Some while ago, the European Court of Justice ruled that council fees should be limited to the cost of administration associated with
licence. This put at end to massive morality charges but left open the debate about what costs are reasonable to include. Westminster Council has just won a case at the Supreme Court as part of this debate.
The latest case considered repayments to overcharged licence fee payers. The Court ruled that the correct approach to settling the repayment question is one that restores the parties to the position they should have been in.
The Court also stated that enforcement costs could be passed on to licence fee payers, but not before a a licensing application has been successful. ie the full costs cannot be loaded onto an applicant who has been refused a licence.
A number of operators of licensed sex shops in Soho, led by Simply Pleasure owner Timothy Hemming, had challenged Westminster City Council's previous practice of charging a £26,000 management fee over and above a £2,600 administration fee as part
of the licensing application process. The fee went towards the costs of management and enforcement of the regime, and was refundable if the application was refused.
The case will now return to the High Court, which will settle a number of questions as to the reasonableness of the fees raised by the licence holders.
The wolrd's most popular porn website, Pornhub has introduced stringent age verification checks at the bequest of the Russian
PornHub is now asking Russian viewers to verify their age by logging in with their social media account on VKontakte, Russia's answer to Facebook.
This is a stricter requirement than logging in via Facebook or Google as VKontakte itself requires connection to a mobile phone that has been mandatorily registered against a passport.
Verification through a social media account may be daunting to those concerned that the same company which has the contacts of their close family and friends is also aware of their porn watching habits. Though PornHub has promised a third party
would not get more users' information than before, the consensus on its VKontakte page showed some of its biggest fans are precisely concerned that may happen.
The system was considered the most effective and simple way to ensure compliance with Russian laws about the access to the content for adults. Dmitry Kolodin, a representative of PornHub in Russia told news site Meduza, confirming the new measure
came into effect Thursday.
Back in the heart of London's West End for its 18th adults-only anniversary, the world renowned horror and fantasy film festival will take place at the Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema from Aug 24 - Aug 28 2017, taking over
five screens to present 63 films including 17 World, 20 European and 17 UK Premieres. Fourteen countries are represented spanning five continents, reflecting the current global popularity of the genre.
The opening night attraction is the World Premiere of Universal's criminally entertaining CULT OF CHUCKY, with director Don Mancini and stars Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif in attendance, alongside the Iconic deadly doll of destruction himself.
Two more of the horror genre's most popular and beloved franchises are given their World Premieres: To celebrate a decade of his cursed Victor Crowley creation, writer/director Adam Green is returning to FrightFest with a version of HATCHET never
seen before. Plus, there is a presentation of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo's LEATHERFACE, the stunning prequel to the terror classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE
FrightFest unveiled a bright new directorial talent when it screened Tyler McIntyre's PATCHWORK at the Glasgow Film Festival and the closing night film is the European premiere of his amazing TRAGEDY GIRLS, where HEATHERS meets SCREAM in a dream
combo. It stars super-powered heroines Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand.
Festival and day pass sales are available now whilst single tickets will go on sale on Sat 29 July from 9am.
Residents of Xinjiang, an ethnic minority region of western China, are being forced to install spyware on their mobile phones.
On July 10, mobile phone users in the Tianshan District of Urumqi City received a mobile phone notification from the district government instructing them to install a surveillance application called Jingwang (or Web Cleansing). The message said
the app was intended to prevent [them] from accessing terrorist information.
But authorities may be using the app for more than just counter-terrorism. According to an exclusive report from Radio Free Asia, 10 Kazakh women from Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture were arrested for messages sent to a private WeChat group chat
soon after they installed the app.
The notification from police said the application would locate and track the sources and distribution paths of terrorists, along with illegal religious activity and harmful information, including videos, images, ebooks and documents.
Jingwang's website describes the application as follows:
Jingwang is a protection service with an adult and child categorization system introduced by Jiangsu Telecom. The main function is to block pornographic websites, online scams, trojan horses, and phishing sites; to alert users of how much time
they spend online; and to enable remote control of one's home network. The tool is intended to help kids develop a healthy lifestyle by building a safe web filter for the minors.
Of course, any tool with these capabilities could be used in multiple ways. For example, the app's remote control feature could enable state actors or even hackers to manipulate or steal from a person's home network.
The move is consistent with other measures of control over digital activities in the region. While stories of digital censorship in China often focus on the experiences of users in major cities in the east and south, the reality is often more
bleak for those living in remote, embattled ethnic minority regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet. Seeking to contain unrest and discontent in conflict areas, authorities often impose extreme censorship and surveillance measures and routine Internet
Authorities from Xinjiang are checking to make sure that people are using the official Jingwang application. A mobile notification demanded people install the app within 10 days. If they are caught at a checkpoint and their devices do not have the
software, they could be detained for 10 days. This is a setback on the development of technology. They forced people to use devices designed for the elderly. It is a form of confinement by through surveillance technology. We are back to Mao's
Images from mainland China also posted a product description of Jingwang which explained that the tool can negate the password requirement of a Windows operating system and access the computer hard disk with no restrictions. Once installed with
Jingwang, computers and mobiles in Xinjiang, would become electronic handcuffs.
Complaints to the BBFC have been outlined in the BBFC Annual Report covering 2016:
The film Deadpool generated the largest amount of public feedback in2016, with 51 complaints.
Some viewers were concerned about the level of violence in the film. The BBFC responded that the violence is strong and frequently bloody, this often occurs during fast-paced action sequences with little focus on detail. There is also a comic
tone to the violence, and the film's fantastical setting further distances it from reality.
The BBFC also received complaints about sex references and strong language in Deadpool. The BBFC responded that though strong sex references do occur throughout the film, most of these are in the form of comic verbal quips or innuendo. Deadpool
contains frequent use of strong language ('fuck', 'motherfucker'). However, there is no upper limit on the number of uses of strong language at 15.The sex references and language are therefore acceptable at the classification.
The BBFC received 30 complaints about Suicide Squad .
Most of the feedback was from children under the age of fifteen, or their parents, who had hoped that the film would achieve a lower classification. The sustained threat and moderate violence in Suicide Squad were too strong to warrant a 12A.
The BBFC received 20 complaints regarding Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Some members of the public believed the film to be too scary for a 12A classification. Te BBFC responded that scenes of horror in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children involve some monster characters known as Hollows which feast on
eyeballs. These scenes are infrequent and the fantasy setting of the film as a whole reduces the intensity of these moments.
Nineteen members of the public wrote to the BBFC regarding the level of violence in Jason Bourne , classified 12A.
Some complaints focussed on the term moderate violence and argued that this did not reflect the level of detail depicted. The BBFC responded that although there are some heavy blows, little is shown in terms of injury detail, with the focus
instead placed on action.
Sausage Party attracted 19 complaints.
Some of the feedback concerned the film's sex references. A scene in Sausage Party shows food products taking part in an orgy, during which various sexual activities are depicted, but in an unrealistic manner. Given the animated nature of the
film and the comic context, this scene is acceptable at 15.
Some members of the public complained about the film's three uses of very strong language ('cunt'). The comic and non aggressive delivery of the very strong language in Sausage Party means that it is acceptable at 15.
Other complaints about Sausage Party focussed on drug use. Drug references in the film are either unrealistic (for example, food products smoking joints) or involve non-existent drugs (for example, bath salts). As such, they are permissible at
15, where drug taking may be shown but the work as a whole must not promote or encourage drug misuse.
Eighteen members of the public wrote to the BBFC about the violence in 10 Cloverfield Lane (12A).
There is a scene where a character is shot; however, this takes place off screen, and no impact or detail is shown. Another scene shows the antagonist being injured by a barrel of acid, his face visibly burnt. However, there is no significant
focus on the injury detail. There are several scenes of moderate threat in the film which create a dark tone that the BBFC recognised as being at the upper end of the 12A level. At 12A,moderate physical and psychological threat is permitted as
long as horror sequences are not too frequent or sustained, and the overall tone is not disturbing.
The BBFC received ten complaints about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice regarding threat, violence and the dark tone of the film.
Moments of threat include characters being held at gunpoint, and some nightmarish dream sequences. The BBFC responded that the violence and tone sit within a known fantasy context consistent with both BBFC Classification Guidelines and past
instalments of the Batman series at the 12A classification. There is limited detail of injury in the film and, in the few moments where injury is seen, there is no emphasis on either injuries or blood.
In 2016 the BBFC age rated 1,075 films for cinema release, the most since 1957, proving that Britain continues to be a nation of film enthusiasts. In a year where almost twice as many films were released in cinemas compared to 2009, more films
were rated 15 (401) than any other age rating. Every film age rated by the BBFC comes with detailed BBFCinsight information to help people make informed viewing choices for themselves and their family.
Away from the cinema the popularity of digital content continued to rise. In line with this, the BBFC charted an 85% increase in the number of minutes of digital content submitted to it compared to 2015, with Netflix sending more titles to the
BBFC than any other customer. In 2016 the BBFC also age rated a virtual reality (VR) film for the first time as ABE VR, a short horror VR film, was rated 15 for bloody violence and threat.
David Austin, BBFC Chief Executive, said:
The BBFC's key aim is to help families make viewing decisions that work for them at the cinema and at home, where an increasing amount of content is available online, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray. We were also named by Government as, subject to
designation, the preferred regulator for the age verification of pornographic content online under the Digital Economy Act, a further endorsement of our expertise as a regulator that has the ability to help protect children from unsuitable
content online. The BBFC will continue to adapt to innovations in technology and shape its Classification Guidelines in line with the attitudes of people living across the UK, including parents with young children, regular film viewers and
In addition to providing the latest age rating information on its website and free app, the BBFC continues to publish resources for students, including a regular podcast. In 2016 the BBFC's education team also held 151 teaching sessions for over
9,000 people, talking to them about the history of the BBFC, what the age ratings mean, and how they can check what the key issues are in a film, DVD/Blu-ray or VOD release, before they watch it.
UK Government internet censors at the Department of Censorship, Media and Sport have announced a timetable for banning UK adult businesses from operating unless they sign up for currently economically unviable age verification services. Foreign
adult websites will simply end up getting blocked.
Minister of State for Digital Censorship, Matt Hancock MP writes:
Mandatory age verification to view online pornography, a crackdown on ticket bots, and new subtitling requirements for video on demand services are are among the measures being taken forward today as work begins on implementing the new Digital
Digital Minister Matt Hancock has signed the commencement order for the Digital Economy Act 2017 which achieved Royal Assent in April. The Act places the consumer at its heart and will be a vital piece of legislation in making sure the rights and
interests of the individual are protected and strengthened in an increasingly digital society.
Following the signing of the commencement order today, work will now begin on the following areas:
introducing a new age verification process for accessing online pornography, expected to be in place by April 2018, a milestone in the Government's work to make the UK the safest place in the world for children to be online
requiring catch-up TV and video on demand services to provide subtitling and audio description on their programmes
cracking down on ticket touts by making it a criminal offence for those that misuse bot technology to sweep up tickets
measures to improve digital connectivity for consumers right across the UK, cutting the costs for new infrastructure and simplifying planning rules which will see greater coverage in some of the hardest to reach places in the UK
Comment: Age verification plans put web users' privacy at risk
Open Rights Group has responded to the announcement that the Government has initiated plans for the age verification of porn websites.
Executive Director Jim Killock said:
Age verification could lead to porn companies building databases of the UK's porn habits, which could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison style hacks.
The Government has repeatedly refused to ensure that there is a legal duty for age verification providers to protect the privacy of web users.
There is also nothing to ensure a free and fair market for age verification. We are concerned that the porn company MindGeek will become the Facebook of age verification, dominating the UK market. They would then decide what privacy risks or
profiling take place for the vast majority of UK citizens.
Age verification risks failure as it attempts to fix a social problem with technology. In their recent manifestos, all three main political parties called for compulsory sex and relationship education in schools. Sex education would genuinely
protect young people, as it would give them information and context.
Elspeth Howe has tabled yet another internet censorship bill planning to define any sex work rejected by the BBFC to be 'extreme
pornography'. The first reading of the bill took place in the House of Lords on 10th July 2017. The bill reads:
A Bill to Amend the definition of extreme pornography in the Digital Economy Act 2017.
1 Amendment of the definition of extreme pornography
(1) The Digital Economy Act 20 17 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 15 (meaning of "pornographic material"), in subsection (1), omit paragraphs (g) to (i). (3) In section 22 (meaning of "extreme pornographic material"), for subsections (1) to (4) substitute--
"(1) In this section "extreme pornographic material" means any of the following--
(a) the whole or part of a video work--
(i) if it is reasonable to assume from its nature that the video work was produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal, and
(ii) if the video works authority has determined the video work not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it;
(b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to assume--
(i) that it was produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal, and
(ii) that the video works authority would determine that a video work including it was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it."
,ASA have published a report Depictions, Perceptions and Harm
arguing for stronger censorship of ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which the ASA claims might be harmful to people, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes. ASA wrote in a press
Responding to the evidence, our sister body, CAP -- the authors of the UK Advertising Codes - will develop new standards on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics. We will then administer and enforce those standards. CAP
will also use the evidence in the report to clarify standards that reflect our existing position on ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualise people or suggest it is acceptable to be unhealthily-thin.
The announcement comes at the conclusion of a major review into gender stereotyping in ads, with evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults. These
stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes, with costs for individuals, the economy and society.
The aim of the review has been to consider whether regulation is doing enough to address the potential for harm or offence arising from gender stereotypes in ads. We have a track record of banning ads on grounds of objectification, inappropriate
sexualisation and for suggesting it is desirable for young women to be unhealthily thin. But we have ruled that ads that feature gender stereotypical roles or characters are unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to their audience.
To test whether standards are in the right place, the review examined gender stereotyping across several spheres, including body image, objectification, sexualisation, gender characteristics and roles, and mocking people for not conforming to
gender stereotypes. To reach conclusions, evidence was gathered through a major independent research study by GfK -- the findings of which are also published today - alongside a wide-ranging consultation of expert stakeholders.
The key findings are these:
- The evidence shows support for the ASA's track record of banning ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualize people, and ads which suggest that it's acceptable for young women to be unhealthily thin
- But a tougher line is needed on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which can potentially cause harm, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes
The report indicates that the latter should be considered on grounds of potential harm to the audience, banning those gender stereotypes that are most likely to reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others
New standards are not intended to ban all forms of gender stereotypes. For example, the evidence falls short of calling for a ban on ads depicting a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks. But, subject to context and content considerations, the
evidence suggests the following types of depictions are likely to be problematic:
- An ad which depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up
- An ad that suggests a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa
- An ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks
CAP will report publically on its progress before the end of 2017 and commits, as always, to delivering training and advice on the new standards in good time before they come into force in 2018.
Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said:
Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people. While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal gender outcomes, tougher
advertising standards can play an important role in tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for individuals, the economy and society as a whole.
Ella Smillie, lead report author, said:
Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children. Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take. Tougher standards
in the areas we've identified will address harms and ensure that modern society is better represented."
The Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) has recently announced at the 19th Annual UK Internet
Industry Awards 203 colloquially dubbed the ISPAs.
The Internet Hero Award went to Marcus Hutchins for his role in finding the kill switch for the WannaCry ransomware that affected hundreds of thousands of computers earlier this year.
The less coveted, but widely contested award, the Internet Villain Award, went to President Erdogan of Turkey for his role in cracking down on online freedom of expression, including blocking Wikipedia and social media.
George A (for Andrew) Romero has dies aged 77. He was an American-Canadian filmmaker, writer and editor, best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about an imagined zombie apocalypse, beginning with Night of the Living
Dead (1968), which is often considered a progenitor of the fictional zombie of modern culture. Other films in the series include D awn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985).
Aside from the Dead series, his works include The Crazies (1973), Martin (1978), Creepshow (1982), Monkey Shines (1988) and The Dark Half (1993).
Romero is often noted as an influential pioneer of the horror film genre, and has been called an icon and the Father of the Zombie Film.
International over-the-top (OTT) content providers have been the bane of Thai regulator National Broadcasting and Telecommunications
Commission's (NBTC) existence over the past few months.
The supposedly independent communications censor seems to be obsessed with finding ways to curb the likes of Facebook, Google, YouTube and Alibaba. In early April it boldly suggested imposing some kind of bandwidth fee on the consumption of OTT
services, requiring OTT players to have an operating licence to run a business in Thailand and even making them pay a value-added service tax for transactions by local merchants.
The head of the broadcasting committee, Natee Sukonrat, was quoted as saying users on social media who influence public opinion will have to be reined in.
What on the surface may seem to be an effort to create a more level playing field for the mobile players could also be seen as a thinly disguised attempt to give the regulator the power to more easily monitor and censor content the government is
finding difficult to regulate. The widely-criticised proposals are merely a backhanded move to bypass current legal processes and give the regulator the authority to demand the removal of content the military-run government considers illegal
without waiting for a court order, which the government has complained is time consuming.
Facebook and co would not play ball with Thai government requests and the government was forced drop the plan to register OTT players for tax purposes. However the government said that it would push ahead to replace several weak points in the
censorship process and come up with a revised proposal in 30 days.
And now the junta's ominously named National Reform Steering Assembly this month approved an 84-page social media censorship proposal, which would require such things as fingerprint and facial scanning just to top-up a prepaid plan, all in an
effort to be able to identify those posting content to OTT services. The push for fingerprint and facial recognition is in addition to existing requirements for all SIM users to register with their 13-digit national IDs.
Commentators say the stringent rules are similar to those in use in China and Iran.
India's film censors have ordered that a documentary about the economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen be altered to remove words including 'Hindu' 'India' and 'cow', the director has said.
Suman Ghosh said he was told by censor board officials that his one-hour documentary about Sen, a Harvard professor and essayist, could be released only if certain words were bleeped out. Those words reportedly included cow, Hindu India, Hindutva,
a reference to the religious nationalist ideology of India's ruling party, and Gujarat, the home state of the country's prime minister, Narendra Modi .
I was quite shaken, Ghosh said of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) decision, against which he said he would be appealing. I was shocked but I thought, I have to argue.
In the documentary, named after his book of essays The Argumentative Indian, Sen criticises what he sees as the restricted vision of India espoused by Modi's rightwing nationalist party. In one reportedly censored scene, Sen lauds the
value of vigorous argument and debate, in contrast to chastising people for having mistreated a cow or some such thing.
A Video on Demand (VOD) ad for Femfresh bikini line shaving products, seen on ITV Player and 4oD in March and April 2017, featured several women, who were wearing briefs and swimwear, dancing. It included multiple close-up shots of the women's
Seventeen complainants, who believed that the ad objectified women and portrayed them in an overly sexualised way, objected that it was offensive and socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that Church & Dwight had received advice from Clearcast, which set out Clearcast's view that the ad was OK for VOD. However, we noted that the advertiser had primary responsibility for ensuring that VOD ads complied with the CAP
The ad promoted products for shaving the bikini line, and given their intended use, it was relevant for the ad to focus on that area of the body and show women wearing swimwear and fitness wear that exposed it. We also noted that many of the dance
moves used in the routine reflected those that might be seen in some exercise classes. However, overall we considered that the dance sequence was highly sexualised, in the style of a music video, and featured many thrusting dance moves. The ad
focused to a large extent on the women's crotches, with relatively few shots of their faces, and some of them wore high-cut swimsuits that were more exposing than many swimsuits. Even taking into account the nature of the product, we considered
that it had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that objectified women. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Church & Dwight Ltd not to use advertising that objectified women and which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to promote their products.
Ofcom has published an annual report exploring UK adults' attitudes and opinions towards television and radio broadcasting, and related areas
such as programme standards, advertising and regulation. It summarises the findings set out in a series of charts.
The research findings from Ofcom's Media Tracker study provide a valuable source of information on consumers' attitudes, and help inform Ofcom's work on broadcasting standards.
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to draw up, and from time to time revise, a Code for television and radio services, covering programme standards. This includes the protection of under-18s, the application of generally accepted
standards to provide adequate protection from the inclusion of harmful or offensive material, sponsorship, product placement in television programmes, and fairness and privacy.
Ofcom recognises that people's views on what are generally accepted standards are subject to change over time, and so should be explored by ongoing consumer research. This report is one of a range of sources that Ofcom uses in undertaking its
broadcasting standards duties.
On 20 July 2016, Ariana International broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he
carried out a terrorist attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people. Ofcom wrote:
Ariana International is a general entertainment channel originating from Afghanistan, and broadcast by satellite in the UK.
On 20 July 2016, the Licensee broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out an attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people.
In the video, Muhammad Riyad stated that he was a "Mujahid [holy warrior] of Islamic State". He also stated his and ISIL's intentions to carry out acts of extreme violence against members of the public and his words could be interpreted
as being a direct call to action to members of the Muslim community to join ISIL and to commit violence, up to, and including murder, against members of the police and the army in the West.
The news item made clear that "Daish" have now accepted that this young man [i.e. Mr Riyad] was one of their followers". In addition, it has bee n widely reported that several individuals, such as Muhammad Riyad, have been inspired
to carry out acts of violence in the name of ISIL.
Ofcom's Executive found that material in the Ariana News programme breached Rules 2.3, 3.1 and 3.2 of the Code.
Rule 3.1: Material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Rule 3.2: Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television and radio programmes except where it is justified by the context.
Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £200,000. 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.
New censorship rules issued by Bejing will prohibit portrayals of homosexuality, prostitution and drug addiction in online videos. The China
Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) is targeting what they consider abnormal sexual activity.
The rules which were issued on Friday demand that online video platforms hire at least three professional censors. They were ordered to view entire programmes and take down any considered not sticking to the correct political and aesthetic
Those who don't adhere to the new rules face being reported to the police for further investigation, according to Xhinua state news agency.