The Culture Secretary has vowed to end the Wild West for tech giants amid anger at claims data from Facebook users was harvested to be used by political campaigns.
Matt Hancock warned social media companies that they could be slapped with new rules and regulations to rein them in.
It comes amid fury at claims the Facebook data of around 50 million users was taken without their permission and used by Cambridge Analytica.
The firm played a key role in mapping out the behaviour of voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election and the EU referendum campaign earlier that year.
Tory MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture select committee, has said he wants to haul Mark Zuckerberg to Parliament to explain himself.
Tech companies store the data of billions of people around the world - giving an unparalleled insight into the lives and thoughts of people. And they must do more to show they are storing the data responsibly,
Radio Ikhlas, 7 September 2017, 15:50
Radio Ikhlas is a community radio station serving the Asian (primarily Pakistani) community and other smaller ethnic communities in the Normanton area of Derby.
Ofcom received a complaint that the above programme included statements that constituted hatred against the Ahmadiyya community. The Ahmadi movement identifies itself as a Muslim movement, which follows the teachings of the Qur'an. However, it is
regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam since they differ on the interpretation of the finality of prophethood. There are Ahmadiyya communities around the world. They face restrictions in many Muslim countries and are described in publicly
available reports as one of the persecuted communities in Pakistan. There have been reports of discrimination and threats against the community in the UK.
With a long and in-depth explanation, Ofcom took the view that the broadcast contained material which amounted to abusive or derogatory treatment of the Ahmadiyya community and their religious beliefs. Ofcom added:
We consider these breaches are very serious and we are putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Content relating to Burhan Wani
Prime TV, 6 July 2017, 18:34 onwards
Prime TV is a general entertainment satellite channel aimed at the Pakistani community in the UK and Europe.
Ofcom received a complaint that, during a broadcast of a current affairs programme, a social media campaign was repeatedly promoted to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen1 military leader Burhan Wani. The
complainant expressed concern that the campaign was supporting a terrorist leader and encouraging terrorism in Indian administered Kashmir.
Ofcom again found the broadcaster to be in breach of Ofcom rules but this wasn't considered a breach that would be taken any further. Ofcom said:
Ofcom understands that while some members of the Kashmiri community may revere Burhan Wani, and the terrorist organisation he led, this view is far from universal. Therefore, the fact that some viewers may have perceived Burhan Wani to be a
martyr or that the anniversary of his death was being promoted on various Pakistani media outlets, did not, in our view, justify Express TV broadcasting this content without challenge or other context. Similarly, the fact that this content was
not the Licensee's own production or the fact that Express TV considered there was no clarity so far on the UK Government's view on Burhan Wani did not justify the broadcast of the content in this case. Hizbul Mujahideen, the group of which
Burhan Wani was a member, has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, India and the US. Therefore, we considered the Licensee could, and should, have been aware of Burhan Wani's controversial status both within Kashmir and outside.
Ofcom is concerned that Express TV broadcast content expressing such strong, unchallenged support for, and glorification of, Burhan Wani and his violent actions as leader of a group which has been designated a terrorist organisation in various
countries. This support was capable, in our view, of causing considerable offence.
Paris councillors are due to decide on the future of a business where clients are charged 89 euro to spend an hour with a
silicon sex doll.
Communist councillors and feminist groups have been calling for the closure of Xdolls. Currently, Xdolls is registered as a games centre, but opponents argue it is effectively a brothel. (brothels are illegal in France)
Xdolls is located in an anonymous-looking flat in the French capital and opened last month near the Miromesnil Metro station.
Customers make their booking and payment online, and the exact address is kept secret. Not even the neighbours are aware of the nature of the business.
But its critics want to see it shut. Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj, a communist councillor, is taking the matter before the Council of Paris. He claimed
Xdolls conveys a degrading image of the woman.
Lorraine Questiaux, lawyer and spokesperson for a Paris feminist association bizarrely claimed:
Xdolls is not a sex shop. It's a place that generates money and where you rape a woman.
The Digital Policy Alliance is a cross party group of parliamentarians with associate members from industry and academia.
It has led efforts to develop a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 1296) which was published on 19 March.
Crossbench British peer Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, said:
We need to make the UK a safe place to do business, he said. That's why we're producing a British PAS... that set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.
The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should
This PAS will sit alongside data protection and privacy rules set out in the General Data Protection Regulation and in the UK's Data Protection Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. Hay explained:
We can't put rules about data protection into the PAS206 That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can't mandate them inside this PAS 203 but it's in there as 'you must obey the law'... [perhaps] that's been too
subtle for the organisations that have been trying to take a swing at it.
What Hay didn't mention though was that all of this 'help' for British industry would come with a hefty £ 90 + VAT price tag for a 60 page document.
Egypt's state censors have banned a play on the day of its Cairo premiere, saying it cannot be shown
without the removal of five key scenes.
As a result, writer and director Ahmed El Attar cancelled performances of Before the Revolution , a two-actor piece that depicts oppression and stagnation in Egypt before its 2011 popular uprising,
In a statement, organizers say El Attar has appealed for a second censorship committee to watch the show on March 19th, asking for it to be allowed to be shown without the censor cuts, which he said heavily distorted the piece.
Thailand's popular resort of Phuket has an ambition to turn the island into a 'smart city', according to Thailand's digital
The province may also develop an electronic wristband system for foreign tourists so their identity and location would be known in case of untoward incidents, said Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.
He said the province has planned to develop the uses of wristbands to track tourists and to use Big Data to analyse information about tourists' habits.
He said the Phuket command centre would also link to all CCTVs on the island to work with face-recognition software to guard against crimes as well as to collect the data of tourists who use public boat services.
19th March 2018. Thanks to Dave
Why are the Thai Authorities doing everything they can to Alienate Tourists and Expats.
Raiding Darts Clubs, Bridge Clubs, putting them in Gaol for Smoking on the Beach.
The Police are constantly stopping Tourists on Scooters looking for international Driving License's, which were never needed before.
Now wristbands to track Tourists movements, registering Mobile Phones with your Passport.
Thailand is turning into another North Korea, The sooner we have Elections and get rid of the Army the better.
Whilst the EU ramps up internet censorship, particularly people's criticism of its policies, the Council of Europe calls for internet censorship to be transparent and limited to the minimum necessary by law
The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental body entirely separate from the European Union. With a wider membership of 47 states, it seeks
to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, including by monitoring adherence to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.
Its Recommendations are not legally binding on Member States, but are very influential in the development of national policy and of the policy and law of the European Union.
The Council of Europe has published a Recommendation
to Member States on the roles and responsibilities of Internet intermediaries. The Recommendation declares that access to the Internet is a precondition for the ability effectively to exercise fundamental human rights, and seeks to protect users
by calling for greater transparency, fairness and due process when interfering with content.
The Recommendations' key provisions aimed at governments include:
Public authorities should only make "requests, demands or other actions addressed to internet intermediari es that interferes with human rights and fundamental freedoms" when prescribed by law. This means they should therefore avoid
asking intermediaries to remove content under their terms of service or to make their terms of service more restrictive.
Legislation giving powers to public authorities to interfere with Internet content should clearly define the scope of those powers and available discretion, to protect against arbitrary application.
When internet intermediaries restrict access to third-party content based on a State order, State authorities should ensure that effective redress mechanisms are made available and adhere to applicable procedural safeguards.
When intermediaries remove content based on their own terms and conditions of service, this should not be considered a form of control that makes them liable for the third-party content for which they provide access.
Member States should consider introducing laws to prevent vexatious lawsuits designed to suppress users free expression, whether by targeting the user or the intermediary. In the US, these are known as " anti-SLAPP laws ".
A book about Spain's drug-smuggling underworld was banned last week by a Madrid courta. José Alfredo Bea Gondar, a former mayor of the coastal town of O Grove in Galicia, to freeze distribution of Fariña (Blow) by Nacho Carretero Pou
because of references to his alleged involvement in the unloading of a shipment of cocaine and a supposed negotiation between Colombia's Cali cartel and local smugglers. The book is banned pending the hearing of libel case.
Kicking against what they consider outdated censorship, a booksellers' association has reacted to the seizure of the non-fiction book 'Fariña' by launching a website to replicate it word for word. The website includes a digital tool that searches
for and locates the 80,000 words that make up the banned book from within the text of Don Quixote , extracting them one by one to recompose the banned book. On Friday after two days online, the website had racked up over 30,000 hits,
according to the Booksellers Guild of Madrid. Fernando Valverde, the Guild secretary explained;
It's a metaphor for the fact that in the digital era you can seize a book, but you cannot gag words.
It is not clear whether the ruse is a legal way for people to read it.
A video games panic is being whipped up by the Australian press. A press release claims:
Australian children are having their minds warped by an ultra-addictive new video game that has already attracted 45 million players worldwide, experts warn.
Fortnite -- which can be played on Xbox, Playstation and now on mobile phones -- pits players against each other in a survival of the fittest-type contest. Players must take out opponents using weapons such as grenades, assault rifles, crossbows
and rocket launches as the map constantly shrinks.
Some experts are warning that the addictive nature of the Hunger Games style contest and the amount of time that children spend playing are a cause for concern.
Video game Fortnite released its iOS version of its game on Friday which already has 45 million players globally
Mary Rezk, a 40-year-old Beverly Park mother, told the Daily Telegraph that the game was like a drug to her three boys aged 14, nine, and six. All they do is fight about who wants to play, she explained, They're just so obsessed with it.
Last September a free-to-play Battle Royale edition of the game was released in which up to 100 players are dropped onto an island with the aim of killing each other and taking their equipment and weapons, referred to as loot by players.
This skyrocketed the game's popularity among PC and console users and, in January, the game's publisher Epic Games said that the title has more than 45 million players.
Interestingly the only 'expert' opinion quoted by the piece is totally mundane and obvious. Hardly supports the preceding panic laden text.
Clinical and Sports Psychologist Dr Jonathon Fader told GMA that, the difference with this game is that it is so interactive, recommending that parents look at the context, such as if gaming interferes with other activities, when looking at how
much to limit screen time.
The Open Rights Group, Myles Jackman and Pandora Blake have done a magnificent job in highlighting the dangers of mandating that porn companies verify the age of their customers.
Worst case scenario
In the worst case scenario, foreign porn companies will demand official ID from porn viewers and then be able to maintain a database of the complete browsing history of those officially identified viewers.
And surely much to the alarm of the government and the newly appointed internet porn censors at the BBFC, then this worst case scenario seems to be the clear favourite to get implemented. In particular Mindgeek, with a near monopoly on free porn
tube sites, is taking the lead with its Age ID scheme.
Now for some bizarre reason, the government saw no need for its age verification to offer any specific protection for porn viewers, beyond that offered by existing and upcoming data protection laws. Given some of the things that Google and
Facebook do with personal data then it suggests that these laws are woefully inadequate for the context of porn viewing. For safety and national security reasons, data identifying porn users should be kept under total lock and key, and not
used for any commercial reason whatsoever.
A big flaw
But there in lies the flaw of the law. The government is mandating that all websites, including those based abroad, should verify their users without specifying any data protection requirements beyond the law of the land. The flaw is that foreign
websites are simply not obliged to respect British data protection laws.
So as a topical example, there would be nothing to prevent a Russian porn site (maybe not identifying itself as Russian) from requiring ID and then passing the ID and subsequent porn browsing history straight over to its dirty tricks department.
Anyway the government has made a total pigs ear of the concept with its conservative 'leave it to industry to find a solution' approach'. The porn industry simply does not have the safety and security of its customers at heart. Perhaps the
government should have invested in its own solution first, at least the national security implications may have pushed it into at least considering user safety and security.
Where we are at
As mentioned above campaigners have done a fine job in identifying the dangers of the government plan and these have been picked up by practically all newspapers. These seem to have chimed with readers and the entire idea seems to be accepted as
dangerous. In fact I haven't spotted anyone, not even 'the think of the children' charities pushing for 'let's just get on with it'. And so now its over to the authorities to try and convince people that they have a safe solution somewhere.
The Digital Policy Alliance
Perhaps as part of a propaganda campaign to win over the people, parliament's Digital Policy
Alliance are just about to publish guidance on age verification policies. The alliance is a cross party group that includes, Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, who made some good points about privacy concerns whilst the bill was being forced through
the House of Lords.
He said that a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) numbered 1296 is due to be published on 19 March. This will set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.
The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should
However the document will carry no authority and is not set to become an official British standard. He explained:
We can't put rules about data protection into the PAS... That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can't mandate them inside this PAS -- but it's in there as 'you must obey the law'...
But of course Hay did not mention that Russian websites don't have to obey British data protection law.
And next the BBFC will have a crack at reducing people's fears
Elsewhere in the discussion, Hay suggested the British Board of Film and Internet Censorship could mandate that each site had to offer more than one age-verification provider, which would give consumers more choice.
Next the BBFC will have a crack at minimising people's fears about age verification. It will publish its own guidance document towards the end of the month, and launch a public consultation about it.
The Shape of Water is a 2017 USA fantasy romance by Guillermo del Toro.
Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer.
Censored Chinese version
Chinese audiences are used to censored, clean versions of Hollywood imports involving violence, nudity, sex scenes, or profanity. What Chinese moviegoers are allowed to see in theaters completely depends on the country's film censor, the State
Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People's Republic of China (SAPPRFT), which, in the recent release of 2017 Oscar winner The Shape of Water, altered scenes where actors are in states of undress by either
adding clothes or else pixellating out the offending details.
According to a Weibo post by movie critic Feng Xiaoqiang CCC, in one scene of the Chinese revised version of the film, the female protagonist, Elisa, is covered in black shadows from her chest to her thighs, whereas in the original, the actress is
fully naked with her back facing the camera.
That was my first time seeing this in a Chinese theater. I was stunned, Feng wrote. It almost looks like the actress is dressed in an all-black one-piece swimsuit, and it fits her well.
Some scenes are completely stripped from the movie, such as the opening sequence of Elisa masturbating in her tub and several sex scenes.
To avoid nudity, another method used in the movie is to zoom in the camera on the actress's face while cutting other parts of her body out of the frame.
However, with the removal of a few scenes, the modified version somehow still managed to maintain the same length of 123 minutes as its original. In his post, Feng said that since he didn't notice any replacement footage in the movie, his guess is
that SAPPRFT has extended the time for opening or closing credits.
Amused by the fit swimsuit that SAPPRFT forced Elisa to wear, Chinese internet users started to dress characters in other movies to ridicule the prudishness of SAPPRFT.
The convenience store 7-Eleven is rolling out artificial intelligence at its 11,000 stores across Thailand.
7-Eleven will use facial-recognition and behavior-analysis technologies for multiple purposes. The ones it has decided to reveal to the public are to identify loyalty members, analyze in-store traffic, monitor product levels, suggest products to
customers, and even measure the emotions of customers as they walk around.
The company announced it will be using technology developed by US-based Remark Holdings, which says its facial-recognition technology has an accuracy rate of more than 96%. Remark, which has data partnerships with Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, has
a significant presence in China.
The rollout at Thailand's 7-Eleven stores remains unique in scope. It could potentially be the largest number of facial-recognition cameras to be adopted by one company. No corporate entity is so entrenched in Thai lives, according to a report
from Public Radio International. And that may be crucial not only to the success of facial recognition in 7-Eleven stores in Thailand, but across the region.
Fans Against Criminalisation campaigner Paul Quigley is celebrating momentous
victory for the group which has lobbied for the repeal of the disgraceful Offensive Behaviour at Football Act for the last seven years.
The act was a knee jerk reaction to Celtic vs Rangers game where Celtic manager Neil Lennon was attacked on field and letter bombs were later sent to Lennon, Paul McBride QC and Trish Godman MSP.
The resulting legislation was nominally about tackling sectarianism but in reality gave the police carte-blanche powers to arrest fans for whatever they wished under the catch-all guise of offensiveness.
Paul Quigley explained:
A decision was taken to form a campaign to fight this, partly due to a deeply held collective ideological belief in the right to freedom of expression and equality before law, and partly due to the simple notion of self defence.
Fans of all clubs would be welcome to join our organisation and that we would help and campaign for all football fans who we deemed to be the subject of unjust treatment.
Fans Against Criminalisation was able to count on the support of thousands of passionate supporters of the campaign, as was evidenced by a demonstration at George Square which drew thousands of people in late 2011. In spite of this, the
government seemed to assume that this would all die down in due course, and that the fan campaign would not have the capability or endurance required to give them real cause to reconsider their position.
The treatment that football fans have had to endure ever since has been appalling. The human cost of this legislation is often lost amid the political rabble rousing, among the doctored statistics and the nauseatingly disingenuous moral
grandstanding. The reality of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is this; it has ruined lives and caused serious damage in our communities.
In the face of all of this, football fans endured. In the years that followed, an incredible campaign challenged this treatment of supporters and lobbied for the repeal of this ill advised and illiberal piece of legislation. Today, the Scottish
Parliament finally voted on this very question.
The Repeal Bill has passed, and this is the first time in the history of devolution that the Scottish Parliament has repealed its own legislation. This victory is historic not just for football fans, but for the country.
As a follow up. James Dornan, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart and a candidate for deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, has decided to quit Twitter. He describes it as a cesspit of hate and bile, saying he has received abuse from football
fans over his defence of the Offence Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA). His disgraceful 'defence' of the legislation was to try and suggest that the campaign was some sort Labour party political effort. The fans were not impressed and clearly gave
him the slagging off he deserved. See more on this in article from spiked-online.com
The Planter's Wife is a 1952 UK adventure drama by Ken Annakin.
Starring Claudette Colbert, Jack Hawkins and Anthony Steel.
UK: Passed PG for mild violence, threat after 1:18s of BBFC compulsory cuts for:
2018 Strawberry Media video
The BBFC commented:
Compulsory cut required to remove sight of animal cruelty (cobra and mongoose fight) in accordance with BBFC Guidelines and policy.
The marriage of rubber-plantation owner Jim Frazer and his wife, Liz, which has survived many disasters, including years in a Japanese internment camp, is at a breaking point. Under constant threats of bandit attacks and concerned with the safety
of his plantation and the people on it, Jim spares no time for his marriage. Liz is to take their young son, Mike, home to school in England, and, without telling Jim, does not plan to return. A neighboring plantation is attacked and the owner
killed just prior to her departure. Liz and Jim get arms and ammunition from a near-by town, and a night of terror follows as the bandits attack.
The EU is considering a copyright proposal that would require code-sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for
potential copyright infringement (see the EU Commission's proposed Article 13 of the Copyright Directive ). The proposal is aimed at music and videos on streaming platforms, based on a theory of a "value gap" between the profits those
platforms make from uploaded works and what copyright holders of some uploaded works receive. However, the way it's written captures many other types of content, including code.
We'd like to make sure developers in the EU who understand that automated filtering of code would make software less reliable and more expensive--and can explain this to EU policymakers--participate in the conversation.
Why you should care about upload filters
Upload filters (" censorship machines ") are one of the most controversial elements of the copyright proposal, raising a number of concerns, including:
Privacy : Upload filters are a form of surveillance, effectively a "general monitoring obligation" prohibited by EU law
Free speech : Requiring platforms to monitor content contradicts intermediary liability protections in EU law and creates incentives to remove content
Ineffectiveness : Content detection tools are flawed (generate false positives, don't fit all kinds of content) and overly burdensome, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that might not be able to afford
them or the resulting litigation
Upload filters are especially concerning for software developers given that:
Software developers create copyrightable works--their code--and those who choose an open source license want to allow that code to be shared
False positives (and negatives) are especially likely for software code because code often has many contributors and layers, often with different licensing for different components
Requiring code-hosting platforms to scan and automatically remove content could drastically impact software developers when their dependencies are removed due to false positives
The Video Standards Council is responsible for UK video games censorship. Normally the group rubber stamps European PEGI ratings but it retains the power to ban games. And in a rare example of usage of such powers, the group has joined Australian
in banning Omega Labyrinth Z.
Omega Labyrinth Z is 2017 Japanese console game by Matrix Software
Banned in Australia and the UK in 2018.
Omega Labyrinth Z is a dungeon crawler game for the PS4 and Playstation Vita. It was submitted with a provisional PEGI 16 rating for depictions of erotic or sexual nudity. The game is set at the Anberyl Girls Academy and legend has it that a holy
grail exists that can grant any wish. It is hidden in one of the ancient caves that is located somewhere in the school grounds. A group of female students set out to explore the caves with the aim of finding the grail.
UK: Banned in March 2018 by the Video Standards Council
The VSC Rating Board has ruled that the video game, Omega Labyrinth Z, will not be issued a UK Certificate of Classification.
This refusal is relevant to physical product only (disc, cartridge, etc.) Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act (1984), the VSC Rating Board is required to consider the likelihood of any game causing harm to the user and, subsequently, to
wider society by the way in which the game deals with and portrays images of criminal, violent or horrific behaviour, illegal drugs and human sexual activity. The grounds for this decision are as follows: - The likely harm being caused to a
viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people.
The game is explicit in its setting within a school environment and the majority of the characters are young girls - one child is referred to as being a first year student and is seen holding a teddy bear. The game clearly promotes the
sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters. The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18.
There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity
throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children. As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using
either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.
The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly
harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular.
Update: Banned in Germany, New Zealand and Ireland
In a tweet, distributor PQube said its appeal against the UK ban had been rejected. The game has also been refused a rating in Australia and Germany. PQube said it would also not be available in New Zealand and Ireland.
Canada has several province based film censors but Manitoba is now set to close down its own film censor and use the ratings from
another province instead.
Culture Minister Cathy Cox said that she's started the dismantling of the Manitoba Film Classification Board and replacing it with the classifications designated by Consumer Protection British Columbia.
Cox told reporters she saw no problem accepting the standards of another province, especially one with an NDP government. She that this was not about cost to the state but was concerned with censorship costs borne by distributors. She said:
This is not about cost. The distributors pay the costs of classifying films shown and sold, and video games sold in stores in Manitoba. This is making it easier for distributors. This is an opportunity to reduce our footprint and to reduce red
Her staff later supplied figures that the state censors had classified 377 films in Manitoba in 2016-2017.
Film festivals would be permitted under Cox's changes to classify their own films or use classifications provided by other jurisdictions
EFF and 23 other civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Congress urging Members and Senators to oppose the CLOUD Act and any efforts to attach
it to other legislation.
The CLOUD Act ( S. 2383
and H.R. 4943
) is a dangerous bill that would tear away global privacy protections by allowing police in the United States and abroad to grab cross-border data without following the privacy rules of where the data is stored. Currently, law enforcement requests
for cross-border data often use a legal system called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, or MLATs. This system ensures that, for example, should a foreign government wish to seize communications stored in the United States, that data is
properly secured by the Fourth Amendment requirement for a search warrant.
The other groups signing the new coalition letter against the CLOUD Act are Access Now, Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
(AALDEF), Campaign for Liberty, Center for Democracy & Technology, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Constitutional Alliance, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress Action, Equality California, Free Press Action Fund,
Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Human Rights Watch, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Black Justice Coalition, New America's Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia, People
For the American Way, and Restore The Fourth.
The CLOUD Act allows police to bypass the MLAT system, removing vital U.S. and foreign country privacy protections. As we explained in our earlier letter to Congress, the CLOUD Act would:
Allow foreign governments to wiretap on U.S. soil under standards that do not comply with U.S. law;
Give the executive branch the power to enter into foreign agreements without Congressional approval or judicial review, including foreign nations with a well-known record of human rights abuses;
Possibly facilitate foreign government access to information that is used to commit human rights abuses, like torture; and
Allow foreign governments to obtain information that could pertain to individuals in the U.S. without meeting constitutional standards.
You can read more about EFF's opposition to the CLOUD Act here
The CLOUD Act creates a new channel for foreign governments seeking data about non-U.S. persons who are outside the United States. This new data channel is not governed by the laws of where the data is stored. Instead, the foreign police may
demand the data directly from the company that handles it. Under the CLOUD Act, should a foreign government request data from a U.S. company, the U.S. Department of Justice would not need to be involved at any stage. Also, such requests for data
would not need to receive individualized, prior judicial review before the data request is made.
The CLOUD Act's new data delivery method lacks not just meaningful judicial oversight, but also meaningful Congressional oversight, too. Should the U.S. executive branch enter a data exchange agreement--known as an "executive
agreement"--with foreign countries, Congress would have little time and power to stop them. As we wrote in our letter:
"[T]he CLOUD Act would allow the executive branch to enter into agreements with foreign governments--without congressional approval. The bill stipulates that any agreement negotiated would go into effect 90 days after Congress was notified
of the certification, unless Congress enacts a joint resolution of disapproval, which would require presidential approval or sufficient votes to overcome a presidential veto."
And under the bill, the president could agree to enter executive agreements with countries that are known human rights abusers.
Troublingly, the bill also fails to protect U.S. persons from the predictable, non-targeted collection of their data. When foreign governments request data from U.S. companies about specific "targets" who are non-U.S. persons not living
in the United States, these governments will also inevitably collect data belonging to U.S. persons who communicate with the targeted individuals. Much of that data can then be shared with U.S. authorities, who can then use the information to
charge U.S. persons with crimes. That data sharing, and potential criminal prosecution, requires no probable cause warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment, violating our constitutional rights.
The CLOUD Act is a bad bill. We urge Congress to stop it, and any attempts to attach it to must-pass spending legislation.
Is it just me or is Matt Hancock just a little too keen to advocate ID checks just for the state to control 'screen time'. Are we sure that such snooping wouldn't be abused for other reasons of state control?
It's no secret the UK government has a vendetta against the internet and social media. Now, Matt Hancock, the secretary of
state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants to push that further, and enforce screen time cutoffs for UK children on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Talking to the Sunday Times, Hancock explained that the negative impacts of social media need to be dealt with, and he laid out his idea for an age-verification system to apply more widely than just porn viewing.
He outlined that age-verification could be handled similarly to film classifications, with sites like YouTube being restricted to those over 18. The worrying thing, however, is his plans to create mandatory screen time cutoffs for all children.
Referencing the porn restrictions he said: People said 'How are you going to police that?' I said if you don't have it, we will take down your website in Britain. The end result is that the big porn sites are introducing this globally, so we are
leading the way.
Whenever politicians peak of 'balance' it inevitably means that the balance will soon swing from people's rights towards state control. Matt Hancock more or less announced further internet censorship in a speech at the Oxford Media Convention. He
Our schools and our curriculum have a valuable role to play so students can tell fact from fiction and think critically about the news that they read and watch.
But it is not easy for our children, or indeed for anyone who reads news online. Although we have robust mechanisms to address disinformation in the broadcast and press industries, this is simply not the case online.
Take the example of three different organisations posting a video online.
If a broadcaster published it on their on demand service, the content would be a matter for Ofcom.
If a newspaper posted it, it would be a matter for IPSO.
If an individual published it online, it would be untouched by media regulation.
Now I am passionate in my belief in a free and open Internet ....BUT... freedom does not mean the freedom to harm others. Freedom can only exist within a framework.
Digital platforms need to step up and play their part in establishing online rules and working for the benefit of the public that uses them.
We've seen some positive first steps from Google, Facebook and Twitter recently, but even tech companies recognise that more needs to be done.
We are looking at the legal liability that social media companies have for the content shared on their sites. Because it's a fact on the web that online platforms are no longer just passive hosts.
But this is not simply about applying publisher or broadcaster standards of liability to online platforms.
There are those who argue that every word on every platform should be the full legal responsibility of the platform. But then how could anyone ever let me post anything, even though I'm an extremely responsible adult?
This is new ground and we are exploring a range of ideas...
including where we can tighten current rules to tackle illegal content online...
and where platforms should still qualify for 'host' category protections.
We will strike the right balance between addressing issues with content online and allowing the digital economy to flourish.
This is part of the thinking behind our Digital Charter. We will work with publishers, tech companies, civil society and others to establish a new framework...
A change of heart of press censorship
It was only a few years ago when the government were all in favour of creating a press censor. However new fears such as Russian interference and fake news has turned the mainstream press into the champions of trustworthy news. And so previous
plans for a press censor have been put on hold. Hancock said in the Oxford speech:
Sustaining high quality journalism is a vital public policy goal. The scrutiny, the accountability, the uncovering of wrongs and the fuelling of debate is mission critical to a healthy democracy.
After all, journalists helped bring Stephen Lawrence's killers to justice and have given their lives reporting from places where many of us would fear to go.
And while I've not always enjoyed every article written about me, that's not what it's there for.
I tremble at the thought of a media regulated by the state in a time of malevolent forces in politics. Get this wrong and I fear for the future of our liberal democracy. We must get this right.
I want publications to be able to choose their own path, making decisions like how to make the most out of online advertising and whether to use paywalls. After all, it's your copy, it's your IP.
The removal of Google's 'first click free' policy has been a welcome move for the news sector. But I ask the question - if someone is protecting their intellectual property with a paywall, shouldn't that be promoted, not just neutral in the search
I've watched the industry grapple with the challenge of how to monetise content online, with different models of paywalls and subscriptions.
Some of these have been successful, and all of them have evolved over time. I've been interested in recent ideas to take this further and develop new subscription models for the industry.
Our job in Government is to provide the framework for a market that works, without state regulation of the press.
The Daily Mail today ran the story that the DCMS have decided to take things a little more cautiously about the privacy (and national security) issues of allowing a foreign porn company to take control of databasing people's porn viewing history.
Anyway there was nothing new in the story but it was interesting to note the Freudian slip of referring to the BBFC as the British Board of Film Censorship.
My idea would be for the BBFC to rename itself with the more complete title, the British Board of Film and Internet Censorship.