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Offsite Article: The other 'brute force method'...


Link Here 14th August 2018
Australia opts out of back door requirements for encryption providers and instead chooses the approach: 'give me your key or else I'll break your legs'

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 

Inappropriate misappropriation...

French play cancelled after being on the receiving end of 'aggressive controversy'


Link Here 12th August 2018
Kanata, an upcoming French play exploring Canadian Indigenous history, was cancelled on 26 July after some of the show's producers pulled out of the project following 'aggressive controversy'.

There were no Indigenous actors cast in the Robert Lepage-directed production about fictional relationships between Indigenous Canadians and Europeans spanning 200 years.

It was set to debut at the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris this December.

The production created in a little controversy in France due to politically correct concerns about the depiction of Indigenous peoples. The controversy led to North American co-producers pulling out.

Lepage's production company Ex Machina then said in a statement:

Without their financial support, we are unable to finish creating Kanata with Théâtre du Soleil. Therefore, we are putting an end to the project.

Théâtre du Soleil described the "attempted intimidation of theatre artists" in its accompanying statement:

An intimidation unimaginable in a democratic country, that is carried out largely on social media networks in the name of an ideology that the Théâtre du Soleil does not wish to qualify here but to which it will respond with its own tools.

 

 

On a personal whim...

Victorian government bans Sky News from its railway stations over a politically incorrect interview not actually screened on the station service


Link Here 12th August 2018
The government of the Australian state of Victoria has banned Sky News from providing a news service for screening at Melbourne's train stations.

Jacinta Allan, Victoria's transport minister, took offence at a Sky News interview with the far-right extremist Blair Cottrell. The interview was not screened on the train station service but clearly rankled the politician for its political incorrectness. Allan tweeted:

I've directed @MetroTrains to remove @skynewsaustralia from all CBD station screens. Hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community.

The decision has sparked a backlash from Sky and other News Corp publications. Political editor David Speers said the Andrews government was motivated by frustration over the coverage it received on Sky, and from the Herald Sun, which is also owned by News Corp. Speers said the network had confirmed the Cottrell interview had not aired on train station screens in Melbourne .

Speers also noted that Blair Cottrell has appeared in interviews on all the other Australian news channels too.

 

 

Killing speech softly...

How the world's biggest tech companies are quietly censoring critical expression in the Middle East


Link Here 12th August 2018

Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message reflecting on religion, free expression and the controversial editorial line of the magazine:

A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Mohammed that offended him.

We stood up for this because different voices -- even if they're sometimes offensive -- can make the world a better and more interesting place.

Later that same month, Facebook agreed to restrict access to an unspecified number of pages for "offending prophet Muhammad" in Turkey at the request of local authorities.

Turkey is notorious for the number of requests it makes to internet companies to remove content for violating its local laws, but it is not the only government in the Middle East to resort to such tactic to silence critical voices.

While a number of the region's governments sometimes make direct requests for content removal -- along with exerting "soft" pressure through other means -- the failures of tech giants in moderating content in the region is a much bigger and more complex problem.

Abuse of flagging mechanisms

Across the region, social media platform "flagging" mechanisms are often abused to silence government critics, minority groups or views and forms of expression deemed not to be in line with the majority's beliefs on society, religion and politics.

In 2016, Facebook suspended several Arabic-language pages and groups dedicated to atheism following massive flagging campaigns.

This effectively eliminated one of the few (in some cases, the only) spaces where atheists and other minorities could come together to share their experiences, and freely express themselves on matters related to religion. Across the region, atheism remains a taboo that could be met with harassment, imprisonment or even murder. Jessica Anderson, a project manager at onlinecensorship.org which documents cases of content takedowns by social media platforms, told Global Voices:

[Abusive flagging] is a significant problem.

In the Middle East as well as other geographies, we have documented cases of censorship resulting from 'flagging campaigns'--coordinated efforts by many users to report a single page or piece of content.

Flagging mechanisms are also abused by pro-government voices. Earlier this year, Middle East Eye reported that several Egyptian political activists had their pages or accounts suspended and live-streams shut down, after they were reported by "pro-government trolls."  Anderson said:

What we have seen is that flagging can exacerbate existing power imbalances, empowering the majority to 'police' the minority The consequences of this issue can be severe: communities that are already marginalized and oppressed lose access to the benefits of social media as a space to organize, network, and be heard.

Failure to consider user rights, in context

This past May, Apple joined the ranks of Facebook and Twitter -- the more commonly-cited social media platforms in this realm -- when the iTunes store refused to upload fives songs by the Lebanese band Al-Rahel Al-Kabir. The songs mocked religious fundamentalism and political oppression in the region.

A representative from iTunes explained that the Dubai-based Qanawat, a local content aggregator hired by Apple to manage its store for the region, elected not to upload the songs. An anonymous source told The Daily Star that iTunes did not know about Qanawat's decision, which it made due to "local sensitivities." In response to a petition from Beirut-based digital rights NGO SMEX and the band itself, iTunes uploaded the songs and pledged to work with another aggregator.

This case does not only illustrate how "local sensitivities" can interfere with decisions about which types of content get to be posted and stay online in the region, but also shows that companies need to practice due diligence when taking decisions likely to affect users' freedom of expression rights.

Speaking to Global Voices, Mohamad Najem, co-founder of SMEX pointed out that both Facebook and Twitter have their regional offices located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which he described as one of the "most repressive countries" in the region. He said: "This is a business decision that will affect free speech in a negative way,"

He further expressed concern that the choice of having an office in a country like the UAE "can sometimes lead to enforcing Gulf social norm[s]" on an entire [Arab] region that is "dynamic and different."

Location, location, location

Facebook and Twitter have offices in the UAE that are intended to serve the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that is ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse, and presents a wide range of political viewpoints and experiences. When companies are pressured by oppressive governments or other powerful groups to respect "local sensitivities," they are being complicit in shutting down expression of such diversity. Anderson said:

"Platforms seem to take direction from louder, more powerful voices...In the Middle East, [they] have not been able to stand up to powerful interests like governments,"

Take, for example, Facebook's willingness to comply with the Turkish government's censorship demands. Throughout the years, the company was involved in censoring criticism of the government, religion and the republic's founder Ataturk, Kurdish activists , LGBT content and even an anti-racism initiative .

Facebook's complicity with these requests appears to be deeply ingrained. I spoke to a Turkish activist two years ago who told me that he believed the platform "was turning into a pro-government media." Today, the platform continues to comply, restricting access to more than 4,500 pieces of content inside the country in 2017 alone. Facebook is not transparent about the number and rates of requests it complies with.  Arzu Geybulla, a freelance writer who covers Turkey and Azerbaijan for Global Voices said:

The biggest shortcoming in [the] ways platforms deal with takedown requests is [their] lack of understanding of the political contexts. And even if there is some kind of idea of what is happening on the ground, I am not entirely sure, there is always due diligence involved.

In conference settings, representatives from Facebook are routinely faced with questions about massive flagging campaigns. They maintain that multiple abuse reports on a single post or page do not automate the process of the post or page being removed. But they offer little concrete information about how the company does see and respond to these situations. Does the company review the content more closely? Facebook representatives also say that they consult with local experts on these issues, but the specifics of these consultations are similarly opaque.

And the work of moderating content -- deciding what meets local legal standards and Facebook's own policies -- is not easy. Anderson from onlinecensorship.org said:

Content moderation is incredibly labor intensive. As the largest platforms continue to grow, these companies are attempting to moderate a staggering volume of content. Workers (who may not have adequate knowledge and training, and may not be well paid) have to make snap decisions about nuanced and culturally-specific content, leading to frequent mistakes and inconsistencies.

For activists and human rights advocates in the region, it is also difficult to know the scope of this problem due to lack of corporate transparency. Cases like that of iTunes may be occurring more often than is publicly known -- it is only when someone speaks out about being censored that these practices come to light.

 

 

This is Nigeria...

Land of music censorship and repression


Link Here 12th August 2018
A Nigerian radio station has been fined by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for playing music with vulgar and indecent lyrics in July and August.

NBC fined Global Communications Ltd 100,000 Naira (240 euros) for breaching parts of its code by airing three songs: This is Nigeria by Falz, Iskaba by Wande Coal, and See Mary, See Jesus by Olamide.

The Commission has observed with 'great concern' the continuous airing of vulgar and indecent music lyrics in spite  of warnings both verbal and written to the station.

In the case of This is Nigeria it seems likely that the censors simply do not like the criticism of the country as video depicts violent crime, criminality and less than pious religiosity.

 

 

Symbolic changes at the USK...

German games censor will no longer ban those Nazi images that are excluded from a wider German law for historical or artistic reasons


Link Here 11th August 2018
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games
The next Wolfenstein game might not even need to remove Adolf Hitler's moustache. Germany's Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (or USK), an independent, industry-funded board that oversees age and content ratings for videos games available in the country, announced on Thursday that it will now permit the sale of games featuring Nazi imagery within the country, something that had previously been banned. The USK's decision reportedly came after a heated debate involving the Nazi-killing Wolfenstein series , particularly a pair of anti--Third Reich games in 2014 and 2017 that were visibly, and somewhat humorously , self-censored in Germany in order to avoid violating a provision of the country's constitution.

Previously, video games with Nazi symbolism were heavily censored or outright banned based on the German criminal code's Section 86a , which forbids the use of symbols, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans, propaganda, and greetings relating to unconstitutional organizations in German products. Section 86a violations could be met with up to three years of imprisonment or a hefty fine.

USK will now assess games on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet a reinterpreted standard of the country's social adequacy clause that allows for Nazi imagery if it serves one of the following purposes: artistic, scientific, or if it depicts current or historical events. This metric is currently used for films screened in Germany because they are considered works of art.

 

 

Commented: Conspiracy theory comes true...

US technology giants prove that they are biased against the right, and censor Alex Jones' Infowars


Link Here 11th August 2018

Even the streaming adult video site YouPorn has joined in with the internet co-conspirators banning Alex Jones' Infowars from their platforms. This follows widespread censorship from tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Spotify--but notably, not Twitter.

In a statement, YouPorn vice president Charlie Hughes said Following news that YouTube, Spotify and Facebook have banned Alex Jones from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service.

Alex Jones is noted for a major role in propagating some of the most well known conspiracy theories in recent years, including Pizzagate and the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. His support of theories that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were faked.

Yesterday, YouTube removed Alex Jones' channel , which had 2.4 million subscribers, for violating its community guidelines, after issuing it a strike last month . On the same day, Apple removed Alex Jones' podcasts from iTunes , following similar actions from Spotify and Stitcher, and Facebook removed four Infowars pages for violating its policies against graphic violence and hate speech. Pinterest also took down Infowars' profile following an inquiry from Mashable.

Of course the stupidity of the censorship is that surely not many people take Alex Jones very seriously, its just entertainment. In censoring something that they do not like, they have surely done more harm than good by revealing that big tech marches to the tune of the PC left and is now part of the problem of an unfair and unjust establishment. The technology companies have  simply added to the fractious nature of the modern world.

 

Offsite Comment: Alex Jones and the rise of corporate censorship

11th August 2018. See  article from spiked-online.com

The banning of Infowars is an alarming act of capitalist intolerance.

 

 

More misery in Indonesia...

The government forces ISPs to set search engines and YouTube into restricted mode


Link Here 10th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

This week, the Indonesian government has forced ISPs to forcibly turn on content filters on search engines by default, which can't be switched off. The new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining that the video streaming site's restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.

Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. Netizens are reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.

While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the government. The ISP tweeted:

Hi, Youtube's restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.

 

 

Guardians of repression...

China bans Sci-Fi drama over gay lead characters


Link Here 10th August 2018

A massively popular sci-fi drama in which the two lead characters are gay has been purged from one of China's top streaming platforms, as part of the continuing Chinese government campaign to stamp out what it deems harmful and obscene content from the internet, according to a report published this weekend by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.

The move to censor the series Zhenhun , aka Guardian -- of China's most popular online shows with more than 1.8 billion views over its 40 episodes since it appeared on the Youku streaming service in early July.

The case of Guardian illustrates how sensitive China's censors can be when it comes to depictions of sexuality, and gay themes. The 40-part drama is based on a popular novel, written under a pseudonym, in which the two male protagonists are clearly in a relationship. In the adaptation, according to the Morning Post , their relationship was instead presented as a bond of brotherhood in the hope of avoiding the censors.

But toning down the novel's gay themes still wasn't enough for China's censorship authorities. In order to pass the censors, the screenwriters turned this story into a science fiction drama for children, and it was still taken offline.

 

 

Justice without merit...

Count Dankula's application to appeal against his conviction for an internet joke is refused


Link Here 9th August 2018
Full story: Trivial Insults and Jokes...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

A man who suffered a miscarriage of justice after being convicted for a joke has been refused permission to appeal against a conviction for supposedly causing gross offence.

Mark Meechan, who blogs under the name Count Dankula, was fined £800 in April after being found guilty under the Communications Act over a  video joke in which he trained his girlfriend's dog to perform Nazi salutes.

A letter from the court claimed the appeal was not arguable and in each of its elements is wholly misconceived. It also dismissed arguments made by Meechan's lawyers over the judge's handling of witness evidence at Airdrie Sheriff Court in March and the meaning of grossly offensive. The letter said:

The appeal against conviction is without merit. Likewise the appeal against sentence is not arguable -- this was a deeply unpleasant offence in which disgraceful and utterly offensive material was very widely distributed by the appellant, it said. This was to the considerable distress of the community in question and -- just as disturbingly -- to the apparent approval of a large number of persons who appear to share the appellant's racist views.

Indeed it must be observed that in the circumstance the appellant was fortunate that the learned sheriff was not considering custody as an option.

 

 

Censorship and control...

American politicians are debating the need for internet regulation of social media


Link Here 9th August 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
US politicians are debating the need for internet censorship, social media regulation and privacy legisation.

Recently Axios' David McCabe published a fascinating policy paper from the office of Senator Mark Warner. The paper outlines a comprehensive censorship and regulatory regime that would touch virtually every aspect of social networks. It's a comprehensive starting point for discussion

The paper is notably well-versed both on the dangers posed by misinformation and the trade-offs that come with increased regulation, especially to privacy and free speech. No doubt the US debate will be echoed around the world.

So what exactly do Warner and his staff propose? The ideas are designed to address three broad categories: misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of these technologies; privacy and data protection; and competition.

Here are some the ideas presented.

Misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of technology.

  • requiring networks to label automated bots;
  • requiring platforms to verify identities, despite the significant consequences to free speech;
  • legally requiring platforms to make regular disclosures about how many fake accounts they've deleted;
  • ending legal protections on contents hosts for defamation;
  • legally requiring large platforms to create APIs for academic research;
  • spending more money to fight cyber threats from Russia and other state-level actors.

Privacy and data protection.

  • Create a US version of the GDPR;
  • designate platforms as information fiduciaries with the legal responsibility of protecting our data;
  • empowering the Federal Trade Commission to make rules around data privacy;
  • create a legislative ban on dark patterns that trick users into accepting terms and conditions without reading them;
  • allow the government to audit corporate algorithms.

Competition

  • Require tech companies to continuously disclose to consumers how their data is being used;
  • require social network data to be made portable;
  • require social networks to be interoperable;
  • designate certain products as essential facilities and demand that third parties get fair access to them.

These proposals remain far from becoming law -- but perhaps not as far as tech platforms would wish.

 

 

Howe gets animated by anime...

Elspeth Howe reveals more of the internal government debate that is delaying the BBFC internet porn censorship guidelines


Link Here 8th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
Elspeth Howe, a member of the House of Lords, has written an article in the Telegraph outlining her case that the remit for the BBFC to censor internet porn sites should be widened to include a wider range of material that she does not like.

This seems to tally with other recent news that the CPS is reconsidering its views on what pornographic content should be banned from publication in Britain.

Surely these debates are related to the detailed guidelines to be used by the BBFC when either banning porn sites, or else requiring them to implement strict age verification for users. It probably explains why the Telegraph recently reported that the publication of the final guidelines has been delayed until at least the autumn.


Categories of Porn

For clarity the categories of porn being discussed are as follows:
 

  Current   Proposed
offline online   offline online
Softcore 18 BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Hardcore R18  BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Beyond R18
(proposal by CPS)
banned BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Cartoon Porn
(proposal by Howe))
banned BBFC uncut banned banned
Extreme porn banned banned banned banned
Child porn banned banned banned banned
  • Softcore porn rated 18 under BBFC guidelines

    - Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
     
  • Vanilla hardcore porn rated R18 under current BBFC guidelines

    - Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
     
  • Beyond R18 hardcore porn that includes material historically banned by the CPS claiming obscenity, ie fisting, golden showers, BDSM, female ejaculation, and famously from a recent anti censorship campaign, face sitting/breath play. Such material is currently cut from R18s.

    - Such content will be allowed under the current Digital Economy Act for online porn sites
    - This category is currently banned for offline sales in the UK, but the CPS has just opened a public consultation on its proposal to legalise such content, as long as it is consensual. Presumably this is related to the government's overarching policy: What's illegal offline, is illegal online.
     
  • Extreme Porn as banned from possession in the UK under the Dangerous Pictures Act. This content covers, bestiality, necrophilia, realistic violence likely to result in serious injury, realistic rape

    - This content is illegal to possess in the UK and any websites with such content will be banned by the BBFC regardless of age verification implementation
     
  • Cartoon Porn depicting under 18s

    - This content is banned from possession in the UK but will be allowed online subject to age verification requirements
     
  • Photographic child porn

    This is already totally illegal in the UK on all media. Any foreign websites featuring such content are probably already being blocked by ISPs using lists maintained by the IWF. The BBFC will ban anything it spots that may have slipped through the net.


'What's illegal offline, is illegal online'

Elspeth Howe writes:

I very much welcome part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 which requires robust age verification checks to protect children from accessing pornography. The Government deserves congratulations for bringing forward this seminal provision, due to come into effect later this year.

The Government's achievement, however, has been sadly undermined by amendments that it introduced in the House of Lords, about which there has been precious little public debate. I very much hope that polling that I am placing in the public domain today will facilitate a rethink.

When the Digital Economy Bill was introduced in the Lords, it proposed that legal pornography should be placed behind robust age verification checks. Not surprisingly, no accommodation for either adults or children was made for illegal pornography, which encompasses violent pornography and child sex abuse images.

As the Bill passed through the Lords, however, pressure was put on the Government to allow adults to access violent pornography, after going through age-verification checks, which in other contexts it would be illegal to supply. In the end the Government bowed to this pressure and introduced amendments so that only one category of illegal pornography will not be accessible by adults.

[When  Howe mentions violent pornography she is talking about the Beyond R18 category, not the Extreme Porn category, which will be the one category mentioned that will not be accessible to adults].

The trouble with the idea of banning Beyond R18 pornography is that Britain is out of step with the rest of the world. This category includes content that is ubiquitous in most of the major porn websites in the world. Banning so much content would be simply be impractical. So rather than banning all foreign porn, the government opted to remove the prohibition of Beyond R18 porn from the original bill.

Another category that has not hitherto come to attention is the category of cartoon porn that depicts under 18s. The original law that bans possession of this content seemed most concerned about material that was near photographic, and indeed may have been processed from real photos. However the law is of most relevance in practical terms when it covers comedic Simpsons style porn, or else Japanese anime often featuring youthful, but vaguely drawn cartoon characters in sexual scenes.

Again there would be problems of practicality of banning foreign websites from carry such content. All the major tube sites seems to have a section devoted to Hentai anime porn which edges into the category.

In July 2017, Howe introduced a bill that would put Beyond R18 and Cartoon Porn back into the list of prohibited material in the Digital Economy Act. The bill is titled the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Amendment) (Definition of Extreme Pornography) Bill and is still open, but further consideration in Parliament has stalled, presumably as the Government itself is currently addressing these issues.

The bill adds in to the list of prohibitions any content that has been refused a BBFC certificate or would be refused a certificate if it were to be submitted. This would catch both the Beyond Porn and Cartoon Porn categories.

The government is very keen on its policy mantra: What's illegal offline, is illegal online and it seems to have addressed the issue of Beyond 18 material being illegal offline but legal online. The government is proposing to relax its own obscenity rules so that Beyond R18 material will be legalised, (with the proviso that the porn is consensual). The CPS has published a public consultation with this proposal, and it should be ready for implementation after the consultation closes on 17th October 2018.

Interestingly Howe seems to have dropped the call to ban Beyond R18 material in her latest piece, so presumably she has accepted that Beyond R18 material will soon be classifiable by the BBFC, and so not an issue for her bill.


Still to be Addressed

That still leaves the category of Cartoon Porn to be addressed. The current Digital Economy Act renders it illegal offline, but legal online. Perhaps the Government has given Howe the nod to rationalise the situation by making banning the likes of Hentai. Hence Howe is initiating a bit of propaganda to support her bill.  She writes:

The polling that I am putting in the public domain specifically addresses the non-photographic child sex abuse images and is particularly interesting because it gauges the views of MPs whose detailed consideration of the Bill came before the controversial Lords amendments were made.

According to the survey, which was conducted by ComRes on behalf of CARE, a massive 71% of MPs, rising to 76% of female MPs, stated that they did not believe it was right for the Digital Economy Act to make non-photographic child sex abuse images available online to adults after age verification checks. Only 5% of MPs disagreed.

There is an opportunity to address this as part of a review in the next 18 months, but things are too serious to wait .The Government should put matters right now by adopting my very short, but very important two-clause Digital Economy Act (Amendment) (Extreme Pornography) Bill which would restore the effect of the Government's initial prohibition of this material.

I -- along with 71 per cent of MPs -- urge the Government to take action to ensure that the UK's internet does not endorse the sexual exploitation of children.

I haven't heard of this issue being discussed before and I can't believe that anybody has much of an opinion on the matter. Presumably therefore, the survey presented out of the blue with the questions being worded in such a way as to get the required response. Not unusual, but surely it shows that someone is making an effort to generate an issue where one didn't exists before. Perhaps an indication that Howe's solution is what the authorities have decreed will happen.

 

 

Book burners...

Masked protestors attack left wing book shop wrecking displays and tearing up books


Link Here 6th August 2018
Far-right protesters have ransacked a socialist bookshop in London. The owners of Bookmarks say masked attackers wrecked displays and tore up books.

Posting on Facebook and Twitter, Bookmarks said staff were closing the shop on Bloomsbury Street in central London on Saturday evening when about a dozen people descended on it.

A far-right protest against censorship of the website Infowars took place in central London on Saturday at which protesters were seen with the same placards. Others wore Make Britain Great Again caps.

 

 

Extract: How the left made Tommy Robinson...

It was their censorship of Islamophobia that made Robinson a star. By Brendan O'Neill


Link Here 6th August 2018

The Tommy Robinson phenomenon is a product not of too much liberty, but of too much censorship. It is the cultural elite's cowardly instinct to chill open discussion about issues like Islam, multiculturalism, mass immigration and social tensions that created Tommy Robinson and his various movements, through allowing him to present himself as a seer in a time of silence. If Robinson really is the monster the left claim he is, they are his Dr Frankenstein.

See  article from spiked-online.com

See also The Britisher's even handed video analysis of whether Tommy Robinson was fairly treated in his tangle with the law from YouTube

 

 

Unfinished business...

Open Rights Group comments on the missed milestone of publishing final age verification guidelines before Parliament's summer recess


Link Here 5th August 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor

MPs left behind unfinished business when they broke for summer recess, and we aren't talking about Brexit negotiations. The rollout of mandatory age verification (AV) technology for adult websites is being held up once again while the Government mulls over final details. AV tech will create highly sensitive databases of the public's porn watching habits, and Open Rights Groups submitted a report warning the proposed privacy protections are woefully inadequate. The Government's hesitation could be a sign they are receptive to our concerns, but we expect their final guidance will still treat privacy as an afterthought. MPs need to understand what's at stake before they are asked to approve AV guidelines after summer.

AV tools will be operated by private companies, but if the technology gets hacked and the personal data of millions of British citizens is breached, the Government will be squarely to blame. By issuing weak guidelines, the Government is begging for a Cambridge Analytica-style data scandal. If this technology fails to protect user privacy, everybody loses. Businesses will be damaged (just look at Facebook), the Government will be embarrassed, and the over 20 million UK residents who view porn could have their private sexual preferences exposed. It's in everybody's interest to fix this. The draft guidance lacks even the basic privacy protections required for other digital tools like credit card payments and email services. Meanwhile, major data breaches are rocking international headlines on a regular basis. AV tech needs a dose of common sense.

 

 

Offsite Article: Internet shutdowns...


Link Here 5th August 2018
Internet censorship in Africa threatens democracy and the economy

See article from dw.com

 

 

Politics and sex work...

How Anti-Sex Work Legislation Bolsters the Racist State


Link Here 4th August 2018
Alan suggests an article that urges decriminalisation and trade union organization for sex workers. He comments:

It attributes support to both Corbyn and McDonnell. There were some noises to the opposite effect about Corbyn a few weeks ago, but I've been aware of McD's support for sex workers since I worked in the neighbouring constituency (Bozza's now) 15-20 years ago.

See article from novaramedia.com by Ava Caradonna

 

 

Commented: Half Times...

Qatar censors The New York Times as it highlights the difficulties faced by the Qatar LGBT community


Link Here 3rd August 2018
Qatar has removed whole articles from the Doha edition of The New York Times for highlighting the plight of the emirate's LGBTQ community.

According to ABC News, large sections of the Qatari edition of the New York paper have been censored with a note that said exceptionally removed .

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, as it is in many other Arab countries, and homosexual acts can be punished under current laws.

The New York Times told the U.S. news channel that the decision to censor the articles was made by a local vendor or distributor. A spokesman said:

While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures, we deeply regret and object to any censorship of our journalism and are in regular discussions with our distributors about this practice.

Offsite Comment: My Article Was Censored. I Found Out Why

3rd August 2018. Thanks to Nick. See article from nytimes.com by Shannon Sims

The censored article covered a New Orleans museum show as a whole, but focused on one artist's contribution: an exhibit exploring an overlooked, dark chapter of the history of the L.G.B.T.Q. community in New Orleans. The artist, Skylar Fein, researched the tragic killing of 32 people at a gay bar in 1973, and he recreated both the feeling of the bar and the limited -- and sometimes homophobic -- news coverage around it at the time.

The article featured images of Mr. Fein's exhibit and the artist shot by a local photographer, William Widmer. Though the images may be suggestive (a shirtless man, for example), they are not explicit. In fact, the article was similar in many ways to other Arts pieces that have been published in The Times, and not particularly edgy.

See the full article from nytimes.com

 

 

Google is developing a censored search engine for China...

No doubt western governments will soon be calling for Google to deploy the same technology in their countries


Link Here 2nd August 2018
Full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.

The project, code-named Dragonfly, has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans.

Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named Maotai and Longfei. The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.

Google's current search engine is blocked in China.

 

 

First social media tax, now porn blocking...

Uganda's internet censors introduce porn website blocking with an initial list of 27 sites


Link Here 2nd August 2018

Internet censors of the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) have instructed telecommunications companies and ISPs to block a list of pornography websites. Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director at the UCC, has said that they have identified 17 popular local and 10 international pornography websites which they, as the UCC, have asked ISP's and telecommunications companies to block.

The commission received the list of porn sites from the Pornography Control Committee. The committee has established that the list of the websites attached hereto is currently streaming pornography to Uganda in breach of section 13 of the Anti-Pornography Act, 2014.

Mutabazi has warned that telecom companies and internet providers risk penalties if they don't comply with the new directive.

Perhaps the recent introduction of high taxes on social media websites has pushed Ugandans onto the next best internet freebie, porn.

 

 

Rearranging the mnemonics...

Chinese media and internet censors are in the process of restructuring


Link Here 1st August 2018

It was announced in spring of this year that the Chinese media censorship body State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film, and TV (SAPPRFT) was being replaced. Now a job recruitment advert has revealed a little more information about the restructuring

  • Most of SAPPRFT's duties -- and its domain name -- have moved to the  newly formed SART (State Administration of Radio and TV), which posted the recruitment ad to their SAPPRFT website.
  • Film censorship duties will now fall to the Party's Publicity (Propaganda) Bureau ,
  • while the Cyberspace Administration of China seems to have become the major censor for online news and information.

SART's ad does not mention censorship specifically, and given the recent organizational changes, one can only guess at the purpose of the new hires, but this is what we know from the ad:

  • A research institute affiliated to SART is looking to fill three specialized applied research roles.
  • Big data
  • Internet of Things (IoT) and
  • cryptography (including blockchain) are the focus areas.

 

 

Commented: Fake Claims...

UK Parliamentary committee claims that people failing to vote the 'correct' way is nothing to do with politicians' crap policies that don't look after British people, and must be all to do with fake news


Link Here 31st July 2018
Full story: Fake News in the UK...A scapegoat for failing governance
Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has been investigating disinformation and fake news following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and is claiming that the UK faces a democratic crisis due to the spread of pernicious views and the manipulation of personal data.

In its first report it will suggest social media companies should face tighter censorship. It also proposes measures to combat election interference.

The report claims that the relentless targeting of hyper-partisan views, which play to the fears and prejudices of people, in order to influence their voting plans is a threat to democracy.

The report was very critical of Facebook, which has been under increased scrutiny following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Facebook has hampered our efforts to get information about their company throughout this inquiry. It is as if it thinks that the problem will go away if it does not share information about the problem, and reacts only when it is pressed, the report said.  It provided witnesses who have been unwilling or unable to give full answers to the committee's questions.

The committee suggests:

1. Social media sites should be held responsible for harmful content on their services

Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a 'platform', claiming that they are tech companies and have no role themselves in regulating the content of their sites, the committee said.

They continually change what is and is not seen on their sites, based on algorithms and human intervention.

They reward what is most engaging, because engagement is part of their business model and their growth strategy. They have profited greatly by using this model.

The committee suggested a new category of tech company should be created, which was not necessarily a platform or a publisher but something in between.

This should establish clear legal liability for the tech companies to act against harmful and illegal content on their platforms, the report said.

2. The rules on political campaigns should be made fit for the digital age

The committee said electoral law needed to be updated to reflect changes in campaigning techniques.

It suggested creating a public register for political advertising so that anybody can see what messages are being distributed online political advertisements should have a digital imprint stating who was responsible, as is required with printed leaflets and advertisements social media sites should be held responsible for interference in elections by malicious actors electoral fraud fines should be increased from a maximum of £20,000 to a percentage of organisations' annual turnover

3. Technology companies should be taxed to fund education and regulation

Increased regulation of social media sites would result in more work for organisations such as the Electoral Commission and Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The committee suggested a levy on tech companies should fund the expanded responsibilities of the regulators.

The money should also be spent on educational programmes and a public information campaign, to help people identify disinformation and fake news.

4. Social networks should be audited

The committee warned that fake accounts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter not only damage the user experience, but potentially defraud advertisers.

It suggested an independent authority such as the Competition and Markets Authority should audit the social networks.

It also said security mechanisms and algorithms used by social networks should be available for audit by a government regulator, to ensure they are operating responsibly.

Offsite Comment: Now MPs want to police political discussion

31st July 2018. See  article from spiked-online.com by Mick Hume

Those members of parliament are half right at least. Democracy in Britain and the West is at risk today. But contrary to the wild claims in their fake-news report, the real risk does not come from Russian bloggers or shady groups farming Facebook users' data. The big threat comes from political elitists like the cross-party clique of Remainer MPs who dominate the DCMS committee.

...Read the full article from spiked-online.com

Offsite Comment: British MPs, like authoritarians from Moscow to Malaysia...

31st July 2018. See  article from nationalreview.com by Andrew Stuttaford

  It looks a lot as if these MPs, like authoritarians from Moscow to Malaysia, have been inspired by the strikingly illiberal precedent set by Angela Merkel's social media law . In particular, part of the idea behind sticking social media companies with legal liability is to scare them into going even further in muzzling free speech than the strict letter of the law requires.

...Read the full article from nationalreview.com

 

 

Connected with common sense...

Germany's highest court upholds legislation allowing public Wi-Fi previously impractical due to laws holding networks responsible for copyright infringement by users


Link Here 31st July 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany's highest court last week upheld legislation that offers Wi-Fi operators immunity from acts carried out by third-party users.

The decision by the Federal Court of Justice now makes it easier for individuals and businesses to offer Wi-Fi without fearing civil prosecution for acts of copyright infringement committed by others.

Prior to the ruling, because of the legal concept known as Störerhaftung, or interferer's liability, a third party who played no deliberate part in someone else's actions could be held responsible for them. As a result, Wi-Fi hot spots are few and far between in Germany. Visitors from abroad have found themselves shut out at public venues and unable to access the web like they could in other countries.

Copyright holders are still able to get court orders requiring WiFi providers to block copyright infringing websites.

 

 

Lightening up...

Sedition charges dropped against the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar


Link Here 31st July 2018
For Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, three years of constitutional challenges pale in comparison to the 43 years imprisonment that were on the line. But after a legal battle active since 3 April 2015, Zunar's nine sedition charges were dropped on Monday 30 July 2018. With three days in court still to follow, the victory is one of several the artist is seeking as an advocate for free expression and the repeal of the Sedition Act.

Under the newly (re-)elected PM Mahathir Mohamad things seem to be improving for freedom of expression. the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) has announced that it would review all ongoing sedition cases starting 13 July.

 

 

Reigning in the US internet bad boys...

In light of Facebook's disgraceful disregard for its users' digital wellbeing, Trump's government seems to be stepping in and preparing a GDPR style privacy law


Link Here 30th July 2018
The US Federal Government is quietly meeting with top tech company representatives to develop a proposal to protect web users' privacy amid the ongoing fallout globally of scandals that have rocked Facebook and other companies.

Over the past month, the Commerce Department has met with representatives from Facebook and Google, along with Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast, and consumer advocates, sources told the Washington Post.

The goal of these meetings is to come up with a data privacy proposal at the federal level that could serve as a blueprint for Congress to pass sweeping legislation in the mode of the European Union GDPR. There are currently no laws that govern how tech companies harness and monetize US users' data.

A total of 22 meetings with more than 80 companies have been held on this topic over the last month.

One official at the White House told the Post this week that recent developments have been seismic in the privacy policy world, prompting the government to discuss what a modern U.S. approach to privacy protection might look like.

 

 

Wrong think...

Think tank considers that Brexit is an excuse for the revival of the British ID cards idea


Link Here 30th July 2018
Full story: ID Cards in UK...UK introduces ID cards
Policy Exchange is a think tank that describes itself as:

The UK's leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy.

And now it has been considering post Brexit visa arrangements and has taken the opportunity to call fro the revival of ID cards, or at least an ID number that can be used for to identify everybody in official and unofficial databases throughout the world. Policy Exchange writes:

As national borders are being transformed by new technologies and new thinking about how to manage flows of goods and people as quickly and safely as possible, the UK border needs continuing innovation and reform.

The report's main recommendations include:

  • Roll out ID system for EU citizens . A unique digital reference for interactions with the state is being developed for the 3.6m EU citizens settled here after Brexit. This experiment with a unique number system should be a trial run for an initially voluntary system for UK citizens.

 

 

Offsite Article: Falling back from the internet freedom front...


Link Here 30th July 2018
Full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
A detailed explanation of how Google ended domain fronting so as to make it easier for countries like Russia to censor the internet

See article from thenextweb.com

 


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