Call of Duty: WWII is a 2017 US combat simulation game from Activision.
On the first submission to the Australian Censorship Board the game was passed R18 uncut for high impact violence and threat of sexual violence.
The distributors didn't want the reference to sexual violence so made cuts to the game and resubmitted it. The game was then duly passed R18+ this time for high impact violence.
asked the censor board about the original classification and the cuts.
[ Spoilers! hover or click text below]
According to the Classification Board, the original version contained a reference to sexual violence:
In one section of the game, the player controls Rosseau, a female spy, as she infiltrates a German building. While inside, she witnesses a woman as she is dragged by a Nazi soldier into a closet, against her will, screaming, You're all pigs!
Rosseau opes the closet door, as the soldier says, Leave. This is none of your business. The player is then given the option to kill the soldier or leave.
If the player chooses to leave, the player closes the door, as the soldier is heard unziping his fly and viewed advancing towards the woman. She screams, Ah! Get away from me! as Rosseau leaves.
It is implied that the soldier is going to sexually assault the woman, but at no time is the assault depicted.
The board then described how the cuts made a difference:
In the Board's opinion, the modifications to this game - which include the change of dress for the female prisoner (was in a skirt and top, now in a pants and top) and the removal of audio that implies a soldier is unzipping his pants - do not
contain any classifiable elements that alter this classification or exceed a R18+ impact level.
In the Board's opinion, the removal of the audio track means that consumer advice of threat of sexual violence is not required. Therefore, this modified computer game warrants an R18+ classification with consumer advice of high impact violence
[and] online interactivity.
Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is a 2017 USA comedy horror by Tyler Perry.
Starring Tyler Perry, Patrice Lovely and Brock O'Hurn.
Madea, Bam, and Hattie venture to a haunted campground and the group must run for their lives when monsters, goblins, and the boogeyman are unleashed.
The film was cut in the US for an MPAA PG-13 rating for sexual references, drug content, language and some horror images.
Director Tyler Perry said that an earlier submission had resulted in an R rating. He attributed this to Madea's pot-smoking brother, Joe, and his foul language. Perry elaborated:
Just language. Joe. Out of control. His language was just really really rough and in PG you could only really say... they only give you so many curse words if you are going to stay PG-13. That was it, just language.
There was plenty of strong language flying around on Twitter in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Twitter got a bit
confused about who was harassing who, and ended up suspending Weinstein critic Rose McGowan for harassment. Twitter ended up being boycotted over its wrong call, and so Twitter bosses have been banging their heads together to do something.
Wired has got hold of an email outline an expansion of content liable to Twitter censorship and also for more severe sanctions for errant tweeters. Twitter's head of safety policy wrote of new measures to rolled out in the coming weeks:
Our definition of "non-consensual nudity" is expanding to more broadly include content like upskirt imagery, "creep shots," and hidden camera content. Given that people appearing in this content often do not know the material
exists, we will not require a report from a target in order to remove it.
While we recognize there's an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it's nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually. We would rather error on the
side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.
Unwanted sexual advances
Pornographic content is generally permitted on Twitter, and it's challenging to know whether or not sexually charged conversations and/or the exchange of sexual media may be wanted. To help infer whether or not a conversation is consensual, we
currently rely on and take enforcement action only if/when we receive a report from a participant in the conversation.
We are going to update the Twitter Rules to make it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable. We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation.
Hate symbols and imagery (new)
We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, hateful imagery, hate symbols, etc will now be considered sensitive media (similar to how we handle and enforce adult content and graphic violence).
More details to come.
Violent groups (new)
We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause. More details to come
here as well
Tweets that glorify violence (new)
We already take enforcement action against direct violent threats ("I'm going to kill you"), vague violent threats ("Someone should kill you") and wishes/hopes of serious physical harm, death, or disease ("I hope someone
kills you"). Moving forward, we will also take action against content that glorifies ("Praise be to for shooting up. He's a hero!") and/or condones ("Murdering makes sense. That way they won't be a drain on social
services"). More details to come.
Ofcom received record-breaking levels of complaints about a segment on Good Morning Britain featuring a gay cure
therapist. On September 5, the ITV daytime show aired a discussion between host Piers Morgan, Liverpool Echo journalist Josh Parry and gay cure therapist Dr Michael Davidson.
LGBT groups condemned the segment for irresponsibly giving a platform to gay cure therapy, which has been disavowed by every psychiatric and medical body in the country and is banned on the NHS.
It has emerged that the episode attracted a total of 1121 complaints to TV censor Ofcom, with 672 complaining about Sexual orientation discrimination/offence, and 449 complaints about a lack of impartiality.
Artist Joep van Lieshout has slammed a last-minute decision made by the Musé du Louvre to cancel a display of
his controversial Domestikator sculpture, which looks like a man shagging a dog or sheep.
The Atelier van Lieshout founder said the museum was totally crazy to scrap plans to install the sculpture in Paris' Jardin des Tuileries, and claims that it was due to worries about offending visitors.
Lieshout told Dezeen:
I think that's a very sad development. I think art should be a place where there are very few limits.
Van Lieshout's Rotterdam-based studio first unveiled the 12-metre high sculpture in 2015, as part of an art village he created in Germany. Designed as a hybrid between art and architecture, it is intended to represent human domestication, and
domination of the natural environment.
Although it looks an expression of bestiality, Van Lieshout insists that the piece is not primarily or explicitly sexual in nature. He says his aim was to raise questions about what taboos remain, in a world where the introduction of genetic
manipulation, robotics and artificial intelligence has pushed ethical boundaries to the extreme. This piece is not about sex, it's about the ethics of technological innovation.
Article 13: Monitoring and filtering of internet content is unacceptable. Index on Censorship joined with 56 other NGOs to call for the deletion of Article
13 from the proposal on the Digital Single Market, which includes obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights.
Dear President Juncker,
Dear President Tajani,
Dear President Tusk,
Dear Prime Minister Ratas,
Dear Prime Minister Borissov,
Dear MEP Voss, MEP Boni
The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organisations.
Fundamental rights, justice and the rule of law are intrinsically linked and constitute core values on which the EU is founded. Any attempt to disregard these values undermines the mutual trust between member states required for the EU to
function. Any such attempt would also undermine the commitments made by the European Union and national governments to their citizens.
Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights.
Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services.
Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens' communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business.
Article 13 contradicts existing rules and the case law of the Court of Justice. The Directive of Electronic Commerce ( 2000/31/EC) regulates the liability for those internet companies that host content on behalf of their users. According to
the existing rules, there is an obligation to remove any content that breaches copyright rules, once this has been notified to the provider.
Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users' content, which contradicts the 'no general obligation to monitor' rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic
communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended ( C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would
almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom
of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.
In particular, the requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. If internet companies are required to apply filtering mechanisms in order to
avoid possible liability, they will. This will lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content and limit the freedom to impart information on the one hand, and the freedom to receive information on the other.
If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply it and we can expect such a rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice. This is what happened with the
Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC), when EU legislators ignored compatibility problems with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In 2014, the Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive invalid because it violated the Charter.
Taking into consideration these arguments, we ask the relevant policy-makers to delete Article 13.
European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Associação D3 -- Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
Association of the Defence of Human Rights in Romania (APADOR)
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
Bits of Freedom (BoF)
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
Centre for Peace Studies
Coalizione Italiana Liberta@ e Diritti Civili (CILD)
Code for Croatia
Culture Action Europe
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Estonian Human Rights Centre
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Frënn vun der Ënn
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Index on Censorship
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Justice & Peace
La Quadrature du Net
Media Development Centre
Miklos Haraszti (Former OSCE Media Representative)
Modern Poland Foundation
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
One World Platform
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
Open Rights Group (ORG)
Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)
Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Rights International Spain
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia (RTKNS)
Channel 4 has scrapped a planned drama based in North Korea after Kim Jong-un's regime hacked into its systems
and 'scared investors into withdrawing their funding.
The ten-part thriller, Opposite Number , was to be about a mission to rescue a British nuclear scientist who had been taken prisoner in North Korea.
North Korea's most senior military body, the National Defence Commission, initially said British authorities should punish those behind the project, which they branded a slanderous farce. Shortly afterwards, security agencies discovered that
hackers had breached Channel 4's systems.
They did not manage to inflict any great damage immediately, so David Abraham, Channel 4's chief executive, vowed to keep on filming, according to the New York Times. However, he was forced to backtrack when the full scale of the damage the
hackers could cause became clear.
But while Channel 4 was still willing to run Opposite Number, the Sony scandal made the TV series' other financial backers nervous. International broadcasters that had promised to help pay for the project pulled out -- leaving the project short of
funding. Despite the potential fallout, Channel 4 insiders said yesterday the series could still go ahead if it secured new backing.
When Laura Moriarty decided she wanted to write American Heart , a dystopian novel for young adults about a future America in which Muslims are forcefully corralled into detention centers, she was aware that she should tread carefully. Her
protagonist is a white teenager, but one of her main characters, Sadaf, is a Muslim American immigrant from Iran. So she arranged for the book to be checked out by various minority group readers charged with spotting potentially problematic
depictions in the book.
None of this was enough to protect American Heart from becoming the subject of the latest skirmish in the increasingly contentious battle over representation and diversity in the world of young adult literature.
American Heart won't be published until January, but it has already attracted the ire of the fierce group of online readers that journalist Kat Rosenfield has referred to as culture cops. To them, it was an irredeemable problem that
Moriarty's novel, which was inspired in part by Huckleberry Finn, centers on a white teenager who gradually, too gradually, comes to terms with the racism around her. Eg a prominent review on Goodreads, begins, fuck your white savior
narratives ; the gist of other comments is that a white writer should not have tackled this story, and neither should a white character be the center of it.
The backlash escalated last week, when Kirkus Reviews gave American Heart a coveted starred review, which influences purchases by bookstores and libraries. Kirkus' anonymous reviewer called the book by turns terrifying, suspenseful,
thought-provoking, and touching, and praised its frighteningly believable setting of fear and violent nativism gone awry.
The lynch mob laid into the reviewer's 'wrong' opinion, and Kirkus responded by taking the review down pending 'reassessment'. A few days later Kirkus posted a revised, more critical version of the review, and stripped the book of its star.
Loot boxes are a revenue creating facility where gamers are assisted in their quests by the real money purchase of loot boxes that
contain a random collections of goodies that help game progress. loot boxes are found in many commercially successful games, such as Overwatch, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Halo 5: Guardians, Battlefield 1, Paragon, Gears of War 4, and
The pros and cons of this method of revenue raising has been passionately debated in games forums and teh debate seems to have widened out to more regulatory spheres.
Last week the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), who rate games for North America declared that loot boxes, despite their inherent randomness, do not constitute a form of gambling. The reason, simply put, is that while you don't know what
you're going to get out of them, you know you're going to get something -- unlike a lottery ticket, say, where the great likelihood is that your money is just going up in smoke.
The same opinion is reflected by PEGI who rate games for Europe. PEGI operations director Dirk Bosmans told Wccftech:
In short, our approach is similar to that of ESRB. The main reason for this is that we cannot define what constitutes gambling, That is the responsibility of a national gambling commission. Our gambling content
descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it's done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.
And for solidarity the UK games trade group Ukie agreed. Dr. Jo Twist of Ukie said
Loot boxes are already covered by and fully compliant with existing relevant UK regulations. The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with UK law and
has already discussed similar issues as part of last year's Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming.
Not everyone agrees though, a British parliamentarian gave a little push to the UK government by submitting the questions:
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man's enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions
she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK.
It seems that the Isle of Mann already sees loot boxes as being liable to gambling controls.
Tracey Crouch, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport responded in a statement, pointing out that definitions and protections already exist regarding loot boxes and other in-game currencies, referencing a paper published by the UK
Gambling Commission earlier this year. She said:
Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission
licence is required. If no licence is held, the Commission uses a wide range of regulatory powers to take action.
So for the moment it seems that for the moment the status quo will be maintained, but in this age of cotton wool and snowflakes, I wouldn't bet on it.
After several days of radio silence, VPN provider PureVPN has responded to criticism that it provided information which helped the
FBI catch a cyberstalker. In a fairly lengthy post, the company reiterates that it never logs user activity. What it does do, however, is log both the real and assigned 'anonymous' IP addresses of users accessing its service.
In a fairly lengthy statement, PureVPN begins by confirming that it definitely doesn't log what websites a user views or what content he or she downloads. However, that's only half the problem. While it doesn't log user activity (what sites people
visit or content they download), it does log the IP addresses that customers use to access the PureVPN service. These, given the right circumstances, can be matched to external activities thanks to logs carried by other web companies.
If for instance a user accesses a website of interest to the authorities, then that website, or various ISPs involved in the route can see the IP address doing the accessing. And if they look it up, they will find that it belongs to PureVPN. They
would then ask PureVPN to identify the real IP address of the user who was assigned the observed PureVPN IP address at the time it was observed.
Now, if PureVPN carried no logs -- literally no logs -- it would not be able to help with this kind of inquiry. That was the case last year when the FBI approached Private Internet Access for information and the company was unable to assist .
But in this case, PureVPN does keep the records of who was assigned each IP address and when, and so the user can be readily identified (albeit with the help of the user's ISP too).
It is for this reason that in TorrentFreak's annual summary of no-logging VPN providers , the very first question we ask every single company reads as follows:
Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user/users of your service? If so, what information do you hold and for how long?
Clearly, if a company says yes we log incoming IP addresses and associated timestamps, any claim to total user anonymity is ended right there and then.
While not completely useless (a logging service will still stop the prying eyes of ISPs and similar surveillance, while also defeating throttling and site-blocking), if you're a whistle-blower with a job or even your life to protect, this level
of protection is entirely inadequate.
Lord Storey Not So Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to strengthen the broadcasting code in relation to smoking on reality TV shows, particularly those aimed at young people.
Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
My Lords, as the independent regulator, decisions on amending the Broadcasting Code are rightly a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom takes the protection of children and young people very seriously, and that is why there are already specific restrictions on
the portrayal of smoking on television.
I thank the Minister for his reply. I do not know whether he is a regular watcher of Love Island, but the ITV website describes that programme as an, emotional feast of lust and passion in the sun.
The same website says that the programme captures 56% share of 16-34 viewers.
On this programme, those contestants are regularly smoking. What message does that send to young people -- that I can live a glamorous life if I smoke as well? I am surprised that the Ofcom Broadcasting Code says that smoking must not be,
"glamorised in ... programmes likely to be widely seen, heard or accessed by under-eighteens unless there is editorial justification".
Does the Minister think that Ofcom should take action on this matter?
Lord Ashton of Hyde
My Lords, I am not a regular watcher of Love Island, but I cannot help noticing that the House is unusually full today. Obviously, as I said, it is a matter for Ofcom. The Broadcasting Code is there to be regulated by Ofcom, and that is what
Ofcom is there for. Any complaints about a programme will be investigated by Ofcom, and it is up to anyone who has concerns about smoking in this programme to complain to Ofcom. Incidentally, to put this into perspective, Ofcom had just under
15,000 complaints last year and 75 related to smoking on Love Island.
The BBFC arbitrates on website blocking algorithms used by mobile phone companies. If there is a dispute over the censorship decisions made by the mobile companies, then the BBFC decides whether websites should be 18 rated or not.
is a rather strident supporter of the men's rights movement. It is outspoken and totally politically incorrect, but in a quick survey I didn't spot anything that described or promoted sexual violence. There's probably something somewhere, but the
initial impression is dominated by the unPC language and ideas.
The BBFC wrote:
A mobile network operator contacted the BBFC for advice about the suitability of the website for people under 18, following a complaint from a member of the public that the site had been placed behind adult filters despite containing no material
that in the complainant’s opinion would cause access to be restricted to adults only.
We noted that it was a news/blog site with sections containing various strong sexual descriptions, including descriptions and promotion of violent sex. We also found the website contained very strong language at a number of points. On that basis
we were satisfied that the website contained material we would classify 18.
The BBFC arbitrates on website blocking algorithms used by mobile phone companies. If there is a dispute over the censorship decisions made by the mobile companies, then the BBFC decides whether websites should be 18 rated or not.
In August 2017, the BBFC were asked to consider a request to unblock the website privateinternetaccess.com which sells VPN services used to work around internet website blocking. The BBFC explained:
mobile network operator contacted the BBFC for advice about the suitability of the website for people under 18, following a complaint from the site owner that it had been placed behind adult filters despite containing no material that in the
complainant's opinion would cause access to be restricted to adults only.
The BBFC viewed the site on 31st August 2017.We noted that it was a website offering a paid-for VPN service. The site offered information on how to subscribe to the service, a description of the features offered by the service, client support
services and a contacts page. While the BBFC is aware that VPNs can be used to enable illegal activity and to avoid detection when a criminal offence is being committed, they are not themselves illegal under UK law. In addition, the website
contained no overt references to illegal activity - for example, it does not include instructions on how to use a VPN to commit an offence or promote the use of the service in order to avoid detection when committing an offence. As such, we found
no content which we would classify 18.
Health professionals in England are to be told to ask patients aged 16 or over about their sexual orientation, under new NHS
NHS England said no-one would be forced to answer the question, but it seems that they will continue nag people at each visit until they answer the question. The guidance applies to doctors and nurses, as well as local councils responsible for
adult social care.
An NHS spokeswoman said the information would help NHS bodies comply with equality legislation by consistently collecting personal details of patients such as race, sex and sexual orientation. NHS England recommends health professionals - such as
GPs and nurses - ask about a person's sexual orientation at every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists.
It is expected that sexual orientation monitoring will be in place across England by April 2019. Under the guidance, health professionals are to ask patients: Which of the following options best describes how you think of yourself?. The options
heterosexual or straight
gay or lesbian
other sexual orientation
Of course the NHS don't mention some of the dangers of reporting sexuality to NHS staff or by having sexuality recorded in a widely used database. There is still a certain community pressure in religious circles that being outed as gay is a very
dangerous proposition indeed. And if muslim terrorists get hold of lists of gay people it could be a matter of life and death. Perhaps in the future some right wing fascist party could get into power. They could print off yellow stars for people
directly from the database.
The full time whinger Rajan Zed is upset at Fate/Grand Order (FGO) mobile role-playing video
game, developed by Japan's Delightworks, for reportedly introducing goddess Parvati as one of the new servants; saying it trivializes a highly revered Hindu deity.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed urged Delightworks to withdraw the character of goddess Parvati in its free-to-play FGO video game.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that in this mobile game set-up, the player became the Master who summoned and commanded servants controlling their movements, including goddess Parvati; while in reality the devotees
put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.
Moreover, goddess Parvati depicted in FGO appeared more like a belly-dancer than the Hindu deity devotees were used to seeing, Rajan Zed pointed out, and termed it as incredibly disrespectful.
Rajan Zed further said that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. .. BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more
sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people, Zed added.
Back in 2016, after a bit of a hoo-hah about a 'beach body ready' advert, London Mayor Sadiq Khan pressurised Transport For
London (TfL) into introducing a PC ban for all adverts which didn't adhere to the notion of 'body positivity'.
And in the latest example of extreme PC censorship, Heist, a company which sells up-market tights, recently revealed that TfL forced it to cover-up a woman's naked back with a bandeau top in one of its adverts on the tube.
A representative from Exterion Media, the company which works on behalf of TfL and enforces its policy, told Heist:
Whilst I know this is only showing a bare back, it still depicts a 'topless model. If we could add a boob tube around the back I think this would be passed.'
It also looks as if the tights were photoshopped to darken them a little to hide a rather sharply outlined bottom.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 UK / USA action comedy adventure by Matthew Vaughn.
Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.
When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that
tests their agents' strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that's becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy...
Cambodia has banned the movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle over its alleged negative portrayal of the country. Bok Borak, from the Ministry of Censorship Culture told The Phnom Penh Post that the film's clear reference to Cambodia as a place
where villains are based and make trouble for the world as a major point of concern.
The film chronicles British and American spy organisations teaming up in search of the secret base of a drug lord. Once they find the base, which is a temple surrounded by jungles in Cambodia, a showdown between the two sides ensues.
At EFF, we see endless attempts
to misuse copyright law in order to silence content that a person dislikes. Copyright law is sadly less protective of speech than other speech regulations like defamation, so plaintiffs are motivated to find ways to turn many kinds of disputes
into issues of copyright law. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected one such ploy: an attempt to use copyright to get rid of a negative review.
The website Ripoff Report hosts criticism of a variety of professionals and companies, who doubtless would prefer that those critiques not exist. In order to protect platforms for speech like Ripoff Report, federal law sets a very high bar for
private litigants to collect damages or obtain censorship orders against them. The gaping exception to this protection is intellectual property claims, including copyright, for which a lesser protection applies.
One aggrieved professional named Goren (and his company) went to court to get a negative review taken down from Ripoff Report. If Goren had relied on a defamation claim alone, the strong protection of CDA 230 would protect Ripoff Report. But Goren
sought to circumvent that protection by getting a court order seizing ownership of the copyright from its author for himself, then suing Ripoff Report's owner for copyright infringement. We
filed a brief
explaining several reasons why his claims should fail, and urging the court to prevent the use of copyright as a pretense for suppressing speech.
Fortunately, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed that Ripoff Report is not liable. It ruled on a narrow basis, pointing out that the person who originally posted the review on Ripoff Report gave the site's owners irrevocable
permission to host that content. Therefore, continuing to host it could not be an infringement, even if Goren did own the copyright.
Goren paid the price for his improper assertion of copyright here: the appeals court upheld an award of over $100,000 in attorneys' fees. The award of fees in a case like this is important both because it deters improper assertion of copyright,
and because it helps compensate defendants who choose to litigate rather than settling for nuisance value simply to avoid the expense of defending their rights.
We're glad the First Circuit acted to limit the ways that private entities can censor speech online.
This summer, the Egyptian government started to block access to news websites. At last count, it had blocked more than 400 websites.
Realising that citizens are using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to bypass such censorship, the government also started to block access to VPN websites.
In addition to this, ISPs have started using deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques in order to identify and block VPN traffic. Egypt blocked the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN protocols in
August. However, until now OpenVPN, worked fine. This allowed ordinary Egyptians to access the uncensored internet.
On 3 October, however, the situation changed. It was reported on reddit that Egypt has now blocked OpenVPN as well. It seems that ISPs are using DPI techniques to detect OpenVPN packets.
Leila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them.
Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).
Her "real identity"--the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics--joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different
email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook's "People You May Know" recommendations, Leila (a name I'm using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see
some of her regular sex-work clients.
Despite the fact that she'd only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people--and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as
a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them.
Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again.
The new press regulator Impress has admitted that some of its senior board members breached its own impartiality standards by appearing to be biased against a number of newspapers.
Impress was set up after the Leveson inquiry into newspaper practices to act as a the regulator of press standards. But most national newspapers rejected Impress as a form of state regulation and signed up to the Independent Press Standards
Organisation (Ipso), a voluntary independent body not backed by the Government.
But now an internal review of its own practices has found that three of its senior members breached its duty to act impartially and not give an impression of bias against any particular newspaper.
Most damningly of all the review found that Impress's own chief executive, Jonathan Heawood, had breached its guidelines and should no longer be allowed to serve on one of it's most important committees. The report found that Heawood had breached
Impress's own internal standards by sharing Twitter attacks on newspapers, eg a Tweet about the Daily Mail last October stated: John Lewis is bringing its name into disrepute by advertising in a Neo-Fascist rag. Other senior figures
shared tweets which criticised The Sun, Daily Mail and News UK and were disrespectful towards named journalists.
The Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which has the power to approve new regulatory bodies, has indicated it believes there has been a serious breach of one of its key principles, raising the prospect that Impress could even be stripped of its status
as a regulator. Susie Uppal, Chief Executive of the PRP, said: The PRP Board will be considering the Impress report and actions at its next Board meeting.
A man wearing a shark outfit to advertise a computer store been given a police caution after allegedly breaking
Austria's new laws that ban burkhas.
The Anti-Mask Act, prohibiting full-face coverings including headwear worn by some Muslims, came into force on 1 October. The law states faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin in public places. Off-piste ski masks, surgical masks
outside of hospitals and party masks are included. But the law, which is popularly known as the burkha ban, is mostly seen as aimed at Islamic clothing.
The managing director of the advertising agency responsible for the campaign, Eugen Prosquill, told the newspaper he was not aware the new law applied to mascots. It would be a pity if there were no mascots left, he said.