A UN report titled, Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls has been published by members of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender with editorial inputs by teams from UN Women, UNDP and ITU.
It is very manipulative report, starting by discussing internationally reprehensible online behaviour such as making death threats. It then defines these as 'cyber violence' and establishes that such behaviour should not be allowed on the internet,
presumably assuming concurrence by readers.
Then it pulls a fast one by defining a long list of other things as a 'a form of cyber violence', many of which are nothing to do with violence, but are just a wish list of things that feminists do not like. This list includes the adult consensual sex
trade and inevitably, your bog standard porn. The authors claim:
Research reveals that 88.2% of top rated porn scenes contain aggressive acts and 94% of the time the act is directed towards a woman
Hence porn should be banned as 'cyber violence against women'.
The European Union has launched an antitrust investigation against several large U.S. movie studios and Sky UK. The European Commission wants to abolish
geographical restrictions and has sent a statement of objections over the geo-blocking practices of six major US film studios including Disney, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros.
Due to licensing agreements designed to encourage lucrative monopolies, many movies and TV-series are only available online in a few selected countries, often for a limited period. The movie studios often restrict broadcasters and streaming
services to make content widely available, a practice which the European Commission wants to stop.
Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy said:
European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU. Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and
Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky's UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online.
The geo-blocking practices are a thorn in the side of the European Commission who now hope to abolish these restrictions altogether. Under European rules consumers should be able to access the services of Sky and other service providers regardless
of where they are located. At the moment, most online services block access to content based on the country people are located, something Sky and the movie studios also agreed on.
The Commission plans to end unjustified geo-blocking, which it describes as a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.
Sky UK and the six major studios will now have to respond to the concerns.
The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in all major international human rights instruments, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The exercise of this right and the activity of journalism, whether by professional or
non-professional journalists, however, sometimes leads to prosecution, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, or worse. How can journalists be protected in the face of such dangers? The answer lies in the law. Journalists operate within an
international legal framework which protects their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of information, meaning that governments can be held to account. The right to freedom of expression can be limited, however, and so this Handbook also
looks at how freedom of expression can be restricted in specific circumstances and how it is balanced with other rights, such as the right to privacy.
The Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers is unique in its kind as it focuses specifically on the application of international legal principles to the work of journalists. It includes decisions and recommendations made by international and
regional bodies and courts in relation to various aspects of freedom of speech, including: international sources of law giving rise to freedom of expression and freedom of information principles; defamation; the right to privacy; protection of
public order and morality; and national security and state secrets.
Freedom of expression is more in danger today than in 2008 because of the right to be forgotten , the United Nation's former free expression
rapporteur Frank La Rue told an internet conference. At the event La Rue told Index on Censorship:
The emphasis on the 'right to be forgotten' in a way is a reduction of freedom of expression, which I think is a mistake. People get excited because they can correct the record on many things but the trend is towards limiting people's access to
information which I think is a bad trend in general.
La Rue, who was the UN's rapporteur between 2008 and 2014, addressed lawyers, academics and researchers at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, in particular covering the May 2014 right to be forgotten ruling from the Court of
Justice of the European Union, and its impact on free speech. On the ruling, La Rue said:
I would want to know the past. It is very relevant information. Everyone should be on the record and we have to question who is making these decisions anyway?
The state is accountable to the people of a nation so should be accountable here. Not private companies and especially not those with commercial interests.
Google has 15 days to comply with a demand from France's internet censor to extend the right to be forgotten to all its search engines.
Google has responded to European censorship under the right to be forgotten by only removing the required information for the copy of the search engine specific to the censoring country. And in particular leaves the links live in the global
French censor CNIL said Google could face sanctions if it did not comply within the time limit.
In response, Google said in a statement:
We've been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court's ruling, co-operating closely with data protection authorities.
The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that's the approach we are taking in complying with it.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has published an advance version of a report entitled, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection
of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye
The report underlines the importance of encryption and anonymity in the digital age and calls on member states to protect their use under law.
David Kaye, a UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, seeks to shine light on complex issues by asking two questions:
Do the rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression protect secure online communication, specifically by encryption or anonymity?
Assuming an affirmative answer, to what extent may Governments, in accordance with human rights law, impose restrictions on encryption and anonymity?
Acknowledging that some states impose draconian measures to restrict citizens' abilities to send and impart knowledge without fear, Kaye says that journalists and activists often need specialist tools to make their voices heard.
A VPN connection, or use of Tor or a proxy server, combined with encryption, may be the only way in which an individual is able to access or share information in such environments.
Noting that individuals should be able to send and receive information beyond their borders, the rapporteur states that some member states act to deny those freedoms by restricting communications using aggressive filtering:
Encryption enables an individual to avoid such filtering, allowing information to flow across borders. Moreover, individuals do not control -- and are usually unaware of -- how or if their communications cross borders. Encryption and anonymity may
protect information of all individuals as it transits through servers located in third countries that filter content.
Anonymity has been recognized for the important role it plays in safeguarding and advancing privacy, free expression, political accountability, public participation and debate.
Some States exert significant pressure against anonymity, offline and online. Yet because anonymity facilitates opinion and expression in significant ways online, States should protect it and generally not restrict the technologies that provide it.
Kaye notes that several states have attempted to combat anonymity tools such as TOR, VPNs and proxies, with Russia even offering significant cash bounties for techniques which would enable it to unmask TOR users. However, due to their human rights value,
use of such tools should actually be encouraged.
Because such tools may be the only mechanisms for individuals to exercise freedom of opinion and expression securely, access to them should be protected and promoted.
States should revise or establish, as appropriate, national laws and regulations to promote and protect the rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression.
In respect of encryption and anonymity, Kaye says that member states should adopt policies of non-restriction or comprehensive protection , and only introduce restrictions on a proportional, court-order supported, case-by-case basis.
Adding that states and companies alike should actively promote strong encryption and anonymity, Kaye says that measures that weaken individual's online security, such as backdoors, weak encryption standards and key escrows, should be avoided.
Finally, Kaye advises member states to not only encourage the use of encryption, but also make it the norm.
Jordan has introduced an emergency item to the next meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, calling
for a ban on insulting religion or religious symbols. The draft resolution says insults to religion represent a danger to all humanity.
The Speaker of Jordan's House of Representatives has written to the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to introduce an emergency item titled respect for religions and religious symbols, respect for freedom of opinion and
expression. Although the title feigns acknowledgment freedom of opinion and expression, the resolution does nothing of the kind.
The IPU is the international organization of parliaments and describes itself as
The focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.
The draft resolution claims that insulting religion feeds religious extremism and fanaticism, terrorism and violence and says that a way to remedy the problem is to promote mutual respect among believers . The memorandum claims:
Insults to religions and religious symbols are uncivilized actions that have very serious consequences on all humanity, as they prevent the meeting of minds and dialogue and feed religious extremism and fanaticism, terrorism and violence.
The followers of Islam acknowledge the existence of other religions. Islam also gives the followers of those religions the right to exercise their religious practices freely within Islamic States, and regards non-Muslims as citizens and an integral
thread in the fabric of the nation.
Freedom of opinion and expression should not be used as a pretext for insulting others' lives, reputations, religions, holy shrines or practices. In today's world, the term 'religious symbols' refers to prophets, places of worship and holy books. As a
gesture of commitment, the religion of Islam obliges all its followers to believe in and respect all prophets, and to believe in holy books.
The Speaker has also called for an international convention to prevent disrespect for religions and religious symbols.
Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said the resolution was the latest in a long line of attempts to impose a global blasphemy law and called for it to be fiercely resisted .
Free speech campaign organisation Article 19 have denounced the proposal and warned that it would legitimise criminal prohibitions on religious insult or so-called 'defamation of religions' and warned that the introduction of prohibitions on
insulting religion must be resisted in other international forums, after campaign groups saw recent success in seeing off attempts to introduce de facto blasphemy bans at the UN.
In an original initiative designed to circumvent website blocking by governments that violate human rights, Reporters Without Borders is using the technique known as mirroring to duplicate the censored sites and place the copies on the servers of
Internet giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google. In these 11 countries that are "Enemies of the Internet," blocking the servers of these Internet giants in order to make the mirror sites inaccessible would deprive thousands of companies of
essential services. The economic and political cost would be too high. Our nine sites are therefore protected against censorship.
Reporters Without Borders is renting bandwidth for this operation that will gradually be used up as more and more people visit the mirror sites. We are therefore asking Internet users to help pay for additional bandwidth so that the mirror sites will be
available for as long as possible.
The nine mirror sites created by Reporters Without Borders
To help make freely-reported news and information available in these countries, all Internet users are invited to join in this operation by posting this list on social networks with the
Fifty Shades of Grey continues to wind up film censors.
UAE's film censors of the National Media Council have required 35 minutes of cuts due to inappropriate scenes, forcing distributor Four Star Films to pull the film. The council's director of media content Juma Al Leem told the paper.
We reviewed the movie in the presence of the distributor and after he realized how many inappropriate scenes there were, he took the decision not to show the movie himself, before we were able to make a decision.
Russia: Not shown in the Caucases
Meanwhile Russian news agency TASS reported that the erotic drama, which opened elsewhere in Russia on Feb. 12 with an 18+ age restriction, has been pulled out by cinemas in the republics of Ossetia, Ingushetia and Chechnya. Ossetian mufti Khadzhimurat
Gatsalov was quoted as saying:
The initiative to send an address to the region's authorities, requesting that the film be banned, came from young people who are concerned about noticeable interest in the movie from those who are in the early twenties,
TASS also quoted Madina Ayubova, a spokesperson for Kinostar, a theater in Chechnya's capital Grozny, as saying that film won't be exhibited in Chechnya:
Because a lot of what is shown in [the film] contradicts the mentality and religion of the majority of the republic's population.
According to Gatsalov, the film is not going to be exhibited in any of the four remaining North Caucasus republics either.
MTRCB, The Philippines censorship group's Chairman Eugenio Toto Villareal told the Inquirer that the board approved the film with no further cuts, but that the producer/distributor (Columbia Pictures) had made pre-cuts prior to review.
As part of the measures, a 10-second notice is flashed onscreen before each screening, disclosing that the film was classified as is and in its entirety with noticeable blurs and screen blocks introduced by the film producer. The notice also
informs the public about the adult content.
Update: Banned in Papua New Guinea and heavily cut in Zimbabwe
The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include
media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
Top of the list, as so often, are three Scandinavian countries: Finland, which has been in first place for five years in succession, followed by Norway and Denmark. At the other end of the scale, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, in last place, were
the worst performers. The UK is ranked 34th (down one place), the United States 49th (down three places), Japan 61st (down two places), Brazil 99 (up 12 places), Russia 152 (down four places), Iran 173rd (unchanged) and China 176th (down one place).
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide deterioration in freedom of information in 2014. Beset by wars, the growing threat from non-state operatives, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, media freedom is in retreat
on all five continents.
The indicators compiled by Reporters Without Borders are incontestable. There was a drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. Two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed for the 2015 World Press Freedom Index performed less well than in the
previous year. The annual global indicator, which measures the overall level of violations of freedom of information in 180 countries year by year, has risen to 3,719, an 8 percent increase over 2014 and almost 10 percent compared with 2013. The decline
affected all continents.
At least five people died when rioters burned churches and cars and attacked French-linked businesses across Niger on Saturday, in violent protests against the publication of a cartoon of Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine.
President Mahamadou Issoufou said all five of the dead were civilians, with four of them killed inside burned churches or bars.
Ten people have died in two days of violence across the west African nation. Five died and 45 were injured in clashes on Friday in Niger's second largest city, Zinder, where a French cultural centre and cafe were also hit.
Numerous French media websites have been momentarily taken down by hackers.
The sites of Le Parisien, Marianne and 20 Minutes were among those affected, although most were soon restored. The French government said some 20,000 sites had been targeted.
On Thursday, the head of cyber security for the French military, Vice Admiral Arnaud Coustilliere, said that structured groups and well known Islamist hackers were behind the attacks against the 20,000 sites, but did not elaborate.
Russian Muslims rally against depiction's of Mohammad. Authorities say some 15 to 20 thousand people gathered at the rally in the city of Mahgas in the North Caucasus. The rally concluded peacefully but nevertheless it was still an implcit show of
support for murderers.
About 800 muslims rallied in Sydney to protest against the justifiably negative media coverage of Islam and French satirical magazine Charlie
Hebdo's depictions of Mohammed.
Police said 14 people were told to move on from the rally for breaching the peace. But no one was charged and the event was calm with a huge group of demonstrators praying on the street.
Some of the 800-strong demonstrators in the Lakemba suburb -- which has a large population of Lebanese Australians -- held up placards with the slogan Je suis Muslim. Other protesters held up signs saying insult to one prophet is an
insult to all prophets.
Earlier Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, had told the protestors to lighten up . Abbott said on radio that he hoped there would be only a few protesters:
Frankly I don't think any of us really want to be in the business of insulting anyone, but on the other hand we all believe in free speech, and I have to say some people are a bit thin-skinned about free speech.
I just hope the organisers of this protest lighten up a bit, and accept that in our robust democracy, a lot of people say a lot of things, and sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong, and we just have to accept the rough and the smooth
Update: Palestine and Senegal
25th January 2015.
'Thousands' of Palestinians rallied in the occupied West Bankto protest against the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammad. Simultaneous demonstrations were held in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron.
Around 1,500 people including the prime minister marchedin Senegal against caricatures of Mohammed. Premier Mohammed Dionne was joined at the demonstration in Dakar by cabinet colleagues, civil society activists, lawmakers, religious leaders and
hundreds of members of the public. I'm not Charlie -- I am a Muslim , Freedom of expression is not the freedom to insult , Do not touch my prophet read placards brandished by demonstrators.
Tens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets in Pakistan in anger at the Mohammed cartoons published by French satirical magazine Charlie
The largest rally was held in Karachi, where 25,000 people shouted slogans including death to France , death to the blasphemers and (We are) ready to sacrifice life for Prophet Mohammed .
Speaking at the Karachi protest, the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's main Islamic Party, demanded Pakistan call a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of Muslim countries. He urged the United Nations to curb the
menace of blasphemy through changes to international law.
The offices of a Belgian newspaper that republished cartoons from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were evacuated on
Sunday after receiving an anonymous bomb threat.
The evacuation of Le Soir, a French-language daily, came as thousands of people marched through Brussels in solidarity with France following Islamist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and other sites.
Meanwhile in Ireland , a Muslim lecturer has said that he would consider legal advice if a member of the Irish media retweets or publishes a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed from Charlie Hebdo, The Journal.ie reported.
Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland was asked by Niall Boylan on the 4FM radio programme if he retweeted the cartoon would his life be in danger? Selim replied: Not your life would be in danger but definitely we will check the
Irish law and if there is any legal channel against you, we will take it.
The front cover of Wednesday's edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the first since
last week's attack on its offices that left 12 people dead, is a cartoon of Muhammad.
The cover shows the prophet shedding a tear and holding up a sign reading Je suis Charlie in sympathy with the dead journalists. The headline says All is forgiven . A record 3m copies are to be printed, in 16 languages.
The cover cartoon was drawn by the weekly's cartoonist Luz, who survived the massacre because he was late arriving at the office.
Newspapers around Europe, including Liberation, Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine have used the image online. The BBC showed it briefly during a newspaper review on Newsnight. In the US, the Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, Wall Street
Journal. The Guardian is running this cover as its news value warrants publication.
Tens of thousands took to the streets in Europe to show their solidarity with those killed by gunmen at the offices of
satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo.
The scenes were replicated across France, in London and around the world with crowds holding placards bearing the slogan Je Suis Charlie. Others were seen carrying enlarged versions of the some of the newspaper's anti-Islamist cartoons.
Meanwhile the website of French newspaper Le Monde last night showed an interactive map of vigils being held across the world in Dublin, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and as far afield as Tunis, Lima, Rio de
Janeiro and Madagascar.
In London, hundreds of people filled Trafalgar Square at a silent vigil for those killed when masked gunmen stormed the newspaper's headquarters. Many held pens, pencils and notebooks in the air to show their support for the journalists,
cartoonists and police officers who lost their lives.
The Heart is in defying censorship, but the mind says otherwise
Whilst there is a spirit of defying censorship, practicality, and fear of being killed, has rather dictated that self censorship has increased across the world.
Following a deadly terror attack Wednesday morning on the offices of Charlie Hebdo , a satirical French newspaper known for lampooning religion with caricature-based cartoons, many outlets have censored their coverage of the publication's
depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
And a bizarre response from Associated Press, the agency censored images of Christ over some politically correction notion of fairness after censoring images of Mohammed. An
at Gawker.com explains:
Politico's Dylan Byers reports that the Associated Press removed an image of Andres Serrano's 1987 photo Piss Christ from its photo library in the wake of today's deadly attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Removing images of the artwork seems preposterous. I searched AP's library for Piss Christ before this post went up found at least one photo of Serrano posing in front of his most well-known work , which depicts a crucifix submerged in the
artist's own urine. But a few minutes later, it was gone. What gives?
In fact the AP pulled the photos after the conservative Washington Examiner noted that it pixelated Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting Mohammad but left images of Piss Christ intact.
Nick Cohen writing in the Spectator
suggests that defiance will probably be short lived, and it won't be long before free speech gets re-relegated back to its proper place below the right to not be 'offended'.
Tonight everyone is defiant. I am just back from a Je suis Charlie vigil in Trafalgar Square, and the solidarity was good to see. I fear it won't last. I may be wrong. Perhaps tomorrow's papers and news programmes will prove their
commitment to freedom by republishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
But I doubt they will even have the courage to admit that they are too scared to show them. Instead we will have insidious articles, which condemn freedom of speech as a provocation and make weasel excuses for murder without having the guts to
The Financial Times was first out of the blocks:
Charlie Hebdo is a bastion of the French tradition of hard-hitting satire. It has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling Muslims.
The writer forgot to add that Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling everyone. It is a satirical magazine in a free country: that is what it does.