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Religious Watch


29th September

  Adverse Effects...

The Maldives is set to introduce book censorship
Link Here
Maldives flag Poetry and literature will have to be approved by the Maldivian government before they are published in the country, according to a new law which have been described as a disaster for freedom of expression by free speech campaigners.

The rules insist that those wishing to publish books in the Maldives must submit a finished copy of their work, along with a form and a MVR50 revenue stamp, to the national bureau of classification for approval, or face fines. This includes poetry, which is defined by the regulations as: w

Words and phrases structured into verses that fit a particular form, expressing thoughts and ideas that are heartfelt.

One strand of publication is exempted from the requirements:

...any writing published to circulate information among its members/employees by a political party, civil society group, company, or specific governmental body.

The book censors will be looking to ensure: That the works published in the Maldives do not contravene Islamic principles, the laws and regulations of the Maldives and societal etiquette , and to reduce adverse effects on society that could be caused by published literature . They will also, according to the translation, respect the constitutional right to freedom of expression and allow novel and constructive ideas .

According to Minivan News, following a social media outcry, the Maldivian youth and sports ministry has stated that the rules would not apply to either social media or news outlets.

 

29th September

  Hiding a tear for lost democracy...

China attempts to censor news of protests from Hong Kong ofver being denied democratic elections
Link Here
hong kong protest video China started blocking the popular photo-sharing app Instagram on Sunday, as part of its efforts to censor any mention of the use of tear gas on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Instagram had until then remained one of the few U.S. social networking apps still accessible in china known for its extreme censorship of political topics.

Presumably the block on Instagram is an attempt to stop photos of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests from spreading into mainland China. On Sunday, police in Hong Kong used tear gas to disperse large protesting crowds, with video and photos of the clashes immediately going online.

Hong Kong protests against a mainland attempt to deny democracy in Hong Kong have been widely blocked in Chinese local media and internet too.

 

29th September

 Update: Smart and Pragmatic...

Malaysian blogger charged with sedition for a joke on his blog flees to the US
Link Here  full story: Malaysian Taliban...Muslims flogged for drinking and pre marital sex
pork breakfast

   Happy Breaking Fast with Bak Kut Teh (a pork dish), aromatic, tasty and appetizing

Alvin Tan has made the wise decision to seek asylum in the USA after being charged in Malaysia for sedition over a joke on his blog.

Tan and his former partner, Vivian Lee, had been charged under the Sedition Act for uploading a joke about eating pork during Ramadan last year, but he violated his bail conditions while on a supposed working trip to Singapore.

Tan explained in a recent interview with The Malaysian Insider that leaving Malaysia was the only rational action as he was powerless to fight tyranny and ignorance .

He doesn't seem to have attracted much sympathy from fellow Malaysians who feel he should have accepted whatever punishment was due to him. Press reports quoted a few Facebook posters giving him a hard time.

In his interview with The Malaysian Insider, Tan had defended the post, which carried a photo of a pork dish, as political satire. He said it had highlighted the danger of using Islam as a basis to govern other people's life by legislating personal morals, without making a distinction between what is immoral and what is illegal.

Tan added that he did not believe he was a coward by seeking refuge in the US, but that he was:

Smart, pragmatic, calculative and mercenary. When the government and its institutions decide to ruin your life and jail you for years just because you hurt their feelings, you do not sit back and try to fight the overwhelming wave of emotional, irrational force coming down on you.

 

29th September

  A substandard educational message...

Kazakhstan's education ministry bullies children's TV for showing SpongeBob
Link Here
Spongebob Squarepants Season 8 DVD

SpongeBob SquarePants, the Nickelodeon cartoon character who works as a fry cook at the bottom of the sea, corrupts the young minds of children and promotes hooligan behavior, according to Kazakhstan's education ministry.

 the New York Daily News reported that the country regards the character as a bully, who regularly inflicts violence on others in his community and seems to enjoy what he does,

Zabira Orazalieva responsible for children's rights at the Kazakh Education and Science Ministry, said:

SpongeBob beats up his neighbor, misbehaves and enjoys that. This hooligan behavior stays in the child's minds. They [see SpongeBob] as a role model and try to re-enact [his behavior] in real life.

She went on to blast cable channels like Nickelodeon and France's TiJi for running cartoons that promote a substandard educational message, as well as parents who let children watch the cartoons unsupervised.

 

29th September

 Offsite Article: The Final Whistle...

Link Here
australian government logo Security laws pass Australian Senate amid fears over draconian limits to press freedom. National security laws allow whistleblowers to be jailed and give Asio sweeping powers to gather online data

See article from theguardian.com

 

29th September

 Offsite Article: Facebook's real names policy is problematic for free speech...

Link Here
Facebook logo From trans people to activists, there are some good reasons for some Facebook users to use a pseudonym. And yet, Facebook is unrelenting

See article from theguardian.com

 

28th September

  Mooning and Moaning...

Indonesian TV censors get wound up by Japanese children's cartoon
Link Here
crayon shin-chan With his penchant for mooning and blurting out risque spoonerisms, Crayon Shin-chan has delighted Japanese children, and infuriated their parents, for more than two decades.

But now the precocious five-year-old is being taken on by Indonesian TV censors, who have declared his antics as borderline pornography and warned broadcasters to censor images of his bare buttocks, scantily clad women and other indecorous scenes.

The Indonesian broadcasting commission has told TV channel RCTI to either cut supposedly  indecent parts of the programme or show it later when children aren't watching. A member of the commission claims:

The character fools around with his bare bottom exposed. He also noses around people [when they are] on dates. The show features a lot of female characters in seductive garments that emphasise their cleavage. It is essentially pornography.

 

28th September

  God Swill...

US death metal band wind up religious groups in Russia
Link Here
Tomb Mutilated Cannibal Corpse US death metal band Cannibal Corpse has wound up religious activists ahead of concerts in Russia.

A group called God's Will has had a knock at Cannibal Corpse with leader Dmitry Tsorionov (Enteo) whingeing:

We send mass requests to the prosecutor, the description of what is happening at the concerts of the group, the texts of their songs, which are described in detail in the rape and murder of children.

The Orthodox Union also seeks to ban Cannibal Corpse from playing in Russia. Chairman Roman Pluta wailed:

We seek to ban concerts Cannibal Corpse in Russia. Their work is fully covered by the composition of the crime under the articles of the Criminal Code, for fueling religious hatred, promoting exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on the basis of their religion.

Cannibal Corpse will be in Russia for a total of eight shows from Oct. 2nd-12th.

 

28th September

  Free Speech Denier...

Rajan Zed has a whinge about artwork featuring a Barbie Kali
Link Here  full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
barbie kali Artists have caused a little 'outrage' by creating a Barbie in the image of the Hindu Goddess Kali.

The two Argentinian artists Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini have have gotten noticed after previewing pieces from their upcoming exhibition The Plastic Religion , which features Barbie and Ken dolls altered to resemble religious figures such as Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Rajan Zed, a perennial Hindu whinger and has said:

The Barbie-fication of Kali is simply improper, wrong and out of place, reports The Hindu .

Hindus welcome the art world to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols for personal agendas.

Although the artists clearly intended to provoke outrage at their pieces, they commented that they drew the line at creating a Ken version of the Muslim religious character Muhammed.

Free speech denier Zed commented that Hindus strongly believe in free speech ...BUT.. claimed that faith is something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees .

 

28th September

  Bully vs Bully...

Guardian high priestess of PC laudably has a knock at the bullies who shut down Exhibit B
Link Here
exhibit b brett bailey Catherine Bennett of the Guardian/Observer writes a laudable piece about Exhibit B being shut down by free speech deniers and bullies:

What price artistic freedom when the bullies turn up?

The closure of a Barbican show, forced by self-appointed censors claiming it was racist, threatens free expression.

See  article from  theguardian.com

Surely this can't be the same writer who is such an aggressive bully and free speech denier when it comes to the subject of Page 3:

It bears repeating: page 3 is still an ugly institution

The Sun's owner is having doubts about naked breasts. What a pity those in power don't share his concerns

See article from theguardian.com

 

27th September

  Sinful State Censorship...

Political film censorship in Turkey via awarding arbitrary 18 ratings
Link Here
lets sin Itirazim Var (Let's Sin) is a 2014 Turkey action drama by Onur Ünlü.
Starring Serkan Keskin, Hazal Kaya and Öner Erkan. YouTube icon IMDb

There is a murder while at prayer. Selman Bulut, the imam of mosque, starts to investigate the murder and faces with people in the neighborhood.

Politicised censorship of the satirical film Let's Sin by Onur Unlu, has cast a shadow over the industry.

The film, about an irreverent Imam who goes to extreme lengths to solve a murder, received several awards. But the Turkish Ministry of Culture designated an 18 rating for the film normally reserved for those with the most extreme sexual or violent content - a commercial kiss of death for most films, as few Turkish cinemas screen them.

The decision was widely seen by the film industry as politically motivated. A charge well founded, according to Yamac Okur, the film industry's representative on the rating classification board. Okur says ever since last year's anti government protests known as Gezi, the government has adopted a political agenda on classifying films:

Especially after the Gezi protests, I can say there is a tendency. It's very related to politics. Sometimes with the subject whether the content is sexual or religious and sometimes who directed it or produced it. For example for Onur Unlu, because Onur Unlu was very political and critical of the main government and politics.

The government of course denied any political motivation behind film classifications, but after the film industry erupted in outrage over the classification of Unlu's film. The Ministry of Culture finally backed down and re-classified the film as suitable for viewers 13 years old and above.

Arbitrarily awarded 18 ratings can also have another politically repressive usage. Any films that are state funded have to return the funding should the film be awarded an 18 rating. Obviously if ratings are not tied to content, then film makers are open to a massive financial hit should they offend the state and so get an 18 rating.

Okur, a successful film producer and a member of the classification board, has been trying to persuade the government to introduce reform. He says new legislation is pending that will introduce a clear criteria for the classification of films but that any reform is unlikely until after next year's general election.

 

27th September

 Update: DuckDuckGone...

China takes offence at search engine that does not snoop on users
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
duck duck go logo A U.S.-based search engine that had been gaining popularity in China for its privacy-protected search results has become a target of Chinese censors.

According to Tech In Asia , a technology news blog, Chinese authorities have not only blocked access to DuckDuckGo from Chinese servers, but they even appear to be censoring any mentions of the search engine online as well.

Founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg explained that DuckDuckGo is a search engine that boasts real privacy by not collecting or sharing personal information from its users.  On Weinberg's personal blog , he goes into a little bit more depth about how important Internet privacy is to him, even opting out of the commonly used Google services, not only because they are competition but because he believes in privacy policies that do the minimum collection needed as opposed to the maximum collection possible.

 

27th September

  Snoopers Win...

Australian PM announces that balance between freedom and security will now shift to security
Link Here

australian government logo This week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used recent terrorist threats as the backdrop of a dire warning to Australians that for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some, so that there can be more protection for others.

This pronouncement came as two of a series of three bills effecting that erosion of freedoms made their way through Australia's Federal Parliament. These were the second reading of a National Security Amendment Bill which grants new surveillance powers to Australia's spy agency, ASIO, and the first reading of a Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill that outlaws speech seen as advocating terrorism . A third bill on mandatory data retention is expected to be be introduced by the end of the year.

Whilst all three bills in this suite raise separate concerns, the most immediate concern--because the bill in question could be passed this week --is the National Security Amendment Bill. Introduced into Parliament on 16 July, it endured robust criticism during public hearings last month that led into an advisory report released last week. Nevertheless the bill was introduced into the Senate this Tuesday with the provisions of most concern still intact.

In simple terms, the bill allows law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to access data from a computer--so far, so good. But it redefines a computer to mean not only one or more computers but also one or more computer networks . Since the Internet itself is nothing but a large network of computer networks, it seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that the bill may stealthily allow the spy agency to surveil the entire Internet with a single warrant .

Apart from allowing the surveillance of entire computer networks, the bill also allows the addition, deletion or alteration of data stored on a computer, provided only that this would not materially interfere with, interrupt or obstruct a communication in transit or the lawful use by other persons of a computer unless ... necessary to do one or more of the things specified in the warrant . Given the broad definition of computer , this provision is broad enough to authorize website blocking or manipulation, and even the insertion of malware into networks targeted by the warrant.

Capping all this off, the bill also imposes a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment upon a person who discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation . Although obviously intended to throw the hammer at whistleblowers, the provision would apply equally to journalists. Such a provision could make it impossible for Australians to learn about the activities of their own government that infringe international human rights laws.

All in all, this sweeping bill would hardly be out of place in the NSA's pantheon alongside the USA PATRIOT Act. But unlike the United States, Australia does not have a written Bill of Rights in its Constitution, making its freedom-abridging laws even harder to challenge in court.

Nevertheless Australia is a signatory to all major regional and global human rights instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy , and that Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression . Australia, like all other nations of the world, is also addressed by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles that provide more detailed guidance on how to apply international human rights standards in the context of communication surveillance.

It is far from clear that a proper balance can be struck by rushing this draconian bill through Parliament at a time when elevated fear of terrorism may lead to important civil liberties safeguards being forgotten or deliberately overruled. Australians should call on their government, before it is too late, to withdraw this bill for further consideration. If not, this may mark the week in history when it became easier for the Australian government to surveil and manipulate the Internet at will.

 

27th September

  XBIZ Adult Business Conference...

And a very small feminist protest greets attendees
Link Here
object protest xbiz It is reported that 8 women from the campaign group Object picketed the XBIZ adult industry conference in London. They waved banners such as: Porn is censorship, it silences women.

Object told newspaper reporters: Porn scenes often contain aggressive acts , explaining its protest and linking porn to violence and racism.

The independent also report from the inside the conference taking particular note of the adult potential for futuristic virtual reality equipment from Oculus Rift.

Jerry Barnett, the UK-based organiser of the conference, runs an organisation called Sex & Censorship and explains that the British porn industry operates under stricter constraints than those imposed in America and continental Europe:

The UK sex industry keeps a low profile -- there's a continual cycle of moral panic about sex.

Webcam services, involving live performances, have been identified as a growth area Webcam services, involving live performances, have been identified as a growth area.

The conference's key sponsors are billing firms such as Epoch Payment Solutions and Netbilling, better-known names such as PayPal will not touch the porn industry. Another sponsor is an age-verification provider, a reflection of the comparatively strict identity checks demanded of porn subscribers in the UK. Barnett explained:

It's a very onerous thing and has destroyed the industry in the UK. UK consumers buy their porn from American companies.

...Read the full article

 

26th September

  The Maze Runner...

BBFC category cuts for a 12A rated cinema release (Missed from 2 weeks ago)
Link Here
Poster Maze Runner 2014 Wes Ball The Maze Runner is a 2014 USA action Sci-Fi mystery by Wes Ball.
Starring Dylan O'Brien, Will Poulter and Kaya Scodelario. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed 12A for intense scenes, threat, violence after 43s of BBFC category cuts for:

  • 2014 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
  • Distributor chose to remove or reduce moments of threat, violence and injury detail in order to achieve a 12A classification. An uncut 15 was available.
Summary Notes

A group of boys, with no memories of their past lives, must escape a massive maze infested with deadly creatures.

 

26th September

 Extract: Subterraneanean London...

Book thankfully escapes censorship and persecution at the hands of the British Transport Police
Link Here
Subterranean London Cracking Bradley Garrett Subterranean London: Cracking the Capital by Bradley L. Garrett (Compiler), Stephen Walter (Illustrator), Will Self (Foreword)

Promotional Material

Bradley L. Garrett is researcher at the University of Oxford. His writing and photography has been featured in media around the world. Garrett is the author of Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City. Will Self is a London-based journalist and the author of nine novels. His most recent book, Umbrella, was published in paperback in April 2013. Stephen Walter is an obsessive draftsman educated at the Royal College of Art. His interest in the semiotics and the phenomenon of place often finds form in hand-drawn maps.

See  article from  citylab.com

Bradley L Garrett and his colleagues thought of their explorations and photographs as a form of public service. We were going to take photographs of parts of the city that people don't normally see and share them with the public.

The British Transport Police saw the situation differently.

In August 2012, upon returning to England from Cambodia , Garrett's plane was stopped on the runway at Heathrow. British Transport Police boarded, handcuffed him, and escorted him off the plane. He was taken through passport control, where officials seized his passport and then placed him in custody for 24 hours.

Elsewhere, police took a battering ram to the front door of his London home and confiscated his property, including his phone and the entire contents of his filing cabinet, research notes and all. Authorities also raided the homes of ten other people, identified from reading Garrett's ethnographic Ph.D. thesis on urban exploration.

Over the next two years, the defendants could not leave the country. Relationships fizzled out. Job contracts were cut short. Garrett didn't see his family and was denied permission to attend the funeral of a friend, journalist Matthew Power, who passed away in Uganda in March.

When the case finally came to court this year, it collapsed within two weeks. As The Guardian reported, Garrett pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal damage to railway property and avoided jail.

...Read the full article featuring some excellent photos from the book

 

26th September

  86 whingers claim that e-cigarette advert was overtly sexual...

But ASA blows smoke in their faces
Link Here

vip advert video A TV ad for VIP e-cigarettes featured a woman in a black dress, who spoke to the camera and said, You know that feeling you get, when something's great? You can touch it, hold it, even see it. Well, now you can taste it. As she spoke she ran her hand over her thigh. The voice-over stated, Choose the great taste of VIP e-cigarettes and e-liquids. Quality assured since 2009, with a variety of flavours and nicotine strengths from 0 to 24 mg. VIP.

Eighty-six viewers objected to the ad.

  1. Most viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive because they believed it was overtly sexual and irresponsibly sexualised e-cigarette use.

  2. Many also challenged whether the ad was suitable for broadcast before 9 pm.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes were not a prohibited category under the BCAP Code, and were therefore permitted to be advertised, providing they were advertised responsibly.

The ASA considered that the woman in the ad spoke in a sensual way, and was depicted touching her leg in a sensual manner. We acknowledged that some viewers would find the ad distasteful, but considered that the sexual references were unlikely to be regarded as explicit or overtly sexual, and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, or to be regarded as irresponsible.

2. Upheld

We noted that Clearcast had applied an ex-kids restriction which meant the ad could not be shown in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. We considered that the scheduling restriction applied would likely restrict younger children from seeing the ad. However, we were concerned that the degree of sexuality in the ad, while not overt, was also unsuitable for older children. We therefore concluded that, to minimise the risk of children seeing it, the ad should have been given a 9 pm timing restriction.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form before 9 pm.

 

26th September

 Update: Dangerous chats in Kent - yet again...

Obscenity law being dangerously used to police private, if reprehensible, text messages
Link Here  full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

Kent Police According to recent news reports, a former male nurse who is an American citizen living now in Kent had allegedly fantasised in a US-based fetish chat room about raping, killing and eating young girls and women. After he supposedly tried to take his fantasy into real life and meet up in Ashford with someone he believed was a 14 year old girl in order to kill and eat her , he was arrested and charged with various offences. It was revealed in court that the FBI had been monitoring the man after he had chatted online two years ago about his cannibal fetish to a New York Police Department officer who was himself under investigation, and as a result the Kent police had been informed.

The man was subsequently found guilty of a grooming offence, but he also pleaded guilty to various other charges, including 7 counts of publishing an obscene article , which related specifically to the online chats he had taken part in. This should jog people's memories somewhat, as it harks back to a case brought by (guess who?) Kent police in 2010. Here, a man was charged with the same offence for online chats involving fantasies about raping and murdering children. This sparked an outcry at the time among the more libertarian-minded as it had been accepted for over 30 years that purely written material (as opposed to illustrated works), no matter what its subject matter or content, was no longer to be regarded as obscene.

So, what exactly is going on here? Well, a few years prior to this, during the public consultation about the extreme porn law now enacted by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, the Kent police made a submission that there remained ...a legislative gap in terms of written fantasy material specifically about child rape and murder , and so in their opinion the proposed law should be extended to cover extreme written material as well as images. Up to this point, the police were acting responsibly and within their remit in flagging up to Parliament what they believed to be a gap in the law, but Parliament disagreed with them, and that should have been that. However, since then it appears that Kent police have been adopting a different approach and trying instead to push the boundaries of the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) in an attempt to secure convictions for such extreme material.

As far as I am aware (and as someone who is not a member of the legal profession, my awareness in these matters only reaches as far as the public media), these attempts by Kent police have so far only managed to achieve guilty pleas . This is a very different thing from a guilty verdict as it does not set a legal precedent, but who knows what might happen in the future. No matter what you may think about the depravity or otherwise of the material in question here, it could only take a single guilty verdict to bring the OPA very much back into play for any type of written material, and we will all be worse off if we end up being robbed of our hard-won right to write what we please.

 

26th September

  A call for Ms Ira Bilk Hunts...

Parents TV Council whinge at joke mentioning the word 'rape' in a joint Simpsons/Family Guy episode
Link Here
simpsons rape joke video A joint episode of The Simpsons and Family Guy is set to air on the Fox network in the US on Sunday. The trailer has revealed a joke featuring the politically correct no-no, the word 'rape'.  It has got America's moralists up in arms. The Parents Television Council have called for the joke to be cut.

The gag is about baby Stewie misunderstanding the nature of Bart's prank calls. First, Bart calls Moe's Tavern and asks if there's anyone there with the last name Keybum and the first name Lee -- causing the bartender to call out for a Leaky bum . Then an excited Stewie tries his version of the wind-up, and blurts out: Hello, Moe? Your sister's being raped.

The Parents Television Council have claim that the joke, playing on the different sense of humour between the family-friendly Simpsons and edgier Family Guy, is 'inappropriate'. President Tim Winter spouted:

Rape is never a laughing matter. Never. It is simply indefensible for a broadcaster to use the publicly-owned airwaves to make tasteless and senseless jokes about rape.

He also claimed that the joke could have a devastating impact... on countless past, present and future victims of sexual assault . The group says it will lobby advertisers on both shows to ask if rape jokes reflect their corporate values .

MacFarlane famously once said that getting Parents Television Council complaints were:

Like getting hate mail from Hitler. They're literally terrible human beings. I've read their newsletter, I've visited their website, and they're just rotten to the core. For an organisation that prides itself on Christian values -- I mean, I'm an atheist, so what do I know?--they spend their entire day hating people. They can all suck my dick as far as I'm concerned.

 

26th September

 Commented: Bullies and Slaves...

Barbican censors art exhibit in response to protests
Link Here
exhibit b brett bailey An art exhibition featuring black actors chained and in cages to depict the horror of slavery has been closed by the Barbican gallery following a vociferous campaign of protest.

Officials from the arts venue decided to end an impasse with demonstrators who on Tuesday evening greeted the opening of Brett Bailey's Exhibit B at the Vaults in south London by blockading both the entrance and the road leading to the building.

Two hundred protesters with drums and placards demonstrated outside, prompting the attendance of officers from both the Metropolitan police and British transport police. The officers were summoned to address reports of a disturbance, but made no arrests. The event was quickly cancelled.

Its censorship was hailed as a victory by campaigners who claimed 20,000 signatures on a protest petition against what they called complicit racism .

In a statement, the Barbican said:

Due to the extreme nature of the protest outside the Vaults, regrettably we have cancelled this evening's performance of Exhibit B as we could not guarantee the safety of performers, audiences and staff. We respect people's right to protest but are disappointed that this was not done in a peaceful way as had been previously promised by campaigners. Further subsequent performances up to and including Saturday 27 have also been cancelled.

Spiked logo Offsite Comment: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

26th September 2014. See article from spiked-online.com

It was a sad day for freedom when Brett Bailey's work was shut down by a mob.

...Read the full article

Telegraph logo Offsite Comment: I wanted to make my own mind up about Exhibit B

26th September 2014. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk by Bonnie Greer

I don't want to be stopped from seeing a work of art because someone else decides it's inappropriate , incorrect or racist

...Read the full article

 

26th September

 Offsite Article: Arizona's Naked Photo Law Makes Free Speech a Felony...

Link Here
Arizona state seal Lawmakers take revenge on Arizona people without their consent, criminalising them via a massively overbroad definition of revenge porn

See article from aclu.org

 

26th September

 Offsite Article: The Art of Unblocking Websites Without Committing Crimes...

Link Here
rpinac logo A UK developer has created a new and free service that not only silently unblocks any website without falling foul of the law, but one that will eventually become available to all under a GPL 3.0 license.

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

26th September

 Offsite Article: Australia's most ridiculous instances of video game censorship...

Link Here
Saints Row IV Xbox 360 The Australian government seem to think that video games are only for kids but hate both of those terms. They denied even the existence of adults who played games for years, until the R18+ rating was introduced in 2013.

See article from techly.com.au

 

25th September

  Horns...

BBFC advised category cuts for a 15 rated cinema release
Link Here
Poster Horns 2013 Alexandre Aja Horns is a 2013 USA / Canada horror fantasy thriller by Alexandre Aja.
Starring Juno Temple, Daniel Radcliffe and Heather Graham. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed 15 for strong bloody violence, sexual violence, sex, nudity, language, drug use after pre-cut for:

  • 2014 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
  • This work was originally seen for advice. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive an 18 certificate but that their preferred 15 classification could be achieved by making cuts to reduce a scene of sexual violence and to reduce a very strong gory image. When the film was submitted for formal classification, edits had been made and the film was classified 15.
Summary Notes

In the aftermath of his girlfriend's mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples.

 

25th September

  Growing Up...

Portland TV presents a few ideas to try and make age verification systems viable for porn websites
Link Here

portland tv logo Television X parent Portland TV has announced a deal with London-based identity specialist, Veridu, in the run-up to Friday's XBIZ EU debate on the viability of online age verification (AV).

The UK's video on demand censor, ATVOD, requires that hardcore VOD content be placed behind an onerous access control gateway, and that technical tools are used to verify that customers are over 18 years of age.

Unfortunately the state is doing nothing to help set up a viable and trusted verification scheme, leaving porn sites in an impossible situation. In an environment where phishing and identity theft is all too common, users simply won't trust porn sites with dangerous personal information.

According to Portland TV's Managing Director, Chris Ratcliff, the company has wrestled with age verification since bringing its web operations onshore in 2011. An initial move to credit card-only transactions resulted in revenues taking a severe hit given the large majority of U.K. customers for whom debit cards are the preferred payment route. Debit cards are considered unacceptable to ATVOD as as a few are held by under 18s.

Portland was quick to introduce to a belt and braces approach to age verification by running checks against independent data sources via a third party identity provider, Intelligent ID. However this hasn't proved very successful, as Ratcliff comments:

I'd like to thank Intelligent ID for getting us started, but the market's shifted [and] ultimately I needed a broader range of datasets to verify against. Veridu has been particularly enterprising in this respect. They offer the traditional checks against the U.K. electoral role, a number of credit reference agencies and passport and driving license data.

The next step is to commission an independent audit of the accuracy of Veridu's ability to age verify using social sign-on. If we can crack this, it will further reduce costs and ease the whole on-boarding process by removing the need for customers to share sensitive personal data when they sign up. Let's face it, the last thing you want to hand over to your favorite porn site is your passport or driving license.

It seems that the idea of social media age verification is that the system would take a look at your Facebook profile say and if all your friends are school pupils then it will refuse age verification. It would be tough to fabricate a significantly populated social network so this may make sense, but it sounds a little bit iffy when trying to verify people say around their 18th birthday, no doubt the pedants in the likes of ATVOD and Ofcom, who have to answer to the Daily Mail, don't really want to get involved in accepting a grey area around one's 18th birthday.

Portland and Veridu are at least working on a database of people who have been verified so that websites can check prospective customers against the database of people already verified, which would then obviate the need for further demands for passport scans etc.

Surely it would better for everybody involved, even ATVOD and Ofcom to seek out a practical solution as it would encourage UK companies implementing checks rather than encouraging foreign companies that don't.

Another interesting solution being considered is to verify age by using a mobile phone in the sign up process and simply checking that the mobile phone has been enabled for adult content. Customers generally trust telecoms companies with their credit cards so this sounds far more viable solution than porn websites asking for ID details themselves.

Portland TV is working with Telecom 2 to integrate its mobile age verification solution, Verime, which checks the AV status of a user's mobile SIM by polling the mobile network operator to verify if the handset has been enabled for adult services.

Age Verification: The Pros & Cons will take place on Friday, September 26 at 1 p.m. as part of XBIZ EU at the London Hilton Metropole. Speakers include representatives of Portland TV, Veridu, Telecom 2, Intelligent ID, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) and .XXX. The session will be chaired by Jerry Barnett of Sex & Censorship.

 

25th September

  An Expensive Watch...

Open Rights Group is monitoring legal case calling for ISPs to block websites on grounds of trade mark infringement
Link Here
Old Bailey For the first time ISPs are being asked to block websites on the basis of alleged trade mark (rather than copyright) infringement. Whilst ORG takes no view on the merits of the trade mark claims in the current case, we believe the outcome of this case will have implications for future trade mark blocking applications, which could potentially threaten the legitimate interests of third parties.

Legal Director, Elizabeth Knight said:

As the court is being asked to extend the circumstances in which blocking orders are granted, it's vital that the wider public interest is taken into account. We hope that our intervention will help ensure that future claimants cannot use blocking orders to restrict legitimate activity or free speech.

David Allen Green, lawyer at Preiskel & Co LLP, is acting for ORG pro bono. He said:

In our adversarial system it is hard for the voices of third parties to be heard by a judge, even when the court will be developing remedies which can affect the legitimate rights of people who are not parties to a particular case. In this case the High Court has kindly permitted the ORG to intervene so as to make detailed submissions on how this novel jurisdiction should not be abused.

The case has been brought by luxury brands Cartier International and related companies. They are calling for BSkyB, BT, EE, TalkTalk and VirginMedia to block a number of websites that they claim have been using the brands' trade marks for counterfeiting activity.

In its submission to the Court, ORG stresses that it is neutral about the details over this particular case. The organisation's concerns are that if the claimants are successful, the ruling could be used as a basis for applications for blocking orders that are contrary to the public interest - for example, if the judgment was used to try and block websites that use trademarks to legitimately criticise or parody well known brands. Court blocking orders may also affect commercial third parties who have no involvement in any alleged infringement - for example law abiding businesses whose products appear on websites alongside those of companies involved in infringing activity. ORG is not opposing the current application, but has submitted to the court a test that should be adopted so that blocking orders are only granted in circumstances where they are proportionate, effective and contain safeguards against abuse.

ORG is campaigning for more transparency around websites blocked for legal reasons through its Error 451 project . ORG is calling for ISPs to show an error 451 message when material has been blocked by a court order and to provide more information to the public.

 

25th September

  Dragging their Heels...

Facebook get heavy about users who would prefer not to use their real names
Link Here
Facebook logo Facebook has decided to move forward with deleting all profiles who do not change their personal profile names to their legal names during a two week grace period.

The decision comes after Facebook agreed to meet with a group of drag queen activists on Wednesday to discuss Facebook's recent campaign to delete hundreds of drag queen profiles who are using their stage names or chosen names on their Facebook accounts.

Facebook's policy stipulates that a name displayed on a personal account must be your real name as it would be listed on your credit card, driver's license or student ID. Facebook spokesperson Andrew Souvall in a statement:

We had a good discussion with the group about their perspectives on our real name standard, and we stressed how the standard helps prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment.

We've decided to temporarily reactivate the profiles of several hundred members of the LGBT community whose profiles were recently deactivated. This will give them a chance to decide how they'd like to represent themselves on Facebook. Over the next two weeks, we hope that they will decide to confirm their real name, change their name to their real name, or convert their profile to a Page.

Buzzfeed notes:

Activists have raised s imilar concerns for transgender users who could be at risk if they no longer identify with the names they were given at birth and use chosen names on their Facebook profiles. Many transgender people, especially transgender youth, may not be able to legally change their names and provide proof of the name they identity with if asked by Facebook. And for some transgender users, being outed by having to use their legal names could be dangerous, the activists said.

A Change.org petition reads:

This issue is discriminatory against transgender and other nonconforming individuals who have often escaped a painful past. They've reinvented themselves or been born again and made whole, adopting names and identities that do not necessarily match that on their driver's license.

One has also to wonder if the requirement for real names is being pushed by the authorities. It must make their life very easy for snopping especially as people post such intimate details about their life.

 

24th September

 Offsite Article: New Australian E-Safety Commissioner could be censorship czar...

Link Here
australian government logo The Australian government is preparing to legislate wide-ranging internet censorship, and hoping that sentence won't scare the hell out of you if they shout children! By Luke McKinney

See article from techly.com.au

 

24th September

 Offsite Article: Black box car insurance will turn down your radio and monitor your texts...

Link Here
big brother watching In-car black boxes already monitor many drivers' habits, but their scrutiny is about to become more intrusive

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

23rd September

  Carry On Cooking...

A few whinges about innuendo in the Great British Bake Off
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Great British Bake Off Baking A few whingers have written to BBC Points of View to complain about constant smutty remarks in The Great British Bake Off , claiming the totally unnecessary innuendo was leaving Mary Berry embarrassed.

The BBC has made presenters Mel and Sue risque banter something of a focus of this series, starting up its own Twitter hashtag to showcase its innuendo of the week .

Recent episodes have seen presenters joke about having a nice pear and perfect nuts , with Mel Giedroyc ask contestants whether they are a pie or a tart , and Sue Perkins telling them: You have got two hours to pop Mary's cherry...in the oven and bring it out again. .

The Telegraph trawled twitter for a few trivial tweets:

Shirley Fooks said: They get smuttier and smuttier, and it is totally unnecessary. Mary Berry looked quite embarrassed on the first programme of this series, and so were we as a family.

Jeremy Vine, Points of View presenter, joked the show had become just too hot in the kitchen for some .

The BBC confirmed it has been contacted just seven times about its innuendo.

 

23rd September

  Finger on the Pulse of Venezuela...

Cartoonist sacked for making the government feel uncomfortable
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rayma health The firing of a longtime editorial cartoonist at El Universal newspaper for drawings critical of Venezuela's government caused a protest from former colleagues against the censorship of opposition viewpoints.

Cartoonist Rayma Suprani's firing this week reflects the country's increasing censorship, according to a statement issued by staff at the newspaper:

We're sorry that (Rayma) is no longer with us and we see (her firing) as one of the major costs that the new ownership is paying for trying to adapt to an editorial line favourable to the government.

Suprani sent a message over social media saying she was let go because her cartoons made the Maduro government uncomfortable. Her last sketch, published on Sept. 17, showed two medical charts one atop the other. One was labelled Health and tracked a patient's normal heart beat. The other was labelled Venezuela's Health and showed a flat line.

 

23rd September

  Met Sweat...

Protests against a New York staging of the opera The Death of Klinghoffer
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Death Klinghoffer DVD Sanford Sylvan There has been a protest in New York against an upcoming show at the Metropolitan Opera House.

A few dozens of people (from what the amNY newspaper ludicrously describes as different backgrounds, ignoring the politically incorrect elephant in the room), gathered outside Lincoln Center calling on the Met Opera's general manager, Peter Gelb, to cancel its upcoming performances of The Death of Klinghoffer .

The opera depicts the 1985 hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists and murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish New Yorker, and it has been accused of being anti-Semitic tone.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis said: What's next? 'ISIS: A Love Story'?

The Met, which is planning to present the opera in October and November, reiterated that although the show deals with difficult subject matter it stood by Adams's work. I t said in a statement:

As a cultural institution, we unwaveringly support the freedom of artists to create responsible work that addresses difficult contemporary topics. We firmly believe that artistic explorations of politically charged subjects should be presented to the public without fear of censorship.

 

23rd September

  DD Size Offence...

Outrage at trivial innuendo in advert for business centre
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matford size is important advert A billboard advertising office space in Devon has 'offended' a few people in Exeter who whinged that the poster is sexist.

The advert, promoting space for rent at Matford Business Centre in Exeter, features a large chested woman in a bikini next to the slogan Size IS important .

Among those calling for the poster to be banned are members of Exeter Feminists. Group founder Ellis Taylor spouted:

The blatant objectification of women in this advert is completely unnecessary and it is disappointing to see an Exeter business supporting old fashioned ideas.

I don't think the business is aware of the damage a poster like this can cause, it reinforces the idea that women are objects purely for men and that it is okay to treat them in such a way.

The poster needs to be removed and the business needs to recognise the level of sexism and objectification which it is associating itself with.

The adverting company has received about 20 complaints and has been contacted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which has received 5  complaints..

Matford's managing director, Harry Langley, explained that jokey adverts with images of women are effective:

We needed an effective way to advertise our office space. Looking at examples of adverts that have worked for other companies in the past, we saw that word play and images of women were the most successful.

We combined the two factors with the aim of creating a humorous and memorable way of promoting our facilities. We compared our advert with other images around at the moment and judged it was acceptable.

 

23rd September

 Offsite Article: Unforgotten Crimes...

Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
oxford mail 2013 logo Oxford Mail republishes crime stories censored by Google under the EU's disgraceful 'right to be forgotten'

See article from oxfordmail.co.uk

 

23rd September

 Offsite Article: Index on Censorship cuts through EU propaganda bullshit...

Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
index logo Myth-busting: European Commission misrepresents right to be forgotten objections

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

23rd September

 Offsite Article: Stereotypically PC...

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feck art Australian high priestesses of PC claim their porn is more ethical than everybody else's

See article from theguardian.com

 

22nd September

  Government Crime...

CPJ highlights a repressive law that will restrict free speech on Qatar
Link Here
Qatar flag The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Qatari government to abolish parts of a restrictive cybercrime law that passed this week, despite assurances from its prime minister last year that the legislation would not restrict freedom of expression, which is supposedly protected under the Qatari constitution.

The broad language of the Anti-Cybercrime Law will be used to restrict press freedom and impose prison sentences on journalists inside the country, according to news reports . Under Article 8, the law threatens to punish anyone found guilty of violating social values by publishing news, pictures, audio or video recordings related to the personal or family life of individuals, even if true, with up to one year in prison and a QR100,000 ($28,000) fine, according to local reports. The same punishment would apply to those found guilty of libel online.

According to a local news report , the law also states that those found [jeopardizing] the safety of the state, its general order, and its local or international peace by spreading or publishing false news through any means could face a one-year prison sentence and QR250,000 fine. Article 6 of the law threatens fines of up to QR500,000 and prison terms of up to three years for spreading false news with the aim of destabilizing national security, reports stated.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator said:

This law is ostensibly to stop cybercrime but at least two articles will severely restrict freedom of expression, which is not a crime The Qatari authorities should repeal all articles in this law which curb press freedom. Failure to do so will chill public discourse between the Qatari government and the citizens it serves.

 

22nd September

 Offsite Article: Australia's 'counter-terror' laws will restrict free speech and the free press...

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australian government logo Sweeping laws to gag publication of sensitive materials are dangerous for democracy. Abbott should not let hysteria over terrorism be used to thwart the freedom agenda. By Elaine Pearson

See article from theguardian.com