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Whatever happened to...

The BBFC consultation on UK internet porn censorship


Link Here 17th July 2018
Nobody seems to have heard much about the progress of the BBFC consultation about the process to censor internet porn in the UK.

The sketchy timetable laid out so far suggests that the result of the consultation should be published prior to the Parliamentary recess scheduled for 26th July. Presumably this would provide MPs with some light reading over their summer hols ready for them to approve as soon as the hols are over.

Maybe this publication may have to be hurried along though, as pesky MPs are messing up Theresa May's plans for a non-Brexit, and she would like to send them packing a week early before they can cause trouble.

The BBFC published meeting minutes this week that mentions the consultation:

The public consultation on the draft Guidance on Age Verification Arrangements and the draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers closed on 23 April. The BBFC received 620 responses, 40 from organisations and 580 from individuals. Many of the individual responses were encouraged by a campaign organised by the Open Rights Group.

Our proposed response to the consultation will be circulated to the Board before being sent to DCMS on 21 May.

So assuming that the response was sent to the government on the appointed day then someone has been sitting on the results for quite a long time now.

Meanwhile its good to see that people are still thinking about the monstrosity that is coming our way. Ethical porn producer Erica Lust has been speaking to News Internationalist. She comments on the way the new law will compound MindGeek's monopolitistc dominance of the online porn market:

The age verification laws are going to disproportionately affect smaller low-traffic sites and independent sex workers who cannot cover the costs of installing age verification tools.

It will also impact smaller sites by giving MindGeek even more dominance in the adult industry. This is because the BBFC draft guidance does not enforce sites to offer more than one age verification product. So, all of MindGeeks sites (again, 90% of the mainstream porn sites) will only offer their own product; Age ID. The BBFC have also stated that users do not have to verify their age on each visit if access is restricted by password or a personal ID number. So users visiting a MindGeek site will only have to verify their age once using AgeID and then will be able to login to any complying site without having to verify again. Therefore, viewers will be less likely to visit competitor sites not using the AgeID technology, and simultaneously competitor sites will feel pressured to use AgeID to protect themselves from losing viewers.

...Read the full  article from newint.org

 

 

A mixed bag...

A summary of the weeks complaints to Ofcom


Link Here 17th July 2018
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
Ofcom have presented some long discussions when censuring several broadcasters. Here is just the most brief summary of each

 

The Healing School
Loveworld Television Network, 10 November 2017, 06:30 and 10:00

Loveworld Television Network is a religious channel. During routine monitoring, Ofcom identified two episodes of the series The Healing School. These programmes outlined the experiences of several people who had attended events at The Healing School, which, according to its website1, is a healing ministry of Rev. Chris Oyakhilome (Ph.D) which takes divine healing to the nations.

Ofcom have little faith in faith healers and censured the channel for not suggesting that the people would be better advised to consult a doctor rather than a faith healer:

In its representations the Licensee stated that faith based healing/miracles is a fundamental principle of the Bible which many practising Christians of various denominations believe in and the Bible is not classified as an offensive or harmful material therefore the practice or expression of faith as taught by Jesus Christ who Himself performed many miracles and healings as taught by the Bible in our view is not harmful or offensive. It is not Ofcom's role to question viewers' religious beliefs, nor caution against any particular religious teaching. However, all broadcasters are subject to the Code, regardless of their religious stance. Ofcom's duty is to ensure all members of the public watching television (whether people of faith or not) are provided with adequate protection from potentially harmful material. The nature of faith and the right to freedom of religion does not mean that religious broadcasters are at liberty to broadcast content that poses a potential risk to viewers, especially viewers who are potentially vulnerable (for example, because of their own health or medical circumstances), without adequate protection.

Our guidance suggests that one approach commonly used by broadcasters with a view to protecting audiences against potentially harmful material is to include a warning, for example advising viewers or listeners to consult a qualified medical practitioner before making decisions based on the programme. No such warning or advice appeared in these programmes.

The Alex Salmond Show
RT, 16 November 2017, 07:30

The Alex Salmond Show is a political and current affairs series hosted by the former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond and produced by his own production company.

Ofcom received a complaint about the first episode of the new series alleging that the programme invented tweets presented as real from viewers of the show to direct the debate on his views and terms. The complainant suggested that this enabled Alex Salmond to pretend that he was merely answering questions from concerned viewers about Brexit rather than trying to control the debate....

Ofcom decided that this was a fair cop and censured Salmond accordingly.

Bible ki Nabouat: The Prophecy of the Bible
Glory TV, 10 January 2018, 16:00

Glory TV is a religious, digital television channel serving Indian and Pakistani Christian communities in the UK. The licence for Glory TV is held by Glory TV Limited (Glory TV or the Licensee).

During routine monitoring, Ofcom identified the one-hour programme, Bible ki Nabouat 203 The Prophecy of the Bible. As the programme was broadcast mainly in Urdu, Ofcom translated the content into English.

In this programme, which was originally broadcast in 2014, two presenters interpreted the Biblical books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Matthew. They said:

The prophecy we are looking at today is based on a period of seven years. When will this period start and what will be the signs? That is what we will look at today. There are many who know that Lord Jesus will return, that there will be war, that there will be a need to call the 666 number of the devil, that we will have 1,000 years with Lord Jesus, that Iblis [meaning Satan] will be thrown into the fire. They know there will be a fake prophet. However, what will be the system or method?""

The presenters then proceeded to assert that the Israel/Palestine conflict fulfils the pre-requisites for the war of the prophecy. However in arguing that the conflict fit the bill, the presenters managed to offend the sensitive souls on both sides of the conflict.

While the comments in this programme were made through the prism of Biblical prophecy, in our view, they portrayed the Arab world and all Arab people as susceptible to the influence of the Antichrist. They also portrayed all Arab people as hating Jewish people to the extent that they would be prepared to persecute them. The comments also portrayed a negative future for Israel, in which the Antichrist would stand in the new Jewish Temple and in which Jewish people would suffer another holocaust. Ofcom recognised the primary audience for this channel is Indian and Pakistani Christian communities in the UK. However, in our view the discriminatory and potentially offensive nature of these comments was likely to have exceeded audience expectations. Further, the wider audience of British Muslim people, who share the same faith as many people in the Arab world was likely, in our view, to have been highly offended by the comments about and characterisation of the Arab world and people in this programme.

Jago Pakistan Jago
HUM Europe, 15 March 2018, 10:00

HUM Europe is a general entertainment channel that serves the Pakistani community in the UK, broadcasting in Urdu.

Ofcom received three complaints about racially offensive material.

We identified a section of the programme where make-up artists taking part in a competition were set the task of applying make-up to models live on the programme. The first part of the task required the contestants to make the models’ skin tone appear darker.

Ofcom considered that specific terms used to refer to the darker skin tone had the potential to offend. These included three uses of the word negro: This stick is called Negro; make sure that you use the Negro skin tone; and it gave him a real Makrani [black] colour or Negro skin tone -- whatever you call it.

Ofcom were offended by the word 'negro' and noted:

We acknowledged that in the first two instances in this broadcast, the word was likely to be the manufacturer's name for the particular shade of make-up being used. However, this was not obviously the case in the third instance.

Ofcom censured the channel accordingly but it rather sounds that the offending word is a practical term used in the make up industry.

Free Jaggi Now
KTV, 6 January 2018, 21:30

KTV is a religious and cultural channel aimed at the Sikh community in the UK and Europe, broadcasting in Punjabi and English.

Free Jaggi Now was a current affairs programme covering the arrest of Jagtar Singh Johal (“Jaggi”)1, a UK citizen arrested in India on 4 November 2017, and detained in the State of Punjab.

We received a complaint that the programme included statements promoting “separatism” in India.

This 55-minute programme focussed on support for the ‘Free Jaggi now’ campaign. It included a discussion about the alleged torture of Jaggi by India’s National Intelligence Agency (“NIA”) during his interrogation and detention, the alleged restriction on Jaggi receiving consular assistance and an independent medical report following allegation of torture, and allegations about corruption in the Indian judiciary.

The long winded censure by Ofcom revolved around a lack of balance in the programme.

We took into account that the programmes broadcast on KTV were mostly of interest to the Sikh community in UK. Ofcom also acknowledged that the target audience for this programme consisted of members of the UK South Asian community, who may have already been aware of Jaggi's arrest and detention in India. However, we considered that these contextual factors did not mitigate the need to ensure that due impartiality was preserved in the absence of sufficient alternative viewpoints and/or challenge to the critical views expressed about the policies and actions of the Indian authorities.

 

 

A milion Europeans opposed the link tax and copyright machines...

A Key Victory Against European Copyright Filters and Link Taxes - But What's Next?


Link Here 17th July 2018
Full story: Copyrighting hyperlinks...EU propose copyright extension to hyperlinks

Against all the odds, but with the support of nearly a million Europeans , MEPs voted earlier this month to reject the EU's proposed copyright reform--including controversial proposals to create a new "snippet" right for news publishers, and mandatory copyright filters for sites that published user uploaded content.

The change was testimony to how powerful and fast-moving Net activists can be. Four weeks ago, few knew that these crazy provisions were even being considered. By the June 20th vote, Internet experts were weighing in , and wider conversations were starting on sites like Reddit.

The result was a vote on July 5th of all MEPS, which ended in a 318 against 278 victory in favour of withdrawing the Parliament's support for the languages. Now all MEPs will have a chance in September to submit new amendments and vote on a final text -- or reject the directive entirely.

While re-opening the text was a surprising set-back for Article 13 and 11, the battle isn't over: the language to be discussed on in September will be based on the original proposal by the European Commission, from two years ago -- which included the first versions of the copyright filters, and snippet rights. German MEP Axel Voss's controversial modifications will also be included in the debate, and there may well be a flood of other proposals, good and bad, from the rest of the European Parliament.

There's still sizeable support for the original text: Article 11 and 13's loudest proponents, led by Voss, persuaded many MEPs to support them by arguing that these new powers would restore the balance between American tech giants and Europe's newspaper and creative industries -- or "close the value gap", as their arguments have it.

But using mandatory algorithmic censors and new intellectual property rights to restore balance is like Darth Vader bringing balance to the Force: the fight may involve a handful of brawling big players, but it's everybody else who would have to deal with the painful consequences.

That's why it remains so vital for MEPs to hear voices that represent the wider public interest. Librarians , academics , and redditors, everyone from small Internet businesses and celebrity Youtubers, spoke up in a way that was impossible for the Parliament to ignore. The same Net-savvy MEPs and activists that wrote and fought for the GDPR put their names to challenge the idea that these laws would rein back American tech companies. Wikipedians stood up and were counted: seven independent, European-language encyclopedias consensed to shut down on the day of the vote. European alternatives to Google, Facebook and Twitter argued that this would set back their cause . And European artists spoke up that the EU shouldn't be setting up censorship and ridiculous link rights in their name.

To make sure the right amendments pass in September, we need to keep that conversation going. Read on to find out what you can do, and who you should be speaking to.

Who Spoke Up In The European Parliament?

As we noted last week, the decision to challenge the JURI committee's language on Article 13 and 11 last week was not automatic -- a minimum of 78 MEPs needed to petition for it to be put to the vote. Here's the list of those MEPs who actively stepped forward to stop the bill. Also heavily involved was Julia Reda, the Pirate Party MEP who worked so hard on making the rest of the proposed directive so positive for copyright reform, and then re-dedicated herself to stopping the worst excesses of the JURI language, and Marietje Schaake , the Parliament's foremost advocate for human rights online.

These are the core of the opposition to Article 13 and 11. A look at that list, and the final list of votes on July 5th, shows that the proposals have opponents in every corner of Europe's political map. It also shows that every MEP who voted for Article 13 and 11, has someone close to them politically who knows why it's wrong.

What happens now?

In the next few weeks, those deep in the minutiae of the Copyright directive will be crafting amendments for MEPs to vote on in September. The tentative schedule is that the amendments are accepted until Wednesday September 5th, with a vote at 12:00 Central European Time on Wednesday September 12th.

The European Parliament has a fine tradition of producing a rich supply of amendments (the GDPR had thousands). We'll need to coalesce support around a few key fixes that will keep the directive free of censorship filters and snippet rights language, and replace them with something less harmful to the wider Net.

Julia Reda already proposed amendments. And one of Voss' strongest critics in the latest vote was Catherine Stihler, the Scottish MEP who had created and passed consumer-friendly directive language in her committee, which Voss ignored. (Here's her barnstorming speech before the final vote.)

While we wait for those amendments to appear, the next step is to keep the pressure on MEPs to remember what's at stake -- no mandatory copyright filters, and no new ancillary rights on snippets of text.

In particular, if you talk to your MEP , it's important to convey how you feel these proposals will affect you . MEPs are hearing from giant tech and media companies. But they are only just beginning to hear from a broader camp: the people of the Internet.

 

 

Updated: So how much would you trust the politically correct Ofcom to censor internet news?...

Ofcom boss Sharon White sneers at the British people, and volunteers Ofcom to be their internet news censor


Link Here 16th July 2018
Sharon White, the CEO of Ofcom has put her case to be the British internet news censor, disgracefully from behind the paywalled website of the The Times.

White says Ofcom has done research showing how little users trust what they read on social media. She said that only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared with 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

But then again many people don't much trust the biased moralising from the politically correct mainstream media, including the likes of Ofcom.

White claims social media platforms need to be more accountable in how they curate and police content on their platforms, or face regulation.

In reality, Facebook's algorithm seems pretty straightforward, it just gives readers more of what they have liked in the past. But of course the powers that be don't like people choosing their own media sources, they would much prefer that the BBC, or the Guardian , or Ofcom do the choosing.

Sharon White, wrote in the Times:

The argument for independent regulatory oversight of [large online players] has never been stronger.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met.

She continued, disgracefully revealing her complete contempt of the British people:

Many people admit they simply don't have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

White joins a growing number of the establishment elite arguing that social media needs cenorship. The government has frequently suggested as much, with Matt Hancock, then digital, culture, media and sport secretary, telling Facebook in April:

Social media companies are not above the law and will not be allowed to shirk their responsibilities to our citizens.

Update: The whole pitch to offer Ofcom's services as a news censor

15th July 2018. See Sunday Times article republished by Ofcom from ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom has published Sharon White's pitch for Ofcom to become the internet news censor.

White is nominally commenting on two research reports:

There seems to be 4 whinges about modern news reading via smart phones and all of them are just characteristics of the medium that will never change regardless of whether we have news censors or not.

  1. Fake News: mostly only exists in the minds of politicians. No one else can find hardly any. So internet news readers are not much bothered by trying to detect it.
  2. Passive news reading. Its far too much trouble typing in stuff on a smart phone to be bothered to go out and find stuff for yourself. So the next best thing is to use apps that do the best job in feeding you articles that are of interest.
  3. Skimming and shallow reading of news feeds. Well there's so much news out there and the news feed algorithm isn't too hot anyway so if anything isn't quite 100% interesting, then just scroll on. This isn't going to change any time soon.
  4. Echo chambers. This is just a put-down phrase for phone users choosing to read the news that they like. If a news censor thinks that more worthy news should be force fed into people's news readers than they will just suffer the indignity of being rapidly swiped into touch.

Anyway this is Sharon White's take:

Picking up a newspaper with a morning coffee. Settling down to watch TV news after a day's work. Reading the sections of the Sunday papers in your favourite order.

For decades, habit and routine have helped to define our relationship with the news. In the past, people consumed news at set times of day, but heard little in between. But for many people, those habits, and the news landscape that shapes them, have now changed fundamentally.

Vast numbers of news stories are now available 24/7, through a wide range of online platforms and devices, with social media now the most popular way of accessing news on the internet. Today's readers and viewers face the challenge to keep up. So too, importantly, does regulation.

The fluid environment of social media certainly brings benefits to news, offering more choice, real-time updates, and a platform for different voices and perspectives. But it also presents new challenges for readers and regulators alike -- something that we, as a regulator of editorial standards in TV and radio, are now giving thought for the online world.

In new Ofcom research, we asked people about their relationship with news in our always-on society, and the findings are fascinating.

People feel there is more news than ever before, which presents a challenge for their time and attention. This, combined with fear of missing out, means many feel compelled to engage with several sources of news, but only have the capacity to do so superficially.

Similarly, as many of us now read news through social media on our smartphones, we're constantly scrolling, swiping and clearing at speed. We're exposed to breaking news notifications, newsfeeds, shared news and stories mixed with other types of content. This limits our ability to process, or even recognise, the news we see. It means we often engage with it incidentally, rather than actively.

In fact, our study showed that, after being exposed to news stories online, many participants had no conscious recollection of them at all. For example, one recalled seeing nine news stories online over a week -- she had actually viewed 13 in one day alone. Others remembered reading particular articles, but couldn't recall any of the detail.

Social media's attraction as a source of news also raises questions of trust, with people much more likely to doubt what they see on these platforms. Our research shows only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared to 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

Fake news and clickbait articles persist as common concerns among the people taking part in our research, but many struggle to check the validity of online news content. Some rely on gut instinct to tell fact from fiction, while others seek second opinions from friends and family, or look for established news logos, such as the Times. Many people admit they simply don't have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

Education on how to navigate online news effectively is, of course, important. But the onus shouldn't be on the public to detect and deal with fake and harmful content. Online companies need to be much more accountable when it comes to curating and policing the content on their platforms, where this risks harm to the public.

We welcome emerging actions by the major online players, but consider that the argument for independent regulatory oversight of their activities has never been stronger. Such a regime would need to be based on transparency, and a set of clear underpinning principles.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met. We will outline further thoughts on the role independent regulation could play in the autumn.

When it comes to trust and accountability, public service broadcasters like the BBC also have a vital role to play. Their news operations provide the bedrock for much of the news content we see online, and as the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom will continue to hold them to the highest standards.

Ofcom's research can help inform the debate about how to regulate effectively in an online world. We will continue to shine a light on the behavioural trends that emerge, as people's complex and evolving relationship with the media continues to evolve.

And perhaps if you have skimmed over White's piece a bit rapidly, here is the key paragraph again:

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met. We will outline further thoughts on the role independent regulation could play in the autumn.

 

 

Half of parents allow young kids to play 18+ games unsupervised...

Perhaps half of parents think PEGI ratings are over cautious


Link Here 16th July 2018
childcare.co.uk write:

We recently surveyed more than 2,000 parents on our platform and found that more than half of parents allow their children to play video games for over 18s, without supervision or knowledge of the game beforehand. In contrast, just 18% said they would let 10-14-year-olds watch an 18+ movie.

We also discovered that 86% of parents admitted that they don't follow age restrictions on video games, compared to 23% who said they didn't follow age restrictions on films.

43% of parents say they have seen a negative change in their child's behaviour since playing games aimed at adults, and 22% of the 2,171 respondents said their kids now understand and use negative or offensive language since playing these games.

86% of parents don't believe that games will impact their child's behaviour or outlook on life. However 62% admit they have tried to take the games away from their kids but gave them back soon after because of tantrums and 48% fear that their child is addicted to video games.

Richard Conway, founder of Childcare.co.uk said:

It's difficult in this day and age to govern what your child is exposed to, because if your 10-year-old has friends who are playing Fortnite, which is rated 12, you want them to be included in the fun. However, it's always worth looking into the game to see if it's suitable rather than leaving them to their own devices.

What's interesting is that the majority of parents follow film age ratings, but when it comes to video games they maybe aren't as strict. It's important to remember how impressionable children are; if they see behaviour or language in a video game or movie, they may mimic it.

 

 

Updated: A date with the waste paper bin...

Love Island wins a record breaking number of complaints but Ofcom doesn't sound too interested


Link Here 16th July 2018
Ofcom has received more than 2,500 complaints over Sunday night's episode of Love Island.

The complaints are directly related to a scene where Dani Dyer is shown a misleading video about the fidelity of boyfriend Jack Fincham. The couple were put in separate villas, after the boys and girls were split up as part of a plot twist.

Viewers took to Twitter to criticise the scene, with some saying the show was not considering the mental health of contestants.

A spokeswoman for Ofcom confirmed that there had been 2,525 complaints in total relating to Dani being shown the video of Jack. She added the rather disinterested comment:

We are considering these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate. The number of complaints is irrelevant - Ofcom will investigate if it considers a broadcaster or service provider may have breached its codes.

Update: Final tally

16th July 2018. See article [pdf] from ofcom.org.uk

And indeed Ofcom reported that they consigned 2644 complaints about Love Island straight into the waste paper bin.

 

 

Offsite Article: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018...


Link Here 16th July 2018
A detailed critique of censorship clauses of the bill. By Index on Censorship

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Updated: Speaking of censorship...

YouTube bans Erica Lust's series In Conversation with Sex Workers


Link Here 15th July 2018
Full story: FOSTA US Internet Censorship Law...Wide ranging internet cesnorship law targetting sex workers
YouTube has banned Erika Lust's series In Conversation with Sex Workers.

There was NO explicit content, NO sex, NO naked bodies, NO (female) nipples or anything else that breaks YouTube's strict guidelines in the series, Lust wrote on her website. It was simply sex workers speaking about their work and experiences.

Presumably the censorship is inspired by the US FOSTA internet censorship where YouTube would be held liable for content that facilitates sex trafficking. It is cheaper and easier for YouTube to take down any content that could in anyway connected to sex trafficking than spend time checking it out.

Erika Lust, a Barcelona-based erotic filmmaker, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that YouTube terminated her eponymous channel on July 4, when it had around 11,000 subscribers. The ban came after an interviewee for the company's series In Conversation With Sex Workers, which had been on YouTube for about a week, tweeted to promote her involvement in the film. Within hours of that tweet the channel was terminated, citing violation of community guidelines.

Update: Charlotte Rose too

15th July 2018. See article from twitter.com

Charlotte Rose, a well known sex industry campaigner tweets:

We've just received an email to say that my YouTube channel has been suspended with no room for appeal - looks like no more live streams of @rosetalkssex?

I don't understand why I've been a target of a total censorship! @YouTube removes my Chanel and 5 years worth of content (which made them money) with no warning.

 

 

Updated: Appeal board overturns ban on We Happy Few...

Whilst developers show a little sympathy for Australia's embarrassed games censors... they're just saddled with crap rules


Link Here 14th July 2018
Australia's Classification Review Board has unanimously overturned the ban on the video game, We Happy Few by the main Classification Board. The appeals boards has now passed the game with the adults-only R18+ for Fantasy violence and interactive drug use.

The game's developer, Compulsion Games, has expressed sympathy for the censor board saying it wasn't sure the Board could have ruled any other way.

In an email with Kotaku Australia, Compulsion Games chief operating officer and producer Sam Abbott said he wasn't sure that the Classification Board had any room to move, given the constraints of the rating guidelines:

I think originally the board made the best decision they could given (a) the guidelines they work within, and (b) the information we provided them, Abbott said. I'm not sure I'd make a different original decision given those constraints.

Abbott went on to explain that Compulsion Games could have outlined more information about Joy -- the drug that is a centrepiece of the dystopian society in which We Happy Few is set -- including the positive and negative aspects of its consumption.

The censor board  banned the game for its use of drugs in-game, under the clause about incentivised drug use including:

New skills or attribute increases, extra points, unlocking achievements, plot animations, scenes and rewards, rare or exclusive loot, or making tasks easier to accomplish,

The latter of which was the reason We Happy Few originally fell foul of in the rule. In the Board's opinion:

The game's drug-use mechanic making game progression less difficult constitutes an incentive or reward for drug-use and therefore, the game exceeds the R 18+ classification that states, drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted. Therefore, the game warrants being Refused Classification.

The Classification Review Board will issue details reasons for its decision in due course.

Update: Reason explained

14th July 2018. See article [pdf] from classification.gov.au

The Classification Review Board has now published its reasons for overruling the censorship board's ban of We Happy Few and awarding an uncut R18+ rating instead:

Reasons for the decision

The premise of this computer game is for the playing characters to escape a fictional town where the inhabitants are in a state of Government mandated euphoria and memory loss. Although the non -playing characters appear to be happy due to their continual use of the Joy drug, the computer game quickly establishes that this state is undesirable and the playing characters are on a quest to avoid the use of the Joy drug. The actual use of the fictitious drug as a game progression mechanic, questions the viability of such a gameplay decision at each stage/level. The character's action in taking the drug is usually the only viable option given and while it may enable the character to pass a stage/level of the game, the benefit is short term and is followed by a loss of memory and a reduction in health points, the depletion of the body and/or withdrawal symptoms. In the Review Board's opinion, the use of the drug is not presented as an incentive nor does it constitute a reward for the player in achieving the aim of the computer game. In the Review Board's opinion, the interactive drug use does not exceed high, therefore the computer game can be accommodated at R 18+.

 

 

The offensive arms trade...

Megan Markle attracts a little more coverage in Saudi Arabia


Link Here 14th July 2018
Saudi-based journalist, Ahmed Al Omran, recently tweeted a photo of a censored magazine cover featuring Meghan Markle in Saudi Arabia with a crudely drawn black ink  stole covering her bare shoulder.

One Twitter user shared a different version of the cover, with white stickers covering the Duchess' arms and shoulders. The tweep told StepFeed it was taken in Jeddah at Aldanoub Supermarket.

However, staff members at Arab News visited several newsstands in the kingdom, and said the issue of the cover was available and uncensored.

The censorship is commonplace in the Middle East and hardly newsworthy, but when they vandalise images of royalty in such a way then the censorship attracts a little more coverage from the press.

 

 

Commented: Problematic opinions...

Theatre critics whinge at The King and I claiming it to be politically incorrect


Link Here 14th July 2018
The King and I is back in the West End, 67 years on from its Broadway debut.

But its portrait of a white woman being both fascinated and repelled by a society depicted as both backward and barbarous is winding up a few PC critics.

The Telegraph's Dominic Cavendish whinges The King and I one of the most problematic musicals of the 20th Century American canon. Michael Billington expresses similar sentiments in The Guardian , saying it seems to endorse the idea of the civilising influence of the west on the barbaric east.

The Independent's Paul Taylor detects a smack of imperial condescension to this story of a widowed, well-bred Victorian governess who... gives a funny foreign despot... a stiff dose of Western values.

Time Out's Andrzej Lukowski, meanwhile, calls the musical kind of racist ... like an elderly relative who you make allowances for on grounds of age.

Director Bartlet Sher responds that the show remains resonant, powerful and extremely well-conceived. He also dismisses suggestions the piece has dated, saying its views on colonialism, gender equality and the conflict between modernity and tradition make it as timely and powerful as ever.

I wonder if these PC critics would have banned British cave rescuers from helping out in Thailand lest heroically saving children's lives affirms 'white saviour' stereotypes.

Offsite Comment: The King and I : a West End treat

14th July 2018. See  article from spiked-online.com . By Christian Butler

Those crying Western imperialism are really missing the point.

 

 

Offsite Article: UncensorPat.ch...


Link Here 14th July 2018
UncensorPat.ch is a database of patches used to uncensor games on the online PC game distribution platform Steam

See article from uncensorpat.ch

 

 

Offsite Article: 100 years of film censorship in India...


Link Here 14th July 2018
A full century after the Cinematograph Act of 1918, cinema and censorship still share a close, uncomfortable relationship. By Uday Bhatia

See article from livemint.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Saving the U.N. Internet Resolution from sharks circling in Geneva...


Link Here 14th July 2018
Now the US has pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council its direction accelerates away from human rights

See article from accessnow.org

 

 

Offsite Article: Blocking apps as well as content...


Link Here 14th July 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia's State Duma has adopted a draft law that aims to tackle apps through which pirated content is distributed

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 

Annual Diversity Report...

Ofcom publishes its latest Annual Report


Link Here 13th July 2018
There's plenty of fine words in Ofcom's latest Annual report covering the 12 months up until March 2018.

Particularly prevalent are comments about diversity, obviously a big thing at Ofcom. They speak of programming for diverse audiences, diversity targets for employment in the TV and radio industry, and diversity targets for their own staff. It is clearly commendable that they have set themselves aggressively short time scales to sort out their own diversity, but is seems a little ironic that the only way they can achieve this is by the blatant discrimination against white men, by refusing to employ any of them for 2 or 3 years.

Diversity also features prominently in Ofcom's summary of broadcasting sanctions for the year, albeit with a distinctly non-diverse commonality:

Our Broadcasting Code includes rules which prohibit the broadcast of material that is likely to encourage or incite crime or disorder. This is a critically important duty and we have taken robust enforcement action against broadcasters for serious breaches of our rules, involving hate speech and material likely to incite crime or disorder.

In the most serious case, we found that the licence holder for Iman FM was not a fit and proper licensee and we revoked its broadcast licence. This community radio station in Sheffield broadcast lectures by a radical Muslim cleric which contained material likely to incite crime, hate speech and justified in tolerance towards non-Muslim people.

We also fined Ariana International £200,000, Kanshi Radio £17,500,and Radio Dawn £2,000 for serious breaches of our rules in this area.

Ofcom does not mention other censorship issues much beyond repeatedly claiming that they are protecting people from harm (by not letting them watch what they want to watch).

Perhaps the most hopeful section of the report is that Ofcom look set to allow more adult content to be broadcast before the watershed when PIN technology is available as an alternative to waiting until bedtime. Presumably British TV companies are rather seeing their narrow post watershed time slot as a little unfair when US internet TV services, notably Netflix and Amazon Prime can sell their programmes throughout the day.

Ofcom writes:

In March 2018 we published a consultation seeking stakeholder views on a proposal to extend the mandatory daytime protection rules in the Code beyond premium subscription and pay-per-view film channels, so that programmes which can currently only be shown after the 9pm watershed could be shown on scheduled television channels at any time of day, provided that a mandatory PIN protection is in place.

To inform this work, we commissioned research on family viewing habits and audience awareness, use of and attitudes towards PIN systems. This research report was published alongside the consultation.

The consultation set out Ofcom's view that the proposed extension of the rules in this area would enable the Code to reflect the evolving viewing habits of TV audiences, and would allow adults to have increased choice in daytime viewing. Importantly, our proposal would not affect the 9pm watershed, which is a trusted and fundamental feature of broadcast regulation that continues to ensure protection for children.

We are currently considering stakeholder responses and expect to publish a statement in summer 2018.

 

 

They just go round to their friend's house...

Research finds that ISP porn filters have an insignificant effect on preventing adolescents from seeking out porn


Link Here 13th July 2018
A paper has been published on the effects of network level website blocking to try and prevent adolescents from seeking out porn.

Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material

BY Andrew K. Przybylski, and Victoria Nash

Abstract

Early adolescents are spending an increasing amount of time online, and a significant share of caregivers now use Internet filtering tools to shield this population from online sexual material. Despite wide use, the efficacy of filters is poorly understood. In this article, we present two studies: one exploratory analysis of secondary data collected in the European Union, and one preregistered study focused on British adolescents and caregivers to rigorously evaluate their utility. In both studies, caregivers were asked about their use of Internet filtering, and adolescent participants were interviewed about their recent online experiences.

Analyses focused on the absolute and relative risks of young people encountering online sexual material and the effectiveness of Internet filters.

Results suggested that caregiver's use of Internet filtering had inconsistent and practically insignificant links with young people reports of encountering online sexual material.

Conclusions

The struggle to shape the experiences young people have online is now part of modern parenthood. This study was conducted to address the value of industry, policy, and professional advice concerning the appropriate role of Internet filtering in this struggle. Our preliminary findings suggested that filters might have small protective effects, but evidence derived from a more stringent and robust empirical approach indicated that they are entirely ineffective. These findings highlight the need for a critical cost -- benefit analysis in light of the financial and informational costs associated with filtering and age verification technologies such as those now being developed in some European countries like the United Kingdom. Further, our results highlight the need for registered trials to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of costly technological solutions for social and developmental goals.

The write up doesn't really put its conclusions with any real context as to what is actually happening beyond the kids still being able to get hold of porn. The following paragraph gives the best clue of what is going on:

We calculated absolute risk reduction of exposure to online sexual material associated with caregivers using filtering technology in practical terms. These resultswere used to calculate the number of households which would have to be filtered to prevent one young person, who would otherwise see sexual material online, from encountering it over a 12-month period. Depending on the form of content, results indicated that between 17 and 77 households would need to be filtered to prevent a young adolescent from encountering online sexual material. A protective effect lower than we would consider practically significant.

This seems to suggest that if one kid has a censored internet then he just goes around to a mate's house who isn't censored, and downloads from there. He wouldn't actually be blocked from viewing porn until his whole circle of friends are similarly censored. It only takes one kid to be able download porn, as it can then be loaded on a memory stick to be passed around.

 

 

The voluntary sector...

Russia calls on volunteers to snitch on websites


Link Here 13th July 2018

Russia's interior minister says he wants citizens to scour the internet for banned material.

The Russian internet censor Roskomnadzor, has an ever-expanding list of banned sites featuring material that Russian authorities don't like. The list takes in everything from LGBT sites to critics of the Kremlin and sites that allegedly carry terrorist propaganda, the main justification for many of Russia's online censorship and surveillance laws.

Free-speech activists reckon the number of blocked websites now tops 100,000, but how best to keep adding to that list?

Russia's interior minister, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, says volunteers should step up to aid the search for banned information. Whilst speaking about the challenges faced by search and rescue volunteers, he said volunteers could help public authorities in preventing drug abuse, combating juvenile delinquency, and monitoring the internet networks to search for banned information.

 

 

Updated: If we tax essentials like water, why not social media?...

Uganda introduces a significant tax on social media usage


Link Here 13th July 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Uganda...Banning VPNs and taxing social media
Uganda has just introduced a significant tax on social media usage. It is set at 200 shillings a day which adds up to about 3% of the average annual income if used daily.

Use of a long list of websites including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Tinder triggers the daily taxed through billing by ISPs.

And as you may expect Uganda internet users are turning to VPNs so that ISPs can't detect access to taxed apps and websites.

In response, the government says it has ordered local ISPs to begin blocking VPNs. In a statement, Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi said that Internet service providers would be ordered to block VPNs to prevent citizens from avoiding the social media tax.

Mutabazi told Dispatch that ISPs are already taking action to prevent VPNs from being accessible but since there are so many, it won't be possible to block them all. In the meantime, the government is trying to portray VPNs as more expensive to use than the tax. In a post on Facebook this morning, Mutabazi promoted the tax as the sensible economic option.

it appears that many Ugandans are outraged at the prospect of yet another tax and see VPN use as a protest, despite any additional cost. Opposition figures have already called for a boycott with support coming in from all corners of society. The government appears unmoved, however. Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of Information Technology and Communications said:

If we tax essentials like water, why not social media?

Update: And the people were not impressed

13th July 2018. See article from bbc.com

Uganda is reviewing its decision to impose taxes on the use of social media and on money transactions by mobile phone, following a public backlash.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda made the announcement soon after police broke up a protest against the taxes.

President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the taxes to boost government revenue and to restrict criticism via WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

The social media tax is 6000 Uganda shillings a month (£1.25), but it is represents about 3% of the average wage. Activists argue that while the amount may seem little, it represents a significant slice of what poorer people are paying for getting online. There is also a 1% levy on the total value of mobile phone money transactions, affecting poorer Ugandans who rarely use banking services.

In a statement to parliament, Rugunda said:

Government is now reviewing the taxes taking into consideration the concerns of the public and its implications on the budget.

A revised budget is due to be tabled in parliament on 19 July.

 

 

Offsite Article: How 1970s erotic cinema helped shape modern Spain...


Link Here 13th July 2018
Living in a dictatorship really made Spaniards appreciate the ending of film censorship in 1977. By Jesse Barker

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 

A Forgotten Spring...

Egypt's Draconian New Cybercrime Bill Will Only Increase Censorship


Link Here 13th July 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites

The new 45-article cybercrime law, named the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes law, is divided into two parts. The first part of the bill stipulates that service providers are obligated to retain user information (i.e. tracking data) in the event of a crime, whereas the second part of the bill covers a variety of cybercrimes under overly broad language (such as threat to national security).

Article 7 of the law, in particular, grants the state the authority to shut down Egyptian or foreign-based websites that incite against the Egyptian state or threaten national security through the use of any digital content, media, or advertising. Article 2 of the law authorizes broad surveillance capabilities, requiring telecommunications companies to retain and store users' data for 180 days. And Article 4 explicitly enables foreign governments to obtain access to information on Egyptian citizens and does not make mention of requirements that the requesting country have substantive data protection laws.

Update: Passed

17th July 2018. See  article from kveo.com

Egypt's parliament has passed three controversial draft bills regulating the press and media.

The draft bills, which won the parliament's approval on Monday, will also regulate the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, the National Press Authority and the National Media Authority.

The bills still need to be approved by the president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, before they can become laws.

 

 

Offsite Article: Old passwords...


Link Here 13th July 2018
Don't Fall for This Scam Claiming You Were Recorded Watching Porn

See article from gizmodo.com

 

 

Property porn...

Advert censor must be ecstatic about the chance to ban an advert for the supposed objectification of men


Link Here 12th July 2018

Two ads for Lewis Oliver Estates, an estate agent, seen in April and June 2018:

  • a. A poster ad featured an image of a topless man wearing fitted boxer shorts. The image was cropped so that only the model's torso and thighs were visible. Text stated WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE. A roundel containing the text Fully managed letting service was placed over the model's crotch.

  • b. A leaflet featured the same image and text as ad (a).Issue

Two complainants, who believed that the image was irrelevant to the service being advertised and objectified the man, objected that the ad was offensive.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the ad was for an estate agent, and the image of a topless man bore no relation to the product being advertised. While the pose was only mildly suggestive in nature, we noted that the man's head was cropped out of the picture, which invited viewers to focus on his body. We considered that the phrase WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE, in combination with the service information placed over the model's crotch, was a clear reference to male genitalia. Taking the image, strapline and placement of the roundel into account, we considered that the ad was likely to have the effect of objectifying the man by using his physical features to draw attention to an unrelated product. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people.

The ads must not appear again in the forms complained about. We told Lewis Oliver Estates Ltd not to portray men in a manner that objectified them and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

 

 

Trafficking police may as well become traffic police...

FOSTA internet censorship has blind-sided police in their pursuit of pimps and traffickers


Link Here 12th July 2018
Full story: FOSTA US Internet Censorship Law...Wide ranging internet cesnorship law targetting sex workers
Supporters of the US internet censorship law FOSTA were supposedly attempting to target pimps and traffickers, but of course their target was the wider sex work industry. Hence they weren't really interested in the warning that the law would make it harder to target pimps and sex traffickers as their activity would be driven off radar.

Anyway it seems that the police at least have started to realise that the warning is coming true, but I don't suppose this will bother the politicians much.

Over in Indianapolis, the police have just arrested their first pimp in 2018, and it involved an undercover cop being approached by the pimp. The reporter asks why there have been so few such arrests, and the police point the finger right at the shutdown of Backpage:

The cases, according to Sgt. John Daggy, an undercover officer with IMPD's vice unit, have just dried up. The reason for that is pretty simple: the feds closed police's best source of leads, the online personals site Backpage, earlier this year. Daggy explained:

We've been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down. I get the reasoning behind it, and the ethics behind it, however, it has blinded us. We used to look at Backpage as a trap for human traffickers and pimps.

With Backpage, we would subpoena the ads and it would tell a lot of the story. Also, with the ads we would catch our victim at a hotel room, which would give us a crime scene. There's a ton of evidence at a crime scene. Now, since [Backpage] has gone down, we're getting late reports of them and we don't have much to go by.

 

 

New state censor...

Jeremy Wright is appointed as the new culture minister


Link Here 12th July 2018
Jeremy Wright has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

He is the government minister in charge of the up 'n' coming regime to censor internet porn. He will also be responsible for several government initiatives attempting to censor social media.

He is a QC and was previously the government's Attorney General. His parliamentary career to date has not really given any pointers to his views and attitudes towards censorship.

The previous culture minister, Matt Hancock has move upwards to become minister for health. Perhaps in his new post he can continue to whinge about limiting what he considers the excessive amount of screen time being enjoyed by children.

 

 

Offsite Article: Video games like Fortnite are fun...


Link Here 12th July 2018
So they must be bad. By Toby Young

See article from spectator.co.uk

 

 

Australian government considers relaxing drug laws...sort of...

In light of Australian games censorship rules by overturned by the appeals board, the government is now considering 'modernising' its games censorship rules


Link Here 11th July 2018
In the light of Australia's Classification Review Board overturning the Classification Board's ban of the video game We Happy Few , the Australian government is now considering whether games censorship rules need 'modernising'.

The Department of the Communications and the Arts has confirmed that talks have begun to modernise the classification guidelines. Any adjustment to the classification guidelines for computer games must be agreed by classification ministers in all Australia's states and territories. The department also said it will consult extensively with industry stakeholders and communities.

We Happy Few an indie game, was initially banned over the prominence of the drug Joy, which underpins the game's dystopian society by being used as a method of controlling the populace. The Board's initial finding found that the presence of Joy violated the clause on incentivised drug use:

The games developer appealed against the ban and the Classification Review Board - a separate statutory body the unanimous overturned the Classification Board's original ban resulting in an adults-only R18+ classification.

The department did not provide a timeline as to when said discussions might take place.

 

 

Internet Disservice Providers...

Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin tell Parliament that they would welcome the establishment of an official state internet censor


Link Here 11th July 2018
Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media would back the creation of an internet censor to set out a framework for internet companies in the UK, the House of Lords Communications Committee was told.

The three major UK ISPs were reporting to a House of Lords' ongoing inquiry into internet censorship. The companies' policy heads pushed for a new censor, or the expansion of the responsibility of a current censor, to set the rules for content censorship and to better equip children using the internet amid safety concerns .

At the moment Information Commissioner's Office has responsibility for data protection and privacy; Ofcom censors internet TV; the Advertising Standards Authority censors adverts; and the BBFC censors adult porn.

Citing a report by consultancy Communications Chambers, Sky's Adam Kinsley said that websites and internet providers are making decisions but in a non structured way. Speaking about the current state of internet regulation, Kinsley said:

Companies are already policing their own platforms. There is no accountability of what they are doing and how they are doing it. The only bit of transparency is when they decide to do it on a global basis and at a time of their choosing. Policy makers need to understand what is happening, and at the moment they don't have that.

The 13-strong House of Lords committee, chaired by Lord Gilbert of Panteg, launched an inquiry earlier this year to explore how the censorship of the internet should be improved. The committee will consider whether there is a need for new laws to govern internet companies. This inquiry will consider whether websites are sufficiently accountable and transparent, and whether they have adequate governance and provide behavioural standards for users.

The committee is hearing evidence from April to September 2018 and will launch a report at the end of the year.

 

 

Boost Lee in Finger of Fury...

ASA dismisses a ludicrous whinge that a Bruce Lee parody was a racial stereotype


Link Here 11th July 2018

A TV ad for Boost, an energy provider, seen in February 2018, promoted a prepayment energy smart meter. The ad began with a woman holding a torch whilst trying to turn on her light switch. The next scene featured an Asian man standing in a Kung Fu stance in a yellow jumpsuit similar to the jumpsuits worn by Bruce Lee. On-screen yellow text stated BOOST LEE IN 'FINGER OF FURY' accompanied by Chinese text which translated to finger of fury. Smaller on-screen text stated MMXVIII Bruce Lee Rights/TM Bruce Lee Enterprises. The man screamed and held his phone out saying Tap me. The woman then also screamed and performed a Kung Fu action and tapped the phone. The next scene showed the man teaching the woman how to perform Kung Fu actions whilst saying, It's like a finger pointing away to the bulb. Concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory. Top up your power anytime, anywhere with Boost pay as you go energy. Don't think, switch.Issue

A complainant, who believed the ad featured outdated racial stereotypes, challenged whether the ad was offensive and condoned harmful discriminatory behaviour and was scheduled inappropriately.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad featured a character named Boost Lee wearing a yellow jumpsuit, teaching martial arts. The character was seen performing different Kung Fu stances while screaming and encouraging the female character to mimic those actions. We considered that viewers would understand that the character was intended to resemble Bruce Lee.

We understood the complainant was concerned that the comedic portrayal of Bruce Lee in that manner, including the use of an exaggerated Chinese accent with Ku Fung screams perpetuated the racial stereotype that all Chinese people were Kung Fu experts and spoke in a similar style. However, we noted that the ad did not contain any general references to Chinese people and therefore considered that viewers were likely to understand that the ad was specifically parodying Bruce Lee rather than Chinese people generally. We considered the ad was likely to be interpreted as light-hearted and humorous and therefore was unlikely to encourage the mocking or belittling of Chinese people.

We further considered that because the ad did not contain anything derogatory and did not mock Chinese people, the content of the ad was suitable for children to see and therefore did not require a scheduling restriction.

We concluded that the ad did not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment of Chinese people and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We also concluded that the ad was scheduled appropriately.

 

 

EFF Sues to Invalidate the US internet censorship law FOSTA...

By demonstrating that legitimate businesses are being unconstitutionally censored


Link Here 11th July 2018
Full story: FOSTA US Internet Censorship Law...Wide ranging internet cesnorship law targetting sex workers
The EFF writes:

We are asking a court to declare the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 ("FOSTA") unconstitutional and prevent it from being enforced. The law was written so poorly that it actually criminalizes a substantial amount of protected speech and, according to experts, actually hinders efforts to prosecute sex traffickers and aid victims.

In our lawsuit, two human rights organizations, an individual advocate for sex workers, a certified non-sexual massage therapist, and the Internet Archive, are challenging the law as an unconstitutional violation of the First and Fifth Amendments. Although the law was passed by Congress for the worthy purpose of fighting sex trafficking, its broad language makes criminals of those who advocate for and provide resources to adult, consensual sex workers and actually hinders efforts to prosecute sex traffickers and aid victims.

EFF strongly opposed FOSTA throughout the legislative process . During the months-long Congressional debate on the law we expressed our concern that the law violated free speech rights and would do heavy damage to online freedoms. The law that was ultimately passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump was actually the most egregiously bad of those Congress had been considering.

What FOSTA Changed

FOSTA made three major changes to existing law. The first two involved changes to federal criminal law:

  • First, it created an entirely new federal crime by adding a new section to the Mann Act. The new law makes it a crime to "own, manage or operate" an online service with the intent to "promote or facilitate" "the prostitution of another person." That crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The law further makes it an "aggravated offense," punishable by up to 25 years in prison and also subject to civil lawsuits if "facilitation" was of the prostitution of 5 or more persons, or if it was done with "reckless disregard" that it "contributed to sex trafficking." An aggravated violation may also be the basis for an individual's civil lawsuit. The prior version of the Mann Act only made it illegal to physically transport a person across state lines for the purposes of prostitution.

  • Second, FOSTA expanded existing federal criminal sex trafficking law. Before SESTA, the law made it a crime to knowingly advertise sexual services of a minor or any person doing so only under force, fraud, or coercion, and also criminalized several other modes of conduct. The specific knowledge requirement for advertising (that one must know he advertisement was for sex trafficking) was an acknowledgement that advertising was entitled to some First Amendment protection. The prior law additionally made it a crime to financially benefit from "participation in a venture" of sex trafficking. FOSTA made seemingly a small change to the law: it defined "participation in a venture" extremely broadly to include "assisting, supporting, or facilitating." But this new very broad language has created great uncertainty about liability for speech other than advertising that someone might interpret as "assisting" or "supporting" sex trafficking, and what level of awareness of sex trafficking the participant must have.

As is obvious, these expansions of the law are fraught with vague and ambiguous terms that have created great uncertainty about what kind of online speech is now illegal. FOSTA does not define "facilitate", "promote", "contribute to sex trafficking," "assisting," or supporting" -- but the inclusion of all of these terms shows that Congress intended the law to apply expansively. Plaintiffs thus reasonably fear it will be applied to them. Plaintiffs Woodhull Freedom Foundation and Human Rights Watch advocate for the decriminalization of sex work, both domestically and internationally. It is unclear whether that advocacy is considered "facilitating" prostitution under FOSTA. Plaintiffs Woodhull and Alex Andrews offer substantial resources online to sex workers, including important health and safety information. This protected speech, and other harm reduction efforts, can also be seen as "facilitating" prostitution. And although each of the plaintiffs vehemently opposes sex trafficking, Congress's expressed sense in passing the law was that sex trafficking and sex work were "inextricably linked." Thus, plaintiffs are legitimately concerned that their advocacy on behalf of sex workers will be seen as being done in reckless disregard of some "contribution to sex trafficking," even though all plaintiffs vehemently oppose sex trafficking.

The third change significantly undercut the protections of one of the Internet's most important laws, 47 U.S.C. § 230, originally a provision of the Communications Decency Act, commonly known simply as Section 230 or CDA 230:

  • FOSTA significantly undermined the legal protections intermediaries had under 42 U.S.C. § 230, commonly known simply as Section 230. Section 230 generally immunized intermediaries form liability arising from content created by others--it was thus the chief protection that allowed Internet platforms for user-generated content to exist without having to review every piece of content appearing posted to them for potential legal liability. FOSTA undercut this immunity in three significant ways. First, Section 230 already had an exception for violations of federal criminal law, so the expansion of criminal law described above also automatically expanded the Section 230 exception. Second, FOSTA nullified the immunity also for state criminal lawsuits for violations of state laws that mirror the violations of federal law. And third, FOSTA allows for lawsuits by individual civil litigants.

The possibility of these state criminal and private civil lawsuit is very troublesome. FOSTA vastly magnifies the risk an Internet host bears of being sued. Whereas federal prosecutors typically carefully pick and choose which violations of law they pursue, the far more numerous state prosecutors may be more prone to less selective prosecutions. And civil litigants often do not carefully consider the legal merits of an action before pursing it in court. Past experience teaches us that they might file lawsuits merely to intimidate a speaker into silence -- the cost of defending even a meritless lawsuit being quite high. Lastly, whereas with federal criminal prosecutions, the US Department of Justice may offer clarifying interpretations of a federal criminal law that addresses concerns with a law's ambiguity, those interpretations are not binding on state prosecutors and the millions of potential private litigants.

FOSTA Has Already Censored The Internet

As a result of these hugely increased risks of liability, many platforms for online speech have shuttered or restructured. The following as just two examples:

  • Two days after the Senate passed FOSTA, Craigslist eliminated its Personals section, including non-sexual subcategories such as "Missed Connections" and "Strictly Platonic." Craigslist attributed this change to FOSTA, explaining "Any tool or service can be misused. We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day." Craigslist also shut down its Therapeutic Services section and will not permit ads that were previously listed in Therapeutic Services to be re-listed in other sections, such as Skilled Trade Services or Beauty Services.

  • VerifyHim formerly maintained various online tools that helped sex workers avoid abusive clients. It described itself as "the biggest dating blacklist database on earth." One such resource was JUST FOR SAFETY, which had screening tools designed to help sex workers check to see if they might be meeting someone dangerous, create communities of common interest, and talk directly to each other about safety. Following passage of FOSTA, VerifyHim took down many of these tools, including JUST FOR SAFETY, and explained that it is "working to change the direction of the site."

Plaintiff Eric Koszyk is a certified massage therapist running his own non-sexual massage business as his primary source of income. Prior to FOSTA he advertised his services exclusively in Craigslist's Therapeutic Services section. That forum is no longer available and he is unable to run his ad anywhere else on the site, thus seriously harming his business. Plaintiff the Internet Archive fears that it can no longer rely on Section 230 to bar liability for content created by third parties and hosted by the Archive, which comprises the vast majority of material in the Archive's collection, on account of FOSTA's changes to Section 230. The Archive is concerned that some third-party content hosted by the Archive, such as archives of particular websites, information about books, and the books themselves, could be construed as promoting or facilitating prostitution, or assisting, supporting, or facilitating sex trafficking under FOSTA's expansive terms. Plaintiff Alex Andrews maintains the website RateThatRescue.org, a sex worker-led, public, free, community effort to share information about both the organizations and services on which sex workers can rely, and those they should avoid. Because the site is largely user-generated content, Andrews relies on Section 230's protections. She is now concerned that FOSTA now exposes her to potentially ruinous civil and criminal liability. She has also suspended moving forward with an app that would offer harm reduction materials to sex workers. Human Rights Watch relies heavily on individuals spreading its reporting and advocacy through social media. It is concerned that social media platforms and websites that host, disseminate, or allow users to spread their reports and advocacy materials may be inhibited from doing so because of FOSTA.

And many many others are experiencing the same uncertainty and fears of prosecution that are plaguing other advocates, service providers, platforms, and platform users since FOSTA became law.

We have asked the court to preliminarily enjoin enforcement of the law so that the plaintiffs and others can exercise their First Amendment rights until the court can issue a final ruling. But there is another urgent reason to halt enforcement of the law. Plaintiff Woodhull Freedom Foundation is holding its annual Sexual Freedom Summit August 2-, 2018. Like past years, the Summit features a track on sex work, this year titled "Sex as Work," that seeks to advance and promote the careers, safety, and dignity of individuals engaged in professional sex work. In presenting and promoting the Sexual Freedom Summit, and the Sex Work Track in particular, Woodhull operates and uses interactive computer services in numerous ways: Woodhull uses online databases and cloud storage services to organize, schedule and plan the Summit; Woodhull exchanges emails with organizers, volunteers, website developers, promoters and presenters during all phases of the Summit; Woodhull has promoted the titles of all workshops on its Summit website ; Woodhull also publishes the biographies and contact information for workshop presenters on its website, including those for the sex workers participating in the Sex Work Track and other tracks. Is publishing the name and contact information for a sex worker "facilitating the prostitution of another person"? If it is, FOSTA makes it a crime.

Moreover, most, if not all, of the workshops are also promoted by Woodhull on social media such as Facebook and Twitter; and Woodhull wishes to stream the Sex Work Track on Facebook, as it does other tracks, so that those who cannot attend can benefit from the information and commentary.

Without an injunction, the legality under FOSTA of all of these practices is uncertain. The preliminary injunction is necessary so that Woodhull can conduct the Sex as Work track without fear of prosecution.

It is worth emphasizing that Congress was repeatedly warned that it was passing a law that would censor far more speech than was necessary to address the problem of sex trafficking, and that the law would indeed hinder law enforcement efforts and pose great dangers to sex workers. During the Congressional debate on FOSTA and SESTA, anti-trafficking groups such as Freedom Network and the International Women's Health Coalition issued statements warning that the laws would hurt efforts to aid trafficking victims, not help them.

Even Senator Richard Blumenthal, an original cosponsor of the SESTA (the Senate bill) criticized the new Mann Act provision when it was proposed in the House bill, telling Wired "there is no good reason to proceed with a proposal that is opposed by the very survivors it claims to support." Nevertheless, Senator Blumenthal ultimately voted to pass FOSTA.

In support of the preliminary injunction , we have submitted the declarations of several experts who confirm the harmful effects FOSTA is having on sex workers, who are being driven back to far more dangerous street-based work as online classified sites disappear, to the loss of online "bad date lists" that informed sex workers of risks associated with certain clients, to making sex less visible to law enforcement, which can no longer scour and analyze formerly public websites where sex trafficking had been advertised. For more information see the Declarations of Dr. Alexandra Lutnick , Prof. Alexandra Frell Levy , and Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco .

 

 

The Hustle...

MGM to hustle the MPAA to reduce its R rating to PG-13


Link Here 11th July 2018
The Hustle is a 2019 USA comedy by Chris Addison.
Starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson and Tim Blake Nelson. IMDb

A remake of the 1988 comedy, 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels', in which two down-and-out con artists engage in a "loser leaves town" contest.

Originally rated R in the US for some crude sexual references. The producers MGM were not impressed and are appealing the rating, presumably seeking a PG-13 rating.

 

 

Unbelievable censorship...

Censorship prevails in a Pennsylvania court supporting a transport company who claim that just the mention of the word 'atheists' is somehow controversial


Link Here 11th July 2018
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life
A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that a transport authority had every right to reject an atheist advertisement, the latest chapter in a  saga that's dragged on for more than six years.

In 2012, atheist Justin Vacula and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Freethought Society attempted to place the following ad on buses in the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS).

Although there should be nothing controversial about the word 'atheists' and two text links to atheist societies, during this period, atheist and religious groups around the world were producing adverts rather more obviously knocking the other side. And perhaps it was what these other groups were doing that led COLTS refusing the advert claiming it be 'controversial' and so could be rejected.

Justin Vacula appealed the decision with the help of American Atheists, but the COLTS administrators stood by their claims.

This kicked off legal actions that have culminated in the court's affirmation that COLTS' censorship is legal.

 

 

A trigger warning label for books...

Author Julian Barnes is aghast at American students demands for trigger warnings


Link Here 10th July 2018

Sensitive snowflake students will soon need trigger warnings for some of the world's most famous literature, an award winning author has claimed.

Julian Barnes was stunned to learn young university pupils had been critical of the behaviour of book character's like Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary.

Students in the US called the protagonist, Emma Bovary, a bad mother based on her affairs, her lifestyle longing to escape dull, provincial life.

The 72-year-old told those gathered at the celebration of the Booker's half-century on Sunday:

I don't know where to begin to unpick that.

As for students asking to hear in advance the bad things that happen in Titus Andronicus.

We might as well have a trigger warning on all great works of literature.

 

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