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 Update: Unacceptable...

56 European human rights groups call on the EU to abandon its disgraceful law proposal requiring the pre-censorship of content as it is being uploaded to the internet


Link Here 17th October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states

EU flagArticle 13: Monitoring and filtering of internet content is unacceptable. Index on Censorship joined with 56 other NGOs to call for the deletion of Article 13 from the proposal on the Digital Single Market, which includes obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights.

Dear President Juncker,
Dear President Tajani,
Dear President Tusk,
Dear Prime Minister Ratas,
Dear Prime Minister Borissov,
Dear Ministers,
Dear MEP Voss, MEP Boni

The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organisations.

Fundamental rights, justice and the rule of law are intrinsically linked and constitute core values on which the EU is founded. Any attempt to disregard these values undermines the mutual trust between member states required for the EU to function. Any such attempt would also undermine the commitments made by the European Union and national governments to their citizens.

Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights.

Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services. Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens' communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business.

Article 13 contradicts existing rules and the case law of the Court of Justice. The Directive of Electronic Commerce ( 2000/31/EC) regulates the liability for those internet companies that host content on behalf of their users. According to the existing rules, there is an obligation to remove any content that breaches copyright rules, once this has been notified to the provider.

Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users' content, which contradicts the 'no general obligation to monitor' rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended ( C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

In particular, the requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. If internet companies are required to apply filtering mechanisms in order to avoid possible liability, they will. This will lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content and limit the freedom to impart information on the one hand, and the freedom to receive information on the other.

If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply it and we can expect such a rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice. This is what happened with the Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC), when EU legislators ignored compatibility problems with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In 2014, the Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive invalid because it violated the Charter.

Taking into consideration these arguments, we ask the relevant policy-makers to delete Article 13.

European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Access Info
ActiveWatch
Article 19
Associação D3 -- Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
Association of the Defence of Human Rights in Romania (APADOR)
Associazione Antigone
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
Bits of Freedom (BoF)
BlueLink Foundation
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
Centre for Peace Studies
Centrum Cyfrowe
Coalizione Italiana Liberta@ e Diritti Civili (CILD)
Code for Croatia
COMMUNIA
Culture Action Europe
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
epicenter.works
Estonian Human Rights Centre
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Frënn vun der Ënn
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Index on Censorship
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Internautas
JUMEN
Justice & Peace
La Quadrature du Net
Media Development Centre
Miklos Haraszti (Former OSCE Media Representative)
Modern Poland Foundation
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
One World Platform
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
Open Rights Group (ORG)
OpenMedia
Panoptykon
Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)
Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Rights International Spain
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
Statewatch
The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia (RTKNS)
Xnet

 

  North Korea censors Channel 4 drama...

In a contest of who's got the biggest rocket, Kim Jung Un betters a few scaredy cat TV investors


Link Here 17th October 2017
north korea misslleChannel 4 has scrapped a planned drama based in North Korea after Kim Jong-un's regime hacked into its systems and 'scared investors into withdrawing their funding.

The ten-part thriller, Opposite Number , was to be about a mission to rescue a British nuclear scientist who had been taken prisoner in North Korea.

North Korea's most senior military body, the National Defence Commission, initially said British authorities should punish those behind the project, which they branded a slanderous farce. Shortly afterwards, security agencies discovered that hackers had breached Channel 4's systems.

They did not manage to inflict any great damage immediately, so David Abraham, Channel 4's chief executive, vowed to keep on filming, according to the New York Times. However, he was forced to backtrack when the full scale of the damage the hackers could cause became clear.

But while Channel 4 was still willing to run Opposite Number, the Sony scandal made the TV series' other financial backers nervous. International broadcasters that had promised to help pay for the project pulled out -- leaving the project short of funding. Despite the potential fallout, Channel 4 insiders said yesterday the series could still go ahead if it secured new backing.

 

  A bit of a lucky dip...

Games censors and the UK parliament considers whether loot boxes in video games need to be regulated as gambling


Link Here 17th October 2017
loot boxLoot boxes are a revenue creating facility where gamers are assisted in their quests by the real money purchase of loot boxes that contain a random collections of goodies that help game progress. loot boxes are found in many commercially successful games, such as Overwatch, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Halo 5: Guardians, Battlefield 1, Paragon, Gears of War 4, and FIFA 17.

The pros and cons of this method of revenue raising has been passionately debated in games forums and teh debate seems to have widened out to more regulatory spheres.

Last week the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), who rate games for North America declared that loot boxes, despite their inherent randomness, do not constitute a form of gambling. The reason, simply put, is that while you don't know what you're going to get out of them, you know you're going to get something -- unlike a lottery ticket, say, where the great likelihood is that your money is just going up in smoke.

The same opinion is reflected by PEGI who rate games for Europe. PEGI operations director Dirk Bosmans told Wccftech:

In short, our approach is similar to that of ESRB. The main reason for this is that we cannot define what constitutes gambling, That is the responsibility of a national gambling commission. Our gambling content descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it's done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.

And for solidarity the UK games trade group Ukie agreed. Dr. Jo Twist of Ukie said

Loot boxes are already covered by and fully compliant with existing relevant UK regulations. The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with UK law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year's Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming.

Not everyone agrees though, a British parliamentarian gave a little push to the UK government by submitting the questions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man's enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK.

It seems that the Isle of Mann already sees loot boxes as being liable to gambling controls.

Tracey Crouch, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport responded in a statement, pointing out that definitions and protections already exist regarding loot boxes and other in-game currencies, referencing a paper published by the UK Gambling Commission earlier this year. She said:

Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission licence is required. If no licence is held, the Commission uses a wide range of regulatory powers to take action.

So for the moment it seems that for the moment the status quo will be maintained, but in this age of cotton wool and snowflakes, I wouldn't bet on it.

 

  Impure thoughts...

TorrentFreak explains that VPN providers who log the IP addresses used by their customers leave their customers unprotected from the authorities


Link Here 17th October 2017
purevpn logoAfter several days of radio silence, VPN provider PureVPN has responded to criticism that it provided information which helped the FBI catch a cyberstalker. In a fairly lengthy post, the company reiterates that it never logs user activity. What it does do, however, is log both the real and assigned 'anonymous' IP addresses of users accessing its service.

In a fairly lengthy statement, PureVPN begins by confirming that it definitely doesn't log what websites a user views or what content he or she downloads. However, that's only half the problem. While it doesn't log user activity (what sites people visit or content they download), it does log the IP addresses that customers use to access the PureVPN service. These, given the right circumstances, can be matched to external activities thanks to logs carried by other web companies.

If for instance a user accesses a website of interest to the authorities, then that website, or various ISPs involved in the route can see the IP address doing the accessing. And if they look it up, they will find that it belongs to PureVPN. They would then ask PureVPN to identify the real IP address of the user who was assigned the observed PureVPN IP address at the time it was observed.

Now, if PureVPN carried no logs -- literally no logs -- it would not be able to help with this kind of inquiry. That was the case last year when the FBI approached Private Internet Access for information and the company was unable to assist .

But in this case, PureVPN does keep the records of who was assigned each IP address and when, and so the user can be readily identified (albeit with the help of the user's ISP too).

See the full explanation in the article from torrentfreak.com

TorrentFreak sums up:

It is for this reason that in TorrentFreak's annual summary of no-logging VPN providers , the very first question we ask every single company reads as follows:

Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user/users of your service? If so, what information do you hold and for how long?

Clearly, if a company says yes we log incoming IP addresses and associated timestamps, any claim to total user anonymity is ended right there and then.

While not completely useless (a logging service will still stop the prying eyes of ISPs and similar surveillance, while also defeating throttling and site-blocking), if you're a whistle-blower with a job or even your life to protect, this level of protection is entirely inadequate.

 

  Smoking Hot...

House of Lords questioning criticises smoking on ITV's Love Island


Link Here 17th October 2017

love island 2017Lord Storey Not So Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to strengthen the broadcasting code in relation to smoking on reality TV shows, particularly those aimed at young people.

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

My Lords, as the independent regulator, decisions on amending the Broadcasting Code are rightly a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom takes the protection of children and young people very seriously, and that is why there are already specific restrictions on the portrayal of smoking on television.

Lord Storey

I thank the Minister for his reply. I do not know whether he is a regular watcher of Love Island, but the ITV website describes that programme as an, emotional feast of lust and passion in the sun.

The same website says that the programme captures 56% share of 16-34 viewers.

On this programme, those contestants are regularly smoking. What message does that send to young people -- that I can live a glamorous life if I smoke as well? I am surprised that the Ofcom Broadcasting Code says that smoking must not be,

"glamorised in ... programmes likely to be widely seen, heard or accessed by under-eighteens unless there is editorial justification".

Does the Minister think that Ofcom should take action on this matter?

Lord Ashton of Hyde

My Lords, I am not a regular watcher of Love Island, but I cannot help noticing that the House is unusually full today. Obviously, as I said, it is a matter for Ofcom. The Broadcasting Code is there to be regulated by Ofcom, and that is what Ofcom is there for. Any complaints about a programme will be investigated by Ofcom, and it is up to anyone who has concerns about smoking in this programme to complain to Ofcom. Incidentally, to put this into perspective, Ofcom had just under 15,000 complaints last year and 75 related to smoking on Love Island.

 

  Men's rights at the BBFC...

BBFC decides that a strident men's rights website should be 18 rated


Link Here 16th October 2017
return of kings logo The BBFC arbitrates on website blocking algorithms used by mobile phone companies. If there is a dispute over the censorship decisions made by the mobile companies, then the BBFC decides whether websites should be 18 rated or not.

returnofkings.com is a rather strident supporter of the men's rights movement. It is outspoken and totally politically incorrect, but in a quick survey I didn't spot anything that described or promoted sexual violence. There's probably something somewhere, but the initial impression is dominated by the unPC language and ideas.

The BBFC wrote:

Issue

A mobile network operator contacted the BBFC for advice about the suitability of the website for people under 18, following a complaint from a member of the public that the site had been placed behind adult filters despite containing no material that in the complainant’s opinion would cause access to be restricted to adults only.

Adjudication

We noted that it was a news/blog site with sections containing various strong sexual descriptions, including descriptions and promotion of violent sex. We also found the website contained very strong language at a number of points. On that basis we were satisfied that the website contained material we would classify 18.

 

  Subtle progress...

Vietnam's first officially sanctioned nude photography exhibition


Link Here 16th October 2017
hao nhien exhibitVietnam's first ever licensed nude photography exhibition took place last month in Ho Chi Minh City. A collection of portraits was exhibited with the title Tao Tac , which translates loosely to subtle pieces making a whole when put together.

Hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association Headquarters, the show collated over four years of shoots, editing and planning by Vietnamese photographer Hao Nhien.

The most difficult step in organizing the exhibition, he says, was the process of preparing the bare content, but for many of his contemporaries the fact that he was able to lift the curtain on such content was an even greater achievement in Vietnam's highly censored context.

This is a sign that the door might be opening wider for similar events to be permitted, Hao Nhien's fellow photographer Nguyen A told local media. What makes me even happier is that Ho Chi Minh City [authorities] have taken the lead with such an open-minded decision.

 

  All the kids are virtually 18 anyway...

BBFC asked to decide if websites offering VPNs should be 18 rated so as to blocked to under 18's


Link Here 15th October 2017
privateinternetaccess logo The BBFC arbitrates on website blocking algorithms used by mobile phone companies. If there is a dispute over the censorship decisions made by the mobile companies, then the BBFC decides whether websites should be 18 rated or not.

In August 2017, the BBFC were asked to consider a request to unblock the website privateinternetaccess.com which sells VPN services used to work around internet website blocking. The BBFC explained:

Issue

mobile network operator contacted the BBFC for advice about the suitability of the website for people under 18, following a complaint from the site owner that it had been placed behind adult filters despite containing no material that in the complainant's opinion would cause access to be restricted to adults only.

Adjudication

The BBFC viewed the site on 31st August 2017.We noted that it was a website offering a paid-for VPN service. The site offered information on how to subscribe to the service, a description of the features offered by the service, client support services and a contacts page. While the BBFC is aware that VPNs can be used to enable illegal activity and to avoid detection when a criminal offence is being committed, they are not themselves illegal under UK law. In addition, the website contained no overt references to illegal activity - for example, it does not include instructions on how to use a VPN to commit an offence or promote the use of the service in order to avoid detection when committing an offence. As such, we found no content which we would classify 18.

 

 Offsite Article: Stitched up...


Link Here 14th October 2017  full story: Crap Internet Blocking...Cheapo automated filters are not up to the job
blocked logo Websites about crochet being blocked by negligent ISPs. Courtesy of the blocking checking website, Blocked.org.uk

See article from blocked.org.uk

 

  Cambodia bans Kingsman: The Golden Circle...

Denying Cambodia 'as a place where villains are based who make trouble for the world'...conveniently forgetting about Pol Pot


Link Here 13th October 2017
Poster Kingsman the Golden Circle 2017 Matthew Vaughn Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 UK / USA action comedy adventure by Matthew Vaughn.
Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. IMDb

When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents' strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that's becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy...

Cambodia has banned the movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle over its alleged negative portrayal of the country. Bok Borak, from the Ministry of Censorship Culture told The Phnom Penh Post that the film's clear reference to Cambodia as a place where villains are based and make trouble for the world as a major point of concern.

The film chronicles British and American spy organisations teaming up in search of the secret base of a drug lord. Once they find the base, which is a temple surrounded by jungles in Cambodia, a showdown between the two sides ensues.

 

  Copyright Isn't a Tool for Removing Negative Reviews...

EFF reports on a US court case an attempt to misuse copyright law to silence free speech and bad reviews


Link Here 13th October 2017

Electronic Frontier Foundation At EFF, we see endless attempts to misuse copyright law in order to silence content that a person dislikes. Copyright law is sadly less protective of speech than other speech regulations like defamation, so plaintiffs are motivated to find ways to turn many kinds of disputes into issues of copyright law. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected one such ploy: an attempt to use copyright to get rid of a negative review.

The website Ripoff Report hosts criticism of a variety of professionals and companies, who doubtless would prefer that those critiques not exist. In order to protect platforms for speech like Ripoff Report, federal law sets a very high bar for private litigants to collect damages or obtain censorship orders against them. The gaping exception to this protection is intellectual property claims, including copyright, for which a lesser protection applies.

One aggrieved professional named Goren (and his company) went to court to get a negative review taken down from Ripoff Report. If Goren had relied on a defamation claim alone, the strong protection of CDA 230 would protect Ripoff Report. But Goren sought to circumvent that protection by getting a court order seizing ownership of the copyright from its author for himself, then suing Ripoff Report's owner for copyright infringement. We filed a brief explaining several reasons why his claims should fail, and urging the court to prevent the use of copyright as a pretense for suppressing speech.

Fortunately, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed that Ripoff Report is not liable. It ruled on a narrow basis, pointing out that the person who originally posted the review on Ripoff Report gave the site's owners irrevocable permission to host that content. Therefore, continuing to host it could not be an infringement, even if Goren did own the copyright.

Goren paid the price for his improper assertion of copyright here: the appeals court upheld an award of over $100,000 in attorneys' fees. The award of fees in a case like this is important both because it deters improper assertion of copyright, and because it helps compensate defendants who choose to litigate rather than settling for nuisance value simply to avoid the expense of defending their rights.

We're glad the First Circuit acted to limit the ways that private entities can censor speech online.

 

 Update: Virtually useless...

Egyptian ISPs block VPN traffic using deep packet inspection


Link Here 13th October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites
openvpn logoThis summer, the Egyptian government started to block access to news websites. At last count, it had blocked more than 400 websites. Realising that citizens are using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to bypass such censorship, the government also started to block access to VPN websites.

In addition to this, ISPs have started using deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques in order to identify and block VPN traffic. Egypt blocked the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN protocols in August. However, until now OpenVPN, worked fine. This allowed ordinary Egyptians to access the uncensored internet.

On 3 October, however, the situation changed. It was reported on reddit that Egypt has now blocked OpenVPN as well. It seems that ISPs are using DPI techniques to detect OpenVPN packets.

For more about circumventing this latest censorship see excellent article from bestvpn.com

 

 Extract: To those who lead a double life on social media, eg to keep a bar life separate to a family life...

Facebook seems to have developed a nasty capability to connect across their two lives, no matter how careful they are


Link Here 13th October 2017

Facebook logoLeila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them.

Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).

Her "real identity"--the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics--joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook's "People You May Know" recommendations, Leila (a name I'm using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

Despite the fact that she'd only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people--and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them.

Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again.

See the full article from gizmodo.com

Facebook denies it, but maybe the most obvious explanation is that Facebook is somehow inferring connections from the proximity of people's phones.

 

 Updated: If only people could be force fed with official propaganda news, all would be right with the world...

Karen Bradley proposes that social media companies should pay a new tax to fund a new propaganda education unit to warn of the dangers of non government approved internet content


Link Here 12th October 2017
karen bradleySocial media companies look set to be hit with a new tax to pay for schemes to raise people's awareness of the dangers of the internet and to tackle what the government considers their worst effects.

Web firms will have a chance to give their views on the levy being proposed by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley in a public consultation.

Among the options proposed in Bradley's internet safety green paper is an industry-wide levy so social media companies and service providers fund schemes that raise awareness and counter internet harms.

The Independent understands that the Government is interested to see what action the private sector takes first -- with a voluntary funded approach possible -- before imposing any new levy on firms.

Offsite Analysis: For the forthcoming 'Digital Charter'

12th October 2017 See  article from ispreview.co.uk

Broadly speaking the new paper , which will help to form a foundation for the Government's forthcoming Digital Charter , doesn't include much that would concern internet access (broadband) providers. Instead it appears to be predominantly focused upon internet content providers (e.g. social networks like Facebook).

For a good analysis of the Government's green paper See  article from ispreview.co.uk

 

  Unimpressive...

Supposedly unbiased newspaper regulator is in trouble for biased tweets about Daily Mail bias


Link Here 12th October 2017
impress 2016 logo The new press regulator Impress has admitted that some of its senior board members breached its own impartiality standards by appearing to be biased against a number of newspapers.

Impress was set up after the Leveson inquiry into newspaper practices to act as a the regulator of press standards. But most national newspapers rejected Impress as a form of state regulation and signed up to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), a voluntary independent body not backed by the Government.

But now an internal review of its own practices has found that three of its senior members breached its duty to act impartially and not give an impression of bias against any particular newspaper.

Most damningly of all the review found that Impress's own chief executive, Jonathan Heawood, had breached its guidelines and should no longer be allowed to serve on one of it's most important committees. The report found that Heawood had breached Impress's own internal standards by sharing Twitter attacks on newspapers, eg a Tweet about the Daily Mail last October stated: John Lewis is bringing its name into disrepute by advertising in a Neo-Fascist rag.  Other senior figures shared tweets which criticised The Sun, Daily Mail and News UK and were disrespectful towards named journalists.

The Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which has the power to approve new regulatory bodies, has indicated it believes there has been a serious breach of one of its key principles, raising the prospect that Impress could even be stripped of its status as a regulator. Susie Uppal, Chief Executive of the PRP, said: The PRP Board will be considering the Impress report and actions at its next Board meeting.

 

  If only people could be force fed with official propaganda news, all would be right with the world...

Ofcom's Patricia Hodgson angles for powers to censor and control internet news distribution by the likes of Facebook and Google


Link Here 11th October 2017
patricia hodgsonThe chairman of the media censor Ofcom has said she believes internet businesses such as Google and Facebook are publishers, and so should be regulated by the state.

Patricia Hodgson also revealed that the board of Ofcom discussed how the internet could be regulated in the future at a strategy day last week, although she said this was ultimately a matter for the government.

Hodgson was speaking to MPs at a hearing of the digital, culture, media and sport committee. Asked about the rise of fake news and whether internet companies should face greater regulation, Hodgson said:

Those particular distribution systems [Facebook, Google, Twitter etc] are not within Ofcom's responsibility but we feel very strongly about the integrity of news in this country and we are totally supportive of steps that should and need to be taken to improve matters.

My personal view is I see this as an issue that is finally being grasped -- certainly within the EU, certainly within this country -- and to my amazement and interest, being asked in the United States as a result of the potential Russian scandals. My personal view is that they are publishers but that is only my personal view, that is not an Ofcom view. As I said, Ofcom is simply concerned about the integrity of news and very supportive of the debate and the steps that are being taken.

Theresa May's spokesman said Hodgson's comments were a matter for her as an independent regulator, but indicated that ministers were sympathetic.

Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, said she was wary of regulating internet companies. We feel strongly that the platforms as publishers have got more responsibility to ensure the right content, she said. I don't think it's a question of regulation, which I think has a fuzzy boundary with censorship, but I think we feel strongly that the platforms ought to be doing more to ensure their content can be trusted.

 

  The End Game for European Upload Filtering Approaches...

The EU is considering forcing websites to vet uploaded content for pirated material. Of course only the media giants have the capability to do this and so the smaller players would be killed (probably as intended)


Link Here 11th October 2017

european commission logoIf you've been following the slow progress of the European Commission's proposal to introduce new upload filtering mandates for Internet platforms , or its equally misguided plans to impose a new link tax on those who publish snippets from news stories, you should know that the end game is close at hand. The LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee is the last committee of the European Parliament that is due to vote on its opinion on the so-called "Digital Single Market" proposals this Thursday October 5, before the proposals return to their home committee of the Parliament (the JURI or Legal Affairs Committee) for the preparation of a final draft.

The Confused Thinking Behind the Upload Filtering Mandate

The Commission's rationale for the upload filtering mandate seems to be that in order to address unwelcome behavior online (in this case, copyright infringement), you have to not only make that behavior illegal, but you also have to make it impossible . The same rationale also underpins other similar notice and stay-down schemes, such as one that already exists in Italy ; they are meant to stop would-be copyright infringement in its tracks by preventing presumptively-infringing material from being uploaded to begin with, thereby preventing it from being downloaded by anyone else.

But this kind of prior restraint on speech or behavior isn't commonly applied to citizens in any other area of their lives. You car isn't speed-limited so that it's impossible for you to exceed the speed limit. Neither does your telephone contain a bugging device that makes it impossible for you to slander your neighbor. Why is copyright treated so differently, that it requires not only that actual infringements be dealt with (Europe's existing DMCA-like notice and takedown system already provides for this), but that predicted future infringements also be prevented?

More importantly, what about the rights of those whose uploaded content is flagged as being copyright-infringing, when it really isn't? The European Commission's own research, in a commissioned report that they attempted to bury , suggests that the harm to copyright holders from copyright infringement is much less than has been often assumed. At the very least, this has to give us pause before adopting new extreme copyright enforcement measures that will impact users' human rights.

Even leaving aside the human impact of the upload filter, European policymakers should also be concerned about the impact of the mandate on small businesses and startups. A market-leading tool required to implement upload filtering just for audio files would cost a medium-sized file hosting company between $10,000 to $25,000 per month in license fees alone. In the name of copyright enforcement, European policymakers would give a market advantage to entrenched large companies at the expense of smaller local companies and startups.

The Link Tax Proposal is Also Confused

The link tax proposal is also based on a false premise. But if you are expecting some kind of doctrinally sound legal argument for why a new link-tax ought to inhere in news publishers, you will be sorely disappointed. Purely and simply, the proposal is founded on the premise that because news organizations are struggling to maintain their revenues in the post-millennial digital media space, and because Internet platforms are doing comparatively better, it is politically expedient that the latter industry be made to subsidize the former. There's nothing more coherent behind this proposal than that kind of base realpolitik.

But the proposal doesn't even work on that level. In fact, we agree that news publishers are struggling. We just don't think that taxing those who publish snippets of news articles will do anything to help them. Indeed, the fact that small news publishers have rejected the link tax proposal , and that previous implementations of the link tax in Spain and Germany were dismal failures , tells you all that you need to know about whether taxing links would really be good for journalism.

So as these two misguided and harmful proposals make their way through the LIBE committee this week, it's time to call an end to this nonsense. Digital rights group OpenMedia has launched a click-to-call tool that you can use, available in English , French , German , Spanish , and Polish . If you're a European citizen, the tool will call your representative on the LIBE committee, and if you don't have an MEP, it calls the committee chair, Claude Moraes. As the counter clicks closer to midnight on these regressive and cynical copyright measures, it's more important than ever for individual users like you to be heard.

Update: Delayed

11th October 2017. From OpenMedia

openmedia logo With only 48 hours notice we received word that the vote had been delayed. Why? The content censorship measures have become so controversial that MEPs decided that they needed more work to improve them, before they would be ready to go vote.

There's never been a better time to call your MEP about these rules. This week they are back in their offices and ready to start thinking with a fresh head. The delay means we have even more time to say no to content censorship, and no to the Link Tax. With so many people speaking up, it's clear our opponents are rattled. Now we must keep up the pressure.

Call your MEP now

 

  Score to settle? Give us a call...we'll send the boys round...

An online hate crime reporting centre is being set up so that easily offended people can order police action against their critics and mockers


Link Here 10th October 2017

police npcc logoHome Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national hub to tackle online hate crime.

It will be run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) with the aim of ensuring that online cases are managed effectively and efficiently.

The hub will receive complaints through Truevision, the police website for reporting hate crime, following which they will be assessed and assigned to the local force for investigation. Specialist officers will provide case management and support and advice to victims of online hate crime.

Its functions will include combining duplicate reports, trying to identify perpetrators, referring appropriate cases to online platforms hosting relevant content, providing evidence for local recording and response, and updating the complainant on progress. It will also provide intelligence to the National Intelligence Model, the police database that gathers intelligence on a range of crimes.

The Home Office said the hub will ensure all online cases are properly investigated and will help to increase prosecutions for online hate crimes. It should also simplify processes and help to prevent any duplication in investigations.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected.

The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse. With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished.

The hub is expected to be operational before the end of the year.

 

 Update: An unbalanced complaint...

Ofcom clears an Al Jazeera documentary which revealed political plotting at the Israeli Embassy in London


Link Here 10th October 2017  full story: Al Jazeera censored in the Middle East...The Middle East doesn't like the balanced reportng of Al Jazeera
Ofcom logoQatar is under the cosh in the Middle East caught in a deadly pincer movement of a Saudi led coalition of Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. All these countries object to Qatar's funding of the Al Jazeera news channel which provides seeming well balanced reporting across the region in both Arabic and English. Its seems that Qatar's neighbours would prefer the news to be dominated by their own, not quite so balanced, news networks, that are a little bit more sycophantic to their own interests.

So perhaps it was hardly surprising that an Al Jazeera documentary investigating the Isreali Embassy in London would be reported to Ofcom for supposed bias.

The UK TV censor Ofcom investigated Al Jazeera after receiving complaints about The Lobby , a four-part documentary investigating the political influence of the Israeli embassy in Britain.

The programme showed Shai Masot, an official in the Israeli embassy in London, saying he would take down MPs including Sir Alan Duncan , the Foreign Office minister who is an outspoken supporter of a Palestinian state. The Israeli ambassador subsequently apologised for the comments and Masot resigned.

Ofcom cleared al-Jazeera after concluding it did not make allegations in the documentary that were based on the grounds of individuals being Jewish and that it had included the view of the Israeli government in the programme. It ruled that al-Jazeera had not breached rule 2.3, which relates to offensive matter, and rule 5.5 with regards to impartiality. Ofcom said:

It was the view of some complainants that The Lobby fuelled harmful stereotypes about Jewish people controlling or seeking to control powerful organisations. These complainants considered this was antisemitic and offensive.

We considered that the allegations in the programme were not made on the grounds that any of the particular individuals concerned were Jewish and noted that no claims were made relating to their faith. We did not consider that the programme portrayed any negative stereotypes of Jewish people as controlling or seeking to control the media or governments. Rather, it was our view that these individuals featured in the programme in the context of its investigation into the alleged activities of a foreign state -- the state of Israel acting through its UK embassy -- and their association with it.

An al-Jazeera source welcomed the ruling, saying:

This goes to show that no matter what al-Jazeera's critics say, its journalism meets and exceeds the highest standards of objectivity and balance. We feel vindicated by the rulings and ever more committed to exposing human rights violations by anyone -- regardless of geography, religion, or the power of their lobbies.

 

  Inappropriate pasting...

Image of assassinated Russian diplomat cut from Batman: The Enemy Within video game


Link Here 10th October 2017
Telltale - Batman: The Enemy Within A photograph of assassinated Russian diplomat Andrei Karlov has been removed from the video game Batman: The Enemy Within , made by Telltale.

batman andrei karlovTelltale said it regretted the inclusion of the image of Karlov, who was shot dead at an art exhibition in Ankara in December 2016.

Telltale apologised in a statement and said the game had been updated to remove the picture across all platforms. The company said:

We regret this incident occurred, and we are taking appropriate action internally to ensure that we continue to maintain our high standards in production and quality assurance.

 

  The Propaganda Curtain...

As pressure on the Russian propaganda channel RT mounts, Russians speak of banning the US fake news channel, CNN


Link Here 9th October 2017
russia today international logoMoscow has warning the US that it may restrict US media in Russia. Russian officials have accused Washington of putting unwarranted pressure on the U.S. operations of Russia Today. A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said Russia was within its rights to restrict operations of U.S. media outlets in the country

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the full weight of the U.S. authorities was being brought to bear against RT's operations in the United States, and that Moscow had the right to respond.

 She did not identify any specific U.S. media outlets that would be targeted. She said it made no difference from the Russian government's point of view if those outlets were backed by the U.S. state, or privately-funded. However late last month, Russia's state TV censor accused U.S. TV channel CNN International of violating its license to broadcast in Russia and said it had summoned the broadcaster's representatives in connection with the matter.

 

  A complaint about transparency...

Ofcom tells the BBC to publish detailed viewer complaints figures about its programmes


Link Here 7th October 2017

Ofcom logoThe BBC is facing a court battle after it defied Ofcom orders to publish figures on complaints about its shows.

Channel 4 and ITV already disclose the numbers, and release detailed information about objections to their programmes every two weeks. But the BBC nsists on keeping that information a secret. Perhaps this more about revealing political accusations of bias rather than trivial whinges by the 'easily offended.

Now TV censor Ofcom has waded in and told the BBC it has no choice but to become more transparent. Ofcom insiders have also made it clear that they are prepared to go to court over the matter if the BBC digs its heels in. Sharon White, Ofcom's chief executive, regards it as an important point of principle.

Kevin Bakhurst, an Ofcom director and a former BBC news boss, has told Corporation executives they need to comply. In a strongly worded letter, seen by the Mail, he said:

The greater transparency we propose is necessary to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC... and to provide public accountability.

Ofcom has given the BBC until the November 19 to comply with orders and publish fortnightly complaints bulletins that go into the same level of detail as Ofcom's reports about Channel 4, ITV, Five, Sky and other broadcasters.

BBC bosses will then have to publish the exact number of complaints the Corporation receives about every programme that registers 100 or more objections. Every time a complaint sparks an investigation, it will also be forced to disclose full details of the complaints, the points of principles at stake and the outcome of its probe.

A BBC spokesman has responded:

The BBC is already the most transparent broadcaster on complaints, including publishing data every month and responding on our website, and numbers are often influenced by orchestrated political campaigns but of course we are considering Ofcom's letter.

 

  Investigating a ring of snoopers...

Privacy International and other campaign groups argue in court that GCHQ's mass snooping is a breach of human rights


Link Here 6th October 2017
gchq logoA challenge to GCHQ's use of non-specific warrants to authorise the bulk hacking of smartphones, computers and networks in the UK is starting at the court of appeal.

The case, brought by the campaign group Privacy International (PI), is the latest twist in a protracted battle about both the legality of mass snooping and the primacy of civil courts over an intelligence tribunal that operates partly in secret.

The original claim dates back to 2014 and was brought at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) following revelations by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden. The IPT hears complaints about government surveillance and the intelligence services. Some of its hearings are held behind closed doors.

PI, along with seven internet service providers, argued that computer network exploitation (CNE) carried out by GCHQ , the government monitoring station in Cheltenham, breaches human rights.

 

 Update: Nerves of Steal...

Malaysian government bans the 11th political cartoon book by Zunar


Link Here 6th October 2017  full story: Book Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia bans islamic books
zunar sapuman man of stealThe Malaysian political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, will be filing a legal challenge against the government censorship of his latest book.

This comes after it was announced that his 2015 cartoon book Sapuman - Man of Steal had been banned under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

This is the 11th of his books banned by the government who clearly don't like the mockery.

Zunar is currently being prosecuted on 9 charges based on his criticism of the government.

 

  Amber Rudd under fire for demanding more extreme internet censorship...

The trouble with politicians claiming that censorship is the answer, is that when the censorship inevitably fails to solve the problem, they can never admit fallibility, and so their only answer is to censor more


Link Here 5th October 2017
amber ruddHome secretary Amber Rudd used her keynote speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester to announce new laws, which would see anyone caught repeatedly watching extremist content on the internet to face up to 15 years jail.

At present laws prohibiting material that could be useful to terrorists only apply to hardcopy or downloaded material . They do not apply to material that is not actually in one's possession.

Security and digital rights experts have dumped on the home secretary's proposal for the new laws, calling the move incredibly dangerous. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said:

This is incredibly dangerous. Journalists, anti-terror campaigns and others may need to view extremist content, regularly and frequently.

People tempted towards extremism may fear discussing what they have read or seen with anyone in authority. Even potential informants may be dissuaded from coming forward because they are already criminalised.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said:

This shocking proposal would make thoughtcrime a reality in the UK. Blurring the boundary between thought and action like this undermines the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system and will criminalise journalists, academics and many other innocent people.

We have a vast number of laws to tackle terror. The Government's own reviewer of terror legislation Max Hill QC has said repeatedly that we need fewer, not more. A responsible Home Secretary would listen to the evidence -- not grandstand for cheap political points at the expense of our fundamental freedoms.

In terms of how people would be identified -- it's hard for us to say without seeing more detail about the proposals. It's likely identifying people would mean intrusive surveillance measures like those in the Investigatory Powers Act. In terms of enforceability -- it's likely to be really difficult because so many people will be caught up who have a legitimate reason and will then run that defence.

Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the security think tank RUSI, told BuzzFeed News that Rudd's proposal lacked specific detail and ran the risk of criminalising parts of some newspapers:

The risk is that [Rudd] runs into the same problems as her predecessor, Theresa May, did in 2015, when she sought to ban 'extremism', Joshi said. These are broad and nebulous terms, and they require very careful definition in order to avoid curbing legitimate free speech.

Otherwise we would risk criminalising some of the material that appears in certain mainstream newspaper columns.

Amber Rudd also decided to bang on about prohibiting encryption, even rather haplessly admitting that she did not understand who it worked.

Again campaigners were not impressed. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, noted:

Amber Rudd needs to be realistic and clear about what she wants. It is no better saying she wishes to deny criminals the use of encryption than to say she wishes to deny them access to gravity. And if she succeeds in pushing them off major platforms, terrorists may end up being harder to detect.

Lib Dem Ed Davey also weighed in:

Encryption keeps us all secure online. It allows businesses to operate and thrive securely. Any weakening of encryption will ultimately make us all less safe. For if you weaken encryption, you run the risk of letting in the bad guys

But this Conservative government can only see things in black and white -- ignoring the realities of technology. The Home Secretary's key note speech called on tech giants to work together and, with government, to take down extremist content faster than ever before. My party completely support her in that mission. The only way we will defeat this scourge is to band together -- exchange information, invest in new technologies and present a united front.

 

  Licensed to monopolise...

Norway considers scrapping its cinema licensing law to remove local authority control that is hindering free expression


Link Here 4th October 2017
Norway flagNorway's Culture Ministry is determined to revoke a century-old law on municipal cinema licensing in order to fight censorship and promote free speech.

The Norwegian government's proposal to reform the cinema concession law is aimed at ensuring more diversity and breadth in film choice, but it is facing resistance from the entrenched players.

According to Eva Liestøl, speaking for Norway's film censors at the Norwegian Media Authority, whinged that enabling competition in the cinema industry may have far-reaching consequences. She said:

A revocation of licensing, combined with today's simplified film production technology, can lead to a marked growth of Bollywood, Netflix, pop-up and downright porno cinemas.

The Media authority proposes that if local authority licensing is scrapped it should be replaced by a national cinema register in order to supervise, among other things, the observance of age limits.

The cinema concession act is 104 years old and dates back to 1913. The main argument from the government's side is that the concession practice violates the constitution, because the municipalities, by deciding what is to be shown in the cinema, in practice indulge in censorship that can hinder the freedom of expression.

Arild Kalkvik, who chairs the Norwegian Association of Cinema Directors is inevitably unimpressed by freedom of expression, saying:

The termination of the licensing procedure, however, will unleash free market forces, which means that virtually anyone will be able to start a cinema anywhere and show anything they want. This can lead to the emergence of unserious actors who just want to take the cream off the milk with brief stints, which, you know, go well combined with alcohol sales

The law change has been in a consultation phase since this summer.

 

  Who'd want to be a part of a country like that?...

Catalonian voters weren't only brutalised by Spanish police they were also attacked by Spanish internet censors


Link Here 3rd October 2017

Spanish flagThe ruthless efficiency with which the Spanish government censored the Internet ahead of the referendum on Catalonian independence foreshadowed the severity of its crackdown at polling places on October 1 . We have previously written about one aspect of that censorship; the raid of the .cat top-level domain registry . But there was much more to it than that, and many of the more than 140 censored domains and Internet services continue to be blocked today.

It began with the seizure of the referendum.cat domain, the official referendum website, on September 13 by the Guardia Civil (Spanish military police), pursuant to a warrant issued by the Supreme Court of Catalonia. Over the ensuring days this order was soon extended to a number of other and unofficial mirrors of the website, such as ref1oct.cat , ref1oct.eu , which were seized if they were hosted at a .cat domain, and blocked by ISPs if they were not. (The fact that Spanish ISPs already blocked websites such as the Pirate Bay under court order enabled the blocking of additional websites to be rolled out swiftly.)

One of these subsequent censorship orders, issued on September 23 , was especially notable in that it empowered the Guardia Civil to block not only a list of named websites, but also any future sites with content related to content about the referendum, publicized on any social network by a member of the Catalonian Government. This order accelerated the blocking of further websites without any further court order. These apparently included the censorship of non-partisan citizen collectives (e.g. empaperem.cat ) and other non-profit organizations ( assemblea.cat , webdelsi.cat , alerta.cat ), and campaign websites by legal political parties ( prenpartit.cat ).

On Friday a separate court order was obtained requiring Google to remove a voting app from the Google Play app store. Similar to the September 23 order, the order also required Google to remove any other apps developed by the same developer. Those violating such orders by setting up mirrors, reverse proxies, or alternative domains for blocked content were summoned to court and face criminal charges . One of these activists also had his GitHub and Google accounts seized.

On the day of the referendum itself, the Internet was shut down at polling places in an effort to prevent votes from being transmitted to returning officers.

Throughout this unrest, a group of activists sharing the Twitter account @censura1oct has been verifying the blocks from multiple ISPs, and sharing information about the technical measures used. All of the censorship measures that were put in place in the leadup to the referendum appear to remain in place today, though we don't know for how much longer. The Spanish government no doubt hopes that its repression of political speech in Catalonia will be forgotten if the censored sites come back online quickly. We need to ensure that that isn't the case.

 The Spanish government's censorship of online speech during the Catalonian referendum period is so wildly disproportionate and overbroad, that its violation of these instruments seems almost beyond dispute.

 

  Amongst the small ads...

David Currie takes over as the chief advert censor of ASA


Link Here 3rd October 2017
david currieDavid Currie has become the new Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

David is an accomplished regulator, having acted as the inaugural Chairman of both Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). He sits in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher. As Chairman he will lead the 13 member ASA Council, Board of the ASA and the body that rules on whether to uphold complaints about ads.

The ASA Council also oversees much of the regulator's pro-active work, with recent initiatives including: tougher standards on broadband prices in ads to ensure consumers aren't misled; research into how consumers understand was and now prices to establish whether more needs to be done to avoid misleadingness; a commitment to new standards to remove harmful gender stereotypes in ads from 2018.

David Currie, incoming ASA Chairman said:

The vast majority of ads in the UK are responsible, but where an ad is misleading, harmful or offensive the ASA is here to put it right. As I take up the chairmanship of the ASA, newer forms of online advertising continue to gain ground, including native and influencer ads and those whose targeting is based on consumers' preferences. Across all of these spheres, as well as in the traditional media, the ASA's mission remains the same -- to make every UK ad a responsible ad .

 

 Offsite Article: Art in a dog eat dog world...


Link Here 3rd October 2017
dogs who cant touch By bowing to the braying internet mob, the Guggenheim forgot its purpose. By Rupert Myers

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Update: Hate speech and anything else the authorities don't like...

New law comes into force in Germany requiring social media to delete 'hate speech' within 24 hours


Link Here 2nd October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany flagGermany's new internet censorship law came into force on 1st October. The law nominally targets 'hate speech', but massively high penalties coupled with ridiculously short time scales allowed to consider the issues, mean that the law ensures that anything the authorities don't like will have to be immediately censored...just in case.

Passed earlier this summer, the law will financially penalize social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, if they don't remove hate speech, as per its definition in Germany's current criminal code within 24 hours. They will be allowed up to a week to decide for comments that don't fall into the blatant hate speech category. The top fine for not deleting hate speech within 24 hours is 50 million euro though that would be for repeatedly breaking the law, not for individual cases.

Journalists, lawyers, and free-speech advocates have been voicing their concerns about the new law for months. They say that, to avoid fines, Facebook and others will err on the side of caution and just delete swathes of comments, including ones that are not illegal. They worry that social media platforms are being given the power to police and effectively shut down people's right to free opinion and free speech in Germany.

The German Journalists Association (DJV) is calling on journalists and media organizations to start documenting all deletions of their posts on social media as of today. The borders of free speech must not be allowed to be drawn by profit-driven businesses, said DJV chairman Frank 3cberall in a recent statement.

Reporters Without Borders also expressed their strong opposition to the law when it was drafted in May, saying it would contribute to the trend to privatize censorship by delegating the duties of judges to commercial online platforms -- as if the internet giants can replace independent and impartial courts.

 

 Offsite Article: An army of at least 2 million internet censors...


Link Here 2nd October 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
chinese armies In a glass tower in a trendy part of China's eastern city of Tianjin, hundreds of young people sit in front of computer screens, scouring the internet for videos and messages that run counter to Communist Party doctrine

See article from japantimes.co.jp

 


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