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26th September

  It won't be like the mass surveillance systems in all other countries...honestly...

Swiss voters have approved a new mass surveillance law in a referendum
Link Here
Switzerland flag Swiss voters have approved a new surveillance law backing the government which claimed the security services needed enhanced powers in an increasingly volatile world.

The proposed law won 65.5% support in a referendum called to confirm a mass ssurveillance law already passed by the parliament n 2015.

Switzerland's police and intelligence agencies say they have had limited investigative tools compared to other developed countries as phone tapping and email surveillance were previously banned, regardless of the circumstances.

But the new law will change that. The government insisted it was not aiming to set up a vast data-gathering apparatus, similar to the one developed by the US National Security Agency that came into the public eye in part through former contractor Edward Snowden's revelations. But mass snoopers have not got a track record of publicising or even admitting their capabilities.

The government says that phone or electronic surveillance of a suspect will only be triggered with approval by a federal court, the defence ministry and the cabinet, according to the law. Bern has said these measures would be used only a dozen times a year, to monitor only the highest-priority suspects, especially those implicated in terrorism-related cases. But then again, all the other mass snooping countries have made similar claims, until someone blew the whistle.

 

26th September

 Offsite Article: Draw and you'll go to jail...

Link Here
boiled angel From worried parents to policemen with built-in Satan detectors, underground comics have never lacked enemies. And for 30 years Neil Gaiman and his friends have fought back in the name of free speech

See article from theguardian.com

 

26th September

 Offsite Article: Outlaws, Rebels, and Vixens...

Link Here
Outlaws Rebels Vixens Censorship Milwaukee From a new book about Milwaukee film censors, 1914-1971

See article from jsonline.com

 

25th September

  Don't hold your breath...

Sony waste their time appealing for a 15 rating after the New Zealand film censor rants about the violence in Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe
Link Here
Dont Breathe Blu ray Don't Breathe is a 2016 USA horror thriller by Fede Alvarez.
Starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Stephen Lang. IMDb

Rocky, a young woman wanting to start a better life for her and her sister, agrees to take part in the robbery of a house owned by a wealthy blind man with her boyfriend Money and their friend Alex. But when the blind man turns out to be a serial killer, the group must find a way to escape his home before they become his newest victims.

New Zealand's Film and Literature Board of Review has upheld the Chief Censor's R18 classification of the Sony Pictures film, Don't Breathe. The classification also carries the warning Contains violence, sexual violence and offensive language .

Sony Pictures appealed the Chief Censor's decision to the Film and Literature Board of Review, and made a submission for a lower classification.

In its decision, the Board of Review noted that their consideration of the movie comes shortly after the government's announcement that domestic violence in New Zealand:

Is at such a level and of such concern that significant political and social measures are necessary to address this problem. Movies which depict extreme violence and sexual violence towards women are of concern to New Zealand society as a whole.

Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack said in a press release that he welcomes the Board of Review decision, stating that it helps increase New Zealanders' awareness of violent entertainment and supports their right to choose what they and their families are exposed to. He went on to rant that the Classification Office is viewing an increasing amount of horrific and gratuitous sexual violence in mainstream entertainment targeting young people. He concluded: Violent media is helping to shape a violent New Zealand.

In its submission, Sony said they did not agree with the original descriptive note, assigned by the Classification Office, that the movie contained sexual violence . Sony stated there was no sexual violence in the film. They sought an RP15 classification.

For comparison:

  • In the UK, the BBFC rated the film 15 uncut for strong violence, sexual threat, strong language
  • In the US it was MPAA R rated for terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references.

 

25th September

  Judged Offside...

Paul Gascoigne fined 1600 pounds after performing a trivial joke about dark skin
Link Here
an evening with gascoigne Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has been fined 1,000 for making a joke about a black security guard at a public event.

Gascoigne joked abut Errol Rowe, a security guard, during his An Evening with Gazza show, by asking him: Can you smile please, because I can't see you?

Ordering Gascoigne to pay Rowe 1,000 in compensation, District Judge Graham Wilkinson lectured Gascoigne:

You sought to get a laugh from an audience of over 1,000 people because of the colour of Mr Rowe's skin. Mr Rowe was clearly humiliated on stage, as part of an act.

As a society it is important that we challenge racially aggravated behaviour in all its forms. It is the creeping 'low-level' racism that society still needs to challenge. A message needs to be sent that in the 21st century society that we live in, such action, such words will not be tolerated.

It is not acceptable to laugh words like this off as some form of joke.

Ordering Gascoigne to pay a 100 victim surcharge and a 500 contribution to the cost of the prosecution. Gascoigne has pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence

Spiked logo Offsite Comment: The state's war on amateur comedians

25th September 2016. See  article from spiked-online.com by Andrew Doyle, comedian

Gazza isn't the only one having his collar felt for telling a crap joke

Read the full  article from spiked-online.com

 

24th September

 Updated: Epic intolerance...

Ben-Hur censored in Malaysia
Link Here  full story: Cesnored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Ben Hur DVD Jack Huston Ben-Hur is a 2016 USA historical adventure drama by Timur Bekmambetov.
Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell and Rodrigo Santoro. Youtube link IMDb

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Malayisia's Film Censorship Board (LPF) said it was not to blame for the censorship of scenes involving Jesus Christ from the Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur .

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid further said he did not recall seeing such scenes from the movie submitted, adding that it was possible the Malaysian version is a different version from those shown elsewhere. He told Malay Mail Online:

Maybe, but not by us, probably by producers when they sent the film to Malaysia, they already cut the scenes, they know (there's) some sensitivities.

Halim said he was certain that the board did not remove the scenes that included Jesus, which were pivotal to the plot of the story.

Local viewers had taken to Facebook to complain of censorship of Ben-Hur, with scenes of Jesus forming key plot points allegedly taken out.

One Facebook user, Jasmine Sia, who watched the film on Friday night, said no scenes involving Jesus was shown at all. she told Malay Mail Online:

I felt cheated. The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ . It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah's mother and sister get cured from leprosy?

No, they did not show anything with regards to healing. They just appeared at the end of the movie healed. That's why it made no sense.

The local distributor of the film, United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, acknowledged on its official Facebook page that the local edition was not identical to that shown elsewhere, after one user named Jerry Terry Derulo pointed out that the runtime here was 11 minutes shorter than listed on movie database IMDB.

Update: Export Version

24th September 2016.  See  article from themalaymailonline.com

Universal has confirmed that there is a special export version of Ben-Hur for intolerant countries that ban the depiction of other religions to their own. The latest Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur has an export version that has been edited to remove scenes featuring Jesus Christ. A Universal spokesman explained:

We submitted into the Censor board a Studio pre-edited version which was available for countries that do not allow the depiction of prophets on film whether by law or due to local sensitivities.

We learned from past titles submitted to the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) that no Prophets are allowed to be depicted on film. In Malaysia, previous films such as Noah and Exodus which depicted prophets were banned by LPF.

UIP Malaysia said the Malaysian version which was pre-cut to a total running time of 114 minutes is also available for other countries.

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid confirmed that LPF adopts the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia's (Jakim) guidelines for films, adding that the body tasked with overseeing religious matters and even the police are sometimes invited to view films together. He added:

But we also have some guidelines from Jakim that any films cannot portray all the prophets or the angels, even the Satan in the context of Islam. Anything mentioned in Quran cannot be visually portrayed in the form of character, figure or drawing.

 

24th September

 Commented: Does political correctness ban authors from writing books set in other cultures?...

Author Lionel Shriver comments 'I hope the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad'
Link Here
Big Brother Lionel Shriver Author Lionel Shriver comments:

In the latest ethos, which has spun well beyond college campuses in short order, any tradition, any experience, any costume, any way of doing and saying things, that is associated with a minority or disadvantaged group is ring-fenced: look-but-don't-touch. Those who embrace a vast range of "identities" -- ethnicities, nationalities, races, sexual and gender categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability -- are now encouraged to be possessive of their experience and to regard other peoples' attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft.

Read the full article from theguardian.com

Update: Will the Left Survive the Millennials?

24th September 2016.  See  article from nytimes.com by Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver continues her theme:

I'm dismayed by the radical left's ever-growing list of dos and don'ts -- by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.

Read the full  article from nytimes.com

 

23rd September

  Recruiting censors on the cheap...

YouTube to create an army of Stasi snitches and whingers, rewarding them for flagging videos as inappropriate
Link Here
tubeheroes YouTube is looking for what if calls, heroes to snitch on videos and inappropriate comments, but early feedback has been overwhelmingly negative with users describing it as crowdsourced censorship.

Users who join the Heroes program will earn points for adding captions and subtitles to videos, flagging inappropriate videos and answering questions on the site's Help forum.

Accruing points will earn them with rather underwhelming and cheapo 'privileges' like joining video chats with others in the Heroes program, exclusive previews of upcoming product launches and the ability to flag abusive videos en masse instead of one at a time.

However, YouTube employees ultimately make the final decision on what to do with content marked as inappropriate.

Users on YouTube made their voices heard almost immediately, with an overwhelming number of Dislikes on the announcement video. It currently has over 200,000 Dislikes compared to 3,000 Likes, after nearly 600,000 views.

 

23rd September

  Traditional censorship...

Silly censors ban silly tourism video using ancient Thai characters in a modern setting
Link Here
thai tourism khon Thailand's Culture Ministry has banned video that promotes Thai tourism through Khon characters.

Scenes showing the Ramakien epic character Thotsakan (Ravana) on horseback, a jet ski, a go-kart, and a tuk-tuk in the music video will be banned. Also facing the axe are scenes showing the imaginary king of giants cooking Thai sweetmeat.

The video's director, Bandit Thongdee, explained:

The Culture Ministry says such scenes are inappropriate. It says Thotsakan should be riding an elephant.

Bandit said the Culture Ministry seemed to want about 40% of the video to be censored.

Culture Ministry permanent secretary Apinan Poshyananda tried to play down the censorship, suggesting that the re-edited version could be even better.

 

23rd September

  Inappropriate stereotypical fat shaming appropriation...

Disney withdraw Maui costume after PC complaints
Link Here
maui costume Disney has withdrawn a children's costume depicting the tattooed Pacific demi-god Maui after PC accusations of promoting brownface.

The full-body, zip-up costume, linked to the upcoming animated film Moana , featured brown skin with traditional Pacific tattoos, a grass skirt and bone necklace.

PC whingers accused Disney of cultural appropriation, comparing it to the racially offensive black face make-up once worn by white performers in US minstrel shows.

Disney said in a statement:

The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some. We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.

 

22nd September

  ASA vs English Freedom...

Advert censor bans gollywog character from adverts for the Ginger Pop Shop
Link Here

english freedom A press ad for the Ginger Pop Shop seen in the Purbeck Gazette in June 2016 included text which stated Visit our shop and get the tea-towel! and featured an illustration of a golly character holding a pint of ginger beer with text underneath stating ENGLISH FREEDOM .

Two complainants, who believed the depiction of the golly character was racist, objected that the ad was offensive.

Ginger Pop Ltd said they did not accept that the golliwog represented negative racial stereotypes. They provided information about the history of the golliwog character, including his origins in a children's book in the late nineteenth century. They provided a copy of that book and a sequel, with quotes about his origin from the author. They also provided a modern edition of a Noddy Book and The Golly , a collectors' handbook, which showed the variety of golly memorabilia available. They also provided a letter from a supporter and a comments book from their shop, which they said showed that the vast majority of passers-by were positive about the fact they sold golliwogs in their shop. They referred to two online videos they had uploaded about golliwogs. They believed the character as depicted in the original books and on Robertson's marmalade badges was heroic and was an aspirational role model. They acknowledged the character had become stereotyped over time which they said had led some to believe the character was negative. They also said that he was not intended to be seen as a human character but as a magical being, and that many people of all backgrounds had golly toys as children. They supplied a tea-towel which they had produced to celebrate 120 years of golliwogs, which included many adjectives to describe the character and which they were said were far removed from the minstrel doll stereotype.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that there had been some local controversy around the tea-towel produced by Ginger Pop for display and sale in their shop, and that the ad was a reference to that. However, we did not consider that all readers would be aware of that background, or that such awareness would necessarily impact on their reaction to the ad.

The Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds, including race. We noted that the ad featured an image which was recognisably a golly character. We considered that many people were likely to view the character as representing negative racial stereotypes, and its prominent inclusion in a press ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We also considered that the inclusion of the words ENGLISH FREEDOM in the ad was likely to contribute to that offence, because in combination with the image it could be read as a negative reference to immigration or race. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of.

 

22nd September

 Update: Porn register...

South Africa works on an internet censorship bill that requires adult video websites to log the names and addresses of all viewers in a register available for government perusal
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in South Africa...Proppsal to block all porn from South Africans
South Africa flag If the Films and Publications Amendment Bill is passed in its current form, South Africans may no longer upload videos to online channels, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram -- unless they register as a distributor and pay a censorship registration fee.

A spokesperson from the Democratic Alliance party, Phumzile van Damme, said that government is increasingly overplaying its hand with regard to freedom of speech:

There seems to be a firm hand in a broader project of censorship that is very worrying.The 'Internet Censorship Bill' in its current form gives government wide-sweeping powers to censor content on the internet.

The bill seeks to restrict the distribution of digital films in that such content needs to be pre-classified by the Films and Publications Board. The terminology used in this provision is broad enough to include all digital videos and films,  also user-generated video materia uploaded to social media platforms.

A section in the bill states that any person who distributes a film or game classified as X18 must keep a register when access to the content is granted to a user. The user's name, address and age will be captured in the register and the CEO of the Films and Publications Board will have access to this register.

Van Damme commented:

This is an unjustifiable breach of the right to privacy, which includes the right to not have your private communications infringed.

south africa film censor logo Meanwhile as the bill is being discussed in parliament, South Africa's film censors have demand that Google censor seraches for adult material.

The Film and Publication Board has stated it is unacceptable for people to be able to access pornography with a Google search. The FPB made the statement during a parliamentary hearing into submissions on what has been called its Internet censorship bill. Lawyer Nicholas Hall quoted the FPB during the IESA's submissions on the FPB Amendment Bill.

FPB: It is unacceptable that you can type in Pornography and get access to porn, Google needs to take steps to address this

 

22nd September

 Offsite Article: Don't let copyright box us in...

Link Here
fcc logo A call to the FCC to disallow big media company copyright control freakery from being applied to Internet TV. By Mark Lemley

See article from thehill.com

 

21st September

  ASA or ASS?...

Feminist campaigners 'outraged' that the advert censor doesn't ban sex adverts from inside the Sunday Sport
Link Here

sunday sport may 2016 Two national press ads for Luv2Chat, seen in the Sunday Sport on 14 June 2016, promoted adult chat lines:

  • a. The first ad appeared on an inside page of the paper and featured several images of naked and partially naked women in sexualised poses with their breasts visible. The images were accompanied by phrases such as They're Huge! Shoot Your Load on my Massive Tits!! and Filthy Old Pensioner! Give Quick 30 Second Relief .

  • b. The second ad appeared on the back page of the paper and featured several images of women, who appeared to be removing their clothing, with their breasts partially visible. The images were accompanied by phrases such as XXX Sex Stories and Filthy Sex Chat with Hot TGirls! .

Not Buying It! [a feminist campaign group], who were concerned that the ads could be seen by children, challenged whether the ads had been irresponsibly placed.

Worldwide Digital Media said that to prohibit the ads from being placed in the newspaper, would be highly selective and restrictive, and would amount to censorship on the UK's free press.

The Sunday Sport said they regularly ran similar ads in their newspaper, but had never received a complaint directly about their content, and were not aware of any previous complaints to the ASA about children viewing such ads. They believed that their customers would all be aware of the regular sexual content within the newspaper, and therefore believed that the newspaper was a suitable media to display the ads. They said there was nothing within the ads that could reasonably be perceived to target children.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld in relation to ad (b) only.

The ASA noted that the ads contained sexually explicit imagery and text, and therefore required careful placement to ensure that they were not viewed by children. We understood that the Sunday Sport was a paid-for newspaper targeted at adult males, which regularly contained similar ads for adult services alongside editorial content which was comparably sexually explicit. Because the newspaper was not targeted at children, we considered that it was unlikely that ad (a) would be seen by them, and therefore concluded that the ad had not been irresponsibly placed on the inside of the Sunday Sport.

However, because ad (b) appeared on the back page of the publication, we considered that, if the paper was left in public places or around the house, the ad could be seen by children. We also understood that the Sunday Sport was usually displayed in retail stores alongside other newspapers in a readily visible position (as opposed to appearing on the top shelf), and therefore the back page was more likely to be seen inadvertently by children. As such, we were concerned that there was a risk that children would be able to view ad (b), and concluded that the decision to place it on the back page of the Sunday Sport was irresponsible.

Ad (b) must not appear again on the back page of the Sunday Sport. We told Worldwide Digital Media not to place sexually explicit ads on the back page of publications where they could be seen by children.

Reaction

Needless to say, the ban on the back page was not enough for the feminist campaign group Not Buying It! who were 'outraged' that the censors did not also ban sex adverts inside the publication. The group countered with a few angry banners on its website. Eg

not buying it

 

21st September

 Campiagn: Don't Spy On Us...

Opposing mass surveillance in the UK
Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter

dont spy on us campaign The Government is trying to pass a surveillance law that will give the Government, intelligence agencies and police the kind of powers you would expect in an authoritarian regime. The Investigatory Powers Bill will let the security services, police and government departments snoop on our private communications and Internet use.

Data about your emails, phone calls, texts and Internet use will be hoovered up. Everything you do on the Internet and on your phone will be recorded and stored for a year. This can be trawled through by Government supercomputers. The police and security services can hack your computer or phone.

You don't have to be suspected of a crime for any of these things to happen.

If the #IPBill is passed, the UK will have one of the most extreme surveillance laws in the world. We can't let this happen. Help us to fight the #IPBill.

campaign at dontspyonus.org.uk

 

20th September

 Offsite Article: If You Build A Censorship Machine, They Will Come...

Link Here
MPAA logo EFF notes that MPAA are fighting censorship of smoking on film whilst seeking censorship for uses of film that they do not approve

See article from eff.org

 

19th September

  Complainants about insults are always right, especially when they are rich...

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has put forward a bill that will allow for rampant, unaccountable censorship of the Italian internet, without rule of law or penalty for abuse.
Link Here

Italy flag Under a proposed law supposedly targeting cyber bullying and revenge porn, a website manager of Italian media, including bloggers, newspapers and social networks would be obliged to censor "mockery" based on "the personal and social condition" of the victim -- that is, anything the recipient felt was personally insulting.

The penalty for failing to take action is a fine of ?100,000. Truthfulness is not a defense in suits under this law -- the standard is personal insult, not falsehood.

Let's start with what this won't do: it won't stop bullying, harassment or revenge porn in Italy. The majority of services on which Italians express themselves are not based in Italy, and those with Italian sales-offices, etc, can and will simply move offices rather than face a ?100,000 fine every time someone insults someone else online.

But what it will do is create a tool for easy censorship without due process or penalty for misuse. The standard proposed in the bill is merely that the person on the receiving end of the argument feel aggrieved. Think of the abuse of copyright takedowns: online hosts already receive millions of these , more than they could possibly evaluate, and so we have a robo-takedown regime that lets the rich and powerful routinely remove material that puts them in an unflattering light.

The standard set by the proposed Italian law allows for purely subjective claims to be made, and for enormous penalties to be imposed on those who question them before undertaking sweeping acts of censorship.

Internet-savvy Italian deputy Stefano Quintarelli has proposed an amendment that makes the law marginally saner: under his amendment, failure to act on a censorship notice wouldn't automatically give rise to a fine; rather, it would make the person who ignored the complaint a party to any eventual civil penalty imposed by a court of law.

That is a step in the right direction, but it is really just a plaster over a gaping chasm of bad, reactionary lawmaking. The people who are genuinely aggrieved will continue to struggle for justice; the genuine bad actors (like revenge-porn sites) will continue with impunity out of Italian jurisdiction, and the rich and the powerful will get a force-multiplier for silencing their critics without meaningful penalties for abuse.

The Berlusconi years gave Italy a reputation for political chaos. In the post-Berlusconi era, we'd hoped for better. By seriously considering ideas as bad as this one, the Italian chamber of deputies continues to make Italian politics into a global joke.