In an effort to safeguard artistic freedom in India, Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, introduce d the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2018
to reduce the pre-censorship powers of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC).
Tharoor commented that the CBFC should be a certification body and not a moral policing body. He wrote on social media:
I introduced my Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to remove the outdated provisions which hamper the free flow of free speech, especially artistic freedom. The protection of artistic freedom is essential for the development of our culture and
It's [The CBFC's] censorship powers (& the Govt's power to revise its decisions as to whether a film should be screened or not) reflect a regressive and paternalistic outlook which is out of date in the 21st century. The existing
guidelines for certification are broad and vague, allowing the CBFC to pass absurd orders such as muting individual words of dialogue, like the term 'cow' in a documentary on Amartya Sen. My Bill introduces comprehensive guidelines for gradation
in film certification. My Bill also removes the discretionary powers of the State to ban films. The State should only resort to the power of suspension of films as the last resort in order to maintain public order. We should not be held hostage
by vigilante groups & self-appointed 'moral police'.
The bill seeks to completely remove the State's power to ban a film, which he says should be considered as a last resort. During the time of Padmaavat's release, states claimed that Section 6 of the Cinematograph Act empowers them to stop the
release of any film that risks public order.
Amongst the key changes are additional film certificates:
U -- film suitable for all persons, regardless of age, and is often family friendly;
U/A 12+ -- film suitable for persons above twelve years of age or for a person under the age of twelve with parental guidance;
U/A 15+ -- film suitable for persons (adolescents) above fifteen years or for a person under the age of fifteen with parental guidance
A -- film suitable for public exhibition, but restricted to adults;
C (A with Caution) -- film restricted for adults with the specific purpose of cautioning them that it has more than a reasonable amount of content such as violence, sex, nudity, drugs and other related contents;
S -- film restricted to viewership by members of a profession or any class of persons, having regard to the nature, content and theme of the film
Detailed guidelines are included in the bill for each category, here are the rules foa an adults only A rating:
Discrimination -- While there may be discriminatory themes and languages in the film, the film as a whole shall not endorse or glorify discriminatory language or behavour ;
Psychotropic Substances, Liquor, Smoking, Tobacco -- Imbibing of these elements may be shows, but the work as a whole shall not promote or encourage misuse of the same. The misuse of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances (for
example, aerosols or solvents) is not acceptable;
Imitable behaviour -- Dangerous behaviour (for example, committing suicide or inflicting self-harm) shall not be shown in detail that could be copied by others . Context, realism and setting shall determine the acceptability of depiction of
easily accessible weapons;
Language -- Very strong language, including abuse and vulgar words is permitted;
Nudity --There may be nudity, even in a sexual context, but without explicit detail ;
Sex-- Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail . References to sexual behaviour is permitted, but very strong reference can only be justified in context . Works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation is not
Fear, Threat & Horror--There may be strong threat and horror. A sustained focus on sadistic or sexual threat is not acceptable;
Violence--Strong violence is permitted, but explicit gory images are not acceptable . Strong sadistic violence is not acceptable, there may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence but the depiction of sexual violence must be discreet
and justified by context.
The proposal is introduced with plenty of fancy words about the CBFC being classifiers not censors, but the bill includes plenty of reasons to continue censoring and banning films anyway:
Films under this [top A with Caution] category shall not qualify for certification in the event of the following--
( 1 ) Where the material is in breach of criminal law, or has been created though the commission of a criminal offence;
( 2 ) Where material or treatment appears to the Board to risk harm to individuals;
For example, the detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal use of psychotropic substances, which may cause of public harm or morals. Other examples may include portrayals of sadistic or sexual violence that make this
violence looking appealing; reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence; or films that invite viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities;
( 3 ) Where the work is pornographic in nature and or compromises explicit sexual activity or dialogue that is non-contextual in nature. However, any sexually explicit material for educational purposes shall be allowed;
( 4 ) Where the work involves sadistic or sexual violence with children;
( 5 ) Where the work, including its dialogues, are likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role- playing as non-adults.
Eighth Grade is a 2018 USA comedy by Bo Burnham.
Starring Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton and Emily Robinson.
An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.
Eight Grade is a US film aimed at 8th graders but its 8th grade strong language has resulted in it being rated R by the MPAA. The R rating means that with graders cannot see the film at theatres unless accompanied by their parents.
The film makers from A24 Studio are not impressed by their target audience being disallowed so organised nationwide screenings where the R rating was not enforced (age restrictions are legally voluntary n the US). 50 no-rating-enforced
screenings were organised on August 8. The studio partnered with one theater in every state across America for the screenings.
But US moralist campaigners were not happy. The Parents Television Council called on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to hold the A24 Studio accountable for those under 17s admitted without a parent. PTC President Tim Winter
Subjective declarations such as the one by A24 -- that some content is 'too important' to be labeled in accordance with the standards set forth by the MPAA and understood, trusted and relied upon by parents -- undermine and negate the entire
purpose of having the content rating system in the first place. In this instance, and based upon empirical data of this film's content, the Hollywood studio at issue here is grotesquely and irresponsibly usurping parental authority. Either the
standard means something or it means nothing. Those who are openly violating both the spirit and the letter of the age-based content ratings system for this publicity stunt should be held to account by the MPAA.
The man behind a new film about Hull's year as the UK City of Culture has hit out at censors after
they gave it it 15 rating.
A Northern Soul is Hull-born award-winning documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister's take on 2017. It follows struggling factory worker Steve Arnott's dream of bringing hip-hop and rap to the city's estates in a youth project involving a
The film was given a 12A rating by licensing councillors in Hull ahead of a recent series of initial screenings at the University of Hull and Vue cinema.
But now the BBFC has decided it should have a 15 rating for strong language.
While the documentary does feature regular use of the F-word, McAllister said swearing was what ordinary people in Hull did and claimed the decision was an attack on working-class people. On Twitter, he said:
It's a film about a working-class bloke helping kids with rap music find a better life.
McAllister commented: It's funny the swearing in The King's Speech is a lot worse, including the C-word, but that gets a 12A. He also compared the decision to the swearing on many of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey's TV shows.
More screenings will be held on three evenings next week at Vue as well as later in the month. In response to the BBFC decision, Mr McAllister said all next week's screenings would be free to children under 15 and over 12ish.
[The censorship of strong language in films is one of the silliest aspects of film censorship. Surely young teams will be well versed in strong language, and they will have heard it all before. Surely it will make no difference if they hear the
same at the cinema.
But to be fair to the film censors, strong language is one of the things that parents, maybe especially middle class parents, ask for the censors to cut or restrict.
Should the film BBFC consider the actual effect of young teens hearing strong language on screen, or should they follow the wishes of the parents?].
Kanata, an upcoming French play exploring Canadian Indigenous history, was cancelled on 26 July after some of
the show's producers pulled out of the project following 'aggressive controversy'.
There were no Indigenous actors cast in the Robert Lepage-directed production about fictional relationships between Indigenous Canadians and Europeans spanning 200 years.
It was set to debut at the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris this December.
The production created in a little controversy in France due to politically correct concerns about the depiction of Indigenous peoples. The controversy led to North American co-producers pulling out.
Lepage's production company Ex Machina then said in a statement:
Without their financial support, we are unable to finish creating Kanata with Théâtre du Soleil. Therefore, we are putting an end to the project.
Théâtre du Soleil described the "attempted intimidation of theatre artists" in its accompanying statement:
An intimidation unimaginable in a democratic country, that is carried out largely on social media networks in the name of an ideology that the Théâtre du Soleil does not wish to qualify here but to which it will respond with its own tools.
The government of the Australian state of Victoria has banned Sky News from providing a news service for screening at Melbourne's train stations.
Jacinta Allan, Victoria's transport minister, took offence at a Sky News interview with the far-right extremist Blair Cottrell. The interview was not screened on the train station service but clearly rankled the politician for its political
incorrectness. Allan tweeted:
I've directed @MetroTrains to remove @skynewsaustralia from all CBD station screens. Hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community.
The decision has sparked a backlash from Sky and other News Corp publications. Political editor David Speers said the Andrews government was motivated by frustration over the coverage it received on Sky, and from the Herald Sun, which is also
owned by News Corp. Speers said the network had confirmed the Cottrell interview had not aired on train station screens in Melbourne .
Speers also noted that Blair Cottrell has appeared in interviews on all the other Australian news channels too.
Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message reflecting on religion, free expression and the controversial editorial line of the magazine:
A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Mohammed that offended him.
We stood up for this because different voices -- even if they're sometimes offensive -- can make the world a better and more interesting place.
Later that same month, Facebook agreed to restrict access to an unspecified number of pages for "offending prophet Muhammad" in Turkey at the request of local authorities.
Turkey is notorious for the number of requests it makes to internet companies to remove content for violating its local laws, but it is not the only government in the Middle East to resort to such tactic to silence critical voices.
While a number of the region's governments sometimes make direct requests for content removal -- along with exerting "soft" pressure through other means -- the failures of tech giants in moderating content in the region is a much
bigger and more complex problem.
Abuse of flagging mechanisms
Across the region, social media platform "flagging" mechanisms are often abused to silence government critics, minority groups or views and forms of expression deemed not to be in line with the majority's beliefs on society, religion
In 2016, Facebook suspended several Arabic-language pages and groups dedicated to atheism following massive flagging campaigns.
This effectively eliminated one of the few (in some cases, the only) spaces where atheists and other minorities could come together to share their experiences, and freely express themselves on matters related to religion. Across the region,
atheism remains a taboo that could be met with harassment, imprisonment or even murder. Jessica Anderson, a project manager at onlinecensorship.org which documents cases of content takedowns by social media platforms, told Global Voices:
[Abusive flagging] is a significant problem.
In the Middle East as well as other geographies, we have documented cases of censorship resulting from 'flagging campaigns'--coordinated efforts by many users to report a single page or piece of content.
Flagging mechanisms are also abused by pro-government voices. Earlier this year, Middle East Eye reported that several Egyptian political activists had their pages or accounts suspended and live-streams shut down, after they were reported by
"pro-government trolls." Anderson said:
What we have seen is that flagging can exacerbate existing power imbalances, empowering the majority to 'police' the minority The consequences of this issue can be severe: communities that are already marginalized and oppressed lose access to
the benefits of social media as a space to organize, network, and be heard.
Failure to consider user rights, in context
This past May, Apple joined the ranks of Facebook and Twitter -- the more commonly-cited social media platforms in this realm -- when the iTunes store refused to upload fives songs by the Lebanese band Al-Rahel Al-Kabir. The songs mocked
religious fundamentalism and political oppression in the region.
A representative from iTunes explained that the Dubai-based Qanawat, a local content aggregator hired by Apple to manage its store for the region, elected not to upload the songs. An anonymous source told The Daily Star that iTunes did not know
about Qanawat's decision, which it made due to "local sensitivities." In response to a petition from Beirut-based digital rights NGO SMEX and the band itself, iTunes uploaded the songs and pledged to work with another aggregator.
This case does not only illustrate how "local sensitivities" can interfere with decisions about which types of content get to be posted and stay online in the region, but also shows that companies need to practice due diligence when
taking decisions likely to affect users' freedom of expression rights.
Speaking to Global Voices, Mohamad Najem, co-founder of SMEX pointed out that both Facebook and Twitter have their regional offices located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which he described as one of the "most repressive countries"
in the region. He said: "This is a business decision that will affect free speech in a negative way,"
He further expressed concern that the choice of having an office in a country like the UAE "can sometimes lead to enforcing Gulf social norm[s]" on an entire [Arab] region that is "dynamic and different."
Location, location, location
Facebook and Twitter have offices in the UAE that are intended to serve the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that is ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse, and presents a wide range of political viewpoints and
experiences. When companies are pressured by oppressive governments or other powerful groups to respect "local sensitivities," they are being complicit in shutting down expression of such diversity. Anderson said:
"Platforms seem to take direction from louder, more powerful voices...In the Middle East, [they] have not been able to stand up to powerful interests like governments,"
Take, for example, Facebook's willingness to comply with the Turkish government's censorship demands. Throughout the years, the company was involved in censoring criticism of the government, religion and the republic's founder Ataturk, Kurdish
activists , LGBT content and even an anti-racism initiative .
Facebook's complicity with these requests appears to be deeply ingrained. I spoke to a Turkish activist two years ago who told me that he believed the platform "was turning into a pro-government media." Today, the platform continues to
comply, restricting access to more than 4,500 pieces of content inside the country in 2017 alone. Facebook is not transparent about the number and rates of requests it complies with. Arzu Geybulla, a freelance writer who covers Turkey and
Azerbaijan for Global Voices said:
The biggest shortcoming in [the] ways platforms deal with takedown requests is [their] lack of understanding of the political contexts. And even if there is some kind of idea of what is happening on the ground, I am not entirely sure, there is
always due diligence involved.
In conference settings, representatives from Facebook are routinely faced with questions about massive flagging campaigns. They maintain that multiple abuse reports on a single post or page do not automate the process of the post or page being
removed. But they offer little concrete information about how the company does see and respond to these situations. Does the company review the content more closely? Facebook representatives also say that they consult with local experts on these
issues, but the specifics of these consultations are similarly opaque.
And the work of moderating content -- deciding what meets local legal standards and Facebook's own policies -- is not easy. Anderson from onlinecensorship.org said:
Content moderation is incredibly labor intensive. As the largest platforms continue to grow, these companies are attempting to moderate a staggering volume of content. Workers (who may not have adequate knowledge and training, and may not be
well paid) have to make snap decisions about nuanced and culturally-specific content, leading to frequent mistakes and inconsistencies.
For activists and human rights advocates in the region, it is also difficult to know the scope of this problem due to lack of corporate transparency. Cases like that of iTunes may be occurring more often than is publicly known -- it is only when
someone speaks out about being censored that these practices come to light.
The next Wolfenstein game might not even need to remove Adolf Hitler's moustache. Germany's
Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (or USK), an independent, industry-funded board that oversees age and content ratings for videos games available in the country, announced on Thursday that it will now permit the sale of games
featuring Nazi imagery within the country, something that had previously been banned. The USK's decision reportedly came after a heated debate involving the Nazi-killing Wolfenstein series , particularly a pair of anti--Third Reich games in 2014
and 2017 that were visibly, and somewhat humorously , self-censored in Germany in order to avoid violating a provision of the country's constitution.
Previously, video games with Nazi symbolism were heavily censored or outright banned based on the German criminal code's Section 86a , which forbids the use of symbols, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans, propaganda, and greetings relating to
unconstitutional organizations in German products. Section 86a violations could be met with up to three years of imprisonment or a hefty fine.
USK will now assess games on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet a reinterpreted standard of the country's social adequacy clause that allows for Nazi imagery if it serves one of the following purposes: artistic, scientific, or if it
depicts current or historical events. This metric is currently used for films screened in Germany because they are considered works of art.
New Zealand could follow the United Kingdom in bringing in age restrictions
for online pornography and blocking websites which refuse to comply.
Department of Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who also holds the children's portfolio, says young people are being bombarded by internet pornography and she wants censorship laws to be strengthened.
This is a really, really big issue to New Zealand and we are going to have a serious conversation about it, she told the Herald. Martin supports the approach of the United Kingdom, which has ambitious and controversial plans to introduce
mandatory age verification for pornographic websites later this year.
She made the comments after the Chief Censor began a major piece of research on New Zealand teenagers' online pornography habits. We're pretty excited about it, Chief Censor David Shanks said.
We think it's going to give us some potentially world-leading data on the New Zealand situation and teens and pornography. With this research our aim is to get solid evidence about the experiences and perspectives of young people on the table
so there can be an informed debate.
In our view policy in this area does need some consideration, in terms of how do you regulate use and access to porn in the digital environment. The question there is . . . when the average age to get a smartphone is 10 and a half to 11 years
old, what sort of tools and restrictions can we really place on access to material that's widely available on the internet?
The Office of Film and Literature Classification began the survey last week of 2300 people aged between 14 and 17. It asks if teenagers look at online pornography, how often, what sort of content, why they are looking at it, and how they are
viewing it. The survey is expected to be completed in December.
Martin said the Chief Censor's research was vital work, though she is already intent on changes:
I have already had conversations with the Chief Censor with regard to a particular drive of mine to make sure we as a nation do something about what is the bombardment of pornography and the easy access to pornography that our young people are
Considering our censorship laws were pre-internet, this is an area that we have left for a long time without addressing and I think we need to address it.
Martin said she was not interested in wholesale bans on online content because they did not work. But she supported the UK Government's approach, saying she was interested in any policy which helped to protect young people. She added:
I would really like to watch how they implement it and see what are the challenges for them.
Even the streaming adult video site YouPorn has joined in with the internet co-conspirators banning Alex Jones' Infowars from their platforms. This follows widespread censorship from tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest
and Spotify--but notably, not Twitter.
In a statement, YouPorn vice president Charlie Hughes said Following news that YouTube, Spotify and Facebook have banned Alex Jones from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As
one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service.
Alex Jones is noted for a major role in propagating some of the most well known conspiracy theories in recent years, including Pizzagate and the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. His support of theories that the Sandy Hook and Parkland
shootings were faked.
Yesterday, YouTube removed Alex Jones' channel , which had 2.4 million subscribers, for violating its community guidelines, after issuing it a strike last month . On the same day, Apple removed Alex Jones' podcasts from iTunes , following
similar actions from Spotify and Stitcher, and Facebook removed four Infowars pages for violating its policies against graphic violence and hate speech. Pinterest also took down Infowars' profile following an inquiry from Mashable.
Of course the stupidity of the censorship is that surely not many people take Alex Jones very seriously, its just entertainment. In censoring something that they do not like, they have surely done more harm than good by revealing that big tech
marches to the tune of the PC left and is now part of the problem of an unfair and unjust establishment. The technology companies have simply added to the fractious nature of the modern world.
Offsite Comment: Alex Jones and the rise of corporate censorship
This week, the Indonesian government has forced ISPs to forcibly turn on content filters on search engines by default, which can't be switched
off. The new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining that the video streaming site's restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.
Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. Netizens are reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.
While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the
government. The ISP tweeted:
Hi, Youtube's restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.
Malaysia's religious affairs minister has ordered portraits of LGBT activists to be
removed from an arts festival in Penang.
Portraits of activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik, who champion the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, were taken down on the orders of Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a minister in the Prime Minister's
Department. Dr Mujahid said promoting LGBT activities was not in line with the new Pakatan Harapan administration's policies. He told reporters at the Parliament lobby: I was informed of the exhibition that showcased their pictures, along with
the rainbow pride flag, in a public gallery.
I contacted the state government to check if the claim is true, and I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia.
Ms Nisha and Mr Pang's portraits were removed from the month-long Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the George Town Festival in Penang. They were portrayed holding the Jalur Gemilang, Malaysia's flag, in prints captured by photographer
The exhibition sponsor, Datuk Vinod Sekhar, criticised the decision:
How could this happen in Penang? I expected more from the Penang government. We should be enlightening people, changing their mindsets - not reacting to people who are close-minded.
A massively popular sci-fi drama in which the two lead characters are gay has been purged from one of China's top streaming
platforms, as part of the continuing Chinese government campaign to stamp out what it deems harmful and obscene content from the internet, according to a report published this weekend by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.
The move to censor the series Zhenhun , aka Guardian -- of China's most popular online shows with more than 1.8 billion views over its 40 episodes since it appeared on the Youku streaming service in early July.
The case of Guardian illustrates how sensitive China's censors can be when it comes to depictions of sexuality, and gay themes. The 40-part drama is based on a popular novel, written under a pseudonym, in which the two male protagonists are
clearly in a relationship. In the adaptation, according to the Morning Post , their relationship was instead presented as a bond of brotherhood in the hope of avoiding the censors.
But toning down the novel's gay themes still wasn't enough for China's censorship authorities. In order to pass the censors, the screenwriters turned this story into a science fiction drama for children, and it was still taken offline.
A man who suffered a miscarriage of justice after being convicted for a joke has been refused permission to appeal against a conviction for supposedly causing gross offence.
Mark Meechan, who blogs under the name Count Dankula, was fined £800 in April after being found guilty under the Communications Act over a video joke in which he trained his girlfriend's dog to perform Nazi salutes.
A letter from the court claimed the appeal was not arguable and in each of its elements is wholly misconceived. It also dismissed arguments made by Meechan's lawyers over the judge's handling of witness evidence at Airdrie Sheriff Court in March
and the meaning of grossly offensive. The letter said:
The appeal against conviction is without merit. Likewise the appeal against sentence is not arguable -- this was a deeply unpleasant offence in which disgraceful and utterly offensive material was very widely distributed by the appellant, it
said. This was to the considerable distress of the community in question and -- just as disturbingly -- to the apparent approval of a large number of persons who appear to share the appellant's racist views.
Indeed it must be observed that in the circumstance the appellant was fortunate that the learned sheriff was not considering custody as an option.
US politicians are debating the need for internet censorship, social media regulation and privacy legisation.
Recently Axios' David McCabe published a fascinating policy paper from the office of Senator Mark Warner. The paper outlines a comprehensive censorship and regulatory regime that would touch virtually every aspect of social networks. It's a
comprehensive starting point for discussion
The paper is notably well-versed both on the dangers posed by misinformation and the trade-offs that come with increased regulation, especially to privacy and free speech. No doubt the US debate will be echoed around the world.
So what exactly do Warner and his staff propose? The ideas are designed to address three broad categories: misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of these technologies; privacy and data protection; and competition.
Here are some the ideas presented.
Misinformation, disinformation, and the exploitation of technology.
requiring networks to label automated bots;
requiring platforms to verify identities, despite the significant consequences to free speech;
legally requiring platforms to make regular disclosures about how many fake accounts they've deleted;
ending legal protections on contents hosts for defamation;
legally requiring large platforms to create APIs for academic research;
spending more money to fight cyber threats from Russia and other state-level actors.
Privacy and data protection.
Create a US version of the GDPR;
designate platforms as information fiduciaries with the legal responsibility of protecting our data;
empowering the Federal Trade Commission to make rules around data privacy;
create a legislative ban on dark patterns that trick users into accepting terms and conditions without reading them;
allow the government to audit corporate algorithms.
Require tech companies to continuously disclose to consumers how their data is being used;
require social network data to be made portable;
require social networks to be interoperable;
designate certain products as essential facilities and demand that third parties get fair access to them.
These proposals remain far from becoming law -- but perhaps not as far as tech platforms would wish.
Elspeth Howe, a member of the House of Lords, has written an article in the Telegraph outlining her case that the remit for the
BBFC to censor internet porn sites should be widened to include a wider range of material that she does not like.
This seems to tally with other recent news that the CPS is reconsidering its views on what pornographic content should be banned from publication in Britain.
Surely these debates are related to the detailed guidelines to be used by the BBFC when either banning porn sites, or else requiring them to implement strict age verification for users. It probably explains why the Telegraph recently reported
that the publication of the final guidelines has been delayed until at least the autumn.
Categories of Porn
For clarity the categories of porn being discussed are as follows:
(proposal by CPS)
(proposal by Howe))
Softcore porn rated 18 under BBFC guidelines
- Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
Vanilla hardcore porn rated R18 under current BBFC guidelines
- Will be allowed subject to strict age verification
Beyond R18 hardcore porn that includes material historically banned by the CPS claiming obscenity, ie fisting, golden showers, BDSM, female ejaculation, and famously from a recent anti censorship campaign, face sitting/breath play. Such
material is currently cut from R18s.
- Such content will be allowed under the current Digital Economy Act for online porn sites
- This category is currently banned for offline sales in the UK, but the CPS has just opened a public consultation on its proposal to legalise such content, as long as it is consensual. Presumably this is related to the
government's overarching policy: What's illegal offline, is illegal online.
Extreme Porn as banned from possession in the UK under the Dangerous Pictures Act. This content covers, bestiality, necrophilia, realistic violence likely to result in serious injury, realistic rape
- This content is illegal to possess in the UK and any websites with such content will be banned by the BBFC regardless of age verification implementation
Cartoon Porn depicting under 18s
- This content is banned from possession in the UK but will be allowed online subject to age verification requirements
Photographic child porn
This is already totally illegal in the UK on all media. Any foreign websites featuring such content are probably already being blocked by ISPs using lists maintained by the IWF. The BBFC will ban anything it spots that may have slipped through
'What's illegal offline, is illegal online'
Elspeth Howe writes:
I very much welcome part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 which requires robust age verification checks to protect children from accessing pornography. The Government deserves congratulations for bringing forward this seminal provision,
due to come into effect later this year.
The Government's achievement, however, has been sadly undermined by amendments that it introduced in the House of Lords, about which there has been precious little public debate. I very much hope that polling that I am placing in the public
domain today will facilitate a rethink.
When the Digital Economy Bill was introduced in the Lords, it proposed that legal pornography should be placed behind robust age verification checks. Not surprisingly, no accommodation for either adults or children was made for illegal
pornography, which encompasses violent pornography and child sex abuse images.
As the Bill passed through the Lords, however, pressure was put on the Government to allow adults to access violent pornography, after going through age-verification checks, which in other contexts it would be illegal to supply. In the end the
Government bowed to this pressure and introduced amendments so that only one category of illegal pornography will not be accessible by adults.
[When Howe mentions violent pornography she is talking about the Beyond R18 category, not the Extreme Porn category, which will be the one category mentioned that will not be accessible to adults].
The trouble with the idea of banning Beyond R18 pornography is that Britain is out of step with the rest of the world. This category includes content that is ubiquitous in most of the major porn websites in the world. Banning so much content
would be simply be impractical. So rather than banning all foreign porn, the government opted to remove the prohibition of Beyond R18 porn from the original bill.
Another category that has not hitherto come to attention is the category of cartoon porn that depicts under 18s. The original law that bans possession of this content seemed most concerned about material that was near photographic, and indeed
may have been processed from real photos. However the law is of most relevance in practical terms when it covers comedic Simpsons style porn, or else Japanese anime often featuring youthful, but vaguely drawn cartoon characters in sexual scenes.
Again there would be problems of practicality of banning foreign websites from carry such content. All the major tube sites seems to have a section devoted to Hentai anime porn which edges into the category.
In July 2017, Howe introduced a bill that would put Beyond R18 and Cartoon Porn back into the list of prohibited material in the Digital Economy Act. The bill is titled the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Amendment) (Definition of Extreme
Pornography) Bill and is still open, but further consideration in Parliament has stalled, presumably as the Government itself is currently addressing these issues.
The bill adds in to the list of prohibitions any content that has been refused a BBFC certificate or would be refused a certificate if it were to be submitted. This would catch both the Beyond Porn and Cartoon Porn categories.
The government is very keen on its policy mantra: What's illegal offline, is illegal online and it seems to have addressed the issue of Beyond 18 material being illegal offline but legal online. The government is proposing to relax its
own obscenity rules so that Beyond R18 material will be legalised, (with the proviso that the porn is consensual). The CPS has published a
with this proposal, and it should be ready for implementation after the consultation closes on 17th October 2018.
Interestingly Howe seems to have dropped the call to ban Beyond R18 material in her latest piece, so presumably she has accepted that Beyond R18 material will soon be classifiable by the BBFC, and so not an issue for her bill.
Still to be Addressed
That still leaves the category of Cartoon Porn to be addressed. The current Digital Economy Act renders it illegal offline, but legal online. Perhaps the Government has given Howe the nod to rationalise the situation by making banning the likes
of Hentai. Hence Howe is initiating a bit of propaganda to support her bill. She writes:
The polling that I am putting in the public domain specifically addresses the non-photographic child sex abuse images and is particularly interesting because it gauges the views of MPs whose detailed consideration of the Bill came before the
controversial Lords amendments were made.
According to the survey, which was conducted by ComRes on behalf of CARE, a massive 71% of MPs, rising to 76% of female MPs, stated that they did not believe it was right for the Digital Economy Act to make non-photographic child sex abuse
images available online to adults after age verification checks. Only 5% of MPs disagreed.
There is an opportunity to address this as part of a review in the next 18 months, but things are too serious to wait .The Government should put matters right now by adopting my very short, but very important two-clause Digital Economy Act
(Amendment) (Extreme Pornography) Bill which would restore the effect of the Government's initial prohibition of this material.
I -- along with 71 per cent of MPs -- urge the Government to take action to ensure that the UK's internet does not endorse the sexual exploitation of children.
I haven't heard of this issue being discussed before and I can't believe that anybody has much of an opinion on the matter. Presumably therefore, the survey presented out of the blue with the questions being worded in such a way as to get the
required response. Not unusual, but surely it shows that someone is making an effort to generate an issue where one didn't exists before. Perhaps an indication that Howe's solution is what the authorities have decreed will happen.
The Festival is a 2018 UK comedy by Iain Morris.
Starring Joe Thomas, Hammed Animashaun and Claudia O'Doherty.
The film was passed 15 for strong sex references, crude humour, sex, drug misuse, very strong language after BBFC advised category pre-cuts for cinema release in 2018.
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 to three sequences of crude and sexual behaviour. When the film was
submitted for formal classification acceptable reductions has been made the film was classified 15.
When Nick's girlfriend dumps him at graduation, he has a colossal meltdown in front of the entire university. He's convinced his life is over, but his best mate Shane has the perfect solution: three days at an epic music festival. With the help
of "festival aficionado" and certified oddball Amy, Shane tries to get Nick to embrace the music, the mayhem and the mud. From the creators of the Inbetweeners comes The Festival, a movie about friendship, growing up, and going mad in a field.
The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA's) Complaints Board has found a TV commercial advertising new caramelised white chocolate biscuits was not racist.
The ruling comes after the board received a complaint that a TV advertisement for Griffins' Toffee Pops claiming offensive dialogue with racist overtones.
The commercial featured three milk chocolate and one white chocolate biscuits on a plate, with the white biscuit saying it was a luxurious caramelised biscuit when told its coating looked interesting by a fellow biscuit.
When a milk chocolate biscuit asks if it tastes delicious, former All Black Carlos Spencer bites into the white chocolate biscuit and says Mmm, that's delicious.
The complainant said the narrative of the commercial was racist. The colour of a biscuit character's face is called into question in terms of whether they might be as good to eat as the other characters, they wrote. It encourages racism and with
the animated style is likely to appeal to children. Horrible and hateful role modelling in a multicultural society.
The Complaints Board commented:
There was a minority on the board that said there was a judgemental tone in the advertisement, due to it singling out the white chocolate biscuit for looking different.
However, the board ultimately ruled the advertisement had not breached the Code of Ethics or Children and Young People's Advertising Code.
The Tommy Robinson phenomenon is a product not of too much liberty, but of too much censorship. It is the cultural elite's
cowardly instinct to chill open discussion about issues like Islam, multiculturalism, mass immigration and social tensions that created Tommy Robinson and his various movements, through allowing him to present himself as a seer in a time of
silence. If Robinson really is the monster the left claim he is, they are his Dr Frankenstein.
MPs left behind unfinished business when they broke for summer recess, and we aren't talking about Brexit negotiations. The rollout of mandatory age verification (AV) technology for adult websites is being held up once again while the Government
mulls over final details. AV tech will create highly sensitive databases of the public's porn watching habits, and Open Rights Groups submitted a
warning the proposed privacy protections are woefully inadequate. The Government's hesitation could be a sign they are receptive to our concerns, but we expect their final guidance will still treat privacy as an afterthought. MPs need to
understand what's at stake before they are asked to approve AV guidelines after summer.
AV tools will be operated by private companies, but if the technology gets hacked and the personal data of millions of British citizens is breached, the Government will be squarely to blame. By issuing weak guidelines, the Government is begging
for a Cambridge Analytica-style data scandal. If this technology fails to protect user privacy, everybody loses. Businesses will be damaged (just look at Facebook), the Government will be embarrassed, and the over 20 million UK residents who
view porn could have their private sexual preferences exposed. It's in everybody's interest to fix this. The draft guidance lacks even the basic privacy protections required for other digital tools like credit card payments and email services.
Meanwhile, major data breaches are rocking international headlines on a regular basis. AV tech needs a dose of common sense.
Christopher Robin is a 2018 USA children's musical by Marc Forster.
Starring Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor and Chris O'Dowd.
The Children's film Christopher Robin has been banned by Chinese film censors. No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China's crusade against images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is widely used as a
mocking representation of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media when bloggers drew comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country's censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after
Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi's sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.
Amazon has removed products bearing Nazi and white supremacist symbols from its online store.
The retailer had faced criticism for letting sellers offer a variety of far right-wing paraphernalia including clothing and jewellery.
Amazon said it had blocked the sellers of onesies with burning cross motifs, jewellery using the Nazi swastika as well as music and audio books pushing fascist views.
In a report released last month, the Partnership for Working Families and the Action Center on Race and the Economy claimed Amazon was helping Nazi and modern white nationalist groups prosper by letting them sell their merchandise and
The report prompted Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota to write to Amazon expressing his alarm that it was allowing the sale of products that promote hateful and racist ideologies.
As well as stopping items being listed and blocking sellers, Amazon said it was now working to get the items removed from its fulfilment centres. It said it used automated methods as well as teams of investigators to scan listings looking for
items that break its policies or national laws covering hate speech, violence or racial intolerance.
Perennial whinger Rajan Zed is urging Latina (Lazio, Italy) based Pontino Brewery Birrificio Pontino to
apologize and withdraw its Sons of Shiva beer; claiming it to be highly inappropriate.
Label of Pontino's Sons of Shiva beer (Harvest Pale Ale, American IPA style) carries an image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha holding a bottle in one hand.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile
greed. Moreover, linking a Hindu deity with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful, Zed added.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan
Rajan Zed has found another beer to rage about. He is urging the Missouri based award-winning
Springfield Brewing Company to apologize and not use Hindu deity Lord Ganesha's image on its Bombay Brown IPA, calling it highly inappropriate.
He, said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Bombay Brown is described as a session-strength IPA with piney, citrus, and floral notes of American hops balanced by bread-like aromas from a blend of dark malt. The brewery websites comments about the Hindu connection:
The artwork for this beer features Ganesha, the Hindu deity revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as the lord of beginnings and the lord of obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and deva of intellect and wisdom. Brewing is
often described as a blend of art and science and Ganesha is a fitting symbol of the brewers' art.
Qatar has removed whole articles from the Doha edition of The New York Times for highlighting the plight
of the emirate's LGBTQ community.
According to ABC News, large sections of the Qatari edition of the New York paper have been censored with a note that said exceptionally removed .
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, as it is in many other Arab countries, and homosexual acts can be punished under current laws.
The New York Times told the U.S. news channel that the decision to censor the articles was made by a local vendor or distributor. A spokesman said:
While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures, we deeply regret and object to any censorship of our journalism and are in regular discussions with our distributors about this practice.
Offsite Comment: My Article Was Censored. I Found Out Why
The censored article covered a New Orleans museum show as a whole, but focused on one artist's contribution: an exhibit exploring an overlooked, dark chapter of the history of the L.G.B.T.Q. community in New Orleans. The artist, Skylar Fein,
researched the tragic killing of 32 people at a gay bar in 1973, and he recreated both the feeling of the bar and the limited -- and sometimes homophobic -- news coverage around it at the time.
The article featured images of Mr. Fein's exhibit and the artist shot by a local photographer, William Widmer. Though the images may be suggestive (a shirtless man, for example), they are not explicit. In fact, the article was similar in many
ways to other Arts pieces that have been published in The Times, and not particularly edgy.
Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human
rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.
The project, code-named Dragonfly, has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents
and people familiar with the plans.
Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named Maotai and Longfei. The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be
launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.
Google's current search engine is blocked in China.
Internet censors of the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) have instructed telecommunications companies and ISPs to block a
list of pornography websites. Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director at the UCC, has said that they have identified 17 popular local and 10 international pornography websites which they, as the UCC, have asked ISP's and telecommunications
companies to block.
The commission received the list of porn sites from the Pornography Control Committee. The committee has established that the list of the websites attached hereto is currently streaming pornography to Uganda in breach of section 13 of the
Anti-Pornography Act, 2014.
Mutabazi has warned that telecom companies and internet providers risk penalties if they don't comply with the new directive.
Perhaps the recent introduction of high taxes on social media websites has pushed Ugandans onto the next best internet freebie, porn.
BBFC category cuts required for a 15 rated UK cinema release
1st August 2018
The Equalizer 2 is a 2018 USA action crime thriller by Antoine Fuqua.
Starring Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington and Bill Pullman.
UK: Passed 15 for strong violence, threat, language, drug misuse after BBFC advised pre-cuts for:
2018 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
This film was originally seen for advice at which stage the company was informed it was likely to be classified 18 uncut but that their preferred 15 classification could be achieved by making reductions to scenes of strong violence and gore.
When the film was submitted for formal classification these scenes had been acceptably reduced.
The film is uncut in the US where it is rated R for brutal violence throughout, language, and some drug content.
The running time suggests that the cut UK version will also be shown in Ireland rated 15A for strong violence.
Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?
It was announced in spring of this year that the Chinese media censorship body State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio,
Film, and TV (SAPPRFT) was being replaced. Now a job recruitment advert has revealed a little more information about the restructuring
Most of SAPPRFT's duties -- and its domain name -- have moved to the newly formed SART (State Administration of Radio and TV), which posted the recruitment ad to their SAPPRFT website.
Film censorship duties will now fall to the Party's Publicity (Propaganda) Bureau ,
while the Cyberspace Administration of China seems to have become the major censor for online news and information.
SART's ad does not mention censorship specifically, and given the recent organizational changes, one can only guess at the purpose of the new hires, but this is what we know from the ad:
A research institute affiliated to SART is looking to fill three specialized applied research roles.
Internet of Things (IoT) and
cryptography (including blockchain) are the focus areas.