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EU Censorship News

2012: Oct-Dec

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Update: Happy News for the Whole Internet...

Italian court overturns convictions of Google execs who were somehow held responsible for a user posted video

Link Here23rd December 2012

An Italian court has overturned the conviction of three Google executives found guilty of breaking Italian law by allowing a video of a bullied teenager to be posted online.

The clip was uploaded in 2006 and the employees were given six-month suspended jail sentences in 2010. Google had appealed against the ruling, saying it had removed the video within two hours of being notified by the authorities.

The offending video clip was a mobile phone upload showing four students at a school in Turin bullying the victim. Prosecutors had highlighted that it had been online for two months despite several users posting comments calling for its removal.

A Google spokesman said:

We're very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues' names have been cleared.

Of course, while we're all delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family who have been through the ordeal.

Giovanni Maria Riccio, professor of IT Law at the University of Salerno, described the ruling as a landmark decision :

Another condemnation for Google would had jeopardised investments of big internet players in Italy and would had a negative impact also on small operators and ISPs [internet service providers], which are not in the condition of monitoring contents on their service, he told the BBC.

It is a happy news not only for Italy, but for the whole internet.



Update: Divine Intervention...

Turkish TV censor fines TV channel for airing an episode of the Simpsons featuring God and the Devil

Link Here15th December 2012
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

Turkey's TV censor has fined a television channel for insulting religious values after it aired an episode of The Simpsons that shows the religious character God taking orders from the Devil.

Radio and television censor RTUK said it was fining private broadcaster CNBC-e 52,951-lira ( £ 18,600) over the episode featuring the devil asking God to make him a coffee.

Elected a decade ago with the strongest majority seen in years, prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK party have overseen a period of unprecedented prosperity in Turkey. But concerns are growing about authoritarianism and critics of the government say it is trying to impose Islamic values by stealth.



Update: Stitched Up by the Courts...

Maltese Constitutional Court upholds ban on the play Stitching

Link Here13th December 2012
Full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded

Shocked producers of the play Stitching will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights after Malta's Constitutional Court of Appeal upheld a ban on performing the production.

The judgment came the day before two enabling legal notices were due to be published in support of a new law abolishing state theatre censorship.

Theatre company Unifaun had planned to stage it at St James Cavalier in Valletta in 2009 but it was banned by the now defunct Film and Stage Classification Board.

Without watching a performance, the board banned Stitching because of what it perceived as blasphemy, contempt for Auschwitz victims, dangerous sexual perversions, a eulogy to child murderers and references to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of children contained in the script.

The theatre company strongly contested the ban as a violation of the right to freedom of expression. They took their case to civil court in 2010 which ruled that the ban was justified, prompting another appeal by Unifaun, culminating in the Constitutional Court judgment.

Both the Civil Court and the Constitutional Court upheld the ban without viewing a performance.



Update: Zombie Censors...

Dead Island: Riptide looks to be banned from Germany

Link Here30th November 2012
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games

It looks like the Spring 2013 follow-up to the Zombie-themed action-RPG Dead Island has been banned in Germany. In a recent interview with PCGamesN, Dead Island: Riptide creative producer Sebastian Reichert said this was due to the country's strict guidelines on the sale of violent media:

We have no censored version of the game so we cannot release it in Germany. It feels fucking awkward to have one of the most successful games in years and nobody in your country knows it.

German rules on violent media say that it cannot contain violence against human-like characters and mutilation of corpses. Games often have to be censored so as to be made acceptable for release in the country.



Update: Ending an Insult to Free Speech...

Netherlands set to scrap its archaic blasphemy laws

Link Here28th November 2012

The Dutch parliament has accepted a motion that will scrap an archaic law making it a crime to insult the religious character God.

A majority of parties agreed that the nation no longer needs the law, which hasn't been invoked in the past half-century.



Blocking and Electioneering...

Norwegian politicians take inspiration from UK's internet filtering ideas

Link Here26th November 2012

With parliamentary elections slated for 2013, Norway's political parties have picked up on the issue of access to online pornography.

The newspaper VG reported that the country's Christian Democratic Party has come out in support of policies that would require mobile carriers and internet service providers to offer free parental filters to parents. The model would be based on a similar one being pursued by the United Kingdom.

The Norwegians seem to be focused on solutions that would mandate that parents be presented with parental filtering options without actually being forced to use them.

Other parties do not sound so keen. Conservative Party spokesperson Andre Oktay Dahl said parental filters is not a political issue, but one for families to address, and added he is more keen to fight child abuse online than tackle abuse of porn, which he said was not as widespread a problem.

Labour Party politician Jan BÝhler expressed his party’s support for filters, which he said would be more effective placed on devices, but also argued against moves by the government to block content, saying: We cannot censor the entire world.



Italy's Film Censors Recommend...

Morituris by Raffaele Picchio, banned from a cinema release

Link Here19th November 2012

Morituris is a 2011 Italy horror by Raffaele Picchio.
With Valentina D'Andrea, Andrea De Bruyn and Désirée Giorgetti. YouTube icon IMDb

The film makers said in a press release that the Italian Culture Ministery (il Ministero dei Beni Culturali), had decided to ban Morituris from Italian cinemas. The film censorship commission claimed that the film was a gratuitous essay of perversion and sadism. The commission unanimously reached the decision to ban the film on grounds of:

offence to good morals, intending acts of violence and perversion against women, motivated by enjoying of overcoming and thrill of self strength, empowered by consume of alcohol and drugs. The avengers find revenge against both boys, guilty of violence, and girls, victims of violence. At last, in acts of extreme perversion, a little mouse is used as a sex tool.



Law on Demand...

Poland enacts law for the EU's supposedly minimal regulation of Video on Demand

Link Here19th November 2012

The Polish president has given his written approval to proposed amendments to the country's Law on Radio and Television Broadcasting related to VOD services.

According to the Ministry of Administration and Digitisation (MAC), this will update Polish law with the requirements of the EU Audiovisual Directive.

The amendments follow the principal of minimal regulation and include a requirement for at least 20% of VOD content to be of European, including Polish, origin.

It is yet to be seen if the 'minimal regulations' will be used to suffocate Poland's VOD industry just like ATVOD have done in the UK.



Belgium Gambles on Internet Censorship...

Major gambling sites are blocked in Belgium

Link Here3rd November 2012

The Belgian Gaming Commission recently announced that it has blacklisted five more online gambling operators. One big name that has surfaced is a subsidiary of digital entertainment. The firm has responded by saying they think the laws governing online gambling in Belgium are contrary to the European Union rules of free e-commerce among members. digital entertainment refuses to even apply for a license to operate there on principle. Now they have no business in Belgium because most of their offerings have been blocked by the ISPs.

The government gaming commission claims that internet censorship is the most effective way to control unlicensed gambling web sites. ISPs are to receive hefty fines if they do not comply with the laws. The company has launched a number of legal challenges to the existing Belgium legislation. It is also seeking the European Commission's help by putting proper and consistent guidelines in place that adhere to E.U. basic e-commerce rules, and demand that Belgium rescind its biased laws by lifting the ban on unlicensed online gambling operators.

The fifty web locations now blocked in Belgium are a list of the who's who of online gambling operators in Europe, among them William Hill Casino, Titan Poker and others. Operators do have the means to subvert the ISP blocking but Belgium in it oppressive wisdom decided to fine players who were on these illegal sites with charges of as much as EUR25,000 if caught playing at an unlicensed internet punting location.



Updated: Austerity of Democracy...

Greek TV journalists walk out in protest at government censorship

Link Here1st November 2012

The Greek government is facing another strike, this time from journalists. Greek state television staff have begun work stoppages to protest what they say is increasing government censorship.

The country has been shaken by  scandals in which authorities were seen as being heavy-handed and using selective justice to punish political dissenters. One concerns presenters Marilena Katsimi and Costas Arvanitis, who were suspended indefinitely from a popular current affairs morning show carried by national broadcaster ERT. The suspension came after they criticized right-wing interior minister, Nikos Dendias.

ERT workers staged a walkout during scheduled programming and said they will organize 24-hour rolling strikes until Katsimi and Arvanitis are reinstated.

Dendias was recently forced into an embarrassing turnaround over accusations of police torture of left-wing anti-fascist protesters, who were detained during a motorcade protest against racism a month ago. Several days later, a report, supplemented with photos, appeared in the UK's Guardian newspaper claiming that the demonstrators were beaten, spat on and denied water while in custody. The interior minister initially branded the accusations as false, and said the government should sue the newspaper for defaming Greek democracy . But later, a medical evaluation confirmed that the activists may in fact have been abused.

This revelation was discussed on the Katsimi and Arvantis' show. Within an hour of the broadcast, Aimilios Liatsos, ERT's head of news, demanded to see the transcript, and then replaced the presenters without even talking to them. Liatsos released a statement saying Katsimi and Arvanitis violated basic journalistic ethics with unacceptable insinuations that did not give the minister a chance to respond .

Katsimi said that the explanation amounts to an attempt to muzzle free discussion of politics.

Nikos Dendias has now told parliament that the complaints of activist detainees will be investigated.

Update: More Censorship

1st November 2012. See  article from

Greek journalist Spiros Karatzaferis was arrested on 31st October after threatening to publish damaging allegations about the country's struggling economy. Karatzaferis said he had obtained information from hacking collective Anonymous, allegedly containing classified documents and email exchanges relating to Greece's financial bailout from international funders.

Offsite Article: Even More Censorship

1st November 2012.  See  article from

Free speech faces abyss

The arrest of editor Kostas Vaxevanis for exposing alleged tax cheats is just the latest attack on free speech in Greece. Democracy itself is now in danger, say Asteris Masouras and Veroniki Krikoni the full article

Update: Acquitted

2nd November 2012. See  article from

Investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis, whose Hot Doc magazine published a leaked list (nicknamed the Lagarde list ) of over 2,000 names of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, has been acquitted of breaking data privacy laws. In a video uploaded the night before his arrest earlier this week, Vaxevanis said: They are after me instead of the truth. His arrest drew widespread condemnation from rights groups and international media.



Surely Not as Industry Suffocating as ATVOD Though...

Poland adopts European censorship laws applying to VOD

Link Here30th October 2012

The Polish parliament has adopted an amendment to the country's Law on Radio and Television Broadcasting related to VOD services. It has now been passed to the Senate.

According to the Ministry of Administration and Digitisation (MAC), it implements the principle of minimal regulation conforming to the requirements of the EU Audiovisual Directive.

In practice, the amendment envisages VOD services being in part covered by the same rules previously applicable only to TV broadcasting. However, they will also be widened to include bans on tobacco and alcohol advertising, as well as product placement.

There will also be protection of minors and a requirement for 20% of the content of VOD services to be of European origin.



Update: Cosmetic Censorship...

Swiss newspaper shocked that Facebook prudery also applies to them

Link Here22nd October 2012
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

The Swiss daily Tribune de Geneve has said that it had its Facebook account blocked after publishing a famous nude painting.

In a bid to illustrate an article on cosmetic surgery, the newspaper ran an image taken from Gustave Courbet's 1886 oil painting The Origin Of The World , which shows a reclining nude.

The newspaper, which described the article as very serious , said that the image was deleted by Facebook only hours after it was published.



Update: Muffled Tweets...

Twitter implements blocks Germany from receiving tweets from banned right wing group

Link Here20th October 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Twitter has blocked access to a neo-Nazi account at the request of the German government.

The tweets will no longer be visible to users in Germany although the rest of the world will be able to view them.

It is the first time the social networking site has implemented its local censorship policy, which came into force in January. That policy allows it to block content in specific countries.

Announcing the decision, Twitter's general counsel Alex Macgillivray published links to the letter sent by German police, requesting the account be closed.

The letter outlined how the government had banned the organisation Besseres Hannover, (Better Hannover), a right-wing extremist group from Lower Saxony. It is disbanded, its assets are seized and all its accounts in social networks have to be closed immediately, the letter read.

Update: The easily offended queue up to get insults blocked by Twitter

20th October 2012. See  article from

The Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) is attempting to get a legal judgment against Twitter to block and reveal the identities of users who sent anti-Semitic tweets under the hashtag #UnBonJuif - A Good Jew.

Spurred on by Twitter's decision to ban a neo-Nazi account in Germany, the group has sought a legal order for the tweets and their writers to be blocked. The UEJF's lawyer, Stephane Lilti, has criticized Twitter's reaction to their complaints, and claims their demands were not listened to:

There is a fire and we have to put it out. We want to put an end to this torrent of hatred, which could become all so real. Like all hosts, Twitter has to react promptly when someone tells them about racism on their site.

Twitter has reacted as an American service provider: they're obsessed with American law. But, for tweets in French, destined for French people, Twitter must follow French law.

However saying that, the tweets are now being removed. The decision to remove the tweets emerged from a meeting between Twitter's senior management, the UEJF president Jonathan Hayoun and the group's legal representatives. During the meeting the UEJF handed over a list of the posts it wants removed.



A Puzzling Lack of Taste...

Amazon pulls jigsaw puzzle made from picture of Holocaust ovens

Link Here20th October 2012

A jigsaw puzzle showing the ovens that burned Dachau's corpses has been pulled from sale on Amazon.

It was titled KZ Puzzle where KZ stands for concentration camp in Germany. It first appeared on Amazon two weeks ago. It was advertised as suitable for children from the age of eight and cost about £ 16.

Bavarian parliamentary politician Gerda Hasselfeldt wrote to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to complain. She said:

This is a real slap in the face for concentration camp survivors and relatives of victims. The Dachau memorial is a place of remembrance for the suffering of countless victims. It cannot be in Amazon's interest to sell such a game.

She claimed she had received scores of complaints, many from survivors of the Nazis and their families.



Update: Propaganda Censored...

Hotbird satellite kicks off Iranian channels including Press TV

Link Here19th October 2012
Full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Arqiva and Eutelsat have jointly agreed to terminate broadcasts via Eutelsat's Hot Bird satellites of channels belonging to Iran. Ten TV channels in total were switched off on Monday, October 15.

The move includes Iran's international English langauge news channel Press TV, as well as the Arabic news channel Al-Alam.

The Paris based satellite operator said in a statement:

This decision was based on reinforced EU Council sanctions and a confirmation by France's broadcasting authority that the Sahar 1 TV channel that broadcast in IRIB's multiplex of television and radio services should be permanently switched off. IRIB has been informed of the termination of its contract. Transmissions consequently ceased this morning through the Hot Bird transponder.

The removal of the channels affect viewers in Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East but not Iran.

Update: Censors Complain when their Propaganda is Censored

19th October 2012. See  article from

Denouncing the hypocritical Western suppression of free speech, hypocritical Iranian media officials expressed 'outrage' over a decision by Europe's largest satellite providers to cease transmission of Iran's 19 state-operated satellite television and radio channels that broadcast to Europe and parts of the Middle East.

The decision came as the European Union expanded its list of sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program. The satellite blackout has deprived the Iranian channels of an audience abroad that represents 200 million households.

Without mentioning Iran's censorship of many Western media outlets, the official Iranian reaction was that Europe had attacked its own values of freedom of speech. Ezzatollah Zarghami, the head of Iran's state-run radio and television organization, said:

They must understand the time of censorship is over. They want to prevent our views from being heard, but they will fail.



Stately Censorship...

Greek state TV censored gay kiss from Downton Abbey

Link Here18th October 2012

  Greek state television cut out a gay kiss from the British drama Downton Abbey . The scene involved a kiss between a visiting duke and Downton's footman Thomas Barrow.

Viewers complained about the edit on social networking sites and the country's main opposition party called it an obvious case of censorship . In a statement, the Syriza party described the omission as:

an extreme act of homophobia and discrimination which... we cannot characterize as unprecedented.

The episode in question started late at night at 22:05 local time.

Costas Spyropoulos, managing director of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation squirmed about the censorship:

The love affair between the two men... was not censored ...[BUT]...

The kiss was not shown because of the time the programme was broadcast and the corresponding parental guidance warnings.

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