 Iraq
159 Syria
160 Libya
161 Saudi Arabia
162 Uzbekistan
163 Palestinian Territories
164 Laos
165 Sri Lanka
166 Iran
167 China
168 Vietnam
169 Cuba
170 Burma
171 Turkmenistan
172 North Korea
173 Eritrea


26th October   

Bollox TV Swearing Survey...

Nutters whinge at the few hours of grown up TV available
Link Here

A Sunday Telegraph investigation found widespread strong language in programmes broadcast just after the watershed.

In the investigation, 25 programmes shown on the five terrestrial television channels between October 17 and October 23 were monitored for their use of swear words. All started between 9pm, the official watershed, and 10.35pm.

In some cases, strong language began shortly after the watershed. In all, 'fuck' and its derivatives was used 88 times, 'shit' 26 times and 'piss' 13 times.

Particularly notable was last week's episode of Jamie's Ministry of Food , the Channel 4 series following attempts by the chef Jamie Oliver to encourage the people of Rotherham to cook healthy food. The programme, which aired at 9pm on Tuesday, featured the 'fuck' 23 times.

Another programme with a high count was BBC 1's Traffic Cops , broadcast on Monday at 9pm, where 'fuck' and its derivatives were used 20 times. On Natural Born Sellers , ITV's answer to The Apprentic e, broadcast on Thursday at 9pm, the 'fuck' was used 19 times.

John Beyer [erroneously misprinted as John Meyer] , the nutter director of Mediawatch-UK, predictably described the findings as appalling. The use of bad language on television is now completely out of control. The fact is the public is offended by bad language but broadcasters are doing nothing to respond to that concern – instead they are burying their heads in the sand and stretching the regulations to the very limit.

Obviously there are still plenty of young viewers tuning in after 9pm, so why do broadcasters think that so many obscenities after the watershed is OK? What is the point of the Government spending millions trying to improve our children's language and literacy when broadcasters are seeking to undermine it?

Beyer called for the media regulator, Ofcom, to be given greater powers in overseeing the way online programmes are aired. It is very worrying that children are increasingly gaining easy access to adult programmes online. The solution is for Ofcom to have regulatory oversight over internet downloads, as well as on air programmes.

BBC iPlayer and other on-demand services are currently regulated by the BBC Trust and the independent regulator, The Association for Television in Demand (ATVOD). The Government is carrying out a consultation process on proposals to make Ofcom the complete regulator for all on-demand and online broadcasting.

Ed Vaizey, the shadow culture minister, said: There is too much swearing on television, particularly in certain programmes which people construe as family viewing. Broadcasters should take the view that there are still young viewers after 9pm, and that 9.01pm does not mean an automatic license for bad language.

A BBC spokesman, said: The BBC has robust guidelines in place making clear the most offensive language should not be broadcast before the watershed and needs to be justified by the context.

Whilst we have a duty to reflect real lives and people, we are very sensitive about what we broadcast when children are most likely to be listening, and receive very few complaints about offensive language.

"arents have a responsibility to monitor what children watch both on TV and online, but we have introduced an iPlayer lock to help parents prevent younger viewers from accessing guidance-rated programming.

A spokesman for Ofcom, said: Swearing is not banned after the 9pm watershed. However, when investigating complaints received about programmes broadcast after the watershed, we do take into consideration audience expectations of a programme, the size and composition of the audience, and whether children are likely to be watching.


26th October   

Sachs and Sacks...

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand 'overstep the mark'
Link Here

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have rattled a few cages over a bawdy phone stunt involving Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs and his family.

The presenters left a series of messages on Sachs's answer phone claiming that Brand had had sex with his granddaughter, Georgina.

Sachs was left upset by the crude calls – which were also broadcast to about two million listeners to Brand's Radio 2 show.

Russell Brand said he slept with the granddaughter of Andrew Sachs during his Radio 2 show. Jonathan Ross, who was co hosting the show joined in the ribald comments.

Sachs's agent said his client had been terribly hurt by the comments and had made a formal complaint to the BBC.

The calls about his granddaughter were made during an episode of Brand's Saturday night Radio 2 programme, co-hosted by Ross to help publicise his new book. Shortly before they contacted Sachs for a pre-arranged telephone interview, Brand said: In a minute we're going to be talking to Andrew Sachs, Manuel actor. The elephant in the room is, what Andrew doesn't know is, I've slept with his granddaughter.

The comedian then rang Sachs. When the veteran actor didn't answer his telephone, Brand left a message during which Ross shouted He fucked your granddaughter!, generating raucous laughter from the studio.

Ross subsequently speculated that Brand had enjoyed Georgina on a swing. The pair then decided to ring Mr Sachs again to apologise. When he repeatedly failed to answer, Ross and Brand left three further messages, making the situation worse.

During one message, Brand said: I wore a condom. In another, which took the form of an impromptu song, Brand sang: I'd like to apologise for the terrible attacks, Andrew Sachs . . . I said some things I didn't of oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter, though it was consensual . . . it was consensual lovely sex. It was full of respect, I sent her a text, I've asked her to marry me, Andrew Sachs.

Ross could be heard singing quietly to himself: Your granddaughter ...she was bent over the couch...

Brand's show sometimes goes out live, but the offending episode was pre-recorded to fit around Brand and Ross's other commitments. According to the BBC, a senior editorial figure signed off the programme, including its strong language, before it was broadcast.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: I know Jonathan Ross has been handsomely rewarded by the BBC for being rude, inappropriate and as vile as possible, but I would hope that even the BBC would accept he's overstepped the mark this time. In any other walk of life, anyone who did this type of thing would face serious disciplinary proceedings. I hope the BBC will consider what consequences there may be if they don't take him to task for this.


26th October   

One of the Most Conservative Film Censors in the World...

David Cooke talks about the work of the BBFC
Link Here

David Cooke is the Director of the BBFC. He told the Guardian:

There are about 40 people who are examiners at the BBFC. They watch the films, play the games and watch the DVDs. All certification goes out with my name on it. That's about 17,000 titles a year, which is a little nerve-wracking. I see between one and three films a week.

We try and keep in line with public opinion and I think we're an accurate reflection. We're not trying to lead the public but sometimes we have to make a decision. They aren't Chris Tarrant issues; we can't phone a friend.

We get twitchy when sex and violence come together. It's a hugely contested area but we tend to err on the side of caution. It's an issue the public is also worried about.

We look at sexual violence in terms of how likely it is that the scene will encourage someone else to do it. Is the rape scene aversive? Is it off-putting? If it is saying that rape is OK, that's when it gets worrying and we will act.

Broadly speaking, at an adult level, people should be free to choose what they want to watch

Some sexual acts blur the lines. Urolagnia is a sexual fetish with a focus on urine and urination. Whether this is legal to show in a film is a case for the courts.

The Ketchup Effect is a Swedish film about a 13-year-old girl and her first sexual experiences. In it was a shot of an erect penis. Now we knew the penis wasn't real and that the subject was being treated sensitively but we had to give the film an 18 certificate. Was it the right decision? Was it educational?

I think there are regional differences in terms of what is and what isn't acceptable, but mainly in terms of bad language. The public don't like bad language.

We are still one of the more conservative film regulators in the world. French regulators come out with completely different conclusions to us. Whereas we will put an 18 certificate on a Tarantino film, they give his films a 12 certificate and call it art.


26th October   

South Korean Bad Influence...

South Korea restricts soldier's reading matter
Link Here

In an unprecedented move, a group of military law officers filed a petition with the South Korean Constitutional Court, demanding the Ministry of National Defense's ban on dozens of bad influence books be lifted.

Seven officers submitted the petition, arguing the censorship infringes on soldiers' basic rights.

It is a basic right guaranteed by the Constitution to read books for gaining knowledge and pursuing happiness,' said Choi Kang-wook, a lawyer representing the petitioners: There is no argument for limiting their rights just because they are in the military, or that they must accept unfairness because they are soldiers.'

Their action angered the ministry. It's not appropriate as the officers are tasked with enforcing law within the military, Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said during a parliamentary audit of his ministry. I will order the Army Chief of Staff to take steps after reviewing whether their act violates work-related discipline.

In July, the ministry announced 23 books that soldiers should not read.

The seditious books include Bad Samaritans , by Chang Ha-joon, a professor at Cambridge University, Year 501: The Conquest Continues by Noam Chomsky, a U.S. author and linguist and Hyeon Gi-yeong's novel, A Spoon on Earth.

Those books were categorized by the ministry into three categories and claimed the books could have a bad influence on soldiers.

  • pro-North Korea
  • anti-government
  • anti-U.S. or anti-capitalism

Ironically, many of the books banned by the ministry have drawn public interest and made the best sellers list at large bookstores in recent months.


26th October   

Denial of Critical Service...

Weekly magazine seized in Tunisia
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Tunisian government's decision to seize the latest issue of an opposition newspaper and to summon an independent editor to appear before a public prosecutor.

The Interior Ministry seized the October 22 issue of Mouatinoun, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties party, for publishing unlawful allegations, said Tunisian state-controlled papers. The case has been handed to the public prosecutor, state media reported.

Mustapha Ben Jaafar, editor of Mouatinoun, said the seizure was tied to an opinion piece by Neziha Rejiba, editor of the news Web site Kalima. In her piece, Rejiba accused the Tunisian government of being behind the recent destruction of Kalima'sWeb site. She wrote that the government gave instructions to hit our Web site because it is a regime of corsairs and highway men.

Rejiba, one of the country's most critical journalists, has been summoned to appear before the Tunis public prosecutor on Monday. The appearance could be a precursor to criminal charges. Under Article 49 of the press law, Rejiba could face up to three years in prison and a fine for publishing false news.


26th October   

Offsite: The Slippery Slope...

Internet censorship in Canada
Link Here

For most people sex and the internet are as natural a pairing as apple pie and motherhood.

But increasingly the easy access to pornography that so many have enjoyed for so long is being regulated, filtered and censored by a combination of government, law enforcement, internet service providers (ISPs) and moral busybodies.

Free speech activists say what we're seeing now is the beginning of internet censorship, with the regulation and removal of child porn as the initial motivation.

There are efforts to combat images of the sexual abuse of prepubescent children and the major ISPs are involved, says Nart Villeneuve, a research fellow at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab — which has done work with Chinese bloggers and dissidents on how to avoid internet censorship — in an email. "They filter access to a small amount of sites that host this stuff and have review/complaint procedures and do not appear to be overblocking.

But once the infrastructure for filtering is in place — for any reason, though porn is usually the first excuse — there is an incentive to increase its use. I see 'mission creep' all the time where once in place, filtering is extended to cover content areas that were not in the original mandate.

...Read full article


25th October   

Update: Maid to Apologise...

Apologies all round for Enfield's Filipina maid gag
Link Here
Full story: Harry Enfield...LoadsaComplaints about Harry Enfield

The BBC has apologized to the Philippines for the skit in the comedy show Harry and Paul that was said to have portrayed Filipino women as sex objects.

BBC director general Mark Thompson apologized, in a letter dated Oct. 10, 2008, to Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James Edgardo Espiritu, for the offense caused by the episode of Harry and Paul.

The apology came following a letter sent last Oct. 3 by Espiritu to BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons expressing the ambassador's dismay.

The episode angered some of the 200,000-strong Filipino community in the United Kingdom and prompted some leaders of the community to put up an online petition where Filipinos could lodge their protest against BBC and the show's producer, Tiger Aspect Productions. The online petition gathered more than 2,000 supporters within three days.

Simultaneous silent vigils were also held on Oct. 17 in front of the BBC office in White City, just outside central London, and Tiger Aspect Productions in Soho in central London.

Tiger Aspect Productions Chief Executive Andrew Zane issued an apology before the members of the Filipino community who joined the Soho vigil: We're sorry to anyone who was in any way offended by the programme. This certainly was not our intention .


25th October   

A Hotbed of Illicit Imagery...

Bahrain councillors get all het up over underwear
Link Here

Advertising across a large area of Bahrain could soon be torn down for being too sexy.

The Central Municipal Council is drafting a law that would allow them to ban advertising that is too provocative, claiming it was equivalent to pornography.

It is also seeking a clampdown on lingerie shops that display immoral skimpy underwear in their windows, which councillors have claimed flouts religious values.

Street advertisements are getting outrageous, said councillor Sadiq Rabea'a, who co-sponsored the proposal: Some are crossing the line with women wearing tight-fitting dresses, dancing around and legalising sexual scenes for our children to witness.

Councillor Abdulrazzaq Al Hattab also sponsored the initiative, saying his constituency in Riffa was a hotbed of illicit imagery: Showcasing lingerie for everyone to see is against our Islamic culture and is considered immoral.

The issue has now been referred to the council's technical and financial committee, which will study the proposal and present a report at the council's next meeting.


25th October   

Update: Blogger Repression...

Turkey blocks considerable number of bloggers at Blogger.com
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

As of today access to the popular blogging website Blogger.com has been blocked in Turkey.

A blocking order was issued by  Diyarbakir First Criminal Court of Peace.

The reason for issuing the order ban is unknown but a considerable number of Turkish users are affected.

Update: Football Rights Freakery

27th October 2008

It is now being reported by Turk.internet.com that the blocking order is related to an intellectual property infringement. Digitrk is a subscription based digital TV platform in Turkey which owns the right to transmit the live coverage of the Turkish football league games. Digitrk obtained the blocking order through the Diyarbakir court according to the Turk.internet.com news as there were blog entries providing information and links to known websites which transmit pirated transmission of the live football league games.


25th October   

Malaysian Cultural Backwaters...

PUSPAL: Official body dedicated to censoring foreign performers
Link Here

Indonesian Inul Daratista is only one example in an extensive list of popular foreign artists who have had their Malaysian performances frustrated or banned altogether on apparently moral grounds.

In 2003, American rap-rock band Linkin Park was allowed to play in Bukit Kiara, on the condition that they did not go bare-chested, wear shorts or jump.

Iin early 2004, then-PAS Youth wing leader Ahmad Sabki Yusof criticised a concert by Mariah Carey as condoning values that are totally contrary to our way of life and our culture.

The Malaysian leg of pop burlesque group the Pussycat Dolls' 2006 World Tour saw their promoters, Absolute Entertainment, slapped with an RM10,000 fine. Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim was quoted as saying: I believe the way the Pussycat Dolls behaved onstage amounted to gross indecency.

Such reactions, and well as attendant official actions, have intensified in recent years. So much so that Malaysia has set up censors specifically to deal with foreign performers.

The main agency concerned with processing approvals for foreign performers is the Central Agency of Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists (Puspal).

It was set up by the Malaysian cabinet in 2001, under what is now the Ministry of Culture, Arts, Heritage and National Unity. Its function is to receive and process approvals for foreign artistes to participate in film shoots and performances.

In Puspal's criteria for approving applications is a six-point code of ethics for performers. These guidelines range from "behaving improperly" (jumping about, shouting) to "sexual innuendoes".

Clearing the Puspal hurdle is merely the first step. Immigration matters aside, what follows is delicate negotiation between the production company and a byzantine web of local authorities — such as the local police and municipal authorities — from whom it must obtain entertainment permits.

This is often the most difficult step, as documents of consent arrive at the eleventh hour — if they do at all.

The repercussions over an unpredictable process for approving foreign artists reach beyond performance organisers. Two high-profile artistes have already given Malaysia a miss. They have opted for more hospitable venues in the region, where the enforcement of entertainment licenses are relatively clearer and less easily manipulated by moral outcry.

Christina Aguilera's 2007 Back To Basics tour included stops in neighbour Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, but she refused to perform here; Beyonce Knowles, also in 2007, swapped her Kuala Lumpur concert for one in Jakarta.

Whither then Malaysia, with its aspirations towards an international performing arts platform? Abdul Nasir put it tersely: We are really the backwaters.


25th October   

A Culture of Violence in Barbados...

Nutters think a video game ban will help
Link Here

Head of the National Organisation for Women called for a ban on violent games and toy weapons.

In lobbying for a ban, Yvonnes Walkes said that the National Organisation for Women were using a multi-dimensional approach to combat what Deputy Commissioner of Police Bertie Hinds called a culture of violence in Barbados.

We have to start with the children, the schools and the parents...We have to be aware and be vigilant to get measures in place. This will also be one of our main focuses during our 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women...


25th October   

The Jails of Algeria...

Author censored by Algerian police
Link Here

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has condemned a recent Algerian police order which prevents the publication of respected Algerian journalist Mohamed Benchicou's book, The Free Man's Journal (Journal d'un homme libre). The injunction has prevented the journalist from presenting his book at the 13th International Book Fair in Algiers.

This is the second time that Algerian police have used such brutal censorship against the author. At the same time last year, police issued an order to stop the production of Benchicou's book, The Jails of Algiers . This is a blatant intervention in publishing affairs, which are legally protected by the Algerian constitution, which outlaws censorship unless it happens as a result of a judicial order.

The refusal to print Benchicou's new book is part of a systematic campaign of harassment against him by the Algerian government. He was held in prison from 2004 to 2006 and his newspaper Le Matin was closed down two years ago in retaliation for releasing a book called Bouteflika: The Algerian Trick in 2004. In this book, Benchicou courageously criticised the prevailing corruption in Algeria under current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.


25th October   

Dangerous Travel...

US based Nigerian blogger detained
Link Here

A US-based Nigerian news blogger is being held without charge by Nigeria's secret service.

Jonathan Elendu was taken into custody on Saturday when he arrived in the capital, Abuja, on a family visit.

Elendureports.com is one of a number of diaspora-run citizen reporting websites about Nigeria and is known for publishing controversial stories.

The State Security Service (SSS) said he was being investigated for "acts of sedition", but refused to give details.

Elendureports.com operates from Lansing in Michigan and publishes often controversial stories about Nigerian politicians, accusing some of them of corruption and other crimes. Their stories are often based on anonymous sources.

Another US-based Nigerian news website, Saharareporters.com, quotes anonymous sources as saying Mr Elendu may have been arrested because of photographs it published a few months ago showing President Umaru Yar'Adua's son.

The Saharareporters.com pictures, which caused a stir in the local media at the time, showed 13-year-old Musa Yar'Adua waving wads of money around and holding a policeman's gun.

Update: Released

13th November 2008. Based on article from pbs.org

Late on Thursday, October 29, reports began to appear that Elendu had been released and was receiving medical treatment. While this is excellent news for him and his family, the actions of the SSS and the Nigerian government are not what one would expect from a so-called democracy.


24th October   

Update: Filtering Criticism...

Australian minister caught leaning on internet filter critic
Link Here

Censor and oppressor
Stephen Conroy

Australia's Government is attempting to silence critics of its plan to censor the internet, which experts say will break the internet while doing little to stop people from accessing illegal material such as child pornography.

Internet providers and the government's own tests have found that presently available filters are not capable of adequately distinguishing between legal and illegal content and can degrade internet speeds by up to 86%.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the office of the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, tried to bully ISP staff into suppressing their criticisms of the plan.

Conroy said that the Government was looking at forcing ISPs to implement a two-tiered filtering system. The first tier, which internet users would not be able to opt out of, would block all illegal material [which includes adult hardcore porn] . The second tier, which is optional, would filter out content deemed inappropriate for children.

But neither filter tier will be capable of censoring content obtained over peer-to-peer file sharing networks, which account for an estimated 60% of internet traffic.

Colin Jacobs, chair of the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia said: I'm not exaggerating when I say that this model involves more technical interference in the internet infrastructure than what is attempted in Iran, one of the most repressive and regressive censorship regimes in the world.

Mark Newton, an engineer at Australia ISP Internode, has heavily criticized the Government and its filtering policy on popular Australian broadband forum Whirlpool.

The Ministers office wrote to the Internet Industry Association (IIA) board member Carolyn Dalton based on Newton working for Internode, despite his criticism being offered in a personal capacity.

“In your capacity as a board member of the IIA I would like to express my serious concern that a IIA member would be sending out this sort of message. I have also advised [IIA chief executive] Peter Coroneos of my disappointment in this sort of irresponsible behaviour”

The email was accompanied by a phone call demanding that the message be passed on to senior Internode management.

Although this shouldn't come as a great surprise, it is none the less unacceptable in a democratic country that a Minister would seek to censor critics who are doing nothing more than exercising their rights to publicly disagree.

Enough is enough. I call on the Minister to resign, or should he not do so, I call on the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to sack the Minister at the first available opportunity. This abuse of power has no place in a modern, free and democratic society in the 21st century.


24th October   

Update: Killing Me Softly...

Another euthanasia book under consideration by Australia's censor
Link Here
Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

A book by euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke, Killing me softly , could be banned in Australia after a Classification Board hearing expected to take place next week.

Dr Nitschke said Attorney-General Robert McClelland had referred the book to the board. The board's decision to hold a classification hearing is unusual, given Penguin Australia published the book more than three years ago.

It is understood the Attorney-General was reacting to newspaper reports that a Perth mother, Erin Berg, who committed suicide in May after travelling to Mexico, had read the book, which describes euthanasia drugs sold overseas. Mrs Berg was suffering from serious post-natal depression but was not inflicted with a terminal illness.

The Classification Board has the power to ban the book altogether, restrict its sale and distribution, or make it a crime to sell or display it.

The chief censor, Donald McDonald, contacted Penguin Australia earlier this month and asked the publisher to submit a copy of the book that was written by Dr Nitschke and his partner Fiona Stuart.

Dr Nitschke, who was on his way back to Australia from Britain after establishing an on-line site for his controversial The Peaceful Pill Handbook , said Mr McClelland was reacting to pressure from what he claimed was a campaign being organised by the family of Mrs Berg.

The book Killing me Softly has about one sentence referring to the fact that people go overseas to obtain euthanasia drugs, Dr Nitschke said, the book was largely a discussion of the issue and had been used in school curriculum.

Penguin Australia publishing director Robert Sessions said any ban on the book could cause significant disruption. There were few copies of the book in bookstores and the ban would mostly inconvenience libraries.


24th October   

Kicked in the Rear Admiral...

D-Notice history book censored by D-Notice committee
Link Here
Full story: D-Notices...UK press censorship of defence issues

Spell checker & censor
Air Vice-Marshal Vallance

There is a long tradition of the military suppressing news that it considers detrimental to national security by slapping a D-notice on it.

But when the D-notice committee decided that the time was ripe to publish its own official history, nobody imagined that it would fall victim to its own system. The history of the D-notice committee has, in effect, had a D-notice slapped on it by the D-notice committee.

Secrecy and the Media , written by Rear-Admiral Nick Wilkinson, who was secretary of the committee from 1999 to 2004, should have been hitting all good bookshops this month, according to the academic publisher Routledge's website.

The book will now be published in May, but without its final five chapters. These cover the Blair years, charting the winding-down of the Irish terrorist campaigns and the War on Terror.

The censored chapters will eventually be published in a later edition of the book after a change of administration.

The Times has learnt that the manuscript was cleared for publication by all the relevant government departments – MI5, SIS, GCHQ and the Foreign, Home and Cabinet offices, as well as the Treasury Solicitor and the Attorney-General. However, when it arrived at the Ministry of Defence it was passed not to the department's security and legal experts but to the current D-notice secretary, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance.

He advised that the book be withdrawn altogether for reasons of style and structure, and that a new official history should be commissioned, to be written instead by a trained historian , a source has told The Times. He said: It's poorly presented history. It's very thorough, but it's just difficult to read.

The air vice-marshal's view was endorsed by the MoD


24th October   

Update: Prize Whinge...

China whinges at human rights award for jailed dissident
Link Here
Full story: Human Rights in China...Chinese round up the usual suspects

Beijing has furiously denounced the award of a major European Union human rights prize to a "criminal" Chinese dissident as a major Europe-Asia summit on the financial crisis begins in China.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denounced the European Parliament for giving the prestigious Sakharov Prize to Hu Jia, an imprisoned human rights activist.

We express strong dissatisfaction at the decision to issue such an award to a jailed criminal in China, in disregard of our repeated representations, said a foreign ministry spokesman: This is gross interference in China's domestic affairs.

Hu received a three and half year jail sentence last April for subversion , becoming China's best-known human rights campaigner for his work highlighting government abuses, environmental degradation and the plight of China's HIV-Aids sufferers.

Hans-Gert Poettering, the president of the European Parliament, made it clear on Thursday that the prize sent out a signal of clear support to all those who defend human rights in China. Hu Jia is one of the real defenders of human rights, he said.


24th October   

The Hugh Hefners...

Winners of the 2008 Hugh Hefner First Amendment Awards.
Link Here

The Playboy Foundation named a high-school student, a retired technician and an attorney as the winners of the 2008 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards.

These winners have shown extraordinary commitment to preserving the First Amendment rights of all Americans, said Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises Inc, Their example is an inspiration to everyone who cares about the fundamental civil rights on which our democracy is based.

  • Heather Gillman, 17 received a $10,000 award for speaking out on behalf of the rights of gay students. Gillman successfully sued the local school board after her high school principal banned students from wearing T-shirts, stickers, buttons or symbols showing support of equal rights for gay students.
  • Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, received a $10,000 award for speaking out against the National Security Agency's covert, illegal computer spying operation, which used AT&T to secretly intercept billions of private Internet communications sent and received by Americans.
  • Greg Lukianoff, New York-based attorney and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, received the new $25,000 Freedom of Expression Award in recognition of his efforts to defend First Amendment rights of students and faculty on college campuses across the U.S.

This year, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards were selected from 60 nominees representing traditional and digital means of expression, including law professors, website creators and student journalists.

The Playboy Foundation supports local and national nonprofit organizations that protect the rights of the individual in a free society. Since its inception in 1965, the foundation has awarded nearly $20 million in grants and in-kind contributions to organizations concerned with First Amendment freedoms, civil liberties and social justice.


24th October   

BBFC Do the Dirty...

Cuts to Dirty Weekend
Link Here

Dirty Weekend is a 1993 UK drama by Michael Winner (Polygram)

The 1995 video release was cut (same print re-released for the 2006 DVD)

Cuts were made in four scenes as follows:

  1. number of blows to head reduced to two only in scene during which Bella kills sleeping man with hammer
  2. asphyxiation of fat man reduced by minimising close sight of him struggling for breath
  3. forcible oral rape in car park reduced to a minimum by removing shots showing man's pleasure, Bella's head bobbing and sight of Bella spewing up
  4. final sexual assault on pier reduced to establishment only.

We were asked to consider the film for video release shortly after some amendments had been made to the Video Recordings Act to tighten up what was permitted in videos. Therefore the Board made some cautious cuts to reduce the impact and offensiveness of the film. It is perhaps less likely that they would be required today.

Previously, t he 1993 cinema release was passed uncut


24th October   

Update: Breaking the Back of Freedom...

Director of Public Prosecutions warns of Labour's database monstrosity
Link Here

The Director of Public Prosecutions has given a warning of the dangers of plans for a massive expansion of Big Brother state surveillance and of the growth of a security state.

Sir Ken Macdonald, who heads the Crown Prosecution Service, said that the enormous powers of access to information that technology had given the state should be used with great care: We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom's back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security state.

Technology gave the state enormous powers to access to knowledge and information about each one of us. And the ability to collect and store it at will; every second of every day, in everything we do.

But Sir Ken, giving the inaugural Crown Prosecution Service lecture in London, called for level-headedness and legislative restraint.

We need to understand that it is in the nature of state power that decisions taken in the next few months and years about how the state may use these powers, and to what extent are likely to be irreversible They will be with us forever. And they in turn will be built upon on. So we should take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can't bear.


24th October   

Poetry Censors...

Burma magazines suffer bans on their poems
Link Here

The Rangoon-based humour magazine, Pyaw Pyaw Shwin Shwin had to postpone publication of its October issue as the censor board rejected one-fourth of its contents.

They cannot publish in time as the censorship on this month's issue is too heavy. Most of the censored sections are from poems and stories. They are likely to suspend publishing for about two months, a person close to the magazine said. But the magazine refused to release any news regarding the censorship for fear of retaliation.

The censor board, popularly known as Literary Kempetai named after the Japanese military intelligence during World War 2 in Burma, did not give any reason for the censorship. But media sources speculated that the authorities censored the contents because they did not understand what the poems meant. To justify their decision, the censor board said the poems were not in accordance with the government's guidelines.

Similarly, many poems from this month's issue of Kalyar, Cherry, Myanmar Thit, Mahaythi and other magazines were also rejected.

Many poems were censored this month. Only four poems appeared in this month's issue of Kalyar . Only five poems were passed by the censor board out of a total of 11 submitted by Mahaythi , while only two poems appeared in Myanmarthit . Earlier, at least seven poems used to appear in these monthly magazines, a writer from one of the magazines said.


23rd October   

Update: You're Making It Up...

The Obscene Publications used against text story
Link Here
Full story: Obscene Text...Writer prosecuted for text fantasy story

A man from South Tyneside has appeared in court over a text story which detailed the kidnap, torture and murder of the pop group Girls Aloud.

Darryn Walker is accused of writing and posting the Girls (Scream) Aloud story on a sex stories site.

He is charged under the Obscene Publications Act.

No pleas were entered at the hearing at Newcastle Crown Court. A trial was set for 16 March.

Walker was granted unconditional bail until the trial.


23rd October   

Gearing Up for Censorship...

Gears of War 2 banned in Germany and maybe Japan
Link Here

A Microsoft spokesperson has told Edge that Epic's long-awaited Gears of War 2 game will not be released in Japan.

We can confirm that Gears of War 2 will not be available in Germany or Japan indefinitely said the spokesperson.

The reasons why the game will not be released remain unclear. In May this year Germany's ratings organization declined to issue the game an age certificate.

The BBFC passed Gears of War 2, 18 uncut.

Update: Evidently this story is causing waves within Microsoft. A spokesperson has contacted us to clarify that no announcement has been made about plans for Gears of War 2 in Japan.


23rd October   

Update: Fear of Fallout...

Fallout 3 banned in India
Link Here
Full story: Fallout 3...World censors ban Fallout 3

Microsoft India has announced that it has cancelled its plans to release Fallout 3 for the Xbox 360 in India. A press statement issued by Microsoft states that the game included certain content that could potentially hurt Indian sensibilities.

Here's the statement from Microsoft India:

Microsoft constantly endeavors to bring the best games to Indian consumers in sync with their international release. However, in light of cultural sensitivities in India, we have made the business decision to not bring Fallout 3 into the country.

Games fail to release in India for various reasons - high prices, lack of distribution - but cultural sensitivities is a first.

Perhaps something to do with the ever more unstable country next door with nuclear weapons.


23rd October   

Update: Safe Internet...

European internet gets safer for children by $71 million
Link Here

The European Parliament on Wednesday agreed on a $71 million, five-year plan to protect children from illegal content on the Internet and online bullying.

The Safer Internet program, which runs between 2009 and 2013, will cover Web 2.0 services such as social networking sites Facebook and MySpace as well online multiplayer gaming. It also will fight harmful behavior such as bullying.

The proposed new programme will:

  • Reduce illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online: actions to provide the public with national contact points for reporting illegal content online and harmful conduct, focusing in particular on child sexual abuse material and grooming.
  • Promote a safer online environment: fostering self-regulatory initiatives in this field. To stimulate the involvement of children and young people in creating a safer online environment, in particular through youth panels.
  • Ensure public awareness: actions targeting children, their parents and teachers. Encourage a multiplier effect through exchange of best practices within the network of national awareness centres. Support contact points where parents and children can receive advice on how to stay safe online.
  • Establish a knowledge base by bringing together researchers engaged in child safety online at European level. Establish a knowledge base on the use of new technologies by children, the effects these have on them, and related risks. Use this to improve the effectiveness of ongoing actions within the Safer Internet Programme.


23rd October   

Update: Harrowed by Nudes...

Artists boycott Harrow Council Arts Centre
Link Here
Full story: Harrow Council Prudes...Nutter council gets all stuffy about nude art

Artists are walking out en masse from Harrow Arts Centre in a storm over the censorship of five paintings.

Melvyn Leach, censor and business manager at the arts centre, had the paintings depicting nude figures removed from an exhibition the night before it was due to open.

Artists from across the borough have reacted in horror at the decision and some have threatened to walk away from the arts venue because of the censorship.

Shanti Panchal, a distinguished artist said: I think it is terrible, it sounds like something from the middle ages. I was so shocked when I heard and think all artists should stand up and speak out about what's happening.

The rebellion is being led by Cheryl Gould, an artist with long-standing ties to the centre. She was furious after Leach told her and fellow artist Jonathan Hutchins to remove their artwork, which they had offered to be in the exhibition. She is now calling for a boycott of the arts centre until the council rethinks its position.

She said: The paintings and drawings were not rude, crude or remotely suggestive. They were just what you would expect to see from any normal life class anywhere.

Her calls for a boycott have been backed by a host of artists from across Harrow and beyond, including members of the Harrow Visual Arts Forum and the Wembley Arts Society.

Norma Stephenson, chairman of the Harrow Arts Society, which is putting on the exhibition at the arts centre until October 26, has called on the council to clarify its position, which at the moment is undefined . She said: Is it really that bad for children to walk past pictures of people with no clothes on?

Councillor Chris Mote has continued to defend the decision taken by Leach and has said nude works could be displayed in a private room in the arts centre with a health warning on the door.


23rd October   

Internet Big Guns...

Who's behind the mysterious shutdown of jihad sites
Link Here

No Comment

Websites being used to disseminate propaganda by al-Qaida appear to have come under systematic cyber-attack, forcing the closure of three for well over a month and fuelling speculation that governments are targeting them in a shadowy new front in the war on terror.

Al-Ekhlas, al-Buraq and al-Firdaws, all linked to al-Fajr - the media distribution arm of al-Qaida - have been down since just before September 11, when the broadcast of a video commemorating the 2001 attacks was inexplicably delayed.

All have suffered occasional disruption but this is the longest period they have been out of action. Al-Fajr blamed technical problems and denied that the sites had fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Yet suspicions of a deliberate disruption campaign have been fuelled by the fact that a fourth website, al-Hesbah, continues to operate unimpeded, with several experts suggesting it may be being used by Saudi intelligence to monitor and entrap jihadi militants.

But the episode remains shrouded in mystery. All four sites posted material produced by as-Sahhab, al-Qaida's slick media production arm - mostly video clips of martyrdom operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere - as well as statements by Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Two of the sites suffered problems in June but then resumed normal service. I think what happened in June was a trial run for what took place in September, said William McCants, a consultant at West Point military academy who runs the Jihadica.com website.

Rumours of joint Anglo-US operations have surfaced but neither government will confirm involvement. Such sabotage would be illegal. UK security officials have spoken of an aggressive new effort to counter al-Qaida internet propaganda.

I think it's probably being orchestrated by several governments and it would have to be on the black operations [illegal but deniable] side, McCants said. Whoever is doing this knows what they are doing. They are being surgically precise.

Anne Hennesen, of Norway's Defence Research Establishment, said: There must be a big organisation behind this. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to assume that this is the work of an intelligence agency.

Another theory is that al-Qaida sympathisers closed the forums themselves because they were too good a source of intelligence for their enemies.


23rd October   

Update: FCC Chills...

News Corp boss defends TV companies against indecent FCC censorship
Link Here
Full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

News Corporation boss Peter Chernin is unleashing a broad defense of broadcasters against FCC indecency enforcement and warning starkly about the danger that a Supreme Court case could pose to First Amendment freedoms.

Chernin said there could be devastating repercussions to the wrong ruling in a case in which the FCC found Fox stations' airing of Nicole Richie's and Cher's live 'profane' comments in two Billboard Music Awards in 2002 and 2003 amounted to indecency violations.

In prepared remarks, he called the case, to be heard by the high court November 4th, an absolute threat to the First Amendment. The case hinges on utterances that were unscripted on live television. If we are found in violation, just think about the radical ramifications for live programming—from news, to politics, to sports … in fact, to every live broadcast television event. The effect would be appalling.

The court case stems from the FCC's attempt to ramp up indecency enforcement by starting to regard fleeting expletives as indecent. The FCC generally had overlooked expletives uttered in live unscripted shows in the past.

In the high court case, the FCC is appealing an appellate court ruling that overturned the FCC's policy change.

Chernin conceded that he is defending some less than ideal material in the high court case and others, including one over episodes of Married by America that showed strippers. Still, he said, his company has no choice because the government is trying to act as censor: I vow to fight to the end our ability to put occasionally controversial, offensive and even tasteless content on the air.

Chernin also accused groups claiming to be interested in protecting children of helping the government in its attempts to censor television. The job of protecting children is far too important to leave to government bureaucrats or so-called public interest groups. The job of protecting children lies with parents.

Update: Oral Arguments

1st November 2008. See Supreme Court to hear case about indecent speech on TV from edition.cnn.com

The court case will commence on 4th November 2008

Lawyers from both sides expect Tuesday's oral arguments to be filled with the "indecent" language at issue, so expect to see a lot of f-bombs being tossed around by the justices, all in the name of legal clarity, of course.

The case is FCC v. Fox Television Stations (07-582)


23rd October   

Offsite: Do You Think there are Too Many Shallow Surveys on TV?...

Taste and decency survey in the Radio Times
Link Here

Over 4,500 readers of Radio Times responded to a Taste and Decency survey.

1. Do you think there's too much swearing on TV?
Yes 69%
No 31%

2. Do you think there's too much sex on TV?
Yes 52%
No 48%

3. Do you think there's too much nudity on TV?
Yes 40%
No 60%

4. Do you think there's too much violence on TV?
Yes 74%
No 26%

...Read full article


22nd October   

Update: Extreme Injustice...

Ben Westwood and CAAN protest against the Dangerous Pictures Act
Link Here

Models wearing chains, stockings and gags have been led around Westminster in protest at laws to make owning extreme pornography illegal.

From next year, possession of images such as those depicting a threat to life or serious injury to a person's genitals will be banned even if staged by actors or special effects.

Demonstrators opposite Parliament described this as the government interfering with people's sex lives.

The demonstration, organised by the Consenting Adult Action Network, was led by photographer Ben Westwood, son of fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood.

He paraded two "slaves" - models called Jade and Dolly Blowup - across the road from Westminster underground station and around Parliament Square, with police having to hold up the traffic.

A group of about 20 marchers carried placards with messages including No to thought crime, Penalise crime, not sex and Depiction harms no-one.

Westwood said to the BBC: Why are the government doing this? I think they are just mucking about. They want to seem as though they are doing something to help society, that they must seem strong on law and order.

Coming from a government that lied about going into war in Iraq, that seems strange. There are more important issues to be debated than this.

I think that people might be worrying that what they have got in their video collection might be breaking the law. People are going to get a bit nervous.

I hope our demonstration does change some minds.

Campaigners say the new law risks criminalising thousands of people who use violent pornographic images as part of consensual sexual relationships.

Bruce Argue, of the group Esinem, said: We want to draw attention to what is an unfair and ill-thought-out law.

The act comes into force on 1 January.


22nd October   

Update: Afghan Court Insults Islam...

20 Years of injustice for distributing article about women's rights
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

An Afghan appeal court yesterday overturned a death sentence for a journalism student accused of blasphemy and instead sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

A three-judge panel jailed 24-year-old Parwez Kambakhsh after a day of arguments between the student's defence lawyer and state witnesses.

Kambakhsh was studying journalism at Balkh University in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and writing for a local newspaper when he was arrested in October 2007.

Prosecutors alleged that Kambakhsh disrupted classes by asking questions about women's rights under Islam. They also said he illegally distributed an article he printed off the internet that asks why Islam does not modernise to give women equal rights. He also allegedly scribbled his own comments on the paper.

A lower court sentenced him to death in a trial critics have called flawed in part because Kambakhsh had no lawyer representing him.

The head of Tuesday's panel, Abdul Salaam Qazizada, struck down the lower court's death penalty but said the decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court.


22nd October   

Update: Lads Mags Nags...

One woman campaign against lads mags
Link Here
Full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

Anti-porn campaigner Margaret Forbes is urging fellow nutters to boycott supermarkets displaying lads' mags.

The one-woman crusader has already persuaded supermarket giants Morrisons to put men's magazines on the top shelves out of sight of children.

She is now calling on Tesco and Somerfield to follow and place men's mags like Nuts, Zoo, FHM and Loaded on shelves which are out of reach and sight of children.

She claimed: Magazines like these are just pornography and extremely degrading to women. I tried on a number of occasions to have them put on the top shelf where they belong but they didn't do it. But when I last spoke to the Express and said I hoped fellow Buddies would join me in boycotting this supermarket they listened. I would encourage people to do the same at other supermarkets such as Tesco and Somerfield who have failed to listen.”

Forbes – who is a member of the Scottish Women Against Pornography group – said: The woman who pose in these magazines have a responsibility for their own actions. But I am not saying they shouldn't do what they do. Nor am I saying these shops should not be selling them or people should not be allowed to buy them. But these magazines should not be on sale on the lower shelves where children can see them. Children should be protected from sexually explicit material.

These magazines send out a bad message to young boys. There is a definite link between soft porn and attacks on women.

A spokeswoman for Somerfield said: It is important to stress these are titles that have high readership levels of both men and women, are not classed as pornographic and are not subject to legal age restrictions. We are sensitive to the feelings of many who are not comfortable with the depiction of women.”

A spokesman for Tesco's said: These Lads' mags are positioned towards the top tier of our magazine racks. We keep a close eye on our customers' views. But we are not receiving many complaints over this.


22nd October   

Gambling on Domain Forfeiture...

Kentucky sets sights on seizing porn domain names
Link Here

A policy expert warns that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear may soon apply the same tactic to online adult websites that he has applied to Internet gambling — having them forfeit the domains to the state by taking owners to court.

In a post discussing Beshear's lawsuit against 141 gambling websites on Reason Magazine's website, senior editor Radley Balko predicts the next move with just one ominous sentence.

Seems like the Internet porn industry would be the next logical target, Balko writes.

According to an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate on Oct. 16 denied a motion to dismiss Beshear's lawsuit against the gambling sites. Wingate ruled Beshear has the right to decide whether control of the sites must be forfeited to the state, according to the newspaper.

Wingate set the next hearing date for Nov. 17.

Beshear filed suit last month to force the sites to block access by Kentucky users and pay damages, or forfeit the site's domain name.


22nd October   

Sticking Pins in Sarkozy...

French president gets wound up by voodoo doll
Link Here

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to sue a publishing company unless it withdraws a Sarkozy doll that comes with a voodoo manual telling readers to plant pins in it.

The doll is emblazoned with some of Sarkozy's most famous quotes such as Get lost you pathetic arsehole -- his words to a bystander who refused to shake his hand at a farm show last year.

Readers are encouraged to plant pins in the quotes.

Nicolas Sarkozy has instructed me to remind you that, whatever his status and fame, he has exclusive and absolute rights over his own image, his lawyer Thierry Herzog wrote to publishers K&B in a letter published by newspaper Le Monde.

Herzog said Sarkozy would sue the publishing firm if it didn't respond and pull the product. K&B has issued 20,000 copies of the manual and doll.


22nd October   

Petition: Withdraw the Communications Bill...

And halt the slippery slope towards an Orwellian 1984 nightmare
Link Here

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to withdraw the Government's support for the Communications Data Bill

The Communications Data Bill would give the Government the legal authority to collect a database of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public. Even though the Government insists that this bill would reduce terrorism (which it probably will not), this is an intolerable intrusion into the privacy of free citizens and a step towards a dystopian "Big Brother" state. The Bill must be quashed to protect civil liberties and halt the slippery slope towards an Orwellian 1984-type nightmare.

Closes 30th May 2009


22nd October   

Political Ratings in India...

Young people should not watch a film on an issue that was better buried and forgotten
Link Here

Shonali Bose's first feature film, Amu . Starring Konkona Sen Sharma, tells a daring tale of a forgotten part of Indian history--the riots of 1984 that left several Sikhs massacred.

The film gained great exposure after being invited to countless film festivals including the Toronto International Film festival and the Berlin International Film Festival.

For Shonali, it was a huge struggle to get the film released and even when she managed to get the finances, Amu faced several hurdles at the Indian Censor Board. Recently, Aamir Khan launched the DVD of the film after the Censor Board deemed the film unfit for Indian TV broadcast.

In an exclusive to BollySpice.com, we speak to this promising director about the difficult yet rewarding journey behind the making of a powerful film like Amu .

You have had to deal excessively with the Indian Censor Board for the film. When they proposed cutting out parts of Amu, how did this make you feel after having worked so hard to make the film in the first place?

Absolutely ENRAGED. I wanted to explode and I had to just politely argue with them. It is preposterous that our films should be censored. The government has no right to do this. Audiences are mature enough. All that they can advise really is what rating a film should get.

It was said that Anupam Kher was one person who supported your film at the Censor Board and lost his job for it. Is this what happened?

Definitely the film was cleared because he was the head of the censor board and liked and supported the film. However, he could have taken one step further and got the film cleared with a "U" certificate. This is what insiders have told me about the power of the censor board chief. I was grateful though that at least it got cleared and that was definitely thanks to him.

With regard to losing his job, I was watching NDTV and Rajdeep Sardesai was interviewing Anupam. He said on air that he had been fired for clearing a film on the '84 riots. Actually, I think the changeover would have taken place anyway as government had changed from BJP to congress, and the censor board is always changed at this time (which is ridiculous)!

What do you have to say about the fact that the censor board also won't allow the film to be shown on television unless you cut several vital scenes?

Beyond outrageous! There was a rule passed that "A" films cannot be shown on TV, and Anupam's board had given Amu an "A". In fact, him not giving us a "U" at the time really came back to bite us. By the way, the "A" was given because the board said "Young people should not watch a film on an issue that was better buried and forgotten" and not because there were sex scenes or nudity or bad language! Ironically, the film won the Teenage Choice Award in Italy, was selected by the AFI Film Festival as specially appropriate for high schoolers and was hailed by students and teachers alike - class 8 upwards in many schools in Delhi where we did private screenings. In fact, this is a film for young people which made the "A" cert and its subsequent ban from TV particularly pernicious.

So we resubmitted the film to the new censor board to get a "U", and this was when they wanted 10 minutes of vital scenes, all to do with '84, to be removed which we refuse to do.


22nd October   

Respect and Privacy...

Council or Europe issues guidelines for ISPs and online game providers
Link Here

The Council of Europe today launched, in close cooperation with European online game designers and publishers and with Internet service providers, two sets of guidelines which aim to encourage respect and promote privacy, security and freedom of expression when, for example, accessing the Internet, using e-mail, participating in chats or blogs, or playing Internet games.


22nd October   

Offsite: Any Remote Chance of Freedom?...

Trojanised Home Sec comes home to infect Parliament
Link Here
Full story: State Trojan Horses...State infects home PCs using Trojans

Jack & Jacqui
Jack: Nice one Jacqui, but
weren't you a bit secretive?
Jacqui: No, I had the proposals on my
hard drive for all the world to see

Is the UK Government about to turn world class hacker? It's going to have to if the Germans succeed in getting their domestic programme of planting Trojans onto suspects computers adopted by the EU.

A written statement before parliament last week revealed that our Jacqui Smith had recently attended the latest meeting of the G6 and United States Counter-Terrorism Symposium in Bonn.

This latest get-together discussed general aspects of counter-terrorism, diplomatic assurances, the right to self-defence, and remote searches of computer hard drives.

A much less cuddly, more matter-of-fact version of what was discussed was provided by the German Interior Ministry.

The interior ministers note that almost all partner countries have or intend to have in the near future national laws allowing access to computer hard drives and other data storage devices located on their territory. However, the legal framework with respect to transnational searches of such devices is not well-developed. The interior ministers will therefore continue to seek ways to reduce difficulties and speed up the process in future.

...Read full article


21st October   

Softcore Liberals...

Nutters and the adult trade lobby for stricter censorship
Link Here

Nutter senator Barnaby Joyce has tabled a collection of hardcore pornography to illustrate how easy it is to pick it up from petrol stations and corner shops.

Senator Joyce ludicrously said the pornography was encouraging pedophilia.

These have received classification, it pertains to an insinuation that these girls are actually underage, he said.

NotSoLiberal Senator Julian McGauran said corner stores and service stations were abusing the classification system controlled by the federal government.

McGauran said as he questioned bureaucrats from the Classification Review Board during senate estimates hearings today: Category one classification is being abused.

Category one allows a softcore publication to be sold over the counter, sealed in an opaque wrapper. Category two allows hardcore publications to be sold in shops with adult only restrictions.

The classification board's acting director Olya Booyar was grilled for about an hour on what was being done to counteract the publications: The board doesn't go looking for publications which should be submitted (for classification) .

Enforcement of classifications was a state and territory government responsibility, the hearing was told.

Meanwhile adult trade lobbyist, the Eros Association, has backed coalition senators in urging an overhaul of the national classification regime for pornographic magazines and movies.

Eros chief executive Fiona Patten said the system as it now stood wasn't working, with inappropriate material sold through convenience stores and service stations.

Ms Patten said Eros supported Nationals senate leader Barnaby Joyce's action in raising the issue of magazine classifications during the Senate estimates hearing yesterday.

It's time for the federal government to overhaul the national classification scheme for publications, she said in a statement.

Ms Patten said all adult magazines and books were supposed to be submitted to the federal government for classification, but less than 5% of such publications sold in Australia had actually undergone classification. She said classification cost some $500-$700 per publication and for an importer bringing in just 10 copies of a specialist magazine, that would require a cover price of $70 to cover costs: So, clearly, they cannot comply with the law or they will go broke.

Frequently the same publication was imported by two or three businesses. But because a publication needed to be classified only once, the first to do so was actually covering the costs of competitors, Ms Patten said.

It's time the government reformed the classification scheme to create a more uniform adult category called non-violent erotica that spans films, publications and computer games that all fall under the same set of guidelines, she said.

Update: 3 Week Shutdown

22nd October 2008

A three-week shutdown should be forced on businesses that sell wrongly classified hardcore porn, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce says.


21st October   

Censorial Silence...

Nutters write to presidential candidates about their views on porn
Link Here

The nutters of Morality in Media have sent a letter to the Democratic and Republican vice president candidates seeking their stance on the enforcement of federal obscenity laws.

In his letter to Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, Robert Peters, president of MIM, pointed out that although many pressing issues face the nation, pornography negatively affects women and children and should be prosecuted.

Peters is asking the vice presidential contenders to weigh in on the issue because Barack Obama and John McCain have been closed-mouth about obscenity law enforcement.

The American people deserve to know where the presidential candidates stand on this vital issue, Peters wrote in his letter.


21st October   

Online Role Playing Games...

Microsoft play 'the censor'
Link Here

Microsoft has been granted a patent to filter and censor undesired words in real-time. The automatic system would process everything being said during online games chat and alter the unwanted words so that they are, according to the patent, either unintelligible or inaudible.

The company, then, is opting to either lower the volume below audibility, replacing the word with an acceptable word or phrase, or taking out the word completely.

While TV networks usually delay feeds by a few seconds so that someone can stand by and bleep out anything they deem offensive, Microsoft's proposed technology would make everything work in real-time – a practical solution when it comes to the many simultaneous conversations that take place in online multiplayer games.


21st October   

Aqsa Axed...

Plug pulled on Hamas YouTube look alike
Link Here

A few weeks ago, Western intelligence officials discovered that the Palestinian jihadist group Hamas had set up a video-sharing site. Now, that radical Islamic answer to YouTube is offline. And jihadists are blaming the FBI for the takedown.

AqsaTube mimicked the mainstream video site. Users could watch clips, and upload their own. The Hamas site, however, is devoted entirely to propaganda and incitement, explained Israel's Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center, or ITIC.

This is the second time in a little more than a month that an extremist video distribution network has been taken offline. The al-Ekhlaas network of sites had long been a primary distributor of videos from al-Sahab, al-Qaida's propaganda arm. Then, on Sept. 11, al-Ekhlaas.net was suddenly re-registered. All of its content vanished.

As in the case of the al-Ekhlaas takedown, militant forums blamed Western intelligence agencies for the unplugging of AqsaTube. But it appears a little sunlight may have done the trick, instead.

AqsaTube's internet service provider was the French firm OVH. The company initially denied hosting AqsaTube, according to the BBC, but later confirmed that the website had been hosted by them and had now been taken offline


21st October   

Update: The Evil that Smith Can Do...

Establishment rails at New Labour's Database monstrosity
Link Here

Jack & Jacqui
Good one Jacqui, but
isn't it a little expensive.

Jacqui: Wait until you see my
proposals for Citizen
Data Non Disclosure Charges

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, faces a revolt from her senior officials over plans to build a database monstrosity holding information on every telephone call, e-mail and internet visit made in the UK.

A significant body of Home Office officials dealing with serious and organised crime are privately lobbying against the plans, a leaked memo has revealed.

They believe the proposals are impractical, disproportionate, politically unattractive and possibly unlawful from a human rights perspective , the memo says.

Their stance puts them at loggerheads with the spy-masters at GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, who have been driving through the plans.

The Home Office rebels appear to have forced Smith to stall plans to announce a bill in the Queen's speech authorising the database. She has instead ordered her officials to review the proposals.

This weekend a top law enforcement body further dented the government's case for the database. Jack Wraith, of the data communications group of the Association of Chief Police Officers, described the plans as mission creep . He said there was an inherent fear of the data falling into the wrong hands: If someone's got enough personal data on you and they don't afford it the right protection and that data falls into the wrong hands, then it becomes a threat to you.

Smith is already studying less explosive but equally effective alternatives. One option involves a system based on sending automated requests to databases already held by telephone and internet firms.

Update: DPP Unimpressed

22nd October 2008. See article from independent.co.uk

Sir Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told ministers not to "break the back of freedom" by creating irreversible powers that could be misused to spy on individual citizens and so threaten Britain's hard-won democracy.


21st October   

Offsite: Government Internet No Go Gone...

UK government says: Regulate the internet
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Answering questions from the floor at the Royal Television Society conference in London last month, Minister for Truth Andy Burnham said: The time has come for perhaps a different approach to the internet. I want to even up that see-saw, even up the regulation [imbalance] between the old and the new."

The idea that the internet was beyond legal reach and a space where governments can't go was no longer the case.

In his final annual lecture for Ofcom last week Lord Currie expressed a belief that tighter regulation was coming. He said: Ask most legislators today and, where they think about it, they will say that period [of forbearance] is coming to an end.

...Read full article


20th October   

Dangerous Pictures...

NSPCC push for pre-installed internet filters
Link Here

Three out of four children have seen images on the internet that disturbed them, an NSPCC poll suggests.

The charity is renewing its call for computer manufacturers and retailers to install security to stop children finding violent or sexual content.

The NSPCC, which polled visitors to its children's website There4me.com, said it was alarmed by the accessibility of potentially disturbing material.

The NSPCC wants social networking and video hosting sites to remove offensive material within hours of finding it.

Policy adviser Zoe Hilton said the NSPCC was alarmed by how easy it was for children to access disturbing internet material. Children are just a few clicks away from innocently stumbling across upsetting or even dangerous pictures and films such as adult sex scenes, violent dog fights, people self-harming and children being assaulted.

Ms Hilton said that every child should be using a computer with child protection software. High-security parental controls installed in their computers would help shield them. Currently computer manufacturers and retailers leave it to parents to find and install software that filters out material unsuitable for children. This can be a complicated process for customers.

The charity wants retailers to ensure the software is installed before selling computers, and also manufacturers to start building such controls into their products.

She added: Social networking sites must also put more effort and resources into patrolling their sites for harmful and offensive material and ensure their public complaints systems are clearly marked, easy-to-use and child-friendly. We would also recommend they give information on their sites about sources of help and advice, such as Childline, for children who have been affected by what they have seen.


20th October   

Update: MrWhitehallSource vs MrMickeyMouse...

Anonymous government sources whinge at internet anonymity
Link Here

So I was reading about the security services' concern over internet anonymity, and something was bothering me. There was a line in The Guardian. 'People have many accounts and sign up as Mickey Mouse and no one knows who they are', a Whitehall source had said. 'We have to do something.' And I was perturbed.

Reading it again, though, it hit me. A Whitehall source? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I had a sudden hunch. Maybe, I found myself thinking, a Whitehall source was not this person's real name.

Anonymity is the great democratic boon of the internet age. And yes, some people will exploit it in order to join social networking groups called People Who Want To Bathe In the Blood Of The Slaughtered Infidel , or whatever. Most, though, do not. They just use it in order to express views that they hold dearly, and perhaps passionately, without having to fear that those who oppose these views will come and lurk with a chainsaw in the shrubbery of their front gardens. Or arrest them. Or associate them forever with some comment which, on reflection, makes them look like a bit of a berk. You'd think Mr Whitehall Source would understand that. Even better than most.


20th October   

Propaganda School...

Turkish military to 'teach' journalists about terrorism reporting
Link Here

A proposal by the head of the television and radio watchdog to enlist the military to 'teach' reporters about writing articles on terrorism has raised fear among journalists who believe this may lead to censorship or self-censorship

The first striking thing about the proposal is that it covers only terrorism news, said Ercan Ipekçi, the chairman of the Turkish Journalists' Union: and secondly, it is run by an institution that has authority over the public. It is not a vocational training. It will tell journalists how to censor news on terrorism rather than how to write it objectively.

Zahid Akman, president of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, or RTK, proposed several days ago that reporters be given 'education' seminars on terrorism at the National Security Academy: We are doing this to prevent coverage that does not help combat terrorism .


20th October   

Update: Repression Dressed Up...

Indonesia dress code bill to exempt tourist bikinis
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesian bikini

The Indonesian House of Representatives' special committee debating the controversial 'pornography' bill will allow tourists to wear bikinis at tourist resorts in a bid to ensure tourism is not negatively affected by the controversial legislation.

Tourists are allowed to wear bikinis in tourism resorts like Bali and Parang Tritis beach (in Yogyakarta). The porn bill will treat recreational and leisure areas differently, lawmaker Husein Abdul Azis of the Democratic Party said.

There have been fears among domestic tourism operators that the bill would deter tourists from visiting because it would recquire them to wear appropriate covering.

Head of the House's special committee deliberating the morality bill, Balkan Kaplale, said his team had made some changes to contentious articles in the bill, finalizing the terms before lawmakers begin their recess period starting on Oct. 30.

I can say there have been drastic changes in the bill, said Balkan of the Golkar Party. The changes act as a compromise to the growing opposition movements to the bill.

Lawmakers are still discussing the much criticized definition of pornography which includes anything in life even remotely sexy. Article 1 of the bill defines pornography as any man-made work that includes sexual material in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversations or any other form of communicative message.


20th October   

Leaving Fear Behind...Not...

Filmakers detained over interviews with Tibetan residents
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention in western China of a filmmaker and his assistant, who have been held for nearly seven months after taping interviews with Tibetan residents about their lives under Chinese government rule. Police in the western province of Qinghai arrested filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen and assistant Jigme Gyatso, a Buddhist monk, in March, their production company, Filming for Tibet, recently disclosed.

The arrests came shortly after they sent footage filmed in Tibet to the production company, which is headed by a relative of Wangchen in Switzerland. A 25-minute film titled Jigdrel , or Leaving Fear Behind , was produced from the footage and is available online. The film was intended to shed light on the lives of Tibetans in China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.


20th October   

Supreme Nonsense...

Indian Supreme Court petitioned to censor TV
Link Here
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

The Supreme Court of India is displeased with the quality of television programmes shown these days, and after hearing a Public Interest Litigation by an NGO, is considering regulating TV programmes to curb obscenity.

The NGO raised the question, Can there be a day in 365 days a family can sit together and watch TV without an assault on basic values?.

On receiving the petition, the court immediately issued a notice, in response to which TV channels have formed a separate body, headed by former Chief Justice of India JS Varma, for self regulation. State government is now being consulted on the proposed bill to regulate TV channels.

The petition so far has received mixed reactions from Judges on the bench. Justice Aftab Alam said, It is a delicate issue. I cannot be deciding what people want to see and appoint myself a guardian.

Justice GS Singhvi's reaction seemed to be in favour of regulation. He referred to two unforgettable incidents shown on TV: a person in Patiala immolating himself , and a man in Hyderabad who threw himself from the fifth floor of a building.

The judges have three weeks to consider the case, but it is hard to see how strict rules can be applied. Indian epics such as the Mahabharata contain a considerable amount of bloodshed and violence. Will such shows disappear from television?


20th October   

Offsite: An End to the Libel Tourist Trap...

Proposed US law to end the use of UK libel courts by Americans
Link Here

The A US bill should put a stop to 'libel tourists' - the rich and famous from abroad who use UK defamation laws to their advantage. Only a handful oppose it

In a spare half-hour while discussing bailing out American capitalism, the US House of Representatives recently voted through an extraordinary bill with far-reaching implications for Britain's courts. Yet it has received no publicity here and few of Britain's lawyers even know of its existence.

By amending the legal code three weeks ago in order to prohibit the recognition and enforcement of foreign defamation judgments in the US, politicians sealed off America's newspaper and book publishers from libel tourism - the use of British libel laws by non-nationals to sue foreign-owned publications such as books, newspapers and magazines that are distributed in Britain, even if only a few copies are involved.

Britain's libel laws are widely considered to be among the most severe on publishers - and have been used by people from around the world, and increasingly by Hollywood celebrities, because American defamation laws give publications much greater licence.

Steve Cohen, the congressman who drew up the new US legislation, believes it will prevent the exploitation of defamation laws in Britain and other countries that lack the broad protections guaranteed by the US first amendment.

...Read full article


19th October   

Cooking Funts...

Whingers rant at Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food
Link Here

Jamie Oliver has received complaints from television viewers 'offended' by his repeated use of strong language in his latest programme.

The chef's website has received messages accusing him of using gratuitous obscenities throughout Jamie's Ministry Of Food.

Some suggest he is trying to usurp Gordon Ramsay as TV's most colourful chef.

Last week's episode of Oliver's Channel 4 programme, which follows his attempts to encourage the people of Rotherham in South Yorkshire to cook healthy food, was peppered with swearing. In one five-minute segment he used the word 'fucking' six times.

Last night, the usual nutters questioned why Channel 4 did not cut some of the obscenities out of the final edit of the show, which is broadcast at 9pm.

John Beyer of Mediawatch UK said: The issue of bad language is something people are very sensitive to. Research suggests that the majority of people find the repeated use of obscenities extremely offensive.

For Channel 4 - a public broadcaster - to continue to broadcast a programme in which Oliver continually uses obscene language in the face of so much offence being caused to the public is extraordinary.

Dominique Walker, Channel 4 commissioning editor, said: The language does need to be seen in the context that the series is a post-watershed observational documentary and features Jamie at his most passionate.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: Our guidelines state that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed when children are likely to be watching. This programme is after the watershed.'


19th October   

Growing Up...

Indian film censor asks for more rating options
Link Here

The Censor Board of Film Certification of India has written to the information and broadcasting ministry, asking it to introduce a greater number of categories for film certification.

Films in India are now certified:

  • A (can be viewed by adults above 18)
  • U (can be viewed by everyone)
  • U/A (children can watch these films if they are accompanied by adults).

The CBFC wants two more categories introduced for films that can be watched by those between 13 and 15 years of age and those between 15 and 18 years. CBFC regional officer Vinayak Azad said: We have written to the ministry to create more categories like in the West.'

The CBFC decision follows film director Madhur Bhandarkar's outburst after his film, Fashion , got an A certificate. I will lose at least 25% of my audience because of the A certificate,' he says.


19th October   

Downwardly Mobile...

The government will register all UK pay as you go phones
Link Here

Jack & Jacqui
Jack: We'll need an army to sift
through this
Jacqui: Funny you should say that,
take a look outside!

Anyone buying a new mobile phone will have to show a passport as proof of identity and be registered on a national database, it was claimed last night.

But civil rights organisations warned the move represented another serious step on the way to creating a surveillance society in the UK.

It is understood any such move would apply to Scotland because it would come under the terms of the Data Protection Act, which is reserved by Westminster. It would also have to apply to the whole of the UK if it was to be effective in tackling terrorism.

According to a newspaper report last night, the office of Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, said it anticipated that a compulsory mobile phone register would be unveiled as part of a law which ministers would announce next year.

A spokeswoman was quoted as saying: With regards to the database, that would contain details of all mobile users, including pay-as-you-go. We would expect that this information would be included in the database proposed in the draft Communications Data Bill.

The creation of the register would affect the owners of all 72 million mobile phones in the UK. But it is the owners of the country's 40 million prepaid mobiles who are the real target.

The move aims to close a 'loophole' in plans being drawn up by GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, to create a huge database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

The 'Big Brother' database would have limited value to police and MI5 if it did not store details of the ownership of more than half the mobile phones in the country.

Simon Davies, of Privacy International, was quoted as saying he understood that several mobile phone firms had discussed the proposed database in talks with government officials.

The article claimed that contingency planning for such a move is already thought to be under way at Vodafone, where 72% of its 18.5 million UK customers use pay-as-you-go.


19th October   

Update: Any Remote Chance of Privacy?...

EU G6 plus USA ministers discussing "remote searches of computer hard drives"
Link Here
Full story: State Trojan Horses...State infects home PCs using Trojans

Yes Gordon, of course people will
believe this is all about terrorism.
Make the lie big,
make it simple,
keep saying it,
and eventually they will believe it

This supposedly "informal" G6 group usually seem to manage to "policy launder" their decisions via the wider, full membership of the European Union, and then they can pretend that their latest Orwellian control fantasy which they are inflicting on our freedoms and liberties, has somehow been imposed on them by the EU, and is necessary to meet "international commitments", even though they themselves instigated the original policy.

From Hansard:

Written Ministerial Statements Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Home Department G6 and United States Counter-Terrorism Symposium

Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary; Redditch, Labour)

The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom met in Bonn, Germany on 26 and 27 September 2008, along with the United States State Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This was the third G6 plus US counter-terrorism symposium meeting. I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom.

The symposium was divided into four substantive discussion sessions:


remote searches of computer hard drives;


Is this a further development of what the German government has been attempting recently ?

Presumably this involves intrusive access to remote computers, by means of some sort of spyware, computer virus, trojan horse backdoor etc., or by on the fly deep packet inspection and sniffing of passwords or other security credentials,


19th October   

Snapshot of Repression...

Beijing to demand photos of internet cafe users
Link Here

All visitors to internet cafés in Beijing are to be required to have their photographs taken in a stringent new control on the public use of cyberspace.

According to the latest rules, by mid-December all internet cafés in the main 14 city districts must install cameras to record the identities of their web surfers, who must by law be 18 or over.

It has been several years since internet cafés were required to register users to ensure that customers were not under-age. All photographs and scanned identity cards will be entered into a city-wide database run by the Cultural Law Enforcement Taskforce. The details will be available in any internet café.

The Times searched for online comments on the rules but was unable to find any — often a sign that most commentary has been critical and has therefore been erased. However, a survey by the internet version of the People's Daily showed that 72% of respondents were opposed to the measure, calling it an infringement of their rights. Just over 26% supported the photographing because it would benefit children.


19th October   

Offsite: A Database of Propaganda...

Das berdatabase: Inside Wacky Jacqui's motherbrain
Link Here

Good morning Mr Smith, citizen 14Z3J373/d.
Your children were monitored
visiting musicSharing.com.
Please surrender your children to the
NewLabour Re-allocation &
Re-education Facility.
Rejoice that your family is
protected from terrorist threat!

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith isn't known for the clarity of her pronouncements on technology. And as she confirmed the government's plan to proceed with the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), she limited herself to the spin of building a universal communications surveillance apparatus.

The details of the accompanying Communications Data Bill will be opened to consultation in the new year, she said, with the aim of achieving consensus with "interested parties". Smith was keen to emphasise the content of every phone, internet and mobile communication will not be harvested, but the details of who contacts whom, when and where. That distinction is likely be the cornerstone of attempts to sell IMP to MPs and a public wearied by the erosion of civil liberties and major government data losses.

The follow-up propaganda push has already begun. In The Times an unnamed source, clearly with a strong desire to see IMP built, spoonfed a dubious and old story about the threat posed by Skype and other VoIP applications to counter-terror operations. The hungry Thunderer hacks swallowed the security services' line that internet phone calls are crippling fight against terrorism . No quotation marks in that headline, no opposing view in the story: it's being crippled people - fact.

...Read full article


19th October   

Offsite: In Prison for Dancing...

Artists battle censorship in Islamist-ruled Nigerian state
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

Last year, the Kano State Censorship Board, under the leadership of its new director general, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, had issued new, strict guidelines to both filmmakers and writers in the state.

Article 97 of the censorship regulations states that Any person who ... publicly exhibits any indecent stage show or performance, play or any show or performance tending to corrupt public morals, is guilty of an offense and is liable to imprisonment for three months or to a fine or to both.

The imprisonment clause has been put into effect many times since.

A standoff between writers and the censorship board is escalating. A letter directed to the five writers' organizations in Kano dated August 12 confirmed a request first made on June 5 for each writer in the state to register individually with the board before they can publish or distribute writing. The requirements included submission of a comprehensive list of association memberships, biographical data and past publications of every member, and individual subject files to be created for each author.

In response, the writers' associations, under the leadership of Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, chairman of the Kano Association of Nigerian Authors, went "on strike" for three weeks. The strike ended on August 16, with the writer's associations promising, in a general communique, that by next week new titles would flood the market.

In an email update to the Association of Nigerian Authors, Yusuf Adamu called on members to demand Rabo's sacking. Write in the papers please, people write.

After an August 25 meeting with both state and national leaders of the ANA, the censorship board agreed to require registration of writers' associations rather than individuals.

...Read full article


18th October   

Little Minds...

LittleBIGPlanet game delayed due to Qur'anic expressions
Link Here

Sony has confirmed a worldwide delay to their new children's game LiitleBIGPlanet.

The game has been delayed one week in the US. It will now released during the week of October 27.

Sony said: During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologise for any offence that this may have caused.

We will confirm the new launch date shortly.

Update: UK Release

21st October

The release date of LittleBigPlanet has now been rescheduled for 5th November 2008


18th October   

Consenting to Change...

Foreign press interviews will continue to not need Chinese government consent
Link Here

China has extended some of the rules that gave foreign reporters greater freedom during the Beijing Olympics.

State news agency Xinhua said the temporary arrangement for the games, due to expire on Friday, would become standard practice.

It means journalists can continue to conduct interviews without applying to the authorities for permission.

Correspondents say the move to extend the rules has been eagerly awaited and is a sign of China's commitment to allow foreign journalists more freedom to report on a permanent basis.

But it is not clear whether other measures will remain in place, such as those which allowed journalists to travel freely around the country without the supervision of a foreign ministry official.

They were introduced in January last year and covered foreign journalists who wanted to report on Olympic-related issues.


18th October   

A Collage of Protests...

International protests against the surveillance society
Link Here

Mass surveillance is threatening the fabric of a democratic and open society and a healthy Internet. Mass surveillance is also endangering the work and commitment of civil society organizations - on and offline. That is why many conscious people got together on the 11th October to commemorate Freedom not Fear Day, with a variety of peaceful protests:

In Berlin the greatest protest march against surveillance in Germany's history took place: Participants in the 2 km long, peaceful protest march carried signs reading

  • You are Germany, you are a suspect
  • No Stasi 2.0 - Constitution applicable here
  • Fear of Freedom?
  • Glass citizens, brittle democracy.

Apart from related music tracks, loud chants of Belittle it today, be under surveillance tomorrow or We are here and we are loud because they are stealing our data could be heard. During the protests, which were supported by more than 100 civil liberties groups, professional associations, unions, political parties and other organisations, artists played parodies on surveillance society.

It all started with the opposition to a Data Retention directive in EU. Now it has evolved and become global, as expressed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

Freedom Not Fear has evolved into a more general warning: showing how fundamental freedoms like privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic participation lose when reactionary surveillance systems penetrate our open networks, justified by a hyperbolic rhetoric of fear.

Events took place in more than a dozen countries around the World, and hopefully in the years to come more voices will join to act against such abuses from Governments and companies.

From a big picture unveiled by Open Rights Group in London, to a meeting of up to 100,000 people in Berlin, activities in Argentina, articles in Chile, an informative talk in Guatemala, and a rally followed by a Statement for October 11, 2008 in U.S., many people joined efforts to express their opposition to the increasing surveillance and controls by governments and also against data retention.

The most important messages were to affirm international human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy protection, repeal legal authorities that permit warrantless surveillance, unconstitutional monitoring and tracking of individuals, and a call to end the culture of secrecy that allows government officials to hide mismanagement, fraud, and incompetence behind the veil of homeland security , i.e. a call to transparency.


18th October   

Offensive Policing...

Police make up their own blasphemy law
Link Here

An offensive photograph of Madonna in a window of a Norwich gallery has prompted a formal request for its removal following further complaints to the police.

The image of the singer posing on a crucifix and wearing a crown of thorns has adorned the St Giles Street Gallery for more than a week as part of a retrospective of celebrity photography.

The gallery owner David Koppel moved the picture into the window on Saturday and less than 24 hours later had received a telephone call from an officer following up a single complaint that it had caused offence.

He refused a request to remove it from public view and was then visited by two officers. I'm obviously such a threat to society that they thought it necessary to send two police officers, said Mr Koppel: They formally asked me to take the picture down or turn it round, which is rather pointless, and I have refused. I've no doubt they will be back. They said they had had complaints, plural, but I find that absolutely unbelievable.


18th October   

Pandering to the Easily Offended...

Harrow Council gets all stuffy over nude paintings
Link Here
Full story: Harrow Council Prudes...Nutter council gets all stuffy about nude art

Three nude paintings have been moved out of general public view at Harrow Arts Centre to avoid offending nutters.

The trio of pictures by Jonathan Hutchings was due to go up alongside less controversial works in the corridors of Elliot Hall as part of Harrow Arts Society's annual exhibition that began on Monday.

But Harrow Council stepped in on the day the artists hung their pieces to demand the three are shown separately in a side room, the board room, which is still accessible on request.

Harrow College employee Hutchings' paintings each measure 30in by 24in and are figurative illustrations made during a weekly life drawing class he has attended at the arts centre in Uxbridge Road, Harrow Weald, for the past eight years.

Margaret Mountstephens, exhibition co-ordinator for Harrow Arts Society, said: I'm disappointed and I wanted to have a nice exhibition. The council are being stricter than they have been. Two or three years ago the life class paintings went on show and they OK'd it. I think the paintings may be 'questionable' but it depends on who's calling it offensive.

The Observer understands the council was concerned about the sensitivity of displaying the pictures in a corridor that was generally accessible to the public.

Harrow Arts Centre is not a dedicated gallery space and is run as much more of a community centre nowadays with multicultural family activities taking place together with one-off events like weddings.


18th October   

Wrong Robes...

Large fines over satirical magazine article about an Egyptian cleric
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an Egyptian court's decision to levy steep fines against an editor and reporter for an independent weekly that published a satirical piece about a prominent cleric.

A criminal court ordered El-Fegr editor Adel Hammouda and writer Mohamed al-Baz to pay fines of 80,000 Egyptian pounds ($14,341) apiece on charges that they had defamed Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed al-Tantawi.

The court also ordered al-Baz to pay 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($897) directly to al-Tantawi. Al-Tantawi is the sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, one of the most prominent educational institutions in the Arab world.

Defense lawyer Nashaat Agha described the size of the fine as unprecedented in press cases. This is a negative message to newspapers, Agha said, noting that he would appeal.

This verdict sends a chilling message to Egyptian journalists that criticism of religious institutions is off-limits,
said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Satirical journalism is a vital component of a healthy democracy. We urge the courts to overturn this conviction on appeal.

The case dates to March 2007 when the newspaper published a satirical piece claiming the sheikh was planning to visit the Vatican. The piece was accompanied by a picture depicting al-Tantawi in papal garb, according to news reports.


17th October   

Diary: Chain Gang...

Ben Westwood and CAAN protest against the Dangerous Pictures Act
Link Here

You are invited to join the demonstration:
Chain Gang
Tuesday 21st October 12:40pm
Westminster Tube Station, London

Campaigners fed up with the Government's increasingly puritanical attitudes toward sex, will be out in force next week, as fashion photographer, Ben Westwood, takes a chain of slaves for a walk in central London.

The “chain gang” will include models and activists from the Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) and all, apart from Ben, will be bound and gagged in a visual protest against recent government legislation restricting adults' sexual choices.

Ben Westwood believes the time for action is long overdue. He said: Government gets away with murder when it comes to “legislating about our sexual behaviour, because we are a strait-laced nation and far too many of us are embarrassed talking about sex.

A spokesperson for CAAN added: Our campaign is not just about individual sexuality: it is also about people's livelihoods. Over the last ten years, government has been intruding ever more actively into what adults may or may not do with other consenting adults in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

Recent legislation on extreme porn is just one instance of that. Far more serious are new laws that mean half the workforce could be fired simply for having sexual tastes that are unacceptable to the prudes in power.

We say: enough is enough. The fact that Harriet Harman finds something uncomfortable or “icky” is no reason for clamping down on personal freedom.


17th October   

Update: Who Are CAAN?...

And why are they fighting the government's interference in our sex lives
Link Here

Who we are - Why we're fighting

Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) is a loose-knit network of groups and individuals who believe in the right of adults to express themselves sexually with other adults, without interference from government.

We run campaigns on issues as they arise. Not every supporter of CAAN agrees with every campaign we run. We ask only that supporters sign up to a simple statement of principle:

We believe in the right of consenting adults to make their own sexual choices, in respect of what they do, see and enjoy alone or with other consenting adults, unhindered and unfettered by government.

We believe that it is not the business of government to intrude into the sex lives of consenting adults.

We are aware that no matter how we draft such a statement, there will be dissent: for example, we believe there is debate to be had on the issue of "harm"; but equally, a society that tolerates two grown men beating each other up in the confines of a boxing ring is not well placed to lecture adults on a shared interest in sado-masochistic sex.

Outwardly, the UK is more open, more sexually liberated than ever before. Behind the headlines lies another story: ten years of government progressively clamping down and criminalising behaviour that harms no-one, but offends the sensibilities of Ministers who are still uncomfortable talking about real sexual activity.

Our aim is to create a counterbalance to the current moral majority in government.

The Issues

Over the past ten years, Government has been passing more and more laws. One consistent theme to this non-stop stream of law-making has been an obsession with tightening up rules that are intended to micro-manage our sexual activity.

These include:

  • criminalising the possession of images depicting perfectly legal sexual activity
  • putting in place a Committee of Public Safety whose job it will be to vet nearly half the workforce - and remove them from their jobs if they possess any porn that is sexual and violent in nature
  • proposing to make it a criminal offence for an adult
    to pay for sex
  • clamping down on lap-dancing and other erotic displays

Each of these proposals, in isolation, represents a serious erosion of personal liberty for no better reason than the government are uncomfortable with the activity involved. Taken together, and in combination with a great deal more government tinkering in this area, they begin to look like a serious attempt to return the UK to a Golden Era of sex-free purity.

Key Campaigns

CAAN is currently most active on two of these issues - although in fact they are closely related.

  • we are asking the government not to commence the extreme porn law, passed in the Criminal Justice Act 2008.
  • we are asking the government to think again about its witch-hunt that began with provisions in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 allowing it to sack approximately half the workforce for possessing sado-masochistic material of any kind.

The first of these pieces of legislation criminalises individuals for possessing material that is produced for the purposes of sexual arousal, depicts realistic violence, and is grossly offensive. The legislation itself has already been exposed by many commentators as ludicrous:

  • it is believed to breach the Government's own Human Rights' Laws
  • it will criminalise individuals for owning pictures depicting wholly legal and consensual activity
  • it is inconsistent, with some of the most (theoretically) harmful material allowed - and up to three years in jail for less harmful material
  • it actually encourages behaviour that is far more dangerous and, if the government's own publicity is to be believed, more likely to lead to sexual violence.
  • In terms of its effects on the growing BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism and Masochism) communities in the UK it is likely to be equally disastrous
  • it is already souring relationships with the police, and therefore is likely to make future policing of the scene far more difficult
  • it is having a chilling effect on individuals prepared to write about safe practices, thereby increasing future risk
  • it is law that will encourage blackmail
  • it is replacing material produced by individuals with experience and a genuine dedication toward their activity with commercial material produced by companies that have provided significant financial supporters to New Labour in the past
  • worst of all, there is evidence already that the Government attack on this lifestyle is impacting upon safety and leading to greater risk for vulnerable people involved (case studies available on request).

The second piece of legislation is having an even more disastrous effect on individuals whose sexuality does not fall within the norms prescribed by government. At the very last minute, in 2006, government amended the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act to give it the power to exclude from a wide range of jobs anyone with a serious interest in sado-masochistic material.

The effects of this legislation are already being felt, as individuals wishing to pursue a career in areas as diverse as plumbing, teaching and admin find themselves quizzed at interview about their sexual interests. The clear implication is that anyone with bdsm interests is no longer welcome as part of the workforce or as a volunteer.

If you would like further details about CAAN, our statement of principles or our campaigns, please go to: www.caan.org.uk, you can also email us at info@caan.org.uk


17th October   

Update: Hoon, Enemy of Freedom...

Hoon prepared to go quite a long way to undermine liberty
Link Here

Good morning Mr Chips, citizen 14Z3J373/d.
You were monitored visiting spanking.com.
This is deemed 'inappropriate' for the
teaching profession.
Your teaching licence is permanently
revoked forthwith.
Rejoice that your economic prosperity
is safe from terrorist attack.

Plans to create a database monstrosity of mobile phone and internet records were defended last night by the Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, who said critics of the scheme were giving a licence to terrorists to kill.

Speaking on the BBC's Question Time programme, Hoon admitted he was prepared to go quite a long way in undermining civil liberties to stop people being killed, and added the biggest civil liberty of all is not to be killed by a terrorist .

Hoon insisted the Government aimed to extend powers that already exist for ordinary telephone calls to cover data and information relayed over the internet: If [terrorists] are going to use the internet to communicate with each other and we don't have the power to deal with that, then you are giving a licence to terrorists to kill people.


17th October   

Update: Porno Sensitive...

Censorship advertises Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Link Here
Full story: Zack and Miri Make a Porno...Supporting hype for Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith's comedy, Zack and Miri Make a Porno , may have been granted an R-rating by the MPAA, but the marketing department of the Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film, says that 15 newspapers and several TV and cable outlets are refused to carry commercials for the film.

Josh Rawitch, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, told the Associated Press that commercials for the film were removed from Fox Sports channel during Dodgers games after viewers complained.

The city of Philadelphia refused to permit posters for the movie on its bus stops, despite the fact that they now use stick figures to represent the actors. (The city's deputy mayor told AP that the ads were unacceptable because of the word "porno.")

The studio has now developed a poster that reads, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous that we can't even tell you the title.


17th October   

Update: Nonsense Censorship...

Turkey blocks major newspaper website after complaints from creationist nutter
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

The website of Turkey's third largest-selling newspaper has been blocked after a complaint by an Islamic creationist.

Turkish internet users are now denied access to the Vatan newspaper's website, gazetevatan.com , after a court decided it had insulted Adnan Oktar, a prolific nutter writer who disputes the theory of evolution. It is believed to be the first major newspaper site to be blocked. About 850 sites are already blocked.

Oktar, who last month successfully had the website of the British evolutionist Richard Dawkins blocked in Turkey, complained that he had been defamed in readers' comments to stories on the online edition of Vatan, a liberal publication.

His spokeswoman, Seda Aral, claimed the comments included obscenities and said the newspaper had ignored requests to remove them. We are trying to protect ourselves, she said: Vatan is always propagating against Mr Oktar and constantly publishes allegations about him. When people read these they are provoked into using these insults against him.

Critics say Turkey's penal code makes it too easy to obtain blocking orders, although in practice prohibitions are often easily overcome through proxy servers.


17th October   

Comment: Do You Want to Live Forever?...

Yes, BBC make less islam jokes than other religions
Link Here

BBC boss Mark Thompson nonsensically claimed that because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain and also often from ethnic minorities, their faith should be given different coverage to that of more established groups.

His comments come after the comedian Ben Elton accused the BBC of being scared of making jokes about Islam, while Hindus have claimed it favours Muslims over other religions.

But Thompson, speaking at the annual public theology lecture of the religion think-tank Theos, insisted the state broadcaster would show programmes that criticised Islam if they were of sufficient quality.

The director general, whose corporation faced accusations of blasphemy from Christians after it allowed the transmission of the musical Jerry Springer -The Opera , also said his Christian beliefs guided his judgments and disclosed that he had never watched the Monty Python film Life of Brian which satirises the story of Jesus.

In his speech last night, Thompson claimed there are now more programmes about religion on BBC television and radio than there have been in recent decades, whereas coverage has declined on ITV.

But asked whether it was correct that the BBC let vicar gags pass but not imam gags , as Elton claimed, he admitted it did take a different approach to Islam, which has 1.6million followers in Britain, compared to its approach to the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.

Thompson said: My view is that there is a difference between the position of Christianity, which I believe should be central to the BBC's religion coverage and widely respected and followed. What Christian identity feels like it is about to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated. There's no reason why any religion should be immune from discussion, but I don't want to say that all religions are the same. To be a minority I think puts a slightly different outlook on it.

Earlier this year Thompson had warned of a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam and said no debate about religion should be censored.

Thompson said the broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera , which features Jesus as a talk show guest who admits to being a bit gay , had been the most controversial programme he had dealt with during his time at the corporation.

No political issue has so far come near Jerry Springer in terms of anger and emotion. It wasn't politics that put a security guard outside my house, it was a debate about how the BBC handles religion.

However despite the storm over the programme, Thompson, a practising Catholic, said his beliefs do play a part in the editorial judgments he makes and disclosed that he dislikes watching shows about the Bible.

He also dismissed the idea that television is a wellspring or accelerant of immorality in society, and also that the BBC gives too much weight to the secular ideals of science or employs moral relativism when covering contentious issues such as medical ethics.

Thompson defended programmes that have been accused of promoting selfishness or nastiness, such as The Apprentice and The Weakest Link , claiming that viewers know they are only entertainment and do not ape the behaviour shown on them.

Comment: Not a Fully Integrated Theory

17th October 2008. Thanks to Alan

Mark Thompson justifies greater sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities on the ground that:
What Christian identity feels like it is about to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated.

There's an element of truth in this, but the same has historically been true of Polish and Irish Roman Catholics in the UK. I suspect that the decline in Mass attendance can in part be ascribed to sociological/demographic change as people are now less likely to see being a practising Roman Catholic as part of their identity as a Pole or Irishman/woman.


17th October   

Corrupt Justice...

Vietnam locks up reporters for revealing corruption
Link Here

Nguyen Viet Chien, a reporter for the Vietnamese daily newspaper Thanh Nien who broke major stories on high-level government corruption in 2006, was sentenced today to two years in prison after being found guilty of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, according to news reports.

Nguyen Van Hai, a reporter with the daily Tuoi Tre, pleaded guilty to the same charge and received a non-custodial, two-year re-education sentence. The Hanoi People's Court also convicted two police officers who had provided information to the press related to the graft scandal. Lt. Col. Dinh Van Huynh was given a one-year sentence for deliberately revealing state secrets. Pham Xuan Quac, a now retired general who headed the government's corruption inquiry, was given an official reprimand.

The sentences handed down today to journalists Nguyen Viet Chien and Nguyen Van Hai are shameful, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator: By uncovering a major government corruption scandal, these journalists have performed a public service. The court's decision is unfair and vindictive.


17th October   

Offsite: Denial of Rights...

The freedom of historical debate is under attack by the memory police
Link Here

Among the ways in which freedom is being chipped away in Europe, one of the less obvious is the legislation of memory. More and more countries have laws saying you must remember and describe this or that historical event in a certain way, sometimes on pain of criminal prosecution if you give the wrong answer.

What the wrong answer is depends on where you are. In Switzerland, you get prosecuted for saying that the terrible thing that happened to the Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman empire was not a genocide. In Turkey, you get prosecuted for saying it was.

 What is state-ordained truth in the Alps is state-ordained falsehood in Anatolia.

...Read full article


16th October   

Update: New Labour Database Monstrosity...

The innocent have nothing to fear...unless they share music, pay for sex, enjoy swinging, porn or fundamental religion
Link Here

Jacqui Smith plans broad new Big Brother surveillance powers. Telephone calls, internet use and email will be monitored by the police as part of a broad extension of the ability of the state to snoop on citizens.

Ministers were already planning a massive Big Brother database to log data contained in emails and phone calls but have decided to go even further in view of the current threat level.

The original proposal, which was this week criticised by Lord Carlisle, the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws, had been due to be put before MPs in the Communications Data Bill next month.

However, in a speech, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, announced that she was delaying the Bill in order to expand the extent of surveillance powers open to the security services, while consulting further on the best way to win public support for the plan.

In the speech to the IPPR think tank, Smith said communications data was not at present being routinely stored, and needed to be if terrorists and serious criminals were to be prevented from striking. The plan would not include recording the contents of people's messages and appropriate safeguards would be put in place, but Smith said it was "vital" to maintain Britain's capacity to combat terrorism.

She added: There are no plans for an enormous database which will contain the content of your emails, the texts that you send or the chats you have on the phone or online. Nor are we going to give local authorities the power to trawl through the database in the interests of investigating lower level criminality under the spurious cover of counter-terrorist legislation.

Snooping extension to gaming and social networking sites

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

The government is drawing up plans to give the police and security and intelligence agencies new powers to access personal data held by internet services, including social network sites such as Facebook and Bebo and gaming networks.

At present, security and intelligence agencies can demand to see telephone and email traffic from traditional communications services providers (CSPs), which store the personal data for business purposes such as billing.

The rapid expansion of new CSPs - such as gaming, social networking, auction and video sites - and technologies such as wireless internet and broadband present a serious problem for the police, MI5, customs and other government agencies, the security sources say.

Sites such as Bebo and Facebook provide their services free, relying mainly on advertising for income. They do not hold records of their customers, many of whom in any case use pseudonyms.

Criminals could use a chat facility - they are not actually playing the game but we can't actually get hold of the data, said one official.

Criminal terrorists are exploiting free social networking sites, said another Whitehall security official, who added that the problem was compounded by the increasing use of data rather than voice in communications: People have many accounts and sign up as Mickey Mouse and no one knows who they are. We have to do something. We need to collect data CSPs do not hold.

Whitehall officials say that with the help of GCHQ - the electronic eavesdropping centre with a huge information storage capacity - the government is looking at different options that will be put out for consultation. They declined today to spell out the options but said that whatever is decided will need new legislation.

Despite this reticence, it is clear that the government wants to be able to demand that the new generation of CSPs collect data from their customers so the security services can access them The response from the networks is likely to be hostile, not least because of the potential costs involved.

If the government, as expected, offers to pay for any new data access scheme, it is likely to cost taxpayers billions of pounds.

The plan will need international cooperation since many of the new CSPs are based abroad, notably in the US.

Opposition: Winston Smith vs Jacqui Smith

Based on article from independent.co.uk

Jacqui Smith faces a parliamentary backlash over Orwellian plans to intercept details of email, internet, telephone and other data records of every person in Britain. Labour MPs joined opposition parties in expressing doubts about plans announced by the Home Secretary which could lead to a vast database of information about Britons' calls and internet habits.

They warned that MPs, emboldened by the Government's decision to ditch plans to hold terrorist suspects for up to 42 days without charge, would not accept this extension of state power.

The scale of the Government's ambitions to hold data on email, internet and phone use emerged as government sources made it clear they needed new powers to obtain details of social networking sites on the internet, video sites, web-based telephone calls and even online computer games.

Civil liberties campaigners have expressed horror at the plans. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, warned: Extreme caution needs to be taken. The Government needs to ensure that information-gathering is targeted and wiped and not collected just because it's possible."

Labour left-winger John McDonnell called the proposals Big Brother gone mad , while Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, added: There is not a lot of confidence that we can hold on to data we collect already.

The plans were condemned by the Government's own terrorism watchdog. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the raw idea of the database was awful and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public.


16th October   

Quantum Cuts...

Quantum of Solace pre-cut to keep BBFC at bay
Link Here

Quantum of Solace was originally seen by the BBFC in an unfinished version, for advice as to the film's suitability at '12A'. The BBFC advised the company that the film would most likely receive a '12A' as it was, but that care should be taken when finishing the film not to increase the intensity of certain scenes.

When the completed version of the film was submitted for classification, reductions to one of those scenes had been made and the film was passed '12A' without cuts.


16th October   

Update: Bad Omens...

TV censor looks to becoming internet censor
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Outgoing Ofcom chairman David Currie has said that his successor should expect the communications censor to have an expanded remit with responsibility for stricter control over internet content.

Currie, making what will be his final annual lecture for Ofcom before leaving at Easter next year, said there was an appetite among legislators for putting a tighter rein on the net now the medium had moved beyond its formative stages.

Echoing comments last month by culture secretary Andy Burnham, who argued that it was time for a different approach to tightening up taste and decency online, Currie said Ofcom was likely to find its remit expanded, following his departure, to encompass digital media.

Ask most legislators today, and, where they think about it, they will say that period [of forbearance] is coming to an end. To say this is not Ofcom going looking for trouble ... but a marker for my successor that Ofcom is likely to find its remit being stretched, he added.

Currie made it clear that any scenario that saw an expanded Ofcom remit would not simply import old broadcasting-style regulation to the internet.


16th October   

Update: Boring Birgitta...

Ryanair takes on Sweden's feminist censor
Link Here
Full story: Ryanair Adverts...Ryanair wind up advert censors

Budget airline Ryanair went on the attack, mocking Swedish feminist politician Birgitta Ohlsson's call for a boycott of the airline because of its allegedly sexist advertising practices.

This really is a storm in a D cup! said Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara in a statement: We're sure that Boring Birgitta will be overrun by the flood of right minded, liberal, people who support Ryanair's determination to defend the rights of girls and boys to get their kit off – if they want to.

The airline's rebuttal comes hot on the heels of a call by Ohlsson for consumers to boycott the airline for refusing to apologize for an advertisement deemed sexist by Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK).

It's my duty as a feminist politician to name and shame companies like this, the NotSoLiberal Party politician told The Local.

The airline said it would celebrate Ryanair's sexy Swedish ad by launching one million €10 mid week seats. We will also be sending free tickets to Boring Birgitta so that she can take a nice relaxing break, loosen up a little and stop calling for silly boycotts, said McNamara.


16th October   

Ofcom Updates Censorship Code...

Minor updates to program code, adult TV still banned
Link Here

The TV censor, Ofcom has re-published its Broadcasting Code to include amendments and changes that have been made since its original publication.



16th October   

Film and Publications...

Ireland censors to merge
Link Here

Ireland's Department of Justice has introduced a series of cutbacks to save €11m across 20 bodies.

One of many measures is that the Film Censor's Office and Censorship of Publications Office are to be amalgamated.

The Censorship of Publications Board

Based on article from citizensinformation.ie

The Censorship of Publications Board is an independent board in Ireland established by law to examine books and periodicals for sale. The Board may prohibit the sale and distribution of books and periodicals if they are found to be obscene. A prohibition on the sale and distribution of a particular publication means that it is illegal for this book to be bought, sold or distributed around the country. Books that are prohibited may be appealed to the Censorship of Publications Appeal Board. Both the Censorship of Publications Board and the Appeals Board consist of five members each. Members of both boards are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Posts on these boards are without remuneration (i.e., they are unpaid).

The Censorship of Publications Board will examine any book or periodical referred to it by a Customs and Excise officer and any book referred to it by a member of the public. It may also examine any book or periodical on its own initiative. In Ireland, there is no category of restricted access - a publication is either prohibited or it is not prohibited. The Board does not prohibit publications very often, and in some years, nothing is prohibited.

The Board has regular meetings to discuss publications referred to it. Every member of the Board will have read the publication before the meeting. For a book to be prohibited, at least three members must agree with the decision and only one can dissent (i.e., disagree). If the prohibition is passed, it comes into effect as soon as it is announced in Iris Oifigúil (Ireland's official State gazette). A prohibition order on a book ceases on the 31 December following a period of 12 years beginning on the date of the order coming into effect.

Books are prohibited if the Censorship of Publications Board considers them to be indecent or obscene. Periodicals are prohibited if the Censorship of Publications Board considers them to be frequently or usually indecent or obscene. Both books and periodicals may be prohibited if the Board considers that they advocate abortion or ways of carrying out abortions. Periodicals may also be prohibited if the Board is of the opinion that they have given an unduly large proportion of space to matters relating to crime. In practice, however, publications are usually only reported to the Board for obscenity. The Board will measure the literary, scientific or historical merit of the publication. It will take note of its general tenor, the language in which it is written, its likely circulation and readers and anything else it feels is relevant. It may take into account any communication with the author, editor or publisher.

The Gardai may be issued with a search warrant if they suspect that prohibited books or periodicals are being kept anywhere for sale or distribution. If they find prohibited publications, they may remove them. If you are convicted of possessing prohibited publications, you may be liable for a fine of 63.49 euro or six months imprisonment.


16th October   

Comment: Censorship Zone...

Zone Horror channel cuts Millennium
Link Here

NUTS to Zone Horror for their much self-hyped showing of TV series Millennium has only resulted in them showing very heavily censored versions of every episode so far.

A mass of the more grisly footage has been shorn away, resulting often in scene confusion, shortened dialogue exchanges, sloppy jump cuts and even phrases like Son of a bitch have bitch muted.


For all the positive aspects of the channel, like uncut previously cut by the BBFC showings of certain films and even non-BBFC approved films...their insistence on showing edited for daytime versions of other films in the afternoon and the cutting of other TV series like Tales form the Crypt is annoying and bewildering.


16th October   

Offsite: Less Free in Malaysia Today...

Jailing Malaysia's Risk-Takers
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

The jailing of Raja Petra Kamarudin, a self-described risk-taker who has led Malaysia's lively blogging culture, has come to symbolize the government's new assault on Internet expression. On September 12, police raided Raja Petra's residence, seized documents, and arrested the popular blogger under the draconian Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

Two weeks later, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar ordered the detention extended for two years on charges that Raja Petra published seditious and anti-Islamic articles on his blog, Malaysia Today. The government, signaling a wider crackdown on dissent, detained a newspaper journalist and an opposition politician the same day.

...Read full article


15th October   

Free but not Free...

Spectrum allocated for free broadband with the proviso that it be censored
Link Here

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given preliminary approval to the proposal for a free, nation-wide broadband service.

Providers interested in making use of the available band will be required to ensure it remains pornographic and obscenity free.

An auctioning off of the spectrum is expected to begin in 2009. Any company winning the bid for the AWS-3 network must stick to a graduated plan of execution and filter out obscene or pornographic material dictated by contemporary community standards.

The broadband network is expected to be available to 50% of the USA within four years and 95% within 10 years.


15th October   

Patron Saint of Gamers...

US Police wound up by Saints Row 2
Link Here

A blood-soaked new video game boasts enough violence, guns and gratuitous sex to make send cops hopping mad.

The over-the-top Saints Row 2 encourages players to butcher cops with chain saws, smoke drugs, annihilate rival gangsters and run prostitution rings.

Many in law enforcement and politics don't find any of it remotely entertaining.

These horrible and violent video games desensitize young people to violence while encouraging depravity, immorality while glorifying criminal behavior, said New York Police Department union boss Patrick Lynch.

The game, which is rated "mature," hits stores Tuesday for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 consoles.

Despite the outrage, some of the scenarios depicted in the game seem hilariously over the top. Players can commit insurance fraud by faking injuries, spraying the contents of a septic tank to bring down property values or appearing on a "Cops"-like reality TV show. If things get boring, competitors can just strip and run around naked.

Gamemaker THQ insisted the new video is not intended to be taken seriously: Saints Row 2 is not a gang simulation game. It's a tongue-in-cheek game.


15th October   

Update: TV Censor Sharpens its Knives...

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares underrated in Australia
Link Here
Full story: Gordon Ramsay...Gordon Ramsay stirs trouble for Australian TV censors

Australia's Nine Network has been called to account by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) after chef Gordon Ramsay's language was deemed too strong for its time slot.

The main problem is that Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares goes out with an "M" (Mature) rating when the TV censor says it should have been in the stronger "MA" bracket, which means it screens later at night.

Web also got into trouble for the sexual content in crime show Underbelly .

ACMA has ordered Nine's classification officer Richard Lyle to attend a meeting on Friday to ensure the network complies with censorship rules after receiving complaints about both shows, many from nutters.


15th October   

Nutters Pull a Fast One...

Subverting domestic violence awareness month
Link Here

Nutters are being encouraged to participate in a media violence fast this week in conjunction with the YWCA's Week without Violence.

Sponsored by the media justice arm of the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Oct. 12-18 fast was designed to provide a time for families with children and their supporters to take a stand against violent media by making a conscious decision not to watch it and seeking other methods of entertainment and intellectual stimulation for themselves and most importantly for their children.

For this one week, starting Sunday, we are asking people to seek other forms of programming and intellectual stimulation, and to reflect on what it means to purposefully distance oneself from violence as entertainment, stated the Rev. J. Bennett Guess of UCC.

This (the fast) is not about censorship, Guess said in a released statement: Instead, we want people to pause and consider how the saturation of violence on our TV screens also affects our spiritual lives, our relationships with others, how we see the world and how we promote peace as a religious value, starting with our remote controls.

This year marks the fast's second year and is being promoted in partnership with the nation's Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the YWCA's “Week without Violence.”


14th October   

Europe with Even More Frontiers...

EU Audio-Visual Media Services Directive to be adopted by Council of Europe
Link Here

The Council of Europe (CoE) is a larger body than the EU with 47 rather than 27 member states.

It intends to  extend the scope of a convention that affects the regulation of TV broadcasting to include video on-demand services and some online video. The changes will match those already made by the European Union.

The most important change to the rules will relate to their coverage. The regulations will no longer apply simply to television content, but to video on demand services.

The Convention does not include home-made audio visual material, such as that which someone would post to a sharing site such as YouTube. It only includes commercial material.

The Convention also governs the retransmission of services and orders states to allow material which complies with the rules in the Convention to be re-transmitted into their country, with exceptions for material which breaks the rules of the Convention or broadcasting rules in the country of first broadcast.

On the subject of content restriction it proposes:

  • television broadcasts do not, include programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular those that involve pornography or gratuitous violence7. This provision shall be extended to other television programmes which are likely to impair the physical mental or moral development of minors, except where it is ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical means, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts.
  • on-demand services which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors are only made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see such on-demand services.

The Government has asked for responses to the initial consultation by 31st October, and the CoE has said that a more formal consultation will take place at the end of the year.


14th October   

Fucking Psycho Bastard Nut Case...

Ofcom whinge at description of Guns n' Roses' Axl Rose
Link Here

Guns N' Roses
Biography Channel, 11 August 2008, 12:20

A viewer complained about bad language during an interview with Guns N' Roses where the singer, Axl Rose, said I guess being a fucking psycho bastard nut case helps my career. The viewer believed it was not appropriate to broadcast this language at this time.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.14 of the Code (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.14

The Code requires that broadcasters avoid broadcasting the most offensive language before the watershed. The word “fuck” and its derivatives are clear examples of such language.

While noting the broadcaster's admission of human error, Ofcom judged that the language was clear in this programme and that the broadcaster should have been more alert to the possibility of bad language when interviewing a member of a rock group.

This is the second occasion where material has been inappropriately scheduled (see Bulletin issue number 80). Ofcom has therefore recorded a breach of Rule 1.14 for transmitting the most offensive language before the 21:00 watershed.


14th October   

Update: Australia Groomed for Filtering...

Australian internet filtering will be mandatory
Link Here

Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government's pending Internet content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down blacklist, experts say.

Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material.

Pundits say consumers have been lulled into believing the opt-out proviso would remove content filtering altogether.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the filters will be mandatory for all Australians.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) contacted by Computerworld say blanket content filtering will cripple Internet speeds because the technology is not up to scratch.

Online libertarians claim the blacklists could be expanded to censor material such as euthanasia, drugs and protest.

Internode network engineer Mark Newton said many users falsely believe the opt-out proviso will remove content filtering: Users can opt-out of the 'additional material' blacklist (referred to in a department press release, which is a list of things unsuitable for children, but there is no opt-out for 'illegal content'. Newton said advisers to Minister Conroy have told ISPs that Internet content filtering will be mandatory for all users.

The government reported it does not expected to prescribe which filtering technologies ISPs can use, and will only set blacklists of filtered content, supplied by the Australia Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

According to preliminary trials, the best Internet content filters would incorrectly block about 10,000 Web pages from one million.


14th October   

An Image of Unfairness...

German copyright cases goes against Google Image Search
Link Here

Bloomberg reports that Google lost two court cases in Germany over the display of thumbnails in their image search results.

Google's preview of a picture by German photographer Michael Bernhard violates his copyrights, the Regional Court of Hamburg ruled, his lawyer Matthies van Eendenburg said in an interview today. Thomas Horn, who holds the copyrights on some comics that were displayed in Google search result.

“It doesn't matter that thumbnails are much smaller than original pictures and are displayed in a lower resolution,” the court said in its ruling for Bernhard. By using photos in thumbnails, no new work is created, that may have justified displaying them without permission.

In the US, fair use laws make it possible to offer such third-party services without specifically asking for permission. Adult magazine Perfect 10 once lost a case against Google in these regards, after an original decision was reversed. (In any case, Google's bots respect the “robots.txt” protocol, where webmaster can disallow the spidering of images.)

A Google rep said: The ruling of the Regional Court of Hamburg is bad for internet users and users of image search engines in Germany in general – just as it's bad for thousands of site owners who based their business on image searches.

Charges were also brought against other provides of image searches, such as AOL, T-Online, Yahoo. With this ruling, the court of Hamburg throws German internet users back into the digital stone age. And this is not just in regards to Google image search, but all of them. We are confident that the Regional Court will correct the ruling in the appeals procedure.


14th October   

Nutters and Low Standards...

Rock bottom community standards in Australia due to sexy adverts
Link Here

Catholoc nutters are stepping up the fight to ban "sexualised" advertisements from billboards.

Matthew Restall and Bridget Spinks have 4000 signatures, including that of Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, and are hoping to collect as many as 100,000 by January, when they will be submitted to the NSW and Victorian parliaments to be tabled.

Restall said he took the action after seeing an advertisement on the side of a vehicle advertising a car wash, showing a scantily clad woman lying in a suggestive position. It was offensive. The aim of the campaign is to remove all forms of sexualised advertisements from billboards and sides of vehicles.

The campaign has been backed by The Catholic Weekly.

Spinks said: Who knows what our children are having to deal with. By 2040, if no one does something now, the level of our community standards is going to drop.


14th October   

Update: Bali Dancing...

Balinese protest again against pornography bill
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Thousands of protesters rallied on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali on Saturday to demonstrate against an anti-pornography bill denounced by critics as a threat to national unity.

More than 5,000 protesters surged through the streets of the mostly Hindu island's capital in opposition to the bill under deliberation in Jakarta.

The bill, which looked set to be passed several weeks ago but has been pushed back amid a public outcry, criminalises all public acts and material capable of raising sexual desires or violating community morality.

Protesters denounced the proposed law as too broad and a threat to local customs on the island, where naked temple statues proliferate and skimpily dressed foreign tourists relax on beaches.

Demonstrators turned up to the rally in traditional Balinese clothes including semi-see-through temple blouses, saying such clothes could be deemed too suggestive if the law was passed.


14th October   

Update: Sudanese Corruption...

Newspaper editor arrested
Link Here
Full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

A local newspaper editor said he was being held by southern Sudanese authorities for publishing an article critical of corruption in the semi-autonomous, post-conflict region.

Nhial Bol, editor of The Citizen , said police arrested him on Friday for a story printed October 7, which lay corruption accusations against the ministry of legal affairs and constitutional development in southern Sudan.

This should be a civil case, but I have been told I will be held for three days without bail, Bol told AFP.

Sudan has tightened restrictions on local media in recent months, demanding that newspapers based in the south move their head offices to Khartoum.

Newspaper censorship is practiced daily. In Khartoum, the powerful security apparatus inspects newspaper editions nightly, while editors who refuse to remove articles deemed offensive risk a ban on their publications.

Update: Ajras Al Hurriya Newspaper Censored

31st October 2008. Based on article from allafrica.com

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns outright the removal of seven proofs from Ajras Al Hurriya " newspaper by an intelligence officer responsible for proof censorship. The incident took place on 23 October 2008. This action so outraged the newspaper that it suspended its circulation for the day as a protest against the blatant censorship.

The proofs addressed the issues of abducted Chinese citizens and the crisis in Darfur, and criticized the Sudanese president's statement excluding some Sudanese tribes from holding citizenship, amongst other controversial views.


13th October   

Beyer Recommends...

Link Here

Beyer Recommends

A new BBC series depicts a man possessed by the devil and being skinned alive in a gay sauna. Another episode shows a father threatening to sexually assault his daughter while in another, Mother Teresa is seen on her death bed.

The series, called Apparitions , was the idea of the actor Martin Shaw, who also stars in it as a Roman Catholic priest.

He said he realised the programme would be controversial but added: I'm not going to pretend this is the most positive show on Earth. We're talking about the end of all things but the message is that love conquers all. It doesn't show a wholly positive message, otherwise it would be Songs Of Praise and people would switch off. It is going out at nine, an acknowledged watershed.

Catholic bishops advised the scriptwriters and production company to help them portray the exorcism accurately, but a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference said: I will not watch the drama myself, it is not tasteful I haven't seen it but people might well be shocked. I have to stress, it is a work of fiction. The Catholic Church would not have chosen the drama form to explain the issue of exorcism.

John Beyer, the director of the nutter group Mediawatch-UK, said the programme was bound to cause controversy: This series is likely to be a clear breach of the Broadcasting Code. I'm surprised the BBC consented to a show like this as a way of depicting the battle between good and evil. There must be better ways of doing that. They've got people sitting on crucifixes. It will cause very serious offence. This will create the same type of furore the BBC caused when it screened Jerry Springer The Opera.

A BBC spokeswoman said: Apparitions is a post-watershed drama and the scenes are a vital part. Representatives of the Catholic Church were invited to ensure accurate depiction of all religious rituals. They read all the scripts.


13th October   

Ofcom Teletubbies...

TV censor to research possible harms of toddlers TV
Link Here

Pre-school programming has undergone a boom in recent years thanks to series such as Teletubbies and In The Night Garden and dedicated channels such as the BBC's CBeebies.

However, amid rising concern that television is being used by some parents as a form of babysitter, the TV censor is carrying out a review into the potential for harm. A spokesman for Ofcom said it had been made aware of concerns regarding TV programming aimed at very young children. There are elements we are considering now.

In a report published in July, French researchers found that watching television undermined the development of children under three, encouraged passivity, delayed language acquisition, increased agitation, reduced concentration and increased the incidence of sleep disorders. The same month, the French broadcasting authority Conseil Superior Audiovisuel (CSA) banned TV channels from marketing shows aimed at toddlers and ruled cable programmes for the very young must now come with the stark warning: Watching television can slow the development of children under three, even when it is aimed specifically at them.

The CSA passed on the concerns to Ofcom, resulting in the current investigation.

But Claude Knights, director of the children's charity Kidscape, called for Ofcom to make parents aware of the dangers. He said: It is really sad when the TV is used as a babysitter or a means of controlling very young children. There may well be parents that don't realise the cumulative effects of exposure to TV. Ofcom should state the case and give the concerns about possible harm revealed in this research.

The controller of CBeebies, Michael Carrington, defended toddler TV. No-one can argue when they see a child's face light up watching In The Night Garden that such carefully-made programmes have done any harm. Our programmes are produced by experienced pre-school programme makers and we call on developmental and educational experts developing ideas. Guidance is also sought from the Early Learning Goals and School Curricula.


13th October   

Update: ERKed by Sweden...

Swedes inflicting failed sexist ad bans on the rest of Europe
Link Here

Britain is outraged at dastardly foreign attempts to banish busty beauties from the nation's billboards. The root of their anger was Swedish politicians who, having failed to get sexist ads banned on the home front, scored a win in Brussels.

The Daily Mail, an organ never to miss an opportunity for a bit of Euro-bashing, was justifiably breathless with indignation after a committee of Euro-MPs demanded that EU countries put a stop to any ads that reinforce gender stereotypes.

The person behind this nutter plan is none other than Eva-Britt Svensson, a Swedish Left Party MEP and vice chairperson of the European Parliament's women's rights committee.

The author of the report seems to have swallowed an undergraduate gender studies textbook: Gender stereotyping in advertising straitjackets women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed down for both sexes.

So it's 'Goobye Boys' from Wonderbra, but also from yummy Diet Coke builders, Calvin Klein-clad footballers and the rest.

Actually, the chances of any country being forced to ban anything is close to nil (no law has been passed – the European Parliament's women's rights committee has just recommended a course of action that governments are free to ignore, as they no doubt will.

If you've been in Sweden for the past few years, the proposal had a familiar ring. The Swedish Council against Sexual Discrimination in Advertising (ERK) has long waged a battle against ads depicting scantily-clad models.

ERK's rulings have led to accusations that it was trying to act as the thought police. They have also raised a number of questions: is sexy advertising always sexist? Why should advertisers be expected to be more politically correct than the consumers they target? Whatever happened to free speech? And besides, surely the whole business should be self-regulating: consumers won't buy products if the ads are offensive?

The controversial nature of ERK's work also has the self-defeating side-effect that the ads it censures are guaranteed lots of free publicity in the tabloids.

ERK's rulings don't have the force of law, but earlier this year an official committee proposed going one step further and banning all material with a commercial aim that could be construed as offensive to women or men.

Equality minister Nyamko Sabuni refused to adopt the report's findings, saying: I don't want to infringe on fundamental human freedoms and rights for a law the efficacy of which I question. This is not the way to win the fight for gender equity. Defeated on home soil, it looks like Svensson is seeing whether the battle can be won elsewhere. She probably shouldn't hold her breath – in the UK, at least, even the left-wing papers are subjecting the idea to ridicule.

Svensson's poorly-presented arguments might leave an open goal for her opponents, but the failure to pass a similar law in Stockholm must beg the question: if rules like this haven't worked in politically correct Sweden, how on earth could they be made to work elsewhere?


13th October   

Diary: Tunisia National Free Blogging Day...

Protesting against Tunisia's block of YouTube and Dailymotion
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisian bloggers are rallying for a National Day for Freedom of Blogging on November 4. The day will coincide with a court hearing for a lawsuit filed by the journalist and blogger Zied El Heni against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI).

It all started when Tunisian internet surfers welcomed with happiness the repeal of a ban placed on video sharing sites YouTube and Dailymotion. Many Tunisian bloggers celebrated this repeal of the ban by posting videos of songs downloaded from those two video websites on their blogs. But their happiness was cut short as the repeal did not last more than 24 hours. The repeal of the ban, which had been welcomed with such enthusiasm, was actually just an accident and a mistake.

Meanwhile, journalist and blogger El Heni is suing the ATI for the censorship of Facebook, which had lasted for 16 days. The trial will take place on November 4 and as a sign of solidarity with his action, a group of bloggers decided that this date will henceforth be baptized as a national day for blogging freedom.

To support the initiative, Facebook user Bassem Bouguerra created a Facebook group entitled: November 4th: A National Day for Blogging Freedom.  Members on the Facebook group are exchanging ideas about the best methods to overcome censorship and limits on freedom of expression.

Update: Robbed

15th April 2009. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

The house of the Tunisian journalist and blogger Zied el-Heni has been raided last night (April 10, 2009). In a blog post published today, Zied wrote that his laptop and CDs which contain all his work have been robbed.


13th October   

Youthful Censor...

New film censor appointed in Pakistan
Link Here

The social and literary circles welcomed Barrister Malik Shahnawaz Noon for assuming charge as Chairman of the Pakistan Central Film Censor Board.

Spokesmen said, Shahnawaz Noon is an educated youth having positive thinking and expressed the confidence that he would be able to project true picture of our culture and take effective steps to help film industry stand on its feet.


12th October   

Glasgow 2014 Games...

Pool, darts, watching TV and drinking
Link Here

Slanj, which has shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh is one of the country's most talked-about designer outlets for their contemporary kilts and humorous T-shirts.

But their interpretation of the 2014 Commonwealth Games has not gone down well with the organisers.

The company set up to run the Glasgow Games are now threatening Slanj with legal action unless they withdraw a range of T-shirts that depict characters taking part in traditional Glaswegian sporting pursuits.

Four white boxes over the words Glasgow 2014, Commonwealth Games , contain figures playing pool and darts, watching TV and sinking a pint of beer.

Slanj owner Brian Halley said: We specialise in quirky T-shirts and this is just meant as a joke, our take on the real games that real Glaswegians indulge in. It was an attempt to join in the fun surrounding Glasgow getting the Games.

But a spokesman for Glasgow City Council, which is part of the partnership company running the event, said the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 logo had been registered in the UK as a trademark, a design and a wordmark to prevent unauthorised material being sold: It therefore has legal protection in all these categories. In the instance of Slanj, if they are selling 2014 Games branded materials, then this will be followed up through the 2014 legal team. The organising company would not be against a little bit of humour or harmless fun, ...BUT... use of the brand means that it could not ignore this application. We would ask Slanj to remove the items from sale.

Halley said he was sorry if the T-shirts had caused offence. After the current batch had been sold, the design would be changed.


12th October   

Old Farts...

Swedish advert censors get wound up by Ryanair advert
Link Here
Full story: Ryanair Adverts...Ryanair wind up advert censors

Low-cost airline Ryanair has received a reprimand from Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) for an ad campaign featuring a scantily clad woman posing as a schoolgirl.

The airline has been criticized for a campaign aimed at marketing low price fares to coincide with the start of the school year. To drive home the point, a smiling schoolgirl in a mini-skirt and short blouse is depicted beside a blackboard announcing the hottest back to school prices.

According to ERK, the woman in the school uniform is used to catch the eye in a sexual manner that is offensive to women in general.

Ryanair claimed Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising was out of touch with the Britney Spears generation .

In defending the advertisement, Ryanair questioned whether the ERK accurately reflected the views of most Swedes: We are sure that the anti-funsters at the ERK do not speak for the majority of the famously liberal and easy going Swedes .

The ad simply reflects the way a lot of young girls like to dress. We hope the old farts at the ERK loosen up a little.

Note that the British old farts at ASA also got wound up by a variation of this advert.



12th October   

Update: Breeding Rights...

Another Canadian rights tribunal clears Maclean's magazine
Link Here
Full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech

Another rights tribunal has dismissed a case against Canada's Maclean's magazine, which was accused of spreading hatred against Muslims in an article by conservative writer Mark Steyn.

The 2006 article The New Word Order may have caused some to fear Muslims as a threat to western society, but that did not mean that it promoted religious hatred, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled.

The article, with all of its inaccuracies and hyperbole, has resulted in political debate which in our view (the human rights code) was never intended to suppress, the three-member panel ruled.

Media and civil rights groups had opposed the complaint against Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress, fearing that a ruling against the national newsweekly would lead to restrictions on freedom of the press.

The Canadian Islamic Congress lost similar complaints against the Maclean's article in Ontario and before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.


12th October   


South Park's take on Indiana Jones 4
Link Here

The creators of South Park , the satirical cartoon, are no strangers to controversy but now they seem to have taken the taboo-busting to a place even hardened South Park watchers have found hard to go, given reactions to a new episode showing Hollywood titans George Lucas and Steven Spielberg repeatedly raping Indiana Jones.

The latest instalment of the award-winning series, now on its 12th series, entitled The China Problem tackled in part the fourth outing of the Indiana Jones franchise, which was released in May to the disappointment of many fans.

In the South Park episode, the film features the serial rape of the blockbuster's protagonist by his creators, Spielberg and Lucas, who in animated sequences that echo rape scenes from The Accused and Deliverance are shown violating the cowering Indy.

The cartoon's main characters emerge from the cinema traumatised after seeing the film. They suffer tearful flashbacks and nightmares and eventually go the district attorney's office in the hope of getting the filmmakers prosecuted. The episode ends with Spielberg and Lucas being arrested after police find them raping a Stormtrooper.

This week's episode is causing quite a commotion! noted New York blog Gawker: The showrunners were, you know, just trying to voice their dissatisfaction with this summer's kinda crappy Indiana Jones fourquel - but people are wondering: did they go too far?

Influential Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke reported that Paramount executives were taken by surprise. Later she quoted a DreamWorks insider as saying Spielberg had no plans to lodge a complaint with Viacom. We don't want to engage. We just want it to go away. It was tasteless. How can that be shown on basic cable? the insider was quoted as saying.


12th October   

Diary: Tweety Splatter...

Art exhibition featuring splatter versions of well known cartoons
Link Here

The Aquarium Gallery, 63 Farringdon Road, London
Until 8th November

The legendary UK artist James Cauty and his 15 year old son Harry will be collaborating for the first time at The AQUARIUM L-13 gallery for their multi-media assault and Cartoon Art Gift Shop show: SPLATTER

James Cauty has worked alongside his teenage son to create an iconoclastic and disruptive body of new works.

The Cautys' new project employs hijacked popular cartoon characters and liberated animations, to violent, shocking and entertaining ends, all of which will be part of their own specialist cartoon art gift shop.

The Cauty animated collection will be degraded, overlaid & looped, fractured, and repeated on multiple LCD screens, presenting the viewer with unrelenting acts of bloody, cartoon violence, which, in cartoon law, ultimately cannot cause fatal injury.

Each work will be given a charismatic title taken from violent acts of death and destruction, employing recent military campaign code names, and forms of torture used by international security forces.

Furthermore, in a pastiche of the real world, THE AQUARIUM L-13 will produce a vast array of merchandise to support and fund this project, including original draft collages and drawings, life size models, limited edition animation cells and prints, badges, balloons and fake blood.

Everything will be for sale and 25% of all profits will be donated to Amnesty International.


12th October   

Comment: Desperate Hype...

Extreme version promises for No More Heroes 2
Link Here

Grasshopper Manufacture has confirmed that the sequel to last year's slash 'em up No More Heroes will be getting two different UK releases to help please fans who want an extra-gory version.

The original version of No More Heroes was an extra-gory and in-your-face game that had buckets of blood, harsh language and men on toilets - though a lot of this was toned down for the UK version after pressure about the needless violence.

Suda 51 is now hoping that by offering two versions of the game the sequel will be able to keep all the fans happy.

We won't be able to make the same game for all territories, Suda 51 said in interview with Eurogamer at the Tokyo Game Show: For Europe, we're going to release two versions. One extreme version, and one with less violence.

The sequel will be called No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle

Comment: No More Censors

12th October from Alan

Just a small correction. It's stated that after pressure the UK got a toned down version of the first game.

In fact, here in the UK we got the proper, original, directors cut version.

It was only for the American release that extra blood etc was added in an attempt to appeal to a certain market segment.

So we didn't lose stuff from our proper version - they got extra stuff that the designers really didn't want to have there.


12th October   

Update: Peaceful in Bournemouth...

Bournemouth euthanasia workshop banned
Link Here
Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

An Australian doctor was banned from holding a workshop on how people could end their lives. Dr Philip Nitschke, who has been nicknamed Dr Death, had planned to hold a session on euthanasia in Bournemouth next week but the owners of his first and second venue choices, the local council and Hermitage Hotel, cancelled his bookings.

Dr Nitschke chose the Dorset town because of its large elderly population. His workshops cover the merits of a helium exit bag , Mexican drugs, morphine and peaceful pills . He will host a session in central London on Monday and said he hoped to still be able to speak in Bournemouth on Thursday.

The pressure group Dignity in Dying attacked the way Dr Nitschke ran his sessions, saying it was irresponsible and potentially dangerous to provide information on how to end life without safeguards or control over where the information goes. It said terminally ill adults should have access to better care and treatment, and the option of an assisted death within legal safeguards.

Dr Nitschke said the ban on his workshop would deny people access to the best information on euthanasia: Elderly people want access to good information. It empowers them, they have a better quality of life and paradoxically they live longer because they have the peace of mind of an exit strategy.


12th October   

Glorious Censors of Kazakhstan...

Block LiveJournal blog site
Link Here

Internet users in Kazakhstan have complained of censorship after being unable to access the popular blogging service Livejournal.

Associates of Rakhat Aliyev, the former son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev who fell out with the veteran leader last year, started their own blog on Livejournal in June which often contains critical comments about the government.

This is outrageous. They used to shut down papers and television channels, now they are shutting down the internet, a Livejournal blogger wrote in a posting.


11th October   

Update: Censorhead...

Towelhead movie may miss out the Middle East
Link Here

A hollywood movie starring a former Bahrain resident will not be screened in Bahrain, it has emerged.

It is understood that distributors have withheld Towelhead , featuring rising American star Summer Bishil, from release in certain parts of the Middle East.

The film, which was won worldwide acclaim, is based on a novel by Alicia Erian and tells the story of a young Arab-American girl sent to live with her estranged Lebanese father, during the 1990 Gulf War.

Summer, aged 20, plays Jasira, a 13-year-old girl who is forced to deal with racism and xenophobia amidst discovering her adolescent sexuality.

For some reason, distributors of the Hollywood movie Towelhead decided against having it screened in Bahrain, Bahrain Cinema Company marketing and public relations head Sunil Balan said: The distributors could have their own reason for this, one including that it may not have got across the censor board.

Towelhead has also sparked controversy with its title, which is reportedly a derogatory term referring to Arabs.


11th October   

Update: Wine Watershed...

France to apply TV watershed to internet
Link Here

The French wine industry is calling for demonstrations across the country on October 30 to protest recent government and court decisions that would severely limit not only wine advertising, but wine writing.

This year alone, the wine industry has been hit with these blows:

  • A French court ruled that newspaper and magazine articles on wine must contain health warnings, in much the same way the United States requires tobacco advertising to include warnings. But remember we're not talking about advertising, but journalism.
  • That same court ruled that wine and beer cannot be advertised on the Internet.
  • Proposed new laws will put wine on the same level as pornography by limiting access to wine- and alcohol-related sites only to certain hours, with the rationale of protecting minors.

The recent court decisions are the latest manifestations of the French Evin Law, which was enacted in 1991 to control the advertising of wine and spirits. The law limited advertising to showing a product, naming the place where it was made, how it was made and how it should be consumed. It eliminated all references to social or financial success, or to wine as part of any social or domestic scene.

The rationale for the law was the high rate of deaths in France that could be attributed to alcohol and tobacco abuse. But the recent restrictions betray hostility to any sort of pleasure derived from wine. This, I would think, is about as un-French as you can get.


11th October   

Offsite: Government Censor...

Porn, abuse, depravity - and how they plan to stop it
Link Here

Contrary to popular belief, the British government and police forces have hitherto not exerted a great deal of direct control over content.

But, after a decade of growth in self-regulation and filtering by the industry to avoid government intervention, that may be about to change.

...Read full article


11th October   

Offsite: New brushstrokes on Egypt's canvas...

Ham-fisted censorship and an internet generation are redrawing the media landscape
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

Modern Egypt has been compared to a surrealist painting: difficult to decipher and comprehend, dominated by dark, abrasive lines at the centre yet giving way to softer, more hopeful brush strokes at the periphery.

The big news has been the presidential pardon of the controversial editor and outspoken regime critic Ibrahim Eissa, who sits at the helm of al-Dostour newspaper. This phenomenally popular daily has been a constant thorn in the government's side since it reopened in 2005 – seven years after being shut down for publishing an Islamist statement. In August last year, as whispers regarding Hosni Mubarak's health swirled through the streets, Eissa had the mendacity to write:

The president in Egypt is a god and gods don't get sick. Thus, President Mubarak, those surrounding him, and the hypocrites hide his illness and leave the country prey to rumours. It is not a serious illness. It's just old age. But the Egyptian people are entitled to know if the president is down with something as minor as the flu.

In an Orwellian doublespeak world where the president declares his belief in press freedom to be "unshakeable" and promises that no journalist will go to jail for doing their job, that paragraph was enough to land Eissa in court, where he was accused of single-handedly undermining international confidence in Egypt's stability and wiping $350m off the stock market.

...Read full article


10th October   

Update: Kiss and Make Up...

BBC dismiss complaints about EastEnders gay kiss
Link Here
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

More than 150 people who complained after two gay men kissed on BBC soap EastEnders have been told by the corporation that they treat gay and straight relationships in the same way.

Christian Clarke (John Partridge) and his new boyfriend Lee Thompson (Carl Ferguson) kissed on bench in Albert Square's gardens during Tuesday night's episode.

They were spotted by Christian character Dot Cotton (June Brown) who commented: the Lord's not the only one with eyes.

In response to 145 complaints, some about the fact that the kiss had been shown before the watershed, the BBC said: EastEnders aims to reflect real life, and this means including and telling stories about characters from many different backgrounds, faiths, religions and sexualities. We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in the same way as we do heterosexual relationships. In this instance, Christian is enjoying the first flush of romance and we've shown him being affectionate with his new boyfriend in the same way any couple would. We also aim to ensure that depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing. We believe that the general tone and content of EastEnders is now widely recognised, meaning that parents can make an informed decision as to whether they want their children to watch.


10th October   

Update: Watersheds and Walled Gardens...

BBC designing a kids version of iPlayer
Link Here
Full story: Catch Up TV...Catch up of TV for a month after broadcast

The BBC is to solve the online watershed conundrum by launching a children's version of the iPlayer.

The kids interface is expected to launch before Christmas and will allow users to access only a limited range of programmes, sidestepping the problem of children potentially accessing post-watershed content.

Presently, users tick a box to confirm they are old enough to watch certain content irrespective of the time of day.

A senior BBC source told Broadcast: [The kids iPlayer] creates a walled garden of content that's appropriate for children. This will also enable us to promote it on the children's TV channels and websites, which we haven't been able to do before.

The corporation is thrashing out the detail of the new service, including whether it will offer all pre-watershed content, just children's and family shows, or just those made specifically for the CBeebies and CBBC channels.


10th October   

Update: Blockmania...

Turkey will block and ban until internet is child safe
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Websites will continue to be banned as long as they post content inappropriate for Turkish families, a Turkish minister has said.

Practices are needed to protect young people and the public at large from harmful material online, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) quoted Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim as speaking at the international CeBit Information Technology Summit.

Law 5651 sees as appropriate the establishment of precautions against material that might hurt children, youth and families. If these precautions are not enough, then the law sees a Website ban as necessary, he said.

Turkey is listed together with Tunisia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Iran and Vietnam, as the “black listed” countries that implement government censorship controls.

The purpose of the law was not to actually shut down Websites ...BUT... was to encourage the appropriate use of the Internet for the betterment of society, he added.


10th October   

Update: BBFC Bouncing Mad...

Monthly censorship stats: BBFC cut 19% of R18s
Link Here

BBFC cuts for Sept 2008

Number of R18s= 47
No. Cuts=9
Cuts ratio=19%

The R18 cuts stats 2008:

  • January: 23 R18s cut out of 71 (32%)
  • February: 28 R18s cut out of 90 (31%)
  • March: 29 R18s cut out of 97 (30%)
  • April: 30 R18s cut out of 98 (30%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 72 (30%)
  • June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)
  • July: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • August: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • Sep: 9 R18s cut out of 47 (19%)

cuts of interest


A cut was also required to remove the sight of a woman bouncing on urine wet patch on a trampoline in accordance with BBFC Policy , Guidelines and current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 on urolagnia.


10th October   

Update: In Prison for Dancing...

Everything is banned in Nigeria's Kano state
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

Kannywood star and popular comedian Rabilu Musa alias Dan Ibro has been sentenced to four months imprisonment for allegedly operating an illegal film production company and shooting a film that exposes nudity and immoral acts in contravention of the Kano State censorship laws.

Dan Ibro was sentenced along with his friend and co-actor Lawal Kaura. According to the Police First Information report read at the chief magistrate's court 14, the duo were accused and arraigned on a two count charge before the court for operating an unregistered film production company known as Ibro Film Production without registration and exposing nudity and immoral scenes in a film called Ibro Aluko .

The film, according to the censorship lawyers, has contravened section 97 of the state censorship laws. The censorship board argued that the film released without authorisation depicts corrupt acts especially during a singing scene in which a song called Mar-Mar was organised with half naked women dancing in mesmerising steps and movements that attack the sensibilities of the people of Kano State.


9th October   

Spineless Censors...

Oasis drink advert banned by the ASA
Link Here

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV campaign for Oasis soft drink after finding that it could be interpreted as condoning underage sex and pregnancy.

The series of TV ads, charting the runaway story of an outcast called the Cactus Kid and his young pregnant girlfriend, prompted 32 viewers to complain about the Coca-Cola-owned brand.

The ASA ruled that the reference to the woman's pregnancy was offensive and inappropriate ... and could be interpreted to condone underage sex and teenage pregnancy.

Two TV adverts, by the ad agency Mother, were shot in the style of a 50s US road movie with True Romance style music.

Complainants said the girl appeared to be younger than 16 and that the ad was offensive and harmful because it condoned underage sex and teen pregnancy. A number of viewers complained that one TV ad was scheduled inappropriately because children and young people could see it. And 17 viewers complained that the reference to the ad being a substitute for water disparaged good dietary advice.

Coca-Cola GB said that the girl in the TV ad was meant to be 20 years old and that a 22-year-old actress played the character. However, the ASA ruled that despite her age the actress was likely to be viewed as a girl in her early teens.

The ASA also said that the advert did suggest that water was being rejected and this was irresponsible and could discourage good dietary practice.

It ordered that the ads should not be shown again in their current form.


9th October   

American Filterers...

American Airlines to censor their in-flight internet access
Link Here

Tissue Sir?
May I recommend BustyStewardesses.com

Bowing to pressure from flight attendants and, supposedly, customers, American Airlines has said it will soon be blocking access to pornographic websites on its new Aircell in-flight Internet access service. Delta announced a similar plan earlier this month.

Naturally, privacy and civil rights advocates are already criticizing the move. Filters always tend to cast a very wide net, taking with them plenty of non-pornographic content while missing sites that many will find offensive. And of course, there's invariably the question of whether filtering will extend to violence, hate speech, and other frequently-censored content.

Well, if nothing else, American has probably inadvertently launched a new diversion for bored fliers travelling across the country: Beat the Filter, where buddies try to see who can slip some adult content past the censor first.


9th October   

Extreme Persecution...

Trial date set for obscenity trial of Extreme Associates
Link Here
Full story: Extreme Appeal...Rob Black on obscenity charges

A federal judge has set March 16 2009 as the date for the Extreme Associates obscenity trial.

Judge Gary L. Lancaster in 2005 dismissed the charges brought against Extreme Associates and Robert Zicari, aka Rob Black, and Janet Romano aka Lizzie Borden. The Justice Department lawyers alleged the adult films were obscene because they contained extreme adult material.

The Justice Department then appealed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned Lancaster's decision in December 2005.


9th October   

Offsite: On the Edge of a Spat...

BBFC Director David Cooke writes about spat with ESLPA and PEGI
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

I have been reading recently that there's a spat between the BBFC and ESLPA or the BBFC and PEGI. I don't recognize this so-called spat. I have great respect for ELSPA and for PEGI and for the games industry.

Something else that doesn't get said often enough is that I have a great respect for gamers. The people at the BBFC who actually do the games examination are gamers themselves.

We're enthusiasts for games. We're not in any sense hostile to the gaming world and I don't recognize the sort of coverage that suggests otherwise.

...Read full article


9th October   

Offsite: Banned for Glory...

Blogger details some notable BBFC bans
Link Here

Do you remember when films used to be banned? It's becoming increasingly hard to imagine a time when literally hundreds of titles were forbidden from being seen on both our big and small screens by the UK's once ultra-stringent and omnipotent censorship laws, but if we cast our minds back a mere ten years, we find an executive class American studio film as famous as The Exorcist (Best Picture Nominee, 1973 Academy Awards) only just being deemed suitable for British cinema audiences following some 14 years in illicit limbo.

...Read Banned for Glory Part 1
...Read Banned for Glory Part 2


8th October   

Update: Maid Disservice...

Philippines embassy whinges about Harry Enfield
Link Here
Full story: Harry Enfield...LoadsaComplaints about Harry Enfield

Harry Comedian Harry Enfield's BBC show has been labelled disgraceful and distasteful by whingers of the Philippine community in the UK.

A petition has been launched condemning the Harry And Paul show for a sketch in which one man urged another to "mount" a Filipina maid.

The Philippine embassy in London has written to the BBC and the Press Complaints Commission about the scene.

A spokesman for the show said it was in no way meant to cause offence. Harry and Paul is a post-watershed comedy sketch series and as such tackles many situations in a comedic way. Set in this context, the sketch in question is so far beyond the realms of reality as to be absurd - and in no way is intended to demean or upset any viewer.

The scene, first broadcast on 26 September, was part of a running joke in which a family from the south of England treats a northern man like a pet dog: Our chums up the road wanted to see if they could mate their Filipino maid with our northerner, said Enfield's character as the maid danced provocatively in his garden. After the performance failed to have the desired effect, Enfield shouted: Come on, Clyde, mount her.

In the Philippines, foreign secretary Alberto Romulo, summoned British ambassador Peter Beckingham to discuss the broadcast.

The British Embassy in Manila later issued a statement saying the BBC had editorial independence and the views expressed and portrayed by the network were completely independent from the government.

A petition organised by the Philippine Foundation called for the "re-education" of the BBC. It said: This particular sketch is completely disgraceful, distasteful and a great example of gutter humour. It accused the BBC and the show of inciting stereotyped racial discrimination, vulgarity and violation of the maid's human rights. The sketch was tantamount to racism and [the] worst sexual abuse and exploitation of the hapless young Filipina domestic worker employee.


8th October   

Update: MadAustraliaWorld...

Sega intend to release MadWorld in Australia
Link Here
Full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

Contrary to recent reports, Sega has confirmed it will try to release the controversial Madworld in Australia next year, a Wii game with over-the-top violence and murderous moves.

In Madworld, players control a character called Jack caught up in a murderous game created by terrorists. To survive, players must master the use of weapons and items, perform brutal finishing moves delivered by the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller, and compete in ultra violent mini-games designed to push you over the edge.

Sega say they hope the game will become an instant classic on the Wii thanks to its highly stylised black and white graphics and irreverent humour and over-the-top violence which delivers a visceral gaming experience.

A Sega spokesperson said today that in response to recent reports regarding the Australian release of Madworld, Sega Australia would like to clarify that we are currently planning on releasing Madworld to the Australian market.

But Sega is likely to face difficulty in getting the game approved for release in Australia by the Classification Board. If the game is deemed unsuitable for an MA15+ rating it will be banned due to the ongoing absence of an R18+ rating for games in this country.


8th October   

Raw Whinging...

Lesbian kiss winds up Irish nutters
Link Here

RTE's new series Raw is proving too hot to handle for some viewers who have complained to the Broadcasting Complaints Commissioner about certain scenes.

The new TV drama received a number of complaints over the week following scenes broadcast last Monday night.

Now the BCC has contacted the national broadcaster about the complaints and is awaiting a response from RTE.

Monday night's episode reportedly received five objections from viewers to the national broadcaster and the BCC received one complaint.

The episode in question featured a lesbian kiss and a full frontal scene between two men.

But a spokeswoman for RTE said that she believed the show on Monday did not cause huge offence as there were only five complaints received.

The six-part series is set in a fictitious Dublin restaurant and follows the lives and loves of the staff. The series has already shown several sex scenes and one incident where bodily fluids were served at the restaurant as part of a practical joke.


8th October   

Category III Reviewed...

Hong Kong review their obscenity laws
Link Here

Hong Kong's government has begun reviewing its laws governing obscene material in a public process that is expected to continue through January.

Public opinion surveys and an online discussion forum will be used to gather opinion for the review, and area representatives will be invited to participate in focus group discussions.

The current Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance was enacted in the late 1980s.

The topics for consideration and possible revision in the law review include the definitions of obscenity and indecency, the adjudicating system, the classification system, regulation of new forms of media, enforcement and penalties, and publicity and public education.

The Hong Kong government plans to use information from the review process to prepare proposals for a second round of public consultation in 2009.


7th October   

Beyer Recommends...

Link Here

John Beyer tortured by TV
...Recommends Unbreakable

In Channel 5's Unbreakable the contestants are buried alive, trapped in a tent full of CS gas and must wade through piranha-infested water. They are also subjected to waterboarding, a torture technique used by the CIA on terror suspects.

Critics say the content is simply unacceptable .

John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the media select committee, said: You have to ask, where is it going to end? It seems that scenes of torture are being used as entertainment. What next? Reality contestants having electric shock treatment? There is a point where such things should not be shown on television.
The motto for Unbreakable, which starts on Five tonight, is Pain is Glory, Pain is Pride, Pain is Great to Watch.

John Beyer, director of lobby group Mediawatch UK, said: Ofcom's Broadcasting Code states that programmes should not include material that is harmful and/or offensive. This programme could well be in breach of the code.

Waterboarding is a form of torture that I believe is illegal under international law and so should not feature in any programme merely as a form of entertainment.

We hope very much that Ofcom will be monitoring this series and taking whatever action is appropriate.

A Five spokesman said: All the participants in Unbreakable were aware of the type of the challenges they would face prior to filming. The spokesman added that all tests were supervised by experts and that volunteers had mental and physical assessments before the show.'


7th October   

Update: Survey Games...

Thai newspapers addicted to nonsense surveys
Link Here

A survey from the Thai Culture Ministry revealed that children spent around 2 hours a day playing computer games. About 80% of them choose the combat-style, action-packed games, some of which come with graphic and violent images. The addiction can affect their personality as they become more prone to bursts of anger and violence. Without proper guidance, some are unable to distinguish between fantasy and the real world.

But why do children prefer to spend hours and hours playing these games? A survey conducted last year showed that:

  • 79% of youngsters said they became addicted to computer games to relieve stress
  • 68% said they were lonely
  • 21% cent said that they wanted to improve the computer skills
  • 18% said they wanted to meet new friends in cyberspace.

[So 80% of Thai youngsters suffer from stress? Strange that no youngsters play games simply because they are fun]

Now that the youngsters have told us about their problems, it's time for the adults to step in to help them. The adults should provide them with better and constructive recreation activities to help them deal with stress. Constructive activities such as sports or music for instance can also help them develop their thinking and personalities during their formative years.


7th October   

Bring Your Own Porn...

Delta Airlines to censor their in-flight internet access
Link Here

Tissue Sir?
Don't be alarmed by the vibrations...
It's just the lady in 5C
enjoying her flight

A reported decision by Delta Air Lines to block inappropriate websites from its planned in-flight WiFi service could be just the tip of the iceberg for airlines' control of Internet use.

Delta, which plans to offer WiFi on some planes later this year and on its whole domestic fleet in 2009, has decided to prevent passengers from accessing 'inappropriate content', according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. Delta said it had considered turning to its flight attendants to handle the problem but decided to adopt technical means instead.

Delta plans to offer the GoGo service from Aircell, the same system used by American. GoGo uses a network of cellular towers on the ground to transmit data back and forth to WiFi routers on planes. It will charge passengers US$9.95 for service on flights of three hours or less, and $12.95 for longer flights.

Aircell will implement content filtering for airlines if asked, the company said in an e-mail response to questions.

At least one privacy rights advocate criticized the idea, but there's a good chance travelers will have to leave their traditional expectations about Internet use on the ground before they log on in the air.

I don't think it makes much sense, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. For one thing, it won't prevent passengers from looking at inappropriate material stored on their own laptops, he said. But it also opens the door to blocking of other content, such as news or political opinions.

It's so easy, once that precedent is set, to broaden ... the kind of information blocks that might be imposed, Rotenberg said. Considering how many of the world's airlines are owned by national governments, it wouldn't be surprising to see them filter out, for example, any site that criticizes the country's leader, he said.

To avoid the slippery slope of Internet filtering, airlines would be better off dealing with offensive Web use as they do other things that upset nearby passengers, he said. The current procedure for dealing with unruly passengers should be adequate, Rotenberg said.



7th October   

Unsafe Censorship...

Indian censor cuts references to condoms
Link Here

At a time when ads on TV are advocating the use a condom, the Indian Censor Board has chopped off a scene from Atul Agnihotri's upcoming film Hello where Gul Panag asks her co-actor (Sharman Joshi) whether he is carrying a condom before they have casual sex.

An angry Gul says that she is going to dash off a letter to the Censor Board as she finds the decision 'ridiculous'.

Gul says, The scene has me and Sharman making out. Like any educated woman I ask Sharman whether he is carrying a condom before we get into the act. Though the lovemaking scene will be retained, the 'condom' dialogue has been chopped off. While we have ads running all over television urging people to use condoms, I fail to understand why the dialogue was deleted. The decision speaks of the Censor Board's double standards. I am planning to write a letter in protest.

An irate Gul thunders, Don't we all make out? Didn't our parents have sex? If we don't find that odd then why are we finding it odd here? Condoms promote safe sex and deleting dialogues that actually encourage people to use them during casual sex is hypocrisy.


7th October   

Registered as Knee Jerks...

Actress suicide spurs further repression of Korean forum posters
Link Here

The suicide of iconic actress Choi Jin-sil has policymakers moving quickly to strengthen identity verification at South Korean websites supposedly to discourage cyber bullying and malicious online messages.

The 40-year-old Choi, one of the country's most popular entertainers of the past two decades, was found dead at her home in southern Seoul in an apparent suicide, and family members and friends claim she had been distressed from harassment on the Internet.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC), the country's broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, said Internet users will be required to confirm their identity to post comments or participate in online discussions at popular Web sties starting next month.

This means that users will have to type in their resident registration numbers, a 13-digit code that indicates birth date, sex and registration site,  or I-PIN numbers, a personal identification code for online use, to leave messages.

The identity verification system is already mandated to 37 of the biggest Internet portals and online news sites that have more than 200,000 visitors in daily traffic. The KCC is looking to expand the rules to sites with more than 100,000 visitors, whose number currently reaches 178 sites.

The operators of the Web sites will be required to disclose the identities of bloggers accused of cyber attacks on request of police or victims seeking legal action, government officials said.

It could be said that the system will be expanded to virtually all, commonly used Web sites that have message boards,' said Kim Yeong-joo, an official from KCC's network ethics team. Granting approval by the Cabinet, the new regulations will kick in sometime in November, Kim said.

And the KCC plans to rewrite the telecommunications law to mandate Web sites to immediately pull any articles deemed as slanderous for a minimum 30 days before arbitration were subjected to heated debate among lawmakers.



7th October   


Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat banned in Syria
Link Here

Syria is blocking distribution of the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, the paper's Beirut bureau chief Zuhair Qusaybati told AFP.

The censorship authorities at the information ministry in Damascus asked Al-Hayat's bureau in the Syrian capital on Monday to stop sending its issues to the country until further notice, Qusaybati told AFP.

The daily is published in London and printed in a number of Arab capitals including Beirut, Cairo, and Riyadh.

In Syria, its distribution has long been subject to advance censorship and a number of issues have been withheld from newsstands because of their contents.

The ban on Al-Hayat's distribution in Syria came hot on the heels of a bomb blast which killed 17 people in Damascus on Saturday, the deadliest attack in the Syrian capital in more than a decade. The Syrian official media have since repeatedly complained that the Saudi authorities did not condemn the bombing more vocally.


7th October   

Offsite: For Crying Out Aloud...

The Obscene Publications Act rides again
Link Here
Full story: Obscene Text...Writer prosecuted for text fantasy story

The legal world is buzzing at the announcement last week of the prosecution of 35-year-old civil servant Darryn Walker for the online publication of material that Police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) believe to be obscene.

This is the first such prosecution for written material in nearly two decades – and a guilty verdict could have a serious and significant impact on the future regulation of the internet in the UK.

The case originated in summer 2007, when Mr Walker allegedly posted a work of fantasy – titled Girls (Scream) Aloud - about pop group Girls Aloud.

The story describes in detail the kidnap, rape, mutilation and murder of band members Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh, and ends with the sale of various body parts on eBay.

The piece was brought to the attention of the Internet Watch Foundation, whose remit includes the monitoring of internet material deemed to be criminally obscene: they in turn handed details over to the Police.

The Met's Obscene Publications Unit are currently handling the case, which is due to come before Newcastle Crown Court on 22 October. At that point, Mr Walker will have the opportunity to enter a plea and, if he opts for “not guilty” the court will set a date for a full trial.

...Read full article

Update: Links

9th October 2008

The IWF said that it had passed details to police after being told of the site. Though it was not hosted in the UK, said a spokeswoman, the site did have UK links on it so a report was passed to police. [The author left a .co.uk email address for feedback]


6th October   

Jacqui Smith to be Bound and Gagged...

Publicity against the Dangerous Pictures Act
Link Here

A group campaigning against the Criminal Injustice and Immigration Bill, which comes into force in the new year, is stepping up its campaign and Jacqui Smith is to be its primary target. The campaigners' argument is with the part of the bill that will make it illegal to possess extreme pornographic images . This amounts to censorship.

Leading the charge is artist Ben Westwood, son of fashion designer Dame Vivienne, who says: It's a breach of human rights.

This column has learnt of a plan by Westwood and his friends to project a large image of Jacqui Smith, gagged and tied to a chair, on to the Houses of Parliament. It is, perhaps, important to point out that this is a composite artwork put together by Westwood, not a genuine picture of the Home Secretary. It's slightly silly, admits my source. But it also makes an important point about Smith's attempts to gag artists and members of the fetish community.

The exact date of the proposed stunt is a secret in case anyone tries to interfere, but I understand it will take place towards the end of November.

Other opponents of the bill include the rather more strait-laced campaigning organisation Liberty, 40 serious academics who question the research behind the bill which suggests viewing such images can affect behaviour, and - pleasingly - the International Union of Sex Workers. It's quite a coalition even for Smith to take on.

[See Interview with Liz Kelly for a bit of background into how biased one of the main contributors to the 'research behind the bill']


6th October   

Update: Going Logo Loco...

Scottish parliament to investigate Playboy branded goods
Link Here
Full story: Playboy Brand...Playboy's ever shifting logo and brand

The use of sexual imagery in goods aimed at children is to be investigated by MSPs.

The Playboy bunny logo on pencil cases and provocative children's T-shirt logos are among items which have prompted extreme concerns on Holyrood's equal opportunities committee. Later this year, the committee will meet retailers, trade unions, consumer bodies and children's organisations.

The committee is extremely concerned to read reports about the ever-increasing range of goods in stores which contain sexual images and which appear to be directly aimed at children, said the Conservative convener. Margaret Mitchell.


6th October   

Update: Giving Journalism a Good Spanking...

Max Mosley takes on journalism in the European Court
Link Here

Max Mosley, the president of formula one's governing body, is to continue his challenge to the law of privacy by taking his case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.

Mosley, whose private sexual practices became national news in July when the News of the World published details of his involvement in an orgy, says that the £60,000 damages he received for some of the claims the paper made were not an adequate remedy.

He wants a change in the law that will force editors to contact the subject of their revelations before publishing articles that could invade their privacy.

I think it's wrong that a tabloid editor can destroy a family and wreck a life without being answerable to anybody just to sell newspapers, Mosley said.

The law allows a practice described as publish and be damned , meaning that newspapers can publish stories that may infringe privacy, knowing that they may face legal consequences after the event.

These tabloids go for somebody almost every Sunday, and apparently it's become routine for them to keep it a secret to prevent the person from seeking an injunction, Mosley said: The chance of being sued is very small, the damages are not very big, and it is a worthwhile risk.

Mosley's battle is no longer against the News of the World but against the state: I have been able to put right the wrong done to me within the limits of English law. But to remedy it completely I need to challenge English law.

His legal team will argue that the law failed to protect Mosley's right to privacy under the European convention on human rights because of the absence of any obligation on editors. Although [£60,000] is the highest sum ever achieved in a claim for an invasion of privacy, it is not an effective remedy, said Dominic Crossley, the lawyer representing Mosley : The only effective remedy would have been to prevent the publication in the first place by means of an injunction.


5th October   

Update: Welcome to Saudi Britain...

Pat Condell video restored to YouTube
Link Here
Full story: Pat Condell Censored...Pat Condell sharia comedy censored by YouTube

The latest Pat Condell video, Welcome to Saudi Britain, has been restored to YouTube.

Pat Condell said:

Enormous thanks to everyone who uploaded the video and to everyone who contacted YouTube. And my thanks to YouTube for reinstating the video. I'm very much obliged.

The original petition has closed, but it rose from nowhere to the 24th most signed in just a few days once people knew it was there.

Now there's a new petition that runs until the new year, and if everyone signs this one and publicises it there's no reason why we can't get many thousands of signatures and make the British government take notice.

Sign the petition: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop Sharia Law from being binding in law under arbitration tribunals rules .

Further Details: Sharia law can be enforced in this country by the county and high courts. This is allowed under rules of arbitration when both parties in the dispute agree to give the tribunal (in this case a sharia court) the power to rule on the case. We state that this should be stopped, as sharia law is totally contrary to western values of fair and equal justice for all.

Update: A Kuwait View View of Human Rights and YouTube bans

Based on article from arabtimesonline.com

The misleadingly named Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) Chairman Dr Adel Al-Damkhi has asked his government to put pressure on the officials of YouTube to delete all derogatory statements about Islam and Muslims from the site.

He urges the authorities to take the necessary legal action in case the website fails to erase the statements, Al-Damkhi spouted: uttering profanities against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the worst form of human rights violation in the world. Attacks on the values and tenets of Islam are extremely dangerous and unacceptable.

Al-Damkhi pointed out the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) strongly condemns attacks on the holy prophets and religions.

He confirmed KHRS recognizes the importance of freedom of conducting scientific research, exchange of information, and significance of the latest technologies and media on human lives ... BUT ... it is against how YouTube depicts Islam. He said this is an outright violation of the human rights of millions of Muslims all over the world.


5th October   

Wash Your Mouth Out with Coronation Street Soap...

Are Glasgow Rangers joining the ranks of the easily offended?
Link Here

Coronation Street chiefs have removed a derogatory reference to Rangers FC from a forthcoming episode following complaints from the team's fans.

ITV's switchboard received calls from dozens of supporters last week after the character Tony Gordon who supports Celtic, voiced his distaste for the Ibrox side.

In a discussion with his fiancée Carla, Gordon insisted: I could no more be interested in Rosie Webster than I could support Glasgow Rangers.

His comments sparked debate on both sides of the Old Firm divide and football forums were flooded with discussions on the matter.

A second reference to Rangers, which had been set to air in Wednesday night's episode, has now been cut ahead of broadcast. The uncensored scene would have seen Gordon claiming that he is allergic to warm beer, the English national anthem and Glasgow Rangers.

An ITV spokeswoman said: Both comments were in keeping with the character of Tony Gordon. But we have to bear in mind that it does seem to have caused some upset, so the decision was made to take the line out.


5th October   

Oi No!...

Comedian Harry Enfield banned from fun with religious characters
Link Here
Full story: Harry Enfield...LoadsaComplaints about Harry Enfield

Harry Enfield has revealed that he was banned from performing as a sex-crazed Muslim hoodie and a paedophile Catholic priest in his new BBC comedy show.

Executives at production company Tiger Aspect ordered the 47-year-old comedian to scrap plans for characters Father Paddy and the unnamed Muslim because they might cause trouble, Enfield said. He added: I was told, “Don't even go there.”


5th October   

Shooting from his Rear Holster...

Beyer attacks entertainment industry
Link Here

John Beyer
We advocate deep cuts be
inflicted on the
entertainment industry

The government has launched an advertising campaign warning of the evils and dangers of knife crime.

Beyer sees this as the perfect opportunity to push his agenda by writing to the Prime Minister blaming the entertainment industries for the problem. Beyer wrote:

Bearing in mind that the Government has itself launched an advertising campaign through the media, thus recognising the power of the media to influence behaviour, we believe that the time has come for the Government to make it clear to broadcasters and film-makers that the gratuitous portrayal of the use of guns and knives, merely for entertainment, is no longer tolerable given the situation we all face.

If the necessary changes in attitude and culture are ever to be achieved we believe tackling the entertainment industries is essential no matter how contentious the task may seem.

We believe that the time has come for the Government to make it clear to broadcasters and film-makers that the gratuitous portrayal of the use of guns and knives, merely for entertainment, is no longer tolerable given the situation we all face.


5th October   

Battle Against Whingers...

Advert for Bad Company: Battlefield game under scrutiny
Link Here

An ad for the computer game, Bad Company: Battlefield , appeared in ShortList magazine, London Lite and thelondonpaper.

The page was divided in two. The headline in the top half stated Meet Miss July MERCEDES PARELLADA . It featured an image of a bar stool with muddy footprints in front of it which led off to the right of the page.

A transcript of an interview with Mercedes was set out in a text box on the right-hand side of the page. Age: 26 ... What kind of men do you like? I love soldiers. I love men in uniform carrying big guns, it's so hot. There is something about how they are so put together which makes me want to get them all dirty...

The second half of the page showed a still from the computer game. The computer-generated images of three men were shown dressed in combat clothing and carrying guns; a burning building could be seen in the background. One of the men carried Mercedes in his arms; she was a woman dressed in a silver bikini. Text below stated YOU'RE IN BAD COMPANY NOW Create your own rules. Blow up almost anything using tactical destruction. And take whatever you want with three of your closest, morally challenged friends."

Twelve readers, who expressed concern that Mercedes was depicted as a sex object or a spoil of war , challenged whether the ad:

  1. was offensive and degrading in its portrayal of women
  2. glamorised violence and could therefore be seen to condone violence, particularly sexual violence.
  3. Three readers challenged whether it was irresponsible to show the ad in a medium where it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

We noted the ad featured a still from a computer game, which depicted three men dressed in combat clothing. We therefore understood that they were shown with their weapons in the context of the game. We considered that the ad depicted Mercedes as a materialistic airhead ', whose interests included money and men. We considered that the stereotype was used to increase her appeal to the opposite sex.

While we recognised that some readers might find the portrayal of her character offensive and degrading in its depiction of women, we considered that most readers would view it as satirical depiction of some types of women featured in lads' mags.

We noted from the interview with Mercedes that the men were her type . We considered therefore that there was no suggestion that she had been taken by force or against her will; we also considered that there was no suggestion of impending violence against her. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen to condone or glamorise violence or sexual violence.

We noted the complainants' concern that the ad could be seen by children. We nevertheless noted the ad appeared in free publications that targeted adult commuters. While we accepted that some children might see the ad, we concluded that it had not been irresponsibly targeted.


5th October   

China Listens in to Skype...

Just like the UK Government propose to do
Link Here

A group of Canadian researchers said they found evidence suggesting that a Skype joint venture in China is monitoring its users' Internet text chats and storing messages that contain politically sensitive content on publicly-accessible servers.

In a report, the researchers allege that the monitoring-and-storage program led to the disclosure of millions of records containing personal information of users of the Chinese service, as well as who participated in voice calls using the service. It said the data was stored on eight servers operated by the service, which is a joint venture between Skype, a unit of eBay, and TOM Online, a unit of Hong Kong-based TOM Group Ltd.

The report was published by the Information Warfare Monitor and OpenNet Initiative–Asia, and written by Nart Villeneuve, a researcher at the University of Toronto who specializes in Internet censorship and evasion tactics used to bypass it.

Jennifer Caukin, a spokeswoman for Skype, said that the idea that China's government might be monitoring communications in and out of the country shouldn't surprise anyone.

Caukin claimed that: once we informed TOM about the apparent security issue, that they were able to fix the flaw.

In a separate statement, TOM Group said that as a Chinese company, we adhere to rules and regulations in China where we operate our businesses.

Some users believe that Skype uses encryption that protects users from government monitoring, and the service has been widely used by dissidents in China for that reason.

The report leaves unclear what relationship, if any, the Chinese government may have had with the monitoring and storage effort it describes. But it says the records it uncovered on unsecured TOM-Skype servers included an encryption key that could be used to decrypt the data, and therefore could easily have been accessed by the government.

The report said the messages stored on the servers contained keywords relating to sensitive political topics such as Taiwan independence, political opposition to the Communist Party, and Falun Gong, the outlawed spiritual group. The evidence confirms that TOM-Skype is censoring and logging text chat messages that contain specific, sensitive keywords and may be engaged in more targeted surveillance, the report says.


5th October   

True Censorship...

Burma suspends 2 weekly magazines
Link Here

The publishing license of two Rangoon based weekly journals has been suspended by the Press Scrutiny Board (Censor Board) because of supposed violation of its policy and regulations.

The censor board suspended publishing of True News for two months and The Action Times for a month respectively.

The Action Times published every Monday was suspended for one month after the news of the release of Win Tin from prison appeared. It mentioned him as Sayagyi (Great Master) Win Tin, contrary to the permitted copy by the censor board.

In the draft copy passed by the censor board, it simply said 'U Win Tin'. However, it appeared in the journal as 'Sayagyi U Win Tin'. The journal was banned for this, an editor of a weekly journal said on condition of anonymity.

Similarly, in the True News weekly journal, a photograph of a child labour in a construction site appeared on the front page with the caption, A child working in a construction site near Phuket seaside resort, Thailand . The publication of the journal was suspended for two months.

The censor board had permitted this photograph but it was without a caption when submitted. The caption was written before publishing. So they banned publication on account of 'inadequate page layout design, an editor said on condition of anonymity.


4th October   

Fine Words But Censorial Deeds...

TV censor becomes broadcasting minister
Link Here

Stephen Carter, the prime minister's strategy chief, has been appointed as a junior minister of communications, technology and broadcasting as part a cabinet reshuffle.

Carter, a former chief executive of TV censor Ofcom, has also been given a peerage in order to take up his new role in the House of Lords.

Carter Said: Given the global financial challenges, the communications sector has never been more important to our economy. This role is an opportunity to make a contribution to the growth of this key sector, and I look forward to working closely with Peter Mandelson and Andy Burnham.

His remit will be split between the department for culture, media and sport under secretary of state Andy Burnham, and Peter Mandelson at the department for business, enterprise and regulatory reform.



4th October   

Updated: SHOCK!toberfest...

Uncut horror-euro-sleaze movie marathon
Link Here

Saturday 4th October 2pm-2am
Cube Microplex, Bristol

SHOCK!toberfest is THE uncut horror-euro-sleaze movie marathon. 12 hours packed full of classic films guaranteed to shock, terrify, titilate and appall in all their uncut and unrated glory… a feast of gratuitous violence, sex and exploitation. What more could one ask for?

So join us at the Cube Microplex, Bristol on the 4th of October from 2pm til 2am for

  • Steve Cudens Lucky
  • Ruggero Deodatos Cannibal Holocaust
  • Fred Vogels August Underground (See update)
  • Marian Doras Cannibal
  • Shameless Screen Entertainments own release of Giulio Berrutis Killer Nun
  • Plus music from Goblin tribute band Il Goblini

Update: SHOCK!censorfest

4th October 2008. Thanks to Kelly

As of the 1st of October the Bristol City Council have banned The Cube Microplex from screening August Underground . We've been censored!

The legality of the council's ban is debatable  The licensee of the venue contends that as a private members cinema they can screen uncertificated films but the council appear to disagree with. However, the Cubes future licence would be under threat if they went against the ban and so have insisted that August Underground is withdrawn from the programme.


4th October   

Update: Manhunt Begins...

Manhunt 2 finally set for release on 31st October
Link Here

Rockstar finally gets to release Manhunt 2 (Wii, PSP) in the UK. UK gamers can expect the game to hit shelves on October 31.

This is the cut version of the game that was released in North America exactly a year ago.

The “original” version of Manhunt 2 first submitted to the BBFC is still banned.

Hackers later managed to find a code that will partially lift the game's censorship. Wonder if Rockstar was able to close that 'loophole' for the UK release.


4th October   

Update: MadJapanWorld...

Censorial Japan, Germany and Australia may miss out on MadWorld
Link Here
Full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

PlatinumGames' MadWorld , the action-adventure Wii game, is so violent that publisher Sega isn't optimistic about getting the game released in Japan.

Sega doesn't even plan to show the game at next week's Tokyo Game Show, according to MTV Multiplayer. In  fact, any Japanese release will be evaluated after MadWorld is released here.

The plan is undoubtedly in response to a recent spate of Japanese bannings for violence, the most recent being EA Redwood Shores' Dead Space . But the other usual suspects in censorship cases--Germany and Australia--are being treated the same way. [The German and Australian] markets could see MadWorld, but it's not part of Sega's strategy right now, reads MTV's report.


4th October   

UN Supernanny...

UN complains about the UK's demonisation of children
Link Here

Too many children are being imprisoned in Britain and demonised as criminals, said a report published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In a document presenting more than 150 recommendations, and described by some campaign groups as devastating, the body set out a detailed critique of Britain's legal and social shortcomings.

The demonisation of young people was a prominent theme. The report regretted a general climate of intolerance and negative public attitudes towards children in the media and elsewhere. It suggested the government should regulate children's participation in TV programmes, notably reality shows, so as to ensure [the shows] do not violate their rights.

During public hearings in Geneva, questions were raised about the TV series Supernanny . Responding, Channel 4 said yesterday it worked within Ofcom guidelines to safeguard children's welfare.


4th October   

Censorship in the Name of Cohesion...

Councils 'working together' with local media
Link Here

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the United Kingdom government department for communities and local government since May 2006. The department originated in 2001 as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

They have produced an interesting document entitled: Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring

And its shows that councils have been working with local newspapers to censor stories that may inflame local tensions.

The document gives the following examples:

Working with the media

Middlesbrough Council

The council has close links to the editor of the Evening Gazette, the main local newspaper, who also sits on the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP). This helps to ensure that press and media related issues are considered in cohesion contingency planning.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Tameside holds regular meetings with local newspaper editors to gather information and stop sensationalist reporting which might otherwise start or add to rising tensions, e.g. in response to a Kick Racism out of Football campaign, an extremist political group wanted to picket a local football stadium. A local newspaper was going to print the story on its front page – an action that was likely to bring unwanted publicity to the picket and fuel rising community tensions. The intervention of the Community Cohesion Partnership prevented the story from being run and in the event no-one turned out for the picket.

Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council

The Berwick Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) is working with the local press/media to vet stories involving migrant workers from eastern Europe and Portugal employed in the food processing and agricultural sectors to prevent stigmatisation.


4th October   

What You're Doing is Not Good...

Syria gets more effective at controlling internet use
Link Here

Syrian authorities are tightening their control over the internet and shutting loopholes that used to allow access to banned websites, according to a Damascus free-speech watchdog.

New research by the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression suggests that internet censorship is on the rise.

Mazen Darwich, director of the independent media centre, said Syria's efforts to muzzle the net have been successful: more sites are being blocked and more controversial articles are taken offline than ever before: There are clear signs that the crackdown on the internet is increasing. More sites are being blocked; there are more restrictions on internet cafes and there is increasing pressure from the security apparatus with daily interference about what articles are appearing online.

At least 161 separate sites cannot be accessed in Syria, a majority related to opposition political parties, Kurdish groups and media organisations deemed hostile to the Arab republic. The actual number of blocked sites is much larger, including many blogs and comment sites.

Many English-language and international websites that can be critical of Syria are readily accessible. It is domestic and Arabic language sites that are subjected to tighter scrutiny.

In its latest annual report, the media centre said Syrian website administrators were being personally telephoned by government officials and told to take down politically sensitive material – something that never previously happened.

One website – called clean hands – set up to campaign against corruption, was shut down, apparently after a formal written banning order was issued. That decision became the subject of a legal challenge by the site administrator, lawyer Abdullah Ali, who insisted the move was unconstitutional. He recently dropped the legal case because he was put under pressure , according to commentators familiar with proceedings.

To avoid any future legal challenges to website bans, the Syrian authorities are now issuing verbal shutdown orders, the media centre said, rather than leaving a paper trail.

People running websites will get a phone call from someone saying: 'This is not good, what you're doing is not good.' It's a threat, it's an implied threat, Darwich said.

Initially Syria blocked free web-based e-mail services, such as Yahoo and Hotmail, but few restrictions were placed on browsing, with sites belonging to radical Islamic groups and the Kurdish opposition blocked. That situation has since reversed. E-mail is freely available – although the centre warns e-mail is in all likelihood heavily monitored – while browsing is more strictly limited.

A committee of officials is tasked with drawing up a blacklist of banned sites, which during the summer numbered around 100 but has since grown by at least 25 per cent. Popular networking sites YouTube and Facebook are on the prohibited list.

Internet censorship is highly contested, with Syrian computer users looking for ways to hack past any limitations placed on their web browsing. While the controls used to be fairly crude, advanced new monitoring and restriction software provided by Platinum Inc has, according to Darwich's centre, given the authorities here the upper hand.

And activists are concerned that conditions for web users will further worsen with the introduction of a new e-publishing law. Although still in draft form it is widely expected the legislation will require all Syrians running any kind of website to apply in advance for a government licence.

All public internet centres need operating approval from the security services and are required to keep detailed records of their customers' surfing habits. With Syria still in a state of war with neighbouring Israel and struggling with a domestic threat of Islamic extremism, the government justifies tight internet controls on grounds of 'national security'.


4th October   

Preaching to the Choir...

China censors religious music
Link Here

Musicians and tour organisers have told The Daily Telegraph that a series of significant performances have been affected amid a tightening of political control over the arts and Christianity.

Among the victims are the Academy of Ancient Music, one of Britain's leading orchestral and choral groups, which was invited to sing The Messiah at the Beijing International Music Festival in October.

The performance will go ahead but has been made by invitation only to get round the ban. Ironically, among the invitees are members of the Politburo and other senior government leaders.

The Sinfonica Orchestra di Roma has dropped plans to play Mozart's Requiem in the Sichuan earthquake zone in honour of the dead and to raise money for survivors. It will play a programme of smaller, mostly non-religious works instead.

Stefano Palamidessi, the Rome orchestra's general manager, said he had been advised to drop Mozart's Requiem from an open-air performance in the main square in the city of Dujiangyan, part of a China-wide tour.

An official said: A smaller piece as part of a bigger programme might be OK, but a big work like Mozart's Requiem would definitely be out.

Attitudes in the top leadership to religion and western culture in general are thought to be divided. Some regard an explosion in evangelical Christianity across the country as having social benefits, while others regard it as an alien threat to Communist Party control.


4th October   

Offsite: Burnham Bollox...

Hobbling the internet to keep television safe is a bad idea
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

If the music industry had spent more time thinking of ways to deliver great music to its customers over the internet and less lobbying politicians and suing potential customers it would probably be thriving by now.

Book publishers, less certain of their own importance, are taking notice of the exciting experiments at Faber & Faber and Penguin instead of looking for protectionist legislation to keep the new media world at bay.

And for a while it looked like television was keen to embrace the possibilities for online delivery and greater engagement that the network offered.

Yet now it seems that Culture Secretary Andy Burnham thinks television in the UK is so special that it needs to be kept safe from attack by the nasty people of the online world.

Apparently it is time to "even up" regulation between the internet and television because those producing online material get an easy ride.

...Read full article


3rd October   

Depraved Prosecution...

Writer prosecuted over fantasy story of the murder of Girls Aloud
Link Here
Full story: Obscene Text...Writer prosecuted for text fantasy story

A man who allegedly wrote an internet story imagining the kidnap and murder of pop group Girls Aloud is being prosecuted under obscenity laws.

The prosecution of Darryn Walker is regarded as a historic test case which could affect censorship of the internet.

Walker allegedly described the kidnap, mutilation, rape and murder of the girl band in a 12-page story posted on a fantasy website (or maybe on Usenet newsgroups). The story was headlined Girls (Scream) Aloud.

Experts are claiming the action is one of the most significant obscenity cases since the trial over the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover .

It is expected to be the first test of the law since pornography became easily available online and is one of the first involving the written word in recent years.

Scotland Yard's Obscene Publications Unit brought the case after discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service. It had been made aware of the story by The Internet Watch Foundation, which monitors illegal online content, which itself had been alerted last year.

The website where the blog was published is hosted abroad. But prosecution has been able to go ahead because the alleged author was identified as a UK citizen living in Britain.


3rd October   

Update: Snack Attack...

Whinges about treatment of Ramadan in EastEnders
Link Here
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

The BBC has received around 110 complaints over EastEnders' treatment of the Muslim festival of Ramadan.

The September 11 episode of the soap saw Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra) snacking on a chapatti during daylight hours behind his market stall 'Masala Masood'.

When confronted by Jane Beale (Laurie Brett), Masood branded himself a bad person , before going to on explain how difficult he is finding fasting when he's selling food all day.

The BBC has defended the scene, which sparked complaints from viewers, and has issued a statement. It said: We would like to assure viewers it was not our intention to insult Muslim or Islamic values.

Within shows such as EastEnders we try to treat our characters as individuals with their own sets of behaviours and opinions, regardless of their religion, race or sexuality and, as in real life, they do not always strictly follow all the laws, traditions and customs of their religions.

Although Masood is a practising Muslim, he has his own fallibilities as a human being. Our intention was never to focus primarily on the religion, but on the character's ability to meet the standards he aspires to in life.


3rd October   

Nutter Values...

Utah nutters get fertility god statue moved
Link Here

An anatomically correct sculpture of the humpbacked flute player Kokopelli has been moved from the front of Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding after complaints from a local Utah group of nutters calling itself the Values Committee .

Park manager Teri Paul said she planned to remove the Kokopelli sculpture from the park entirely after a group of Blanding residents threatened a protest because the sculpture has a penis. Kokopelli was considered a fertility god and healer by ancient Indian cultures. But Paul decided to relocate the piece instead after another group of residents protested what they said was censorship.

The sculpture by Bluff artist Joe Pachak has welcomed visitors to the museum since 1989. It will be placed today in a less obvious place inside the park, according to Paul.

Bluff resident Susan Dexter was among those who favored leaving the sculpture in place: Kokopelli is just a statue. Give me a break. It's not like a massive erection like some of the ones you see on the panels. It's nothing like that. Dexter said the staff was capitulating either to Puritan thinking or local business interests.

Paul said a female member of the nutter group also complained about datura plants in front of the museum because of their hallucinogenic properties, claiming park managers are encouraging its use. Paul said the native plant is common in the area and will not be removed.


3rd October   

Update: Blocking Mad...

Turkey owns up to blocking 1112 web sites
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

The head of Turkey's Telecommunications Board has stated that 1,112 Web sites have been banned in the country since November 2007 following complaints by individuals over content on these sites.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Telecommunications Board President Tayfun Acarer said a center was established within the Postal and Telecommunications Directorate (PTT) on Nov. 23, 2007, allowing people to report Web sites on which they have complaints. He said people also have the option to report their complaints by email or telephone.

This center has received a total of 24,598 complaints since its establishment last year. Following these complaints, 1,112 Web sites, 861 automatically and 251 with judicial decisions, were banned.

Acarer said: The duty of the state is to protect its citizens and warn them against harmful Internet content. He noted that Web site bans are necessary to prevent the public from falling victim to sites with criminal or ignoble intent.

According to Acarer, 12 Web sites were banned because of prostitution, 51 for insulting Atatrk, 79 for gambling, 415 for exploitation of children and 390 for obscenity.


3rd October   

Diary: Exit International London Workshop and Book Launch...

Featuring Peaceful Pill Handbook for download
Link Here
Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

Monday 13 October 2008
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1 (tube: Holborn).

Book Launch - 10am

The digital edition of The Peaceful Pill Handbook will be launched. In attendance will be the President of Exit International US, Mr Neal Nicol along with a representative from the UK company providing the technology platform.

This new revised version will be available online for immediate download. The 'book' will be updated monthly as news updates come to hand, and contains some 50+ pieces of video giving users access to up-to-the-minute information on Voluntary Euthanasia issues

Public Meeting - 11am

Exit will hold its first UK Public Meeting, inviting discussion on the changing status of the important social issue of Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Dying. Exit International Director, Dr Philip Nitschke, will outline why he believes every rational, elderly or seriously ill adult should have access to information detailing the best means of an elective peaceful death and explain how this can be achieved.

Information Workshop

The Information Workshop will follow immediately from the public meeting and will develop in more detail the issues outlined at the public meeting. The aim of the Workshop is to enable participants to develop a personal end of life strategy for the future .

Attendance at the workshop is free for Exit members. Non-members may attend upon donation (eg. £20). New members will receive Exit's newsletter Deliverance (6 months).

For more information on the London events:
Contact Exit's UK Coordinator, Jan on +44 (0) 20 7193 1557 or email

Update: Review of the event

14th October 2008. See Coffee, cakes and the lethal prescriptions of 'Dr Death' from guardian.co.uk


3rd October   

In Possession of an Offensive State...

Heavy fine for Chinese man for possessing adult video
Link Here

A Chinese man was fined $277 for a 30-minute adult video found on his hard drive.

Chinese authorities were looking for harmful information from a new business' IP address when they discovered the video on Ren Chaoqi's computer, according to CNET.com.

Chaoqi told the authorities he obtained the video through BitTorrent.

The fine has apparently ignited a controversy on some Chinese-language websites, CNET details online opinion polls that are overwhelmingly in Chaoqi's favor.

According to an Internet survey conducted by Sina.com, in which 55,259 persons voted, 96.52% thought that this person did not illegaly distribute and exhibit pornographic videos and that the negligible impact should not have incurred such a heavy fine.

Ren told a reporter he is waiting for an administrative review that he hopes will lead to a lower fine — or no fine at all.


3rd October   

Offsite: Nasty Censorship Culture...

UK minister looks for delete key on user generated content
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

As we reported, Monday saw the launch of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). This is one of the chief results of the Byron Review (pdf), and unites the great and the good of the internet world, under the guidance of Gordon Brown, in an effort to make the internet fit for our children.

One way in which it will do that is by preventing children from accessing "inappropriate content". In its first release, the Council declared that it would "establish voluntary codes of practice for user-generated content sites, making such sites commit to take down inappropriate content within a given time".

Although the release may appear consistent with the principles contained in the Byron Review, it is actually a serious extension of it. Preventing children from accessing content that is inappropriate to them has been subtly upgraded to a requirement that user-generated sites take down "inappropriate content".


In June, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee delivered its report on what it considered to be harmful content on the internet. Recommendations from that report are due to be released to Parliament next week. Those interested in the future shape of the internet in the UK would do well to keep an ear open for any further casual remarks by Mr Burnham.

...Read full article from theregister.co.uk


2nd October   


Pat Condell censored from YouTube
Link Here
Full story: Pat Condell Censored...Pat Condell sharia comedy censored by YouTube

The outspoken English comedian Pat Condell has had his latest video blocked by YouTube.

The Video had over 40,000 hits in the 24 hours that it was up on YouTube and it was the top-rated video on the whole of YouTube.

The most urgent message in his video is this: If you live in Britain please sign this petition against the creeping poison of sharia law before October 4th when it closes.

Apparently YouTube, who has had some challenges with Turkey and Pakistan, have decided that it is easier to block 'problematic' content themselves than standing up for freedom and have Pakistani Internet operators wreck havoc on them.

In his latest video, Pat Condell sure manages to step on some toes in this latest video. But that is well deserved, for what happens is serious and what he has to say is important. Too important to censor, so here is a transcript of the start of the video:

Hi everyone

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that Sharia courts are now operating here in Britain, with the full backing of the law, even though they discriminate against women as a matter of cause.

And what this means is that those women who are intimidated into using these courts, as some of them will be, and everyone knows it, they will now find that they have the full weight of the British legal system lined up against them, alongside the patriarchical bigotry in their own communities.

Those women who are cheated out of their just entitlements in these places, as some already have been, will find that they have no recourse to the real law to put things right. In other words, we are now accommodating Saudi Arabian legal principles here in Britain.


2nd October   

Update: The 12 Years Old War...

ELSPA will continue to fight ratings battle
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

ELSPA's Paul Jackson has told GamesIndustry.biz that the trade body will continue to fight the ratings battle in the UK, even if the government brings in a new act of Parliament to enforce videogame ratings.

The government is currently in a consultation period, gathering evidence from ELSPA, European board PEGI and movie classification experts the BBFC, on how best to protect children from adult videogame content.

So far, UK MPs back Dr Tanya Byron's report that the BBFC should rate videogames aimed at adults in the UK, while ELSPA has put all its weight behind PEGI.

Let me be clear - we will argue coherently our case, stated Jackson. Nobody is saying for a second that if government brings in a regulation for a videogames act of parliament that our members won't fight it. Of course they will.

At the end of the day we're a very law-abiding industry and we'll fight our corner right the way through. If there's a legislative process we'll fight that as well.

Jackson believes he's helping to turn government on to the idea of PEGI taking control of game ratings, after meeting with MPs at the Labour Party Conference, including Shaun Woodward, Anne Keen and Michael Cashman.

I think they're listening now. I have a real sense that the arguments we're making are so well-founded in fact that they're impossible to not listen to, said Jackson.


2nd October   

Dangerous Business...

3rd Thai journalist murdered in 3 months
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Thai authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the shooting death of Jaruek Rangcharoen, a journalist with the daily Thai-language newspaper Matichon.

Jaruek was shot and killed on September 27 in a market in the Don Chedi district of Thailand's western Suphanburi province, according to the Thai Journalists Association, a local press freedom advocacy group.

The association said in a statement that the murder was believed to be linked to Jaruek's reporting on corruption issues in a local administrative organization, and that he had previously expressed his fear to provincial Governor Somsak Phurisrisak that people were plotting against him.

Local police have not yet commented publicly on the case. CPJ continues to investigate to determine if Jaruek's murder was clearly related to his work as a journalist.

The murder of Jaruek Rangcharoen is another disturbing indicator of the disintegration of law and order and protection of press freedom in Thailand's provincial areas, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator: We call upon the relevant national Thai authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators in this case to justice.

Jaruek is the third Thai journalist to be killed in the past two months. Atiwat Chaiyanurat, also a reporter with Matichon, was shot to death in his home on August 1 in the southern Thai province of Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Shortly before his death, he had reported on local corruption and a police manhunt for an alleged assassin who had arrived in the area in the run-up to a local election.

Chalee Boonsawat, a reporter with the country's largest Thai-language daily, Thai Rath, was killed on August 21 while covering an explosion in Thailand's violence-plagued southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia, where Muslim insurgents and government forces have been locked in a violent struggle over autonomy issues since 2004.


2nd October   

The Birds and Bees in a Bonnet...

Eluding the watershed ban on sex education programmes
Link Here
Full story: Sex Education on TV...Wound up by TV sex education for children

Channel 4 logo Channel 4 has unveiled plans to broadcast a sex education series in the morning. KNTV Sex will tackle issues such as contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and masturbation.

The alternative guide to sex education features two animated teenagers from the fictional country of Slabovia, who examine a different topic each week. The 10-part series, a journey of sexual discovery, will combine animated characters with footage of comedy clips taken from TV shows.

Amazing sex facts , a look at the inner workings of the reproductive system and Operation Penis are some of the programme topics. The series will discuss different ways of having sex, contraception, STDs, bisexuality and coming out.

KNTV Sex is aimed at 14 to 19-year-olds and will be broadcast at 11am on weekday mornings.

The broadcaster said content for the series was developed with groups such as The Terence Higgins Trust and The Sex Education Forum.

Channel 4's head of education Janey Walker defended the decision to broadcast when young children could be watching: Between ourselves and the Channel 4 lawyers we have been careful .... We feel that we can defend the fact that it is going out in the morning. It might have a mixed audience but we very much aim to make it acceptable to anyone that happens across it....We are erring on the side of caution.

The broadcaster added that teachers had been crying out for more content on sex education.


2nd October   

In the Shit...

Ludicrous over reaction to phrase used in Football Focus
Link Here

The BBC has been forced to issue a public apology after Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear swore during a live interview on BBC1 at lunchtime on Saturday's Football Focus .

Speaking about Newcastle owner Mike Ashley on video link from the studio to the club's stadium, St James' Park, Kinnear told presenter Manish Bhasin: He's the one who's cleared the debts; he's the one who's put the money in. He's the one who's got Newcastle out of the shit.

Bhasin immediately interrupted Kinnear to issue an on-air apology.

Whilst we make every effort to avoid broadcasting bad language this unfortunately cannot be avoided during a live interview, said a BBC spokesman: We apologise for any offence caused.


2nd October   

Seeing Red...

TV censor whinges at strong language in Red TV's whacky advert show
Link Here

The Work of Mad Men
Red TV, 11 July 2008, 19:55 (repeated 12 July 2008, 11:30)

Red TV is a general entertainment channel focusing on factual programming. The Work of Mad Men is an entertainment series, featuring bizarre and amusing advertisements from around the world.

The episode complained of included an advertisement from Holland for an English language institute called 'Soesman Language Training'. The advertisement showed Dutch-speaking parents in a car with their children listening to a pop song in English. The lyrics of the song contain repeated use of the phrase I want to fuck you in the ass – which the children appeared to understand and giggle over but their parents failed to comprehend.

Ofcom received two complaints from a viewer who was concerned by this broadcast of offensive language before the watershed.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3 (children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them)
  • Rule 1.14 (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed).

Ofcom Decision

The broadcast of the word “fuck” six times within the advertisement complained of, when children were likely to be viewing, was clearly unacceptable.

While Red TV broadcast an apology, and has given assurances of improved compliance, Ofcom is concerned that the compliance procedures in place were clearly insufficient when these items were broadcast. Broadcasters must have in place robust procedures and appropriate staff to ensure compliance with the Code.

The programme was therefore in breach of Rules 1.3 and 1.14.


2nd October   

Images of Surveillance...

Creating a collage of UK's Surveillance society
Link Here

Happy-snappers unite! We need as many people as possible to take photos of stuff that embodies the database state, and the UK's world-famous surveillance society.

On 11 October, No2ID and the Open Rights Group will make a live collage of the images you've taken in a prominent location in London, to celebrate Freedom Not Fear Day 2008.

Freedom not Fear is an international day of action for democracy, free speech, human rights and civil liberties, and events to celebrate these central tenets of a just society will be taking place all over the world.

Here's how you can help:

  1. Spot something that embodies the UK's wholesale transformation into the surveillance society/database state. Subjects might include your local CCTV camera(s), or fingerprinting equipment in your child's school library
  2. Snap it
  3. Upload it to Flickr and tag it “FNFBigPicture” - please use an Attribution Creative Commons license*
  4. That's it!

*We need you to license it this way because we want to give the image to newspapers to run on the day.


1st October   

Update: Minister of Nasty Cultures...

Andy Burnham picks up the job of UK government internet censor
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Video-sharing websites - such as YouTube - could be forced to carry cinema-style guidance ratings, it has emerged.

Ministers are planning to introduce tough new rules to make websites carry age certificates and warning signs on films featuring sex, violence or strong language.

Minister of Nasty Cultures, Andy Burnham, said that tougher content guidance would help parents monitor their children's internet use.

Burnham said he wanted online content to meet the same standards required for television and the cinema. At the moment, there is no overall regulation of the internet. He said video clips may soon have to carry ratings such as the 'U', 'PG', '12' and '18' ones used by cinemas.

Burnham pointed to the example of the BBC iplayer which carries content warnings on programmes screened after the 9pm watershed and allows parents to turn on a parental guidance lock to stop youngsters accessing inappropriate material.

He said: With the 9pm watershed, parents had complete clarity about the content. But with the internet, parents are ensure about what is appropriate and what isn't. We have to start talking more seriously about standards and regulation on the internet.

I don't think it is impossible that before you download something there is a symbol or wording which tells you what's in that content. If you have a clip that is downloaded a million times then that is akin to broadcasting.

It doesn't seem over-burdensome for these to be regulated.

His comments were backed by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who said she had been 'shocked' at some of the material viewed by her sons. She added: I do think it's important that parents of young children are clear, just as they are when going to see a film at the cinema, about what's appropriate and what isn't appropriate.


1st October   

Screwed by a Brain Dead Censor...

Cartoon necrophilia winds up Australian TV censor
Link Here

Family Guy has hit trouble with the TV censor in Australia: for a scene in which the Grim Reaper has sex with a dead girl.

Cable broadcaster Foxtel has been reprimanded for giving the episode a PG rating, when it should have had a stricter M, for more mature youngsters.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said the episode entitled Death Is A Bitch breached the code of conduct, dismissing Foxtel's argument that the episode was so unreal it could not be taken seriously.

It ruled: Necrophilia, even by way of an animated reference, contains an inherent impact higher than mild.

Foxtel will reclassify the episode as M for future screenings and will review the classification of all other episodes of Family Guy .


1st October   

Update: Cuts Come Home...

Atari to seek a children's version of Silent Hill Homecoming
Link Here
Full story: Silent Hill Homecoming...Adding to long list of banned games

Australia's game censor recently banned Silent Hill: Homecoming .

In terms of the 'offending' violence in Silent Hill: Homecoming , the Censor Board cited several high impact scenes in the game, mostly focusing on drilling into and severing body parts. One scene in particular that was highlighted as a problem involved Alex (the main character) having a drill forced into his right eye socket, which caused a lot of blood to spray out. A couple of other scenes mentioned include one where Alex forces the drill up into an enemy's skull and another where Alex is cut in half by an enemy.

When we spoke to Atari about its reaction to the ban and plans for the game, the representative mentioned that they hoped to get Konami to tone down the high impact violence scenes so that it could be reclassified as MA15+ and allow the game to be released in Q1 2009. We'll let you know as soon as Atari is able to confirm these plans.


1st October   

Cartoon Nutters...

Cartoon nudity in public display winds up Californian nutters
Link Here

A piece of art containing nude cartoons that generated nutter controversy has been removed from public view at the art display in the downtown Caltrain station at San Mateo, California. The space will no longer be a public art venue and will be used exclusively for advertising.

Both  local artists and city employees are up in arms, the artists in the form of a petition to keep the space for public art and the city with a new committee devoted to selecting art for display in the City Hall and main library display areas.

The removal of the artwork is the end of a drama that has involved the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Coalition Against Censorship, several factions of the city government, and a local artist and curator who blames city officials for what can be interpreted as attack on freedom of expression.

Sinem Banna, a local artist and resident, said she was given permission in May by a staff member in the city Planning Department to curate a set of display cases in the transit center. As Banna understood it, she would be in charge of refreshing the display every few months with the works of new artists.

The inaugural display featured an art piece that contained cartoonish humans, dogs, rats and a large flea hovering over the U.S. Capitol. The work, by Bakersfield college art professor Ruth Santee, received a complaint regarding its content, and Banna was asked to remove the supposedly offending artwork.

Banna refused to remove the art. The artist and curator was joined by the ACLU and NCAC in her defense of the Caltrain exhibit. Thanks in part to pressure from these national organizations, the city attorney agreed to a compromise: The display would be allowed to remain in the transit center until the end of September.

When the art formally came down Friday, Banna replaced it with a petition for residents to sign if they would like the area to remain a public art venue. After collecting signatures, she will send copies of the petition to the mayor and the city manager, she said.

One day before the Caltrain exhibit was removed, the city created an art exhibit selection committee, which will review artwork submitted for month long displays in City Hall and the library. Officials could not confirm whether the committee was created in response to this recent controversy.


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