According to a leaked
EU internet censorship document obtained by Netzpolitik, a German blog, the European Commission (EC) is now preparing a new Digital Services Act to unify and extend internet censorship across the EU.
The proposals are partially to address eCommerce controls required to keep up with technological changes, but it also addresses more traditional censorship to control 'fake news' political ideas it does not like and 'hate speech'.
The new rules cover a wider remit of internet companies covering all digital services, and that means anything from ISPs, cloud hosting, social media, search engines, ad services, to collaborative economy services (Uber, AirBnB etc).
The censorship regime envisaged does not quite extend to a general obligation for companies to censor everything being uploaded, but it goes way beyond current censorship processes. Much of the report is about unifying the rules for takedown of
The paper takes some of the ideas from the UK Online Harms whitepaper and sees requirements to extend censorship from illegal content to legal-but-harmful content.
The authors perceive that unifying censorship rules for all EU countries as some sort of simplification for EU companies, but as always ever more rules just advantages the biggest companies, which are unfortunately for the EU, American. Eg
requiring AI filtering of content is a technology very much in the control of the richest and most advanced companies, ie the likes of Google.
Actually the EU paper does acknowledge that EU policies have in the past advantaged US companies. The paper also notes unease at the way that European censorship decisions, eg the right to be forgotten, have become something implemented by the
The German film censors of the FSK started up 70 years ago. After World War II, according to the Allies, a post was supposed to replace military censorship and thus block propaganda films with National Socialist content. Politicians wanted to
seize the opportunity and connect it with a state control authority for the protection of minors.
Although there is no legal obligation in Germany to have films examined by the FSK, according to the Youth Protection Act, cinema and video films must be provided with an age-approval mark. That is, a film that has no FSK certificate, may only be
seen or purchased by adults.
Saying that, the rules for selling 18 rated videos seem very onerous in Germany and it has led to large numbers of films being cut for the easier to retail 16 rating.
The FSK charges film distributors 1000 euro for its age rating. A movie is rated by five examiners. The odd number is important because it is decided by a simple majority. The chairman is the Permanent Representative of the Supreme State Youth
Authorities, in addition to a youth protection expert, for example, from the youth welfare office, and a public representative, for example, of churches, the Central Council of Jews or the Federal Youth. Two examiners are selected by the FSK
although they must be independent of the film industry.
Going self rated in 2020
Age ratings can be self applied for online films so an FSK rating is not required. In addition, the online streaming competition is rather diminishing the market for DVDs. And the declining DVD sales makes the censorship fees every more
So to tray and reduce costs the FSK wants to start a new test procedure next year. The distributors will fill in a questionnaire with information, such as hard violence, explicit sex scenes or similar. A computer program calculates an age rating.
Releases of 18+ years or for controversial/contested cases will still be consider by an FSK panel.
In addition to the cost savings, the FSK hopes with the new system to find a connection on the international market.
Denmark is considering the censorship of social media after an Instagram influencer's suicide note kicked off a controversy.
Instagram personality Fie Laursen posted a suicide note which received 30,000 comments and 8,000 likes. The public suicide note remained online for two days before Laursen herself took it down, having received treatment in a local hospital for an
In the aftermath, Danish Minister of Children and Education Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has proposed that influencers and bloggers must adhere to press based rules to avoid 'harm' to the wider public. Rosenkrantz-Theil said:
All journalists are familiar with the press ethics rules that, for example, that one must be careful about talking about suicide in the public space. When managing popular blogs with hundreds of thousands of followers, I think we can make the
Rosenkrantz-Theil proposes the formation of a governmental censorship board to enforce such rules which would be granted the authority to remove material in breach of whatever guidelines were created. The politician also outlined a scenario
whereby the influencers would have to designate three people to have the password for their accounts. These people can then remove a post if they believe it violates the press ethics.
The proposed Press Board would be afforded the right to criticize and ultimately, to censor, offending posts that broke any potential ethical guidelines. The censor's remit would be limited to those influencers with more than 5,000 followers.
Laetitia Avia was hailed as a symbol of French diversity when she entered parliament for Emmanuel Macron' s centrist party in 2017. But the daily racist abuse against her on social networks pushed her to draw up an extreme censorship law to put a
stop to her critics.
It states that hateful comments reported by users must be removed within 24 hours by platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. This includes any hateful attack on someone's dignity on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender
identity or disability. If the social media platforms and tech companies do not comply, they will face huge fines of up to 4% of their global revenue. Penalties could reach tens of millions of euros. There will also be a new judiciary body to
focus on online hate.
The online hatred bill will be debated by the French parliament next week and could be fast-tracked into force in the autumn.
The bill is part of Macron's drive to internet censorship. He announced the planned crackdown on online hate at a dinner for Jewish groups last year, amid a rise of antisemitic acts in France, saying that hateful content online must be taken down
fast and all possible techniques put in place to find the identities of those behind it.
Last month, after meetings with Macron, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg agreed to hand over to judges the identification data on its French users suspected of hate speech.
The French law to censor politically incorrect insults on social media websites by the National Assembly on Friday.
Under the French draft law, social media groups would have to put in place tools to allow users to alert them to clearly illicit content related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
In the event a network fails to react in due course and/or offer the necessary means to report such content, they could face fines up to 4 per cent of their global revenues.
France's broadcasting censor, CSA, would be responsible for imposing the sanctions and a dedicated prosecutor's office would be created.
Several internet and freedom of speech advocacy groups have pointed out that bill paves the way for state censorship because it does not clearly define illicit content.
Imposing a 24-hour limit to remove clearly unlawful content is likely to result in significant restrictions on freedoms, such as the overblocking of lawful comments or the misuse of the measure for political censorship purposes, said Quadrature
du Net, a group that advocates free speech on the internet.
The group also highlighted that a law adopted in 2004 already demanded the removal of hateful content, but in a responsive way, leaving enough time to platforms for assessing the seriousness of the content under review.
The bill now passes to the French Senate for further debate.
Google has been accused of blacklisting pro-life YouTube search entries ahead of last year's vote in Ireland on legalizing abortion. Pundits call it a deliberate manipulation and demand that the company be held accountable.
Allegations that Google's manual interference with YouTube search results may have played a role in the 2018 referendum on abortion in Ireland surfaced last week, when Project Veritas website published an insider-based article on the matter.
Blocked terms reportedly included abortion is murder, Irish Catholic, pro-life and other terms.
Google responded, saying that there was no distinction between pro-life or pro-choice queries on YouTube at the time and that their whole procedure was transparent.
This is hardly a credible response from Google, their processes are never transparent, so how can one believe the other half of the statement?
The Pirate Party political movement owes its early success to sticking up for The Pirate Bay, following a raid in Sweden. In recent years Pirates have delivered many excellent politicians and Marcel Kolaja, one of the new MEPs, has just been
elected as a Vice-President of the EU Parliament.
4 Pirate MEPS were elected at the last European Election with one from Germany and three from the Czech Republic.
During the last term, the excellent Julia Reda was at the forefront of many lawmaking discussions, particularly with regard to the new Copyright Directive. While Reda recently left Parliament, the new MEPs obviously have similar ambitions.
With 426 votes, Marcel Kolaja was elected with an absolute majority in the second voting round. He will serve as one of the fourteen Vice-Presidents tasked with replacing the President as chair of the plenary if needed, as well as a variety of
Brexit party MEPs show their disrespect of EU institutions by turning their backs on the EU anthem
German politicians have proposed that people who desecrate the European flag could be faced with a prison sentence.
German politicians, in the east German state of Saxony, are now trying to use the law to force people to respect EU symbols. Saxony state's justice minister has drafted a bill that, if passed, would mean that anyone who denigrates the EU anthem
or removes, destroys, damages, or makes useless or unrecognisable the EU flag could face up to three years' imprisonment or a hefty fine.
There is already a similar law in Germany to protect German flags and symbols and this change would extend the principle to EU equivalents
Germany has fined Facebook for failing to detail the number of complaints received in a transparency report.
The Federal Office for Justice (BfJ,) a subdivision of the German justice ministry, announced that it had issued Facebook a fine of 2 million euro for failing to meet the requirements of Berlin's Network Enforcement Act, a law against illegal
content, in its transparency report for the first half of 2018.
In the penalty charge notice, the BfJ reprimands in particular that in the released report, the number of received complaints about unlawful content is incomplete, the office said in its announcement, adding that this is creating a distorted
image in the public about the extent of unlawful content [on the platform] and the way the social network is dealing with it.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will police video content on Facebook under new proposals before the Irish Government.
The Sunday Independent reports the BAI aims to become an enlarged media commission to enforce European censorship rules.
The BAI currently regulates Irish commercial radio and television as well as RTE and TG4.
With the social media giants based in Ireland, it will now regulate content on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in Ireland and throughout the EU.
The BAI proposals also want an Online Safety Commissioner to form part of its increased censorship role. They also speak pf age verification, parental controls and a complaints mechanism.
The Government is also keen to emulate the UK internet porn censorship regime. Irish MP Leo Varadkar said the Irish government will consult with the UK about its new porn block and how it is working, with a view to perhaps rolling out a similar
age verification system for Ireland.
Varadkar said that he was wary of moralising . ..BUT... suggested engagement with UK government a year or two after the law has been rolled out would be wise. He said that this engagement could help ascertain if the proposals could
During Leaders' Questions, he confirmed that an online age verification system can be discussed by the Oireachtas Communications Committee, and confirmed that legislation to set up the office of a Digital Safety Commissioner is on the way.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has also said the Irish government will consider a similar system to the UK's porn block law as part of new legislation on online safety.