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3rd May

  Extremism, propaganda and censorship...

David Cameron set to introduce a bill that will include giving Ofcom the powers to censor TV prior to broadcast
Link Here
counter extremism org logo The Daily Mail reports that the government is set to introduce a new bill with a raft of measures to counter muslim extremism.

Among those measures is the enabling of TV pre broadcast censorship. Ofcom is to be given given extended powers to suspend broadcasts deemed to include unacceptable extremist material .

The Daily Mail article also reveals that a covert Home Office unit has been established to influence the views of young British Muslims using online propaganda tools. The secret campaign aims to bring about attitudinal and behavioural change and a different voice from Islamic State's persuasive online propaganda.

The Research, Information and Communications Unit (Ricu) had one initiative in which it advertised itself as a campaign providing advice on how to raise funds for Syrian refugees. Employees had face-to-face conversations with students without them knowing it was a government programme. The official description  of the group is:

Established in 2007, the Research Information and Communications Unit (RICU) is a cross-departmental strategic communications body based at the Office for Security and Counter-terrorism (OSCT) at the Home Office. RICU aims to coordinate government-wide communication activities to counter the appeal of violent extremism while promoting stronger grass-roots inter-community relations.

 

3rd May

 Update: First strike...

French parliament surprisingly votes against Hadopi law enabling 3 strikes copyright enforcement
Link Here

assemblee nationale The French three-strikes anti-piracy law Hadopi is heralded by copyright holders as an effective way to curb piracy. However, in France the legislation has often been criticized and in a surprise move against the will of the Government, the National Assembly has now voted to dismantle it in a few years.

France is seen as the pioneer of so-called three strikes anti-piracy legislation, in which repeated file-sharing offenders face fines of up to 1,500 euros. Since 2010 the French Hadopi agency has handed out millions of warning notices . A few thousand account holders received more than three notices, of which a few hundred of the worst cases were referred for prosecution.

Copyright holders around the world have cited Hadopi as one of the success stories, hoping to establish similar legislation elsewhere. However, in France the law hasn't been without controversy and in a total surprise the lower house of the French Parliament has now voted in favor of killing it.

Interestingly, the vote late last week went down under quite unusual circumstances. In a nearly empty chamber, the French National Assembly voted to end the Hadopi institution and law in 2022, Next Inpact reports . What's noteworthy is that only 7 of the 577 Members of Parliament were present at the vote, and the amendment passed with four in favor and three against.

The decision goes against the will of the sitting Government, which failed to have enough members present at the vote. While it's being seen as quite an embarrassment, the amendment still has to pass the senate, which seems unlikely without Government support.

The coup, orchestrated by the Green party has caused quite a media stir, not least because French President Francois Hollande called for the end of Hadopi before his election, a position he later retracted.

Maybe another theory as to why the French government may be keen to accidently drop the law. With a new emphasis on terrorism prevention and snooping, it can't really be helpful that large numbers of people adopt encrypted proxies and VPNs primarily to evade Hadopi   copyright enforcement.

 

2nd May

  DVD submissions on the up in Ireland...

Irish film censor publishes Annual Report covering 2015
Link Here
ifcon annual report 2015

Ger Connolly Acting Director of Film Classification introduces IFCO's Annual Report for 2015:

The year under review showed an unexpected, but welcome, increase in the number of DVD submissions. This 7% increase is very satisfying as it reinforces yet again the desire of our business partners to have their product classified by IFCO for distribution in Ireland. Consequently it affords the consumer the opportunity to make informed choices based on a consistent level of classification.

Cinema films classified dropped very slightly to 371, while DVDs increased to 4065.

The second part of our in-house research project, undertaken during 2014, was published early in the year. With the focus on post primary students' parents, it should come as no surprise that the greatest level of concern is towards the depiction of violence in all its forms. As a result of these consultations it is my intention to review our published guidelines during 2016 with a view to updating and expanding on the various classification issues.

 

2nd May

 Updated: Contradicting religious beliefs...

Jordan bans for Lebanese rock band for its gay associations
Link Here
mashrou leila A Lebanese rock band, Mashrou' Leila, says it has been banned in Jordan because its music supports religious and sexual freedom.  Mashrou' Leila was to play in the Roman amphitheatre in Amman on Friday, but the concert was cancelled on Tuesday.

Mashrou' Leila's lead singer is openly gay and the band tackles taboos that few other Arab musicians have explored.

In a post on its Facebook page, Mashrou' Leila announced that it would not be able to play at Amman's amphitheatre this week as scheduled, citing the organisers as saying:

the performance would have been at odds with what the ministry of tourism viewed as the 'authenticity' of the site.

Informally, the story is much more problematic. We have been unofficially informed that the reason behind this sudden change of heart, few days before the concert day, is the intervention of some authorities.

Our understanding is that said authorities have pressured certain political figures and triggered a chain of events that ultimately ended with our authorisation being withdrawn.

We also have been unofficially informed that we will never be allowed to play again anywhere in Jordan due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom.

Amman governor Khalid Abu Zeid told the Associated Press that the group had been banned because its songs contradicted religious beliefs, and not because its music went against the amphitheatre's historic ambience.

Update: Unbanned but too late in the day to organise the show

2nd May 2016. See  article from christiandaily.com  

The Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila (Leila's Project) was reportedly banned last week, April 26, from performing at the Roman Theater in the Jordan's capital, Amman. However, after a massive online backlash from fans of the band in Jordan and in the Middle East, Jordan authorities decided to reverse the order and permit the band to perform two days later.

Unfortunately, the band was still unable to perform for their fans in Jordan as it is difficult to bring the concert with such a huge production back to Jordan, as indicated in an official statement in the band's Facebook page.

We believe this wouldn't have been possible without the strong reactions from people who believe in freedom of expression and artistic and cultural freedoms, and who stepped up to defend the pluralism and diversity of Jordanian society. This gives us hope and confidence for Jordan to host diverse cultural and artistic events in the future.

 

2nd May

 Update: Morality in Media recommends...

The Game of Thrones
Link Here  full story: Morality in Media...Misreable campaigners for censorship
Game Thrones Season 5 DVD Game The campaign group Morality in Media now calls itself The National Center on Sexual Exploitation.  For some reason the group feels compelled to whinge about the incredibly popular TV sensation, Game of Thrones :

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) held a press conference calling on HBO executives to stop promoting pornified entertainment in the TV series Game of Thrones.  Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said:

Game of Thrones has excelled in turning brutal sexual violence into mainstream entertainment,. Since 2011, HBO has relentlessly brought the ambiance of torture pornography into American living rooms through Game of Thrones' explicit depictions of rape, incest, prostitution, and sexual violence. This cocktail of pornography and twisted plot lines must be denounced as socially irresponsible, especially in an age when American society is struggling to combat the crises of sexual assault and rape culture.

While the 6th season premiere refrained from explicit sexually violent content due to backlash from the last season's gratuitous rape scenes, one episode does not constitute a trend -- the show runners must consistently work to prove that Game of Thrones is no longer dedicated to normalizing sexual violence, Hawkins continued. Some associated with the Game of Thrones franchise have claimed that scenes depicting sexual violence merely represent real-to-life, historic scenarios, but it is clear that the show's creators are fixated on producing unjustifiably sexually graphic scenes, Hawkins continued. In stark contrast, films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Color Purple manage to convey the gravity of rape in a plotline without exploiting it in a way that is salacious or dehumanizing. Game of Thrones, however, has consistently crossed the line of decency by grotesquely depicting rape, incest, prostitution, and sexual violence in a manner that turns viewers into vicarious participants. For its incessant themes of sexual violence, Game of Thrones would be more aptly named Shame of Thrones.

 

1st May

 Diary: 8 premieres including the Vatican Tapes...

May 2016 on the Horror Channel
Link Here
Vatican Olivia Taylor Michael Dougray Horror Channel will be broadcasting eight premieres during May, including the UK TV premiere of The Vatican Tapes , a dynamic, unusual and thrilling exorcism shocker by Crank director Mark Neveldine, which will broadcast on Friday 13th May at 9pm.

Screened at FrightFest Halloween 2015, the story centres on the battle to save a young girl's her soul after she expresses increasingly erratic and strange behaviour. It soon becomes clear that Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) has been taken over by an ancient satanic force and that she must be quickly purged of evil. But what nobody knows is that the spiritual crusade is not just for Angela - it's for the entire world as humanity knows it. Also starring are Michael Peņa, Dougray Scott, Djimon Hounsou and Peter Andersson

Receiving their first appearances on the Horror Channel are the grotesque Irish comedy horror Stitches , starring Ross Noble and Tom Shankland's chilling and taboo-shattering The Children . There is also a UK TV premiere of Ian Clark's stark and scary The Facility .

Other premieres this month are: the UK Network premiere of Hank Braxton's creature feature chiller Maneater , the UK TV premiere of Mac Carter's frightening and powerful Haunt , the network premiere of Norman J. Warren's sadistic cult classic Terror and the network premiere of Vernon Sewell's strange and sinister Curse Of The Crimson Altar , starring Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee.

 

1st May

  Losing Face...

Pakistan film censors on a banning roll
Link Here
Poster Among the Believers 2015 Mohammed Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi Among the Believers is a 2015 Pakistan / USA war biography by Mohammed Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi.
Starring Fedor Alexandrovich. IMDb

Pakistan's film censors at the CBFC have banned the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education (Face) Film Festival from screening Among the Believers.

In a letter, the vice chairman of the censor board, Adnan Akram Bajwa, described the award winning documentary Among the Believers as unsuitable for public exhibition. The letter reads:

It also contains dialogues, which project a negative image of Pakistan in the context of fighting the ongoing war against extremism and terrorism.

Promotional material

Controversial Pakistani cleric Maulana Aziz, linked to the Taliban, declares jihad against the government to impose sharia law. The government retaliates by destroying his seminary, killing his mother, brother, his only son and 150 students. The film follows charming yet menacing Maulana Aziz on his personal quest to create an Islamic utopia, which causes the country to implode. The Red Mosque has students allied with ISIL, and strong ties to the Taliban. We meet two Red Mosque students whose paths diverge: Talha, 12, leaves his moderate Muslim family to study to be a jihadi preacher. Zarina, also 12, escapes her madrassa and joins a normal school. Her education is threatened by frequent Taliban attacks on schools like her own. In December, 2014, the Taliban massacred 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar, outraging Pakistan's moderate majority. Aziz's longtime opponent, education reformer Pervez Hoodbhoy joins the re-energized anti-extremist movement. Throughout the film, he passionately ...

Besieged in Quetta

The festival was also not allowed to screen Besieged in Quetta , a film by independent filmmaker Asef Ali Mohammad which shed light on the plight of the city's Hazara population. The censor board claims the film promoted ethnicity and sectarianism (sic!) .

Produced by Hemal Trivedi and directed by Mohammad Ali Naqvi, the documentary follows the Lal Masjid and its network of seminaries, as well as two students, and contains comments from the controversial Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.

Anam Abbas, the director of the film festival, said the documentary has already been screened in over a dozen countries, and has won multiple awards.

Poster Maalik 2016 Ashir Azeem Maalik is a 2016 Pakistan action thriller by Ashir Azeem.
Starring Ashir Azeem, Farhan Ally Agha and Sajid Hassan. IMDb

Three weeks after the Ashir Azeem directorial Maalik premiered at theatres across Pakistan, the federal information ministry has slapped a ban on the film.

According to a notification, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, and National Heritage declared the film uncertified according to Section 9 of the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979. A ministry official said:

The information ministry reserves the right to ban any film at any time. Maalik has been banned because it shows a former chief minister as a man of corruption and opulence.

Promotional material

An Afghan family that escapes from the ravages of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and settles in Karachi. A SSG officer who undergoes a personal tragedy and starts a private security company (Black Ops Pvt. Ltd) in Karachi. His SSG colleagues keep joining the company on their retirements. An idealist school master who suffers greatly under a cruel Feudal lord and settles in Karachi and finally the Feudal Lord who becomes the Chief Minister of Sindh and unleashes a reign of terror on all that cross his path. Maalik is a story of love, loyalty, honor, family value, idealism, courage and dignity against all odds, and across all sections of society from the poor and the struggling to the highest levels of wealth and power.

 

1st May

  Identified as repressive...

EU commissioner proposes that Europeans should use an Identity Card to logon in for internet services
Link Here
EU flag

Estonian commissioner Andrus Ansip has re-introduced one of his favourite suggestions: using national ID cards to log in to online services: Online platforms need to accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as electronic ID cards, citizen cards, bank cards or mobile IDs .

He claims that this is nothing to do with making mass surveillance easier, its apparently just to help users with their password management.

Estonia introduced online ID in 2012 and it is claimed that subjects are happy with it too.

 

1st May

 Update: Worldwide powers enabling US authorities to hack into your computer or phone...

A little known US Congress committee has proposed new hacking powers for government snoopers
Link Here
US Senate The EEF is a campaign group supporting people's rights in the digital world. The group writes:

The US government hacking into phones and seizing computers remotely? It's not the plot of a dystopian blockbuster summer movie. It's a proposal from an obscure committee that proposes changes to court procedures--and if we do nothing, it will go into effect in December.

The proposal comes from the advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States. The amendment would update Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, creating a sweeping expansion of law enforcement's ability to engage in hacking and surveillance. The Supreme Court just passed the proposal to Congress, which has until December 1 to disavow the change or it becomes the rule governing every federal court across the country. This is part of a statutory process through which federal courts may create new procedural rules, after giving public notice and allowing time for comment, under a "rules enabling act." 1

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure set the ground rules for federal criminal prosecutions. The rules cover everything from correcting clerical errors in a judgment to which holidays a court will be closed on --all the day-to-day procedural details that come with running a judicial system.

The key word here is "procedural." By law, the rules and proposals are supposed to be procedural and must not change substantive rights. But the amendment to Rule 41 isn't procedural at all. It creates new avenues for government hacking that were never approved by Congress.

The proposal would grant a judge the ability to issue a warrant to remotely access, search, seize, or copy data when the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means or when the media are on protected computers that have been damaged without authorization and are located in five or more districts. It would grant this authority to any judge in any district where activities related to the crime may have occurred.

To understand all the implications of this rule change, let's break this into two segments.

The first part of this change would grant authority to practically any judge to issue a search warrant to remotely access, seize, or copy data relevant to a crime when a computer was using privacy-protective tools to safeguard one's location. Many different commonly used tools might fall into this category. For example, people who use Tor, folks running a Tor node, or people using a VPN would certainly be implicated. It might also extend to people who deny access to location data for smartphone apps because they don't feel like sharing their location with ad networks. It could even include individuals who change the country setting in an online service, like folks who change the country settings of their Twitter profile in order to read uncensored Tweets.

There are countless reasons people may want to use technology to shield their privacy. From journalists communicating with sources to victims of domestic violence seeking information on legal services, people worldwide depend on privacy tools for both safety and security. Millions of people who have nothing in particular to hide may also choose to use privacy tools just because they're concerned about government surveillance of the Internet, or because they don't like leaving a data trail around haphazardly.

If this rule change is not stopped, anyone who is using any technological means to safeguard their location privacy could find themselves suddenly in the jurisdiction of a prosecutor-friendly or technically-naīve judge, anywhere in the country.

The second part of the proposal is just as concerning. It would grant authorization to a judge to issue a search warrant for hacking, seizing, or otherwise infiltrating computers that may be part of a botnet . This means victims of malware could find themselves doubly infiltrated: their computers infected with malware and used to contribute to a botnet, and then government agents given free rein to remotely access their computers as part of the investigation. Even with the best of intentions, a government agent could well cause as much or even more harm to a computer through remote access than the malware that originally infected the computer. Malicious actors may even be able to hijack the malware the government uses to infiltrate botnets, because the government often doesn't design its malware securely . Government access to the computers of botnet victims also raises serious privacy concerns, as a wide range of sensitive, unrelated personal data could well be accessed during the investigation. This is a dangerous expansion of powers, and not something to be granted without any public debate on the topic.

Make no mistake: the Rule 41 proposal implicates people well beyond U.S. borders. This update expands the jurisdiction of judges to cover any computer user in the world who is using technology to protect their location privacy or is unwittingly part of a botnet. People both inside and outside of the United States should be equally concerned about this proposal.

The change to Rule 41 isn't merely a procedural update. It significantly expands the hacking capabilities of the United States government without any discussion or public debate by elected officials. If members of the intelligence community believe these tools are necessary to advancing their investigations, then this is not the path forward. Only elected members of Congress should be writing laws, and they should be doing so in a matter that considers the privacy, security, and civil liberties of people impacted.

Rule 41 seeks to sidestep the legislative process while making sweeping sacrifices in our security. Congress should reject the proposal completely.

 

1st May

  Celebrity nudes...

Vietnam decrees new law banning artistes and models from appearing in nude photos
Link Here
Vietnam flag Several photographers have voiced their opposition to a new Ministry of Censorship Culture, Sports and Tourism circular that bans artists and well known models from nude photography.

The circular was supposed to deal with issues in the entertainment business, but it has raised much debate. It stated that artists, models and beauty pageant entrants were banned from being photographed or recorded nude or in inappropriate clothes or even makeup. The decrees also bans deliberate or accidental distribution of such images.

Photographer Dung Art said:

I think this circular violates personal rights of the models and the photographers and even viewers.

When being asked what would happen when the circular took effect on May 15, Dung said the photographers probably would have to check whether the models were popular or not. He added:

Artwork is kept locked up. The space for artistic expression through nude photographer is already very limited so what's this circular aimed at? They previously said artistic nude photos could be given permits for exhibition but I know the reality is different, so this circular is meaningless.

Photographer Thai Phien said:

The authorities are still unable to distinguish artistic nude photos and pornography. Will it be okay if a photographer only takes a picture of a beauty queen's back and not her face? The rules must be clearer than this.

Until the authorities are able to differentiate pornographic and artistic photos, people will just continue with their nude photography albeit silently and hidden away, like it always has done. Nude photos have existed since cameras first appeared.

 

30th April

  When is a religious profanity no longer profane?...er... when nobody gives a fuck...

US Christian news organisations asks why the BBFC doesn't take account of religious profanities anymore
Link Here
wnd logo For some reason that is not immediately obvious, a US christian websites has decided to have a rant about the BBFC not taking religious 'profanities, eg 'Jesus!' and 'Goddam' seriously enough. The websites asks:

When is a religious profanity no longer profane ?

Sixty years ago, religious profanities typically were forbidden in Hollywood movies, as the Protestant and Catholic film offices held sway on issues of acceptability in the Golden Age of film.

Today, however, in one Western nation [UK], such profanities fail to register even the slightest concern with the primary movie-rating agency [BBFC], which rarely mentions such expletives in its warning nor takes them into account when determining ratings.

In a recent response to a WND reader, a representative of the BBFC, whose tagline is Age ratings you trust, explained the policy:

While we recognize that such terms [profanities] may be offensive to those who hold religious beliefs, our public consultation has found that most respondents found these terms acceptable at 'U' [the rating described as 'suitable for all'].

The focus of the whinge seems to be the 12A rating for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Concern arose over the BBFC evaluation of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It included this language warning: There is occasional use of mild bad language, including 'son of a bitch,' 'shit' and 'piss.'

There was no mention, however, of religious profanities in the film, like those cited in the MovieGuide review. Based in Hollywood, MovieGuide reviews films from a Christian perspective. Its analysis of Batman v. Superman warned of five strong profanities (using Goddam or Jesus) and two light profanities.

The BBFC rated the Batman film 12A, for moderate violence and threat. In the U.S., it is rated PG-13.

WND end with a delightfully ludicrous sound bite with a few choice words about the BBFC:

MovieGuide founder Ted Baehr has followed the BBFC for decades. He told WND the organization is much more anti-Christian than the nation at large:

Added Baehr: The British Board of Film Classifications has often established itself as a pseudo elitist body that ignores the reality of families and the human condition. At least, the BBFC should consist mainly of mothers with children. Better still, as I argued before the U.K. Parliament years ago, they need to establish standards that prevent the sociological, psychological and religious dangers of movies and entertainment that destroy susceptible youth, as many of the Oxford studies show.

 

30th April

 Update: Dumb and Dumber lawsuit...

MPAA argues against anti-smoking campaigners who want children's movies to be rated R for smoking
Link Here  full story: Smoking in the Moviews...Ludicrous calls fo an adult rating for films with smoking
dumb and dumber to The MPAA representing Hollywood's major studios along with theatre owners are contesting a lawsuit ludicrously calling for an R rating for children's movies that depict smoking.

The MPAA notes that it doesn't want to be held hostage to any misguided morality play that seeks to force them not to have any movies with tobacco imagery rated G, PG or PG-13.

Court papers have been filed asking a judge to reject a putative class action that blames them for children becoming addicted to nicotine.

Anti-smoking campaigners have flagged such films as Dumb and Dumber To , Transformers: Age of Extinction and Iron Man 3 as among those featuring tobacco-related imagery that are being seen by young audiences.

The Hollywood defendants warned the judge that, soon, they might be forced to give R ratings to all films that depict alcohol use, gambling, contact sports, bullying, consumption of soda or fatty foods, or high-speed driving.

 

30th April

  Verified as chilling...

Louisiana judge blocks law requiring age verification for online sales that are deemed harmful to chidlren
Link Here
Louisiana State Seal A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a Louisiana criminal law that requires online booksellers, publishers and other website owners to electronically verify customers' ages before providing access to material that could be deemed harmful to children.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson granted a preliminary injunction requested by two New Orleans bookstores and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Jackson said the 2005 law's vagueness would cause a chill on protected speech. He wrote:

A possible consequence of the chill caused by (the law) is to drive protected speech from the marketplace of ideas on the Internet

ACLU attorneys argued that the law imposes unconstitutional, overly broad restrictions on anyone who wants to distribute material over the Internet. And they questioned whether it could have any practical effect on children's access to online pornography, or other potentially harmful material, since the law only applied to material published in Louisiana.

 

30th April

  A virtual necessity...

Australian government endorses VPN use as it notes that Australians are generally overcharged for copyrighted and licensed content enforced by geo-blocking
Link Here
australian government productivity commission logo

 

29th April

 Update: Unfree Speech...

Turkish journalists jailed for republishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons as a mark of solidarity with the cartoonists murdered in Paris
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
cumhuriyet charlie hebdo Turkey has sentenced two columnists to prison for two years for illustrating articles with cartoons from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo .

A court in Istanbul convicted Hikmet Cetinkaya and Ceyda Karan with fomenting hatred and enmity in the people via means of the press.

Bulent Utku, the journalists' lawyer, said they would be appealing the sentence.

Sections of Turkish society were 'outraged' by the cartoons in Cumhuriyet , an opposition newspaper when they were published in January last year as a gesture of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

Turkish police had stopped and searched Cumhuriyet trucks as they left the printing press and protesters in Istanbul later burned copies of the newspaper.

The case was pressed by lawyers linked to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, and several members of his family.

 

29th April

 Updated: A dangerous place to holiday...

A Dutch Journalist is arrested on holiday in Turkey for supposed insult of the president
Link Here  full story: Erdogan Insulted in Germany...Free speech finds no refuge in Germany

ebru umar A Dutch journalist was blocked from leaving Turkey on Sunday following her arrest on Saturday night for tweets deemed critical of the easily offended Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ebru Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist of Turkish origin, recently wrote a piece criticising Erdogan for the Dutch daily Metro, extracts of which she then tweeted, leading to her arrest. After her arrest in the resort town of Kusadasi in western Turkey, where she was on holiday, Dutch officials said, she was brought before a judge.

She later said she was free but forbidden to leave the country .

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey punishable by up to four years in jail, but the law has rarely been invoked. Since Erdogan became president in 2014, prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting him, the justice minister said last month.

Update: Government support

29th April 2016. See  article from dutchnews.nl

The Dutch government considers freedom of speech and the freedom of the press to be fundamental values which cannot be used as bargaining chips, foreign minister Bert Koenders said a briefing to parliament on Thursday. He said:

We do not bargain with fundamental values, even if we are making agreements with a country about other issues. These are completely separate.

Koenders was updating MPs on the arrest of Metro columnist Ebru Umar, who was picked up in Turkey last weekend after sending out two tweets considered to be insulting to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

29th April

 Update: Miserable Uganda...

Ugandan government passed new anti-porn laws
Link Here
Uganda flag The Ugandan cabinet has approved new anti-pornography laws that bar supposedly obscene publications and the staging of erotic and nude drama and dances in the country.

The laws also prohibit the broadcast of sexually explicit material in form of still pictures video footage and vulgar utterances by presenters on broadcast media.

Penalties include hefty jail terms.

 

28th April

  Stereotypically loony left wing...

Extremists PC advert censors ask for evidence that they are not extreme enough about 'gender stereotyping'
Link Here

ASA logo Our call for evidence: Gender stereotyping in ads 28 April 2016

In recent years, there has been increasing political and public debate on equality issues. The objectification and sexualisation of women in ads, presenting an idealised or unrealistic body image, the mocking of women and men in non-stereotypical roles, the reinforcement of stereotyped views of gender roles, and gender-specific marketing to children are all issues that have gained considerable public interest.

As a proactive regulator, we want to find out more about these issues. Consequently, we will be doing three things: examining evidence on gender stereotyping in ads, seeking views from a range of stakeholders, and commissioning our own research into public opinion.

At this stage we are being open-minded about what stakeholders and research tell us about gender stereotyping in ads and the impact of such advertising, which will shape the project as we move forward. In particular, we are keen for people and organisations to send us any research they have on this issue. Evidence can be sent to us at gender@asa.org.uk.

The project will report on whether we're getting it right on gender stereotyping in ads. If the evidence suggests a change in regulation is merited we will set out the best way to achieve it.

Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said:

We're serious about making sure we're alive to changing attitudes and behaviours. That's why we've already been taking action to ban ads that we believe reinforce gender stereotypes and are likely to cause serious and widespread offence, or harm.

And that's also why we want to engage further with a wide range of stakeholders on the effect of gender stereotyping on society, including through our 'call for evidence'.

I look forward to hearing from stakeholders as this important work progresses.

 

28th April

 Update: Someone pass Shaggy the baggy so he can roll Scooby a doobie...

New Zealand campervan censor bans 3 campervans featuring Snow White and Scooby Doo whilst alluding to drug use
Link Here  full story: Wicked Campervans...Un polictically correct adverts wind up Australian and New Zealand authorities
wicked campervan snow white Australian film censors are the OFLC have banned 3 campervans decorated with slogans and images alluding to drug use. The 3 banned vans are:
  • The right side of Wicked Camper GCT799 has an image of the head and upper body of a smiling dwarf. He has a hand to his very orange nose. Text in large red letters beneath the windows reads Do What You Feel .

The left side has a large image of the head and shoulders of the fairy-tale character, Snow White, dressed in her traditional blue and red costume. She holds a thin white tube to one nostril and there are two lines of a white substance on a flat surface beneath the end of the tube. Her eyes are shut. Text in large white letters beneath the windows reads Snow White .

Text in white capitals beneath the van's back window reads, There's no way I was just born to pay bills and die.. The description of the image of the character Snow White in the submission from Ford Sumner lawyers is inconsistent with the image itself. Plainly Snow White appears to be about to inhale white powder rather than powder her nose.

  • The right side of Wicked Camper JKC408 has a large image of the head and part of the upper body of a well-known stoner character, Shaggy, from the children's television programme Scooby-Doo. The character holds what appears to be a cannabis cigarette and his facial expression suggests that he is drug-affected. The name Shaggy , in large green lower-case letters, appears under the van's windows.

The left side shows the head of the dog Scooby-Doo, mouth open and eyes gleaming with characteristic doggy excitement. The name Scooby-Doo , in purple capitals outlined in yellow, appears under the van's windows.

Text in white capitals beneath the back window of the van reads, Someone pass Shaggy the baggy so he can roll Scooby a doobie

  • The right side of Wicked Camper JLT886 has a large image of the head, hand and part of the upper body of the Dr Seuss character, the Cat in the Hat. The character holds a bong to its nose, and its face shows pleasure. A speech bubble beneath the van's windows contains four lines of text in black capital letters, reading, I did a bong / I did, I did! / A bong! A bong! / A bong I did!

The image on the left side focuses on the face of the same character, who looks extremely ill. Text in large red capitals, outlined in white, reads, Bad trip.

Beneath the van's back window text in white capitals reads, It's easier to get forgiveness than permission!

The censors explained their ban:

The public availability of Wicked Camper JLT886, Wicked Camper GCT799 and Wicked Camper JKC408 in their current form is likely to be injurious to the public good and they are therefore classified as Objectionable.

In a framework set by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, classification decisions must be reasonable and demonstrably justifiable. Freedom of expression entails a certain tolerance for the depiction of drug use in various media. Films or DVDs, for instance, allow a high level of control over the manner and circumstances of viewing, including access. This same agency and control is not available when the medium is a campervan designed specifically for public display as a business promotion.

The imagery and text on the campervans are expressions of a view but not political opinion or particularly meaningful satire: they are not making a greater point about social or cultural matters other than celebrating drug use.

Significant injury to the public good, in particular the promotion of criminal behaviour to children and young teenagers arising from the display of these vans is likely. The nature of the medium in this case means that this injury to the public good is not able to be adequately addressed by a restriction to those over a specified age.

The likelihood of injury to the public good arising from the availability of the campervans, specifically the harm caused to children and young teenagers who view the images and text dealing with criminal drug use, has been identified. The protection of children and young teenagers from harmful material is paramount in this instance. This is not an unusual or excessive limitation of commercial free speech. The promotion of other potentially harmful activities to children, such as the consumption of alcohol or tobacco is also prohibited.

 

28th April

 Update: Wowsers overruled...

Calls for the censorship of Wicked Campervans in New South Wales turned down
Link Here  full story: Wicked Campervans...Un polictically correct adverts wind up Australian and New Zealand authorities

Australia: New South Wales flag New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has rejected calls to ban humerous slogans on the Wicked Campervans fleet, saying:

  • I don't think it's something that the state government should be getting involved in.

The statement was in response to local councillor Duncan Dey who wanted to wipe the usually sexist slogans off the vans or ban them from council caravan parks.  Dey proposed the erection of signs saying Van drivers, your wicked slogan is not welcome in Byron Shire could be erected at Byron Shire entry points, and the vans could be banned from council caravan parks.

Meanwhile the annual Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass , held near Byron Bay, has also taken a stand against the campervans. The festival website says:

If you're booking a campervan, please steer clear of sexist slogans! You know who you are. It's 2016, get with the program!!,

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said councils and wowsers in northern NSW should leave Wicked alone. He said:

Personally, I find authoritarians disguised as hippies or feminists far more offensive than any slogan on the back of a van, but I don't seek to ban them.

 

28th April

  But who would love someone with the imperfection of being a PC whinger?...

'Body shaming' adverts for dating website Match.com spotted on London Underground
Link Here
matchcom freckles advert advert Dating website Match.com have apologised for saying freckles were imperfections. A few politically correct commuters on London Underground whinged that the adverts were a form of 'body shaming'

One of the adverts showed a freckled face with the by-line:

If you don't like your imperfections, somebody else will.

However the number of official complaints was pretty negligible with the Guardian reporting that 6 complaints were sent to the advert censor, ASA.

A Match.com spokeswoman told The Huffington Post that the Love Your Imperfections campaign was meant to [celebrate] perceived physical and behavioral imperfections and encourage everyone to be proud of their individuality.

 

28th April

  Verbal Violence...

Special Olympics organisers demand that a comedian is censored for using the word 'retard'
Link Here  full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

Gary Owen I Agree Myself The organisers of the Special Olympics have launched a campaign against comedian Gary Owen for using the word retarded on stage. They are 'demanding' American cable TV station Showtime censor his stand-up special I Agree With Myself from their on-demand service. They have also launched an online petition to back their cause whihc has about 3000 signatures at the moment.

Gary Owen's show includes a routine about the comedian's cousin, Tina. Tina's retarded, he says. She's not slow. It's full-blown. It is what it is. He then goes on to make jokes about her having sex. His routine also mocks the Special Olympics, for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. He said: The 100-metre dash is the funniest shit you'll want to see, because it's literally eight people running with no arm swing.

The petition reads:

We live in an era where bullying has become public sport, where public figures and leaders from dozens of walks of life seem to believe that humiliation and viciousness are acceptable ways of communicating.

[Gary Owens] mocks [people with intellectual disabilities'] speech, mocks their love, mocks their sexuality, mocks them as people and worst of all, does so without any qualms or hesitation. He can pick on his cousin. Why? According to him: because she's "retarded." Apparently, she isn't worthy of even the most basic dignity.

None of this is funny. At all. It is callous and gratuitous verbal violence.

 

28th April

 Offsite Article: Banning unsafe social media during elections...

Link Here  full story: Student Union Censorship...Students Vs Free Speech
safe space National Union of Students debate ever more lunatic ideas about what constitutes a safe space

See article from independent.co.uk

 

27th April

  No balls...

Kevin Smith's Yoga Hosers downrated from MPAA R to PG-13
Link Here
Poster Yoga Hosers 2016 Kevin Smith Yoga Hosers is a 2016 USA comedy horror fantasy by Kevin Smith.
Starring Johnny Depp, Austin Butler and Stan Lee. IMDb

Set in the Great White North of Canada, YOGA HOSERS tells the story of Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie - two teenage besties from Winnipeg who spend their lives doing Yoga with their faces in their phones, 'Liking' or 'Not Liking' the real world around them. But when these Sophomore girls are invited to a Senior party by the school hottie, the Colleens accidentally uncover an ancient evil, long buried beneath the Manitoba earth.

The film was originally awarded an MPAA R rating for some sexual content in February 2016. Now the rating has been downgraded to PG-13.

The Director tweeted said that the MPAA had changed the rating from R to PG-13 on the eve of his scheduled appeal screening, which was subsequently cancelled.

Smith announced his intent to appeal last week and claimed the reasoning was for a cartoony drawing of testicles on a book cover. Nothing will have to be removed from the film, according to Smith. He did not quite say that no cuts had been made, so presumably he had somehow obscured the offending book cover.

 

27th April

 Update: Ultimate censorship of gay magazine...

More murderous censorship by religious extremists in Bangladesh
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
roopbaan magazine Xulhaz Mannan, a top gay rights activist and editor of Roopbaan, the country's only LGBT magazine, was hacked to death together with another man associated with the publication, Tanay Mojumdar.

The two men were killed two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility -- but the Bangladeshi government claimed there is no IS presence in the country.

BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan , a magazine and activist group for the LGBT community that had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.

Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.

Meanwhile Bangladesh's best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday. Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed very soon .

 

27th April

 Update: But most people have 'something' to hide...

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear? The immense powers in the UK's new surveillance bill are questioned in a new documentary film, The Haystack
Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

the haystack video The Haystack is a new documentary , released today by Scenes of Reason , bringing together leading lights for and against the UK's Investigatory Powers Bill. This unprecedented piece of legislation, which is now under parliamentary scrutiny, seeks to affirm and expand the surveillance remit of UK security services and other departments, including new powers for the police to access internet connection records -- a database of the public's online activity over the previous 12 months.

The film provides an excellent roundup of arguments on both sides of the tortuous surveillance debate, including Conservative MP Johnny Mercer echoing the well-worn refrain, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group , speaking at the film's launch, quipped that Mr Mercer might feel a bit different if it were the left-wing government of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell wielding these powers. Indeed, as far-right parties attract support around Europe and the world, the likelihood increases of tremendous state surveillance becoming the plaything of ever more abusive regimes.

The immense capabilities contained within the bill are unpalatable in the hands of any authority -- they are all too easily harnessed to undermine perfectly reasonable political opposition and judicial work. By way of example, the film outlines one such case where the current UK government improperly gained access to privileged details of a court case against it. In this light, the bill seems an intolerable threat to democracy and free expression.

Voices of concern from the security community , such as Sir David Omand, ex-GCHQ chief, explain that precautions against terrorism require more spying. Others reject this, noting that security services have failed to act on intelligence when they do have it -- spending enormous sums on digital surveillance only reduces their efficacy in the realm of traditional detective work. Moreover, those costs, to be borne by government and industry, are excessive at a time of cuts to other public services designed to protect us from more conventional enemies, such as disease.

The debate is winding -- this film helps straighten things out.

Watch the whole documentary here .

 

26th April

  Censors throw a hissy fit...

The Angry Birds Movie is cut for a BBFC U rated cinema release
Link Here
Poster Angry Birds Movie 2016 Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly The Angry Birds Movie is a 2016 Finland / USA family action animation by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly.
Starring Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis and Peter Dinklage. BBFC link IMDb

UK: Passed U for very mild bad language, comic slapstick, innuendo, toilet humour after BBFC advised pre-cuts for:

  • 2016 cinema release titled Angry Birds
The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice in an incomplete form. The company was advised it was likely to be classified PG, but that their preferred U could be achieved by removing a couple of examples of word play on strong language. When the finished version of the film was submitted for formal classification, these instances of word play had been removed and the film was therefore classified U.

Promotional Material

In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we'll finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds - or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis, We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad in his first animated role since Frozen), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride, This is the End, Eastbound and Down) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it's up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.

 

26th April

  The Lord Chamberlain Papers...

Book about stage censorship wins the Theatre Book Prize
Link Here
Censorship British Drama 1900 1968 Performance A book about censorship in British drama has won this year's Theatre Book Prize.

The award, which honours books from the previous year, went to The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 by Steve Nicholson. It was based on files from the Lord Chamberlain's office based in the British Library.

Colin Chambers, former literary manager of the Royal Court in London, described the winning book as a detailed account of how theatre and society interact, seen through the prism of censorship .

 

26th April

 Update: Censorship News...

Malaysia set to introduce law requiring the registration and censorship of blogs and news websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet
Malaysia flag Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Ministry has formally proposed legal amendments to the Attorney General that would require the country's political blogs and online news portals to register with the government. Minister Salleh Said Keruak unconvincingly denies that the legislation amounts to censorship, arguing that the proposal is designed to preserve the Internet as a tool for promoting Malaysia's economic growth, and meant to protect the country against internal divisions brought about by misleading information published online, he says.

Human rights groups and media freedom advocates denounced the proposal as a curtailment of free speech, saying the move reverses the government's earlier stated commitment to promoting Internet freedom.

Critics of Malaysia's ruling political party say the push to force political blogs to register with the state is a desperate tactic meant to silence dissent. Since last year, the government has struggled against a corruption scandal that's sparked mass protests across the country. Internet users, including bloggers, are some of the prime minister's most vocal detractors, accusing him of ill-gotten gains in several dubious transactions. State censors have already blocked a handful of news websites for reporting allegedly unverified information about the corruption issue.

Many bloggers who fear the proposed amendments recall recent comments by the communications minister, who said Internet freedom is a privilege , not a right, and is something the government can curtail.:

 

26th April

  Hitting all the right notes...

Opera adds free unlimited VPN for secure browsing
Link Here
opera developer browser logo Opera has become the first major browser to add a free VPN client to its web browser. The VPN offers AES-256 encryption and allows users to browse the Internet privately. In addition, the free VPN also helps to circumvent website blockades.

The company has added a free and unlimited VPN to the developer version of its browser. This means that users can browse the web securely at the flick of a switch .

The VPN connection is provided by the Canadian VPN service SurfEasy, which like many other VPNs keeps no logs. SurfEasy was acquired by Opera last year and VP of Marketing Steve Kelly tells TorrentFreak that privacy and censorship were the main reasons to add the free VPN to Opera. Kelly said:

Everyone deserves to surf privately online if they want to. Today, it is too difficult to maintain privacy when using the web, and way too many people experience roadblocks online, like blocked content..

By releasing an integrated, free and unlimited VPN in the browser, we make it simple for people to enhance their privacy and access the content they want.

Opera's in-browser VPN uses AES-256 encryption and SurfEasy says that the initial response has been very strong. The network is prepared to handle hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections without any problems.