A Jewish student group has announced it was taking further legal action against Twitter over the supposed lack of response to a French court order to hand over data to help identify the authors of insulting tweets.
The association is claiming the
extortionate sum of 38.5 million euros ($50 million) in damages, according to the text of the summons for Twitter to appear before the civil court's criminal division.
Twitter said it was in discussions with the Jewish student group but that unfortunately they are more interested in these grand gestures than in finding an adequate international procedure to obtain the requested information.
It added that the French court had only notified it of the earlier ruling a few days ago and that they would appeal the January 24th decision.
Twitter has handed French authorities data which could identify the users behind a spate of tweets accused of being antisemitic after a long court battle begun by anti-racism campaigners.
In a rare move, Twitter announced that in response to a valid legal request it had provided the Paris prosecutor with data that may enable the identification of certain users that the vice-prosecutor believes have violated French law
. Twitter said this gesture put an end to the long legal dispute.
The classic children's book, The Little Witch by Otfried Preussler, is an enchanting tale of a witch who flies and birds who talk.
But it has caused a PC kerfuffle in Germany. It uses the German word 'neger', describing a black boy. It is true
that it can mean negro in German, but it also means nigger . When the book was written, the former may have been true - but now it is more like the latter.
A black father, Mekonnen Mesghena, originally from Eritrea, found the word
It made me very angry. I know that people use that word to insult me or to give me the sense of not belonging.
He decided on a one-man campaign and wrote to the publisher.
It sparked a national debate.
One television presenter with the public broadcaster ARD blacked up, minstrel-style on screen, in protest at changing the text of classics. Denis Scheck made what he called a plea against politically correct speech
exorcism . He warned of a cowardly obedience to political correctness.
The German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder weighed in, leaning towards Mekonnen Mesghena's complaint.
Die Welt likened those who would change offensive language
to the Taliban, thundering:
Anyone who believes art should be changed in retrospect because it contradicts the prevailing morality must have been pleased in 2001 when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
In the end, the publisher, Thienemann Verlag, announced that it would revise the book and review all its other works of children's fiction to remove offensive terms and plot lines.
In the midst of the row, the author of the
children's book at the centre of the storm died. Otfried Preussler was 89 and, by all accounts, a genial spirit whose charm translated easily into the books which, in their turn, have charmed millions of children, not just in Germany but around the world
with more than 50m copies sold in 50 different languages. Just before he died, he sanctioned the changes.
Later this year, new editions are to be released as a birthday celebration. They will be full of charm - and without offending anyone.
The religious organization Opus Dei has lost a lawsuit against a Danish game developer behind the card game Opus Dei: Existence After religion . Opus Dei failed in their demands for compensation from game developer Mark Rees-Andersen.
Dei claimed its name, which is Latin for God's Work was protected by trademark law, but the judges of the Maritime and Commercial Court found this was not the case, because the game was so different from the services that the organization offer.
However when it comes to religious education and organizing religious meetings, then Opus Dei are within its rights to run the claim term Opus Dei .
Language that would ban all online pornography throughout the EU has been dropped from a report approved by the European Parliament but other worrying aspects of the policy remain.
Christian Engstrom, MEP with Sweden's Pirate Party, explained
The European Parliament said no to turning Internet service providers into porn police, and they said no to setting up authorities to regulate media.
The controversial wording about a porn
ban was dropped following a show of hands but controversial proposals calling for the creation of regulators with the power to police the depiction of women in media were voted through.
MEPs voted for the establishment of independent regulation
bodies with the aim of controlling the media and advertising industry and a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls.
The report also still contains references to an earlier
resolution passed by the parliament in 1997 which calls for statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising.
Marina Yannakoudakis MEP, the Conservative spokesman on women's rights and in the European
Parliament, remained critical of proposals despite the dropping of the ban.
This would be a charter for ultra-feminist interference in the way countries choose to run their media systems
it would do women and women's rights more harm than good
The report Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU is nominally about improving rights for people across the gender spectrum. The Dutch gender extremist MEP for the
Socialist Party, Kartika Tamara Liotard, tabled the report in the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) late last year.
Although the resolution accepted by the European Parliament is not legally binding, it
can be used as a basis to form legislation.
The European Parliament will vote next Tuesday on a report that could lead to a blanket ban on pornography in any forms of media, not limited to advertising, television and radio, but also the Web.
Titled Eliminating gender stereotypes in the
EU , the report is nominally about improving rights for people across the gender spectrum. The report states that there is an increasingly noticeable tendency... to show provocatively dressed women, in sexual poses it also notes that
pornography is becoming mainstream and is slipping into our everyday lives as an evermore universally accepted, often idealised, cultural element.
Christian Engstro m, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Pirate Party,
said on his blog that the devil is in the detail. He warned that the wording in older resolution from 1997 could lead to statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media.
A Dutch PC extremist for the Socialist Party, Kartika
Tamara Liotard, tabled the report in the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) late last year. In one section of the new report, Liotard calls on the European Union to enforce a blanket ban on pornography in the
media of the the 27 member states, which could also include online pornography. The report makes several calls on the EU:
Calls on the EU and its Member States to take concrete action on its resolution of 16 September
1997 on discrimination against women in advertising, which called for a ban on all forms of pornography in the media and on the advertising of sex tourism.
Points out that a policy to eliminate stereotypes in the media will of
necessity involve action in the digital field; considers that this requires the launching of initiatives coordinated at EU level with a view to developing a genuine culture of equality on the internet; calls on the Commission to draw up in partnership
with the parties concerned a charter to which all internet operators will be invited to adhere;
Calls on the Member States to establish independent regulation bodies with the aim of controlling the media and advertising industry
and a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls;
This initiative report, which will be voted on is not a draft legislative measure, though it is a report to suggest that
legislation should be in the future drafted and voted on.
MEPs to vote on EU ban on all forms of pornography MEPs will next week vote on a ban on all forms of pornography including censorship of the internet in a bid to eliminate gender stereotypes
that demean women.
EU politicians have voted against a pan-European ban on all forms of porn, including on the web, at least for now.
European citizens can breathe a sigh of relief after a vote in the European Parliament has rejected proposals to ban all forms of
pornography -- including on the Web -- in the region.
The European Parliament voted in favor of the report, but rejected the porn ban section.
Today, 625 members of the European Parliament voted 368-159 in favor of passing the
report, which aims to stamp out gender stereotypes in the region, with 98 abstaining. However, the controversial porn ban section of the proposal was rejected.
This vote forms a majority opinion based on Europe's voting politicians, from
which the European Commission can form legislation. Such a law would again be voted upon, and become legally binding in the 27 member state bloc of the EU.
Because the opinion of the parliament has now been made, it will make it extraordinarily
difficult for the Commission to draw up similar porn-blocking legislation only to pass it back to the parliament for another vote.
Next week the European parliament will be voting on a resolution to ban all forms of pornography in media . After this information became known to a wider audience, many citizens have decided to contact members of the
European parliament to express their views on this issue.
This is absolutely excellent. Citizens engaging actively in the democratic process is a very positive thing, at least in my opinion. Before noon, some 350
emails had arrived in my office.
But around noon, these mails suddenly stopped arriving. When we started investigating why this happened so suddenly, we soon found out:
department of the European Parliament is blocking the delivery of the emails on this issue, after some members of the parliament complained about getting emails from citizens.
This is an absolute disgrace, in my
opinion. A parliament that views input from citizens on a current issue as spam, has very little democratic legitimacy in my opinion.
I will be writing a letter to the President of the European Parliament to complain
about this totally undemocratic practice.
In the meantime, please continue to email members of the parliament on both the issue of the porn ban and on any other issue that you feel that you want to bring to the
attention your elected representatives. Citizens taking active part in the political process is a fantastic asset for a democratic system, not a spam problem.
I am very disappointed that some of my colleagues in this
house evidently have a different opinion.
In a test case that could have significant implications for Google throughout Europe the company faced off against the Spanish data protection authority in the European Court of Justice.
From the Spanish government's point of view its data
protection authority is pushing for the recently articulated right (of individuals) to be forgotten by having content or data about them removed from the search index upon request. From Google's perspective, if the court agrees with Spain, the
outcome would be tantamount to granting individuals the right to censor Google.
The Spanish citizen, Mario Costeja, filed a complaint with the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) against Google and the newspaper La Vanguardia after discovering
that a Google search for his name produced results referring to the auction of real estate property seized from him for non-payment of social security contributions.
The AEPD rejected Costeja's complaint against the newspaper on the grounds that
the publication of the information was legal and was protected by the right to information but, with extraordinary inconsistency, upheld his complaint his complaint against Google, ordering the search engine to eliminate about 100 links from all
future searches for Costeja's name.
Google refused to accept the ruling and filed an appeal which has now reached court.
In February 2012, Twitter introduced a policy that enables individual tweets and accounts to be blocked on a country-by-country basis. If a government submits a court order to Twitter, asking for a tweet or account to be blocked, Twitter will comply. But
the blocking will only occur in the country in question , to users throughout the rest of the world, the affected content will look no different.
This past October, Twitter enacted this policy for the first time to block tweets from the account of
the German extreme right-wing group, Besseres Hannover. The German government has formally banned and seized the assets of the group, and some of its members have been charged with inciting racial hatred and creating a criminal organization.
group announced that it would challenge the blocking in court, but as things stand, Twitter's move to block the group's tweets was in accordance with local German law.
Twitter's general counsel, Alex MacGillivray, announced the issue on Twitter
and linked to a copy of the request from German police to block the @hannoverticker account in Germany.
Iceland's minister of interior, Ögmundur Jónasson, is backing a full online pornography ban for Iceland, which would be supported by an 'anti-shield' preventing internet users from accessing certain sites.
assistant, Halla Gunnarsdóttir, is even more misguided. She claimed in an interview that if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet. It is obvious that she is unaware how the internet works; "walls"
around it won't work unless you want to create your own internet, very much like they are doing in Iran.
Thankfully, the possibility that this bill will pass through the parliament is near zero. The parliamentary committee tasked
with discussing the censorship proposal, which I am part of, is looking into alternative ways to help parents to protect their children from online porn, mainly through free porn-filter software and educational means -- as suggested by a recent report
produced by Unicef in Iceland.
Introducing censorship without compromising freedom of expression and speech is like trying to mix oil and water: it is impossible. I know my fellow MPs can often turn strange and dangerous laws into
reality, but this won't be one of them.
Hildur Fjo'la Antonsdo'ttir, a 'gender specialist' at Iceland University, said:
This initiative is about narrowing the definition of porn so it does not include all sexually explicit material but rather
material that can be described as portraying sexual activity in a violent or hateful way.
Update: The clearest description yet of Iceland's proposed censorship of internet porn
Halla Gunnarsdóttir is political adviser to the minister of the interior in Iceland. She is a former journalist and has an MA in international relations. She writes:
Pornography can reach children in
different ways, but it is evident that the probability of a child becoming an adult without seeing porn is close to zero. This is a matter of concern since mainstream internet porn is becoming increasingly violent and brutal. It does not simply consist
of images of naked bodies, or of people having sex but of hardcore violence framed within the context of sex. Young women are usually referred to as sluts, whores, bitches etc, and represented as submissive. Men, meanwhile, often act in a dominant,
degrading and violent way towards them. A fairly typical example could include a mouth-penetration, performed to produce choking, crying or even vomiting. The violent misogyny produced by the porn industry has become our children's main resource for
learning what sex is about, which is a cause of serious concern.
In response to the above-mentioned expert concerns, three ministries -- the ministry of the interior, the ministry of education, science and culture and the ministry
of welfare -- called upon a wide range of professionals to discuss and analyse the societal effects of violent pornography and to contribute to the development of a comprehensive, holistic policy. Proposals emerging from this process are now being
implemented under the auspices of the three ministries. These include increased emphasis on violence prevention, revision of sex education and the forming of a comprehensive policy on sexual health. The proposals on legal amendments -- now under
consideration at the ministry of the interior -- are, however, the ones that have received the most attention.
Firstly, a bill is being prepared with the aim of narrowing the legal definition of pornography -- the distribution of which is already illegal -- to encompass only violent and degrading sexual material. The goal is to make the
important distinction between sex, on the one hand, and violence, on the other. This approach is based on the Norwegian penal code.
Secondly, a committee, headed by the ministry, is now exploring how the law can be
implemented. The key question pertains to the possibility of placing restrictions on online distribution of violent and degrading pornography in Iceland. Under discussion are both technical solutions and legal and procedural measures.
A judge in France has rejected a lawsuit filed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn which sought to stop the publication of a book written by a former lover.
Belle et B ę te (Beauty And Beast) outlines Marcela Iacub's
fictionalised account of her affair with the former IMF chief. Iacub does not name Strauss-Kahn in her book, but has publicly stated that he is the protagonist, whom she describes as half man, half pig .
Although it can now be published,
the book will have to include an insert, and Iacub and her publisher must pay 50,000 euros ( Ł 43,100) in damages.
Strauss-Kahn had complained that he was horrified by the book. He told the judge that the
book was a violation of the intimacy of private life .
His lawyers demanded that the book be banned or, failing that, an insert be added to each of the 40,000 copies of the first print-run, which had been due to go on sale on Wednesday.
They did not provide details on what they wanted the insert to say.
A gunman has tried to shoot a Danish writer and prominent critic of Islam, but Lars Hedegaard managed to fend off his assailant and was not injured in the attack.
Police said Lars Hedegaard, who heads two groups that claim press freedom is
under threat from Islam, was the target of the shooting. A roughly 25-year-old presumably muslim gunman rang the doorbell at the writer's Copenhagen home and when he opened the door, the gunman fired a shot aimed at his head, but missed.
heads both the Free Press Society and the International Free Press Society. He was fined 5,000 kroner ( Ł 570) in 2011 for over-generalising about honour killing in the muslim community.
minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, condemned the attack. It is even worse if the attack is rooted in an attempt to prevent Lars Hedegaard using his freedom of expression, she told the Danish news agency Ritzau.
Finnish Minister for Justice, Anna-Maja Henriksson, is backing extending Finland's current pornography censorship to move beyond child pornography.
Under current Finnish law, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) maintains a blocklist of
foreign sourced child pornography websites, as it cannot take direct action against them. Specifically, the Minister eyes expanding the list to involve websites that include pornographic material showing animals, and violent porn.
does not have unanimous support even within the Finnish government, however. Finland's Interior Minister, Paivi Rasanen, doubts the need to expand pornographic censorship at all. Indeed, even Finland's own child pornography blocklist has, in the past,
included websites that had nothing to do with such vile content.
To most people, animal porn also would be distasteful, if not downright sick, but does the spread of those kinds of videos or images demand the same special censorship enforcement
afforded to child pornography?
Where the proposal would raise most questions however, is the inclusion of violent pornography. Who decides what violent pornography is?
A French court has ordered Twitter to hand over the identities of users posting to allegedly anti-semetic Twitter hashtags or threads.
In a test case which will have widespread implications for the millions who tweet every day, the Tribunal de
Grande Instance ruled it unacceptable for people to post hateful material anonymously.
This was despite lawyers for the hugely popular micro-blogging site refusing to assist detectives.
Jewish students brought the case, claiming Twitter had
a moral duty to name and shame hateful posters. In October, the student bodies asked Twitter to remove a number of messages which appeared under the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew), with examples including: #agoodjew is a dead Jew. The hashtag
became the third most popular in France, with thousands attacking the religion.
Alexandre Neri, Twitter's French barrister, had told the court that Twitter data is collected and stored in the United States , namely in San Francisco, where
the site is based. Ms Neri said that Twitter was accordingly subject to US law , adding: Should I submit myself to the law of a different country to where I work? I don't know. Ms Neri suggested that only an American judge could decide
whether a US company should hand over data to the French authorities.
Ţröstur Jónasson at the Association of Digital Freedom in Iceland has branded Minister of Interior Ögmundur Jónasson's proposal to block the distribution of online pornography unfeasible.
The minister has set up a working group to look into
how the police could block pornographic content.
According to Ţröstur, ensuring that internet services block pornography would require that all content goes through a filter. Ţröstur argues that this means that ultimately someone will have the
role of deciding what is ok and what is not..
Ögmundur has claimed that restricting access to pornography online is somehow not censorship, and has said that the issue must be discussed:
If we cannot discuss a
ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime, then that is not good.
A current law banning the import, publication and distribution
of pornography in Iceland was written before the advent of online pornography.
Update: A few more details about the proposed censorship
Minister for censorship Ogmundur Jonasson has set up working parties to find ways to block online images and videos being accessed by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones.
Methods under consideration include blocking porn
IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access x-rated sites.
Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to the Interior Minister, said the agreement among education experts, law enforcers and other bodies that action must
be taken means she is optimistic the proposals will become law, despite a general election in April. She says: 'There is a strong consensus building in Iceland.
A high level EU panel, that includes Latvia's former president and a former German justice minister, was ordered by Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president, last year to report on media freedom and pluralism . It has concluded that
it is time to introduce new rules to censor the press. The report concluded:
All EU countries should have independent media councils,
Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as
the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.
The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that
they comply with European values.
As well as setting up state regulators with draconian powers, the panel also recommended that the European Commission be placed in overall control in order to ensure that the new press censors do not
breach EU laws.
Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the report for making:
An extraordinary, and deeply disturbing proposal.
Having EU officials overseeing our
free press - and monitoring newspapers to ensure they comply with European values - would be quite simply intolerable.
This is the sort of mind-set that I would expect to find in Iran, not the West.
After the anti-Semitic hashtag UnBonJuif (a good Jew) made its way into the trending topics of Twitter in France last October, the Association of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) began legal action against the site.
The UEJF also called for
Twitter to implement a censorship system for users to report illegal content or hate speech. So far, this has been to no avail, as the US-headquartered Twitter is claiming to be bound only by US rather than local laws, which would permit such hashtags
under the First Amendment.
Speaking on French TV show Medias, le magazine last week, France's minister for the digital economy Fleur Pellerin acknowledged that multinational companies like Twitter, being somehow deterritorialised ,
raise new challenges . Pellerin added she would like to talk directly with Twitter in order to work out a more co-operative approach to censorship. She said she would in particular like to see Twitter filtering its trending topics list.
the meantime, the case is still with the Paris courts and the next court date will be 24 January, when a judge will rule on the case.
While adult Australian gamers get to enjoy the latest Ninja Gaiden game thanks to the country's new R18+ rating, it seems that German gamers won't be so lucky.
The German language site Nintendo-Online seems to be saying that the German game
censors of the USK have banned Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge for the Wii U.
Update: Maybe not officially banned
13th January 2013. Thanks to Sadi
The German Nintendo site mentions that the USK possibly
refused classification, but it is not very clear on that. The news is written inconclusively, leaving open the more likely possibility that the distributors didn't actually submit the game to the USK.
Note that the USK can't ban anything, only a
judge can. So it seems more likely that Ninja Gaiden Wii U game was not banned in Germany, it is just not being distributed. Presumably the distributors think that the a ban would be inevitable anyway, and it wouldn't be worth the effort trying.
Athlone Town Council has decided to ask the board of
the new municipal art gallery to consider concerns and objections to a current exhibition.
Fine Gael Councillor Mark Cooney had proposed a motion to formally request the Luan Gallery to take down the work of artist Shane Cullen. However, a
counter-proposal was passed after several councillors expressed their concern over the censorship implications of such a move. Tt was agreed instead that the board of the gallery be asked to consider concerns and objections.
A large ISP in France which reconfigured the broadband routers of its subscribers to automatically block Google's Adwords/Adsense adverts has had to abandon its plans after getting into trouble with the French Government.
The ISP Free's motivation
for the blocking appears to have been an attempt to protest against the principle of net neutrality, whereby ISPs have little say in how traffic is routed through its networks. The company feels that it is being constrained in its ability to generate
revenue whilst companies such Google rake in profits from consumers. Controversially, their answer is to seek to control, or block, such services until such time as they can get a cut. Free has already reportedly complained about the dominance of
Google's Adwords system.
However the move angered advertising and media groups whose business model depends on ad distribution, prompting them to enlist the help of the French Government to get the blocking reversed.
In a news conference
reported by the New York Times, the Government made plain that such blocking was unacceptable and ordered Free to restore access to ad content. Digital economy minister, Fleur Pellerin said in a staement:
service provider cannot unilaterally implement such blocking. This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet, to which I am very attached.
Free said it would end the blocking of ads immediately.
A series of insulting hashtags on Twittersseems to have prompted France's minister for political correctness into calling for the censorship of Twitter.
#SiMonFilsEstGay ( If my son is gay ) trended on Twitter for days in France recently.
Before that, #unjuifmort ( a dead Jew ), #unbonjuif ( a good Jew ) and #SiMaFilleRame'neUnNoir ( If my daughter brings home a Black ) have come to the attention of the authorities.
Now Najat Belkacem-Vallaud, Minister of
Women's Rights, said that Twitter must begin to censor hate speech. She argued that this sort of speech is illegal according to national law in the French newspaper Le Monde:
At a moment when the government is
implementing an action plan against violence and discrimination committed for reasons of sexual orientation or gender identity, I want, without prejudice to any legal action, to call upon Twitter's sense of responsibility, so that it can contribute to
the prevention and the avoidance of misbehavior like this.
I want us to be able to work together, along with the most important associated agencies, to put in place alerts and security measures that will ensure that the
unfortunate events that we have witnessed in recent weeks will not occur again.
Belkacem-Vallaud adds that freedom of expression cannot be used with impunity, because homophobia and racism can quickly lead to violence. Children who
are homosexual are put at risk when such discussions are spread without moderation on the Internet.
Jason Farago in the Guardian explains how the French minister is going beyond mere prosecution for those who post such tweets and now wants
Twitter to take steps to help prosecute hate speech by reform[ing] the whole system by which Twitter operates , including her demand that the company put in place alerts and security measures to prevent tweets which French officials