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A cryptic question...

Tom Watson asks in parliament about which internet browsers plan to implement censor busting DNS Over HTTPS technology


Link Here 19th May 2019
Tom Watson asked a parliamentary question about the censor busting technology of DNS over HTTPS.

Up until now, ISPs have been able to intercept website address look ups (via a DNS server) and block the ones that they, or the state, don't like.

This latest internet protocol allows browsers and applications to bypass ISPs' censored DNS servers and use encrypted alternatives that cannot then be intercepted by ISPs and so can't be censored by the state. (note that they can offer a censored service such as an option for a family friendly feeds, but this is on their own terms and not the state's).

Anyway Labour Deputy leader has been enquiring about whether browsers are intending to implement the new protocol. Perhaps revealing an idea to try and pressurise browsers into not offering options to circumvent the state's blocking list.

Tom Watson Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many internet browser providers have informed his Department that they will not be adopting the Internet Engineering Task Force DNS over HTTPS ( DOH ) protocol.

Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

How DOH will be deployed is still a subject of discussion within the industry, both for browser providers and the wider internet industry. We are aware of the public statements made by some browser providers on deployment and we are seeking to understand definitively their rollout plans. DCMS is in discussions with browser providers, internet industry and other stakeholders and we are keen to see a resolution that is acceptable for all parties.

 

 

Offsite Article: If there's one thing worse than surveillance and snooping being tagged as a 'smart' city...


Link Here 19th May 2019
its when the scheme is run by commercial interests with the privacy failings of Google

See article from bbc.com

 

 

Anti European People...

The next monstrosity from our EU lawmakers is to relax net neutrality laws so that large internet corporates can better snoop on and censor the European peoples


Link Here 18th May 2019

The internet technology known as deep packet inspection is currently illegal in Europe, but big telecom companies doing business in the European Union want to change that. They want deep packet inspection permitted as part of the new net neutrality rules currently under negotiation in the EU, but on Wednesday, a group of 45 privacy and internet freedom advocates and groups published an open letter warning against the change:

Dear Vice-President Andrus Ansip, (and others)

We are writing you in the context of the evaluation of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and the reform of the BEREC Guidelines on its implementation. Specifically, we are concerned because of the increased use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology by providers of internet access services (IAS). DPI is a technology that examines data packets that are transmitted in a given network beyond what would be necessary for the provision IAS by looking at specific content from the part of the user-defined payload of the transmission.

IAS providers are increasingly using DPI technology for the purpose of traffic management and the differentiated pricing of specific applications or services (e.g. zero-rating) as part of their product design. DPI allows IAS providers to identify and distinguish traffic in their networks in order to identify traffic of specific applications or services for the purpose such as billing them differently throttling or prioritising them over other traffic.

The undersigned would like to recall the concerning practice of examining domain names or the addresses (URLs) of visited websites and other internet resources. The evaluation of these types of data can reveal sensitive information about a user, such as preferred news publications, interest in specific health conditions, sexual preferences, or religious beliefs. URLs directly identify specific resources on the world wide web (e.g. a specific image, a specific article in an encyclopedia, a specific segment of a video stream, etc.) and give direct information on the content of a transmission.

A mapping of differential pricing products in the EEA conducted in 2018 identified 186 such products which potentially make use of DPI technology. Among those, several of these products by mobile operators with large market shares are confirmed to rely on DPI because their products offer providers of applications or services the option of identifying their traffic via criteria such as Domain names, SNI, URLs or DNS snooping.

Currently, the BEREC Guidelines3 clearly state that traffic management based on the monitoring of domain names and URLs (as implied by the phrase transport protocol layer payload) is not reasonable traffic management under the Regulation. However, this clear rule has been mostly ignored by IAS providers in their treatment of traffic.

The nature of DPI necessitates telecom expertise as well as expertise in data protection issues. Yet, we observe a lack of cooperation between national regulatory authorities for electronic communications and regulatory authorities for data protection on this issue, both in the decisions put forward on these products as well as cooperation on joint opinions on the question in general. For example, some regulators issue justifications of DPI based on the consent of the customer of the IAS provider which crucially ignores the clear ban of DPI in the BEREC Guidelines and the processing of the data of the other party communicating with the subscriber, which never gave consent.

Given the scale and sensitivity of the issue, we urge the Commission and BEREC to carefully consider the use of DPI technologies and their data protection impact in the ongoing reform of the net neutrality Regulation and the Guidelines. In addition, we recommend to the Commission and BEREC to explore an interpretation of the proportionality requirement included in Article 3, paragraph 3 of Regulation 2015/2120 in line with the data minimization principle established by the GDPR. Finally, we suggest to mandate the European Data Protection Board to produce guidelines on the use of DPI by IAS providers.

Best regards

European Digital Rights, Europe Electronic Frontier Foundation, International Council of European Professional Informatics Societies, Europe Article 19, International Chaos Computer Club e.V, Germany epicenter.works - for digital rights, Austria Austrian Computer Society (OCG), Austria Bits of Freedom, the Netherlands La Quadrature du Net, France ApTI, Romania Code4Romania, Romania IT-Pol, Denmark Homo Digitalis, Greece Hermes Center, Italy X-net, Spain Vrijschrift, the Netherlands Dataskydd.net, Sweden Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN), Norway Alternatif Bilisim (Alternative Informatics Association), Turkey Digitalcourage, Germany Fitug e.V., Germany Digitale Freiheit, Germany Deutsche Vereinigung f3cr Datenschutz e.V. (DVD), Germany Gesellschaft f3cr Informatik e.V. (GI), Germany LOAD e.V. - Verein f3cr liberale Netzpolitik, Germany (And others)

 

 

Securely connected to government servers...

International VPNs decline to hook up to Russian censorship machines


Link Here 18th May 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
In March, the Russian government's internet censor Roskomnadzor contacted 10 leading VPN providers to demand they comply with local censorship laws or risk being blocked.

Roskomnadzor equired them to hook up to a dedicated government system that defines a list of websites required to be blocked to Russian internet users.

The VPN providers contacted were ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, HideMyAss!, TorGuard, Hola VPN, OpenVPN, and Kaspersky Secure Connection. The deadline has now passed and the only VPN company that has agreed to comply with the new requirements is the Russia-based Kaspersky Secure Connection.

Most other providers on the list have removed their VPN servers from Russia altogether, so asn ot to be at risk of being asked to hand over information to Russia about their customers.

 

 

Magic apps...

South African government considers reams of new law to protect children from porn


Link Here 17th May 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in South Africa...Proppsal to block all porn from South Africans
The South African Law Reform Commission is debating widespread changes law pertaining to the protection of children. Much of the debate is about serious crimes of child abuse but there is a significant portion devoted to protecting children from legal adult pornography. The commission writes:

SEXUAL OFFENCES: PORNOGRAPHY AND CHILDREN

On 16 March 2019 the Commission approved the publication of its discussion paper on sexual offences (pornography and children) for comment.

Five main topics are discussed in this paper, namely:

  • Access to or exposure of a child to pornography;

  • Creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material;

  • Consensual self-child sexual abuse material (sexting);

  • Grooming of a child and other sexual contact crimes associated with or facilitated by pornography or child sexual abuse material; and

  • Investigation, procedure & sentencing.

The Commission invites comment on the discussion paper and the draft Bill which accompanies it. Comment may also be made on related issues of concern which have not been raised in the discussion paper. The closing date for comment is 30 July 2019.

The methodology discussed doesn't seem to match well to the real world. The authors seems to hold a lot of stock in the notion that every device can contain some sort of simple porn block app that can render a device unable to access porn and hence be safe for children. The proposed law suggests penalties should unprotected devices get bought, sold, or used by children. Perhaps someone should invent such an app to help out South Africa.

 

 

Updated: Have I Got News for You...

In an age of quick resource to political censorship, all sides think that it is being unfairly targeted


Link Here 17th May 2019
The Change UK partly leader Heidi Allen has accused the BBC of inconsistency after the broadcaster pulled an episode of Have I Got News For You at the last minute claiming that it would breach election guidelines.

The Change UK leader was due to appear in a pre-recorded episode of the popular quiz show on Friday night, only to be notified an hour beforehand that it would not be broadcast.

The BBC said it was inappropriate to feature political party leaders on the programme ahead of the European parliament elections on 23 May to ensure equal representation of views.

Allen questioned why former Ukip leader Nigel Farage was allowed to appear on the programme ahead of similar elections in 2014 and said her party was not getting a fair crack of the whip. Change UK has now written to the BBC director general Tony Hall about the decision.

Of course she did not mention the even more flagrant pre-election censorship where by candidates Carl Benjamin and Tommy Robinson have been totally banned from social media, the major communication platforms of the modern age.

Update: The BBC explains its case for censorship

17th May 2019. See article from bbc.co.uk

Have I Got News for You,
BBC One, 10 May 2019 BBC Logo

We received complaints from people unhappy with the decision to drop the billed episode. Some people felt this was biased in favour of Brexit.

BBC Response

The BBC has specific editorial guidelines that apply during election periods which mean it would be inappropriate to feature a single party leader on a weekly programme such as Have I Got News for You during the short time available if other parties are not also represented on the programme during the same period. When the fact of Heidi Allen's appearance on the show was brought to our attention, we took the decision to withdraw the show. We can assure you this would have been the case whichever party was involved.

A number of our viewers have referred to 2014, when Nigel Farage also appeared on the programme in the period before the European Parliamentary elections. Those episodes of Have I Got News for You were planned in the run-up to the election to ensure an appropriate range of guests from different political parties were represented. In the circumstances of this year's election, a similar approach was not practical. We refute any suggestions that the BBC has favoured Mr Farage.

In contrast, Question Time is a political debate programme and, in accordance with the guidelines, will feature representatives from a range of political parties throughout the election period. The 9 May edition, for example, featured Anna Soubry MP (Change UK), Amber Rudd MP (Conservatives), Jonathan Reynolds MP (Labour), and Nigel Farage MEP (Brexit Party). Other parties will have appeared on different editions of Question Time during the course of the election period. Similarly, the Andrew Marr Show ensures that over the course of the campaign, an appropriate range of party representatives appear on the programme.

Senior editorial staff within BBC News keep a close watch on programmes to ensure that standards of impartiality are maintained. We consider that the BBC continues to report Brexit impartially and features a wide range of different perspectives across our news coverage.

The team are sorry for the disappointment to viewers that this episode featuring Ms Allen was pulled at short notice. Have I Got News for You will return to our screens this week, and we will look to broadcast the episode featuring Ms Allen at a later date.

 

 

Recognising the face of repression...

Man fined on trumped up charges for covering face from police facial recognition cameras


Link Here 17th May 2019
A man was fined 90 for refusing to show his face to police trialling new facial recognition systems.

The man pulled his jumper up above his chin as he walked past Met Police officers trialling Live Facial Recognition software in east London.

BBC cameras filmed as officers swooped on the man, told him to wind his neck in then handed him the hefty penalty charge.

A campaigner from Big Brother Watch -- who were protesting the use of cameras on the day -- was also filmed telling an officer: I would have done the same.

 

 

The Christchurch Call...

World governments get together with tech companies in Paris to step internet censorship. But Trump is unimpressed with the one sided direction that the censorship is going


Link Here 16th May 2019

The United States has decided not to support the censorship call by 18 governments and five top American tech firms and declined to endorse a New Zealand-led censorship effort responding to the live-streamed shootings at two Christchurch mosques. White House officials said free-speech concerns prevented them from formally signing onto the largest campaign to date targeting extremism online.

World leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jordan's King Abdullah II, signed the Christchurch Call, which was unveiled at a gathering in Paris that had been organized by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The governments pledged to counter online extremism, including through new regulation, and to encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online.

But the White House opted against endorsing the effort, and President Trump did not join the other leaders in Paris. The White House felt the document could present constitutional concerns, officials there said, potentially conflicting with the First Amendment. Indeed Trump has previously threatened social media out of concern that it's biased against conservatives.

Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter also signed on to the document, pledging to work more closely with one another and governments to make certain their sites do not become conduits for terrorism. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was among the attendees at the conference.

The companies agreed to accelerate research and information sharing with governments in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. They said they'd pursue a nine-point plan of technical remedies designed to find and combat objectionable content, including instituting more user-reporting systems, more refined automatic detection systems, improved vetting of live-streamed videos and more collective development of organized research and technologies the industry could build and share.

The companies also promised to implement appropriate checks on live-streaming, with the aim of ensuring that videos of violent attacks aren't broadcast widely, in real time, online. To that end, Facebook this week announced a new one-strike policy, in which users who violate its rules -- such as sharing content from known terrorist groups -- could be prohibited from using its live-streaming tools.

 

 

The right's right to free speech...

Donald Trump sets up an internet page to report examples of politically biased internet censorship


Link Here 16th May 2019
The US Whitehouse has set up a page on the online form building website, typefac.com. Donald Trump asks to be informed of biased censorship. The form reads:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear violations of user policies.

No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

 

 

Can't we have laws that apply to everyone equally?...

Government rejects wide definition of 'islamophobia', considered a backdoor blasphemy law


Link Here 16th May 2019
Proposals for an official definition of 'Islamophobia' were rejected by the Government yesterday.

Downing Street said the suggested definition had not been broadly accepted, adding: This is a matter that will need further careful consideration. '

The definition had been proposed by a parliamentary campaign group, the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. It wanted the Government to define Islamaphobia as rooted in racism or a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.

Ministers are now expected to appoint two independent advisers to draw up a less legally problematic definition, the Times reported.

A parliamentary debate on anti-Muslim prejudice is due to be held today in Parliament.

The  criticism of the definition has been published in an open letter to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid:

Open Letter: APPG Islamophobia Definition Threatens Civil Liberties

The APPG on British Muslims' definition of Islamophobia has now been adopted by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats Federal board, Plaid Cymru and the Mayor of London, as well as several local councils. All of this is occurring before the Home Affairs Select Committee has been able to assess the evidence for and against the adoption of the definition nationally.

Meanwhile the Conservatives are having their own debate about rooting out Islamophobia from the party.

According to the APPG definition, "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness".

With this definition in hand, it is perhaps no surprise that following the horrific attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, some place responsibility for the atrocity on the pens of journalists and academics who have criticised Islamic beliefs and practices, commented on or investigated Islamist extremism.

The undersigned unequivocally, unreservedly and emphatically condemn acts of violence against Muslims, and recognise the urgent need to deal with anti-Muslim hatred. However, we are extremely concerned about the uncritical and hasty adoption of the APPG's definition of Islamophobia.

This vague and expansive definition is being taken on without an adequate scrutiny or proper consideration of its negative consequences for freedom of expression, and academic and journalistic freedom. The definition will also undermine social cohesion -- fuelling the very bigotry against Muslims which it is designed to prevent.

We are concerned that allegations of Islamophobia will be, indeed already are being, used to effectively shield Islamic beliefs and even extremists from criticism, and that formalising this definition will result in it being employed effectively as something of a backdoor blasphemy law.

The accusation of Islamophobia has already been used against those opposing religious and gender segregation in education, the hijab, halal slaughter on the grounds of animal welfare, LGBT rights campaigners opposing Muslim views on homosexuality, ex-Muslims and feminists opposing Islamic views and practices relating to women, as well as those concerned about the issue of grooming gangs. It has been used against journalists who investigate Islamism, Muslims working in counter-extremism, schools and Ofsted for resisting conservative religious pressure and enforcing gender equality.

Evidently abuse, harmful practices, or the activities of groups and individuals which promote ideas contrary to British values are far more likely to go unreported as a result of fear of being called Islamophobic. This will only increase if the APPG definition is formally adopted in law.

We are concerned that the definition will be used to shut down legitimate criticism and investigation. While the APPG authors have assured that it does not wish to infringe free speech, the entire content of the report, the definition itself, and early signs of how it would be used, suggest that it certainly would. Civil liberties should not be treated as an afterthought in the effort to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice.

The conflation of race and religion employed under the confused concept of 'cultural racism' expands the definition beyond anti-Muslim hatred to include 'illegitimate' criticism of the Islamic religion. The concept of Muslimness can effectively be transferred to Muslim practices and beliefs, allowing the report to claim that criticism of Islam is instrumentalised to hurt Muslims.

No religion should be given special protection against criticism. Like anti-Sikh, anti-Christian, or anti-Hindu hatred, we believe the term anti-Muslim hatred is more appropriate and less likely to infringe on free speech. A proliferation of 'phobias' is not desirable, as already stated by Sikh and Christian organisations who recognise the importance of free discussion about their beliefs.

Current legislative provisions are sufficient, as the law already protects individuals against attacks and unlawful discrimination on the basis of their religion. Rather than helping, this definition is likely to create a climate of self-censorship whereby people are fearful of criticising Islam and Islamic beliefs. It will therefore effectively shut down open discussions about matters of public interest. It will only aggravate community tensions further and is therefore no long term solution.

If this definition is adopted the government will likely turn to self-appointed 'representatives of the community' to define 'Muslimness'. This is clearly open to abuse. The APPG already entirely overlooked Muslims who are often considered to be "insufficiently Muslim" by other Muslims, moderates, liberals, reformers and the Ahmadiyyah, who often suffer persecution and violence at the hands of other Muslims.

For all these reasons, the APPG definition of Islamophobia is deeply problematic and unfit for purpose. Acceptance of this definition will only serve to aggravate community tensions and to inhibit free speech about matters of fundamental importance. We urge the government, political parties, local councils and other organisations to reject this flawed proposed definition.

  • Emma Webb, Civitas
  • Hardeep Singh, Network of Sikh Organisations (NSOUK)
  • Lord Singh of Wimbledon
  • Tim Dieppe, Christian Concern
  • Stephen Evans, National Secular Society (NSS)
  • Sadia Hameed, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)
  • Prof. Paul Cliteur, candidate for the Dutch Senate, Professor of Law, University of Leiden
  • Brendan O'Neill, Editor of Spiked
  • Maajid Nawaz, Founder, Quilliam International
  • Rt. Rev'd Dr Gavin Ashenden
  • Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters
  • Professor Richard Dawkins
  • Rahila Gupta, author and Journalist
  • Peter Whittle, founder and director of New Culture Forum
  • Trupti Patel, President of Hindu Forum of Britain
  • Dr Lakshmi Vyas, President Hindu Forum of Europe
  • Harsha Shukla MBE, President Hindu Council of North UK
  • Tarang Shelat, President Hindu Council of Birmingham
  • Ashvin Patel, Chairman, Hindu Forum (Walsall)
  • Ana Gonzalez, partner at Wilson Solicitors LLP
  • Baron Desai of Clement Danes
  • Baroness Cox of Queensbury
  • Lord Alton of Liverpool
  • Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
  • Ade Omooba MBE, Co-Chair National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF)
  • Wilson Chowdhry, British Pakistani Christian Association
  • Ashish Joshi, Sikh Media Monitoring Group
  • Satish K Sharma, National Council of Hindu Temples
  • Rumy Hasan, Academic and author
  • Amina Lone, Co-Director, Social Action and Research Foundation
  • Peter Tatchell, Peter Tatchell Foundation
  • Seyran Ates, Imam
  • Gina Khan, One Law for All
  • Mohammed Amin MBE
  • Baroness D'Souza
  • Michael Mosbacher, Acting Editor, Standpoint Magazine
  • Lisa-Marie Taylor, CEO FiLiA
  • Julie Bindel, journalist and feminist campaigner
  • Dr Adrian Hilton, academic
  • Neil Anderson, academic
  • Tom Holland, historian
  • Toby Keynes
  • Prof. Dr. Bassam Tibi, Professor Emeritus for International Relations, University of Goettingen
  • Dr Stephen Law, philosopher and author

 

 

#WeTheNipple...

National Coalition Against Censorship organises nude nipples event with photographer Spencer Tunick


Link Here 16th May 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

To challenge online censorship of art featuring naked bodies or body parts, photographer Spencer Tunick, in collaboration with the National Coalition Against Censorship, will stage a nude art action in New York on June 2. The event will bring together 100 undressed participants at an as-yet-undisclosed location, and Tunick will photograph the scene and create an installation using donated images of male nipples.

Artists Andres Serrano, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Tunick have given photos of their own nipples to the cause, as has Bravo TV personality Andy Cohen, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and actor/photographer Adam Goldberg.

In addition, the National Coalition Against Censorship has launched a #WeTheNipple campaign through which Instagram and Facebook users can share their experiences with censorship and advocate for changes to the social media platforms' guidelines related to nudity.

 

 

Website blocking blocked...

House of Lords: Questions about DNS over HTTPS


Link Here 15th May 2019
At the moment when internet users want to view a page, they specify the page they want in the clear. ISPs can see the page requested and block it if the authorities don't like it. A new internet protocol has been launched that encrypts the specification of the page requested so that ISPs can't tell what page is being requested, so can't block it.

This new DNS Over HTTPS protocol is already available in Firefox which also provides an uncensored and encrypted DNS server. Users simply have to change the settings in about:config (being careful of the dragons of course)

Questions have been raised in the House of Lords about the impact on the UK's ability to censor the internet.

House of Lords, 14th May 2019, Internet Encryption Question

Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 2:53 pm, 14th May 2019

To ask Her Majesty 's Government what assessment they have made of the deployment of the Internet Engineering Task Force 's new " DNS over HTTPS " protocol and its implications for the blocking of content by internet service providers and the Internet Watch Foundation ; and what steps they intend to take in response.

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, DCMS is working together with the National Cyber Security Centre to understand and resolve the implications of DNS over HTTPS , also referred to as DoH, for the blocking of content online. This involves liaising across government and engaging with industry at all levels, operators, internet service providers, browser providers and pan-industry organisations to understand rollout options and influence the way ahead. The rollout of DoH is a complex commercial and technical issue revolving around the global nature of the internet.

Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, and I apologise to the House for this somewhat geeky Question. This Question concerns the danger posed to existing internet safety mechanisms by an encryption protocol that, if implemented, would render useless the family filters in millions of homes and the ability to track down illegal content by organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation . Does the Minister agree that there is a fundamental and very concerning lack of accountability when obscure technical groups, peopled largely by the employees of the big internet companies, take decisions that have major public policy implications with enormous consequences for all of us and the safety of our children? What engagement have the British Government had with the internet companies that are represented on the Internet Engineering Task Force about this matter?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for discussing this with me beforehand, which was very welcome. I agree that there may be serious consequences from DoH. The DoH protocol has been defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force . Where I do not agree with the noble Baroness is that this is not an obscure organisation; it has been the dominant internet technical standards organisation for 30-plus years and has attendants from civil society, academia and the UK Government as well as the industry. The proceedings are available online and are not restricted. It is important to know that DoH has not been rolled out yet and the picture in it is complex--there are pros to DoH as well as cons. We will continue to be part of these discussions; indeed, there was a meeting last week, convened by the NCSC , with DCMS and industry stakeholders present.

Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital)

My Lords, the noble Baroness has raised a very important issue, and it sounds from the Minister 's Answer as though the Government are somewhat behind the curve on this. When did Ministers actually get to hear about the new encrypted DoH protocol? Does it not risk blowing a very large hole in the Government's online safety strategy set out in the White Paper ?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

As I said to the noble Baroness, the Government attend the IETF . The protocol was discussed from October 2017 to October 2018, so it was during that process. As far as the online harms White Paper is concerned, the technology will potentially cause changes in enforcement by online companies, but of course it does not change the duty of care in any way. We will have to look at the alternatives to some of the most dramatic forms of enforcement, which are DNS blocking.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords)

My Lords, if there is obscurity, it is probably in the use of the technology itself and the terminology that we have to use--DoH and the other protocols that have been referred to are complicated. At heart, there are two issues at stake, are there not? The first is that the intentions of DoH, as the Minister said, are quite helpful in terms of protecting identity, and we do not want to lose that. On the other hand, it makes it difficult, as has been said, to see how the Government can continue with their current plan. We support the Digital Economy Act approach to age-appropriate design, and we hope that that will not be affected. We also think that the soon to be legislated for--we hope--duty of care on all companies to protect users of their services will help. I note that the Minister says in his recent letter that there is a requirement on the Secretary of State to carry out a review of the impact and effectiveness of the regulatory framework included in the DEA within the next 12 to 18 months. Can he confirm that the issue of DoH will be included?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Clearly, DoH is on the agenda at DCMS and will be included everywhere it is relevant. On the consideration of enforcement--as I said before, it may require changes to potential enforcement mechanisms--we are aware that there are other enforcement mechanisms. It is not true to say that you cannot block sites; it makes it more difficult, and you have to do it in a different way.

The Countess of Mar Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, for the uninitiated, can the noble Lord tell us what DoH means --very briefly, please?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

It is not possible to do so very briefly. It means that, when you send a request to a server and you have to work out which server you are going to by finding out the IP address, the message is encrypted so that the intervening servers are not able to look at what is in the message. It encrypts the message that is sent to the servers. What that means is that, whereas previously every server along the route could see what was in the message, now only the browser will have the ability to look at it, and that will put more power in the hands of the browsers.

Lord West of Spithead Labour

My Lords, I thought I understood this subject until the Minister explained it a minute ago. This is a very serious issue. I was unclear from his answer: is this going to be addressed in the White Paper ? Will the new officer who is being appointed have the ability to look at this issue when the White Paper comes out?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

It is not something that the White Paper per se can look at, because it is not within the purview of the Government. The protocol is designed by the IETF , which is not a government body; it is a standards body, so to that extent it is not possible. Obviously, however, when it comes to regulating and the powers that the regulator can use, the White Paper is consulting precisely on those matters, which include DNS blocking, so it can be considered in the consultation.

 

 

Government minister blames online trolling for suicide...

It couldn't possibly be anything to do with her government's policies to impoverish people through austerity, globalisation, benefits sanctions, universal credit failures and the need for food banks


Link Here 15th May 2019
Jackie Doyle-Price is the government's first suicide prevention minister. She seems to believe that this complex and tragic social problem can somehow be cure by censorship and an end to free speech.

She said society had come to tolerate behaviour online which would not be tolerated on the streets. She urged technology giants including Google and Facebook to be more vigilant about removing harmful comments.

Doyle-Price told the Press Association:

It's great that we have these platforms for free speech and any one of us is free to generate our own content and put it up there, ...BUT... free speech is only free if it's not abused. I just think in terms of implementing their duty of care to their customers, the Wild West that we currently have needs to be a lot more regulated by them.

 

 

UK mass snooping laws can be investigated by UK courts...

Privacy International Wins Historic Victory at UK Supreme Court


Link Here 15th May 2019

Today, after a five year battle with the UK government, Privacy International has won at the UK Supreme Court. The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal's (IPT) decisions are subject to judicial review in the High Court. The Supreme Court's judgment is a major endorsement and affirmation of the rule of law in the UK. The decision guarantees that when the IPT gets the law wrong, its mistakes can be corrected.

Key point:

  • UK Supreme Court rules that the UK spying tribunal - the IPT - cannot escape the oversight of the ordinary UK courts

The leading judgment of Lord Carnwath confirms the vital role of the courts in upholding the rule of law. The Government's reliance on an 'ouster clause' to try to remove the IPT from judicial review failed. The judgment confirms hundreds of years of legal precedent condemning attempts to remove important decisions from the oversight of the courts.

Privacy International's case stems from a 2016 decision by the IPT that the UK government may use sweeping 'general warrants' to engage in computer hacking of thousands or even millions of devices, without any approval from by a judge or reasonable grounds for suspicion. The Government argued that it would be lawful in principle to use a single warrant signed off by a Minister (not a judge) to hack every mobile phone in a UK city - and the IPT agreed with the Government.

Privacy International challenged the IPT's decision before the UK High Court. The Government argued that even if the IPT had got the law completely wrong, or had acted unfairly, the High Court had no power to correct the mistake. That question went all the way to the UK Supreme Court, and resulted in today's judgment.

In his judgment, Lord Carnwath wrote:

"The legal issue decided by the IPT is not only one of general public importance, but also has possible implications for legal rights and remedies going beyond the scope of the IPT's remit. Consistent application of the rule of law requires such an issue to be susceptible in appropriate cases to review by ordinary courts."

Caroline Wilson Palow, Privacy International's General Counsel, said:

"Today's judgment is a historic victory for the rule of law. It ensures that the UK intelligence agencies are subject to oversight by the ordinary UK courts.

Countries around the world are currently grappling with serious questions regarding what power should reside in each branch of government. Today's ruling is a welcome precedent for all of those countries, striking a reasonable balance between executive, legislative and judicial power.

Today's ruling paves the way for Privacy International's challenge to the UK Government's use of bulk computer hacking warrants. Our challenge has been delayed for years by the Government's persistent attempt to protect the IPT's decisions from scrutiny. We are heartened that our case will now go forward."

Simon Creighton, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors who acted for Privacy International, said:

"Privacy International's tenacity in pursuing this case has provided an important check on the argument that security concerns should be allowed to override the rule of law. Secretive national security tribunals are no exception. The Supreme Court was concerned that no tribunal, however eminent its judges, should be able to develop its own "local law". Today's decision welcomes the IPT back from its legal island into the mainstream of British law."

 

 

Tall stories...

Turkish TV bans basketball finals because one of the players is an Erdogan critic


Link Here 15th May 2019
Turkish TV has announced that they would not broadcast the NBA Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night because a Turkish NBA star and fierce critic of Turkish president Erdogan, Enes Kanter, plays for Portland Trailblazers.

The NBA final will also be banned if Portland Trailblazers get through.

 

 

Poaching UK history...

Government blocks famous trial judges annotated copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover from leaving the country


Link Here 14th May 2019
The obscenity trial over DH Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was a national sensation. The 1960 case was also a watershed moment in Britain's cultural history, when the legacy of Victorian morality was finally overtaken by the liberal attitudes of the Swinging Sixties.

Now that book -- complete with notes by his wife -- has been barred from export because of its cultural significance. The book sold for 56,250 last year and the new owner had planned to take it abroad. UK buyers now have until October to match that sum.

Sir Laurence Byrne and his wife Dorothy made annotations on the copy, marking out sexually explicit passages Sir Laurence Byrne and his wife Dorothy made annotations on the copy, marking out sexually explicit passages

Arts minister Michael Ellis said he hoped a buyer could be found in order to keep this important part of our nation's history in the UK.

But not to worry, this government is dreaming up lots of new censorship ideas, and no doubt this will lead to lots more trials and prosecutions, and historically significant censorship decisions.

 

 

Extract: German president calls for more internet censorship...

European politicians vs Silicon Valley


Link Here 14th May 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the re:publica 2019 conference in Berlin last week with a speech about internet censorship. The World Socialist Web Site reported the speech:

With cynical references to Germany's Basic Law and the right to freedom of speech contained within it, Steinmeier called for new censorship measures and appealed to the major technology firms to enforce already existing guidelines more aggressively.

He stated, The upcoming 70th anniversary of the German Basic Law reminds us of a connection that pre-dates online and offline: liberty needs rules--and new liberties need new rules. Furthermore, freedom of opinion brings with it responsibility for opinion. He stressed that he knew there are already many rules, among which he mentioned the notorious Network Enforcement Law (Netz DG), but it will be necessary to argue over others.

He then added, Anyone who creates space for a political discussion with a platform bears responsibility for democracy, whether they like it or not. Therefore, democratic regulations are required, he continued. Steinmeier said that he felt this is now understood in Silicon Valley. After a lot of words and announcements, discussion forums, and photogenic appearances with politicians, it is now time for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Co. to finally acknowledge their responsibility for democracy, finally put it into practice.

 

 

Tubes banned on the Tube...

Government announces new law to ban watching porn in public places


Link Here 13th May 2019

Watching pornography on buses is to be banned, ministers have announced. Bus conductors and the police will be given powers to tackle those who watch sexual material on mobile phones and tablets.

Ministers are also drawing up plans for a national database of claimed harassment incidents. It will record incidents at work and in public places, and is likely to cover wolf-whistling and cat-calling as well as more serious incidents.

In addition, the Government is considering whether to launch a public health campaign warning of the effects of pornography -- modelled on smoking campaigns.

 

 

The Porn Channel...

The Channel Islands is considering whether to join the UK in the censorship of internet porn


Link Here 13th May 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust

As of 15 July, people in the UK who try to access porn on the internet will be required to verify their age or identity online.

The new UK Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018 law does not affect the Channel Islands but the States have not ruled out introducing their own regulations.

The UK Department for Censorship, Media and Sport said it was working closely with the Crown Dependencies to make the necessary arrangements for the extension of this legislation to the Channel Islands.

A spokeswoman for the States said they were monitoring the situation in the UK to inform our own policy development in this area.

 

 

Updated: Right on censorship...

Trump to monitor the political censorship of the right by social media


Link Here 13th May 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

President Trump has threatened to monitor social-media sites for their censorship of American citizens. He was responding to Facebook permanently banning figures and organizations from the political right. Trump tweeted:

I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America -- and we have what's known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!

On Thursday, Facebook announced it had permanently banned users including Louis Farrakhan, the founder of the Nation of Islam, along with far-right figures Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Alex Jones, the founder of Infowars. The tech giant removed their accounts, fan pages and affiliated groups on Facebook as well as its photo-sharing service Instagram, claiming that their presence on the social networking sites had become dangerous.

For his part, President Trump repeatedly has accused popular social-networking sites of exhibiting political bias, and threatened to regulate Silicon Valley in response. In a private meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last month, Trump repeatedly raised his concerns that the company has removed some of his followers.

On Friday, Trump specifically tweeted he was surprised about Facebook's decision to ban Paul Joseph Watson, a YouTube personality who has served as editor-at-large of Infowars .

Update: Texas bill would allow state to sue social media companies like Facebook and Twitter that censor free speech

13th May 2019. See article from texastribune.org

A bill before the Texas Senate seeks to prevent social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their viewpoints. Supporters say it would protect the free exchange of ideas, but critics say the bill contradicts a federal law that allows social media platforms to regulate their own content.

The measure -- Senate Bill 2373 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes -- would hold social media platforms accountable for restricting users' speech based on personal opinions. Hughes said the bill applies to social media platforms that advertise themselves as unbiased but still censor users. The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill last week. The Texas Senate approved the bill on April 25 in an 18-12 vote. It now heads to the House.

 

 

Opposing unjust policing...

Heroic defender of free speech is seeking a Judicial Review of unfair police rules that allow police to record incidents as hate crimes even when there is no evidence to support that claim


Link Here 12th May 2019
Full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook
A man investigated by police over a poem about transgenderism is launching a landmark High Court case to overhaul unfair police rules on hate crimes.

Harry Miller is to seek a judicial review of the hate crime guidelines followed by police forces across Britain, claiming they are unlawful because they inhibit freedom of expression.

He argues that the current guidance, published by the College of Policing in 2014, the body responsible for training officers, promotes the recording of incidents as hate crimes even when there is no evidence of hate beyond the opinion of an accuser.

Miller's legal team has highlighted a clause in the rules that state such incidents must be recorded by officers irrespective of any evidence to identify the hate element.

Miller is also challenging a decision by Humberside Police to record his re-tweeting of the poem as a hate incident -- despite officers concluding that no crime had been committed.

He was quizzed by Humberside Police in January after posting the verse about men who transition to be women, which included the lines: You're a man ... And we can tell the difference ... Your hormones are synthetic. He said he was dumbfounded by the exchange and furious when he found out that his sharing of the verse had been recorded as a hate incident.

Explaining his reasons for launching legal action, the businessman told the Mail on Sunday:

It is about the ability to have freedom of speech within the law and being allowed to have a debate without one group being able to call on the police to shut another group down.

Free speech is being closed down by a climate of fear and secrecy and the police are contributing to this Orwellian culture.

 

 

Not enough friends in high places...

Responding to fears of an enormous fine from the US authorities, Facebook will set up a privacy oversight committee


Link Here 12th May 2019
Full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy
Facebook will create a privacy oversight committee as part of its recent agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), according to reports.

According to Politico, Facebook will appoint a government-approved committee to 'guide' the company on privacy matters. This committee will also consist of company board members.

The plans would also see Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg act as a designated compliance officer, meaning that he would be personally responsible and accountable for Facebook's privacy policies.

Last week, it was reported that Facebook could be slapped with a fine of up to $5 billion over its handling of user data and privacy. The FTC launched the investigation last March, following claims that Facebook allowed organisations, such as political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, to collect data from millions of users without their consent.

 

 

Offsite Article: Any chance of any human rights protection?...


Link Here 12th May 2019
The US is building a massive database of biometrics and identity information. By Jason Kelley

See article from eff.org

 

 

Singapore's parliament passes repressive new internet censorship law...

Fake news and criticism of the authorities to be banned even from private internet chats


Link Here 11th May 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Singapore...Heavy handed censorship control of news websites

The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the Singapore parliament's passage of legislation that will be used to stifle reporting and the dissemination of news, and called for the punitive measure's immediate repeal.

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act , which was passed yesterday, gives all government ministers broad and arbitrary powers to demand corrections, remove content, and block webpages if they are deemed to be disseminating falsehoods against the public interest or to undermine public confidence in the government, both on public websites and within chat programs such as WhatsApp, according to news reports .

Violations of the law will be punishable with maximum 10-year jail terms and fines of up to $1 million Singapore dollars (US$735,000), according to those reports. The law was passed after a two-day debate and is expected to come into force in the next few week.

 Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asian representative said:

This law will give Singapore's ministers yet another tool to suppress and censor news that does not fit with the People's Action Party-dominated government's authoritarian narrative. Singapore's online media is already over-regulated and severely censored. The law should be dropped for the sake of press freedom.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam said censorship orders would be made mainly against technology companies that hosted the objectionable content, and that they would be able to challenge the government's take-down requests,.

 

 

Offsite Article: Should Facebook and co decide who can speak?...


Link Here 11th May 2019
Social media censorship is a public concern and needs a public solution. By Scott Bicheno

See article from telecoms.com

 

 

Tariffs increased on free speech...

CBS censors animated sequence about Chinese censorship in its TV series The Good Fight


Link Here 10th May 2019
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
Canadian animator Steve Angel recognizes the irony that his cartoon about censorship was, itself, censored.

Angel produced an animated sequence for the US CBS TV series The Good Fight , a legal drama that argue cases about the issues of the day.

The censored episode was based on a criticism of Chinese censorship, including Angel's animated sequence typically of around 90 seconds. The animation was censored and replaced with an 8s screen reading, CBS has censored this content.

In a statement, a CBS All Access spokesperson said after raising concerns about the animated short's subject matter, it had reached this creative solution with the show's producers.

Angel said he was disappointed adding:

There's the obvious irony of it, but at the same time, I think because it's pretty incendiary material, it wasn't a gigantic surprise.

Angel said he couldn't comment on the content of the segment, but The New Yorker reports the animation alludes to several subjects that have been banned online in China, including Winnie-the-Pooh, as the character was used in memes as a way to poke fun at Chinese President Xi Jinping. The magazine reports the clip featured the leader dressed as the cartoon bear, shaking his exposed bottom.

But according to the Hollywood Reporter , the segment began with a song that referenced China's decision to ban The Good Wife from internet video services in 2014 . It also alluded to how American studios remove content from international releases to avoid upsetting Chinese censors.

Channel 4 broadcast the show in the UK and have stated that it will show the episode n the same censored form as was shown in the US.

 

 

Offsite Article: Amazon is too big to block...unless...


Link Here 10th May 2019
Amazon Web Services backtrack on a technical cloud access change that would have removed a method of eluding state internet censorship

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 

Random cenosrship...

US senator promises to introduce bill to prohibit loot boxes from games played by under 18s


Link Here 9th May 2019
Full story: Loot boxes in video games...Worldwide action against monetisation of video games
The US Republican senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has announced that he would be introducing a bill banning manipulative design features in video games with underage audiences, including the sale of loot boxes.

The legislation would prohibit the sale of loot boxes in games targeted at children under the age of 18. Games companies could also face penalties from the Federal Trade Commission if companies if they knowingly allow children to purchase these randomized crates.

Regulators would determine whether a game is targeted at minors by considering similar indicators that they already use under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Subject matter and the game's visual content would help regulators determine who the game is marketed toward. When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn't be allowed to monetize addiction.

Pay-to-win mechanics in games targeted at minors would also be outlawed under this legislation. This includes progression systems that encourage people to spend money to advance through a game's content at a faster pace.

 

 

Patriotism is certainly worth a bob or two...

China more or less bans PUBG, but not to worry, Tencent have a similar game featuring heroic Chinese forces that the country's censors seem to approve of


Link Here 8th May 2019
Full story: Games censorship in China...A wide range of censorship restrictions
CTech giant Tencent has dropped the hugely popular mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) in China after it was more or less banned by the government's game censors. It was not quite banned, just not allowed to earn any money.

But not to worry, Tencent has a similar title, Heping Jingying or Elite Force for Peace, with a few tweaks to smooth things with the censors. Charcaters do note beeleed, the minimum age for players has been raised to 16, and most importantly, it features heroic Chinese forces kicking ass.

Geopolitics might also have contributed to PUBG Mobile's rejection. Tencent licenses the game from South Korean company Bluehole, and Chinese authorities can be hostile to South Korean goods.

For Chinese gamers, though, the disruption should be minimal. Tencent is allowing users to port over characters from PUBG Mobile to Heping Jingying, and one analyst told Reuters that the new game was incredibly similar to the older title.

 

 

Offsite Article: Ofcom launches investigation into forced confessions broadcast by Chinese state TV CGTN...


Link Here 8th May 2019
It seems bizarre that something that could have diplomatic consequences should be decided by a domestic TV censor.

See article from rsdlmonitor.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Is Chinese-style surveillance coming to the West?...


Link Here 8th May 2019
Full story: Mass snooping in China...Internet and phone snooping in China
The Chinese model is now being exported -- and the results could be terrifying

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Acting against sex trafficking was put above free speech, justice and practicality...

Now Facebook is in court for not protecting victims of sex trafficking, no doubt wishing it hadn't supported the removal of the very same legal protection it now needs


Link Here 7th May 2019
Full story: FOSTA US Internet Censorship Law...Wide ranging internet cesnorship law targetting sex workers
Lawyers for Facebook and Instagram have appeared in a Texas courtrooms attempting to dismiss two civil cases that accuse the social media sites of not protecting victims of sex trafficking.

The Facebook case involves a Houston woman who in October said the company's morally bankrupt corporate culture left her prey to a predatory pimp who drew her into sex trafficking as a child. The Instagram case involves a 14-year-old girl from Spring who said she was recruited, groomed and sold in 2018 by a man she met on the social media site.

Of course Facebook is only embroiled in this case because it supported Congress to pass an anti-trafficking amendment in April 2018. Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, collectively known as SESTA-FOSTA, this attempts to make it easier to prosecute owners and operators of websites that facilitate sex trafficking. This act removed the legal protection for websites that previously meant they couldn't be held responsible for the actions of its members.

After the Houston suit was filed, a Facebook spokesperson said human trafficking is not permitted on the site and staffers report all instances they're informed about to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of course that simply isn't enough any more, and now they have to proactively stop their website from being used for criminal activity.

The impossibility of preventing such misuse has led to many websites pulling out of anything that may be related to people hooking up for sex, lest they are held responsible for something they couldn't possibly prevent.

But perhaps Facebook has enough money to pay for lawyers who can argue their way out of such hassles.

The Adult Performers Actors Guild is standing up for sex workers who are tired of being banned from Instagram with no explanation.

7th May 2019. See article from vice.com

In related news, adult performers are campaigning against being arbitrarily banned from their accounts by Facebook and Instagram. It seems likely that the social media companies are summarily ejecting users detected to have any connection with people getting together for sex.

As explained above, the social media companies are responsible for anything related to sex trafficking happening on their website. They practically aren't able to discern sex trafficking from consensual sex so the only protection available for internet companies is to ban anyone that might have a connection to sex.

This reality is clearly impacting those effected. A group of adult performers is starting to organize against Facebook and Instagram for removing their accounts without explanation. Around 200 performers and models have included their usernames in a letter to Facebook asking the network to address this issue.

Alana Evans, president of the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG), a union that advocates for adult industry professionals' rights, told Vice. There are performers who are being deleted, because they put up a picture of their freshly painted toenails

In an April 22 letter to Facebook, the Adult Performers Actors Guild's legal counsel James Felton wrote:

Over the course of the last several months, almost 200 adult performers have had their Instagrams accounts terminated without explanation. In fact, every day, additional performers reach out to us with their termination stories. In the large majority of instances, her was no nudity shown in the pictures. However, it appears that the accounts were terminated merely because of their status as an adult performer.

Effort to learn the reasons behind the termination have been futile. Performers are asked to send pictures of their names to try to verify that the accounts are actually theirs and not put up by frauds. Emails are sent and there is no reply.

 

 

Cookies crumbling...

Google's Chrome browser is set to allow users to disable 3rd party tracking cookies


Link Here 7th May 2019

Google is set to roll out a dashboard-like function in its Chrome browser to offer users more control in fending off tracking cookies, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

While Google's new tools are not expected to significantly curtail its ability to collect data itself, it would help the company press its sizable advantage over online-advertising rivals, the newspaper said .

Google has been working on the cookies plan for at least six years, in stops and starts, but accelerated the work after news broke last year that personal data of Facebook users was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

The company is mostly targeting cookies installed by profit-seeking third parties, separate from the owner of the website a user is actively visiting, the Journal said.

Apple Inc in 2017 stopped majority of tracking cookies on its Safari browser by default and Mozilla Corp's Firefox did the same a year later.

 

 

Free speech under siege...

The Siege of Tel Aviv by Hesh Kestin has been censored by the Twitter mob


Link Here 6th May 2019
The Siege of Tel Aviv by Hesh Kestin, a parody novel, had been pulled by its independent publisher, Dzanc Books after a Twitter lynch mob claimed the book to be Islamophobic and racist.

Kestin explained that the publisher had initially stood its ground against the Twitteridiots who attacked it, but later buckled under pressure.

The book had earlier been endorsed by some big names including Stephen King who said it was scarier than anything he ever wrote, but also that:

An irrepressible sense of humor runs through it ... it's stuff like the cross-dressing pilot (my favorite character) and any number of deliciously absurd situations (the pink jets). It's the inevitable result of an eye that sees the funny side, even in horror. So few writers have that. This novel will cause talk and controversy. Most of all, it will be read.

The book's promotional material reads:

Iran leads five armies in a brutal victory over Israel, which ceases to exist. Within hours, its leaders are rounded up and murdered, the IDF is routed, and the country's six million Jews concentrated in Tel Aviv, which becomes a starving ghetto. While the US and the West sit by, Israel's enemies prepare to kill off the entire population.

On the eve of genocide, Tel Aviv makes one last attempt to save itself, as an Israeli businessman, a gangster, and a cross-dressing fighter pilot put together a daring plan to counterattack. Will it succeed?

It seems to have been the promotional material that was the basis for the Twitterstorm. Writer Nathan Goldman Goldman said that as soon as he read the marketing copy of the book -- he says he has not read the book in its entirety-- he knew the racist rhetoric it was implying.

Emmy Award-winning poet Tariq Luthun, who also engaged in the Twitter conversation, said that he doesn't know the writer's specific ideologies, but what he read in the description and the excerpt available online goes beyond Islamophobia.

Steve Gillis, co-founder of Dzanc Books, apologised.

If an error has been committed, it is not in our intent, but in the failure to consider how readers might perceive the novel. It was my own blindness, and reading the novel as a parody, which has me so troubled now.

 

 

Let battle recommence...

Nepal Supreme Court unbans the video game PUBG


Link Here 6th May 2019
PlayerUnknown's Battleground is a 2017 South Korea Battle Royale by PUBG Corporation

On 11th APril 2019 Nepal Telecommunication Authority directed all ISPs to ban PlayerUnknown's Battleground, commonly known PUBG, following a court order to ban the game. The court claimed that the game was having a negative effect on the behaviour and study of children and youths.

But the Supreme Court of Nepal has now issued an interim order to the government to not ban the popular online game.

The court observed that PUBG was basically a game used by the general public for entertainment. Since press freedom and freedom of expression are guaranteed by the constitution, it is necessary to prove that such bans are just, fair and reasonable, and the actions of the authorities concerned are wise and logical, the bench stated in its order. The SC observed that the ban imposed by Kathmandu District Court on April 10 was not reasonable.

 

 

Offsite Article: Careless lawmaking...


Link Here 6th May 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Detailed legal analysis of Online Harms white paper does not impress

See article from cyberleagle.com

 

 

Offsite Article: The books banned in Queensland...


Link Here 5th May 2019
Full story: Book Censorship in Australia...Australian books banned by censors
More than 50,000 books and magazines that can be sold around Australia are not allowed to be stocked on Queensland shelves.

See article from scmp.com

 

 

Censorship is an ineffective vaccine against society's ills...

The EFF argues that social media companies solving the anti-vax problem by censoring anti-vax information is ineffective


Link Here 4th May 2019

The EFF has written an impassioned article about the ineffectiveness of censorship of anti-vax information as a means of convincing people that vaccinations are the right things for their kids.

But before presenting the EFF case, I read a far more interesting article suggesting that the authorities are on totally the wrong track anyway. And that no amount of blocking anti-vax claims. or bombarding people with true information, is going to make any difference.

The article suggests that many anti-vaxers don't actually believe that vaccines cause autism anyway, so censorship of negative info and pushing of positive info won't work because people know that already. Thomas Baekdal explains:

What makes a parent decide not to vaccinate their kids? One reason might be an economic one. In the US (in particular), healthcare comes at a very high cost, and while there are ways to vaccinate kids cheaper (or even for free), people in the US are very afraid of engaging too much with the healthcare system.

So as journalists, we need to focus on that instead, because it's highly likely that many people who make this decision do so because they worry about their financial future. In other words, not wanting to vaccinate their kids might be an excuse that they cling to because of financial concerns.

Perhaps it is the same with denying climate change. Perhaps it is not the belief in the science of climate change that is the reason for denial. Perhaps it is more that people find the solutions unpalatable. Perhaps they don't want to support climate change measures simply because they don't fancy being forced to become vegetarian and don't want to be priced off the road by green taxes.

Anyway the EFF have been considering the difficulties faced by social media companies trying to convince anti-vaxers by censorship and by force feeding them 'the correct information'. The EFF writes:

With measles cases on the rise for the first time in decades and anti-vaccine (or anti-vax) memes spreading like wildfire on social media, a number of companies--including Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and GoFundMe --recently banned anti-vax posts.

But censorship cannot be the only answer to disinformation online. The anti-vax trend is a bigger problem than censorship can solve. And when tech companies ban an entire category of content like this, they have a history of overcorrecting and censoring accurate, useful speech --or, even worse, reinforcing misinformation with their policies. That's why platforms that adopt categorical bans must follow the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation to ensure that users are notified when and about why their content has been removed, and that they have the opportunity to appeal.

Many intermediaries already act as censors of users' posts, comments, and accounts , and the rules that govern what users can and cannot say grow more complex with every year. But removing entire categories of speech from a platform does little to solve the underlying problems.

Tech companies and online platforms have other ways to address the rapid spread of disinformation, including addressing the algorithmic megaphone at the heart of the problem and giving users control over their own feeds.

Anti-vax information is able to thrive online in part because it exists in a data void in which available information about vaccines online is limited, non-existent, or deeply problematic. Because the merit of vaccines has long been considered a decided issue, there is little recent scientific literature or educational material to take on the current mountains of disinformation. Thus, someone searching for recent literature on vaccines will likely find more anti-vax content than empirical medical research supporting vaccines.

Censoring anti-vax disinformation won't address this problem. Even attempts at the impossible task of wiping anti-vax disinformation from the Internet entirely will put it beyond the reach of researchers, public health professionals, and others who need to be able to study it and understand how it spreads.

In a worst-case scenario, well-intentioned bans on anti-vax content could actually make this problem worse. Facebook, for example, has over-adjusted in the past to the detriment of legitimate educational health content: A ban on overly suggestive or sexually provocative ads also caught the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy in its net.

Platforms must address one of the root causes behind disinformation's spread online: the algorithms that decide what content users see and when. And they should start by empowering users with more individualized tools that let them understand and control the information they see.

Algorithms like Facebook's Newsfeed or Twitter's timeline makes decisions about which news items, ads, and user-generated content to promote and which to hide. That kind of curation can play an amplifying role for some types of incendiary content, despite the efforts of platforms like Facebook to tweak their algorithms to disincentivize or downrank it. Features designed to help people find content they'll like can too easily funnel them into a rabbit hole of disinformation .

That's why platforms should examine the parts of their infrastructure that are acting as a megaphone for dangerous content and address that root cause of the problem rather than censoring users.

The most important parts of the puzzle here are transparency and openness. Transparency about how a platform's algorithms work, and tools to allow users to open up and create their own feeds, are critical for wider understanding of algorithmic curation, the kind of content it can incentivize, and the consequences it can have. Recent transparency improvements in this area from Facebook are encouraging, but don't go far enough.

Users shouldn't be held hostage to a platform's proprietary algorithm. Instead of serving everyone one algorithm to rule them all and giving users just a few opportunities to tweak it, platforms should open up their APIs to allow users to create their own filtering rules for their own algorithms. News outlets, educational institutions, community groups, and individuals should all be able to create their own feeds, allowing users to choose who they trust to curate their information and share their preferences with their communities.

Censorship by tech giants must be rare and well-justified . So when a company does adopt a categorical ban, we should ask: Can the company explain what makes that category exceptional? Are the rules to define its boundaries clear and predictable, and are they backed up by consistent data? Under what conditions will other speech that challenges established consensus be removed?

Beyond the technical nuts and bolts of banning a category of speech, disinformation also poses ethical challenges to social media platforms. What responsibility does a company have to prevent the spread of disinformation on its platforms? Who decides what does or does not qualify as misleading or inaccurate? Who is tasked with testing and validating the potential bias of those decisions?

 

 

 

Tightening the purse strings...

BBFC warns that age verification should not be coupled with electronic wallets


Link Here 4th May 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The BBFC has re-iterated that its Age Verification certification scheme does not allow for personal data to be used for another purpose beyond age verification. In particular age verification should not be coupled with electronic wallets.

Presumably this is intended to prevent personal date identifying porn users to be dangerously stored in databases use for other purposes.

In passing, this suggests that there may be commercial issues as age verification systems for porn may not be reusable for age verification for social media usage or identity verification required for online gambling. I suspect that several AV providers are only interested in porn as a way to get established for social media age verification.

This BBFC warning may be of particular interest to users of the porn site xHamster. The preferred AV option for that website is the electronic wallet 1Account.

The BBFC write in a press release:

The Age-verification Regulator under the UK's Digital Economy Act, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), has advised age-verification providers that they will not be certified under the Age-verification Certificate (AVC) if they use a digital wallet in their solution.

The AVC is a voluntary, non-statutory scheme that has been designed specifically to ensure age-verification providers maintain high standards of privacy and data security. The AVC will ensure data minimisation, and that there is no handover of personal information used to verify an individual is over 18 between certified age-verification providers and commercial pornography services. The only data that should be shared between a certified AV provider and an adult website is a token or flag indicating that the consumer has either passed or failed age-verification.

Murray Perkins, Policy Director for the BBFC, said:

A consumer should be able to consider that their engagement with an age-verification provider is something temporary.

In order to preserve consumer confidence in age-verification and the AVC, it was not considered appropriate to allow certified AV providers to offer other services to consumers, for example by way of marketing or by the creation of a digital wallet. The AVC is necessarily robust in order to allow consumers a high level of confidence in the age-verification solutions they choose to use.

Accredited providers will be indicated by the BBFC's green AV symbol, which is what consumers should look out for. Details of the independent assessment will also be published on the BBFC's age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com, so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.

The Standard for the AVC imposes limits on the use of data collected for the purpose of age-verification, and sets out requirements for data minimisation.

The AVC Standard has been developed by the BBFC and NCC Group - who are experts in cyber security and data protection - in cooperation with industry, with the support of government, including the National Cyber Security Centre and Chief Scientific Advisors, and in consultation with the Information Commissioner's Office. In order to be certified, AV Providers will undergo an on-site audit as well as a penetration test.

Further announcements will be made on AV Providers' certification under the scheme ahead of entry into force on July 15.

 

 

Commented: Twitter is interfering in British elections...

Twitter censors the Euro election campaign accounts of Carl Benjamin and Tommy Robinson


Link Here 4th May 2019

Twitter has bannedTommy Robinson and Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin's campaign accounts

Both had already had their personal accounts banned from the platform - but now their campaign accounts are also suspended.

Benjamin, a vlogger who calls himself Sargon of Akkad, was banned from Twitter in 2017 whilst Robinson was permanently banned in March 2018.

In a tweet from the party's official account, Ukip said:

Official UKIP MEP Campaign account @CarlUkip, of which Carl Benjamin has no access to has been suspended from Twitter. This is election interference, and UKIP will get to the bottom of this.

And Ukip defended Benjamin as a YouTube entertainer fighting political correctness - before telling the Mirror: He will remain on the UKIP ticket.

Offsite Comment: Twitter's outrageous meddling in British democracy

4th May 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Brendan O'Neill

Twitter's outrageous meddling in British democracy

In banning Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin, Twitter is behaving like a corporate dictator.

 

 

Offsite Article: How the U.K. Won't Keep Porn Away From Teens...


Link Here 4th May 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The New York Times takes a sceptical look at the upcoming porn censorship regime

See article from nytimes.com

 


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