A few weeks before a major change to the way in which UK viewers access online pornography, neither the government nor the appointed regulator has been able to provide details to the BBC about how it will work.
From April 2018, people accessing porn sites will have to prove they are aged 18 or over.
Both bodies said more information would be available soon.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was named by parliament as the regulator in December 2017. (But wasn't actually appointed until 21st February 2018. However the BBFC has been working on its censorship procedures for many months
already but has refused to speak about this until formally appointed).
The porn industry has been left to develop its own age verification tools.
Prof Alan Woodward, cybersecurity expert at Surrey University, told the BBC this presented porn sites with a dilemma - needing to comply with the regulation but not wanting to make it difficult for their customers to access content. I can't
imagine many porn-site visitors will be happy uploading copies of passports and driving licences to such a site. And, the site operators know that.
Radio Dawn is a community radio station broadcasting to the Muslim community in Nottingham.
On 26 December 2016 at 16:00, the Licensee broadcast a series of three Nasheeds. Two of these Nasheeds raised no issues under the Code.
The third Nasheed was in Urdu and recited by a young boy. It was approximately 17 minutes in duration. It began by glorifying the victories on the battlefield of figures from Islamic history. It then went on to suggest that similar violent acts
committed against non-Muslim people would bring honour to Islam.
Further, the Nasheed included a number of pejorative references to non-Muslim people. In particular, non-Muslim people were repeatedly referred to as Kufaar (the Arabic word for disbeliever) and on one occasion, Kaafir I Murdaar (meaning filthy
disbeliever in Urdu).
In Ofcom's decision, published on 7 August 2017 in issue 334 of the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin, Ofcom's Executive found that the Nasheed constituted hate speech and breached Rules 2.3, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code.
Ofcom put the Licensee on notice in the Breach Decision that it considered these breaches to be serious, and that it would consider them for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Ofcom considered whether the Code breaches were serious, deliberate, repeated or reckless so as to warrant the imposition of a sanction on the Licensee in this case. It reached a decision that a sanction was merited in this case since the breach
was serious for the reasons set out in the Decision.
Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £2,000. Ofcom also considers that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
The conservative US news website, the Daily Caller, has revealed that Google has recruited several social justice organisations to assist in the
censorship of videos on YouTube.
The Daily Caller notes:
The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting YouTube in policing content on their platform. The left-wing nonprofit -- which has more recently come under fire for labeling legitimate conservative organizations as hate groups -- is one of the more
than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube's Trusted Flaggers program.
The SPLC and other program members help police YouTube for extremist content, ranging from so-called hate speech to terrorist recruiting videos.
All of the groups in the program have confidentiality agreements. A handful of YouTube's Trusted Flaggers, including the Anti-Defamation League and No Hate Speech, a European organization, have gone public with their participation in the program.
The vast majority of the groups in the program have remained hidden behind their confidentiality agreements.
YouTube public policy director Juniper Downs said the third-party groups work closely with YouTube's employees to crack down on extremist content in two ways:
First, the flaggers are equipped with digital tools allowing them to mass flag content for review by YouTube personnel. Second, the partner groups act as guides to YouTube's content monitors and engineers designing the algorithms policing the
video platform but may lack the expertise needed to tackle a given subject.
We work with over 100 organizations as part of our Trusted Flagger program and we value the expertise these organizations bring to flagging content for review. All trusted flaggers attend a YouTube training to learn about our policies and
enforcement processes. Videos flagged by trusted flaggers are reviewed by YouTube content moderators according to YouTube's Community Guidelines. Content flagged by trusted flaggers is not automatically removed or subject to any differential
policies than content flagged from other users.
Last week, the European Parliament's MEP in charge of overhauling the EU's copyright laws did a U-turn on his predecessor's
position. Axel Voss is charged with making the EU's copyright laws fit for the Internet Age, yet in a staggering disregard for advice from all quarters, he decided to include a obligation on websites to automatically filter content.
Article 13 sets out how online platforms should manage user-uploaded content appears to have the most dangerous implications for fundamental rights. Never mind that the new Article 13 proposal runs directly contrary to an existing EU law -- the
eCommerce Directive - which prohibits member states from imposing general monitoring obligations on hosting providers.
Six countries -- Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, and the Netherlands -- sought advice from the Council's Legal Service last July, asked specifically if the standalone measure/obligation as currently proposed under Article
13 [would] be compatible with the Charter of Human Rights and queried are the proposed measures justified and proportionate? But this does not seem to have been addressed.
The aim of the rule, which is in line with the European Commission's proposals more than a year ago, is to strengthen the music industry in negotiations with the likes of YouTube, Dailymotion, etc. Under Voss' revised Article 13, websites and apps
that allow users to upload content must acquire copyright licenses for EVERYTHING, something that is in practice impossible. If they cannot, those platforms must filter all user-uploaded content.
The truth is that this latest copyright law proposal favors the rights-holders above anyone else. And we though MEPs represented the people.
A well-placed source told me recently that late last year the BBC pulled plans to show the Oscar-winning film American Beauty on BBC1. Why? Because it stars Kevin Spacey, who had at that point just been accused of sexually inappropriate
Spacey, who is now seeking treatment for his problems, has not been convicted in court of any of the offences levelled at him but the BBC seems to have decided it must shield licence fee payers from works of fiction he has appeared in anyway. No
film involving Spacey has been broadcast by the BBC -- or any other terrestrial TV channel -- for months.
The same goes for Woody Allen. In 1992 he was accused of sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan.
The writer asked the main TV companies for their comments but they weren't willing to say anything worthwhile. Channel 4 was the only company even willing to allude to #MeToo reaction. A spokesman said:
Channel 4 and Film4 are always mindful of current events when scheduling films for broadcast. We select films on a case by case basis, taking into account the nature of the films and the likely impact their broadcast might have on our audiences
given current events.
Today, most web browsers have private-browsing modes, in which they temporarily desist from recording the user's browsing history.
But data accessed during private browsing sessions can still end up tucked away in a computer's memory, where a sufficiently motivated attacker could retrieve it.
This week, at the Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium, researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard University presented a paper describing a new system, dubbed Veil, that makes
private browsing more private.
Veil would provide added protections to people using shared computers in offices, hotel business centers, or university computing centers, and it can be used in conjunction with existing private-browsing systems and with anonymity networks such as
Tor, which was designed to protect the identity of web users living under repressive regimes.
"Veil was motivated by all this research that was done previously in the security community that said, 'Private-browsing modes are leaky -- Here are 10 different ways that they leak,'" says Frank Wang, an MIT graduate student in
electrical engineering and computer science and first author on the paper. "We asked, 'What is the fundamental problem?' And the fundamental problem is that [the browser] collects this information, and then the browser does its best effort to
fix it. But at the end of the day, no matter what the browser's best effort is, it still collects it. We might as well not collect that information in the first place."
Wang is joined on the paper by his two thesis advisors: Nickolai Zeldovich, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and James Mickens , an associate professor of computer science at Harvard.
With existing private-browsing sessions, Wang explains, a browser will retrieve data much as it always does and load it into memory. When the session is over, it attempts to erase whatever it retrieved.
But in today's computers, memory management is a complex process, with data continuously moving around between different cores (processing units) and caches (local, high-speed memory banks). When memory banks fill up, the operating system might
transfer data to the computer's hard drive, where it could remain for days, even after it's no longer being used.
Generally, a browser won't know where the data it downloaded has ended up. Even if it did, it wouldn't necessarily have authorization from the operating system to delete it.
Veil gets around this problem by ensuring that any data the browser loads into memory remains encrypted until it's actually displayed on-screen. Rather than typing a URL into the browser's address bar, the Veil user goes to the Veil website and
enters the URL there. A special server -- which the researchers call a blinding server -- transmits a version of the requested page that's been translated into the Veil format.
The Veil page looks like an ordinary webpage: Any browser can load it. But embedded in the page is a bit of code -- much like the embedded code that would, say, run a video or display a list of recent headlines in an ordinary page -- that executes
a decryption algorithm. The data associated with the page is unintelligible until it passes through that algorithm.
Once the data is decrypted, it will need to be loaded in memory for as long as it's displayed on-screen. That type of temporarily stored data is less likely to be traceable after the browser session is over. But to further confound would-be
attackers, Veil includes a few other security features.
One is that the blinding servers randomly add a bunch of meaningless code to every page they serve. That code doesn't affect the way a page looks to the user, but it drastically changes the appearance of the underlying source file. No two
transmissions of a page served by a blinding sever look alike, and an adversary who managed to recover a few stray snippets of decrypted code after a Veil session probably wouldn't be able to determine what page the user had visited.
If the combination of run-time decryption and code obfuscation doesn't give the user an adequate sense of security, Veil offers an even harder-to-hack option. With this option, the blinding server opens the requested page itself and takes a
picture of it. Only the picture is sent to the Veil user, so no executable code ever ends up in the user's computer. If the user clicks on some part of the image, the browser records the location of the click and sends it to the blinding server,
which processes it and returns an image of the updated page.
The back end
Veil does, of course, require web developers to create Veil versions of their sites. But Wang and his colleagues have designed a compiler that performs this conversion automatically. The prototype of the compiler even uploads the converted site to
a blinding server. The developer simply feeds the existing content for his or her site to the compiler.
A slightly more demanding requirement is the maintenance of the blinding servers. These could be hosted by either a network of private volunteers or a for-profit company. But site managers may wish to host Veil-enabled versions of their sites
themselves. For web services that already emphasize the privacy protections they afford their customers, the added protections provided by Veil could offer a competitive advantage.
"Veil attempts to provide a private browsing mode without relying on browsers," says Taesoo Kim, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, who was not involved in the research. "Even if end users didn't explicitly
enable the private browsing mode, they still can get benefits from Veil-enabled websites. Veil aims to be practical -- it doesn't require any modification on the browser side -- and to be stronger -- taking care of other corner cases that browsers
do not have full control of."
Kentucky is joining the list of states that claim that porn is somehow a threat to public health.
A Kentucky lawmaker, state Senator David Givens, has introduced a resolution in his state that would recognize porn as a public health crisis.
So far, five states -- Florida, Utah, Kansas, Tennessee and Virginia -- have voted on passing such resolutions. And others, like Idaho, are considering to vote on such a proposal.
Resolution SR170 moves to recognize pornography as a public health crisis, acknowledge the need for education on the harmful effects of pornography, encourage prosecution of obscenity and exploitation offenses, and commend law enforcement efforts
to fight Internet crimes against children.
A Family At War
Talking Pictures TV, 19 November 2017, 20:15
Talking Pictures TV is an entertainment channel broadcasting classic films and archive programmes.
A Family At War was a British period drama series made between 1970 and 1972, about the experiences of a family from Liverpool during the Second World War. The episode Hazard was produced in 1971 and showed one of the main characters, Philip
Ashton, serving in the British army in Egypt in 1942, focusing on his encounter with another soldier, Jack Hazard.
We received a complaint about offensive language in this episode, as follows:
in a scene set in an army mess in the Egypt desert, Hazard, a white British soldier, ordered some drinks and asked the barkeeper to get a waiter to bring the drinks over to where Hazard and Ashton were sitting by saying: “Send the wog over with
them, will you?”. When the Egyptian waiter brought the drinks to Hazard and Ashton’s table, Hazard said to him, “And how’s the war going for you, Ahmed, you thieving old wog…you old thief…you thieving old sod?”;
in a scene set in Hazard and Ashton’s tent on their army base, Hazard asked Ashton to accompany him to the army bar by saying: “Let’s go down to the woggery, there’s bound to be a fair bit of skirt out of bounds… Or perhaps Ahmed could fix us up
with a female wog? [laughs] I bet he rents out his kid sister”; and
in a later scene set in Hazard and Ashton’s tent Hazard said the following to Ashton: “You know what I think I’ll do on my next leave? I’ll pay a visit to the wog tattooist”.
Ofcom considered rule 2.3:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.
Talking Pictures said that it believed the inclusion of the potentially offensive racist language in this episode was justified by the context. It explained that the creator of the series, John Finch, had intended it to challenge the 1970s
audience's understanding of the Second World War by being honest to the realities of the war time period206 shocking as that may be, and broadcast within the constraints and conventions of the time.
Talking Pictures said that it had suspended any further broadcast of this episode. It also said that it had contracted a third-party expert to conduct a review of all content containing racial language to complement its existing compliance system
Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.3
We first considered whether the language had the potential to cause offence. Ofcom's 2016 research on offensive language makes clear that the word wog is considered by audiences to be a derogatory term for black people and to be among the
strongest language and highly unacceptable without strong contextualisation.
We considered that the word wog was used in a clearly derogatory way towards an Egyptian character Ahmed, both directly to Ahmed's face and later when he is not present. The Licensee argued that some of Hazard's offensive statements related to
actual Second World War references, namely the term WOG [which] was originally 'Working on Government Service' before it became an ethnic and racial slur. We understand that the derivation of wog is contested, but irrespective of its origins, and
as acknowledged by Talking Pictures, the term today is considered highly offensive.
We acknowledged that the Licensee's audience would have recognised that they were watching a programme made several decades ago when attitudes to language were different. However, we considered that the repeated use of highly offensive racist
language without direct challenge carried a high risk of causing significant offence today.
It is Ofcom's view that the broadcast of this offensive language exceeded generally accepted standards, in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.
Talking Pictures was previously found in breach of the Code for the broadcast of racially offensive language without sufficient contextual justification on 9 January 20173 and 8 January 20184 (for material broadcast on 24 August 2016 and 13
September 2017 respectively). Ofcom is requesting Talking Pictures to attend a meeting to discuss its
Talking Pictures TV, a family-owned, father and daughter-run station with only three members of staff,
launched on Freeview less than three years ago but it already has over two million viewers.
Its unashamedly nostalgic diet of mainly old black-andwhite films, documentary shorts and TV series of yesteryear has proved a huge hit with the public and - we are informed - the Queen.
Alas not everyone is happy about the great service to film and vintage TV buffs that the channel is providing. Media regulator Ofcom has summoned Talking Pictures TV managing director Sarah Cronin-Stanley and her father Noel to a meeting to
discuss compliance issues after the channel was found in breach of rules regarding the broadcasting of offensive language. Sarah commented:
There are some films that are too horrible to show. But our view of context is different to Ofcom's. The word used in A Family At War is one that quite rightly we don't use today but it was one the character - who wasn't very likeable - would
have used at the time in which the drama was set, which is why we didn't censor it. He was in Egypt during the war and was talking to squaddies.
The Express writer commented:
It's also worth bearing in mind that A Family At War was hugely popular when first shown on ITV in the 1970s.
The Ofcom intervention raises serious issues about censorship and attempts to rewrite history. The fact is that terms we regard as offensive today were used by people every day in the past.
Ofcom can't censor British TV history - surely we are meant to learn from the past
A planned comedy gig about whether feminism was stifling free speech has been cancelled after criticsim from feminists.
Alfie Noakes, promoter of the We Are Funny Project, had invited comedians to play the gig after writing a provocative article for Chortle questioning if radical feminism had gone too far.
But after a flurry of furious messages were posted in response online, the planned venue, Farr's School of Dancing in East London, asked him to pull the gig. Noakes responded:
I'm very sorry to report that the posting, and dog-whistle call to attack all involved in the show, specifically the venue, was so concerning to our hosts that they asked me to pull the show.
He specifically blamed comedian Kate Smurthwaite for the decision, after she called on the venue to stop hosting this kind of bigotry He further called her a hypocrite as she has often spoken about free speech, and had first-hand experience of
censorship after being no-platformed for her own controversial views by Goldsmiths College in London.
Although Farrs has pulled the plug on the feminism show, it will continue to host We Are Funny comedy nights, including a forthcoming season of Edinburgh previews. Noakes is now looking for a new venue for his feminism show.
Now is the season of school final exams in Bangladesh and the government is trying hard to cope with the issue of exam questions leaking online.
Leaking exam questions have become a regular phenomenon in public examinations like Junior School Certificate (JSC), Senior School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC), medical college and university admission tests, and
state-owned bank recruitment exams over the last several years in Bangladesh.
Mostly using Facebook and WhatsApp, people sell exam questions ahead of the nationwide examinations. A few hours before the exam, the questions are often given away for free. The offenders in most of these cases have not been identified. These
leaks have cast a shadow over the quality of exams and the process of assessing students.
In January, the Education Minister hinted that Facebook would be shut down during the exams to prevent these leaks.
On February 11, 2018, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission instructed all internet service providers in Bangladesh to shut off mobile internet and reduce broadband speeds to 25 kbps from 8:00am-10:30am on exam days throughout the
remainder of February.
But on February 12, 2018 morning, within an hour from the start of the internet shutdown, the government backtracked and ordered ISPs to ensure uninterrupted internet service. It took some hours for the ISPs to implement the new order and things
were normal again. The authorities have instead imposed a mobile phone ban near the exam halls.
Netizens criticized the move, using sarcasm and satire to express their dissatisfaction and protest the rash and whimsical decision.
For now, with demand for exam questions increasing, the leaks continue. How the government will choose to combat the problem, short of an internet shutdown, remains to be seen.
Lady Bird is a 2017 USA comedy by Greta Gerwig.
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush and Kathryn Newton.
The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.
Lady Bird is one of the best reviewed films of the year but Australian audiences will be seeing a cut version of the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age movie.
As reported by Media Censorship in Australia, the first time the film's distributor, Universal Pictures, submitted Lady Bird for classification, it received an MA15+ rating, meaning teenagers under the age of 15 would not be able to see the film
without a guardian. A cut version was subsequently submitted by Universal and given the far less restrictive M rating (a PG-15 in US terminology).
The cuts were to delete a brief sight of a guy's dick in a Playgirl magazine. Also a use of the word 'cunt' was replaced by 'cooze' (a slightly less strong vulgar term for a woman's genitals. But it can also be used like 'slag').
Update: Understandable decision
24th February 2018. From Ben via twitter
Having watched it today they were definitely right to cut it. I don't say that often. It's extremely tame for a 15 - those two censored scenes along with the f**k count are the only reasons why ("very strong language, brief strong
nudity") and aren't important at all.
Brit Awards viewers were left baffled after parts of rap star Kendrick Lamar's performance were muted by ITV.
What's the point in having Kendrick Lamar perform on #BRITS if you're going to mute him every other word? tweeted JP, voicing the discontent of many.
Many assumed that Lamar's songs Feel and New Freezer were muted due to bad language. But it seems the main issues were references to drugs and oral sex. Some muted sections featured mentions of bad dope and cocaine white.
The US rapper himself actually changed the most overt bad language in his lyrics - but fell foul of the censor's button for the drug words and oblique slang references to oral sex.
Lamar's performance at the Brit Awards in London was broadcast on ITV on Wednesday almost an hour past the 9pm watershed. Yet the decision was made to mute the audio 10 times during his performance .
Asked about the decision to mute parts of the songs, ITV said the ceremony was broadcast to a wide audience. A spokeswoman said:
We have always used a short time delay and audio muting to deal with language viewers may consider unsuitable.
Lamar's performance also included a man taking a baseball bat to the windshield of an expensive-looking sports car.
On Thursday morning, TV censor Ofcom said it had received 74 complaints from viewers about Lamar's segment - some of whom feared this might incite criminal behaviour and property damage, and some complaining about implied bad language.
BBC music reporter Mark Savage described the car stunt as the evening's biggest metaphor failure, explaining:
His intention was to make a statement about the emptiness of status symbols and the trappings of fame. But, with most viewers unable to hear his lyrics, it came off as 'I'm so rich I can afford to smash up this very expensive car live on TV.'
Update: Ofcom not interested
5th March 2018.
Ofcom noted a final tally of 89 complaints but were not interested in taking matters further.
Black Panther is a 2018 USA action Sci-Fi adventure by Ryan Coogler.
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T'Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country's new leader. However, T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the
throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda
from being dragged into a world war.
In India the film was pre-cut for a CBFC U/A rating (children allowed if accompanied) for 2018 cinema release
At the domestic screening of the film, fans were quite enraged that the word 'Hanuman' was muted from the film. The Jabari tribe in the film, that enters the first death challenge, worships an ape god called Hanuman sharing a name with an Indian
monkey god as per the comic books. But this reference was omitted from the screening.
While many felt that this was CBFC's doing, our sources have told us that it is not CBFC who muted the word Hanuman but it's the distributors of the movie in India who decided to do this.
UK Muslims have reportedly launched a campaign to have Ahmadiyya billboards removed from sites in London,
Manchester and Glasgow.
Mainstream, Muslims say that the billboard incites hatred, it is deeply offensive and hurtful to millions of British citizens, but for the Ahmadiyya it is a core belief.
The ASA confirmed that it has received 33 complaints so far about the adverts. A spokesman said people have claimed the billboards are:
Misleading because they believe it is not consistent with the teachings of the Koran. Due to the perceived misrepresentation of Muslim beliefs, complainants also consider the ad offensive on this basis.
On the other hand the Ahmadiyya community believes that the Messiah promised in the Koran has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The ASA says it is assessing the complaints and will make a ruling this week as to whether there are grounds for further investigation. But of course it cannot possibly investigate as an outcome either way would be totally untenable under human
rights law upholding the freedom of religion. Even a neutral ruling saying that the poster does not cause issue with ASA rules would likely to be interpreted as support for one side or the other.
The Committee to Protect Journalists rather optimistically calls on Turkish authorities to scrap the article of a draft bill that would
expand internet censorship in Turkey.
The Parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission has now passed article 73 of the bill, which would require online broadcasters, including YouTube and Netflix Turkey, to be licensed and regulated by the federal TV and radio censor RTÜK, according
to news reports. Article 73 would also extend RTÜK's authority to personal social media accounts.
Parliament still needs to approve the bill's remaining articles before it schedules a vote on the bill but it has more than enough votes to pass and become law,
Government Minister Ahmet Arslan, who oversees internet censorship, has claimed that:
Censorship does not exist in Turkey ...[BUT]... Only broadcast material that goes "against national security [and the] moral order of the country" would be blocked if the bill becomes law.
Florida's House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday declaring pornography a public health risk. The resolution called for
education, research, and policy changes to protect Florida citizens -- especially teenagers.
The bill's sponsor, Ross Spano, said that research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function,
and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.
The vote followed an earlier session in which Florida legislators declined to hold hearings on a bill banning high-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the one used last week by suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and
teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Meanwhile in Kentucky politicians have returned to the 1990s tactic of blaming video games for violence. Kentucky governor Matt Bevin started the show a couple of days after the shooting, and on Wednesday, Rhode Island state representative
Bobby Nardolillo took it a step further.
Nardolillo proposed legislation that would put a 10% tax on video games with an ESRB rating of Mature or higher, Rolling Stone reported . That tax revenue would be used to fund counseling, mental health programs and other conflict resolution
activities in schools, according to the press release on Nardolillo's Facebook page. Both Nardolillo and Bevin have high ratings from the gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.
But I'm not sure that blaming porn and video games is a good direction for the gun lobby. Surely if they consider that video games and porn causes the mental health issues that lead to killing sprees, then surely they should recognise that there
are people that should not be trusted with guns. And as video games and porn are so ubiquitous then the only safe policy is that nobody should be trusted with guns. QED
Madrid's International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO) has pulled a photo exhibition called Political
Prisoners in Contemporary Spain amid controversy because it includes images of Catalan politicians that are currently in jail.
The decision to remove the exhibition within hours of the art fair opening to the press has been attributed to censorship. The exhibition space is government funded so sensitivities have to be observed.
The polemic exhibit contained 24 black and white portraits by Spanish conceptual artist Santiago Sierra, displayed in the stand assigned to the Helga de Alvear gallery.
Gallery organisers were asked to remove the exhibit on Wednesday just hours after a press preview ahead of the art fair opening to the public.
The Spanish Supreme Court has upheld a decision to jail a rapper for three and a half years for a song deemed to have glorified terrorism and insulted the crown, sparking a debate about freedom of expression in the country.
The court rejected arguments by little-known rapper Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, stage name Valtonyc, that his songs were protected by freedom of expression laws, when ratifying a sentence handed down last February.
Among the lyrics deemed criminal were: Let them be as frightened as a police officer in the Basque Country, a reference to violence against police officers in the region by the now-disarmed Basque separatist group ETA.
Valtonyc went on to fantasize about the king having a rendez-vous at the village square, with a noose around his neck. In another track Valtonyc referenced a Spanish politician and aristocrat involved in a corruption scandal about forcing
her to see how her son lives among rats.
The Australian 9 News programme is asking whether the word 'retard' should be banned.
It was once an acceptable American word describe someone with a mental disability, but it has now become a word more generally used as an insult. However it seems to very much the word that triggers the most passionate criticism.
Now, a new social media campaign is aimed at curbing the use of the word. Every time you type 'retard' on Twitter, a video will pop up of a person with a disability explaining why it upsets them.
The campaign, firmly backed by Western Australia Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson. He said:
I think many people will watch these videos, realise what they're saying offends people, and change their ways.
He added that it's not so much about censorship, and more about encouraging people to be mindful of how the words they use might affect people.
But in reality there is a tokenism to such efforts. What ever is defined as a polite term soon becomes open to use as an insult and so it becomes a never ending cycle. A token ban doesn't help much when there is such a rich vein of replacement
terms. And even if impolite terms are frowned up, the English language is rich enough to compose equally devastating insults even using nominally polite terms.
A TV ad for Aldi featured a computer-generated image of a carrot that stated, I see dead parsnips. The voice-over then stated, Kevin was feeling a little bit tense. He thought there were spirits. He had a sixth sense. As it turned out his
instincts were right. There were a few spirits that cold Christmas night. Award winning bottles for raising a toast and one frightened carrot had just seen a ghost. The ending of the ad showed Kevin the carrot being frightened by another character
dressed-up as a ghost with a white blanket over them. Throughout the ad were scenes showing various bottles of spirits.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it was likely to have strong appeal to people under 18 years of age.
Aldi Stores Ltd stated whilst Kevin the Carrot (Kevin) was intended to be humorous, it was not designed to have specific appeal to under-18s. Aldi believed much of the humour in the situations in which Kevin had been placed since his first
appearance in 2016 was of a nature that would be more appealing to adults than to children.
Aldi stated because the ad was promoting alcohol, it was scheduled in accordance with the BCAP Code and therefore was not aired adjacent to programmes likely to appeal to under-18s.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA noted the ad was subject to a broadcast restriction which meant it was not transmitted during or adjacent to children's programmes, which included all programmes commissioned for, directed at or likely to appeal to under-18 audiences. The
BCAP Code required alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 years of age, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour.
We considered that Kevin the Carrot appeared to be childlike and had a high-pitched voice, similar to that of a young child. Furthermore, we understood Kevin was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period and was popular amongst under
18-year-olds, particularly young children. We therefore considered that Kevin was likely to have strong appeal to audiences under the age of 18.
We also considered the Christmas theme of the ad contributed to the likelihood of Kevin having strong appeal to under-18s. We noted that choir music was played in the background whilst the voice-over told a short and simple narrative poem.
Although the content of the dialogue and poem, which made use of a pun on spirits, was not typical content for children, we considered the tone was reminiscent of a children's story, therefore it was likely to resonate with and strongly appeal to
younger children. Furthermore, we considered the ending of the ad showing Kevin being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost would be particularly funny for younger children and consequently, contributed to the overall effect of the
ad having strong appeal to under-18s.
Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under-18 and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Aldi that their future ads for alcohol must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under-18 years of age.
A Californian law that prevented the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) from publishing the age of movie stars has been declared
unconstitutional, and so the law is struck down on First Amendment grounds. A federal judge declared it not only to be unconstitutional, but also a bad solution to the wrong problem.
The law went into effect in 2017 after being signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown. The goal was to mitigate age discrimination in a youth-obsessed Hollywood by requiring IMDb to remove age-related information upon the request of a subscriber.
The judge explained:
Even if California had shown that the law was passed after targeted efforts to eliminate discrimination in the entertainment industry had failed, the law is not narrowly tailored. For one, the law is underinclusive, in that it bans only one kind
of speaker from disseminating age-related information, leaving all other sources of that information untouched. Even looking just at IMDb.com, the law requires IMDb to take down some age-related information -- that of the members of its
subscription service who request its removal -- but not the age-related information of those who don't subscribe to IMDbPro, or who don't ask IMDb.com to take their information down.
The judge adds that the law is also overinclusive:
For instance, it requires IMDb not to publish the age-related information of all those who request that their information not be published, not just of those protected by existing age discrimination laws, states the opinion (read below). If the
state is concerned about discriminatory conduct affecting those not covered by current laws, namely those under 40, it certainly has a more direct means of addressing those concerns than imposing restrictions on IMDb's speech.
Californian officials said the state will be appealing this ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
120 Beats Per Minute (120 battements par minute) is a 2017 France drama by Robin Campillo.
Starring Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois and Adèle Haenel.
Early 1990s. With AIDS having already claimed countless lives for nearly ten years, Act up-Paris activists multiply actions to fight general indifference. Nathan, a newcomer to the group, has his world shaken up by Sean, a radical militant, who
throws his last bits of strength into the struggle.
Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari (Soldatii. Poveste din Ferentari) is a 2017 Romania / Serbia / Belgium drama by Ivana Mladenovic.
Starring Dan Bursuc, Sorin Cocis and Cezar Grumazescu.
Adi, a shy and introverted anthropologist, who got recently dumped by his girlfriend, moves to Ferentari, the poorest and most notorious neighborhood of Bucharest. He wants to write a study on manele music, the 'pop music' of the Roma community.
Adi meets Alberto, a Roma ex-convict and a bear of a man, who promises Adi to help him. Soon enough, the unlikely pair begins a playful romance in which Adi feeds Alberto with improbable plans of escaping poverty, while Alberto feeds Adi with
phrases of love.
Religious protesters in Romania have disrupted the screenings of two movies featuring gay themes, saying they violate traditional values.
In response, a new screening of the Cannes award-winning movie 120 Beats Per Minute is going to be held Tuesday in Bucharest.
The dispute illustrates Romania's divided views about homosexuality, which remains a difficult topic in a state where more than 85% of its people belong to Christian Orthodox churches. Homosexuality was only decriminalized when Romania prepared to
join the EU in 2002.
Protesters calling themselves Christian Orthodox burst into a movie theatre on Feb. 4 during a screening of 120 Beats Per Minute. Protesters objected to the film being shown at the Romanian Peasant Museum because the Romanian peasant is a
Christian Orthodox. They sang the national anthem and religious songs while others held religious icons and banners saying: Romania isn't Sodom and Hey Soros, leave them kids alone , referring to Hungarian-American philanthropist George
Days later, protesters disrupted another movie featuring a relationship with a Romanian man and an ex-convict from the nation's Roma, or Gypsy, minority titled Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari. Protesters played Gypsy rock music to drown
out the movie. Police were called in to break up the protest.
Filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, the distributor of 120 Beats Per Minute in Romania, has urged the culture minister and Bucharest mayor to publicly support the movie but so far they have remained silent. It will be re-screened Tuesday at the same
Freedom House has published its annual survey of freedom around the word. Its key findings are somewhat grim:
Democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades in 2017 as its basic tenets--including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law--came under attack
around the world.
Seventy-one countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties, with only 35 registering gains. This marked the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
The United States retreated from its traditional role as both a champion and an exemplar of democracy amid an accelerating decline in American political rights and civil liberties.
Over the period since the 12-year global slide began in 2006, 113 countries have seen a net decline, and only 62 have experienced a net improvement.
Have a look - if you can tolerate it - at Catherine Bennett's latest outpouring of whorephobic, misandric bile in the Observer. The silly moo completely denies agency to sex workers.
It's as if Max Mosley's friend with the Ph.D. continuing as professional submissive - presumably as a rational choice because it yields more dosh for shorter hours than organic chemistry - passes over her head.
What is a purportedly liberal newspaper doing employing this squalid authoritarian?
Google has tweaked its Google's image search to make it slightly more difficult to view images in full size before downloading
them. Google has also added a more prominent copyright warning.
Google acted as part of a peace deal with photo library Getty Images. In 2017, Getty Images complained to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.
Google said it had removed some features from image search, including the view image button. Images can still be viewed in full size from the right click menu, at least on my Windows version of Firefox. Google also removed the search by image
button, which was an easy way of finding larger copies of photographs. Perhaps the tweaks are more about restricting the finding of high resolution version of image rather than worrying about standard sized images.
Getty Images is a photo library that sells the work of photographers and illustrators to businesses, newspapers and broadcasters. It complained that Google's image search made it easy for people to find Getty Images pictures and take them, without
the appropriate permission or licence.
In a statement, Getty Images said:
We are pleased to announce that after working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognised and we have withdrawn our complaint.
Compare the lack of interest shown by media, politicians and assorted celebrities to the cholera epidemic causing thousands of deaths in Haiti, with the hysterical outrage expressed about Oxfam officials consorting with prostitutes
Since their ascendance in the 2000s, Google and Facebook have largely defined how ads and other corporate content would appear, where they would flow, and the metrics of online advertising success.
On Monday, one top advertiser, Unilever, went public with its criticism, calling social media little better than a swamp and threatening to pull ads from platforms that leave children unprotected, create social division, or promote anger or hate.
That comes a year after Procter & Gamble adjusted its own ad strategy, voicing similar concerns. ,
Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer, said in a speech Monday to internet advertisers.
Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children -- parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us. This is a deep and systematic issue --
an issue of trust that fundamentally threatens to undermine the relationship between consumers and brands.
Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents many big entertainment and news organizations added:
The technology, it appears, is actually allowing bad actors to amplify misinformation and garbage while at the same time squeezing out the economics of the companies that are actually accountable to consumer trust.
Update: Center Parcs outraged at the Daily Mail for its advert placement
Center Parcs has announced it has stopped advertising in the Daily Mail. It took the decision after its advert appeared in an online article by columnist Richard Littlejohn that criticised diver Tom Daley and his husband David Lance Black, who are
expecting a child . Littlejohn claimed children benefit most from being raised by a man and a woman.
Center Parcs was responding to a complaint from a person who tweeted:
My son so wants me to book at your parks, but how can I do that if you support homophobia?
Center Parcs responded:
We take where we advertise very seriously and have a number of steps to prevent our advertising from appearing alongside inappropriate content. We felt this placement was completely unacceptable and therefore ceased advertising with the Daily
Mail with immediate effect.
In a ruling of particular interest to those working in the adult entertainment biz, a German court has ruled that Facebook's real name policy is illegal and that users must be allowed to sign up for the service under pseudonyms.
The opinion comes from the Berlin Regional Court and disseminated by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, which filed the suit against Facebook. The Berlin court found that Facebook's real name policy was a covert way of obtaining
users' consent to share their names, which are one of many pieces of information the court said Facebook did not properly obtain users' permission for.
The court also said that Facebook didn't provide a clear-cut choice to users for other default settings, such as to share their location in chats. It also ruled against clauses that allowed the social media giant to use information such as profile
pictures for commercial, sponsored or related content.
Facebook told Reuters it will appeal the ruling, but also that it will make changes to comply with European Union privacy laws coming into effect in June.
Facebook has been ordered to stop tracking people without consent, by a court in Belgium. The company has been told to delete all the data it had gathered on people who did not use Facebook. The court ruled the data was gathered illegally.
Belgium's privacy watchdog said the website had broken privacy laws by placing tracking code on third-party websites.
Facebook said it would appeal against the ruling.
The social network faces fines of 250,000 euros a day if it does not comply.
The ruling is the latest in a long-running dispute between the social network and the Belgian commission for the protection of privacy (CPP). In 2015, the CPP complained that Facebook tracked people when they visited pages on the site or clicked
like or share, even if they were not members.
The United Kingdom's reputation for online freedom has suffered significantly in recent years, in no small part due to the draconian Investigatory Powers Act, which came into power last year and created what many people have described as the worst
surveillance state in the free world.
But despite this, the widely held perception is that the UK still allows relatively free access to the internet, even if they do insist on keeping records on what sites you are visiting. But how true, is this perception?
There is undeniably more online censorship in the UK than many people would like to admit to. But is this just the tip of the iceberg? The censorship of one YouTube video suggests that it might just be. The video in question contains footage
filmed by a trucker of refugees trying to break into his vehicle in order to get across the English Channel and into the UK. This is a topic which has been widely reported in British media in the past, but in the wake of the Brexit vote and the
removal of the so-called 'Jungle Refugee Camp', there has been strangely little coverage.
Yet, if you try to access this video in the UK, you will find that it is blocked. It remains accessible to users elsewhere in the world, albeit with content warnings in place.
And it is not alone. It doesn't take too much research to uncover several similar videos which are also censored in the UK. The scale of the issue likely requires further research. But it safe to say, that such censorship is both unnecessary and
potentially illegal as it as undeniably denying British citizens access to content which would feed an informed debate on some crucial issues.
One of the most watched TV shows in the world has broken the most basic of PC rules by featuring a sketch that had Asian actors
in blackface and black actors dressed as monkeys.
The annual Chinese Lunar New Year gala by CCTV is a four-hour event and is watched by some 700 million people each year. This year, one of the many comedy routines featured throughout the show was one intended to depict China's relationship with
There were plenty of 'outraged' tweets published from those that know the rules.
Filmmaker Oh Seok-geun has been appointed chairman of the Korean Film Council , South Korea's film industry regulator and funding body.
The position had been vacant for six months following the resignation in dubious circumstances of former chairman Kim Sae-hoon. Oh said:
My priority is to help Kofic regain its lost trust of the film industry. I will reexamine the funding programs and policies that were unfairly handled during the past government. Programs that were maladapted to exclude certain types of films
such as independent films will surely be redesigned.
During the former chairman's term, Kofic experienced a number of problems: Kim had been accused of embezzling public money and of colluding with South Korea's impeached former President Park Geun-hye, who wanted the film industry to serve her
Park and her supporters, including former culture minister Cho Yoon-sun and chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, were involved in the notorious blacklist that named almost 9,000 cultural figures deemed to be anti-government. The list was circulated in an
effort to exclude artists and companies from funding programs operated by state-controlled agencies, including Kofic . Kim resigned after President Moon Jae-in replaced Park.
Al Arabiya News is an Arabic language news and current affairs channel licensed by Ofcom.
Mr Husain Abdulla complained to Ofcom on behalf of Mr Hassan Mashaima about unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme and the programme as broadcast on Al
Arabiya News on 27 February 2016.
The programme reported on an attempt made in February and March 2011, by a number of people including the complainant, Mr Hassan Mashiama, to change the governing regime in Bahrain from a Kingdom to a Republic. It included an interview with Mr
Mashaima, filmed while he was in prison awaiting a retrial, as he explained the circumstances which had led to his arrest and conviction.
The interview included Mr Mashaima making confessions as to his participation in certain activities. Only approximately three months prior to the date on which Al Arabiya News said the footage was filmed, an official Bahraini Commission of Inquiry
had found that similar such confessions had been obtained from individuals, including Mr Mashaima, under torture. During Mr Mashaima's subsequent retrial and appeal, he maintained that his conviction should be overturned, as confessions had been
obtained from him under torture.
Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £120,000 and that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date to be determined by Ofcom, and that it should be directed
to refrain from broadcasting the material found in breach again.
Al Arabiya News Channel has surrendered with immediate effect its license with the U.K. broadcasting censor Ofcom, which received a complaint over the channel's involvement in covering the crime of hacking Qatar News Agency (QNA), British law firm
QNA had hired Carter-Ruck to submit a complaint at Ofcom against Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia for broadcasting fabricated and false statements attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani after QNA's website was hacked on May 24, 2017, The
four countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt used this event to justify the siege that they have been imposing on Qatar since June 5, 2017.
The surrendering of the license by Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite broadcaster owned by Saudi businessmen, was to avoid an an Ofcom investigation.
QNA says Al Arabiya's decision was dictated by the inquiry but the channel says business reasons also influenced the move.
Red Sparrow is a 2018 USA mystery thriller by Francis Lawrence.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Mary-Louise Parker.
A young Russian intelligence officer is assigned to seduce a first-tour CIA agent who handles the CIA's most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young officers collide in a charged atmosphere of trade-craft, deception, and
inevitably forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but the lives of others as well.
UK: Passed 15 for strong bloody violence, gore, sexual violence, sex, very strong language after BBFC advised pre-cuts for:
2018 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
This film was originally seen for advice. The company was advised the film was likely to be classified 18 but that their preferred 15 could be achieved by making reductions in one scene of strong sadistic violence (a garroting). When the film
was submitted for formal classification appropriate reductions had been made in that scene and the film was classified 15.
Uncut in the US.
Uncut and MPAA R rated for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.
Peter Rabbit is a 2018 UK / Australia / USA family animation comedy by Will Gluck.
Starring Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki.
Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.
Filmmakers behind a new adaptation of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit have been forced to apologise after facing calls for it to be banned from cinemas over a scene in which the protagonist and his furry friends deliberately pelt an allergic man
Allergy UK claimed the film mocks allergy sufferers and trivialises a life-threatening condition. Carla Jones, the charity's chief executive, said:
Anaphylaxis can and does kill. To include a scene in a children's film that includes a serious allergic reaction and not to do it responsibly is unacceptable. Mocking allergic disease shows a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of
allergy and trivialises the challenges faced by those with this condition. We will be communicating with the production company about the film's withdrawal.
Sony Pictures on Sunday night admitted it should not have made light of Mr McGregor being allergic to blackberries and said it regretted not being more aware and sensitive of the issue.
Peter Rabbit will be show in cinemas in March. It is PG rated for mild threat, comic violence.
Max Mosley has launched a chilling new attack on Press freedom, with an extraordinary legal bid to scrub records of his notorious German-themed orgy from history.
The former Formula One boss also wants to restrict reporting on the £3.8million his family trust spends bankrolling the controversial Press regulator Impress.
He has taken legal action against a range of newspapers -- the Daily Mail, The Times, The Sun and at least one other national newspaper -- demanding they delete any references to his sadomasochistic sex party and never mention it again.
However, in a move that could have devastating consequences both for Press freedom and for historical records, Mr Mosley is now using data protection laws to try to force newspapers to erase any mention of it. He has also insisted that the
newspapers stop making references to the fact he bankrolls Impress -- the highly controversial, state-approved Press regulator.
Yesterday, MPs warned against data protection laws being used to trample Press freedoms. Conservative MP Bill Cash said:
The freedom of the Press is paramount and it would be perverse to allow historical records to be removed on the basis of data protection. If data protection can be used to wipe out historical records, then the consequences would be dramatic.
John Whittingdale, a Tory former Culture Secretary, said:
Data protection is an important principle for the protection of citizens. However, it must not be used to restrict the freedom of the Press.
In his action, the multimillionaire racing tycoon claimed that the Daily Mail's owner, Associated Newspapers, had breached data protection principles in 34 articles published since 2013 -- including many opinion pieces defending the freedom of the
Press. These principles are designed to stop companies from excessive processing of people's sensitive personal data or from holding on to people's details for longer than necessary, and come with exemptions for journalism that is in the
The UK government has unveiled a tool it says can accurately detect jihadist content and block it from being viewed.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC she would not rule out forcing technology companies to use it by law. Rudd is visiting the US to meet tech companies to discuss the idea, as well as other efforts to tackle extremism.
The government provided £600,000 of public funds towards the creation of the tool by an artificial intelligence company based in London.
Thousands of hours of content posted by the Islamic State group was run past the tool, in order to train it to automatically spot extremist material.
ASI Data Science said the software can be configured to detect 94% of IS video uploads. Anything the software identifies as potential IS material would be flagged up for a human decision to be taken.
The company said it typically flagged 0.005% of non-IS video uploads. But this figure is meaningless without an indication of how many contained any content that have any connection with jihadis.
In London, reporters were given an off-the-record briefing detailing how ASI's software worked, but were asked not to share its precise methodology. However, in simple terms, it is an algorithm that draws on characteristics typical of IS and its
It sounds like the tool is more about analysing data about the uploading account, geographical origin, time of day, name of poster etc rather than analysing the video itself.
Comment: Even extremist takedowns require accountability
Can extremist material be identified at 99.99% certainty as Amber Rudd claims today? And how does she intend to ensure that there is legal accountability for content removal?
The Government is very keen to ensure that extremist material is removed from private platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. It has urged use of machine learning and algorithmic identification by the companies, and threatened fines for
failing to remove content swiftly.
Today Amber Rudd claims to have developed a tool to identify extremist content, based on a database of known material. Such tools can have a role to play in identifying unwanted material, but we need to understand that there are some important
caveats to what these tools are doing, with implications about how they are used, particularly around accountability. We list these below.
Before we proceed, we should also recognise that this is often about computers (bots) posting vast volumes of material with a very small audience. Amber Rudd's new machine may then potentially clean some of it up. It is in many ways a propaganda
battle between extremists claiming to be internet savvy and exaggerating their impact, while our own government claims that they are going to clean up the internet. Both sides benefit from the apparent conflict.
The real world impact of all this activity may not be as great as is being claimed. We should be given much more information about what exactly is being posted and removed. For instance the UK police remove over 100,000 pieces of extremist content
by notice to companies: we currently get just this headline figure only. We know nothing more about these takedowns. They might have never been viewed, except by the police, or they might have been very influential.
The results of the government's' campaign to remove extremist material may be to push them towards more private or censor-proof platforms. That may impact the ability of the authorities to surveil criminals and to remove material in the future. We
may regret chasing extremists off major platforms, where their activities are in full view and easily used to identify activity and actors.
Whatever the wisdom of proceeding down this path, we need to be worried about the unwanted consequences of machine takedowns. Firstly, we are pushing companies to be the judges of legal and illegal. Secondly, all systems make mistakes and require
accountability for them; mistakes need to be minimised, but also rectified.
Here is our list of questions that need to be resolved.
1 What really is the accuracy of this system?
Small error rates translate into very large numbers of errors at scale. We see this with more general internet filters in the UK, where our blocked.org.uk project regularly uncovers and reports errors.
How are the accuracy rates determined? Is there any external review of its decisions?
The government appears to recognise the technology has limitations. In order to claim a high accuracy rate, they say at least 6% of extremist video content has to be missed. On large platforms that would be a great deal of material needing human
review. The government's own tool shows the limitations of their prior demands that technology "solve" this problem.
Islamic extremists are operating rather like spammers when they post their material. Just like spammers, their techniques change to avoid filtering. The system will need constant updating to keep a given level of accuracy.
2 Machines are not determining meaning
Machines can only attempt to pattern match, with the assumption that content and form imply purpose and meaning. This explains how errors can occur, particularly in missing new material.
3 Context is everything
The same content can, in different circumstances, be legal or illegal. The law defines extremist material as promoting or glorifying terrorism. This is a vague concept. The same underlying material, with small changes, can become news, satire or
commentary. Machines cannot easily determine the difference.
4 The learning is only as good as the underlying material
The underlying database is used to train machines to pattern match. Therefore the quality of the initial database is very important. It is unclear how the material in the database has been deemed illegal, but it is likely that these are police
determinations rather than legal ones, meaning that inaccuracies or biases in police assumptions will be repeated in any machine learning.
5 Machines are making no legal judgment
The machines are not making a legal determination. This means a company's decision to act on what the machine says is absent of clear knowledge. At the very least, if material is "machine determined" to be illegal, the poster, and users
who attempt to see the material, need to be told that a machine determination has been made.
6 Humans and courts need to be able to review complaints
Anyone who posts material must be able to get human review, and recourse to courts if necessary.
7 Whose decision is this exactly?
The government wants small companies to use the database to identify and remove material. If material is incorrectly removed, perhaps appealed, who is responsible for reviewing any mistake?
It may be too complicated for the small company. Since it is the database product making the mistake, the designers need to act to correct it so that it is less likely to be repeated elsewhere.
If the government want people to use their tool, there is a strong case that the government should review mistakes and ensure that there is an independent appeals process.
8 How do we know about errors?
Any takedown system tends towards overzealous takedowns. We hope the identification system is built for accuracy and prefers to miss material rather than remove the wrong things, however errors will often go unreported. There are strong incentives
for legitimate posters of news, commentary, or satire to simply accept the removal of their content. To complain about a takedown would take serious nerve, given that you risk being flagged as a terrorist sympathiser, or perhaps having to enter
formal legal proceedings.
We need a much stronger conversation about the accountability of these systems. So far, in every context, this is a question the government has ignored. If this is a fight for the rule of law and against tyranny, then we must not create
arbitrary, unaccountable, extra-legal censorship systems.
The new German law that compels social media companies to remove hate speech and other illegal content can lead to unaccountable, overbroad censorship and should be promptly reversed, Human Rights Watch said today. The law sets a dangerous
precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online by forcing companies to censor on the government's behalf. Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch said:
Governments and the public have valid concerns about the proliferation of illegal or abusive content online, but the new German law is fundamentally flawed. It is vague, overbroad, and turns private companies into overzealous censors to avoid
steep fines, leaving users with no judicial oversight or right to appeal.
Parliament approved the Network Enforcement Act , commonly known as NetzDG, on June 30, 2017, and it took full effect on January 1, 2018. The law requires large social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, to promptly
remove "illegal content," as defined in 22 provisions of the criminal code , ranging widely from insult of public office to actual threats of violence. Faced with fines up to 50 million euro, companies are already removing content to
comply with the law.
At least three countries -- Russia, Singapore, and the Philippines -- have directly cited the German law as a positive example as they contemplate or propose legislation to remove "illegal" content online. The Russian draft law,
currently before the Duma, could apply to larger social media platforms as well as online messaging services.
Two key aspects of the law violate Germany's obligation to respect free speech, Human Rights Watch said. First, the law places the burden on companies that host third-party content to make difficult determinations of when user speech violates the
law, under conditions that encourage suppression of arguably lawful speech. Even courts can find these determinations challenging, as they require a nuanced understanding of context, culture, and law. Faced with short review periods and the risk
of steep fines, companies have little incentive to err on the side of free expression.
Second, the law fails to provide either judicial oversight or a judicial remedy should a cautious corporate decision violate a person's right to speak or access information. In this way, the largest platforms for online expression become "no
accountability" zones, where government pressure to censor evades judicial scrutiny.
At the same time, social media companies operating in Germany and elsewhere have human rights responsibilities toward their users, and they should act to protect them from abuse by others, Human Rights Watch said. This includes stating in user
agreements what content the company will prohibit, providing a mechanism to report objectionable content, investing adequate resources to conduct reviews with relevant regional and language expertise, and offering an appeals process for users who
believe their content was improperly blocked or removed. Threats of violence, invasions of privacy, and severe harassment are often directed against women and minorities and can drive people off the internet or lead to physical attacks.
Ready Player One is a 2018 USA action Sci-Fi adventure by Steven Spielberg.
Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Hannah John-Kamen.
Film centers on a young outcast named Wade Watts. In the near future, Watts escapes from his daily drudgery by logging onto an MMO game called 'The Oasis'. When the game's billionaire founder dies, he offers players his fortune as the prize in an
easter egg hunt within The Oasis. Watts gets in on the action then after five years finds himself facing off against corporate foes who will go to any lengths to get the money -- in both the real world and in The Oasis.
The new Stephen Spielberg Sci-Fi film has been cut in the US to reduce nudity.
The film was first submitted to the MPAA and was rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, nudity and language.
Presumably the producers did not like the thought of nudity being tagged in a Spielberg film so cut teh film for nudity. The film was resubmitted and was re-rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive
material, partial nudity and language.
Two TV ads and a Video on Demand (VOD) promoted the men's fragrance, Paco Rabanne XS:
a. The first TV ad, which was seen in July and August 2017, depicted a man walking into a bathroom. He was seen to have removed his suit jacket and became topless. Two women were then seen peering towards a light source in a dark room. The ad
then featured a close up shot of the man's hip area, with him standing behind a bath tap, which he proceeded to turn on. The ad then returned to the two women in a dark room, one of whom pushed the other out of the way. The man was shown walking
towards a mirror and looking at his own reflection. The ad revealed a group of women standing behind a one-way mirror. The women watched through the mirror and became excited as the man caressed his chest. One woman was seen to turn away from
the one-way mirror, becoming breathless. The man walked up close to the mirror as if looking closely at the reflection of his face and one of the women was seen to kiss the mirror on the other side. The ad then showed the man moving his hand
downwards onto his abdomen. The women in the dark room began screaming. The ad then featured a bird's eye view of the set with the man standing in the bathroom, separated, by a mirror and walls, from the group of women who were in a viewing
room, with a few other women rushing to join the group. The ad then featured a close up, side shot of the man's hip area, in which he was seen to be undoing his trousers zip. The women in the view room watched and fanned themselves. The ad
showed the back of the man, who began pulling off his trousers with his buttocks obscured by the bathtub. The women in the viewing room began cheering at the one-way mirror, through which they could see the man who was now visibly naked, with
his lower abdomen and hip area obscured. The man was then sprayed the perfume on either side of his neck. The ad cuts back to the women in the viewing room, clambering towards the one-way mirror. The ad then returned to a close-up shot of the
man's abdomen and showed him spraying the perfume towards his groin area. The women in the viewing room were then seen to faint and collapse on to the ground.
b. The second TV ad, seen in July and August 2017, was a shorter version of ad (a).
c. The VOD ad, seen on 4oD on 27 July 2017, was the same as ad (a).
The ASA received 120 complaints.
A number of the complainants, who believed ads (a), (b) and (c) were sexist and objectified the man depicted because he was seen as the subject of voyeurism, challenged whether the ads were offensive.
Some of the complainants, who believed that ads (a) and (b) were sexist because the women featured were depicted as powerless and weak and therefore reinforced stereotypes, challenged whether the ads were offensive.
Some of the complainants, one of whom saw ad (a) during Gogglesprogs on Channel 4, also challenged whether the ads were inappropriately scheduled to be shown when children might see it, due to the sexual nature of the ads.Response
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered it was unclear from the ad whether or not the male character was aware that he was or had consented to being watched in the bathroom via the one-way mirror.
Although the ad did not feature explicit nudity, it was heavily focused on the physical appearance of the male character. The ad featured multiple shots in which the male character was topless and his expressions when looking in the mirror
suggested that he was admiring his own physique and attractiveness. We considered that this and the reactions of the women to him placed a strong emphasis on the attractiveness of the male character.
However, we noted the scenario depicted in the ad was not realistic and the tone was risqu39 but comedic and farcical. We considered the ad showed the male character's attractiveness in a light-hearted, humorous way, rather than in a degrading or
humiliating manner. We therefore considered viewers were likely to recognise the ad was a comical dramatisation of a surreal situation.
Whilst we acknowledged some might find the ad distasteful, we considered, for the above reasons, the ad did not objectify the male character and we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
We considered because the women were seen to be watching the man, perhaps without his knowledge, it suggested they were in a position of power over the male character. We noted as the ad progressed and the male character was in various stages of
undress, it was evident from the reactions of the women depicted they were increasingly being overcome with excitement. We further noted during one of the final scenes, all of the women were seen to have fainted and collapsed at the sight of the
man spraying the fragrance towards his groin.
Whilst we acknowledged some might find the portrayal of the women in the ads uncomplimentary and distasteful, we noted the reactions of the women -- for example, the scenes in which the women were shown to be breathless and screaming; another in
which they were seen to be clambering over each other; and another in which one woman was seen to be kissing the one-way mirror -- were exaggerated and caricaturised, which contributed to the overall comedic tone of the ad. In addition, because
the setting of the ads was unrealistic and highly stylised, we considered viewers were likely to recognise that the ads portrayed the women in a farcical manner, which was removed from reality. For those reasons, we considered the ads were
unlikely to reinforce stereotypes of women and concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
3. Not upheld
We understood some complainants, who saw the ad broadcasted during the afternoon and early evening, were concerned the ads had been inappropriately scheduled to be shown when children might see it, especially during the school holidays.
We understood the ads had been given an ex-kids timing restriction by Clearcast, which meant it should not be shown during or around programmes made for, or likely to appeal to children. We considered that although the ad was not sexually explicit
its content was sexually suggestive, particularly in its portrayal of the man undressing, caressing his body and spraying the fragrance towards his groin area, and that the ad contained themes of the voyeurism, making it unsuitable for younger
children. Because the ads had been given an ex-kids restriction, we considered the scheduling restriction applied had been appropriate.
We also noted that the ad had been scheduled at around 8.40 pm during Gogglesprogs on Channel 4 on 28 July 2017. The programme was a spin-off of the programme Gogglebox and featured children between the ages of 5 and 13 viewing and commenting on a
selection of TV programmes and other content, such as ads and news headlines. We noted from Channel 4's response that the programme was not commissioned or made specifically for children, but was made to appeal to a broad adult audience.
We also noted the historical BARB index data for the programme, which was provided by Channel 4, included a breakdown of a four-week rolling average index for children aged between 4 and 9, 4 and 15, and 10 and15, all of which indicated that the
programme did not appear to be of particular appeal to children below the age of 16. We also considered the BARB data for the programme on 28 July 2017 which indicated that children made up a small proportion of the audience. There were
approximately 1,031,000 viewers in total, including approximately 92,000 children; 50,000 of whom were children aged between 4 and 9 years, and 42,000 of whom were aged between 10 and 15 years. Notwithstanding that children were predominantly
featured in Gogglesprogs, we considered that the ad was generally consistent with the type of ads that viewers were likely to expect to see during that time of the day and we did not consider that there was an unsuitable juxtaposition between the
content of the ad and the programme during which it appeared.
Because the ad was not sexually explicit; it was not inconsistent with the type of ads that viewers would generally expect at that time of day; and there was not an unsuitable juxtaposition between the content of the ad and the programme
Gogglesprogs, which was not of particular appeal to children, we concluded the ads had not been inappropriately scheduled.
tumblr is an image sharing website. It has just announced that it will changesafe mode wrks. In a email to wisers, tumblr writes: the way that its
Last year we introduced Safe Mode, which filters sensitive content in your dashboard and search results so you have control over what you see and what you don't. And now that it's been out for a while, we want to make sure everyone has the chance
to try it out.
Over the next couple weeks, you might see some things in your dashboard getting filtered. If you like it that way, that's great. If you don't, no problem. You can go back by turning off Safe Mode any time.
Update: Are the safe mode changes related to impending UK porn censorship?
Tumblr has long been one of the freest spaces on the internet for porn and sex-positive content, thanks to lax guidelines compared to Facebook or Instagram. Porn creators, fetish community artists, and more were able to share work with little
trouble. Tumblr made a major change last year with the introduction of a Safe Mode that initially filtered NSFW content if users chose to enable it. Now though, Tumblr is making Safe Mode the default setting for users.
The Safe Mode feature hides sensitive images -- for example nude images, even, as Tumblr's guidelines note, if artistic or education nudity like classic art or anatomy. As Motherboard reports , it's a function that claims to give users more
control over what you see and what you don't, updating the Safe Search option that the platform introduced back in 2012 that removed sensitive stuff from the site's search results.
Rolling out the default setting means users will have to go out of their way to switch back and see unfiltered content. An email sent to Tumblr users last week states that they want to make sure everyone has the chance to try it out.
Many adult content creators are concerned this will affect their work and space on the platform. Tumblr user, freelance artist, and adult comic-maker Kayla-Na told Dazed of her frustrations: I understand wanting to make Tumblr a safer environment
for younger audiences, but Tumblr has to remember that the adult community is still part of the website as a whole, and shouldn't be suppressed into oblivion.
Perhaps the Tumblr safe mode has also been introduced as a step towards the UK's porn censorship by age verification. The next step maybe for the safe mode to mandatorily imposed on internet viewers in Britain and can only be turned off when they
subject themselves to age verification.
Irish book censors have not banned a single magazine and have blocked just one book in the last ten years. Now a member of
the Irish Parliament has called for the Censorship of Publications Board to be shut down.
Fianna Fail Arts and Culture Spokesperson Niamh Smyth said: This is one quango that should be whacked. She was referring to a political campaign slogan whack a quango, to shut down quangos. Smyth added:
The ongoing existence of a Censorship Board that doesn't censor anything is bringing the concept of censorship into disrepute at a time where we need it more than ever.
The only time the board has been heard of in ten years was the ludicrous submission of Alan Shatter's novel Laura over something to do with abortion.
Some users have reported seeing pop ups in Instagram (IG) informing them that, from now on, Instagram will be flagging when you
record or take a screenshot of other people's IG stories and informing the originator that you have rsnapped or ecorded the post.
According to a report by Tech Crunch , those who have been selected to participate in the IG trial can see exactly who has been creeping and snapping their stories. Those who have screenshotted an image or recorded a video will have a little
camera shutter logo next to their usernames, much like Snapchat.
Of course, users have already found a nifty workaround to avoid social media stalking exposure. So here's the deal: turning your phone on airplane mode after you've loaded the story and then taking your screenshot means that users won't be
notified of any impropriety (sounds easy for Instagram to fix this by saving the keypress until the next time it communicates with the Instagram server). You could also download the stories from Instagram's website or use an app like Story
Reposter. Maybe PC users just need another small window on the desktop, then move the mouse pointer to the small window before snapping the display.
Clearly, there's concerns on Instagram's part about users' content being shared without their permission, but if the post is shared with someone for viewing, it is pretty tough to stop then from grabbing a copy for themselves as they view it.
The US-based global tech giant Apple Inc. is set to hand over the operation of its iCloud data center in mainland China to a local corporation called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) by February 28, 2018. When this transition happens, the local
company will become responsible for handling the legal and financial relationship between Apple and China's iCloud users. After the transition takes place, the role of Apple will restricted to an investment of US one billion dollars, for the
construction of a data center in Guiyang, and for providing technical support to the center, in the interest of preserving data security.
GCBD was established in November 2014 with a RMB 235 million yuan [approximately US$ 37.5 million] registered capital investment. It is a state enterprise solely owned by Guizhou Big Data Development and Management Bureau. The company is also
supervised by Guizhou Board of Supervisors of State-owned Enterprises.
What will happen to Apple's Chinese customers once iCloud services are handed over to GCBD? In public statements, Apple has avoided
acknowledging the political implications of the move:
This will allow us to continue to improve the speed and reliability of iCloud in China and comply with Chinese regulations.
Apple Inc. has not explained the real issue, which is that a state-owned big data company controlled by the Chinese government will have access to all the data of its iCloud service users in China. This will allow the capricious state apparatus to
jump into the cloud and look into the data of Apple's Chinese users.
Apple Inc. has not explained the real issue, which is that a state-owned big data company controlled by the Chinese government will have access to all the data of its iCloud service users in China.
Over the next few weeks, iCloud users in China will receive a notification from Apple, seeking their endorsement of the new service terms. These "iCloud (operated by GCBD) terms and conditions" have a newly added paragraph, which reads:
If you understand and agree, Apple and GCBD have the right to access your data stored on its servers. This includes permission sharing, exchange, and disclosure of all user data (including content) according to the application of the law.
In other words, once the agreement is signed, GCBD -- a company solely owned by the state -- would get a key that can access all iCloud user data in China, legally.
Apple's double standard
Why would a company that built its reputation on data security surrender to the Chinese government so easily?
I still remember how in February 2016, after the attack in San Bernardino, Apple CEO Tim Cook withstood pressure from the US Department of Justice to build an iPhone operating system that could circumvent security features and install it in the
iPhone of the shooter. Cook even issued an open letter
to defend the company's decision.
Apple's insistence on protecting user data won broad public support. At the same time, it was criticized by the Department of Justice
, which retorted that the open letter "appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy."
This comment has proven true today, because it is clear that the company is operating on a double standard in its Chinese business. We could even say that it is bullying the good actor while being terrified by the bad one.
Apple Inc. and Tim Cook, who had once stayed firm against the US government, suddenly have become soft in front of Chinese government. Faced with the unreasonable demand put forward by the Chinese authorities, Apple has not demonstrated a will to
resist. On the contrary, it is giving people the impression that it will do whatever needed to please the authorities.
Near the end of 2017, Apple lnc. admitted it had removed 674 VPN apps
from Chinese App Store. These apps are often used by netizens for circumventing the Great Firewall (blocking of overseas websites and content). Skype
from the Chinese App Store. And Apple's submission to the Chinese authorities' requests generated a feeling of "betrayal" among Chinese users.
Some of my friends from mainland China have even decided to give up using Apple mobile phones and shifted to other mainland Chinese brands. Their decision, in addition to the price, is mainly in reaction to Apple's decision to take down VPN apps
from the Chinese Apple store.
Some of these VPN apps can still be downloaded from mobile phones that use the Android system. This indicates that Apple is not "forced" to comply. People suspect that it is proactively performing a "obedient" role.
The handover of China iCloud to GCBD is unquestionably a performance of submission and kowtow. Online, several people have quipped: "the Chinese government is asking for 50 cents, Apple gives her a dollar."
Selling the iPhone in China
Apple says the handover is due to new regulations that cloud servers must be operated by local corporation. But this is unconvincing. China's Cybersecurity Law, which was implemented on June 1 2017, does demand that user information and data
collected in mainland China be stored within the border
. But it does not require that the data center be operated by a local corporation.
In other words, even according to Article 37 of the Cybersecurity Law, Apple does not need to hand over the operation of iCloud services to a local corporation, to say nothing of the fact that the operator is solely owned by the state. Though
Apple may have to follow the "Chinese logic" or "unspoken rule", the decision looks more like a strategic act, intended to insulate Apple from financial, legal and moral responsibility to their Chinese users, as stated in the
new customer terms and conditions on the handover of operation. It only wants to continue making a profit by selling iPhone in China.
Many people have encountered similar difficulties when doing business in China -- they have to follow the authorities' demands. Some even think that it is inevitable and therefore reasonable. For example, Baidu's CEO Robin Li said in
a recent interview with Time Magazine, "That's our way of doing business here".
I can see where Apple is coming from. China is now the third largest market
for the iPhone. While confronting vicious competition from local brands, the future growth of iPhone in China has been threatened
. And unlike in the US, if Apple does not submit to China and comply with the Cybersecurity Law, the Chinese authorities can use other regulations and laws like the Encryption Law of the People's Republic of China (drafting) and Measures for
Security Assessment of Cross-border Data Transfer (drafting) to force Apple to yield.
However, as the world's biggest corporation in market value which has so many loyal fans, Apple's performance in China is still disappointing. It has not even tried to resist. On the contrary, it has proactively assisted [Chinese authorities] in
selling out its users' private data.
Assisting in the making of a 'Cloud Dictatorship'
This is perhaps the best result that China's party-state apparatus could hope for. In recent years, China has come to see big data as a strategic resource for its diplomacy and for maintaining domestic stability. Big data is as important as
military strength and ideological control. There is even a new political term "Data-in-Party-control" coming into use.
As an Apple fans, I lament the fact that Apple has become a key multinational corporation offering its support to the Chinese Communist Party's engineering of a "Cloud Dictatorship". It serves as a very bad role model: Now Apple that has
kowtowed to the CCP, how long will other tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon be able to resist the pressure?
Oxfam officials will try to convince the government it should keep its government funding - despite claims of sexual
misconduct by its aid workers.
Aid workers apparently paid for prostitutes in a villa rented by Oxfam. The charity noted that there was no evidence of the sex workers being under-aged. It is also reported that no recipients of aid were involved.
Four of the aid workers were sacked and 3 were asked to resign.
And for some reason, these punishments are simply not enough for a baying lynch mob of the politically correct.
There are suggestions that the aid workers should have been reported to the local police as sex work is illegal in the country. But what sort of people would call for people to be allowed to rot in a foreign prison as punishment for something that
is not even a crime in the UK.
The UK Government's International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has said Oxfam must account for the way it handled the claims or it risks losing government funding, worth 2£32m in the last financial year. Michelle Russell, director of
investigations at the Charity Commission will also be part of the talks.
Mordaunt told the BBC's Andrew Marr the charity had failed in its moral leadership over the scandal. She said Oxfam did absolutely the wrong thing by not reporting details of the allegations. She said no organisation could be a government partner
if it did not have the moral leadership to do the right thing.
Ahead of the government meeting, Oxfam announced new measures for the prevention and handling of sexual abuse cases. The charity will also introduce tougher vetting of staff and mandatory safeguarding training for new recruits.
Perhaps job adverts for aid workers will now read: "Only saints need apply. If the halo slips, must be willing to be burnt at the stake or be left to rot in foreign jails".
UK food censors are whingeing about people's 'Meal Deals' because they claim the promotion will diminish the effectiveness of the
government's new nanny tax on sugary drinks.
Carol Williams, Principal Lecturer: Health Promotion and Public Health, University of Brighton explains:
From April, the UK government's sugar tax will make 500ml bottles of high-sugar drinks cost an extra 14p, and two litre bottles an extra 58p. The higher price is intended to steer people towards choosing lower-sugar drinks. But promotions, such as
meal deals, could make the sugar tax meaningless by negating the price difference.
The drinks industry says the size and scale of the sugar-tax bill is too much for them to absorb, so they will pass the cost on to retailers. Retailers are likely to do the same and pass the cost onto consumers. This is what Public Health England
intended; high-sugar drinks should cost more to make them less attractive to buy. But the tax may have an unintended consequence on drinks purchased in meal deals, which typically include a sandwich, a snack and a drink.
Our research with students (aged 16-19 and 19-24) found that they decided what to buy in a meal deal based on price and getting a bargain. Students tend to choose the most expensive drink in order to maximise the cost benefit of the deal, even
though they are often aware of the health aspects. When the sugar tax comes into force and full-sugar drinks cost more, this may create a perverse incentive because choosing the more expensive drink will increase the relative discount/cost
effectiveness achieved by buying a meal deal.
Now it is over to retailers and other drinks outlets to act in the spirit of the sugar tax by passing the higher price on to consumers and keeping a price difference between high- and low-sugar drinks. For meal deals, there are three options: add
the sugar tax to the price of the meal deal when a full-sugar drink is chosen, take sugary drinks that are taxed out of the meal deal, or do nothing and risk encouraging people to choose the full-sugar version, undermining everything PHE is trying
Democrats is a 2014 Denmark / Zimbabwe documentary by Camilla Nielsson.
Starring Paul Mangwana, Robert Mugabe and Douglas Mwonzora.
Two political opponents are appointed to write Zimbabwe's new constitution. It is the ultimate test that can bring an end to President Mugabe's 30 years of autocratic rule. It can go either way: towards the birth of a constitutional democracy -
or renewed repression.
Zimbabwe's High Court has lifted a ban on an acclaimed documentary film that portrays former president Robert Mugabe in a far from flattering light.
The film, The Democrats, by Danish filmmaker Camilla Nielsson, was made in the aftermath of Zimbabwe's violent and disputed 2008 elections. It tells the story of Zimbabwe's fraught constitution-making process. But Zimbabwe's censorship
board never allowed the film to go on sale or to be screened in the country.
Rights lawyer Bellinda Chinowawa told RFI it took a year and a half to get this High Court ruling. She called it a great victory for all Zimbabweans.
To begin with the film's production company, Upfront Films, was given the green light to make the documentary about the constitutional-making process. But when it was finally released -- to international acclaim in 2015 -- Zimbabwe's censorship
board ruled that it wasn't suitable for local audiences.
The censors never revealed why they had banned the film, they are not forced to by law. It is believed though that supporters of Robert Mugabe -- who was then president -- felt it depicted him wrongly as a dictator.
Pad Man is a 2018 India comedy biography by R Balki.
Starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor.
Biography on Tamil Nadu activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, whose mission was to provide sanitary napkin's to poor women of rural areas. Who would use rag cloths or leaves during periods where use of sanitary napkins was rare. After he did not
get fruitful results from his family and a medical college he approached, he decided to try it himself by making a uterus out of football bladder and filling goat's blood in it. He would roam around the whole day with the bladder, the aim was to
check the absorption rate of the sanitary napkins made by him.
Akshay Kumar's much-awaited film on menstrual hygiene, Pad Man, released across the world on Friday. centres around menstruation and hygiene has been banned from being released in Pakistan.
Members of the Punjab Film Censor Board have refused even to watch the film and have claimed that taboo subject films will not be allowed screening in cinemas.
Similarly, the Federal Censor Board also announced a ban on Padman in all cinemas across the country.
Film distributors had displayed posters on PadMan across cinemas but after this latest development, all posters were removed.
A poster for Tunnocks Tea Cakes, seen on 6 November 2017, showed an image of a female tennis player holding a tea
cake in place of a tennis ball at the top of her thigh, with her skirt raised at the hip. Text underneath the image of the women stated Where do you keep yours? with text underneath the product image stating Serve up a treat.
A complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible because they believed it was sexist and objectified women.
Thomas Tunnock Ltd t/a Tunnocks Tea Cakes stated the ad appeared on a poster site adjacent to the SEC Hydro Arena in Glasgow to coincide with a charity tennis match and was created with a tennis audience in mind. They explained that the creative
execution and placement of the teacakes were a substitute to the normal placement of tennis balls and that they were not placed in an abnormal position. They stated they did not intend to offend anyone.
The Forrest Group confirmed they had not received any complaints about the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA noted the ad depicted a woman lifting her tennis skirt while holding a tea cake beside her hip, in place of where a tennis ball would usually be held, with her bare thigh exposed and her underwear clearly visible. While we acknowledged the
ad was placed opposite an arena hosting a tennis match, we considered it nevertheless bore no relevance to the advertised product.
We considered the phrase serve up a treat would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the treat, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. We considered that although the
image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the phrase serve up a treat it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman's physical features to draw attention to the ad.
In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers and was socially irresponsible.
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Thomas Tunnock Ltd to ensure their advertising was socially responsible and did not cause serious offence by objectifying women.
TV censor Ofcom has received 228 complaints from viewers about an episode of Emmerdale that
featured an acid attack.
Viewers watched as Barton had the acid thrown over him by Simon McManus, who had mistaken the man for someone else.
Debbie Dingle had been trying to get back at Joe Tate, asking Simon to mess him up. However, Simon mistook Ross for Joe and threw the acid in his face, leaving Ross screaming in agony.
UK TV watchdog Ofcom received 228 complaints from viewers about the story, with many saying that the graphic nature of the scene was not suitable for pre-watershed viewing.
An Ofcom spokesperson responded:
We are assessing these complaints under our broadcasting rules before deciding whether or not to investigate.
This phrase is Ofcom speak for complaints that are already on their way to the wastepaper bin.
A spokesperson for Emmerdale told Metro.co.uk:
Emmerdale has a long track record of tackling difficult and topical storylines and the unprovoked acid attack upon Ross is another example of this. We take our responsibility seriously when portraying what happens in these circumstances.
Consequently, the storyline was researched thoroughly with medical experts at Pinderfields Hospital. For the sequence following Ross's attack we adhered carefully to the NHS guidelines about how to help people who are the victim of an acid
The UK's digital and culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has ruled out creating a new internet censor targeting social media
such as Facebook and Twitter.
In an interview on the BBC's Media Show , Hancock said he was not inclined in that direction and instead wanted to ensure existing regulation is fit for purpose. He said:
If you tried to bring in a new regulator you'd end up having to regulate everything. But that doesn't mean that we don't need to make sure that the regulations ensure that markets work properly and people are protected.
Meanwhile the Electoral Commission and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee are now investigating whether Russian groups used the platforms to interfere in the Brexit referendum in 2016. The DCMS select committee
is in the US this week to grill tech executives about their role in spreading fake news. In a committee hearing in Washington yesterday, YouTube's policy chief said the site had found no evidence of Russian-linked accounts purchasing ads to
interfere in the Brexit referendum.
Amazon's game-streaming site Twitch is cracking down on sexy content in a bid to make the platform more family-friendly. In particular
the site as putting a stop to so-called bikini streamers who wear skimpy outfits to increase their subscriber count, or attract donations.
Some streams involved a squats for subs dynamic, where scantily clad game streamers would perform squats in front of a camera in return for new channel subscribers.
The Amazon-owned gaming website, which is the world's most popular place to live-stream video games, has introduced a strict dress code that will come into effect later this month. Transgressors will be banned from the site. Twitch
We're updating our moderation framework to review your conduct in its entirety when evaluating if the intent is to be sexually suggestive.
The company is planning to examine a whole host of elements, including stream titles, camera angles, emotes, panels, clothing, overlays, and the chat box too.
As far as clothing goes, Twitch recommends wearing something you'd be comfortable in at a shopping centre.
Attire in gaming streams, most at-home streams, and all profile/channel imagery should be appropriate for a public street, mall, or restaurant.
The US moralist campaign Morality in Media, which now likes to call itself The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, is recommending
the Steam games distribution website for its selection of sexy games. The group spouts:
Steam is a popular distribution platform, owned by Valve Corporation, which sells thousands of video games for PC, Mac, Linux box, mobile device, or even televisions, in addition to connecting gamers with community forums on
Despite hosting approximately 35 million users who are minors, Steam also facilitates video games that promote themes of sexual violence, exhibitionism, and rape.
When videogames include sexually graphic and degrading themes the user is not only a voyeur but an active participant in staging the scene. As our society suffers from the consequences of campus sexual assault, military
sexual assault, and rising child-on-child sexual abuse, we see that normalizing the sexual use (and often abuse) of others in videogames is irresponsible on the corporate and social level.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation urges Steam® and its parent company Valve® to do the following:
Remove the game House Party due to its singularly degrading and exploitive themes.
Create an 18+ category on its website where all games with any amount of nudity or sexual content are stored. All accounts should have this 18+ category disabled by default, and require an extensive opt-in to view it so
that children are no longer automatically exposed to this content.
Institute a more robust policy enforcement against selling games that normalize or glamorize sexual exploitation in the future, no matter the age of the user.
has managed to get hold of the Australian censor's reasoning behind its ban of Omega Labyrinth Z . The censors write:
The game features a variety of female characters with their cleavages emphasised by their overtly provocative clothing, which often reveal the sides or underside of theiur breasts and obscured genital region. Multiple female characters are also
depicted fully nude, with genitals obscured by objects and streams of light throughout the game. Although of indeterminate age, most of these characters are adult-like, with voluptuous bosoms and large cleavages that are flaunted with a variety
of skimpy outfits.
One character, Urara Rurikawa, is clearly depicted as child-like in comparison with the other female characters. She is flat-chested, physically underdeveloped (particularly visible in her hip region) and is significantly shorter than otehr
characters in the game. She also has a child-like voice, wears a school uniform-esque outfit and appears naive in her outlook on life.
At one point in the game, Urara Rurikawa and a friend are referred to as "the younger girls" by one of the game's main characters. In the Boards opinion, the character of Urara Rurikawa is a depiction of a person who is, or appears to
be, a child under 18 years.
In some gameplay modes, including the "awakening" mode, the player is able to touch the breasts, buttocks, mouths and genital regions of each character, including Urara Rurikawa, while they are in sexualised poses, receiving positive
verbal feedback for interactions which are implied to be pleasurable for the characters and negative verbal feedback, including lines of dialogue such as "I-It doesn't feel good..." and "Hyah? Don't touch there!," for
interactions which are implied to be unpleasurable, implying a potential lack of consent.
The aim of these sections is, implicity, to sexually arouse these characters to the point that a "shame break" is activated, in which some of the characters clothing is removed - with genital regions obscured by light and various
objects - and the background changes colour as they implicitly orgasm.
In one "awakening" mode scenario, thee player interacts with Urara Rurikawa, who is depicted lying down, clutching a teddy bear, with lines of dialogue such as "I'm turning sleepy...", "I'm so sleepy now..." and
"I might wake up..." implying that she is drifting in and out of sleep.
The player interacts with this child-like character in the same manner as they interact with adult characters, clicking her breasts, buttocks, mouth and genital regions until the "shame break" mode is activated. During this section of
the game, with mis-clicks, dialogue can be triggered, in which Urara Rurikawa says, "Stop tickling...", "Stop poking..." and "Th-that feels strange...", implying a lack of consent.
In the Board's opinion, the ability to interact with the character Urara Rurikawa in the manner described above constituted a simulation of sexual stimulation of a child.
This week, Senators Hatch, Graham, Coons, and Whitehouse introduced a bill that diminishes the data privacy of people around the world.
The Clarifying Overseas Use of Data ( CLOUD
) Act expands American and foreign law enforcement's ability to target and access people's data across international borders in two ways. First, the bill creates an explicit provision for U.S. law enforcement (from a local police department to
federal agents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to access "the contents of a wire or electronic communication and any record or other information" about a person regardless of where they live or where that information is located
on the globe. In other words, U.S. police could compel a service provider--like Google, Facebook, or Snapchat--to hand over a user's content and metadata, even if it is stored in a foreign country, without following that foreign country's privacy
Second, the bill would allow the President to enter into "executive agreements" with foreign governments that would allow each government to acquire users' data stored in the other country, without following each other's privacy laws.
For example, because U.S.-based companies host and carry much of the world's Internet traffic, a foreign country that enters one of these executive agreements with the U.S. to could potentially wiretap people located anywhere on the globe (so long
as the target of the wiretap is not a U.S. person or located in the United States) without the procedural safeguards of U.S. law typically given to data stored in the United States, such as a warrant, or even notice to the U.S. government. This is
an enormous erosion of current data privacy laws.
This bill would also moot legal proceedings now before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the spring, the Court will decide whether or not current U.S. data privacy laws allow U.S. law enforcement to serve warrants for information stored outside the
United States. The case, United States v. Microsoft
(often called "Microsoft Ireland"), also calls into question principles of international law, such as respect for other countries territorial boundaries and their rule of law.
Notably, this bill would expand law enforcement access to private email and other online content, yet the Email Privacy Act
, which would create a warrant-for-content requirement, has still not passed the Senate, even though it has enjoyed
in the House for the past two years
The CLOUD Act and the US-UK Agreement
The CLOUD Act's proposed language is not new. In 2016, the Department of Justice first proposed
legislation that would enable the executive branch to enter into bilateral agreements with foreign governments to allow those foreign governments direct access to U.S. companies and U.S. stored data. Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post
the story that these agreements (the first iteration has already been negotiated with the United Kingdom) would enable foreign governments to wiretap any communication in the United States, so long as the target is not a U.S. person. In
, the Justice Department re-submitted the bill for Congressional review, but added a few changes: this time including broad language to allow the extraterritorial application of U.S. warrants outside the boundaries of the United States.
In September 2017, EFF, with a coalition of 20 other privacy advocates, sent a letter
to Congress opposing the Justice Department's revamped bill.
The executive agreement language in the CLOUD Act is nearly identical to the language in the DOJ's 2017 bill. None of EFF's concerns
have been addressed. The legislation still:
Includes a weak standard for review that does not rise to the protections of the warrant requirement under the 4th Amendment.
Fails to require foreign law enforcement to seek individualized and prior judicial review.
Grants real-time access and interception to foreign law enforcement without requiring the heightened warrant standards that U.S. police have to adhere to under the Wiretap Act.
Fails to place adequate limits on the category and severity of crimes for this type of agreement.
Fails to require notice on any level -- to the person targeted, to the country where the person resides, and to the country where the data is stored. (Under a separate provision regarding U.S. law enforcement extraterritorial orders, the bill
allows companies to give notice to the foreign countries where data is stored, but there is no parallel provision for company-to-country notice when foreign police seek data stored in the United States.)
The CLOUD Act also creates an unfair two-tier system. Foreign nations operating under executive agreements are subject to minimization and sharing rules when handling data belonging to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and corporations.
But these privacy rules do not extend to someone born in another country and living in the United States on a temporary visa or without documentation. This denial of privacy rights is unlike other U.S. privacy laws. For instance, the
Stored Communications Act
protects all members of the "public" from the unlawful disclosure of their personal communications.
An Expansion of U.S. Law Enforcement Capabilities
The CLOUD Act would give unlimited jurisdiction to U.S. law enforcement over any data controlled by a service provider, regardless of where the data is stored and who created it. This applies to content, metadata, and subscriber information --
meaning private messages and account details could be up for grabs. The breadth of such unilateral extraterritorial access creates a dangerous precedent for other countries who may want to access information stored outside their own borders,
including data stored in the United States.
EFF argued on this basis (among others) against unilateral U.S. law enforcement access to cross-border data, in our Supreme Court
in the Microsoft Ireland case.
When data crosses international borders, U.S. technology companies can find themselves caught in the middle between the conflicting data laws of different nations: one nation might use its criminal investigation laws to demand data located beyond
its borders, yet that same disclosure might violate the data privacy laws of the nation that hosts that data. Thus, U.S. technology companies lobbied for and received provisions in the CLOUD Act allowing them to move to quash or modify U.S. law
enforcement orders for extraterritorial data. The tech companies can quash a U.S. order when the order does not target a U.S. person and might conflict with a foreign government's laws. To do so, the company must object within 14 days, and undergo
a complex "comity" analysis -- a procedure where a U.S. court must balance the competing interests of the U.S. and foreign governments.
Failure to Support Mutual Assistance
Of course, there is another way to protect technology companies from this dilemma, which would also protect the privacy of technology users around the world: strengthen the existing international system of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs).
This system allows police who need data stored abroad to obtain the data through the assistance of the nation that hosts the data. The MLAT system encourages international cooperation.
It also advances data privacy. When foreign police seek data stored in the U.S., the MLAT system requires them to adhere to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements. And when U.S. police seek data stored abroad, it requires them to follow the
data privacy rules where the data is stored, which may include important " necessary and proportionate
" standards. Technology users are most protected when police, in the pursuit of cross-border data, must satisfy the privacy standards of both countries.
While there are concerns from law enforcement that the MLAT system has become too slow, those concerns should be addressed with improved resources, training, and streamlining.
The CLOUD Act raises dire implications for the international community, especially as the Council of
is beginning a process to review the MLAT system that has been supported for the last two decades by the Budapest Convention. Although Senator Hatch has in the past introduced
that would support the MLAT system, this new legislation fails to include any provisions that would increase resources for the U.S. Department of Justice to tackle its backlog of MLAT requests, or otherwise improve the MLAT system.
A growing chorus of privacy groups in the United States opposes the CLOUD Act's broad expansion of U.S. and foreign law enforcement's unilateral powers over cross-border data. For example, Sharon Bradford Franklin of
(and the former executive director of the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board) objects that the CLOUD Act will move law enforcement access capabilities "in the wrong direction, by sacrificing digital rights."
and Access Now
also oppose the bill.
Sadly, some major U.S. technology companies
and legal scholars support the legislation. But, to set the record straight, the CLOUD Act is not a " good
." Nor does it do a " remarkable job
of balancing these interests in ways that promise long-term gains in both privacy and security." Rather, the legislation reduces protections for the personal privacy of technology users in an attempt to mollify tensions between law
enforcement and U.S. technology companies.
Legislation to protect the privacy of technology users from government snooping has long been overdue in the United States. But the CLOUD Act does the opposite, and privileges law enforcement at the expense of people's privacy. EFF strongly
opposes the bill. Now is the time to strengthen the MLAT system, not undermine it.
The Tourism and Antiquities Police have referred a Russian belly dancer Eicatrina Andreeva, who goes by the name Gawhara, to investigations for wearing a 'non-standard' dancing suit A controversy arose over how the ideal dancing suit should look.
According to Act No. 430 of the law on the censorship of literary works, the dancing suit should cover the lower body, with no side slits, and should cover the breast and stomach area.
The Russian dancer was arrested over inciting 'debauchery and arousing young people's sexual instincts', as she appeared in a not particularly sexy dancing video that has gone viral.
Accompanied by a translator during her investigations, Gawhara added that she was wearing a dancing suit no different than those donned by many belly dancers in Egypt.
The Tourism and Antiquities Police stated that Gawhara was wearing a non-standard dancing outfit and was featured in a viral video flaunting her body and pointing to private parts of her body in a racy manner, according to the findings of
preliminary investigation previously announced by the prosecution.
Fake celebrity porn has been a bit of fun, but what about the wider issue of being able to easily fake videos. Perhaps 'evidence' supporting #MeToo accusations, or a bit of fun with Donald Trump in Moscow.
US network TV is very strict about strong language and the basic cables channels have generally followed suit. However some
of the more late night programming on basic cable has started to care less and less about tiptoeing around language.
In fact, SyFy and USA, both networks owned by NBC Universal, are now throwing caution to the wind and have been letting fly with 'fuck' since earlier this year.
Previously, swearing on SyFy and USA stuck to the guidelines laid out by the Federal Communications Commission, but as a basic cable channel, their Standards and Practices division was not actually beholden to follow those rules strictly. In fact
the only thing holding back basic cable networks from using what is considered to be more vulgar language is their advertisers who traditionally don't like it.
To keep things clean, they usually dip the audio of either the f or the k whenever fuck is said in an episode. But according to Buzzfeed, USA and SyFy have worked that all out because their stance now is when language 'fuck' specifically is deemed
important to the style or plot of a show, Syfy and USA now allow it. Such language results in a TV-MA rating so audiences know it's intended for mature audiences only.
However, basic cable channels have started to push the envelope. The word shit has been thrown around a lot more on networks like FX, AMC, and Comedy Central. The latter was even the first to bring uncensored usage of fuck to basic cable by
creating their late night programming block called The Secret Stash, which began with the airing of the R-rated film adaptation South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. They don't have that block anymore, but their late night programming still airs
the uncensored versions of movies and stand-up specials.
Fans of The Magicians on SyFy might have already noticed this change. Ever since the third season premiered on SyFy back in January, they've been dropping f-bombs uncensored.
Now doubt the US moralist campaigners will be reaching for their mageaphones.
A row has broken out over the screening of a film that advocates therapy to cure people from being gay.
Christian group Core Issues Trust had hired a screen at Vue Piccadilly, London, to show the film Voices of the Silenced on Thursday. The documentary tells the stories of 15 people emerging out of homosexual lifestyles and aims to preserve
and promote teachings on sexual ethics.
But Vue cancelled the booking after the event drew criticism. A spokeswoman for the cinema said:
While it is not our intention to censor content, ...[BUT]... in some instances, where we feel an activity is in direct contradiction to Vue's values, a decision will be made to refrain from allowing a private event to go ahead.
Core Issues Trust is now seeking advice from lawyers, and told the BBC it had 126 people attending the event from across the UK and other countries, including the Netherlands. Mike Davidson, who leads Core Issues Trust, told the BBC the film was
not about a gay cure but the rights of individuals to access help and support for unwanted homosexual feelings.
A spokesperson for campaign group Stonewall said:
It's disappointing that Vue Piccadilly would consider screening a documentary about so-called 'conversion therapy'. LGBT people aren't ill. Being gay, lesbian, bi or trans is not something that should be 'cured' or changed.
Update: Also banned by the Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast
The leader of a Christian organisation who says that gay people can choose not to live out homosexuality has accused Queen's Film Theatre
(QFT) of censorship after it refused to screen a film about people emerging from gay lifestyles.
Mike Davidson is the head of the Core Issues Trust in Ballynahinch, Co Down. He said his group was refused permission to host a private, invitation-only screening of the film Voices Of The Silenced at the QFT in Belfast. He explained:
I initially made an inquiry to QFT in February and they came back to me and said the programme had already went to print and they had nothing available in March.
When I asked about April, I got an email saying my request was denied and quoting Queen's University's equality agenda.
Illegal content and terrorist propaganda are still spreading rapidly online in the European Union -- just not on mainstream platforms, new analysis shows.
Twitter, Google and Facebook all play by EU rules when it comes to illegal content, namely hate speech and terrorist propaganda, policing their sites voluntarily.
But with increased scrutiny on mainstream sites, alt-right and terrorist sympathizers are flocking to niche platforms where illegal content is shared freely, security experts and anti-extremism activists say.
Stockholm council is set to ban sexy outdoor advertising. Daniel Hellden, one of Stockholm's deputy mayors and a
long-serving Green Party activist with a political and personal mission to:
Make sure women aren't made to feel uncomfortable by explicit or gender stereotyped advertising in public spaces. I know my daughters, they don't like it. They feel bad. We should not as a city be part of this sort of advertising. I have a
responsibility to the citizens of Stockholm to ban this.
Hellden notes that record immigration to the Swedish capital has fuelled a wider awareness of stereotyping and a need to avoid racist undertones in public spaces.
His efforts to stamp out discriminatory billboards, digital displays or information boards will come to a head later this month, when the City Council is expected to approve a ban on racist and sexist advertisements.
The censorship rules about what constitutes a sexist or racist advertisements will follow those set out by the country's very politically correct nationwide advertising censor, Reklamombudsmannen (RO). But whereas RO cannot issue sanctions to
companies in breach of the guidelines, Stockholm's council will be able to order them to take down offensive billboards within 24 hours.
Inevitably the move has supporters and critics. The Swedish Women's Lobby recently labelled Sweden the worst in the Nordics when it comes to gender images, due to being the only country in the region lacking legislation against sexism and
stereotyping in advertising.
But Stockholm's plans to try and step up efforts against discrimination have come under fire from The Association of Swedish Advertisers, which represents agencies and marketing professionals. Its chief executive, Anders Ericson, argues that
despite complaints from what he describes as a really strong group of feminists, Sweden is already doing a really terrific job in self-regulation. He fears a ban will increase red tape and curb freedom of expression.
The Kansas Senate has approved a resolution condemning pornography, claiming it causes infidelity and erectile dysfunction. The motion was
passed on a 35-4 vote. The resolution has no legal effect. The House passed a similar measure last year.
The resolution says pornography is potentially biologically addictive and is linked to lessened desire.
Republican Senator Barbara Bollier mocked the resolution. She responded by saying:
Seriously? We'll see how excited they are about public health when it comes to guns.
Smartphones rule our lives. Having information at our fingertips is the height of convenience. They tell us all
sorts of things, but the information we see and receive on our smartphones is just a fraction of the data they generate. By tracking and monitoring our behaviour and activities, smartphones build a digital profile of shockingly intimate
information about our personal lives.
These records aren’t just a log of our activities. The digital profiles they create are
traded between companies
and used to make inferences and decisions that affect the opportunities open to us and our lives. What’s more, this typically happens without our knowledge, consent or control.
New and sophisticated methods built into smartphones make it easy to track and monitor our behaviour. A vast amount of information can be collected from our smartphones, both when being actively used and while running in the background. This
information can include our location, internet search history, communications, social media activity, finances and biometric data such as fingerprints or facial features. It can also include metadata – information about the data – such as the time
and recipient of a text message.
Each type of data can reveal something about our interests and preferences, views, hobbies and social interactions. For example, a study conducted by MIT demonstrated how
email metadata can be used to map our lives
, showing the changing dynamics of our professional and personal networks. This data can be used to infer personal information including a person’s background, religion or beliefs, political views, sexual orientation and gender identity, social
connections, or health. For example, it is possible to deduce our specific health conditions
simply by connecting the dots between a series of phone calls.
Different types of data can be consolidated and linked to build a comprehensive profile of us. Companies that buy and sell data –
– already do this. They collect and combine billions of data elements about people to make inferences about them. These inferences may seem innocuous but can
reveal sensitive information
such as ethnicity, income levels, educational attainment, marital status, and family composition.
A recent study found that seven in ten smartphone apps share data
with third-party tracking companies like Google Analytics. Data from numerous apps can be linked within a smartphone to build this more detailed picture of us, even if permissions for individual apps are granted separately. Effectively,
smartphones can be converted into surveillance devices.
The result is the creation and amalgamation of digital footprints that provide in-depth knowledge about your life. The most obvious reason for companies collecting information about individuals is for profit, to deliver targeted advertising and
personalised services. Some targeted ads, while perhaps creepy, aren’t necessarily a problem, such as an ad for the new trainers you have been eyeing up.
But targeted advertising based on our smartphone data can have real impacts on livelihoods and well-being, beyond influencing purchasing habits. For example, people in financial difficulty might be
targeted for ads for payday loans
. They might use these loans to pay for unexpected expenses
, such as medical bills, car maintenance or court fees, but could also rely on them for
recurring living costs
such as rent and utility bills. People in financially vulnerable situations can then become trapped in
as they struggle to repay loans due to the high cost of credit.
Targeted advertising can also enable companies to discriminate against people and deny them an equal chance of accessing basic human rights, such as housing and employment. Race is not explicitly included in Facebook’s basic profile information,
but a user’s “ethnic affinity” can be worked out based on pages they have liked or engaged with. Investigative journalists from ProPublica found that it is possible to exclude those who match certain ethnic affinities
from housing ads
, and certain age groups from job ads
This is different to traditional advertising in print and broadcast media, which although targeted is not exclusive. Anyone can still buy a copy of a newspaper, even if they are not the typical reader. Targeted online advertising can completely
exclude some people from information without them ever knowing. This is a particular problem because the internet, and social media especially, is now such a common source of information.
Social media data can also be used to calculate creditworthiness
, despite its dubious relevance. Indicators such as the level of sophistication in a user’s language on social media, and their friends’ loan repayment histories can now be used for credit checks. This can have a direct impact on the fees and
interest rates charged on loans, the ability to buy a house, and even employment prospects
There’s a similar risk with payment and shopping apps. In China, the government has announced plans
to combine data about personal expenditure with official records, such as tax returns and driving offences. This initiative, which is being led by both the government and companies, is
currently in the pilot stage
. When fully operational, it will produce a social credit score
that rates an individual citizen’s trustworthiness. These ratings can then be used to issue rewards or penalties, such as privileges in loan applications or limits on career progression.
These possibilities are not distant or hypothetical – they exist now. Smartphones are
effectively surveillance devices
, and everyone who uses them is exposed to these risks. What’s more, it is impossible to anticipate and detect the full range of ways smartphone data is collected and used, and to demonstrate the full scale of its impact. What we know could be
just the beginning.
Government outlines next steps to make the UK the safest place to be online
The Prime Minister has announced plans to review laws and make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online as the Government marks Safer Internet Day.
The Law Commission will launch a review of current legislation on offensive online communications to ensure that laws are up to date with technology.
As set out in the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper
, the Government is clear that abusive and threatening behaviour online is totally unacceptable. This work will determine whether laws are effective enough in ensuring parity between the treatment of offensive behaviour that happens offline and
The Prime Minister has also announced:
That the Government will introduce a comprehensive new social media code of practice this year, setting out clearly the minimum expectations on social media companies
The introduction of an annual internet safety transparency report - providing UK data on offensive online content and what action is being taken to remove it.
Other announcements made today by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Matt Hancock include:
A new online safety guide
for those working with children, including school leaders and teachers, to prepare young people for digital life
A commitment from major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter to put in place specific support during election campaigns to ensure abusive content can be dealt with quickly -- and that they will provide advice and guidance to
Parliamentary candidates on how to remain safe and secure online
DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said:
We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and having listened to the views of parents, communities and industry, we are delivering on the ambitions set out in our Internet Safety Strategy.
Not only are we seeing if the law needs updating to better tackle online harms, we are moving forward with our plans for online platforms to have tailored protections in place - giving the UK public standards of internet safety unparalleled
anywhere else in the world.
Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:
There are laws in place to stop abuse but we've moved on from the age of green ink and poison pens. The digital world throws up new questions and we need to make sure that the law is robust and flexible enough to answer them.
If we are to be safe both on and off line, the criminal law must offer appropriate protection in both spaces. By studying the law and identifying any problems we can give government the full picture as it works to make the UK the safest place to
The latest announcements follow the publication of the Government's Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper
last year which outlined plans for a social media code of practice. The aim is to prevent abusive behaviour online, introduce more effective reporting mechanisms to tackle bullying or harmful content, and give better guidance for users to identify
and report illegal content. The Government will be outlining further steps on the strategy, including more detail on the code of practice and transparency reports, in the spring.
To support this work, people working with children including teachers and school leaders will be given a new guide for online safety, to help educate young people in safe internet use. Developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (
, the toolkit describes the knowledge and skills for staying safe online that children and young people should have at different stages of their lives.
Major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have also agreed to take forward a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) to provide specific support for Parliamentary candidates so that they can remain
safe and secure while on these sites. during election campaigns. These are important steps in safeguarding the free and open elections which are a key part of our democracy.
Included in the Law Commission's scope for their review will be the Malicious Communications Act and the Communications Act. It will consider whether difficult concepts need to be reconsidered in the light of technological change - for example,
whether the definition of who a 'sender' is needs to be updated.
The Government will bring forward an Annual Internet Safety Transparency report, as proposed in our Internet Safety Strategy green paper. The reporting will show:
the amount of harmful content reported to companies
the volume and proportion of this material that is taken down
how social media companies are handling and responding to complaints
how each online platform moderates harmful and abusive behaviour and the policies they have in place to tackle it.
Annual reporting will help to set baselines against which to benchmark companies' progress, and encourage the sharing of best practice between companies.
The new social media code of practice will outline standards and norms expected from online platforms. It will cover:
The development, enforcement and review of robust community guidelines for the content uploaded by users and their conduct online
The prevention of abusive behaviour online and the misuse of social media platforms -- including action to identify and stop users who are persistently abusing services
The reporting mechanisms that companies have in place for inappropriate, bullying and harmful content, and ensuring they have clear policies and performance metrics for taking this content down
The guidance social media companies offer to help users identify illegal content and contact online, and advise them on how to report it to the authorities, to ensure this is as clear as possible
The policies and practices companies apply around privacy issues.
The UK Prime Minister's proposals for possible new laws to stop intimidation against politicians have the potential to prevent legal
protests and free speech that are at the core of our democracy, says Index on Censorship. One hundred years after the suffragette demonstrations won the right for women to have the vote for the first time, a law that potentially silences angry
voices calling for change would be a retrograde step.
No one should be threatened with violence, or subjected to violence, for doing their job, said Index chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. However, the UK already has a host of laws dealing with harassment of individuals both off and online that cover
the kind of abuse politicians receive on social media and elsewhere. A loosely defined offence of 'intimidation' could cover a raft of perfectly legitimate criticism of political candidates and politicians -- including public protest.
A series of posts on Poundland's Twitter and Facebook page, promoting the #ElfBehavingBad
campaign, seen in December 2017:
a. An ad, posted on 11 December, featured an image of a toy elf and a bottle of De-Icer placed in front of a car windscreen which featured a drawing of a pair of breasts. The caption stated, Oh Elf, we know it's nippy
outside but not that kind of nippy! #ElfBehavingBad.
b. An ad, posted on 12 December, featured an image of the toy elf in a sink filled with bubbles sitting with two female dolls, taking a selfie. The caption stated Rub-a-dub-dub, three in a tub. A night of 'Selfies and
c. An ad, posted on 13 December, featured a moving graphic of the toy elf with a toothbrush placed between its legs whilst motioning back and forth. The caption stated, That's one way to scratch that itch. That's not
Santa's toothbrush is it?!.
d. A tweet, posted on 15 December, featured an image of the toy elf holding a spherical shaped object and a Darth Vader toy holding a lightsaber. The caption stated, Buzz off Darth, my lightsaber is bigger than yours.
e. An ad, posted on 16 December, featured an image of the toy elf sitting on a toy donkey's back with the caption, Don't tell Rudolph I've found a new piece of ass.
f. An ad, posted on 18 December featured an image of the toy elf next to a drawing of a phallic-shaped tree with the caption, That's one very prickly Christmas tree.
g. An ad, posted on 19 December featured an image of the toy elf wearing a dark moustache holding an arrow that pointed towards it, which featured the text FREE moustache rides. The caption stated First come, first served.
h. An ad, posted on 20 December featured an image of a toy elf playing a game of cards with three unclothed dolls. The caption stated Joker, joker. I really want to poker.
i. An ad, posted on 21 December featured an image of the toy elf holding a tea bag between its legs with a female doll lying beneath it.
85 complainants challenged whether:
The ads were offensive for their depiction of toy characters and other items which had been displayed in a sexualised manner; and
The ads were unsuitable to be displayed in an untargeted medium where children could see them.Response
Poundland Ltd stated that their elf campaign was based on humour and double entendres.
They explained that while the nature of a double entendre was that they would not be understood by children. They also stated Twitter and Facebook had policies which prevented under-13s from creating accounts on their
websites and Poundland had never sought to encourage anyone other than adults to follow Poundland on these social networks.
They provided an appendix, which contained highlights of comments they had received in support of the campaign and referenced results from a poll conducted on Twitter where 82% of a sample audience containing over 12,000
responders supported the campaign. The results were almost equally split between men and women. They provided information on the volume of interactions they had during the campaign, which included 33 million impressions in total, 4 million
engagements -- including reactions, comments, retweets, shares and replies -- as well as 43,000 new followers with the most significant peak on the 21 December, when the campaign went viral. They stated a large number of people found the campaign
to be humorous, engaging, and in line with what it meant to be British.
They stated they did not intend to offend anyone.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA understood the campaign was based on a toy elf, which resembled the popular children's Christmas tradition known as Elf on the Shelf, from the book of the same name. The elf was depicted in various scenarios where he
was shown to be behaving in a mischievous manner, with some images captioned with the hashtag #ElfBehavingBad. The overall campaign was based around puns and double entendres, which included sexual references.
Poundland's Facebook and Twitter pages were not age-gated and could therefore be seen by anyone. Although we did not consider they were likely to be of particular interest or appeal to children, we did not consider those who
were already following the pages would expect to see sexual or offensive content. We also noted the ads had been shared widely on social media and therefore would have been seen by a large number of people, including some children, who did not
actively follow Poundland on social media.
The image and caption in ad (a) depicting a pair of breasts drawn on a car windscreen and ad (f) which featured the elf beside a sketch of a penis-shaped tree were obvious sexual references that were shown to be drawn by the
toy elf. We considered ad (c)'s depiction of the elf thrusting a toothbrush between its legs to be interpreted as a sexual act. Ad (d)'s inclusion of the caption, my lightsaber is bigger than yours and the elf waving a vibrator were also obvious
references to sexual acts.
We considered ad (b), which depicted the elf and two unclothed female dolls placed in a sink filled with bubbles and the caption, A night of 'Selfies and chill, to be a play on the term Netflix and chill, which was a widely
known term implying sexual activity. We also noted ad (g), which featured an image of the toy elf wearing a dark moustache with the text FREE moustache rides, was an implied reference to oral sex. We considered ad (e), which featured the toy elf
placed on the toy donkey's back with the caption, Don't tell Rudolph I've found a new piece of ass, was a pun of a sexual nature.
We considered the depiction of a child's toy in relation to such sexual references and acts in a medium which could also be accessed by children was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence, therefore
breaching the Code.
We further noted ad (h), which featured a group of unclothed dolls playing what appeared to be strip poker captioned with the phrase I really want to poker, was a sexual reference aimed towards the female dolls. We also
considered ad (i), which featured the elf holding a tea bag between its legs with a female doll lying beneath it, was also a reference to a sexual act. Both ads (h) and (i) presented the female dolls in a manner which could be seen as demeaning to
women. We considered these ads were irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence by depicting a child's toy in relation to such sexual acts, therefore breaching the Code.
We therefore concluded the ads, which depicted the toy figures in a sexualised manner and appeared in an untargeted medium where they could be seen by children, were irresponsible and were likely to cause serious or
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Poundland Ltd to ensure that their advertising was presented with a sense of responsibility and did not cause serious or widespread offence.
Germany is looking into imposing
restrictions on loot boxes in videogames, according to Welt. A study by the University of Hamburg has found that elements of gambling are becoming increasingly common in videogames. It's an important part of the game industry's business model, but
the chairman of the Youth Protection Commission of the State Media Authorities warned that it may violate laws against promoting gambling to children and adolescents.
The Youth Protection Commission will render its decision on loot boxes in March.
Ardalan Shekarabi, the nation's minister of civil affairs, is concerned about making sure Swedish consumer protection laws apply across the board when it comes to gaming. Shekrabi admits that loot boxes are like gambling, but has asked Swedish
authorities to consider whether that's what they should actually be classified as. The idea is to have legislation ready by January of next year to ensure Swedish gamers don't have to worry about a transaction falling outside of the nation's
consumer protection laws in the event something goes south.
Manchester Art Gallery has censored a historic artwork seemingly in response to #MeToo
concerns about men gazing on naked women.
John William Waterhouse's painting Hylas and the Nymphs was painted in 1896 and depicts pubescent, naked nymphs tempting a handsome young man to his doom. It is one of the most recognisable of the pre-Raphaelite paintings.
Although framing the decision as some sort of prompt for a debate, the censorship seems permanent as the gallery has also announced that will also be erased from the post card selection in the gallery shop.
Clare Gannaway, the gallery's 'curator' of contemporary art, explained the censorship on grounds of political correctness. She spoke about the work, and related paintings which were exhibited in a room titled In Pursuit of Beauty :
The title was a bad one, as it was male artists pursuing women's bodies, and paintings that presented the female body as a passive decorative art form or a femme fatale.
For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven't dealt with it sooner. Our attention has been elsewhere ... we've collectively forgotten to look at this space and think about it properly. We want to do something about it now
because we have forgotten about it for so long.
She added that the debates around Time's Up and #MeToo had fed into the decision.
She also invented a bizarre take on "I don't believe in censorship...BUT...". She claimed
The aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor. It wasn't about denying the existence of particular artworks. [ ...BUT... it was about preventing men from gazing on the female form].
The response so far has been mixed. Some have said it sets a dangerous precedent, while others have called it po-faced and politically correct.
I particularly enjoyed a blunt reader comment on a miserable Guardian editorial piece
supporting the censorship. TheGreatRonRafferty commented:
Nope, it's censorship. The reason it has been removed is because it shows women's breasts, but now we're being fed bunkum, because those who would hide women's breasts aren't willing to say so.
And an the subject of journalistic accuracy, Andrew Sutton wrote to the Guardian:
Your arts correspondent, Mark Brown, repeatedly refers to Waterhouse as a Pre-Raphaelite. Waterhouse was a prominent Victorian painter contemporary with the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, but was never a member and to refer to him as such is just
Manchester Art Gallery said the censored painting will be back on display on Saturday, seemingly on council
orders. It's been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, Manchester City Council said.
Critics have been robustly condemning the curators for being puritanical and politically correct.
The gallery's interim director Amanda Wallace said:
We were hoping the experiment would stimulate discussion, and it's fair to say we've had that in spades - and not just from local people but from art-lovers around the world.
Throughout the painting's seven day absence, it's been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, and we now plan to harness this strength of feeling for some further debate on these wider issues.
Presumably the politically correct curators have been living in their own little Guardian reading filter bubble and simply didn't realise how few people supported their views on the censorship of art.
Offsite Comment: Perhaps a little sensitivity training for the staff of the gallery might be in order
The gallery is on tricky ground. Was it censoring Waterhouse's painting? Gannaway says no, but how else do you describe the removal of an
artwork because someone objects to its subject matter on the grounds of a debate that actually has nothing to do with it? Perhaps a little sensitivity training for the staff of the gallery might be in order.
The belief that art needs to be contextualised in this way is not only deeply patronising -- it is also opening up a gap between
the art world and the public. Mounting their moral high horses, curators and critics see the role of the arts as one of correcting the way people think about the world -- to make people see the world as it is seen by these elites: riven by gender
bias, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, corporate corruption, environmental irresponsibility, and so forth.
Greater transparency for users around news broadcasters
Today we will start rolling out notices below videos uploaded by news broadcasters that receive some level of government or public funding.
Our goal is to equip users with additional information to help them better understand the sources of news content that they choose to watch on YouTube.
We're rolling out this feature to viewers in the U.S. for now, and we don't expect it to be perfect. Users and publishers can give us feedback through the send feedback form. We plan to improve and expand the feature over time.
The notice will appear below the video, but above the video's title, and include a link to Wikipedia so viewers can learn more about the news broadcaster.
A former councillor who used social media to criticise local government spending was visited at home by police officers.
Tony Boxford was stunned to see uniformed officers outside his house and accused Suffolk Police of wasting valuable time and resources .
It's ridiculous, he said. They don't have the resources to deal with traffic issues or parking problems yet they have time to come and knock on people's doors on behalf of the council.
A second man received a similar visit from the police after making critical comments about the town council's clerk on social media and at a private Christmas party.
Boxford had made fairly benign remarks in a blog post questioning whether Hadleigh Town Council was acting in constituents' best interests and criticising the actions of its clerk. On Facebook, he had criticised the town's former mayor and
attacked the council for allegedly spending taxpayers' money on maintaining the guildhall rather than for the benefit of local people.
Boxford said police could not tell him specifically what he had said or written to warrant the visit.
A spokesman for Suffolk Police said:
Concerns were raised with police that some comments had been made regarding a member of the town council which they believed to be derogatory in nature - this included posts on social media.
Two individuals have subsequently been spoken to by officers and offered words of advice regarding these comments and in particular the appropriate use of social media.
The police said nothing about admonishing the complainant for wasting police time, nor about its own actions undermining respect for the law.
A stage drama about Tibet has been pulled by the Royal Court Theatre for fear offending China.
Abhishek Majumdar said his play Pah-la was shelved because of fears over an arts programme in Beijing. His play deals with life in contemporary Tibet and draws on personal stories of Tibetans he worked with in India,
The London theatre, once known for its groundbreaking international productions, is facing questions after Abhishek Majumdar revealed a copy of the poster for the play Pah-la , bearing the imprints of the Arts Council and the Royal Court along
with text suggesting that it was due to run for a month last autumn.
Majumdar claimed the play was withdrawn because of fears over the possible impact on an arts programme in Beijing, where Chinese writers are working with the publicly funded theatre and British Council.
The play was in development for three years and rehearsals had been fixed, according to Majumdar, who claimed that the British Council had pressurised the theatre to withdraw it because of sensitivities relating to the writing programme.
The Royal Court said it had had to postpone and then withdraw Pah-la for financial reasons last year, after it had been in development for three years, and that it was now committed to producing the play in spring 2019 in the light of recent
events. It added:
The Royal Court always seeks to protect and not to silence any voice. [...BUT...] In an international context, this can sometimes be more complex across communities. The Royal Court is committed to protecting free speech, sometimes
within difficult situations.
Piers Morgan secured the first international interview with Donald Trump last week.
However the interviewer came across as bit arse lickey. The BBC's Mash Report concurred and broadcast a cartoon to illustrate the point.
Piers Morgan launched a blistering on the BBC after it aired a cartoon depicting the British journalist with his nose up President Trump's backside. Morgan accused the corporation of double standards. He wrote:
Amusing though this image may be to many people, can you imagine the BBC broadcasting it if the President was Hillary Clinton or the interviewer was a woman?
The BBC thinks this is OK to broadcast. But if it depicted high profile women, there would be outrage. Why the double standard? If they did it to Hilary Clinton and Laura Kuenssberg - somebody WOULD be sacked.
Surely a valid point but it hardly deflects the humour. US columnist and television personality Perez Hilton agreed and retweeted Morgan, adding: Solid point from Piers.
A BBC spokesperson said:
The BBC has a rich heritage of satire and The Mash Report takes a satirical and surreal look at the week's big stories. This brand of humour is well known to BBC Two audiences who tune in to watch the programme.
China has praised Theresa May for not mentioning Chinese human rights abuse during her three day visit.
The Global Times newspaper hailed her for avoiding rebuking the regime for its treatment of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and human rights record in China, and instead to confine herself to enthusiastic and positive remarks about
Downing Street insisted that the PM did raise the issues in her discussions with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
But May must have said something not quite right though as a BBC World News report on May's visit to the country was cut out midway through the broadcast in the country. China correspondent Stephen McDonnell tweeted a video of the incident
alongside the caption:
So I hope @BBCWorld viewers are enjoying their screens going to black in mainland #China today as the censors pull the feed with coverage of PM Theresa May @Number10gov + Pres Xi Jinping and human rights as well as #Xinjiang crack down.
Clive Stafford Smith, who founded human rights group Reprieve, tweeted:
What we all want in a principled leader! Theresa May commended by China for sidestepping human rights - so why not just abolish them, or abolish humans? Or maybe we could have @RealDonad_Trump for PM instead after he has been impeached?
Political campaigners at the NSPCC have called for the establishment of an internet censor who can fine social media sites that break censorship rules. This is included in an NSPCC report highlighting unimplemented recommendations from Tanya
Byron's government report on child safety launched 10 years ago.
Tanya Byron writes in the foreword:
Ten years ago I was asked by Government to produce a report on child safety online, and consider what action should be taken to make the digital world a safe place for children.
Much has changed over the last decade, but one thing has not: Government is failing to do enough to protect children online. I made 38 strong recommendations for action that urgently needed addressing to keep children safe. In four areas the
landscape has changed so much that the recommendations are no longer applicable. But 53 percent of the remaining recommendations have either been ignored by Government or have only been partially followed through.
What are the implications of this? We know that by age four 53 percent of children use the internet, and by the age of 10 almost half have their own smartphone. Yet online safety has not been made mandatory on the school curriculum and social
networks are left to make up their own rules, without regulation from Government. Meanwhile the responsibility for keeping children safe online falls heavily on parents -- who might struggle to keep up to date with the latest trends, or worse --
on children themselves, who might feel peer pressure to prioritise online popularity over online safety.
Last year the Government pledged to make the UK the safest place to be online, and some progress has been made -- albeit in a fragmented way. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's forthcoming Internet Safety Strategy will create
a code of practice for social networks. But after ten years of social networks marking their own homework, that code is expected to be voluntary and will not include anti-grooming measures as part of its remit and under the new Data Protection
laws the Information Commissioner's Office is due to draw up rules that will give children extra protections online. This is an important step, but these rules will not be directly enforceable.
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was created as a result of my recommendations; but it will soon remove 'child' from its title and focus on general internet safety. Age verification will soon be introduced for pornography, but there are
still no age checks for online gaming. That means children are protected from buying 18-rated games in shops, but can still download them easily online.
We all have a part to play in keeping children safe. But that responsibility must absolutely start with Government and industry. I urge Government to take heed of this report. The online world moves too fast for Government to drag its feet for
another decade. Tanya Byron
Proposal for Designation of Age-verification Regulator
Thursday 1 February 2018
The Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Margot James)
I beg to move,
That the Committee has considered the Proposal for Designation of Age-verification Regulator.
The Digital Economy Act 2017 introduced a requirement for commercial providers of online pornography to have robust age-verification controls in place to prevent children and young people under the age of 18 from accessing
pornographic material. Section 16 of the Act states that the Secretary of State may designate by notice the age-verification regulator and may specify which functions under the Act the age-verification regulator should hold. The debate will focus
on two issues. I am seeking Parliament's approval to designate the British Board of Film Classification as the age-verification regulator and approval for the BBFC to hold in this role specific functions under the Act.
Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab)
At this stage, I would normally preface my remarks with a lacerating attack on how the Government are acquiescing in our place in the world as a cyber also-ran, and I would attack them for their rather desultory position and
attitude to delivering a world-class digital trust regime. However, I am very fortunate that this morning the Secretary of State has made the arguments for me. This morning, before the Minister arrived, the Secretary of State launched his new
app, Matt Hancock MP. It does not require email verification, so people are already posting hardcore pornography on it. When the Minister winds up, she might just tell us whether the age-verification regulator that she has proposed, and that we
will approve this morning, will oversee the app of the Secretary of State as well.
Particulars of Proposed Designation of Age-Verification Regulator
01 February 2018
Motion to Approve moved by Lord Ashton of Hyde
Section 16 of the Digital Economy Act states that the Secretary of State may designate by notice the age-verification regulator, and may specify which functions under the Act the age-verification regulator should hold. I am therefore seeking this
House's approval to designate the British Board of Film Classification as the age-verification regulator. We believe that the BBFC is best placed to carry out this important role, because it has unparalleled expertise in this area.
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)
I still argue, and I will continue to argue, that it is not appropriate for the Government to give statutory powers to a body that is essentially a private company. The BBFC is, as I have said before204I do not want to go
into any detail -- a company limited by guarantee. It is therefore a profit-seeking organisation. It is not a charity or body that is there for the public good. It was set up purely as a protectionist measure to try to make sure that people
responsible for producing films that were covered by a licensing regime in local authorities that was aggressive towards certain types of films204it was variable and therefore not good for business204could be protected by a system that was
largely undertaken voluntarily. It was run by the motion picture production industry for itself.
L ord Ashton of Hyde
I will just say that the BBFC is set up as an independent non-governmental body with a corporate structure, but it is a not-for-profit corporate structure. We have agreed funding arrangements for the BBFC for the purposes of
the age-verification regulator. The funding is ring-fenced for this function. We have agreed a set-up cost of just under £1 million and a running cost of £800,000 for the first year. No other sources of funding will be required to carry out this
work, so there is absolutely no question of influence from industry organisations, as there is for its existing work—it will be ring-fenced.
Fifty Shades Freed is a 2018 USA drama by James Foley.
Starring Arielle Kebbel, Tyler Hoechlin and Dakota Johnson.
UK: Passed 18 uncut for strong sex for:
2018 cinema release
The third installment of the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' trilogy.
Believing they have left behind shadowy figures from their past, newlyweds Christian and Ana fully embrace an inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. But just as she steps into her role as Mrs. Grey and he relaxes into an unfamiliar
stability, new threats could jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins.
And as always few other western countries think that the films needs an adults only rating.
Today we have unveiled the UK's top ten most complained about ads of 2017.
Among a total of 29,997 complaints received, today's Top 10 sets out the ads that provoked the greatest number of individual complaints. All the ads on 2017's list had one common thread -- they were all challenged on the grounds of offence.
This year, KFC's ad, featuring a chicken dancing to a rap soundtrack, received complaints that it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians, vegans and children and that it depicted a chicken who was heading for slaughter. We
ruled it was unlikely that the ad would cause distress or serious or widespread offence as there were no explicit references to animal slaughter.
2. Moneysupermarket.com Ltd 455 Complaints - Not upheld
This Moneysupermarket.com ad campaign also featured in the ASA's Top Ten list for 2015 and 2016. Like many of the ads in the same campaign, 2017's ad re-featured the two #epicsquads -- the strutters and the builders -- and a new female character.
Many found the ad to be offensive on the grounds that it was overtly sexual and possibly homophobic. We thought the character's movements would generally be seen as dance moves and not in a sexual context. We also thought most viewers would
recognise the ad's intended take on humour. We ruled it was unlikely to condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour.
3. Unilever UK Ltd (Dove) 391 Complaints - Not investigated; ads removed
Dove produced a series of ads that contained statistics and opinions about breastfeeding in public. The ads were featured across magazines, social media, and Dove's own website. Many criticised the language, such as "put them away", as
it might encourage criticism of breastfeeding. Some were also concerned that the ads might encourage neglecting crying babies. After listening to the public, Dove issued an apology and subsequently pulled the ads and amended their website.
4. Match.com International Ltd 293 Complaints - Not upheld
Match.com's ad, starring a lesbian couple kissing passionately, appears again in our list of most complained about ads. We received similar complaints last year, when it was number three on our list, about whether the ad was too sexually explicit
for children to see. We ruled then that the ad did not cross the line. Over the two years, the ad has attracted almost 1,200 complaints.
McDonald's produced a TV ad featuring a boy and his mother talking about his dead father. From the conversation, the boy became visibly upset as he found few similarities between him and the father that his mother described. Ultimately, he found
comfort when she told him that both he and his father loved McDonald's Filet-O-Fish burger. The ad attracted criticism that it was trivialising grief, was likely to cause distress to those who have experienced a close family death and was
distasteful to compare an emotive theme to a fast food promotion. The fast food chain issued an apology and pulled the ads.
6. RB UK Commercial Ltd (V.I.Poo) 207 complaints - Not upheld
A fictional Hollywood starlet shares her best kept secret on how to maintain good toilet etiquette -- by using the V.I.Poo spray, an air freshener. Many people found the discussion of going to the toilet unsavoury. We ruled that the ad was a
light-hearted way of introducing the product and we didn't consider its reference to the "devil's dumplings" likely to break our rules on offence.
7. DSG Retail Ltd (Currys PC World) 131 Complaints - Not upheld
This was a TV ad about spending Christmas in front of the TV. The Currys PC World ad showed a set of parents telling their children that they would like to celebrate Christmas "traditionally" this year by sitting by the fire, singing
carols and having long conversations. The mother then laughed at the visibly upset children and explained it was a joke. She led the family to the next room to show them a new Oleg TV that her employer, Currys PC World, had allowed her to bring
home and test. Complainants believed the ad was offensive because it promoted materialism and equated Christmas with watching TV instead of Christianity.
We thought the ad was light-hearted and was meant to be humorous. We understood the allusions to consumerism might be perceived to be in bad taste by some, but considered it was unlikely to cause serious offence. The ad did not ridicule or
denigrate Christians or Christianity, so was unlikely to offend on those grounds.
8. Telefonica Ltd (O2) 125 Complaints - Not upheld
O2's ad about free screen replacements stirred complaints when it featured two men kissing and breaking one of the couple's phone screens when he was pressed onto a table by the other man. Many felt the scene was too sexually explicit and
scheduled inappropriately at times when children were likely to be watching. Some also felt the portrayal of a same-sex relationship was offensive to their religious beliefs.
We noted that the scene in question was brief and did not contain any graphic or overly sexual imagery. We ruled that it did not require a scheduling restriction and the depiction of a gay couple would not cause serious or widespread offence.
9. Macmillan Cancer Support 116 Complaints - Not upheld
A TV ad for Macmillan Cancer Support included fast-moving scenes of a father talking to his daughter, receiving chemotherapy, vomiting in a sink, sitting slumped in a bath, and crying in a car before being comforted by a nurse. People complained
that the imagery was overly graphic and distressing to viewers. Though we understood some of the scenes, particularly the one in which the man vomited, were distressing to some viewers, we believed they served to illustrate the reality of living
with cancer. The storyline of the ad and the service that Macmillan Cancer Support was advertising provided context. We believed it addressed the serious nature of the illness appropriately. Furthermore, scheduling restrictions meant it wouldn't
be shown around children's programmes.
10. Mars Chocolate UK Ltd (Maltesers) 92 Complaints - Not upheld
And finally, Maltesers appears in ASA's top 10 list for a second year.
Many continued to find the featured woman, who described having a spasm during a romantic encounter with her boyfriend, to be offensive and overly sexual. Some also felt it was offensive to portray the woman, who was in a wheelchair, in this
The ad had already been given a post-9pm scheduling restriction, which we considered sufficient as most viewers are aware that advertising content after 9pm might include more adult themes. In instances when the ad was seen earlier in the day, the
ad was seen around adult-themed programmes, such as Made in Chelsea and The Inbetweeners , and was unlikely to be considered to have been inappropriately scheduled.
We found the women's conversation to be light-hearted and didn't think the allusion to the woman's romantic encounter would cause serious or widespread offence. On the matter of portraying the woman in a wheelchair in this manner, we believed the
ad was championing diversity and did not think that it denigrated or degraded those with disabilities.
Last week, Polish lawmakers granted initial approval to a law that aims to make it illegal to suggest that Poland bore any responsibility for
atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Under the new legislation, individuals could face fines and up to three years in jail for using phrases like Polish death camps (rather than Nazi death camps).
The so-called death camp bill was passed overwhelmingly by Poland's lower legislature.
News of the lower legislature's vote has provoked an international outcry. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that they will under no circumstances accept any attempt to rewrite history, alluding to the fact that although
Poland was occupied by the Nazis, Poles were caught up in the day to day running of the camps. The Smithsonian Museum explained:
During World War II, the Poles suffered a brutal occupation at the hands of the Nazis, who saw the Poles as racially inferior. At least 2.5 million non-Jewish civilians and soldiers died before the war's end, according to the United States
Holocaust Museum. However, the Nazis also drew upon some Polish agencies, such as Polish police forces and railroad personnel, in the guarding of ghettos and the deportation of Jews to the killing centers. Individual Poles often helped in the
identification, denunciation, and hunting down of Jews in hiding, often profiting from the associated blackmail, and actively participated in the plunder of Jewish property.
Poland has long resisted acknowledging its complicity in the Holocaust. Polish lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to pass the controversial bill back in 2013, after then-President Barack Obama referred to Polish death camps during a speech honoring
Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski.
Poland's Senate have approved a controversial bill which makes it illegal to say 'Polish death camps' when meaning Nazi death camps located in Poland, or more generally to infer that Poland had responsibility for Holocaust related operations
within the occupied country.
The bill sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term as punishment. The bill must now be signed off by the president before entering into law. It passed in the upper house of the Polish parliament with 57 votes to 23.
China will begin blocking overseas providers of virtual private networks (VPN) used to circumvent its Great Firewall of government
censorship at the end of March, official media reported.
Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) chief censor Zhang Feng said VPN operators must be licensed by the government, and that unlicensed VPNs are the target of new rules which come into force on March 31. He said that China wants
to ban VPNs which unlawfully conduct cross-border operational activities.
Any foreign companies that want to set up a cross-border operation for private use will need to set up a dedicated line for that purpose, he said. They will be able to lease such a line or network legally from the telecommunications import and
Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said it had carried out a recent survey of U.S. companies in the country that showed that the inability to access certain online tools, internet censorship, and cybersecurity were impeding their
An internet user surnamed Zeng told RFA that the new regulations could also hit any Chinese businesses that need unimpeded communications with the outside world. He explained:
I have a friend who is a businessman, and makes things mainly for export, and this has already affected his order book. He usually uses WhatsApp to communicate [with customers] and now it's very hard to log on, and this has really affected
business. In future, he won't be able to log on at all, so he told me he will likely have to shut down his factory.
Gay dating apps have been pulled from the Google Play Store in Indonesia amid a government crackdown on the LGBT community.
China-based app Blued, which is the largest hook-up app for the LGBT community across Asia and rivals Grindr globally, was pulled from the store as the government demanded Google censor a total of 73 LGBT-related applications. The government
claimed that the app were removed due to claims of negative content and pornographic content.
Communications ministry spokescensor Noor Iza told AFP:
There was some negative content related to pornography inside the application. Probably one or some members of the application put the pornographic content inside.
I don't know [whether the ministry has sent a similar request to Apple]. They should since there are two operating systems.
Meanwhile lawmakers are trying to pass legislation which would outlaw LGBT behaviours on television -- potentially censoring shows that include LGBT characters as well as news reports on the LGBT community.
It is technically legal to be gay in Indonesia apart from Aceh province, which implements extreme punishments under Shariah law.
The Daily Mail does its bit on Porn Hub's AgeID scheme that will require porn viewers to enter personal details, which are then checked out by the government, and then to ask customers to believe that their details won't be stored
Online ID checks will require viewers prove they are 18 before viewing any porn online, as part of the Digital Economy Act 2018.
Users will need to make their AgeID account using a passport or mobile phone to confirm their age.
The information will then be passed to a government-approved service to confirm the user is over 18.
A MindGeek spokesman claimed
We do not store any personal data entered during the age-verification process.
to develop and display content and advertising tailored to your interests on our Website and other sites. It also states: We also may use these technologies to collect information about your online activities over time and across third-party
websites or other online services.
So basically MindGeek has the option of tracking your porn habits and your general non-porn browsing so it can sell you better ads.