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Censor Watch

2019: December

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The Fall Guy...

The Government's Online Harms bill will require foreign social media companies to appoint a token fall guy in Britain who will be jailed should the company fail in its duty of care. I wonder what the salary will be?

Link Here31st December 2019
The government is pushing forward with an internet censorship bill which will punish people and companies for getting it wrong without the expense and trouble of tying to dictate rules on what is allowed.

In an interesting development the Times is reporting that the government want to introduce a "senior management liability", under which executives could be held personally responsible for breaches of standards. US tech giants would be required to appoint a British-based director, who would be accountable for any breaches of the censorship rules.

It seems a little unjust to prosecute a token fall guy who is likely to have absolutely no say in the day to day decisions made by a foreign company. Still it should be a very well paid job which hopefully includes lots of coverage for legal bills and a zero notice period allowing instant resignation at the first hint of trouble.



Extract: The Year in Review for Chinese internet censorship...

Or maybe Old Moore's Almanac for Britain in the next decade

Link Here31st December 2019
The BBC has posted an interesting review of internet and general control freakery in China. One interesting idea was the use of numbers for hash tag rallying calls as numbers can be pretty hard to censor by text filtering. The BBC explains:

Late last year, the term 996 cropped up on a number of social media microblogs and forums, originally by workers in China's tech industry as a subtle way to vent their frustrations at the excessive amount of work they were expected to do.

The Chinese censors struggle to censor number sequences, given that they can often be innocuous. Consequently, Weibo users were able to use the term 996 to complain openly that their employer was violating China's labour laws by making them work some 72 hours a week: from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

But the phrase has now seen expanded usage beyond the tech industry, especially among China's young, who complained that overtime has become an epidemic.



Offsite Article: Facial recognition...

Link Here31st December 2019
People hate it but government's love it, guess who is prevailing?

See article from



Police and CPS prosecute only a very small percentage of reported internet insults...

But presumably it is all worthwhile so as to hype up 'online harms' and the need for a UK internet censor

Link Here30th December 2019
Full story: Insulting UK Law...UK proesecutions of jokes and insults on social media
Britain's first police unit for tackling supposed online hate crime has brought charges against less than 1% of the cases it has investigated.

Scotland Yard's online hate crime hub has logged 1,851 incidents since its launch in April 2017 and 17 cases, or 0.92%, resulted in charges. And of those seven have led to prosecutions, Freedom of Information figures show. There are three more cases pending a charging decision from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The £1.7million scheme, launched by London mayor Sadiq Khan, has however resulted in 59 being given youth referrals, harassment warnings or have been noted as apologising.

The Metropolitan Police said the £326,344 needed for the pilot year of the hub was funded by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). Following the trial, a unit of five officers led by a detective inspector was given a £323,829 budget for 2018/19 and £363,000 in 2019/20 by the police force.

Scotland Yard said the unit now deals with both online and offline cases, reviewing every hate crime reported to the Met on a daily basis.

The low number of charges is thought to be due to the high CPS charging threshold for online hate, and the difficulties investigators face in obtaining information from social media companies.



Offsite Article: EFF's Year in Review...

Link Here30th December 2019
Full story: DNS Over Https...A new internet protocol will make government website blocking more difficult
Encrypting DNS. By Max Hunter and Seth Schoen

See article from



Safer sex...

China is ending the detention of sex workers in prison camps

Link Here29th December 2019
China is to end a punishment system for prostitution that allowed police to hold sex workers and their clients in custody for up to two years in prison camps it euphemistically called 'education centres'. Detainees were forced to work, allegedly making toys and household goods.

The detention system will come to an end on 29 December. Those still in custody will be released, according to Xinhua, China's state media.

Prostitution remains illegal in China. It carries punishments of up to 15 days in detention and fines of up to 5,000 yuan (£546).

A 2013 report by Human Rights Watch interviewed 140 sex workers, clients, police and specialists and found that many sex workers were beaten by police in an attempt to coerce confessions.

China isn't totally abandoning the idea of 're-educatio'n. Authorities in the country claim a number of camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang are voluntary education camps that help to combat extremism.



Offsite Article: EFF's Year in Review...

Link Here29th December 2019
Full story: Internet Encryption...Encryption, essential for security but givernments don't see it that way
Fancy New Terms, Same Old Backdoors: The Encryption Debate in 2019. By Joe Mullin

See article from



Self financing snooping...

France initiates a program of mass social media surveillance in the name of preventing tax fraud

Link Here28th December 2019
Full story: Comms Snooping in France...French database to monitor political activists
The French government has come up with an innovative way of financing a program of mass social media, surveillance, to use it to detect tax fraud.

The self financing surveillance scheme has now been given the go the constitutional court. Customs and tax officials will be allowed to review users' profiles, posts and pictures for evidence of undisclosed income.

In its ruling, the court acknowledged that users' privacy and freedom of expression could be compromised, but its applied caveats to the legislation. It said authorities would have to ensure that password-protected content was off limits and that they would only be able to use public information pertaining to the person divulging it online. However the wording suggests that the non public data is available and can be used for other more covert reasons.

The mass collection of data is part of a three-year online monitoring experiment by the French government and greatly increases the state's online surveillance powers.



Offsite Article: EU despairs over lack of enforcement of the GDPR...

Link Here28th December 2019
Well if they would create a stupid law of inane tick boxing that is impossible to comply with, and so there are so many transgressions that regulators don't know where to start from

See article from



Unelected, censorial lords want to rush through their own 'duty of care' internet censorship law...

Having learnt nothing from legislating for age verification without thinking, a few lords want to rush through internet censorship because it will take the government a year to work through the difficult issues

Link Here27th December 2019
A few unelected members of the House of Lords are introducing their own internet censorship law because they think it is unreasonable to wait a year for the government to work through the issues.

Tom McNally, previously involved in TV censorship law has challenged the Government to back his proposed new law. This is set to be introduced in the House or Lord on January 14.

The bill gives Ofcom censorship powers requiring that internet companies accept a duty of care with provisions to be enforced by Ofcom.

McNally told The Daily Telegraph:

We are in danger of losing a whole year on this. The Government's commitment to develop safer internet legislation in the Queen's Speech, though welcome, did not go far enough.

The Government has yet to reveal the findings from its consultation on its White Paper which was published in the Summer. The results had been expected before the end of this year but have been delayed by the general election.

McNally is drafting the bill with the Carnegie Trust who campaign for internet censorship in the name of thinking of the children. Lord Puttnam and Baroness Kidron, the film director and children's internet rights campaigner are being canvassed as sponsors of the bill.



Unacceptable facts...

Turkey's Constitutional Court orders the government to unblock Wikipedia

Link Here27th December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
Turkey blocked Wikipedia in April 2017 after the online encyclopedia refused to remove terrorism related content that the government didn't like.

The censorship has just been reversed by Constitutional Court, the nation's highest court, which called the ruling a violation of freedom of expression, and ordered the site to be unblocked

Update: Back online

17th January 2020. See article from

Wikipedia is back online in Turkey after two-year ban is overturned

The site has been banned in the country since April 2017.



A petty gesture...

Canadian TV broadcaster cuts a Donald Trump cameo in Home Alone 2

Link Here27th December 2019
Donald Trump's cameo in the 1992 movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was cut from a Canadian television channel's recent broadcasts. The scene shows Trump walking through the Plaza Hotel in New York City -- which he owned at the time -- giving directions to Macaulay Culkin's character, Kevin McCallister.

Twitter users watching the movie on CBC this holiday season pointed out that Trump's scene didn't appear. The CBS-owned site reported the broadcaster acknowledged cutting the scene and provided an unlikely sounding explanation. CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson claimed:

As is often the case with feature films adapted for television, Home Alone 2 was edited for time. The scene with Donald Trump was one of several that were cut from the movie as none of them were integral to the plot. These edits were done in 2014, when we first acquired the film and before Mr. Trump was elected president.



Updated: The First Temptation of Christ, out on Christmas Day...

A Brazilian comedy featuring a gay Jesus causes 'outrage' when it is shown on Netflix

Link Here27th December 2019
The First Temptation of Christ (A Primeira Tentação de Cristo) is a 2019 Brazil comedy short film by Rodrigo Van Der Put.
Starring Evelyn Castro, Gregório Duvivier and Fábio Porchat. IMDb

Jesus, who's hitting the big 3-0, brings a surprise guest to meet the family.

Porta dos Fundos is Brazilian comedy group with a huge following in Brazil. Their YouTube channel has more than 16 million subscribers, and religion is often a butt of their humour.

But their latest offering, a Netflix special Christmas film entitled The First Temptation of Christ, has unleashed torrents of outrage as as it depicts a gay Jesus bringing his boyfriend home to meet Mary and Joseph.

According to PinkNews, more than 1.3 million people have signed a petition against the Christmas parody, with some signatories claiming the creators to be demons and heretics.


Update: I thought Jesus taught 'love you neighbour', not 'firebomb him'

27th December 2019. See article from

Police are investigating a fire-bomb attack on the Rio de Janeiro office of a production company behind a controversial Christmas special aired on streaming service Netflix.

The episode, by comedy group Porta dos Fundos, depicts a gay Jesus bringing a boyfriend home to meet his family.

More than 2.3m people have signed an online petition to remove the film.

A video circulating online appears to show a far-right religious group claiming responsibility for the attack. In it, a group wearing ski masks and identifying itself as the Popular Nationalist Insurgency Command of the Large Brazilian Integralist Family, appear to attack the production company offices with Molotov cocktails. A statement, read with a digitally disguised voice, criticises Netflix and describes the film as blasphemous.



Updated: A cryptic Christmas message...

YouTube initiates a festive purge of the crypto currency community

Link Here27th December 2019
Full story: YouTube Censorship...YouTube censor videos by restricting their reach
YouTube has been censoring cryptocurrency-related content with a new wave of rule enforcements, according to several hosts. Since 23rd December, the site has been deleting individual videos from cryptocurrency channels. Some hosts have also been given warnings and strikes, which temporarily prevent them from uploading content.

YouTube has not publicly stated that crypto videos are against its rules, meaning that users must read between the lines to deduce what is being targeted.

A leading YouTube creator, Chris Dunn, has noted that his own videos were removed on the grounds that they were responsible for the sale of regulated goods and contained harmful and dangerous content.

Many YouTube hosts are now considering moving to decentralized and uncensorable video platforms, such as PeerTube, LBRY, BitChute, and DTube. Incidentally, Twitter is also planning to create a decentralized media platform.


Update: Removing hundreds of videos was an 'error'

27th December 2019. See article from

YouTube said today that its removal of hundreds of crypto-related video sites earlier this week was an 'error'. YouTuve told Decrypt that the sites have since been put back online. However, a quick check today indicated that none had yet been restored.  YouTube spouted:

With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.

Offsite Update: After the dust has settled YouTube re-censors the crypto channels

23rd January 2020. See article from



Updated: Rudderless up Schitt's Creek...

4Music is censoring Schitt's Creek but viewers cannot work out why

Link Here25th December 2019
Schitt's Creek is a LGBT themed comedy being broadcast on Channel 4's 4mUsic Channel at 9pm.

The TV series is one imagined in a world where there is not homophobia, with the lead character pansexual David Rose, played by show creator Dan Levy.

People have been discussing cuts online but it is not clear what the rationale is to the onconsistent censorship. A Twitter user explained:

4Music showed Schitt's Creek with cut dialogue between David and Patrick, specifying that verbiage about sleeping together had been omitted. But their kiss is there. And episodes earlier talk of Moira sleeping with Roland remains. And Moira still says 'fuck,' so some curious censoring.

The next episode where Jake kisses David 204 no kiss -- But Patrick and David still kiss. Again with odd censoring.

Are they limiting my gay content? Can I only see PG-related kissing boys, but no talk of having sex? And no other boy can come along kissing on them?

Series creator and star Dan Levy joined in the debate:

Is this true 4 Music? the show creator tweeted to the British television station. Censoring kissing and intimate dialogue? He later noted that the censorship was not only highly disturbing and dangerous but that removing the kiss between David and Jake took out a big laugh from the scene!

Update: Just a ghastly mistake...we'll do better next time...honest!

25th December 2019. See article from

As always when companies are caught censoring they claim that it was all a big mistake and that they'll do better next time. 4Music have responded in the usual manner, tweeting:

To all our Schitt's Creek fans: sorry the show you saw at the weekend wasn't as we planned, this was 100% human error. We do often edit shows for different time slots and David's kiss with Jake was inadvertently lost from the episode that we played.

This will be sorted for all future broadcasts of this episode.



Testing the OFF switch...

Russia claims success in trials of a Russia only internet

Link Here25th December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia and its repressive state control of media

Russia has said that it has successfully tested its sovereign internet, a country-wide alternative to the global internet.

RuNet, as the internet service is known , was tested on Monday to ensure the security of its internet infrastructure in case the country would like to cut itself off from the global internet.

Deputy communications minister Alexei Sokolov said the results of the tests would be presented to President Vladimir Putin, and added that the drills would continue in the future.

Four telecoms operators took part, with 18 different scenarios tested.

Internet rights activists have noted that the measures could tighten censorship and lead to online isolation. Russian authorities also tried to ensure that it was possible to intercept mobile phone traffic and text messages, Sokolov said.



Curious censorship...

Erotic film poster is censored in Spain

Link Here24th December 2019

Curiosa is a 2019 France historical drama by Lou Jeunet.
Starring Noémie Merlant, Niels Schneider and Benjamin Lavernhe. IMDb

Paris 1895; Pierre is a Parisian dandy and poet on the verge of fame. He and his poet friend Henri are both madly in love with Marie, the cheeky daughter of their mentor, Franco-Cuban poet José-Maria de Heredia. They start a cat-and-mouse game with people who involve their lives and breaking the codes set by society which will will make them one of the best-known writers and poets of 19th-century France.

On December 13, the French film Curious, directed by Lou Jeunet was released. Now the film is making a name for itself in Spanish cinemas.

However, the controversy lies in that in the original poster you see a woman sitting exposing her back, she is naked from the waist upwards and wearing a semitransparent petticoat. In the censored poster in Spain, half of the protagonist's body has been removed, omitting the back and buttocks, and only half of the leg is visible.

A change that did not go unnoticed by commentators who considered the edit to be censorship.

The image went viral since both versions were tweeted by the director of the XS Puçol Short Film Festival, Javier Nav3do.

Social media users noted that it's shocking that Spain still lives under the shadow of Franco's censorship as one twitter user stated: We go back to the dark days of censorship

On the pro-censorship side of the debate: it's a disgrace that a film needs to be promoted using the image of a semi-naked woman.



Updated: People's livelihoods vs saving the planet...

Shropshire buses take down divisive Veganuary bus adverts after complaints from farmers

Link Here24th December 2019
Two banners promoting Veganuary appeared on Arriva buses in Shropshire but were taken down this week

Arriva decided to remove two banners promoting the vegan initiative on buses in Shropshire after receiving complaints.

A senior Conservative councillor had called for them to be taken down because of the county's agricultural heritage and slammed the messages as fake news of vegangelists.

The ads encouraged people to go vegan for the month of January, highlighting claims about the environmental and ethical impact of animal farming.

A spokesperson for Veganuary said its ads had been censored despite containing indisputable facts, adding that Arriva said the ads slipped through its approval process, although it ran them last year

Update: London buses too

24th December 2019. See article from

London Bus Operators have cancelled the Go Vegan World New Year ad campaign on 100 buses.

The campaign was cancelled at the last minute by Exterion Media (now Global media). The reason stated for refusal is that bus operators rejected the ads because they have previously experienced complaints about them. Among the bus operators that refused the ads are Tower Transit, Abellio, London United, Sovereign and Metroline.

Some of these ads have previously run on London buses and all of them have prior approval by the Advertising Standards Authority.

This is not the only Go Vegan World campaign that has been cancelled. British Telecom was willing to run their climate change ads in Scotland, but rejected the Dairy Takes Babies ad. Go Vegan World was advised that the reason BT provided for refusing the ad was There's no chance branding would be comfortable with such a controversial message to be displayed on the kiosks.

Earlier this year Exterion Media (Global) cancelled a Go Vegan World bus ad campaign in Lincoln, again at the last minute, and again on the basis of personal opinion that the ads are too controversial.



Updated: The last outpost of the Resistance...

Gay kiss cut from the Rise of SkyWalker in the Middle East

Link Here24th December 2019
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is a 2019 USA action Sci-Fi fantasy by JJ Abrams.
Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Billie Lourd. IMDb

The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

Hollywood's campaign to promote diversity resulted in a gay kiss being included in the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker. This is the franchise's first same-sex kiss.

But the importance of this galactic first hasn't struck a chord in the Middle East. According to several people speaking to The Hollywood Reporter who have seen the latest Star Wars at cinemas in Dubai, the scene featuring the kiss had been removed from their screening.

Given that the United Arab Emirates is largely more tolerant than its neighbours when it comes to film censorship and Dubai's status as the regional hub for the entertainment industry, it is thought that this cut will be replicated across the Middle East.

The Hollywood Reporter also notes that the Chinese films censors left the kiss intact for Chinese audiences.

Update: Singapore too

24th December 2019. See article from

Disney has cut a brief scene of two women kissing in the Singaporean version of its latest Star Wars film. The scene was described by reviewers as a brief flash of two women kissing... among a crowd of characters.

But the version released in Singapore omits the scene. Singapore's film censors told the BBC that Disney cut the scene so it didn't get a higher age rating.

The applicant has omitted a brief scene which under the film classification guidelines would require a higher rating, said a spokesperson from IMDA.

Without the kiss, the film is rated PG13 in Singapore.



Local jobs for local people...

New Zealand to legislates for internet TV to use New Zealand censor ratings and rules

Link Here23rd December 2019
Full story: Film censorship in New Zealand...At the Office of Film and Literature Classification
New Zealand's chief censor David Shanks has commented on a legislative amendment requiring the likes of Netflix to use New Zealand censorship ratings and rules for content targeted at New Zealand viewers.

Shanks writes:

Bringing our media regulation framework up to date will take some significant work, and earlier this year Minister Tracey Martin announced a broad media regulation review, with work to commence on this substantively next year. That is a good idea, but in the interim we thought that there was a relatively simple change that could make things better, clearer and more consistent for NZ consumers right now. That is to require Commercial Video on Demand (CVoD) services including subscription services like Lightbox and Netflix and rental services like iTunes to use New Zealand classifications, and apply a New Zealand framework to new content.

This is the thinking behind the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video on-Demand) Amendment Bill introduced to the House on the 17th of December. Where a film or series has been classified in NZ, digital providers will need to use that classification. And where they are making a new film or series available to Kiwis, these providers will need to apply a NZ framework, and provide age ratings and information that is consistent with what we expect.



Who'd a thought it...

The use of the word 'shit' on prime time TV is still considered newsworthy in the US

Link Here23rd December 2019
Eddie Murphy has made the US news for sying 'shit' on the long running TV comedy show Saturday Night Live.

During a sketch that spoofed Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship on SNL Saturday, Murphy let slip a rather minor expletive that was bleeped out for some but wasn't for others. But in a borderline-cute case of modern political correctness, the comic realized the gaffe and put his hand over his mouth.



Offsite Article: How to disappear completely...

Link Here23rd December 2019
The technological lowdown on keeping a digital low profile in a world without privacy. By James Adams

See article from



Offsite Article: Trump's ban on anti-Israel protests is an assault on free speech...

Link Here 21st December 2019
His Executive Order is deeply illiberal and will do nothing to tackle anti-Semitism. By Satya Marar

See article from



Offsite Article: Outrageous art...

Link Here21st December 2019
An anonymous artist has been generating a little outrage in Rome and London

See article from



Offsite Article: Adtech and the data protection debate -- where next?...

Link Here21st December 2019
By Simon McDougall, ICO's Executive Director for Technology and Innovation

See article from



A dangerous proposal...

Poland's prime minister proposes age verification for porn viewers

Link Here20th December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Poland...In the name of dangerous gambling
Poland has became the latest country to propose a national age verification law for porn.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of the country's center-right Law and Justice Party, claimed that 60% of Polish boys between ages 13 and 16 had been exposed to pornography.

Morawiecki made the remarks to a meeting of the Family Council, a group of parliamentarians, policy experts and leaders of non-governmental organizations whose mission is to support, initiate and promote actions that will benefit traditional families.

Morawiecki did not specify what method might be used to check the ages of Polish people attempting to view online porn.



A censorship ratchet...

Vimeo updates its censorship rules so that it ban users for what they say on other platforms

Link Here20th December 2019
The video sharing platform Vimeo has now initiated censorship policy changes announced last June. The website has banned negative or critical content about vaccines. But there is also a rather unprecidented ratcheting up of censorship with a new clause explaining that you can have your account banned for criticizing vaccines, even when using off-site services.

Vimeo explained the change via general counsel, Michael Cheah who said:

Our rules and processes are designed to be applied fairly, consistently and transparently. As always, context matters. When prohibited content appears in the context of a news story or a narrative device in a dramatic work, we are likely to leave it up. If, however, the overall driving message of the work is to perpetuate a viewpoint that we have specifically banned, we will remove it. We will also consider a user's speech outside of Vimeo (such as social media platforms, blogs, or anywhere else their personal views are clearly represented) in making calls about intent and good faith.



Offsite Article: Strict Censorship is Hurting Chinese Film and Television Industry...

Link Here 20th December 2019
'Most of the dramas featured on prime time television are now Red Dramas that praise the people's liberation army'

See article from



Queen's speech: the government seeks to dictate everybody's speech...

Britain's new government continues with its internet censorship policy outlined in the Online Harms white paper

Link Here 19th December 2019
The Government has reiterated its plans as outlined in the Online Harms white paper. It seems that the measures have been advanced somewhat as previous references to pre-legislative scrutiny have been deleted.

The Queens Speech briefing paper details the government's legislative plan for the next two years:

Online Harms

“My ministers will develop legislation to improve internet safety for all.”

  • Britain is leading the world in developing a comprehensive regulatory regime to keep people safe online, protect children and other vulnerable users and ensure that there are no safe spaces for terrorists online.

  • The April 2019 Online Harms White Paper set out the Government’s plan for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The Government will continue work to develop this legislation, alongside ensuring that the UK remains one of the best places in the world for technology companies to operate.

  • The proposals, as set out in the White Paper were:

    ○ A new duty of care on companies towards their users, with an independent regulator to oversee this framework.
    ○ The Government want to keep people safe online, but we want to do this in a proportionate way, ensuring that freedom of expression is upheld and promoted online, and that the value of a free and ndependent press is preserved.
    ○ The Government is seeking to do this by ensuring that companies have the right processes and systems in place to fulfil their obligations,
    rather than penalising them for individual instances of unacceptable content.

  • The public consultation on this has closed and the Government is analysing the responses and considering the issues raised. The Government is working
    closely with a variety of stakeholders, including technology companies and civil society groups, to understand their views.

  • The Government will prepare legislation to implement the final policy in response to the consultation.

  • Ahead of this legislation, the Government will publish interim codes of practice on tackling the use of the internet by terrorists and those engaged in child
    sexual abuse and exploitation. This will ensure companies take action now to tackle content that threatens our national security and the physical safety of

  • The Government will publish a media literacy strategy to empower users to stay safe online.

  • The Government will help start-ups and businesses to embed safety from the earliest stages of developing or updating their products and services, by publishing a Safety by Design framework.

  • The Government will carry out a review of the Gambling Act, with a particular focus on tackling issues around online loot boxes and credit card misuse.

  • What the Government has done so far:

    • The joint DCMS-Home Office Online Harms White Paper was published in April 2019. The Government also published the Social Media Code of Practice, setting out the actions that social media platforms should take to prevent bullying, insulting, intimidating and humiliating behaviours on their sites.

    • In November 2018 the Government established a new UK Council for Internet Safety. This expanded the scope of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, and was guided by the Government's Internet Safety Strategy.

    • The UK has been championing international action on online safety. The Prime Minister used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly to champion the UK's work on online safety.



Bullying people into toeing the PC line...

Instagram thinks that its AI systems can recognise bullying captions

Link Here19th December 2019
Full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo sharing website gets heavy on the censorship
Instagram has launched a new censorship feature that uses AI to recognize potentially offensive language and warn you that you're about to post something that might be deemed 'problematic'.

The feature uses a machine learning algorithm that Instagram developed and tested to recognize different forms of bullying and provide a warning if and when a caption crosses that line.

The warning reads:

This caption looks similar to others that have been reported. From there, you can choose to either Edit the Caption, Learn More, or Share Anyway. If the AI mistake, you can report it by clicking Learn More:

The feature joins another AI-powered pop-up, released earlier this year, which warns users when their comments may be considered offensive.

Instagram said:

We've found that these types of nudges can encourage people to reconsider their words when given a chance. Additionally, Instagram hopes that the feature will be informative, helping educate people on what is and is not allowed.

The warning will roll out around the world in the next few months.



Top 10 TV programmes of the decade...

Ofcom reveals the most complained about programmed

Link Here19th December 2019
Most complaints to Ofcom this decade:
  • Celebrity Big Brother , Channel 5 - 30, 31 August, 1 September 2018. 25,327 complaints about the incident involving Roxanne and Ryan
  • Loose Women , ITV - 29 August 2018. 8,002 complaints, including 7,912 about an interview with Kim Woodburn
  • UKIP: The First 100 Days , Channel 4 - 16 February 2015. 6,187 complaints, most saying the portrayal of UKIP was misleading, offensive and biased
  • Sky News - 27 September 2018. 3,463 viewers alleged bias and defamation of character in the editing of an interview with Tommy Robinson
  • The X Factor , ITV - 11 December 2010. 2,868 complaints that performances by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera were too explicit for broadcast before the watershed
  • Channel 4 News - 29 March 2019. 2,717 complaints after presenter Jon Snow said, after a day of Brexit rallies, that he had "never seen so many white people in one place"
  • Love Island , ITV2 - 1 July 2018. 2,644 viewers raised concerns about emotional distress to contestants, specifically Dani Dyer
  • The Wright Stuff , Channel 5 - 6, 7, 8 December 2011. 2,358 complaints that Matthew Wright and a guest made light of a murder in the Hebrides
  • Big Brother , Channel 5 - 24 June 2015. 2,024 complaints about comments made by contestant Helen Wood about fellow housemate Brian Belo
  • Sky News with Kay Burley - 5 June 2015. 1,838 complaints about the tone of Kay Burley's interview with Merlin Entertainment chief executive Nick Varney after the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash

Ofcom found that none of the top 10 broke its broadcasting rules. All were on commercial channels.



Fake reasons...

Albanian parliament approves an extension of internet censorship in the name of 'fake news'

Link Here19th December 2019

Albania's parliament has passed an internet censorship package criticised by journalists and the Council of Europe as an attempt to muzzle the media.

The parliament amended existing laws to empower the Albanian Media Authority (AMA) to censor news websites. The package was initially targeted at 700 to 800 online news sites but the scope was broadened to include TV stations.

Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed the move intended to stop fake news or slander from causing loss of life or pressing businesses for bribes by shaming the quality of their products.

Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said the laws were in urgent need of improvement:

The powers given to AMA, the possibility of excessive fines and the blocking of media websites without a court order may deal a strong blow to freedom of expression and media.

Several provisions are indeed not compatible with international and European human rights standards which protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media



As censorial as a motherfu...

Advert censor bans alcohol free beer poster alluding to strong language

Link Here18th December 2019

An outdoor poster ad for an alcohol-free beer by BrewDog, seen in October 2019, included text which stated SOBER AS A MOTHERFU next to the image of a beer can with the text BREWDOG, PUNK AF and ALCOHOL FREE IPA written on it.

The ASA received 26 complaints:

  1. All the complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

  2. Sixteen complainants also challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for display in a medium where it could be seen by children. Response

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA understood the ad was featured in billboard media on which no restrictions had been placed and that it was therefore viewable by a general audience, including children.

One complainant identified that the ad was placed immediately outside a primary school. We considered older children and adults who saw the ad would understand MOTHERFU was a truncated version of the expletive motherfucker. We acknowledged that the word was not displayed in its entirety; however, we considered the word motherfucker was clearly being alluded to, and motherfu would therefore be understood as a clear reference to that swear word. We considered that word was so likely to offend a general audience that such a reference should not appear in media where it was viewable by such an audience. We concluded the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and that it was not appropriate for display in media where it could be seen by children.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told BrewDog plc to ensure they avoided causing serious or widespread offence by, for example, avoiding references to expletives in media targeted to a general audience which included children.




Firefox to add another encrypted DNS over HTTPS option next year

Link Here18th December 2019
Full story: DNS Over Https...A new internet protocol will make government website blocking more difficult
Mozilla has announced that NextDNS would be joining Cloudflare as the second DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) provider inside Firefox.

The browser maker says NextDNS passed the conditions imposed by its Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) program. These conditions include

  1. limiting the data NextDNS collects from the DoH server used by Firefox users;
  2. being transparent about the data they collect; and
  3. promising not to censor, filter, or block DNS traffic unless specifically requested by law enforcement.

The new option will appear some time next year.

DNS-over-HTTPS, or DoH, is a new feature that was added to Firefox last year. When enabled, it encrypts DNS traffic coming in and out of the browser.DNS traffic is not only encrypted but also moved from port 53 (for DNS traffic) to port 443 (for HTTPS traffic), effectively hiding DNS queries and replies inside the browser's normal stream of HTTPS content.



Well it's got to be better than the current mess...

The Australian Government announces a review of media classification and censorship law

Link Here17th December 2019
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

The Morrison Government has announced a review of Australian classification regulation to develop a framework that reflects changing technologies and meets community needs.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the current National Classification Scheme was established in 1995 and it is timely for review. He said:

Australians and their families rely on classification ratings to inform their entertainment choices and they expect the advice to accurately reflect community standards.

The current framework was established in the age of dial-up internet -- well before the rise of the online streaming or gaming services we now use daily -- so we will be looking at how to modernise it for different content and delivery platforms.

I encourage all interested parties to make a submission when the consultation period commences early next year to help us develop a contemporary framework that meets the needs of industry while providing appropriate information and protections for consumers.

The Government has appointed Mr Neville Stevens AO as the independent expert to lead the review. Mr Stevens, former Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts and current Chair of the Press Council, will provide a report on the review of Australian classification regulation to Government in April 2020.

The review forms part of the Government's response to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry to develop a platform-neutral media regulatory framework, including harmonising classification across delivery formats.

A discussion paper will be released in early 2020 on the Department of Communications and the Arts' website.



Searching for transparency...

Google bans the distribution of political adverts targeted only on one side of the political debate

Link Here17th December 2019
Full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
Google reported on 20th November 2019 that electoral announcements can no longer be targeted to specific groups. The political advertisements in Google Ads can only be segmented based on the general categories: age, sex, and general location (postal code).

This new regulation will enter into force on 6th January 20120 in the United States.

Brad Parscale, the director of the Trump 2020 campaign criticized Google's new advertising policy for considering that it was specially designed to prevent the re-election of the president. He told Fox News:

2016 freaked them out because I used a whole bunch of liberal platforms to do it.I guarantee you, this decision came from another room full of people going, 'Oh my God, we've got to stop them.'

The new rules imply that campaign advisers will not be able to target voters based on their political affiliations, even if they have previously stated that they would like to be contacted.

Critical voices about Google's new policy were also heard from the Democratic side. In an article published in Medium magazine, a group of Democratic digital operatives and strategists stated that the measure has a strong impact on the Democratic voting base, which uses digital media relatively more.



Snow storms...

Jokey Christmas sweatshirt causes a storm over references to cocaine

Link Here17th December 2019
The Colombian government is reportedly set to sue Walmart for selling a Christmas jumper seemingly showing Father Christmas set to imbibe in what is described as grade A, Colombian snow.

The sweater was sold by a third party seller on Walmart's Canadian website shows Father Christmas sitting in front of three white lines that appear to be cocaine with a text saying let it snow.

Walmart removed the advertisement from its website and apologised, saying:

The sweaters did not represent the values of Walmart and had been removed from its website.

However, although Walmart has removed the sweater, other online vendors have started selling it.

Camilo Gomez, director of the National Judicial Defence Agency of the State of Colombia, claimed the advertisement is an offence to the country generating damages to the legal products of Colombia and the reputation of the country. Gomez said Colombia will take action to obtain compensation and damages, with the money being handed to the victims of drug trafficking. If they do not receive the compensation they will take the case to the court.

Meanwhile others have notices that Amazon is not to so quick to censor. Vice noted that Amazon's listings clearly show that the shirts are meant to be gag gifts. commented on Amazon not taking down the listing:

More than anything, the difference in policies reveals how challenging it can be for big retailers to decide what should be sold in their stores.For now, at least, consumers clearly have an option if they want to buy the shirt. Walmart might not be their best bet, but Amazon is where they can get it. Whether it'll remain that way is anyone's guess.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why Amazon is the world's biggest retailer, it has the widest range of products.



Surely the problem can't be anything to do with the people of Bihar...

Chief Minister of the Indian state of Bihar calls on the Indian prime minister to ban all internet porn

Link Here 17th December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Bihar is blaming rising incidents of sexual crime against women in the state on porn. He has written to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to ban all porn sites and inappropriate content available online. He wrote:

It will be my request to take appropriate action to ban all porn sites and inappropriate content available on internet immediately after giving due consideration to the serious issue, he wrote.

The incidents (of gang rape and crime against women) take place in some cases because of the impact of these sites.

People make videos of heinous acts (rape) against girls and women and get them uploaded on social media such as Whatsapp, Facebook etc. Such content, which seriously affect the minds of children and youths, have been found as factors responsible for crimes (against women).

Long-term use of such content negatively affect the mind of some people, which gives rise to social problems and increases the number of cases of crime against women.



Offsite Article: Bad Taste...

Link Here17th December 2019
How Peter Jackson's Bad Taste Got Banned In Australia in 1987 and Led To The Dissolution Of Queensland's Film Board

See article from




TV censors sledge Sky Cricket over strong language caught by on field microphones

Link Here16th December 2019

The Ashes, Sky Sports Main Event, 24 August 2019, 13:50
Live Vitality T20 Blast Cricket, Sky Sports Main Event, 4 September 2019, 20:10
Ashes Cricket, Sky Sports Ashes, 14 September 2019, 13:40

Ofcom received complaints about the broadcast of offensive language across three separate live cricket matches.

In the live coverage of The Ashes on 24 August, a player who had just been bowled out could be heard shouting fuck off...fucking prick...fuck you as he walked off the pitch, while the commentators discussed the bowler's achievement.

In the live coverage of T20 Blast Cricket on 4 September, a player shouted fuck .

In the live coverage of Ashes Cricket on 14 September, a commentator said they haven't got a fucking clue.

Sky explained that during the 24 August broadcast the use of an on-board camera microphone led to the strong language being captured. It said that upon realising this, the production team cut to a replay and did not return to the player.

The Licensee said that the use of a stump microphone during the 4 September coverage, which allows for dramatic sounds to be captured as the ball strikes the wicket, picked up background language from the batting player nearby.

Sky said that the incident on 14 September occurred due to the commentator David Gower believing his microphone had been muted following his passing of commentary duties from the studio to the match team. It said that upon realising this, the production team muted all microphones and requested that Gower's fellow commentator Shane Warne offer an immediate on-air apology, which was delivered immediately. It said that this apology would have lessened any offence that may have occurred.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom took into account that the language had been broadcast live in error and that the Licensee had taken steps to prevent recurrence. However, in the case of The Ashes broadcast, the most offensive language was delivered in an aggressive manner and appeared to be directed at an individual (fuck off...fucking prick...fuck you).

Ofcom found both incidents to be breaches of their censorship rules.

Of David Gower's mike error:

Ofcom took into account that the language had been broadcast live in error and the steps taken by the Licensee to prevent recurrence. We also took into account that an on-air apology was delivered immediately. Ofcom's Decision therefore is that this matter is resolved.



Videogame Rating Council...

Remembering and early games rating scheme in the US

Link Here15th December 2019
Since it's 1994 inception, video games have been rated by in the US by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

But the ESRB was not the first rating scheme established in the US.

In the early 90s, moral guardians were up in arms due to what they perceived as an obscenity outrage. Thie was sparked off by the video games Mortal Kombat and Night Trap from Sega, with its misleadingly lurid cover art suggesting that it was some kind of sleazy sex-themed game.

The outrage was escalated all the way to the US Senate.

A 1993 Senate hearing heard from the boss of Nintendo of America, Howard Lincoln who said:

And let me say that for the record, I want to state that Night Trap will never appear on a Nintendo system. Obviously it would not pass our guidelines. This game ... which promotes violence against women, simply has no place in our society

The outcome of the hearing, threatened that if the video game publishers did not crank out a rating system by 1994, one would be imposed by the U.S. government.

So, in response Sega of America quickly formed their own self-censorship committee: the Videogame Rating Council. It established 3 ratings:

  • GA - Appropriate for all audiences.
  • MA-13 - Mature audiences. Intended for ages 13 and up. Might contain more violence than GA games, mild blood, mild suggestive themes, etc.
  • MA-17 - Not intended for minors. The game might include graphic violence, blood and gore, sexual content, profanity, etc.

The system lasted barely a year. The MA-13 came in for particular criticism as being mature seemed at odds with being 13 years old (being mature at 14 seems OK for TV though).

In 1994, the major video game publishers formed the trade association, the Interactive Digital Software Association (predecessor to the Entertainment Software Association) which eventually came up with an industry-wide ratings system: the ESRB ratings, which we still use today.



Censorship for right reasons...

Italian court find in favour of far right party who claimed that being banned by Facebook is interfering in politics

Link Here15th December 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
A civil court in Rome has ruled that Facebook must immediately reactivate the account of the Italian neo-fascist party CasaPound Italia and pay the group 800 euro for each day the account has been closed/

Facebook shut the party's account, which had 240,000 followers, along with its Instagram page in early September. A Facebook spokesperson told the Ansa news agency at the time: Persons or organisations that spread hatred or attack others on the basis of who they are will not have a place on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook must also pay 15,000 euro in legal costs. The judge reportedly ruled that without Facebook, the party was excluded (or extremely limited) from the Italian political debate.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company was aware of the court's decision and we are reviewing it carefully.



General data appropriation regulation...

India dreams up a GDPR style data 'protection' law that is more of a data 'grab' for the government

Link Here14th December 2019




Are boomers snowflakes?...

French MP calls for the ban of the derogatory term 'OK boomer'

Link Here13th December 2019
The quip OK, boome r is a discriminatory term used as a brush off targeted at older folk from the baby boomer generation  perceived to be out-of-touch, condescending or closed-minded.

The term went viral last month after a 25-year-old New Zealand MP used it to dismiss an older heckler during a speech about climate change.

The author of a French government-commissioned report on finding ways to bridge the growing generation gap, claims that the term reinforces ageism.

Audrey Dufeu Schubert, a 39-year old MP from President Emmanuel Macron's centrist LREM party,  has taken aim at the expression when handing in a special report on bridging the generational gap and fighting ageism. She told Le Parisien:

We're talking about censorship of what old people have to say.

The report includes nonsense proposals such as obliging young people on civic service to spend two months with pensioners, promoting Grey Games - Olympics for oldies - and putting polling stations in retirement homes to keep the aged in the electoral loop.

Dubbed the youthful riposte to snowflake millennial, the term has also struck a nerve with one US radio host declaring the phrase to be the n-word of ageism.




Australia appoints its eSafety Commissioner as the country's internet censor

Link Here12th December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship

A radical overhaul of Australia's censorship and classification laws alongside reforms to the Privacy Act have been revealed.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher confirmed that Australia's eSafety Commissioner will be handed significant censorship powers.

The new government regime includes the development of a uniform classification framework across all media platforms that would replace the current system of Refused Classification, X, R, MA15 etc.

The legal basis was introduced via the hasty introduction of the Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019 in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque attacks. The law compelled ISPs, content service providers and hosting service providers to block such content if called upon to do so by the Australian Federal Police.

And now it seems that this will provide the basis for the eSafety Commissioner to coordinate internet censorship in Australia.A key problem to date has been people haven't been sure who they can complain to and who enforces action. Censorable content has been divided into 2 categories.

Class 1 seriously harmful content will be able to be reported directly the eSafety Commissioner. The Commissioner will investigate the content and will be able to issue a takedown notice for seriously harmful content, regardless of where it is hosted, and refer it to law enforcement and international networks if it is sufficiently serious, the government's fact sheet says. Where takedown notices are not effective, the ancillary service provider notice scheme will be able to be used request the delisting or de-ranking of material or services.

Class 2 content will be defined as content that would otherwise be classified as RC, X18+, R18+ and MA15+ under the National Classification Code. This includes high impact material like sexually explicit, high impact, realistically stimulated violent content, through to content that is unlikely to disturb most adults but is still not suitable for children, like coarse language, or less explicit violence. The most appropriate response to this kind of content will depend on its nature. eSafety would have graduated sanctions available to address breaches of industry codes under the online content scheme, including warnings, notices, undertakings, remedial directions and civil penalties, the government fact sheet says.



Searching for pots and black kettles...

Masters of vague censorship rules, Google, complains about the US government's vague censorship rules about defining children's videos

Link Here12th December 2019
Full story: YouTube Censorship...YouTube censor videos by restricting their reach
After being heavily fined for child privacy issues about personalised advertising on YouTube, Google is trying to get its house in order. It will soon be rolling out new rules that prevent the profiling of younger viewers for advertising purposes.

The restrictions on personalised advertising will negatively affect the livelihoods of many YouTube creators. It is pretty clear that Peppa Pig videos will be deemed off limits for personalised adverts, but a more difficult question is what about more general content that appeals to adults and children alike?

YouTube is demanding clearer guidelines about this situation from the government internet privacy censors of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The law underpinning the requirements is known as COPPA [the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act]. YouTube wrote to the FTC asking:

We believe there needs to be more clarity about when content should be considered primarily child-directed

Creators are also writing to the FTC out of fear that the changes and vague guidance could destroy their channels.

The FTC has responded by initiating a public consultation.

In comments filed with the FTC Monday , YouTube invoked arguments raised by creators, writing that adult users also engage with videos that could traditionally be considered child-directed, like crafting videos and content focused on collecting old toys:

Sometimes, content that isn't intentionally targeting kids can involve a traditional kids activity, such as DIY, gaming and art videos. Are these videos 'made for kids,' even if they don't intend to target kids? This lack of clarity creates uncertainty for creators.

By the way of a comparison, the British advert censors at ASA has a basic rule that if the proportion of kids watching is greater than 25% of the total audience then child protection rules kick in. Presumably the figure 25% is about what one expect for content that appeals to all ages equally.



Political correctness to die for...

ASA bans advert because they read suicide into a man planking against a wall

Link Here11th December 2019

A paid-for Facebook post for Dead Happy, a life insurance provider, seen on 11 September 2019. The profile picture was a laughing skull. The ad stated Sign up for the easiest life insurance money can buy. Get your life insured in 3 minutes. 2 months free: code SKULLMAN and was accompanied by an image of a man leaning the front of his head against a wall with his arms by his side with text which stated ... Life insurance to die for. Issue

The complainant, who believed the ad was alluding to depression and male youth suicide, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive.

Dead Happy Ltd said they were aware that dealing with death was not easy and that they took mental health very seriously. They said the ad was part of a larger campaign where they were focusing on the bizarre and absurd -- for example, one of the ads showed a man wearing a panda head and another showed a man planking against a wall. They said they chose those images based on their ability to stop someone scrolling past them.

Dead Happy said the ad consisted of three component parts: the words; the image; and their branding. Out of the 39 words in the ad, they said they mentioned life insurance three times and life insured once; nowhere did they mention the words depression or suicide. They said the image was found on an internet photograph library which had been viewed and downloaded many times, but there was no connection to depression or suicide. Dead Happy said they sold life insurance and used the phrase life insurance to die for as a strapline for their life insurance product and were in fact suggesting that someone might want or like their life insurance, but they made no mention of depression or suicide. Dead Happy said they covered suicide only after the first 12 months and following a check-in with the customer. Facebook said that they had no comments on the complaint.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that the ad was part of a larger campaign which used images designed to attract attention and that the image was not chosen to highlight any connection to suicide. However, while the ad did not refer to depression or suicide, we were concerned about the image. The young man was alone, leaning forward with his head against the wall and his back to the audience. We considered those elements, together with the shadowing in the image, created the impression that he felt isolated and was in despair. In the context of an ad for life insurance -- which we understood covered suicide -- we considered those who saw the ad were likely to associate the man's posture as alluding to suicidal feelings.

The ad also featured an image of a laughing skull, a two-months' free promotional discount code SKULLMAN and the strapline life insurance to die for, which appeared prominently alongside the man. We considered those elements, taken together and in combination with the image, trivialised the issue of suicide. We considered that by trivialising the issue of suicide and alluding to it to promote life insurance, the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people, including those who had been personally affected by suicide, and was irresponsible.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Dead Happy Ltd to ensure their future ads for life insurance were responsible and unlikely to cause serious offence, for example by avoiding trivialising suicide.



Seeking the back door to cloud cuckoo land...

The US Senate Judiciary Committee joins the UK and Australia Wanting Everyone to Know It's Concerned About Encryption

Link Here11th December 2019

Yesterday the US Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on encryption and lawful access. That's the fanciful idea that encryption providers can somehow allow law enforcement access to users' encrypted data while otherwise preventing the bad guys from accessing this very same data.

But the hearing was not inspired by some new engineering breakthrough that might make it possible for Apple or Facebook to build a secure law enforcement backdoor into their encrypted devices and messaging applications. Instead, it followed speeches, open letters, and other public pressure by law enforcement officials in the U.S. and elsewhere to prevent Facebook from encrypting its messaging applications, and more generally to portray encryption as a tool used in serious crimes, including child exploitation. Facebook has signaled it won't bow to that pressure. And more than 100 organizations including EFF have called on these law enforcement officials to reverse course and avoid gutting one of the most powerful privacy and security tools available to users in an increasingly insecure world.

Many of the committee members seemed to arrive at the hearing convinced that they could legislate secure backdoors. Among others, Senators Graham and Feinstein told representatives from Apple and Facebook that they had a responsibility to find a solution to enable government access to encrypted data. Senator Graham commented:

My advice to you is to get on with it, because this time next year, if we haven't found a way that you can live with, we will impose our will on you.

But when it came to questioning witnesses, the senators had trouble establishing the need for or the feasibility of blanket law enforcement access to encrypted data. As all of the witnesses pointed out, even a basic discussion of encryption requires differentiating between encrypting data on a smartphone, also called encryption at rest, and end-to-end encryption of private chats, for example.

As a result, the committee's questioning actually revealed several points that undercut the apocalyptic vision painted by law enforcement officials in recent months. Here are some of our takeaways:

There's No Such Thing As an Unhackable Phone

The first witness was Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., who has called for Apple and Google to roll back encryption in their mobile operating systems. Yet by his own statistics, the DA's office is able to access the contents of a majority of devices it encounters in its investigations each year. Even for those phones that are locked and encrypted, Vance reported that half could be accessed using in-house forensic tools or services from outside vendors. Although he stressed both the high cost and the uncertainty of these tools, the fact remains that device encryption is far from an insurmountable barrier to law enforcement.

As we saw when the FBI dramatically lowered its own estimate of unhackable phones in 2017, the level of security of these devices is not static. Even as Apple and Google patch vulnerabilities that might allow access, vendors like Cellebrite and Grayshift discover new means of bypassing security features in mobile operating systems. Of course, no investigative technique will be completely effective, which is why law enforcement has always worked every angle it can. The cost of forensic tools may be a concern, but they are clearly part of a variety of tools law enforcement use to successfully pursue investigations in a world with widespread encryption.

Lawful Access to Encrypted Phones Would Take Us Back to the Bad Old Days

Meanwhile, even as Vance focused on the cost of forensic tools to access encrypted phones, he repeatedly ignored why companies like Apple began fully encrypting their devices in their first place. In a colloquy with Senator Mike Lee, Apple's manager of user privacy Erik Neuenschwander explained that the company's introduction of full disk encryption in iOS in 2014 was a response to threats from hackers and criminals who could otherwise access a wealth of sensitive, unencrypted data on users' phones. On this point, Neuenschwander explained that Vance was simply misinformed: Apple has never held a key capable of decrypting encrypted data on users' phones.

Neuenschwander explained that he could think of only two approaches to accomplishing Vance's call for lawful access, both of which would dramatically increase the risks to consumers. Either Apple could simply roll back encryption on its devices, leaving users exposed to increasingly sophisticated threats from bad actors, or it could attempt to engineer a system where it did hold a master key to every iPhone in the world. Regarding the second approach, Neuenschwander said as a technologist, I am extremely fearful of the security properties of such a system. His fear is well-founded; years of research by technologists and cryptographers confirm that key escrow and related systems are highly insecure at the scale and complexity of Apple's mobile ecosystem.

End-to-End Encryption Is Here to Stay

Finally, despite the heated rhetoric directed by Attorney General Barr and others at end-to-end encryption in messaging applications, the committee found little consensus. Both Vance and Professor Matt Tait suggested that they did not believe that Congress should mandate backdoors in end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms. Meanwhile, Senators Coons, Cornyn, and others expressed concerns that doing so would simply push bad actors to applications hosted outside of the United States, and also aid authoritarian states who want to spy on Facebook users within their own borders. Facebook's director for messaging privacy Jay Sullivan discussed ways that the company will root out abuse on its platforms while removing its own ability to read users' messages. As we've written before, an encrypted Facebook Messenger is a good thing , but the proof will be in the pudding.

Ultimately, while the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing offered worrying posturing on the necessity of backdoors, we're hopeful that Congress will recognize what a dangerous idea legislation would be in this area.

Comment: Open Rights Group joins international outcry over UK government calls to access private messages

11th December 2019. See article from

See letter from

Open Rights Group has joined dozens of other organizations signing an open letter to the UK government to express significant concerns raised by their recent statements against encryption.

The UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has joined her US counterparts in demanding weaker encryption and asking i nternet companies to design digital back doors into their messaging services. The UK government suggests stronger capabilities to monitor private messages will aid inf fighting terrorism and child abuse. ORG disagrees, arguing that alternative approaches must be used as the proposed measures will weaken the security of every internet user.

ORG is concerned that this attack on encryption forms a pattern of attacks on digital privacy and security by the UK government. Only last week leaked documents showed that the UK wants to give the US access to NHS records and other personal information, in a free flow of data between the two countries.

The open letter was also addressed to US and Australian authorities, and was coordinated by the US-based Open Technology Institute and was signed, among others, by Amnesty International, Article 19, Index on Censorship, Privacy International and Reporters Without Borders.

Javier Ruiz Diaz, Policy Director for Open Rights Group, said:

The Home Secretary wants to be able to access our private messages in WhatsApp and similar apps, demanding that companies remove the technical protections that keep out fraudsters and other criminals. This is wrong and will make the internet less safe. Surveillance measures should be targeted and not built into the apps used by millions of people to talk to their friends and family.

Comment: Facebook has also responded to UK/US/Australian government calls for back doors

11th December 2019. See article [pdf] from

As the Heads of WhatsApp and Messenger, we are writing in response to your public letter addressing our plans to strengthen private messaging for our customers. You have raised important issues that could impact the future of free societies in the digital age and we are grateful for the opportunity to explain our view.

We all want people to have the ability to communicate privately and safely, without harm or abuse from hackers, criminals or repressive regimes. Every day, billions of people around the world use encrypted messages to stay in touch with their family and friends, run their small businesses, and advocate for important causes. In these messages they share private information that they only want the person they message to see. And it is the fact that these messages are encrypted that forms the first line of defense, as it keeps them safe from cyber attacks and protected from falling into the hands of criminals. The core principle behind end-to-end encryption is that only the sender and recipient of a message have the keys to unlock and read what is sent. No one can intercept and read these messages - not us, not governments, not hackers or criminals.

We believe that people have a right to expect this level of security, wherever they live. As a company that supports 2.7 billion users around the world, it is our responsibility to use the very best technology available to protect their privacy. Encrypted messaging is the leading form of online communication and the vast majority of the billions of online messages that are sent daily, including on WhatsApp, iMessage, and Signal, are already protected with end-to-end encryption.

Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that when you weaken any part of an encrypted system, you weaken it for everyone, everywhere. The backdoor access you are demanding for law enforcement would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes, creating a way for them to enter our systems and leaving every person on our platforms more vulnerable to real-life harm. It is simply impossible to create such a backdoor for one purpose and not expect others to try and open it. People's private messages would be less secure and the real winners would be anyone seeking to take advantage of that weakened security. That is not something we are prepared to do.



Global Expression Report 2018-19...

Article19 reports that global freedom of expression is at a ten-year low

Link Here11th December 2019

The Global Expression Report 2018-19 shows that global freedom of expression at its lowest for a decade. Gains that were made between 2008 -- 2013 have been eroded over the last five years. Repressive responses to street protests are contributing to the decline in freedom of expression around the world. A rise in digital authoritarianism sees governments taking control of internet infrastructure, increasing online surveillance and controlling content. The numbers of journalists, communicators and human rights defenders being imprisoned, attacked and killed continues to increase. 66 countries -- with a combined population of more than 5.5 billion people -- saw a decline in their overall freedom of expression environment last decade.

Global Expression Report 2018-19: media pack

  • The Global Expression Report 2018-19 shows that global freedom of expression at its lowest for a decade. Gains that were made between 2008 -- 2013 have been eroded over the last five years.

  • Repressive responses to street protests are contributing to the decline in freedom of expression around the world.

  • A rise in digital authoritarianism sees governments taking control of internet infrastructure, increasing online surveillance and controlling content.

  • The numbers of journalists, communicators and human rights defenders being imprisoned, attacked and killed continues to increase.

  • 66 countries -- with a combined population of more than 5.5 billion people -- saw a decline in their overall freedom of expression environment last decade.

Comment from Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19:

"Almost ten years ago, the Arab Spring offered hope to people across the world that repressive governments would not be able to retain power when faced with protestors, empowered as never before with access to information and digital tools for organising.

"Today, protests continue to take place around the world but our report shows that global freedom of expression remains at a ten-year low and that many of the gains made in the earlier part of the decade have been lost.

"Some of these threats are not new: governments are still using state violence and judicial harassment to close down protests. Journalists, communicators and human rights defenders are still being imprisoned, attacked and killed with impunity. But we are also seeing a rise in digital authoritarianism where governments are using digital technology to surveill their citizens, restrict content and shut down communications."

"Governments need to take action to reverse this trend and uphold their citizens' right to freedom of expression."



BT is developing an encrypted DNS server for its customers...

You'll be safer from snoopers, scammers and censors on public WiFi, but you'll still be easy prey to government snoopers and censors

Link Here 10th December 2019
The UK ISP BT has become the first of the major broadband providers to trial their own DNS over HTTPS resolver, which encrypts Domain Name System (DNS) requests.

This is response to Firefox offering its own choice of encrypted DNS resolver that would effectively evade BT's current unencrypted DNS resolver which allows the UK government to monitor and log people's internet use, block websites that are considered 'harmful'; snitch people up to the police for politically incorrrect comments; and snitch people up to copyright trolls over dodgy file sharing.

However BT's new service will allow people to continue using website blocking for parental control whilst being a lot safer from 3rd party snoopers on their networks.

BT have made the following statement about its experimental new service:

BT are currently investigating roadmap options to uplift our broadband DNS platform to support improvements in DNS security -- DNSSEC, DNS over TLS (DoT) and DNS over HTTPS (DoH). To aid this activity and in particular gain operation deployment insights, we have enabled an experimental DoH trial capability.

We are initially experimenting with an open resolver, but our plan is to move a closed resolver only available to BT customers.

The BT DoH trial recursive resolver can be reached at



shadowy operators...

Twitter formalises shadowbanning in its terms of service

Link Here9th December 2019
Full story: Twitter Privacy...The sharing of user data for advertising purposes
Twitter's updated terms commencing from 1st January 2020 will formalise throttling and shadow banning of content

The idea of a shadow ban is that someone is banned but they don't know they've been banned because they keep posting, but no one sees their content.

Twitter's new terms of service state that the company may limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service.

This new line of text suggests that Twitter will legally be able to start throttling (intentionally suppressing or hiding content) or shadow banning (intentionally suppressing or hiding a person's content without their knowledge) posts on the platform from the start of 2020. The full updated sentence now reads:

We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you.

Twitter's current terms of service with no reference to content throttling or shadow banning



Beyond the pale...

Rajan Zed complains about a hindu religious figure on a Russian beer label

Link Here9th December 2019
Full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
Perennial whinger Rajan Zed is urging Saint Petersburg based Mookhomor microbrewery to apologize and not use Hindu deity Lord Ganesh's image on its White Illusion IPA beer, calling it highly inappropriate.

Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees:

Lord Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer. Moreover, linking a deity with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful.



Commented: Another radio station gets in trouble for airing the banned song Melting Pot...

The song was written 50 years ago to promote racial harmony, but some of its terms are now dated and considered 'problematic'

Link Here 9th December 2019

Geoff Ruderham
Black Diamond FM 107.8, 2 September 2019, 12:23

Black Diamond FM is a community radio station in East and Central Midlothian. The licence for this service is held by Midlothian Community Media Association (MCM).

Ofcom received two complaints about offensive language in the music track Melting Pot by Blue Mink broadcast in a music programme presented by Geoff Ruderham. No introduction to the track was broadcast, or any other content discussing it. The track included the following lyrics:

“Take a pinch of white man,
Wrap him up in black skin,
Add a touch of blue blood,
And a little bitty bit of Red Indian boy.
Oh, Curly Latin kinkies,
Mixed with yellow Chinkies,
If you lump it all together
And you got a recipe for a get along scene;
Oh what a beautiful dream
If it could only come true, you know, you know.

What we need is a great big melting pot,
Big enough to take the world and all it’s got
And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more
And turn out coffee-coloured people by the score”.

Ofcom recently published a Resolved Decision for the broadcast of this track by another radio station, Gold. Ofcom were not happy about the broadcast but because the radio station had apologised and promised not to do it again, Ofcom said the matter was resolved.

We considered that references in the lyrics (including yellow Chinkies, Red Indian boy, curly Latin kinkies and coffee-coloured people) raised potential issues under the following Code rule:

Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of race ) Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

We considered the demographic of the station's audience as set out in its Licence, which makes clear that it has a particular focus on youth and disadvantaged communities. We considered that young people would be unlikely to have an existing knowledge of Melting Pot and the contextual background of the track's release and would therefore be an audience more likely to require contextual justification to mitigate the potential for offence -- for example, some on air explanation of the song's purpose at the time of its release, or a warning about the language it included. Ofcom's offensive language research, which was conducted with people of all age groups, shows that the use of derogatory language to describe ethnic groups carries a widespread potential for offence. Therefore, in Ofcom's view, the likely audience expectations did not mitigate the potential for offence in this case.

Breach of Rule 2.3

Update: A melting pot of offence

9th December 2019. See article from

So is the modern age, with its tightly proscribed wrong words and correct words, made for an any more harmonious society? Doesn't seem so to me. Society is more fractious now than it has been for a long time.



No thrills censorship...

Pale ale banned as drinks censors claim that it is 'inappropriate' to associate beer with thrill seeking

Link Here8th December 2019
Full story: UK Drinks Censor...Portman Group play PC censor for drinks
Thrill Seekers Pale Ale is brewed by Oakham Ales

The drinks censors of the Portman Group received a complaint:

I found the printing design (stylised brightly coloured spacemen floating in space against a black background to be targeted towards under 18s. In addition, the product name, Thrill Seeker Pale in bright orange also attracted underage consumers. The product name does not in anyway indicate this is an alcoholic product (Pale Ale). At the local Primary School Fete I witnessed children asking for this product, based purely on the can design and printing.

The Panel began by discussing the drawings of spacemen on the product and noted that the images were more adult in nature due to the graphic novel style of the design. The Panel then discussed the reference to children asking for the drink mentioned within the complaint but concluded that the company could not be held liable for the placement of the product within a school fete.

The Panel recognised that the spacemen illustrations could reasonably have appeal to both adults and children, but felt that they would be unlikely to have a particular appeal to under-18s so did not uphold the complaint.

The Panel then discussed the size and design of the can. Some panel members noted that the colour of the product reminded them of a Tango can, with its use of black and orange. The Panel concluded that, because of the size of the can (330ml) and the nature of the busy label, together with the type of illustrations, the packaging needed to work harder to convey the alcoholic nature of the contents, given the overall look and feel of the product. The Panel also expressed concern that the description used, New Word Pale, might not be widely understood by the average consumer to adequately convey that the can contained an alcoholic drink. The Panel thought that the full name including the word Ale (New World Pale Ale) would have given more clarity to the fact the product contained alcohol.

The Panel considered that, although it was a niche product, Thrill Seeker had been sold more widely and the company could not rely on the product being encountered only by beer drinkers. The Panel therefore upheld the complaint.

The Panel carefully considered the name Thrill Seeker and felt that it was inappropriate to have an alcoholic drink associated with thrill seeking. The Panel were concerned that the name implied risk or danger, referring to the Oxford English Dictionary's definition: a person who is keen to take part in exciting activities that involve physical risk.

The Panel recognised it was not possible to emulate the activities depicted on the can, and that this may well have been an unintended link to bravado but felt it was problematic, nonetheless. The Panel felt, on balance, that an association between drinking alcohol and thrill seeking was not acceptable. The Panel concluded that the name linked this product with bravado and upheld the complaint..

The company voluntarily agreed to remove Thrillseeker 330ml can from their product range.




T-shirts referencing the murderous Chilean dictator Pinochet have been dropped by Amazon

Link Here8th December 2019
Amazon has come under fire for selling T-shirts glorifying the death flights of Chile's military dictatorship in which leftwing opponents of the regime were dropped from helicopters in an attempt to hide their murders.

More than 3,000 people were killed or forcibly disappeared during Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship. It was revealed that at least 120 of them were later thrown to their deaths from helicopters into Chile's ocean, lakes and rivers.

T-shirts making light of such atrocities have become popular among the US far right, and were openly on sale on Amazon with slogans such as Free Helicopter Rides.

Chilean author Diamela Eltit told the Guardian:

It is unbearable for people like me who had to endure that time when people were thrown alive into the sea from helicopters. This is not only hurtful, it is also of incomprehensible cruelty. It shows how the worst part of humanity can be absorbed by the market and transformed into an object of consumption..

Most of the garments have now disappeared from the website.



Fake views...

TikTok head called to congress to answer for apparent Chinese censorship of videos from the Hong Kong protests

Link Here7th December 2019
Full story: TikTok Censorship...Chinese ownership adds to the usual social media censorship
The head of TikTok is reportedly planning a trip to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with lawmakers who have harshly criticized the app over its purported ties to the Chinese government and concerns over censorship and privacy.

This appears to be the first visit that the TikTok chief, Alex Zhu, has been called to account for the short video-sharing platform. TikTok has become an oft-discussed target among those in the US government, who recently opened a national security investigation and have questioned how close the relationship is between the platform and its China-based parent company, ByteDance.

TikTok has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times globally, an indicator of its rapid rise as a platform -- especially loved by teens -- for creating and sharing short videos and launching the latest viral memes across the internet.

TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny over ties to its parent company, a $75 billion company based out of China called ByteDance. TikTok has consistently defended itself by asserting that none of its moderators are based in China, and that no foreign government asks the platform to censor content. However when pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong earlier this year, TikTok was curiously devoid of any hints of unrest, and videos instead documented a prettier picture.



Recalling the good old days...

Four US members of Congress call on the Attorney General to return to banning and censoring porn

Link Here7th December 2019
In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, four Republican members of Congress are demanding that the Justice Department enforce existing obscenity laws to censor pornography.

The letter was signed by Jim Banks of Indiana, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Brian Babin of Texas. The representatives remind the AG of a promise made by President Trump to go after the adult industry with obscenity laws already on the books. The letter reads:

Dear Attorney General Barr:

We write to you today out of concern for the rule of law as well as the welfare of our people.

The Internet and other evolving technologies are fueling the explosion of obscene pornography by making it more accessible and visceral. This explosion in pornography coincides with an increase in violence towards women and an increase in the volume of human trafficking as well us child pornography. Victims are not limited to those directly exploited, however, and include society writ large. This phenomenon is especially harmful to youth, who are being exposed to obscene pornography at exponentially younger ages.

Fortunately, U.S. obscenity laws exist that, if enforced, can ameliorate this problem, as you well know from your previous term as U.S. Attorney General when you effectively shut down the pornography industry and dramatically decreased child pornography in America.

Those U.S. laws prohibit distribution of obscene pornography on the Internet. on cable/satellite TV. in hotels/motels, by retail or wholesale establishments, and by common carrier. Yet the enforcement of obscenity laws was stopped by the Obama Administration when Attorney General Eric Holder disbanded the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in the Criminal Division.

In August 2016, then-candidate Donald J. Trump signed the first-ever anti-pornography pledge. This asserted that, if elected, President Trump would enforce federal obscenity laws to stop the explosion of obscene pornography. This pledge has so far been ignored in the Trump Administration with the result that the harms of illegal pornography have continued unabated, affecting children and adults so acutely to the point that 15 state legislatures have declared that pornography is causing a public health crisis. It is imperative that you follow through on this important campaign promise diode by Mr. Trump.

Given the pervasiveness of obscenity it's our recommendation that you declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority and urge your U.S. Attorneys to bring prosecutions against the major producers and distributors of such material.

We urge you to take this simple yet important step toward protecting the lives of those affected by these long ignored crimes. We look forward to your response regarding this request and other action the Department of Justice is prepared to take in light of these abuses.

Jim Banks of Indiana
Mark Meadows of North Carolina
Vicky Hartzler of Missouri
Brian Babin of Texas.



Public health's Pravda...

The mainstream media are spreading nanny-state fake news about alcohol and minimum pricing. By Christopher Snowdon

Link Here7th December 2019
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians




Wedding bans...

Pinterest restricts advertisements for wedding venues at historic plantation homes

Link Here6th December 2019
Pinterest and The Knot, the two most popular websites for wedding inspiration and planning, have now decided to do away with plantation weddings. These seem to be the US equivalent of weddings at stately homes in the UK. Except of course that many of the US homes, especially in the south, have a historic connection to slavery.

At the pressure from of campaign group known as Color of Change, both Pinterest and The Knot have started cracking down on all the plantation wedding venues which were once slave plantations.

The Knot hasn't banned any plantation venues from the platform, but has restricted hw they can describe themselves by introducing new guidelines. The chief marketing officer of the wedding planning website, Dhanusha Sivajee, said that plantations can no longer use language that glorifies, celebrates, or romanticizes Southern plantation history.

Pinterest has taken things to the extreme by completely restricting any content around plantation weddings and is also said to be working on going as far as de-indexing Google searches relating to the website's content about plantation weddings. A Pinterest spokesperson said:

Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things. We are working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them



Be careful what you like!...

Instagram is considering the monstrosity of full identity verification for users

Link Here5th December 2019
Full story: Instagram Censorship...Photo sharing website gets heavy on the censorship

Instagram is actively considering bringing in gambling app-style full identity verification in the name of  preventing underage children joining.

Vishal Shah, Instagram's head of product, said the social media site would not take asking new users to submit proof of age off the table as it looked at ways to tighten up how it verifies users' ages.

His comments come as Instagram announced it would now start asking all new members to give their date of birth when signing up. The social network also said it would soon start using the date of birth users had given on Facebook to verify ages on Instagram.

Currently, Instagram asks if new users are over or under 18, and then only asks for a date of birth for those who say they are 17 or younger.

Parent company Facebook said:

We understand not everyone will share their actual age. How best to collect and verify the age of people who use online services is something that the whole industry is exploring and we are committed to continuing to work with industry and governments to find the best solutions. Nobody will have their date of birth publicly displayed on their Instagram profile.



Sony and Microsoft role play Skynet...

Terminator Resistance video game cut at the insistence of Sony and Microsoft

Link Here5th December 2019
Full story: Sony Games Censorship...Sony has taken to unilateral censorship of PS 4 games
Terminator Resistance is a 2019 Poland first person shooter by Teyon Games

Terminator: Resistance is set in a post-apocalyptic 2028 Los Angeles. Players take on the role of Jacob Rivers, a soldier in the John Connor-led human resistance against Skynet's robotic killing machines.

Terminator Resistance originally had sex scenes that were censored on the demands of platform makers Sony and Microsoft.

The scenes were also cut from the PC version but can be restored after some serious modding efforts See article from

According to Teyon , the reason Terminator: Resistance released with censored sex scenes was due to the platform holders, specifically Microsoft and Sony. This was revealed in a tweet reply that Teyon made to a gamer who was eager to find out exactly why the game had some of its more risque content censored in an M rated title that was already regulated for sexual content.

Teyon were asked about the reason for the censorship they replied in a tweet:

We were forced by Sony and Microsoft -- Teyon (@TeyonGames) December 3, 2019

Sex scenes were obviously censored later in the day by using reframing and a restricted field of view to block the sight of Baron's and Jennifer's breasts. The mod restores the full screen view so that you get to see the boobs as intended.



You can't say that...

Researchers at King’s College London ave published research confirming that free speech has been lost at British Universities

Link Here5th December 2019
Researchers at King's College London (KCL) asked over 2,000 students about their views on free speech on campus and in society.

The majority (59%) of Conservative-voting students said they believe that those who share their views are reluctant to express themselves at university. This compared with 36% of those voted Labour and 37% of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats. Students who voted for the Green Party were the most comfortable with expressing their views, with just 32% saying that their like-minded peers would self-censor on campus.

A quarter of students, irrespective of their political persuasion, said they are unable to express their views at university because they are scared of disagreeing with their peers, according to the KCL study.

Half think that free speech is under threat in society as a whole.



Offsite Article: Pulse and Cocktails near Lichfield...

Link Here5th December 2019
There are some great characters, we have one man who comes in wearing nothing but flip flops and a thong, some who come in full drag, one woman who is an exhibitionist and loves to take her top off

See article from



Cross border issues...

Netflix is reusing its age ratings, produced using a scheme agreed with the BBFC, in Ireland

Link Here4th December 2019
Full story: Irish Film Censors at IFCO...IFCO: the Irish film censor board
It seems that Netfllix has been stealing a march on the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) by using a joint BBFC/Netflix rating system for Netflix users in Ireland.

Back in March 2019 the BBFC agreed on rating system with Netflix such that Netflix would determine age rating for the programmes and films using the BBFC guidelines. The BBFC has just a quality control role to ensure that Netflix is following the guidelines.

It is reported that these age ratings are now being reused for Netflix users in Ireland. And Newstalk has beein inquiring if the IFCO is happy with this arrangement.

The IFCO responded saying it has no legal remit on non physical product in Ireland. However Ger Connolly, the director of film classification, said:

I do intend to engage with Apple TV and other providers to examine if there is a mechanism to cooperate for the benefit of Republic of Ireland residents.



Clucking censors!...

ASA bans KFC poster. Don't the advert censors know an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken when they hear it?

Link Here4th December 2019

A poster ad and a press ad for KFC:

a. The poster, seen at bus stops and other locations during September 2019, featured the phrase WHAT THE CLUCK?! £1.99 FILL UP LUNCH alongside an image of food items on a menu.

b. The press ads seen in the Metro and the Sun also during September 2019 were the same as the poster except one featured the elongated word cluuuuuck.


1. All of the complainants, who believed the word cluck had been substituted in place of an expletive, challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were offensive.

2. Many of the complainants also challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were appropriate for display where they could be seen by children.


KFC said the word cluck was used as an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken, which was in context and wholly relevant to the deal, the product featured and the brand.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA understood that the use of the word cluck was a reference to the sound a chicken made and that that was relevant to the product being advertised. We also acknowledged that the ad did not contain the expletive fuck. We recognised that there were several variations of the what the expression, all commonly used to denote surprise or outrage, and not all of which finished with an expletive. The chicken sound effect used to complete the expression in the radio and TV ads in the campaign did not therefore directly substitute for an expletive. However, the written word cluck was used in the poster and press ads and we considered people would interpret that as alluding specifically to the expression, what the fuck. We did not consider that this connection would be removed because an elongated spelling of the word cluck was used in ad (b).

We considered that fuck was a word so likely to offend that it should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether the ad was featured in a newspaper which had an adult target audience. We also considered it likely that parents may want their children to avoid the word, or obvious allusions to it. The poster was likely to be seen by people of all ages and while we recognised that the press ads would have a primarily adult audience, they could still be seen by children. For those reasons we concluded that the allusion to the word fuck in ads with a general adult audience was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, and that it was irresponsible for them to appear where children could see them.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We KFC to avoid in future alluding to expletives that were so likely to offend.



Offsite Article: Transitioning from seedy to trendy...

Link Here4th December 2019
Full story: Sex Sells in Soho...But the authorities aren't so keen
Take a trip back into the seedy Soho of the past with British neo-noir Mona Lisa.

See article from



YouTube gets real...

YouTube will allow more violent content related to video games as long as it is not real world violence

Link Here3rd December 2019
Full story: YouTube Censorship...YouTube censor videos by restricting their reach
Heads up for all Gaming Creators:

We know there's a difference between real-world violence and scripted or simulated violence -- such as what you see in movies, TV shows, or video games -- so we want to make sure we're enforcing our violent or graphic content policies consistently.

Starting on 2nd December, scripted or simulated violent content found in video games will be treated the same as other types of scripted content.

What does this mean for Gaming Creators?

  • Future gaming uploads that include scripted or simulated violence may be approved instead of being age-restricted.
  • There will be fewer restrictions for violence in gaming, but this policy will still maintain our high bar to protect audiences from real-world violence.
  • We may still age-restrict content if violent or gory imagery is the sole focus of the video. For instance, if the video focuses entirely on the most graphically violent part of a video game.



Doll Domination...

Pussycat Dolls earn 419 whinges to Ofcom for a performance on X Factor

Link Here3rd December 2019

The Pussycat Dolls' raunchy performance on X Factor: Celebrity has sparked 419 complaints to TV censor Ofcom. This puts the programme on course to win the accolade of being the the most complained-about TV moments of the year.

Nicole Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt performed a medley of hits in tight skimpy outfits .

But some viewers were 'shocked' by their raunchy clothes and dance moves airing before the 9pm watershed.

One insisted the S&M style dance moves wouldn't have been out of place on an adult channel. Another ludicrously likened the performance to something you'd see at a strip club



Updated: Pre-installed government apps...

Russia's lawmakers dream up the next chapter of nastiness for internet users

Link Here3rd December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Online freedom in Russia is getting worse and worse and the latest laws being considered by the Russian Parliament look set to lead to a further deterioration.

MPs are currently pushing through legislation that would force all computers and mobile devices sold in Russia to come with a series of pre-installed applications which would pose a massive threat to users online security and privacy.

Now the Russian Duma (lower parliament) is considering a law which it claims would protect Russian technology against competition from overseas tech companies.

But protectionism is the least of the Russian people's concerns if this law makes it onto the statute books. Compelling devices to come pre-installed with domestic apps offers the Putin regime a wonderful opportunity to spy on every single Russian internet user and punish those who deviate from its exacting regulations.

Update: Signed

3rd December 2019. See article from

Russian President Vladimir Putin has now signed legislation requiring all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in the country to come pre-installed with Russian software.

The law, which will come into force on July 1 next year, has been met with resistance by some electronics retailers, who say the legislation was adopted without consulting them.



China is a little way ahead of Britain...

It now a requirement to provide a face scan when buying a new sim

Link Here3rd December 2019

 The Chinese government has taken yet another step in strengthening its ability to track and scrutinize its citizens' activities by mandating new SIM card buyers to register their faces with the government.

The new rules, which China will mandate cellphone companies with the responsibility of having customers scan their faces before buying a new SIM card or registering a new cellphone number at offline stores. The country's authorities already require users to link their national IDs to their cellphone numbers, but these latest regulations would incorporate the use of biometric authentication and artificial intelligence into its overarching surveillance regime.

No doubt the authorities have got some really nasty ideas lined up for the control of citizens using facial recognition technology. And no doubt they will selling these to teh est very shortly.



Scarred for life...

Malaysian tourist minister rails at tattoo exhibition worrying abut the effects on visitors

Link Here3rd December 2019
Malaysian officials have criticised a tattoo exhibition held in the country likening it to porn that is unsuitable for a Muslim-majority country

The offending images at the Tattoo Malaysia Expo in Kuala Lumpur were inevitably of full bodied tattoos shown off by people posing in underwear.

The tourism minister had initially supported the three-day show which has already ended but changed his mind afterwards claiming that it did not reflect Malaysia's polite and decent culture.

He ordered a probe and warned the government could take legal action against the organisers.



Tape over the camera...

That FBI warns smart TV users that they may being snooped upon

Link Here3rd December 2019
The FBI in Portland writesL

Smart TVs are called that because they connect to the Internet. They allow you to use popular streaming services and apps. Many also have microphones for those of us who are too lazy to actually to pick up the remote. Just shout at your set that you want to change the channel or turn up the volume and you are good to go.

A number of the newer TV's also have built-in cameras. In some cases, the cameras are used for facial recognition so the TV knows who is watching and can suggest programming appropriately. There are also devices coming to market that allow you to video chat with grandma in 42" glory.

Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home. A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router.

Hackers can also take control of your unsecured TV. At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.

TVs and technology are a big part of our lives, and they aren't going away. So how can you protect your family?

  • Know exactly what features your TV has and how to control those features. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words "microphone," "camera," and "privacy."

  • Don't depend on the default security settings. Change passwords if you can -- and know how to turn off the microphones, cameras, and collection of personal information if possible. If you can't turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.

  • If you can't turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option.

  • Check the manufacturer's ability to update your device with security patches. Can they do this? Have they done it in the past?

  • Check the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use. Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.




The BBC write a few words after a 6 month deliberation about Jo Brand's battery joke

Link Here2nd December 2019
The BBC have been considering complaints about Jo Brand's gag about pouring acid over Nigel Farage. Surely a sensitive issue for the BBC as they have to tread lightly around the blatant bias that it would have been universal outrage and a career ending punishment  had it been a man making the same joke about a woman.

ANyway after 6 months deliberation the BBC has announced:

Heresy, Radio 4, 11 June 2019 28 November 2019


Reflecting on recent incidents involving the throwing of milkshakes as a form of political protest, Jo Brand said

I'm kind of thinking why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid...that's just me. I'm not going to do it, it's purely a fantasy but I think milkshakes are pathetic. I honestly do -- sorry .

20 listeners complained that the joke was offensive and/or likely to incite violence.


In view of Ms Brand's immediate disavowal and the context of the programme's wider message in favour of more civility in political discourse, the ECU did not consider the joke likely to incite violence, but accepted that, against the background of a significant problem with acid attacks, it was capable of causing offence beyond what was editorially justified, and should not have been edited out before transmission.

Partly upheld



The Satanic Rites of Dracula...

The BBFC revisit the film for the first time since a cut VHS in 1988

Link Here1st December 2019
The Satanic Rites of Dracula is a 1973 UK horror by Alan Gibson.
With Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Coles. YouTube iconBBFC link IMDb

In London in the 1970s, Scotland Yard police investigators think they have uncovered a case of vampirism. They call in an expert vampire researcher named Van Helsing (a descendant of the great vampire-hunter himself, no less) to help them put a stop to these hideous crimes. It becomes apparent that the culprit is Count Dracula himself, disguised as a reclusive property developer, but secretly plotting to unleash a fatal virus upon the world. 

It's been many years since the BBFC has seen The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

Previously the film was heavily cut by the BBFC for X rated cinema release in 1973. The cuts were to:

  • opening nude sacrifice scene,
  • 2 staking scenes, 
  • the electrocution of a guard

Cuts were requested to the shooting of Torrence but these cuts was not made

This cut UK cinema version was further cut by 1s for BBFC 18 rated VHS in 1988.

The UK cinema version has now just been passed 15 by the BBFC for strong sexualised violence for:

  • 2019 Warner Bros. R0 Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 14th October 2019

For the record, in the US the UK cinema version was further cut and PG rated  under the title of Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride . US distributors later reverted to the the UK Version which received an MPAA R rating in 1978. However US home video releases have been MPAA Unrated and feature the UK version with, and without, the BBFC 1s video cut.

See further details at Melon Farmers Film Cuts: The Satanic Rites of Dracula



Inflammatory images...

DC Comics gets in trouble for a Batman image claimed to reference Hong Kong troubles, and again for removing it

Link Here1st December 2019
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
DC Comics got itself in political hot water over a drawing that's been linked in mainland China to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.

The image in question, which DC removed from its social media accounts, was created by artist Rafael Grampa for writer Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child , to be released on Dec. 11. The drawing shows a youthful superhero holding a Molotov cocktail. In the background are the words: The future is young.

However, Chinese social media users took offense at what they said was a clear reference to pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. This perceived support for the youth-led movement that has rocked the Chinese territory sparked a backlash against DC that the company tried to quell by taking down the image without explanation or apology.

But the controversy was just getting started. The self-censorship only angered fans around the world, who questioned DC bowing to pressure and urged it to go in the opposite direction. The disputed image's removal inspired people to circulate it widely, and to criticise the decision to withdraw it.



Singapore orders Facebook to mark Australian post as 'fake news'...

All politicians lie, governments are made up of politicians, why would anyone believe their claims about what is, and what isn't, fake news anyway?

Link Here 1st December 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Singapore...Heavy handed censorship control of news websites
  Singapore's new law designed to counter fake news is now fully in effect. It allows the country's government to issue corrections of information that it deems to be false, and fine those publishing it up to an equivalent of $730,000 and send them to prison for up to ten years.

Singapore is now attempting to apply the new legislation globally, by ordering Facebook to correct a post made by a user in Australia. This is one of the points the critics of the legislation have been making ever since it was passed in May -- that it will likely be used to stifle freedom of expression not only in Singapore but also beyond its borders.

The law, officially the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, is described as one of the toughest in the world -- while the order dispatched to Facebook marks the first time Singapore has attempted to directly influence a social media platform and content hosted on it.

The supposed 'fake news' in the first invocation of the law involved improvable claims in argument between the government and a government Singaporean critic now based in Australia. It seems unlikely that Facebook can substantiate or arbitrate the actual truth of the claims.

In this case, Facebook has added a correction notice to the disputed post saying:

Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.

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