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Hungary tires of social media interference in free speech...

Hungarian data censor proposes a law requiring that social media companies justify why they ban people


Link Here 5th August 2020
Hungary's Data Protection Chief has proposed new legislation which would enable social media platforms to ban people from their services only with a compelling reason, while also granting the right to Hungarian authorities to review the decisions.

The head of the Hungarian Data Protection Authority (NAIH), requested a regulation on social media at a meeting of the Digital Freedom Working Group, according to which community profiles can only be suspended for compelling reasons. Also, according to Attila Péterfalvi, Hungarian authorities should have the right to review these decisions.

The justice ministry's digital freedom committee aimed at improving the transparency of tech firms has penned a letter to the regional director of Facebook asking whether the company's supervisory board complied with the requirements of political neutrality and transparency in its procedures, Justice Minister Judit Varga said:

Péterfalvi said:

I made the suggestion of establishing a Hungarian authority procedure in which the Hungarian authorities would oblige Facebook to review unjustified suspensions so that freedom of expression would remain free indeed.

 

 

Playing the repression game...

China commences requiring real name ID verification for all online gaming


Link Here4th August 2020
The Chinese government has begun rolling out its real-name identification system for video games nationwide, while also removing over 15,000 unlicensed games from the Chinese App store.

The law includes the extension of an existing social media real-name requirement, where everybody has to provide a form of valid identity information. Both Tencent and NetEase reportedly begun using their own verification systems.

The authentication system aims to be rolled out in September.

Chinese developers were further compounded by 15,000 unlicensed games being removed from the Chinese App Store since July 1st, in preparation of an August 1st deadline. This was due to those games lacking permission from the Chinese National Press and Publication Administration.

One of the drivers behind the latest moves is that in-game messaging and voice systems in more obscure have enabled people to evade the country's repressive censorship stranglehold on communications.

 

 

The Next Step...

BBC receives complaints about a same sex kiss in a children's TV show


Link Here3rd August 2020

The BBC has defended itself following complaints about airing a teenage same-sex kiss in a CBBC show.

About 100 viewers objected to a scene in which two girls share a kiss following a dance. It was shown in an episode of Canadian kids' TV show The Next Step which was broadcast in July.

The BBC confirmed online that complaints had been received about the storyline. The BBC explained that the kiss was part of its morality campaign to 'educate' kids in its progressive values. The BBC said:

This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be,

We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude and Cleo's developing relationship. And I'm afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age.

CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing. And it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like.

Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago.

 

 

Trials of Portnoy's Complaint...

When Penguin Australia fought for literature and liberty


Link Here3rd August 2020

One grey morning in October 1970, in a crowded, tizzy-pink courtroom on the corner of Melbourne's Russell and La Trobe Streets, crown prosecutor Leonard Flanagan began denouncing a novel in terms that were strident and ringing.

When taken as a whole, it is lewd, he declared. As to a large part of it, it is absolutely disgusting both in the sexual and other sense; and the content of the book as a whole offends against the ordinary standards of the average person in the community today -- the ordinary, average person's standard of decency. Scribe

The object of Flanagan's ire that day was the Penguin Books Australia edition of Portnoy's Complaint . Frank, funny, and profane, Philip Roth's novel -- about a young man torn between the duties of his Jewish heritage and the autonomy of his sexual desires -- had been a sensation the world over when it was published in February 1969.

Greeted with sweeping critical acclaim, it was advertised as the funniest novel ever written about sex and called the autobiography of America in the Village Voice. In the United States, it sold more than 400,000 copies in hardcover in a single year -- more, even, than Mario Puzo's The Godfather -- and in the United Kingdom it was published to equal fervour and acclaim.

But in Australia, Portnoy's Complaint had been banned.

Politicians, bureaucrats, police, and judges had for years worked to keep Australia free of the moral contamination of impure literature. Under a system of censorship that pre-dated federation, works that might damage the morals of the Australian public were banned, seized, and burned. Bookstores were raided. Publishers were policed and fined. Writers had been charged, fined and even jailed.

Seminal novels and political tracts from overseas had been kept out of the country. Where objectionable works emerged from Australian writers, they were rooted out like weeds. Under the censorship system, Boccacio's Decameron had been banned. Nabokov's Lolita had been banned. Joyce's Ulysses had been banned. Even James Bond had been banned.

There had been opposition to this censorship for years, though it had become especially notable in the past decade. Criticism of the bans on J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Norman Lindsay's Redheap had prompted an almost complete revision of the banned list in 1958.

The repeated prosecutions of the Oz magazine team in 1963 and 1964 had attracted enormous attention and controversy.

Outcry over the bans on Mary McCarthy's The Group and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover had been loud and pronounced, and three intrepid Sydney activists had exposed the federal government to ridicule when they published a domestic edition of The Trial of Lady Chatterley , an edited transcript of the failed court proceedings against Penguin Books UK for the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover in Britain in 1960.

Penguin Books Australia had been prompted to join the fight against censorship by the three idealistic and ambitious men at its helm: managing director John Michie, finance director Peter Froelich, and editor John Hooker.

In five years, the three men had overhauled the publisher, improving its distribution machinery and logistics and reinvigorating its publishing list. They believed Penguin could shape Australian life and culture by publishing interesting and vibrant books by Australian authors.

They wanted Penguin's books to engage with the political and cultural shifts that the country was undergoing, to expose old canards, question the orthodox, and pose alternatives.

Censorship was no small topic in all this. Those at Penguin saw censorship as an inhibition on these ambitions. We'd had issues with it before, in minor ways, Peter Froelich recalled, and we'd have drinks we'd say, 'It's wrong! How can we fix it? What can we do? How do we bring it to people's attention, so that it can be changed?'

The answer emerged when they heard of the ban placed on Portnoy's Complaint. Justifiably famous, a bestseller the world over, of well-discussed literary merit, it stood out immediately as a work with which to challenge the censorship system, just as its British parent company had a decade earlier.

Why not obtain the rights to an Australian edition, print it in secret, and publish it in one fell swoop? As Hooker -- who had the idea -- put it to Michie, Jack, we ought to really publish Portnoy's Complaint and give them one in the eye.

The risks were considerable. There was sure to be a backlash from police and politicians. Criminal charges against Penguin and its three leaders were almost certain. Financial losses thanks to seized stock and fines would be considerable. The legal fees incurred in fighting charges would be enormous. Booksellers who stocked the book would also be put on trial. But Penguin was determined.

John Michie was resolute. John offered to smash the whole thing down, Hooker said, later. When he was told what was about to happen, federal minister for customs Don Chipp swore that Michie would pay: I'll see you in jail for this. But Michie was not to be dissuaded. 'People who took exception to it at the time are mostly dead,' Roth said, some 40 years and 30 books after Portnoy's Complaint was published. A stampede

In July 1970, Penguin arranged to have three copies of Portnoy smuggled into Australia. In considerable secrecy, they used them to print 75,000 copies in Sydney and shipped them to wholesalers and bookstores around the country. It was an operation carried out with a precision that Hooker later likened to the German invasion of Poland.

The book was unveiled on August 31 1970. Michie held a press conference in his Mont Albert home, saying Portnoy's Complaint was a masterpiece and should be available to read in Australia. Neither he nor Penguin were afraid of the prosecutions: We are prepared to take the matter to the High Court.

The next morning, as the trucks bearing copies began to arrive, bookstores everywhere were rushed. At one Melbourne bookstore, the assistant manager was knocked down and trampled by a crowd eager to buy the book and support Penguin. It was a stampede, he said later. A bookstore manager in Sydney was amazed when the 500 copies his store took sold out in two-and-a-half hours.

All too soon, it was sold out. And with politicians making loud promises of retribution, the police descended.

Bookstores were raided. Unsold copies were seized. Court summons were delivered to Penguin, to Michie, and to booksellers the whole country over. A long list of court trials over the publication of Portnoy's Complaint and its sale were in the offing. A stellar line-up

So the trial that opened on the grey morning of October 19 1970, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, was only the first in what promised to be a long battle.

Neither Michie nor his colleagues were daunted. They had prepared a defence based around literary merit and the good that might come from reading the book. They had retained expert lawyers and marshalled the cream of Australia's literary and academic elite to come to their aid.

Patrick White would appear as a witness for the defence. So too would academic John McLaren, The Age newspaper editor Graham Perkin, the critic A.A. Phillips, the historian Manning Clark, the poet Vincent Buckley, and many more. They were unconcerned by Flanagan's furious denunciations, by his shudders of disgust, and by his caustic indictments of Penguin and its leaders.

They were confident in their cause. As one telegram to Michie said:

ALL BEST WISHES FOR A RESOUNDING VICTORY FOR LITERATURE AND LIBERTY.

 

 

Miserable gits in Cambodia...

MPs table bill to ban girls from wearing short skirts


Link Here3rd August 2020
A Cambodian proposal to ban girls wearing short skirts and men's shirtless has been tabled in parliament. MPs supporting this proposal have claimed that this will not only stop the increasing sexual violence in society but also strengthen Cambodian culture. If this resolution is passed in Parliament, the local police will get the right to take legal action against those wearing such clothes.

If the proposal gets approval from many Cambodian government ministries and the national parliament, it will be implemented from early 2021. After this, if a man appears shirtless in public places or a woman / girl in short skirt, then they will be fined.

 

 

No guts at the Australian Censorship Board...

Australia's game censors ban the Blood and Guts Bundle for Nintendo Switch


Link Here2nd August 2020
Blood and Guts Bundle is a 2020 trilogy of arena fight games from Digerati

The Blood and Guts Bundle for Nintendo Switch has been banned in Australia under the automated International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system. Decision was in March, but has only recently been added to the National Classification Database.

The automated system is pretty much a random rating generator, so perhaps the delay is down to going back to the old manual way of rating games.

In the US the game is M (17) rated by the ESRB for blood and gore, use of drugs, violence.

The Promotional Material gives a flavour of the game:

Satisfy your lust for carnage with three gloriously gratuitous games! This bundle contains:

Slain: Back from Hell . A heavy metal inspired arcade combat game with stunning pixel art visuals, challenging old school gameplay and gore galore. Plus the most metal soundtrack you've ever heard!

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut : A killer puzzle game and darkly comic homage to 80s horror movies where you control Skullface, a homicidal slasher hell-bent on revenge.

Super Blood Hockey : Arcade sports gaming gets a shot of adrenaline in this violent homage to classic 8- and 16-bit ice hockey games. Use fast-paced skills and bone-crunching brutality to dominate.

 

 

A presidential ticking off...

After TikTok was found seemingly grabbing people's passwords from the paste buffer, Trump threatens to ban the app


Link Here1st August 2020
President Donald Trump has said that he will ban the popular short-form video app TikTok from operating in the United States. Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order.

Earlier on Friday, it seemed that the President was set to sign an order to force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the social media platform, to sell the US operations of TikTok to Microsoft. The move was aimed at resolving policymakers' concerns that the foreign-owned TikTok may be a national security risk.

The US government is conducting a national security review of TikTok and is preparing to make a policy recommendation to Trump.

 

 

A cabal of censors...

Ofcom announces a forum where censors can communicate together


Link Here1st August 2020
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and Ofcom have announced the launch of a new forum to help ensure online services work well for people and businesses in the UK.

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum strengthens existing collaboration and coordination between the three regulators. It aims to harness their collective expertise when data, privacy, competition, communications and content interact.

A statement outlining the Forum's objectives and how the three organisations will work together to support effective and efficient regulation across the digital landscape has been published. A news release summarising the initiative is also available.  

 

 

Shown the red flag...

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland bans Tampax advert


Link Here31st July 2020
An ad for tampons has been banned in Ireland for supposedly causing widespread offence.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has advised that Tampax's Tampons and Tea ad should not air again in the same format, after receiving 84 complaints.

The ad saw a TV presenter in a chat show set-up asking the audience: Tell me, how many of you ever feel your tampon? After her guest raises her hand, she says: You shouldn't. It might mean your tampon isn't in far enough. You've gotta get 'em up there, girls.

A number of complainants argued that the ad was demeaning to women because it suggested that women did not know how to use the tampons or read the instructions. Complaints of sexual innuendo argued that the phrase get 'em up there, girls had sexual connotations and that the Tampax ad was sexualising the wearing of tampons, while other complaints claimed the ad was over-descriptive, inappropriately expressed and with excessive detail.

The ASAI did not uphold complaints that the ad demeaned women, contained sexual innuendo or was unsuitable for children.  However, they did uphold the complaints of general offence.

 

 

You can't say that!...

BBC News responds to complaints about the factual use of the word 'nigger' whilst reporting what was said during a crime


Link Here30th July 2020
The BBC has issued a statement after a news reporter used the word 'nigger' when relaying how the word word used in a racially motivated crime.

Social Affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin was fronting a segment about a black NHS worker who was hit by a car in a suspected racially aggravated assault, when she said the word whilst recalling racist language shouted at the victim by the attackers.

Viewers of the BBC report took to Twitter to criticise the reporter's use of the word, with one user writing : A white reporter just said the N word on BBC News...am I hearing this correctly? Another wrote about how they were absolutely flabbergasted at the news reporter's choice of language, adding: Have they apologised for this disgusting behaviour?

The BBC is also receiving complaints about the broadcast. Ofcom reported that it had received 280 complaints about the issue.

In a statement about the broadcast, the BBC wrote on its website:

Clearly we would never want our reporting to become the focus of such an important story. We have listened to what people have had to say about the use of the word and we accept that this has caused offence but we would like people to understand why we took the decision we did.

This story was an important piece of journalism about a shocking incident. It was originally reported by some as a hit and run, but investigations indicated that racist language was used at the scene and it was then treated by the police as a racially aggravated attack.

The victim's family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public. It's for this reason they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man's injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken by the occupants of the car.

Notwithstanding the family's wishes, we independently considered whether the use of the word was editorially justified given the context. The word is used on air rarely, and in this case, as with all cases, the decision to use it in full was made by a team of people including a number of senior editorial figures.

You are, of course, right that the word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use. The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence. But, in this specific context we felt the need to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used - a position which, as we have said, was supported by the family and the victim.

These are difficult judgements but the context is very important in this particular case.

We believe we gave adequate warnings that upsetting images and language would be used and we will continue to pursue this story.

 

 

Setting free speech thieves to catch free speech thieves...

The Whitehouse asks the FCC to investigate whether the law allows social media to censor right leaning content


Link Here 30th July 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

The Department of Commerce, as directed by President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, filed a petition to clarify the scope of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The petition requests that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarify that Section 230 does not permit social media companies that alter or editorialize users' speech to escape civil liability.

The petition also requests that the FCC clarify when an online platform curates content in good faith, and requests transparency requirements on their moderation practices, similar to requirements imposed on broadband service providers under Title I of the Communications Act. President Trump will continue to fight back against unfair, un-American, and politically biased censorship of Americans online.

 

 

Wishing for a more censored world...

UK advert censor whinges at Google and BBC for allowing sexy wish.com adverts on their apps


Link Here29th July 2020

Four in-app ads for the e-commerce platform Wish:

  • a. The first ad, seen in the BBC Good Food Guide app on 13 April 2020, featured images including a naked mannequin wearing a cape, a woman shown from the neck down wearing a corset that partially exposed her breasts and revealed nipple tassels, and an image of a reclining woman from the waist down wearing fishnet stockings and underwear.

  • b. The second ad, seen in the Google News app on 22 April 2020, featured images including a woman wearing a jacket that partially exposed her cleavage and midriff, and a woman shown from the neck down wearing a corset that partially exposed her breasts and revealed nipple tassels.

  • c. The third ad, seen in the Google News app on 1 May 2020, featured the same images as ad (b), and an image of a prosthetic penis alongside the text Dildo + Ass Sex Cup + Penis Sleeve ... 6cm Longer ... 4cm Bigger.

  • d. The fourth ad, seen in a Solitaire game on Google Play on 1 May 2020, featured the same images as ad (c), and an image of a reclining woman from the waist down wearing fishnet stockings and underwear. Issue

The ASA received three complaints:

1. three complainants, who considered that the content of the ads was sexually graphic, objected that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence; and

2. two complainants challenged whether ads (b), (c) and (d) had been responsibly targeted because they were likely to be seen by children.

Context Logic Inc trading as Wish.com said that their ads were comprised of content from listings provided by third-party sellers on the Wish marketplace. Wish.com used techniques to identify and remove potentially objectionable content, which included filtering based on keywords in listing titles and tags applied to the listing. Wish.com worked with an ad partner who used filtering and other measures to prevent Wish ads from appearing in inappropriate forums.

Regarding the ads complained of, the keyword filters and image analysis used by their ad partner was not sufficient in preventing the ads from being displayed in general audience forums. Wish.com halted UK campaigns with the ad partner in May 2020. They said that they were not currently advertising through the ad partner until they had more confidence in their ability to identify mature content and prevent it from being shown in general audience forums. Wish.com agreed that the ads may not have been appropriate for all forums, such as those where the audience were likely to be comprised of a large number of minors, and they were taking action to address the issue. However, they did not agree that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1.Upheld

All four ads depicted a range of garments, including nipple tassels shown on exposed breasts and a cape displayed on a nude mannequin, and ads (c) and (d) depicted a sex toy. These were all available on the Wish.com website. While the images were relevant to the products sold, the ASA considered they were overtly sexual and contained explicit nudity.

We considered that consumers using apps for recipes, the news and playing solitaire would not expect to see sexually explicit content. We therefore concluded that in those contexts the ads were likely to cause both serious and widespread offence.

2. Upheld

As referenced above, we considered that the ads were overtly sexual and contained explicit nudity. We considered they therefore were not suitable to be seen by children. Ads (b) and (c) were seen in the Google News app and ad (d) was seen in a Solitaire game. We considered that, given the content of the apps, they were likely to have a broad appeal to all ages including children, and therefore any ads that appeared within the apps should have been suitable for children.

While Wish.com and their ad partner had used measures such as keyword filters and image analysis to try to target them to a suitable audience, it had not prevented the ads being shown in mediums where children were likely to be part of the audience. Because the ads contained explicit sexual images and had been placed in apps that were likely to be used by children, we concluded that the ads had been placed irresponsibly and breached the Code.

The ads must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Context Logic Inc t/a Wish.com to ensure that their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted.

 

 

Wrong think...

Labour demands the faster implementation of internet censorship


Link Here28th July 2020
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
More censorship legislation is needed to protect people online after social media giants' failure to tackle hate speech on their websites, claims the Labour Party.

Jo Stevens, shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, claimed the UK desperately needed legislation forcing platforms to act because self-regulation isn't working.

The Labour party is accusing the Government of delaying the introduction of an online harms bill to protect Internet users. It comes after politicians and campaigners condemned Twitter for being too slow to remove anti-Semitic tweets by rapper Wiley.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he has written to Instagram and Twitter to make it clear that they need to act immediately to remove social media posts that Labour does not like.

 

 

Offsite Article: You can't defeat racism with censorship...


Link Here28th July 2020
Calls for social-media censorship in the wake of Wiley's anti-Semitic rant are dangerous and wrong. By Fraser Myers

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Religious re-education...

Chinese film censors have new rules that ban many Bible stories


Link Here27th July 2020
Full story: Christianity in China...Restricting Christianity
China's new censorship laws effectively ban film content that portrays the life of Jesus Christ.

The broad new guidelines to make films fit the Communist party line include 20 categories that will now be outlawed. The categories include any content that promotes contentious history -- and film-makers believe this includes the life of Jesus . Other banned categories include the depiction of sacred relics and demonic possessions and content showing miracles and healing.

A Chinese film-maker said:

The guidelines almost entirely ban such content. If we film the life of Jesus, avoiding the content banned by the guidelines, we will only be presenting Jesus as an ordinary person. This is unacceptable to Christians.

Of course it may not be wise for Christians make too much of a fuss lest the government decides that religious re-education may be in order for Christians as well as Muslims.

 

 

Australian data censor calls out Google...

Google found to be exploiting user's personal data without consent


Link Here27th July 2020
Full story: Gooogle Privacy...Google's many run-ins with privacy
Australia's competition regulator has launched court proceedings against Alphabet's Google for allegedly misleading consumers about the expanded use of personal data for targeted advertising.

The case by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in Federal Court said Google did not explicitly get consent nor properly inform consumers about a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with activities on non-Google websites that use its technology.

The regulator said this practice allowed the Alphabet Inc unit to link the names and other ways to identify consumers with their behaviour elsewhere on the internet .

 

 

Offsite Article: Pressure grows on Ofcom to ban Chinese propaganda channel CGTN...


Link Here 27th July 2020
Full story: Diplomatic Censorship at Ofcom...Ofcom get caught up in international relations
Surely a decision that could possibly be part of a chain of events leading to World War 3 should be taken by government ministers and diplomats, not a TV censor

See article from digitaltveurope.com

 

 

The Scottish government is deliberately intending to stifle free speech...

With a disgraceful new bill whose public consultation has just closed


Link Here 26th July 2020
A public consultation has closed on changes to Scotland's hate crime laws that will diminish free speech even further.

The plans to make it a criminal offence to stir up hatred, criticise or insult anyone based on their age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

The bill will massively step up the definitions of what people are not allowed to stay lest it be considered insulting to easily offended identity groups, particularly sensitive religions. The bill also extends from people's words into the possession of material that might be considered critical of sensitive identity groups.

The disgraceful bill has been opposed by many particularly the most effected, like newspapers.

Opposition to the bill has united the Catholic Church and the National Secular Society in opposition to the plans - along with academics, playwrights and newspaper columnists who all say they fear the proposed legislation will pose a threat to their freedom of speech. For example comedians could become too frightened to dare make a joke about a Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman walking into a bar.

The public were invited to make their views known to the Scottish parliament's justice committee before midnight on 24 July.

Amanda Millar, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said:

It was right that laws provide a clear message that hatred should have no place in our society. However, we have significant reservations regarding a number of the bill's provisions and the lack of clarity, which could in effect lead to restrictions in freedom of expression, one of the foundations of a democratic society. We have real concerns that certain behaviour, views expressed or even an actor's performance, which might well be deemed insulting or offensive, could result in a criminal conviction under the terms of the bill as currently drafted.

Scottish Labour criticised the offence of stirring up hatred and accused ministers of failing to learn the lessons of the repealed Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. The party's justice spokesman James Kelly said:

There is a significant divergence from similar law in England and Wales where intent is required for a person to be criminalised for behaviour which another finds insulting. Under the current proposals, the law here would not require this intent to be present - which sets an alarming legal precedent and could result in the criminalisation of expressions of religious views.

In its submission to Holyrood's Justice Committee, the Scottish Newspaper Society warned that it contained highly dangerous measures which pose a serious threat to freedom of expression in its broadest sense. The organisation's director, John McLellan, said it had the potential to provoke a string of vexatious complaints against journalists and columnists, which could then lead to police investigations. He raised further concerns about provisions against communicating insulting material:

It would also be an offence to distribute it, which potentially could see newspaper delivery boys and girls, or shops, fall foul of the law.

Allowing courts to direct the destruction of material had echoes of darker times and could lead to the banning of books or censorship of the internet, he warned.

He added that JK Rowling, who has recently faced a deluge of criticism from transgender rights activists after she expressed her views online, would almost certainly have seen her subjected to a police investigation had the proposed law been in force.

 

 

Offsite Article: Fetishising debate...


Link Here26th July 2020
'progressive' and authoritarian MP decides that free speech, and even simple debate, is unacceptable

See article from rt.com

 

 

Proving the QAnon conspiracy...

Twitter proves that there is a liberal elite silencing the right


Link Here24th July 2020
Twitter's threat to shadowban accounts and hashtags linked to the pro-Trump QAnon movement has merely validated followers' fears that they are being controlled by a liberal elite.

The US conspiracy theory (really an ecosystem of interlinked conspiracy theories) is centered around the cryptic disclosures of a supposedly high-ranking government employee going by the moniker Q.

The supporters believe that the eponymous Q is posting coded messages online to inform Trump's supporters about a secret war against the right, and preparing them for an imminent event in which the president overthrows the evil cabal and imprisons its members.

Generally they believe that Donald Trump is fighting against a secretive and evil global cabal, members of which include former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, who both have been hate figures for the American political right for many years.

Twitter's thread vowing to take further action on QAnon activity across the service induced a collective persecution-complex orgasm across the Q community, who mostly interpreted the deplatforming threat as an admission that QAnon was every bit the threat to the ruling power structure they've always believed they were.

The company warned some 150,000 accounts will be affected by the new rule, implying that sharing QAnon content is behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. Tellingly, they didn't cite any specific incidents, and mainstream media that have reported on the ban don't seem to care what harm has in fact resulted from the fevered speculation over cryptic Q breadcrumbs.

 

 

Relationships with Russia get colder...

Latvia bans the Russian propaganda channel RT


Link Here24th July 2020
Full story: Russia Today Propaganda TV...Russia Today, English language international propaganda channel
The Latvian TV censor has banned the Russian propaganda channel RT (formerly named Russia Today). The channel was also recently banned in Lithuania.

Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) on July 21 banned RT claiming incitement to hatred. It was prompted by a 60 minute broadcast on July 10, in which remarks on Ukraine are described as hate speech. Ivars Abolins, head of the NEPLP, said:

We believe it is an incitement to hatred against Ukraine, against the Ukrainian people. We are absolutely convinced that the European Commission will also agree with our view, and if a second infringement is detected within a year, Rossija RTR can be banned on the territory of Latvia.

RT responded citing a statement from the Association for International Broadcasting which strongly criticised the Latvian media regulator. A letter from AIB commented:

We wish to protest in the strongest terms on what appears, on the face of it, to be a political decision that has no regulatory legitimacy.

The banning of the RT channels appears to flow from the misinterpretation by the Council of the ownership structure of RT and the alleged control of RT by Dmitry Kiselyov who is sanctioned by the European Union.

We draw to your attention that RT disputes the reason for the Council's ban on its licensed channels and that it has not been granted the right to present evidence of the ownership and control of the company. This is an extraordinary omission by a media regulator in a western democracy.

 

 

Online Content Censors...

Ofcom announces a reorganisation with a new group in charge of censorship of Broadcasting and Online Content


Link Here22nd July 2020

New Ofcom groups to lead industry policy and engagement Ofcom

Kevin Bakhurst will continue to lead Ofcom's media regulation as Group Director of Broadcasting and Online Content. This group combines our work on broadcasting - including standards, licensing and policy work - as well as new duties to regulate video sharing platforms. The Broadcasting and Online Content group will lead Ofcom's regulatory regimes in these sectors, and manage relationships with its stakeholders.

 

 

In the name of 'fake news'...

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee calls for an accelerated appointment of Ofcom as the UK internet censor


Link Here21st July 2020
A parliamentary committee looking into supposed 'fake news' is calling for more internet censorship. It writes:

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee calls for Government to appoint new Online Harms Regulator now.

Online misinformation about Covid-19 was allowed to spread virulently across social media without the protections offered by legislation, promised by the Government 15 months ago.

The Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic Report details evidence on a range of harms from dangerous hoax treatments to conspiracy theories that led to attacks on 5G engineers.

The Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019, proposed a duty of care on tech companies and an independent Online Harms Regulator, both key recommendations from the predecessor DCMS Committee.

MPs voice new concerns that the delayed legislation will not address the harms caused by misinformation and disinformation 203 a serious omission that would ignore the lessons of the Covid crisis.

The Report finds that tech companies use business models that disincentivise action against misinformation while affording opportunities to bad actors to monetise misleading content. As a result the public is reliant on the good will of tech companies or the bad press they attract to compel them to act.

The DCMS Committee calls for the Government to make a final decision on the appointment of the regulator now.

The report summary reads:

In February, the World Health Organisation warned that, alongside the outbreak of COVID-19, the world faced an infodemic, an unprecedented overabundance of information204both accurate and false204that prevented people from accessing authoritative, reliable guidance about the virus. The infodemic has allowed for harmful misinformation, disinformation, scams and cybercrime to spread. False narratives have resulted in people harming themselves by resorting to dangerous hoax cures or forgoing medical treatment altogether. There have been attacks on frontline workers and critical national infrastructure as a result of alarmist conspiracy theories.

The UK Government is currently developing proposals for online harms legislation that would impose a duty of care on tech companies. Whilst not a silver bullet in addressing harmful content, this legislation is expected to give a new online harms regulator the power to investigate and sanction tech companies. Even so, legislation has been delayed. As yet, the Government has not produced the final response to its consultation (which closed over a year ago), voluntary interim codes of practice, or a media literacy strategy. Moreover, there are concerns that the proposed legislation will not address the harms caused by misinformation and disinformation and will not contain necessary sanctions for tech companies who fail in their duty of care

We have conducted an inquiry into the impact of misinformation about COVID-19, and the efforts of tech companies and relevant public sector bodies to tackle it. This has presented an opportunity to scrutinise how online harms proposals might work in practice. Whilst tech companies have introduced new ways of tackling misinformation through the introduction of warning labels and tools to correct the record, these innovations have been applied inconsistently, particularly in the case of high-profile accounts. Platform policies have been also been too slow to adapt, while automated content moderation at the expense of human review and user reporting has had limited effectiveness. The business models of tech companies themselves disincentivise action against misinformation while affording opportunities to bad actors to monetise misleading content. At least until well-drafted, robust legislation is brought forward, the public is reliant on the goodwill of tech companies, or the bad press they attract, to compel them to act.

During the crisis the public have turned to public service broadcasting as the main and most trusted source of information. Beyond broadcasting, public service broadcasters (PSBs) have contributed through fact-checking and media literacy initiatives and through engagement with tech companies. The Government has also acted against misinformation by reforming its Counter Disinformation Unit to co-ordinate its response and tasked its Rapid Response Unit with refuting seventy pieces of misinformation a week. We have raised concerns, however, that the Government has been duplicating the efforts of other organisations in this field and could have taken a more active role in resourcing an offline, digital literacy-focused response. Finally, we have considered the work of Ofcom, as the Government's current preferred candidate for online harms regulator, as part of our discussion of online harms proposals. We call on the Government to make a final decision now on the online harms regulator to begin laying the groundwork for legislation to come into effect.

 

 

An epidemic of censorship...

Wuhan Diary book doesn't get released in Wuhan


Link Here21st July 2020
A book that recounts life in the Chinese city of Wuhan while under a strict coronavirus lockdown has been effectively banned in China, its author said in a recent written interview with Kyodo News.

Chinese critics have been trying to thwart publication of the book titled Wuhan Diary , whose English version has received international recognition, although the country's authorities have not officially prohibited it, said the novelist known as Fang Fang.

The book is a collection of 60 posts from her account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, regarding daily life during the so-called world's harshest coronavirus lockdown as well as, what she described as, the dark side of the authorities.

A publisher had prepared to distribute the book domestically but shied away from doing so out of fear of getting pressure from critics, she said.



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