Melon Farmers Original Version

Censor Watch


2020: August

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Censorship Ideology...

Best selling economics book won't be sold in China after the author refused to implement censor cuts


Link Here31st August 2020
A best selling economics book by the French economist Thomas Piketty appears unlikely to be sold in mainland China after he refused requests to censor it.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has expressed admiration for Piketty's work, but Capital and Ideology , which was published last year, has not made it to the mainland China market due to sections on inequality in the country.

Piketty told the Guardian the Chinese publisher Citic Press had sent his French publisher a list of 10 pages of requested cuts in June from the French edition of the book, and a further list in August related to the English edition. He said:

I refused these conditions and told them that I would only accept a translation with no cut of any sort. They basically wanted to cut almost all parts referring to contemporary China, and in particular to inequality and opacity in China.

The passages highlighted by the Chinese publishers as requiring censorship  include one referring to the post-communism societies of regions including China becoming hypercapitalism's staunchest allies, as a direct consequence of the disasters of Stalinism and Maoism. Other sections reference the opacity of Chinese income and wealth data, capital flight and corruption.

 

 

Newspaper censors...

The Daily Mail reports that the UK government intends to include newspaper websites in its proposed internet censorship regime


Link Here30th August 2020
Up until now, the UK government has always indicated that newspaper websites would not be caught up in the new internet censorship regime proposed in the Government's Online Harms white paper.

However it now seems that the government has backtracked lest every websites claims to be a news service.

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has written to Culture Minister John Whittingdale over the proposed laws, after Home Office lawyers claimed that granting a publishers exemption' would create loopholes. One source close to the ministerial arguments over the proposed laws said:

Government lawyers are arguing that the publishers exemption would allow just anyone to claim it, so for instance you would have The Isis Times being able to distribute beheading videos.

The Tory MP Julian Knight told Whittingdale that Ministers in both DCMS and the Home Office should resolve the impasse by allowing an exemption for authenticated and reliable news sources.

The Government has yet to respond, amid concerns that any action may be delayed by wrangling over legislation to stop harmful online material and fears that antagonising powerful American-owned online platforms might jeopardise post-Brexit trade talks with the US.

 

 

MP introduces bill to ban touched up celebrity photos...

As if a natural photo of the 'beautiful people' won't put most people to shame


Link Here 30th August 2020
 Luke EVans being touched up to look good in a photo 
Conservative MP Luke Evans has drawn up a Private Members Bill which would mean celebrities would have to label images which have been digitally altered to change how they look.

Evans, a member of the Health and Social Care Committee and a GP, claimed that edited photos on social media were fuelling a mental health crisis as it was creating a warped view of beauty. Celebrities such as Lauren Goodger and Khloe Kardashian have been criticised for doctoring their photos on Instagram.

 

 

Offsite Article: Scotland's hate crime bill would stifle free speech...


Link Here28th August 2020
Full story: Scotland stifles free speech...Hate Crime & Public Order (Scot) Bill Hate Crime & Public Order (Scot) Bill
The law could criminalise people making jokes or discussing religion and would do more harm than good. By Index on Censorship

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Offsite Article: Is France turning its back on blasphemy?...


Link Here28th August 2020
Full story: Free Speech in France...'Liberte' lost in ,modern times
France's deep-rooted tradition of unapologetically poking fun at men and gods alike may be in peril

See article from france24.com

 

 

Updated: A new chapter in book censorship...

Kuwait ends pre-publication book vetting by censors


Link Here26th August 2020
The Kuwait News Agency reports that the country's parliament approved an amendment to publishing censorship laws on August 19 that removes the need for regulatory approval for books before they enter the Kuwaiti market.

With the amendment now in place, book importers and international publishers just have to provide book titles and author lists to the Ministry of Information, with the understanding that they bear legal responsibility if a book's subject matter contravenes Kuwaiti law.

Legal action against a particular book will now only be triggered by an official complaint from the public. Furthermore, a book ban can only be given by the courts, as opposed to the Ministry of Information.

The move has been hailed by Kuwaiti writers, and international and regional literary bodies.

Update: 5000 censored books

26th August 2020. See article from indianexpress.com

And just to emphasise the significance of the change, the Guardian reports that the Kuwait book censors had banned 5000 books in the 7 years prior to this change. These banned books included One Hundred Years of Solitude and Hunchback of Notre Dame .

 

 

Offsite Article: Opium War III...


Link Here26th August 2020
Full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series
Tiananmen Square clip has to be removed from Call of Duty trailer for new episode in the video game series

See article from pcgamer.com

 

 

Cutting Edge Season Six...

The latest season of the video series which details notable censor cuts is starting soon... and we're taking requests


Link Here25th August 2020

Gavin Salkeld's excellent video series, that details censor cuts from around the world, is set to start its 6th season.

And this time round we are taking requests. So if there's a movie out there that you would like covered, get on over to the cuttingedgeseries Facebook Page to join the debate.

The series runs on YouTube, so ironically modern media censorship rules may restrict the scope for choice in highlighting the censorship of traditional media.

And if you have forgotten what films we've already covered, here's a reminder:

 

 

Countdown to offence...

Jamaican officials complain about a clip for an upcoming Countdown skit on the BBC comedy programme Famalam


Link Here24th August 2020
A Jamaican minister is set to make a formal complaint over a BBC Three sketch from the show Famalam , which she has described as outrageous and offensive. Kamina Johnson Smith, Jamaica's minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, tweeted:

This is outrageous and offensive to the incredible country which I am proud to represent along with every Jamaican at home and within our diaspora... I will immediately be writing formally on this! #StopThisShow

Ramocan told HuffPost UK:

It is unbelievable that the, BBC an institution with an international reputation for trustworthy broadcasting, could find itself in the gutter of promoting such harmful and destructive pornographic material that can only serve to damage the morals and values we seek to encourage in our young people.

This broadcast which serves to tarnish and insult the image of Brand Jamaica must be immediately pulled from the BBC programme. I call on all well-thinking listeners and viewers to join us in this call.

Nathaniel Peat, Global Jamaica Diaspora Council lead for the south UK and chairman of Jamaicans Inspired said:

The program is over sexualised, regressive, discriminatory, derogatory and has stereotypical racist tropes especially at a time when Black Lives matter has highlighted the need for a more balanced and better portrayal of black people in the media.

It is deeply upsetting that the national broadcaster has chosen to promote this highly explicit content on a public forum such as twitter that has exposure to youth as young as 14, what type of image does this set in their minds when there already is a lack of positive black role models that are seen in the British media.

The clip has also been slammed by high commissioner of Jamaica to the United Kingdom Seth George Ramocan, who claimed it serves to tarnish and insult the image of Brand Jamaica.

A preview of the segment titled Jamaican Countdown , a parody of the long-running game show Countdown , includes jokey language used towards the female character selecting numbers and letters. Part of the sketch also shows the silhouette of a man, referencing the stereotype of black men having large penises.

The programme is made with a cast of black British actors, and presumably the programme makers too.

The BBC posted the following response on its website:

Famalam is a well-established, award-nominated BBC Three sketch comedy show that is now in its third series. It stars some of the UK's best comedy talent and explores aspects of contemporary life from a black perspective.

Like many sketch comedy shows Famalam finds humour in a wide range of scenarios and regular viewers who are familiar with the tone of the show will know that it has a reputation for challenging stereotypes and confronting social issues. We can assure you that the intention of this sketch isn't to diminish Jamaican people or Jamaican culture, and nor is there any intention to cause offence.

 

 

Commented: Miserable UK film and TV directors call for an end to sex scenes...

Trade association reminisces about the Hays Code.


Link Here 24th August 2020
Directors UK, the trade association for screen directors in Britain, suggested some miserable alternatives to avoid sex scenes with physical interaction while social distancing is required, in an update to its Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex guidelines.

The guidelines suggest that characters could be shown fixing their own clothes/re-dressing after the event or limbs could be depicted moving under bedclothes, while another option is to show the closing of a bedroom door and leave the action to the viewer's imagination.

Directors are encouraged to find inspiration by revisiting classic films such as It Happened One Night or Casablanca , which were made under the Hays Code that was introduced in the 1930s and prohibited the depiction of sex on screen in Hollywood.

Bill Anderson, who has directed episodes of Doctor Who and was part of the team who has worked on the guidelines. He said that directors and writers would have to come up with different ways to show intimacy, and he encouraged programme makers to question whether a sex scene is absolutely necessary.

For productions that require sex scenes, alternative ideas from the guidelines include motion capture and digital performances, green screen or animation to composite the required encounter and another suggested option is casting real life couples who won't need to socially distance.

 

Update: No Sex Please, We're British Filmmakers

We've said it before, and we'll probably say it again, but there is little doubt that moralisers and neo-puritans are rubbing their hands together at the possibilities that Covid-19 has presented them.

24th August 2020. See article from reprobatepress.com

 

 

Opinions that are anything but universal...

Complaints about the removal of gay relationships from TV showings of the children's cartoon Steven Universe


Link Here23rd August 2020
The children's cartoon series Steven Universe has sparked controversy in the UK. The Cartoon Network affiliate censored a scene from a chapter of the series in which a dance with romantic overtones was seen between the characters of Pearl and Rose Quartz, two women.

The LGTB news website PinkNews denounced the tweak in the broadcast of the ninth episode of the second season of the series, which has had numerous fans among children and adults since its premiere in 2013.

The difference between the original chapter and the version issued in the United Kingdom has gone viral on social networks, where fans of the series have shared videos comparing the two sequences: There is an online petition calling for the end to the censorship of gay relationships in children's TV shows.

Cartoon Network UK has issued a statement in which they attribute the change to the age rating system:

We have to make sure that everything that is broadcast is appropriate for children of any age, regardless of their time slot. We think the lightly edited version is more comfortable for both children and their parents.

 

 

A brilliant wheeze...

Pedant campaigners claim that the English language phrasing about being hit by an idea references domestic abuse


Link Here23rd August 2020
Sainsbury's is removing a mug from sale that features the words: The germ of a brilliant idea hit her, after PC campaigners ludicrously claimed that phrase was a call to domestic abuse.

The  mug is decorated with a quote from Roald Dahl's 1988 book Matilda . The full quote reads:

When at last the germ of a brilliant idea hit her, she began to expand on it and lay her plans with the same kind of care the Duke of Wellington had done before the Battle of Waterloo.

The design's emphasis on the words 'brilliant idea' leaves the 'hit her' part of the phrase hanging, and allows for a different interpretation of the two words.

Pictures of the mug circulated on social media and it became the target of the PC lynch mob. Ruth Mason from the campaign group Women's Aid criticised the mug and called on Sainsbury's to pull it from supermarket shelves:

We were dismayed to see the Sainsbury's design with the slogan

This slogan can be read two ways --  and that is the problem. It can be read as the author Roald Dahl wrote in Matilda: 'When at last the germ of a brilliant idea hit her'. However, it can also be read as a trivialisation of the violence that women experience in their own homes.

Perhaps it would be a 'brilliant idea' to change the design and donate to domestic abuse charities instead.

A spokesman for Sainsbury's apologised and confirmed that it is removing the mug from sale said:

We are apologising to customers for any upset this may have caused and working with the Roald Dahl team to remove the mug from sale while the design is reviewed

Offsite Comment: Policing language, controlling thought?

We must resist the attempts to manipulate the meaning of the words we use.

See article from spiked-online.com by Andrew Doyle

 

 

Toxic culture...

Former culture secretary Jeremy Wright sets up parliamentary group to campaign for internet censorship


Link Here22nd August 2020
Former culture secretary Jeremy Wright is setting up a parliamentary group (All party parliamentary group, APPG) to campaign for internet censorship

Wright, who drew up the Government's white paper proposing strict sanctions on tech platforms who fail to protect users under a duty of care is particularly calling for censorship powers to block, ban, fine or restrict apps and websites considered undesirable by the proposed internet censor, Ofcom. Wright said:

There needs to be a lot more clubs in the bag for the regulator than just fines, he said. I do think we need to consider criminal liability for individual (tech company) directors where it can be demonstrated.

He also felt the regulator should have powers of ISP blocking, which effectively bar an app from the UK, in cases of companies repeatedly and egregiously refusing to comply with censorship rules.  He said:

I do accept the chances of WhatsApp being turned off are remote. Although frankly, there may be circumstances where that may be the right thing to do and we shouldn't take it off the table.

Wright is founding the APPG alongside crossbench peer and children's digital rights campaigner Beeban Kidron, and the group has already attracted supporters, including three other former culture secretaries: Baroness Nicky Morgan, Karen Bradley and Maria Miller, as well as former Health and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

 

 

Non-aggression pact...

Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents' aggressive behaviour


Link Here22nd August 2020

Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents' aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report

By Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein

Abstract

In this study, we investigated the extent to which adolescents who spend time playing violent video games exhibit higher levels of aggressive behaviour when compared with those who do not. A large sample of British adolescent participants (n = 1004) aged 14 and 15 years and an equal number of their carers were interviewed.

Young people provided reports of their recent gaming experiences. Further, the violent contents of these games were coded using official EU and US ratings, and carers provided evaluations of their adolescents' aggressive behaviours in the past month.

Following a preregistered analysis plan, multiple regression analyses tested the hypothesis that recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behaviour.

Results did not support this prediction, nor did they support the idea that the relationship between these factors follows a nonlinear parabolic function. There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour. Sensitivity and exploratory analyses indicated these null effects extended across multiple operationalizations of violent game engagement and when the focus was on another behavioural outcome, namely, prosocial behaviour.

The discussion presents an interpretation of this pattern of effects in terms of both the ongoing scientific and policy debates around violent video games, and emerging standards for robust evidence-based policy concerning young people's technology use.

 

 

Commented: Expelling hot air from their arses...

HBO Max prefixes the movie Blazing Saddles with a 3 minute morality sermon


Link Here22nd August 2020
Blazing Saddles is currently streaming on HBO Max, along with a preaching introduction that automatically plays before the Mel Brooks classic begins.

An HBO Max spokesprat told The Hollywood Reporter:

The intro was added to ensure that the film was put into the proper social context,

TCM host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart provides the intro to Blazing Saddles. She says:

As the storyline implies the issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles. And racist language and attitudes pervade the film. But those attitudes are espoused by characters who are portrayed here as explicitly small-minded, ignorant bigots. The real, and much more enlightened perspective, is provided by the main characters played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.

Offsite comment: Don't even think about cancelling Blazing Saddles

22nd August 2020. See article from spiked-online.com by Brendan O'Neill

HBO Max has put a trigger warning on the Mel Brooks classic. The philistine buffoons.

 

 

Cuties...

Netflix apologises for a movie poster highlighting the dangers of sexualisation of youngsters


Link Here21st August 2020
Full story: Netflix Censorship...Streaming TV to a variety of censorship regimes
Cuties (Mignonnes) is a 2020 France comedy drama by Maïmouna Doucouré.
Starring Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni and Esther Gohourou. IMDb

Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named "the cuties" at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity - upsetting her mother and her values in the process.

Netflix has removed a promotional image which showed girls posing in skimpy outfits in a new film called Cuties. The poster for the French drama, along with a trailer, were received from a little online 'outrage' and a petition calling for Netflix to drop it. A petition claiming it sexualizes an 11-year-old for the viewing pleasure of paedophiles attracted 25,000 signatures.

The film itself is not a Netflix production, just a film that was set to be shown on the service. The award-winning drama follows an 11-year-old who joins a dance group. Its maker says it is meant to tackle the issue of sexualisation of young girls.

Netflix has now said it was deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork. Netflix told BBC News:

This was not an accurate representation of the film so the image and description has been updated.

The company later tweeted:

We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We've now updated the pictures and description.

But director Maimouna Doucoure has explained that the story aims to highlight how social media pushes girls to mimic sexualised imagery without fully understanding what lies behind it or the dangers involved.

 

 

Is it censorship to take down a censorship covering...

Colorado 'artist' claims that covering up a Union Civil War statue was an 'artwork'


Link Here21st August 2020
Boulder County, Colorado officials have taken down a black covering that had been draped over a statue depicting a Union Civil War soldier as claiming to be part of an art installation.

Morey Bean claimed his art's intention was to bring to light the injustices inflicted on Native Americans, while showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Bean said he had applied for permit for his work and was not willing to remove the cover anytime soon. Bean commented:

I think it's institutional censorship, Bean said. It's a comfortable lie that they just don't want to have told. I think everybody, to a great degree, wants to get back to business as usual and that means no controversy. That means sticking with the history we are comfortable with.

Michelle Krezek, the chief of staff for the Boulder County Commissioners' Office, said the installation was removed based on the fact that the use of county property use permit Bean obtained was only for one day. The county is storing the covering for him, until he communicates what he would like done with it.

 

 

Offsite Article: Now companies are banning MAGA hats...


Link Here21st August 2020
A Goodyear tyre plant has forbidden staff from political expression at work -- unless of course it's pro-BLM or pro-LGBT.

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Proving the conspiracy...

Facebook bans 790 users connected to QAnon who believe that there are state level organisations conspiring to silence them


Link Here20th August 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
Facebook writes:

An Update to How We Address Movements and Organizations Tied to Violence

Today we are taking action against Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts tied to offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon. We already remove content calling for or advocating violence and we ban organizations and individuals that proclaim a violent mission. However, we have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior. So today we are expanding our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy to address organizations and movements that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety but do not meet the rigorous criteria to be designated as a dangerous organization and banned from having any presence on our platform. While we will allow people to post content that supports these movements and groups, so long as they do not otherwise violate our content policies, we will restrict their ability to organize on our platform.

Under this policy expansion, we will impose restrictions to limit the spread of content from Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts. We will also remove Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts where we identify discussions of potential violence, including when they use veiled language and symbols particular to the movement to do so.

We will take the following actions -- some effective immediately, and others coming soon:

  • Remove From Facebook : Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with these movements and organizations will be removed when they discuss potential violence. We will continue studying specific terminology and symbolism used by supporters to identify the language used by these groups and movements indicating violence and take action accordingly.

  • Limit Recommendations : Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with these movements that are not removed will not be eligible to be recommended to people when we suggest Groups you may want to join or Pages and Instagram accounts you may want to follow.

  • Reduce Ranking in News Feed : In the near future, content from these Pages and Groups and will also be ranked lower in News Feed, meaning people who already follow these Pages and are members of these Groups will be less likely to see this content in their News Feed.

  • Reduce in Search : Hashtags and titles of Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts restricted on our platform related to these movements and organizations will be limited in Search: they will not be suggested through our Search Typeahead function and will be ranked lower in Search results.

  • Reviewing Related Hashtags on Instagram: We have temporarily removed the Related Hashtags feature on Instagram, which allows people to find hashtags similar to those they are interacting with. We are working on stronger protections for people using this feature and will continue to evaluate how best to re-introduce it.

  • Prohibit Use of Ads, Commerce Surfaces and Monetization Tools : Facebook Pages related to these movements will be prohibited from running ads or selling products using Marketplace and Shop. In the near future, we'll extend this to prohibit anyone from running ads praising, supporting or representing these movements.

  • Prohibit Fundraising : We will prohibit nonprofits we identify as representing or seeking to support these movements, organizations and groups from using our fundraising tools. We will also prohibit personal fundraisers praising, supporting or representing these organizations and movements.

As a result of some of the actions we've already taken, we've removed over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon from Facebook, blocked over 300 hashtags across Facebook and Instagram, and additionally imposed restrictions on over 1,950 Groups and 440 Pages on Facebook and over 10,000 accounts on Instagram. These numbers reflect differences in how Facebook and Instagram are used, with fewer Groups on Facebook with higher membership rates and a greater number of Instagram accounts with fewer followers comparably. Those Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts that have been restricted are still subject to removal as our team continues to review their content against our updated policy, as will others we identify subsequently. For militia organizations and those encouraging riots, including some who may identify as Antifa, we've initially removed over 980 groups, 520 Pages and 160 ads from Facebook. We've also restricted over 1,400 hashtags related to these groups and organizations on Instagram.

Today's update focuses on our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy but we will continue to review content and accounts against all of our content policies in an effort to keep people safe. We will remove content from these movements that violate any of our policies, including those against fake accounts, harassment, hate speech and/or inciting violence. Misinformation that does not put people at risk of imminent violence or physical harm but is rated false by third-party fact-checkers will be reduced in News Feed so fewer people see it. And any non-state actor or group that qualifies as a dangerous individual or organization will be banned from our platform. Our teams will also study trends in attempts to skirt our enforcement so we can adapt. These movements and groups evolve quickly, and our teams will follow them closely and consult with outside experts so we can continue to enforce our policies against them.

 

 

Getting to the children...

Hong Kong school text books are downgraded from liberal studies to 'patriotic' studies


Link Here20th August 2020
Hong Kong publishers have been told to remove content that is sensitive to China from secondary school textbooks.

Discussions on civil disobedience, photos of certain protest slogans and even the names of some political parties have been excised from books used to teach critical thinking to the city's teenagers.

Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed government claimed the edits were required with a view to sieving out the inaccurate parts from the past.

Education has been a particular target of Beijing's ire, with liberal studies, a secondary school class that teaches critical thinking, winding up pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong who have called for more openly patriotic education.

 

 

Daytime TV grows up...

Sky Atlantic and Sky Comedy start showing adult content during the daytime but with PIN protection


Link Here19th August 2020
Back in November 2018 Ofcom issued a statement changing the watershed rules for mainstream TV channels from January 2019.

At the time the existing rules allowed 15-rated films to be broadcast during the daytime on subscription film channels and up to 18-rated films on pay per view film channels, provided a mandatory PIN is in place.

The 2019 rule change extended this flexibility to all mainstream channels, at least those that had a system allowing for mandatory PIN protection.

And until recently, no TV channels took advantage of this new flexibility. Now it seems that Sky is taking the plunge on its Sky Atlantic channel:

  • THE WIRE is showing at Noon, in daily double-bills
  • THE SOPRANOS is showing in daily double-bills at 4:35pm
  • GAME OF THRONES is showing at 7:45pm.
The EPG warns of each show containing strong language/mature content.

Thanks to Jon who confirmed that the shows were completely uncensored, including the use of racially offensive language and all the f-words (and all the variations of it). He noted that indeed the shows have PIN protection for both the broadcast and the recording of it.

Sky Comedy (EPG 113) is also doing the same thing, showing adult shows during daytime hours, but PIN coded to stop underage viewers seeing the shows. VEEP, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, and SEX AND THE CITY, are being broadcast at 9am, 10:10am and 11:20am respectively.

 

 

Implementing internet censorship under the EU Copyright Directive...

The EFF comments on Germany's proposed implementation and notes that the proposal shows creativity but does not go far enough


Link Here 19th August 2020

The implementation of Art 17 (formerly Article 13) into national laws will have a profound effect on what users can say and share online. The controversial rule, part of the EU's copyright directive approved last year, has the potential to turn tech companies and online services operators into copyright police. It is now up to national Member States to implement the directive and to ensure that user rights and freedom of speech is giving priority over notoriously inaccurate filtering and harmful monitoring of user content.

The initial forays into transposition were catastrophic . Both France and the Netherlands have failed to present a balanced copyright implementation proposal. Now, the Germany government presented launched a public consultation on a draft bill to implement the EU copyright directive. The draft takes a step in the right direction. Options for users to pre-flag uploads as authorized and exceptions for every day uses are a clear added value from a user perspective. However, in its current shape, the draft fails to adequately protect user rights and freedom of expression. It seems inevitable that service providers will use content recognition technologies to monitor all user uploads and privacy rights are not considered at all.

We have therefore recently submitted comments to the German government with recommendations of how to improve the current version. Our message is clear: have the interest of users and freedom of speech in mind rather than solidifying the dominance of big tech platforms that already exist.

 

 

The Trouble with Being Born...

Is that you have to put with censors like those from the Melbourne International Film Festival


Link Here18th August 2020
The Trouble with Being Born is a 2020 Austria / Germany Sci-Fi drama by Sandra Wollner.
Starring Ingrid Burkhard, Susanne Gschwendtner and Jana McKinnon. IMDb

Elli is an android programmed with memories that mean everything to her owner but nothing to her. The story of a machine and the ghosts we all carry within us.

Film critic and anti-censorship campaigner David Stratton has attacked the Melbourne International Film Festival for its 'craven response' in dropping the movie The Trouble with Being Born, that features an adult man in an implied sexual relationship with a young android girl.

The movie was dropped from this year's online-only program after 'concerns' were raised by two forensic psychologists. Dr Karen Owen, a former manager of Corrections Victoria's Sex Offender Programs, last month said she was so disturbed by the film she ceased watching it and deleted the link, adding that because the festival was an online event this year, without question [the film] would be used as a source of arousal for men interested in child abuse material.

In announcing the decision to censor the film on July 30, the festival's artistic director Al Cossar said the safety and wellbeing of the MIFF community and the broader Australian public is the festival's paramount concern. While the Australian Classification Board had cleared the film to screen in this year's festival, we have decided to remove the film, he said.

Tom Ryan, former film critic for The Sunday Age , was similarly scathing, writing a day earlier on the same forum that the festival was guilty of meekly acquiescing in the face of a potential controversy. Ryan said:

A film that was selected by [artistic director Al Cossar's] team, approved by the programming committee, and passed by the Australian censor was then withdrawn because of what two psychologists who either hadn't seen the film or had only seen part of it had to say about it.

 

 

Tenet...

The latest cinema film suffering category cuts for its 12A rated UK cinema release


Link Here17th August 2020

Tenet is a 2020 UK / USA action Sci-Fi thriller by Christopher Nolan.
Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki. BBFC link IMDb

Armed with only one word -- Tenet -- and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

The film has been cut in the UK for a 12A rated cinema release. The BBFC passed the film 12A for moderate violence, threat, domestic abuse, infrequent strong language after BBFC advised pre-cuts.

The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice. The company was advised it was likely to be classified 15 uncut but that their preferred 12A classification could be obtained by making small changes to one scene to remove shots of a man kicking a woman. When the film was submitted for formal classification, the shots in question had been removed and the film was classified 12A.
This comment refers to the scene where Elizabeth Debicki's character is on the floor and Kenneth Branagh's kicks her in the body several times.

In the US the film was MPA PG-13 rated for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language. Presumably the US release is uncut, but as the film is a UK/US co-production it is remotely possible that the cuts have been made to a common version.

 

 

Symbolic gestures...

Rajan Zed gets offended by Trishul Beer


Link Here17th August 2020
Full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
The perennial hindu whinger Rajan Zed is urging  Prairie Krafts Brewing Company from Illinois to apologize and rename/withdraw its Trishul Pale Ale; claiming it to be highly inappropriate.

Zed said that inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu symbols or concepts or deities or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Zed indicated that Trishul was an emblem of Lord Shiva and one of the principal divine symbols in Hinduism; and its three prongs denoted the powers of creation, preservation, destruction; and represented three gunas (fundamental principles of universe).

Breweries should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of divine Hindu symbol to be displayed on a beer can, Zed claimed.

 

 

History denial...

BBC censors an historically important and factual use of the word 'nigger' that explains the motivation behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln


Link Here16th August 2020
A short history lesson:

John Wilkes Booth's hatred of Lincoln grew as the Confederacy's cause collapsed. On April 11, 1865, he heard Abraham Lincoln address a crowd outside the White House. Lincoln advocated extending the vote to educated African Americans and all black veterans. Booth turned to his companion Lewis Powell and exclaimed, That means nigger citizenship. That is the last speech he will ever make.

On April 14, 1865, the Lincolns and their two guests, Clara Harris and Maj. Henry Rathbone, arrived late to Ford's Theatre for a production of Our American Cousin. As the president entered the theater, the crowd wildly cheered and the orchestra played Hail to the Chief. Lincoln set his silk hat on the floor, and the actors resumed where they had left off.

At about 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box, pointed a derringer pistol at the back of the president's head and fired. Booth then pulled out a knife, slashed Rathbone, and jumped onto the stage, declaring Sic semper tyrannis -- Thus always to tyrants, the Virginia state motto. Despite breaking his leg as he hit the stage, Booth escaped backstage and onto a waiting horse.

And this rather important slice of history was factually retold in a BBC history programme, American History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley , BBC Two, 1 August 2020:

And of course the BBC received complaints about the factually important explainer of the motivation behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The BBC reported that it had received 158 complaints and responded:

The BBC posted the following response on its website (without explaining what the complaints were about):

Firstly we understand and we are sorry for any distress caused to any of our audience by language included in the programme. We recognise it is an offensive term and one that is rarely included in our output. We assess all content we broadcast on a case by case basis taking into consideration a range of factors including the programme and the context.

This film was the second episode of a history series originally shown on BBC FOUR last year and it explored the American Civil War, featuring contributions from a number of African American scholars. This episode included a John Wilkes Booth quote uttered in reaction to President Abraham Lincoln's 1865 speech in which Lincoln declared that people, regardless of colour, should have equal rights to vote. The language used in Wilkes Booth's statement was included to indicate the strength of his views and his attitude towards African Americans -- racist views shared by many at that period in America's history. A continuity announcement at the start of the programme flagged to viewers the nature of the content; this was reinforced by the presenter who alerted the audience before reading from the Wilkes Booth statement.

We have listened to audience concerns and have re-edited the programme on BBC iPlayer. If we were making this programme today we would not have included the word.

The BBC Director-General has issued the following statement which, whilst primarily about a recent BBC News report, also states that the BBC will be strengthening guidance on offensive language across our output.

 

 

Extract: Cancel culture is mercy's antithesis...

Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. By Nick Cave


Link Here16th August 2020
Nick Cave, a notable maverick musician, has spoken of cancel culture.

As far as I can see, cancel culture is mercy's antithesis. Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) -- moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption. It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck.

See full article from theredhandfiles.com

 

 

Fortnite battle arena...

Fortnite takes on the internet villains, Apple and Google


Link Here16th August 2020
Apple and Google  impose extortionate fees of 30% just for listing games and apps in the app stores. And what's more they demand the same cut for any in-game purchases made by players throughout the life of the game.

Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, tried to evade the extortionate fees on the in-game purchases by allowing gamers to purchase directly from Epic rather than via Apple/Google.

Google and Apple responded by banning Fortnite from their stores.

And now Fortnite is challenging Apple and Google in court and produced an excellent short video likening the internet giants to 1984's Big Brother.

Read the full story in a very good explainer from theverge.com

 

 

War on info...

Twitter is discouraging links to Alex Jones' banned.video


Link Here15th August 2020
Full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
Twitter has started blocking links to Infowars founder and host Alex Jones' Banned.video platform which serves as a hub for broadcasts and clips from right leaning media outlets.

When users open a Twitter link to Banned.video , they're presented with a warning screen that says:

Warning: this link may be unsafe.

The link you are trying to access has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially spammy or unsafe, in accordance with Twitter's URL Policy, and lists several reasons the link could have been blocked.

It then presents users with a large Back to previous page button and in a small section at the bottom of the page, it gives users the option to Ignore this warning and continue.

Banned.video was launched in July 2019 after Infowars had been banned from all of the major Big Tech platforms including YouTube -- the world's biggest video sharing site and the second most visited site in the world.

Twitter has also banned Bill Mitchell, a conservative pundit and radio host with a large Twitter following. Twitter confirmed it permanently banned the pro-Trump internet personality after his widely-followed account, @mitchellvii, abruptly vanished.

 

 

Offsite Article: The 60 billion dollar question...


Link Here14th August 2020
Twitter is considering options to embrace or censor adult content

See article from technadu.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism...


Link Here14th August 2020
How social media companies coordinate the rapid take downs of terrorist videos

See article from slate.com

 

 

I Spit on Your Grave...

The original 1978 video nasty has just been cut again by the BBFC for 2020 UK DVD and Blu-ray release


Link Here13th August 2020

I Spit on Your Grave is a 1978 USA horror thriller by Meir Zarchi.
Starring Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor and Richard Pace. YouTube iconBBFC link IMDb

The film was banned as one of the most notable video nasties in 1983. It was unbanned after massive 7m:02s of BBFC cuts for 2001 and 2006 DVD. These cuts were reduced to 2m:54s in 2010, and to 1m:41s for 2020 Blu-ray. Cut in the US for an R rating but MPAA Unrated releases are uncut.

See further details at Melon Farmers Film Cuts: I Spit On Your Grave

Summary Notes

The film follows Jennifer, a writer who is working on a new novel and needs to get out of the city to finish it. She rents a riverside cabin in upstate New York to work on her novel, attracting the attention of a number of rowdy male locals. They catch Jennifer one day and strip her naked for the village idiot (Matthew) and rape her. Jennifer is later attacked and raped a further two times by the four degenerates, and her novel is also destroyed. But Jennifer recovers, and in her now-twisted, psychotic state, she begins to seek revenge on the men.

BBFC cut
cut
cut: 1:41s
run: 99:33s
pal: 95:34s
sub: 101:14s
18UK: Passed 18 for sexual violence, sadistic violence, nudity after 1:41s of compulsory BBFC cuts:
  • 2020 Kaleidoscope Special Edition RB Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 5th October 2020
  • 2020 Kaleidoscope Special Edition R2 DVD at UK Amazon released on 5th October 2020
  • 2020 Kaleidoscope I Spit On Your Grave Complete Collection (RB) Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 5th October 2020
  • 2020 Kaleidoscope I Spit On Your Grave Complete Collection R2 DVD at UK Amazon released on 5th October 2020
The BBFC commented:
  • Company was required to make cuts to scenes of sexual violence in order to remove potentially harmful material. Cuts were made in accordance with BBFC Guidelines, policy and the Video Recordings Act 1984.

 

 

Offsite Article: Popular Children's Books Purged as 'Inappropriate'...


Link Here13th August 2020
Across China, bestsellers are being removed from shelves as part of the campaign against wrong think children's books

See article from bitterwinter.org

 

 

Offsite Article: China would be proud...


Link Here13th August 2020
Schengen visit visas to get more difficult as the EU steps up the invasive surveillance of travellers

See article from privacyinternational.org

 

 

Won't somebody think of the children!...

The ICO publishes its impossible to comply with, and business suffocating, Age Appropriate Design Code with a 12 month implementation period until 2nd September 2021


Link Here12th August 2020
Full story: ICO Age Appropriate Design...ICO calls for age assurance for websites accessed by children
The ICO issued the code on 12 August 2020 and it will come into force on 2 September 2020 with a 12 month transition period.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham writes:

Data sits at the heart of the digital services children use every day. From the moment a young person opens an app, plays a game or loads a website, data begins to be gathered. Who's using the service? How are they using it? How frequently? Where from? On what device?

That information may then inform techniques used to persuade young people to spend more time using services, to shape the content they are encouraged to engage with, and to tailor the advertisements they see.

For all the benefits the digital economy can offer children, we are not currently creating a safe space for them to learn, explore and play.

This statutory code of practice looks to change that, not by seeking to protect children from the digital world, but by protecting them within it.

This code is necessary.

This code will lead to changes that will help empower both adults and children.

One in five UK internet users are children, but they are using an internet that was not designed for them. In our own research conducted to inform the direction of the code, we heard children describing data practices as nosy, rude and a bit freaky.

Our recent national survey into people's biggest data protection concerns ranked children's privacy second only to cyber security. This mirrors similar sentiments in research by Ofcom and the London School of Economics.

This code will lead to changes in practices that other countries are considering too.

It is rooted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that recognises the special safeguards children need in all aspects of their life. Data protection law at the European level reflects this and provides its own additional safeguards for children.

The code is the first of its kind, but it reflects the global direction of travel with similar reform being considered in the USA, Europe and globally by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This code will lead to changes that UK Parliament wants.

Parliament and government ensured UK data protection laws will truly transform the way we look after children online by requiring my office to introduce this statutory code of practice.

The code delivers on that mandate and requires information society services to put the best interests of the child first when they are designing and developing apps, games, connected toys and websites that are likely to be accessed by them.

This code is achievable.

The code is not a new law but it sets standards and explains how the General Data Protection Regulation applies in the context of children using digital services. It follows a thorough consultation process that included speaking with parents, children, schools, children's campaign groups, developers, tech and gaming companies and online service providers.

Such conversations helped shape our code into effective, proportionate and achievable provisions.

Organisations should conform to the code and demonstrate that their services use children's data fairly and in compliance with data protection law.

The code is a set of 15 flexible standards 203 they do not ban or specifically prescribe 203 that provides built-in protection to allow children to explore, learn and play online by ensuring that the best interests of the child are the primary consideration when designing and developing online services.

Settings must be high privacy by default (unless there's a compelling reason not to); only the minimum amount of personal data should be collected and retained; children's data should not usually be shared; geolocation services should be switched off by default. Nudge techniques should not be used to encourage children to provide unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy settings. The code also addresses issues of parental control and profiling.

This code will make a difference.

Developers and those in the digital sector must act. We have allowed the maximum transition period of 12 months and will continue working with the industry.

We want coders, UX designers and system engineers to engage with these standards in their day-to-day to work and we're setting up a package of support to help.

But the next step must be a period of action and preparation. I believe companies will want to conform with the standards because they will want to demonstrate their commitment to always acting in the best interests of the child. Those companies that do not make the required changes risk regulatory action.

What's more, they risk being left behind by those organisations that are keen to conform.

A generation from now, I believe we will look back and find it peculiar that online services weren't always designed with children in mind.

When my grandchildren are grown and have children of their own, the need to keep children safer online will be as second nature as the need to ensure they eat healthily, get a good education or buckle up in the back of a car.

And while our code will never replace parental control and guidance, it will help people have greater confidence that their children can safely learn, explore and play online.

There is no doubt that change is needed. The code is an important and significant part of that change.

 

 

The technology of censorship...

Facebook outlines its technology now used to censor user posts


Link Here12th August 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
Facebook described its technology improvements used for the censorship of Facebook posts:

The biggest change has been the role of technology in content moderation. As our Community Standards Enforcement Report shows, our technology to detect violating content is improving and playing a larger role in content review. Our technology helps us in three main areas:

  • Proactive Detection: Artificial intelligence (AI) has improved to the point that it can detect violations across a wide variety of areas without relying on users to report content to Facebook, often with greater accuracy than reports from users. This helps us detect harmful content and prevent it from being seen by hundreds or thousands of people.

  • Automation: AI has also helped scale the work of our content reviewers. Our AI systems automate decisions for certain areas where content is highly likely to be violating. This helps scale content decisions without sacrificing accuracy so that our reviewers can focus on decisions where more expertise is needed to understand the context and nuances of a particular situation. Automation also makes it easier to take action on identical reports, so our teams don't have to spend time reviewing the same things multiple times. These systems have become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic with a largely remote content review workforce.

  • Prioritization: Instead of simply looking at reported content in chronological order, our AI prioritizes the most critical content to be reviewed, whether it was reported to us or detected by our proactive systems. This ranking system prioritizes the content that is most harmful to users based on multiple factors such as virality, severity of harm and likelihood of violation . In an instance where our systems are near-certain that content is breaking our rules, it may remove it. Where there is less certainty it will prioritize the content for teams to review.

Together, these three aspects of technology have transformed our content review process and greatly improved our ability to moderate content at scale. However, there are still areas where it's critical for people to review. For example, discerning if someone is the target of bullying can be extremely nuanced and contextual. In addition, AI relies on a large amount of training data from reviews done by our teams in order to identify meaningful patterns of behavior and find potentially violating content.

That's why our content review system needs both people and technology to be successful. Our teams focus on cases where it's essential to have people review and we leverage technology to help us scale our efforts in areas where it can be most effective.

 

 

Dangerous drawings...

Australian book censors ban manga from the No Game, No Life series


Link Here12th August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in Australia...Australian books banned by censors
the Australian Censorship Board has banned 2 books from the No Game, No Life series of novels to the surprise of readers.

The national censor board has made it illegal to import or sell volumes one, two, and nine of No Game, No Life. This is because the novels were said to violate a classification clause concerning the depiction of minors. The censors explained:

The publication is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Publications Table, 1. (b) as publications that describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).

Australia's decision to come down on No Game, No Life came after several politicians called for the classification board to re-examine manga and light novels.

 

 

The right to critique ideas, philosophical, religious and other must be protected...

An open letter from Rowan Atkinson and others criticises Scotland's disgraceful censorship bill


Link Here 11th August 2020
Full story: Scotland stifles free speech...Hate Crime & Public Order (Scot) Bill Hate Crime & Public Order (Scot) Bill
A joint open letter from over 20 individuals and organisations highlights their concerns over the impact on artistic expression and free expression of the draft Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.

The letter co-ordinated by Humanist Society Scotland has support from authors Val McDermid, Chirs Brookmyre and Alan Bissett alongside arts administrators Dame Seona Reid and the artistic director of Dundee Rep, Andrew Paton. They join Cartoonists Rights International and academics such as Prof AC Grayling and Prof Timothy Garden Ash alongside many others.

The letter reads:

We represent a diverse group of individuals and organisations concerned about the impact on freedom of expression of the proposed Hate Crime and Public Order Bill as currently drafted.

We welcome the provisions to consolidate existing aggravated hate crimes and the repeal of the blasphemy law.

However, the Bill creates stirring up offences without any intent being examined; merely that the words, action, or artwork might do so. This offence could even be applied to being in possession of materials produced by someone else, where sharing the material could stir up hatred.

The unintended consequences of this well meaning Bill risk stifling freedom of expression, and the ability to articulate or criticise religious and other beliefs.

As currently worded, the Bill could frustrate rational debate and discussion which has a fundamental role in society including in artistic endeavour. The arts play a key part in shaping Scotland's identity in addition to being a significant economic contributor.

The right to critique ideas, philosophical, religious and other must be protected to allow an artistic and democratic society to flourish.

Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive, Humanist Society Scotland
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, Humanists UK
Scottish PEN
Index on Censorship
Chris Brookmyre, Novelist
Val McDermid, Writer
Elaine C Smith, Actor and Comedian
Dame Seona Reid, Arts Administrator
Alan Bissett, Playwright and Novelist
Ruth Wishart, Journalist and Broadcaster
Andrew Panton, Artistic Director Dundee Rep / Joint CEO Dundee Rep & Scottish Dance Theatre Ltd
Prof. Maggie Kinloch, Theatre Director & Chair Humanist Society Scotland
Ariane Sherine, Comedian and Journalist
Joan Smith, Journalist, novelist, and human rights activist
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Rowan Atkinson, Comedian
Prof. A C Grayling, Philosopher and Author
Prof. Timothy Garton Ash, Historian and author of Free Speech
Nick Ross, Television and Radio Presenter
Terry Anderson, Executive Director, Cartoonists Rights Network International
Gary McLelland, Chief Executive, Humanists International
Michael Connarty, Former MP and former Chair of Parliamentary Humanist Group
Dr Evan Harris, Former MP and former Vice-Chair of Parliamentary Humanist Group
Quilliam Foundation

 

 

Wrong type of belief...

Nigerian musician is given a death sentence for a song that praises a cult leader


Link Here10th August 2020
A musician in Nigeria's northern state of Kano has been sentenced to death by hanging for supposedly blaspheming against the religious character Muhammad.

A Sharia court claimed that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March.

The singer who is currently in detention, had gone into hiding after he composed the song. Protestors had burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding action against him.

The song was controversial as it praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood which appears to be a cult with beliefs that disagree with more orthodox islam.

The leader of the protesters that called for the musician's arrest in March, Idris Ibrahim, told the BBC that the judgement will serve as a warning to others contemplating toeing Yahaya's path.

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is able to appeal against the sentence.

 

 

Uncensored news...

Russia fines Google for not following local censorship orders


Link Here10th August 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
A Russian court has fined Google 1.5 million roubles ($20,350) for not blocking content ordered to be censored by the Russian government.

 

 

 

Offsite Article: US companies are as bad as Huawei...


Link Here10th August 2020
A U.S. government contractor embedded tracking software in the apps of millions of smartphone users

See article from androidcentral.com

 

 

These protocols must be effective then...

Chinese national firewall blocks https when used with TLS 1.3 and Encrypted SNI.


Link Here9th August 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
The Chinese government has deployed an update to its national firewall, to block encrypted HTTPS connections that are being set up using the latest internet standards for encryption.

The ban has been in place since the end of July, according to a joint report published this week by three organizations tracking Chinese censorship -- iYouPort , the University of Maryland , and the Great Firewall Report.

In particular China is now blocking HTTPS+TLS1.3+ESNI.

TLS 1.3 is the latest encryption standard that can be used to implement https. Server Name Indication is used to specify which website is required when several websites are hosted using the same I address. By default it is unencrypted letting ISPs and snoopers know which website is being accessed even when using https. ESNI (Encrypted Server Name Indication) closes this loophole.

Other HTTPS traffic is still allowed through the Great Firewall, if it uses older versions of the same protocols -- such as TLS 1.1 or 1.2, or SNI (Server Name Indication). This rather suggests that these old encryption standards are now compromised.

Per the findings of the joint report, the Chinese government is currently dropping all HTTPS traffic where TLS 1.3 and ESNI are used, and temporarily banning the IP addresses involved in the connection, for small intervals of time that can vary between two and three minutes.

Note also that this news about Chinese censorship probably informs us about snooping capabilities in the UK. Presumably GCHQ and UK ISPs would be similarly blinded by HTTPS+TLS1.3+ESNI, whilst still being able to block and snoop on older standards.

 

 

Updated: You can't say that!...

BBC News responds to complaints about the factual use of the word 'nigger' whilst reporting what was said during a crime


Link Here9th August 2020
The BBC has issued a statement after a news reporter used the word 'nigger' when relaying how the word word used in a racially motivated crime.

Social Affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin was fronting a segment about a black NHS worker who was hit by a car in a suspected racially aggravated assault, when she said the word whilst recalling racist language shouted at the victim by the attackers.

Viewers of the BBC report took to Twitter to criticise the reporter's use of the word, with one user writing : A white reporter just said the N word on BBC News...am I hearing this correctly? Another wrote about how they were absolutely flabbergasted at the news reporter's choice of language, adding: Have they apologised for this disgusting behaviour?

The BBC is also receiving complaints about the broadcast. Ofcom reported that it had received 280 complaints about the issue.

In a statement about the broadcast, the BBC wrote on its website:

Clearly we would never want our reporting to become the focus of such an important story. We have listened to what people have had to say about the use of the word and we accept that this has caused offence but we would like people to understand why we took the decision we did.

This story was an important piece of journalism about a shocking incident. It was originally reported by some as a hit and run, but investigations indicated that racist language was used at the scene and it was then treated by the police as a racially aggravated attack.

The victim's family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public. It's for this reason they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man's injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken by the occupants of the car.

Notwithstanding the family's wishes, we independently considered whether the use of the word was editorially justified given the context. The word is used on air rarely, and in this case, as with all cases, the decision to use it in full was made by a team of people including a number of senior editorial figures.

You are, of course, right that the word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use. The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence. But, in this specific context we felt the need to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used - a position which, as we have said, was supported by the family and the victim.

These are difficult judgements but the context is very important in this particular case.

We believe we gave adequate warnings that upsetting images and language would be used and we will continue to pursue this story.

Update: 18,600 complaints

6th August 2020. See article from bbc.co.uk

The BBC has received more than 18,600 complaints about the factual use of the word 'nigger' in a TV news report.

Broadcast regulator Ofcom said it received 384 complaints about the same report.

In its fortnightly bulletin, the BBC said it had received 18,656 complaints about the incident by Sunday 2 August. That makes it the second-most complained about incident since the BBC began using its current system in 2017. Only Newsnight's biased opening monologue about Dominic Cummings in May received more, with 23,674.

Update: The left eats itself and so the BBC has to offer grovelling apology

9th August 2020. See article from bbc.co.uk

BBC director general Tony Hall has apologised and said a mistake was made after a news report containing a factual use of the word 'nigger' was broadcast last month.

The BBC initially defended the use of the slur after more than 18,600 complaints were made.

Hall said he now accepts the BBC should have taken a different approach. In an email, sent to all BBC staff, Hall said:

I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.

In his message, Hall emphasised it was the BBC's intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. He said:

This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so. Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.

The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that. We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output.

Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here.

Update: 508 complaints

23rd August 2020. See report [pdf] from bbc.co.uk

The BBC later noted that it had actually received 508 complaints.

Update: 18000 complaints

15th October 2020

In a formal complaints bulletin the BBC noted that it received 18656 complaints about the programme.

Update: Ofcom has its say

22nd March 2021. See report [pdf] from ofcom.org.uk

We consider that the use, in full, of highly racially offensive language during three pre-recorded news reports was unjustified in this context. However, given the action already taken by the BBC, we concluded that the programme did not raise any further issues warranting investigation by Ofcom.

 

 

Offsite Article: Who's classifying books and publications?...


Link Here9th August 2020
High Impact Classification does a survey of international book censors

See article from highimpactclassification.wordpress.com

 

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring...

The latest BBFC uprating is from PG to 12A for a cinema release of the extended version


Link Here8th August 2020

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 New Zealand / USA fantasy adventure by Peter Jackson.
Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom. BBFC link IMDb

Exists as a Theatrical Version and an Extended Version. Both versions were BBFC PG rated until the 2020 cinema release of the extended version which was 12A rated.

The two sequels have always been 12/12A rated for both the theatrical and extended versions.

Summary Notes

A meek hobbit of the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron.

BBFC uncut
227:00s
12AUK: The Extended Version was passed 12A uncut for moderate fantasy violence, threat:
  • 2020 cinema release

 

 

Offsite Article: Prince Harry calls for more censorship...


Link Here8th August 2020
'Social media is dividing us. Together, we can redesign it'

See article from fastcompany.com

 

 

State lawyers bully Facebook...

20 US state attorney's call on Facebook to censor more


Link Here7th August 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
US Attorneys General from 20 different states have sent a letter urging Facebook to do a better job at censoring content. They wrote:

We, the undersigned State Attorneys General, write to request that you take additional steps to prevent Facebook from being used to spread disinformation and hate and to facilitate discrimination. We also ask that you take more steps to provide redress for users who fall victim to intimidation and harassment, including violence and digital abuse.

...

As part of our responsibilities to our communities, Attorneys General have helped residents navigate Facebook's processes for victims to address abuse on its platform. While Facebook has--on occasion--taken action to address violations of its terms of service in cases where we have helped elevate our constituents' concerns, we know that everyday users of Facebook can find the process slow, frustrating, and ineffective. Thus, we write to highlight positive steps that Facebook can take to strengthen its policies and practices.

The letter was written by the Attorneys General of New Jersey, Illinois, and District of Columbia, and addressed to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. It was cos-signed by 17 other democrat AGs from states such as New York, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.

The letter proceeds to highlight seven steps they think Facebook should take to better police content to avoid online abuse. They recommended things such as aggressive enforcement of hate speech policies, third-party enforcement and auditing of hate speech, and real-time assistance for users to report harassment.

 

 

BBC get turned on...

Looking back at a BBC ban on the Beatles' A Day in the Life


Link Here7th August 2020
The Beatles song A Day In The Life , taken from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, was banned by the BBC following its release in 1967.

This particular period of time arrived during The group's well-documented LSD period. The band received a letter from BBC director of sound broadcasting Frank Gillard on May 23rd, 1967, detailing his reasoning for banning the song which opened with the line:

I never thought the day would come when we would have to put a ban on an EMI record , but sadly, this is what has happened over this track.

We have listened to it over and over again with great care, and we cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the words 'I'd love to turn you on,' followed by that mounting montage of sound, could have a rather sinister meaning.

The recording may have been made in innocence and good faith. But we must take account of the interpretation that many young people would inevitably put upon it. Turned on is a phrase which can be used in many different circumstances, but it is currently much in vogue in the jargon of the drug addicts.

 

 

Hungary tires of social media interference in free speech...

Hungarian data censor proposes a law requiring that social media companies justify why they ban people


Link Here 5th August 2020
Hungary's Data Protection Chief has proposed new legislation which would enable social media platforms to ban people from their services only with a compelling reason, while also granting the right to Hungarian authorities to review the decisions.

The head of the Hungarian Data Protection Authority (NAIH), requested a regulation on social media at a meeting of the Digital Freedom Working Group, according to which community profiles can only be suspended for compelling reasons. Also, according to Attila Péterfalvi, Hungarian authorities should have the right to review these decisions.

The justice ministry's digital freedom committee aimed at improving the transparency of tech firms has penned a letter to the regional director of Facebook asking whether the company's supervisory board complied with the requirements of political neutrality and transparency in its procedures, Justice Minister Judit Varga said:

Péterfalvi said:

I made the suggestion of establishing a Hungarian authority procedure in which the Hungarian authorities would oblige Facebook to review unjustified suspensions so that freedom of expression would remain free indeed.

 

 

Playing the repression game...

China commences requiring real name ID verification for all online gaming


Link Here4th August 2020
The Chinese government has begun rolling out its real-name identification system for video games nationwide, while also removing over 15,000 unlicensed games from the Chinese App store.

The law includes the extension of an existing social media real-name requirement, where everybody has to provide a form of valid identity information. Both Tencent and NetEase reportedly begun using their own verification systems.

The authentication system aims to be rolled out in September.

Chinese developers were further compounded by 15,000 unlicensed games being removed from the Chinese App Store since July 1st, in preparation of an August 1st deadline. This was due to those games lacking permission from the Chinese National Press and Publication Administration.

One of the drivers behind the latest moves is that in-game messaging and voice systems in more obscure have enabled people to evade the country's repressive censorship stranglehold on communications.

 

 

Trials of Portnoy's Complaint...

When Penguin Australia fought for literature and liberty


Link Here3rd August 2020

One grey morning in October 1970, in a crowded, tizzy-pink courtroom on the corner of Melbourne's Russell and La Trobe Streets, crown prosecutor Leonard Flanagan began denouncing a novel in terms that were strident and ringing.

When taken as a whole, it is lewd, he declared. As to a large part of it, it is absolutely disgusting both in the sexual and other sense; and the content of the book as a whole offends against the ordinary standards of the average person in the community today -- the ordinary, average person's standard of decency. Scribe

The object of Flanagan's ire that day was the Penguin Books Australia edition of Portnoy's Complaint . Frank, funny, and profane, Philip Roth's novel -- about a young man torn between the duties of his Jewish heritage and the autonomy of his sexual desires -- had been a sensation the world over when it was published in February 1969.

Greeted with sweeping critical acclaim, it was advertised as the funniest novel ever written about sex and called the autobiography of America in the Village Voice. In the United States, it sold more than 400,000 copies in hardcover in a single year -- more, even, than Mario Puzo's The Godfather -- and in the United Kingdom it was published to equal fervour and acclaim.

But in Australia, Portnoy's Complaint had been banned.

Politicians, bureaucrats, police, and judges had for years worked to keep Australia free of the moral contamination of impure literature. Under a system of censorship that pre-dated federation, works that might damage the morals of the Australian public were banned, seized, and burned. Bookstores were raided. Publishers were policed and fined. Writers had been charged, fined and even jailed.

Seminal novels and political tracts from overseas had been kept out of the country. Where objectionable works emerged from Australian writers, they were rooted out like weeds. Under the censorship system, Boccacio's Decameron had been banned. Nabokov's Lolita had been banned. Joyce's Ulysses had been banned. Even James Bond had been banned.

There had been opposition to this censorship for years, though it had become especially notable in the past decade. Criticism of the bans on J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Norman Lindsay's Redheap had prompted an almost complete revision of the banned list in 1958.

The repeated prosecutions of the Oz magazine team in 1963 and 1964 had attracted enormous attention and controversy.

Outcry over the bans on Mary McCarthy's The Group and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover had been loud and pronounced, and three intrepid Sydney activists had exposed the federal government to ridicule when they published a domestic edition of The Trial of Lady Chatterley , an edited transcript of the failed court proceedings against Penguin Books UK for the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover in Britain in 1960.

Penguin Books Australia had been prompted to join the fight against censorship by the three idealistic and ambitious men at its helm: managing director John Michie, finance director Peter Froelich, and editor John Hooker.

In five years, the three men had overhauled the publisher, improving its distribution machinery and logistics and reinvigorating its publishing list. They believed Penguin could shape Australian life and culture by publishing interesting and vibrant books by Australian authors.

They wanted Penguin's books to engage with the political and cultural shifts that the country was undergoing, to expose old canards, question the orthodox, and pose alternatives.

Censorship was no small topic in all this. Those at Penguin saw censorship as an inhibition on these ambitions. We'd had issues with it before, in minor ways, Peter Froelich recalled, and we'd have drinks we'd say, 'It's wrong! How can we fix it? What can we do? How do we bring it to people's attention, so that it can be changed?'

The answer emerged when they heard of the ban placed on Portnoy's Complaint. Justifiably famous, a bestseller the world over, of well-discussed literary merit, it stood out immediately as a work with which to challenge the censorship system, just as its British parent company had a decade earlier.

Why not obtain the rights to an Australian edition, print it in secret, and publish it in one fell swoop? As Hooker -- who had the idea -- put it to Michie, Jack, we ought to really publish Portnoy's Complaint and give them one in the eye.

The risks were considerable. There was sure to be a backlash from police and politicians. Criminal charges against Penguin and its three leaders were almost certain. Financial losses thanks to seized stock and fines would be considerable. The legal fees incurred in fighting charges would be enormous. Booksellers who stocked the book would also be put on trial. But Penguin was determined.

John Michie was resolute. John offered to smash the whole thing down, Hooker said, later. When he was told what was about to happen, federal minister for customs Don Chipp swore that Michie would pay: I'll see you in jail for this. But Michie was not to be dissuaded. 'People who took exception to it at the time are mostly dead,' Roth said, some 40 years and 30 books after Portnoy's Complaint was published. A stampede

In July 1970, Penguin arranged to have three copies of Portnoy smuggled into Australia. In considerable secrecy, they used them to print 75,000 copies in Sydney and shipped them to wholesalers and bookstores around the country. It was an operation carried out with a precision that Hooker later likened to the German invasion of Poland.

The book was unveiled on August 31 1970. Michie held a press conference in his Mont Albert home, saying Portnoy's Complaint was a masterpiece and should be available to read in Australia. Neither he nor Penguin were afraid of the prosecutions: We are prepared to take the matter to the High Court.

The next morning, as the trucks bearing copies began to arrive, bookstores everywhere were rushed. At one Melbourne bookstore, the assistant manager was knocked down and trampled by a crowd eager to buy the book and support Penguin. It was a stampede, he said later. A bookstore manager in Sydney was amazed when the 500 copies his store took sold out in two-and-a-half hours.

All too soon, it was sold out. And with politicians making loud promises of retribution, the police descended.

Bookstores were raided. Unsold copies were seized. Court summons were delivered to Penguin, to Michie, and to booksellers the whole country over. A long list of court trials over the publication of Portnoy's Complaint and its sale were in the offing. A stellar line-up

So the trial that opened on the grey morning of October 19 1970, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, was only the first in what promised to be a long battle.

Neither Michie nor his colleagues were daunted. They had prepared a defence based around literary merit and the good that might come from reading the book. They had retained expert lawyers and marshalled the cream of Australia's literary and academic elite to come to their aid.

Patrick White would appear as a witness for the defence. So too would academic John McLaren, The Age newspaper editor Graham Perkin, the critic A.A. Phillips, the historian Manning Clark, the poet Vincent Buckley, and many more. They were unconcerned by Flanagan's furious denunciations, by his shudders of disgust, and by his caustic indictments of Penguin and its leaders.

They were confident in their cause. As one telegram to Michie said:

ALL BEST WISHES FOR A RESOUNDING VICTORY FOR LITERATURE AND LIBERTY.

 

 

No guts at the Australian Censorship Board...

Australia's game censors ban the Blood and Guts Bundle for Nintendo Switch


Link Here2nd August 2020
Full story: Games Censorship in Australia...Censorship rules for games
Blood and Guts Bundle is a 2020 trilogy of arena fight games from Digerati

The Blood and Guts Bundle for Nintendo Switch has been banned in Australia under the automated International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system. Decision was in March, but has only recently been added to the National Classification Database.

The automated system is pretty much a random rating generator, so perhaps the delay is down to going back to the old manual way of rating games.

In the US the game is M (17) rated by the ESRB for blood and gore, use of drugs, violence.

The Promotional Material gives a flavour of the game:

Satisfy your lust for carnage with three gloriously gratuitous games! This bundle contains:

Slain: Back from Hell . A heavy metal inspired arcade combat game with stunning pixel art visuals, challenging old school gameplay and gore galore. Plus the most metal soundtrack you've ever heard!

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut : A killer puzzle game and darkly comic homage to 80s horror movies where you control Skullface, a homicidal slasher hell-bent on revenge.

Super Blood Hockey : Arcade sports gaming gets a shot of adrenaline in this violent homage to classic 8- and 16-bit ice hockey games. Use fast-paced skills and bone-crunching brutality to dominate.

 

 

A presidential ticking off...

After TikTok was found seemingly grabbing people's passwords from the paste buffer, Trump threatens to ban the app


Link Here1st August 2020
Full story: TikTok Snooping...Chinese App comes under fire for snooping on users
President Donald Trump has said that he will ban the popular short-form video app TikTok from operating in the United States. Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order.

Earlier on Friday, it seemed that the President was set to sign an order to force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the social media platform, to sell the US operations of TikTok to Microsoft. The move was aimed at resolving policymakers' concerns that the foreign-owned TikTok may be a national security risk.

The US government is conducting a national security review of TikTok and is preparing to make a policy recommendation to Trump.

 

 

A cabal of censors...

Ofcom announces a forum where censors can communicate together


Link Here1st August 2020
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and Ofcom have announced the launch of a new forum to help ensure online services work well for people and businesses in the UK.

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum strengthens existing collaboration and coordination between the three regulators. It aims to harness their collective expertise when data, privacy, competition, communications and content interact.

A statement outlining the Forum's objectives and how the three organisations will work together to support effective and efficient regulation across the digital landscape has been published. A news release summarising the initiative is also available.  

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