Censor Watch

2015: November

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A Dash to Censorship...

Australian telecoms company Telstra censors strong language from voice-to-text messages

Link Here 30th November 2015
Australian phone company Telstra has decided to censor strong language from voice-to-text messages. "fuck' and 'cunt' will now be replaced by long dashes.

Such censorship is not unprecedented, as Apple has been changing "fuck' to duck on preemptive text messages since the iPhones emerged. But the Australia-based carrier had bigger plans, completely blocking out expletives.

The difference this time is that Telstra opted to use symbols as the substitutes for swear words instead of automatically rewording them like in Apple's case. This development may entail more effort on the users' part to decipher the meaning of the censored words.



Updated: Much Loved...by some...

Banned Moroccan film shown at Tunis film festival with tight security over fears of violence

Link Here 29th November 2015
Full story: Much Love...Movie about sex workers banned in Morocco
Much Loved is a 2015 Morocco drama by Nabil Ayouch.
Starring Loubna Abidar, Danny Boushebel and Abdellah Didane. IMDb

A group of women in Morocco make a living as prostitutes in a culture that is very unforgiving toward women in that profession.

The star of a banned film on sex work in Morocco was savagely beaten in Casablanca last week, sparking an outcry on social media over social taboos that activists say can be enforced by violence.

Loubna Abidar, who portrays a Marrakech sex worker in Much Loved , a film by renowned French-Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch that caused a stir in Morocco when a series of previews were released on YouTube, said police and hospital workers refused to help her. Instead they humiliated her, she said:

No [police officer] and no doctor would take care of me. Everyone mocked me and said, 'Finally, Abidar! You got beaten.

In a self-recorded video shared widely on social media this week, a bruised and bloodied Ms Abidar describes the ordeal, without offering much detail on the assailants.

Update: Banned film screened at Tunis film festival

29th November 2015. See  article from theguardian.com

A controversial film portraying prostitution in Morocco that was shunned in the Arab world has finally been shown, amid tight security, at the Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia. Fears of an attack by militants saw armed police and steel barriers around the cinema and each cinemagoer searched for weapons. 

Director Nabil Ayouch's Much Loved portrays the lives of four upmarket prostitutes working for tourists and wealthy clients in Marrakech was made on a shoestring, using unknown actors and a mostly female crew.

The film,  has provoked a storm of 'outrage' and violence. Ayouch and the cast had death threats, and the Moroccan government formally banned the film, accusing the direc- tor of staining the country's reputation. In June, the film was praised at the Toronto film festival for its unflinching appraisal of the lives of women on the margins of society, but at home a pressure group filed a lawsuit against the director. Actor Yousseff El-Idrissi, who plays a rich client in the film, told of being attacked by knife-wielding thugs.



Tit for Tat...

After British press mockery of Indian film censors cutting Spectre, a local newspaper points out a film that was cut by the BBFC but was uncut in India

Link Here 27th November 2015
Thoongaavanam is a 2015 India thriller by Rajesh M Selva.
Starring Kamal Haasan, Prakash Raj and Trisha Krishnan. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

The British press have been mocking India over the last week with the news that the Indian film censor cut James Bond's kissing scenes in Spectre.

So perhaps as a little bit of a riposte, an Indian newspaper has pointed out an example where BBFC cuts were made for cinema release for a film that the Indian censors passed uncut.

Actually the claims in the Indian newspaper are slightly inaccurate, as the newspaper reports:

The Indian Censor Board has competition from unexpected quarters: their conservative British counterparts.

In the line of fire is Kamal Haasan's new thriller Thoongavanam that has been granted a 15+ certification by the British Censor Board. And that, too, only after the huge action sequence between Kamal Haasan and his leading lady Trisha was toned down. Kamal Haasan said:

It was very surprising. The Indian Censor Board had no objection to my taking on Trisha man-to-man...or man-to-woman in a one-to-one combat.

In fact the UK BBFC category cuts were required for a 12A rated 2015 cinema release. The BBFC would have passed the film 15 uncut but the distributors wanted a 12A, so accepted the cuts. The BBFC commented:

The distributor chose to remove shots of strong violence and bloodshed (in this instance, a scene of suffocation, shootings, sight of blood spurts and sight of bloody injury detail) in order to achieve a 12A rating. A 15 without cuts was available.



Update: Dangerous tweets...

1209 people were convicted last year for internet insults

Link Here 27th November 2015
Last year, 1,209 people were found guilty of offences of internet insult under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

It is a crime under the Communications Act to send by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other material that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character .

Statistics released by the Ministry of 'Justice' (MoJ) show that 1,501 defendants were prosecuted under the law last year - including 70 juveniles - while another 685 were cautioned. Of those convicted, 155 were jailed - compared to just seven a decade before. The average custodial sentence was 2.2 months.

The MoJ figures also revealed a rise in the number of convictions under the Malicious Communications Act, which states that it is an offence to send a threatening, offensive or indecent letter, electronic communication or article with the intent to cause distress or anxiety.



Update: 267 years on...

Singapore unbans Fanny Hill

Link Here 27th November 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in Singapore...Singapore takes offence and puts author on trial
Singapore residents can now read 240 books and publications which were formerly blacklisted by the country's censor for content ranging from adult to communism -- but adult magazines such as Hustler , Penthouse and Playboy are still banned.

The ban was lifted after a routine review by book censors at the country's Media Development Authority (MDA) which told The Straits Times that it routinely reviewed prior classification decisions to ensure they kept pace with societal norms. The ban was lifted because the books were already out of print and were within the MDA's latest censorship rules.

Among the 240 blacklisted titles, one famous book was Fanny Hill, an erotic novel based on the life of a girl who moves to London and falls into prostitution. The novel was written by John Cleland and published in 1748.

The 17 titles still banned include publications of the Jehovah's Witness church, banned in 1972 as its members had declined to undergo military service which was deemed compulsory for men above the age of 18 in Singapore. The rest of the banned titles carry adult content, such as the magazines Penthouse, Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, Mayfair, Men Only, Knave and Swank .



Mature Thinking...

Australia set to change TV watershed rules to allow M rated ('PG-15') material from 7:30pm

Link Here 26th November 2015
Australia is updating its rules for its TV watershed.

Australia's TV censors of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) are revising TV watershed rules from 1st December 2015.

A revised Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice will bring forward the watershed for M-Rated programs on free-to-air networks by an hour to 7:30pm. The shift is expected to have a significant knock on effect for the networks enabling them to bring more edgy programming on earlier in the evening.

The Australian M rating is an advisory rating recommending that content is suitable for those 15 years an old.

The code, drafted by Free TV and approved by ACMA, aims to account for the much freer access consumers have to TV content through both platforms and delivery methods that has rendered time restrictions for programming less relevant.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said the code had been designed to give consumers a greater role in choosing what they wanted to watch and when. he said:

The digital era has also brought challenges for viewers, and the new code is designed to assist them to better manage their own viewing in an environment in which responsibility will be increasingly shared between government, industry and, importantly, viewers.



Update: The limits of free speech...

Comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala jailed in Belgium over racist comments in his show

Link Here 26th November 2015
Full story: Dieudonne Mbala Mbala...Comedian winds up with near anti-semitic humour

The controversial French comedian, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, has been sentenced to two months in jail by a Belgian court for incitement to hatred over racist and antisemitic comments he made during a show. Dieudonné, who has faced similar cases in France, was also fined ?9,000 (£6,300) by the court in Liège.  The charges related to a show in Liège in 2012.

Earlier this month, the European court of human rights in Strasbourg ruled against Dieudonné in a separate case, deciding that freedom of speech did not protect racist and antisemitic performances.

In March, a French court handed Dieudonné a two-month suspended prison sentence and fined him heavily after he caused uproar by suggesting he sympathised with the attacks against the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and a Jewish supermarket in Paris. I feel like Charlie Coulibaly , he wrote on Facebook, a reference to Amédy Coulibaly, one of the attackers.



Offsite Article: The Streisand Effect finds a home in student unions...

Link Here 26th November 2015
Full story: Student Union Censorship...Students Vs Free Speech
Safe spaces don't limit free speech... they give it to the marginalised. By Abi Wilkinson

See article from politics.co.uk



Offsite Article: Microsoft is watching...a little too closely...

Link Here 26th November 2015
Full story: Microsoft Snooping...Microsoft’s Windows 10 is a privacy nightmare
Sneaky Microsoft renamed its data slurper before sticking it back in Windows 10

See article from theregister.co.uk



Not Clowning Around...

Advert censor bans outdoor poster for Halloween event

Link Here 25th November 2015

A poster promoting a Halloween event, seen in various locations around Norfolk in September and October 2015, stated, PRIMEVIL. SCREAMING WON'T HELP! ... 5 FRIGHTENING ATTRACTIONS! ... 13 NIGHTS OF TERROR! , and included an image of a clown with a painted white face. The clown's eyes were bright red with dark circles around which contained stitches. Its forehead also contained a number of stitches, and blood dripped from various parts of its face, including its mouth, which was black and appeared to have been cut open. It also wore a blood-stained ruff.

Twenty-three complainants, many of whom considered the image too distressing for children, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause fear or distress, and was therefore inappropriate for outdoor display in an untargeted medium.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the ad had appeared on untargeted outdoor poster sites, and that a number of the complainants had reported their children becoming very distressed on seeing the image. We acknowledged that Norfolk Dinosaur Park Ltd had removed a number of the posters following complaints having been received directly by them.

We noted that the clown was leaning towards the camera and grinning with a menacing expression, that its eyes glowed red and blood dripped down its face, and that its eyes and forehead were stitched. We considered that the overall presentation of the image was likely to distress young children, particularly but not only in combination with the text PRIMEVIL. SCREAMING WON'T HELP! -- which was presented as though it was written in blood -- and that it was unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium where it was likely to be seen by them.

We considered the ad was likely to cause fear or distress without justifiable reason when displayed in an untargeted medium, and concluded that it had been irresponsibly targeted.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Norfolk Dinosaur Park Ltd to ensure that their marketing was responsibly targeted and did not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.



Xtreme Political Correctness...

Console game Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 won't be distributed in Europe and the US

Link Here 25th November 2015
Game developer Team Ninja Has announced that the console game Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 won't be released in North America or in Europe. And there are no plans to change that decision.

The developer explains that political correctness does allow for a game with so many sexy bikini scenes: Team Ninja write:

Do you know many issues happening in video game industry with regard to how to treat female in video game industry? We do not want to talk those things here. But certainly we have gone through in last year or two to come to our decision. Thank you.



Update: Holding the coats of loudmouths and bullies...

ICO demands that Google censors information from google.com when accessed from the UK

Link Here 25th November 2015
Full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
The "right to be forgotten" applies to any search engine accessible in the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office has claimed. In a blog post earlier this month, ICO demanded:

In August we issued our first enforcement notice in this area , ordering Google to remove nine search results brought up by entering an individual's name. Google has so far responded constructively, and the links are no longer visible on the European versions of their search engine. However we consider that they should go a step further, and make the links no longer visible to anyone directly accessing any Google search services from within the UK (this would include someone sat a desk in Newcastle, but using google.com). This is a proper and proportionate reflection of what the EU Court of Justice ruling means in practice, and so we've clarified the original enforcement notice , with the original text remaining the same but with a new section added spelling out exactly what we expect of Google.



Update: Uncrackable messaging cracked...

Use of WhatsApp in Xinjiang leads to mobile phones getting shut down by the authorities

Link Here 25th November 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
The Chinese government is trying a new technique to censor and ban mobile users that evade internet censorship in China, specifically the far west territory of Xinjiang.

Foreign messaging apps' users in China's Xinjiang territory such as WhatsApp have had their phone service shut down entirely, according to the New York Times. A text message was sent preceding the shutdown. It said that the user's cellphone number will be shut down within the next two hours in accordance with the law.

Not only users of the downloaded foreign messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram but also people employing virtual private networks (VPNs) to cloak their locations to get access to banned websites and those who failed to register their account with the proper identification were reported in the police station.

Xinjiang is the region experiencing terrorism related to separatists from the Muslim Uyghur ethnic groups in the region. The region has been subject to extreme censorship before, with the internet totally shut down for 6 months in 2009.



Offsite Article: BBFC Podcast Episode 37...

Link Here 25th November 2015
Borderline decisions including A Little Chaos and Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For

See article from bbfc.co.uk



Contributing to the end of censorship conflicts...

David Austin announced as the new director of the BBFC from March 2016

Link Here 24th November 2015

The BBFC has announced the appointment of David Austin OBE, as the new Director of the BBFC.

Mr Austin is currently Assistant Director at the BBFC, coordinating the BBFC's policy work and leading on its public affairs outreach. He is also responsible for managing the BBFC's research, communications and education programmes.

He will be taking up the post on 12 March 2016, when the current Director, David Cooke, retires.

David Austin said:

I am delighted to bring my expertise as both a Film Examiner and Assistant Director to the role of BBFC Director. It is vital for the BBFC to continue to consult the public regularly and to meet their expectations of both classification and the ease with which they expect to be able to access to classification information, enabling them to make informed decisions about what they and their family watch at the cinema, on DVD or Blu-ray and online.

Under David Cooke and in partnership with the home entertainment industry in particular, the BBFC has transformed its remit to reflect the needs of a digital society, bringing its expertise in child protection and information provision online. I am greatly looking forward to continuing to work with my colleagues at the BBFC, the Presidential Team, the Council of Management and the Board's advisory bodies and stakeholders to ensure the BBFC continues to act as an expert and trusted guide to film, DVD/Blu-ray and digital platforms.

David Cooke said:

I am delighted that the Appointments Panel, consisting of Graham Lee and Maggie Carver from the Council of Management and Patrick Swaffer and Alison Hastings from the Presidential Team, have appointed David. David has been a close colleague for over eleven years, and has pioneered many key initiatives such as our contract with the Mobile Network Operators, our partnership with international colleagues for classifying User Generated Content, and our partnership with the music industry and platforms for classifying physical and online music videos. I am sure that David will take the BBFC from strength to strength in serving the public, and the cause of child protection, in the internet age.

David Austin received an OBE in 1999 for his contribution to helping end conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. David joined the BBFC in 2003 as an Examiner following a career in the Diplomatic Service, serving in South Asia, Central Africa and the former Yugoslavia. He moved to the role of Assistant Director, Policy & Public Affairs in 2011, overseeing the most recent public consultation of the BBFC Classification Guidelines in 2013; the introduction of the BBFC Mobile Classification Framework used by UK Mobile Network Operators in 2013; and the BBFC's partnership with the UK music industry and Vevo and YouTube to bring age ratings to online music videos in 2015.

Graham Lee, Chair of the appointments panel and Chairman of the BBFC Council of Management said:

We are very pleased, that after a rigorous, open and transparent selection process, we have been able to appoint a candidate who has done so much in recent years to build and develop the important services carried out by the BBFC.

The post of Director was filled through open competition.



Small minded whingers...

The Daily Mail bigs up a few whinges about a Jimmy Carr gag on the One Show

Link Here 24th November 2015
The BBC1 programme, The One Show , is being investigated by TV censor Ofcom over an politically incorrect gag about dwarves.

Jimmy Carr, who was on the show to promote his Greatest Hits tour, told viewers that he had once come up with a two-word gag. He said:

I tried to write the shortest joke possible. So, I wrote a two-word joke which was: 'Dwarf shortage. It's just so I could pack more jokes into the show.

He then looked directly at the camera and added:

If you're a dwarf and you're offended by that, grow up.

Two viewers complained to Ofcom, who uncharacteristically have decided to investigate the complaints. A spokescensor said:

We're investigating whether potentially discriminatory comments in this programme met generally accepted standards



Updated: Too Much Bonding...

India's film censor makes several cuts to Spectre

Link Here 24th November 2015
Full story: Indian Film Censor Pahlaj Nihalani...Loony film censor wants to ban everything
Its not only British audiences that are viewing a censored version of the new James Bond film Spectre, but Indian audiences will also suffer an incomplete version.

Censors at the Central Board of Film Classification have given the film a UA (children allowed if accompanied by adults) rating after 4 cuts for language and kissing:

  • Two cuts were made to shorten James Bond's kissing
  • Two cuts were made to remove the words 'fuck' and 'arsehole'. (This seems to be a false accusation as the word 'fuck' doesn't actually get used in the film).

A source said:

Both of Daniel Craig's kisses with his co-stars have been reduced by 50 per cent. The censor board had nothing against James Bond kissing ...BUT... the length of the kisses were found to be unnecessarily excessive. We heard that Ranbir Kapoor's kissing scenes in Tamasha has also been reduced by half. We wonder how the Censor Board decides how much kissing is enough.

Update: Chief censor seems to act like a megalomaniac Bond villain

20th November 2015. See  article from timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Dissent against Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani appears to be gathering strength with some members planning to make a formal representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I&B minister Arun Jaitley. Members of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) have expressed concern at Nihalani's unilateral decision making style and cavalier attitude.

Board members said that cuss words were still being arbitrarily snipped from films (despite the Board's opposition) and decisions being made on films without taking the Board in to confidence. One member explained:

There are a few of us who feel that the chairperson has been working on his own accord without listening to anyone on the Board. This is unfair. We are planning to approach the PM and the I&B minister on the issue.

Nihalani has faced social media derision after the Board ruled kissing scenes of Daniel Craig with Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux in the new James Bond release Spectre as too extensive and had them trimmed by half.

Former I&B secretary and Board member Raghu Menon in a recent letter to fellow members said that he was disturbed at being treated in a cavalier and offhand fashion by Nihalani  and the utter insensitivity and disregard of the I&B ministry. He said:

I have closely observed and have been involved in the working of the CBFC for the last 20 years in various capacities when it was headed by luminaries like Shakti Samanta, Vijay Anand, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, Leela Samson etc, but never have I seen it sink to such levels of total disregard for the Board Members. It would be better to disband the Board if it is found to be so irrelevant.

Update: Skyfall too

22nd November 2015. See article from dnaindia.com

Chief Pahlaj Nihalani has been justifying his disgraceful Spectre cuts to Indian tabloids. He said that steamy scenes were also cut from the previous Bond movie Skyfall , but people made no fuss about it. So why is it an issue if the Board cut down the duration of kissing scenes in Spectre by 20 seconds, he asks.

Update: A better informed source

24th November 2015. See  article from movie-censorship.com

A better informed source reveals that the Indian film censor's dialogue cuts to Spectre were:

  • 'idiot' instead of 'asshole'
  • 'bighead and cats' instead of 'bastard and balls'.



Updated: Firing off angry tweets at Doctor Who...

Ludicrous 'outrage' over a fictional plane crash

Link Here 24th November 2015
A few viewers have vented their 'fury' at the BBC after this week's episode of Doctor Who showed a plane being shot out of the sky by a missile.

The super sensitive tweeters claimed the timing of the episode was insensitive given the terror attack on the Russian plane flying out of Egypt.

In the episode a shapeshifting alien takes the form of Clara Oswald and shoots at the plane with the with the intention of killing the doctor and all of the others on board The missile is seen hitting the plane before it explodes and is brought to the ground where viewers were shown the burning wreckage.

The Daily Mail dredged up a few trivial tweets:

  • Surprised the BBC would show a plane being shot down given recent events #doctorwho
  • Given the situation in Egypt, perhaps blowing up a plane on this week's episode of Doctor Who was not wise.
  • Can't believe #doctorwho showed a plane being shot out of the sky given the current news #insensitive.

A BBC spokesman responded:

The episode was clearly signposted as science fiction set in a fantasy world and no one died in the scene.

Update: Official BBC response: Gotcha, it was a military aircraft, not a commercial airliner

10th November 2015. See  article from bbc.co.uk

Doctor Who
BBC One, 7 November 2015


We received complaints from viewers who felt that scenes showing the destruction of an aeroplane were inappropriate in light of recent events.


We're aware that elements of drama programmes can sometimes bring to mind real events, and we always think very carefully about this.

In this case, though, the story was presented as a science fiction fantasy, far removed from the real world. The episode didn't depict a passenger-carrying commercial airliner - it was a military aircraft on official business - and both the Doctor and his companion survived.

With this in mind we didn't feel the scenes would be outside of most viewers' expectations for the programme, but we appreciate the differing feedback we've received.

Update: Complaints to Ofcom will surely be made into paper planes for crashing into the waste bin

13th November 2015. See  article from independent.co.uk

TV censor Ofcom said it has received 30 complaints about the Doctor Who plane crash. No doubt these will soon be consigned to the waste paper bin.

Update: Ofcom reject complaints without investigation

24th November 2015. See  article from theguardian.com

Ofcom has decided against launching an investigation into the plane crash episode of Doctor Who. A spokesman said:

We received a number of complaints that it was insensitive to broadcast this episode, which featured a plane being shot down, so close to events in the Sinai peninsula. In our view, the science fiction nature of Doctor Who and the storyline created a sufficient distinction from recent events. We therefore will not be taking the matter forward for investigation.



Well worth reading...

US businesses can actually sue you for posting negative reviews, and now Congress is fighting back

Link Here 24th November 2015

In late September, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against two marketers of weight-loss supplements -- Roca Labs, Inc and Roca Labs Nutraceutical USA, Inc.

According to the FTC , Roca Labs, Inc "allegedly made baseless claims for their products, and then threatened to enforce 'gag clause' provisions against consumers to stop them from posting negative reviews and testimonials online."

The gag clause that the FTC refers to -- in which customers unwittingly sign away their rights to post online reviews after making a purchase -- is becoming increasingly common. And it's only one of several strategies that companies have used to suppress negative reviews of their products.

A bill that's picking up steam in the US Senate -- the Consumer Review Freedom Act -- directly addresses these gag clauses. But while it represents a step in the right direction, the bill fails to address other shady practices of the online review industry.

The messy world of online reviews

Who knows what to believe these days about the authenticity and veracity of online -- typically anonymous -- reviews, which assess everything from restaurants to physicians .

Some reviews are fake (known as " astroturfed " reviews) and some are real. Some might contain truthful and honest views, while some might be bought and paid for , which includes fake positive reviews posted by the companies themselves.

But either way, let's face it: most businesses, large and small, don't want you to post negative comments about their products or services on internet sites such as Yelp , TripAdvisor , Angie's List and the aptly named PissedConsumer.com . Even a short and damning tweet on your own Twitter account might tick off a business.

There's a reason businesses care. One study in 2014 found that 39% of consumers read online reviews on a regular basis, up from 32% in 2013. Another survey found that 61% of shoppers will read product reviews before making a purchase.

So, what's a company to do when faced with negative reviews, real or otherwise?

A typical strategy is to try to silence online critics by suing them for defamation and claiming the reviews contain false allegations .

In fact, some businesses may go even further and file meritless defamation cases against reviewers, hoping the high costs of litigation will squelch the critics and cause them to retract their comments. These baseless libel suits are known as SLAPPs -- strategic lawsuits against public participation.

A 2010 New York Times article first called public attention to the issue. It told the story of a young man who posted a negative review about a towing company and soon found himself facing a defamation suit, with the company seeking US$750,000 in damages.

Today, many states now have anti-SLAPP statutes that allow victims to quickly dismiss these frivolous cases, thus taking some sting out of defamation as a remedy for negative reviews.

Read the fine print

Now, there's a new technique that some thin-skinned businesses are adopting to prevent peeved customers for speaking out: the use of gag clauses , in which customers sign away their rights to criticize a company when they enter into a contract with it.

These gag clauses are usually buried in the fine print and often go unread. According to Chris Morran of The Consumerist , they're appearing in contracts for "everything from cheapo cellphone accessories, to wedding contractors, to hotels, to dentists, to weight-loss products, to apartment complexes."

A major problem, attorney Jonathan Tung observes, is that "there is no national consensus on whether such gags are legal or not," as "some courts have deemed such clauses unconscionable while other courts have been very reluctant to interfere, citing freedom to contract."

In other words, some courts consider gag clauses invalid and unenforceable, while others uphold them. A customer who violates a gag clause by posting a negative review of a company thus risks paying the company whatever amount was specified in the contract for breaking the gag clause.

Congress steps in

The US Congress has entered the fray with the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 . Sponsored by Senator John Thune (R -- South Dakota), the bill renders contractual gag clauses void if they prohibit consumers from reviewing products or assessing performance, and if the clauses constitute "form contracts." (Many lawyers would term these adhesion contracts because the consumer has almost no power or leverage to negotiate a better deal.) The Consumer Review Freedom Act also gives the Federal Trade Commission the power to enforce the law on behalf of gagged consumers.

Here, Congress is following the lead of California, which in 2014 became the first state to adopt a statute forbidding businesses from gagging their customers. The measure is also supported by Yelp , where more than 90 million reviews have been posted.

A matter of contract, not the First Amendment

Surprisingly, perhaps, this is not a First Amendment free speech issue. The First Amendment certainly protects our ability to express our opinions, and opinions -- as opposed to false allegations -- are also typically shielded from defamation liability.

For example, posting online that a restaurant has "horrible service" or that it is "too loud" are matters of protected opinion. Conversely, claiming that the restaurant has "rats in the kitchen" or that it uses "stale products" in its recipes are factual allegations that, if false, are not protected.

But the First Amendment only protects speech from government censorship. The companies including gag provisions in their contracts are not government entities. Gag clauses thus are a matter of contract -- not constitutional -- law.

Although it has some quibbles with the language used in the Consumer Review Freedom Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says "it's great to see lawmakers addressing some of the most overtly unfair contract clauses."

There are, of course, many more problems with online reviews not addressed by the new bill, such as how to deal with completely fake and paid-for reviews. But some companies are taking action on their own.

In April, the Seattle Times reported that Amazon "sued three websites it accuses of purveying fake reviews, demanding that they stop the practice." It was only the first legal punch thrown by the giant Internet-based retailer. Last month, Amazon sued "more than 1,000 unidentified people selling fake reviews on its Web store."

Make no mistake: the Consumer Review Freedom Act is a great step forward for consumers who want to speak out, and it is wonderful to see Yelp supporting it . But by failing to address fake posts and preventing companies from filing SLAPPs, it only nibbles at the edges of the larger problems in the Wild West of online reviews.



Offsite Article: Asking 'Where are you from?' is now deemed to be 'microaggression'...

Link Here 24th November 2015
Aggressive PC extremists launch an assault on everyday life. By Frank Furedi

See article from spiked-online.com



Someone sticks their thumb up Ofcom's dirt box...

Ofcom squeals about a trailer for Inside Amy Schumer

Link Here 23rd November 2015

Inside Amy Schumer (trailer)
Comedy Central, 5 September 2015, 22:00

A complainant alerted Ofcom to a trailer broadcast at 22:00 on Comedy Central for the new season of Inside Amy Schumer, which they considered to be too graphic in its language and description of sexual acts.

The trailer featured a group of men sitting around a table playing poker. A female character played by the comedian Amy Schumer entered the room with a plate of chicken wings, which she placed in the middle of the poker table. Before leaving the room she turned to one of the players, her husband, played by the actor Zach Braff, and put her arms around his neck before saying:

If nobody needs anything else, honey, I'm going to head upstairs, start lubing up, so you can blast my dirt-box with your thumb while you lobster hand me in the twat, okay? Seriously, I want you to thumb-dash that mudpit 'til I make a pig noise. Then you can shit on my tits while I call my mom.

Amy Schumer then addressed the other poker players ( You guys are always welcome here! ) before leaving the room. Zach Braff then paused for a moment, while all the other poker players looked down in an uncomfortable silence, and then reached for a chicken wing and said: Guess I should eat up... I gotta shit on those tits!

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language,...sex,...discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of...gender.... Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.2

Although the Code requires that potentially offensive material is justified by its context, there is significant room for innovation, creativity and challenging material within comedy programming. However, broadcasters do not have unlimited licence in terms of offensive material. There may be circumstances in which relevant contextual factors (such as whether the editorial content is programming or a trailer, audience expectations, or warnings given to the audience) are not sufficient to justify the broadcast of offensive material.

Ofcom first considered whether the material in this programme had the potential to cause offence. We noted that in this trailer Amy Schumer used a number of highly graphic terms to describe various sexual acts such as: lubing up ; blast my dirt-box with your thumb ; lobster hand me in the twat ; thumb-dash that mudpit ; and shit on my tits . We considered that these various graphic, sexual references were clearly capable of causing offence.

We went on to consider whether the broadcast of these potentially offensive statements were justified by the context.

We assessed first the editorial context in which the trailer was broadcast. We noted this trailer was broadcast at 22:002, one hour after the watershed. We recognised that viewers of specialist comedy channels, such as Comedy Central, would have been likely to expect stronger and more challenging material to be broadcast at this time well after the watershed.

However, the content in this case was included within a trailer. Ofcom's research on offensive language notes that audiences consider offensive language less acceptable if it is included in trailers. This is because audiences do not choose to watch promotions for programmes. They come across them unawares. Viewers cannot therefore make informed choices to avoid offensive material in trailers compared to pre-scheduled programmes, and consequently audiences consider that the offensive language is imposed upon them.

Ofcom noted that this material was highly graphic in its use of sexual language, and that in our opinion the latitude given to licensees to broadcast highly offensive language in trailers (which are promotional and which viewers come across unawares) should be less than in programmes. We concluded that the content was so offensive that in our view it would have exceeded viewers' expectations even when broadcast at 22:00 (and afterwards) on a specialist comedy channel.

Breach of Rule 2.3

Update: South Park Trailer Too

27th November 2015. See  complaints bulletin [pdf] from stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom similarly whinged about the same channel's trailer for South Park shown at 10pm.

The trailer had a total duration of about 30 seconds. It featured a song celebrating South Park's new season, citing various situations that the characters had found themselves in previous episodes. The lyrics were as follows:

Do you recall when Cartman found out his mom was his Dad?
Or Kyle being turned into a human centi-pad?
Or how Butters became a pimp and took care of his hos?
Well, I got some good news for you; we're making brand new shows!
South Park's back for series 19, I can't fucking wait.
They've been on for nearly 20 years and they're still fucking great.
'I think I prefer Family Guy', some fucking asshole moans.
Well, why don't you go fuck yourself 'cos South Park's coming home!

Ofcom concluded:

Our view was that the offensive content within this trailer was not justified by the context and exceeded generally accepted standards. Consequently, the trailer breached Rule 2.3 of the Code.

Breach of Rule 2.3



Monitoring Unsocial Networks...

EFF launch website to track content taken down and censored by major social media companies

Link Here 23rd November 2015

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Visualizing Impact have launched Onlinecensorship.org, a new platform to document the who, what, and why of content takedowns on social media sites. The project, made possible by a 2014 Knight News Challenge award, will address how social media sites moderate user-generated content and how free expression is affected across the globe.

Controversies over content takedowns seem to bubble up every few weeks, with users complaining about censorship of political speech, nudity, LGBT content, and many other subjects. The passionate debate about these takedowns reveals a larger issue: social media sites have an enormous impact on the public sphere, but are ultimately privately owned companies. Each corporation has their own rules and systems of governance that control users' content, while providing little transparency about how these decisions are made.

At Onlinecensorship.org, users themselves can report on content takedowns from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube. By cataloging and analyzing aggregated cases of social media censorship, Onlinecensorship.org seeks to unveil trends in content removals, provide insight into the types of content being taken down, and learn how these takedowns impact different communities of users. EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression and co-founder of Onlinecensorship.org Jillian C. York said:

We want to know how social media companies enforce their terms of service. The data we collect will allow us to raise public awareness about the ways these companies are regulating speech. We hope that companies will respond to the data by improving their regulations and reporting mechanisms and processes--we need to hold Internet companies accountable for the ways in which they exercise power over people's digital lives.

York and Onlinecensorship.org co-founder Ramzi Jaber were inspired to action after a Facebook post in support of OneWorld's Freedom for Palestine project disappeared from the band Coldplay's page even though it had received nearly 7,000 largely supportive comments. It later became clear that Facebook took down the post after it was reported as abusive by several users. Jaber said:

By collecting these reports, we're not just looking for trends. We're also looking for context, and to build an understanding of how the removal of content affects users' lives. It's important companies understand that, more often than not, the individuals and communities most impacted by online censorship are also the most vulnerabl. Both a company's terms of service and their enforcement mechanisms should take into account power imbalances that place already-marginalized communities at greater risk online.

Onlinecensorship.org has other tools for social media users, including a guide to the often-complex appeals process to fight a content takedown. It will also host a collection of news reports on content moderation practices.



Update: Fun filled sponsors vs miserable gits...

The best and worst TV advertisers for 2015 based upon recommendations by Parents TV Council

Link Here 23rd November 2015
Full story: Parents TV Council...US moralists whinge at TV sex and violence
The Parents Television Council announced the companies that it chose for its annual Best/Worst Advertisers List. The Best companies on this list have demonstrated willingness to support positive TV programming including TV shows that routinely feature sex, violence, and profanity, and have not responded to moralist calls to reevaluate their sponsorship behavior.

Some of those shows include: Family Guy , which over the past year has featured 'jokes' about sexually assaulting children; Wicked City , a serial killer-focused drama that routinely shows graphic violence and sex; Scream Queens , which shows graphic gore akin to R-rated horror movies.

PTC asks Americans to use this list as they begin their holiday shopping, to reward the good ones and avoid the bad ones.


Worst miserable gits  

Best fun filled sponsors  


Google Microsoft

Nestle; Mondelez International (Trident, Dentyne, Bubblicious, Toblerone) Mars; Wrigley

Sanofi; Johnson & Johnson Bayer; Merck
Consumer Brands  

P&G (Cover Girl, Luvs, Swiffer, Bounty, Tide, Crest, Pampers, Olay, Duracell, Gillette, Always, NyQuil) Unilever (Dove, Axe, Lipton, Suave, Vaseline, Hellmann's)

Coca Cola Red Bull
Fast Food  

Wendy's; Dunkin' Brands McDonald's; Burger King; Yum!

Prudential Nationwide
Office Supply  

Office Depot Staples

Helzberg Diamonds Kay Jewelers

TJX (Marshalls, Home Goods, TJ Maxx) L Brands (Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, La Senza)
General Retail  

Sears; Walmart Target; Best Buy



My Boomerang Won't Come Back Comes Back...

Charlie Drake scores a double hit with politically correct broadcast bans in 1961 and 2015

Link Here 23rd November 2015
My Boomerang Won't Come Back is a comedy song from Charlie Drake dating back to 1961. It was controversial at the time but has just hit the news again after just being banned in Australia on grounds of political correctness.

The song is about an Aboriginal boy banished from his tribe because he can't use a boomerang and includes the lyrics:

In the bad backlands of Australia
Many years ago,
The aborigine tribes were meeting,
Having a big pow-wow.

My boomerang won't come back,
My boomerang won't come back,
I've waved the thing all over the place,
Practised till I was black in the face,
I'm a big disgrace to the Aborigine race,
My boomerang won't come back.

When the song  was played on ABC's radio station in Hobart, Tasmania, in September one listener complained that it was racist. Now the broadcaster's Audience and Consumer Affairs Department has upheld that complaint, saying:

The track as not in keeping with the ABC's editorial standards for harm and offence; there was no editorial justification for playing it.

The song was not on a regular ABC playlist but was aired because it was requested by a listener. This error was due to staff not being familiar with the track's lyrics.

The ABC apologised to the complainant, removed the track completely from the system and took steps to ensure that this would not happen again.

At the time of its 1961 release. The BBC refused to play the original version which contained the line: I've waved the thing all over the place/practiced till I was black in the face , so it was re-recorded as blue in the face .

Its lack of political correctness also means an Aboriginal meeting is described as a pow-wow , a term usually associated with Native Americans, while the chanting on the track sounds more African than Aboriginal.



Black and White TV Kiss...

BFI researches a TV taboo that crumbled in the 60s

Link Here 23rd November 2015
The first interracial kiss broadcast on British television has been uncovered by the British Film Institute.

It featured on You in Your Small Corner , a Granada Play of the Week , broadcast in June 1962.

The drama was an adaptation of a play by Jamaican-born Barry Reckord that had been performed at the Royal Court and explored issues of mixed race and class.

Marcus Prince, the BFI's TV programmer who discovered the historic kiss while researching an event, said: I was astounded ... it was so explicit really. I looked at the date and realised its significance.

The accolade of the first interracial kiss had previously been attributed to an episode of Emergency Ward 10 broadcast in 1964, between characters Joan Hooley and John White.

A kiss between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain James T Kirk in a 1968 episode of Star Trek was the first shown in the US and is also often cited as the first shown British television .

The kiss will be shown to a Race and Romance on TV panel at the BFI on 24 November.



Blocked Entry...

Polish police arrest religious extremists trying to picket play

Link Here 22nd November 2015
Polish police have arrested 12 people who tried to block the entrance to a theater performance they claimed to be pornographic.

Scuffles broke out late Saturday in Wroclaw when members of a Catholic organization tried to stop theater-goers from seeing Death and the Maiden , based on the work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Elfriede Jelinek.

The protesters objected to the presence on the stage of porn stars.

The government's new culture minister, Piotr Glinski, had previously called for the show to be canceled, noting the theater is sponsored by the state budget.



Cowtowing to Extremism...

Indian art exhibit vandalised by religious extremists

Link Here 22nd November 2015
Organizers of an art fair in India say right-wing Hindu extremists have vandalised an exhibit of a Styrofoam cow that was suspended in midair using a balloon. The activists claimed that the installation was offensive.

R.B. Gauttam, an organizer of the Jaipur Art Summit, said that the exhibit was meant to highlight how cows suffer after ingesting plastic waste at India's many garbage dumps.



Update: The right to be forgotten on steroids...or maybe even LSD...

More disgraceful censorship legislation on the way from the EU

Link Here 21st November 2015
Full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU

Europe is very close to the finishing line of an extraordinary project: the adoption of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a single, comprehensive replacement for the 28 different laws that implement Europe's existing 1995 Data Protection Directive . More than any other instrument, the original Directive has created a high global standard for personal data protection, and led many other countries to follow Europe's approach. Over the years, Europe has grown ever more committed to the idea of data protection as a core value. In the Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding on all the EU states since 2009, lists the "right to the protection of personal data" as a separate and equal right to privacy. The GDPR is intended to update and maintain that high standard of protection, while modernising and streamlining its enforcement.

The battle over the details of the GDPR has so far mostly been a debate between advocates pushing to better defend data protection, against companies and other interests that find consumer privacy laws a hindrance to their business models. Most of the compromises between these two groups have now already been struck.

The result is a ticking time-bomb that will be bad for online speech, and bad for the future reputation of the GDPR and data protection in general.

The current draft of the GDPR doubles down on Google Spain, and raises new problems. (The draft currently under negotiation is not publicly available, but July 2015 versions of the provisions that we refer to can be found in this comparative table of proposals and counter-proposals by the European institutions. Article numbers referenced here, which will likely change in the final text, are to the proposal from the Council of the EU unless otherwise stated.)

First, it requires an Internet intermediary (which is not limited to a search engine, though the exact scope of the obligation remains vague) to respond to a request by a person for the removal of their personal information by immediately restricting the content, without notice to the user who uploaded that content (Articles 4(3a), 17, 17a, and 19a.). Compare this with the DMCA takedown notices, which include a notification requirement, or even the current Right to Be Forgotten process, which give search engines some time to consider the legitimacy of the request. In the new GDPR regime, the default is to block.

Then, after reviewing the (also vague) criteria that balance the privacy claim with other legitimate interests and public interest considerations such as freedom of expression (Articles 6.1(f), 17a(3) and 17.3(a)), and possibly consulting with the user who uploaded the content if doubt remains, the intermediary either permanently erases the content (which, for search engines, means removing their link to it), or reinstates it (Articles 17.1 and 17a(3)). If it does erase the information, it is not required to notify the uploading user of having done so, but is required to notify any downstream publishers or recipients of the same content (Articles 13 and 17.2), and must apparently also disclose any information that it has about the uploading user to the person who requested its removal (Articles 14a(g) and 15(1)(g)).

Think about that for a moment. You place a comment on a website which mentions a few (truthful) facts about another person. Under the GDPR, that person can now demand the instant removal of your comment from the host of the website, while that host determines whether it might be okay to still publish it. If the host's decision goes against you (and you won't always be notified, so good luck spotting the pre-emptive deletion in time to plead your case to Google or Facebook or your ISP), your comment will be erased. If that comment was syndicated, by RSS or some other mechanism, your deleting host is now obliged to let anyone else know that they should also remove the content.

Finally, according to the existing language, while the host is dissuaded from telling you about any of this procedure, they are compelled to hand over personal information about you to the original complainant. So this part of EU's data protection law would actually release personal information!

What are the incentives for the intermediary to stand by the author and keep the material online? If the host fails to remove content that a data protection authority later determines it should have removed, it may become liable to astronomical penalties of ?100 million or up to 5% of its global turnover, whichever is higher (European Parliament proposal for Article 79).

That means there is enormous pressure on the intermediary to take information down if there is even a remote possibility that the information has indeed become "irrelevant", and that countervailing public interest considerations do not apply.

It is not too late yet: proposed amendments to the GDPR are still being considered. We have written a joint letter with ARTICLE 19 to European policymakers, drawing their attention to the problem and explaining what needs to be done. We contend that the problems identified can be overcome by relatively simple amendments to the GDPR, which will help to secure European users' freedom of expression, without detracting from the strong protection that the regime affords to their personal data.

Without fixing the problem, the current draft risks sullying the entire GDPR project. Just like the DMCA takedown process, these GDPR removals won't just be used for the limited purpose they were intended for. Instead, it will be abused to censor authors and invade the privacy of speakers. A GDPR without fixes will damage the reputation of data protection law as effectively as the DMCA permanently tarnished the intent and purpose of copyright law.



Censors on Demand...

Ofcom appoints new TV censors and notes that their remit has extended to Video on Denmand

Link Here 21st November 2015

Ofcom has appointed two new members to its Content Board.

Aled Eirug has over three decades of experience in the media, including ten years as Head of News and Current Affairs at BBC Wales. Aled is currently a Member of the S4C Authority and Chair of the British Council advisory committee in Wales. Aled is joining as Ofcom's Content Board Member for Wales and will also sit on Ofcom's Advisory Committee for Wales.

Dr Zahera Harb is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at City University London. Zahera brings an in-depth understanding of media and communications and adds expertise and knowledge in minority language broadcasting to Ofcom's Content Board. She is a board member of the Ethical Journalism Network.

Ofcom's Content Board is a committee of the main Ofcom Board, with delegated and advisory responsibility for a wide range of content issues. It serves as Ofcom's primary forum for the regulation of television, radio and video-on-demand quality and standards.

Aled and Zahera's appointments take effect from 1 December 2015. Both are for three-year terms. Aled Eirug is replacing Glyn Mathias who stepped down earlier this summer as Content Board Member for Wales.



Don't believe what Ofcom says, it's just angling to censor the internet as if it were TV...

Ofcom claims that kids are gullible and are too ready to believe what they read on the internet

Link Here 20th November 2015
Ofcom writes:

Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial.

Ofcom's Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes Report reveals that children aged 8-15 are spending more than twice as much time online as they did a decade ago, reaching over 15 hours each week in 2015. But even for children who have grown up with the internet - so-called digital natives - there's room to improve their digital know-how and understanding.

For example, children do not always question what they find online. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.

Nearly one in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is all true - doubling from 4% in 2014.

Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for true and accurate information about what's going on in the world. The video sharing site is the preferred choice for this kind of information among nearly one in ten (8%) online children, up from just 3% in 2014. But only half of 12-15s (52%) who watch YouTube are aware that advertising is the main source of funding on the site, and less than half (47%) are aware that vloggers (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

James Thickett, Ofcom's Director of Research, said:

The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.

More than nine in ten parents of 8-15s (92%) manage their children's internet use in some way - either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Nearly four in ten parents (38%) use all four approaches.

Among the technical tools used by parents are network-level content filters offered by broadband providers. Almost six in ten parents of 8-15s (56%) are aware of these parental controls, up from 50% in 2014, and a quarter (26%) use them, up from 21% in 2014.

It appears that the vast majority of children do hear the advice given about staying safe online. Some 97% of children aged 8-15 recall advice they've been given, particularly from parents.

The large majority (84%) of children aged 8-15 also say they would tell their parents, another family member or a teacher if they saw something online they found worrying, nasty or offensive. However, 6% of children say they would not tell anyone.



A scary thought...

PEGI will consider whether PG rated jump scares will be a lot more scary when young gamers are immersed in virtual reality

Link Here 20th November 2015
European games ratings body PEGI says that it will re-evaluate its ratings system when Virtual Reality games arrive next year.

The firm says it will take a closer look at how it assesses fear and horror in terms of suitability for young audiences. Presumably the group is considering whether a PG rated jump scare could turn out to be far more scary than that in virtual reality.

It follows comments from Sony's Worldwide Studio boss Shuhei Yoshida, who told Digital Spy at Paris Games Week that a new ratings system might be needed for games that could cause 'trauma'.

PEGI operations director Dirk Bosmans told MCV:

PEGI should examine the coming wave of VR products using the current questionnaire, but reserve the right to reassess certain elements -- more specifically the criteria around fear (currently rated PEGI 7) and horror (as in non-violent scary imagery, currently rated PEGI 12) -- once a broader range of products hits the market in the coming period of time.



Needed to be said...

Politicians take offence at Daily Mail cartoon depicting rats mingling with refugees

Link Here 20th November 2015
About 200 people have compalied to the newspaper censor Ipso about a cartoon by Mac published in the Daily Mail. It featured caricatured refugees crossing the border into Europe, accompanied by rats scurrying across the floor.

The Daily Mail's managing editor's office said in a statement that:

As should be blindingly obvious, Mac's cartoon is a comment on the terrorist atrocities in Paris. The rats were intended to depict terrorists smuggling themselves into Europe amongst innocent refugees.

Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, wrote to the paper's editor, suggesting that the animation:

Appears to liken immigrants of the Muslim faith to rats. To me, and to many of my constituents, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, this cartoon appears to be Islamophobic,

And, what is more, comes at a time when our country's Muslim community - which was as shocked and saddened as we all were at the unforgivable atrocities in Pairs - feels under threat of demonisation.

The letter was published  by an unofficial group campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn to become UK Prime Minister (JeremyCorbyn4PM). The group tweeted:

Well done to @RichardBurgon for standing up to the @DailyMailUK over their disgraceful cartoon. Needed to be said.

The press censor Ipso confirmed it had received 200 complaints regarding the drawing.



Fair Play...

YouTube Backs Its Users With New Fair Use Protection Program

Link Here 20th November 2015

In what we very much hope launches a "race to the top" to protect online fair use, today YouTube announced a new program to help users fight back against outrageous copyright threats. The company has created a 'Fair Use Protection' program that will cover legal costs of users who, in the company's view, have been unfairly targeted for takedown.

We have criticized YouTube in the past for not doing enough to protect fair use on its service, including silencing videos based on vague " contractual obligations " and failing to fix the many problems with its Content ID program . However, when the company takes positive steps to protect its users, we take notice.

Google describes the program on its blog , but here are the basic details: When the company notices that a video targeted for takedown is clearly a lawful fair use, it may choose to offer the user the option of enrolling their video into the program. If the user decides to join, the video will stay up in the United States and, if the rightsholder sues, YouTube will provide assistance of up to $1 million dollars in legal fees.

YouTube has started the program off with four videos that the company believes represent fair use. You can watch them here .

While we would like the program to do a little bit more--for example, given that the main criteria is that a video must be clearly lawful we'd like YouTube to provide any user that meet that criteria the option of enrolling their video into the program, rather than hand-selecting which ones gets to participate--we think this is a solid and unprecedented step forward in protecting fair use on the site.

We commend YouTube for standing up for its users, and we hope the program will inspire other service providers on the web to follow its lead.



Offsite Article: Collective Shout Recommends...

Link Here 20th November 2015
Full story: Collective Shout...Nutter campaigners against sexualisation and the like
A 2015 Christmas list of top companies that have offended the Australian moralists

See article from melindatankardreist.com



Campaign: Make the BBFC watch paint dry...

Having fun with a crowd funded film of drying paint intended as 14 hours of dreary 'entertainment' for BBFC examiners

Link Here 19th November 2015

The British Board of Film Classification (previously known as the British Board of Film Censors) was established in 1912 to ensure films remained free of indecorous dancing , references to controversial politics and men and women in bed together , amongst other perceived indiscretions.

Today, it continues to censor and in some cases ban films, while UK law ensures that, in effect, a film cannot be released in British cinemas without a BBFC certificate.

Each certificate costs around £1000 for a feature film of average length. For many independent filmmakers, such a large upfront can prove prohibitively expensive.

Luckily, there's a flipside to all of this: while filmmakers are required to pay the BBFC to certify their work, the BBFC are also required to sit through whatever we pay them to watch.

That's why I'm Kickstarting a BBFC certificate for my new film Paint Drying -- a single, unbroken shot of white paint drying on a brick wall. All the money raised by this campaign (minus Kickstarter's fees) will be put towards the cost of the certificate, so the final length of the film will be determined by how much money is raised here.

For instance, if we raise £108.59, the film will be one minute long. If we raise £526.90, it'll be an hour long. And so on.

I've shot fourteen continuous hours of footage, on crisp 4K digital video. This should provide enough material for the film, as long as this campaign doesn't raise more than £6057.

If the campaign surpasses that figure, I'll reshoot the film with a longer runtime -- which would also allow Paint Drying to overtake Jacques Rivette's Out 1 (with a runtime of 775 minutes) as the longest film ever rated by the BBFC.



Updated: Enabling control freakery for website linking...

Leaked Draft Reveals EU Anti-Piracy Enforcement Plan

Link Here 19th November 2015
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
Torrentfreak commented on a draft document indicating some rather censorial legislation is being considered by the EU Commission. Torrentfreak explains:

A leaked document has revealed the EU Commission's plans for copyright in 2016. In addition to tackling the issue of content portability in the spring, the draft suggests the Commission will explore a follow-the-money approach to enforcement, clarify rules for identifying infringers, and examine the crosss-border application of injunctions.

Noting that creative rights have little value if they cannot be enforced, the Commission calls for a balanced civil enforcement system to enable copyright holders to fight infringement more cheaply and across borders.

A 'follow-the-money' approach, which sees the involvement of different types of intermediary service providers, seems to be a particularly promising method that the Commission and Member States have started to apply in certain areas, the draft reads.

It can deprive those engaging in commercial infringements of the revenue streams (for example from consumer payments and advertising) emanating from their illegal activities, and therefore act as a deterrent.

On this front the Commission says it intends to take immediate action to set up a self-regulatory mechanism with a view to reaching agreement next spring. While voluntary, the EU says the mechanism can be backed up by force if necessary.

The document also highlights a need to address the (cross-border) application of provisional and precautionary measures and injunctions . Clarification is needed, but this appears to be a reference to EU-wide site blocking.

Furthermore, the EU indicates it will examine the rules for copyright takedowns and the potential for illicit content to be taken down and remain down.

The Commission is also carrying out a comprehensive assessment and a public consultation on online platforms, which also covers 'notice and action' mechanisms and the issue of action remaining effective over time (the 'take down and stay down' principle), the draft reads.

Finally, Julia Reda MEP is raising alarms over the Commission's intent to clarify the legal definition of communication to the public and of making available .

The Commission is considering putting the simple act of linking to content under copyright protection, Reda writes.

This idea flies in the face of both existing interpretation and spirit of the law as well as common sense. Each weblink would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable.

Update: EU claims that it is not seeking a hyperlink tax or EU harmonised website blocking

19th November 2015. See  article from publicaffairs.linx.net

Linx is a trade group of UK ISPs so has a keen interest on issues being discussed by the EU. Linx reports:

EU Commissioner Andrus Ansip has confirmed that forthcoming European copyright proposals will not include introduce ancillary copyright rules, and will not attempt to harmonise web-blocking laws across the EU.

In an interview with Politico, the European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market said that there were no plans to require news aggregators and pay publishers for the right to link to their content.

Ansip said that it was too early to tell what lessons would be learned from ancillary copyright laws recently passed in Spain and Germany.



Gambling on good publicity...

And the Irish advert censor obliges by banning Paddy Power advert

Link Here 19th November 2015
The Advert Standards Authority for Ireland has banned another in long line of amusing and provocative advert from bookmaker Paddy Power. This time alluding to Calais immigrants jumping into trucks bound for the UK. The ASAI explained:

An advertisement which featured on social media channels included pictures of the following five sports stars, Andy Murray, Raheem Sterling, Mo Farah, Manu Tualigi and Eoin Morgan, they were shown on a truck side. The text read as follows:


Complainants considered the advertisement to be in poor taste, offensive, racist, and exploiting the situation that immigrants in Calais currently found themselves in, i.e. jumping onto moving lorries to gain entry to the UK. One complainant considered that the advertisers were making a joke out of human tragedy, while another considered it was likely to inflame negative attitudes towards immigrants. One complainant queried the use of Andy Murray in the advertisement.

Complaints Upheld.

The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers' response. They noted that the advertisers had targeted their followers on Facebook and Twitter with their advertisement. The Code provides that in assessing compliance, particular attention is paid to the media by means of which the marketing communication is communicated. In this case the Committee accepted that while the majority of Paddy Power followers on Social Media and Twitter would probably be aware of their edgy sense of humour, it was nevertheless inappropriate for advertisers to refer to vulnerable groups, in a manner that highlighted their current high profile difficulties, in marketing communications merely to attract attention.

Action Required: The advertisement should not appear in the same form again.



Update: Hunger for Offence...

Posters for Mockingjay Part 2 are censored in Jerusalem for fear of religious extremists

Link Here 19th November 2015
Full story: Invisible Women in israel...Women removed from the media lest men get offended
Posters for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, featuring the film's female lead Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Katniss Everdeen, have been hung prominently throughout Israel.

Except for in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak There, the posters only display the fiery crow that forms the background of the poster. The foreground of Jennifer Lawrence with a bow and arrow has been excluded.

The movie's Israeli PR firm acknowledged that the poster had been sanitized for the ultra-Orthodox audience. A spokesman said:

We discovered that public posters with the image of a female are often torn down in Jerusalem, while Bnei Brak does not allow posters with female images.

The Bnei Brak municipality said in a statement that a municipal regulation prevents the hanging of posters of women that might incite the feelings of the city's residents.

The Jerusalem municipality said that it does not limit the appearance of female images in posters, but Liron Suissa, VP marketing of the company responsible for the posters, Nur Star Media, said:

Unfortunately we are subject to unofficial coercion that forces us to be more careful, Suissa said. We have had endless vandalization, and clients prefer not to take the chance. We allow everything, but we recommend hanging another visual when necessary. The decision is the client's.



Update: Extinction...

Zoo and FHM lads's mags set to close by the end of the year

Link Here 18th November 2015
Full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills
FHM and Zoo are to close by the end of the year, marking the end of lads' mags in Britain

Publisher Bauer Media described the closures, which are still subject to a consultation on the future of 20 jobs across the two titles, as a suspension, but the plan is to close both the print and digital versions of the magazines by 2016.

The closures reflect an overall decline in magazine sales, generally attributed to porn being widely available for free on the internet. Both titles have seen steep declines from their heyday. FHM's circulation fell to less than 67,000 for the first six months of this year, while Zoo was selling just over 24,000 copies per issue.



Update: Belief in censorship...

Facebook censors exploited by those wishing to ban atheist websites in India

Link Here 17th November 2015
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
A Change.org petition is urging Mark Zuckerberg to support freedom of expression in India by unblocking an atheist Facebook group with over 13,000 members titled Indian Atheists Debate Corner.

Facebook, the petition said, had not given any reason for the blockade. One day users in India who tried to visit the site were simply hit with a message that the content was unavailable. This was not the first time a Facebook page for atheists had been censored.

As usual, when shoddy Facebook censorship obtains sufficient publicity then Facebook hold up their hands, claim it was all ghastly mistake, and restore the site. Of course victims unable to raise the required publicity stay censored.

Presumably the atheist groups were flagged by Facebook users who disagree with the website. According to Facebook's transparency report released earlier this week, it censored the postings of thousands of Indian Facebook users because they were anti-religious or was deemed to be hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India.

Facebook would only say that the Indian Atheists Debate Corner was blocked after a reviewer found it violated Facebook rules. After examining the page again as a result of an inquiry, Facebook decided the page did not violate its rules.

It's a reminder that Facebook censors, as The Economist wrote last year, operate under a cloak of anonymity, with no accountability to users. It is often unclear why one piece of content is removed, while another is not. But in failing to better scrutinize take-down requests and their legal underpinnings, Facebook has unwittingly contributed to a long-standing culture of religious persecution and censorship in India.



Offsite Article: Box Office Suicide Squad...

Link Here 17th November 2015
Full story: PG13ification...Hollywood cramming R rated movies into PG-13
Writer for the movie news website Collider proposes a 14 rating for the US

See article from collider.com



A word in the ear of those who stray from the righteous PC path...

Advert censor announces a new policy option to quietly advise advertisers considered to be 'potentially' breaking the rules as an alternative to a formal investigation

Link Here 16th November 2015

In line with its strategic aim to have more impact and be more proactive in how it regulates, the ASA is to start putting a stronger focus on those issues where there is the greatest potential detriment or harm. This will allow it to have the biggest impact on the issues that matter most, benefitting consumers, society and responsible advertisers alike.

In February the ASA announced the introduction of new Prioritisation Principles to guide its work. The principles were developed to help it decide what resource it should commit, or activity it should undertake, in response to issues identified through complaints (and other channels). From Monday, 23 November, it will be using those principles to help it decide when it will investigate issues that potentially break the rules and when it can deal with the issues by other means.

It's important to stress that, where a complaint indicates the rules have been broken, the ASA will always act. It has always varied its approach to complaint handling depending on the nature of the issues raised, resolving cases informally where possible and in so doing avoiding the lengthier process of formal investigation. However, it will now be making greater use of advice and guidance as an alternative to its existing investigation processes to help advertisers stick to the rules. The ASA is confident that responsible advertisers will follow that advice, and it's important that they do.

Most complainants and advertisers won't be affected by this policy because the best course of action in many cases will still be to deal with complaints as before, either by informal resolution with an advertiser or by a formal ASA ruling. Where this new policy does apply to a complaint, the ASA will write to the advertiser and complainant explaining its decision and the action it has taken.

By introducing the option of writing to advertisers who have potentially broken the rules instead of initiating an investigation, the ASA has developed an approach that allows it to act proportionately in response to complaints received whilst freeing up the time it needs to focus on the issues that matter most. Those issues might be dealt with through a formal investigation or by other means, such as sector wide work, as it continues to develop the processes needed to become a more proactive regulator.



Something best avoided...

Downton Abbey programme makers reveal their careful avoidance of religious references

Link Here 16th November 2015
There has been a bit of a debate in America about why Christianity, which would have formed a central part of the lives of the aristocracy in the early 20th century, is largely absent from the TV drama Downton Abbey .

Now the man tasked with ensuring the historical accuracy of the series has revealed why Downton does not do God. Alastair Bruce, who serves as the show's historical advisor , said that executives in charge of the series had ordered producers to leave religion out of it , for fear of alienating an increasingly atheistic public.

For instance, the Crawley family is never shown in the process of sitting down to dinner, with the action instead shown from part-way through the meal . This, Bruce said, was to avoid having to show the characters saying grace. Bruce explained:

In essence you hardly ever see a table that isn't already sat at. We never see the beginning of a luncheon or a dinner, because no one was ever allowed to see a grace being said , and I would never allow them to sit down without having said grace.

I think that the view was that we'd leave religion out of it, and it would've taken extra time too. I suggested a Latin grace, but they decided that was too far, and no one would've known what was going on.

Bruce said that he was even banned from featuring napkins folded in the shape of a bishop's mitre, for fear of breaching the religious edict:

Everyone panics when you try to do anything religious on the telly. I still wish we could've got some decent napkin folds , but I was always left with my triangle.

Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television also revealed that earlier in the year that the channel had considered renaming the series, because it featured the word Abbey in the title. He said:

I can remember discussions that almost seem comical now. We talked about the word Abbey. Would people think it would have nuns or monks in it and be a religious series? But we satisfied ourselves they wouldn't and did a bit of marketing around it.



Commented: Banning criticism of that which underpins much of the violence in the world...

Muslim Council of Britain calls for a new blasphemy law criminalising the criticism of religion

Link Here 16th November 2015
The Muslim Council of Britain held a conference this week entitled Terrorism and Extremism -- how should British Muslims respond?

And the response seems to be to call for the censorship of reports about the terrorism and criminalisation of criticism of the extremism.

Calls were made for the UK's newspaper censor, Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), to censor press stories critical of groups of people rather than the current remit to investigate press stories that are unfair to individuals.

The Muslim Council of Britain both called for that to change, amid what some claim is slanted press coverage of Islamic issues. The coincil had previously criticized media coverage of issues such as that of Muslim grooming gangs , in which groups of men in areas such as Rotherham, Derby, Bristol and Oxfordshire were accused of raping thousands of children. Representatives of the MCB have said that linking the story to the Muslim faith was not fair.

Miqdaad Versi, Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, said that there is currently no recourse under the press standards code when a particular group is attacked by the media:

There's been many examples in the media, where we've tried to go to the code but we've not been able to, he said. If there is a way that a representative group can launch a complaint on that issue, that would be valuable.

One of the most high-profile cases in which IPSO rejected a claim of discrimination came last spring, and involved a column in the Sun newspaper about the migration crisis. Controversial columnist Katie Hopkins suggested that Europe should use gunboats to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean, and compared those fleeing their home countries to cockroaches. But IPSO rejected complaints over her column, because it did not refer to specific individuals.

The conference also discussed the restoration of blasphemy laws, abolished in 2008 after they had largely fallen into disuse by then, given that the last successful prosecution was in 1977.

On the topic Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told Al Arabiya News that he would have no problem with blasphemy laws being reintroduced"

It should apply to all religions. If we have laws, they should apply to everybody. Religions are very special to people. And therefore I have no objection to them... but it must apply equally to everybody.

David Anderson QC spoke on the topic saying he would not object to a public debate over the issue, although had doubts over whether such laws should be reintroduced:

Personally I'm not sure whether I would welcome a blasphemy law, because I think we have to be free to make fun of each other. We even have to be free to offend each other, he said. [But] I would have no problem with the idea of a democratic debate on whether there is room for some kind of blasphemy law.

Miqdaad Versi said:

Muslim communities need to be able to respond to accusations Muslims, or against the Prophet, in a more effective way. Whether there should be legislation is something that really is a more complicated question.

Comment: One religion's blasphemer is another religion's saint

16th November 2015. See article from rorate-caeli.blogspot.com . Thanks to Alan

Here's a spectacular illustration of the big problem with blasphemy laws: religions contradict, and therefore blaspheme, one another.

This Catholic web site presents, and accurately translates into English, criticisms of Muhammad and Islam made by a priest who has been declared a saint. Notably, St john Bosco was a kindly and gentle old chap, deploring corporal punishment at a time when Dr Arnold of Rugby firmly believed in a good flogging in front of the assembled house. He observed:

"It would take too long to tell you all the stories about this famous impostor (...) Mohamed's religion consists of a monstrous mixture of Judaism, Paganism and Christianity. Mohamed propagated his religion, not through miracles or persuasive words, but through the force of arms. [It is] a religion that favors every sort of licentiousness and which, in a short time, allowed Mohamed to become the leader of a troop of brigands. Along with them he raided the countries of the East and conquered the people, not by introducing the Truth, not by miracles or prophecy; but for one reason only: to raise his sword over the heads of the conquered shouting: believe or die".



Slapped Down...

Computer game Street Fighter V toned down

Link Here 14th November 2015
Street Fighter V is a PlayStation 4 game set for release on February 16, 2016.

Review copies have been circulating and cuts have been spotted. Sights of cleavage and butts have been toned down between pre-release versions. An article from gamezone.com reveals:

In the previous build for Street Fighter 5, R. Mika would hold her opponents legs in a split during a move, this is not longer the case. Now her opponents legs are much closer together. Maybe coincidently but comparison shots also show some cleavage being lost in reframing.

R. Mika's invaluable butt slap has been replaced with a very different camera angle -- one that shows her upper body, instead of her very robust lower body.



Life Goes On...

Chinese book censorship becomes more censorial

Link Here 14th November 2015
Just over a decade ago, Sheng's best-selling breakthrough novel, Northern Girls , was published uncensored in mainland China to critical acclaim.

But last month, as editors prepared to launch a third edition of the book, the author was informed that parts of her text were no longer publishable.

The censorship is related to the recent change of policy to allow Chinese couples to have two children instead of one. Now the censors seem keen to hide some of the nasty consequences of the previous policy.

One excerpt editors want to expunge from the latest edition of her 2004 novel refers to the forced abortions and sterilisations undergone by women as a result of China's one-child policy, which was formally scrapped last month after 35 years. One of the offending lines reads:

Those who exceeded the bounds of family planning policies and found themselves pregnant again had to have abortions.

President Xi Jinping has been laying out a more censorial policy for literature. A speech from 2014 was recently published demanded that writers promote propaganda that the party's core socialist values and spread positive energy with their work:

Good works of art and literature should be like the sunshine from a blue sky and the breeze of spring. They should enlighten, warm and cultivate.

Xi criticised writers speaking of the realities of Chinese life. He warned:

Some works ridicule what is noble and distort the classics, they subvert history and smear the masses and heroes. Some works make no distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, overplaying the dark side of society.



Gambling on Censorship...

Quebec looks to block gambling websites that compete with its own

Link Here 14th November 2015
Quebec is moving ahead with a plan to order ISPs to block unlicensed gambling websites, an initiative that some say sets a dangerous precedent for censorship of the Web.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao tabled censorship legislation to implement the blocking in the province's Consumer Protection Act that direct Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a list of unauthorized gambling sites to be drawn up by Loto-Quebec. Failure to comply could lead to a fine of up to $100,000 and twice that for subsequent offences.

The move is intended to maintain a monopoly for the government's own website, Espacejeux which expects to benefit from the censorship to the tune of an additional $13.5-million in 2016-17 and $27-million a year after that.

But critics say the scheme amounts to censorship, that it is technically unworkable and that the province does not have the authority to regulate the Internet in this fashion. Timothy Denton, chairman of the Canadian chapter of the Internet Society, a group that advocates keeping the Internet open and free said:

It is censorship. It's blocking access to otherwise legally available sites in the interests of enhancing one's gambling monopoly. A lot of countries try to do it, but we don't call them liberal democracies.



Offsite Article: Russia: Blasphemy law has aided the growth of religious censorship...

Link Here 14th November 2015
Full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
Russia's vague laws, which see actions deemed insulting to religious beliefs punishable by up to three years in jail, have led to more censorship and self-censorship in all forms of journalism. By Ekaterina Buchneva

See article from indexoncensorship.org



Petition: Hands Off FOI...

Don't weaken the Freedom of Information Act

Link Here 13th November 2015
Petitioning Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Matthew Hancock MP

The Freedom of Information Act established the broad principle that public bodies must release information if the public interest in doing so outweighs the public interest in it remaining secret.

We, the undersigned, urge the Government not to do anything which would detract from that principle.

In particular we urge you:

  • to ensure that the Act continues to allow for the release of internal discussions at local and central government level when there is a public interest in doing so
  • not to seek to create any new veto powers over the release of information
  • not to introduce charges for Freedom of Information Act requests or appeals.

Any charges could dramatically undermine the ability of requesters, including regional press journalists and freelances in particular, to use the Act to hold authorities to account.

Investigative journalism is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes difficult to justify for news organisations which are under financial pressure. It needs to be nurtured and encouraged, for the benefit of society and democracy, not subject to Freedom of Information charges which would be effectively be a tax on journalism.

This petition was launched by Press Gazette as part of the Society of Editors' Hands Off FoI campaign. It also has the backing of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

Sign the petition from change.org



Updated: BBC Bollocks...

BBC can't bring themselves to explain what people were whingeing about when responding to complaints

Link Here 13th November 2015

The BBC responded to a complaint without informing viewers what the complaint was about. The BBFC said:

Strictly Come Dancing,
BBC One, 24 October 2015


We received complaints from viewers unhappy with Bruno Tonioli's use of strong language during this episode.


We're sorry for any offence caused by Bruno's remark during the live show. Bruno made the comment in the heat of the moment, and apologised immediately when he realised what he had said. Tess also apologised to viewers, as did the Strictly team on Twitter. The remark was removed from the iPlayer version of the show.

In fact Bruno said 'bollocks'. When passing his verdict on Jay and Aliona Vilani's dance, he shrieked: Oh yeah! those are the bull's bollocks! Tess Daly then apologised to viewers, telling them: I would just like to apologise for Bruno's language there, he got a little over-excited .

Update: Ofcom dismisses bollocks complaints

10th November 2015. See  article from telegraph.co.uk

The world 'bollocks' can be used before the watershed in some circumstances, the TV said, as it rejected complaints about a Strictly Come Dancing judge's use of the term:

Our research shows that in general audiences would tolerate this language before the watershed

Update: Ofcom makes a bollocks clarification

13th November 2015. See  article from christian.org.uk

Newspapers generally reported that Ofcom had dismissed complaints about the pre-watershed use of the word 'bollocks' with the inference that it was OK to use pre-watershed. However an Ofcom TV censor has written to the Times to clarify that in fact the word 'bollocks' is not OK before the watershed, it's just that the Strictly Come Dancing presenter grovelled enough that the programme was let off from the transgression of the censorship rules.

In a letter to The Times, Ofcom's Director of Content Standards, Licensing and Enforcement, Tony Close, explained the TV censor's decision:

In deciding not to pursue complaints about Strictly Come Dancing, we took into account the live, accidental nature of the incident and clear recognition by the other judges and presenter that this was unacceptable.

We also recognised the swift and sincere apology by the presenter.

We continue to enforce the watershed to protect audiences and will take swift, robust action when broadcasters get it wrong.



Update: Parents TV Council recommends...

US TV channel, FX-Network, which contains some of 'the most violent and most sexually explicit content' the group has ever seen

Link Here 13th November 2015
In an interview Breitbart News Daily, Tim Winter president of the US morality campaign, Parents Television Council, discussed how the Hollywood echo chamber is responsible for pushing increasingly violent and sexualized television programming at families and why adult-oriented cable channels like the FX Network should not be included in basic cable packaging. Winters whinged:

It used to be, when you turned on the TV, you could see something during most times of the day that the family could watch together. And sadly, that just isn't true anymore,

Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon spoke of TV programming during times when families now watch as being: so edgy, so in your [face], and anti-authoritarian. He asked Winter to explain why it is this way instead of being designed to keep families across America in the viewing audience.

Winter claimed:

The folks who program the cable networks, really are a small group of folks who are [well] acquainted with each other, and they mostly like the same thing, and they are able to program the way they want to program for themselves.

He pointed out that this poses a problem for families that subscribe to cable for an array of television programming like news and sports because channels which he claimed would have once been considered pornographic are now lumped in with certain standard news or sports packages. He repeated his commonly aired gripe:

If you want to get Fox News, you also have to take and pay for some of these pornographic channels.

Winter specifically cited the FX Network as a supplier of content that children should be shielded from. He said it contains some of the most violent and most sexually explicit content that the Parents Television Council has ever seen on basic cable.

Of course Winter had to get in a big but. He said it isn't about being a censor or a prude ...BUT... about letting children be children without simultaneously having them exposed to things that their parents are trying to shield them from seeing.



Fizzing Over...

Australian ginger beer label has again made the news for religious 'offence'

Link Here 13th November 2015
The co-founder of an Australian brewery is accused of insulting Indians and Hindus with a ginger beer label depicting two Hindu gods.

Jaron Mitchell, co-founder of Four Pines Brewing Company, spoke to TV station SBS following the launch of an online petition calling for his company to change the label on its Brookvale Union Ginger Beer.

The label features a figure with what appears to be the body of the goddess Lakshmi and the head of the god Ganesha.

The 200 signature petition, launched by Melbourne man Amit Singh, said the label was insulting to Indians and Hindus and called for the company to withdraw it. Rather ambiguously Singh told SBS:

There are a lot of people who worship these gods and this is just not acceptable.

Mitchell said the company had been engaged in community consultation for the past two years and redesigned the label once already. He claimed a recent offer to redesign the label for a second time with members of the Hindu community had not been taken up.

Mitchell said the company first received complaints about the label in 2013 when the professionally easily offended Rajan Zed pointed out the same issue. He said the company was still eager to engage in consultation and urged community members who would like to contribute to a redesign to come forward.



updated: Detailed Surveillance...

Offsite articles outlining details of the Snooper's Charter

Link Here 13th November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

The Tory war on privacy

13th November 2015. See article from spiked-online.com

The Investigatory Powers Bill should be ripped up. By Tom Slater

What the Investigatory Powers Bill will mean for your internet use

10th November 2015. See  article from theregister.co.uk

So who REALLY knows what I access?

The Register details what ISPs will and will not be able to determine from your internet usage. However the article should be read with a little caution. Eg just because an ISP cannot determine which of your family members is accessing the websites on the log doesn't mean the authorities can't. In fact the bill mentions specific capabilities to use context and tracking cookies etc to determine which family member access which sites.

UK surveillance bill could bring very dire consequences , warns Apple chief

10th November 2015. See article from theguardian.com

Any back door is a back door for everyone, says Tim Cook of proposals to allow authorities to track citizens' internet use without requiring warrant

UK Surveillance Bill a Threat to Privacy

9th November 2015. See  article from hrw.org

Key aspects of the bill include:

  • The bill would preserve current blanket data retention requirements for communications data and add a new requirement for communications service providers to retain users' "Internet connection records" for up to 12 months. As described in the government's explanatory notes, this requirement means that the government could get a list of all the websites a person visits or online services they use for up to a year. Even though this would not provide access to the specific pages of a website the person visited, it would be highly revealing of a person's online activity and could result in self-censorship with a chilling effect on free expression. It would also breach the right to privacy and to information, given that it applies to all users regardless of whether they are under suspicion. Intelligence agencies and police would be able to access such communications data without a warrant or review by a judge. Although judicial approval is required for police to gain access to journalists' sources, it would not be required for intelligence agencies to get this access.

Request Filters...

5th November 2015. See  article from theregister.co.uk

T he Snooper's Charter Bill reveals how the state will maintain a separate datebase entry for every internet user, even when they share an internet connection

Commenting on the government spin about the snooper's charter...

5th November 2015. See article from theguardian.com .

The surveillance bill is as big a threat to state security as to personal liberty. By Simon Jenkins

Surveillance Q&A what web data is affected – and how to foil the snoopers...

5th November 2015. See article from theguardian.com .

Critics call it a revived snooper's charter, because the government wants police and spies to be given access to the web browsing history of everyone in Britain.

However, Theresa May says her measures would require internet companies to store data about customers that amount to simply the modern equivalent of an itemised phone bill .

Who is right? And is there anything you can do to make your communications more secure?

Will UK spy bill risk exposing people's porn habits? ...

5th November 2015. See article from bbc.co.uk .

So, the bill proposes the authorities be given the right to retrospectively check people's internet connection records without having to obtain a warrant.

That means, for example, they would be allowed to learn someone had used Snapchat at 07:30 on their smartphone at home and then two hours later visited Facebook's website via their laptop at work.

It may sound fairly innocuous - but of course many people have internet habits that are legal but nevertheless very private. So, is their privacy being put at risk?



Offsite Article: Hear Hear...

Link Here 13th November 2015
French newspaper republishes anti-refugee comments on Facebook with a rather presumptive notion of punishment by communal condemnation

See article from theguardian.com



Update: Cameron's Freedom Deficit...

As if it wasn't bad enough that all and sundry will be given the powers to snoop into our innermost private secrets, now it seems we will have to pay through the nose for the privilege

Link Here 12th November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

Speaking at a Commons Select Committee hearing this week, ISPs warned that the costs of implementing the system outlined in the government's Snooper's Charter Bill would be huge, far larger than the £175m the government has earmarked for them.

ISPs would face significant additional costs, and would pass those on to its customers, the MPs were told. Chairman of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), James Blessing, said that given an infinite budget he could create the system that the government imagines in its legislation. But, he noted, the bill appears to be limiting the amount of funds available to a figure we don't recognize as suitable for the industry.

Making the point more bluntly, CEO of ISP Gigaclear, Matthew Hare, noted: One way or the other, the citizens of this country will end up paying to be spied on.



Update: Threatening murderous censorship...

Suspended jail sentence for credible murderous threats against shop selling Charlie Hebdo

Link Here 12th November 2015
Full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
A man who threatened to blow-up a shop and stab its staff for selling French magazine Charlie Hebdo in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Shamim Ahmed sent an email to South Kensing ton's The French Bookshop on January 17 with the subject line: 'Protect your neck while you are still alive. Ahmed accused the bookshop of selling the satirical magazine against Muslims and said they would face major retaliation if they continued to stock it. He then made two threatening phone calls to the Bute Street shop on January 22, telling the owner:

I'm going to come and stab you, I'm going to come right away and blow up the shop. I'm not afraid of the police, I'm a Muslim.

Ahmed was fined £1180, told to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and indefinitely placed under a restraining order which prevented him from contacting The French Bookshop or its staff, or encouraging others to do so. He was handed a 20-week sentence suspended for two years.



Update: Merkel seeks refuge from criticism...

German prosecutors initiate action against Facebook exec for allegedly allowing xenophobic comments

Link Here 12th November 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Prosecutors in Hamburg have launched an investigation into the European head of Facebook over the website's alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.

German politicians and celebrities have voiced 'concern' about the rise of xenophobic comments in German on Facebook and on other social media as the country struggles to cope with the million refugees who have responded to the country's inviitation.

Facebook's Hamburg-based managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe , Martin Ott, may be held responsible for the social platform not removing hate speech. This move follows an investigation into three other Facebook managers started last month.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has previously urged Facebook to do more on the matter.

Facebook said it would not commenting on the investigation. But we can say that the allegations lack merit and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.



Offsite Article: How 12A is the dishonest film rating that betrays children...

Link Here 12th November 2015
Full story: BBFC 12A rating...Daily Mail bang on about the 12A rating
The Daily Mail's Brian Viner adds another whinge at the very popular 12A rating

See article from dailymail.co.uk



A couple of tweets...

The Daily Mail sexes up complaint about BBC drama, London Spy

Link Here 11th November 2015
The Daily Mail has tried to talk up a few trivial tweets about the new BBC 2 drama, London Spy. The newspaper claims:

An Ofcom investigation has been launched into a new BBC drama after viewers complained about its gays sex scenes and nudity.

London Spy, a new thriller, was broadcast across the UK at 9pm on Monday on BBC 2. The programme stars Ben Whishaw, who is also Q in the new Bond film Spectre.

After 25 minutes of the show he is seen in a steamy sex scene with Edward Holcroft. Metal sex toys, bondage gear and a sex dungeon were also on show, for the first episode which had a peak viewing audience of three million.

The show had 13 complaints from viewers who were shocked by what they saw on their screens. Some people also took to Twitter to express their opinions.

Christian group the Evangelical Alliance were also angered. A spokesman told The Sun : We should expect better from our publicly-funded broadcaster.

However PinkNews begs to differ. Claims that the show received thirteen complaints and that the show will be investigated, have been rubbished by Ofcom. PinkNews explains:

The broadcasting watchdog contacted PinkNews to reveal they are yet to launch an investigation -- after receiving just a single complaint.

We've received one complaint about London Spy on BBC Two. We will assess this complaint before deciding whether to investigate or not, an Ofcom spokesman told PinkNews.



Update: Funny and Unbanned...

Books of political cartoons unbanned in Malaysia

Link Here 11th November 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia bans islamic books
Malaysia's Home Ministry has been ordered to return books seized from political cartoonist Zunar by the country's Federal Court.

The court's five-man bench upheld the Court of Appeal's decision to overturn the ministry's ban on the books 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun.

The ministry is to return 33 copies of the books to Zunar, whose full name is Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, the apex court ordered.

The books were seized in 2010 after the home ministry's ban on May 10 that year under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, for threatening public order.

The publishers had mounted a challenge to overturn the ban in July 2010 and lost at the High Court. The Court of Appeal later overturned the decision.

The satirist himself still faces multiple charges of sedition.



Offsite Article: Does the Parental Advisory Label Still Matter?...

Link Here 11th November 2015
An interesting history and discussion of the US parental advisory for explicit lyrics in music

See article from newsweek.com



Offsite Article: Tunisia Musicians confronted with censorship and repression...

Link Here 11th November 2015
Tunisia's urban rappers have borne the brunt of the state's censorship and repression. A wide legal arsenal has been used to throw musicians unceremoniously into jail. By Daniel Brown

See article from freemuse.org



The Message of Censorship...

The Islamic Society of Britain joins the National Secular Society in protesting the ban of a Glasgow showing of the 1997 film, The Message

Link Here 10th November 2015
The Message is a 1977 Lebanon / Libya / Kuwait / Morocco / UK historical biography by Moustapha Akkad.
Starring Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas and Michael Ansara. Youtube link IMDb

This must-see epic depicts the birth of Islam. In the 7th century Mohammed is visited by Angel Gabriel who urges him to lead the people of Mecca and worship God. But they're exiled in Medina before returning to Mecca to take up arms against their oppressors and liberate their city in the name of God.

A Glasgow cinema that cancelled a screening of The Message, an Oscar nominated film portraying the life of the religious character Muhammad, has been urged to reconsider its decision.

About 100 complaints were made ahead of a scheduled showing of 1977 film at the Grosvenor Cinema next month. The complaints about the film's content, such as the portrayal of Muhammad's close companions by non-Muslim actors led to the cinema's decision to ban the showing. No doubt an unstated fear of trouble also played a part in the decision.

The Islamic Society of Britain has protested the Grosvenor's cancellation in the face of a small number of objections, which came in the form of an anonymous petition signed by 93 people, according to the Herald. A spokesman for the ISB said:

As Scottish Muslims we believe in the principles of freedom of speech and have worked for decades to promote the rights of people to make Islam relevant to British society. These protestors demonstrate the worst elements of our community, as they are imposing their beliefs on others.

We will not be bullied by these people. We are also appealing for the Grosvenor to stick to the original agreement, and show the film.

The National Secular Society has also written to the cinema to express its concern at what it called a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of some religious extremists . NSS campaigns manager Stephen Evans said:

It's a sad sign of the times that such a small petition has forced the venue to cancel. We hope the cinema will change its position and not allow the weapon of offense to be used to restrict its freedom as a cinema to screen films and the freedom of audiences to watch them.

SNP MSP Humza Yusaf also denounced the decision, saying:

I am apalled that they have caved in the face of a few narrow-minded imbeciles.



No Shocks...

Ofcom uphold complaints against shock jock who spoke of unnatural public breastfeeding

Link Here 10th November 2015
A BBC radio DJ who said that breastfeeding in public was unnatural has been criticised by TV censor Ofcom for his highly offensive comments.

Alex Dyke told listeners of his daily show on BBC Radio Solent that he found it embarrassing to sit next to a breastfeeding mother on the bus.

Ofcom today announced that 45 complaints against Dyke had been upheld, saying that his views were likely to be perceived as misogynistic .

The comments breached rule 2.3 of the body's regulations, which states that potentially offensive material must be justified by its context. An Ofcom spokesman said:

We found this radio discussion broke our rules regarding offensive content. The presenter's statements were highly offensive, stereotyped women who breastfed and were likely to be perceived as misogynistic.

The BBC took various steps after the broadcast, including the presenter broadcasting an apology, further compliance training for the presenter, and tightening its compliance processes.

However the presenter had been permitted to broadcast highly offensive comments, with minimal editorial oversight.



Update: Propaganda Credentials...

China issues first permission for original online news content

Link Here 10th November 2015
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China has issued its first press credentials allowing reporters to post state approved 'news' stories on websites.

The state-run Xinhua 'news' agency reports that China granted its first press credentials to online media just last week, adding:

China previously banned most websites from reporting on news, only allowing them to edit and publish news from traditional media.

Online-media reporters are expected to actively expound socialist core values and amplify the mainstream voice in the Internet, making cyberspace 'clear and bright.

That may have been the law, but it was hardly true in practice. Online-only news portals like Sina and Sohu have been reporting news for years, let alone the numerous bloggers and citizen journalists throughout the country. In theory anyone writing original news content, doing interviews, or publishing is technically breaking the law.

The first group of officially-credentialed agencies included the People's Daily, the government portal for Tibet, and Xinhua News Agency itself. So far, the only groups issued state permits to report are... state-run media agencies. No commercial (i.e. not state-run) news portals have yet been issued online press credentials.



Offsite Article: Dutifully Whingeing...

Link Here 10th November 2015
Crave follows up some Daily Mail bullshit about the computer game Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

See article from craveonline.com



Offsite Article: Snooper's charter perfect for copyright enforcers...

Link Here 10th November 2015
Presumably the US media industry will be among the first to obtain one of those 'double locked' ministerial/judicial rubber stamped warrants allowing them to snoop on people's internet logs

See article from torrentfreak.com



Offsite Article: Bond and silly political correctness...

Link Here 9th November 2015
Spectre James Bond is still a sexist dinosaur, but audiences love it

See article from independent.co.uk



Update: A moderate whinge about moderate threat...

The Daily Mail has a rather half-hearted knock at the 12A certificate for Mockingjay Part 2

Link Here 8th November 2015
Full story: BBFC 12A rating...Daily Mail bang on about the 12A rating
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is a 2015 USA Sci-Fi adventure by Francis Lawrence.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

The BBFC rated the cinema release as 12A uncut for moderate violence, threat.

The Daily Mail has a rather half-hearted knock at this 12A certificate:

With a bombing of families, monsters eating people alive and a public execution, it hardly seems ideal viewing for children.

But film censors appear to think otherwise, giving the latest instalment of The Hunger Games a 12A classification, meaning it can be seen by children of primary school age accompanied by an adult.

In one scene, the main characters are involved in a gruesome fight with monsters with no eyes and razor-sharp teeth during which one man is eaten alive.

In another, young families are targeted by bombs, disguised as gifts, causing mass death and destruction. Such scenes have fuelled the debate about whether 12A classifications give enough protection to young people.

The Daily Mail dragged up a few trivial sound bites from censorial campaigners, including a rare comment from Mediawatch-UK.

Claude Knights, of the charity Kidscape, said of the latest film:

I wonder why it wasn't given a more robust rating. Many parents wouldn't take their children to something like this, but because it's a 12A they might not be expecting it to be this way.

The danger is that these scenes become normal. They become desensitised and the level of gore and violence becomes normalised.

Vivienne Pattison, director of lobby group Mediawatch UK, said:

The industry is terribly keen to get things through as a 12A, as suddenly you've doubled your market potentially.

There have been quite a few 12A films recently that I just don't think you'd want to take an eight-year-old to see, although it's perfectly legal to do so.



Offsite Article: Sex, violence and religion: The films banned by councils...

Link Here 8th November 2015
The BBC speaks of notable films where local councils overruled BBFC ratings

See article from bbc.com



Offsite Article: Why people shouldn't feel the need to censor themselves...

Link Here 8th November 2015
Self-censorship can be as much a threat to free speech as its government equivalent, argues Roger Scruton

See article from bbc.co.uk




Ulster unionist parties call for the censorship of art depicting them in KKK hoods

Link Here 7th November 2015
More than 300 works are on display in Northern Ireland's biggest visual arts show, but a small area of one of them has sparked a clamour for censorship.

Christian Flautists Outside St Patrick's was the last painting by acclaimed Irish artist Joseph McWilliams, who died last month. He was posthumously awarded The Irish News Prize for the work. Close inspection of the painting shows a group of people in Klu Klux Klan hoods at the bottom left of the picture.

Two political parties, Traditional Unionist Voice and the Democratic Unionist Party have demanded the removal of the painting from the 134th Annual Exhibition at the Ulster Museum following complaints from the Orange Order. The group complained that a small blurred section depicts a number of Orangemen wearing Ku Klux Klan clothing . They deny it ever happened calling it deliberate demonization .

It has prompted calls from unionist political party Traditional Unionist Voice to remove the painting from display. The Democratic Unionist Party also criticised the work.

However the Royal Ulster Academy has refused to bow to these demands. Academy president Denise Ferran said the work would not be removed over the disputed square inch of a canvas that is seven foot by five foot as it would be an attack on artistic freedom.

The Academy has subsequently put up notices saying some people may be offended by the exhibition. Ferran said:

What we will not do is take the picture down. Once you go down that road, the problems will never cease. I'm delighted we're not a moribund crowd of old stooges. We are causing provocation, which is what an academy of artists should be doing.

A spokesman for the Orange Order said putting up the disclaimers was a necessary step and at least some acknowledgement of the genuine concerns of the institution and many in the wider community to the inaccurate and misleading nature of the painting in question . He added that the group had not called for the painting to be removed from display saying the Orange Order does not actively support censorship . A spokesman for the Order said its members were entitled to feel outraged that a major publicly funded facility should display such artwork which is deeply offensive to their traditions.



Update: US book censors...

Mainstream bookshops are fighting Louisiana anti-porn law because the overbroad wording applies suffocating censorship measures to mainstream books

Link Here 7th November 2015
Full story: Book Censorship by US Security...Book censorship over military operations
Two mainstream bookstores in New Orleans have filed suit against Attorney General James D. Caldwell and more than 40 district attorneys over House Bill (HB) 153. Primarily an anti-pornography measure, the Louisiana law requires anyone who publishes material harmful to minors on the Internet to verify web-surfers' dates of birth before allowing them access. But for independent bookstores like the plaintiffs, HB 153 poses a unique threat : deny minors access to their entire web catalog or face a $10,000 fine.

According to a Shelf Awareness report, HB 153 requires this of booksellers:

[To] either place an age confirmation button in front of their entire website, thereby restricting access to materials that may be appropriate for all ages, or attempt to review all of the books ... available at their website and place an age confirmation button in front of each individual page that might be inappropriate for any minor.

HB 153 considers material harmful to minors if :

  • (a) The material incites or appeals to or is designed to incite or appeal to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors.
  • (b) The material is offensive to the average adult applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable for minors.
  • (c) The material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors

Owner Britton Trice notes that the Garden District Bookshop cannot possibly review the 1 million-plus titles on our website, and would therefore be forced to ban all minors from browsing the collection. But even bookseller sites that cater exclusively to older generations would be required to put age verification walls in place, because the $10,000 fine applies to any retailer that does not verify visitors' ages, regardless of whether any minors come to the website or not.

The Media Coalition, the ACLU, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are named plaintiffs in the challenge, alongside the Garden District Bookshop and Octavia Books.



Religion is way more harmful than a book...

Lebanese comic book Samandal prosecuted over claims of it somehow causing religious strife

Link Here 7th November 2015

On December of 2009, and with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture as part of Beirut Book Capital of the World , Samandal put out its 7th anthology in collaboration with the Belgian publishing house, L'employe du Moi, with further support from the French Cultural Center (CCF) in Beirut and the Belgian Ministry of Culture in Brussels. This publication was the fruit of a year-long collaboration between comic artists in Lebanon and their partners in Belgium, spanning several lectures and workshops, and launched at an exhibition at the CCF with the help of the UNESCO fund.

Four months later, three of the four Samandal editors that worked on that book were charged by the public attorney with a) inciting sectarian strife b) denigrating religion c) publishing false news and d) defamation and slander.

After five years of legal proceedings, we were found guilty on the basis of article 25 of the publications law, and on April 28, 2015 we were fined 10,000,000 LL each ($20,000 in total), equal to two years and nine months in jail on failure of payment. This incrimination, instigated by religious institutions and sustained by the state, has crippled Samandal and threatens to bring our decade-long career in comics to an end.

We began Samandal as a volunteer-based, non-profit organization in 2007 because we felt that comics were an underrepresented medium in our part of the world. We wanted to create a platform to tell stories from Lebanon and the Middle East, as well as to bring independent comics from around the world to a local audience. Alongside publishing comics, we also organized countless workshops, comics jams, international artist exchanges, and lectures, opening up the dialogue to include artists from different disciplines, and along with Metropolis Art Cinema have co-founded Beirut Animated, the biennial animation festival in Beirut.

It thus came as a surprise when we found out that the state had charged us with inciting sectarian strife. Our case began with a letter sent by the minister of information to the minister of justice requesting litigation against Samandal on account of Christian personalities finding two panels in two separate comics offensive to religion. The minister of justice in turn referred the case to the public prosecutor at the court of cassation.

The comics themselves address religion only tangentially and deal satirically with completely different subjects. However, a handful of panels were selectively taken out of context as proof of blasphemy (akin to indicting a publisher for having a character in a book use the name of the lord in vain.) We want to present these comics to you in their entirety ( Lebanese Recipes for Revenge by Lena Merhej & Ecce Homo by Valfret) so that you may judge their disruptive natures for yourselves, however we cannot link to them directly for fear of a recurrence of the whole legal debacle. Instead we direct you to our co-publisher's website grandpapier.com

Despite our lawyers' airtight legal defense against these claims, the court fell back on the vagaries of an elastic censorship law and a cohort of complacent public servants to criminalize and punish us, in the process committing several legal violations to wit:

  1. The three editors currently have warrants of subjugation issued against them. These illegal warrants, issued by General Security (despite being annulled by the decision of the council of ministers no. 10 dated 24/7/2014), give it the power to delay official transactions, hold passports, and harass subjects at will. Warrants of subjugation are regularly issued against human rights activists, lawyers and authors/artists as a method of intimidation.

  2. The publication law in Lebanon places the legal responsibility for such cases primarily on the authors of the offending story, in this case, Ms. Merhej (also one of the editors of Samandal) and Valfret, and then on the publisher, Samandal Association in this case. Instead, the legal proceedings ignored these laws and targeted three of the four editors personally, incurring triple the charges and triple the fines.

  3. The editors were never allowed to testify at the cassation court, even after repeated official requests were made. The same court rejected our request to summon the authors as witnesses.

The assumption that we built a platform such as Samandal to take cheap shots at religious institutions is absurd, and the richness of our publications speaks for themselves. We respect all religions equally and have no interest in targeting any single one for ridicule. However, we have no respect, and in fact much contempt, for those who use religion as a way of exercising their power and tightly policing public discourse.

The assertion that Samandal is insulting the Christian faith is an attempt to pit Samandal against Christianity and religion as a whole, when in fact it is a few individuals in power who are purposefully misreading the work in order to monopolize the conversation and deflect from their own incompetence at state legislation and their own incitement of sectarian strife when it suits them to do so. It is an unfortunate irony that a non-profit publishing platform for comics was prosecuted for crimes that continue to be committed daily by various politicians and their respective news outlets. Religion has been wrested from the hands of worshippers and into the chokehold of state institutions, stifling conversation and reducing all debate to a reductive binary of with us or against us. We refuse to be a part of that exchange. In fact, Samandal was created precisely to provide an alternative space for a different kind of dialogue, one much richer in language and nuanced in its discussions of the subtleties of the world around us.

Far from being an isolated incident, the Samandal case is simply one iteration within a longstanding practice of arbitrary and unjust state censorship and silencing of artistic production. There is a pressing need to strike a balance between the dangers of censorship on artistic freedom to that of the rights of the plaintiff and other religious sensitivities. This balance becomes even more imperative when the defendant is an artist, while the plaintiff is the public prosecution, or a powerful economic or religious figure, who stands to lose little or nothing in return.

Today Samandal is threatened with imminent collapse because of the capricious and biased application of an antiquated censorship law. The upcoming release of Geographia will be the final issue we can publish as Samandal's finances have been crippled by the damages of the lawsuit forcing our organization to shut down.

However, our love of comics and our ambitions to publish more have not been dampened by this incident and we hope to protest this ruling by continuing to publish, improve and expand Samandal with your continued solidarity. Samandal has survived and thrived because of the involvement and support of its public, and we now call on you to help us relaunch the publication. We hope that a crowdfunding campaign will help us get back on our feet and furthermore publish two new anthologies of Samandal comics. If you would like to help us in our push back, please donate at our online crowdfunding campaign.



Offsite Article: Death to the 12A Rating...

Link Here 7th November 2015
Film director Pat Higgins is unimpressed by the 12A rating for everything

See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk



Offsite Article: Yale Student Shrieks At Prof For Denying Her 'Safe Space'...

Link Here 7th November 2015
Political correctness is empowering the aggressive bullies who shout loudest

See article from dailycaller.com



Offsite Article: Making censors pay for refusing payment...

Link Here 7th November 2015
Full story: Adult Services Ads in the US...US politicians target small ads for sex workers
EFF challenges the censorship of Backpage.com after a sheriff convinced payment providers to censor the website

See article from eff.org



Falling out with Charlie...

Very funny Charlie Hebdo cartoon 'outrages' Russia

Link Here 6th November 2015

  Daesh: Russia intensifies its air bombardment

Russians have been 'outraged' by cartoons making light of the Egyptian air crash which appeared in the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

One cartoon shows parts of the aircraft falling on an Islamic State militant. It is captioned: Daesh: Russia ntensifies its air bombardment.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed the cartoons were somehow a blasphemy. He whinged

In our country, this would be called 'blasphemy.' It has nothing to do with democracy or with self-expression. It is just blasphemy.

My colleagues and I tried to find caricatures of the Charlie Hebdo journalists in the magazine, who were shot by terrorists. We were unable to find them. But if they were published, then it would also be blasphemy, well at least in our country.

Igor Morozov, a lawmaker from Russia's Federation Council, claimed the Sinai plane crash should not be ridiculed. :

I believe it is blasphemy and ridicules the memory of those who lost their lives as a result of this catastrophe. This should not be used by any media organizations in any form whatsoever or in any particular genre in which they may specialize.

In trying to be original, Charlie Hebdo have plunged everything into shock. Remember the tragedy which happened in January 2015 concerning the publisher. I think that the journalists are provoking acts of violence.

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on her Facebook page:

Is anyone still Charlie?



Best Censorship...

US morality group convinces companies to block their employees from being able to access websites on a censorship hit list

Link Here 6th November 2015
A new US morality group has started up to try and convince companies to extend their corporate website blocking lists to include sites that the campaigners don't like.

Called the BEST Employer Alliance (BEST stands for Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking ), the group has partnered with the City of Seattle, King County, and a slew of private companies in an anti-sex trafficking effort. The groups aims to have sites like backpage.com blocked in offices and other workplaces. BEST Executive Director Mar Brettman said in an interview with the Daily Dot after the initiative launched in September:

We have partnered with both the county and the city of Seattle, which are both significant employers in the region. And we have 18 employers total representing 125,000 employees.

That's a lot of people who can no longer access Backpage during working hours. And according to a study that King County prosecutors conducted in collaboration with Google last winter, most sex work clients book appointments during the afternoon hours while they are at work.



Update: The sensitive anatomy of a TV censor...

Indian TV censors whinge about a lesbian scene in Grey's Anatomy

Link Here 6th November 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
India's Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has issued a notice to Star World for showing a lesbian encounter and for supposedly denigrating women in its popular soap Grey's Anatomy in June. The notice follows complaints from the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B).

According to the ministry complaint, the scenes are indecent, vulgar. The BCCC has sought a response by December 1.

After viewing the episode, BCCC headed by Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal was of the opinion that the content appeared to be explicit and objectionable.  A senior BCCC member added:

Keeping Indian audiences in mind we felt that the scenes were not tasteful. So we have asked them to respond.

In the episode that attracted complaints from viewers a lady doctor tells her male colleague about how she failed to please her partner. She asks him to teach her how to satisfy a woman's physical needs by demonstrating it.



Offsite Article: One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist...

Link Here 6th November 2015
Full story: Student Union Censorship...Students Vs Free Speech
UCL Union ban ex-student from talking about his experiences fighting ISIS...in case he influences others to go and fight.

See article from thetab.com



Offsite Article: Full TPP Text After Five Years of Secrecy Confirms Threats to Users' Rights...

Link Here 6th November 2015
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians
Revealing the latest restrictive trade agreement that thankfully isn't being adopted by the EU

See article from eff.org



Million Mask March...

Police restrict march protesting against government surveillance

Link Here 5th November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
The Million Mask March is an annual protest against government cuts and surveillance across the UK, with the largest gathering in London. It is organised by the internet group Anonymous. The Facebook page for the event, on 5th November, said it was intended to oppose the encroaching destruction of civil liberties.

The Met Police said they were imposing conditions under the Public Order Act. Ch Supt Pippa Mills said conditions were being placed on the protest because we have such serious concerns . The police have specified:

The march must not start before 18:00 GMT and must finish at 21:00; Attendees should stick to a particular route between Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square; Officers have the power to make protesters remove facial coverings.

Protests are expected across the world, with demonstrations expected to take place in countries including Cambodia, Chile, Canada, America and Mexico.



Throwing pebbles...

BBC responds to whunges about the pre-watershed broadcast of new police drama, Cuffs

Link Here 5th November 2015

BBC One, 28 October 2015


We received complaints from viewers who felt that some of the content of Cuffs wasn't appropriate for an 8pm time slot.


Cuffs is an ambitious new drama for the 8pm slot on BBC One, and aims to reflect the reality of police work and the challenges facing the police force. This means it will sometimes tackle difficult issues. We took care to make potential viewers aware of the nature of the series, through trails and pre-publicity, so that people could make an informed decision as to whether they wanted to watch.

At the same time, we're aware of our responsibilities to our audience and, as with all programmes, a great deal of thought went into appropriate scheduling. The content and placing of Cuffs was carefully considered at a senior level and we felt it was not beyond general audience expectations for a drama of this nature at 8pm. That said, we accept that tastes vary enormously and that some viewers might have a different point of view.



A few shrunken heads...

Outraged tweeters take offence at Daily Mail cartoon about Tom Jones

Link Here 5th November 2015
A 'vile' cartoon published in the Daily Mail has sparked 'outrage', amid accusations that the drawing looked as though it should have been published in Britain's bygone racist era.

The Mac image, which also appears on the paper's website, references news that singer Tom Jones will undergo tests in a bid to discover whether he has black ancestry .

It depicts two white colonial-type explorers, one reading a newspaper with the headline 'Am I black?' asks Tom Jones , another approaching two black tribesmen with a test-tube, clutching a briefcase adorned with the words DNA tests . The cartoon caption reads:

The DNA matches - now just one more test... can you sing Delilah?.

The Huffington post dragged up a few angry tweets to show the 'outrage', eg:

How does the Daily Mail cover Tom Jones' alleged black ancestry? With a cartoon about black people in a jungle. Vile



The taste of censorship...

ASA recommends Premier Estates Wine

Link Here 4th November 2015
A tweet and videos that appeared on the advertiser's website (as a pre-roll ad on YouTube and on the advertiser's YouTube channel) promoting wine, were seen between 12 August 2015 and 4 September 2015.
  • a). The tweet from the Premier Estates Wine Twitter account, dated 11 August, stated Tweet 'I want to #TasteTheBush' and you could wine [sic] a case of wine!... . The tweet also included an image of a woman, from her chest to her mid-thigh, standing behind a table on which a glass of red wine was resting directly in front of her crotch. Overlaid text stated #TasteTheBush .
  • b). The website for Premier Estates Wines www.premierestates.co.uk included a video on the News page of the site as part of a post entitled We Invite You to #TasteTheBush . It featured a woman in a kitchen holding a glass of red wine and talking about the positive attributes of Premier Estates Australian wines. After she had taken a sip she stated Luscious, earthy, bursting with fruit and spice. Australia practically jumps out of the glass . She then placed the glass on the table in front of her, directly in front of her crotch, before continuing In fact, some say you can almost taste the bush . She then looked awkwardly away from the camera before picking up her glass and walking away from the table.
  • c) The video that appeared on the Premier Estates YouTube channel was identical to ad (b).
  • d) A pre-roll ad on YouTube, was identical to ad (b). Issue

The ASA received eight complaints.

  1. Five complainants, including Wine Australia, a statutory body within Australia whose role included promoting the consumption and sale of Australian wine overseas, challenged whether the ads (b) and (c) were offensive, because they were sexist and degrading towards women.
  2. One complainant challenged whether ad (a) was offensive, for the same reasons.
  3. Three complainants, including Alcohol Concern, challenged whether the ads were in breach of the Code because they linked alcohol with sexual activity.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1. Upheld

The ASA considered that most viewers would understand the claim ... some say you can almost taste the bush to be a reference to oral sex, particularly given that it was accompanied with the image of the wine glass positioned directly in front of the woman's crotch. The line appeared towards the end of the ad and, in conjunction with the image, which emphasised the sexual connation, created the final impression left by the ad. While the woman was immediately aware of the double-entendre and seemingly only mildly embarrassed as a result, we considered that it served to undermine her as, until that point, she had been portrayed as confident and in control while discussing the merits of the wine, in what appeared to be a relaxed and informal party atmosphere. For that reason, we considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner, and concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Upheld

We noted that the ad included a still from the video, which only showed the woman's arms and torso, with a glass of red wine resting on a table directly in front of her crotch, and the text #TasteTheBush overlaid. While we understood the claim was intended to be tongue-in-cheek and could be construed to relate to the qualities of Australian wine, as stated in point 1 above, we considered that recipients would understand the dual meaning and the clear reference to oral sex. We considered that the cropped image which concealed the woman's face accompanied by text that was also referring to her genitalia and oral sex, served to reduce the woman to merely a sexual object. In light of that, we considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Further, we considered that the fact recipients of the tweet were encouraged to re-tweet the claim themselves to partake in a competition was likely to amplify any offence caused. For those reasons we concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.

3. Upheld

We considered that consumers would understand the claim #TasteTheBush , particularly when accompanied with an image of a woman standing behind a wine glass, which emphasised her crotch, to be a double-entendre referring to both Australian red wine, and female genitalia and oral sex. We also noted that the ads clearly promoted an alcoholic product and that an image of a glass of red wine was featured in each ad. Because the ads clearly referenced oral sex and featured an alcoholic product, we concluded that they linked alcohol with sexual activity and were in breach of the Code.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Premier Estates Wine to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and to ensure they did not link alcohol with sexual activity in future.



Where to Invade Next?...

US film censorship doesn't have much to offer Michael Moore for his latest documentary

Link Here 4th November 2015
Where to Invade Next is a 2015 USA documentary by Michael Moore.
Starring Krista Kiuru, Michael Moore and Tim Walker. Youtube link IMDb

To learn what the USA can gain from other nations, Michael Moore playfully "invades" them to see what they have to offer.

Michael Moore is non to impressed by the MPAA R rating given to his latest documentary. Moore spoke of the R rating to Variety:

Moore listed the parts of the film that prompted the MPAA's ruling. The violence in the picture includes footage of law enforcement officers beating Eric Garner, a Staten Island man whose death last year helped spark a wider debate about police brutality.

The drug use is related to a section in the film on Portugal's decision to decriminalize narcotics -- a move that some suggest has led to a reduction in substance abuse.

The language stems from the use of 'fuck' by Icelandic citizens protesting the 2009 collapse of their banks.

And the nudity is a fleeting image of a naked man. That's from a vignette that shows how some Europeans are able to enjoy three weeks at a spa to treat stress thanks to government-backed healthcare.

Moore said he will not edit the film, and has appealed to have the rating lowered to a PG-13.



Updated: So strong encryption will be banned after all...

More propaganda from Theresa May and co shown to be bollox

Link Here 4th November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

Internet and social media companies will be banned from putting customer communications beyond their own reach under new laws to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Companies such as Apple, Google and others will no longer be able to offer encryption so advanced that even they cannot decipher it when asked to, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Measures in the Investigatory Powers Bill will place in law a requirement on tech firms and service providers to be able to provide unencrypted communications to the police or spy agencies if requested through a warrant. A Home Office spokessnoop said:

The Government is clear we need to find a way to work with industry as technology develops to ensure that, with clear oversight and a robust legal framework, the police and intelligence agencies can access the content of communications of terrorists and criminals in order to resolve police investigations and prevent criminal acts.

That means ensuring that companies themselves can access the content of communications on their networks when presented with a warrant, as many of them already do for their own business purposes, for example to target advertising. These companies' reputations rest on their ability to protect their users' data.

Update: The impact of a ban on encryption

4th November 2015. See  article from publicaffairs.linx.net

Contrary to recent promises by Ministers that the government will not attempt to weaken or undermine encryption, the new obligation would require companies to ensure that they had the capability to decrypt any data they stored. This would particularly impact cloud-based companies like Apple and Facebook, which have won consumer trust for the integrity of their Facetime and WhatsApp communications services by designing them with encryption that protects customer data even from the company itself.

End-to-end encryption means, for communications, that the message is encrypted by the sender with a key known only to the intended recipient. Thus Alice can Facetime Bob safe in the knowledge that Apple cannot access the communication, even though Facetime communications need to be sent through servers run by Apple. End-to-end encryption also applies for data storage in the cloud: a business storing its corporate data in a cloud service like Amazon S3 or Google Glacier will encrypt that data with a key that it knows and Amazon or Google does not.

The ability to support end-to-end encryption has been a crucial factor enabling adoption of cloud-based services as a viable alternative to traditional applications run by corporate IT departments. Quite apart from any consumer backlash, prohibiting this capability would give pause to more security-sensitive businesses, that have a duty to protect the integrity of their customer data: if storing data in the cloud means exposing customer data to the cloud-service provider, use of cloud services becomes much riskier. Recent high-profile breaches at TalkTalk, Vodafone and credit-rating agency Experian have greatly raised sensitivity to risk.



China's Worldwide Domain...

US domain registry decides to ban words that offend the Chinese government, like democracy, from worldwide domain names

Link Here 4th November 2015

A US domain registry xyz.com has put in a proposal to ICANN that would see it automatically censoring new domain names that match a Chinese government blacklist. Industry news site Domain Incite has reported that this puts perhaps close to 12,000 banned words and expressions onto the blacklist, thereby preventing terms such as the Chinese words for democracy and human rights from being registered within any of the company's top-level domains, which include .xyz, .college, .rent, .theatre, .protection and .security. This will apply not only to Chinese registrants, but to registrants worldwide.

In describing to ICANN the consultations that it has undertaken about these censorship plans, xyz.com blithely claims We believe that no parties have any legitimate reason to object to the introduction of this service . Chinese bloggers and dissidents, some of whom have received sentences as severe as life in prison for speaking out online, might beg to differ with this assessment.

Censorship of a domain name is not the same as censorship of the content hosted at that domain name (the Chinese government does both, but xyz.com's proposal only affects the former). Neither would the censorship plan prevent users from registering domain names from the government blacklist in any of other hundreds of top-level domains run by competing registries (though China will still block these from access by Chinese users), or registering trivial variants that avoid the blacklist. Even so, as ineffective as it may be, xyz.com's complicity in advancing the Chinese government's censorship of the Internet remains profoundly misguided, and contrary to their role as a provider of domain names to the world.

xyz.com's casual acceptance of Chinese censorship of its domain space provides an open invitation to China and other governments to apply more pressure on registrars and on ICANN itself to further limit the expression of speech through domain names. In the long term, this will only further erode the ability for users to express themselves online, by registering domain names that describe or complement speech hosted at that domain, or are a short and pithy speech act in themselves.

Update: Backing off

 4th November 2015

The CEO of .xyz has written to deny that any domains would be blocked by their registry, as their proposal had suggested. Whether this had been a miscommunication in the proposal, or is a reversal of their previous position, we welcome the now unambiguous statement by .xyz that Internet users in China and worldwide will be free to register strings that offend the Chinese government in any of the .xyz registry's top-level domains.



Gayby Baby Ban...

Complaints about a News South Wales schools ban on a documentary film about a family with gay parents

Link Here 4th November 2015
Gayby Baby is a 2015 Australia family documentary by Maya Newell.
Starring David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson and Lisa Hannigan. Youtube link IMDb

The documentary film follows the lives of four kids whose parents all happen to be gay. As they each wrestle with the onset of puberty, the outside world wrestles with the issue of marriage equality and whether or not kids of same-sex families are at risk.

The New South Wales (NSW) Education Minister had banned schools from screening the film in August. Now documents obtained under freedom of information laws reveal that the NSW Government has received 85 complaints about the films.

In total, 55 messages were received congratulating the Premier and the Minister for their courageous decision and for being men of principle in preventing the film from being shown in school time, eg:

God bless you for standing up to protect our lovely children from those who in the name of the 'freedom to be naughty' would seek to enslave them into a lifetime of weird unproductive sexuality.

The others complained about the ban. One complaint read:

Today you did something unconscionable. Today you told thousands of children across this state that they should be embarrassed about who they are.  The ramifications of this are on your shoulders.

Fairfax Media revealed in September that the attack on the film was fuelled by a Presbyterian minister who had the scripture classes he oversaw at the school cut back last year.



Updated: Nasty law claims first victim...

Thankfully just one arrest so far under Northern Ireland's new law criminalising men and endangering sex workers

Link Here 4th November 2015
Full story: Sex Work in Northern Ireland...Bill to ban paying for sex
The Times reports that new laws which have made it illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland have resulted in just one arrest.

Sex worker support groups said that the figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, proved that the measures could not be enforced.

The legislation, which came into effect in June means that sex workers are no longer able to make basic security checks such as getting to know who their customers are. Meanwhile it has the potential to destroy the lives of men and their families just for wanting to get laid.

Update: Populist law

4th November 2015. F rom thetimes.co.uk

The Northern Ireland justice minister has said he disagrees with plans to make it illegal to pay for sex in the Republic after The Times reported that just one man was prosecuted under similar legislation in the North.

David Ford said the laws, brought in after a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly in June, were the result of populism rather than practicalism and are not useful.



Offsite Article: An open window for your data...

Link Here 4th November 2015
Full story: Microsoft Snooping...Microsoft’s Windows 10 is a privacy nightmare
Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Automatic Spying Cannot Be Stopped

See article from forbes.com



Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom...

BBFC Podcast Episode 35. Cuts for a PG

Link Here 3rd November 2015
In this episode of the podcast the BBFC discusses the classification history of Steven Spielberg's second Indiana Jones film, Temple of Doom.

The film became part of classification history in the US when it was released with a PG rating from the MPAA. The film was considered by many to be too violent for PG and led to the introduction of the PG-13 to better fit films such as this.

In the UK the film was cut for a PG rating. Years later it was passed uncut with a 12 rating.



American Police Recommend...

Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight

Link Here 3rd November 2015
US police groups are calling for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.

Local police organizations in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the National Association of Police Organizations recently joined the ranks opposing Tarantino after remarks the director made during a recent rally against police brutality. The National Association of Police Organizations said in a statement:

We ask officers to stop working special assignments or off-duty jobs, such as providing security, traffic control or technical advice for any of Tarantino's projects. We need to send a loud and clear message that such hateful rhetoric against police officers is unacceptable.

The contention arose when Tarantino attended the Brooklyn rally against brutality on Oct. 24 and told The Associated Press:

I'm a human being with a conscience. And if you believe there's murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I'm here to say I'm on the side of the murdered.



115 Lashes...

The Australian Classification Board releases its annual report and of course its top films as judged by the amount of complaints

Link Here 2nd November 2015
The Australian film censor has release the Annual Report for 2014 - 15. Notable perhaps for a reduction in X18+ (reserved for hardcore sex) certificates to just 3. And of course it is always traditional to list the handful of complaints about film classifications:

The Classification Board received 115 complaints about the classifications of films. This compares with 93 complaints in 2013-14.

There were 18 complaints about Fifty Shades of Grey . The complainants were of the view that the MA 15+ classification with consumer advice of Strong sex scenes, sexual themes and nudity was too low due to the depictions of implied sexual activity in the film.

There were 12 complaints about the film Paddington . The complainants were of the view that the G classification was too low due to the depictions of violence and scary themes.

The film Gone Girl , which was classified MA 15+ with the consumer advice Strong sexualised violence, blood, sex scenes and coarse language , attracted 10 complaints in the reporting period. The complainants believed the film's classification was too low due to the depictions of sex, violence and sexual violence in the film. Two complainants thought the consumer advice was insufficient.

There were eight complaints about Kingsmen: The Secret Service. The complainants were of the view that the MA 15+ classification was too low due to the depictions of violence in the film.

The film The House of Magic which was classified G with the consumer advice Some scary scenes received five complaints. The complainants felt that the classification was too low. The complainants considered that the film was too scary for young children.

Overall, the remainder of complaints were about a small number of titles.



Update: Council Jobsworths and their dogs will be able to snoop on your browsing history...

Time to write a bot to visit millions of random sites to obscure your actual browsing

Link Here 2nd November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

Councils, the taxman and dozens of other public bodies will be able to search the internet and social media activity of everyone in Britain, The Telegraph can disclose.

Technology firms will be required to keep records of the websites and apps which people have used and details of when they accessed them for 12 months under new powers unveiled this week.

The new powers, contained in legislation which is published on Wednesday , will primarily be used by police and the security services in pursuit of suspected terrorists and serious criminals.

Nominally they will not be allowed to see which pages people have viewed or their searches while on the websites and apps, or the content of any messages, without a warrant, however it would seem likely obtaining a warrant will be a rubber stamp exercise.

The Telegraph understands that a total of 38 bodies will also be entitled to access the records for the purpose of detecting or preventing crime .

A government source claims that access will be limited, targeted and strictly controlled and overseen by a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner, but such 'oversight' has never ever done anything to reign in the authorities in any previous incarnation of snooping laws.

Ministers are also planning to introduce a new offence to deter the abuse of powers which will result in significant fines. Councils will also be required to get requests signed off by a magistrate before they are authorised, but it seems unlikely that a magistrate would ever side with anyone accused of a crime.

The authorities will be able to see which websites were visited, but not the exact page that they viewed.

The intelligence agencies, police and the National Crime Agency will be the obvious users of the capability but other bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, councils, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Work and Pensions will be able to access the information.



Petition: Don't Let it Bounce Back...

Open Rights Group petition against the Government's Snooper's Charter+

Link Here 2nd November 2015

The Government has announced it's going to introduce an Investigatory Powers Bill. It's the new Snoopers' Charter with even more powers for the police and GCHQ to spy on us. Sign our petition to say you want to stop it!

This is the fifth time a Government has tried to bring in the Snoopers' Charter. The Home Office wants to give the police and intelligence services even more powers to look at what we do and who we talk to.

Do we really want to live in a country where the police tries to access all of our texts and WhatsApp messages to our loved ones, the emails from our friends, the Facebook messages we've sent and the Snapchat photos our friends send us?

We'll have to wait and see for the precise details of the Home Office's plans but we might see them attacking the encryption technology that helps keep our messages and web browsing secure.

We think the police and intelligence services should target people suspected of crimes instead of collecting everyone's data, all of the time.

We're standing up against the Snooper's Charter. We've stopped it before and with your help, we can do that again.

It's not clear that the Home Office's collect-it-all approach is effective or giving us value for money. The perpetrators of atrocities like Lee Rigby's murder and the Charlie Hebdo attack were already on the radar of the British and French intelligence services. But they decided to stop monitoring them because of lack of resources.

The Home Office's answer to Edward Snowden's shocking disclosures should not be to give the police and the security services even more powers.

We'll be organising a lobby day soon so you can go to Parliament, get a briefing about this Bill and then talk to your MP so watch this space!

...Sign the petition



Abusing Life...

Egyptian authorities prosecute writer of top literary magazine for being sexy

Link Here 2nd November 2015

Egypt will prosecute the editor-in-chief and a writer for Egypt's top literary magazine for publishing sexually explicit material and allegedly violating public morals.

Mahmoud Othman, a lawyer representing writer Ahmed Naji, said prosecution officials had told him that Naji and editor Tarek el-Taher's case had been designated as a misdemeanour. The first court session is slated for 14 November.

Naji said the story began when Akhbar al-Adab magazine published an excerpt from Naji's novel The Guide for Using Life in August 2014. It contains explicit sex acts and references to habitual cannabis use by the characters.

Naji says his book, printed in Beirut, has already been approved by Egyptian censors. The novel is available in local bookstores, and is rated 3.5 out of five stars on goodreads.com.

The Use Of Life is an experimental graphic novel in which Naji casually observes the lives of Cairenes in absurdist tones. It leans heavily on explicit sexual imagery from wife-swapping in lower middle-class suburbs to drug sellers in brothels in ghettos. The comic strips add to the surrealist aesthetic Naji is trying to convey and that is why he is going to trial on 14 November.

The plaintiff initiating thcase against Naji argues that he suffered cardiac arrhythmia, fatigue and low blood pressure when he read the novel excerpt from its graphic depictions in August 2014 when it was published.



Offsite Article: Time to free the internet from TV-like regulation?...

Link Here 2nd November 2015
Full story: AVMS...EU law on internet video censorship
EU internet video censorship and the AVMS. By Graham Smith

See article from cyberleagle.blogspot.co.uk



Offsite Article: Do you prefer snooping on you to be rubberstamped by judges or politicians?...

Link Here 2nd November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
The Investigatory Powers Bill is our chance to publicly set the rules around surveillance. By Julian Huppert

See article from opendemocracy.net



Offsite Article: Volkswagen, Encryption and Backdoors...

Link Here 2nd November 2015
Volkswagen's lesson on encryption software. By Nadim Kobeissi

See article from opendemocracy.net



The Daniel Connection...

The latest BBFC cuts for inaccurate use of BBFC rating symbols

Link Here 1st November 2015
The Daniel Connection is a 2015 UK mystery thriller by Stewart Menelaws.
Starring June Brogan, Morgan Carberry and Lee Davis. BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed 12 for moderate violence, threat, Holocaust images after 25s of BBFC compulsory cuts for:

  • 2015 Studio Scotland. video
The BBFC commented:
  • Cuts required to remove incorrect and inaccurate use of BBFC ratings symbols and information.
Summary Notes

When her best friend, an underground journalist is mysteriously killed whilst investigating alien sightings, a feisty radio presenter realizes her own life is endangered as others around her disappear and the Federal Protection Force increase in power and control. Not knowing who to trust when she discovers film footage of a secret detention center and then a troubled detective offers to help her, she finds the same subjects keep coming to the fore. A mixture of ancient mysteries and conspiracy theories masquerading as science fiction. However, the more she digs, the more she realizes that the ancient prophecies foretelling the end of this world as we know it may be frighteningly accurate. This apocalyptic thriller is based on a best selling documentary, The Daniel Project.



Update: Ultimate Censorship...

More Bangladeshi writers presumably murdered by religious extremists

Link Here 1st November 2015
A publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the Bangladeshi capital. In a separate attack in Dhaka, police said two other writers and a publisher were stabbed and shot at a publishing house.

Occurences of Islamist violence have been growing in Bangladesh after at least four atheist bloggers were murdered in the country this year. The attacks have been linked by police to domestic Islamist extremists, while Islamic State has claimed responsibility for three other attacks.

The body of Faisal Abedin Deepan, of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, was found inside his office, said senior police officer Shibly Noman. Earlier in the day, publisher Ahmed Rahim Tutul was attacked in the office of the Shudhdhoswar publishing house and seriously wounded. Two writers were also wounded in that attack. All three of the victims were hospitalised, and Tutul was in critical condition, police said.

Both Deepan and Tutal had published books by Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy , who was hacked to death in February . He was one of the four secular bloggers killed in Bangladesh this year.

A local Islamist group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, had claimed responsibility for the killings and recently threatened to kill more bloggers.



Offsite Article: Don't be fooled by spook propaganda...

Link Here 1st November 2015
Full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
The state still wants licence to pry. By Henry Porter

See article from theguardian.com


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