UK Internet Censorship


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Whatever happened to...

The BBFC consultation on UK internet porn censorship

Link Here 17th July 2018
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC designated as the UK internet porn censor
Nobody seems to have heard much about the progress of the BBFC consultation about the process to censor internet porn in the UK.

The sketchy timetable laid out so far suggests that the result of the consultation should be published prior to the Parliamentary recess scheduled for 26th July. Presumably this would provide MPs with some light reading over their summer hols ready for them to approve as soon as the hols are over.

Maybe this publication may have to be hurried along though, as pesky MPs are messing up Theresa May's plans for a non-Brexit, and she would like to send them packing a week early before they can cause trouble. ( Update 18th July . The early holidays idea has now been shelved).

The BBFC published meeting minutes this week that mentions the consultation:

The public consultation on the draft Guidance on Age Verification Arrangements and the draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers closed on 23 April. The BBFC received 620 responses, 40 from organisations and 580 from individuals. Many of the individual responses were encouraged by a campaign organised by the Open Rights Group.

Our proposed response to the consultation will be circulated to the Board before being sent to DCMS on 21 May.

So assuming that the response was sent to the government on the appointed day then someone has been sitting on the results for quite a long time now.

Meanwhile its good to see that people are still thinking about the monstrosity that is coming our way. Ethical porn producer Erica Lust has been speaking to News Internationalist. She comments on the way the new law will compound MindGeek's monopolitistc dominance of the online porn market:

The age verification laws are going to disproportionately affect smaller low-traffic sites and independent sex workers who cannot cover the costs of installing age verification tools.

It will also impact smaller sites by giving MindGeek even more dominance in the adult industry. This is because the BBFC draft guidance does not enforce sites to offer more than one age verification product. So, all of MindGeeks sites (again, 90% of the mainstream porn sites) will only offer their own product; Age ID. The BBFC have also stated that users do not have to verify their age on each visit if access is restricted by password or a personal ID number. So users visiting a MindGeek site will only have to verify their age once using AgeID and then will be able to login to any complying site without having to verify again. Therefore, viewers will be less likely to visit competitor sites not using the AgeID technology, and simultaneously competitor sites will feel pressured to use AgeID to protect themselves from losing viewers.

...Read the full  article from newint.org

 

 

Updated: So how much would you trust the politically correct Ofcom to censor internet news?...

Ofcom boss Sharon White sneers at the British people, and volunteers Ofcom to be their internet news censor

Link Here 16th July 2018
Sharon White, the CEO of Ofcom has put her case to be the British internet news censor, disgracefully from behind the paywalled website of the The Times.

White says Ofcom has done research showing how little users trust what they read on social media. She said that only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared with 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

But then again many people don't much trust the biased moralising from the politically correct mainstream media, including the likes of Ofcom.

White claims social media platforms need to be more accountable in how they curate and police content on their platforms, or face regulation.

In reality, Facebook's algorithm seems pretty straightforward, it just gives readers more of what they have liked in the past. But of course the powers that be don't like people choosing their own media sources, they would much prefer that the BBC, or the Guardian , or Ofcom do the choosing.

Sharon White, wrote in the Times:

The argument for independent regulatory oversight of [large online players] has never been stronger.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met.

She continued, disgracefully revealing her complete contempt of the British people:

Many people admit they simply don't have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

White joins a growing number of the establishment elite arguing that social media needs cenorship. The government has frequently suggested as much, with Matt Hancock, then digital, culture, media and sport secretary, telling Facebook in April:

Social media companies are not above the law and will not be allowed to shirk their responsibilities to our citizens.

Update: The whole pitch to offer Ofcom's services as a news censor

15th July 2018. See Sunday Times article republished by Ofcom from ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom has published Sharon White's pitch for Ofcom to become the internet news censor.

White is nominally commenting on two research reports:

There seems to be 4 whinges about modern news reading via smart phones and all of them are just characteristics of the medium that will never change regardless of whether we have news censors or not.

  1. Fake News: mostly only exists in the minds of politicians. No one else can find hardly any. So internet news readers are not much bothered by trying to detect it.
  2. Passive news reading. Its far too much trouble typing in stuff on a smart phone to be bothered to go out and find stuff for yourself. So the next best thing is to use apps that do the best job in feeding you articles that are of interest.
  3. Skimming and shallow reading of news feeds. Well there's so much news out there and the news feed algorithm isn't too hot anyway so if anything isn't quite 100% interesting, then just scroll on. This isn't going to change any time soon.
  4. Echo chambers. This is just a put-down phrase for phone users choosing to read the news that they like. If a news censor thinks that more worthy news should be force fed into people's news readers than they will just suffer the indignity of being rapidly swiped into touch.

Anyway this is Sharon White's take:

Picking up a newspaper with a morning coffee. Settling down to watch TV news after a day's work. Reading the sections of the Sunday papers in your favourite order.

For decades, habit and routine have helped to define our relationship with the news. In the past, people consumed news at set times of day, but heard little in between. But for many people, those habits, and the news landscape that shapes them, have now changed fundamentally.

Vast numbers of news stories are now available 24/7, through a wide range of online platforms and devices, with social media now the most popular way of accessing news on the internet. Today's readers and viewers face the challenge to keep up. So too, importantly, does regulation.

The fluid environment of social media certainly brings benefits to news, offering more choice, real-time updates, and a platform for different voices and perspectives. But it also presents new challenges for readers and regulators alike -- something that we, as a regulator of editorial standards in TV and radio, are now giving thought for the online world.

In new Ofcom research, we asked people about their relationship with news in our always-on society, and the findings are fascinating.

People feel there is more news than ever before, which presents a challenge for their time and attention. This, combined with fear of missing out, means many feel compelled to engage with several sources of news, but only have the capacity to do so superficially.

Similarly, as many of us now read news through social media on our smartphones, we're constantly scrolling, swiping and clearing at speed. We're exposed to breaking news notifications, newsfeeds, shared news and stories mixed with other types of content. This limits our ability to process, or even recognise, the news we see. It means we often engage with it incidentally, rather than actively.

In fact, our study showed that, after being exposed to news stories online, many participants had no conscious recollection of them at all. For example, one recalled seeing nine news stories online over a week -- she had actually viewed 13 in one day alone. Others remembered reading particular articles, but couldn't recall any of the detail.

Social media's attraction as a source of news also raises questions of trust, with people much more likely to doubt what they see on these platforms. Our research shows only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared to 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

Fake news and clickbait articles persist as common concerns among the people taking part in our research, but many struggle to check the validity of online news content. Some rely on gut instinct to tell fact from fiction, while others seek second opinions from friends and family, or look for established news logos, such as the Times. Many people admit they simply don't have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

Education on how to navigate online news effectively is, of course, important. But the onus shouldn't be on the public to detect and deal with fake and harmful content. Online companies need to be much more accountable when it comes to curating and policing the content on their platforms, where this risks harm to the public.

We welcome emerging actions by the major online players, but consider that the argument for independent regulatory oversight of their activities has never been stronger. Such a regime would need to be based on transparency, and a set of clear underpinning principles.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met. We will outline further thoughts on the role independent regulation could play in the autumn.

When it comes to trust and accountability, public service broadcasters like the BBC also have a vital role to play. Their news operations provide the bedrock for much of the news content we see online, and as the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom will continue to hold them to the highest standards.

Ofcom's research can help inform the debate about how to regulate effectively in an online world. We will continue to shine a light on the behavioural trends that emerge, as people's complex and evolving relationship with the media continues to evolve.

And perhaps if you have skimmed over White's piece a bit rapidly, here is the key paragraph again:

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met. We will outline further thoughts on the role independent regulation could play in the autumn.

 

 

Offsite Article: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018...

Link Here 16th July 2018
A detailed critique of censorship clauses of the bill. By Index on Censorship

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

They just go round to their friend's house...

Research finds that ISP porn filters have an insignificant effect on preventing adolescents from seeking out porn

Link Here 13th July 2018
A paper has been published on the effects of network level website blocking to try and prevent adolescents from seeking out porn.

Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material

BY Andrew K. Przybylski, and Victoria Nash

Abstract

Early adolescents are spending an increasing amount of time online, and a significant share of caregivers now use Internet filtering tools to shield this population from online sexual material. Despite wide use, the efficacy of filters is poorly understood. In this article, we present two studies: one exploratory analysis of secondary data collected in the European Union, and one preregistered study focused on British adolescents and caregivers to rigorously evaluate their utility. In both studies, caregivers were asked about their use of Internet filtering, and adolescent participants were interviewed about their recent online experiences.

Analyses focused on the absolute and relative risks of young people encountering online sexual material and the effectiveness of Internet filters.

Results suggested that caregiver's use of Internet filtering had inconsistent and practically insignificant links with young people reports of encountering online sexual material.

Conclusions

The struggle to shape the experiences young people have online is now part of modern parenthood. This study was conducted to address the value of industry, policy, and professional advice concerning the appropriate role of Internet filtering in this struggle. Our preliminary findings suggested that filters might have small protective effects, but evidence derived from a more stringent and robust empirical approach indicated that they are entirely ineffective. These findings highlight the need for a critical cost -- benefit analysis in light of the financial and informational costs associated with filtering and age verification technologies such as those now being developed in some European countries like the United Kingdom. Further, our results highlight the need for registered trials to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of costly technological solutions for social and developmental goals.

The write up doesn't really put its conclusions with any real context as to what is actually happening beyond the kids still being able to get hold of porn. The following paragraph gives the best clue of what is going on:

We calculated absolute risk reduction of exposure to online sexual material associated with caregivers using filtering technology in practical terms. These resultswere used to calculate the number of households which would have to be filtered to prevent one young person, who would otherwise see sexual material online, from encountering it over a 12-month period. Depending on the form of content, results indicated that between 17 and 77 households would need to be filtered to prevent a young adolescent from encountering online sexual material. A protective effect lower than we would consider practically significant.

This seems to suggest that if one kid has a censored internet then he just goes around to a mate's house who isn't censored, and downloads from there. He wouldn't actually be blocked from viewing porn until his whole circle of friends are similarly censored. It only takes one kid to be able download porn, as it can then be loaded on a memory stick to be passed around.

 

 

Internet Disservice Providers...

Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin tell Parliament that they would welcome the establishment of an official state internet censor

Link Here 11th July 2018
Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media would back the creation of an internet censor to set out a framework for internet companies in the UK, the House of Lords Communications Committee was told.

The three major UK ISPs were reporting to a House of Lords' ongoing inquiry into internet censorship. The companies' policy heads pushed for a new censor, or the expansion of the responsibility of a current censor, to set the rules for content censorship and to better equip children using the internet amid safety concerns .

At the moment Information Commissioner's Office has responsibility for data protection and privacy; Ofcom censors internet TV; the Advertising Standards Authority censors adverts; and the BBFC censors adult porn.

Citing a report by consultancy Communications Chambers, Sky's Adam Kinsley said that websites and internet providers are making decisions but in a non structured way. Speaking about the current state of internet regulation, Kinsley said:

Companies are already policing their own platforms. There is no accountability of what they are doing and how they are doing it. The only bit of transparency is when they decide to do it on a global basis and at a time of their choosing. Policy makers need to understand what is happening, and at the moment they don't have that.

The 13-strong House of Lords committee, chaired by Lord Gilbert of Panteg, launched an inquiry earlier this year to explore how the censorship of the internet should be improved. The committee will consider whether there is a need for new laws to govern internet companies. This inquiry will consider whether websites are sufficiently accountable and transparent, and whether they have adequate governance and provide behavioural standards for users.

The committee is hearing evidence from April to September 2018 and will launch a report at the end of the year.

 

 

Commented: Sneering at men just for wanting to get laid...

Feminist and religious moralist MPs call for the internet censorship of anything to do with sex work

Link Here 8th July 2018
A campaign group of anti-sex works MPs comprising of feminists and religious moralists have just published a biased campaign document claiming all the usual bogies about trafficking, organised crime and so on.

The group misleadingly calls itself the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, as if it was an official committee of parliament. It is not, it is just a self appointed campaign group with no attempt to include MPs independent of the campaign nor to represent the wider views of Parliament.

Of course sex workers are definitely not party to the report., and in fact have been protesting against the report to highlight its lack of independence and representation of sex worker input.

A roughly 200-strong collection of sex workers and activists came out to Parliament Square on Wednesday to make their case, with banners such as "Decriminalise sex work, for safety's sake."

The report titled Behind Closed Doors targets technology based tools used by modern sex workers, such as pop-up brothels using Airbnb, and internet platforms like Vivastreet and Adultwork, claimed to be the most significant enablers of sex-work and sex trafficking.

The Labour MP Sarah Champion iused the report to call for internet censorship along the lines of the US FOSTA internet censorship. By making internet platforms liable to penalties for content posted by their users, they end up censoring and blocking large swathes of related content just in case something prohibited gets through. In America the law makers specifically prohibit material that aids sex trafficking, but because there is no obvious way of checking whether an advert is for a legal sex worker or for a trafficked sex worker, then the companies have to take down the legal stuff too. In fact the effects are so wide spread that even dating services have been taken down just in case traffickers are lurking somewhere amongst the dating couples.

But the campaigners don't stop there, comments to the media suggests a push for the UK to adopt The Nordic Model, a legal framework in which the selling of sexual services is legal but the purchase of those services is criminalised. The model has been largely panned by sex workers, activists and researchers as ineffective and unsafe.

Furthermore in light of the publicity for the report, Jeremy Corbyn was asked by Sky's Sophy Ridge about the subject and he came out in favour of the #Nordic model model of criminalising men buying sex.

So, as usual from the 'progressive' left are enjoying a good sneer at men, and will happily see them imprisoned and fined just for wanting to get laid.

Comment: Disappointed by Corbyn

8th July 2018. Thanks to Alan

I'm disappointed to hear Jeremy Corbyn apparently backing the Nordic Model. In the past, he has favoured decriminalisation, to loud squeals from the pointless and reliably mouthy Jess Phillips. John McDonnell, by contrast, has always been on the side of sex workers.

I am baffled by the behaviour of nominally Labour politicians who prattle about sex work while ignoring sex workers. I can't imagine Champion or Phillips spouting about railways without talking to the RMT and ASLEF or about higher education without consultation with the UCU. I think the organizations representing sex workers should hammer this point home at every opportunity.

 

 

Evading UK porn censorship...

Brave Introduces Beta of Private Tabs with Tor for Enhanced Privacy while Browsing

Link Here 2nd July 2018
Brave explains in a blog post:

Today we're releasing our latest desktop browser Brave 0.23 which features Private Tabs with Tor, a technology for defending against network surveillance. This new functionality, currently in beta, integrates Tor into the browser and gives users a new browsing mode that helps protect their privacy not only on device but over the network. Private Tabs with Tor help protect Brave users from ISPs (Internet Service Providers), guest Wi-Fi providers, and visited sites that may be watching their Internet connection or even tracking and collecting IP addresses, a device's Internet identifier.

Private Tabs with Tor are easily accessible from the File menu by clicking New Private Tab with Tor. The integration of Tor into the Brave browser makes enhanced privacy protection conveniently accessible to any Brave user directly within the browser. At any point in time, a user can have one or more regular tabs, session tabs, private tabs, and Private Tabs with Tor open.

The Brave browser already automatically blocks ads, trackers, cryptocurrency mining scripts, and other threats in order to protect users' privacy and security, and Brave's regular private tabs do not save a user's browsing history or cookies. Private Tabs with Tor improve user privacy in several ways. It makes it more difficult for anyone in the path of the user's Internet connection (ISPs, employers, or guest Wi-Fi providers such as coffee shops or hotels) to track which websites a user visits. Also, web destinations can no longer easily identify or track a user arriving via Brave's Private Tabs with Tor by means of their IP address. Users can learn more about how the Tor network works by watching this video.

Private Tabs with Tor default to DuckDuckGo as the search engine, but users have the option to switch to one of Brave's other nineteen search providers. DuckDuckGo does not ever collect or share users' personal information, and welcomes anonymous users without impacting their search experience 204 unlike Google which challenges anonymous users to prove they are human and makes their search less seamless.

In addition, Brave is contributing back to the Tor network by running Tor relays. We are proud to be adding bandwidth to the Tor network, and intend to add more bandwidth in the coming months.

 

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