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8th December

  Don't censor Eccencia!...

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Campaigners petition council not to censor remarkable street mural in Toronto
Link Here
essencia  mural video A remarkable 300m street mural by the international group Essencia Arts Collective is under threat of council censorship in Toronto.

More than 600 people have signed a petition amid rumours a Toronto mural some have deemed scary could be a target for censorship.

In fact the artwork was approved by the City of Toronto's StreetARToronto program, and completed last month. But shortly after the mural was unveiled, the Essentia group was told that Councillor Grank Di Giorio had received calls complaining that the painting was scary.

The petition was created on change.org  by Paul Salvatori for those who believe the piece should not be censored by the City. It reads:

We the undersigned believe that forcing Essencia to change the mural, in whole or part, will at once compromise both the beauty and message of the artwork as a whole.

We petition that the City of Toronto, for this reason, leave the mural untouched and allowed to remain in its current and complete form.

The mural, in addition to its aesthetically remarkable character, is a challenging but important statement about the dangers of environmental degradation and a reminder of the natural splendour we stand to lose if the earth is left unprotected.

The mural features several brightly-coloured animals, including a tiger, elephant, owl and bear, as well as landscapes ranging from bricked pyramids to choppy waves. It also depicts polar bears walking past icy blue glaciers, flamingos passing elephants in a desert, and a man fishing in a swirling ocean. More ominous portions show vultures flying over oil rigs, a person in a gas mask and an apparently post-apocalyptic Toronto skyline.

 

14th November

  Gambling on Censorship...

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Quebec looks to block gambling websites that compete with its own
Link Here
Quebec flag Quebec is moving ahead with a plan to order ISPs to block unlicensed gambling websites, an initiative that some say sets a dangerous precedent for censorship of the Web.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao tabled censorship legislation to implement the blocking in the province's Consumer Protection Act that direct Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a list of unauthorized gambling sites to be drawn up by Loto-Quebec. Failure to comply could lead to a fine of up to $100,000 and twice that for subsequent offences.

The move is intended to maintain a monopoly for the government's own website, Espacejeux which expects to benefit from the censorship to the tune of an additional $13.5-million in 2016-17 and $27-million a year after that.

But critics say the scheme amounts to censorship, that it is technically unworkable and that the province does not have the authority to regulate the Internet in this fashion. Timothy Denton, chairman of the Canadian chapter of the Internet Society, a group that advocates keeping the Internet open and free said:

It is censorship. It's blocking access to otherwise legally available sites in the interests of enhancing one's gambling monopoly. A lot of countries try to do it, but we don't call them liberal democracies.

 

30th October

 Update: Argentina gets nasty...

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Still smarting from Top Gear joke
Link Here  full story: Top Gear...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers
Top Gear Patagonia Special DVD Last April an Argentinain judge had put a stop tp attempts to have the former BBC presenter< Jeremy Clarkson charged with falsification over a Falklands referencing number-plate on the Porsche he drove for a tour of the country.

But state prosecutors appealed the judges decision not to press ahead with a full-scale criminal investigation against Clarkson and his ex- Top Gear team. And now  three appeal judges sided with prosecutors and ordered the reactivation of the case.

Prosecutors are avenging the joke by claiming the Top Gear team committed a crime under article 289 of the Argentinian Penal Code which carries a prison sentence of between six months and three years for those who falsify, alter or suppress the number of an object registered in accordance with the law.

However it is relevant to note that although the UK has an extradition treaty with Argentina, British courts have blocked recent requests over human rights concerns.

 

1st October

  Authoritarian...

Ontario creates new body to administer film censorship
Link Here
ontario film review board logo Starting October 1, 2015, the Ontario Film Authority (OFA) will administer the Film Classification Act in Ontario and will be responsible for licensing theatres and for overseeing the operations of the Ontario Film Review Board. 

There will be no changes to the province's existing film classification system or ratings.

The new self funding group will be located at 4950 Yonge Street in Toronto and notes the following details about Ontario film censorship:

  • Films (e.g., movies, videos, DVDs) distributed or screened in Ontario must be classified by the Ontario Film Review Board.
  • The province's film classification system has five categories: G, PG, 14A, 18A and R.

 

27th September

  Cruising the Subway...

Adverts for gay hook up website offend the Toronto Subway.
Link Here
squrt advert Posters for gay hookup site Squirt.org were removed from the Toronto Subway because the company supposedly promoted sex in public places, which is against the law , according to a spokesperson from the Toronto Transit Commission.

Squirt.com claim the 100 posters were only removed after they were seen inside train carriages, some were displayed outside a station from June to September without problems.

 

2nd September

  Discriminating against free speech...

Argentina introduces an internet censorship bill supposedly as a measure against discrimination
Link Here

Argentina flag In an effort to promote tolerance and equality in Argentina, online censorship could become a reality. Argentina's House of Representatives is currently debating a series of reforms to the National Anti-discrimination Act, a bill that was enacted in 1988 . The current proposal would require online platforms that allow user comments to monitor and remove any content considered discriminatory according to the vague and ambiguous provisions outlined in the proposed reforms. The amendments would also make it a criminal offense to publish discriminatory or insulting comments on Internet sites, punishable by fine or even prison time.

This draft proposal is problematic for four reasons. First, the proposal's definition of discriminatory contents is excessively broad and ambiguous, and even considers non-violent speech to be criminal. Second, it requires intermediaries to publish terms and conditions that say users should refrain from publishing any discriminatory comments before entering the site. Next, it urges intermediaries to take any measure deemed necessary for preventing discriminatory content from spreading. And lastly, the proposal sets a sentence of up to three years for those who assist or promote a person or organization in publishing discriminatory content.

If this proposal is enacted, it would most certainly stifle free expression and promote self-censorship. We may also see website administrators increasingly monitoring their users in fear of legal retaliation.

 

31st August

 Update: Insulting Free Speech...

A Quebec Bill is being debated that will establish censors on the lookout for blasphemy and crimes against political correctness
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech
nationale du quebec There's a debate in the Canadian province of Quebec over the future of free speech. The Quebec Parliament is currently debating whether to pass Bill 59, a bill that would grant the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) the authority to investigate so-called hate speech , even without a complaint being filed.

The Head of the QHRC, Jacques Frémont has already openly said that he plans to use such powers:

"To sue those critical of certain ideas, 'people who would write against ... the Islamic religion ... on a website or on a Facebook page'"

The legality of the QHRC asserting jurisdiction over the entire Canadian Internet-using public is under debate, but the consensus in Canada appears to be that this bill is a step backwards.  In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13 , of Canada's Human Rights Act. The elimination of the censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were targeted for writings and publications which reportedly "offending" Muslims.

But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring "blasphemous" speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.

 

16th June

  Freedom of speech is not trumped by privacy...

Brazil's Supreme Court overturns ban on unauthorized biographies
Link Here
Brazil Brazil's Supreme Court has ruled unanimously to overturn a 13-year-old federal ban on unauthorized biographies. All nine judges agreed that articles within Brazil's Civil Code that force writers to obtain permission before publishing biographical books for commercial purposes are unconstitutional, and represent unlawful censorship.

However, the court explained that musicians, politicians, actors, or any subjects of a biography, maintain the right to sue in court if they do not agree with the book's contents, but only after the book is published.

Judge Cármen Lúcia argued that freedom of speech cannot be trumped by a public figure's right to privacy. She said:

Censorship is a way of silencing others. Even worse, it is a way of silencing the Constitution. I do not believe it is constitutional to shred the freedom of all for the freedom of one, she said.

 

5th June

  Pay Per Cut...

Ontario film censorship board makes a good profit from porn
Link Here
ofrb logo Canada's Ontario Film Review Board routinely brings in a $1.8 million annual profit, a substantial amount of that from the pornography industry.

However, Government and Consumer Services Minister David Orazietti says he expects the OFRB's unintentional profitability to end through restructuring and the creation of the Ontario Film Authority.

The OFRB is an arm's-length agency responsible for classifying all films sold or exhibited in the province. This includes adult films, which are mostly sold through pay-per-view channels, on DVD or Blu-Ray.

But it has a mandate to help the film industry, not profit from it. So the looming reorganization as a delegated administrative authority is expected to include a review of the fee structure currently in place for all films. Orazietti said:

I think that when the OFA is operational it will be very fitting to have a review of those fees, and how the revenue translates into the services that are provided for the sector.

The goal, he added, will be to make less money. Orazietti hopes that this restructuring will be completed by the end of this year

According the OFRB's online database, the review board screened an average of 20 pornographic films a day in 2013-14, generating a daily average of around $6,900 in classification fees. While the overall year-over-year revenue has dipped, porn viewing has increased dramatically compared to mainstream films, with adult films contributing three times as much revenue in 2013-14.

The 21-member board of government appointees are each paid a per diem of about $400 for each day spent classifying films (excluding Davis, who gets paid $627 as chair). The OFRB makes its money by charging a flat classification fee of $4.20 for one minute of screen time. Foreign films are charged $78.75 per movie.

 

2nd May

  Lost Islands...

Bill proposed to set up a board of film censors in the Cayman Islands
Link Here
Cayman Islands flag A new Cayman Islands film censorship board, with responsibility for rating movies to be shown in the territory, is being set up.

The board will principally be responsible for censoring independent unrated movies, but also has the power to ban films and to reclassify mainstream movies already rated by international censors.

Proposed new legislation gives the board the remit to consider numerous factors, including whether the movie meets the standards of morality, decency and propriety of the community, when issuing rating certificates.

The Film Exhibition Control Bill aims to replace the old Cinematograph Law, which will be repealed if the new legislation is passed.

Anyone who wants to show a movie in the Cayman Islands will have to notify the new Film Control Board in advance. If the movie does not already carry a rating from internationally recognized film censors, the board will be tasked with considering its content and deciding what age group it is suitable for. The board also has the option of banning a movie from being screened if it considers it unsuitable for viewership in the islands.

Movies that do carry international ratings, would not be required to apply for a rating. But the board retains the option of reclassifying such films if it chooses.

 

26th April

  Argentina Recommends...

Top Gear: Patagonia Special
Link Here  full story: Top Gear...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers
Top Gear Patagonia Special DVD Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear colleagues deliberately entered Argentina with a Falklands-referenced number plate, a judge has whinged. Maria Cristina Barrionuevo rejected claims by the BBC and the presenter that the use of the plate H982 FKL on Clarkson's Porsche was an unfortunate coincidence . She also described the decision to drive through southern Argentina with the vehicle as arrogant and disrespectful .

The judge, based in the southern city of Ushuaia, where the trouble occurred last October, also ruled that the Porsche's number plate had been changed after the vehicle entered Argentina's southernmost tip of Patagonia. This is an offence that can lead to a conviction for falsification and carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

Local prosecutor Daniel Curtale had asked the judge to open a criminal investigation for alleged falsification. However, Mrs Barrionuevo rejected this call, concluding programme chiefs had acted to avert more conflict.  The prosecutors are understood to be preparing an appeal.

The judge concluded that the Top Gear team had not acted in bad faith in changing the plates and their hand was forced by massive government and popular pressure .

UK viewers can enjoy the 'disrespectful' fun in Top Gear: Patagonia Special .