New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks has officially classified the full 17 minute video of the fatal Christchurch shootings which occurred on Friday 15 March, as objectionable. He said:
The footage, examined under the Films, Videos & Publications Classification Act 1993, is deemed objectionable because of its depiction and promotion of extreme violence and terrorism.
I took the step of 'calling in' this video over the weekend as a mechanism to fast-track the classification process.
The video contains exceedingly graphic real life images, which could cause significant harm to those who view it, especially for victims and their families.
An urgent process is currently underway to finalise a detailed report of the Chief Censor's decision, this will be released within days.
It is illegal for anyone in New Zealand to view, possess or distribute this material in any form, including via social media platforms.
We're aware that for a time after the attacks, this video was widely available on social media and many New Zealanders saw it, sometimes without meaning to. It's important people are now clear they should not view, download or share the video.
Our priority is to mitigate the harm caused by this material to the New Zealand public, and in particular to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the Christchurch terror attacks.
Associated with the video, it should be noted that a lengthy manifesto document is being examined separately from the video footage and will take more time to consider.
Update: The authorities get nasty about sharing the video
One 44 year old man with alleged far right connections has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand's Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held
Another man, an 18-year-old, is also facing charges for sharing the video.
And these two may not be the only ones in New Zealand facing charges for sharing the video. Authorities have asked Facebook for the names of others who have shared it.
Other Kiwis have reportedly lost their jobs for sharing the video with coworkers or viewing it at work, according to the New Zealand Herald .
Offsite Comment: Don't Censor the New Zealand Shooting Videos
ISPs in Australia have blocked access to dozens of websites, including 4chan and 8chan, in the name of blocking the video of last week's New Zealand mass shooting.
In Australia, ISP Vodafone said that blocking requests generally come from courts or law enforcement agencies but that this time ISPs acted on their own. Telstra and Optus also blocked the sites in Australia. Besides 4chan and 8chan, ISP-level
blocking affected the social network Voat, the blog Zerohedge, video hosting site LiveLeak, and others. The ban on 4chan was lifted a few hours later.
Raising issues of wider censorship, LiveLeak removed the offending videos but was not immediately removed from the list of censored sites.
The ISPs' decision to block access to websites was controversial as they acted to censor content without instruction from either the Australian Communications and Media Authority or the eSafety Commissioner, and most smaller service providers
have decided to keep access open.
The ISPs are facing some government pressure, though. Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone to a meeting to discuss ways to prevent distribution and livestreaming of violent videos.
New Zealand ISPs took a similar approach. The country's main iSPs, Spark, Vodafone, Vocus and 2degrees, are blocking any website which has footage of the Friday 15 March Christchurch mosque shootings. The ISPs agreed to work together to identify
and block access at [the] DNS level to such online locations, such as 4chan and 8chan.
New Zealand Telecommunications Forum Chief Executive Geoff Thorn said the industry is working together to ensure this harmful content can't be viewed by New Zealanders. He acknowledged that there is the risk that some sites that have legitimate
content could have been mistakenly blacklisted, but this will be rectified as soon as possible. .
Australia and New Zealand also do not have net neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from blocking websites on their own volition
South Africa's National Assembly has officially passed the Films and Publications Amendment Bill, with the bill now scheduled to be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.
The bill extends film censorship to online content and appoints The Film and Publications Board (FPB), the country's film censors, as arbiters of internet censorship of hate speech, revenge porn and website blocking.
Some of the other notable changes include:
Revenge porn: Under the bill, any person who knowingly distributes private sexual photographs and films without prior consent and with intention to cause the said individual harm shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction.
Hate speech: The bill states that any person who knowingly distributes in any medium, including the internet and social media any film, game or publication which amounts to propaganda for war, incites imminent violence, or advocates hate
speech, shall be guilty of an offence.
Website blocking: If an internet access provider has knowledge that its services are being used for the hosting or distribution of child pornography, propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or advocating hatred based on an
identifiable group characteristic it shall immediately remove this content, or be subject to a fine.
According to Dominic Cull of specialised legal advice firm, Ellipsis, the bill which is on its way to president Cyril Ramaphosa is extremely badly written. He notes that the introduction bill means that there is definite potential for abuse in
terms of infringement of free speech .
One of my big objections here is that if I upload something which someone else finds objectionable, and they think it hate speech, they will be able to complain to the FPB.
If the FPB thinks the complaint is valid, they can then lodge a takedown notice to have this material removed.
These sentiments were echoed by legal expert Nick Hall of MakeGamesSA, who said:
The big question around the bill has always been enforceability and the likelihood of the FPB to do anything with it. Practically, are they going to go after small-scale YouTubers? No, probably not, as they don't have the means to do so.
Instead, my concern has always been that the legislation becomes a tool for them to use censorship.
Websites and businesses across Europe went dark yesterday in protest of disgraceful changes to copyright law being introduced by the European Union.
Ahead of a final vote on the legislation next Tuesday, March 26th, a number of European Wikipedia sites are going dark for the day, blocking all access and directing users to contact their local EU representative to protest the laws. Other major
sites, such as Twitch and PornHub, are showing protest banners on their homepages and social media. Meanwhile, any users uploading content to Reddit will be shown this notice: Critics of the Copyright Directive say it could lead to messages like
The law in question is the EU Copyright Directive, a long-awaited update to copyright law. Two provisions have been singled out by critics as dangerous to European people's freedom and livehoods.
These are Article 11, which lets publishers charge platforms if they link to their stories (the link tax'), and Article 13, which makes platforms legally responsible for users uploading copyrighted material (the so-called 'upload filter').
Article 13 is particularly dangerous, say critics. It will make all platforms hosting user-generated content legally responsible for users uploading copyrighted content. The only way to stop these uploads, say critics, will be to scan content
before its uploaded, leading to the creation of filters that will err on the side of censorship and will be abused by copyright trolls.
Wikipedia said the rules would be a "net loss for free knowledge." Volunteer editors for the German, Czech, Danish, and Slovak Wikipedias have all blacked out their sites for the day.
As well as the website blackouts , more than five million internet users have signed a petition protesting Article 13 . Marches and demonstrations are also planned in European cities across the weekend and on Monday and Tuesday before the final
Our efforts to defeat #Article13 just got a huge boost! Polish @Platforma_org will vote AGAINST the #copyright directive unless #Article13 is deleted! They're the second largest single political party in EPP after @CDU. Thanks @MichalBoni
At a press conference in Berlin, @AxelVossMdEP confirmed rumours that some press publishers have threatened parliamentarians with bad election coverage if they vote against the #copyright reform. Voss does not consider this problematic.
#Article11 #Article13 #SaveYourInternet
The UK education secretary Damian Hinds is calling on payments firms such as PayPal to block transactions for essay writing firms, in a bid to beat university cheats.
Hinds says it is unethical for these companies to profit from this dishonest business.
A PayPal spokesman says an internal review is already under way into essay-writing services.
The Quality Assurance Agency wrote to PayPal in November calling on the firm to close down the payment facilities for the essay-writing companies that encourage students to cheat. But the university standards watchdog says there has not been any
indication of any change in policy.
A popular, uncensored weekly performance event at the Springer Opera House in Columbus Georgia has been put on hold following a skit involving a joke with the line 'fuck Jesus'.
The Springer announced that it suspended indefinitely the No Shame Theatre event following the inevitable social media backlash. A statement said:
The incident that occurred at No Shame last night in no way represents the values or mission of the Springer Opera House. Management is investigating the situation. At this time, No Shame Theatre is suspended indefinitely. Our patrons are our
No. 1 priority. Your happiness and comfort are key to our organization's success. Thank you for patience as we further investigate this matter.
At the end of almost every show, the event ends with a segment called Sex with Me. Members of the audience suggest a person or item to use as a comparison. The host picks a topic, and other members of the audience create jokes. In Friday's event,
host Alli Kaman chose Jesus from the suggested topics.
Four people spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer about the event. One man claims the host of the event said 'fuck Jesus' ; another claims that it was a member of the audience who yelled the phrase; and another pair claimed they didn't hear
anyone yell the expletive.
The US state of Georgia's ethics commission has named David Emadi as its new director. He'll replace the former director, Stefan Ritter, who resigned after complaints that included viewing pornography on state computers.
Emadi will arrive at a time when the commission is investigating some well-known political figures.
Ritter resigned last month with a $45,000 settlement and a promise not to sue the commission. The most visible complaint was that Ritter had pornography on his state computer. It was also claimed that he interfered with investigations of the
campaigns of unnamed candidates for mayor of Atlanta, and last year's nearly successful campaign for governor by Democrat Stacey Abrams.
An informal group of MPs, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing has published a report calling for the establishment of an internet censor. The report clams:
80% of the UK public believe tighter regulation is needed to address the impact of social media on the health and wellbeing of young people.
63% of young people reported social media to be a good source of health information.
However, children who spend more than three hours a day using social media are twice as likely to display symptoms of mental ill health.
Pressure to conform to beauty standards perpetuated and praised online can encourage harmful behaviours to achieve "results", including body shame and disordered eating, with 46% of girls compared to 38% of all young people reporting
social media has a negative impacted on their self-esteem.
Establish a duty of care on all social media companies with registered UK users aged 24 and under in the form of a statutory code of conduct, with Ofcom to act as regulator.
Create a Social Media Health Alliance, funded by a 0.5% levy on the profits of social media companies, to fund research, educational initiatives and establish clearer guidance for the public.
Review whether the "addictive" nature of social media is sufficient for official disease classification.
Urgently commission robust, longitudinal research, into understanding the extent to which the impact of social media on young people's mental health and wellbeing is one of cause or correlation.
Chris Elmore MP, Chair of the APPG on Social Media on Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing said:
"I truly think our report is the wakeup call needed to ensure - finally - that meaningful action is taken to lessen the negative impact social media is having on young people's mental health.
For far too long social media companies have been allowed to operate in an online Wild West. And it is in this lawless landscape that our children currently work and play online. This cannot continue. As the report makes clear, now is the time
for the government to take action.
The recommendations from our Inquiry are both sensible and reasonable; they would make a huge difference to the current mental health crisis among our young people.
I hope to work constructively with the UK Government in the coming weeks and months to ensure we see real changes to tackle the issues highlighted in the report at the earliest opportunity."
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns repeated attacks by the Chinese embassy against Swedish journalists and insists that diplomatic missions have no say in the editorial content of media in their host country.
Chinese ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, has embarked on a truth crusade against the country's media since taking office in August 2017. The ambassador seems to have trouble understanding that in Sweden, a country ranked second in the RSF's
2018 World Press Freedom Index, journalists are not subject to censorship.
On the embassy's website, the ambassador recently posted a long, unsigned attack against SVT Nyheter, a major Swedish news outlet. The diplomat castigates the site for giving a platform to David Liao, Representative to the Taipei Mission in
Sweden, on February 27. Liao published an opinion piece calling support for Taiwanese democracy against Chinese threat. According to Gui Congyou, the article challenges the one China principle and amounts to serious political provocation. Beijing
is very aggressive in claiming sovereignty over the island of Taiwan, despite it having an independent government since 1949.
The attack on SVT Nyheter is indeed not an isolated incident. Since July of 2018, the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm has attacked multiple Swedish news sources. The ambassador was particularly harsh towards Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson, author
of a book on the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, who was kidnapped in Thailand in 2015 and is still detained in China with no scheduled sentencing. Last December, he also attacked Swedish journalist and commentator Kurdo Baksi, accusing him of
instigating hatred against China.
Super Real Mahjong PV is a 2019 Japanese adventure game by MightyCraft
The console game Super Real Mahjong PV, originally released on the Sega Saturn and recently released for Switch, has been removed from Nintendo's eShop due to some scenes with insufficient censorship.
According to a notice from the publisher, Mighty Craft, Nintendo temporarily removed Super Real Mahjong PV from the eShop due to scenes with insufficient censorship as the reason. This is something that was pointed out by Japanese entertainment
rating organization CERO (Computer Entertainment Rating Organization).
The publisher says it is currently working on checking and revising the entire game, and are getting ready to have it reviewed by Nintendo.
It turns out there are some instances of the censorship rays being too thin and left some images of female breasts exposed.
Sky New Zealand has pulled fellow broadcaster Sky News Australia off air until the channel stops broadcasting clips from the Christchurch mosque shooter's Facebook live stream.
In a tweet posted on Saturday morning, Sky New Zealand, an independently-owned broadcaster, said it had decided to remove the Australian 24-hour news channel from its platform because of the footage. A channel spokeswoman said:
We stand in support of our fellow New Zealanders and have made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform until we are confident that the distressing footage from yesterday's events will not be shared.
The BBFC has launched an innovative new industry collaboration with Netflix to move towards classifying all content on the service using BBFC age ratings.
Netflix will produce BBFC age ratings for content using a manual tagging system along with an automated rating algorithm, with the BBFC taking up an auditing role. Netflix and the BBFC will work together to make sure Netflix's classification
process produces ratings which are consistent with the BBFC's Classification Guidelines for the UK.
It comes as new research by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the Video Standards Council Rating Board (VSC) has revealed that almost 80% of parents are concerned about children seeing inappropriate content on video on demand or
online games platforms.
The BBFC and the VSC have joined forces to respond to calls from parents and are publishing a joint set of Best Practice Guidelines to help online services deliver what UK consumers want.
The Best Practice Guidelines will help online platforms work towards greater and more consistent use of trusted age ratings online. The move is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government's strategy
to make the UK the safest place to be online.
This includes recommending the use of consistent and more comprehensive use of BBFC age labelling symbols across all Video On Demand (VOD) services, and PEGI symbols across online games services, including additional ratings info and mapping
parental controls to BBFC age ratings and PEGI ratings.
The voluntary Guidelines are aimed at VOD services offering video content to UK consumers via subscription, purchase and rental, but exclude pure catch-up TV services like iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, My 5 and UKTV Player.
The research also shows that 90% of parents believe that it is important to display age ratings when downloading or streaming a film online, and 92% of parents think it's important for video on demand platforms to show the same type of age
ratings they would expect at the cinema or on DVD and Blu-ray 203 confirmed by 94% of parents saying it's important to have consistent ratings across all video on demand platforms, rather than a variety of bespoke ratings systems.
With nine in 10 (94%) parents believing it is important to have consistent ratings across all online game platforms rather than a variety of bespoke systems, the VSC is encouraging services to join the likes of Microsoft, Sony PlayStation,
Nintendo and Google in providing consumers with the nationally recognised PEGI ratings on games - bringing consistency between the offline and online worlds.
The Video Recordings Act requires that the majority of video works and video games released on physical media must be classified by the BBFC or the VSC prior to release. While there is no equivalent legal requirement that online releases must be
classified, the BBFC has been working with VOD services since 2008, and the VSC has been working with online games platforms since 2003. The Best Practice Guidelines aim to build on the good work that is already happening, and both authorities
are now calling for the online industry to work with them in 2019 and beyond to better protect children.
David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said:
Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema, on DVD and on Blu-ray when they choose to watch material online. We know that it's not just parents who want age ratings, teenagers
want them too. We want to work with the industry to ensure that families are able to make the right decisions for them when watching content online.
Ian Rice, Director General of the VSC, said:
We have always believed that consumers wanted a clear, consistent and readily recognisable rating system for online video games and this research has certainly confirmed that view. While the vast majority of online game providers are compliant
and apply PEGI ratings to their product, it is clear that more can be done to help consumers make an informed purchasing decision. To this end, the best practice recommendations will certainly make a valuable contribution in achieving this aim.
Digital Minister Margot James said:
Our ambition is for the UK to be the safest place to be online, which means having age ratings parents know and trust applied to all online films and video games. I welcome the innovative collaboration announced today by Netflix and the BBFC,
but more needs to be done.
It is important that more of the industry takes this opportunity for voluntary action, and I encourage all video on demand and games platforms to adopt the new best practice standards set out by the BBFC and Video Standards Council.
The BBFC is looking at innovative ways to open up access to its classifications to ensure that more online video content goes live with a trusted age rating. Today the BBFC and Netflix announce a year-long self-ratings pilot which will see the
online streaming service move towards in-house classification using BBFC age ratings, under licence.
Netflix will use an algorithm to apply BBFC Guideline standards to their own content, with the BBFC setting those standards and auditing ratings to ensure consistency. The goal is to work towards 100% coverage of BBFC age ratings across the
Mike Hastings, Director of Editorial Creative at Netflix, said:
The BBFC is a trusted resource in the UK for providing classification information to parents and consumers and we are excited to expand our partnership with them. Our work with the BBFC allows us to ensure our members always press play on
content that is right for them and their families.
David Austin added:
We are fully committed to helping families chose content that is right for them, and this partnership with Netflix will help us in our goal to do just that. By partnering with the biggest streaming service, we hope that others will follow
Netflix's lead and provide comprehensive, trusted, well understood age ratings and ratings info, consistent with film and DVD, on their UK platforms. The partnership shows how the industry are working with us to find new and innovative ways to
deliver 100% age ratings for families.
The new EU Copyright Directive will be up for its final vote in the week of Mar 25, and like any piece of major EU policy, it has been under discussion for many years and had all its areas of controversy resolved a year ago -- but then German
MEP Axel Voss took over as the "rapporteur" (steward) of the Directive and reintroduced the long-abandoned idea of forcing all online services to use filters to block users from posting anything that anyone, anywhere claimed was their
There are so many obvious deficiencies with adding filters to every message-board, online community, and big platform that the idea became political death, as small- and medium-sized companies pointed out that you can't fix the EU's internet by
imposing costs that only US Big Tech firms could afford to pay, thus wiping out all European competition.
So Voss switched tactics, and purged all mention of filters from the Directive, and began to argue that he didn't care how online services guaranteed that their users didn't infringe anyone's copyrights, even copyrights in works that had only
been created a few moments before and that no one had ever seen before, ever. Voss said that it didn't matter how billions of user posts were checked, just so long as it all got filtered.
(It's like saying, "I expect you to deliver a large, four-legged African land-mammal with a trunk, tusk and a tail, but it doesn't have to be an elephant -- any animal that fits those criteria will do).
Now, in a refreshingly frank interview, Voss has come clean: the only way to comply with Article 13 will be for every company to install filters.
When asked whether filters will be sufficient to keep Youtube users from infringing copyright, Voss said, "If the platform's intention is to give people access to copyrighted works, then we have to think about whether that kind of business
should exist." That is, if Article 13 makes it impossible to have an online platform where the public is allowed to make work available without first having to submit it to legal review, maybe there should just no longer be anywhere for the
public to make works available.
Here's what Europeans can do about this:
Pledge 2019 : make your MEP promise to vote against Article 13. The vote comes just before elections, so MEPs are extremely interested in the issues on voters' minds.
Save Your Internet : contact your MEP and ask them to protect the internet from this terrible idea.
* Turn out and protest
on March 23 , two days ahead of the vote. Protests are planned in cities and towns in every EU member-state.
Since Tumblr announced its porn ban in December, many users reacted by explaining that they mainly used the site for browsing not-safe-for-work content, and they threatened to leave the platform if the ban were enforced. It now appears that many
users have made good on that threat: Tumblr's traffic has dropped nearly 30% since December.
The ban removed explicit posts from public view, including any media that portrayed sex acts, exposed genitals, and female-presenting nipples.
The Newcastle University Robinson Library has made students take down art that portrayed nude women claiming that its less than perfect bodies may cause offence.
Louise Brown,, a student at the University, displayed her art at the FemSoc stall in the library today, only to promptly be asked to take the art down by library staff.
The staff deemed the cartoon images of the naked female form to be too inappropriate to display in the library, adding that they didn't want people to be shocked when entering the building.
Louise told The Newcastle Tab: My art is made to counter sexist attitudes towards women and their bodies. In attempting to minimise offence, the censorship of my art only works to perpetuate the patriarchy. Women's bodies are not offensive.
Upon being asked to remove the images, FemSoc responded by placing CENSORED BY NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY notices over the 'offensive' areas.