The French citizen rights group La Quadrature reported this week that its government is entertaining an executive draft that would give the French government the power to arbitrarily censor any content or service on the Net. According to the site,
the law would grant government officials the power to cut off access to websites which harms or otherwise puts at risk public order and security, the protection of minors, of public health, national defence, or physical persons.
Tech Dirt compared the order to China's infamous internet censorship, the cleverly-titled Great Firewall. We'll leave it to our readers to come up with a funny French pun for the country's own efforts.
Jeremie Zimmermann, a spokesperson for
La Quadrature, criticized the proposal.
This draft executive order aims to give the government a vastly disproportionate power to censor any website or content on the Internet, said Zimmermann. It is an obvious
violation of the principle of separation of powers, and strongly harms freedom of communication online. This is an extremely disturbing drift, in direct continuity with the French government's repressive
He concluded that the
order must absolutely be rejected.
Offsite Comment: France on its way to total Internet censorship?
On 15 June, 2011, website PC INpact revealed the existence of a draft executive order which would give the French government the power to arbitrarily censor any content or service on the Net.
implement article 18 of the law for the Digital Economy of June 21st, 2004, the French government is proposing to give to several of its ministries the power to order the censorship of online content that harms or otherwise puts at risk public order and
security, the protection of minors, of public health, national defence, or physical persons*. Websites ranging from WikiLeaks to The Pirate Bay could fall under the broad scope of the decree.
Fotografiska, a contemporary photography museum in Stockholm, has elected to censor its own promotional material for an upcoming exhibition to draw attention to Facebook's ludicrous nudity ban.
We censored the photographs because Facebook
removed our pictures, said Fotografiska spokesperson Jens Hollingby to The Local: Our purpose was to bring attention to the issue and to open a discussion
The photographs in question are by the controversial US photographer Robert
Mapplethorpe and form part of a major new exhibition of his work which recently opened at the museum.
Hollingby told The Local that Facebook is an important channel for the museum to market
Beneath the photographs, which are censored with a
large blue rectangle with the text facebook-friendly square , the museum has explained its position:
Facebook thinks that naked bodies cause offence. They remove our photos. For them, it does not matter if
it is art or not. I you would like to see the photos in their full glory, we invite you to visit us.
The exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe's work runs until October 2nd 2011.
In Denmark, police have recommended to Parliament that it create laws that make it impossible for citizens to surf anonymously. According to Danish-language blog Computerworld Denmark, the proposal is intended to help investigate terrorism.
proposal, locations providing open Internet, like cafes and libraries, would have to confirm a user's identity, with some form of official ID, before letting them get online. Companies may also have to register and verify users' identities before
providing access, as well as retain records of user logs.
Danish law already requires that ISPs store user data for at least a year, as an anti-terrorism measure. The proposal suggests that with such information, police would be able to see who
exactly is on the network, where they go, and who they talk to.
The Dutch group Federation for Honour and Reparation of Slavery in Surinam has made a book burning protest against Toronto author Lawrence Hill's award-winning novel The Book of Negroes . However, instead of burning the entire book, the group
has only burned its cover.
CBC News reported that the group chose to only burn the cover because their protest regards the title of the novel, and specifically its use of the word negro, which they deem offensive.
chair of The Writers' Union of Canada, said in a press release:
The burning of books represents censorship at its worst. While we recognize the sensitivity over the use of the word 'Negro' in the book's title, The
Book of Negroes is a real document and Mr. Hill uses it deliberately to underscore the plight of African Americans being shipped from New York to Nova Scotia in 1783.
When the novel was published in the United States the title
was changed to Somebody Knows My Name .
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted of all charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.
Judges in a court in Amsterdam delivered their verdict in a broadcast that was carried live on Dutch TV. Both the defence and prosecution had
called for an acquittal.
Wilders had described Islam as fascist , comparing the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf. He insisted his remarks were part of a legitimate political debate. Wilders had always insisted his statements were directed at
Islam and not at Muslim believers, something which is legal under Dutch law.
But the unspecified members of minority groups, who had been seeking a symbolic one-euro fine, said they will consider taking their case to the European Court of Human
An inter-state treaty that will overhaul Germany's gambling restrictions could prove a threat to the open net. Should a recent draft be adopted, ISPs would be obliged to prevent users from accessing unauthorized gambling websites, which critics fear will
mean the establishment of a censorship infrastructure that would breach constitutional rights.
A draft of the treaty sent to the European Union for approval in April includes a paragraph which has been widely interpreted as a provision for the
introduction of Internet filtering as a means of blocking out foreign and unlicensed gambling websites:
[Translated from German] The gambling superintendent can [...], after prior publication of unauthorized gambling
services, interdict service providers in the sense of the tele-media act, in particular access providers and registrars, participation in providing access to unauthorized gambling services.
Commenting on an earlier draft of the same treaty,
the Chaos Computer Club had warned that Internet service providers might be forced to implement deep packet inspection in order to prevent clients from accessing foreign gambling websites. In particular, mention of an impact on the constitutional right
to telecommunications secrecy, meaning that content information would be accessed, makes an intention to introduce deep packet inspection plausible.
The new gambling treaty has to be signed by 13 of Germany's 16 federal states to become effective.
So far, the issue has raised controversy in a range of states governed by coalitions of Greens (against the proposal) and Social Democrats (for the proposal.
The issue has become particularly controversial in Northrine-Westphalia when recently it
was discovered that for more than a year, there are already two district-level blocking orders (in German) against gambling websites. These were based on the old gambling treaty, but have been disputed in court by the two ISPs in concern. As a Telekom
speaker explained, the company perceives website blocking as requiring an unconstitutional breach of telecommunications secrecy.
The prime ministers of the federal states have now decided to delay a final decision on the gambling treaty to
Nine Iceland MPs, led by Progressive Party MP Siv Fridleifsdottir, have suggested in a bill that the general sale of tobacco be banned and the visibility of smoking in Iceland be limited, dv.is reports.
This includes limiting smoking in movies and
plays by preventing state funding for such productions.
The idea has been harshly criticized by actors and directors; Baltasar Kormakur told Frettabladid that this is the first step towards using state funding for censorship.
Television and radio personalities in France can no longer say Twitter or Facebook on the air unless it's in a news story about those specific companies, according to a decree from the French broadcasting authority CSA.
broadcasters who want to encourage viewer interaction via Facebook or Twitter accounts can no longer do so. The follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook refrains are no longer allowed on French channels. The networks can still say find us on social networks,
but services cannot be mentioned by name.
The regulatory decree was issued on May 27. The rationale behind the decision? Apparently mentioning social networks like Twitter or Facebook by name goes against a 1992 decree prohibiting
surreptitious advertising. Encouraging users to engage with the content creators or give their own feedback is clandestine advertising for the social networks themselves.
Max Mosley has began an appeal against the European Court rejection of his attempt to extend privacy laws. He had demanded that newspapers about to expose details of someone's private life are forced to warn the individual before they do so. This would
give the person time to seek an injunction to stop publication.
But last month the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg threw out the demand, saying it could have a chilling effect on journalism.
Now he has taken up his last
option -- applying for a hearing before a 17-judge Grand Chamber of the same court.
A statement from Mosley's lawyers, Collyer Bristow said:
Despite the court's "severe criticisms" of the News of
the World, this and other tabloid newspapers could use the same techniques tomorrow to obtain and publish intimate photographs and details of the sex lives of individuals, without notice and in the knowledge that it is wholly unlawful.
Privacy has been the subject of considerable public and media debate in the last month and a ruling from the Grand Chamber of the Court is needed upon this important issue to close a clear gap in UK law
French president Nicolas Sarkozy opened the first e-G8 forum by claiming that the internet needs governments to get involved in order to fulfill its potential.
Addressing an audience comprising the who's who of online commerce, Sarkozy said that
governments should not allow internet use to remain unchecked. Sarkozy told the audience of technology executives: The world you represent is not a parallel universe where legal and moral rules and more generally all the basic rules that govern
society in democratic countries do not apply.
Sarkozy said, Nobody can have his ideas, work, imagination and intellectual property expropriated without punishment, referring to France's strong line on filesharing with its Hadopi
three-strikes law. Sarkozy admitted that other nations might find France's stance on copyright law not to their liking, however it looks like he could be facing widespread opposition to his call for governments to weigh in with heavy handed internet
British prime minister David Cameron is going to object to any calls for governments to get into the business of regulating the internet. According to the Guardian, Cameron's aides believe there are many issues that would have to be
addressed before anyone could regulate the internet on an international scale, with one 10 Downing Street official saying, We will not be regulating the internet any time soon.
Jochai Ben-Avie, a policy analyst at Access told The INQUIRER
that he wasn't buying Sarkozy's speech, calling it a thinly-veiled attempt... to bring together the leaders of government and business to demonstrate a consensus on tight government regulation of the internet .
The Public Prosecution Office has once again requested an acquittal for Geert Wilders on all charges against him. The charges include insulting Muslims as a group, inciting hatred and inciting discrimination on the grounds of religion and race.
The Public Prosecution argues that Wilders' comments may be experienced as insulting by certain groups but they are directed at Islam as a religion and not at Muslims as people. The PPO also argued that many of the comments were made in political debates. Although the office did say his call to ban the Qur'an is on the edge of what is permissible.
The Public Prosecution was reluctant to bring the case against Geert Wilders to trial, but was ordered to by an Amsterdam court.
Dutch plans to repeal a 1932 old style blasphemy law, which mandates a maximum sentence of three months in prison for a convicted scornful blasphemer, have foundered in the latest round of party politics.
Governing parties have given up
their hope to delete the law from Dutch jurisprudence in an apparent concession to a tiny fundamentalist Christian party, which emerged from elections this week holding the balance of power in the Senate, parliament's less-powerful upper chamber.
Boris van der Ham, one of three lawmakers who proposed dumping the blasphemy law, called it a
dead letter and a legal anachronism that no longer belongs in the progressive Netherlands. We don't think religious opinion should have more protection than nonreligious opinion, he told The Associated Press.
But the strict Calvinist
Political Reformed Party, or SGP, whose single senator now holds the key to success or failure for government legislation in the 75-seat Senate, thinks otherwise. The party's leader, Kees van der Staaij, is one of a minority of people in this largely
secular country of 16 million who publicly support the blasphemy law, which he calls the legal expression of the conviction that some things are holy. The name of God is holy, the party says on its website. Insulting God, as he is portrayed in
the Bible, must be combatted. The ban on blasphemy should be maintained.
But even though this old style blasphemy law has dropped into disuse, the Netherlands seem to have found a modern era replacement which talks in terms of insult and
offence. The country's highest-profile court case of recent years has focussed on allegedly hurtful comments made by maverick anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders about Islam. Wilders is on trial in Amsterdam on charges of making statements insulting to
Muslims as a group, and inciting hatred against Muslims.
Polish authorities have shut down a website that mocked the country's president. This, along with recent police fines given to soccer fans who called the prime minister a moron, has raised questions about an authoritarian legacy of criminal law
that restricts freedom of speech.
Internal Security agents have raided the house of a blogger who ran antykomor.pl---a website with a name alluding to President Bronislaw Komorowski. The site was full of mockery of the president with games that
allowed surfers to throw objects, like a hammer or excrement, at the president's image. The blogger is now under investigation for slandering the president.
Internal Security was enforcing a law that protects the president and other top officials
from publicly expressed disrespect. It's an echo of communist-era penal legislation. Decades later, after a partial makeover of the criminal code, the law on slander still stands, earlier this month allowing the police to fine soccer fans for hanging out
a poster that coarsely criticized Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Donald, you moron, soccer hooligans will overthrow your government , is what they had to say about Tusk's decision to shut some stadiums after riots following the Polish Cup finals this
The Swedish hip-hop group Labyrint was stopped from performing in Va xjo and Va rnamo after a notice from police authorities saying their lyrics glorify drugs.
Labyrint was scheduled to perform in a youth club in Vaxjo. But when
police drew the attention of the Municipality of Vaxjo to the group's lyrics, saying they are 'drug liberal', the municipality cancelled the gig, and another concert due to be held in Varnamo was also called off.
The police and municipal action
has been critizised on several fronts. Many think it smells like censorship, and that freedom of expression is being curtailed, because the group has not violated any law. The musicians of Labyrint argue that they do not glorify drugs, but rather that
they depict the raw and unvarnished reality.
Several Swedish hip-hop artists, producers and journalists have now launched a petition against the banned performances.
Head of the local police in Va xjo , Ola Severinsson, defended the
police involvement: I can not think of a single argument why we should have artists who sing positively about cannabis for children.
A French court has acquitted a blogger of a charge of provoking discrimination related to burning a copy of the Qur'an in an internet broadcast and urinating on the book.
The court in the north-eastern city of Strasbourg found that Ernesto Rojas
Abbate had been acting within the boundaries of freedom of expression when he used the Qur'an as a prop in a simulation of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on New York.
Filming himself with a webcam on October 2, Abbate made a paper
aircraft with pages from the Qur'an and launched it at two glasses representing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. He then burnt the aircraft and the book and urinated on them, to quench the flames .
The Mosque of Strasbourg and a
local anti-racism organisation had pressed charges against the man. But the court ruled the video was aimed at terrorist acts and not the wider Muslim community, which could not be assimilated with the terrorist acts .
The European Parliament has stripped parliamentary immunity from French far-right MEP Bruno Gollnisch, to enable a complaint of incitement to racial hatred to be investigated.
French authorities will now interview Gollnisch after asking for
the move, following a complaint over an October 2008 press release issued by Rhone-Alpes regional authorities near Lyon, which Gollnisch led, that cited the invasion of our land and the destruction of our culture and values by Islam.
International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism launched the complaint, and the European Parliament decided that, as the case related to Gollnisch's activities as a regional councillor, applying parliamentary immunity to such a situation 'would
constitute an undue extension of those rules', a statement said.
Ex Formula 1 boss Max Mosley has lost his European Court of Human Rights bid to force newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives.
He said the Strasbourg verdict was disappointing but he may appeal, to keep fighting for
tighter privacy laws: [I'm] obviously disappointed, but it's satisfying that they've been extremely critical of the News of the World.
Mosley won his 2008 High Court battle after a judge ruled there was no justification for the News of the
World's front-page article about him paying five women to take part in a sado-masochistic orgy.
The tabloid reported that the orgy involving Mosley, the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley, had Nazi overtones, but this was rejected by the judge.
Although he was awarded £ 60,000 damages, everyone had learned the details of his sexual preferences, and he argued money alone could not restore his reputation. He said once a story had been published,
you could not un-publish it, and the damage had been done.
He took his case to the Human Rights Court, challenging UK laws which allow publication without giving targets advanced warning. The court clearly had some sympathy for Mosley's
individual case, but said it had to look more broadly and assess the balance between an individual's right to privacy and the media's right to freedom of expression under the UK's legal system.
The UK, along with other contracting states, has a
margin of appreciation - ie some leeway in the way it protects people's right to privacy. Taking that into account, the court found that the mix of rights and remedies available to people in the UK - which includes actions for damages, injunctions
when the person knows of an imminent story, and regulation of the press through the Press Complaints Commission - sufficiently protected their privacy. It also feared that a general requirement of prior notification risked having a chilling effect on
serious investigative journalism.
A Swedish film distributor's attempt to use an image of two women kissing in a Facebook advertising campaign has been rejected by the ever censorial website.
Sweden-based TriArt Film was hoping to use Facebook to publicise the Greek film Attenberg
, currently showing in Swedish cinemas.
Our ad for Attenberg, using the poster image of two women touch tongues, has been DISAPPROVED, TriArt said in a statement on its own Facebook page. TriArt went on to suggest that Facebook appears
to have a double standard when it comes to who can be seen locking lips in advertisements running on the site, explaining that their ad for the film Tre , featuring a male-female couple engaged in a deep kiss, was approved.
confused, TriArt CEO Eva Esseen Arndorff said in a statement.
Broadband providers have voiced alarm over an EU proposal to create a Great Firewall of Europe by blocking illicit web material at the borders of the bloc.
The proposal emerged an obscure meeting of the Council of the European
Union's Law Enforcement Work Party (LEWP), a forum for cooperation on issues such as counter terrorism, customs and fraud.
The minutes from the meeting state:
The Presidency of the LEWP presented its
intention to propose concrete measures towards creating a single secure European cyberspace with a certain virtual Schengen border and virtual access points whereby the Internet Service Providers (ISP) would block illicit contents on the
basis of the EU black-list . Delegations were also informed that a conference on cyber-crime would be held in Budapest on 12-13 April 2011.
Malcolm Hutty, head of public affairs at LINX, a cooperative of British ISPs,
said the plan appeared ill thought-out and confused . We take the view that network level filtering of the type proposed has been proven ineffective.
Broadband providers say that illegal content should be removed at the source
by cooperation between police and web hosting firms because network blocking can easily be circumvented.
A new media control law has been accepted by the Icelandic parliament.
The new law seeks to protect children from obscene content and to ensure freedom of speech.
To uphold its goals a new media committee will be created to mediate between
the media, the public and government.
But the measure is still proving controversial. It is argued, among other things, that the Iceland is consistently ranked near the top in global press freedom rankings and that the creation of a
government-controlled committee to protect and enforce press freedom is a contradiction in terms which will end up doing the exact opposite.
The fact that the national broadcaster, RUV, is not controlled by the new law is also causing debate. This
is the first media law in Iceland to cover the press and broadcast media together.
2,000 people have signed a petition urging the president to veto the law and thereby send it to a public referendum.
A London trader will be questioned by police after he was accused by Greek authorities of allegedly sending an email which sent markets crashing.
Paul Moss who works at the London-based Citigroup allegedly sent an email from the Canary Wharf
office and said Greece would restructure its debt as soon as the weekend.
He is now being accused of causing a 4.6% drop in Greek bank shares.
The country has been excluded from financial markets because of the crippling debt crises it
suffered last year. However, authorities have constantly tried to ease investment fears by saying the debt is manageable.
Greek police confirmed they had recovered a computer from the US bank Citigroup and plan to question Moss about the damaging email
The European Court of Justice has given a preliminary opinion that will have far-reaching implications in the fight against overaggressive copyright monopoly abusers. It is not a final verdict, but the Advocate General's position; the Court generally
follows this. The Advocate General says that no ISP can be required to filter the Internet, and particularly not to enforce the copyright monopoly.
The opinion is very clear: Advocate General Cruz Villalon considers that the installation of that
filtering and blocking system is a restriction on the right to respect for the privacy of communications and the right to protection of personal data, both of which are rights protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights. By the same token, the
deployment of such a system would restrict freedom of information, which is also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The court case against MP Geert Wilders has resumed.
Central to the session was the dinner at which judge Tom Schalken allegedly tried to convince Islam expert Hans Jansen that Wilders should be convicted.
On 3 May 2010, Jansen met Schalken
at a dinner. The latter was one of the three judges who earlier ordered the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) to prosecute Wilders for inciting to hatred and discrimination. The OM itself had concluded Wilders never made any statements that were an
Both Schalken and Jansen were called as witnesses yesterday. Jansen had already caused a tense atmosphere. Schalken had ordered him at the dinner to distance himself from Wilders, according to the Islam expert. Jansen, known for his
criticisms of Islam, stated that Schalken wanted to show him at the dinner the ruling in which he ordered the OM to prosecute Wilders. Schalken confirmed this in yesterday's sitting.
Captions accompanying a Polish exhibition at the European Parliament have been covered up, after officials concluded that the wording underneath the photos were too controversial.
The exhibition, entitled Truth and Memory , was organised by
MEPs from the conservative Law and Justice party. It's a scandalous situation, said Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP, one of the co-organisers of the exhibition.
His colleague Tomasz Poreba said: All this is happening in an institution that so
often has moral platitudes on its lips, calling for freedom of speech .
Responsibility for the decision about the censorship is held by the five so-called quaestors, each of whom represents a different country. One of the five is a Pole, Lidia
de Geringer de Oedenburg told Polish Radio that the exhibition organisers failed to honour the stipulations required, sending the material just a week before the launch, rather than two months beforehand as required. She added that the pictures speak for
themselves, and that the captions were not necessary.
The awkward material includes a caption describing a Russian soldier smiling as he breaks up parts of the wreckages. Another tag cites a body thrown onto foil at the crash site. However,
one of the co-organisers of the show, journalist Katarzyna Hejke, says the exhibition reveals the carelessness with which the wreckage of the plane was treated by the Russians.
A U.N. human rights expert has said that EU-requested changes have not removed his concerns that Hungary's media law could be used to limit press freedoms.
Even after amendments to the law made at the request of the European Union, Hungary's media
regulations still fall short of the required benchmarks, said Frank La Rue, the U.N. Human Rights Council's special investigator on freedom of expression.
Every time we hear about balanced coverage or objectivity of the press ... it
inevitably becomes, with time, a form of censorship regardless of what the initial motivation was, La Rue said. The press is accountable ... to the public and never to the state and much less to the government.
La Rue said he was
shocked to hear officials advocating things such as a framework of control for news media. He also criticized high fines that a media council can impose on editors and publishers for vaguely defined offenses, and the limits on journalists
protecting the identity of confidential sources.
Zoltan Kovacs, the government's communications chief, said the government supports the ideals of freedoms of the press and opinion ...BUT... that local peculiarities need to be taken
into account when those principles are applied.
Germany is to repeal controversial legislation intended to block access to child-pornography sites on the internet, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.
She had led protests by German libertarians against the legislation,
which was was passed in 2009 but never implemented. Opponents contended that it opened the way to web censorship, since it set up mechanisms that could also be used by a dictatorial government to block politically offensive websites.
would have been required to block page requests for child porn and to instead display a stop sign.
The minister said German police were now coping with the problem differently, tracking down servers with child-porn images and demanding that
the server owners delete the images. German federal police have a web-porn department that tips off foreign police forces about child-abuse websites.
The public prosecutors' office in Wiener Neustadt, in Austria, said that it had received a complaint by the MKOe Mauthausen Committee against Tortendesign, a bakery in the village of Maria Enzersdorf near Vienna, for offering customers cakes decorated
with swastikas or a baby raising its right hand in a Nazi salute.
This is a particularly abhorrent example of how money is made from Nazi filth. We're going to file a criminal complaint, said Willi Mernyi, the group's chairman.
the cakes are not actually put on display in the shop window, a catalogue containing photographs of the designs is made freely available to customers. The Nazi cakes were advertised in a separate adult section of the catalogue containing pictures
of other inappropriate cake designs, such as penis-shaped marzipan sweets.
Pastry chef Manfred Klaschka told ORF public television: If someone orders it, I make it. I don't really think about it. I have to make a living. Related
Austria bans neo-Nazi activities and the public display of Nazi symbols, as well as attempts to glorify the Nazi era and deny the Holocaust.
The mayor of a town in France has thrown a female statue out of his town hall because of an over ample bosom.
The terracotta bust of Marianne, the traditional figurehead of the French Republic was an original work by a local artist, installed in
2007 at the town hall in Neuville-en-Ferrain. The council paid 1,400 euros for the work.
It was making people gossip, said one town hall employee: Remarks were made, during weddings for example.
Mayor Gerard Cordon persuaded
councillors to approve 900 euros in this year's budget to buy a replacement, a more conventional bust of Marianne.
The artist who made the rejected bust, Catherine Lamacque, said she gave it outsized breasts deliberately, to symbolise the
generosity of the Republic.
Criminalising a Swede for collecting images of childlike cartoon figures confuses a victimless hobby with an act of child abuse.
Last year, a Swedish translator of Japanese Manga comics, Simon
Lundstrom, was convicted of possession of pornographic material after 50-odd Manga images stored on his hard drive were classified as child porn. The Swedish court of appeal later agreed that 39 of the illustrated images, none of which has been banned in
Japan and none of which shows real people, fitted the definition of child porn. Lundstrom was fined 5,000 Swedish Crowns ( £ 500).
Meanwhile, his main employer, publisher
Bonnier Carlsen, has stopped giving him translating commissions, and Lundstrom has been burdened with a reputation of traversing the biggest taboo of our time: getting off on kids.
The case has now been appealed to the