The Culture Secretary has vowed to end the Wild West for tech giants amid anger at claims data from Facebook users was harvested to be used by political campaigns.
Matt Hancock warned social media companies that they could be slapped with new rules and regulations to rein them in.
It comes amid fury at claims the Facebook data of around 50 million users was taken without their permission and used by Cambridge Analytica.
The firm played a key role in mapping out the behaviour of voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election and the EU referendum campaign earlier that year.
Tory MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture select committee, has said he wants to haul Mark Zuckerberg to Parliament to explain himself.
Tech companies store the data of billions of people around the world - giving an unparalleled insight into the lives and thoughts of people. And they must do more to show they are storing the data responsibly,
Radio Ikhlas, 7 September 2017, 15:50
Radio Ikhlas is a community radio station serving the Asian (primarily Pakistani) community and other smaller ethnic communities in the Normanton area of Derby.
Ofcom received a complaint that the above programme included statements that constituted hatred against the Ahmadiyya community. The Ahmadi movement identifies itself as a Muslim movement, which follows the teachings of the Qur'an. However, it is
regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam since they differ on the interpretation of the finality of prophethood. There are Ahmadiyya communities around the world. They face restrictions in many Muslim countries and are described in publicly
available reports as one of the persecuted communities in Pakistan. There have been reports of discrimination and threats against the community in the UK.
With a long and in-depth explanation, Ofcom took the view that the broadcast contained material which amounted to abusive or derogatory treatment of the Ahmadiyya community and their religious beliefs. Ofcom added:
We consider these breaches are very serious and we are putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Content relating to Burhan Wani
Prime TV, 6 July 2017, 18:34 onwards
Prime TV is a general entertainment satellite channel aimed at the Pakistani community in the UK and Europe.
Ofcom received a complaint that, during a broadcast of a current affairs programme, a social media campaign was repeatedly promoted to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen1 military leader Burhan Wani. The
complainant expressed concern that the campaign was supporting a terrorist leader and encouraging terrorism in Indian administered Kashmir.
Ofcom again found the broadcaster to be in breach of Ofcom rules but this wasn't considered a breach that would be taken any further. Ofcom said:
Ofcom understands that while some members of the Kashmiri community may revere Burhan Wani, and the terrorist organisation he led, this view is far from universal. Therefore, the fact that some viewers may have perceived Burhan Wani to be a
martyr or that the anniversary of his death was being promoted on various Pakistani media outlets, did not, in our view, justify Express TV broadcasting this content without challenge or other context. Similarly, the fact that this content was
not the Licensee's own production or the fact that Express TV considered there was no clarity so far on the UK Government's view on Burhan Wani did not justify the broadcast of the content in this case. Hizbul Mujahideen, the group of which
Burhan Wani was a member, has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, India and the US. Therefore, we considered the Licensee could, and should, have been aware of Burhan Wani's controversial status both within Kashmir and outside.
Ofcom is concerned that Express TV broadcast content expressing such strong, unchallenged support for, and glorification of, Burhan Wani and his violent actions as leader of a group which has been designated a terrorist organisation in various
countries. This support was capable, in our view, of causing considerable offence.
The Digital Policy Alliance is a cross party group of parliamentarians with associate members from industry and academia.
It has led efforts to develop a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 1296) which was published on 19 March.
Crossbench British peer Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, said:
We need to make the UK a safe place to do business, he said. That's why we're producing a British PAS... that set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.
The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should
This PAS will sit alongside data protection and privacy rules set out in the General Data Protection Regulation and in the UK's Data Protection Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. Hay explained:
We can't put rules about data protection into the PAS206 That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can't mandate them inside this PAS 203 but it's in there as 'you must obey the law'... [perhaps] that's been too
subtle for the organisations that have been trying to take a swing at it.
What Hay didn't mention though was that all of this 'help' for British industry would come with a hefty £ 90 + VAT price tag for a 60 page document.
A teacher wins a rather symbolic court victory in France over Facebook, who banned
Gustave Courbet's 1866 painting L'Origine du monde (The Origin of the World).
After a seven year legal battle, a French court has ruled that Facebook was wrong to close the social media account of educator Frédéric Durand without warning after he posted an image of Gustave Courbet 's 1866 painting The Origin of the World .
While the court agreed that Facebook was at fault, the social media giant does not have to pay damages. The court ruled that there was no damage because Durand was able to open another account.
Durand was not impressed, he said:
We are refuting this, we are making an appeal, and we will argue in the court of appeal that, actually, there was damage.
Durand's lawyer, Stéphane Cottineau, explained that when the social network deleted Durand's account in 2011, he lost his entire Facebook history, which he didn't use for social purposes, but rather to share his love of art, particularly of street
art and the work of contemporary living painters.
Egypt's state censors have banned a play on the day of its Cairo premiere, saying it cannot be shown
without the removal of five key scenes.
As a result, writer and director Ahmed El Attar cancelled performances of Before the Revolution , a two-actor piece that depicts oppression and stagnation in Egypt before its 2011 popular uprising,
In a statement, organizers say El Attar has appealed for a second censorship committee to watch the show on March 19th, asking for it to be allowed to be shown without the censor cuts, which he said heavily distorted the piece.
Thailand's popular resort of Phuket has an ambition to turn the island into a 'smart city', according to Thailand's digital
The province may also develop an electronic wristband system for foreign tourists so their identity and location would be known in case of untoward incidents, said Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.
He said the province has planned to develop the uses of wristbands to track tourists and to use Big Data to analyse information about tourists' habits.
He said the Phuket command centre would also link to all CCTVs on the island to work with face-recognition software to guard against crimes as well as to collect the data of tourists who use public boat services.
19th March 2018. Thanks to Dave
Why are the Thai Authorities doing everything they can to Alienate Tourists and Expats.
Raiding Darts Clubs, Bridge Clubs, putting them in Gaol for Smoking on the Beach.
The Police are constantly stopping Tourists on Scooters looking for international Driving License's, which were never needed before.
Now wristbands to track Tourists movements, registering Mobile Phones with your Passport.
Thailand is turning into another North Korea, The sooner we have Elections and get rid of the Army the better.
Whilst the EU ramps up internet censorship, particularly people's criticism of its policies, the Council of Europe calls for internet censorship to be transparent and limited to the minimum necessary by law
The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental body entirely separate from the European Union. With a wider membership of 47 states, it seeks
to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, including by monitoring adherence to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.
Its Recommendations are not legally binding on Member States, but are very influential in the development of national policy and of the policy and law of the European Union.
The Council of Europe has published a Recommendation
to Member States on the roles and responsibilities of Internet intermediaries. The Recommendation declares that access to the Internet is a precondition for the ability effectively to exercise fundamental human rights, and seeks to protect users
by calling for greater transparency, fairness and due process when interfering with content.
The Recommendations' key provisions aimed at governments include:
Public authorities should only make "requests, demands or other actions addressed to internet intermediari es that interferes with human rights and fundamental freedoms" when prescribed by law. This means they should therefore avoid
asking intermediaries to remove content under their terms of service or to make their terms of service more restrictive.
Legislation giving powers to public authorities to interfere with Internet content should clearly define the scope of those powers and available discretion, to protect against arbitrary application.
When internet intermediaries restrict access to third-party content based on a State order, State authorities should ensure that effective redress mechanisms are made available and adhere to applicable procedural safeguards.
When intermediaries remove content based on their own terms and conditions of service, this should not be considered a form of control that makes them liable for the third-party content for which they provide access.
Member States should consider introducing laws to prevent vexatious lawsuits designed to suppress users free expression, whether by targeting the user or the intermediary. In the US, these are known as " anti-SLAPP laws ".
A book about Spain's drug-smuggling underworld was banned last week by a Madrid courta. José Alfredo Bea Gondar, a former mayor of the coastal town of O Grove in Galicia, to freeze distribution of Fariña (Blow) by Nacho Carretero Pou
because of references to his alleged involvement in the unloading of a shipment of cocaine and a supposed negotiation between Colombia's Cali cartel and local smugglers. The book is banned pending the hearing of libel case.
Kicking against what they consider outdated censorship, a booksellers' association has reacted to the seizure of the non-fiction book 'Fariña' by launching a website to replicate it word for word. The website includes a digital tool that searches
for and locates the 80,000 words that make up the banned book from within the text of Don Quixote , extracting them one by one to recompose the banned book. On Friday after two days online, the website had racked up over 30,000 hits,
according to the Booksellers Guild of Madrid. Fernando Valverde, the Guild secretary explained;
It's a metaphor for the fact that in the digital era you can seize a book, but you cannot gag words.
It is not clear whether the ruse is a legal way for people to read it.
The Open Rights Group, Myles Jackman and Pandora Blake have done a magnificent job in highlighting the dangers of mandating that porn companies verify the age of their customers.
Worst case scenario
In the worst case scenario, foreign porn companies will demand official ID from porn viewers and then be able to maintain a database of the complete browsing history of those officially identified viewers.
And surely much to the alarm of the government and the newly appointed internet porn censors at the BBFC, then this worst case scenario seems to be the clear favourite to get implemented. In particular Mindgeek, with a near monopoly on free porn
tube sites, is taking the lead with its Age ID scheme.
Now for some bizarre reason, the government saw no need for its age verification to offer any specific protection for porn viewers, beyond that offered by existing and upcoming data protection laws. Given some of the things that Google and
Facebook do with personal data then it suggests that these laws are woefully inadequate for the context of porn viewing. For safety and national security reasons, data identifying porn users should be kept under total lock and key, and not
used for any commercial reason whatsoever.
A big flaw
But there in lies the flaw of the law. The government is mandating that all websites, including those based abroad, should verify their users without specifying any data protection requirements beyond the law of the land. The flaw is that foreign
websites are simply not obliged to respect British data protection laws.
So as a topical example, there would be nothing to prevent a Russian porn site (maybe not identifying itself as Russian) from requiring ID and then passing the ID and subsequent porn browsing history straight over to its dirty tricks department.
Anyway the government has made a total pigs ear of the concept with its conservative 'leave it to industry to find a solution' approach'. The porn industry simply does not have the safety and security of its customers at heart. Perhaps the
government should have invested in its own solution first, at least the national security implications may have pushed it into at least considering user safety and security.
Where we are at
As mentioned above campaigners have done a fine job in identifying the dangers of the government plan and these have been picked up by practically all newspapers. These seem to have chimed with readers and the entire idea seems to be accepted as
dangerous. In fact I haven't spotted anyone, not even 'the think of the children' charities pushing for 'let's just get on with it'. And so now its over to the authorities to try and convince people that they have a safe solution somewhere.
The Digital Policy Alliance
Perhaps as part of a propaganda campaign to win over the people, parliament's Digital Policy
Alliance are just about to publish guidance on age verification policies. The alliance is a cross party group that includes, Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, who made some good points about privacy concerns whilst the bill was being forced through
the House of Lords.
He said that a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) numbered 1296 is due to be published on 19 March. This will set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.
The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should
However the document will carry no authority and is not set to become an official British standard. He explained:
We can't put rules about data protection into the PAS... That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can't mandate them inside this PAS -- but it's in there as 'you must obey the law'...
But of course Hay did not mention that Russian websites don't have to obey British data protection law.
And next the BBFC will have a crack at reducing people's fears
Elsewhere in the discussion, Hay suggested the British Board of Film and Internet Censorship could mandate that each site had to offer more than one age-verification provider, which would give consumers more choice.
Next the BBFC will have a crack at minimising people's fears about age verification. It will publish its own guidance document towards the end of the month, and launch a public consultation about it.
The convenience store 7-Eleven is rolling out artificial intelligence at its 11,000 stores across Thailand.
7-Eleven will use facial-recognition and behavior-analysis technologies for multiple purposes. The ones it has decided to reveal to the public are to identify loyalty members, analyze in-store traffic, monitor product levels, suggest products to
customers, and even measure the emotions of customers as they walk around.
The company announced it will be using technology developed by US-based Remark Holdings, which says its facial-recognition technology has an accuracy rate of more than 96%. Remark, which has data partnerships with Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, has
a significant presence in China.
The rollout at Thailand's 7-Eleven stores remains unique in scope. It could potentially be the largest number of facial-recognition cameras to be adopted by one company. No corporate entity is so entrenched in Thai lives, according to a report
from Public Radio International. And that may be crucial not only to the success of facial recognition in 7-Eleven stores in Thailand, but across the region.
Fans Against Criminalisation campaigner Paul Quigley is celebrating momentous
victory for the group which has lobbied for the repeal of the disgraceful Offensive Behaviour at Football Act for the last seven years.
The act was a knee jerk reaction to Celtic vs Rangers game where Celtic manager Neil Lennon was attacked on field and letter bombs were later sent to Lennon, Paul McBride QC and Trish Godman MSP.
The resulting legislation was nominally about tackling sectarianism but in reality gave the police carte-blanche powers to arrest fans for whatever they wished under the catch-all guise of offensiveness.
Paul Quigley explained:
A decision was taken to form a campaign to fight this, partly due to a deeply held collective ideological belief in the right to freedom of expression and equality before law, and partly due to the simple notion of self defence.
Fans of all clubs would be welcome to join our organisation and that we would help and campaign for all football fans who we deemed to be the subject of unjust treatment.
Fans Against Criminalisation was able to count on the support of thousands of passionate supporters of the campaign, as was evidenced by a demonstration at George Square which drew thousands of people in late 2011. In spite of this, the
government seemed to assume that this would all die down in due course, and that the fan campaign would not have the capability or endurance required to give them real cause to reconsider their position.
The treatment that football fans have had to endure ever since has been appalling. The human cost of this legislation is often lost amid the political rabble rousing, among the doctored statistics and the nauseatingly disingenuous moral
grandstanding. The reality of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is this; it has ruined lives and caused serious damage in our communities.
In the face of all of this, football fans endured. In the years that followed, an incredible campaign challenged this treatment of supporters and lobbied for the repeal of this ill advised and illiberal piece of legislation. Today, the Scottish
Parliament finally voted on this very question.
The Repeal Bill has passed, and this is the first time in the history of devolution that the Scottish Parliament has repealed its own legislation. This victory is historic not just for football fans, but for the country.
As a follow up. James Dornan, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart and a candidate for deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, has decided to quit Twitter. He describes it as a cesspit of hate and bile, saying he has received abuse from football
fans over his defence of the Offence Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA). His disgraceful 'defence' of the legislation was to try and suggest that the campaign was some sort Labour party political effort. The fans were not impressed and clearly gave
him the slagging off he deserved. See more on this in article from spiked-online.com
The EU is considering a copyright proposal that would require code-sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for
potential copyright infringement (see the EU Commission's proposed Article 13 of the Copyright Directive ). The proposal is aimed at music and videos on streaming platforms, based on a theory of a "value gap" between the profits those
platforms make from uploaded works and what copyright holders of some uploaded works receive. However, the way it's written captures many other types of content, including code.
We'd like to make sure developers in the EU who understand that automated filtering of code would make software less reliable and more expensive--and can explain this to EU policymakers--participate in the conversation.
Why you should care about upload filters
Upload filters (" censorship machines ") are one of the most controversial elements of the copyright proposal, raising a number of concerns, including:
Privacy : Upload filters are a form of surveillance, effectively a "general monitoring obligation" prohibited by EU law
Free speech : Requiring platforms to monitor content contradicts intermediary liability protections in EU law and creates incentives to remove content
Ineffectiveness : Content detection tools are flawed (generate false positives, don't fit all kinds of content) and overly burdensome, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that might not be able to afford
them or the resulting litigation
Upload filters are especially concerning for software developers given that:
Software developers create copyrightable works--their code--and those who choose an open source license want to allow that code to be shared
False positives (and negatives) are especially likely for software code because code often has many contributors and layers, often with different licensing for different components
Requiring code-hosting platforms to scan and automatically remove content could drastically impact software developers when their dependencies are removed due to false positives
The Video Standards Council is responsible for UK video games censorship. Normally the group rubber stamps European PEGI ratings but it retains the power to ban games. And in a rare example of usage of such powers, the group has joined Australian
in banning Omega Labyrinth Z.
Omega Labyrinth Z is 2017 Japanese console game by Matrix Software
Banned in Australia and the UK in 2018.
Omega Labyrinth Z is a dungeon crawler game for the PS4 and Playstation Vita. It was submitted with a provisional PEGI 16 rating for depictions of erotic or sexual nudity. The game is set at the Anberyl Girls Academy and legend has it that a holy
grail exists that can grant any wish. It is hidden in one of the ancient caves that is located somewhere in the school grounds. A group of female students set out to explore the caves with the aim of finding the grail.
UK: Banned in March 2018 by the Video Standards Council
The VSC Rating Board has ruled that the video game, Omega Labyrinth Z, will not be issued a UK Certificate of Classification.
This refusal is relevant to physical product only (disc, cartridge, etc.) Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act (1984), the VSC Rating Board is required to consider the likelihood of any game causing harm to the user and, subsequently, to
wider society by the way in which the game deals with and portrays images of criminal, violent or horrific behaviour, illegal drugs and human sexual activity. The grounds for this decision are as follows: - The likely harm being caused to a
viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people.
The game is explicit in its setting within a school environment and the majority of the characters are young girls - one child is referred to as being a first year student and is seen holding a teddy bear. The game clearly promotes the
sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters. The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18.
There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity
throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children. As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using
either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.
The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly
harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular.
Update: Banned in Germany, New Zealand and Ireland
In a tweet, distributor PQube said its appeal against the UK ban had been rejected. The game has also been refused a rating in Australia and Germany. PQube said it would also not be available in New Zealand and Ireland.
Lap dancing has been banned from Cheltenham after local feminists persuaded the council that feminist morality
An application for sexual entertainment venue licence at the Fantasy Club, 12-14 Bath Road was rejected.
About 20 objections were lodged against lap dancing club plan. The licensing committee voted 3-1 to refuse the application on the grounds that the premises were in a supposedly inappropriate location.
The committee heard objections from an opposition alliance made up of Councillor Flo Lucas, St Paul's Residents' Association Chair Tess Beck and Lesley Painter of local feminist group, Chelt Fems. Painter argued that Cheltenham Borough Council
should follow in the steps of high-profile international organisations such as Formula 1, who axed scantily clad grid girls from their events last year.
This is the first time in three year's that the The Fantasy Club has been refused a licence. The club was granted a licence for lap dancing in 2017 and 2016.
Update: Occasional opening and the occasion is the horse racing festival
EFF and 23 other civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Congress urging Members and Senators to oppose the CLOUD Act and any efforts to attach
it to other legislation.
The CLOUD Act ( S. 2383
and H.R. 4943
) is a dangerous bill that would tear away global privacy protections by allowing police in the United States and abroad to grab cross-border data without following the privacy rules of where the data is stored. Currently, law enforcement requests
for cross-border data often use a legal system called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, or MLATs. This system ensures that, for example, should a foreign government wish to seize communications stored in the United States, that data is
properly secured by the Fourth Amendment requirement for a search warrant.
The other groups signing the new coalition letter against the CLOUD Act are Access Now, Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
(AALDEF), Campaign for Liberty, Center for Democracy & Technology, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Constitutional Alliance, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress Action, Equality California, Free Press Action Fund,
Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Human Rights Watch, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Black Justice Coalition, New America's Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia, People
For the American Way, and Restore The Fourth.
The CLOUD Act allows police to bypass the MLAT system, removing vital U.S. and foreign country privacy protections. As we explained in our earlier letter to Congress, the CLOUD Act would:
Allow foreign governments to wiretap on U.S. soil under standards that do not comply with U.S. law;
Give the executive branch the power to enter into foreign agreements without Congressional approval or judicial review, including foreign nations with a well-known record of human rights abuses;
Possibly facilitate foreign government access to information that is used to commit human rights abuses, like torture; and
Allow foreign governments to obtain information that could pertain to individuals in the U.S. without meeting constitutional standards.
You can read more about EFF's opposition to the CLOUD Act here
The CLOUD Act creates a new channel for foreign governments seeking data about non-U.S. persons who are outside the United States. This new data channel is not governed by the laws of where the data is stored. Instead, the foreign police may
demand the data directly from the company that handles it. Under the CLOUD Act, should a foreign government request data from a U.S. company, the U.S. Department of Justice would not need to be involved at any stage. Also, such requests for data
would not need to receive individualized, prior judicial review before the data request is made.
The CLOUD Act's new data delivery method lacks not just meaningful judicial oversight, but also meaningful Congressional oversight, too. Should the U.S. executive branch enter a data exchange agreement--known as an "executive
agreement"--with foreign countries, Congress would have little time and power to stop them. As we wrote in our letter:
"[T]he CLOUD Act would allow the executive branch to enter into agreements with foreign governments--without congressional approval. The bill stipulates that any agreement negotiated would go into effect 90 days after Congress was notified
of the certification, unless Congress enacts a joint resolution of disapproval, which would require presidential approval or sufficient votes to overcome a presidential veto."
And under the bill, the president could agree to enter executive agreements with countries that are known human rights abusers.
Troublingly, the bill also fails to protect U.S. persons from the predictable, non-targeted collection of their data. When foreign governments request data from U.S. companies about specific "targets" who are non-U.S. persons not living
in the United States, these governments will also inevitably collect data belonging to U.S. persons who communicate with the targeted individuals. Much of that data can then be shared with U.S. authorities, who can then use the information to
charge U.S. persons with crimes. That data sharing, and potential criminal prosecution, requires no probable cause warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment, violating our constitutional rights.
The CLOUD Act is a bad bill. We urge Congress to stop it, and any attempts to attach it to must-pass spending legislation.
Is it just me or is Matt Hancock just a little too keen to advocate ID checks just for the state to control 'screen time'. Are we sure that such snooping wouldn't be abused for other reasons of state control?
It's no secret the UK government has a vendetta against the internet and social media. Now, Matt Hancock, the secretary of
state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants to push that further, and enforce screen time cutoffs for UK children on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Talking to the Sunday Times, Hancock explained that the negative impacts of social media need to be dealt with, and he laid out his idea for an age-verification system to apply more widely than just porn viewing.
He outlined that age-verification could be handled similarly to film classifications, with sites like YouTube being restricted to those over 18. The worrying thing, however, is his plans to create mandatory screen time cutoffs for all children.
Referencing the porn restrictions he said: People said 'How are you going to police that?' I said if you don't have it, we will take down your website in Britain. The end result is that the big porn sites are introducing this globally, so we are
leading the way.
Whenever politicians peak of 'balance' it inevitably means that the balance will soon swing from people's rights towards state control. Matt Hancock more or less announced further internet censorship in a speech at the Oxford Media Convention. He
Our schools and our curriculum have a valuable role to play so students can tell fact from fiction and think critically about the news that they read and watch.
But it is not easy for our children, or indeed for anyone who reads news online. Although we have robust mechanisms to address disinformation in the broadcast and press industries, this is simply not the case online.
Take the example of three different organisations posting a video online.
If a broadcaster published it on their on demand service, the content would be a matter for Ofcom.
If a newspaper posted it, it would be a matter for IPSO.
If an individual published it online, it would be untouched by media regulation.
Now I am passionate in my belief in a free and open Internet ....BUT... freedom does not mean the freedom to harm others. Freedom can only exist within a framework.
Digital platforms need to step up and play their part in establishing online rules and working for the benefit of the public that uses them.
We've seen some positive first steps from Google, Facebook and Twitter recently, but even tech companies recognise that more needs to be done.
We are looking at the legal liability that social media companies have for the content shared on their sites. Because it's a fact on the web that online platforms are no longer just passive hosts.
But this is not simply about applying publisher or broadcaster standards of liability to online platforms.
There are those who argue that every word on every platform should be the full legal responsibility of the platform. But then how could anyone ever let me post anything, even though I'm an extremely responsible adult?
This is new ground and we are exploring a range of ideas...
including where we can tighten current rules to tackle illegal content online...
and where platforms should still qualify for 'host' category protections.
We will strike the right balance between addressing issues with content online and allowing the digital economy to flourish.
This is part of the thinking behind our Digital Charter. We will work with publishers, tech companies, civil society and others to establish a new framework...
A change of heart of press censorship
It was only a few years ago when the government were all in favour of creating a press censor. However new fears such as Russian interference and fake news has turned the mainstream press into the champions of trustworthy news. And so previous
plans for a press censor have been put on hold. Hancock said in the Oxford speech:
Sustaining high quality journalism is a vital public policy goal. The scrutiny, the accountability, the uncovering of wrongs and the fuelling of debate is mission critical to a healthy democracy.
After all, journalists helped bring Stephen Lawrence's killers to justice and have given their lives reporting from places where many of us would fear to go.
And while I've not always enjoyed every article written about me, that's not what it's there for.
I tremble at the thought of a media regulated by the state in a time of malevolent forces in politics. Get this wrong and I fear for the future of our liberal democracy. We must get this right.
I want publications to be able to choose their own path, making decisions like how to make the most out of online advertising and whether to use paywalls. After all, it's your copy, it's your IP.
The removal of Google's 'first click free' policy has been a welcome move for the news sector. But I ask the question - if someone is protecting their intellectual property with a paywall, shouldn't that be promoted, not just neutral in the search
I've watched the industry grapple with the challenge of how to monetise content online, with different models of paywalls and subscriptions.
Some of these have been successful, and all of them have evolved over time. I've been interested in recent ideas to take this further and develop new subscription models for the industry.
Our job in Government is to provide the framework for a market that works, without state regulation of the press.
The Daily Mail today ran the story that the DCMS have decided to take things a little more cautiously about the privacy (and national security) issues of allowing a foreign porn company to take control of databasing people's porn viewing history.
Anyway there was nothing new in the story but it was interesting to note the Freudian slip of referring to the BBFC as the British Board of Film Censorship.
My idea would be for the BBFC to rename itself with the more complete title, the British Board of Film and Internet Censorship.
Donald Trump organised a private meeting with video games makers and their critics as a diversionary tactic to avoid the
debate about gun control.
Republican lawmakers and moralist campaigners pressed the president at his meeting on Thursday to explore new restrictions on the video-game industry.
Some participants urged Trump to consider new regulations that would make it harder for young children to purchase those games. Others asked the president to expand his inquiry to focus on violent movies and TV shows too.
Trump himself opened the meeting by showing a montage of clips of various violent video games.
Video-game executives who attended the meeting Thursday included Robert Altman, the CEO of ZeniMax, the parent company for games such as Fallout; Strauss Zelnick, the chief executive of Take Two Interactive, which is known for Grand Theft Auto,
and Michael Gallagher, the leader of the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-focused lobbying organisation for the industry.
We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry's rating system effectively helps parents make informed
entertainment choices, ESA said in a statement.
The Parents Television Council Program Director Melissa Henson participated in the meeting and commented in a post-meeting statement:
Stop Media Violence What I heard in today's meeting is that the entertainment industry is still fighting to maintain the status quo and is not ready or willing to confront the impact that media violence has on our children. But time is up for the
entertainment industry to put a stop to marketing graphic, explicit, and age-inappropriate content to our children.
The video game representatives pulled out their same old talking points that have long been refuted. During the meeting, I was able to interject and say just how untrue their excuses are.
Representative Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, said she was open to crafting legislation that would make it harder for youngsters to buy violent games. She said:
Even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitise a young person.
The White House already has hinted at sustained, broader scrutiny still to come. A day before the meeting, a spokeswoman for Trump said the sit-down with video-game executives and their critics is the first of many with industry leaders to discuss
this important issue.
In a press release the DCMS describes its digital strategy including a delayed introduction of internet porn censorship. The press release states:
The Strategy also reflects the Government's ambition to make the internet safer for children by requiring age verification for access to commercial pornographic websites in the UK. In February, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was
formally designated as the age verification regulator.
Our priority is to make the internet safer for children and we believe this is best achieved by taking time to get the implementation of the policy right. We will therefore allow time for the BBFC as regulator to undertake a public consultation
on its draft guidance which will be launched later this month.
For the public and the industry to prepare for and comply with age verification, the Government will also ensure a period of up to three months after the BBFC guidance has been cleared by Parliament before the law comes into force. It is
anticipated age verification will be enforceable by the end of the year.
A man was told by a judge that he must take part for two years in a programme for treating sex offenders.
The victim of the Dangerous Pictures Act was found to have more than 1,350 images of extreme pornography involving bestiality. Police arrested him at his home. after he was reported by his ex-partner after relationship problems.
The man pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possessing images of extreme pornography. In a police interview he admitted having problem with viewing such images, but had not realised it was a criminal offence.
The Judge, Recorder Richard Booth, told the victim that the treatment programme is necessary to help him deal with his addiction. It forms part of a two-year community order that also includes 240 hours of unpaid work. Williams must also pay a
Hooded thugs have stormed a free speech event King's College London, throwing smoke bombs and attacking
Believed to be part of the anti-facist movement, violent protesters forced their way into a lecture hall before setting off smoke bombs and smashing windows. Thugs grabbed the speaker's microphone, while several security guards were punched
during the melee.
A threatening note was also left for the compere.
Ten to 15 people dressed all in black, with black hoods and black face masks, leapt over the barriers and instantly engaged in a fight with two or three security guards, said witness Tristan Teller:
They tried to stop them but they just started punching them in the face. One guard, a grey-haired gentleman who looked to be in around 60, received several punches.
The event, which was organised by KCL Libertarian Society, saw YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad, real name Carl Benjamin, invited to speak alongside Ayn Rand Institute director Dr Yaron Brook.
The group were had dispersed by the time police arrived. There have been no reported injuries. No arrests. Enquiries continue.
Update: Antifa: the militant wing of authoritarianism
A German law requiring social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove reported hate speech without
enough time to consider the merits of the report is set to be revised following criticism that too much online content is being blocked.
The law, called NetzDG for short, is an international test case and how it plays out is being closely watched by other countries considering similar measures.
German politicians forming a new government told Reuters they want to add an amendment to help web users get incorrectly deleted material restored online.
The lawmakers are also pushing for social media firms to set up an independent body to review and respond to reports of offensive content from the public, rather than leaving to the social media companies who by definition care more about profits
than supporting free speech.
Such a system, similar to how video games are policed in Germany, could allow a more considered approach to complex decisions about whether to block content, legal experts say.
Facebook, which says it has 1,200 people in Germany working on reviewing posts out of 14,000 globally responsible for moderating content and account security, said it was not pursuing a strategy to delete more than necessary. Richard Allan,
Facebook's vice president for EMEA public policy said:
People think deleting illegal content is easy but it's not. Facebook reviews every NetzDG report carefully and with legal expertise, where appropriate. When our legal experts advise us, we follow their assessment so we can meet our obligations
under the law.
Johannes Ferchner, spokesman on justice and consumer protection for the Social Democrats and one of the architects of the law said:
We will add a provision so that users have a legal possibility to have unjustly deleted content restored.
Thomas Jarzombek, a Christian Democrat who helped refine the law, said the separate body to review complaints should be established, adding that social media companies were deleting too much online content. NetzDG already allows for such a
self-regulatory body, but companies have chosen to go their own way instead. According to the coalition agreement, both parties want to develop the law to encourage the establishment of such a body.
Google has been warned it could be in contempt of Parliament if it fails to permanently remove a video by the banned far right group
National Action .
John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, strongly criticised the tech giant after being told it had broken a promise to take down extremist material from YouTube. He suggested the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee should haul Google bosses back
before it -- or make an application to him alleging contempt of the House. That is a recourse open to her if people do not comply and do not honour their undertakings
Labour MP Yvette Cooper had protested that the National Action video remained available online, despite Google repeatedly promising it would be taken down and take steps to prevent it reappearing.
The four-and-a-half minute propaganda video at the centre of the controversy was removed within hours of his warning, but the uploader had called on viewers to preserve the footage by re-uploading it in other forms. It features a National Action
demonstration in Darlington, which took place a month before the group was banned, showing members marching through the streets with the group's black flag and performing Nazi salutes. A leader is seen using a loudhailer to claim that white
British people will become a despised and persecuted minority.
Sony has blocked the publication of a video game based upon chat up lines and seduction techniques.
Super Seducer was scheduled for release on the PlayStation 4 on Tuesday. But feminists have taken issue with the themes of the game.
Sony has confirmed that the game has been banned bit has not explained the reasoning behind its censorship.
Super Seducer has, however, been released for PCs and Macs via Valve's Steam platform.
The Motherboard news site was among the first to notice that the PlayStation version had not been released. Seth Barton, editor of MCV, a trade publication commented:
While it's an unappealing title, I'm uncertain whether PS4 owners would be happy with Sony censoring the games they can play, especially as they can't go elsewhere to buy software.
Super Seducer does not feature nudity, but does show women in their underwear sitting next to its British creator, Richard La Ruina, as he delivers advice. Live-action sequences show the author grabbing parts of a date's body and attempting to
kiss a woman he has just met to illustrate actions the player should avoid.
South Afric's Film and Publications Amendment Bill will apply traditional pre-vetting style censorship t everything posted on the internet in
The National Assembly has approved the bill in a vote of 189 in favour, with 35 against and no abstentions. The bill must now come before the National Council of Provinces for its approval before it can be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be
signed into law.
Opposition parties say the Film and Publications Amendment Bill amounts to censorship - and may be unconstitutional. The Inkatha Freedom Party's Liezl van der Merwe said:
This bill through the Films and Publications Board, seeks to take wholesale control of the internet. Among some of the provisions, this bill requires everyone who generates some type of revenue from distributing content online to register, pay a
fee and have their content approved and classified before they can post it.
The party's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says the red berets are prepared to challenge it in the Constitutional Court if necessary.
Speaking to BusinessTech, legal expert and long time opponent of the bill, Nicholas Hall, explained some of the details of the censorship provisions. Hall said that the FPB now has the power to classify and potentially ban films, games and 'other
Other publications are defined as:
Any newspaper, book, periodical, pamphlet, poster or other printed matter;
Any writing or typescript which has in any manner been duplicated;
Any drawing, picture, illustration or painting;
Any print, photograph, engraving or lithograph;
Any record, magnetic tape, soundtrack or any other object in or on which sound has been recorded for reproduction;
Computer software which is not a film;
The cover or packaging of a film;
Any figure, carving, statue or model; and
Any message or communication, including a visual presentation, placed on any distributed network including, but not confined to, the internet.
Hall said that YouTubers and streamers are most likely to be affected by the new laws:
While the amendment bill will give the FPB the power to potentially classify any content uploaded online, including private communications, they generally will only have this power if someone complains to them about the specific content.
Films and games are treated differently, however. Under the bill, a distinction is made between 'commercial distributors' and 'non-commercial distributors'. Non-commercial distributors of films and games are treated much like the creators of
'other publications', their content can only be classified if someone complains.
However, commercial distributors are required to have their content classified prior to distribution or face criminal prosecution.
Hall added that this distinction was particularly problematic as it is unclear what is defined as a 'commercial purpose', and that this could be as simple as enabling advertising on uploaded videos.
All content platforms (Youtube, Netflix, Steam etc) will now also be required to register as distributors and pay an annual fee, based on the number titles they have in their library.
The other concern is that they have built in provisions to allow them to enforce this system, one of which is to force ISPs (eg Telkom, Mweb, and Afrihost) to block access to content platforms that do not comply.
US President Donald Trump is to meet video games company representatives on Thursday to discuss violent content. The meeting comes in the wake of last month's shooting at a school in Florida in which 17 people died.
The Electronic Software Association (ESA), which represents the games industry in the US, said it would be attending. It said in a statement:
The upcoming meeting at the White House will provide the opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry's commitment to parents, and the tools we provide to make informed entertainment choices,
Also at the meeting will be the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organisation responsible for offering age and content guidance for games.
A report from the Washington Post suggested some games developers had also been invited to attend, including Take Two Interactive, the publisher of the controversial Grand Theft Auto series. The company did not return the BBC's request for
comment on the meeting. The Post also said key critics of the games industry would be at the table, including Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council.
On several occasions, President Trump has pointed to video game violence as being a problem potentially affecting American youths. He wrote on Twitter in December 2012:
Video game violence & glorification must be stopped. It is creating monsters!
The games industry has routinely and robustly defended itself against claims its products provoke real-life violence. The ESA explained in a statement:
Video games are enjoyed around the world and numerous authorities and reputable scientific studies have found no connection between games and real-life violence,
Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States. Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun
violence than any other nation.
Social media giants have been ramping up internet censorship to prevent or take down terrorist posts. However the police are now
complaining that the companies are not proactively reporting such posters to the police.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the outgoing chief of UK counter-terror policing, said they are threatening public safety to maximise profit and customer satisfaction. Speaking at a counter-terror conference in London, Mr
Rowley said social media firms should work with police in the same way banks had been made to co-operate on tracing dirty money. He said:
The online extremists seem able to act with impunity, occupying spaces owned and managed by legitimate and very wealthy corporations.
I am disappointed that in the UK as a police service we are yet to receive a direct referral from them when they have identified such behaviour.
They are effectively private tenants to their communication service provider landlords. In the real world if a landlord knew their property was being used to plan or inspire terrorist attacks you would expect them to show corporate
responsibility by informing the authorities and evicting them forthwith. We want to see those same standards applied in the virtual world.
So how come the BBFC are saying virtually nothing about internet porn censorship and seem happy for newspapers to point out the incredibly dangerous privacy concerns of letting porn websites hold browsing records
The BBC seems to have done a good job voicing the privacy concerns of the Open Rights Group as the article has been picked up by most of the British
The Open Rights Group says it fears a data breach is inevitable as the deadline approaches for a controversial change in the way people in the UK access online pornography.
Myles Jackman, legal director of the Open Rights Group, said while MindGeek had said it would not hold or store data, it was not clear who would - and by signing in people would be revealing their sexual preferences.
If the age verification process continues in its current fashion, it's a once-in-a-lifetime treasure trove of private information, he said. If it gets hacked, can British citizens ever trust the government again with their data?
The big issues here are privacy and security.
Jackman said it would drive more people to use virtual private networks (VPNs) - which mask a device's geographical location to circumvent local restrictions - or the anonymous web browser Tor. He commented:
It is brutally ironic that when the government is trying to break all encryption in order to combat extremism, it is now forcing people to turn towards the dark web.
MindGeek, which runs sites including PornHub, YouPorn and RedTube, said its AgeID age verification tool had been in use in Germany since 2015. It said its software would use third-party age-verification companies to authenticate the age of those
AgeID spokesman James Clark told the BBC there were multiple verification methods that could be used - including credit card, mobile SMS, passport and driving licence - but that it was not yet clear which would be compliant with the law.
For something that is supposed to be coming in April, and requires software update by websites, it is surely about time that the government and/or the BBFC actually told people about the detailed rules for when age verification is required and
what methods will be acceptable to the censors.
The start date has not actually been confirmed yet and the BBFC haven't even acknowledged that they have accepted the job as the UK porn censor..
The BBFC boss David Austin, spouted some nonsense to the BBC claiming that age verification was already in place for other services, including some video-on-demand sites. In fact 'other' services such as gambling sites have got totally different
privacy issues and aren't really relevant to porn. The only method in place so far is to demand credit cards to access porn, the only thing that this has proved is that it is totally unviable for the businesses involved, and is hardy relevant to
how the dominant tube sites work.
In fact a total absence of input from the BBFC is already leading to some alarming takes on the privacy issues of handing over people's porn viewing records to porn companies. Surely the BBFC would be expected to provide official state propaganda
trying to convince the worried masses that they have noting fear and that porn websites have people's best interests at heart.
Incoming age verification checks for people who watch pornography online are at risk of their sexual tastes being exposed, a privacy expert has
The Government has given the all clear for one of the largest pornography companies to organise the arrangements for verification but experts claim that handing this power to the porn industry could put more people at risk.
Those viewing porn will no longer be anonymous and their sexual tastes may be easily revealed through a cache of the websites they have visited, according to Jim Killock, director of Open Rights Group. He warned:
These are the most sensitive, embarrassing viewing habits that have potentially life-changing consequences if they become public.
In order for it to work, the company will end up with a list of every webpage of all of the big pornographic products someone has visited. Just like Google and Facebook, companies want to profile you and send you advertisements based on what you
are searching for.
So what are AgeID going to do now that they have been given unparalleled access to people's pornographic tastes? They are going to decide what people's sexual tastes are and the logic of that is impossible to resist. Even if they give
reassurances, I just cannot see why they wouldn't.
A database with someone's sexual preferences , highlighted by the web pages visited and geographically traceable through the IP address, would be a target for hackers who could use them for blackmail or simply to cause humiliation.
Imagine if you are a teacher and the pornography that you looked at - completely legally - became public? It would be devastating for someone's career.
Authorities in Germany said they have received far fewer complaints from citizens than expected since the
country's social network censorship law (NetzDG) went into effect 01 January, reported Heise Online.
Germany's Federal Office for Justice (BfJ), the division of Germany's Federal Minister of Justice responsible for enforcing the law said they have received only 205 complaints since January, less than 1% of the amount predicted. The German
government had assumed that citizens would file roughly 25,000 complaints with the BfJ .
Google and Facebook accused of supposedly profiting from pop-up brothels and sex clubs
Ministers are reportedly considering new laws to make internet giants liable when sex workers use their sites to organise business.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) are supporting the propaganda and claim Google and Facebook are making profits from sex trafficking, according to the Times.
Pop up sex clubs have been discovered in Cornwall, Cambridge, Swindon and holiday cottages in the Peak District. Will Kerr, the NCA's 'head of vulnerabilities', claimed:
People are using the internet and social media sites to enable sexual exploitation and trafficking. It is clear that the internet platforms which host and make a profit out of this type of material need to do more to identify and stop these forms
Government figures want internet giants like Facebook to be held accountable, eying new US laws that are set to overturn more than 20 years of blanket immunity for sites for content posted by users. It will make firms liable if they knowingly
assist, support or facilitate content that leads to trafficking.
Downing Street and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said they are looking at whether and how to replicate the action in the UK.
The European Union has given Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other internet companies three months to show that
they are removing extremist content more rapidly or face legislation forcing them to do so.
The European Commission said on Thursday that internet firms should be ready to remove extremist content within an hour of being notified and recommended measures they should take to stop its proliferation. Digital commissioner Andrus Ansip said:
While several platforms have been removing more illegal content than ever before ... we still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens' security, safety and fundamental
The EC said that it would assess the need for legislation of technology firms within three months if demonstrable improvement is not made on what it describes as terrorist content. For all other types of 'illegal' content the EC will assess the
technology firms' censorship progress within six months.
It also urged the predominantly US-dominated technology sector to adopt a more proactive approach, with automated systems to detect and censor 'illegal' content.
The Australian Federal Police Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) is seeking rulings from the
country's Film Classification Board that will help it ban the import and supply of magazines that promote Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
Since August 2017 the JCTT has made several applications to the board asking it to determine that materials from ISIS and Al-Qaeda should be refused classification in Australia. The Classification Board has upheld applications on 22 different
pieces of material.
The list of materials now banned in Australia includes magazines produced by ISIS from 2014 to 2016 called Dabiq that were used as a recruitment tool by the organisation. Material that is listed as refused classification in Australia cannot be
imported into, or exported out of, the country, and there are substantial restrictions on their dissemination.