The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has announced human rights and digital policy expert Andrew Puddephatt as the charity's new Independent Chair.
The announcement comes as the tenure of Sir Richard Tilt, the IWF's current Chair, comes to an end after six years at the end of December.
Puddephatt played a key role in the implementation of the UK's Human Rights Act, and has been active in the promotion of human rights globally in Africa, Latin America and South and South-East Asia for more than twenty years.
Puddephatt is now looking to use his skills to protect children from sexual abuse at a time when public and political debate around the internet is becoming, according to Puddephatt, increasingly dystopian.
Susie Hargreaves IWF CEO, said:
I can't thank Sir Richard enough for the six years of dedication he's given the IWF, in the time he's been here the organisation has doubled in size, as has its turnover, and we are helping more child sexual abuse victims than ever before.
While I am saddened to see Sir Richard step down as Chair, I'm delighted to welcome Andrew to the position. Andrew's extensive experience in both digital policy and human rights makes him the perfect person for the job. We're very excited to see
where Andrew will take the organisation in his time as Chair and I very much look forward to working with him in the new year.
The New Zealand media censors at the Office or Film and Literature Classification have just released their annual report. It includes the interesting observation that its 'banned' category is the most common category used in the year under
The most common classification in the last financial year was objectionable, meaning banned. This is a result of a large increase in material being submitted by enforcement agencies. This has coincided with a decrease in commercial submissions.
Along with films, DVD/Blu-rays and games, the Classification Office classifies a variety of material, including computer files submitted by enforcement agencies like Customs, Police, and the Department of Internal Affairs. In fact computer files
make up the great majority of material banned by the Classification Office. Most of these publications were banned for promoting or supporting the sexual exploitation of children and young people.
Apart from that the New Zealand again has a knock at the government for not giving the censors remit over content streamed online:
It is now more important than ever that New Zealanders have the tools and information to allow everyone to take advantage of the freedom and opportunity the digital revolution represents -- while being smart about managing the downsides.
Regulation is lagging behind -- our system does not recognise the changes in the way New Zealanders now consume media. New Zealanders have increasingly borne the consequences of a confusing and out of date approach. The evidence is mounting
about the impacts of consuming violent and graphic media, and technology keeps raising the stakes -- virtual reality and immersive media are now making an impact.
New Zealand was clearly a little embarrassed over the banning of book for young people. Ted Dawe's award-winning novel Into the River , when campaigners called for a review of the book's age classification.
When an interim restriction order was issued in 2015 an anomaly in the law meant there were only two options - leave it unrestricted or ban it entirely until the board of review met. The book was banned for six weeks until the interim order was
reviewed and the restriction was lifted.
A new bill has now been passed by the New Zealand parliament that gives the censor board the ability to issue interim orders based on age or specified classes of persons.
National MP Chris Bishop drafted the bill and n the case of Into the River it would have meant the book could have reverted to its R14 status rather than banning it outright. Bishop said after his bill had been passed unanimously. He added:
It is clear that Into the River should not have been banned - this small but useful change will help ensure such a situation doesn't happen again.
The Nile Hilton Incident is a 2017 Sweden / Denmark / Germany / France crime thriller by Tarik Saleh.
Starring Fares Fares, Mari Malek and Yasser Ali Maher.
Set against the backdrop of the Egyptian Revolution, the thriller features a police officer who investigates the murder of a woman. What initially seems to be a killing of a prostitute turns into a more complicated case involving the very elite
Egyptian police raided a tiny alternative film venue in Cairo last week to prevent the screening of a thriller critical of law enforcement that has been banned.
The officers prevented The Nile Hilton Incident from being played in a makeshift, 25-seat theatre because it was a downloaded copy that didn't have government permission to be shown.
The film, by Swedish-Egyptian director Tarik Saleh, is a murder mystery set in Egypt that addresses abuse of power and police corruption. It has won several accolades abroad, including the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
But it has not been allowed to screen at either the current festival or November's smaller, Panorama of the European Film festival, also in Cairo. The ban echoes last year's action against Last Days of the City by Egyptian director Tamer El Said,
whose film was feted abroad but blocked from cinemas in Egypt.
A flyer for ScrewCaps UK, a manufacturer of fastener cover caps, was seen on 15 August 2017. The image featured a naked woman photographed from the back, with the shot slightly angled from below, wearing ski boots, gloves and skis, and carrying
ski poles. Red text stating COVER UP partially obscured her bottom.
A complainant, who received the flyer with an order which had been made, challenged whether the ad was offensive and degrading to women.
Pro-Dec Products Ltd t/a ScrewCaps UK said they made a niche product which, whilst useful and practical, was not generally seen as aspirational or covetable. Therefore, to make their unsexy product more noticeable, and in keeping with the
product's use in covering other elements, the concept behind their ad was to refer to covering up other things that would not be normally seen.
They said that in the nine years they had been trading in the UK, they had distributed in excess of 20,000 such brochures, using a variety of models in different circumstances around the same theme of covering up. They had received 14 complaints
directly, in response to the brochures they had produced. They added that the ad in question had been received by 7,000 people and they estimated, due to the multiplier effect, that 16,000 people would have seen the ad. They had ensured that any
customers who had complained directly to them would not receive any further brochures.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
Although the ASA acknowledged that the use of a naked person was intended to create a visual pun linked to the concept of covering up and that some readers might appreciate that the use of such an image was intended to be comical in tone, we
considered that the image of a naked woman in ski boots and carrying ski poles bore no relevance to the product being advertised, and that a link between the image of a naked woman on a ski slope and the product -- a cover cap -- was not one that
people would normally make.
Although a slogan appeared over her bottom, we considered it would be clear to people that the woman was fully nude, bar her ski boots and gloves. We noted she had her back slightly arched to emphasize her bottom, and her breast was slightly
visible from the side. We considered that her nudity was further highlighted as it appeared in the context of a ski scene, where people would ordinarily be warmly dressed. We therefore considered the female nudity was gratuitous and the pose and
styling was provocative. On that basis, we considered the image could be seen to be sexually suggestive and degrading to women.
We acknowledged that ScrewCaps UK operated a business-to-business model and that this was generally the context in which their advertising would be seen. Although we considered it was therefore unlikely that children would see the ad, we
considered that the image still had the potential to be seen by many people who were likely to find it offensive.
Because of the nudity and styling, as well as the woman's pose, we concluded the image was degrading to women and likely to cause serious offence.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told ScrewCaps UK not to use similarly sexually suggestive images in their advertising in future.
54% of 12- to 15-year-olds use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to access online news, making it the second most popular source of news after television (62%).
The news that children read via social media is provided by third-party websites. While some of these may be reputable news organisations, others may not.
73% of online tweens are aware of the concept of 'fake news', and four in ten (39%) say they have seen a fake news story online or on social media.
The findings are from Ofcom's Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes Report 2017 . This year, the report examines for the first time how children aged 12 to15 consume news and online content.
Filtering fake news
The vast majority of 12-15s who follow news on social media are questioning the content they see. Almost nine in ten (86%) say they would make at least one practical attempt to check whether a social media news story is true or false.
The main approaches older children say they would take include:
seeing if the news story appears elsewhere (48% of children who follow news on social media would do this);
reading comments after the news report in a bid to verify its authenticity (39%);
checking whether the organisation behind it is one they trust (26%); and
assessing the professional quality of the article (20%).
Some 63% of 12- to 15-year-olds who are aware of fake news are prepared to do something about it, with 35% saying they would tell their parents or other family member. Meanwhile, 18% would leave a comment saying they thought the news story was
fake; and 14% would report the content to the social media website directly.
Children's online lives
More children are using the internet than ever before. Nine in ten (92% of 5- to 15-year-olds) are online in 2017 -- up from 87% last year.
More than half of pre-schoolers (53% of 3-4s) and 79% of 5-7s are online -- a year-on-year increase of 12 percentage points for both these age groups.
Much of this growth is driven by the increased use of tablets: 65% of 3-4s, and 75% of 5-7s now use these devices at home -- up from 55% and 67% respectively in 2016.
Children's social media preferences have also shifted over recent years. In 2014, 69% of 12-15s had a social media profile, and most of these (66%) said their main profile was on Facebook. The number of 12-15s with a profile now stands at 74%,
while the number of these who say Facebook is their main profile has dropped to 40%.
Though most social media platforms require users to be 13 or over, they are very popular with younger children. More than a quarter (28%) of 10-year-olds have a social media profile, rising to around half of children aged 11 or 12 (46% and 51%
Negative online experiences
Half of children (49%) aged 12 to 15 who use the internet say they 'never' see hateful content online.
 But the proportion of children who have increased this year, from 34% in 2016 to 45% in 2017.
More than a third (37%) of children who saw this type of content took some action. The most common response was to report it to the website in question (17%). Other steps included adding a counter-comment to say they thought it was wrong (13%),
and blocking the person who shared or made the hateful comments (12%).
ISP Website blocking
Use of network level filters increased again this year. Nearly two in five parents of 3-4s and 5-15s who have home broadband and whose child goes online use home network-level content filters, and this has increased for both groups since 2016,
part of a continuing upward trend.
Use of parental control software (software set up on a particular device, e.g. Net Nanny, McAfee Family Protection) has also increased among parents of 3-4s and 5-15s, to around three in ten.
More than nine in ten parents of 5-15s who use either of these tools consider them useful, and around three-quarters say they block the right amount of content.
One in five parents who use network-level filters think their child would be able to bypass them, although fewer 12-15s say they have done thisOne in five of the parents of 5-15s who use network-level filters say they think their child would be
able to unset, bypass or over-ride them; more likely than in 2016. This is similar to the number of 12-15s who say they know how to do this, although fewer say they have ever done it (6%).
In 2015, having frozen fees for the previous seven years, and following consultation with the DCMS and industry, we introduced an annual fee formula of RPI minus 1% to ensure our long term income was on a sustainable footing. This sub-inflation
formula also carried a built-in need to make annual cost savings in our business while still delivering an efficient service to industry.
In October 2017, the Office for National Statistics announced that September RPI was 3.9% which is higher than recent years. In light of this, and the fact BBFC fees have only increased by 2.3% over the last ten years, although we are keen to
retain the RPI minus 1% formula going forward, for 2018, as a one-off good will offering to customers, we propose to deviate from the formula and clip the increase from 2.9% to 2%
We are therefore increasing the fees for our statutory services by 2%, as follows:
Theatrical submissions: £7.30 per minute and 2£104.57 submission fee
Video Recordings Act submissions: £6.26 per minute and £78.30 submission fee
The Indian film Padmavati has been delayed from release in India over religious and nationalist controversy. The BBFC passed the film 12A uncut for UK release but violent threat may prove to be a higher authority
Padmavati is a 2017 India historical romance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.
Rani Padmavati (aka Padmini) is said to be one of the most beautiful women to ever exist. This real life story is epitome of Love and sacrifice between Rajput Queen Padmavati and Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. Their perfect
life took unfortunate turn when Allauddin Khilji's lustful eyes gazed upon Queen Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his
brother-in-laws and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati. Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true
Rajputana spirit, loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power.
Producers of a Bollywood period epic have indefinitely delayed its release following countrywide protests by Hindu right-wing and caste groups.
The epic in Awadhi language extols the virtue of Padmavati who committed sati, the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, to protect her honour from the invading Muslim emperor Khilji who had killed her husband, the
Rajput king, in a battle.
Sati is believed to have originated some 700 years ago among the ruling class or Rajputs in India. The Rajput women burnt themselves after their men were defeated in battles to avoid being taken by the victors. But it came to be seen as a measure
of wifely devotion in later years. The custom was outlawed by India's British rulers in 1829 following demands by Indian reformers.
Historians point out that Jayasi's epic ballad about a Muslim emperor attacking a kingdom smitten by the beauty of a Hindu queen was written in the 16th Century, more than 200 years after the historical record of the invasion. They say the
folklore around Padmavati have also been problematic as they have glorified sati.
Rumours of a scene in the film of the Muslim king dreaming of getting romantic with the Hindu queen enraged many like the Rajput Karnik Sena, a fringe caste group, who have called for the film to be banned. Director Bhansali has said the film
does not feature such dream sequence at all .
Last week, the group, which had disrupted the shooting and slapped Bhansali on the set of the film earlier this year, vandalised cinemas , and threatened to chop off Padukone's nose, referring to a story in the epic Ramayana where a character has
her nose chopped off as punishment.
Rajput community members have burnt effigies of Bhansali and sought a ban of the film. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has said it should not be released until necessary changes are made so that sentiments of any community are not hurt.
A regional leader of the BJP at the weekend announced a reward of nearly $1.5m for anyone beheading Bhansali and Padukone .
Former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Pahlaj Nihalani has claimed that the BBFC decision of certifying the movie Padmavati is illegal.
In an interview with ANI, Nihalani said that for a film to get certification overseas, it's a must that it is passed by the Indian Censor Board. If they've got a thumbs up from Britain without even sending the film, it's against the law.
He added that the BBC has no control over the release of an Indian film. If the film is released outside India, it will eventually be pirated to India, he said.
Meanwhile, a petition seeking orders to the makers to not release the film outside India on December 1, has been filed in the Supreme Court.
Back home, Padmavati has been postponed for an indefinite period of time owing to the furious protests against it by the fringe groups - Rajasthan-based Rajput Karni Sena in particular. The groups are protesting an alleged romantic sequence
between Padmavati (based on the legend of Rani Padmini of Chittorgarh) and Mughal Emperor Alauddin Khilji. Some fanatic groups are also incensed with the fact that Rani Padmavati has been shown dancing in the film asserting that Rajput maharanis
never danced in front of anyone.
Update: Violent Indian nationalists call for British cinemas to be burnt down
British cinemas that screen a controversial new Bollywood blockbuster should be burned down, the leader of a hardline Hindu nationalist group has claimed.
Members of the Rajput Karni Sena, a group associated with the warrior Rajput caste, claim it misrepresents history by depicting a love affair between the queen and a Muslim invader. The group is further upset that the queen's midriff is exposed
in a song sequence.
Now the leader of Rajput Karni Sena, Sukhdev Singh has called for action to be taken in the UK. He told Republic TV:
I call on Hindus in the UK and particularly my community brothers to protest against the screening of the film there. I have told them any cinema hall which screens the movie will be burnt.
British film distributors are reconsidering the release of Padmavati. In the face of the ongoing controversy, the British distributor, Paramount Pictures, said the UK release date was being reviewed, amid reports that producers wanted to clarify
the situation in India before making a decision abroad. It had been due to come out from 1 December.
A London-based Hindu campaign group, Rajput Samaj of UK, declared its opposition to the BBFC's decision to certify the film for release and said it would hold a peaceful protest over what it sees as a historically inaccurate account of Padmini.
It told the Guardian that it did not want the film to be released but claimed that it was opposed to any violence.
The call from the charity for the film to lose its certification comes after a fringe rightwing group in India threatened violence if UK cinemas showed the film.
The Indian supreme court had agreed to hear a petition next week asking that the film's UK release be banned. Lawyers said it was unlikely the court could prevent an overseas debut, though the film's producers have already said they would await
the Indian censor's approval before distributing the movie worldwide.
Another UK group is also attempting to get the UK release banned. The Rajasthan Association asked the BBFC about censoring the film, but the BBFC commendably responded that freedom of choice must be respected and that filmmakers are free to
explore narratives based on historical events and to interpret them as they wish.
The Rajasthan Association was now mulling the option of approaching UK court in connection with the matter.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is a 2017 Canada / USA / South Korea family animation comedy by Cal Brunker.
Starring Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph.
Surly and his friends, Buddy, Andie and Precious discover that the mayor of Oakton City is cracking one big hustle to build a giant yet quite-shabby amusement park, which in turn will bulldoze their home, which is the city park, and it's up to
them and the rest of the park animals to stop the mayor, along with his daughter and a mad animal control officer from getting away with his scheme, and take back the park.
The Australian Review Board has overturned a PG rating from the Classification Board and replaced it with a general audience G rating (equivalent to a UK U rating). The Review Board explains:
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the film Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is classified G (General) with the consumer advice Some scenes may scare young children.
The Classification Guidelines provide that at the G category, violence and the treatment of themes should have a very low sense of threat or menace, and be justified by context.
In the Classification Review Board's opinion Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature warrants a G classification because its violence and treatment of themes are of a very mild impact. There are numerous scenes of unrealistic, animated violence which are all
resolved with positive outcomes for the animals and are interspersed with humour and are relevant to the context. The theme of the park being destroyed for greed is overall a positive story about animals protecting their habitat and has a very
mild sense of threat which is at all times relevant to the context.
The Classification Review Board convened today in response to an application from the original applicant, Roadshow Films to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 18 September 2017 to classify Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature PG with
the consumer advice Mild themes and animated violence.
the UK BBFC rated the film as U uncut for mild comic threat, violence
the US MPAA rated the film PG for action and some rude humor.
The Daily Mail has lost an advertiser after a social 'juctice' campaign got to work on the High street retailer, Paperchase for advertising in the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail explains:
Last weekend, a few hundred self-appointed activists ho joined a campaign to silence Britain's free Press, which is enjoyed by millions, and force it to promote their views.
Together, they persuaded the High Street retailer Paperchase to apologise for offering free wrapping paper to Daily Mail readers.
This group's campaign was organised by Stop Funding Hate, a small lobby group seeking to censor popular newspapers whose editorial lines it disagrees with.
On a daily basis, it urges people to use Twitter and Facebook to send complaints against any company which advertises in the Daily Mail, Sun and Express newspapers.
The aim is to persuade firms to withdraw advertising. Stop Funding Hate's founder declares: The end point for us is a media that does the job we all want it to.
In other words, a handful of zealots want newspapers to reflect only their values, which, of course, may very well be unpalatable to the values of the millions who chose to read them.
Stop Funding Hate seems particularly concerned that the Press discusses subjects such as immigration and gender politics.
The Daily Mail continues its criticism in a very aggressive article about the censorship campaign, Stop Funding Hate. See
article from dailymail.co.uk
And Spiked agrees with the broad thrust of the Daily Mail's criticism. Spiked notes:
Stop Funding Hate, founded by Richard Wilson (a former corporate fundraising officer at Amnesty International), claims to believe in free speech -- and to be politically neutral. And yet, these are the things it labels as hate speech: speaking
out in support of Brexit; tougher immigration policies; opposition to Islamism; and support for Christian values on marriage and gender. Everything Stop Funding Hate does is aimed at closing down the freedom of speech and the economic viability
of the tabloids it despises for expressing political views it opposes.
Twitter announced yesterday that it would begin removing verification badges for famous tweeters that it does not approve of. Not for what is tweeted, but for offline behaviour Twitter does not like.
The key phrase in Twitter's policy update is this one: Reasons for removal may reflect behaviors on and off Twitter. Before yesterday, the rules explicitly applied only to behavior on Twitter. From now on, holders of verified badges will be held
accountable for their behavior in the real world as well. Twitter has promised further information about the new censorship policy in due course.
Many questions remain unanswered. What will the company's review consist of? How will it examine users' offline behavior? Will it simply respond to reports, or will it actively look for violations? Will it handle the work with its existing team,
or will it expand its trust and safety team?
Twitter has immediately rescinded blue tick verification from accounts belonging to far-right activists, including Jason Kessler, a US white supremacist, and Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League.
Offsite Comment: Twitter has turned its back on free speech
The platform plans to exercise ideological control over its users.
A study by Princeton researchers came to light earlier this month, revealing that over 400 of the world's most popular websites use the equivalent of hacking tools to spy on you without your knowledge or consent.
Using session replay scripts from third-party companies, websites are recording your every act, from mouse moves to clicks, to keylogging what you type, and extracting your personal info off the page. If you accidentally paste something into a
text field from your clipboard, like an address or password you didn't want to type out, the scripts can record, transmit, and store that, too.
What these sites are doing with this information, and how much they anonymize or secure it, is a crapshoot.
Among top retail offenders recording your every move and mistake are Costco, Gap.com, Crate and Barrel, Old Navy, Toys R Us, Fandango, Adidas, Boots, Neiman Marcus, Nintendo, Nest, the Disney Store, and Petco.
Tech and security websites spying on users include HP.com, Norton, Lenovo, Intel Autodesk, Windows, Kaspersky, Redhat.com, ESET.com, WP Engine, Logitech, Crunchbase, HPE.com (Hewlett Packard Enterprise), Akamai, Symantec, Comodo.com, and MongoDB.
Other sites you might recognize that are also using active session recording are RT.com, Xfinity, T-Mobile, Comcast, Sputnik News, iStockphoto, IHG (InterContinental Hotels), British Airways, NatWest, Western Union, FlyFrontier.com, Spreadshirt,
Deseret News, Bose, and Chevrolet.com
Plan to install wifi in Brighton council care homes have been ditched over selfish worries of being held responsible for downloading copyrighted material.
Elderly residents in 25 care units were to get internet access as part of a drive to encourage them to go online. But the proposed scheme was scrapped after the disgraceful housing boss Anne Meadows said there were concerns old people might
access inappropriate material. She whined:
There are particular challenges on security and the council's liability when providing access in a communal setting. Not least in people accessing illegal or inappropriate material.
Mike Bojczuk, a volunteer spearheading the wifi plan, said the council was insisting on a far higher level of security than was necessary.
About this proposal for Baywatch Changing Rooms. How is that 'diverse?
It celebrates the sexuality of the community of people who are both transgender and gay. In particular those who are uncomfortable in their roles as straight men and who fantasise about identifying as gay women
Ofcom boss Sharon White has urged the BBC to lead the way on diversity in a talk at the Westminster Media Forum.
She spoke as the TV censor published revised guidance for broadcasters on promoting equal employment.
White told the forum that nothing has the power to shape our culture, values and national identity as much as television. She said arge numbers of older people, particularly women, say they feel negatively portrayed on screen. And of those
who come from an ethnic minority group, many see themselves portrayed neutrally or negatively.
There was an urgent need for broadcasters to reach and reflect every corner of modern Britain, White said.
To ensure the BBC delivers on screen, Ofcom is launching an in-depth review to understand how well the corporation represents and portrays all members of society. She said:
We will be looking at the range and portrayal of people on screen (and) on air, including in popular peak-time shows.
Ofcom is requiring the BBC to implement a new Commissioning Code of Practice for diversity, covering both on-screen portrayal and casting, as well as workforce diversity.
The European Union voted on November 14, to pass the new internet censorship regulation nominally in the name of consumer protection. But of course censorship often hides behind consumer protection, eg the UK's upcoming internet porn ban is
enacted in the name of protecting under 18 internet consumers.
The new EU-wide law gives extra power to national consumer protection agencies, but which also contains a vaguely worded clause that also grants them the power to block and take down websites without judicial oversight.
Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda said in a speech in the European Parliament Plenary during a last ditch effort to amend the law:
The new law establishes overreaching Internet blocking measures that are neither proportionate nor suitable for the goal of protecting consumers and come without mandatory judicial oversight,
According to the new rules, national consumer protection authorities can order any unspecified third party to block access to websites without requiring judicial authorization, Reda added later in the day on her blog .
This new law is an EU regulation and not a directive, meaning its obligatory for all EU states.
The new law proposal started out with good intentions, but sometimes in the spring of 2017, the proposed regulation received a series of amendments that watered down some consumer protections but kept intact the provisions that ensured national
consumer protection agencies can go after and block or take down websites.
Presumably multinational companies had been lobbying for new weapons n their battle against copyright infringement. For instance, the new law gives national consumer protection agencies the legal power to inquire and obtain information about
domain owners from registrars and Internet Service Providers.
Besides the website blocking clause, authorities will also be able to request information from banks to detect the identity of the responsible trader, to freeze assets, and to carry out mystery shopping to check geographical discrimination or
Comment: European Law Claims to Protect Consumers... By Blocking the Web
The Consumer Protection Regulation provides in Article 8(3)(e) that consumer protection authorities must have the power:
where no other effective means are available to bring about the cessation or the prohibition of the infringement including by requesting a third party or other public authority to implement such measures, in order to prevent the risk of serious
harm to the collective interests of consumers:
to remove content or restrict access to an online interface or to order the explicit display of a warning to consumers when accessing the online interface;
to order a hosting service provider to remove, disable or restrict the access to an online interface; or
where appropriate, order domain registries or registrars to delete a fully qualified domain name and allow the competent authority concerned to register it;
The risks of unelected public authorities being given the power to block websites was powerfully demonstrated in 2014, when the Australian company regulator ASIC
accidentally blocked 250,000 websites in an attempt to block just a handful of sites alleged to be defrauding Australian consumers.
This likelihood of unlawful overblocking is just one of the reasons that the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Opinion has underlined how web blocking often contravenes international human rights law. In a
2011 report [PDF], then Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue set out how extremely limited are the circumstances in which blocking of websites can be justified, noting that where:
the specific conditions that justify blocking are not established in law, or are provided by law but in an overly broad and vague manner, [this] risks content being blocked arbitrarily and excessively. ... [E]ven where justification is provided,
blocking measures constitute an unnecessary or disproportionate means to achieve the purported aim, as they are often not sufficiently targeted and render a wide range of content inaccessible beyond that which has been deemed illegal. Lastly,
content is frequently blocked without the intervention of or possibility for review by a judicial or independent body.
This describes exactly what the new Consumer Protection Regulation will do. It hands over a power that should only be exercised, if at all, under the careful scrutiny of a judge in the most serious of cases, and allows it to be wielded at the
whim of an unelected consumer protection agency. As
explained by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda , who voted against the legislation, it sets the stage for the construction of a censorship infrastructure that could be misused for purposes that we cannot even anticipate,
ranging from copyright enforcement through to censorship of political protest.
Regrettably, the Regulation is now law--and is required to be enforced by all European states. It is both ironic and tragic that a law intended to protect consumers actually poses such a dire threat to their right to freedom of expression.
An ad for BOCA organic toothpastes was seen in the Raconteur supplement which was included in the Times newspaper on 28 July 2017. The ad featured a black and white image of the body of a naked woman, who was wearing only a pair of strappy heels.
The woman in the image was shown reclining in a chair and facing a window, with one leg placed on top of a table by the window and the other on the ground. Her buttocks and her groin area were obscured by the arm of the chair. The woman was also
shown to be holding a tube of the product.
Two complainants, who believed that the ad objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that the image in the ad showed only parts of the model's body, including the lower parts of her breasts, her stomach, and her bare legs. We noted that her buttocks and groin area had been obscured by the arm of the chair, and her
head, the top parts of the arms and torso, including her nipples, were out of the frame and therefore were not visible. We noted BOCA's comments that the model in the ad was not naked and acknowledged that the ad did not include explicit nudity.
However, we considered that the way in which the model was depicted gave the impression that the model was fully nude.
We considered that the pose of the model, particularly given that she was shown as reclining with her parted legs facing an open window, was sexually provocative, giving the ad a voyeuristic feel. Furthermore, because the model's face was not
shown, we considered that the visible parts of her torso, including her lower portion of her breasts, and the lower half of her body became the visual emphasis of the ad, which was likely to draw readers' attention. We also considered that the
nudity and the pose of the model, and the provocative nature of the ad, bore no relevance to the product. Because the ad placed visual emphasis on the model's body in a sexualised manner and such nudity was unrelated to the product, we considered
that the ad objectified the model depicted and invited readers to view her body as a sexual object. For those reason, we considered that the ad objectified women and concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BOCA to ensure that future advertising did not cause widespread or serious offence by objectifying women.
Loot boxes are used to monetise games by allowing gamers to buy items that will prove useful in the game. The games designers seem to favour a lucky dip approach to the goodies that are sold leading to accusations of gambling as some loot boxes
may prove better than others.
This week Belgium's Minister of Justice has deemed that the selling of loot boxes should be classed as gambling.
This comment comes after Belgium's Gaming Commission launched an investigation into loot boxes last week stating, The mixing of money and addiction is gambling.
Belgium's Minister of Justice Koen Geens has also weighed in on the issue and said:
Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.
Geens has stressed he is looking to have features such as look boxes banned in Belgium when the user does now know what they are receiving when they purchase. Geens noted that a ban will take time as he will have to proceed with the ban via
An Adelaide Catholic school has been forced to cover and cordon off a new statue after the unfortunate placement of a loaf of bread caused a stir online.
Blackfriars Priory School unveiled the statue of St Dominic last week, in which the religious icon is depicted handing a young boy a loaf of bread. But due to a long history of child abuse by the clergy, people saw the loaf of bread as an
allusion to a penis.
The school covered the statue with a black cloth after students were found taking inappropriate photos .
Many stylish and iconic French films have featured smoking, Jean-Paul Belmondo in A? Bout du Souffle Audrey Tautou in Coco Chanel , Jacques Tati was rarely without his pipe and Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve ,
Geard Depardieu and Alain Delon all puffed their way through decades of movies.
Hardly surprising then that a call for French directors to stub out smoking on screen has been greeted with a mix of disbelief and outright ridicule.
The debate was ignited after the Socialist senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais accused France's film-makers of continuing to advertise for the tobacco industry. Her remarks, made during a debate on the government's plan to raise the price of
cigarettes and tobacco, sparked the interest of the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, who said she would talk to her cabinet colleague, the culture minister, Françoise Nyssen. Buzyn promised firm action saying:
I don't understand why the cigarette is so important in French cinema.
Google News is limiting the reach of two Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik, according to Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt said Google is de-ranking sites it claims have been spreading Russian state-sponsored propaganda. We're trying to engineer the systems to prevent it.
However, Schmidt added that he isn't in favor of censorship ...BUT.. his company also has a responsibility to stop the misinformation.
In response of teh censorship, Sputnik quoted research psychologist Robert Epstein:
Google is deciding what people see, which is very dangerous since they are legally a tech company and do not adhere to any type of editorial standards our guidelines
What we're talking about here is a means of mind control on a massive scale that there is no precedent for in human history, he said at the time. Research participants spent a much larger percentage of web browsing time visiting search results
that were higher up. According to Epstein, biased Google results could have provided an extra 2.6 million votes in support of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race.
A federal judge has ruled that EFF need not obey an Australian injunction ordering EFF to take down a Stupid Patent of the Month blog post and never speak of the patent owner's intellectual property again.
It all started when Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA)'s patent was featured as the June 2016 entry in our Stupid Patent of the Month blog series. GEMSA wrote to EFF accusing us of false and malicious slander. It subsequently filed a
lawsuit and obtained an injunction from a South Australia court purporting to require EFF to censor itself. We declined and filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking a declaration that EFF's post is
The court agreed, finding that the South Australian injunction can't be enforced in the U.S. under a 2010 federal law that took aim against libel tourism, a practice by which plaintiffs--often billionaires, celebrities, or oligarchs--sued U.S.
writers and academics in countries like England where it was easier to win a defamation case. The Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act ( SPEECH Act ) says foreign orders aren't enforceable in the
United States unless they are consistent with the free speech protections provided by the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as state law.
The court analyzed each of GEMSA's claims for defamation, and found [n]one of these claims could give rise to defamation under U.S. and California law, and accordingly EFF would not have been found liable for defamation under U.S. and California
law. For example, GEMSA's lead complaint was that EFF had called its patent stupid. GEMSA protested that its patent is not in fact stupid but the court found that this was clearly protected opinion. Moreover, the court found that the Australian
court lacked jurisdiction over EFF, and that this constitutes a separate and independent reason that EFF would prevail under the SPEECH Act.
Furthermore, the court found that the Australian order was not enforceable under the SPEECH Act because U.S. and California would provide substantially more First Amendment protection by prohibiting prior restraints on speech in all but the most
extreme circumstances, and providing additional procedural protections in the form of California's anti-SLAPP law.
After its thorough analysis, the court declared (1) that the Australian Injunction is repugnant to the United States Constitution and the laws of California and the Unites States; and (2) that the Australian injunction cannot be recognized or
enforced in the United States.
The decision was a default judgment. GEMSA, which has three pending patent lawsuits in in the Northern District of California, had until May 23 to respond to our case. That day came and went without a word. While GEMSA knows its way around U.S.
courts--having filed dozens of lawsuits against big tech companies claiming patent infringement--it failed to respond to ours.
The leading book publisher in Australia, Allen & Unwin, has dropped a book about the influence of China's Communist Party in Australia's domestic affairs, due to censorship pressure from China, or maybe from the fear of Chinese
action against the publisher..
In a decision likened to the recent decision by Cambridge University Press to restrict access to sensitive China-related articles, the release of the forthcoming book, Clive Hamilton's Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a
Puppet State was shelved by the publisher over concerns about potential legal action by China.
The author and a prominent Australian academic, said the decision by Allen & Unwin demonstrated the extent of the shadow cast by Beijing.
It is believed to be the first time that a publisher has suspended publication of a book in a Western market because of fears of potential pressure from Beijing.
We as Australians living in a free society should not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence by an autocratic foreign power, Professor Hamilton told ABC News.
In a statement, Allen & Unwin said it decided to delay publication following extensive legal advice. Clive was unwilling to delay publication and requested the return of his rights, as he is entitled to do, it said. We continue to wish him
the best of luck with the book.
The New York Times reports on an Australian furore following the news that a book has effectively been banned by Chinese influence. The Times writes:
The decision this month to delay the book, Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State , has set off a national uproar, highlighting the tensions between Australia's growing economic dependence on China and its
fears of falling under the political control of the rising Asian superpower.
The decision by Allen & Unwin to stall publication of this book almost proves the point that there's an undue level of Chinese influence in Australia, said Prof. Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian National
In the yet-unpublished book, the author, Clive Hamilton, a well-known intellectual and professor at Charles Sturt University in Australia, describes what he calls an orchestrated campaign by Beijing to influence Australia and silence China's
In one chapter the book asserts that senior Australian journalists were taken on junkets to China in order to shift their opinions so they would present China in a more positive light. In another chapter, the book details links between Australian
scientists and researchers at Chinese military universities, which he said had led to a transfer of scientific know-how to the People's Liberation Army.
Members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot were arrested for their criticism of Putin while performing in a Moscow cathedral. The performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky once sat naked in front of Lenin's Mausoleum, and nailed his scrotum to
the stone pavement. He was later taken away by the police. The art duo Blue Noses is famous for a photograph of two Russian policemen kissing and embracing each other while in uniform.
They are all, along with other protest artists who work in Russia, part of the Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism exhibit whiched opened on 16th November at London's Saatchi Gallery.
A group of international broadcasters have come together to support a new website that aims to help internet users around the world access news and information.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (US), the BBC (UK), Deutsche Welle (Germany) and France M39dias Monde (France) have co-sponsored the Bypass Censorship website:
Bypass Censorship provides internet users information on how to access and download security-conscious tools which will enable them to access news websites and social media blocked by governments.
When governments try to block these circumvention tools, the site is updated with information to help users stay ahead of the censors and maintain access to news sites.
BBG CEO, John F. Lansing said:
The right to seek, and impart, facts and ideas is a universal human right which many repressive governments seek to control. This website presents an incredible opportunity to provide citizens around the world with the resources they need to
access a free and open internet for uncensored news and information essential to making informed decisions about their lives and communities.
The broadcasters supporting the Bypass Censorship site are part of the DG7 group of media organisations which are consistent supporters of UN resolutions on media freedom and the safety of journalists.
On 11th November, thousands of people marched in the streets of Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the country's Independence Day. The march attracted massive numbers of people from the nationalist or far right end of the political spectrum.
The march proved very photogenic, with images showing the scale of the march and also the stylised symbology proved very powerful and thought provoking.
But the images caused problems for the likes of Facebook, on what should be censored and what should not.
Once could argue that the world needs to see what is going on amongst large segments of the population in Poland, and indeed across Europe. Perhaps if they see the popularity of the far right then maybe communities and politicians can be spurred
into addressing some of the fundamental societal break downs leading to this mass movement.
On the other hand, there will be those that consider the images to be something that could attract and inspire others to join the cause.
But from just looking at news pictures, it would be hard to know what to think. And that dilemma is exactly what caused confusion amongst censors at Facebook.
Quartz (qz.com ) reports on a collection of such images, published on Facebook by a renowned photojournalist in Poland, that was taken down by the social media's content censors. Chris Niedenthal attended the march to practice his craft, not
to participate, and posted his photos on Nov. 12, the day after the march. Facebook took them down. He posted them again the next day. Facebook took them down again on Nov. 14. Niedenthal himself was also blocked from Facebook for 24 hours. The
author concludes that a legitimate professional journalist or photojournalist should not be 'punished' for doing his duty.
Facebook told Quartz that the photos, because they contained hate speech symbols, were taken down for violating the platform's community standards policy barring content that shows support for hate groups. The captions on the photos were neutral,
so Facebook's moderators could not tell if the person posting them supported, opposed, or was indifferent about hate groups, a spokesperson said. Content shared that condemns or merely documents events can remain up. But that which is interpreted
to show support for hate groups is banned and will be removed.
Eventually Facebook allowed the photos to remain on the platform. Facebook apologized for the error, in a message, and in a personal phone call.
The governor's office of the Turkish capital Ankara has banned the public showing of all films, exhibitions and events related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, citing public sensitivities.
Starting from Nov. 18, 2017, any events such as LGBT cinema, theater performances, panels, interviews and exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province, the Ankara Governor's Office stated on Nov. 19.
The authorities in Ankara had banned the German gay film festival called Pink Lige QueerFext on Nov. 15, the day before it was due to start,.
Four movies by German directors were scheduled to be screened as part of the two-day festival, organized jointly by the German Embassy and the Pink Life QueerFest.
Festival organisers said the festival had been attacked on social media.
A conference took place in October 2017 in the Vatican in Rome called Child Dignity in the Digital World. The vent describes itself on its website:
This pioneering congress hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome sets a milestone in the international fight against digital sexual child abuse.
The invitation-only congress brings together distinguished academic experts, business leaders, leaders of civil society, high-level politicians and religious representatives from across the globe. This provides a historic opportunity to set the
global agenda for the fight against online sexual child abuse and for child protection in the digital world.
The BBFC's Policy Director David Miles attended the conference and reported bacK
The agenda included presentations from some of the foremost academic researchers on the impact of pornography on children and young people. There was considerable overseas interest in Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) and the BBFC's
proposed regulatory role under it, with the DEA seen as a potential model for other countries to draw upon.
It was also noted that Miles will recommend following up with experts and country contacts once the BBFC is officially designated as the internet porn censor.
The BBC has conceded to Ofcom's demand that Complaints Reports should be published each fortnight.
Perhaps as an indication of bad grace, the reports are buried away in a
very obscure location on the BBC's website.
Anyway the first report reveals that:
Between 30 October and 12 November2017, BBC Audience Services (Stage 1) received a total of 5,529 complaints about programmes. 8,377 complaints in total were received at Stage 1.
Stage 1 is presumably just an unfiltered list of complaints. Stage 2 seems to be when complaints are selected for BBC investigation. There are further stages when complainants are not satisfied with the BBC response and want to take it further.
The BBC the identifies programmes receiving more than 100 complaints, in this report:
Have I Got News For You , BBC One 03/11/2017, 234 complaints
Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One 04/11/2017, 206 complaints
The BBC then listed 11 Stage 2 investigations that resulted in 9 complaints that were not upheld and 2 that were partially or fully upheld:
PM Radio 4 8th June 2017 on the topic of Impartiality or bias, findings not yet published
The European Union is in the process of creating an authority to monitor and censor so-called fake news. It is setting up a High-Level 'Expert' Group. The EU is currently consulting media professionals and the public to decide what powers to
give to this EU body, which is to begin operation next spring.
World Socialist Web Site has its own colourful view on the intentions of the body, but I don't suppose it is too far from the truth:
An examination of the EU's announcement shows that it is preparing mass state censorship aimed not at false information, but at news reports or political views that encourage popular opposition to the European ruling class.
It aims to create conditions where unelected authorities control what people can read or say online.
EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans explained the move in ominous tersm
We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. The EU's task is to protect its citizens from fake news and to manage the information they receive.
According to an EU press release, the EU Commission, another unelected body, will select the High-Level Expert Group, which is to start in January 2018 and will work over several months. It will discuss possible future actions to strengthen
citizens' access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online.
Who will decide what views are verified, who is reliable and whose views are disinformation to be deleted from Facebook or removed from Google search results? The EU, of course.
Following up on a censored version shown on Netflix
16th November 2017
The X-files Season 4 Episode 2: Home is a 1996 USA Sci-Fi mystery TV episode by Kim Manners.
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Tucker Smallwood.
Thanks to David who comments:
I have revisited the first 9 series of X-Files. They were shown in widescreen recently on on Netflix, but Netflix showed the audio censored network version of the highly controversial episode from Season 4 called Home. This features inbred
mutant like creatures burying an infant (a product of incest) at the start of the episode.
The baby's cries and distress as it is buried alive are clearly missing, thus conveying that it is being buried dead instead of alive. The original cries of distress had stirred American TV censors into muting the audio for future releases.
Also any buyer of the re-mastered Blu-ray set should be warned to only buy the 2nd release. The 1st release showed some mastering errors in Season 8, described as 'crushing of dark colours'. Stockists offered replacement discs to purchasers of
the 1st issue from new corrected stock. See also
details mastering errors at xfilesvault.com
Thanks to Nigel who notes that the uncut version is widely available on DVD and Blu-ray as an extra:
All DVD and Blu-ray releases are uncut and offer the choice of the broadcast version or the original version. I have The X Files complete Blu-ray boxset and it was one of the main bonuses that I had wanted Fox to port over from the DVD's. In the
end they ported everything over which was good although the downside was no new HD bonus features.
The default setting is the broadcast version but the alternative audio is available on all disc releases as a bonus feature.
The bakery chain Greggs has apologised for offending Christians with a nativity scene advert that replaces Jesus with a sausage roll.
Greggs released the image to promote its £24 advent calendar. Its decision to use an image depicting the three wise men gathering round a crib containing a sausage roll sparked criticism from a few Twitter users and religious groups.
The chief executive of the Freedom Association, a rightwing campaign group, claimed the advert was sick and that the retailer would never dare insult other religions.
The Rev Mark Edwards, of St Matthew's church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert's church in Brunswick, said Greggs had been disrespectful. He told the Chronicle:
It goes beyond just commercialism, it's showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this.
Daniel Webster, a spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance, said:
Putting a sausage roll in the manger of a nativity scene seems to be manufacturing a scandal to sell baked goods and neglecting the real scandal of Christmas. Every year some company creates a Christmas controversy for commercial gain; it seems
to get earlier each year.
A paid-for video ad on Twitter and a Video On Demand (VOD) ad for Royal Mail:
a. The video ad on Twitter, seen on 27 July 2017, featured a scene with customers and staff in a bank. A short while later a gang of men in balaclavas with baseball bats entered the bank and shouted, This is a robbery. The staff and customers in
the bank were made to get on their knees with their hands held up and were threatened with the baseball bats. One female member of staff was grabbed repeatedly by the shoulder and the wrist and asked her full name and date of birth by one of the
assailants. Other customers were asked similar questions about their personal identity, passwords and log-in details, while a member of the gang appeared to type the information on a hand-held electronic tablet. One customer offered a gang member
money to which he said, We don't want your money. Throughout the scene the members of the public, which included a child, were shouted at aggressively by the assailants, appeared scared and some were crying. One gang member asked another, Got it?
they replied, Got it all, after which the gang left the bank. On-screen text stated Your identity is now your most valuable possession. Text at the end of the ad stated, LET'S BEAT IDENTITY FRAUD followed by text that stated Visit our ID Fraud
Centre for help and advice, accompanied by the Royal Mail logo and the text, The future in safe hands.
b. The VOD ad, seen on ITV Player on 9 August 2017 at approximately 9.00 pm during an episode of Coronation Street, was the same as ad (a).
Seven complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence, and whether ad (b) was inappropriately placed at a time when
children could have been viewing.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that Royal Mail had sought and followed advice regarding the ad's placement from Clearcast and CAP's Copy Advice team, and acknowledged that the ad had not been shown on VOD before 9 pm. We concluded therefore, that it was unlikely
that children had seen ad (b).
We acknowledged that identity fraud was a growing problem and it was important that steps were taken to inform the general public about how serious it was and how they could protect themselves. While we understood that the scenario of a bank
robbery was chosen to emphasise the seriousness of the crime, we noted that this was not among the common scenarios in which identity fraud was perpetrated. As a result, we considered that consumers would not be able to clearly see from the ad
how they could protect themselves, for example by avoiding certain actions that could make them potentially vulnerable to identity fraud. We noted the ads' reference to the Royal Mail's ID fraud centre, but it did not appear until the very end of
the ad, during which time the scenario was presented without explanation or context.
Furthermore, because the setting of the ad was recognisable and showed ordinary people, including a child, being shouted at aggressively by criminals, lying on the floor and trying to hide behind furniture, and looking visibly frightened, the
impact was heightened and there was an added sense of threat. Because of this, we considered it to be reminiscent of other crimes or situations that people may have experienced that extends beyond the bank robbery depicted and therefore could
trigger negative emotions for those who had been victims of violence. We did not consider that the use of baseball bats made the ad less violent than if knives and guns had been used, as the bats were often shown held in a threatening manner by
the criminals or positioned next to customers heads.
We understood Royal Mail and ITV's view that the ad served to highlight a serious and growing crime and to assist customers to find information to protect themselves. We noted from the results of the test sample of viewers that the ad may have
increased ID fraud awareness for those who had seen it. We also noted that Royal Mail had amended the Twitter ad so that a warning appeared accompanying the video and that they did not intend to use the ad again. However, we considered that the
overall presentation of the ads, as seen by the complainants, was excessively threatening and distressing to the extent that it overshadowed the message the ad intended to convey. We concluded the ad was likely to cause fear and distress to
viewers, in particular to victims of violence, without a justifiable reason.
We told Royal Mail to ensure that in future their ads did not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.
The BBC is to publish detailed information about the complaints it receives from viewers after Ofcom , the TV censor, demanded that the corporation become more transparent.
Under new rules the BBC will have to reveal the number of complaints it receives every fortnight, identify the shows that received more than 100 complaints, and explain the editorial issues raised by the complaints and whether they were upheld.
Ofcom's demand has prompted an angry response from the BBC, which initially fought against publishing the figures amid concerns that it would be expensive and time-consuming.
The BBC is expected to publish the first wave of information about complaints under the new system within the next few days.
Governments around the world are dramatically increasing their efforts to manipulate information on social media, threatening the notion of the internet as a liberating technology, according to Freedom on the Net 201 7 , the
latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of online freedom, released today by Freedom House.
Online manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 18 countries over the past year, including the United States, damaging citizens' ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic
debate. The content manipulation contributed to a seventh consecutive year of overall decline in internet freedom, along with a rise in disruptions to mobile internet service and increases in physical and technical attacks on human rights
defenders and independent media.
"The use of paid commentators and political bots to spread government propaganda was pioneered by China and Russia but has now gone global," said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. "The effects of these rapidly
spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating."
"Governments are now using social media to suppress dissent and advance an antidemocratic agenda," said Sanja Kelly, director of the Freedom on the Net project. "Not only is this manipulation difficult to detect, it is more
difficult to combat than other types of censorship, such as website blocking, because it's dispersed and because of the sheer number of people and bots deployed to do it."
"The fabrication of grassroots support for government policies on social media creates a closed loop in which the regime essentially endorses itself, leaving independent groups and ordinary citizens on the outside," Kelly said.
Freedom on the Net 2017 assesses internet freedom in 65 countries, accounting for 87 percent of internet users worldwide. The report primarily focuses on developments that occurred between June 2016 and May 2017, although some more recent
events are included as well.
Governments in a total of 30 countries deployed some form of manipulation to distort online information, up from 23 the previous year. Paid commentators, trolls, bots, false news sites, and propaganda outlets were among the techniques used by
leaders to inflate their popular support and essentially endorse themselves.
In the Philippines, members of a "keyboard army" are tasked with amplifying the impression of widespread support of the government's brutal crackdown on the drug trade. Meanwhile, in Turkey, reportedly 6,000 people have been enlisted by
the ruling party to counter government opponents on social media.
Most governments targeted public opinion within their own borders, but others sought to expand their interests abroad--exemplified by a Russian disinformation campaign to influence the American election. Fake news and aggressive trolling of
journalists both during and after the presidential election contributed to a score decline in the United States' otherwise generally free environment.
Governments in at least 14 countries actually restricted internet freedom in a bid to address content manipulation. Ukrainian authorities, for example, blocked Russia-based services, including the country's most widely used social network and
search engine, after Russian agents flooded social media with fabricated stories advancing the Kremlin's narrative.
"When trying to combat online manipulation from abroad, it is important for countries not to overreach," Kelly said. "The solution to manipulation and disinformation lies not in censoring websites but in teaching citizens how to
detect fake news and commentary. Democracies should ensure that the source of political advertising online is at least as transparent online as it is offline."
For the third consecutive year, China was the world's worst abuser of internet freedom, followed by Syria and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the government shut down mobile networks for nearly two months as part of a state of emergency declared in
October 2016 amid large-scale antigovernment protests.
Less than one-quarter of the world's internet users reside in countries where the internet is designated Free, meaning there are no major obstacles to access, onerous restrictions on content, or serious violations of user rights in the form of
unchecked surveillance or unjust repercussions for legitimate speech.
Governments manipulated social media to undermine democracy : Governments in 30 countries of the 65 countries assessed attempted to control online discussions. The practice has become significantly more widespread and technically
sophisticated over last few years.
State censors targeted mobile connectivity : An increasing number of governments have restricted mobile internet service for political or security reasons. Half of all internet shutdowns in the past year were specific to mobile
connectivity, with most others affecting mobile and fixed-line service simultaneously. Most mobile shutdowns occurred in areas populated with ethnic or religious minorities such as Tibetan areas in China and Oromo areas in Ethiopia.
More governments restricted live video : As live video gained popularity with the emergence of platforms like Facebook Live, and Snapchat's Live Stories internet users faced restrictions or attacks for live streaming in at least nine
countries, often to prevent streaming of antigovernment protests. Countries likes Belarus disrupted mobile connectivity to prevent livestreamed images from reaching mass audience.
Technical attacks against news outlets, opposition, and rights defenders increased: Cyberattacks against government critics were documented in 34 out of 65 countries. Many governments took additional steps to restrict encryption, leaving
citizens further exposed.
New restrictions on virtual private networks (VPNs) : 14 countries now restrict tools used to circumvent censorship in some form and six countries introduced new restrictions, either legal bans or technical blocks on VPN websites or
Physical attacks against netizens and online journalists expanded dramatically : The number of countries that featured physical reprisals for online speech increased by 50 percent over the past year--from 20 to 30 of the countries
assessed. In eight countries, people were murdered for their online expression. In Jordan, a Christian cartoonist was murdered for mocking Islamist militants' vision of heaven, while in Myanmar, a journalist was murdered after posting on
Facebook notes that alleged corruption.
Since June 2016, 32 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net saw internet freedom deteriorate. Most notable declines were documented in Ukraine, Egypt, and Turkey.
The Runnymede Trust is a campaign group seeking racial equality in the UK. It describes its approach as:
In order to effectively overcome racial inequality in our society, we believe that our democratic dialogue, policy, and practice, should all be based on reliable evidence from rigorous research and thorough analysis.
The group has just issued a report on a range of issues that it gathers together under the title of Islamophobia. It notes that the term has a wide range of meanings but proposes a new and more tightly defined pair of definitions:
Short definition: Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism.
Longer definition: Islamophobia is any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
It is interesting to consider the concept of massively changing the meaning of a word to suit the purposes of a political campaign group. The meaning of words belong to the people that use them, not to the dictates of a political campaign group.
Political correctness tries to impose a lot of 'correct' terms for people, or groups of people. But language has a lot of defences against unnatural imposition. Words can be intonated to add 'quotes' to imply ironic usage. Also out of place words
prompt the listener to ask 'why was that unexpected formal word being used'? What are they getting at?. Perhaps it could mean a telling off for previous wrong speak in the conversation, or perhaps it is a warning that PC sensitive issues
would be best avoided.
And of course if a formally imposed polite word eventually becomes the norm it loses the politeness of formality, and can then be used in a disparaging way, and so we have to start work evolving a new polite word.
So if political correctness demands that the word 'Islamophobia' is used as an accusation of racism, then surely the word will forever be used in quotes to show that people consider this an accusation too far. And of course it is not beyond
the wit of man to dream up a few new words to replace it, maybe even a more positive term meaning reasonable criticism of Islam.
Bosses of Knox College in Illinois have banned a student play in the name of political correctness. A few easily offended students had whinged about a performance of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, saying that it was too
white and racially insensitive.
Peter Bailley, a Knox College spokesman said that campus leaders are proud of the open dialog between our students and faculty.
The play, which is about a Chinese sex worker who seeks to do good deeds, drew complaints that it stereotypes Asian women and that it engages in whitewashing because whites would be cast in nonwhite roles.
The Knox Student newspaper editorial board calling the play racist and the department very white ... like many departments at Knox. The editorial continued:
The theatre department ... needs to acknowledge that they are coming from a place of privilege and prejudice. They need to listen to their students when they voice their concerns about not only the plays the department produces, but interactions
with insensitive faculty and problematic syllabi,
[I can now see where the US counter campaign is coming from with its posters proclaiming simply: It's OK to be white].
Theresa May has made a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet saying that fake news and Russian propaganda are threatening the international order. She said:
It is seeking to weaponise information. Deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the west and undermine our institutions.
The UK did not want to return to the Cold War, or to be in a state of perpetual confrontation but the UK would have to act to protect the interests of the UK, Europe and rest of the world if Russia continues on its current path.
May did not say whether she was concerned with Russian intervention in any UK democratic processes, but Ben Bradshaw, a leading Labour MP, is among those to have called for a judge-led inquiry into the possibility that Moscow tried to influence
the result of the Brexit referendum.
Russia has been accused of running troll factories that disseminate fake news and divisive posts on social media. It emerged on Monday that a Russian bot account was one of those that shared a viral image that claimed a Muslim woman ignored
victims of the Westminster terror attack as she walked across the bridge.
Surely declining wealth and poor economic prospects are a more likely root cause of public discontent rather than a little trivial propaganda.
For a quarter of a century, from 1960 until 1985, Jeremy Hutchinson, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, who has died aged 102, was the finest silk in practice at the criminal bar. He defended Lady Chatterley , Fanny Hill and
Christine Keeler (Keeler in the flesh), the atom spy George Blake, and then Brian Roberts, the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and later the journalist Duncan Campbell in two cases that led to reform of the Official Secrets Act.
He added a service to the arts by ending the cultural vandalism of Mary Whitehouse, whose attempt in 1982 to prosecute the National Theatre for staging Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain collapsed after his (and the Old Bailey's) most
A Swedish daycare centre's trip to the local library in Borås took an unexpected turn recently and ended in a police report being filled over racial agitation.
According to GT, Expressen, the daycare children were listening to a CD of various Pippi Longstocking stories when another library user became 'offended' by the description of Pippi's father as a 'Negro king' and ludicrously filed a formal
complaint with police. It was noted that there were children of various ethnic backgrounds among the daycare group.
The head of the daycare institute, Marie Gerdin, described the incident as "sad" and said she had assumed that the library materials were appropriate for children.
After the police report was referred to the chancellor of justice, it was sensibly determined that there would be no further action.
The first four Pippi books were published between 1945 and 1948 and in addition to the description of Pippi's father as a "Negro king", the titular character is also at times referred to as a "Negro princess". The title was
earned in the originals when Pippi's father proved a hit amongst natives during an adventure in the South Seas. English translations have 'translated' the father's title to the 'fat white chief' and refer to Pippi as the 'fat white chief's
Australia's advert censor has dismissed a swath of complaints about supposedly offensive Sportsbet adverts that some felt denigrated Christians.
A Sportsbet advertising campaign which used the word Puntmas to describe the racing season has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Bureau following complaints of blasphemy.
The ads feature four men at the racetrack, humming and singing Christmas carols, with a voiceover promoting a new feature of the betting app which allows users to cancel their bets. They end with an appearance from former sprinter Ben Johnson who
featured in an earlier ad for the bookmaker which was banned for making light of drug use .
The Advertising Standards Board received a number of complaints, many of which took issue with the association of Christmas and gambling. For them to use it in a gambling ad reaches new lows in the gambling industry, one complaint read.
Regrettably, we live in an era where it has become acceptable to denigrate our Christian heritage, another said. This advertisement deliberately tries to associate gambling with the spirit of Christmas. No doubt gambling will ruin Christmas for
many families this year. I find this ad to be in very poor taste.
One person said it was beyond offensive to associate betting with one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, while another said they especially don't want my children to recognise the tune and start to relate Christmas and gambling.
In its response, Sportsbet rejected that the ads in any way discriminated against or vilified any section of the community on account of religion.
The Advertising Standards Board sided with Sportsbet, dismissing the complaints. In its determination, it said many members of the community consider Christmas as a cultural holiday more so than a religious one. [Though] Christmas has
significant meaning to some, the use of 'Puntmas' in the context of a promotion of a gambling product may be considered tasteless but such a connection of words does not denigrate Christianity or Christians, the ASB said.
On 27 September 2017, Israeli authorities shut down the el-Hakawati Theatre (also known as the Palestinian National Theatre), preventing the holding of a cultural event, which included concerts by three music groups, on the grounds that it was
sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, reported Quds Press .
Authorities hung a notice on the theatre door that said: Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered the closure of the Hakawati theatre after receiving information about a cultural event entitled Arabs expelled from their homes in 1948 and
1967 , under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.
Awad Salameh, member of the Jerusalem District of Fatah, said that authorities are oppressing Palestinians in Jerusalem and preventing them from establishing any cultural and educational artistic activity. He said they always raise the argument
that the activity is under the auspices of the Palestinian National Authority, reported Alhaya .
The three music groups scheduled to perform at the September 2017 event were The Mount of Olives Folklore Band, Jerusalem Folklore Band and Riwaq Folklore Band.
Criminals, corrupt business leaders and cheating MPs could avoid being exposed under a fresh assault on Press freedom.
Amendments to the Data Protection Bill going through Parliament would make it easier for the rich and powerful to escape being held to account.
Tabled by Tory peer John Attlee and crossbencher Shiela Hollins, the changes would make it harder to carry out investigative journalism and protect the identity of sources who reveal wrongdoing.
They would affect all publications, from national newspapers and broadcasters including the BBC, to small community newspapers, charities and think-tanks.
Critics also fear that a second raft of amendments is being used as a backdoor route to force publishers to join the injust regulator Impress, which depends on money from the former Formula One boss Max Mosley.
The latest moves threaten 300 years of Press freedom by undermining the principle that journalists have the right to print whatever information they believe is in the public interest, and only answer for it to the courts afterward.
Last night Lord Grade, a former chairman of the BBC and ITV, said: Any legislative move that restricts a journalist's legitimate inquiries should be opposed. The current laws and codes of conduct are sufficient to protect people from unwarranted
intrusion and exposure.
Under the existing Bill, as proposed by the Government, the exemption for journalists depends on whether their reporting is in the public interest, as defined by the Ofcom code, the BBC editorial guidelines or the Independent Press Standards
Organisation's Editors' Code of Practice. But some peers want to remove Ipso from the legislation and replace it with the injust press censor Impress, which covers only a handful of hyper-local publications and blogs.
Robert Skidelsky, one of the peers seeking to have Impress's code of practice recognised in the Bill, is a close friend of Max Mosley.
Three countries are using the European Council to put dangerous pro-censorship amendments into the already controversial Copyright Directive.
The copyright law that Openmedia has been campaigning on -- the one pushing the link tax and censorship machines -- is facing some dangerous sabotage from the European Council. In particular, France, Spain and Portugal are directly harming the
The Bill is currently being debated in the European Parliament but the European Council also gets to make its own proposed version of the law, and the two versions eventually have to compromise with each other. This European Council is made up of
ministers from the governments of all EU member states. Those ministers are usually represented by staff who do most of the negotiating on their behalf. It is not a transparent body, but it does have a lot of power.
The Council can choose to agree with Parliament's amendments, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen in this case. In fact they've been taking worrying steps, particularly when it comes to the censorship machine proposals.
As the proposal stands before the Council intervention, it encourages sites where users upload and make content to install filtering mechanisms -- a kind of censorship machine which would use algorithms to look for copyrighted content and then
block the post. This is despite the fact that there many legal reasons to use copyrighted content.
These new changes want to go a step further. They firstly want to make the censorship machine demand even more explicit. As Julia Reda puts it:
They want to add to the Commission proposal that platforms need to automatically remove media that has once been classified as infringing, regardless of the context in which it is uploaded.
Then, they go all in with a suggested rewrite of existing copyright law to end the liability protections which are vital for a functioning web.
Liability protection laws mean we (not websites) are responsible for what we say and post online. This is so that websites are not obliged to monitor everything we say or do. If they were liable there would be much overzealous blocking and
censorship. These rules made YouTube, podcast platforms, social media, all possible. The web as we know it works because of these rules.
But the governments of France, Spain, Portugal and the Estonian President of the Council want to undo them. It would mean all these sites could be sued for any infringement posted there. It would put off new sites from developing. And it
would cause huge legal confusion -- given that the exact opposite is laid out in a different EU law.
The US establishment clearly cannot accept that US voters selected Donald Trump because of their own failures to look after sizable chunks of the American people. Instead they prefer to believe US minds were somehow corrupted by mysterious
foreign agents offering propaganda and fake news.
So now the US is coming down heavy on the Russian propaganda news channel RT. RT said this week that it had been ordered by the US Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent by Monday or have its bank accounts frozen. This 1938
reporting law is something from the age when the Nazis were on the ascent, and that foreign agents were indeed enemies of the state with a war looming.
In response to this treatment, Russia's parliament has now begun drafting tit-for-tat measures that would place severe restrictions on some US media outlets operating in the country, in a move that looks likely to plunge US-Russia relations to a
Russian president Vladimir Putin had previously warned that Russia would take retaliatory steps if RT, formerly known as Russia Today, was targeted by US authorities.
The Russian parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said MPs had been tasked with drafting amendments to Russia's own law on foreign agents to include biased media organisations that oppose Russia's political system. He said the amendments
could be approved in their third and final reading as earlier as next Friday.
Senator Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the upper house of parliament's media policy committee, said the measures would initially target CNN, the Voice of America, and Radio Liberty. However, Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman,
did not rule out that the updated law could also result in the expulsion of Moscow-based correspondents from US newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told an audience at New America, a Washington think tank, on Thursday night that there was an online arms race between militants and the forces of law and order.
She said that social media companies should press ahead with development and deployment of AI systems that could spot militant content before it is posted on the internet and block it from being disseminated.
Since the beginning of 2017, violent militant operatives have created 40,000 new internet destinations, Rudd said. As of 12 months ago, social media companies were taking down about half of the violent militant material from their sites within
two hours of its discovery, and lately that proportion has increased to two thirds, she said.
YouTube is now taking down 83% of violent militant videos it discovers, Rudd said, adding that UK authorities have evidence that the Islamic State was now struggling to get some of its materials online.
She added that in the wake of an increasing number of vehicle attacks by islamic terrorists British security authorities were reviewing rental car regulations and considering ways for authorities to collect more relevant data from car hire
In the US video games sold on disk have to pay for a rating from the ESRB. The fees are not published but is seems that they are quite expensive and are related to development budgets.
Online games do not require such a rating from the ESRB. However there is a bit of a crossover, as established online games have been creating special edition releases on disk.
However the ESRB has now changed the rules and all games require an ESRB rating no mater how they are sold. Thankfully the ratings for online will be free but game producers will now have to pay for special edition releases of initially online
games. The ESRB is offering a discounted price of $3000 for this subsequent rating but this still seems expensive enough to make special edition releases uneconomic.
Sony has announced that it will be enforcing ESRB ratings requirements before allowing games on to its various console platforms.
kotaku.com.au have cited an example where the new ESRB requirements have led to the cancelling of a planned release.
Ruiner, a violent cyberpunk shooter that arrived digitally on PS4 in late September, was originally going to have a physical disc version released in the future. Developed by Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital, Ruiner had come
up on the radar of Special Reserve Games, who had previously put out physical editions of Absolver, Shadow Warrior 2, and Strafe .
These packages often included not just hard copies of the game, but also art books, statues, and other boondoggles. Special Reserve Games planned to do the same with Ruiner until it became apparent that new rules being handed down by Sony would
make the project prohibitively expensive.
In a statement on Twitter in late October, Special Reserve wrote:
In late August, the ESRB announced a new mandate for all physical releases across all consoles would soon be required, and shortly after we announced our intention to produce Ruiner , we received word that this mandate would be applied to it and
future new game releases.
The process of obtaining this rating comes with a fee that puts the production costs for new releases like Ruiner out of the acceptable range for us to produce physical discs for PS4. This decision was agonizing, and we have tried multiple ways
to reach a compromise, but sadly, we have had to change our plans to produce our intended collector edition PS4 discs for Ruiner .
YouTube has announced an extension of its age restriction policy for parody videos using children's characters but with inappropriate themes
The new policy was announced on Thursday and will see age restrictions apply on content featuring inappropriate use of family entertainment characters like unofficial videos depicting Peppa Pig. The company already had a policy that rendered such
videos ineligible for advertising revenue, in the hope that doing would reduce the motivation to create them in the first place. Juniper Downs, , YouTube's director of policy explained:
Earlier this year, we updated our policies to make content featuring inappropriate use of family entertainment characters ineligible for monetisation,We're in the process of implementing a new policy that age restricts this content in the
YouTube main app when flagged. Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids. The YouTube team is made up of parents who are committed to improving our apps and getting this right.
Age-restricted videos can't be seen by users who aren't logged in, or by those who have entered their age as below 18 on both the site and the app. More importantly, they also don't show up on YouTube Kids, a separate app aimed at parents who
want to let their children under 13 use the site unsupervised.
A Spanish judge has dealt a blow to copyright trolls in Spain. In a first of its kind ruling, the court dismissed an example legal case due to a lack of evidence.
The Commercial Court of Donostia dismissed the claim against an alleged file-sharer due to a lack of evidence. Copyright company Dallas Buyers Club identified the infringer through an IP-address, but according to Judge Pedro José Malagón Ruiz,
this is not good enough.
The ruling says that there is no way to know whether the defendant was the P2P user or not, because an IP address only identifies the person who subscribed to the Internet connection, not the user who made use of the connection at a certain
moment, copyright lawyer David Bravo tells TorrentFreak.
A relative or a guest could have been using the network, or even someone accessing the wifi if it was open, he adds.
In addition, the Judge agreed with the defense that there is no evidence that the defendant actively made the movie available. This generally requires a form of intent. However, BitTorrent clients automatically share files with others, whether
it's the intention of the user or not.
In other words, these BitTorrent transfers are not necessarily an act of public communication, therefore, they are not infringing any copyrights.
It is now OK to say 'fuck' on French-language broadcasts in Canada, thanks to a new ruling by the country's TV censors.
The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that the word has become such a part of French-Canadian vernacular that it's no longer too vulgar to speak on air.
The CBSC note that the English word 'fuck' does not have the same vulgar connotation when used in French, the council said in a statement. The word can be exclaimed at any time of day.
The council made the change after it received complaints about two clips aired on the French-language Canadian radio station CKOI-FM. One of the clips featured Madonna saying fuck you during the Women's March in Washington, D.C., while the
other was an aired excerpt of a Green Day concert where singer Billie Joe Armstrong says, What the fuck?! I'm not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers!
There are still restrictions on the word during daytime broadcasts. The use of the word must be infrequent and the word cannot be used to insult or attack an individual or group.
The latest measure to deny Russian people the freedom of expression online will take effect on 1st November. New laws will require VPNs to comply with the Russian State's online censorship programme and block all websites that are on the
government censor's block list.
The Russian State Duma passed the new piece of legislation earlier this year and it was quickly signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
Most of the major international VPN providers are not expected to comply with the law. Some, including Private Internet Access (PIA) , has already confirmed this. PIA also removed all their servers from Russia last year after a number were seized
without prior warning. It remains to be seen how the Russian state will try and sanction them as a result, but their own websites can certainly be expected to be added to the blacklist.
Online rights activists have also been quick to condemn the new law. Eva Galperin, the Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said she believed the law would only be applied selectively. It is expected that
the Russian regime will use the new powers to target opposition activists ahead of next year's Presidential Elections. Overseas companies and businesspeople based in Russia which use VPNs are unlikely to see their service affected.
Update: Small Russian ISPs won't be able to afford new state blocking requirements
A draft order of Roskomnadzor, Russia's Federal internet censor, requires the most expensive and degrading method of blocking - a deep packet analysis of all traffic passing (DPI, deep packet inspection). Because of its high cost, the
requirements of Roskomnadzor will lead to the sale of small and medium providers business to large one, experts say.
The law on the prohibition of VPNs, enacted in Russia, has not yet affected access to sites that are prohibited. As before, you can still access them via anonymizers, VPN and TOR.
Analysts of Roskomsvoboda - a public organization, which activities are aimed at counteracting censorship on the Internet, explain that users will not see any effects before December anyway, as the process of the law allows 36 days for VPN
providers to respond to blocking requests before taking any action against them.
Some well-known VPN-services have already reacted to the next round of censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet. Representatives of ExpressVPN expressed surprise at this issue, asking how exactly Russia intends to implement this new
regulation in practice?
ExpressVPN will certainly never agree with any standards that would jeopardize the ability of our product to protect the digital rights of users, remarks the company.
Tunnelbear imparted that the service belongs to a Canadian company, hence operates according to the local laws, which do not limit them in any way.
VPN-service TorGuard also does not intend to cooperate with Roskomnadzor, directly declaring that it will refuse to block sites if they are approached with such requests.
VPN users in Russia were braced for big problems last November when a new law came into force requiring all anonymiser services to comply with state censorship laws or be blocked . The expectation was that this would lead to most international
VPNs being quickly blocked in Russia.
However, to date, that hasn't been the case and all of the most popular international VPNs in Russia remain available.
According to the Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) this is because Russia has not yet requested any VPN service to block the sites listed on states registered of banned
vpncompare.co.uk speculates that maybe the reasons for the delayed blocking of VPNs is either a lack of expensive deep packet inspection routers able to block VPNs or else concerns that blocking VPNs may harm commercial and corporate
interests. But this may only be a reprieve whist infrastructure upgrades are implemented or legal tweaks to distingusih between corporate VPS and personal VPNs.
The Senate Commerce Committee just approved a slightly modified version of SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act ( S. 1693 ).
SESTA was and continues to be a deeply flawed bill. It is intended to weaken the section commonly known as CDA 230 or simply Section 230, one of the most important laws protecting free expression online . Section 230 says that for purposes of
enforcing certain laws affecting speech online, an intermediary cannot be held legally responsible for any content created by others.
It's not surprising when a trade association endorses a bill that would give its own members a massive competitive advantage.
SESTA would create an exception to Section 230 for laws related to sex trafficking, thus exposing online platforms to an immense risk of civil and criminal litigation. What that really means is that online platforms would be forced to take
drastic measures to censor their users.
Some SESTA supporters imagine that compliance with SESTA would be easy--that online platforms would simply need to use automated filters to pinpoint and remove all messages in support of sex trafficking and leave everything else untouched. But
such filters do not and cannot exist: computers aren't good at recognizing subtlety and context, and with severe penalties at stake, no rational company would trust them to .
Online platforms would have no choice but to program their filters to err on the side of removal, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process. And remember, the first people silenced are likely to be trafficking victims themselves: it would
be a huge technical challenge to build a filter that removes sex trafficking advertisements but doesn't also censor a victim of trafficking telling her story or trying to find help.
Along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, Access Now, Engine, and many other organizations, EFF signed a letter yesterday urging the Commerce Committee to change course . We explained the silencing effect that SESTA would have on online
Pressures on intermediaries to prevent trafficking-related material from appearing on their sites would also likely drive more intermediaries to rely on automated content filtering tools, in an effort to conduct comprehensive content moderation
at scale. These tools have a notorious tendency to enact overbroad censorship, particularly when used without (expensive, time-consuming) human oversight. Speakers from marginalized groups and underrepresented populations are often the hardest
hit by such automated filtering.
It's ironic that supporters of SESTA insist that computerized filters can serve as a substitute for human moderation: the improvements we've made in filtering technologies in the past two decades would not have happened without the safety
provided by a strong Section 230, which provides legal cover for platforms that might harm users by taking down, editing or otherwise moderating their content (in addition to shielding platforms from liability for illegal user-generated content).
We find it disappointing, but not necessarily surprising, that the Internet Association has endorsed this deeply flawed bill . Its member companies--many of the largest tech companies in the world--will not feel the brunt of SESTA in the same way
as their smaller competitors. Small Internet startups don't have the resources to police every posting on their platforms, which will uniquely pressure them to censor their users--that's particularly true for nonprofit and noncommercial platforms
like the Internet Archive and Wikipedia. It's not surprising when a trade association endorses a bill that would give its own members a massive competitive advantage.
If you rely on online communities in your day-to-day life; if you believe that your right to speak matters just as much on the web as on the street; if you hate seeing sex trafficking victims used as props to advance an agenda of censorship;
please take a moment to write your members of Congress and tell them to oppose SESTA .
We received complaints from some viewers about the programme's coverage of recent allegations of sexual harassment at Westminster.
Have I Got News For You is a long-running panel show that takes a satirical approach to covering the latest news stories and events. It has built a reputation for irreverent satire and, as such, contains jokes and provocative comment rather than
genuine political reporting or debate.
The programme has dealt with many subjects over the last 27 years, and this show reflected the speculation around the biggest news story at the time of record. Given the extensive coverage that arose from allegations of sexual misconduct in
Westminster it would have been odd for Have I Got News For You to ignore this story.
Guests are booked in advance, rather than for particular topics, and we try very hard to book guests from all areas of the political spectrum. This means there will sometimes be panel members with views that the audience and others on the show
may disagree with. We do not necessarily share or endorse the views of the panellists and their material doesn't reflect the opinions of the BBC. The host is also there to chair the show and to add perspective and balance when needs be 203 as we
saw when Jo Brand made her points so eloquently in taking panel members to task in this edition.
While most viewers know what to expect from the programme, it doesn't set out to deliberately offend viewers. Its purpose is to be entertaining and to maintain the standards the show has set over the last 27 years. That said, we accept that
tastes vary enormously and that some viewers might have a different point of view.
On Tuesday 7 November, three joined cases brought by civil liberties and human rights organisations challenging UK Government surveillance will be heard in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
Big Brother Watch and Others v UK will be heard alongside 10 Human Rights Organisations and Others v UK and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Alice Ross v UK, four years after the initial application to the ECtHR.
Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Open Rights Group and Dr Constanze Kurz made their application to the Court in 2013 following Edward Snowden's revelations that UK intelligence agencies were running a mass surveillance and bulk communications
interception programme, TEMPORA, as well as receiving data from similar US programmes, PRISM and UPSTREAM, interfering with UK citizens' right to privacy.
The case questions the legality of the indiscriminate surveillance of UK citizens and the bulk collection of their personal information and communications by UK intelligence agencies under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The UK
surveillance regime under RIPA was untargeted, meaning that UK citizens' personal communications and information was collected at random without any element of suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing, and this regime was effective indefinitely.
The surveillance regime is being challenged on the grounds that there was no sufficient legal basis, no accountability, and no adequate oversight of these programmes, and as a result infringed UK citizens' Article 8 right to a private life.
In 2014, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism made an application to the ECtHR, followed by 10 Human Rights Organisations and others in 2015 after they received a judgment from the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal. All three cases were joined
together, and the Court exceptionally decided that there would be a hearing.
The result of these three cases has the potential to impact the current UK surveillance regime under the Investigatory Powers Act. This legal framework has already been strongly criticized by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Watson .
A favourable judgment in this case will finally push the UK Government to constrain these wide-ranging surveillance powers, implement greater judicial control and introduce greater protection such as notifying citizens that they have been put
Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, solicitor for Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English PEN and Constanze Kurz, said:
Historically, it has required a ruling from this Court before improvements in domestic law in this area are made. Edward Snowden broke that cycle by setting in motion last year's Investigatory Power Act, but my clients are asking the Court to
limit bulk interception powers in a much more meaningful way and to require significant improvements in how such intrusive powers are controlled and reported.
Griff Ferris, Researcher at Big Brother Watch, said:
This case raises long-standing issues relating to the UK Government's unwarranted intrusion into people's private lives, giving the intelligence agencies free reign to indiscriminately intercept and monitor people's private communications
without evidence or suspicion.
UK citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing should be able to live their lives in both the physical and the digital world safely and securely without such Government intrusion.
If the Court finds that the UK Government infringed UK citizens' right to privacy, this should put further pressure on the Government to implement measures to ensure that its current surveillance regime doesn't make the same mistakes.
Antonia Byatt, Interim Director of English PEN, said:
More than four years since Edward Snowden's revelations and nearly one year since the Investigatory Powers Act was passed, this is a landmark hearing that seeks to safeguard our privacy and our right to freedom of expression.
The UK now has the most repressive surveillance legislation of any western democracy, this is a vital opportunity to challenge the unprecedented erosion of our private lives and liberty to communicate.
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said:
Mass surveillance must end. Our democratic values are threatened by the fact of pervasive, constant state surveillance. This case gives the court the opportunity to rein it back, and to show the British Government that there are clear limits.
Hoovering everything up and failing to explain what you are doing is not acceptable.
A magazine ad for Condé Nast Traveller Magazine seen in Glamour Magazine on 22 June 2017 featured a model posed on a beach.
A complainant believed the model looked unhealthily thin and challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA considered that while the model appeared to be in proportion, the angle of the image drew attention to her slimness, particularly her legs which looked very long and thin. We also noted that she was part way through twisting and that the
outline of her body could be seen through her top, emphasising the narrowness of her waist. We acknowledged that the ad was for a travel magazine and that its focus was not supposed to be on the model or her clothes; however, we considered that
the model was the focal point of the image, therefore we concluded that the ad made the model look unhealthily thin and that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Condé Nast Publications Ltd to ensure that in the future their ads were prepared responsibly.
Kenyan censors have banned a show on Disney channel from airing in Kenya, citing the introduction of a gay character for its second season.
The Disney Channel made history recently after it introduced a gay storyline to its popular show, Andi Mack , for its second season. In the show, 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman comes out as gay and confesses to his best friend that he has a
crush on cool kid Jonah Beck.
Kenya Film Classification Board boss Ezekiel Mutua said the programme would not be allowed to air in the country. Mutua announced the sanction on his Facebook timeline, saying his organisation was unapologetic when it comes to protecting children
from content that he termed inappropriate and warned that gay content would not air in Kenya.
Following the complaints and ban, Multichoice Kenya issued a statement saying it had contacted its channel provider, Disney, and confirmed that the show was not scheduled to air on DStv and GOtv.
Update: Disney decides to pull Andi Mack from all of Africa
8th November 2017
Disney have now decided to pull the show altogether across Sub-Saharan Africa, with a spokesperson saying that the show will be taken off DStv to respect cultural sensibilities.
It means Andi Mack's gay storyline won't be shown in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mauritius and Tanzania.
A Disney Channel spokesperson told The Cape Argus:
While our shows are developed for global audiences, we are committed to respecting each market's cultural sensibilities, compliance rules and regulations.
Disney Channel in South Africa serves multiple countries across Africa and the Middle East, each with its own regulations to which we adhere.
Accordingly, Andi Mack will not be broadcast through DStv.
Coronation Street has scored a big hit with their Pat Phelan baddie. The shock double murder last week had kidnapper Phelan forceing Andy Carver to shoot fellow captive Vinny Ashford, Phelan then shot Andy in cold blood.
The plot sparked almost 400 complaints to Ofcom and yesterday chat show king Michael Parkinson said it was more suited to a horror channel.
But the show's producer, Kate Oates said:
I've realised I've split the audience with Phelan. In terms of what we showed, yes it was pretty dark but one of the reasons people found it so disarming is that it was truthfully written, when sometimes these things can be tongue in
She said fans are in for a treat when Phelan finally gets his comeuppance.
The truth is that a lot of the material that terrorists share is not actually illegal at all. Instead, it was often comprised of news reports about perceived injustices in Palestine, stuff that you could never censor in a free society.
Staff at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have received death threats over a cartoon of the muslim academic Tariq Ramadan who has been accused of rape by two women.
The Charlie Hebdo take on the case was a cartoon depicting Ramadan sporting an impossibly enormous erection (inside his trousers) with the caption: I am the sixth pillar of Islam.
The Paris prosecutor's office has now opened a police inquiry into the death threat.
Laurent Riss Sourisseau, the magazine's editor, said the threats and hate mail had never really stopped after the January 2015 jihadist attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices. He said:
It's always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges.
Transport for London (TfL) has removed Free Balochistan adverts from London black cabs after pressure from the Pakistani government
The World Baloch Organisation , which advocates for rights of the ethnic Balochs who live in the Balochistan regions straddling Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, launched its campaign on London's black cabs to highlight the war crimes and human
rights abuses of the Islamabad government.
The #FreeBalochistan adverts carry slogans saying Stop enforced disappearances and Save the Baloch people
The British High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned to appear before the Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua, on Friday over the adverts which they said directly attack its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
In the second phase of rescuing the self-regulation of advertising in South Africa, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has introduced a voluntary levy system on advertising spends.
The scheme sets a voluntary levy of 0.1% of advertising spend and is to be collected by advertising agencies that implement advertising campaigns.
ASA have noted that companies with a massive spend, such that they consider 0.1% is too high, then ASA will be willing to negotiate the figure down.
Fox News is a news channel from the US shown on UK TV. Although the channel has ceased to broadcast and is no longer a licensed television service falling under Ofcom’s jurisdiction, Ofcom has decided that publication of this short form decision
is appropriate to ensure there is a complete compliance record and to facilitate public understanding of the Code.
This case concerns “due impartiality”.
In reaching this Decision, we have taken into account the fact that Fox News is a US news channel, directed at US audiences, which is available in the UK. The people who watch it in the UK are aware that it is a US channel and their expectations
are different. It is not a main source of news in the UK. However, we were also mindful that, in our view, this particular programme dealt with major matters relating to current public policy that, as well as being of international significance,
were of particular relevance and significance to UK viewers.
Hannity is a current affairs discussion programme. On 31 January 2017, it covered President Donald Trump’s Executive Order issued on 27 January 2017 restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Ofcom considered the programme under
5.9 (adequate representation of alternative views in ‘personal view’ or discussion programmes),
5.11 (due impartiality on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy) and
5.12 (inclusion of an appropriately wide range of significant views when dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy).
Ofcom considered the Order to be a “major” matter. There was intense international and UK interest in it at the time. Although a domestic US policy, its application was likely to impact non-US citizens, including in the UK. It also attracted
scrutiny as an early signal of how the Trump Administration would approach domestic and international affairs. On the day before the broadcast thousands of people joined protests in several UK cities against the travel ban, MPs held an emergency
debate at Westminster and more than 1.5 million people had signed a petition calling for Mr Trump’s state visit to the UK to be cancelled.
We went on to consider if due impartiality had been preserved by ensuring alternative viewpoints were sufficiently reflected. The opening monologue featured several video clips of public figures reacting critically to the Order. However, these
views were briefly represented in pre-recorded videos and repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by the presenter without sufficient opportunity for the contributors to challenge or otherwise respond to the criticism directed at them. During the rest
of the programme, the presenter interviewed various guests who were all prominent supporters of the Trump administration and highly critical of those opposed to the Order. The presenter consistently voiced his enthusiastic support for the Order
and the Trump Administration.
Ofcom acknowledged that viewers were likely to expect Hannity to address controversial issues from a perspective that is generally more supportive of the US Republican Party. However, the likely audience expectations did not provide sufficient
contextual justification to outweigh the numerous highly critical statements made about people who had opposed the Order, coupled with the clear support being expressed for the policies of President Trump.
Breaches of Rules 5.9, 5.11 and 5.12
Ofcom cited a second example of Fox News one sided reporting, criticising Tucker Carlson Tonight for a programme about Islam, child abuse and terrorism.
Burmese filmmakers, supported by those from Southeast Asian countries, on Saturday pitched for classification, rather than censorship in the days ahead.
Joining a debate on film censorship in Myanmar and rest of Southeast Asia as part of the Memory! Festival 2017, they said that when the 1996 Motion Picture Law is replaced by a new law now in the drafting process, it should have very moderate
censorship to control extreme cases of religious incitement, hate speech and obscenity.
Film maker Shin Daewe explained that the 1996 law is outdated and anachronistic and has high hopes for the new law and said:
We have high hopes because our lawmaker Phyu Phyu Tin who provides leadership to the drafting of the new law is a liberal. We hope the new law will reflect the spirit of emerging democracy in Myanmar. We want a transparent classification system,
not censorship that belongs to a world gone by and is unsuited to our times marked by liberalisation and globalisation.
Libya's second Comic Con event was brought to a sudden end on Friday when an Islamist paramilitary group raided it, citing a range of offences against Islam.
According to a report, the so-called RADA Special Deterrence Forces (SDF) paramilitary group detained and assaulted some 20 fans. They also seized computers and other equipment, saying that Libya was not a free/liberal country.
They arrested over 20 people. Organisers, participants and visitors. Anyone who was wearing a badge, including visitors, were arrested.
The organiser said that the militants told the detainees that they were rescuing the youth from Comic Con, an event they called destructive and foreign to Islam and Libya, and that they had committed large number of crimes against public morals.
These included agnosticism, atheism, masonic ideas, believing in Halloween, distorting the minds of youth and even abandoning Islam altogether.
The organiser ironically noted that the islamists claimed to be concerned about supposed pious morality but had no problem with real violence saying:
Some of those who were released had received a beating, had had their head shaved bald and were given a religious lecture. They were told that Libya was a Muslim country not a free/liberal country.
A trade group representing giants of Internet business from Facebook to Microsoft has just endorsed a "compromise" version of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a misleadingly named bill that would be disastrous for free
speech and online communities.
Just a few hours after Senator Thune's amended version of SESTA surfaced online, the Internet Association rushed to praise the bill's sponsors for their "careful work and bipartisan collaboration." The compromise bill has all of the
same fundamental flaws as the original. Like the original, it does nothing to fight sex traffickers, but
it would silence legitimate speech online .
It shouldn't really come as a surprise that the Internet Association has fallen in line to endorse SESTA. The Internet Association doesn't represent the Internet--it represents the few companies that profit the most off of Internet activity.
The Internet Association can tell itself and its members whatever it wants--that it held its ground for as long as it could despite overwhelming political opposition, that the law will motivate its members to make amazing strides in filtering
technologies--but there is one thing that it simply cannot say: that it has done something to fight sex trafficking.
A serious problem calls for serious solutions, and SESTA is not a serious solution. At the heart of the sex trafficking problem lies a complex set of economic, social, and legal issues. A
broken immigration system and a torn safety net. A law enforcement regime that puts trafficking victims at risk for reporting their traffickers. Officers who aren't adequately trained to use the online tools at their disposal, or use them
against victims. And yes, if there are cases where online platforms themselves directly contribute to unlawful activity , it's a problem that the
Department of Justice won't use the powers Congress has already given it . These are the factors that deserve intense deliberation and debate by lawmakers, not a hamfisted attempt to punish online communities.
The Internet Association let the Internet down today. Congress should not make the same mistake.
A federal court in California has rendered an order from the Supreme Court of Canada unenforceable. The order in question required Google to remove a company's websites from search results globally, not just in Canada. This ruling violates US law
and puts free speech at risk, the California court found.
When the Canadian company Equustek Solutions requested Google to remove competing websites claimed to be illegally using intellectual property, it refused to do so globally.
This resulted in a legal battle that came to a climax in June, when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to remove a company's websites from its search results. Not just in Canada, but all over the world.
With options to appeal exhausted in Canada, Google took the case to a federal court in the US. The search engine requested an injunction to disarm the Canadian order, arguing that a worldwide blocking order violates the First Amendment.
Surprisingly, Equustek decided not to defend itself and without opposition, a California District Court sided with Google. During a hearing, Google attorney Margaret Caruso stressed that it should not be possible for foreign countries to
implement measures that run contrary to core values of the United States.
The search engine argued that the Canadian order violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes Internet services from liability for content created by third parties. With this law, Congress specifically chose not to
deter harmful online speech by imposing liability on Internet services.
In an order, signed shortly after the hearing, District Judge Edward Davila concludes that Google qualifies for Section 230 immunity in this case. As such, he rules that the Canadian Supreme Court's global blocking order goes too far.
The ruling is important in the broader scheme. If foreign courts are allowed to grant worldwide blockades, free speech could be severely hampered. Today it's a relatively unknown Canadian company, but what if the Chinese Government asked Google
to block the websites of VPN providers?
The former Labour deputy leader, Harriet Harman, recounted a joke on live TV as she complained she had been branded humourless for objecting to offensive and hurtful material.
Now a Jewish advocacy group is demanding an apology for repeating the joke about the Holocaust an Andrew Neil's political chat show, This Week.
But Harman insisted that she recounted the joke in order to show that anti-Semitic humour was no laughing matter. During a debate on the limits of acceptable humour, Harman said:
I've long been accused of being a humourless feminist and I'll give you two examples that I protested about because they were offensive and hurtful. Two jokes. One was 'How do you get 100 Jews into a Mini? One in the driver's seat and 99 in the
ashtray'. That's not funny.
Cutting her short, Neil responded:
We'll stop with that one example.
As he turned to speak to another guest, the former Labour deputy leader attempted to interrupt in order to justify her decision to repeat the joke, only for Neil to tell her: Be quiet.
The broadcaster later explained his handling of the incident on Twitter, saying he was appalled and even a little bit upset by what she said.
And the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Simon Johnson, demanded an apology from Harman for what he termed a staggering error of judgment. I cannot recall being so disappointed in a politician, said Johnson.
Update: Complaints to Ofcom
6th November 2017
Ofcom announced that it received 26 complaints about violence in Gunpowder and inevitably these have been officially consigned to the wastepaper bin, nominally awaiting a first response from the BBC.
A new stage play in Manchester has cut lines about Myra Hindley being a true artist and a hero for fear of offending the audience.
Derek Jarman's 1978 punk film Jubilee has been adapted for the Royal Exchange theatre.
In the film, a character named Amyl Nitrate used her opening speech to say Hindley instantly became my hero when she was 15. She also said Hindley was a true artist because she knew how to make her desires a reality, and dismissed those who
said her crimes were unimaginable because that showed the poverty of your imagination.
Director Chris Goode, who has adapted the script for its stage premiere, said the lines were in the original film to show how punks deliberately wanted to shock society and smash taboos.
He initially resisted requests to take out the reference to Hindley but was 'convinced' to do so by a member of the senior artistic leadership of the Royal Exchange on Saturday.
It seemed to me that if Derek [Jarman] could do that in 1977 that we must be able to do it 40 years on, he told BBC News. But after being 'convinced' he added:
I hadn't fully understood the way in which Myra Hindley as an icon and an idea has sort of become hotter over the intervening 40 years. That surprised me a little bit.
It's possible we could make a different decision about this if we were doing this run in London. And there will be a run in London, and I expect we'll have the conversation again. But for now in Manchester it feels like there's a
New York City has repealed a 100 year-old restriction barring dancing in bars if they do not have a cabaret license. The City Council has voted 41-1 to repeal the Cabaret Law and the bill is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has
indicated his support for the proposal. After DeBlasio signs, the repeal will go into effect within 30 days.
A spokesman for de Blasio told the New York Times, though he emphasized the need to retain some of its security requirements, including mandatory security cameras and certified security staff at larger venues.
The law, which was created during prohibition in the face of the proliferation of speakeasies, made it illegal to host musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other forms of amusement without a cabaret license. The license was available, but
the process of obtaining it was costly complicated and required approval from several agencies and only businesses in areas zoned for commercial manufacturing are eligible.
The law was used aggressively by Giuliani administration's crackdown on nightlife in the late 1990s. More recently, Andrew Muchmore, a lawyer and bar owner whose Brooklyn bar, Muchmore's, was hit with a Cabaret Law violation in 2013 after a
police officer reportedly found people swaying to music at a concert.
The Kenya Films Classification Board (KFCB) Chief Executive Officer Ezekiel Mutua has reacted to reports of gay lions in Maasai Mara, Kenya's most visited Game Park.
Speaking to the Nation, Mutua, a vocal anti-gay campaigner spouted:
These animals need counseling, because probably they have been influenced by gays who have gone to the national parks and behaved badly.
Some research needs to be done. And also, I wish I can get the bio to confirm that the two lions were male, because it is not normal.
The two could have been possessed by some evil spirits that has taken over some human beings. I mean where on earth have you ever heard of something like this happening? The demonic spirits inflicting in humans seems to have caught up with
David Shanks responded to a local press article noting declining revenues for the film censors as people watch movies and porn online rather than DVDs and Blu-rays which require a classification certificate. Shanks writes:
Most people don't realise that we are both government and industry funded. The Classification Office has received just under $2M in government funding since it was established in 1994. This reflects the work we do for government officials --
examining and classifying material that has been seized by the Police, Customs or other authorities.
This material is often extreme. Child rape, animal mutilation and graphic executions are the start of it. Nobody in their right mind wants to see this stuff but someone has to make an official assessment of it in order to prosecute. We do that.
The other side of our operation is classifying commercial film and DVD releases. This is funded through industry. The film and DVD industry pays less than half of one percent of its revenue to have their product classified in order for it to be
exhibited or sold in New Zealand.
Back in the 1990's and up until around 2010 a lot of material was being sold in NZ direct to DVD -- yes, including a fair amount of adult entertainment. Porn. It seems quaint to think it now, but back in those days the Classification Office would
routinely review porn DVDs to make sure they weren't too abusive. As everyone knows this has changed and increasingly people obtain porn - and a lot more besides! - online. Accordingly, commercial revenue has dropped from around $1.3 million in
2009 to around $600-700k today.
It is this decline in commercial revenue that we highlighted in our most recent Statement of Intent. When we drafted this Statement we could see that our expenditure was going to exceed income to the point where we would have used up all our
reserves by 2020.
We have restructured to address this, and we are now in a stable financial position.
During the restructure, I wanted to provide my classification staff with as much choice as possible in the process, and met with all of them individually. In the end, we had no forced redundancy, everyone who left chose redundancy freely. Many of
these people had put in many years of service doing a tough job that many people could not handle. At least one person expressed relief to me that they would no longer have to view prosecution material.
I salute them.
Now as an office we are in a position to recruit some new people with fresh talent, skills and perspectives. This is vital because in truth the future of censorship and classification is not murky -- as described in the article -- but is highly
changeable and dynamic.
The old approaches to regulation will not work in this environment. The future involves parents, children and young people who are better informed and equipped to deal with the digital environment. It involves an industry taking greater
responsibility themselves, using digital tools to efficiently inform the public. I have been talking to my counterparts in Australia and the UK who are doing some very innovative things in this area, presenting ideas that could improve the
picture for both industry and all New Zealanders.
A pop-up banner ad promoting the website www.wish.com, which appeared in the in-game app, Simon's Cat Crunch Time and was seen on 24 July 2017. The ad featured an image of a fake tattoo which looked like a bite mark on a woman's chest.
The complainant challenged whether the ad had been targeted responsibly, because they believed it could cause harm to children who saw it.
wish.com did not respond to our enquiries.
The publisher of the app Strawdog Studios, said they had not intended to display the ad to their users and explained that it had been served through a third-party Application Programming Interface (API). Their set up with the API was intended to
filter out ads like the one complained about. They explained that because of the large volume of ads they served, it occasionally happened that an ad was not caught by their filter and in that situation they would remove the specific provider
manually. They also did this when people complained to them directly, although they had not received any direct customer complaints about the ad. They said they were not going to serve any further ads from wish.com.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA was concerned by wish.com's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code.
(Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ASA understood that Simon's Cat Crunch Time was an in-game app that featured a cartoon cat. The aim of the game was for the player to help the cat find his treats. We considered the app was likely to have strong appeal to children and
therefore children were likely to have seen the ad. We noted that it was not clear from the ad that the product shown was a fake tattoo and we considered that the image, of a bite mark on a woman's chest which was red and bloody, might cause
distress to children who saw it. Because of that, we considered the ad had not been targeted responsibly and therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in an untargeted medium. We told wish.com to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted.
The Cayman Islands in the Caribbean is an autonomous British Overseas Territory. But the British connections does not be achieving much in the way of free expression.
Sculptor Ronald Foots Kynes, based on Cayman Brac, was charged on 16 October 2017 under section 157 of the Penal Code for displaying an obscene object for public exhibition and intending to corrupt morals, related to some of his artwork displayed
on his property.
The sculptor, who is representing himself in court, pled not guilty in his first court hearing on 26 October and requested the case go to trial with a jury in Grand Cayman.
The sculptor was originally detained on 18 July 2017 after refusing to remove publicly visible sculptures that featured nudity, homosexuality and religious iconography that have offended the easily offended.
The pieces were on display for three months before he was arrested under the little-used section of the Penal Code that prohibits the distribution or public exhibition of obscene writings, drawing, paintings, or any other object tending to
On 12 August, two of the sculptures involved in the case were vandalized, and Kynes said that at least eight of his works have been damaged in similar circumstances since 2009. The artist also said he has received death threats and constant
harassment from the community.