[This article contains spoilers about the spoiled episode].
The Walking Dead Season 7 started n UK TV on Monday night on Fox UK. However the first episode was cut for violence.
In both the US and the UK versions, Negan beats the heads of Abraham and Glenn into a bloody mess with his personalised barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille. But the censored UK version is missing a dying promise from the gruesomely injured Glenn and the
subsequent scene showing Negan enthusiastically finishing him off.
Fox cited the violence and gruesome injury details as the reason for the cuts soon after the 9pm watershed. A FOX UK spokesperson told Digital Spy:
As Fox Networks Group is regulated by Ofcom, we have a duty of care to ensure all our programmes broadcast adhere to the parameters of the Ofcom Broadcasting code,
However, the scenes were restored for additional late-night broadcasts.
US morality campaigners are gushing with praise for the new season of The Walking Dead saying it was one of the most graphically violent shows they've ever seen
on TV. The group wrote:
Last night's season premiere of The Walking Dead was one of the most graphically violent shows we've ever seen on television, comparable to the most violent of programs found on premium cable networks. PTC President Tim Winter said:
It's not enough to 'change the channel,' as some people like to advocate, because cable subscribers -- regardless of whether they want AMC or watch its programming -- are still forced to subsidize violent content. This brutally-explicit show is a
powerful demonstration of why families should have greater control over the TV networks they purchase from their cable and satellite providers.
Programs with violent content are proven to be harmful, especially to children; and most parents agree that having greater control over violent content coming into their homes is vital to protecting their family. When a basic cable network like AMC edges
or even surpasses the premium networks in terms of explicit content, consumers must be afforded more control over which networks they purchase and which networks they don't.
Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation has unanimously approved a bill forcing Israeli ISPs to censor pornography by default.
Under the terms of the bill, users who want to opt in for adult content would be required to notify their service providers either in writing, by phone, or via the ISP's website.
The bill will now head to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, to start the process of legislative approval.
Critics say that aside from limiting freedom of information, the attempt to censor inappropriate content would likely lasso similar but unrelated content such information on breast cancer and other educational material. In addition, critics said, the
need for users to notify providers in order to gain access to pornography is arguably a violation of privacy.
The bill was sponsored by Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who noted that similar default blocking of adult content has been introduced in other Western countries, notably Britain.
Moalem said that ensuring non-pornographic states are not filtered by accident would be a challenge to overcome as the bill is fine-tuned before approval by the Knesset. She noted that sites which contain both adult-oriented and family-suitable material
also present difficulties to censoring systems.
Dutch anti-Islam opposition leader Geert Wilders has gone on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination, 18 months after he led a chant for fewer
Moroccans in the country and called them scum during campaigning for local elections.
A verdict is due in December. The trial raise issues of free speech in the Netherlands particularly as Wilders' comments are supported by strong showings in the opinion polls, suggesting that the party could actually be vying for government in next
A pun Barry Cryer made on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue has been referred to the highest level of the BBC after a listener took easy offence.
On the Radio 4 show in January, panellists were asked to add a word to the title of a song to make it a lot less appealing. Cryer suggested Papa's got a brand new colostomy bag .
The listener complained that the joke was an offensive and unacceptable portrayal of disability and that mentioning the device for 'a laugh from a negative stereotype was no longer acceptable'.
The whinge has progressed through the bizarre and tortuous route through the the BBC complaints process and has now been escalated to the BBC Trust in its role as BBC censor.
However a panel of the BBC Trusts' editorial standards committee, has ended the complaint process by denying an appeal to the BBC Trust, the ultimate step available. The panel repeated the stance that the complainant had been dealt with fairly and
appropriately and said:
The inclusion of this particular joke might well have caused offence to some but the introduction and the round itself, clearly set out its purpose to make a song 'a lot less appealing by the addition of a word. The humour of the round lay in the change
The current wording of the Digital Economy Bill punishes foreign adult websites who do not implement age verification by suffocating them from
payments and advertising. It does not at the moment facilitate such websites by being blocked by ISPs. Open Rights Group reports on a clamour by censorial MPs to table amendment to give powers to block non-complying websites. I suspect that in reality
the security services would not be very appreciative as maybe massive use of VPNs and the like would hinder surveillance of criminals and terrorists. The Open Rights Group reports:
Now we want censorship: porn controls in the Digital Economy Bill are running out of control
The government's proposal for age verification to access pornography is running out of control. MPs have worked out that attempts to verify adult's ages won't stop children from accessing other pornographic websites: so their proposed answer is to start
censoring these websites.
This only serves to illustrate the problems with the AV proposal. Age verification was always likely to be accompanied by calls to block "non-compliant" overseas websites, and also to be extended to more and more categories of
We have to draw a line. Child protection is very important, but let's try to place this policy in some context:
Take up of ISP filters is around 10-30% depending on ISP, so roughly in line with expectations and already restricting content in the majority of households with children (other measures may be restricting access in other cases).
Less that 3% of children
aged 9-12 are believed to have accessed inappropriate material
Pornography can and will be circulated by young people by email, portable media and private messaging systems
The most effective protective measures are likely to be to help young people understand and regulate their own behaviour through education, which the government refuses to make compulsory
MPs have to ask whether infringing on the right of the entire UK population to receive and impart legal material is a proportionate and effective response to the challenges they wish to address.
Censorship is an extreme response, that should be reserved for the very worst, most harmful kinds of unlawful material: it impacts not just the publisher, but the reader. Yet this is supposed to be a punishment targeted at the publishers, in order to
persuade the sites to "comply".
If website blocking was to be rolled out to enforce AV compliance, then the regulator would be forced to consider whether to block a handful of websites, and fail to "resolve" the accessibility of pornography, or else to try to censor thousands
of websites, with the attendant administrative burden and increasing likelihood of errors.
You may ask: how likely is this to become law? Right now, Labour seem to be considering this approach as quite reasonable. If Labour did support these motions in a vote, together with a number of Conservative rebels, this amendment could easily be added
to the Bill.
Another area where the Digital Economy Bill is running out of control is the measures to target services who "help" pornography publishers. The Bill tries to give duties to "ancillary services" such as card payment providers or
advertising networks, to stop the services from making money from UK customers. However, the term is vague. They are defined as someone who:
provide[s], in the course of a business, services which enable or facilitate the making available of pornographic material or prohibited material on the internet by the [publisher]
Ancillary services could include website hosts, search engines, DNS services, web designers, hosted script libraries, furniture suppliers ... this needs restriction just for the sake of some basic legal certainty.
Further problems are arising for services including Twitter, who operate on the assumption that adults can use them to circulate whatever they like, including pornography. It is unclear if or when they might be caught by the provisions. They are also
potentially "ancillary providers" who could be forced to stop "supplying" their service to pornographers to UK customers. They might therefore be forced to block adult content accounts to UK adults, with or without age verification.
The underlying problem starts with the strategy to control access to widely used and legal content through legislative measures. This is not a sane way to proceed. It has and will lead to further calls for control and censorship as the first steps fail.
More calls to "fix" the holes proceed, and the UK ends up on a ratchet of increasing control. Nothing quite works, so more fixes are needed. The measures get increasingly disproportionate.
Website blocking needs to be opposed, and kept out of the Bill.
Proposed amendments to the UK's Digital Economy Bill have revealed a desire by some MPs to force search engines to tackle piracy. A new clause
would require search engines to come to a voluntary arrangement with rightsholders, or face being forced into one by the government.
Content owners regularly accuse companies such as Google and Bing of including infringing content in their search results, often on the initial pages following a search where exposure to the public is greatest.
In addition to having these pirate results demoted or removed entirely, content providers believe that results featuring genuine content should receive priority, to ensure that the legitimate market thrives.
At least in part, Google has complied with industry requests. Sites which receive the most takedown notices are demoted in results, while some legitimate content has been appearing higher. But of course, entertainment industry companies want more -- and
they might just get it.
Currently under discussion in Parliament is the Digital Economy Bill. The Bill appears to be broadening in scope and the role of search engines is now on the agenda, something which the BPI hinted at last week in comments to TorrentFreak. A new clause
titled Power to provide for a code of practice related to copyright infringement envisions a situation whereby search engines come to a voluntary agreement with rightsholders on how best to tackle piracy, or have one forced upon them.
The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for a search engine to be required to adopt a code of practice concerning copyright infringement that complies with criteria specified in the regulations, the proposed clause reads.
The regulations may provide that if a search engine fails to adopt such a code of practice, any code of practice that is approved for the purposes of that search engine by the Secretary of State, or by a person designated by the Secretary of State, has
effect as a code of practice adopted by the search engine.
If the clause was adopted, the Secretary of State would also be granted powers to investigate disputes surrounding a search engine's compliance with any code, appoint a regulator, and/or impose financial penalties or other sanctions if companies
like Google fall short.
A libel claim brought against the BBC by Chief Imam, Shakeel Begg, has been dismissed today.
Begg, the Chief Imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre, sought damages against the BBC for libel in respect of a broadcast of Sunday Politics presented by Andrew Neil on BBC One, 3 November 2013. He denied being an extremist speaker who had recently
promoted and encouraged religious violence by telling Muslims that it would constitute a man's greatest deeds.
Today in a written judgment The Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave dismissed the claim stating that:
Shakeel Begg was something of a Jekyll and Hyde character whose speeches and postings, represent an overwhelming case of justification for the BBC, and that he clearly promotes and encourages violence in support of Islam and espouses a series of
extremist Islamic positions.
A BBC Spokesperson said:
We were right to stand by the journalism of Sunday Politics. The judge has concluded, based on the evidence, that Imam Begg has preached religious violence and an extremist worldview in his remarks.
The trial took place between 27 June and 1 July 2016. The BBC defended the case on the basis that the broadcast was substantially true relying upon evidence from six speeches given by Begg to a variety of Muslim audiences between 2006 and 2011.
The Register reports on the absence of security in specification proposals eg allowing a malicious hacker or neighbour to turn off your pacemaker or lock your sauna door and turn up the temperature to 200 degrees
New Zealand's Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court's decision to reverse the ban placed on Darren Watson's song, Planet Key , and its accompanying animated video by Jeremy Jones, which were released during New Zealand's 2014 general election
and seen as political advertising rather than a parody on Prime Minister John Key.
The artists are happy with the outcome, but also frustrated with the two-year fight, which included them being threatened with referral to the police. The two men said in a statement:
There is also a sense of frustration at this point, as while the judgment vindicates the men's actions in 2014, it cannot reverse the fact that the Commission's actions prevented their works from being broadcast at the time they were most relevant.
Ultimately though, they are hopeful that the decision might mean that other artists seeking to express their political views will receive more liberal treatment than they did, or even that the outcome might compel much-needed reform of the electoral law.
The Court of Appeal said the two men were simply expressing their own political views and not representing a political party.
The country's Electoral Commission told Watson in 2014 to stop selling or promoting the song as they viewed it as promotional political material. Watson took down the song and took the commission to court.
In April 2015 the High Court ruled against the commission's ban. Justice Denis Clifford said that such a ban would impose limits on the right of freedom of expression of the plaintiffs and New Zealand citizens more generally in a manner which, in my
view, cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society .
The commission appealed the decision but the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court's decision. The court told the commission it should be more rights-sensitive in its judgment and ordered it to pay Watson's costs.
The world's largest professional network LinkedIn could soon be blocked in Russia. The company has failed to comply with a snooping law
that obliges companies to keep data on Russian users in the country. A spokesman for the Russian internet censor, Roskomnadzor, said:
We are seeking a court order to block LinkedIn. We twice sent requests in the summer, but they did not provide answers to our questions,.
If the appellate court upholds the judgment, and it will no longer be appealed, the decision will enter into force within 30 days. We will include the appropriate IP address in the register of violators of the personal data rights, which means blocking.
This is the first company we are suing in court. In future we will use the same mechanism in relation to other companies.
AT&T developed a product for spying on all its customers and made millions selling it to warrantless cops
AT&T's secret Hemisphere product is a database of calls and call-records on all its customers, tracking their location, movements, and interactions -- this data was then sold in secret to American police forces for investigating crimes big and
small (even Medicare fraud), on the condition that they never reveal the program's existence.
The gag order that came with the data likely incentivized police officers to lie about their investigations at trial -- something we saw happen repeatedly in the case of Stingrays, whose use was also bound by secrecy demands from their manufacturers.
Because the data was sold by AT&T and not compelled by government, all of the Hemisphere surveillance was undertaken without a warrant or judicial review (indeed, it's likely judges were never told the true story of where the data being entered into
evidence by the police really came from -- again, something that routinely happened before the existence of Stingray surveillance was revealed).
The millions given to AT&T for its customers' data came from the federal government under the granting program that also allowed city and town police forces to buy military equipment for civilian policing needs. Cities paid up to a million dollars a
year for access to AT&T's customer records.
A statement of work from 2014 shows how hush-hush AT&T wants to keep Hemisphere:
The Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence.
But those charged with a crime are entitled to know the evidence against them come trial. Adam Schwartz, staff attorney for activist group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that means AT&T may leave investigators no choice but to construct a false
investigative narrative to hide how they use Hemisphere if they plan to prosecute anyone.
EFF is suing the US government to reveal DoJ records on the use of Hemisphere data.
How about a gender equality campaigner costume?
Perfectly gruesome for Halloween
This year, the biggest controversy so far has been the Kim Kardashian Parisian Heist Robbery
Victim costume from Costumeish. The get-up includes a white robe, large sunglasses, rope, a mouth gag that looks very BDSMy, and a fake $4 million dollar ring. A few miserable whinges got it pulled pulled from the site.
The sexy burka costume has been around for some time. It consists of an Arabic looking veil and a sexy little black dress.
Amazon decided to censor it after a few miserable gits claimed to have been 'outraged'.
One commenter asked: Is this some sort of mockery to the religion? Well, er, yes mate.
AVN were rather taken with a keep up the faith costume.
The full length black priest costume comes with dog collar, and a hand pump that helps you keep it up. Unfortunately the costume doesn't seem to have caught on with the easily offended and so is still available for sale.
And of curse one simply must not mention the WTF Granny Tranny costume. It has been recommended by Amazon, Target and
Walmart, all of which have banned it.
Tim & Donna Lucas, Publishers of Video Watchdog have announced the magazine's closure:
With regret, we must announce that -- after 27 wonderful years -- we are no longer able to publish new print editions of Video Watchdog.
Some of you have been with us since the early days of desktop publishing, when bookstores carried a wide variety of offbeat publications catering to all kinds of niche readerships. It was an exciting time, one in which Video Watchdog thrived. From
the time of our first pre-publication ads in 1989, The Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video has never stopped evolving -- growing from 60 to 64 to 80 pages in its black-and-white configuration, blossoming into full-color with issue 100, and
introducing interactive digital versions of each issue in 2013. We can confidently state that our most recent issues were among the best we ever published.
Over the last quarter century, we have always depended on newsstand sales, subscriptions, advertising, and-- because all of that was still not fully sustaining -- side projects in order to continue publishing. We were able to make ends meet so long as
all of these facets were working together but, in recent years, it has become a losing battle. There are many reasons for this: the diminishing number of retail outlets, the sad state of print distribution, the easy availability of free information and
critical writing via the Internet, and the now-widespread availability on Blu-ray and DVD of so many of the once-obscure titles Video Watchdog was among the first to tell you about. After trying many creative ways to generate sales to compensate for
newsstand losses and lack of advertising support, rising shipping and postage costs, and a depressed economy, it is simply no longer possible to keep Video Watchdog moving forward.
Looking back, we take great pride in the fact that, in our time, Video Watchdog was able to present the writing and original art of the genre's most talented writers, artists, and thinkers; that it attracted the attention and respect of so many of the
great contemporary masters of cinema (from Scorsese to Del Toro); and that its coverage inspired a number of people to enter the film and video businesses to promote film restoration and preservation from the inside. We are deeply grateful for the
contributors and audience that enabled us to sustain our publication for so long.
The coming months will be difficult as we try to figure out what's next for us, and what awaits Video Watchdog and its readership. Please bear with us during this uncertain time, and we will keep you informed of further developments as they become more
The UK's horse racing administrators are preparing to fight tooth and nail to stop any plan by the government to limit TV
gambling advertisements. The possibility of a pre-watershed ban on the adverts was floated in Friday's edition of The Times and, while the report was speculative and anonymously sourced, it was enough to send a shiver through senior figures, both on the
turf and beyond.
Among those feeling anxious were the executives who negotiated a £30m, four-year deal to televise racing on ITV from 2017. The value of racing's terrestrial rights depends almost entirely on the huge sums that bookmakers will pay to advertise in the
breaks. A ban on daytime advertising would blow a hole in ITV's business plan as wide as Newmarket Heath, and reduce the value of the rights in future deals almost to zero.
In fact the entire Channel 4/ITV racing programme itself could be considered as one long promotion for gambling.
The digital channel At The Races also depends heavily on bookmaker advertising. Other sports, football in particular, could also see a drop in the value of their TV rights, but only racing has a fundamental link to betting as a primary revenue
stream and a daytime ban would be catastrophic for the sport's finances.
According to Friday's report, possible changes to the rules on gambling adverts will be added to a review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the controversial gaming machines that have turned what were once betting shops into outlets for roulette
and other fixed-margin games which were once restricted to casinos.
Racing will also be concerned that any compromise proposal that imposed an early-evening cut-off point for gambling adverts would bar bookies from advertising during terrestrial racing coverage, but leave much of the televised Premier League and
Champions League football schedule on Sky Sports and BT Sport relatively unaffected.
Offsite Comment: Is banning gambling ads censorship? You bet
The Green party has complained to the press censor IPSO over the use of pictures of refugees by the Sun, Daily
Mail, Daily Star and Sunday Telegraph.
Although it was absolutely obvious that some of the 'children' were many years into adulthood, Jonathan Bartley, who co-heads the Green party, has asked the Independent Press Standards Organisation whether the titles were justified in printing images of
refugees in Calais whom were claiming to be under 18.
According to Ipso's code of practice pictures of children under the age of 16 should not be used unless adult consent has been given.
Bartley ludicrously argued that the coverage did not qualify as an exceptional public interest that would allow the newspapers to override the Ipso code.
In fact large proportions of the public were well interested in the fact that the authorities are so politically correct that they refuse to entertain reasonable doubt about the voracity of what desperate refugees tell them.
Bartley argued that publishing the pictures contributed to an atmosphere of prejudice against the refugees. A little bit bizarre considering the pictures demonstrated how far British officials are biased in favour of the refugees.
The Green party complaint cites editions of the Sun (18th and 19th October), the Daily Mail (18 October), the Daily Star (19 October) and the Sunday Telegraph (23 October).
A rape scene on Sunday night's episode of Poldark has attracted just 14 complaints, surely a disappointment to PC
A spokesman from TV censor Ofcom said the complaints would be assessed before deciding whether to investigate or not. Usually this means that the complaints are already heading towards the wastepaper bin.
In the episode, Ross Poldark, played by fan-favourite Aidan Turner, turns up unannounced at the house of his former fiancee Elizabeth. He kicks in the door and demands that she cancels her wedding to his enemy George Warleggan. She ignores what he says
and instead asks him to leave, prompting him to take her face in his hands and forcefully kiss her. The scene continues until Poldark pushes her on to the bed and she appears to finally give in to him.
Sarah Green, co-director of the campaign group End Violence Against Women, said:
It is definitely portrayed very much as a rape. The female character says "no" and there are also non-verbal signs. She is moving away from him and pulling away from him. There is lots of stuff that is ambiguous.
The directors have done something really ambiguous. It is a really appalling message, which is they have made the representation of non-consensual sex ambiguous by making her appear to change her mind.
Poldark is based on the novels of Winston Graham. Commenting on the controversial scene, the author's son Andrew said:
There is no "shock rape" storyline in the novels. To say so is to misconstrue my father's text. The BBC has cut nothing and (production company) Mammoth Screen's portrayal of these scenes is entirely true to my father's writing.
The only way to judge what my father intended is to read the novels as a whole. Doing so it becomes clear, from earlier scenes as well as from Elizabeth's immediate reactions and later mixed emotions, that what finally happened was consensual sex born of
long-term love and longing. It was, as Aidan Turner has put it, "unfinished business emotionally".
The Pirate Party in Iceland continues its shakeup of the local political arena. According to the latest polls the
party now has a serious shot at taking part in the next Government coalition, with roughly 20% of all votes one week before the parliamentary elections.
The Pirate Party was founded in 2006 by Rick Falkvinge, and has scored some significant victories over the years including a continuing presence in the European Parliament.
Iceland's Pirates have a great track record already, with three members in the national Parliament. However, more may join in the future as the party has added many new supporters in recent months. The Pirates have been
leading the polls
for most of the year
and are currently neck-and-neck with the Social Democratic Alliance to become the largest party in the country.
This brings the Pirates in an unusual position where they have to start thinking about possible partners to form a coalition Government, for the first time in history.
TorrentFreak spoke with Ásta Helgadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Icelandic Pirate Party, who says that the party is ready to bring the change many citizens are longing for. Despite the Pirate name, copyright issues are not central to their plans.
That said, they have spoken out against recent web-blocking efforts.
Iceland's ISPs have been ordered to block access
to 'infringing' sites such as The Pirate Bay, which the party sees as a step in the wrong direction. The party fears that these censorship efforts will lead to more stringent measures. Helgadóttir said:
These measures are not a solution and only exacerbate the problem. There needs to be a review of copyright law and how creators are compensated for their work.
In 2013 the Pirate Party came along. The freedom of information aspect attracted me--I'm very much against censorship.
One idea being mooted at the time was the blocking of porn sites in Iceland, which set alarm bells ringing for Ãsta. According to Icelandic law, pornography is illegal. It's a law from the 19th century, and it hasn't been enforced for fifteen years now.
Then the idea of building a pornography shield around Iceland came up. And I thought, No, you can't do that! It's censorship! And they were like, No, it's not censorship, we're thinking about the children!'"
The Pirate Party is trying to infiltrate the system and change these 'heritage laws, because when you read a law, you have to understand the root of that law--when was it written, what was the context, and the culture. And now we're in the 21st century,
with the internet, which changes everything.
The parliamentary elections will take place next week, October 29.
Canada seems to have become particularly noted for PC extremism. A local news site comments on Halloween celebration sin the country:
Geishas are out. Feathered headdresses are forbidden. And if you're planning to wear a Bill Cosby or Caitlyn Jenner costume, you may not be welcome at your Halloween party of choice.
A growing number of institutions are starting to take a more proactive approach to potentially offensive outfits by developing strategies and even explicit policies to prevent people from donning controversial getups.
Costumes depicting specific cultural traditions are the most common focus of such efforts, which are making themselves felt in schools and universities.
The student union at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., recently prepared a list of prohibited costumes for its annual Halloween bash. The list features any form of headdress, costumes that mock suicide or rape, those depicting transgender
activist Caitlyn Jenner, or outfits featuring a culture's traditional attire.
Offsite Comment: Halloween Is Not A Time For Good Taste, So Lets Stop Being Offended About Everything
These days, the anxious Christians and grumpy Little Englanders are no doubt still out there, but they have been mostly replaced in the public consciousness by an equally ridiculous, but unfortunately more pervasive group -- the professionally offended.
The current offence de jour is cultural appropriation , the most utterly ludicrous and dangerous idea to emerge in quite some time. It's an idea that is currently very popular with academics, and so is becoming the norm amongst the sort of people
who fret about safe spaces, no-platforming and other campus ideas.
And it's increasingly seeping into the real world, with the hideous collision of people who desperately want to find offence everywhere and companies and individuals who are terrified of offending anyone -- understandably, given the ferocity and venom of
Twitch hunts -- creating a perfect storm. The Outraged know that no matter how ludicrous their complaint, the targets will jump through hoops to apologise.
The UK government has introduced an amendment to the Investigatory Powers Bill currently going through Parliament, to make ensure that data
retention orders cannot require ISPs to collect and retain third party data. The Home Office had previously said that they didn't need powers to force ISPs to collect third party data, but until now refused to provide guarantees in law.
Third party data is defined as communications data (sender, receiver, date, time etc) for messages sent within a website as opposed to messages sent by more direct methods such as email. It is obviously a bit tricky for ISPs to try and decode what is
going on within websites as messaging data formats are generally proprietary, and in the general case, simply not de-cypherable by ISPs.
The Government will therefore snoop on messages sent, for example via Facebook, by demanding the communication details from Facebook themselves.
The German Parliament has passed a bill granting country's intelligence agencies wider powers.
The bill, aimed at reforming Germany's spy agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), was adopted by legislators on Friday. MPs from the ruling Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) voted
in favor, while the majority of opposition lawmakers voted against it.
The latest bill comes in the wake of 2013 revelations by a former employee of the US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden. The leaked documentsrevealed that the BND acted on behalf of the NSA while spying at home and abroad, spurring outrage
among the German public and many local officials.
The bill grants the BND the right to monitor all the network data of all German telecommunication companies in the country. Prior to the new ruling, the spy agency was allowed to proceed with the notion only in 20 percent of the cases. Under the ruling,
the collected data will be stored for six months and can be shared with the foreign intelligence institutions.
The bill allows sharing information for anti-terrorist purposes and aiding the foreign missions of the German Army (Bundeswehr). Data regarding the security situation for German citizens abroad can be also shared with international spy agencies.
The bill also creates a few fine sounding oversight mechanisms but as no such watchdog has ever revealed anything about a mass snooping capability that has been in place for same time, then such commissioners or watchdogs, or whatever, can be safely
considered a waste of space.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) marked its 20th Anniversary on
21st October 2016.
At 11.21am on 21 October, 1996 the very first report was made to the newly-formed IWF. It came in by telephone, to a small room in a Victorian town house in Oakington, a village just outside Cambridge.
20 years later:
699,403 reports have been assessed by the IWF's analysts, with,
281,781* of those showing the sexual abuse of children. One report might show one, or thousands of images or videos of sexual abuse
Commendably the IWF has kept its child porn remit and generally steered clear from the censorship of adult porn.
Facebook's VPs Joel Kaplan and Justin Osofsky wrote in a blog:
In recent weeks, we have gotten continued feedback from our community and partners about our Community Standards and the kinds of images and stories permitted on Facebook. We are grateful for the input, and want to share an update on our approach.
Observing global standards for our community is complex. Whether an image is newsworthy or historically significant is highly subjective. Images of nudity or violence that are acceptable in one part of the world may be offensive -- or even illegal -- in
another. Respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict. And people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression.
In the weeks ahead, we're going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest -- even if they might otherwise violate our standards. We will work with our community and partners to explore
exactly how to do this, both through new tools and approaches to enforcement. Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them.
As always, our goal is to channel our community's values, and to make sure our policies reflect our community's interests. We're looking forward to working closely with experts, publishers, journalists, photographers, law enforcement officials and safety
advocates about how to do better when it comes to the kinds of items we allow. And we're grateful for the counsel of so many people who are helping us try to get this right.
Facebook is notoriously terrible when it comes to censorship of the naked human body, especially when
it comes to pieces of the female anatomy. So it's not surprising that a non-profit's breast cancer awareness video was taken down because it featured stylised female nipples.
So the Swedish Cancer Society countered with a replacement ad, which featured square breasts instead of round ones. The organization posted the video earlier this week, but it was removed because, as Facebook said the:
Ad can not market sex products or services nor adults products or services.
The organization wrote up an open letter to Facebook, in which it introduced the shape-based compromise:
We understand that you have to have rules about the content published on your platform. But you must also understand that one of our main tasks is to disseminate important information about cancer -- in this case breast cancer.
After trying to meet your control for several days without success, we have now come up with a solution that will hopefully make you happy: Two pink squares! This can not possibly offend you, or anyone. Now we can continue to spread our important breast
school without upsetting you.
Facebook later apologized for its crap censorship rules being found out:
We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ads.
There is no question that governments worldwide are wielding the tools of censorship, warns the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, in a report on the widespread global assault on the freedom of expression to be presented to the UN General Assembly. Kaye said:
Governments are treating words as weapons, adopting vague laws that give officials massive discretion to undermine speech and opinion. They are punishing journalists for their reporting, silencing individuals for posting opinions on social media,
shutting down debate and the flow of information on grounds of counter-terrorism, protecting public order, sheltering people from offense.
Censorship in all its forms reflects official fear of ideas and information, the expert noted. And it not only harms the speaker or reporter or broadcaster, it undermines everyone's right to information, to public participation, to open and democratic
The report involved a survey of hundreds of official communications the rapporteur has issued to governments, which resulted from allegations of violations of well-established international human rights law received from individuals and non-governmental
organizations worldwide. The trend lines are stark, Kaye said:
I am especially concerned that many governments assert legitimate grounds for restriction, such as protection of national security or public order or the rights of others, as fig leaves to attack unpopular opinion or criticism of government and
government officials, he stated. Many times governments provide not even the barest demonstration that such restrictions meet the legal tests of necessity and proportionality.
The Special Rapporteur drew attention to increasing instances where governments assert rationales having no basis in human rights law. He said:
For example, it has become routine for governments to explicitly target political criticism, journalism, and the expression of singled-out groups such as LGBTI communities and artists.
Those who carry out physical threats, particularly to journalists and writers and bloggers, are rarely held accountable, Mr. Kaye added. Online, threats to expression are getting worse. Advances in technology have triggered new forms of repression and
censorship that undermine everyone's ability to hold opinions or seek, receive and impart information and ideas.
One of the biggest threats to online expression is the use of Internet kill switches. More than a dozen network shutdowns have been recorded in the last year. Internet shutdowns are just one form of digital censorship among many adopted by
The report notes areas of positive developments as well. The Special Rapporteur welcomes, for instance, examples where governments, legislatures, and domestic and international courts have taken strong steps to promote freedom of expression or carefully
In his study, the human rights expert urges all governments to review their national laws to ensure strong protection and promotion of the freedom of expression, in particular to limit the discretion officials may enjoy to restrict the flow of
information. He stressed:
The approach that many governments adopt towards freedom of expression today is abusive and unsustainable. Governments must not only reverse course, but also take the lead in ensuring its protection.
Australian cartoonist Bill Leak drew an Aboriginal drunk who did not remember his son's name. Inevitably PC censors were 'outraged'.
wrote that The attacks were astonishing. Even the Turnbull Government's Indigenous Affairs Minister called the racist and tasteless . The Race Discrimination Commission branded him a racist.
But as with all good humour the cartoon played on an element of truth. No doubt the PC mob will be even more 'outraged' that Western Australia's top cop has commented that the cartoon is an accurate reflection of what police see in the field
Commissioner O'Callaghan spoke of an example this last weekend. Four boys were charged with trashing a high school after which the police revealed one of the children accused of causing the damage, a 10-year-old boy, was taken home where his father
refused to take responsibility for him. O'Callaghan said:
So we ended up, for many hours, looking after that child, trying to find a responsible adult. I will say though, as bad as it sounds, it's not an unusual thing for police to have trouble finding responsible adults for children that we find in trouble or
on the streets late at night.
From my perspective, Bill Leak's cartoon is actually an accurate reflection of what our officers see on a day-to-day basis, when they're dealing particularly with kids from Aboriginal communities or Aboriginal families who are in trouble.
It happens repeatedly, and I think what Bill Leak was doing was trying to indicate a broader problem for the community to sort out.
Leak's cartoons are not for the faint-hearted. I often find them disagreeable. But that's no reason to put Leak before a government
tribunal. Even if the case is eventually dismissed -- by the commission itself, or later in court -- it is still damaging to have gone through the process. It is costly, and hurtful to the reputations of all involved. The case also encourages people to
stop talking about controversial issues, stifling freedom of expression. The use of the law against someone you disagree with is always an authoritarian response.
Cisco says it has developed a system to disable live pirate streams. The network equipment company says its Streaming Piracy Prevention platform utilizes third-party forensic watermarking to shut down pirate streams in real-time
A few people have whinged to TV censor Ofcom about an Emmerdale story line based on the film Misery starring James Caan and Cathy Bates.
The episode saw Emma Barton drug her husband James, before killing a chicken, cooking it, and feeding it to her husband, who was tied to a chair. When James did finally break free, he whacked her over the head with a wine bottle.
Seven viewers didn't enjoy the scene and whinged to Ofcom, claiming it was unsuitable for showing at 7pm.
An Ofcom spokesman said: We will assess these complaints, before deciding whether to investigate or not, which seems to be Ofcom speak for the complaints being consigned to their rightful place in the wastepaper bin.
Meanwhile a few more people have been wound up by the soaps, this time, Coronation Street . The character David Platt screamed the word bastard in a pre-watershed episode this week.
The Sun reported that 20 people whinged to Ofcom who again commented: We will assess these complaints, before deciding whether to investigate or not.
The Mirror dragged up a few trivial tweets from angry viewers. eg:
Didn't realise coronation street was an over 18 programme swearing before 8 tut tut @ITV
I've just heard the word 'bastard' on Coronation Street and I'm honestly shocked!
The Digital Economy Bill mandates that pornographic websites must verify the age of their customers. Are there any powers to protect user privacy?
Yesterday we published a blog detailing the lack of privacy safeguards
for Age Verification systems mandated in the Digital Economy Bill. Since then, we have been offered two explanations as to why the regulator designate , the BBFC, may think that privacy can be regulated.
The first and most important claim is that Clause 15 may allow the regulation of AV services, in an open-ended and non-specific way:
15 Internet pornography: requirement to prevent access by persons under the age of 18
A person must not make pornographic material available on the internet on a commercial basis to persons in the United Kingdom except in a way that secures that, at any given time, the material is not normally accessible by persons under the age of 18
The age-verification regulator (see section 17) must publish guidance about--
(a) types of arrangements for making pornographic material available that the regulator will treat as complying with subsection (1);
However, this clause seems to regulate publishers who "make pornography material available on the internet" and what is regulated in 15 (3) (a) is the "arrangements for making pornography available". They do not mention age
verification systems, which is not really an "arrangement for making pornography available" except inasmuch as it is used by the publisher to verify age correctly.
AV systems are not "making pornography available".
The argument however runs that the BBFC could under 15 (3) (a) tell websites what kind of AV systems with which privacy standards they can use.
If the BBFC sought to regulate providers of age verification systems via this means, we could expect them to be subject to legal challenge for exceeding their powers. It may seem unfair to a court for the BBFC to start imposing new privacy and security
requirements on AV providers or website publishers that are not spelled out and when they are subject to separate legal regimes such as data protection and e-privacy.
This clause does not provide the BBFC with enough power to guarantee a high standard of privacy for end users, as any potential requirements are undefined. The bill should spell out what the standards are, in order to meet an 'accordance with the law'
test for intrusions on the fundamental right to privacy.
The second fig leaf towards privacy is the draft standard for age verification technologies drafted
by the Digital Policy Alliance. This is being edited by the British Standards Institution, as PAS 1296
. It has been touted as the means by which commercial outlets will produce a workable system.
The government may believe that PAS 1296 could, via Clause 15 (3) (a), be stipulated as a standard that Age Verifcation providers abide by in order to supply publishers, thereby giving a higher standard of protection than data protection law alone.
PAS 1296 provides general guidance and has no means of strong enforcement towards companies that adopt it. It is a soft design guide that provides broad principles to adopt when producing these systems.
Contrast this, for instance, with the hard and fast contractual arrangements the government's Verify system has in place with its providers, alongside firmly specified protocols. Or card payment processors, who must abide by strict terms and conditions
set by the card companies, where bad actors rapidly get switched off.
The result is that PAS 1296 says little about security requirements
, data protection standards, or anything else we are concerned about. It stipulates that the age verification systems cannot be sued for losing your data. Rather, you must sue the website owner, i.e. the porn site which contracted with the age verifier.
There are also several terminological gaffes such as referring to PII (personally identifying information) which is a US legal concept, rather than EU and UK's 'personal data'; this suggests that PAS 1296 is very much a draft, in fact appears to have
been hastily cobbled-together
However you look at it, the proposed PAS 1296 standard is very generic, lacks meaningful enforcement and is designed to tackle situations where the user has some control and choice, and can provide meaningful consent. This is not the case with this duty
for pornographic publishers. Users have no choice but to use age verification to access the content, and the publishers are forced to provide such tools.
Pornography companies meanwhile have every reason to do age verification as cheaply as possible, and possibly to harvest as much user data as they can, to track and profile users, especially where that data may in future, at the slip of a switch, be used
for other purposes such as advertising-tracking. This combination of poor incentives has plenty of potential for disastrous consequences.
The Government wants people who view pornography to show that they are over 18, via Age Verification systems. This is aimed at reducing the likelihood of children accessing inappropriate content.
To this end the Digital Economy Bill creates a regulator that will seek to ensure that adult content websites will verify the age of users, or face monetary penalties, or in the case of overseas sites, ask payment providers such as VISA to refuse to
process UK payments for non-compliant providers.
There are obvious problems with this, which we detail elsewhere
However, the worst risks are worth going into in some detail, not least from the perspective of the Bill Committee who want the Age Verification system to succeed.
As David Austen, from the BBFC, who will likely become the Age Verification Regulator
Privacy is one of the most important things to get right in relation to this regime. As a regulator, we are not interested in identity at all. The only thing that we are interested in is age, and the only thing that a porn website should be interested in
is age. The simple question that should be returned to the pornographic website or app is, "Is this person 18 or over?" The answer should be either yes or no. No other personal details are necessary.
However, the Age Verification Regulator has no duties in relation to the Age Verification systems. They will make sites verify age, or issue penalties, but they are given no duty to protect people's privacy, security or defend against cyber security
risks that may emerge from the Age Verification systems themselves.
David Austen's expectations are unfortunately entirely out of his hands.
Instead, the government appears to assume that Data Protection law will be adequate to deal with the privacy and security risks. Meanwhile, the market will provide the tools.
The market has a plethora of possible means
to solve this problem. Some involve vast data trawls through Facebook and social media. Others plan to link people's identity across web services and will provide way to profile people's porn viewing habits. Still others attempt to piggyback upon payment
providers and risk confusing their defences against fraud. Many appear to encourage people to submit sensitive information to services that the users, and the regulator, will have little or no understanding of.
And yet with all the risks that these solutions pose, all of these solutions may be entirely data protection compliant. This is because data protection allows people to share pretty much whatever they agree to share, on the basis that they are free to
make agreements with whoever they wish, by providing 'consent'.
In other words: Data protection law is simply not designed to govern situations where the user is forced to agree to the use of highly intrusive tools against themselves.
What makes this proposal more dangerous is that the incentives for the industry are poor and lead in the wrong direction. They have no desire for large costs, but would benefit vastly from acquiring user data.
If the government wants to have Age Verification in place, it must mandate a system that increases the privacy and safety of end users, since the users will be compelled to use Age Verification tools. Also, any and all Age Verification solutions must not
make Britain's cybersecurity worse overall, e.g. by building databases of the nation's porn-surfing habits which might later appear on Wikileaks.
The Digital Economy Bill's impact on privacy of users should, in human rights law, be properly spelled out (" in accordance
with the law
") and be designed to minimise the impacts on people (necessary and proportionate). Thus failure to provide protections places the entire system under threat of potential legal challenges.
User data in these systems will be especially sensitive, being linked to private sexual preferences and potentially impacting particularly badly on sexual minorities if it goes wrong, through data breaches or simple chilling effects. This data is
regarded as particularly sensitive in law.
Government, in fact has at its hands a system called Verify which could provide age-verification in a privacy friendly manner. The Government ought to be explaining why the high standards of its own Verify system are not being applied to Age
Verification, or indeed, why the government is not prepared to use its own systems to minimise the impacts.
As with web filtering, there is no evidence that Age Verification will prevent an even slightly determined teenager from accessing pornography, nor reduce demand for it among young people. The Government appears to be looking for an easy fix to a complex
social problem. The Internet has given young people unprecedented access to adult content but it's education rather than tech solutions that are most likely to address problems arising from this. Serious questions about the efficacy and therefore
proportionality of this measure remain.
However, legislating for the Age Verification problem to be "solved" without any specific regulation for any private sector operator who wants to "help" is simply to throw the privacy of the UK's adult population to the mercy of the
porn industry. With this mind, we have drafted an amendment
to introduce the duties necessary to minimise the privacy impacts which could also reduce if not remove the free expression harms to adults.
China has proposed new restrictions for online gaming companies to implement. Major tech companies with significant presence in the region could
have to undergo substantial operational changes, reports Dow Jones Business News.
The draft rules posted online by the Chinese government on Sept. 30, would require online-game operators to lock out users under the age of 18 between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. The rules will apply to all smart devices.
The regulation is vague as to whether companies would have to use Beijing-approved software. The country says it will support the development of web-filtering software to keep children safe online and will determine whether preexisting products comply
with the new requirements.
Along with the internet curfew would be a requirement for a number of websites to post warnings for content unsuitable for minors.
Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement deploring foreign media who allegedly misreported the number of Thais gathered to mourn the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The statement, which did not identify any media outlet specifically, deplored some big foreign media for reporting that thousands of Thais had gathered to mourn the loss of the King at the Grand Palace. The statement said the actual
number was much higher noting that hundreds of thousands lined the route from Siriraj Hospital to the Grand Palace. It described the alleged discrepancy between thousands at the palace and hundreds of thousands along the route as manipulative
After the announcement of the King's death Thursday evening, all television channels, cable channels and satellite channels under Thai control were replaced by a single government broadcast. The channels resumed at midnight on Friday night, but were told
not to broadcast entertainment programmes for a month. However the BBFC and Al Jazeera news channels were subjected to additional censorship in that any news items reporting on Thailand were blacked out with a card announcing that Programming will
BBC correspondent Jonathan Head confirmed their coverage about Thailand had been blocked in the country several times ever since. Head told news company Khaosod:
Whenever reporting on Thailand comes up our transmissions are blocked. Just now when I was reporting live.
We have received no official complaints, and the MFA has not mentioned any problems with the BBC's reporting. So we do not know why we are being blocked.
Presumably the reason for the blocking is more about discussions of the succession, rather than numbers attending funeral events. It is a very sensitive issue in Thailand.
Khaosod also reported that cable and satellite company, TrueVisions was looking for freelancers to monitor BBC and Al Jazeera news, and to switch out news reports from Thailand.
Censorship on the internet is rampant with 60+ countries engaging in state censorship. A Cambridge University research project is aiming to uncover the scale of this censorship, and how it affects users and publishers of information
Germanpulse has published an interesting piece about German politicians expecting social media websites to pre-censors posts that the government doesn't
We have reported on the German government's war against social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google many times over the last year as the country tries to rid the popular sites of any signs of hate speech. While the companies have made attempts to
appease government officials with stricter enforcement, each move is said to still not be enough. The question is: is Germany taking the fight too far?
Volker Kauder, a member of the CDU, spoke with Der Spiegel this week to say the time for roundtables is over. I've run out of patience, and argues that Facebook, Twitter and Google have failed and should pay 50,000 euro ($54,865) fines for not
providing a strict level of censorship.
All major social media sites do provide tools to report hate speech offenders, but Kauder isn't the only one to argue that the tool is ineffective.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas made a statement that only 46 percent of the comments were erased by Facebook, while a mere one percent were taken care of by Twitter.
Maas' solution is not much different from Kauder's, as he told Handelsblatt that the companies should face legal consequences.
Der Spiegel has also published an opinion piece showing a little exasperation with trying to get comments censored by Facebook.
In June, the national body made up of justice ministers from the 16 federal states in Germany launched a legislative initiative to introduce a law which, if passed, would require operators of Internet platforms to immediately disclose the identity of
users whose online actions are the subject of criminal proceedings. The law explicitly covers companies that are not based in Germany, but in fact do business here.
Justice Minister Maas must now introduce the draft law to Chancellor Merkel's cabinet, but he's hesitant out of fear of a backlash among a net community that still views Facebook as a symbol of Internet freedom. So far, he has done little that goes
beyond appeals. If he wanted too, however, Maas could push for a further tightening of the country's telecommunications law. All that would be needed is a clause stipulating that every Internet company that does business in Germany would be required to
name one person within the firm who is a resident in the country who could be held liable under German law.
The opening of Estonia's new National Museum has been overshadowed by protests from Church leaders and politicians over an
exhibit they say mocks religion.
The exhibit is a virtual image of the Virgin Mary in a glass box. Visitors are invited to kick a spot on the plinth of the display, whereupon the image appears to fly into pieces and the word Reformation appears.
The Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Urmas Viilma, said the image offends the feelings of believers. He wrote on Facebook:
I very seriously doubt that this exhibit is suitable for the permanent collection of the National Museum of Estonia, even if it is interesting from a technical point of view or from the perspective of modern approach to the depiction of historical
The virgin Mary for a huge number of believers is not some historical figure or event, gone into oblivion, but a reality today. The ridicule was an insult to the feelings of believers.
The chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party, Mart Helme added:
The image should be removed as soon as possible because the virtual destruction the authors offer insults the feelings of religious Russian-speaking residents and hinders their integration.
The new National Museum in Estonia has backed down over a controversial display that allowed visitors to kick an exhibit which then showed an image of the Virgin Mary shattering, with the word Reformation appearing.
The holographic exhibit, which was criticised by church figures and politicians when it was unveiled earlier this month, will still appear to shatter at scheduled intervals but visitors will no longer be able to kick a spot on it.
Sex crime in Northern Ireland has risen by about 60% in the last six years. The number of reported rapes has reached an
all-time high, including cases of stranger rapes which have doubled in the last 12 months.
Chief Constable George Hamilton noted that the number of offences investigated by the Rape Crime Unit topped 600 in 2014/15 - up 24% on the previous year; More than 4,700 child abuse referrals were up 23%; And child sex crime, including peer-on-peer
offending, is also on the rise.
Hamilton revealed the figures in a written question from the Policing Board. Hamilton goes on to explore some of the reasons for the increase and commented:
Advances in global technology mean that the use and popularity of social media and internet sites has risen at an unprecedented rate over the last 10 years, he adds.
It is difficult to determine what causes sexual violence. A number of recent studies are looking at the possibility of whether interest in extreme pornography might be a factor.
As an illustration, the PSNI have recently dealt with a case where a 16-year-old male claimed to have watched extreme pornography online and believed this to be normal and acceptable behaviour and went on to offend against his partner.
However a Belfast academic has said there is no evidence to link the viewing of pornography, violent or otherwise, with Northern Ireland's soaring level of sex crime. Dr Graham Ellison of Queen's University's School of Law claimed that some academic
studies actually suggest that exposure to pornography can even lead to a decrease in sexual offending.
Dr Ellison was reacting to coverage in the Belfast Telegraph after Chief Constable George Hamilton referred to research into whether extreme pornography was linked to sexual violence. In a letter published in the Belfast Telegraph, the criminologist
The assertion that watching pornography (whether violent or not) is responsible for a quantitative increase in sexual offences is rather spurious, particularly since no sources were cited to substantiate the remark.
However, there is now a huge volume of data from a range of clinical and social scientific studies to suggest that pornography has either no effect on a person's behaviour, or that its effects are inconclusive.
Some studies actually suggest that exposure to pornography can even lead to a decrease in sexual offending. Just because 'common sense' tells us that something might be true does not actually mean that it is true.
Pakistan has banned 11 Christian television channels, after the country's TV censors declared them illegal in September presumably for religious
The move has left the country's 2.8 million christian residents with no public media presence, have called the move a blow to religious freedom. Local priests and various members of the local Christian community are calling the move an act of
intimidation and an attack to religious freedom . They have appealed to the government to revoke the measure. Father Morris Jalal, founder of Catholic TV said:
As citizens, Christians have the right to practice their religion, but if they block you, it means not all citizens are equal. When someone bans the expression of faith, which is a fundamental right, there is persecution.
Saleem Iqbal, director of Isaac TV said:
We can only ask people to continue to watch us online. Many people are passionate about our channel, which is broadcast from Hong Kong. A ban on cable transmission will not stop us.
The bill talks of 'disclosing' personal data to gas and electricity companies, yet there are no details about access limitations, data security, ethical use of data, nor of a trust framework to protect the privacy and security of citizens
Wirral Council is expected to back a campaign encouraging retailers across the borough to stop selling The Sun
At a meeting of the full council next Monday a notice of motion is scheduled to be debated which points out the tabloid published blatant lies about the Hillsborough disaster. The call from Labour councillor Ron Abbey adds:
For this reason we ask all retailers and vendors of newspapers to stop selling the Sun. We applaud the group called 'The Total Eclipse of the S*n' for their endeavours to rid our city region of this newspaper.
Liverpool councillors unanimously backed a similar motion to stop selling The Sun in September. Derry and Strabane District Council also recently agreed a motion also asking local newsagents to stop selling the title.
In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas in struck down laws prohibiting anal and oral sex. However this has not
prevented the state of Mississippi from disgracefully continuing to persecute those who partake in anal and oral sex.
Although anal and oral sex is no longer illegal, Mississippi still has laws on its books requiring transgressors to register as sex offenders. And f you think that this is just some weird anachronism, that couldn't possibly still be enforced, then think
again. Five victims of this law have filed a class action against Mississippi.
They are suing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and others in the state's administration and investigatory agencies for:
Continu[ing] to enforce its criminal statute prohibiting sodomy, titled Unnatural Intercourse, Miss. Code Ann. Â§97-29-59, by requiring people convicted of Unnatural Intercourse to register as sex offenders and follow myriad, onerous prescriptions on
their everyday life pursuant to Mississippi's sex offender registry law, Miss. Code Ann. Â§45-33-21 et seq ... Mississippi also requires individuals convicted of violating sodomy prohibitions in other jurisdictions (whether or not those prohibitions are
registerable offenses in the original jurisdiction) to comply with Mississippi's registration law.
The suit goes on to detail the indignities those branded as sodomites must go through to comply with Mississippi's criminal code, including having their photos and personal information displayed on publicly accessible sex offender websites, file
changes of address with the state, being forced to disclose all online user names and identities not only to the state but to potential employers, as well as the names and addresses of employers and schools attended--and being barred from certain areas
such as campgrounds and beaches where young children may be present.
The reason the five plaintiffs have filed their suit as a class action is, according to the Complaint, that:
The putative class is so numerous as to render joinder impractical. There are dozens of individuals statewise who must register as sex offenders solely or in part because of a conviction for Unnatural Intercourse or a conviction considered to be an
The BBFC has signed an agreement with the U.K. government to act as the country's new internet porn censor.
BBFC Director David Austin explained the censor's new role regulating online adult entertainment to a committee in Parliament weighing the 2016 Digital Economy Bill. Austin discussed how the BBFC will approach those sites that are found to be in
contravention to U.K. law in regards to verifying that adult content can't be accessed by under 18s.
Austin said that the 2016 Digital Economy Bill now being weighed will achieve a great deal for the BBFC's new role as the age-verification enforcer. The piece of legislation, if given the OK, could impose financial penalties of up to $250,000 for
noncomplying adult entertainment sites.
Austin said that the BBFC will methodically start focusing on the largest offending websites, including foreign ones, and notifying them for breaches in the U.K.'s mandatory age-verification laws. Austin said that offending sites will face a notification
process that may include the filing of sanctions against sites' business partners, such as payment providers and others that supply ancillary services. Austin also mentioned that sanctioned sites could find web properties blocked by IP address and
de-indexed from search engines.
David Austin : My name is David Austin. I am the chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification.
Alan Wardle: I am Alan Wardle, head of policy and public affairs at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab)
Q David, am I right in interpreting the amendments that the Government tabled last night as meaning that you are intended to be the age verification regulator?
David Austin: That is correct. We reached heads of agreement with the Government last week to take on stages 1 to 3 of the regulation.
Louise Haigh Q Are you sufficiently resourced to take on that role?
David Austin: We will be, yes. We have plenty of time to gear up, and we will have sufficient resource.
Louise Haigh Q Will it involve a levy on the porn industry?
David Austin: It will involve the Government paying us the money to do the job on our usual not-for-profit basis.
Louise Haigh Q What risks do you envisage in people handing over their personal data to the pornographic industry?
David Austin: Privacy is one of the most important things to get right in relation to this regime. As a regulator, we are not interested in identity at all. The only thing that we are interested in is age, and the only thing that a porn
website should be interested in is age. The simple question that should be returned to the pornographic website or app is, "Is this person 18 or over?" The answer should be either yes or no. No other personal details are necessary.
We should bear in mind that this is not a new system. Age verification already exists, and we have experience of it in our work with the mobile network operators, where it works quite effectively--you can age verify your mobile phone, for example. It is
also worth bearing in mind that an entire industry is developing around improving age verification. Research conducted by a UK adult company in relation to age verification on their online content shows that the public is becoming much more accepting of
Back in July 2015, for example, this company found that more than 50% of users were deterred when they were asked to age verify. As of September, so just a few weeks ago, that figure had gone down to 2.3%. It is established technology, it is getting
better and people are getting used to it, but you are absolutely right that privacy is paramount.
Louise Haigh Q Are you suggesting that it will literally just be a question--"Is the user aged 18?"--and their ticking a box to say yes or no? How else could you disaggregate identity from age verification?
David Austin: There are a number of third-party organisations. I have experience with mobile phones. When you take out a mobile phone contract, the adult filters are automatically turned on and the BBFC's role is to regulate what content
goes in front of or behind the adult filters. If you want to access adult content--and it is not just pornography; it could be depictions of self-harm or the promotion of other things that are inappropriate for children--you can go to your operator, such
as EE, O2 or Vodafone, with proof that you are 18 or over. It is then on the record that that phone is age verified. That phone can then be used in other contexts to access content.
Louise Haigh Q But how can that be disaggregated from identity? That person's personal data is associated with that phone and is still going to be part of the contract.
David Austin: It is known by the mobile network operator, but beyond that it does not need to be known at all.
Louise Haigh Q And is that the only form of age verification that you have so far looked into?
David Austin: The only form of age verification that we, as the BBFC, have experience of is age verification on mobile phones, but there are other methods and there are new methods coming on line. The Digital Policy Alliance, which I
believe had a meeting here yesterday to demonstrate new types of age verification, is working on a number of initiatives.
Claire Perry (Devizes) (Con) Q May I say what great comfort it is to know that the BBFC will be involved in the regulatory role? It suggests that this will move in the right direction. We all feel very strongly that the Bill is a
brilliant step in the right direction: things that were considered inconceivable four or five years ago can now be debated and legislated for.
The fundamental question for me comes down to enforcement. We know that it is difficult to enforce anything against offshore content providers; that is why in the original campaign we went for internet service providers that were British companies, for
whom enforcement could work. What reassurance can you give us that enforcement, if you have the role of enforcement, could be carried out against foreign entities? Would it not be more appropriate to have a mandatory take-down regime if we found that a
company was breaking British law by not asking for age verification, as defined in the Bill?
David Austin: The BBFC heads of agreement with the Government does not cover enforcement. We made clear that we would not be prepared to enforce the legislation in clauses 20 and 21 as they currently stand. Our role is focused much more on
notification; we think we can use the notification process and get some quite significant results.
We would notify any commercially-operated pornographic website or app if we found them acting in contravention of the law and ask them to comply. We believe that some will and some, probably, will not, so as a second backstop we would then be able to
contact and notify payment providers and ancillary service providers and request that they withdraw services from those pornographic websites. So it is a two-tier process.
We have indications from some major players in the adult industry that they want to comply--PornHub, for instance, is on record on the BBC News as having said that it is prepared to comply. But you are quite right that there will still be gaps in the
regime, I imagine, after we have been through the notification process, no matter how much we can achieve that way, so the power to fine is essentially the only real power the regulator will have, whoever the regulator is for stage 4.
For UK-based websites and apps, that is fine, but it would be extremely challenging for any UK regulator to pursue foreign-based websites or apps through a foreign jurisdiction to uphold a UK law. So we suggested, in our submission of evidence to the
consultation back in the spring, that ISP blocking ought to be part of the regulator's arsenal. We think that that would be effective.
Claire Perry Q Am I right in thinking that, for sites that are providing illegally copyrighted material, there is currently a take-down and blocking regime that does operate in the UK, regardless of their jurisdiction?
David Austin: Yes; ISPs do block website content that is pirated. There was research published earlier this year in the US that found that it drove traffic to pirated @ websites down by about 90%. Another tool that has been used in relation
to IP protection is de-indexing, whereby a search engine removes the infringing website from any search results. We also see that as a potential way forward.
Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab) Q First, can I verify that you both support adding in the power to require ISPs to block non-compliant sites?
David Austin: Yes.
Alan Wardle: Yes, we support that.
Thangam Debbonaire Q Good. That was quick. I just wanted to make sure that was there. What are your comments on widening the scope, so that age verification could be enforced for matters other than pornography, such as violent films
or other content that we would not allow in the offline world? I am talking about things such as pro-anorexia websites. We know that this is possible to do in certain formats, because it is done for other things, such as copyright infringement. What are
your views on widening the scope and the sanctions applying to that?
Alan Wardle: We would support that. We think the Bill is a really great step forward, although some things, such as enforcement, need to be strengthened. We think this is an opportunity to see how you can give children parity of protection
in the online and the offline worlds.
It is very good, from our perspective, that the BBFC is doing this, because they have got that expertise. Pornography is not the only form of harm that children see online. We know from our research at the NSPCC that there are things like graphic
violence. You mentioned some of the pro-anorexia and pro-suicide sites, and they are the kind of things that ought to be dealt with. We are supporting developing a code of practice with industry to work out what those harms are--and that is very much a
We take it for granted that when, for instance, a child goes to a youth group or something like that, we make sure there are protections there, and that the staff are CRB checked. Somehow it seems that for children going on to the internet it is a bit
like the wild west. There are very few protections. Some of the content really is upsetting and distressing to children. This is not about adults being blocked from seeing adult content. That is absolutely fine; we have no problem with that at all. But
it is about protecting children from seeing content that is inappropriate for them. We would certainly support that widening, but obviously doing it in a staged way so that the regulator does not take on too much at once. We would certainly support that.
David Austin: I would echo what Alan says. We see this Bill as a significant step forward in terms of child protection. We absolutely agree with the principle of protecting children from a wider range of content--indeed, that is what we do
in other areas: for example, with the mobile network operators and their adult filters. Like Alan, I think we see it in terms of more of a staged approach. The BBFC taking on this role is a significant new area of work--quite a challenge to take on
board. I think there is a potential risk of overloading the Bill if we try to put too much on it, so I would very much support the NSPCC's phased approach.
Thangam Debbonaire Q Is there anything further that you think needs to be added to the Bill to make the sanctions regime work? I am also thinking--at the risk of going against what you just said, Mr Austin--about whether or not we
should be considering sites that are not designed for commercial purposes but where pornography or other harmful material is available on a non-commercial basis; or things not designed for porn at all, such as Twitter timelines or Tumblr and other social
media, where the main purpose may not be pornography or other harmful material, but it is available. Do you think the Bill has enough sanctions in it to cope with all of that, or should that be added? Is there anything else you would like to add?
David Austin: There were a few questions. I will try to answer them all, but if I miss any of them please come back to me. In terms of sanctions, I have talked about ISP blocking and de-indexing. We think those could be potentially
effective steps. In terms of commercial pornography, we have been working on devising a test of what that is. The Bill states explicitly that the pornography could be free and still provided on a commercial basis. I do not think it is narrowing the scope
of the regulation an awful lot by specifying commercial pornography. If there are adverts, if the owner is a corporate entity, if there are other aspects--if the site is exploiting data, for example: there are all sorts of indications that a site is
operating on a commercial basis. So I do not see that as a real problem.
In relation to Twitter, which you mentioned, what the Bill says the regulator should do is define what it sees as ancillary service providers. Those are organisations whose work facilitates and enables the pornography to be distributed. There is
certainly a case to argue that social media such as Twitter are ancillary service providers. There are Twitter account holders who provide pornography on Twitter so I think you could definitely argue that.
I would argue that Twitter is an ancillary service provider, as are search engines and ISPs. One of the things that we plan to do in the next weeks and months would be to engage with everyone that we think is an ancillary service provider, and see what
we can achieve together, to try and achieve the maximum protection we can through the notification regime that we are taking on as part 3 of the Bill. The Chair
Just before we move on, shall we see if Mr Wardle also wants to contribute to things that should be in the Bill?
Alan Wardle: On that point, I think it is important for us that there is clarification--and I would agree with David about this--in terms of ensuring that sites that may for instance be commercial but that are not profiting from pornography
are covered. Again, Twitter is an example. We know that there are porn stars with Twitter accounts who have lots of people following them and lots of content, so it is important that that is covered.
It is important that the legislation is future-proofed. We are seeing at the NSPCC through Childline that sexual content or pornography are increasingly live-streamed through social media sites, and there is self-generated content, too. It is important
that that is covered, as well as the traditional--what you might call commercial--porn. We know from our research at the NSPCC that children often stumble across pornography, or it is sent to them. We think that streamed feeds for over-18s and under-18s
should be possible so that sort of content is not available to children. It can still be there for adults, but not for children. Nigel Adams Q Can you give us your perspective on the scale of the problem of under-18s' access to this
sort of inappropriate content? I guess it is difficult to do a study into it but, through the schools network and education departments, do you have any idea of the scale of the issue?
Alan Wardle: We did research earlier this year with the University of Middlesex into this issue. We asked young people--under 18s--whether they had seen pornography and when. Between the ages of 11 and 18, about half of them had seen
pornography. Obviously, when you get to older children--16 and 17-year-old-boys in particular--it was much higher. Some 90% of those 11 to 18-year-olds had seen it by the age of 14. It was striking--I had not expected this--that, of the children who had
seen it, about half had searched for it but the other half had stumbled across it through pop-ups or by being sent stuff on social media that they did not want to see.
It is a prevalent problem. If a determined 17-year-old boy wants to see pornography, undoubtedly he will find a way of doing it, but of particular concern to us is when you have got eight, nine or 10-year-old children stumbling across this stuff and
being sent things that they find distressing. Through Childline, we are getting an increasing number of calls from children who have seen pornographic content that has upset them.
Nigel Adams Q Has there been any follow-on, in terms of assaults perpetrated by youngsters as a result of being exposed to this?
Alan Wardle: It is interesting to note that there has been an exponential rise in the number of reports of sexual assaults against children in the past three or four years. I think it has gone up by about 84% in the past three years.
Nigel Adams Q By children?
Alan Wardle: Against children. Part of that, we think, is what you might call the Savile effect--since the Savile scandal there has been a much greater awareness of child abuse and children are more likely to come forward, which we think is
a good thing. But Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who is the national lead on child protection, believes that a significant proportion of that is due to the internet. Predators are able to cast their net very widely through social networking sites and
gaming sites, fishing for vulnerable children to groom and abuse.
We believe that, in developing the code of practice that I talked about earlier, that sort thing needs to be built in to ensure that children are protected from that sort of behaviour in such spaces. The internet is a great thing but, as with everything,
it can be used for darker purposes. We think there is increasing evidence--Simon Bailey has said this, and more research needs to be done into the scale of it--that children, as well as seeing adult content, are increasingly being groomed for sex online.
Nigel Adams Q Mr Austin, what constructive conversations and meetings have you had with ISPs thus far, in terms of the potential for blocking those sites--especially the sites generated abroad?
David Austin: We have not had any conversations yet, because we signed the exchange of letters with the Government only last Thursday and it was made public only today that we are taking on this role. We have relationships with
ISPs--particularly the mobile network operators, with which we have been working for a number of years to bring forward child protection on mobile devices.
Our plan is to engage with ISPs, search engines, social media--the range of people we think are ancillary service providers under the Bill--over the next few weeks and months to see what we can achieve together. We will also be talking to the adult
industry. As we have been regulating pornography in the offline space and, to an extent, in the online space for a number of years, we have good contacts with the adult industry so we will engage with them.
Many companies in the adult industry are prepared to work with us. Playboy , for instance, works with us on a purely voluntary basis online. There is no law obliging it to work with us, but it wants to ensure that all the pornography it provides
is fully legally and compliant with British Board of Film Classification standards, and is provided to adults only. We are already working in this space with a number of players.
Nigel Huddleston Q Obviously, the BBFC is very experienced at classifying films according to certain classifications and categories. I am sure it is no easy task, but it is possible to use an objective set of criteria to define what
is pornographic or disturbing, or is it subjective? How do you get that balance?
David Austin: The test of whether something is pornographic is a test that we apply every single day, and have done since the 1980s when we first started regulating that content under the Video Recordings Act 1984. The test is whether the
primary purpose of the work is to arouse sexually. If it is, it is pornography. We are familiar with that test and use it all the time.
Nigel Huddleston Q In terms of skills and resources, are you confident you will be able to get the right people in to do the job properly? I am sure that it is quite a disturbing job in some cases.
David Austin: Yes. We already have people who have been viewing pornographic content for a number of years. We may well need to recruit one or two extra people, but we certainly have the expertise and we are pretty confident that we already
have the resources. We have time between now and the measures in the Bill coming into force to ensure that we have a fully effective system up and running.
The Minister for Digital and Culture (Matt Hancock) Q I just want to put on the record that we are delighted that the BBFC has signed the heads of agreement to regulate this area. I cannot think of a better organisation with the
expertise and the experience to make it work. What proportion of viewed material do you think will be readily covered by the proposed mechanism in the Bill that you will be regulating the decision over but not the enforcement of?
David Austin: I am not sure that I understand the question.
Matt Hancock Q I am thinking about the scale of the problem--the number of views by under-18s of material that you deem to be pornographic. What proportion of the problem do you think the Bill, with your work, will fix?
David Austin: So we are talking about the amount of pornography that is online?
Matt Hancock Q And what is accessed.
David Austin: Okay. As you all know, there is masses of pornography online. There are 1.5 million new pornographic URLs coming on stream every year. However, the way in which people access pornography in this country is quite limited. Some
70% of users go to the 50 most popular websites. With children, that percentage is even greater; the data evidence suggests that they focus on a relatively small number of sites.
We would devise a proportionality test and work out what the targets are in order to achieve the greatest possible level of child protection. We would focus on the most popular websites and apps accessed by children--those data do exist. We would have
the greatest possible impact by going after those big ones to start with and then moving down the list.
Matt Hancock Q So you would be confident of being able to deal with the vast majority of the problem.
David Austin: Yes. We would be confident in dealing with the sites and apps that most people access. Have I answered the question?
Matt Hancock Q Yes. Given that there is a big problem that is hard to tackle and complicated, I was just trying to get a feel for how much of the problem you think, with your expertise and the Bill, we can fix.
David Austin: We can fix a great deal of the problem. We cannot fix everything. The Bill is not a panacea but it can achieve a great deal, and we believe we can achieve a great deal working as the regulator for stages 1 to 3.
Louise Haigh Q My question follows on neatly from that. While I am sure that the regulation will tackle those top 50 sites, it obviously comes nowhere near tackling the problems that Mr Wardle outlined, and the crimes, such as
grooming, that can flow from those problems. There was a lot of discussion on Second Reading about peer-to-peer and social media sites that you have called "ancillary". No regulation in the world is going to stop that. Surely, the most
important way to tackle that is compulsory sex education at school.
Alan Wardle: Yes. In terms of online safety, a whole range of things are needed and a whole lot of players. This will help the problem. We would agree and want to work with BBFC about a proportionality test and identifying where the biggest
risks are to children, and for that to be developing. That is not the only solution.
Yes, we believe that statutory personal, social and health education and sexual relationships education is an important part of that. Giving parents the skills and understanding of how to keep their children safe is also really important. But there is a
role for industry. Any time I have a conversation with an MP or parliamentarian about this and they have a child in their lives--whether @ their own, or nieces or nephews--we quickly come to the point that it is a bit of a nightmare. They say, "We
try our best to keep our children safe but there is so much, we don't know who they are speaking to" and all the rest of it.
How do we ensure that when children are online they are as safe as they are when offline? Of course, things happen in the real world as well and no solution is going to be perfect. Just as, in terms of content, we would not let a seven-year-old walk into
the multiplex and say, "Here is 'Finding Nemo' over here and here is hard core porn--off you go."
We need to build those protections in online so we know what children are seeing and whom they speaking to, and also skilling up children themselves through school and helping parents. But we believe the industry has an important part to play in
Government, in terms of regulating and ensuring that spaces where children are online are as safe as they can be.
Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab) Q To follow on from the Minister's question, you feel you are able to tackle roughly the top 50 most visited sites. Is there a danger that you then replace those with the next top 50 that
are perhaps less regulated and less co-operative? How might we deal with that particular problem, if it exists?
David Austin: When I said "the top 50", I was talking in terms of the statistics showing that 70% of people go to the top 50. We would start with the top 50 and work our way through those, but we would not stop there. We would
look to get new data every quarter, for example. As you say, sites will come in and out of popularity. We will keep up to date and focus on those most popular sites for children.
We would also create something that we have, again, done with the mobile operators. We would create an ability for members of the public--a parent, for example--to contact us about a particular website if that is concerning them. If an organisation such
as the NSPCC is getting information about a particular website or app that is causing problems in terms of under-age access, we would take a look at that as well. In creating this proportionality test what we must not do is be as explicit as to say that
we will look only at the top 50.
First, that is not what we would do. Secondly, we do not want anyone to think, "Okay, we don't need to worry about the regulator because we are not on their radar screen." It is very important to keep up to date with what are the most popular
sites and, therefore, the most effective in dealing with under-age regulation, dealing with complaints from members of the public and organisations such as the NSPCC.
Alan Wardle: I think that is why the enforcement part is so important as well, so that people know that if they do not put these mechanisms in place there will be fines and enforcement notices, the flow of money will be stopped and,
crucially, there is that backstop power to block if they do not operate as we think they should in this country. The enforcement mechanisms are really important to ensure that the BBFC can do their job properly and people are not just slipping from one
place to the next.
Claire Perry Q Of those top 50 sites, do we know how many are UK-based? @
David Austin: I would guess, none of them. I do not know for sure, but that would be my understanding.
Claire Perry Q Secondly, I want to turn briefly to the issue of the UK's video on demand content. My reading around clause 15 suggests that, although foreign-made videos on demand will be captured by the new provisions, UK-based will
continue to be caught by Communications Act 2003 provisions. Do you think that is adequate?
David Austin: That is my understanding as well. We work very closely with Ofcom. Ofcom regulates this UK on demand programme services as the Authority for Television On Demand, but it applies our standards in doing so. That is a partnership
that works pretty effectively and Ofcom has done an effective job in dealing with that type of content. That is one bit that is carved out from the Bill and already dealt with by Ofcom.
Open Rights Group has submitted Written evidence to House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Digital Economy Bill. The following is the groups views on some of the worst aspects of the Age Verification requirements for 18 rated adult internet
Open Rights Group (ORG) is the United Kingdom's only campaigning organisation dedicated to working to protect the rights to privacy and free speech online. With 3,200 active supporters, we are a grassroots organisation with local groups across the UK. We
believe people have the right to control their technology, and oppose the use of technology to control people.
23. We believe the aim of restricting children's access to inappropriate material is a reasonable one; however placing age verification requirements on adults to access legal material throws up a number of concerns which are not easily resolved.24.Our
concerns include: whether these proposals will work; the impact on privacy and freedom of expression; and how pornography is defined.
Lack of privacy safeguards
25. New age verification systems will enable the collection of data about people accessing pornographic websites, potentially across different providers or websites. Accessing legal pornographic material creates sensitive information that may be linkedto
a real life identity. The current wording of the draft Bill means that this data could be vulnerable to the "Ashley Madison-style" leaks.
26. MindGeek (the largest global adult entertainment operator) estimates there are 20 to 25 million adults in the UK who access adult content regularly. That is over 20 million people that will have to reveal attributes of their identity to a
pornographywebsite or a third party company.
27. Current proposals2 for age-verification systems suggest using people's emails, social media accounts, bank details, credit and electoral information, biometrics and mobile phone details. The use of any of this information exposes pornography website
users to threats of data mining, identity theft and unsolicited marketing.
28. The currently proposed age-verification systems have minimal regard for the security of the data they will collect.
29. The Bill does not contain provisions to secure the privacy and anonymity of users of pornographic sites. These must be included in the Bill, not merely in guidance issued by the age-verification regulator. They should ensure that the
age-verificationsystem, by default, must not be able to identify a user to the pornographic site by leaving persistent data trails. The user information that pornography websites are allowed to store without additional consent should be strictly limited.
Will age verification work?
30. The objective of these proposals is child safety rather than age verification. Policy makers should not measure success by the number of adults using age verification. It is highly likely that children will be able to continue accessing
pornographicmaterial, meaning that the policy will struggle to meet its true goal.
31. The Bill does not outline an effective system to administer age verification. It sets out a difficult task to regulate foreign pornography publishers. This will be difficult to enforce. Even if access to pornographic material hosted abroad is
blockedin the UK, bypassing website blocks is very easy - for example through the use of VPNs. Using VPNs is not technically difficult and could easily be used by teenagers to circumvent age verification.
32. Young people will still be able to access pornographic materials through some mainstream social media websites that are not subject to age verification, and from peer-to-peer networks.
33. As with ISP and mobile phone filters, age verification may prevent young children from accidentally finding pornographic material but it is unlikely to restrict a tech-savvy teenager.
Discrimination against sexual minorities and small business
34. The age verification systems will impose disproportionate costs on small publishers. No effective and efficient age verification system has been presented and it is very likely the costs imposed on smaller publishers will cause them to go out of
business 3 .
35. Smaller publishers of adult materials often cater for sexual minorities or people with special needs. The costs associated with implementing age verification systems threaten the existence of these sites and thus the ability of particular groupsto
express their sexuality by using the services of smaller pornographic publishers.
36. It is unclear whether adults will trust age verification systems, especially if they appear to identify them to the sites. It is possible that there will be a dissuasive effect on adults wishing to receive legal material. This would be a
negativeimpact on free expression, and would be likely to disproportionately impact people from sexual minorities.
Definition of pornographic material
37. The definitions of pornographic material included in the Bill are much broader than what is socially accepted as harmful pornography. The Bill not only covers R18 materials typically described as "hardcore pornography", which offline can
only be acquiredin licensed sex shops, but also 18-rated materials of a sexual nature. The boundaries of 18 classification are dynamic and reflect social consensus on what is acceptable with some restrictions. Today this would include popular films such
as Fifty Shadesof Gray. This extension of the definition of pornography to cover all "erotic" 18 rated films also raises questions as to why violent - but not sexual - materials rated as 18 should then be accessible online.
38. Hiding some of these materials or making them more difficult to access puts unjustifiable restrictions on people's freedom of expression. Placing 18-rated materials beyond the age-verification wall under the same category as hardcore pornography
willdiscourage people from exploring topics related to their sexuality.
Suggestions for improvement
39. The online age verification proposed in the Bill is unworkable and will not deliver what Government set out to do. We urge the Government to find more effective solutions to deliver their objectives on the age verification. The online age
verificationshould be dropped from the Bill in its current version. 40. The updated version of age verification should incorporate:
41. 1) Privacy safeguards
The regulator should have specific duties to ensure the systems are low risk. For instance, Age verification should not be be in place unless privacy safeguards are strong. Any age verification system should not create wider security risks, for
instanceto credit card systems, or through habituating UK Internet users into poor security practices.
42. Users of adult websites should have clarity on the liability of data breaches and what personal data is at risk.
42. 2) Safeguards for sexual minorities
Requirements should be proportionate to the resources available and the likelihood of access by minors. Small websites that cater for sexual minorities may fall under the commercial threshold.
43. 3) Remove 18-rated materials from the definition of pornographic materials
Placing all materials of a sexual nature under the definition of pornography is not helpful and will greatly increase the impact of these measures on the human right to impart and receive information, including of older children and young adults.
Open Rights Group make equally valid arguments against the criminalisation of file sharing and the introduction of many features of an ID card to tie together vast amounts or personal data held in a variety of government databases.
A regional press ad for family law solicitors Humphries Kirk LLP, seen in the Bournemouth Daily Echo on 25 June 2016,
featured an image that showed the torso section of four female ballet dancers, who had their arms crossed over their chest. Text below the image stated Protect your assets ... Our solicitors are on hand to give you expert advice about divorce,
finances, prenups, property disputes and children issues .
A complainant, who believed the ad was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
ASA Assessment: complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that the ballet dancers featured in the ad were not depicted in a sexually suggestive or explicit pose, the ad was not sexual in tone and did not contain any form of nudity. Although the dancers' faces were partially obscured and the image
only featured the lower parts of their faces to just above their knees, we considered that the focus of the ad was on the balletic pose and the dance formation, rather than on a specific part of their bodies.
We considered that the pose held by the dancers were likely to be seen as graceful and typical of ballet poses, but noted that it could be interpreted by some readers as a visual innuendo of the phrase Protect your assets , in that that the
dancers were protective of, or defensive about, their bodies, or specifically their chest area. Although we acknowledged that some might find the reference to women's chests or breasts as assets distasteful, we considered that the reference in the
ad was not used in a salacious or lewd manner, but rather it was a mild innuendo. Because we considered that the ad did not portray the ballet dancers in a sexualised, degrading or indecent manner, and that any innuendo was light hearted, we concluded
that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Social media users who encourage flame wars or retweet the doxing (revealing identifying information with malicious intent) of others are set to
be punished more severely by British prosecutors.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)'s latest Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media target doxing, online mobs, fake social media profiles and other social media misbehaviour.
Also included in the latest version of the guidance is a specific encouragement to prosecutors to charge those who egg on others to break social media speech laws. Those who encourage others to commit a communications offence may be charged with
encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007, warns the guidance.
In a Kafka-esque twist, the guidance also includes this chilling line, discussing how prosecutors can prove the criminal offence of sending a grossly offensive message, under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003:
The offence is committed by sending the message. There is no requirement that any person sees the message or be offended by it.
Another nasty touch is that the CPS will allow victims to decide whether crimes are deemed to be 'hate crimes' and therefore attract more severe penalties. The CPS policy consultation defines race/religion hate crimes as follows:
Crimes involving hostility on the basis of race or religion
The reporting and prosecution of hate crime are shaped by two definitions; one is subjective and is based on the perception of the victim and the other is objective and relies on supporting evidence.
Both the subjective and objective definitions refer to hostility, not hatred. There is no statutory definition of hostility and the everyday or dictionary definition is applied, encompassing a broad spectrum of behaviour.
We have an agreed definition with the police for identifying and flagging cases involving hostility on the basis of race or religion. The joint definition is:
Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or religion or perceived race or religion.
The equivalent paragraph an disability hate crime adds explaining how the CPS has waved its hands and extended the scope:
This definition is wider than the statutory definition, to ensure we capture all relevant cases:
The guidance also encourages prosecutors to treat social media crimes committed against persons serving the public more seriously than nasty words directed against their fellow members of the public. Similarly, coordinated attacks by different
people should also attract greater prosecutorial attention.
Prosecution in all cases is said to be less likely if swift and effective action has been taken by the suspect and/or others, for example service providers, to remove the communication .
Embrace is a 2016 Australia / Canada / Dominican Republic / Germany / USA / UK documentary by Taryn Brumfitt.
Starring Renee Airya, Jade Beall and Taryn Brumfitt.
When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn's crusade as she explores the global
issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.
Ausralia's Classification Review Board has received an application to review the classification of the film Embrace.
Embrace was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice Strong nudity by the Classification Board on 7 July 2016. Director Taryn Brumfitt is asking for the MA 15+ (age 15 restricted) to be reduced to M (age 15 advisory).
The Classification Review Board will meet on 13 October 2016 to consider the application.
The film features explicit detailed vagina imagery in a feminist 'feel good about your vagina 'context and aims to communicate this message to teenage girls.
The Girl on the Train is a 2016 USA mystery thriller by Tate Taylor.
Starring Laura Prepon, Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson.
Rachel, devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasising about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and
becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. The Girl On The Train is a darkly addictive thriller based on the international publishing phenomenon.
The recently-launched psychological thriller The Girl on the Train will not be shown in Qatar's cinemas, operators have said. The film was due to be screened for the first time in Qatar last Friday, but cinema companies told Doha News that authorities
asked them to not run it.
Trailers for the film show sex scenes, and the story revolves around the main character's drinking problem.
Qatar's Ministry of Culture and Sports declined to comment, but said it would provide an official statement on Monday.
The movie has also been banned in Kuwait.
Kuwait: Banned in October 2016
Banned by government film censors but the reason is not yet clear.
Qatar: Banned in October 2016
The authorities banned the film very near to the cinema release for reasons that are not yet clear.
UK BBFC: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, sex, violence.
US MPAA: Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity
Australia's advert censor has upheld a complaint against Sony Pictures Australia over online advertising for animated comedy movie Sausage Party that a couple of viewers found 'offensive'.
The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) released the case reports of two separate complaints about the advertising, one appearing on Facebook and the other appearing on news.com.au.
The advertisement shows characters from the movie with dialogue including fuck you up, move your fucking ass, and shit . The dialogue is not only spoken, but the words appear written on the screen in large letters.
The complainants told the ASB the advertisement was a pop-up, which they did not choose to open, and involved no warning of inappropriate language.
In a response to the complainants and the ASB, Sony claimed the advertisement was purchased programmatically and was not intended for viewing by people under the age of 15. In response to the complainant who saw the video on Facebook, Sony said, Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account
. Sony claimed that due to the programmatic purchasing of the online advertisement, which is intended to limit the age groups that can view the ad, the content did not breach the code.
However the ASB disagreed, believing the advertisement's use of the word fuck infringed on the code of ethics, and upheld the complaints. The ASB also determined the ad's placement on Facebook would include people under the age of 15, as website
allows users to register once they turn 13.
A legal case against Facebook, which will involve a 14-year-old taking the company to court over naked images published on the social network, could open the
floodgates for other civil claims, according to lawyers who work with victims of revenge pornography.
Facebook's forthcoming trial, which centres on the claim that it is liable for the publication of a naked picture of the girl posted repeatedly on a shame page as an act of revenge.
The girl's lawyers say the photograph, which the girl's parents say was extracted from her through blackmail, was removed by Facebook several times after being reported, but it had not been permanently blocked.
A lawyer for Facebook argued the claim for damages should be dismissed, saying the company always took down the picture when it was notified. They pointed to a European directive that they claimed provided protection from having to monitor a vast amount
of online material.
Facebook currently actively scans every image uploaded on to the site, and uses PhotoDNA to block known child abuse images. Other potentially problematic images, such as those in revenge pornography cases, have to be reported and reviewed before
they are taken down. But critics argue that if it has the technology to catch other photographs that cause distress, it should do more to protect users from repeated harassment.
But there may be another reason Facebook is not removing images before they are reported. Under current EU law social media sites are immune from liability for content as long as they react quickly to complaints, under a notice and takedown mechanism.
One reason they could be reluctant to proactively search for all potentially abusive images is that, ironically, by assuming some level of editorial responsibility, in theory they could be held liable for the abuse they miss. Censorship campaigner John
It's all a mess which is why we need a specific law saying that if companies try and prevent bad content, they won't lose their immunity if they don't always get it right.
Morality in Media are gushing over a new HBO TV series Westworld based n the novel by Michael Chrichton. The campaign group writes:
HBO is building a legacy of rape culture entertainment. The new HBO series, Westworld , premiered Sunday night and wasted no time before building upon this new great tradition in television of commodifying and consuming the female body.
The first episode of HBO's latest series, Westworld , contains a reference to the raping of a corpse, uses brothels as a backdrop for full frontal nudity, and includes a disturbing rape scene.
Why does HBO insist on making sadistic themes of sexual violence against women the key ingredient in its entertainment formula? No corporation that so regularly promotes the degradation and abuse of the female body can respect women.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood spoke out about the violence against women in Westworld. She stated:
We don't actually show any violence against women, although it is implied...(Co-creator) Lisa (Joy) was very passionate about not showing gratuitous violence against women and I think the reason why it's in the show is to push us to take a look at
ourselves and humanity and why this sort of thing is an epidemic that people get pleasure out of.
Of course, there is nothing implied about a scene in which a woman is brutally struck across the face--not once, but twice--and grabbed her by the back of her dress and literally dragged dozens of feet across the ground while she screams in
terror. If being hit, a drug off screaming isn't violence against women I don't know what is.
While it's true that Westworld did not explicitly show the rape scene (making it marginally less offensive than Game of Thrones ) the makers of Westworld are kidding themselves if they believe they're providing social commentary on violence
against women in the media. Rather than providing insightful, empathetic, narrative around these themes, Westworld uses them for the end of titillation and entertainment.
The actress Doon Mackichan has whinged about what she calls crime porn -- the use of brutalised women as entertainment fodder in television dramas such as The Fall .
The Smack the Pony actress calls on broadcasters to bring the body count down in a documentary for BBC Radio 4 in which she examines the prevalence of scenes of sexual violence involving women.
Mackichan focuses on shows such as The Killing , Luther and True Detective as well as interviewing Allan Cubitt, writer and director of The Fall. The BBC drama starring Gillian Anderson about a detective on the trail of a serial
killer. Mackichan attacked the show saying:
We've reached zero tolerance of these overused images and can move on from stories of brutalised women as entertainment fodder.
Cubitt countered telling Mackichan:
I don't know how you could possibly argue The Fall is misogynistic . The Fall sets out to critique these things. My mantra was always that we shouldn't sensationalise it, but we shouldn't sanitise it either.
In an interview for BBC Radio 4's Seriously ... podcast, Mackichan said she would:
Like there to be a real sea change ... because it bleeds into our culture. We do have a lot of what I call crime porn. The onus is with commissioners who commission these programmes, and with screenwriters ... who are pandering to the appetite that has
The Bombay High Court is hearing a case challenging the Maharashtra state law requiring that stage plays be pre-censored by
the Maharashtra State Performance Scrutiny Board.
In fact the government had last month orally informed the court that as per a notification issued in March this year, pre-censorship of plays and dramas was no longer mandatory. But the government have been slow in backing up the oral statement with
The Bombay High Court has now given Maharashtra government am October 18th deadline for providing written confirmation as an affidavit for the court.
Media reports suggest that it is the redundancy threatened Maharashtra State Performance Scrutiny Board that is objecting to the government's notification, and hence delaying proceedings.
Perennial hindu whinger Rajan Zed has been 'outraged' by fashion designer Ashish Gupta for
trivializing Hindu deities in London Fashion Week show on September 19th.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, said in a statement that Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and it was highly inappropriate to unnecessarily parade their likeness in fashion shows for mercantile greed.
Zed further said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it was disturbing to the faithful. Hindus were for free expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more ...BUT...
faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it tormented the devotees, Zed pointed out and added that businesses should be respectful to various faith traditions.
Writing about this Ashish Gupta's Bollywood Bloodbath catwalk show, fashion website styleXstyle, calling it Downright Disrespectful , said that:
We couldn't help but notice how models were dressed as Hindu deities to showcase the looks and I see models' faces painted to replicate that of Hindu Gods. It further asked What does Lord Shiva or Hindu Goddess Kali have to do with fashion?
And added that cultural appropriation is not cool or hip or edgy. It's disrespectful.
Faced with the possibility that website blocking may not achieve its goals to reduce file sharing, Russia is now considering a system of fines which would
target individual downloaders.
Well over a decade ago when peer-to-peer file-sharing was in its relative infancy, the RIAA thought it could stop piracy by punishing end users with fines and lawsuits. What followed was a punishing campaign that alienated consumers and ultimately
failed to achieve its goals. Only subsequent widespread access to legitimate content proved to be effective in bringing piracy rates down.
According to sources cited by Russian news publication RNS, the government is considering introducing a system of fines for Internet users who download copyrighted content without permission. A source explained:
It is expected that evidence of a download of an illegal movie, for example, will be shown by providing an IP address, then the offender will be sent the penalty fine.
It's understood that if pirate site-blocking fails, authorities favor the kind of system that German Internet users are already subjected to, with fines up to 1000 euros per logged offense. T he source said:
If the initiative with blocking sites that publish illegal content does not work, will be discussing the German model
Sade's once unpublishable novel has now joined the ranks of Penguin's Classics for the first time, and its author will take his place alongside the great figures of world literature -- many of whom would no doubt turn in their graves at the news that
their club now counted Sade among its members.
Recent censorship history
Translations published by the Olympia Press in Paris were banned from the UK throughout the 1950s. In the wake of the Lady Chatterley's Lover trial in 1960 , a test case for the Obscene Publications Act passed a year before, more publishing houses were
emboldened to publish Sade.
But all this came to a halt with the Moors murders trial of 1966, and with the revelation that Ian Brady had owned a paperback Corgi edition of Sade's Justine . Brady's taste in books was widely reported in the tabloid press, and fired the public
imagination. Commentator George Steiner alluded to the high probability that Brady's reading of Justine was a significant factor in the case. It did not seem to matter that the copy of Justine that Brady owned had only appeared in print
after he had committed all but one of his murders.
A ban on the publication and importation of Sade's works swiftly followed the trial and remained in effect for more than 20 years. When a British publisher, Arrow Books, finally tested the ban by reprinting Sade's major novels in the late 1980s and early
90s, Ann Winterton MP led calls for the DPP to act, condemning Juliette as filth of a particularly ugly and dangerous kind .
It is hard to imagine a work of fiction prompting calls for prosecution in Britain today. The written word no longer seems to frighten people in the same way any more. The fear that novels used to inspire has shifted instead to more recent -- and visual
-- forms of fiction and fantasy such as video games, horror movies, and internet pornography.
Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) has conceded before the Supreme Court that the ban on feature film Maalik was imposed without inquiring into the allegations levelled by complainants against the film.
Chairman CBFC Mubashir Hassan conceded this before a two judge bench of the top court which on Friday took up the government's appeal against Sindh High Court's quashing of the government's ban of the film.
Hassan told the court that the board had banned the film on several complaints by the general public against the objectionable script maligning politicians and judiciary. He said that keeping in view the sentiments of public, the members of the board
recommended banning the film.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on the bench, observed that volume of complaints of the public were meaningless unless these complaints are substantive.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial inquired under which law the ban was imposed. He added that there was nothing wrong with institutions being criticised. Justice Qazi observed that under section 9 of Motion Pictures Ordinance 1979 there was nothing objectionable
in the film. Qazi reserved a few choice words for Hassan:
You approved the screening of the film and the other day you banned it as your mood changed on a single phone call. Isn't this effectively corruption? What do you people want? Do you want to devastate the Pakistani film industry?
What are you doing being a chairman of responsible institution? You are repeating like a parrot that the ban was imposed in regard with complaints. Is this the job you are doing?
Following the arguments, the top court directed the federal government to submit a report on objectionable contents in the film along with the objectionable part of the script in order to establish the de-certification of the film Maalik. The
hearing of the case was adjourned for 15-days.
Personal Affairs (Omor Shakhsiya) is a 2016 Israel drama by Maha Haj.
Starring Maisa Abd Elhadi, Ziad Bakri and Jihan Dermelkonian.
In Nazareth, an old couple lives wearily to the rhythm of the daily routine. On the other side of the border, in Ramallah, their son Tarek wishes to remain an eternal bachelor, their daughter is about to give birth while her husband lands a movie role
and the grandmother loses her head ... Between check-points and dreams, frivolity and politics, some want to leave, others want to stay but all have personal affairs to resolve.
The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood (Shabhaye Zayendeh-Rood) is a 1990 Iran by Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Starring Manuchehr Esmaili, Mojgan Naderi and Parvaneh Goharani.
The 16th Beirut International Film Festival [BIFF] has been asked to cut footage from three films before they could be screened, according to news reports.
The censored films are Personal Affairs directed by the Palestinian filmmaker Maha Haj, World Cup [Ka's Al Alam] directed by two Syrian brothers, Mohammed and Ahmad Malas, and The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood directed by the famed Iranian
artist Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
According to Colette Naufal, Lebanon's General Security agency demanded that a specific scene be deleted from World Cup, allegedly because it was deemed to contain insults to Lebanese personalities and parties.
It is unfortunate that political considerations interfere in arts and culture, declared Naufal, the BIFF Director, adding that the cinematic event aimed to present a platform for freedom of expression that the overwhelming majority of Lebanese stand for.
Tareq Halabi, the head of the audiovisual department at General Security, disagreed and insisted that screening the Palestinian director's film went against a boycott of all Israeli products in Lebanon, whether artistic or not , presumably because
it was produced by an Israeli company and shot in Israel.
Halabi also concluded that The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood, which apparently showed certain elements concerning Iran , contravened Lebanese law. He commented: Lebanese laws forbid meddling in Iranian affairs .
The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood is banned in Iran because it raises troubling questions. It is about an anthropologist and his daughter, who happens to be an emergency room nurse, where she deals with various suicidal patients who try to take their own lives
through drug use. What is interesting about the 1991 film is that the narrative occurs during three different periods -- before, during and after the 1979 revolution -- and that highlight a recurring problem in modernising cultures.The movie is available
on YouTube and can be accessed by anyone anywhere.
Lebanon, once considered to be an open society that tolerated conflicting norms, is increasingly burdened with censorship. Although sensitive religious concerns and some strong sexual content are routinely expurgated from movies, the latest tendency is
to extend this censorship to political matters.
The film festival opened on October 5 and will conclude on October 13.
Iranian judges have ordered a young female writer and activist to serve a six-year jail term for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning to death
in her country.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call on Tuesday from judicial officials ordering her to Evin prison in Tehran, where her husband, Arash Sadeghi , a prominent student activist, is serving a 19-year sentence.
Ebrahimi Iraee told Voice of America's Persian network this week that she had been sentenced to five years in prison for insulting Islamic sanctities and one extra year for spreading propaganda against the ruling system.
Amnesty International said that Ebrahimi Iraee's plight was linked to a fictional story that the authorities discovered in September 2014 when they ransacked the couple's house in Tehran and confiscated their belongings. Philip Luther, Amnesty's research
director for its Middle East and North Africa programme said:
The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous. She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published -- she is effectively being punished for using her imagination.
Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture.
It is appalling that Iran continues to allow the use of stoning, and justifies it in the name of protecting morality.
We are urging the authorities to immediately quash Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee's conviction and that of her husband Arash Sadeghi, who has been behind bars since June for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association.
The Council of Europe has called for news censorship of the press such that it is not allowed to report when terrorists are muslim. The
recommendations came as part of a list of 23 censorial demands to Theresa May's government on how to run the media in an alarming threat to freedom speech.
The report, drawn up by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), blamed the recent increase in hate crimes and racism in the UK on the worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among
politicians , although the research was done before the Brexit campaign. Of course there was no apparent attribution of blame on the terrorists themselves for stirring up the hate.
The suggestions sent to Downing Street urging the UK Government to reform criminal law and freedom of the press and in a brutal criticism of the British press, the report recommends ministers give more rigorous training to journalists.
But UK ministers firmly rebutted the remarkable demands, telling the body:
The Government is committed to a free and open press and does not interfere with what the press does and does not publish, as long as the press abides by the law.
The report, from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) body, said there had been an increase in hate speech and racist violence in Britain between March 2009 and March 2016. The report recommends the British media be barred from
reporting the Muslim background of terrorists. The report states:
ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the
great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety.
In this context, it draws attention to a recent study by Teeside University suggesting that where the media stress the Muslim background of perpetrators of terrorist acts, and devote significant coverage to it, the violent backlash against Muslims is
likely to be greater than in cases where the perpetrators motivation is downplayed or rejected in favour of alternative explanations.
Of course the use of alternative explanations isn't likely to work very well in reality. It is perhaps already true that when news media speak of 'mentally disturbed' attackers, then this is simply a euphemism for 'muslim'. And equally if background
details are omitted entirely, then it can be safely inferred that attackers are muslim.
A German TV comedian who was the centre of a major diplomatic row between Berlin and Ankara over a poem insulting the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, has been told he will not face prosecution.
German prosecutors said that they had dropped their investigation into Jan Böhmermann because of insufficient evidence he had committed a crime. The explained that the poem was protected by so-called Kunstfreiheit, or artistic freedom and said that criminal actions could not be proven with the necessary certainty
In March Böhmermann had read a poem on state TV in which he lampooned the Turkish leader, arguing that he was doing so to test the boundaries of satire.
However, legal proceedings are still not over for Böhmermann. On 2 November, a Hamburg court will decide whether a private prosecution that Erdogan himself has brought against the comic can go ahead. In addition, laywers for Erdogan have reportedly
lodged an appeal against the state prosecutor's decision to drop the case.
After the decision, Böhmermann lashed out at Merkel's government:
If a joke causes a constitutional crisis, it's not the joke that's the problem, it's the state
In a pre-recorded video statement which veered wildly in tone, he made light of the controversy and gave a bizarre rendition of the Monty Python song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life complete with a surprisingly convincing English accent.
But he also signalled he was not prepared to back down and renewed his attack on Erdogan:
Compared to what critical journalists, satirists and opposition figures are going through in Turkey, all this fuss about the Böhmermann Affair is a big sad joke in itself. While you sit watch this video people are in prison in Turkey with no chance of a
fair trial, their passports surrendered, their jobs lost, just because they took a critical look at their own country.
Meanwhile, their relatives in Germany are afraid to speak freely on the phone, because they fear reprisals against their loved ones in Turkey.
In a bombshell
published today, Reuters is reporting that, in 2015, Yahoo complied with an order it received from the U.S. government to search all of its users' incoming emails, in real time.
There's still much that we don't know at this point, but if the report is accurate, it represents a new--and dangerous--expansion of the government's mass surveillance techniques.
This isn't the first time the U.S. government has been caught conducting unconstitutional mass surveillance of Internet communications in real time. The NSA's Upstream surveillance program--the program at the heart of our ongoing lawsuit
Jewel v. NSA
--bears some resemblance to the surveillance technique described in the Reuters report. In both cases, the government compels providers to scan the contents of communications as they pass through the providers' networks, searching the full contents of
the communications for targeted "selectors," such as email addresses, phone numbers, or malware "
Mass surveillance of Yahoo's emails is unconstitutional for the same reasons that it'sunconstitutional for the government to copy and search through vast amounts of communications passing through AT&T's network as part of Upstream. The sweeping
warrantless surveillance of millions of Yahoo users' communications described in the Reuters story flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches. Surveillance like this is an example of "
" that the Fourth Amendment was directly intended to prevent. (Note that, as we've explained
, it is irrelevant that Yahoo itself conducted the searches since it was acting as an agent of the government.)
While illegal mass surveillance is sadly familiar, the Yahoo surveillance program represents some deeply troubling new twists.
First, this is the first public indication that the government has compelled a U.S.-based email provider--as opposed to an Internet-backbone provider--to conduct surveillance against all its customers in real time. In attempting to justify its
warrantless surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act--including Upstream and PRISM--the government has claimed that these programs only "target" foreigners
outside the U.S. and thus do not implicate American citizens' constitutional rights. Here, however, the government seems to have dispensed with that dubious facade by intentionally engaging in mass surveillance of purely domestic communications involving
millions of Yahoo users.
Second, the story explains that Yahoo had to build new capabilities to comply with the government's demands, and that new code may have, itself, opened up new security vulnerabilities for Yahoo and its users. We read about new data breaches and attempts
to compromise the security of Internet-connected systems on a seemingly daily basis. Yet this story is another example of how the government continues to take actions that have serious potential for collateral effects on everyday users.
We hope this story sparks further questions. For starters: is Yahoo the only company to be compelled to engage in this sort of mass surveillance? What legal authority does the government think can possibly justify such an invasion of privacy? The
government needs to give us those answers.
Google has placed a virtual assistant at the heart of its first voice-activated speaker system. The Home speaker lets artificial
intelligence tool be controlled without use of a touchscreen via an always on microhone. It rivals Amazon's Echo.
The virtual assistant can hold a conversation, in which one question or command builds on the last, rather than dealing with each request in isolation it draws on Google's Knowledge Graph database, which links together information about more 70 billion
facts, and has been in use for four years
However, the US company will have to overcome privacy concerns and convince users that chatting to a virtual assistant has advantages over using individual apps.
Users can, for example, ask for what films are playing at nearby cinemas, and then follow up the reply by saying: We want to bring the kids, to narrow down the selection. Brian Blau, from the consultancy Gartner explained further:
Having a conversation - one where you ask a question and then follow-on questions - is a much more natural way to interact, and you would think that would offer a better user experience. But we haven't had that type of system offered at the mass market
level before, so it's hard to say how well it actually do.
As well as getting answers to questions, the device can control internet-connected lights and other smart home products play music and other services such as setting timers and alarms, creating shopping lists and getting travel updates.
The $129 device is launching in the US next month, and is due to come to the UK next year.
Google is now reported to be blocking the searches of would-be ISIS recruits and sending them to anti-ISIS websites.
That means that if you search for keywords like the Isis slogan baqiya wa tatamaddad (remaining and expanding), the deferential term al dawla al islamiya (supporters of Islamic State), or ISIS media sources like Al-Furqan and Al-I'tisam,
you'll end up seeing videos on why ISIS is bad.
All very commendable but now doubt the censorship capability will be eyed by not such shining causes. How long before searches for your local chippie get redirected to government dietary websites, or how long before searches for escorts get redirected to
vintage car auctions.
An upcoming student production of Aida at Music Theatre Bristol has been cancelled in the wake of
ludicrous politically correct concerns about 'cultural appropriation'.
The opera was originally selected in a ballot of members of the company, however the decision has been made that it will not be presented to the general public. MTB said:
It is a great shame that we have had to cancel this show as of course we would not want to cause offence in any way as that was never our intention. Our intention was to tell this story, one which, surely is better heard than not performed.
However, some groups felt that this was an overreaction. Conrad Young, admin of Bristol Against Censorship, said:
Although MTB seemed to approach a sensitive topic with great humility and care, Aida was not to be. The affect that the fear of cultural appropriation has on modern campuses is a sad affair and in this case has damaged the student experience of the
people involved and the prospective student audiences.
Viking heavy metal band, Týr, from the Faroe Islands, have had at least six concerts of their 17-date November European tour supporting
Norwegian metal band Sirenia cancelled over lead singer Heri Joensen's participation in the Faroese practice of whaling.
According to heavy metal news site MetalTalk.net, venue owners of club Logo in Hamburg issued the following statement about their cancellation:
It came to our attention only after the official confirmation of the show that the head of the band plays an active part in Grindwaljad [whale hunting] in the Faroe Islands, a practice that we abhor deeply. Such people will naturally not play on our
Týr gigs are no longer listed on the websites of five venues in Germany, including Logo in Hamburg, Postbahnhof in Berlin, Alte Zucherfabrik in Rostock, Café Central in Weinheim and Essigfabrik in Cologne, as well as the Gebr de Nobel venue in Leiden,
Y Llyfrgell (Library Suicides) is a 2016 UK thriller by Euros Lyn.
Starring Dyfan Dwyfor, Carwyn Glyn and Sharon Morgan.
The BBFC rated a subtitled version of Library Suicides as 15 uncut for strong threat, injury detail, sex, nudity, suicide references, drug misuse.
Exactly the same film is being shown without the subtitles at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Now the Arts Centre bosses have tried to explain a dumb decision to slap its own 18 rating for the film just because the subtitles are turned off. They said that the
BBFC had not rated the unsubtitled version, so it has to be listed by cinemas as an 18.
An Aberystwyth Arts Centre spokesperson confirmed the rating difference is not a mistake , saying:
The non-subtitled version has not been rated by the BBFC so we have to list it as an 18 rather than a 15, but essentially it is exactly the same film.
Ka Bodyscapes is a 2016 India / USA gay drama by Jayan Cherian.
Starring Adhithi, Tinto Arayani and Arundhathi.
Three young people, Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player and their friend Sia, an activist who refuse to conform to dominant norms of femininity, struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian City.
A revising committee of the CBFC banned the film in July 2016 citing:
The revising committee felt that the entire content of the Malayalam feature film Ka Bodyscapes is ridiculing, insulting and humiliating Hindu religion, in particular portraying Hindu Gods in poor light. Derogatory words are used against women. The Hindu
God 'Hanuman' is shown as coming in the books titled 'I am Gay' and other homosexual books. The film has also references to lady masturbating, highlighting 'gay' by many 'gay' posters. The film offends human sensibilities by vulgarity, obscenity and
The film makers have been contesting the ban in court and appear to have made progress. The Kerala High Court has set aside the recommendation of the revising committee of India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to ban the public
screening of Malayalam film KA Bodyscapes , produced and directed by the New York-based filmmaker Jayan Cherian.
Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar also directed the revising committee to make clearer the reasons for banning the screening of the film with specific reference to the theme of the film and relevant guidelines. The court added that if the objection concerned
only the depiction of the Hindu God Hanuman and the reference to masturbation of women and homosexuality, there was no need to ban the exhibition of the film, as the scenes could be deleted or modified.
Major cinemas in Pakistan have banned Indian films in what they call an act of solidarity with their country's armed forces.
The film boycotts have been announced in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Big Pakistani cinema chains and screens say they have taken a spontaneous decision not to show Indian films for at least a couple of weeks, or until what they call normality returns
in relations between the two countries. They admit their cinemas may suffer financially because of the popularity of Bollywood movies in Pakistan.
The move follows a rise in military tensions between the two countries over the divided territory of Kashmir.
A BBC correspondent explains that Bollywood movies are immensely popular in Pakistan, whose own movie industry, although enjoying a revival, is much slimmer. In fact Indian movies had been banned officially in Pakistan for many years for reasons of inter
state tensions and the ban was only relaxed a few years ago.
Jeremy Hunt, the UK's Health Secretary, told food companies that as eating out is no longer a treat they needed to be part of
reforms to reduce the nation's waistline.
He wants to encourage food outlets, such as big chain restaurants, takeaways and fast food retailers, to cut sugar and reduce the size of desserts, cakes and pastries.
Consumers will be able to check the companies' efforts on a website,
Duncan Selbie, Chief nanny of Public Health England, said that the new measures were needed to improve nutrition across the board:
We need a level playing field - if the food and drink bought in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants does not also get reformulated and portions rethought then it will remain often significantly higher in sugar and bigger in portion than those being sold
in supermarkets and convenience shops.
Microsoft is now removing apps because they don't fall under the new International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) rating system.
Microsoft informed developers months ago that their public and private apps needed to be updated to meet the new age rating. Those that didn't comply would face having their apps kicked off the Windows Store on September 30.
The IARC provides a global, unified platform for games and apps so that customers from around the world know the age requirements for the software. The IARC was established in 2013, and makes it easy for developers to obtain age ratings from different
regions. All developers need to do is answer a five-minute questionnaire about the app's content and interactive elements.
Previously, Microsoft's Windows Store provided five ratings for apps and games: 3+ (suitable for young children), 7+ (suitable for ages 7 and older), 12+ (suitable for ages 12 and older), 16+ (suitable for ages 16 and older), and 18+ (suitable for
The European Court of Justice has heard a crucial case that will give more clarity on the infringing nature of unauthorized streaming. Dutch
anti-piracy group BREIN and the Spanish authorities argued that offering or watching pirate streams is a violation of the EU Copyright Directive. However, the European Commission believes that consumers who watch unauthorized streams are not breaking the
Unlike traditional forms of downloading, however, in many countries the legality of viewing unauthorized streams remains unclear. In the European Union this may change in the near future. This week the European Court of Justice held a hearing during
which it reviewed several questions related to pirate streaming.
The questions were raised in a case between Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and the Filmspeler.nl store, which sells piracy configured media players. While these devices don't host any infringing content, they ship with add-ons that make it
very easy to watch infringing content.
The Dutch District Court previously referred the case to the EU Court of Justice, where several questions were discussed in a hearing this week. In addition to BREIN and Filmspeler, the European commission and Spain weighed in on the issue as well.
The first main question that the Court will try to answer is rather specific. It asks whether selling pre-programmed media-players with links to pirate sources, through add-ons for example, are permitted.
Not surprisingly, Filmspeler.nl believes that it should be allowed. They argued that there is no communication to the public or a crucial intervention from their side, since these pirate add-ons are already publicly available.
The European Commission doesn't classify selling pre-loaded boxes as infringing either, and notes that rightholders have other options to go after intermediaries, such as blocking requests.
BREIN , which covered the hearing in detail , countered this argument noting that Filmspeler willingly provides access to illegal content for profit. Spain sided with BREIN and argued that willingly including pirate plugins should not be allowed.
The second question is more crucial for the general public as it asks whether it is illegal for consumers to stream pirated content from websites or services.
Is it lawful under EU law to temporarily reproduce content through streaming if the content originates from a third-party website where it's made available without permission?
Spain argued that streaming pirated content should not be allowed in any way. BREIN agreed with this position and argued that streaming should be on par with unauthorized downloading since a temporary copy of the infringing file is made, which is illegal
under EU case law.
Interestingly, the European Commission doesn't believe that consumers who watch pirate streams are infringing. From the user's perspective they equate streaming to watching, which is legitimate.
Based on the hearing the Advocate General will issue a recommendation later this year, which will be followed by a final verdict from the EU Court of Justice somewhere early 2017.
Derry City and Strabane District Council has passed a motion asking local newsagents to stop selling The Sun.
The motion was put forward to show solidarity with the families of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster.
It also called on the council to support the campaign group Total Eclipse of the Sun , which wants all shops to boycott the newspaper.
A spokesperson for The Sun described the move as extreme censorship :
We are astonished that in Derry - a city that has prided itself on its association with civil liberties and free speech - some elected politicians think it's appropriate to push such extreme censorship on its citizens and retailers.
The vote was proposed by independent councillor Paul Gallagher and supported by 27 SDLP, Sinn Féin and independent members. One unionist representative voted against, whilst seven more unionists abstained.
Liverpool councillors had previously backed a similar censorship motion a few weeks ago..