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 2008: December
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31st December   

Nazi Censors...

YouTube under attack for hosting Nazi videos
Link Here
Nazi Jack Straw

What's a Nazi to do?
We're condemned when
we ban free speech,
and condemned if we don't

Video-sharing website YouTube has been condemned for showing video clips showing Nazi troops. The scenes, accompanied by militaristic music, have drawn millions of hits.

YouTube, which hosts film clips from the public, has 2,880 items on the Waffen SS, the most fanatical of Hitler's soldiers who were indicted for war crimes throughout WW2.

The entries have a string of Sieg Heil comments and praise for the fighting prowess of the Waffen SS, recruited for their unswerving loyalty to Nazism.

The videos, some from Nazi propaganda news reels, have angered Jewish organisations who have called for YouTube to remove the hugely offensive postings, including one that features the headline Hitler Was Right directly below the YouTube logo.

Senior Liberal Democrat MP Susan Kramer was shocked by the content and the amount of SS video on YouTube.

Glorifying the Waffen SS or Hitler in any way is sickening, she said: YouTube must understand its responsibilities. They should be hunting this type of material down if they want to maintain any credibility.

She added that YouTube has grown from fringe influence to mainstream source of content and that many young people view it alone where extremist views cannot be challenged by parents and teachers.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it continues to be very concerned about the level of racist and anti-Semitic content on the internet.

 

31st December   

Updated: Die Hard Harder?...

Is there a new uncut release of Die Hard with a Vengeance?
Link Here
Die Hard Quadrilogy

The old Quadrilogy boxset

While looking for bargains in the Zavvi clearout today, I noticed a newly re-packaged version of the Die Hard Quadrilogy 4-film boxset. Unlike the previous release, this one features the harder cut of Die Hard 4.0 (ie. not the PG-13 version as released in cinemas). And while there are no specific notes about Die Hard with a Vengeance being uncut, it did provoke me to have a quick look at the BBFC website where I found this .

The duration remains the same as the previously cut versions but this recent page (1st October) doesn't feature the phrase This is the UK cinema version as cut as well as This film was passed with no cuts made.

I was wondering if anyone has purchased this new boxset and knows if it cut with regards the lift/knifing/twitching bodies in the truck. Because then it might actually be worth buying...

Comment: Get the Australian DVD

31st December. From Andrew

I've also seen this boxset in Zavvi, and to be honest I'm not sure what to make of it either.

The back of the outer box does show the covers of each film next to the write up, and vengeance DOES have a significantly different cover (with a small "15" in the corner, so it is for the U.K. market) to any British release before (looks more like the original U.S one sheet).

To be honest, do yourself a favour and just get the R4 '07 release. I spent years being subjected to the U.K. version (both VHS and DVD) and I've never been happier. Sacrifice the special edition and just get the full film. Buena vista don't seem to have any major plans for this film, despite it being shown on several U.K. networks at varying times UNCUT. Their edits are awful, their dubbing is substandard and the whole film just makes you feel cheated by the end. Which is a shame, because its not a bad film. Quite the opposite.

Comment: Passed Without Cuts vs Passed Uncut

31st December. From David

I haven't got that set, but if the BBFC advice doesn't say Cut as cinema version but does say passed uncut it more likely means the distributor simply submitted the cut version. Whether this set is uncut or not, that phrase on a film that's previously been cut isn't a guarantee of a new uncut version

Comment: Picture Quality Concerns

2nd January. From Gav

Someone said to get the R4 version? I disagree, and say get the US R1 DVD. Not only does it have two discs, lots of extras and DTS sound, the picture quality on the R4 is sub-par, as reviewed on the Aussie DVD review site MichaelDVD.

 

31st December   

Update: Freer Free Broadband...

Adult content filtering dropped from US free broadband proposal
Link Here

FCC logo Kevin Martin, the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission has revised his proposal to roll out a free (and adult content-free) wireless broadband service. In an effort to corral more votes, Martin has already circulated a new version of the plan, one that removes the controversial filtering requirement.

Why the change? I'm saying if this is a problem for people, let's take it away, Martin said: A lot of public interest advocates have said they would support this, but we're concerned about the filter. Well, now there's an item in front of the Commissioners and it no longer has the filter. And I've already voted for it without the filter now. So it's already got one vote.

The FCC's outgoing boss has been championing a proposal to auction off a hefty chunk of the Advanced Wireless Services 3 band (2155-2180MHz) for a free service that (until now) was to come complete with adult content filtering.

The license winner would be required to offer the service at a minimum 768Kpbs; it's obviously not the fastest rate in town, but it meets the FCC's new and improved definition of "basic" broadband. The provider will have to honor a Carterfone-style rule that allows any application or device to connect to the network, and the license will last for ten years, with ten-year renewal periods. The licensee must roll out coverage to half of the US population within four years and reach 95% of the country by the end of the first decade.

 

31st December   

Madman Mad at Being Called a Madman...

British missionary couple jailed for calling Gambian president a madman
Link Here  full story: Freedom of Speech in Gambia...Jailed for crticising Gambian president

Gambia flag A missionary couple from Britain have been sentenced to a year's hard labour in an African prison for calling the Gambian President a madman.

David Fulton and his wife, Fiona, were convicted of sedition after sending critical e-mails about Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in the predominantly Muslim country in a bloodless coup in 1994.

Fulton and his wife were also fined £6,250 each. Their lawyer said that they did not plan to appeal but were hoping for a pardon.

The couple, who were arrested on November 29, pleaded guilty and issued a public apology in the hope of a lenient sentence but were shocked when the judge handed down the maximum penalty for the shocking offences . The presiding magistrate, said: They have shown no respect for the country, the Government and the President of the republic. I will send a clear message to the offenders.

Antouman Gaye, the couple's lawyer, said that their troubles began after they sent e-mails to friends and church contacts in Britain: Some of it was to do with religion, some was to do with the state of affairs in this country. Some e-mails said the President is a madman. It was very risky.

Unfortunately for them, a Gambian person in England who has a connection with one of these churches got hold of these e-mails and sent them back to the police here.

 

31st December   

Discrimination Begins at Home...

Sony PlayStation Home virtual world bans the use of the word 'gay'
Link Here

Playstation Home logo Michael Marsh, a US gamer wanted to set up a gay/straight alliance club in PlayStation Home, Sony's new free 3-D virtual world component for the PlayStation 3.

The problem was that the words he was using - gay , lesbian and bisexual - were being filtered from text chats and were not being allowed in the naming of clubs or in postings in club forums.

Marsh said he raised the issue with Home community managers during the private beta test, but the problems persisted after the public beta introduction of Home on Dec. 11.

I can understand if they're filtering out profanity, but if feel like it's discrimination, Marsh said: By blocking a word like 'gay,' which is a preferred term by the gay community, you're encouraging it as a bad word.

Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesman Patrick Seybold said Home employed filters to prevent defamation in Home's closed test version. But when the service went public, he said, it should have started allowing those words. Some other users, however, noticed that the filtering continued, and blocked words like Christ , Jew and even Hello , which apparently was flagged because it starts with the word hell . Seybold said the company is looking into the censoring of words in Home's clubs.

 

30th December   

Offsite: Extreme Opposition...

Independent previews the Dangerous Pictures Act
Link Here

CAAN logo Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 comes into force on 26 January and makes owning extreme porn pictures a criminal offence punishable by up to three years' imprisonment.

An image is deemed to be extreme if it is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character and portrays in any way an act which threatens a person's life, or which results or appears likely to result in serious injury to someone's genitals or breasts.

Members of Britain's BDSM (bondage, domination and sado-masochism) community, as well as those in the gothic and alternative scenes, complain that they are being unfairly targeted. I firmly agree that images of non-consensual activities which involve violence should be criminalised but this is a badly worded law that risks criminalising thousands of ordinary people, said Claire Lewis, a 35-year-old disabled rights activist from Manchester who has set up the Consenting Adult Action Network (Caan). The Government seems to be convinced that if people like us look at pictures for too long we'll end up turning into abusers. That's outrageous.

Caan campaigners plan to burn their pornography collections outside Parliament. A second group, Backlash, is hiring lawyers from the leading human rights firm Bindmans to contest cases when they come to court.

Myles Jackman, Backlash's legal adviser, said: Ultimately it will be up to a magistrate and a jury to decide what constitutes extreme pornography but the wording is so impossibly vague it could constitute anything. Take the phrase 'life-threatening'. There is, I understand, a genre of porn known as 'smoking pornography' which you could argue combines pornography with a potentially life threatening act.

Its supporters include the photographer Ben Westwood, eldest son of the fashion designer Vivienne. He fears some of his pictures, which often show images of people bound and gagged, could be outlawed in the new year. I simply don't believe it is the Government's business to interfere in people's sexuality. What particularly offends me is that these laws were brought in without any consultation whatsoever with the people they affect. That is not a democracy.

The law is a significant change in direction for policing pornography in Britain because it shifts the burden of guilt from those making the pornography to those viewing it.

Enthusiasts of gothic horror and burlesque shows – which often feature pseudo-violence such as fake knives and participants covered in mock blood, say they are concerned that their artistic creativity will be stifled.

There are also concerns about how the law will be policed. Caan has taken a dossier of images to three major police forces: not one could yet say which pictures would be deemed illegal. One month ahead of the legislation being enacted, the Association of Chief Police Officers has yet to draw up any guidelines on how it is to be policed.

...Read full article

 

30th December   

Offsite: Playing the Censor...

An interview with a games playing Australian censor
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

GameSpot AU interviewed Paul Hunt who ended his stint at Australia's censor as a deputy director.

GameSpot AU: How many video games did you look at during your time there?

Paul Hunt: During my time there I probably looked at 600 to 700 video games per year as a Senior Classifier, and about 15 to 20 per year as a Deputy Director. As a Senior Classifier I examined all the reports that came in on video games and then made a decision on how to proceed. Roughly 75% of video games were classified as per the reports that came with them. With the rest, they were either controversial or the report was not clear enough, and so they had to be looked at more in-depth. If anything was borderline, I'd put the Classification Board on it. We'd all read the report, maybe take a look at some video excerpts of the video game, and maybe we'd play it.

If a game was controversial then it would definitely be played by the members of the board — either physically by some of the board members, or someone would come in and play it for the board. Otherwise, the actual playing of video games was rather random. Sometimes I'd make the board play some games as not to lose their touch, but you can't have ten or so people spending forty hours playing a video game — it's just not economically feasible. We'd want to spend our time and money on the tricky ones, the controversial game, not the ones that were not at all hard to classify.

If a tricky game like something in the Grand Theft Auto titles came through, extra care was taken. All information would be reviewed by the board (as Senior Classifier, I'd put the entire board on it, not just a few members). Everyone would read the report and then watch a video of the controversial bits. By law, the applicant must point out to the board all the controversial content in the game. Afterwards, the board will want to see some of the game being played and that's when the applicant will bring in a skilled player to take the board through the game.

...Read full article

 

29th December   

India Chills...

Repressive India cyber law nodded through after Mumbai killings
Link Here

India flag A new law introduced in India has made Internet pornography a serious crime.

Browsing or downloading pornographic pictures or films will now attract a punishment of five years with a fine of up to Rs 1 million (£14,000). The term may be raised to seven years on second offence.

The Information Technology (Amendment) Bill that was passed without debate by parliament this week with 45 amendments in the original law treats both purveyors of pornography and recipients in the same manner. It gives wide powers to the authorities that a computer user may realise only when he is hauled up. The worst is that an inspector can raid and arrest an accused without a warrant.

In the original law enacted in 2000, this power was vested in officers of the rank of deputy superintendent of police and above.

To satisfy the activists who campaign against child abuse, the bill provides a full section subtitled punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc in electronic form. If any of these are found on a computer, the onus is on the owner to establish that the depicted are not children or will be punished.

Another section of the bill provides for any government agency to interrupt, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.

Ambiguity has been kept in the provision that empowers the cyber security to monitor the Internet traffic.

Introducing any contaminant in a computer or network is covered in the new category of cyber terrorism in the bill that would attract imprisonment and might extend to life term since it claims such conduct causes or is likely to cause death or injuries to persons or damages to or destruction of property .

Cyber terrorism also seeks to cover other acts of terrorism committed electronically like threatening the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or to strike terror on the people or to access computer sources that are restricted for reasons of security of the state or foreign relations.

The bill also provides for punishment with a jail term of up to three years and a fine for sending any information — that is grossly offensive or has menacing character or is known to be false — for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, or any electronic mail or message meant to cause annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or mislead the addressee or recipient.

Identity theft to misuse a person's electronic signature, password or any other unique identification feature or impersonation in electronic activity are punishable with a three-year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 0.1 million.

Thefts of computer source codes and programmes have also been dealt with in the bill.

 

29th December   

Comment: In the Name of Fairness...

US Democrats look to censor political views on TV, Radio, cable, satellite and internet
Link Here

US Constitution document Under the guise of Fairness , our Congress Critters are considering forcing radio and TV stations to balance their hourly lineups across the ideological spectrum. One hour of conservative programming followed by one hour of liberal programming would be an example of fairness and balance . The on/off switch would no longer be necessary with the federal government protecting us from speech and thoughts that they think would contaminate our minds.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says in part, Congress shall make no law. abridging the freedom of speech, Yet our Congress Critters are considering abridging freedom of speech. Last year Speaker Pelosi (D-Ca) blocked an attempt that would have prevented the government from resurrecting the practice of controlling ideological speech on the broadcast media. Senator Schumer (D-NY) suggested that regulating political content was the same as regulating pornography. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Il), John Kerry (D-Ma), Barbara Boxer (D-Ca), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca), and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are a few in the Democratic leadership that believes that the federal government should control ideological speech.

But Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Ca) goes even further. She said she planned to introduce legislation to control speech on broadcast stations (AM and FM) in addition to cable TV and satellite radio. Eshoo said, It should, and will, affect everyone.

Once the federal government heads down the path of censoring speech where will it end? FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said that the speech limits may even extent to the Internet. McDowell also warned when you have the federal government dictating content you have a First Amendment problem. Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair.

Be very afraid when the federal government wants to mandate fairness. Censorship is the modus operandi of a totalitarian government.

 

28th December   

Tits at Facebook...

Protests against Facebook's ban on breast feeding pictures
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Facebook logo The virtual nurse-in to protest Facebook's ban on breast-feeding photos has taken off, with hundreds hourly joining a group that crept toward 70,000 members Saturday evening.

A real-life, street protest drew fewer placards than photojournalists Saturday, with only a handful turning out to sing, chant and breast-feed in front of Facebook's California headquarters. A handful of peaceful pickets discreetly tucked away in a University Avenue plaza with placards reading Hey Facebook, Breast-feeding is not Obscene . A member of the Raging Grannies, the Midpeninsula activists who stage various theatrical protests, showed up to proclaim in song that our breasts aren't porn.

It's hard to say whether either demonstration will move Facebook executives to lift the site's prohibition of breasts displayed on members' profiles and albums. Facebook says the areola, the dark skin around the nipple, violates a policy on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material.

On their Facebook group site, which also serves as an open petition to the company, nursing advocates by Saturday evening had posted more than 10,000 wall comments, two dozen videos and nearly 3,000 photos of breast-feeding, while starting more than 1,500 discussion threads. Facebook, it seemed, was not removing them.

All this might not have happened had the social networking site simply answered Heather Farley's e-mail asking why the networking giant in October removed photos of her breast-feeding her baby. When she posted another photo and then received a letter threatening to delete her account, she went public.

Heather Farley, a self described avid user of Facebook with 200 online friends, said she doesn't know how far she'll pursue her protest. She doesn't want to lose her Facebook account, which is the primary way she keeps in touch with high school and college friends and is the place she and her husband post their family photos.

Still, she's blogged about her disputes with Facebook. And although the company still hasn't answered any of her electronic messages, she's now hearing from people worldwide.

 

28th December   

Crimes Against Chastity...

Politicians move to ban the Philippines censors and replace them with something worse
Link Here

MTRCB logo Two House panels have formed a technical working group that will review proposals to abolish the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

A statement posted on the House of Representatives Web site said Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante. Jr will chair the group, which was created by the committees on Public information and Government Reorganization. The group will reconcile provisions in House Bills 2294 and 3584, which propose to do away with the MTRCB and amend Presidential Decree 1986, which created the body.

Abante, author of HB 2294, said his bill aims to replace the 30-member MTRCB board with a 30-member committee that will review and classify motion picture, television and cable television materials. Policy-making, meanwhile, will be done by another 10-member Commission, he said.

The MTRCB has not shown a determined, positive and sustained effort to exercise and uphold its powers, and it is of public knowledge that programs which are considered immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs continued unabated to the detriment of the people, Abante said.

Citing surveys, Abante said many crimes against chastity, persons and property have been committed due to the influence of certain media continuously being shown and sold in the country.

 

27th December   

Update: Shameful UK Government...

This is not a campaign against free speech...BUT...We are going to censor the internet
Link Here  full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Andy Burnham Internet sites could be given cinema-style age ratings as part of a Government crackdown on freedom online to be launched in the New Year, the Culture Secretary says.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama's incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

The Cabinet minister describes the internet as quite a dangerous place and says he wants ISPs to offer parents child-safe web services.

Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms. When asked directly whether age ratings could be introduced, Burnham replies: Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.

ISPs, such as BT, Tiscali, AOL or Sky could also be forced to offer internet services where the only websites accessible are those deemed suitable for children.

Burnham said: If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn't reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It's true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; [...BUT...] it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.


Burnham reveals that he is currently considering a range of new safeguards. Initially, as with copyright violations, these could be policed by internet providers. However, new laws may be threatened if the initial approach is not successful: I think there is definitely a case for clearer standards online. More ability for parents to understand if their child is on a site, what standards it is operating to. What are the protections that are in place?

He points to the success of the 9pm television watershed at protecting children. The minister also backs a new age classification system on video games to stop children buying certain products.

Burnham also wants new industry-wide take down times. This means that if websites such as YouTube or Facebook are alerted to offensive or harmful content they will have to remove it within a specified time once it is brought to their attention.

He also says that the Government is considering changing libel laws to give people access to cheap low-cost legal recourse if they are defamed online. The legal proposals are being drawn up by the Ministry of Justice.

Burnham admits that his plans may be interpreted by some as heavy-handed ...BUT... says the new standards drive is utterly crucial . Mr Burnham also believes that the inauguration of Barack Obama, the President-Elect, presents an opportunity to implement the major changes necessary for the web: The more we seek international solutions to this stuff – the UK and the US working together – the more that an international norm will set an industry norm.

 

27th December   

Update: Tutt-Tut...

Nutter rails against violence in books targeted at teens
Link Here  full story: Age Ratings for Books...Publishers propsose age ratings for books

The Knife that Killed Me book Dr Rona Tutt is a former president of the National Association of Head Teachers. She has been whinging about the violent content of children's books.

She claims that children's books are becoming so violent and sexualised they should be accompanied by explicit content warnings. The guidance would be in addition to the current age brackets displayed in shops.

Her warning follows two recent high-profile children's book awards in which violence loomed large in the shortlisted novels.

In last month's Booktrust Teen Prize, all six shortlisted efforts featured a striking amount of violence and blades, judges said. Two had 'knife' in the title - Patrick Ness's winning effort The Knife Of Never Letting Go , and Anthony McGowan's The Knife That Killed Me . Both books were aimed at the 12-plus market.

Meanwhile, the seven novels nominated for the Carnegie Medal, the country's most prestigious children's book prize, were also predominantly histories about violence for the ten-plus age group.

Tutt said: The level of violence and adult themes in children's books is a worrying trend. People didn't used to write for young children in this vein. It is a new problem. Some children will be protected because they won't have the reading ability to cope. You will have others whose reading is extremely advanced but they don't have the maturity to cope with the themes.

Amanda Craig, who was chairman of the Booktrust Teen Prize said: We are all worried about violence, but I think that picking on books is the last thing someone in Dr Tutt's position ought to be worrying about. I'm far more worried about film and TV. We all grew up reading some pretty violent stuff, whether it was The Lord Of The Flies or Stephen King horror novels.

 

27th December   

Update: Longer Lasting Sex...

The word sex on an advert brings out the nutters
Link Here

Longer Lasting Sex An advertising billboard proclaiming Want Longer Lasting Sex? has prompted nutter complaints.

The medical reference is in the bottom left-hand corner, in much smaller type, which reads : Nasal Delivery Technology- Call the Doctors at Advanced Medical Institute.

Almost 200 hoardings in bold red on yellow print have appeared in and around London. The adverts will soon be rolled out across the UK.

The campaign from the Advanced Medical Institute in Australia has already been
banned in its native country.

Last night the Advertising Standards Authority said it had launched a formal investigation into the campaign, which has provoked 249 complaints in eight days. An ASA spokesman said the number of complaints was a high volume for such a short space of time.

The general nature of the complaints is that the ad is offensive, gratuitous and inappropriate for public display, especially as it is unsuitable to be seen by children, he said.

Last night nutter Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe said she was dismayed when she noticed one of the billboards near her London home.

What do you say to a child if you are driving along and the child says “what does that mean mummy?". Advertisements are supposed to be decent and truthful – and these billboards are not decent.

Susan Hall, a prude councillor in the London borough of Harrow, which complained about the billboards, said they make the Club 18-30 package holiday company adverts look
like nuanced triumphs of understatement. We are no prudes, ...BUT... there is a difference between adverts which are a little risque – like the Wonderbra commercials – and billboards like these which are just crass.

Dr Michael Spira of AMI said: We've said all along that we're not out to offend anyone – the purpose of our direct advertising is to let men who are suffering sexual problems know that help is available.

 

27th December   

Update: iPrude...

Apple considers iBoobs to be objectional
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

iPrude Apple is beginning to allow more mature content to be released on the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but will they allow an application featuring boobs to be released?

The App Store itself has turned into an absolutely huge success for Apple as it has attributed to big sales for both the iPod Touch and the iPhone.

The company has reportedly blocked the release of certain applications which could be seen as porn by some users.

These include applications such as iBoobs due to it containing content that is claimed to be “objectionable.”

 

27th December   

Dark Days...

Dark Knight fails to get a Chinese release
Link Here

Batman has landed in Hong Kong but that doesn't mean The Dark Knight will open all over China.

The movie opened in Hong Kong theaters. But Warner Bros. decided not to release the film in mainland China — or even submit it for censors' approval — because of prerelease conditions and cultural sensitivities, the studio said.

Warner Bros. officials may have been concerned the film — particularly scenes shot in Hong Kong, where Batman nabs a gangster — would offend censors.

Another possible sticking point is a brief appearance by Hong Kong actor-singer Edison Chen, who appeared in lurid photos with several women this year.

 

26th December   

Frank Documentary...

Frank Skinner to present Panorama about strong language on TV
Link Here

Panorama logo Frank Skinner is set to present a BBC programme on television's strong language. He is making a special news show on taste and decency - believed to be prompted by the prank calls to Andrew Sachs that led to the resignation of Russell Brand and the suspension of Jonathan Ross.

The BBC Panorama special is due to air in late January or early February, shortly after Ross returns to BBC1 after serving his three-month suspension. Reports suggest that the news and current affairs programme will feature an interview with Ross.

Skinner has been criticised in the past for his provocative style of humour, including a Euro 2004 episode of ITV Fantasy Football special which featured a sketch in which models posed as Sven Goran Erikson, then England manager, having sex with his girlfriend Nancy Dell'Olio.

BBC sources insist Skinner is well qualified to make a documentary about taste, pointing out that he recently dropped swearing from his act and has written eloquently about the need to use bad language sparingly.

Skinner has interviewed officials at the media regulator Ofcom, as well as producers and executives from the BBC and rival broadcasters, including ITV chairman Michael Grade who has called for a crack down on swearing on television and Julian Bellamy, head of programmes at Channel 4. 

 

26th December   

Viva Madagascar...

Madagascar TV station ordered to close
Link Here

Viva logo VIVA, one of Madagascar's national television stations, has been ordered by the Minister of Telecommunications to stop broadcasting: Following VIVA television station's 8 o clock news broadcast of a recording of a talk by the former president Didier Ratsiraka, now a refugee in France, a talk which may disturb public order and security, the television station is prohibited from broadcasting.

 

25th December   

Update: Head Accuser...

Thai Policeman continues to accuse BBC reporter of Lese Majeste
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Jonathan Head The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ongoing legal harassment of BBC correspondent Jonathan Head. Police Lt. Col. Wattanasak Mungkandee filed a third criminal complaint this year against Head on December 23, alleging he had insulted the Thai monarchy in his reporting.

The latest charges are related to a December 3 article in which Head speculated that the royal palace and figures close to the palace may have provided tacit backing to anti-government protest group the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which laid siege to Bangkok's main international and domestic airports from November 26 to December 3.

Thai law allows any citizen to bring complaints against anyone they believe has insulted the country's monarchy. Wattanasak has brought all three complaints against Head in his personal capacity rather than as a senior ranking police official, according to Head. Violations of lese majeste laws are a criminal offense in Thailand, punishable by three to 15 years imprisonment.

It is time for prosecutors and investigators in Thailand to immediately drop these outrageous and punitive charges against our colleague Jonathan Head, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator: Head's reporting has raised important questions about Thailand's deteriorating political situation and he should be allowed to report without fear of official reprisals.

Local and foreign journalists have been under attack this year as a political crisis led to three changes of government in as many months. Head, a well-respected figure in Thai journalism has specifically been targeted. The first complaint against Head was filed on April 9, and was related to comments the reporter made in December 2007 while moderating another event at the FCCT titled Coup, Capital, and Crown . The discussion touched on the monarchy's role in Thai society in light of the 2006 military coup. The second complaint against Head, filed on May 30, included charges that his reporting over a two-year period had intended to criticize the monarchy several times and that his writings have damaged and insulted the reputation of the monarchy, according to an English-language translation of the charges obtained by CPJ.

The May 30 complaint against Head cited 11 different articles from the BBC's Web site, several of which he did not author. Thai authorities have in recent months cracked down on hundreds of Web sites for posting materials considered offensive to the monarchy. Both the complaints are still pending.

 

25th December   

Inhumanity on Humanity...

Critics not keen on alternative Christmas message from Iranian president
Link Here

Channel 4 logo Channel 4 will screen an alternative Christmas message from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, in a move that has provoked widespread condemnation.

President Ahmadinejad's address will focus on spiritual messages of seasonal goodwill, but also contains an attack on bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

The speech is being promoted as an alternative to the Queen's traditional 3pm speech, but will be broadcast at 7.15pm.

Channel 4's decision has been condemned by human rights groups, MPs and Holocaust memorial charities.

Stephen Smith, director of the Holocaust Centre, said the president's message of peace was deceptive, describing him as a wolf in sheep's clothing. This message of so-called peace needs to be treated very carefully.

The Israeli Embassy has branded President Ahmadinejad's Christmas message a sick and twisted irony. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said: In Iran, converts to Christianity face the death penalty. It is perverse that this despot is allowed to speculate on the views of Jesus, while his government leads Christ's followers to the gallows. In its search for ratings and shock factor, Channel 4 has lost its ethical way.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell joined the attack, and called on the broadcaster to pull the plug on this criminal despot, who ranks with Robert Mugabe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the Burmese military junta as one of the world's most bloody tyrants.

Philip Davies MP, a Tory member of the culture select committee, said that the address was completely unacceptable on every level. His previous comments don't strike me as being in tune with what most people feel at Christmas time. He is an offensive man and the last person you would want to use for a Christmas message. Channel 4 have lost sight of what a Christmas message should be. They are trying to be controversial for the sake of being controversial, and are treating their viewers with contempt by pretending this is not a publicity stunt.

Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, said that the network had a responsibility to give a platform to alternative voices, and said that the president's address will be preceded by a film mentioning his record on human rights, Israel, the Holocaust and the seizure of the Royal Navy sailors, to allow the public to make up their own mind.

President Ahmadinejad uses the speech to attack world leaders for ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is considered a prophet in Islam.

All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice. All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.

 

25th December   

No Rights Center...

Iran closes human rights organisation critical of Iran's inhuman punishments
Link Here

Defenderd of Human Rights Center logo The Nobel Peace awarded to Shirin Ebadi inspired her Defenders of Human Rights Center.

Two days ago in Tehran, state security forces raided the offices of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, the organization Ebadi founded, and shut it down on the very day the office planned to hold the 60th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there.

Some 300 people had been invited. Instead, at 3 pm, dozens of armed men stormed the place and declared it off limits. No warrants. No explanations. No avenues for appeal. The place was just shut down.

A gift from the ayatollahs, possibly in retaliation for the United Nations' Dec. 18 resolution calling on Iran to address concerns such as eliminating the use of cruel or inhuman punishments; abolishing public executions and the executions of persons who were under 18 years at the time of their offence; abolishing the use of stoning as a method of execution; and eliminating discrimination against women and minorities.

The resolution was based on a UN report that Ebadi and her organization helped draft.

 

25th December   

Update: Inappropriate Government...

Vietnam bans blogs from 'inappropriate' subjects
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam

Vietnam flag Vietnam has tightened restrictions on internet blogs, banning bloggers from raising subjects the government deems inappropriate.

Blogs should follow Vietnamese law, and be written in clean and wholesome language, according to a government document seen by local media.

Internet service providers will be held accountable for the content of blogs they host.

The new rules, drawn up by the Ministry of Information and Communications, require internet service providers to report to the government every six months and provide information about bloggers on request.

The rules ban posts that undermine national security, incite violence or disclose state secrets.

 

25th December   

Landmines for the Soul...

German nutters produce the Cologne Declaration against 'killer games'
Link Here

Counter Strike Game A coalition of German nutters has published an anti-game violence position paper that is being referred to as the Cologne Declaration.

The declaration was issued in response to the German Culture Council's recent recognition of video games as cultural assets.

The Cologne Declaration argues that violent games are harmful to children as well as to the building of a peaceful society.

Several prominent German social scientists have signed on to the edict, which specifically refers to Counter-strike, DOOM 3, Crysis, Call of Duty 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV as killer games and landmines for the soul.

The document revives the notion that shooting games were developed by the U.S. military in order to condition recruits to kill and asserts that violent games further the aims of the military-industrial-media complex. Researchers who have defended games are labelled as collaborators and accomplices of the video game industry by the declaration, which calls for the government to end state support for game development and ban violent games. The document concludes with:

 

25th December   

Cable Cutters...

Philippines to introduce ratings and a watershed for cable TV
Link Here

Philippines flag Philippines authorities may soon set up a rating code for violence in television and cable programs, if a bill in the House of Representatives is passed into law.

House Bill 5625 also seeks to impose ban on violent and sexually themed non-educational programming on TV during most of the day.

CIBAC Party-list Reps. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales and Emmanuel Joel Villanueva said their bill is in line with the State policy to protect the welfare of children. The two said there are no laws allowing the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and the National Telecommunications to block violent and sexually themed non-educational programming.

Under the bill, the MTRCB and NTC shall jointly prescribe, in consultation with the television broadcasters, cable operators, concerned non-government organizations for children, and interested individuals from the private sector, the rules for rating the level of violence and non-educational sexual themes in television programming.

This includes rules for the transmission by television broadcast systems and cables of signals containing specifications for blocking violent and sexually themed non-educational programming.

It also assigns the MTRCB and NTC to jointly pass rules and regulations which shall prohibit the broadcast on commercial television and public telecommunications entities of programming that contain violent and obscene scenes for children based on the established ratings code, including the broadcast by cable operators, from the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m

 

25th December   

Aurora of Censorship...

Philippines bans Aurora movie
Link Here  full story: Aurora...Philippines censor bans movie Aurora

MTRCB logo The comeback movie of Rosanna Roces still cannot be shown to the public because the film has received another ban (X rating) from the Movie Television Review and Classification Board's (MTRCB).

The reviewers wrote in their report that controversial scenes are not fit for public viewing.

Aurora, directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr., tells the plight of a social worker who tries to escape in the middle of the forest after being kidnapped by members of the Lost Command.

The lead female character, played by Rosanna, will be raped by Kristofer King in the middle of a forest.  Members of the MTRCB want to shorten the said rape scene.

Philippine Entertainment Portal reported earlier that the said scene was deemed too explicit, resulting in a ban during the first review of the film.

The director did not change anything in the film for the second review of Aurora. I stand by my cut of the film, he adds. He will appeal the decision at Malacañang and request for a final review.

 

24th December   

Update: Feasibly Blocked...

Conroy comments on ISP filtering feasibility study
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
3 monkies

Ministry of Broadband,
Communications and
the Digital Economy

Stephen Conroy has responded to an article published on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald which revealed that the Government has sat on a report that labelled mandatory ISP filtering as being fundamentally flawed since February.

Senator Conroy also has announced the live trial has been delayed until mid-January.

From his press release:

The Howard Government, at the instigation of the Internet Industry Association (IIA), commissioned a report to be conducted by Mr Peter Coroneos, IIA's CEO. The previous government provided funding for the research and it was based on terms of reference agreed to by the IIA and the previous government. The report was to inform the previous government of the IIA's and other stakeholders' views, and international experience.

The report methodology was a literature review of existing studies as well as interviews and surveys. It involved no empirical testing of filtering technology.

The report highlighted a number of concerns the industry had previously raised with the current and previous governments, such as the potential for dynamic filtering to result in network performance impact and over-blocking and under-blocking content. It was not an analysis of the ALP's policy.

The Government is aware of technical concerns raised in the report, and that is why we are conducting a pilot to put these claims to the test, Senator Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, said.

 

24th December   

Update: Unconstitutional Bikini Ban...

Bali to challenge Indonesia's new sharia dress code bill
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesian bikini
compromise

The Bali People's Component (KRB) organization has finished its draft judicial review of the recently signed anti-pornography law, the first legal challenge to the controversial measure.

We have decided to submit this legal motion on Jan. 7 asking the Constitutional Court to conduct a judicial review of the law, said KRB Coordinator I Gusti Ngurah Harta.

He said the move was part of the KRB's ongoing commitment to fight the law, which many Balinese regard as a threat to their cultural legacy and the integrity of the nation.

This highly-anticipated draft is the first legal challenge to the contentious porn law, which critics have slammed as an allowance for extremists to force one-sided morality against pluralist Indonesia.

The law vaguely defines pornography as any material that incites sexual desire, a clause that has triggered debate nationally.

The 50-page draft outlines the legal arguments around whether or not the law violates key constitutional rights, and looks at the issue from social, economic, artistic and cultural perspectives.

This law has trampled on at least five constitutional rights granted to all Indonesian citizens," said KRB's chief legal adviser, Palguna.

The integral constitutional rights arguably under threat are the right to be treated equally in any legal process, the right to demand a legal certainty from and during legal prosecution, the right to be free from fear and intimidation, the right to acquire beneficial gains from arts and culture and the right to pursue legal vocations.

Ngurah Harta said the legal struggle would take at least four months and would require vast financial and moral support from those willing to commit to the cause. He said those wishing to be plaintiffs may contact KRB at 081236131311 or at jiwabening@yahoo.com . People wishing to contribute financially can transfer donations to Bank Central Asia KCP Sanur Raya, account number no: 6700194343 of I Wayan Semara Cipta.

Anti Bikini, Anti Alcohol Indonesia puts off Western Tourists

Based on article from in.reuters.com

Indonesia's tourism ministry said on Tuesday it expects a decline in tourist spending next year because of the global economic crisis.

Some tourist areas, including the resort island of Bali, are heavily dependent on tourism for jobs and growth. A recent shortage of alcohol in Jakarta and Bali, and concerns over Indonesia's new anti-porn law -- seen by some as a threat to artistic, religious and cultural freedom in the diverse archipelago -- have led some tourists to complain or even threaten to stay away.

I understand that for foreigners alcohol is like tea or coffee for us, if there's no alcohol then tourists are reluctant to come here, Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik told a press briefing, adding that the issue was being resolved, particularly in top-tier hotels.

Update: Trampling on Rights

3rd January 2008. See article from xbiz.com

The Bali People's Component, known as the KRB, has finalized a judicial review challenging the recently ratified anti-pornography law and plans to present the review to the Constitutional Court on Jan. 9.

In its 50-page legal challenge, the KRB argues that the law has trampled upon at least five constitutional rights granted to all Indonesian citizens, said I Dewa Gde Palguna, chief legal advisor of the KRB, in that it denies Indonesian people in 21 separate professions their basic right to the freedom of expression, among other things. Some of the at-risk professions include dancers, playwrights, reporters, composers and gymnastics instructors, among others.

The KRB has estimated that the court will need about four months to come to a decision.

 

24th December   

Update: In Line with Free Expression...

Turkish star cleared of criticism of military service
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Bulent Ersoy Bulent Esroy, a popular transsexual singer in Turkey, was acquitted of charges of turning the people against military service.

Esroy had spoken out against the military campaign against the Kurdish militia groups in Turkey, but the court ruled that the comments were in line with the free expression of individual views.

 

23rd December   

iPhoned iSaw iCensored...

Apple ban books adapted for iPhone
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Knife Music book Apple have rejected an iPhone-based version of a book because it contained strong language.

Citing a clause in the iPhone development kit that states applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement (sic) may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users, Apple rejected Knife Music by David Carnoy, going so far as to provide a sample of one particularly graphic section.

Alex Brie, developer of the application, believes Apple is checking for such content using word-matching software because it would be difficult to believe that Apple has staff with the time to manually read each book submitted. Apple's staff shouldn't be allowed to refuse to publish works of literature based only on word matching.

Apple offers both movies and music on the iTunes Store containing similar language to that found in Carnoy's book, although in those cases it is able to either mark the content explicit or rely on the MPAA's movie ratings; there is no equivalent ratings system for books.

 

23rd December   

Update: The Art of Offending the Easily Offended...

Nutter 'outrage' at school art
Link Here  full story: Harrow Council Prudes...Nutter council gets all stuffy about nude art

Hijab and gun picture Another spat has broken out at Harrow Arts Centre over censorship in public exhibitions.

Harrow Council has been criticised for allowing a picture depicting a Muslim woman dressed in a Hijab pointing a gun to be hung in an exhibition open to the general public.

Marion Davey, an artist who takes classes at the centre complained to managers when she saw the picture had been included in the exhibition, which is made up of artwork by Nower Hill High School pupils.

She said: I couldn't believe it was there, I was speechless that someone would hang this up. I find this very disturbing and shocking, and totally inappropriate to be on the wall.

The council came under fire in October when it ordered five paintings depicting nudes to be removed from the walls of the centre, fearing they could offend children and members of faith groups.

Davey accused the council of hypocrisy for allowing the painting of the Muslim woman but censoring the nudes.

Ghulam Rabbani, general secretary of Harrow Central Mosque, called for the council to take the picture down: I am shocked and dismayed. It should not have been allowed. I can't understand why people allowed this to hang in the arts centre. It shows a Muslim woman as a terrorist, and they should have thought about Muslim women who have to go out on the street, go into their jobs, and how this picture will make people look at them. The council hasn't done any favours to Muslim women, I think it should be taken down because it could create race hate.

Councillor Chris Mote, in charge of culture, defended the decision to hang this painting: This picture is about the theme of journeys, and is a comment on the cultural pressures that impact on young women. The figure with a weapon and Arabic script is a direct reference to the work of famous Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, whose own work often explores the cultural impact of the Islamic revolution on women. This is a thoughtful comment piece by a talented Harrow teenager and there is clearly no intention to upset anyone viewing the exhibition.

The exhibition of artwork by the school pupils is showing until January 4.

 

23rd December   

Update: Blocking Unwanted Content...

Government commissioned report kept secret over damning findings about internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
3 monkies

Ministry of Broadband,
Communications and
the Digital Economy

Trials of mandatory internet censorship are due soon despite a secret high-level report to the Federal Government that found the technology does not work, will significantly slow internet speeds and will block access to legitimate sites.

Commissioned by the Howard government and prepared by the Internet Industry Association, the report said schemes for blocking inappropriate content  were fundamentally flawed.

The report says the filters would slow the internet (as much as 87% by some measures), be easily bypassed, and would not come close to capturing all of the government unwanted content available online. They would also struggle to distinguish between wanted and unwanted content, leading to legitimate sites being blocked. Entire user-generated content sites, such as YouTube and Wikipedia, could be censored over a single suspect posting.

It raises serious freedom-of-speech questions, such as who will be held accountable for blocked sites and whether the Government will be pressured to expand the blacklist to cover lawful content, including pornography, gambling sites and euthanasia material.

The report, based on comprehensive interviews with many parties with a stake in the internet, was written by several independent technical experts, including the University of Sydney's Associate Professor Bjorn Landfeldt. It was handed to the Government in February but has been kept secret.

I definitely think that what the Government is showing publicly … is such a small part of what they need to do in order to get this right, Professor Landfeldt said. He said he believed the Government had not released his report because its conclusions were too damaging: It's definitely not going to be workable to get a very significant reduction in access to this (unwanted) content that is available out there, it's fundamentally just not viable.

Senator Conroy refused to comment directly on why the report has not been released or why the trials are going ahead given its findings. The proposed censorship is more restrictive than in any liberal democracy, says the online users lobby group, Electronic Frontiers Australia.

Professor Landfeldt, one of Australia's leading telecommunications experts, says some of the fundamental flaws include:

  • All filtering systems will be easily circumvented.
  • Censors maintaining the blacklist will never be able to keep up with the amount of new content published on the web every second.
  • Filters using real-time analysis of sites to determine whether content is inappropriate are not effective, capture wanted content, are easy to bypass and slow network speeds exponentially as accuracy increases.
  • Entire user-generated content sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia could be blocked over a single video or article.
  • Filters would be costly and difficult to implement for ISPs and put many smaller ISPs out of business.
  • While the communications authority's blacklist will be withheld from internet users, all 700 ISPs will have access to it so it could easily be leaked.
  • The filters will not censor content on peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as Limewire, online chat rooms, email and instant messaging.

Filtering Trial Extended to Peer to Peer

THE Federal Government's controversial internet censorship plan may extend to filter more web activity than first thought, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy said technology that could filter data sent directly between computers would be tested as part of the upcoming live filtering trial.

Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial, Conroy said.

 

23rd December   

Beyer Recommends...

Christmas soaps
Link Here
John Beyer

Beyer Recommends...
Christmas Soaps

Channel If you expect festive cheer from your favourite soap this week, you'll be disappointed. For TV writers have been doing their best to give us the bleakest Christmas on record.

A corpse in a lake, the attempted strangling of a pensioner, a baby abduction and the return of a notorious killer and drug addict, will feature in some of the most popular shows.

And producers have been accused of upping the ante on the last year's Christmas shock tactics to win the ratings war.

Coronation Street will arguably be home to the most dramatic storyline, as one of the older characters is throttled with a negligee. Jed Stone falls foul of Tony Gordon at the factory.

On Emmerdale, a dead body is discovered in an ice-covered lake after another character falls in. And in EastEnders, character Sean Slater kidnaps the baby he thought was his and takes her to a deserted flat on Christmas Day. Then on the New Year's day show he falls into an icy lake with his estranged wife Roxy, before leaving the show in a dramatic fashion.

John Beyer, of the TV pressure group Mediawatch-UK, said the soap shock-tactics were out of control: I just think there is enough doom and gloom around at the moment. Everyone's Christmas should be a time of joy and peace, not a misery fest. Once again I feel like broadcasters are out of step with public feeling.

He added: They are all competing with each other to get the biggest audiences. They keep upping the ante to try to keep the ratings up and the logical conclusion is that they will end up alienating the audience.

 

23rd December   

Watershed Erosion...

Grand Theft Auto TV adverts shown during Santa Clause movie
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game A TV station in New Zealand has come under for fire because it aired two ads for Grand Theft Auto IV during a family movie that continued into post-watershed hours.

According to the New Zealand Herald, a violent advertisement for the game appeared twice during an airing of Santa Clause 2 .

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said it was understandable parents might have decided to let their children stay up to watch the G-rated movie—which ran until 9.35pm. But she said advertisements for the R18 game technically ran at the correct time, after the 8.30pm watershed.

The Herald revealed that no one has officially complained about the ad's appearance to the network, but, it seems safe to say that it's only a matter of time before someone does.

 

23rd December   

Updated: Happy Winter Solstice...

Atheist poster winds up the nutters
Link Here

Winter Solstice poster The saga all started in October when Washington State gave a permit to an atheist group to display its sign alongside a Christian Nativity scene in the state's Capitol in Olympia. 

The lengthy message on the sign states in part: At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Since the atheist sign went up on December 1, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire's telephone switchboard has been flooded with calls voicing complaints, up to 200 calls an hour. Calls mushroomed following a Fox News show highlighting the controversial sign. O'Reilly calls it political correctness gone mad.

Freedom of speech was never meant to be a license for fringe groups to insult and antagonize the rest of us, says Larry Stickney, President of the Washington Values Alliance: While we must all do our best to respect the opinion of those we don't agree with. The 1st Amendment also guarantees our constitutional right to carry on our nation's religious culture and traditions and we should be able to do so without petty harassment.

Outraged by this sign that they say mocks religions, 500+ demonstrators rallied on the steps of the state Capitol to protest. Five days after it was placed near a large bust of George Washington, the placard created by the Wisconsin-based organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, vanished. It reappeared later in the day when a man turned it over to a Seattle radio station.

Gov. Gregoire is passing responsibility to state Attorney General Rob McKenna. She said Republican McKenna advised her that the Constitution's First Amendment free speech rights keep her from interfering with the atheist's message.

Update: A Christmas Message

23rd December. Thanks to Dark Angel on the Melon Farmers Forum

The fuss started after Fox News host Bill O'Reilly started complaining that the sign was offensive to christians and posting the governor's phone number during his show so people could complain.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xADKtEHjixI

The governor did later say in response that whilst she did not agree with their statement, she agreed they had they right to express themselves and if they were going to allow a nativity scene displaying a christmas message, she saw no right to censor an athiest message.

But it didn't end with the atheists sign getting trashed, after the sign was replaced all these other fringe groups started applying for permission to put up Xmas messages, some pro-christian, some pro-atheist and some anti-atheist. But THEN things started getting really silly, one group got permission to put up a festivas pole, the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster got permission to put up a festive message then the final straw came when The Westboro Baptist Church (you know, the God Hates Fags bunch) asked permission to put up a sign saying Santa Claus is going to send you to Hell , at which point the governor's office said they would not be accepting any more requests until they had reviewed their policy on allowing groups to display signs and messages.

The Atheist Experience, a public access show that goes out in Austin Texas, did a very good slot on this which can be seen on YouTube.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mLfpgwoJiZo

 

23rd December   

Update: FACTs about Blocking...

1300 websites added to Thailand's blocked list
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

MICT logo Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has just received secret blocklists leaked from Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

Under conditions imposed by the Computer-Related Crimes Act 2007, no website may be legally blocked without a court order. In fact, this pesky legal stipulation is not rigorously adhered to and both the Royal Thai Police and the more than 100 Thai ISPs typically block as they wish.

However, the leaked blocklists totalling 1300 sites blocked between June and December 2008 are accompanied by court orders detailing applications of the Ministry which authorise most of the websites censored. The court orders to ISPs cite reasons of lese majeste and national security..

Court orders are not customarily sealed from public view. In fact, maintaining such documents via an open judicial process as a matter of public record is a crucial democratic cornerstone.

Every site requested for blocking has the stated reason of lese majeste, however, it is obvious that many sites were blocked for quite different reasons. It would appear, in fact, that the court did not examine each site before issuing its order but instead relied on MICT's judgement.

Although we have not yet found the opportunity to examine each website censored, as in the past, an eclectic mix of censorship has been revealed resulting in overblocking of many benign webpages.

Along with the obligatory YouTube videos and their mirror sites alleged to be lese majeste in Thailand, numerous blocks to Thai webboard pages, particularly at popular discussion sites, Prachatai (45 separate pages) and Same Sky (56 separate pages). Also blocked are weblogs referencing Paul Handley's unauthorised Biography of Thailand's King, The King Never Smiles, and its translation into Thai along with Thai Wikipedia entries.

The webpages of respected Thai Buddhist social critic, Sulak Sivaraksa who is currently on bail for his fourth accusation of lese majeste, and Matthew Hunt, respected Thai journalist, anticensorship activist and FACT signer, are also blocked as are pages of the respected international newsmagazine, The Economist.

A total of 860 YouTube videos have been blocked, far in excess of the blocking conducted by The Official Censor of the Military Coup; a further 200 pages mirroring those videos are also blocked.

Curiously, bum fight movies, Hillary Clinton's campaign videos, and 24 Charlie Chaplin videos have also been blocked, perhaps due to their Web location at Clown-Ministry.

Update: 2300 Total

31s December 2008. See article from iht.com

The Thai government has blocked more than 2,300 Web sites over the past year, often for criticising the constitutional monarchy political system, a senior official said.

The sites, more than 90% of which were registered abroad, were also blocked for pornographic content and supposedly threatening national security, said Sue Lo-uthai, an official at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology: Most of the cases are lese majeste ones which have rapidly increased this year. I personally believe that the reason behind the increase is the political conflict in Thailand .

 

22nd December   

Updated: Opening Curtains...

Saudi may be preparing to end ban on cinemas
Link Here

Saudi flag The Saudi film industry took another step forward last week with the public screening of a locally produced movie, suggesting the government could be moving towards lifting a three-decade old ban on cinemas.

The premiere of Mnahi , which was produced by Saudi-owned Rotana studios, marks the second public screening of a Saudi film in a little more than a year, after Sabah al Lail was opened to the public on a commercial release in October 2007 during the Eid al Fitir holiday.

Rotana Studios is owned by Prince Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire, and it is believed his connections with the royal family played a major role in the movie's public showing.

I am correcting a big mistake, that is all, Prince al Waleed had told the New York Times in a 2006 interview prior to the launch of Rotana Studios' first movie, Keif al Hal : I want to tell Arab youth you deserve to be entertained, you have the right to watch movies, you have the right to listen to music. There is nothing in Islam – and I've researched this thoroughly – not one iota that says you can't have movies. So what I am doing right now is causing change.

Movie theatres existed in Saudi in the 1960s and 1970s, but they were banned in the early 1980s after conservatives consolidated their support.

Ayman Halawani, General Manager of Rotana Studios, said in a press statement that Saudi cinema will not only produce but it will market its movies in its home country and among its viewers, and here lay the significance of this event.

Update: Cinema is Evil

22nd December 2008. See article from guardian.co.uk

A locally-produced comedy, Menahi , premiered in two cultural centres in Jeddah and Taif this month before mixed-gender audiences, a taboo in Saudi Arabia whose strict Islamic rules ban unrelated men and women from mixing.

Turnout for the movie, produced by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's media company Rotana, was so big the film had to be played eight times a day over a 10-day period.

While the kingdom's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Shaikh has not commented on the issue, the head of Saudi Arabia's religious police condemned cinemas as a pernicious influence.

Our position on this is clear - ban it. That is because cinema is evil and we do not need it. We have enough evil already, said Ibrahim al-Ghaith, the head of the religious police, whose official title is the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. He later toned down his remarks, saying that cinema could be tolerated if it does not violate Islamic law.

 

22nd December   

Update: Semi Divine Intervention...

Indonesia presidential candidate speaks against new sharia law
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesia flag The hereditary sultan of the Special Region of Yogyakarta (the smallest province of Indonesia) has declared his opposition to the new anti-pornography law which.

Sultan Hamengkubuwono X is regarded as semi-divine by many Muslim Javanese. He is also a candidate for presidential elections due around July.

He said the bill threatened national unity based on respect for the cultural and religious diversity of the mainly Muslim archipelago. He said the anti-porn law introduced recently with the backing of Muslim parties was the most terrible thing in the process of building our nation. If all Indonesian women wear Islamic veils no one will wear their traditional clothes, from Aceh province to Papua.

He added: The leader of our nation must be able to build tolerance between the citizens so they live side by side in peace. For me, this cannot be negotiated,"

The law criminalises all works and bodily movements including music and poetry which could be deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality, and offers heavy penalties.

Critics from the Christian and Hindu minorities as well as many moderate Muslims say it threatens regional traditions such as certain costumes and dances, and encourages vigilante attacks.

 

22nd December   

Offsite: For how much longer?...

Will the UK media and bloggers be able to freely investigate policeman Bob Quick and his family wedding cars business?
Link Here

Spy Blog logo The Mail on Sunday has been delving a little into the business dealings of the controversial Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, now in charge of the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command, formerly the Chief Constable of Surrey.

Given the new "thought crime" provisions brought in by the Labour government, through the recent Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, will such investigative journalism, or any further analysis by bloggers etc., which mentions current or former military, intelligence agency or police personnel, be legally possible in the future?

Bob Quick complained to the media about the intrusion into his family life, claiming some sort of, unspecified "security risk"

...Read full article

 

21st December   

France Dogged by Censors...

Police remove Russian art photos of naked man with animals
Link Here

kulig with dog An eccentric Russian performance artist who likes pretending to be a dog and biting members of the public has complained of censorship in France after police removed from a prestigious art fair in Paris several photographs of him cavorting with animals.

Police confiscated 30 photographs by Oleg Kulik. The pictures, taken in the late 1990s, show Kulik naked on all fours. In some of them he appears to simulate sex with animals.

Owners of XL, the Moscow art gallery, who were attending the international art fair, were questioned about the collection for several hours by police and complained of being handcuffed.

Martin Bethenod, head of the fair, denied the works were offensive. The art world had been deeply shocked by the raid, he said.

Photographs of Kulik in his kennel, in a pigsty and surrounded by cattle had previously been exhibited in France without any problem, he said, adding that the photographs had an unquestionable artistic status and that Kulik's art is represented in French national collections. The gallery, he noted, had put up a warning that some people might find the images distasteful.

 

21st December   

Christmas Bullshit...

Anne Widdecombe 'rants' at vulgar greeting cards
Link Here

Christmas Bulshit card Nutters have expressed their revulsion at the cards, which they say are an example of how far vulgarity has affected British life.

Most of the offending cards make liberal use of the word 'fuck'. One shows a traditional image of Jesus beneath which is printed a crude joke involving genitalia. Another shows a pensioner standing next to a Christmas tree with the message: Have a fucking miserable Christmas.

Ann Widdecombe MP said: These cards are profane. Christmas is a Christian festival and should not be associated with swearing and vulgarity. Furthermore it's rotten for parents whose children can see them on open display.

Christmas is a time when everything should be innocent. This just shows the decadence we have slipped into and I would urge people not to buy them.


The Christmas cards are sold in Scribbler, a prominent chain of stationers which specialises in edgy cards by young British graphic designers, as well as the fashion store Urban Outfitters and Selfridges on London's Oxford Street.

A few customers at Scribbler's branch in Kensington High Street gave a few sound bites to the Telegraph silly story writer.

Miranda Francis, a professor at the Royal College of Music, said: I think they are dreadful. I'm not a humour fascist and I've even sent some pretty crude cards to friends for their birthdays – but Christmas is different. These are far too offensive. It's not just offensive for Christians, I think a lot of other religions find these cards offensive. I know a lot of my Muslim friends do.

Antonia Major, a student, said: I don't like them at all. They aren't in the spirit of Christmas at all. Nobody I know would send them and I wouldn't like to get one.

But Lisa Yates, a sales account manager, said: It's really down to the individual whether they are suitable or not. Some of my friends would appreciate them, but I'd never send one to my Nan.

One of the cards, produced by graphic designer Dean Morris, shows a woman carrying an armful of Christmas presents and declaring: fuck off, these are mine.

Morris said: They aren't to everybody's taste I admit, but if everybody in the world hated them I would have gone out of business a long time ago. In fact they sell very well, even if it's a tiny percentage of the overall market. They appeal to young people.

 

21st December   

Pigshit...

Daily Mail stretch out Jonathan Ross nonsense
Link Here

Daily Mail logo Jonathan Ross is at the centre of a silly Daily Mail story after giving a television interview in which he made a lewd joke about a pig in remarks to chef Jamie Oliver.

His comments - made a month before the Radio 2 'uproar' over Sachs - were included in an early version of a Channel 4 show Oliver will present on the British pig industry next month.

Earlier this month, staff at agency Off The Kerb, which represents Ross contacted the programme's producers and requested the scene be removed.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: Jamie interviewed Jonathan Ross, who owns pigs himself, as a possible segment for Jamie Saves Our Bacon, which looks at pig welfare. The programme is currently being edited, so we cannot yet confirm exactly what will make the final cut, but it [the interview] is currently not due to be part of the programme.

Tory sound bite nutter, MP Philip Davies, who sits on the Commons Culture Committee, said: Either what Jonathan Ross said during the making of this programme was appropriate or it wasn't. If it was appropriate in September, why are his representatives trying to suppress it now? If it wasn't appropriate in September, why has it taken them so long to do something about it?

 

21st December   

Pressing Changes...

UAE working on new media law that should spare journalists from imprisonment
Link Here

UAE flag The draft of an amended media law would be finalised by January 2009 for submission to the Cabinet for ratification, said Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, head of the Federal National Council's Committee of Education, Youth, Culture and Media.

The draft law is a revision of the Press and Publications federal law of 1980.

Dr Al Qubaisi declined to disclose details of the amendments being proposed by the FNC in its current session.

The draft law states that there shall not be prior censorship of any media outlets in the country. It incorporates the previous directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to prohibit the imprisonment of journalists, resorting instead to fines when there are violations of public law. The draft law states that the owners of all newspapers and their editors-in-chief should be UAE nationals, who do not have a crime record.

In cases of emergencies (or other instances decided by the cabinet) newspapers and other media outlets, will be obligated to publish all information sent to them by government agencies.

All journalists will be invited to attend the FNC's discussion of the new draft law in its upcoming term.

Workers in the media see the decision of Shaikh Mohammad to prohibit the imprisonment of journalists as a step in the right direction for the future of media in the country.

 

20th December   

Update: UN Blasphemes Against Freedom...

Another UN vote supports the criminalisation of defamation of religion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo A defamation of religion resolution stating that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism passed in the U.N. General Assembly – but with fewer votes than in previous years.

Over the past year opponents ranging to media watchdogs and free speech advocates to Christian and humanist groups have stepped up lobbying against the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)-driven campaign.

Thursday's vote passed by a margin of 86-53, with 42 countries abstaining. The result showed a significant erosion of support since a similar resolution passed in the General Assembly last December by a vote of 108-51, with 25 abstentions.

For the first time, the number of countries supporting the resolution fell behind the number of those voting against or abstaining.

Defenders of free speech take some consolation in the increased votes for our cause, Hillel Neuer, executive director of the human rights watchdog UN Watch, said: But the adoption of yet another totalitarian text is a stark reminder that human rights at the U.N. is under assault.

He also noted that Islamic states were using a major U.N. conference on racism, scheduled for next spring, to advance their campaign. Proponents are arguing that the defamation of Islam and Islamophobia are contemporary forms of racism, and should thus fall under purview of the racism conference, commonly known as Durban II.

The most dire threat is coming from Geneva where a Durban II committee headed by Algeria has this week been seeking to amend international human rights treaty law to ban ‘defamation of religion,' especially Islam, Neuer said.

The shift in voting from last year to this came primarily from 16 developing countries which voted in favor in 2007 but chose to abstain on Thursday. Two of them, Benin and Burkina Faso, are OIC members. (The others are Central African Republic, Congo, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Grenada, Haiti, Mauritius, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Zambia.)

Three countries which voted in favor in 2007 – Belize, Cape Verde and Liberia – moved to opposing the resolution this year. And one country, OIC member Nigeria, abstained last year but voted in favor this year.

 

20th December   

Update: I Apologise...

Petition apologising for Armenian genocide winds up Turkey
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Turkish gag Turkey's prime minister has criticised a Turkish internet petition which apologises for the great catastrophe of 1915 when Armenians were massacred.

The petition was launched by more than 200 Turkish academics and newspaper columnists .

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: I find it unreasonable to apologise when there is no reason.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915. Turkey denies that it was genocide . Erdogan said the petition risked stirring trouble. He called it irrational and wrong .

The petition was also condemned by some 60 Turkish former ambassadors, who called it an act of betrayal.

Many international historians say the massacres and deaths of Armenians during their forced removal from what is now eastern Turkey were genocide.

The intellectuals behind the petition say they want to challenge the official denial and provoke discussion in Turkish society about what happened.

The petition is entitled I apologise . A short statement at the top reads: My conscience cannot accept the ignorance and denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and - on my own behalf - I share the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers - and I apologise to them.

 

19th December   

Update: Fit for Lords...

Fitna to be screened at the House of Lords
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The UK's House of Lords will show Geert Willders' controversial Islam film Fitna . So says Wilders following the European Parliament's refusal to show the short film.

The European Parliament rejected a request by the UK MEP Gerard Batten of the anti-European Independent Party to allow Fitna to be shown in Strasbourg to MEPs and journalists. Wilders called the ban "censorship" and compared the European Parliament to Saudi Arabia.

Wilders has recently shown Fitna at meetings in Jerusalem and New York. He said the film will also be on view in the House of Lords in January.

Christian democratic MEP Maria Martens was pleased by the decision not to show Fitna in the EP. The film has nothing to do with freedom of expression. This freedom does not give the right to offend.

Conservative MEP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on the other hand called the banning of Fitna unbelievably stupid because the film does fall within the boundaries of the law and Wilders has now got more publicity and attention than if he had been able to show his film.

 

19th December   

Acting as Terrorists...

Pakistan bans Indian film with Pakistani actor playing a terrorist
Link Here

Shoot on Sight DVD TPakistan has banned screening of the film Shoot On Sight , an Indian production in which a Pakistani portrays a terrorist.

Meanwhile attendance in Pakistani cinemas screening Bollywood movies has dropped by almost 75% in the wake of tensions between the countries post Mumbai terror attacks.

Acing on a directive from the culture ministry, Pakistan's censor board banned the screening of director Jag Mundhra's film, which is based on the impact of the July 7, 2005 London bombings on Muslims.

The censor board has cancelled the certificate it issued on November 11 for the screening of Shoot On Sight , in which Pakistani actor Mikaal Zulifqar plays a terrorist. The film's release was delayed for several weeks because a Pakistani actor plays a terrorist in it.

The film revolves around Tariq Ali, a Muslim police officer at Scotland Yard who is tasked to investigate the police shooting of a suspected Muslim terrorist in London. Ali is distrusted by his superiors and by fellow Muslims. Shot entirely in London, the movie also stars Gulshan Grover, Laila Rouass and Greta Scacchi.

 

19th December   

Update: I Don't Believe in Censorship BUT...

Bloggers should be responsible in their writings says ex Malaysian PM
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Mahathir Mohamad: An illustrated biography Blogs should not be censored as long as bloggers are responsible in their writing, said former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this when answering a question from the public at a book signing session.

Bloggers should make fair comments in their articles and not undermine others, he said after signing copies of his illustrated biography titled Mahathir Mohamad: An illustrated biography and a book based on his blog titled Chedet.com - Blogging to Unblock .

As long as you don't threaten to kill people in your blog, there shouldn't be any censorship, he added.

 

19th December   

An Insult to Freedom...

Iranian blogger jailed for 3 years
Link Here

Iran flag Several Iranian news sites such as Amir Kabir [fa], a student site, reported Omid Reza MirSyafi, Iranian blogger and journalist, was sentenced to 36 months prison.

He was accused of insulting Iranian religious leaders and doing propaganda against Islamic Republic.

 

18th December   

Update: Libel Tourism...

Britain shamefully used as book censors by the rich and famous
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

Funding Evil book Lawyers and judges have been accused by MPs of using Soviet-style English libel laws to help the rich and powerful to hide their secrets.

The Saudi financier Khalid bin Mahfouz was condemned as a libel tourist for persuading a London judge to award damages against an American author over a book never sold in Britain.

Bridget Prentice, the Justice Minister, told MPs that the Government would announce a consultation on libel and the internet, and the high cost of defamation proceedings.

The Labour MP Denis MacShane, said in Westminster Hall: The practice of libel tourism, as it is known – the willingness of British courts to allow wealthy foreigners who do not live here to attack publications that have no connection with Britain – is now an international scandal. It shames Britain and makes a mockery of the idea that Britain is a protector of core democratic freedoms.

The US Congress is proposing a law to stop English courts pursuing American writers for fines over books freely available in the United States. The case arises from the Kafkaesque position of the writer Rachel Ehrenfeld, whose book, Funding Evil, examined the flow of money towards extremist organisations that preach the ideology of hate associated with Wahhabism and other democracy-denying aspects of fundamentalist Islamic ideology,   MacShane said.

Ms Ehrenfeld's book, published in America, not Britain, named a Saudi billionaire called Khalid bin Mahfouz. Although the book was published in the United States, and was not on sale in any British bookshop, he found lawyers to sue in Britain. A British judge imposed a fine and costs on Ms Ehrenfeld, and said that her book should be destroyed, even though she was not in the court. No American court would have entertained such overt censorship.

Comment: Background

Thanks to Alan

Damages were awarded against Rachel Ehrenfeld, who had refused to appear because British courts gave her less protection than the first amendment to the US constitution. Judgment was consequently given in default.

The author is now refusing to pay and American congress people are pushing for a specific US law to prevent any attempt to enforce British libel judgments across the pond.

 

18th December   

Update: A Blasphemy Against Freedom...

Freedom organisations combine to oppose the criminalisation of defamation of religion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

osce  logo The freedom of expression rapporteurs of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) have released a joint declaration on defamation of religions, and anti-terrorism and anti-extremism legislation.

After meting on 9 December in Athens, the four media freedom 'watchdogs' adopted their annual international mechanism for promoting freedom of expression.

This year's document coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and covers the dangers to freedom of speech inherent in national legislation regulating the fight against defamation of religions and blasphemy laws, as well as against extremism or other terrorism-related speech offences.

The signatories agreed that the concept of defamation of religions does not accord with international standards accepted by pluralistic and free societies. They said that international organizations should abstain from adopting statements supporting criminalization of defamation of religions.

They also stressed that restrictions on freedom of expression should never be used to protect institutions, abstract notions, concepts or beliefs, including religious ones, and that such restrictions should be limited in scope to advocacy of hatred.

The four freedom of expression rapporteurs also advised that the definition of terrorism should be restricted to violent crimes which inflict terror on the public, and that vague notions such as providing communications support' or promoting extremism or terrorism should not be criminalized unless they constitute incitement. They said that the role of the media should be respected in anti-extremism and anti-terrorism legislation.

 

18th December   

New TV Censor...

Colette Bowe appointed as the new chairman of Ofcom
Link Here

Colette Bowe Ofcom has appointed its former Consumer Panel chair Colette Bowe as its new chairman.

Bowe will take over from David Currie in the £200,000 three-day-a-week role in the new year for a five year term.

Her career has included stints at the Department of Trade and Industry, the Independent Broadcasting Authority and the Personal Investment Authority. Bowe chaired Ofcom's Consumer Panel from its inception in 2003 to December 2007.

 

18th December   

Update: Not Fit for Euro Parliament...

Fitna banned from European Parliament
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna A press conference showing of Geert Wilders' anti-Islam/anti-immigration film Fitna has been cancelled by order of European party leaders.

UKIP MEP Gerard Batten had invited Wilders to the parliament to show the film and give a talk. Now he will just give a talk.

 

18th December   

Update: Onerous Records...

US Government updates 2257 record keeping restrictions
Link Here  full story: 2257 Record Keeping...US adut industry onerous requirements

Department of Justice logo The US Justice Department has released revised Section 2257 regulations and they are expected to go in effect in three months.

The 167-page draft includes a change that enables for third-party recordkeeping, attorney J.D. Obenberger told XBIZ.

It means individuals and small companies will be able to contract with a third party with the necessary records, giving them added privacy and security and reduction in compliance costs, he said.

The revised regulations are more stringent with the application of Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006, which requires notices to be placed on each page of every adult website.

Webmasters will now need to post a link to the disclosure statement on all pages where 2257-triggering content appears, attorney Larry Walters from FirstAmendment.com told XBIZ. This is a change from the prior method of posting a link only on the home page.

Walters added that there are several other interesting nuggets in the regulations, and the comments, such as the determination that videos embedded on Web pages from sites like YouTube.com need to be accompanied by full 2257 compliance efforts, even if the originating site may be exempt from compliance.

 

18th December   

My Magic Stick...

South Korea's music censors
Link Here

Korea Government Youth Commission South Korean record shops have had a special section since 1997, in accordance with the Youth Protection Law. This section contains music that Cannot Be Purchased by Those Under 19.

Korean authorities categorize albums that contain songs with what they consider sensational or lewd material as albums that shouldn't be sold to people under 19.

Record companies are obliged to attach special labels, and record shops have to set up a separate area for those records.

Just last month, the Commission on Youth Protection, under the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, categorized TVXQ's Mirotic and Rain's Rainism as harmful material for youths, along with 108 other recent songs.

Rainism , a song by influential pop star Rain was rated harmful to youths for its alleged reference to a penis. The lyrics that troubled the commission's radar were my magic stick that is rolling in your trembling body. The members of the commission reckon the magic stick symbolizes a penis.

Since its launch in November 2006, the commission has passed the same verdict on 926 Korean songs, 529 so far this year, which is 50 percent more than last year.

The Korea Media Rating Board began to rate songs in 1999 in line with the revised Youth Protection Law. The job was transferred to the Commission on Youth Protection in 2006.

The songs categorized as harmful materials for young people cannot be broadcast before 10 p.m. If they are not labelled according to the law, the record producers or music shop owners face fines or even imprisonment.

 

18th December   

Inconvenient Questions...

Kyrgyzstan bans uncompromising radio station
Link Here

Radio Azattyk Kyrgyz authorities said today that Radio Azattyk, RFE/RL's popular Kyrgyz-language service, will not be restored to the airwaves unless its programs are submitted to the government for prior approval.

Melis Eshimkanov, the head of Kyrgyzstan's state-controlled radio and TV broadcaster, said the programs are too negative and too critical of the government and claimed that powerful Kyrgyz figures are behind the decision to keep Radio Azattyk off the air.

RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said the move may force Radio Azattyk to put its broadcasts exclusively on shortwave frequencies for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union: Frankly, we expected more from a country trying to prove its reformist credentials in the region,.

Until October 8, Azattyk's TV and radio programs were heard and seen by nearly half the Kyrgyz population. Azattyk broadcast three hours of radio programming each day and produced two weekly prime-time television news shows, Inconvenient Questions and the youth-oriented Azattyk Plus .

 

17th December   

Update: The Appeal of Fear...

F.E.A.R. 2 game rated MA15+ on appeal
Link Here  full story: Fear 2...Another game banned by the Australian censors

Fear 2 Australia's Classification Board's ban of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin has been overturned on appeal.

The game was banned in November, on the grounds of high violence, but Warner Bros. appealed the decision and submitted the game to the Australian Classification Review Board.

After reviewing the material, the ACRB agreed that F.E.A.R. 2 deserved a MA15+ rating uncut.

The game is rated 18 by the UK's BBFC.

 

17th December   

Old People's Church...

BBC running scared of whingers
Link Here

Gavin & Stacey DVD James Corden and Mathew Horne revealed the BBC banned songs about Jesus on their new sketch show after the Jonathan Ross- Russell Brand prank row.

The Gavin and Stacey stars said the BBC have clamped down after ‘Sachsgate' and they were told to censor the script for Horne and Corden Have Come.

The pair are working on the comedy show in which young Christian characters were due to sing about Jesus.

But the BBC, keen not to provoke another frenzy of complaints, said the songs must be changed or removed. James said: We've got these characters called the YPC — the Young People's Church — and we had some songs they sing banned by the BBC.

The special will be shown on BBC1 at 10pm on Christmas Eve.

 

17th December   

Righteous Whingers...

Complaints about Righteous Kill film posters and adverts
Link Here

Righteous Kill A regional press ad and a poster on the London Underground, for the film Righteous Kill , showed actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino walking together against a backdrop of the New York skyline, with a police badge in the corner. Text stated THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH A LITTLE SHOOTING AS LONG AS THE RIGHT PEOPLE GET SHOT.

  1. Five members of the public believed that the text in the poster was irresponsible because it glamorised violence and gun crime by suggesting it was morally acceptable to kill in the right circumstances.
     
  2. One reader believed that the text in the newspaper ad was irresponsible because it glamorised violence at a time of concern about the problem of gun and knife crime.
     
  3. The ASA challenged whether the siting of the poster at Stockwell tube station was likely to cause serious or widespread offence at the time of the inquest into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at that station.

Lions Gate said the film was rated a 15 certificate by the BBFC with a target audience of males aged 25 to 44 years. They said the text Theres nothing wrong with a little shooting as long as the right people get shot was a line of dialogue from the film. They believed it was the kind of dialogue expected from a film or TV portrayal of the NYPD and contained an element of humour. They said there had been no intention to offend or to glamorise violence or to suggest it was morally acceptable to kill people.

ASA Assessment

1. & 2. Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged public concern about gun crime but noted the poster and press ad did not contain any depiction of violence or guns. We considered that most people were likely to understand that the poster reflected the content of the film and the quote, in keeping with the style of the film, was intended to be wryly humorous. We considered that the poster and press ad were unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or to glamorise or glorify gun crime.

3. Upheld

We acknowledged that it was unfortunate that the poster was sited at Stockwell underground station at the time of the de Menezes inquest and welcomed the action taken by Lions Gate and CBS to remove the poster from the station as quickly as possible. We understood the siting of the poster at the station was unintentional but nevertheless considered that the text THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH A LITTLE SHOOTING AS LONG AS THE RIGHT PEOPLE GET SHOT" on a poster had the potential to cause serious offence in that location.

On this point, the poster breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency).

 

17th December   

Potty Mouthed Whinger...

Complainant appeals about a single word in a daytime cookery show
Link Here

Saturday Kitchen book A daytime episode of Saturday Kitchen in which Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli swore while preparing his idea of food hell breached language guidelines, the BBC's Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) found.

Tonioli used the word 'f******' ('fucking'?), while making an oxtail dish, rather than his idea of food heaven.

The show's host James Martin, immediately apologised in the programme, which was broadcast on BBC1 on December 15 last year. Tonioli also apologised, saying: Sorry, sorry it's passion.

A viewer complained to the BBC and later to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU).

The ECU acknowledged the use of strong language was not appropriate and breached standards - and mitigating factors were also outlined such as the show being live and the guest's disappointment at having to eat an oxtail dish. The ECU regarded the complaint as resolved on the grounds that the programme's response to the incident was sufficient.

The complainant did not agree and an appeal was made to the ESC. The ESC upheld the complaint about bad language, saying it was serious and should not have occurred. But it was satisfied that the actions of the programme team meant no further action was needed.

The ESC found that guests had been given a sufficient pre-broadcast warning about conduct and language and that the programme had been prompt to apologise. It noted Martin's comment at the end of the show, in which he said: ...and Bruno, while you are tasting that, you deserve to get hell for your potty mouth. Everybody at home, I can only apologise for the language of my guest. Of course, it's his Italian passion.

 

17th December   

Handcuffs Restored...

China restores internet blocks on world news sites
Link Here

Olympic rings of handcuffs Chinese government officials have defended their decision to block several foreign news websites, including the BBC, as the country moves away from its pledge for uncensored internet access during the Beijing Olympics.

The BBC, Voice of America, Hong Kong's Ming Pao News and Asiaweek have all had their websites blocked in China since early December. Restrictions had previously been lifted in August, when foreign journalists demanded full access during the Olympics.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said the Chinese government could not deny that it had issues with some sites: For instance, if a website refers to 'two Chinas' or refers to mainland China and Taiwan as two independent regions, we believe that violates China's anti-secession law, as well as other laws .

China has previously blocked several high-profile websites but has not acknowledged an official ban, preferring to show users an error message for those sites instead.

Access to the BBC's English-language site was briefly lifted in March, although the Chinese-language site remained blocked.

 

17th December   

Libel Liability...

French protest at the arrest of a newspaper editor over a readers website comment
Link Here

Liberation logo A demonstration was held on 5 December outside Paris's Palais de la Justice to protest against the heavy-handed treatment of the former publisher of the left-wing French daily newspaper Libération, Vittorio de Filippis.

De Filippis was arrested early in the morning of 28 November at his home in the outskirts of Paris. De Filippis was insulted in the presence of his 14-year-old son before being handcuffed behind his back and taken in a police van to the basement ‘holding pen' of the Palais de Justice. During his wait to be charged, he was strip-searched. His ordeal lasted for five hours.

His crime? During de Filippis' brief tenure as publisher of Libération, from June to December 2006, a reader's comment was left on the newspaper's website concerning a libel case being brought by Xaviel Niel, founder of the internet company Free, against the newspaper. As publisher of the newspaper at the time de Filippis is considered responsible for all editorial content, even one left by a member of the public. Libel, in France, is a criminal offense.

Whilst it caused uproar from political parties on both sides of the spectrum, and Frédéric Lefebvre, a spokesman for the UMP, President Sarkozy's party, called the arrest and interrogation ‘surreal', the response from the government has been muted. Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, in a faint echo of Jacqui Smith's protestations over Damian Green's recent arrest, merely said that The police officers followed procedures and were simply acting on the orders of the investigating judge handling the case.

 

16th December   

PEN and Index...

PEN and Index on Censorship inquire into UK's libel legislation
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

English PEN logo English PEN has joined forces with fellow freedom of speech organisation Index on Censorship to launch a public inquiry into the UK's libel legislation. The two groups are calling upon publishers, writers, editors, journalists and lawyers to submit examples of restrictive UK laws being used and abused to stifle...and chill free expression of all kinds. They will host round-table discussions with the aim of leading to a major conference next spring.

One of the major issues the two groups wish to look at is libel tourism, in which something published outside of the UK is still subject to the laws of the land if read in the country.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, a human rights lawyers, said: There is a difficult balance to be struck between freedom of expression and the protection of the innocent from damaging falsehoods and invasion of legitimate privacy. In Britain, the pendulum has swung too far towards censorship. This comprehensive review of the law by two highly respected organisations is therefore very welcome.

PEN and IoC said the inquiry coincided with increasing concern about the issue within the House of Commons, highlighting an investigation which has been launched by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. An adjournment debate, which has received cross-party support, has also been secured for 17th December in Westminster Hall.

 

16th December   

Worthy Games for Christmas...

Detroit prosecutor helpfully identifies the violent games of the year
Link Here

Fallout 3 game The Detroit Prosecutor came to fame in the 2007 holiday shopping season. At the time she was blaming games for the crime problem in Detroit and pushing an outdated list of ten games to avoid.

Ms. Worthy is back, reports the Detroit Free Press, with a brand-new list but the same old line: The last year has convinced me more than ever that children are at risk of becoming desensitized to violence and can exhibit more aggressive behavior if they repeatedly play certain violent video games.

This year's edition is cadged from the National Institute on Media and the Family's 2008 Annual Video Game Report Card:

  • Blitz the League II
  • Dead Space
  • Fallout 3
  • Far Cry 2
  • Gears of War 2
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Legendary
  • Resistance 2
  • Saints Row 2
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming

 

16th December   

Dangerous Cartoons...

European Court upholds conviction resulting from 9/11 newspaper cartoon
Link Here

Ekaitza magazine The European Court of Human Rights held that the publication of a cartoon representing the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, with a caption which parodied the advertising slogan of a famous brand: We have all dreamt of it… Hamas did it, provoked a certain public reaction, capable of stirring up violence and demonstrating a plausible impact on public order in a politically sensitive region, namely the Basque Country.

Therefore the conviction did not violate Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of the applicant's conviction for complicity in condoning terrorism.

The drawing was published in the Basque weekly newspaper Ekaitza on 13 September, 2001, two days after the attacks of September 11.

Following publication of the drawing, the Bayonne public prosecutor brought proceedings against the cartoonist Denis Leroy and the newspaper's publishing director on charges of complicity in condoning terrorism and condoning terrorism.

In January 2002 the court convicted them of these charges and ordered them to pay a fine of EUR 1,500 each, to publish the judgment at their own expense in Ekaitza and two other newspapers and to pay costs.

Denis Leroy then appealed to the European Court.

Summary of the judgment

The Court considered that the applicant's conviction amounted to an interference with the exercise of his right to freedom of expression. This interference was prescribed by French law and pursued several legitimate aims, having regard to the sensitive nature of the fight against terrorism, namely the maintenance of public safely and the prevention of disorder and crime. It remained to be determined whether this interference was necessary in a democratic society.

The applicant complained that the French courts had denied his real intention, which was governed by political and activist expression, namely that of communicating his anti-Americanism through a satirical image and illustrating the decline of American imperialism. The Court, however, considered that the drawing was not limited to criticism of American imperialism, but supported and glorified the latter's violent destruction. In this regard, the Court based its finding on the caption which accompanied the drawing, and noted that the applicant had expressed his moral support for those whom he presumed to be the perpetrators of the attacks of 11 September 2001. Through his choice of language, the applicant commented approvingly on the violence perpetrated against thousands of civilians and diminished the dignity of the victims.

Although the domestic courts had not taken the applicant's intentions into account, they had examined whether the context of the case and the public interest justified the possible use of a measure of provocation or exaggeration. In this respect, it had to be recognised that the drawing had assumed a special significance in the circumstances of the case, as the applicant must have realised. He submitted his drawing on the day of the attacks and it was published on 13 September, with no precautions on his part as to the language used. In the Court's opinion, this factor - the date of publication - was such as to increase the applicant's responsibility in his account of, and even support for, a tragic event, whether considered from an artistic or a journalistic perspective. In addition, the impact of such a message in a politically sensitive region, namely the Basque Country, was not to be overlooked; the weekly newspaper's limited circulation notwithstanding, the Court noted that the drawing's publication had provoked a certain public reaction, capable of stirring up violence and demonstrating a plausible impact on public order in the region.

Consequently, the Court considered that the grounds put forward by the domestic courts in convicting the applicant had been “relevant and sufficient”.

In conclusion, having regard to the modest nature of the fine imposed on the applicant and the context in which the impugned drawing had been published, the Court found that the measure imposed on the applicant had not been disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Accordingly, there had not been a violation of Article 10.

 

16th December   

Censoring Jokers...

Sri Lanka jammed BBC World Service
Link Here  full story: BBC Censored in Sri Lanka...Sri Lanka jam BBC broadcasts

BBC World Service Logo Reporters Without Borders deplores the latest cases of the Sri Lanka government censorship of international and local news media.

In the past few days, the BBC World Service has been jammed by the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) and one of the country's most outspoken newspapers, the Sunday Leader, has been forbidden to refer to the president's brother.

We are worried by the increase in direct and indirect censorship in Sri Lanka, Reporters Without Borders said. Coming after a broadcast media bill reintroducing news censorship, the selective blocking of BBC and Sunday Leader reports is disturbing. The authorities must accept the free flow of news even when it contradicts what officials are saying and irritates certain politicians.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship of parts of the BBC's Sinhala service on 10 December and 27 November. On 10 December, the authorities jammed a report about protests by politicians in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu who objected to being called jokers by the Sri Lankan army chief.

On 27 November, reports on a speech by the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels and a press conference by representatives of the Defence Watch website were rendered inaudible by the SLBC, which is contractually obliged to retransmit the BBC's Tamil and Sinhala programmes every day.

The SLBC has, since August, been broadcasting a programme immediately after the BBC programming to give the official Sri Lankan government take on what the BBC's journalists have just reported.

On 5 December, a judge ordered Leader Publications, the publisher of the Sunday Leader, not to print during two weeks any report whatsoever about the president's brother, defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who personally went to the court to accuse the press group of publishing slanderous reports about him. He is demanding 1 billion rupees (7 million euros) in damages.

 

16th December   

Hard Time...

Hard2Find Videos owner sentenced to 33 months for obscenity
Link Here

West Virginia state seal The Hard2Find Videos owner Loren Jay Adams was sentenced to 33 months in prison for violating federal obscenity laws. Adams was convicted Sept. 30 on six counts of transporting obscene material through the mail.

US District Chief Judge John Bailey also ordered Adams to serve three years supervised release and to forfeit his domain name and all copies of the indicted movies.

Adams, who operated Hard2Find Videos used the US mail to ship the videos from Martinsville, Indiana, to Martinsburg, West Virginia,

Unfortunately, this case is another in a line of victories for the government in recent obscenity cases, First Amendment lawyer Lawrence G. Walters told XBIZ after Adams' conviction. The nature of the content was not widely publicized, but apparently included some fisting material. That activity, on its own, has not been the focus of obscenity prosecution for a number of years now. However, West Virginia is generally a conservative Bible Belt area, so federal obscenity cases can be difficult to defend in that kind of jurisdiction. Since this case involved the mailing of DVDs, it does not appear that this conviction will be tremendously precedential for the adult Internet industry.

The Justice Department's Obscenity Prosecution Task Force prosecuted the case.

 

16th December   

Baddies and Censors...

Indian censors cut Ghajini for a U/A certificate
Link Here  full story: Ghajini...Ghajini and Indian film censorship

Ghajini soundtrack CD India's Censor Board passed Ghajini but not before making three cuts. The film got a U/A Certificate.

The film's director, A R Murugadoss was quite upset with the Censor Board's decision. He kept arguing that they were being too harsh on his film.

The key reason why the Censor Board made the three cuts was because they thought that the film was too violent.

The Censors objected to three scenes:

  1. A man hits Asin with a rod twice, this was cut by 50%
  2. Aamir Khan breaks a baddie's neck, the scene was cut by 50%
  3. Aamir hits a villain with a tap and when the knob of the tap pierces the baddie's stomach, blood starts dripping from the tap.

The censors said that: Murugadoss wanted to know why we couldn't let those scenes remain as they were since he has simply made a remake and the original version had all these scenes. Murugadoss was especially particular about retaining the tap scene. We explained that we wouldn't let it go in its original state unless he was okay with an A certificate.

 

16th December   

Not So Much Arab Press Freedom...

Freedom of travel denied to campaigners for freedom of the press
Link Here

WAN logo Four journalists and rights activists from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia were prevented by their governments from travelling to Beirut to attend a regional forum on Arab press freedom.

Over 160 journalists, bloggers, publishers, editors and press freedom advocates came together for the first session of the two-day Third Annual Free Press Forum in Beirut.

This year's gathering, which was organized by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).

The four participants invited to speak at the forum had been prevented from attending by the authorities in their respective countries, WAN CEO Timothy Balding said.

They included Tunisian journalist Litfi Hidouri and human rights lawyer and writer Mohamed Abbou and Saudi blogger Fouad al-Farhan, who was recently released from prison and has been forbidden to leave Saudi Arabia. For a second time, the director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Mazen Darwish, was also prevented from attending the forum.

WAN has vigorously protested these incidents, Balding said in his opening speech.

Those in the Arab world who dared to investigate government failures or wrongdoings, challenge untenable policies and call for reforms, or express dissenting opinions face charges of criminal defamation, blasphemy or endangering national security and are regularly sentenced to large fines and imprisonment.

In the meantime, we can at least thank the authorities of Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Syria for this eloquent and timely demonstration of their contempt for, and fear of, free expression, as we open this forum. The hostility toward independent and opposition media and critical voices continues to rise and the repression against these voices can be ruthless.

 

15th December   

Christmas Nutters...

Fuddy-duddies whinge at Christmas Day Hansel and Gretel opera
Link Here

Hansel & Gretel The BBC is planning to show a gory version of Hansel and Gretel on Christmas Day that shows dummies of dead children hanging by ropes.

The Royal Opera House production, which it has described as perfect family fare for everyone at holiday time will be aired at 3pm on BBC2.

Nutters have criticised the BBC's decision to broadcast it at a time when young children will be watching. The Royal Opera House has recommended that children younger than eight should not see the two-hour show, which culminates in a final scene in which the wicked witch is eaten by the captive children.

Margaret Morrissey, of Parents Aloud, said: There are lots of wonderful children's operas that would be delightful on Christmas Day. If we can't keep out such horrible, gruesome scenes I think we have come to a very sad state of affairs.

But knowing the BBC they will show great delight in broadcasting this, and saying that people like me are Mary Whitehouse fuddy-duddies.


Michele Elliott, founder of the Kidscape charity, described the decision to broadcast it at 3pm as absolutely appalling: Children could be really scared or even traumatised by watching this.

A BBC spokesman said it was within editorial guidelines and would be preceded by an advisory warning. She said it was no different from the darker elements in Roald Dahl or Harry Potter. This is on BBC2 not CBBC. It's a perfect family treat. I think modern audiences will see that it isn't a realistic drama, it's a stage production.

A spokesman for the Royal Opera House said: There is only one particular scene that's a bit gory, that shows dummies of dead children hanging in the fridge. Very shortly afterwards they all come alive and sing and dance and eat the witch.

She said it was recommending children younger than eight did not watch the live performance, but mainly because it was three hours of German opera.

 

15th December   

Update: Bishop Spews Nonsense about Filtering...

Because countries can filter a few child abuse sites then it is easy to filter all porn
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Quetzalcoatl The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference delegate for media issues, Bishop Peter Ingham, said other countries were miles ahead of Australia when it came to keeping the internet as safe as possible for children.

Comparable western countries, such as the UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland already have ISP filtering in operation, Bishop Ingham claimed.

In many of these countries, the ISPs themselves have initiated the filtering in order to live up to the community's expectations that illegal material or material that is harmful to children should not be available on the Internet.

It is disappointing to read reports that Australia's largest Internet provider, Telstra has said it will not participate in trials of the federal government's national internet filter.

Bishop Ingham said the ACBC held the position that whatever could reasonably be done to filter out illegal sites at ISP level, should be done: Arguments that civil liberties will be infringed by internet filtering are absolutely spurious, as the government's proposal simply aims to ensure that the material accessible on the internet is in line with the restrictions already in place in regard to DVDs or publications .

Pornography of any kind is harmful to human dignity and often degrading to women. Research shows that internet pornography is also becoming more and more harmful to marriages and relationships. In particular, every parent knows that much of the pornographic material that can be found on the internet ought not to be accessible to children.

We call on the community to get behind the federal government on this important issue and support its attempts to keep pace with the rest of the world when it comes to cleaning up the Net in a fair and reasonable way.

 

15th December   

Update: Free Porn Free Wireless Broadband Delayed...

Protests cause FCC to reconsider
Link Here

FCC logo The US plan to institute a free Internet service has been a bumpy road. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a plan to auction off the existing air waves that would become available as many stations plan on switching to digital.

The FCC have now cancelled an upcoming meeting where it planned to vote on the controversial free Internet service.

The FCC planned to auction off 25 megahertz of wireless spectrum in the 2155MHz to 2180MHz band. In exchange for auctioning off this spectrum, the commission came up with the condition that the license holders must offer a certain portion of the usage for free wireless broadband service.

However the plan has been met with much opposition from politicians, wireless providers and even civil rights activists. The FCC requires the license holders to provide a filter for pornography and materials not suitable for children. Civil rights groups are up in arms because this would mean that the government would be capable of censoring information. These feelings undoubtedly stem from observing other countries like China where a super filter is in place to prevent certain information from reaching its citizens.

The House Committee of Energy and Commerce recently accused FCC Chairman Kevin Martin of mismanagement and abusing his powers. A detailed report was released this past Tuesday, alleging that Martin withheld information from Congress about a mismanaged program.

In light of all the protests and accusations, Senator John Rockefeller and Rep. Henry Waxman  sent a letter to Martian asking him not to make any decisions or actions regarding controversial proposals. That same day, the FCC announced that it would be cancelling the upcoming meeting to vote of the free Internet service.

 

15th December   

Blurred Thinking...

India calls for a ban on Google Earth
Link Here

Google Earth logo Legal advocates have petitioned an Indian court to ban Google Earth following intelligence indicating the satellite imaging site was used to plan last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people.

Advocate Amit Karkhanis told India's High Court the free service aids terrorists in plotting attacks by providing detailed images used to acquaint radical militants with their targets. He asked that Google blur images of sensitive areas in the country while the case proceeds.

It's by no means the first time government authorities with a world power have taken aim at the popular satellite imaging service. But in those cases, the calls were mostly to blur or censor specific images of sensitive areas. India's request goes much further by requesting Google Earth be banned outright.

 

15th December   

Offsite: Democracy not fundamentalism...

Welsh Assembly Member explains importance of opposing Christian Voice
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Welsh Assembly building Thursday was a good day for democracy in Wales. Patrick Jones came to the Welsh Assembly to read from his controversial book of poems, 'Darkness Is Where The Stars Are', whilst 250 Christians sang and prayed outside.

As one of the sponsors of this reading I felt that I had a moral duty to arrange it. Patrick Jones may have sought debate with Christian Voice and others over poems that they consider to be blasphemous and obscene but that does not justify them seeking to shout him down or forcing the cancellation of the launch of his book in Waterstones.

This was never about the poems. I did not set out to upset anybody of any religion. However, I could not stand by and allow a small minority to trample over basic rights to freedom of speech and expression. The National Assembly for Wales is the home of Welsh democracy, it has responsibilities for culture and literature, so it is the ideal place to stage a reading.

...Read full article

 

14th December   

Update: Swearing Off Jamie Oliver...

Channel 4 to take the kitchen cleaver to strong language
Link Here

Ministry of Food book The celebrity chef, who is noted for his frequent use of strong language on air, will face more stringent editing before his shows are broadcast.

Zoë Collins, the head of Fresh One Productions, the company owned by Oliver that produces all of his programmes, said that she would be much more mindful of the level of swearing in future, and gave a strong indication that the use of expletives would be reduced.

Collins, who is also an executive producer on Jamie's Ministry of Food , said that she could no longer ignore public opinion on the issue.

Collins also said that rescheduling programmes featuring bad language to a later slot of 10pm could be a possibility: We would possibly not be adverse to that and to having those conversations with Channel 4, but that is more a decision for the broadcaster .

I know that Jamie does not use that language to shock and get more viewers – the reality is he does use fruity language to express strong emotions. But it is us as programme makers and the broadcasters who need to be more careful about that in the future.

Her comments appear to contradict those made last month by Julian Bellamy, the head of Channel 4 programming, who insisted he would not reduce the amount of swearing in Oliver's programmes: We are not reining him back. I think we get the balance right with Jamie. Audiences know what to expect from Channel 4. They want us to push boundaries, challenge orthodoxies, take risks and support new talent even if that means our programmes are not to everyone's taste.

 

14th December   

Update: Hands Off Our Net...

Street protests about Australian internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Hands Off Protestors across Australia rallied against the Federal Government's plan to censor the internet yesterday.

About 300 protestors gathered in Perth to voice their concerns for the Government's planned internet filter aimed at increasing child safety in cyberspace.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam likened the Government's plan to post office workers checking every letter to see if anything was dodgy and getting rid of that mail. He said the internet reflected human culture and the Government's proposed censorship would not fix violence issues facing the nation.

The Federal Government suggested this mistargeted, misdirected and flawed proposal to censor the internet ... it will potentially make things worse.

He questioned who would monitor the blacklist of banned websites and who would be the decision makers determining what Australians were allowed to access.

Ludlam urged protestors to continue voicing their concerns to Government through rallies, emails and online: These kinds of rallies will bring these things down and get us back to issues of violence in the community. I believe this is winnable, what we're doing is working.

Based on article from news.com.au

Hundreds of people attended rallies in Australian capital cities yesterday to voice their opposition to the Rudd Government's planned internet filtering scheme.

The rallies, held in seven cities including Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, were the first in a series of demonstrations organised by anti-censorship group Digital Liberty Coalition (DLC).

In Sydney a crowd of up to 300 mostly young and tech-savvy protestors gathered at Town Hall to hear guest speakers including bloggers and musicians criticise the web filtering scheme.

DLC Sydney rally coordinator Jerry Hutchinson said the low take-up of existing free web filtering software, introduced by the previous government, showed that parents were not interested in the concept: Why? Because people can monitor their own children – they don't need censorship in their home.

DLC plans to hold anti-filter demonstrations in capital cities once a month until March, when it will promote a national protest in Canberra called March in March

 

14th December   

Sick Timing and a Sick Film...

Supporting the hype for Mum and Dad
Link Here

Mum & Dad A horror film backed by the BBC, which echoes the story of serial killers Fred and Rose West, has sparked nutter fury after it emerged it will be shown on pay per view film channels and in cinemas over Christmas.

The low-budget feature-length film, partly funded by £10,000 of licence-payers' money, shows scenes reminiscent of the Wests' campaign of murder in which they tortured at least 12 girls to death.

Relatives of the Wests' victims, MPs and nutters have slammed the timing of the release of Mum & Dad and accused the BBC of insensitivity and misspending licence fee money.

The company distributing the film admits there are clear parallels with the Fred and Rosemary West story . And director Steven Sheil says it is not for the faint-hearted.

It will be released in cinemas on Boxing Day and will be available on DVD, on Sky and Virgin pay per view channels and as an internet download.

The BBC said it was not responsible for the release pattern and would not be showing it on any of its channels. Last night Peter Bastholm whose sister Mary, 15, vanished in 1968 and is thought to have been one of at least 20 more victims of the Wests whose bodies have never been found, said the BBC had been hugely insensitive.

Tory MP Nigel Evans said the timing of the release and use of licence payers' money was a disgrace . He said: The timing is sick and it's a sick film. It confirms that the BBC do not live in the real world as far as I'm concerned.”

 

14th December   

Update: Jobs for the Girls...

Recent developments in Irish film censorship
Link Here  full story: Hardcore in Ireland...Censor ban on hardcore porn in Irish Courts

Irish Film Censors Office logo I decided to fire off some more questions to the Southern Irish State Film Censor, John Kelleher.

Here are a few news articles covering some of the film censorship developments over recent times.

This one is particularly interesting, and depressing. At least the censors hired by the BBFC aren't selected on a party political-jobs for the boys basis.

I said to the Irish Censor, about a year ago, that the assistant censors were largely female, and married (or had children) or were older, and that all three of these factors had been shown to give a predisposition towards censorship.

He had the nerve to question my basis for saying that!

5 minutes spent reading the public research on either the BBFC or Ofcom websites would convince anybody of that, quite apart from it being plainly obvious to anyone who has talked about these issues to these different groups or just has a grasp of real life.

Of course I was on the wrong tack, what I didn't know back then was that the assistant censors were largely picked for their present or past membership of the Fianna Fáil political party!

In addition, despite the appeal by Shauna's Adult shop over Anabolic Initiations No.5 to the Supreme Court still not having been resolved, the police here are still seizing adult dvds on the basis that they don't have a certificate from IFCO which IFCO refuses to grant, of course.

This article says that it's IFCO sending them in.

But the censor told me that they were just called in by the police to adjudge whether a seized video was something that would be classifiable or not, ie just an expert witness which is also the BBFC official line.

Other articles:

There is now a new act, the catchily named Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 . It is available online as a pdf

The sections to do with censorship are sections 9 and 10.

It amends the law on cinema certification and dvd certification, reaffirming as it does so, a ban on a cinema certificate if the film contains blasphemy , something I raised with the censor as they clearly just copied the phrases used in the Censorship of Films 1923 Act.

The (Irish) Video Recordings Act 1989 in contrast talks about stirring up religious hatred which isn't quite as bad, or out of date as a concept if still objectionable on free expression grounds.

This new law was reported in the press:

I have received a reply from the censor but I want to follow up some of his answers so I'll send you more when I have it.

 

14th December   

Update: Mary Look Alike...

Playboy apologises to the easily offended over Maria cover
Link Here

Playboy Mexico Playboy magazine issued an apology after it put a nude model supposedly resembling the Virgin Mary on the cover of the Mexican edition of the publication at the time of a festival dedicated to the mother of Jesus.

The magazine, which hit newsstands on Dec 1 as ceremonies began leading to the pilgrimage to the Mexico City shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, showed a model wearing nothing but a white cloth over her head and breasts.

The model, Maria Florencia Onori, is pictured standing in front of a stained glass window with the cover line, We Love You, Maria in Spanish.

In a statement, Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises Inc said the Mexican edition of the magazine is published by a licensee, and the company did not approve or endorse the cover: While Playboy Mexico never meant for the cover or images to offend anyone, we recognise that it has created offence, and we as well as Playboy Mexico offer our sincerest apologies .

Playboy Mexico printed 100,000 copies of the issue.

 

14th December   

Update: Enjoyment Deficit...

Another attempt at a porn tax for California
Link Here  full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

California state seal With the state facing a dire budget crisis, a California politician plans to introduce new legislation that would tax consumers of adult entertainment.

Democrat  State Assemblymember Alberto Torrico said he plans to push for new legislation that would place a tax on the goods and products associated with the adult entertainment industry.

Torrico's spokesman Jeff Barbosa said the amount of the tax had not been determined, but the legislation could be introduced within a few weeks.

The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of a similar bill's defeat in August. A 25% excise tax on adult products and productions proposed by Assemblyman Charles Calderon gained no traction in the assembly and died in committee.

 

14th December   

Update: Unhampered Discussions...

Russia withdraws internet censorship bill
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Duma logo A draft law to toughen control over electronic media, including in the Internet, as part of efforts against extremism has been withdrawn from Russia's lower house of parliament for further discussion.

The Russian Vedomosti daily suggested that it may have been pulled at the request of the government.

In November, during his state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged a commitment to free speech, saying that, No government officials will be able to hamper discussions in the Internet.

The bill proposed by the dominant, Kremlin-backed United Russia party allows the closure of websites for publishing for a second time materials promoting extremism. It would also order Internet providers to block access to the website.

 

14th December   

Update: Bloodletting in Kandhamal in the name of religion...

Author arrested for publishing inflammatory material
Link Here

India flag He wrote the book, he says to condemn the recent violence between Hindus and Christians in Kandhamal, but Lenin Kumar was arrested by the Orissa police on charges of writing and publishing inflammatory material that could cause communal unrest.

A day later, his bail plea was rejected and he was remanded to judicial custody. Lenin's wife, Rumita Kundu, has also alleged that the police tortured her husband.

Now, civil right activists, writers and journalists are up in arms against the state Government and are planning a protest march to Raj Bhawan.

Lenin Kumar, editor of a quarterly Oriya magazine, Nishan, was arrested under sections 295 and 1539(A) of the Indian Penal Code for his book Dharma Nare Kandhamalare Raktara Banya (Bloodletting in Kandhamal in the name of religion).

Two others who helped him print and circulate the book have also been arrested and their bail pleas rejected as well. At least 700 copies of the book were seized from the printing press and the press sealed.

 

14th December   

A Date with Repression...

Iran bans popular dating website
Link Here

hamsarchat logo Hamsarchat.com, an Iranian dating site which promises to help users find husbands and wives, was fined and ordered to pay back money collected from clients, the Guardian reports.

The move came after a judge consulted senior ayatollahs, known as sources of emulation , following a complaint from Teheran's public prosecutor.

The site marketed itself as Iran's most complete spouse-finding website an promised to link members with the closest person or persons to your standards in return for a 25,000 rial (£1.66) fee.

Potential clients were asked to complete a questionnaire about their, age, height, weight, occupation and invited them to state their attitude towards religion. One option was free of religion.

 

13th December   

The Ayatollah vs the Ram...

Iran whinges at Hollywood film with Iranian baddy
Link Here

The Wrestler DVD A new target in Iran's long-running grievance about its negative portrayal in popular western cinema is, The Wrestler , a film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Mickey Rourke, due for release in the US on December 17.

Newspapers and websites have alerted readers to the anti-Iranian film by highlighting a scene in which Rourke's character, Randy "the Ram" Robinson, violently breaks a pole bearing an Iranian flag across his knee, after his opponent tries to use it to put him in a stranglehold.

Perhaps to avoid offending Iran's clerical rulers, no mention has been made of the screen name of Rourke's antagonist, the Ayatollah, played by Ernest Miller.

But the Miller character's wrestling attire, a skimpy leotard in the pattern of an Iranian flag with the alef character - representing the first letter of the word Allah - emblazoned front and back on his loins, has been condemned by Borna News, a state-run website.

The pole-breaking scene occurs against the explicitly nationalistic backdrop of an animated crowd chanting, USA, USA. It is intended to represent the final triumph for Rourke's character, who comes out of retirement following a heart attack for one last confrontation with the Ayatollah, a rival from his wrestling heyday.

While there is virtually no chance of The Wrestler being given official screening permission in Iran, many Iranians have become familiar with it through promotional trailers shown on broadcaster, Voice of America's Persian-language satellite television channel.

 

13th December   

More Censorship...

Worrying plans of more censorship in Australia's Northern Territories
Link Here

Australia: Northen Territories flag The Northern Territory Attorney-General's office says stricter pornography laws will be introduced to Parliament sometime next year.

Australia's national adult retail association, Eros, says the Territory has some of the most lenient pornography laws in the nation and it has been pushing for local laws to conform with the rest of the country.

Attorney-General Chris Burns had said that stricter legislation would be introduced to Parliament this year.

But his office now says the legislation is not finished, but it should be ready to put to Parliament in the first half of next year.

 

13th December   

Update: Peer to Peer...

Even censorial politician comes out against internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Cory Bernadi blog Even the ultra-conservative politician known for his attempts to censor television has strongly opposed the Government's plans to introduce mandatory internet censorship, highlighting the policy's lack of support across the political spectrum.

The proposed filters would not have blocked any of the 15,000 child porn videos and half a million child abuse images uncovered by police in a major sting this week as they cannot filter traffic on peer-to-peer networks - only websites.

In a post on his blog, South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi expressed concern that the filters would inadvertently block legitimate content and be expanded to cover other controversial material opposed by the Government of the day, such as regular pornography.

Already we have a filter on the internet for all parliament house computers. It blocks some political sites, alternative lifestyle sites and other sites that, while not to my personal taste, are hardly grounds for censorship, he wrote: Imagine if such censorship was extended to every computer in the country through mandatory ISP filtering. Who would be the ultimate arbiter of what is permissible content?

In his blog post, Bernardi acknowledged that his position on the web censorship issue would surprise many and said a big part of me wants to support it . However, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's plan was so devoid of detail that it was impossible to form a considered opinion.

 

13th December   

Broken TV Censorship...

Italians unimpressed by TV's cutting of key scenes in Brokeback Mountain
Link Here

Brokeback Mountain Italian politicians, commentators, and gay rights groups are taking Italian state television to task for airing the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain without two scenes depicting sexual encounters between its male lead characters, reports the Associated Press.

The Oscar-winning film tells the story of two cowboys who fall in love and have a years-long secret affair. Protesters say that the unaired scenes — in which the two lead characters, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, kiss and have passionate sex in a tent — are central to the film's plot and would never have been cut from the film if they involved heterosexual characters.

RAI TV said in a statement that the cut version of the film, provided by the distributor to be shown during prime time, had been aired by mistake. No one had checked for an uncut version for the late-night airing in question, it said.

But some protesters said that the scenes should have stayed in no matter when the film was shown.

I don't believe it was an oversight, I believe it was preventive censorship, said gay rights advocate and former lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria, adding that cutting the key scenes was like showing the Mona Lisa without its head.

It is grotesque that RAI censored scenes that have the same content as those seen in most prime-time movies,
conservative lawmaker Benedetto Della Vedova was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Luigi Vimercati, a center-left lawmaker, told the paper he would take up the issue in parliament.

 

13th December   

Update: Opinion Not Allowed...

Vietnam looks to repressing bloggers
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam

Vietnam flag With blogging on the rise in Vietnam, authorities plan tighter curbs and tougher monitoring.

Vietnamese authorities plan to police the content of dissident blogs through random checks and self-policing by the country's blogging community, a senior Vietnamese Internet security expert has said.

There should be a legal corridor to assure better operation of the blogs, the director of the state-run Bach Khoa Internet Security Center, Nguyen Tu Quang, told RFA's Vietnamese service. We'll manage them by randomly checking—we don't need to control all the blogs.

Earlier this month, Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan was quoted as saying Hanoi would seek cooperation from Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help regulate the country's flourishing blogging scene.

The government will announce new rules this month, stressing that Weblogs should serve as personal online diaries, not as organs to disseminate opinions about politics, religion, and society, senior officials were quoted as saying.

Quang said under the draft rules being debated violators could face up to U.S. $12,000 in fines and up to 12 years of jail time.

Authorities currently block some Web sites run by overseas Vietnamese that espouse views critical of the government, and they often seek to shut down anything seen as encouraging public protest.

In September, blogger Dieu Cay was jailed for 2.5 years on tax evasion charges after he tried to persuade people to protest at the Olympic torch ceremonies in Ho Chi Minh City last summer.

Depraved Vietnam

Based on article from thanhniennews.com

Police in Ho Chi Minh City Thursday arrested 10 suspects allegedly involved in the operation of a pornographic website and charged them with distribution of depraved material.

Police plan to press similar charges against two other suspects.

 

13th December   

Update: Politically Safer...

EU starts a Safer Internet Programme on 1 January 2009
Link Here  full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

EU flag JThe EU will have a new Safer Internet Programme as of 1 January 2009.

Following the overwhelmingly positive vote on 23 October in which the European Parliament expressed its support for the new Safer Internet Programme, the Council of Ministers has adopted the new Programme. The €55 million  programme will cover the period 2009-2013.

A new Eurobarometer survey shows that 60% of European parents are worried that their child might become a victim of online grooming and 54% that their children could be bullied online.

The proposed new programme will co-fund projects to:

  • Increase public awareness: empower young people, their parents and teachers to make responsible choices online by advising them on relevant precautions to take.
     
  • Provide the public with a network of contact points that could be reached either via a website or a phone number, for reporting illegal and harmful content and conduct, in particular on child sexual abuse material, grooming and cyber bullying.
     
  • Foster self-regulatory initiatives in this field and involve children in creating a safer online environment.
     
  • Establish a knowledge base on new trends in the use of online technologies and their consequences for children's lives by bringing together at European level technical, psychological and sociological expertise.

The € 55 million budget for the new Safer Internet Programme will be distributed as follows: 48% should serve to raise public awareness, 34% to fight against illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online, 10% to promote a safer online environment and 8% to establish a knowledge base.

 

13th December   

Offsite: Misleading Ministry of Injustice...

IWF rethinks its role over extreme porn
Link Here

IWF logo Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) has been seeking official guidance for individuals uncertain whether material in their possession would fall foul of the extreme porn law,

Both police and the Ministry of Justice have told concerned individuals to send such material to the IWF for assessment.

However, the IWF poured cold water on this idea, pointing out that such material was wholly outside their remit. A spokeswoman for the IWF said: Our role is that of an assessment and takedown body: we are not there to provide classification advice for the public.

In respect of indecent material featuring child abuse, our remit covers sites hosted both in the UK and overseas. We will refer sites hosted here to the police for further action, and where we deem sites hosted abroad to contain potentially illegal material, they will be added to the list of blocked sites that we provide to ISPs.

That is not the case with Obscene material: nor will it be the case with extreme porn. With those categories, our remit will only go so far as to refer sites hosted in the UK to the appropriate authorities.

...Read full article

[Presumably the list of blocked sites is limited so as to not overly impact download times. I guess that the IWF don''t want to see valuable slots in the list taken up by adult consensual material].

 

13th December   

Offsite: Suffocating Policing...

Police clueless over extreme porn
Link Here

Sussex Police badge A Register reader has been left baffled by the reaction of her local police force when they were asked what exactly is likely to constitute an actionable image when the extreme porn laws come into force in January.

Although the Ministry of Justice has issued its own guidelines the message has yet to filter down to local forces. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act comes into force in late January.

...Read full article

 

12th December   

Update: Adverse to Verse...

Christian Voice protest at Welsh Assembly poetry readings
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Christian Voice at the Welsh Assembly Around 250 nutter activists have protested outside the Welsh assembly building about a poetry reading. Protesters sang hymns and some held placards

Patrick Jones was invited by two assembly members to read from his collection Darkness Is Where The Stars Are , which has already led to claims it is obscene and blasphemous.

Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said: This turnout shows the strength of feeling of people.   We're seeing the Christian faith attacked on all sides. Now it's under attack in a seat of government in the UK.

Protesters sang hymns and some held placards before the ticket-only event inside the Senedd building.

Nick Bourne, leader of the Welsh Conservatives was at the demonstration, and was asked if he was showing his support. He replied: Yes, essentially. Our group opposed this {reading] at the home of Welsh democracy, promoting something which is anti-Christian and we would say that if it was any recognised religion.

Jones was asked by Labour AM Lorraine Barrett and Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black, who said he wanted to make sure the poet was not gagged. I think this is a good day for democracy. We've head both sides - Patrick has had his poetry reading and it's also important for people to be able to make their views known.

One of the poems that has offended Christians, called Hymn, includes a reference to Mary Magdalene having sex with Jesus.

 

12th December   

Diary: Subjective Liberties...

Banned books at art exhibition in New Zealand
Link Here

northart logo Subjective Liberties
Northart Gallery
Auckland, New Zealand
10-23rd December 2008

Alice in Wonderland and Dr Seuss may seem like the most harmless children's books but they were once banned.

More than 40 books banned in different countries over the years have made their way into Christina Read's art display which features in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights exhibition at NorthArt Gallery.

The exhibition coincides with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' adoption of the declaration and focuses on the freedom of culture and arts.

Contemporary artist Ms Read's exhibit is on the somewhat surprising selection of books to have been banned.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was banned in China because they didn't feel that animals should talk and they shouldn't be put on par with humans. Black Beauty was banned in South Africa because black and beauty are in the same title.

Another children's book temporarily taken off the shelf some years ago in the United States was The Lorax by Dr Seuss because it talked of capitalism and anti-government ideas. Gulliver's Travels was banned for similar reasons with it's anti-government and anti-judicial system satire, Ms Read says.

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf , CIA and the Cult of Intelligence and the M15 Spycatcher were banned for more obvious reasons.

The recent case of an Australian author jailed in Thailand while being accused of criticising the royal family is a recent example of the implications of writing on a banned subject. One of the books in the exhibition is The King Never Smiles , an unauthorised biography of Thailand's monarch.

 

12th December   

Swearing Banned in Preston...

Preston wants to put a stop to it's anti-social behaviour problem
Link Here

Preston Council People are being urged to keep Preston free of litter, dog fouling and anti-social behaviour as part of the Safer Preston Partnership's latest campaign.

The campaign, called Respect Our City , begins on Monday 8 December and will run throughout the Christmas period and beyond. It will see eye-catching signs placed on buses, lampposts, litter bins, shops, restaurants, and pubs and clubs across Preston.

These signs will contain the Rules round town , which set out that anti-social behaviour such as swearing, spitting, dropping litter, dog fouling and aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated in Preston - and that anyone caught breaking these rules could be arrested or face a fixed penalty fine.

Councillor Kate Calder, cabinet member for community safety and community engagement, said: We want to put a stop to anti-social behaviour such as fighting, littering and swearing around town so that everyone can enjoy a happy, safe Christmas. We're spreading the message in shops, pubs, restaurants and on buses and streets across the city.

 

12th December   

Update: Bali Poor Show...

Indonesia president signs repressive sharia anti-pornography law
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesia flag Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was strongly criticised after signing a repressive anti-pornography law which opponents have said threatens national unity.

The law, backed by Islamic parties in the capital Jakarta, criminalises all works and bodily movements deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality, and offers heavy penalties.

It prompted protests across Indonesia, with critics saying it could threaten art and traditional culture from temple statues on Bali to penis sheaths on tribesmen in Christian and animist Papua province.

The president's signing of the law late last month was made public last Tuesday.

Yudhoyono could have chosen not to sign it because there are still several provinces which strongly oppose the law, lawmaker Eva Sundari of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) told AFP. The opposing provinces, such as Papua, Bali, Yogyakarta, North Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara, say that the law threatened their culture and national unity.

I Gusti Ngurah Harta, head of the Bali People's Component, an organisation of local intellectuals and artists, said: We are disappointed that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has signed the law. We will not vote for him in the elections next year.

Bantarto Bandoro, political analyst from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: Yudhoyono's decision could shake the foundation of his presidential campaign for next year's election.

The law contains provisions for between six months and 12 years' jail for producers and distributors of pornography and up to four years in prison for downloading pornography.

 

12th December   

Offsite: Naked people and toilets...

Scandalous album covers
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

Electric Ladyland cover The international controversy surrounding the banning of the German heavy-metal band Scorpions' cover art for their 1976 album 'Virgin Killer' from Wikipedia is nothing new. Rock and roll has always been a form of rebellion challenging societal norms. Album cover art has often served a similar function, pushing the envelope of what people find too lewd, repulsive, or indecent.

...Red full article from welt.de (warning includes uncensored Virgin Killer cover)

Why the IWF was wrong to lift its ban on a Wikipedia page

See article from out-law.com

The Internet Watch Foundation faced a storm of criticism this week over its decision to add a Wikipedia entry to a blacklist of pages that ISPs block. Under pressure, the IWF removed the image from its blacklist. That decision was a mistake.

...Read full article

Update: Blocking Free

17th December 2008

the Melon Farmers Forum

Non IWF ISPs

http://www.freedom2surf.net
http://www.aaisp.net.uk/kb-broadband-realinternet.html
http://www.zen.co.uk/broadband

 

12th December   

Offsite: U Tube Blocked...

YouTube pulls risque; videos to chase profit
Link Here  full story: YouTube Obscurity Censorship...YouTube censor suggestive videos via obscurity

YouTube logo In recent months, long-time users of video-sharing website YouTube have noticed that the Google-owned site's definition of acceptable content has narrowed considerably.

In addition to its longstanding campaign to crack down on illegally copied material, in September the site outlawed videos depicting drug abuse and last week tightened its guidelines further to restrict profanity and sexually suggestive content.

In other words, before the money wagons roll in, some law and order needs to be imposed.

...Read full article

 

11th December   

Update: Conroy Told to Blog Off...

Australia's Dept of Broadband blog attracts 400 anti-filter comments
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Dept of Broadand logo 24 hours since its launch, hundreds of people have used Senator Conroy's new blog as a place to protest against his proposed net filtering scheme.

The Digital Economy Future Directions blog was launched by Senator Conroy yesterday as a place for people to comment on various areas of digital policy.

Conroy noted that an upcoming blog post, How do we maintain the same civil society we enjoy offline in an online world?, would touch on the issue of filtering. We welcome your feedback about the [filtering] issue in response to this post.

But readers didn't wait for that post to go live, instead flooding Minister Tanner's welcome post with over 400 posts in less than 24 hours.

Commenters attacked the filters as technically unfeasible. Many comments spoke passionately about freedom and censorship. Commenters even got political, with threats to campaign against the Rudd Government if the filters are implemented.

There was one lone voice that supported the filters.

Government's plan to censor the internet is in tatters

Based on article from watoday.com.au

The Government's plan to censor the internet is in tatters, with Australia's largest ISP saying it will not take part in live trials of the system and the second largest committing only to a scaled-back trial.

The live trials, scheduled to kick off before Christmas, were supposed to provide a definitive picture of whether the filters could work in the real world, after lab tests released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in June found available ISP filters frequently let through content that should be blocked, incorrectly blocked harmless content and slowed down network speeds by up to 87 per cent.

But now Telstra and Internode have said they would not take part in the trials. iiNet has said it would take part only to prove to the Government that its plan would not work, while Optus will test a heavily cut-down filtering model.

 

11th December   

Update: An Assembly of Nutters...

Christian Voice to picket poetry readings
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Darkness is where the stars are book The nutters campaign group Christian Voice is planning to hijack a controversial poetry reading in the National Assembly.

Patrick Jones, brother of Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire, is reading from his new book in an Assembly committee room at noon.

He was invited to do so by AMs Peter Black and Lorraine Barrett after a Cardiff bookstore, Waterstone's, cancelled a scheduled reading last month.

Another Cardiff bookshop, Borders, has also invited Mr Jones to read.

But in a notice to members, which has also been posted on other Christian websites, Christian Voice leader Stephen Green said: Well, Borders are inviting Patrick Jones to read his blasphemous poetry at 8pm on Thursday at their Cardiff store.

That is on top of Jones doing a reading in the Assembly T Hywel building the same day at noon, at the invitation of Peter Black AM and militant atheist Lorraine Barrett, against the rules of the Assembly itself, which prohibit material likely to cause offence.

We are holding a Christian witness outside T Hywel from 11.30am and we shall hold another outside Borders [he gives the full address] at 7.30pm.

Religious hatred laws

Based on article from dailypost.co.uk

Tory Assembly leader and nutter Nick Bourne has objected to a controversial poetry reading in the Senedd which he claimed could be illegal under religious hatred laws.

Bourne, on behalf of Tory AMs, wrote to presiding officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas to complain that the poet was being given a platform for his poetry: Clearly, the group don't agree with censorship of people's views and free expression. ..BUT... we feel that it is inappropriate for anyone to be given a platform to attack Christianity or any other religion in our National Assembly.

Bourne pointed to section 29 of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 which makes threatening behaviour on religious grounds unlawful.

But Assembly Commission chief executive Claire Clancy said that something more than expression of ridicule, insult or abuse was required under the Act.

She said: I am well aware by now that the works of Patrick Jones contain elements which very many people regard as obscene and insulting. But as far as I am aware there is nothing in them which could be construed as “threatening” to Christians or other religious groups.

 

11th December   

Update: Political Suicide...

Gordon Brown tells MPs that Ofcom will decide about Right to Die? programme
Link Here

Right to Die? Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told MPs that the broadcast of the assisted suicide of a terminally ill man would have to be judged by Ofcom.

Speaking in Prime Minister's Questions, Brown said he hoped broadcasters would handle such matters with care but that programme Right to Die? , on Sky Real Lives , would be considered by Ofcom.

I think it is important that these issues are dealt with sensitively and without sensationalism and I hope broadcasters will remember that they have a wider duty to the general public. Of course, it will be a matter from the TV watchdog when the broadcast is shown.

He was responding to Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis who asked whether the Prime Minister regarded the programme as being in the public interest or simply distasteful voyeurism.

Brown acknowledged there were different views about assisted dying but stated he was opposed to legislation making it lawful.

He added: I think it is necessary to ensure there is never a case in the country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or somehow feels it is the expected thing to do. That is why I have always opposed legislation for assisted death.

Update: No Complaints

13th December 2008. See article from telegraph.co.uk

The documentary featuring the final moments of a man who opted for assisted suicide received 12 complaints.

The Sky Real Lives programme, Right To Die?, was watched by 222,000 people, the channel's highest ever audience.

 

11th December   

Update: Educating Nutters...

KNTV Sex is today's TV complaints story
Link Here
John Beyer

I think there are
questions of compliance...
[With what we think people
should be watching]

Channel 4 has received a few nutter complaints over a disgusting sex education series screened at a time when young children could be watching.

KNTV Sex , described by the channel as the alternative guide to sex education, goes out at 11am on weekdays.

Aimed at 14 to 19-year-olds, it covers issues such as masturbation, sexually-transmitted diseases, fetishes, bisexuality and homosexuality.

It attracted 100 complaints from viewers.

One said: I cannot believe that C4 would put such a disturbing programme on the air at 11am. The programme is not teaching anything except that sex is something amazing that you should do - it's absolutely disgusting.

John Beyer of Mediawatch UK said: I think there are questions of compliance and how this show works with the broadcasting codes and the protection of children. Ofcom needs to look at this. The trouble is that Channel 4 just do what they want to do.

Norman Wells of Family and Youth Concern said: Once again Channel 4 is seeking to push back the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable material for daytime television. The last thing children and young people need is another TV series that trivialises and cheapens sex and divorces it from any moral context.

KNTV Sex combines animation and comedy clips taken from TV shows.

It is presented by the animated characters Kierky and Nietzsche, two teenagers from the fictional country of Slabovia, which is described as the last communist state in Europe.

A Channel 4 spokesman said last night it takes a new approach to dealing with important issues around sex and relationships education for a teenage audience.

This series is based on information and advice from both sexual health charities and teachers. There is no explicit imagery and the content is suitable for the morning schedule.

 

11th December   

Logical Black Hole...

Ofcom punish radio station over 'potentially' racist comment
Link Here

Rock Radio logo Donald Macleod
96.3 Rock Radio, 26 September 2008, 19:40

96.3 Rock Radio is a classic rock commercial radio station, operated by GMG Radio. It is broadcast in Glasgow, Renfrewshire and on DAB Digital Radio in Edinburgh. Donald Macleod, a Scottish music industry entrepreneur and newspaper columnist, presents a show on weekdays from 18:00 to 22:00 .

During the broadcast in question, the presenter said the following when introducing the song Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden:

Barack Obama's favourite song. Your Mum's got a big black hole, son.

A listener contacted Ofcom to complain, stating that this comment was racist.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (“in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context”).

Ofcom Decision Breach of Rule 2.3

Ofcom noted the broadcaster's response that, although completely ill advised and regrettable, the comment was not intended by the presenter to cause offence. Ofcom also noted the apologies made by the presenter.

Ofcom does not assess whether behaviour or language is racist; this is a matter for relevant authorities. However, Ofcom does require that generally accepted standards are applied in radio programmes. It is concerned that this comment, which clearly is potentially offensive on the grounds of race, had been included in a broadcast without due consideration for the way it may have been interpreted by listeners and without any apology within the programme itself. Ofcom concluded that the comment was not justified by the context and breached generally accepted standards. It was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

[Ofcom do not assess racist comments...BUT...they do assess potential racist comments and punish accordingly. This logic came up for the IWF this week too, they cannot assess child porn ..BUT.. censor potential child porn images anyway.

What's up with a country where even censors cannot determine whether things are illegal or not so punish things that are potentially illegal].

 

11th December   

Underworld Nutters...

Victim politics and a call to ban Underworld, an iPhone game
Link Here

Underworld iPhone game The mother of a young woman whose life was wrecked by heroin has called for a new iPhone drug-dealing game to be banned.

Underworld , which will be available to download on the Apple phone later this month, allows players to peddle virtual narcotics in real-world locations.

The free game, previously called Drug Lords but renamed in a bid to get it past Apple's censors, has been branded outrageous by Thelma Pickard whose daughter Amy has been in a seven-year coma since experimenting with heroin at the age of 17.

Leading drugs charities have also condemned the game, saying it trivialises the harm caused by Britain's illegal drugs trade.

Thelma said: My daughter's life has been ruined by drugs. If this game is allowed to come out, impressionable kids will play it and Amy's mistake will be repeated over and over again. Youngsters like Amy are exactly the people who download and play games like this on their mobiles. I just want to help other families avoid the nightmare that's wrecked mine.

 

11th December   

Update: Praise be to Ross...

Church whinge at BBC for spending more on Ross than Songs of Praise
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Songs of Praise CD Church leaders have criticised the BBC for paying millions on Jonathan Ross while failing to invest in the 'equally popular' Songs of Praise .

In a joint submission to Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, bishops from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church call the corporation inconsistent for spending far more on the controversial chatshow host than the religious programme, even though they have similar viewing figures.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Croydon, and the Rt Rev John Arnold, the Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, made their comments to Ofcom as part of its review of public service broadcasting.

The bishops say: This is not an obscure or technical issue, but one which affects us all. The survival and flourishing of public service content is not just an economic or political question; it has implications for the kind of society we want to be.

They say that although broadcasters claim public service programmes are unprofitable, the BBC spends far less on programmes dealing with religious and ethical issues than on entertainment shows that attract the same size of audience.

The bishops say: There still remains both confusion and inconsistency about how religious output is viewed and its value to audiences, mostly around the definition of religion on TV.

It is clear that one programme gaining an audience of around four million weekly is regarded as a wild success meriting an £18 million star (Friday Night with Jonathan Ross) while another with a similar audience is regarded as part of an unprofitable genre ( Songs of Praise ). This seems to be a striking lack of consistency.

 

10th December   

Emotional TV...

Death by assisted suicide to be shown on UK TV
Link Here

Right to Die? A documentary that appears to show the moment when a man dies after going through with an assisted suicide was strongly criticised yesterday by anti-euthanasia campaigners and Mediawatch-UK.

The film, which is being screened on the Sky Real Lives channel tonight, seems to show the moment when 59-year-old Craig Ewert, who had motor neurone disease, died. It is believed this would be the first time the instant of the a person's death in an assisted suicide has been shown on British television.

Both the documentary maker, Oscar winner John Zaritsky, and Sky insisted that the film, Right to Die? - which is being shown at 9pm - is an important contribution to a vital debate.

Ewert, a retired university professor from Harrogate, Yorkshire, travelled to Dignitas, the organisation in Zurich that helps people to die, because he did not want to spend the rest of his days in a living tomb.

The documentary shows Ewert and his wife, Mary, exchanging a last kiss. He says: I love you sweetheart - so much. Have a safe journey. I will see you some time.

Ewert is then given a liquid and told he will die if he drinks it. He drinks through a pink straw, then asks for some apple juice and music. Shortly before his eyes close, he says: Thank you.

Dr Peter Saunders, a director of the Care Not Killing alliance, branded the film macabre death voyeurism. This is taking us a little further down the slippery slope. It seems there is a macabre fascination in this death tourism.

Dominica Roberts, of the Pro-Life Alliance, said the programme sent out the message that some people's lives are worthless , adding: It is both sad and dangerous to show this kind of thing on the television.

John Beyer, director of Mediawatch-UK, said: This subject is something that is quite an important political issue at the moment and my anxieties are that the programme will influence public opinion.

Barbara Gibbon, head of Sky Real Lives, said: This is an issue that more and more people are confronting and this documentary is an informative, articulate and educated insight into the decisions some people have to make. I think it's important that broadcasters give this controversial subject a wider airing.

 

10th December   

Morphed to Shite...

Sub-standard TV print of Terminator 2
Link Here

Terminator 2 DVD Terminator 2 is one of the greatest modern day Sci- Fi films. Despite the fact that this film is a sequel, for people like me in their late 20's, this film was our Star wars . It spawned all manner of merchandise, gave Arnie his finest hour, and changed the face of onscreen special FX forever (in fact a lot of ILM's work since hasn't looked nearly as good).

However, all things aside, this film was (unbeknownst to most) ever so slightly REDUCED in certain content for the UK market (really trivial seconds). This was until 1997 when the extended cut was released on VHS (the T-1000 edition), to coincide with the factious Judgement Day of August 29th, since then all DVD releases have featured the extended cut in some way, shape, or form.

However, Last night, ITV 2 showed the original theatrical release, featuring all 17 seconds of the BBFC / VHS missing bits, yet had none of the SPECIAL EDITION footage (the CPU operation, John teaching the T-800 to smile etc).

Thinking it may have been the US Pan and scan TV version, as it had a VERY NTSC (never - the - same - colour), grainy feel to it. Which unlike the superior PAL format we use here in the UK, looks flat out shit when broadcast. Strange.

Comment: Censored for language and violence

11th December 2008. From Gavin

ITV2's print wasn't pan and scan - it was a widescreen broadcast. Also, the US TV version would undoubtedly be censored for language and violence, and this showing had both those factors.

 

10th December   

Cycle of Complaints...

Barnardo's advert draws in the complaints
Link Here

Barbado's Ad A hard-hitting TV commercial for children's charity Barnardo's will continue to be screened. It has attracted almost 500 complaints. Viewers had complained its repeated scenes of a young girl being hit and later taking drugs were distressing.

But the Advertising Standards Authority said the issues raised justified the use of such shocking images.

Barnardo's said the advert highlighted the vicious cycle of abuse and crime. In it, a teenage girl is pictured behind a prison door, then at a kitchen table where a man hits her hard on the back of the head and calls her a worthless little cow. The next scene pictures her at her classroom desk, tearfully telling the teacher: I don't know what it says, before she appears in a deserted setting having just taken drugs. The scenes are repeated at increasing speed, emphasising the sound of the slap and the girl's sobs.

Text on the screen reads: For thousands of children in the UK the story will keep repeating itself, until someone stops it.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the advert after receiving 477 complaints and said more viewers had complained since then.

It acknowledged the abuse victims' distress but noted that the scene involving the violence, although shocking to watch, showed the violence as unacceptable behaviour and did not encourage or condone it. We concluded that the aim of the ads justified the use of such strong imagery, it added, noting that the adverts were shown after 2100 GMT and away from programmes popular with children.

 

10th December   

Diary: Stop the Clean Feed...

Street protests against Australia's ominous mandatory internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stop teh Clean Feed Stop the Clean Feed
Saturday December 13, Lunchtime

11am Brisbane Brisbane Square
11am Hobart Parliament Lawns
11am Sydney Town Hall
12pm Adelaide Parliament
12pm Melbourne State Library
12pm Perth Stirling Gardens
12pm Canberra City Walk (near the fountain outside of Canberra Centre)

Protests against plans to censor Australia's internet feeds are moving from online to the physical world, with a series of street protests planned.

The street protests are planned in all states for Saturday December 13.

The Stop The Clean Feed site, set up by Australians Against Internet Censorship, is being used as a central organising point for the protests, which have been set to take place in CBD locations at lunchtime in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.

 

9th December   

Update: A Censor's Responsibility...

Internet censors review the over cautious ban on album cover
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

IWF logo The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is reviewing its decision to list as child pornography the image on one version of the album Virgin Killer by the rock band The Scorpions hosted on Wikipedia – and might yet add Amazon US to its list of blocked sites for hosting the picture.

The initial decision to block the image, taken on Friday, prevented UK contributors from editing the site, and blocked some people from seeing the site at all (although they were still able to view it through Google's cache).

The decision to ban the page, which was taken after consultation with the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) agency, is now being reviewed, Robertson said. The assessment was done in partnership with law enforcement.

The Scorpions image was deemed to be 1 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the least offensive , said Robertson. The image was judged to be erotic posing with no sexual activity . It depicts a young naked girl with her genitals obscured by a crack in the camera lens.

Robertson declined to say whether Amazon would be the next to be blocked. She confirmed that the Amazon page containing the offending cover was referred to the IWF today, but that no decision would be taken while the review of the original decision was in progress.

The decision has put the IWF's methods and systems under the media spotlight. Normally the IWF, which is paid for by the EU and through a levy on the internet industry, works quietly away in its Cambridge offices. A team of four police-trained analysts plough through 35,000 URLs sent to them each year that are under suspicion of being obscene.

If an image or text page contains obscene content and is hosted in the UK, the relevant ISP is contacted and the content removed. But if it is hosted abroad, it is added instead to a blacklis" to which access is prevented by BT's CleanFeed technology. Any attempt to access that page returns a Page Not Found response.

Richard Clayton, one of the country's leading internet security experts said: We see this borderline stuff all the time; it's a no-win. The decision seems to have been based on taking the image out of context, something which might seem pretty strange - particularly given that you can go into HMV and buy a copy on the high street.

The main outcome – apart from highlighting the way the British internet is censored – might be to highlight the lack of cooperation between British authorities and other international bodies, he said.

The image under consideration was previously considered by the FBI in the US and they decided not to act against it.

 

9th December   

Update: Class Act...

TV Censor finds Harry Enfield's Filipina sketch not in breach
Link Here  full story: Harry Enfield...LoadsaComplaints about Harry Enfield

Oi No! Harry Enfield DVD Harry and Paul
BBC1, 26 September 2008, 21:00

Ofcom received 42 complaints regarding a sketch in the Harry and Paul show which depicted a so-called upper class character, played by Harry Enfield, encouraging a Northern man - whom he treats as his dog - to mate with his neighbour's Filipina maid. The scene showed the Northerner , known as Clive, failing to show interest in the maid and the Harry Enfield character shouting encouragement and urging Clive to mount her before sending the maid back to the neighbour's home.

The complainants expressed concern that the sketch was offensive to the Filipino community and women in general, by presenting the Filipina as an object of sexual gratification.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom recognises the sensitivities involved when comedy makes reference to or represents any particular ethnic community in the United Kingdom . In this case it was a Filipino who featured in the broadcast. We therefore considered this material in the light of Rule 2.3 (generally accepted standards) which says that …broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…

This particular sketch was one of a number which ran throughout the series in which Harry Enfield plays an extreme comedy stereotype of an upper class toff living in the South of England. This caricature has little sensitivity to those outside of his social class. Consequently, he treats Clive like his dog. It is in this context that the sketch showed the Harry Enfield character encouraging Clive to mate with his neighbour's domestic help, for whom he also has little or no respect.

Whilst Harry and Paul is a new series, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse are long established comedians whose style of humour often focuses on presenting characters in an exaggerated and stereotyped way for comic effect. The comedy frequently comes from the absurdity of the situation.

In terms of the degree of offence and the likely expectation of the audience, we considered whether the material was justified by the context of the sketch as a whole.

As noted above, this item featured established comedians and the sketch was typical of the material presented by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse in this, and other series. Therefore it is Ofcom's view that the material would not have exceeded the likely expectation of the vast majority of the audience.

Further, in Ofcom's view, there was no intention to ridicule women or the Filipino community in this sketch. The target of the humour was very clearly the upper class character played by Harry Enfield who holds such a deluded view of his social superiority that he treats individuals with lower social status with ridiculous disdain. The Filipina domestic help was featured as a character in the sketch to highlight this extreme and ridiculous behaviour.

Comedy often, and rightly, engages with challenging and sensitive subjects such as social class. In this respect Ofcom must regulate potentially offensive material in a manner that also respects freedom of expression – the broadcasters' right to transmit information and the viewers' right to receive it. Ofcom must therefore seek an appropriate balance between protecting members of the public from harm and offence on the one hand and the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression on the other, taking into account such matters as context.

Although this sketch may have caused offence to some individuals, it explored the issue of social class in an absurd way which was not intended to reflect real life. In our view this was the approach and effect of this sketch. On balance, it is Ofcom's view that the material did not breach generally accepted standards because it was justified by the context.

Not in Breach

 

9th December   

Cartoon Justice...

Animated porn in the style of Simpsons declared illegal in Australia
Link Here

Judge Snyder An appeal judge in Australia has ruled that an animation depicting well-known cartoon characters engaging in sexual acts is child pornography. The internet cartoon featured characters from the Simpsons TV series.

The central issue in the case was whether a cartoon character could depict a real person. Judge Michael Adams decided that it could, and found a man from Sydney guilty of possessing child pornography on his computer.

The defence had argued that the fictional, animated characters were not real people, and clearly departed from the human form. They therefore contested that the conviction for the possession of child pornography should be overturned.

Justice Michael Adams said the purpose of anti-child pornography legislation was to stop sexual exploitation and child abuse where images of real children were depicted. But in a landmark ruling he decided that the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

He ruled that the animated cartoon could fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children, and therefore upheld the conviction.

Rather than jail the man, however, he fined him Aus$3,000

 

9th December   

Update: TopGeezer...

TV censor ok with Jeremy Clarkson's lorry driver jokes
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear DVD Top Gear
BBC Two, 2 November 2008, 20:00

Top Gear is a car-focused magazine programme primarily aimed at car enthusiasts. In this edition, the three presenters were given the challenge of customising second-hand lorries and performing certain tasks to experience being an HGV driver.

In one sequence, while discussing the upcoming lorry challenge Jeremy Clarkson said to the other presenters: What matters to lorry drivers? Murdering prostitutes? Fuel economy?

A few minutes later, whilst driving a lorry, Jeremy Clarkson said: This is a hard job [driving a lorry] and I'm not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers: change gear; change gear; change gear; check your mirrors; murder a prostitute…

Ofcom received 339 complaints about comments made by Jeremy Clarkson concerning lorry drivers.

Ofcom considered these complaints under Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision

Top Gear is a long-running entertainment programme and viewers, in general, have come to expect a certain level of outspoken, adult-oriented humour from the presenters.

Taste in comedy can vary widely between people and Ofcom recognised that the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson could be offensive to some people. Ofcom is not an arbiter of good taste but rather it must judge whether a broadcaster has applied generally accepted standards by ensuring that members of the public were given adequate protection from offensive material.

On this occasion, Ofcom accepts that the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson could shock some viewers. However, Ofcom did not believe the intention of the comments could be seen to imply that all lorry drivers murder prostitutes, nor would it be reasonable to make such an inference. In Ofcom's view, the presenter was clearly using exaggeration to make a joke, albeit not to everyone's taste. The comments should therefore been seen in that context.

It is often the case that humour can cause offence. To restrict humour only to material which does not cause offence would be an unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression. Ofcom considered that the large majority of the audience would have understood the comments as being made for comic effect, and were in keeping with what would normally be expected from this presenter in this particular programme.

Given the intent of the comment, the context of the programme and the time of broadcast, Ofcom concluded that the broadcast of this material was justified by the context. Therefore, the programme was not in breach of Rule 2.3.

Not in Breach

 

9th December   

Satirically Retarded...

Comedian Doug Stanhope offends the radio censor
Link Here

Nemone show Nemone
BBC 6 Music, 12 September 2008, 13:00

Nemone is a daily magazine programme hosted by the DJ Nemone Metaxas. This edition featured an interview with American comedian Doug Stanhope. During the interview, Stanhope commented that the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was a suitable target for his satirical style of humour.

The interview included the following:

Doug Stanhope: [Ms Palin] is a 44 year-old mother of five, two of which are retarded.

Nemone Metaxus: These are your, [laughs] obviously, your views…

Doug Stanhope: One's got Down's Syndrome and the other volunteered for Iraq . So that's two retards out of five.... Oh nothing. They give me nothing, nothing but blank looks.

Nemone Metaxus: Doug this is your opinion, your opinion of what's happening back home, so obviously, if something kicks off in America …

Doug Stanhope: For Pete's sake, don't stare at me like that. The woman has a baby with Down's Syndrome; how can America get behind her when even God obviously hates her. [laughs]

Ofcom received a complaint from a listener who was offended by Stanhope's use of the word retarded to describe someone with Down's Syndrome. The complainant was also concerned that the presenter did not seriously challenge these remarks or apologise to listeners.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code which requires material that may cause offence to be justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom notes that the comedian made references to individuals as retarded . Research indicates that views on this term are split. It is considered by some to be highly offensive, while others are less concerned by its use.

Ofcom acknowledges that BBC 6 Music attracts a predominantly adult audience and that regular listeners who are familiar with the irreverent style of its presenters and guests may not necessarily find the use of words such as retard offensive.

When dealing with generally accepted standards, the Code refers specifically to offence that may be caused by discriminatory treatment and language based on disability. In this case, the word retarded was used in a particularly derogatory manner. Further, references to Down's Syndrome were also made in a clearly offensive way. First, a child with Down's Syndrome was described as retarded. Second, there was a highly offensive comment which described Down's Syndrome as a form of punishment by God. Both of these, in Ofcom's opinion, went well beyond generally accepted standards and the audience's expectations for this programme. In this case in was clear that the context did not justify these offensive comments.

Ofcom was also concerned that during the broadcast the presenter did not give what it considered to be a sufficient reprimand or apology, which could have served to reduce the offence.

Ofcom concludes that this programme was in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

 

9th December   

Baby Gymnastics...

Australian arrested for re-posting alarming YouTube video
Link Here  full story: Swinging Baby...Circus family video clip causes police hassle

Live Leak logo A video sharing website user who re-posted somebody else's video of a man apparently swinging a baby around has had his house raided by an armed Australian police anti-paedophile squad.

The user Biggles9 has been charged with accessing child abuse material, downloading child abuse material and uploading child abuse material with the intent to distribute . He is out on bail and is due to appear in court 18 December. He posted the clip, which he found on MetaCafe, to LiveLeak, a UK-based citizen journalism site.

The Queensland-based Task Force Argos allegedly acted on information supplied by British police. They arrested him and seized computer equipment. They questioned Biggles9 for about seven hours.

According to LiveLeak founder Hayden Hewitt, who has been in regular contact with the long-time member since he was charged, Biggles9 did not ask for a lawyer to be present because he did not believe there was any case to answer. Hewitt said he had been told that the clip Biggles9 uploaded to LiveLeak was the only data of interest that the police's digital forensic search found.

According to Hewitt, Biggles9 found the clip on YouTube, via MetaCafe, which aggregates video sites. It was also available on several other video sharing sites. LiveLeak and YouTube have removed the footage, but it is still accessible elsewhere on the web.

It shows a man described as being of eastern European appearance in what appears to be a living room with a sofa and TV, and a baby in a nappy. The man picks up the baby and begins swinging it around very fast, at first by its two arms and then by one. Later, he turns the baby through somersaults. At the end of the performance he holds the baby normally and approaches the camera. The baby smiles.

It's currently unclear what prompted the raid on Biggles9's home by armed police. A few days after the clip was posted, Hewitt was contacted by a child protection group based in the US, which asked if he had any information about the source of the video. Hewitt didn't, but added an appeal on the page hosting it for anyone with information to get in touch. Soon after, Gloucestershire police asked him to remove it on grounds that people might copy what they saw. LiveLeak declined to remove the clip.

About a month later, Task Force Argos raided Biggles9. He contacted Hewitt and requested the clip be taken down on the advice of his lawyers, which LiveLeak did.

In his post-arrest blog, Biggles9 wrote: I'm just trying to warn all the uploaders and moderators to be very careful of what is posted and approved when it comes to children; no one needs to go through this crap over something that is so petty. H e added he is confident sanity will prevail.

 

9th December   

Belief in Islam is Weak...

The Maldives block christian websites
Link Here

Maldives flag The Maldives Ministry of Islamic Affairs has announced  that it would block sidahitun.com , a website promoting Christianity aimed at Maldivians.

Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari said the ministry had consulted experts to find ways to block the site, which was both in Dhivehi and English.

Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed, known for his inflammatory sermons, agreed that all anti-Islamic websites should be banned: Although this is an Islamic society, some Maldivians' faith in Islam is not very strong. If they have access to these websites because their belief in Islam is weak, there might be a negative impact.

A similar view was upheld by scholar Sheikh Usman Abdullah who said that as the Maldives is recognised as a wholly Muslim society, all anti-Islamic activities, including websites promoting Christianity, should be banned.

Samuel Wallace, International Christian Concern's regional manager for South Asia, said he was alarmed to hear officials in the Maldives were seeking to block Christian websites: As a member of the United Nations, the Maldives has an obligation to protect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Right. This includes in Article 18 the ‘right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

 

8th December   

Human Rights to be Replaced by No Rights...

Straw considering the responsibility to be loyal to Bollox Britain
Link Here  full story: Human Rights Act...Government for curtailing human rights

Jack Straw Jack Straw plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act amidst claims that it has become a charter for criminals.

The Injustice Secretary wants to reflect complaints that the act protects rights but says nothing about responsibilities.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he says he is frustrated by the way the legislation he introduced ten years ago has sometimes been interpreted by the courts. He blames nervous judges for refusing to deport extremists and terrorist suspects despite assurances by ministers that their removal is in the national interest.

In a move which will alarm the civil liberties lobby, Straw reveals that he is studying whether the act can be tightened and has taken legal advice.

In due course I could envisage that there could be additions made to to work in the issues of responsibilities, he says.

He tells the Mail that he wants to rebalance the rights set out in the Human Rights Act by adding explicit responsibilities , specifically to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.

He is also looking at ways of promoting social rights such as access to health care, as well as social responsibilities such staying healthy or the education of children.

 

8th December   

Sick and Insensitive...

Suddenly bad taste gags are in the firing line of politicians
Link Here

Ding Dong DVD Comedian Alan Carr has apologised for dedicating an award to Karen Matthews, who kidnapped her daughter Shannon.

Government minister Shahid Malik, called him sick and insensitive after he made the remark to reporters at Saturday's British Comedy Awards.

At Saturday's awards, Carr was voted Best Comedy Entertainment Personality for his Friday Night Project and Sunday Night Project shows.

He said that he had originally planned his Celebrity Ding Dong sketch to feature rough women not fashionistas: It didn't work out because they couldn't cast it. I suppose it is a bit difficult to find rough women. I suppose Shannon Matthew's mum was busy . Oh yeah, she would be my dream guest. I think she's a gay icon. People like a bit of rough don't they?

Junior injustice minister Malik said the timing of the remarks, which come just days after Matthews was convicted, could not have been worse. Malik, MP for Matthews' constituency of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said: I think Alan Carr can be funny on occasion but I think last night he really let himself down.

I think most people think it to be both sick and insensitive and people will be disgusted with him at a time when many people are looking very closely at the comic/comedian profession anyway.

 

8th December   

Update: Single Shot Pill...

New Zealand censor bans suicide video
Link Here  full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

New Zealand's Office of Film & Literature Classification have banned Dr Nitschke's suicide video.

The decision was made on 24 November 2008. The decision followed a written complaint against the video by Right to Life New Zealand made on 26 June 2008 and by nutters of The Society for the Protection of Community Standards.

The video was titled The Peaceful Pill: Single Shot. The video described how to manufacture the drug Nembutal. The Censor stated in his judgment; that the film promotes and encourages criminal acts by making them seem a completely normal and positive part of everyday life. Any use of the film as a basis on which to manufacture a drug said to induce a peaceful death is more likely to cause a violent injury or death by accident.

Right to Life is disappointed that the Chief Censor has rejected a similar complaint against the suicide video, Doing it with Betty . The decision states that the film is classified as unrestricted. This video demonstrates how a person may commit suicide with a plastic bag. The Censor in his decision stated that; The innocuous nature of this film's content is unlikely to make its unrestricted availability injurious to the public good.

Right to Life challenges this decision and will seek permission to have the decision reviewed by the Classification Review Office. It is understood that Dr Nitschke proposes to produce a further 14 suicide promotional videos. It is the intention of Right to Life to challenge these videos at the appropriate time by presenting a written complaint with the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

 

8th December   

Thunderball...

1965 BBFC cinema cuts to Thunderball
Link Here

Thunderball DVD Thunderball is a 1965 UK James Bond film by Terence Young (MGM)

The BBFC cinema cuts were waived when first submitted on video in 1987. All subsequent video and DVD releases are uncut.

Previously the BBFC cut the cinema release of 1965.

Given how violent this film is, I'm surprised the BBFC only made this one silly cut but there you go:

  • The first of two short scenes where Bond is seen stroking the naked back of the spa employee with a mink glove was removed.

 

8th December   

Hungry for Offence...

Inviting Whopper Virgins to the western world of easy offence
Link Here

Whopper Virgins Burger King is under nutter fire for a new advertising campaign featuring burger virgins, impoverished villagers in remote parts of the world, taking part in Whopper versus Big Mac taste tests.

In teaser adverts promoting its Whopper Virgins challenge, the fast food chain describes how it sought out farmers in rural Romania, Thai villagers and residents of Greenland's icy tundra to compare its signature burger with arch rival McDonalds'.

What happens if you take Transylvanian farmers who have never eaten a burger and ask them to compare Whopper versus Big Mac in the world's purest taste test? one of the adverts asks: Will they prefer the Whopper? These are the Whopper Virgins. If you want a real opinion about a burger, ask someone who doesn't even have a word for burger .

But nutters have slammed the campaign as insulting and exploitative.

It's outrageous, Sharon Akabas of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University, told the New York Daily News: What's next? Are we going to start taking guns out to some of these remote places and ask them which one they like better?

Marilyn Borchardt, development director for Food First, called the campaign insensitive: The ad's not even acknowledging that there's even hunger in any of these places, she told the Daily News.

The campaign has also stirred up a welter of online commentary. Brian Morrissey, writing on Adfreak.com, likens the campaign to colonialism and declares it embarrassing and emblematic of how ignorant Americans still seem to the rest of the world.

"It doesn't get much more offensive than this," noted The Inquisitor blog: If visiting poor people in remote locations, some who would be at best surviving on below poverty levels and throwing a burger in their faces isn't bad enough, it gets better, because they also ask the Whopper Virgins to compare the taste of the Whopper to a McDonalds Big Mac as well. It's hard to place exactly where this begins on the level of wrongness.

 

8th December   

Even More People Disliking Sanader...

Croatia police arrest Facebook activists
Link Here

Facebook logo Croatia's prime minister has ordered an inquiry following arrests of several opposition activists who made plans via the social networking website Facebook.

This is not about this or that government or party, but about freedom, Croatian PM Ivo Sanader said.

Police in Zagreb questioned a Facebook activist who had put up posters ahead of an anti-government protest planned for Friday, Croatian TV reported.

In the Zagreb case, an opposition Facebook group with nearly 60,000 members included volunteers who had downloaded posters over the internet, Croatian TV reported.

The man arrested in the Croatian capital was charged with disturbing the peace, under an old law from 1990 which applied to the then-Yugoslavia, the TV reported.

In a statement Sanader said he had asked Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko and Police Director Vladimir Faber to submit a report today on the latest events and arrests in Zagreb and Dubrovnik and to take appropriate steps if police did not respect regulations. No-one should be detained or arrested in Croatia for expressing different views.

The activist in Dubrovnik had set up a Facebook group called I bet I can find 5,000 people who dislike Sanader. Police argued that his group had illegally shown a photo montage of Sanader in a Nazi uniform.

Sanader said he deplored any use of Nazi symbols for the purposes of political satire.

 

7th December   

Update: 18 Lads...

Report to suggest age ratings for UK magazines
Link Here  full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

Nuts magazine The Top Shelf Report, commissioned by Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas, will next week recommend that popular men's magazines and newspapers such as the Daily Sport be given age-appropriate "16" and "18" certificates.

A nationwide investigation has revealed that newsagents across the UK are flouting current guidelines and displaying what are, in effect, adult magazines at the eye-level of children aged six to 15 – which has led to a government proposal that they be subject to the same age classifications as films, with some titles off-limits to under-18s.

The display of lads' mags is currently governed by a voluntary code of practice drawn up by the Periodical Publishers Associations (PPA) and the Home Office, which recommends that retailers display them well above children's eye level and away from children's titles or comics.

The report, which has cross-party support from MPs, points out that films screened or sold in the UK are classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and that TV broadcasters must adhere to a 9pm watershed that prevents programmes unsuitable for under-18s being shown before this, yet nothing similar exists for the mainstream press.

Ben Todd, the editor of Zoo, said: We should be treated like a cheeky seaside postcard. In our case, the most revealing aspect is topless pictures, which is no more than you see in The Sun or the Daily Star. So, if any sort of age-restrictions are going to be introduced, I'd expect them to include those papers, too.

The report recommends that the Daily Sport be given an "18" certificate due to the numerous adverts for prostitutes which it contains.

 

7th December   

Wikicensor...

Wikipedia is being partially blocked by UK ISPs
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

Wikipedia logo The following notice has appeared on Wikipedia today when many UK users attempt to edit content:

Wikipedia has been added to a Internet Watch Foundation UK website blacklist, and your Internet service provider has decided to block part of your access. Unfortunately, this also makes it impossible for us to differentiate between different users, and block those abusing the site without blocking other innocent people as well.

According to discussions on the Wikipedia administrators noticeboard, this is because a transparent proxy has been enabled for customers of Virgin Media, Be/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon and Opal. This has two effects: users cannot see content filtered by the proxies, and all user traffic passing through the proxies is given a single IP address per proxy. As Wikipedia's anti-vandalism system blocks users by IP address, one single case of vandalism by a single UK user prevents all users on that user's ISP from editing. The effect is to block all editing from anonymous UK users on that list of ISPs. Registered users can continue to edit.

The content being filtered is apparently that deemed to meet the Internet Watch Foundation's critera for child pornography – in one case, this involves a 1970s LP cover art for Scorpion's Virgin Killer which, although controversial, is still widely available.

Reports on the admin noticeboard say that this filtering is easy to circumvent, either by using Wikipedia's secure server or by sending a request to find the page via parameters in the URL. However, no fix has been found – nor is one expected – for the blocking of anonymous authors problem.

Comment: Makes you wonder what is being prosecuted these days

8th December 2008. From Harvey on the Melon Farmers Forum

Whether a particular image is or is not indecent and of a child will be facts to be determined by a particular jury on a particular day, when judging a particular image.

The IWF clearly believe that the Wikipedia images they are blocking access to would be so determined. The ISPs involved clearly must think so too, and they will have taken legal advice before moving to block access to such a popular site. That alone should give you some idea of the kind of images which are being prosecuted in the courts in this country.

It also puts into perspective some of the claims made previously by the IWF about the quantity of sites they encounter which contain child abuse images.

From IanG

Child porn allegations? Weird. It looks like an album cover to me - hardly something primarily produced to cause sexual arousal is it? That is the current legal definition of pornography if I`m not mistaken.

And I can hardly see this photo being classified as an indecent image of a child either. I can`t see how an artistic shot of a reclining 8 year-old with all the naughty bits obscured by a broken glass effect could be.

 

7th December   

Update: Beyer Bleeps Bollox...

Telegraph hypes John Beyers comments
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD It can be revealed that expletives were inserted into Ramsay's show when it was broadcast in the UK, after they had been bleeped out in the original version first shown in the US.

Nutters predictably said the decision to edit swear words back into Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA for British viewers was extraordinary.

In one episode of the series, more than 40 swear words were heard by viewers when the programme aired on Channel 4 earlier this year, compared to none when it was broadcast by Fox in the US last year.

The US series of Kitchen Nightmares was a spin-off from the British series of the same name, in which Ramsay attempts to turn around the fortunes of failing restaurants.

Instances of 'fuck', along with profanities such as 'shit'-, 'dickhead' and 'bollocks', were bleeped out of the hour-long shows when they were shown in the US in a 9pm slot in autumn 2007. When the series was broadcast in the UK this year, in a 10pm slot, the swear words returned.

John Beyer, director of the nutter group Mediawatch-UK, said: It is extraordinary, and only goes to show how much the television channels here can do what they like.

They keep defending the amount of swearing on television, but all their concerns about 'freedom of expression' and 'the need to reflect reality' seem to go out of the window when it comes to making money by exporting these programmes to America, where they know audiences won't tolerate it.


Channel 4 said its version was shown after Britain's 9pm watershed and was preceded by a clear on-air warning about its content. The US equivalent of the watershed is the 10pm safe harbor , after which more swearing is permitted.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: Gordon Ramsay is a well-known TV personality and viewers watching his programmes know what to expect. In the context of Kitchen Nightmares the strong language is a genuine expression of Gordon's passion and frustration.

 

7th December   

Goldfinger...

1964 BBFC cinema cuts to Goldfinger
Link Here

Goldfinger DVD Goldfinger is a 1964 UK James Bond film by Guy Hamilton (MGM)

1964 Cinema cuts, presumably to the negative, as was often the norm in the 60s, persist to all cinema/video/DVD releases worldwide

  • Bonita getting out of the bath has been removed, so it now happens off-screen
  • The electrocution in the bath has been shortened
  • The scene of Bond and Jill Masterson together on the bed has been shortened

 

7th December   

Unhealthy Society...

Iraqi journalist jailed for writing about gay sex health issues
Link Here

Iraq flag A court in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region has sentenced a freelance journalist to six months in prison and a fine for writing an article about gay sex, a penalty that media groups say violates the law and underscores the lack of press freedom in Kurdistan.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, groups that monitor press freedom across the world, are among the international organizations demanding the release of Adel Hussein, who was arrested Nov. 24 in the Kurdish city of Irbil.

Hussein, whose article appeared in Hawlati in April 2007, is the second Kurdish journalist to land in prison in the past month. On Nov. 8, the editor in chief of the Hawal newspaper, Shwan Dawoody, was given a month in jail and a fine for a series of stories his paper ran that were critical of the judiciary in Sulaymaniya, which is part of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region.

The court that sentenced Hussein, who is a doctor specializing in sexual and reproductive diseases, said he had violated public custom by writing about health issues related to gay sex. Hussein's story was scientific, not prurient, and did not encourage homosexual behavior.

 

7th December   

Update: Nutters First...

New Zealand nutters inspired by Australia's service station porn ban
Link Here

British Prude sign Family First national director Bob McCoskrie is calling on Shell and BP service stations to follow their Australian counterparts' lead and ban porn magazines from their stores.

A year and a half ago Australian petrol stations sealed adult glossies and have now gone a step further and banned them completely.

McCoskrie says it is a precedent New Zealand ought to be following.

 

6th December   

No Brotherly Love...

ASA find that church's advert was homophobic
Link Here  full story: ASA church sodomy advert...Court challenge over sodmy advert censure

Free Presbyterian logo A regional press ad, for Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, was headlined THE WORD OF GOD AGAINST SODOMY . Further text stated:

Last year in the 'gay pride parade' a banner stating "Jesus is a Fag" was carried by one of the participants. The supporter of homosexuality was able to walk through the streets of Belfast displaying this offensive placard in spite of the presence of the PSNI, representatives from the Commission and the march organisers. The act of sodomy is a grave offence to every Bible believer who, in accepting the pure message of Gods precious Word, express the mind of God by declaring it to be an abomination. (Leviticus, ch18 v22, Thou Shalt not lie down with mankind, as with womankind; it is an abomination.) This unequivocal statement clearly articulates Gods judgement upon a sin that has been only made controversial by those who are attempting to either neutralise or remove the guilt of their wrongdoing. As a result, we are now witnessing a hostile spirit being exerted against the testimony of Gods precious Word and those who adhere to its teachings. It is imperative that everyone whose faith is centred upon the authority of the divinely inspired scriptures maintain a strong and public stand for the ethical and moral standards that will ultimately exalt the nation. (Proverbs, ch14 v34, Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.)

The issue of human rights is no longer a basis for this parade, as successive governments have legislated for the lowering of the age of consent, the authorisation of civil partnerships and the inheritance rights of a nominated partner. It is a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality, which in certain incidences has provoked the unacceptable and totally unjustifiable response of violence. Such a response, however, must not intimidate the church into silence.

...

The ASA received seven complaints:

1. four complainants believed the ad's content was homophobic and, therefore, offensive and

2. six complainants believed the ad was likely to provoke hatred and violence against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the ad prominently stated Published by the Kirk Session of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church and recognised that readers would understand that the text was representative of the beliefs of a specific group and indicative of their opinion only. We considered, however, that some of the text used in relation to homosexuality, for example, ... declaring it to be an abomination ... , . .. God's judgement upon a sin ... , . .. remove the guilt of their wrongdoing ... , ... a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality ... , went further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable.

We considered that particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation, and concluded that this ad had caused serious offence to some readers.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency) but did not breach 8.1 (Matters of opinion).

The ad should not appear again in its current form.

2. Not upheld

We understood that the complainants were concerned because the ad called for an outdoor meeting to be held in protest of the act of sodomy and to voice disapproval of the Belfast Gay Pride parade on the same day as the parade was arranged; they believed this action could be read as an attempt to spread hatred and incite violence against supporters and members of the Pride movement and LBGT community.

While we appreciated the complainants' concern, we considered that the ad did not in itself incorporate language likely to incite a violent emotional response. We considered that it would be clear to readers that it represented the views of a specific group, which were not universally held, and would be deemed extreme by some. We acknowledged, therefore, that the ad conveyed an opinion that was controversial for some readers but concluded that it was unlikely to provoke hatred or violence against the LGBT community.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 8.1 (Matters of opinion) and 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) but did not find it in breach.

Nutters Consider Judicial Review

Based on article from newsletter.co.uk

Two senior lawyers have advised the church that the ASA ruling had gone too far legally and a groundswell of public support has begun behind the Rev David McIlveen of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in Belfast.

McIlveen said he had been inspired by the level of support he had since received: After Wednesday's Press conference I had missed 24 calls on my mobile and when I got home I had to spend some time going through about 50 messages of support on my answer machine.

A legal expert who specialises in both sexual orientation and freedom of speech said the ASA had got the balance wrong between the two issues, and that its ruling could be open to judicial review.

Dermot Feenan of the University of Ulster School of Law explained that rights to express religious views must be balanced with the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexuality.

He said the advertising code used by the advertising authority prohibits adverts likely to cause serious offence, but that the authority did not show how the offence caused by this advert was serious enough to warrant censorship: There was no evidential basis for its finding that the ad went further than the majority of its readers were likely to find acceptable.

 

6th December   

Update: Imagine No Intolerance...

Freethinkers file legal action against Californian town censors
Link Here  full story: Imagine No Religion...Atheist posters cause a stir

Imagine no Religion poster The national Freedom From Religion Foundation is filing a lawsuit in federal court against the City of Rancho Cucamonga, California, for taking actions which led to the censorship of its Imagine No Religion billboard.

The nation's largest national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) and a state/church watchdog, said City violated the Foundation's rights under the Establishment Clause and Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Foundation's pretty sign, which was evidently destroyed by General Outdoor Co. after its removal on Nov. 21, had a stained-glass window motif asking viewers to Imagine No Religion and advertising the Foundation's name and website, ffrf.org.

The Foundation had prepaid for the board and contracted for a two-month run beginning in mid-November. The Board had been up for less than a week when it was removed at the apparent instigation of Linda Daniels, Rancho Cucamonga Development Director.

The Defendants' actions conveyed a message that religion is favored, preferred, and promoted by the City of Rancho Cucamonga and its officials, despite subsequent attempts to cover up the Defendants' involvement in sending an objectively understood message disapproving FFRF's billboard, said the Foundation.

The Foundation is seeking reasonable compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees.

 

6th December   

Bell, Book and Candle...

Religious advertising disallowed on Irish radio
Link Here  full story: Religious Advertsing in Ireland...Advertising nonsense

RTE logo A radio advertisement that reminds listeners about the religious meaning of Christmas has been banned by Ireland's broadcasting regulatory body.

The advert by Veritas, a religious publisher and retailer owned by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, says: Cakes and crackers, Santa and stockings, turkey and tinsel, mistletoe and mince pies and presents and puddings. Christmas: aren't we forgetting something? This Christmas why not give a gift that means more?

It then suggests gift items such as candles, books and artwork that are available from the Veritas shop.

It was due to be aired on RTÉ, the state broadcaster, which plays the Angelus at midday and 6pm every day as a reminder of the call to Catholic prayer Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, called the ban bizarre: Have we really forgotten what Christmas is all about?. I sincerely hope there is room in legislation on broadcasting currently before the Oireachtas [parliament] that will see an end to bizarre interpretation of rules around religious advertising.

 

6th December   

Google Asked to Sign Death Warrants?...

Turkey asks Google to identify insulting YouTube posters
Link Here

Turkey flag A Turkish prosecutor says the United States should identify the individuals responsible for posting YouTube videos.

Ankara public prosecutor Kursat Kayral has asked U.S. officials to identify whoever posted videos on the video-sharing Web site that offered derogatory views of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Kayral said the videos not only insult Ataturk, but also Turkey and its flag. He has asked U.S. officials to hand over the identities of the responsible individuals once they are determined.

Hurriyet said if Turkey is able to ascertain the identities of those responsible, they will likely face arrest if they ever step foot on Turkish soil.

 

6th December   

From Russia With Love...

1963 BBFC cinema cuts
Link Here

From Russia With Love DVD From Russia With Love is a 1963 UK James Bond film by Terence Young (MGM)

The BBFC cut the cinema release in 1963. Some footage was later restored but most cuts persist in all prints worldwide.

  • Sexual dialogue early in the film about lovers and physical enjoyment have been removed
  • The gypsy dance has been shortened, removing in particular almost all shots of the dancer wriggling her stomach and bending right over
    backwards
  • The fight that happens soon after between the two women has been heavily cut
  • Tania walking nude towards the bed was cut for cinema release, but has since been restored for all video releases
  • The reference to searching Tania has been cut soon after
  • Bond and Tania's kissing in bed has been trimmed
  • The footage of Bond and Tania being filmed and photographed by two men through the mirror has been darkened and shortened through the introduction of an early fade to black
  • When M and other's listen to the recording of Bond questioning Tania, the line Was I as exciting as all those Western girls? has 'was' changed to 'am', as it was considered less sexually suggestive
  • On the train, Bond lowering the blind in his cabin and his quip of Two hours should straighten this out has been cut
  • When Grant reveals the roll of film to Bond, his comment of What a performance has been removed
  • The famous fight between Grant and Bond has been shortened
  • Kleb's death has been shorted, reducing the sight of her protracted suffering, and her death cries have been partially muted on the soundtrack
  • Bond's remark to Tania of What a performance has been cut at the very end of the film, resulting in a particularly bad jump-cut on the print, which affects the soundtrack particularly badly

For video and DVD releases the old cinema cut to Tania walking nude towards the bed has been restored

 

6th December   

Update: Closed Network...

Australian ISP filter tests will not involve actual customers
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stephen Conroy It has been revealed that one of the most important elements of the live ISP filtering pilot, testing the impact filtering a blacklist of 10,000 URLs has on network performance, will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers.

Here's an extract from a letter sent by Senator Conroy to an Australian Whirlpool member:

In consultations with ISPs, concerns have been raised that filtering a blacklist beyond 10 000 URLs may raise network performance issues, depending on the configuration of the filter. The pilot will therefore seek to also test network performance against a test list of 10 000 URLs.

This will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers. The list of 10 000 sites will be developed by the technical organisation assisting the Department on the pilot, which has access to lists of this size. As this test is only being performed to test the impact on network performance against a list of this size, and actual customers are not involved, the make-up of the list is not an issue.

It's certainly worth the cynical note that simulated users also do not publicly complain that their Internet performance is degraded under the system.

 

6th December   

Update: Dissent in the Ranks...

Opposition for Conroy's unwanted internet filter from his own party
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Young Labor Members of Senator Conroy's own political party have called on him to change his policy, Ban This URL has learned. We want an opt-in system, Janai Tabbernor, president of New South Wales Young Labor, told Ban This URL.

The junior political party unanimously passed a motion at last weekend's conference, calling on Senator Conroy to switch to an opt-in system instead of a clean feed, and to redirect the funds to the national broadband network.

Motion 42 read:

The Internet is a free medium for the open communication of ideas and opinions without hindrance, and thus, should not be censored.

NSW Young Labor supports individual discretion and choice with respect to the internet, rather than censoring the world wide web and its content.

The point is that we don't condemn the Minister or the government, said Tabbernor: We generally support what the government and the Minister are trying to achieve, and we agree with his objective: we want the internet to be a safe place.

The original proposal put to the electorate at the 2007 Federal Election was an opt-in system, pointed out Tabbernor.

 

6th December   

Seeing Red...

Red lights to be extinguished at Ning social networking
Link Here

Red Light District The social networking site Ning has announced that it will discontinue hosting adult-oriented networks in its Red Light District as of January 1.

Ning was designed to allow anyone to create a social network on its platform. Network creators were allowed to do their own moderating.

Ning claims the decision was informed by the practical, not the philosophical. CEO and co-founder Gina Bianchini described the move as a logical step, taking into account all the problems adult content has caused for the site, including sub-par ad revenue, an increase in illegal adult social networks, and numerous DMCA take-down notices.

We're not discontinuing the Red Light District because we no longer believe in the freedom to create your own social network for anything as long as it's legal. We do. Practically though, supporting adult networks no longer makes sense, Bianchini wrote on the Ning blog.

 

6th December   

Offsite: Too Much Porn...

Australia's Internet filtering is too ambitious and doomed to fail
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Ars Technica logo It's tough being a government these days; who has the energy to clean up the Internet after a hard day's work bailing out the financial sector? Not the Australian government, it seems. Rather than actually doing something about illegal content, they just make a list of it and tell ISPs to filter everything that's on the list. Sidestepping the murky political details and—for the moment—the civil liberties problems inherent in this approach, let's take a closer look at the technical aspects of such a plan.

...

My conclusion: this isn't going to work. There's no way to build a filter box that can filter all the URLs where porn is hosted throughout the Internet. A DNS-based filter that helps naive users avoid being confronted with explicit content would probably work to a certain degree. An IP-based filter for a small amount of very illegal content—that would be the stuff that even the spam hosters in China don't want on their servers—may also work. But anything more ambitious than that is certain to fail; either it won't work very well, or it will bankrupt the ISPs.

...Read full article

 

5th December   

Ofcon...

TV censors consult about their draft work programme
Link Here

Ofcom Draft Plan Ofcom are launching a consultation into their draft Annual Plan, which outlines the proposed work programme for the next financial year starting in April 2009.

As part of that process they're holding a series of public meetings across the UK in January.

These meetings - in Cardiff, London, Glasgow, Caernarfon and Belfast - will provide an opportunity to discuss Ofcom's approach to television, radio, telecoms and wireless communications services.
Ofcom experts

Each meeting will begin with a brief presentation, after which there will be an opportunity to comment and ask questions.

All meetings will include a panel of Ofcom experts and subjects for discussion may include the future of public service broadcasting and super-fast broadband.

Although it is free to attend each meeting, it is essential that you pre-register.

Ofcom has set out four key themes for our work in 2009/10 which are:

  • Driving forward a market-based approach to spectrum
  • Promoting competition and innovation in converging markets
  • Delivering public interest objectives as platforms and services converge
  • Empowering citizens and consumers and improving regulatory compliance.

The consultation closes on 12 February 2009 with a final Annual Plan to be published in March.

 

5th December   

Nutters First...

New Zealand nutters whinge about strong language on TV
Link Here

Family First NZ logo Nutters of Family First NZ say that family television viewing is saturated with strong language and sexual content.

A Family First investigation of 15 programmes on four free-to-air channels between 6pm and 8.30pm over a period covering November 4 - 13 found a saturation of strong language, sexual innuendo, and promotion of Adult Only programmes.

We were appalled at the constant diet of sexual content and foul language on free-to-air television during times when families should feel safe when watching programmes, says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Words featured during supposed family viewing times included bitch, fuck, ass, piss, bastard, bloody, and included expressions such as holy fuck , sex with your mother , and shove bottle up his ass

Among the worst offenders was Two And A Half Men which screens on TV2 at 7.30pm. Language included son of a bitch, damn hell, ass, and constant sexual talk including references to licking, stiffy, orgasms, and masturbation.

Also of huge concern was the number of programmes which are rated for Adult viewing only screening well after the watershed time of 8.30, yet were promoted between 6pm and 8.30pm.

Television viewing is an integral part of family life but the so-called family watershed time is being called into question. Broadcasters are normalising the use of foul language and sexual content to children and young people.

This study has revealed that the term ‘broadcasting standards' is a complete oxymoron. Parents do not want their children bombarded with foul language and sexual content – yet broadcasters are pushing the boundaries with little to no retribution, says McCoskrie.

Family First is calling for television networks to take seriously their responsibility to protect families and children from material that is offensive and disturbs or adversely influences young people's attitudes and behaviour.

They are also calling for the development and enforcing of higher standards for TV, film, radio and advertising content including levels of violence, sexual content and objectionable language, and a complete overhaul of the BSA, ASA and Censorship Board with regular changing of board members after limited terms of office to avoid desensitisation or lack of accountability.

Standards should be developed according to a family perspective, not an individual rights or freedom of expression perspective, says McCoskrie.

 

5th December   

Yeah right Bill!...

New Zealand nutters whinge about child viewing research
Link Here

New Zealand flag Nutters of the Society for Promotion of Community Standards are calling on the new government to dismiss Chief Censor, Bill Hastings and the Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), Dominic Sheehan, for their role in commissioning a market researcher, Colmar Brunton, to pay children as young as 14 [to be] subjected to footage of rape, sadism and domestic violence as part of research directed by [these] two broadcasting watchdogs .

In a newspaper report Hastings admitted that the teens had indeed viewed attempted rape and graphic violence, but that much of it went over their head as they practiced a type of self-censor.

Society President John Mills responds Yeah right Bill! and asks: So if children are so skilled at self-censorship and are so oblivious of objectionable content and so unaffected by it, then why are you paid from the public purse over $220,000 per year to censor such material and demand that no adult allow it to be screened to kids, when these same kids can self-censor effectively - so you claim?

Hastings told the Dominion Post that he believed the research on child viewing of rape etc. had proved that parents paid attention to film classifications and were trusting us [the Office of Film and Literature Classification and the BSA] to make a sound call.

Kids under 18 were shown scenes of attempted rape, graphic assaults and domestic violence in the movies Sin City (R18) and 8 Mile (R13), as well as television show Heroes . Violent scenes from episodes of R16-rated Mafia Show The Sopranos, the Adults Only TV Programme Crime Scene Investigation and the R18 Brad Pitt film Fight Club were also shown to the 14 year olds.

 

5th December   

Crem de la Phlegm...

Barmaid sacked after blogging about drunk politician
Link Here

De Crem Nathalie Lubbe Bakker was fired from her job after government officials rang the bar owner to complain about the claims relating to Pieter De Crem.

Miss Lubbe Bakker, also a Belgian, said she was shocked when she recognised the defence minister among a rowdy party of her countrymen who stumbled into the B-Café.

Writing on her Living in New York blog the next day, Miss Lubbe Bakker claimed the minister's sang bawdy songs and made persistent demands to take over the serving of drinks behind the bar. She went on to claim one of de Crem's officials told her he was in the city to attend a United Nations meeting.

Four days later, after her posting had been picked by Belgium's De Standaard newspaper, Miss Lubbe Bakker reported on her blog that she had been sacked after a defence ministry telephone call to her boss: I was astonished to learn from a well-informed source that the defence minister's spokesman had telephoned the bar's owner.

What the contents of that conversation were are unknown to me but when my next shift finished, he dismissed me on the spot without any explanation.

Now de Crem has faced questions over the barmaid affair in the Belgian parliament. While admitting a call was made to Miss Lubbe Bakker's boss, the minister insisted there was never any insinuation that she should lose her job.

De Crem went on threaten legal action against bloggers and warned Belgian MPs every one of you is a potential victim. I want to take this opportunity and use this non-event to signal a dangerous phenomenon in our society, said during a debate last Friday.

We live in a time where everybody is free to publish whatever he or she wants on blogs at will without taking any responsibility. This exceeds mud-slinging. I find that it's nearly impossible to defend yourself against this.

Belgian bloggers are up in arms over what they perceive to be a threat to free speech and a Facebook campaign has been set demanding Miss Lubbe Bakker is reinstated in her job.

Many people on Belgium's blogosphere have noted that de Crem appears to have changed his mind since he wrote on his own website that the internet helps close the gap between the citizen and the politician.

 

5th December   

Dr. No...

1962 BBFC cinema cuts persist to the present day
Link Here

Dr. No DVD Dr. No is a 1962 UK James Bond film by Terence Young

Cuts were made for the 1962 cinema release. The cuts were presumably to the negative, as was often the norm in the 60s, so cuts now persist to all prints worldwide.

  • Bond's fight with the chauffeur has been trimmed, including the removals of blows to the chauffeur when he is unable to defend himself. A knee kick in this fight was also removed.
  • The killing of Dent has been trimmed to so Bond only fires one fatal shot. Footage was removed of Bond shooting extra shots into Dent's back as he lies on the floor dying.
  • Dr. No's line I'm sure she will amuse the guards was considered too sexually suggestive, and has been redubbed instead to The guards will amuse her
  • Shortly after, Dr. No's henchmen beating up Bond as he is sat at the table has been trimmed, introducing a dissolve to the next scene much earlier to cover the removal of violent footage

 

5th December   

Offsite: Unbalanced...

Philippines court confirms ban on Joseph Estrada's biopic
Link Here

Philippines flag The Philippines Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed an order of Malacañang to prohibit the showing of former President Joseph Estrada's bioflick Ang Mabuhay Para sa Masa.

The court said the documentary film could be allowed for public viewing if it would be modified and balanced to recognize the legality of the Arroyo presidency.

The portion entitled ‘Power Grab' by its descriptive appellation, connotes illegal seizure of power purportedly by the present President, the CA said.

The CA ruled that the bioflick claiming an illegitimate government on public television is politically sensitive and runs contrary to the Supreme Court ruling that declared legal the assumption of power of President Arroyo after Estrada was ousted from office.

The CA added the film might even qualify as libelous and defamatory on insinuations of a unified action to overthrow Estrada by political and business personalities.

 

5th December   

Update: Free Porn Free Wireless Broadband...

FCC near to auctioning off spectrum with onerous restrictions
Link Here

FCC logo The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is apparently ready to vote on a proposal that could conceivably bring free nationwide wireless broadband service to U.S. consumers.

According to a report in USA Today, the FCC, at its Dec. 18 meeting, will vote on whether to auction off a portion of unused spectrum called Advanced Wireless Service-3 (AWS-3) to the highest bidder.

But there are plenty of strings attached to the auction, which is expected to be held in early 2009. For example, the FCC will reportedly require the winner of the AWS-3 auction to devote 25% of the bandwidth to free wireless nationwide broadband with a downstream speed of 768 Kbps.

Predictably, carriers and service providers aren't happy about this, even though they'll be able to use the remaining 75% to sell faster, commercial services.

Clearly, it's the 'free' part of the equation that's keeping C-level service provider executives awake at night. But another thorny issue is the FCC requirement that the winner will have to keep the free wireless service free of pornography and illegal content, a stipulation that has added complex socio-political issues to the technological issues posited by the carriers.

 

4th December   

Updated: Radio Easily Offended...

Radio 1's Chris Moyles winds up a few Poles
Link Here
Chris Moyles on Radio 1 The BBC was plunged into another bit of bother after Chris Moyles appeared to suggest Poles make good prostitutes.

It emerged that the DJ told listeners to his Radio 1 show: If you're Polish you're just very good at ironing...in my experience prostitutes make very good cleaners.

Poles living in the UK have now launched a petition demanding an apology for the offensive and nasty comments, which they claim are racist.

Receiving 32 complaints so far, the BBC defended the presenter saying his words had been misinterpreted. A BBC spokesman said: Chris was poking fun at ridiculous and unfair stereotypes, and making a nonsense of generalisations based on nationality. At no point did he say that Polish people were involved in prostitution – he separately joked that prostitutes were good at fixing cars and ironing.

Jan Mokrzycki, president of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, said: The BBC should really do something about it and make sure the man does not offend large numbers of their listeners.

Update: Apologies

6th December 2008. See article from marieclaire.co.uk

Moyles subsequently issued a statement in the wake of the remarks, attempting to placate those angered by his asides.

I didn't mean to link Polish people and prostitution in the way that has been suggested, but of course I realise that some people have taken it that way and to those people I'm sorry for the unintentional offence, said Moyles .

 

4th December   

Banner Protest...

Berlusconi to steer G8 nations into regulating the internet
Link Here
Silvio Berlusconi Italian president and media baron Silvio Berlusconi has said that he would use his country's imminent presidency of the G8 group to push for an international agreement to regulate the internet.

Italy's G8 presidency begins on January 1. The holder country is responsible for organising and hosting the G8's meetings and setting the agenda.

Berlusconi didn't explain what he meant by regulate the internet , but the mere mention of it has prompted dismay among Italian commentators. Berlusconi owns swathes of the Italian mass media.

The left-wing newspaper L'Unita wrote: You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia.

La Stampa reports Italian bloggers are planning to protest against any move by the president to tighten government control over the web tomorrow. They plan to display anti-Berlusconi banners on their websites.

Any G8 move next year to regulate the internet led by Berlusconi is likely to attract criticism. He has often been accused of using his power to try to silence dissent. He lost a long-running libel battle against The Economist earlier this year after it said he was not fit to run Italy and was this week suing American critic Andrew Stille for defamation*.

 

4th December   

Ashes Dropped...

Australian comedy about transporting dead soldier's ashes dropped
Link Here

SBS has dropped an episode of its Swift and Shift Couriers comedy after the family of Jake Kovco expressed concerns over a storyline which sees its characters delivering the ashes of a deceased Australian soldier.

The military bungled the transportation of a soldier's remains, and sent them to Cairo. After the ‘family' of the soldier bans the military from further involvement, the hapless courier company comes to the rescue in order to lift its company profile.

SBS was approached by members of Jake Kovco's family who expressed concern at some of the content in this week's episode of Swift and Shift Couriers, an SBS spokesperson told TV Tonight.

After reviewing next week's episode and in light of the impending memorial service for an Australian soldier recently killed in Afghanistan, SBS exercised sensitivity and made a decision not to broadcast the second episode of Swift and Shift Couriers scheduled for next week.

 

4th December   

Offsite: Google's Gatekeepers...

How Google and YouTube interact with the world of censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

YouTube logo Google implemented a technique that would prevent access to videos that clearly violated Turkish law, but only in Turkey.

For a time, her solution seemed to satisfy the Turkish judges, who restored YouTube access. But last June, as part of a campaign against threats to symbols of Turkish secularism, a Turkish prosecutor made a sweeping demand: that Google block access to the offending videos throughout the world, to protect the rights and sensitivities of Turks living outside the country.

Google refused, arguing that one nation's government shouldn't be able to set the limits of speech for Internet users worldwide. Unmoved, the Turkish government today continues to block access to YouTube in Turkey.

Read full article

 

3rd December   

Child Safe Viewing Act...

FCC to inquire into content blocking technology
Link Here

FCC logo President Bush has signed the Child Safe Viewing Act, requiring the Federal Communications Commission to explore the market for technologies that allow parents to censor the programming their children watch.

The new law requires the FCC to issue a notice of inquiry to examine what advanced content-blocking technologies are available for various communication devices and platforms. It also calls for the FCC to consider how to encourage the development and use of such technologies without affecting content providers' pricing or packaging.

The term advanced blocking technologies is defined in the law as technology that enables parents to protect their children from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by such parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communication.

The FCC will have to report its findings to Congress within 270 days.

 

3rd December   

YouTube Down the U Tube...

YouTube restrict suggestive material to adults and demote it in searches
Link Here  full story: YouTube Obscurity Censorship...YouTube censor suggestive videos via obscurity

YouTube logo Our goal is to help ensure that you're viewing content that's relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn't. Here are a few things we came up with:

  • Stricter standard for mature content - While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they're flagged, we're tightening the standard for what is considered sexually suggestive. Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they'll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older.
     
  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity - Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our Most Viewed, Top Favourited, and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we've found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.
     
  • Improved thumbnails - To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically.
     
  • More accurate video information - Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

 

3rd December   

Over Exaggerated and Easily Offended...

Quip during trafficking debate doesn't go down well
Link Here

Nolan Show logo BBC presenter Stephen Nolan issued a live on-air apology yesterday after asking whether the victims of human sex trafficking enjoyed their work.

The TV and radio star caused supposed outrage for his remarks made during an interview with a spokesperson from human rights group Amnesty International about the international sex trade in young girls and women.

Amnesty's Fiona Smith had been explaining to the presenter how human trafficking was big business throughout Northern Ireland and the UK in general.

However, she was taken aback when the presenter, speaking on his BBC Radio Ulster Nolan show, asked her:

Would you not say that these girls enjoy the sex? She told him that the victims of human trafficking had to endure being raped multiple times a day because they had not consented to sex and were being used as slaves.

She was speaking following a police operation in Belfast last week in which two victims of human sex trafficking were rescued.

Nolan later apologised for his remarks as it emerged that listeners had complained to the BBC about his comments.

He said: I got confused earlier in the show when I asked if these women ever enjoy their job and if they enjoy the sex. Of course they don't enjoy if if it is forced upon them and I just want to say sorry.

 

3rd December   

Fantasy Flesh...

Animated bare limbs covered for muslim gamers
Link Here

Rappelz A Dubai company has made a version of an online role playing game tailored specially for Muslims.

The firm in question is Game Power 7 and it has made a few adjustments to Gala's role-player Rappelz to make it supposedly more appealing to customers in Islamic countries.

As well as changing the background music, the noises monsters make and taking out non-Muslim religious symbols, such as crosses, Game Power 7 has given some characters a little more to wear.

We're told that female players will be properly covered up so that they're no longer showing too many flesh-coloured pixels. Arms and legs get special attention, with chainmail and long stockings pasted on.

 

3rd December   

Update: Pariah State...

European Parliament delegation compare Turkey to pariah states
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

EU flag A delegation from the European Parliament urged Turkish officials to make the necessary legal arrangements to enhance freedom of expression and eventually lift the ban on access to YouTube.

Banning YouTube, Google's blogging site, the websites of a teachers' trade union, Richard Dawkins and even a Turkish dictionary stands alongside more than 40 cases against writers and journalists even since the reform of the so-called anti-Turkishness article of the penal code, Richard Howitt, the vice president of the European Parliament's Human Rights Sub-Committee, said in a written statement on Friday.

The British Euro MP called for the ban to be overturned at a meeting with Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin in Ankara on Thursday, the statement added.

Howitt criticized the ban, saying that around 1,000 websites are blocked in Turkey and this places the country alongside some of the world's worst nations for cyber censorship. As a modern country looking forward to European Union membership, Turkey should be embracing new communications rather than putting itself in the same bracket as some of the world's pariah states, Howitt added in the statement.

 

3rd December   

Untrustworthy...

89% of Egyptians supposedly in favour of internet censorship
Link Here

Egypt flag A sampling by the Egyptian Information and Decision Support Center shows that 89% of Egyptians age 18 to 35 are in favor of an Internet censorship law.

A majority of those in the 1,338 person sampling distrust the Internet, with 72% seeing it as a bad influence, and 71% finding it dangerous for children. Internet relationships and friendships are also seen as untrustworthy, and 43% have found it negatively impacting family ties.

 

2nd December   

Jack Flap...

Captain Jack exposes himself on the radio
Link Here

Torchwood actor John Barrowman exposed himself during a live radio/webcam broadcast at 8.15pm on Sunday.

Although the programme was on Radio 1, pictures were also relayed to online listeners via a webcam.

And while Barrowman's genitalia were not actually shown, the crude comments which accompanied the incident made it clear what had happened.

The actor, who plays Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood , was appearing on The Switch , presented by Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac.

He was wearing a helmet after being pushed around the studio in a wheelbarrow. Grimshaw said: You're famous, we're told, for getting your willy out in interviews. Is this going to happen today? Should Annie be careful?

Barrowman asked: Is the webcam on? When told it was, he declared: All right, I'll get it out for you then, no problem. The webcam had been swiftly covered up but listeners heard Annie Mac screaming: Oh my God! as the other two were heard laughing.

Barrowman was heard seconds later saying: I didn't take the whole thing out, but I got my fruit and nuts out. He also exclaimed: I can't believe I've just done that.

A BBC spokesman yesterday admitted that the show had overstepped the mark , adding: We acknowledge this and apologised at the end of the live programme. Barrowman issued his own apology for any offence his behaviour had caused and promised it would never happen again.

 

2nd December   

Flapping Around...

TV Football shows naked player in the changing room
Link Here

Histon FC ITV has apologised to viewers after a Histon footballer was shown naked during FA cup coverage. Cameras were allowed inside the football team's dressing room following their victory over Leeds United in the second round.

During the third round draw a camera shot of the changing room revealed one man nude, reports The Sun.

I couldn't believe it, said one viewer. When Histon's name was pulled out of the hat they went live to see the players' reaction to the third round draw. One was stood there with absolutely nothing on - it was hilarious. Not at all what you expect to see on telly on a Sunday afternoon.

The broadcaster also said sorry after strong language from fans was overheard during the match. We apologise to viewers for this incident which was out of our control, said a spokesperson.

 

2nd December   

Update: Porno Flap...

Whinges about adverts for Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Link Here  full story: Zack and Miri Make a Porno...Supporting hype for Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno poster An advert featuring the word 'porno' has been criticised after it appeared on Edinburgh's buses.

Nutters whinged at adverts for the film Zack and Miri Make a Porno for exposing young children to the word "porno". And they were further enraged when their complaint to the local authority was blocked by a firewall – because of the word "porno".

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – which has received 149 complaints over the issue – ruled the posters are acceptable as neither they, nor the film, promote pornography.

Andrea Becquemont, an Edinburgh parent, said she was shocked to see the word emblazoned across Lothian buses. She described the ASA's decision as outrageous. It is an offensive word because it relates to pornography and the sex trade. I'm disgusted they would find it acceptable for children to see that word on a bus which could travel past schools and nurseries.

She e-mailed a complaint regarding the adverts to City of Edinburgh Council, as the major shareholder of Lothian Buses, but it bounced back: If it is acceptable, why won't the council accept an e-mail which contains the word porno, and why is it bleeped out on the radio during the day? Children shouldn't be asking their mum or dad what does porno mean? It's too much.

Iain Coupar, the Lothian Buses marketing director, said: We received one e-mail complaint, which we shared with our advertising agency CBS Outdoor, who are responsible for commercial advertising on our buses. He said the company believed the advert conformed to the British Code of Advertising, and stressed that it had been approved by the ASA and the Committee of Advertising Practice (Cap).

He added: We regret that the advert may have caused some concern. However, we can confirm that all the adverts have now been removed from our buses.

A spokesman for CBS Outdoor said it had consulted Cap on the advert before sanctioning its use across the UK. He said: Cap judged the advert would conform to ASA guidance, which has proved to be the case.

A spokeswoman for ASA said 149 complaints had been received about the posters for the 18-certificate film. She said: It was considered that whilst the word porno and its connotations might be distasteful to some people, the actual film and advert itself contained nothing explicit and that it was not promoting pornography.

A spokesman for Edinburgh council suggested use of an asterisk in e-mails when complaining about an offensive word would get them through the council's firewall. He added: Words like casino, porno and Viagra are blocked by most office e-mail firewalls to stop spam clogging up employee inboxes.

 

2nd December   

Update: Ratings Theft...

Claims of an uncut PC version of GTA IV in Australia
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game This week will see the Australian launch of Grand Theft Auto IV for PC, and in a statement, Rockstar confirmed to GameSpot AU that unlike the console versions currently on sale, the Australian PC retail release of GTA IV will be sold completely uncensored.

Grand Theft Auto IV PC has been rated MA15+ strong violence, sex scenes, coarse language, and drug references by the Australian Classification Office. The PC game is unedited in any way and identical in content to the international version, a local Rockstar rep said.

Update: Confirmed

28th December 2008. Based on article from refused-classification.com

Rockstar obviously came to the conclusion that they had over reacted because when it came time to get the PC version rated they submitted the uncut game. This was rated MA15+ (Strong violence, sex scenes, coarse language and drug references) on November 8th.

 

2nd December   

Update: Fear of Censors...

Australia censor explains ban on F.E.A.R. 2 game
Link Here  full story: Fear 2...Another game banned by the Australian censors

Fear 2 Australia's Classification Board has explained why it banned the upcoming horror-shooter F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.

Games On Net says the censor deemed the violent content high in impact and unsuitable for a minor to play, citing as examples a nail gun that can be used to pin bad guys to walls, after which they will fall to the ground in a bloody mass, and a sniper rifle that will tear bodies apart at close range.

[The protagonist] uses his sub machine gun to explicitly bisect an enemy, the two parts of the body lying separately on the ground, with copious blood spray, the board noted in one specific example of in-game action it used to back up its decision. There are also a number of explicit close range decapitations involving both human and mutant creatures. The decapitations are the result of close-up throat slashing from behind and close-up gunshots to the throat. The copious blood spray covers walls, objects and even the game's camera lens, while partially-dismembered corpses and severed heads also feature prominently.

The ratings board also blamed the game's enhanced graphics and realistic behavior of human and mutant foes for the decision, which it said heightened the impact of the violence to the point where it cannot be accommodated at the MA15+ classification.

 

2nd December   

Comment: The Great Brain Robbery...

Government plan to ban criminal memoirs is moronic
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Ronnie Biggs book In addition to banning free drinks for women, and big glasses in pubs, the government has made it known that Wednesday's Queen's Speech contains notice of legislation to prevent criminals profiting from their crimes by writing memoirs. Sounds well and good. Lot of cobblers, though.

This is not to say that I'm in favour of criminals making money from their memoirs. There is a moral or ethical problem here, clearly. On the one hand, it is bordering on the absurd to imagine that the prospect of a book deal will incentivise people to commit crimes: if you're doing the sort of crime that would really command a big advance – a kill-hack-and-eat job, say – you're unlikely to be the sort of person for whom the book deal is the big thing.

On the other hand, nevertheless, it's not nice to think of vicious killers ending up on the chat-show circuit. Try the thought experiment. Harold Shipman: I Did It My Way. Dahmer: The Cookbook. Manson: My Family And Other Animals. You think: disgusting, yuk, why in any civilised society would these beasts be heard from again?

You think: O J Simpson (obviously, he didn't do it, but profiting from the titillating speculation that he might have done it is unattractive, no?); you think "Mad" Frankie Fraser; you think Ronnie Biggs. No need for books from them, you think.

Then you think: Jeffrey Archer, Nick Leeson, Howard Marks, Jonathan Aitken. You say: "hmmm." Then again, you think: conscientious objectors, metric martyrs, foxhunting men, repentant members of the Weather Underground or former Islamists like Ed Husain. You say: "hmmmm" with even more "m"s. And then again, you think, Jean Genet. You think William Burroughs. Perhaps if you have that cast of mind, you think Aung San Suu Kyi or Nelson Mandela.

You think... well, you end up thinking that this is a law – or a provision in law – designed to sound good and serious, but whose implementation is so impossible, whose ambition so fuzzy, as to be no more than a calculatedly fatuous electoral gesture.

 

1st December   

Dangerous Anime...

US obscenity case about possession of comic books
Link Here

Look through your comic book collection. Do you have Alan Moore's Lost Girls ? Any of S. Clay Wilson's Underground Comix ? Even Neil Gaiman's Sandman series? If the prosecution of manga collector Christopher Handley sticks, all of that and more could be considered obscene, Gaiman told MTV.

I wrote a story about a serial killer who kidnaps and rapes children, and then murders them, Gaiman said, referring to a storyline in The Doll's House . We did that as a comic, not for the purposes of titillation or anything like that, but if you bought that comic, you could be arrested for it? That's just deeply wrong. Nobody was hurt. The only thing that was hurt were ideas.

Gaiman's currently supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's fight to defend Handley, who was arrested in Iowa for possession of obscene material based on his private collection, which included lolicon and yaoi manga. Lolicon focuses on the Lolita complex, where yaoi features male homosexual romance for a primarily female audience.

There is explicit sex in yaoi comics, Handley's lawyer Eric Chase told MTV. And the men are drawn in a very androgynous style, which has the effect of making them look really young. There's a real taboo in Japan about showing pubic hair, so they're all drawn without it, which also makes them look young. So what concerned the authorities were the depictions of children in explicit sexual situations that they believed to be obscene. But there are no actual children. It was all very crude images from a comic book.

Despite the argument that there was no actual children portrayed in the manga, Handley faces felony obsenity charges, including the receipt and possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. The case is going to trial on December 2. The jury will determine whether the manga is obscene or if it has artistic value. If found guilty of the charges against him, Handley faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.

 

1st December   

Living in Spiritual Disneyland...

Nutter cleric whinges that Disney corrupts kids
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Christopher Jamison A leading Catholic cleric has launched an attack on Disney, claiming it has corrupted children and encouraged greed.

Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, has accused the corporation of exploiting spirituality to sell its products and of turning Disneyland into a modern day pilgrimage site.

He argues that it pretends to provide stories with a moral message, but has actually helped to create a more materialistic culture.

In a guide to helping people find happiness, the abbot, who starred in the hit-BBC series The Monastery , warns that society is in danger of losing its soul because of growing consumerism and the decline of religion.

He suggests that many people have become obsessed with work, sex and eating in an attempt to ignore their underlying unhappiness, and criticises corporations and industries that have benefited from promoting false notions of fulfilment.

Jamison, who has been tipped as a contender to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor as the next Archbishop of Westminster, targets the behaviour of Disney in particular, which he says is a classic example of how consumerism is being sold as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality.

While he acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages showing good triumphing over evil, he argues this is part of a ploy to persuade people that they should buy Disney products in order to be a good and happy family.

He cites films such as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians that feature moral battles, but get into children's imaginations and make them greedy for the merchandise that goes with them.

The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt is that our children's world needs Disney. So they absolutely must go to see the next Disney movie, which we'll also want to give them on DVD as a birthday present. They will be happier if they live the full Disney experience; and thousands of families around the world buy into this deeper message as they flock to Disneyland.

Where once morality and meaning were available as part of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell them to us as products."

 

1st December   

Hard Graft...

Irish politicians given a cushy number of censoring films
Link Here

Irish Film Censors Office logo Ten politically appointed censors were each paid an average of €30,000 a year for watching films.

The Assistant Classifiers earned a total of €1.2m in pay and expenses over the last four years for travelling to Dublin to watch movies and deciding whether or not they should be banned, or for what age group they are suitable.

Assistant film classifiers earn €182 a day plus travel and subsistence for their work of classifying videos, said the Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan.

Of the 10, many of whom have no apparent qualifications in the area of film, a number have been Assistant Classifiers for 15 years.

Among them is former Fianna Fail Dail candidate Olga Bennett, the Fianna Fail Meath activist Tony Stapleton, former Kildare Fianna Fail county councillor PJ Sheridan and the former Fianna Fail TD Marian McGennis. Former Fianna Fail senator Tom Fitzgerald, who was a close associate of Charles Haughey, has been in the job for the last six years. A more recently appointee is Green activist Elizabeth Davidson.

In this new age of quango busting, where departments were supposed to look forensically through their books, it was amazing this convenient retirement home, where ex Fianna Fail politicians and one Green activist get paid to spend the day watching films, had escaped unscathed, said Flanagan: The minister should give this particular perk an X-rating and abolish it.

 

1st December   

Update: Save the Children, Scrap the Filter...

Even Australian children's charities aren't keen on the state internet filter
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Save the Children Support for the Government's plan to censor the Australian internet has hit rock bottom, with even some children's welfare groups now saying that that the mandatory filters are ineffective and a waste of money.

Live trials of the filters, which will block illegal content for all Australian internet users and inappropriate adult content on an opt-in basis, are slated to begin by Christmas, despite harsh opposition from the Greens, Opposition, the internet industry, consumers and online rights groups.

Holly Doel-Mackaway, adviser with Save the Children, the largest independent children's rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users.

She said the filter scheme was fundamentally flawed because it failed to tackle the problem at the source and would inadvertently block legitimate resources.

Furthermore there was no evidence to suggest that children were stumbling across child pornography when browsing the web. Doel-Mackaway believes the millions of dollars earmarked to implement the filters would be far better spent on teaching children how to use the internet safely and on law enforcement.

The constant change of cyberspace means that a filter is going to be able to be circumvented and it's going to throw up false positives - many innocent websites, maybe even our own, will be blacklisted because we reference a lot of our work that we do with children in fighting commercial sexual exploitation, she said.

James McDougall, director of the National Children's and Youth Law Centre, expressed similar views to Save the Children.

He said the mandatory filters simply would not work and children should be able to make decisions for themselves. Concerned parents could easily install PC-based filters on their computers if they desired, or ask their internet providers to switch on voluntary filtering: I take issue with the minister's perspective that children are themselves the danger in a sense that we have to make this decision for them because they are not capable of making it for themselves - I think there's very little evidence to support that and plenty of evidence to show that children are responsible decision makers given the skills and information.

Other childrens' welfare organisations, such as Child Wise and Bravehearts, continue to support the filters, saying the flaws are acceptable as long as they help block some child pornography.

 

1st December   

Censors Damned...

Old cuts to Amsterdamned
Link Here

Amsterdamned Amsterdamned is a 1988 Dutch action film by Dick Maas (Locus Video)

The 1989 cinema release and the video of 1989 were similarly cut by 6/7s

Thanks to Bleach:

  • At 52 mins -When knife protrudes through rubber dinghy on which woman is sunbathing, zoom in to close up of knife between woman's parted legs, pantied crotch to camera, was removed.