The New Zealand Parliament has passed its third reading in Parliament. The final vote was carried with a 116 to 5 majority.
The Bill will:
Establish an Approved Agency to resolve complaints in a quick and efficient way
Give the District Court the power to issue take-down notices and impose penalties
Provide online content hosts with an Safe Harbour process for handling complaints
Make it an offence to send messages and post material online that deliberately cause serious emotional distress. The offence will be punishable by up to two years imprisonment or a maximum fine of NZ$50,000 for individuals, and a fine of up to
NZ$200,000 for companies.
Create a new offence of incitement to commit suicide that applies where the person does not attempt to take their own life
Amend existing laws to clarify that they apply to communications, regardless of whether tormentors use online or offline means, and future-proofing the laws against technological advances.
Just one party opposed the bill, the right-of-centre Act Party, which says it fears the Harmful Digital Communications Bill will be another case study in bad law-making .
Party leader and MP David Seymour said the Bill creates a strange asymmetry between the virtual world and the real world where different standards apply to online and offline speech. The ten communications principles written into the Bill, he
said, would be a good guide to desirable behaviour on a school camp.
The Bill was proposed after the two young women subject to digital bullying committed suicide and in the wake of the Roastbusters scandal, where the police were criticised for their response to online abuse,
New Zealand ISPs who defied TV company demands to switch off their VPN services have caved in following legal threats. CallPlus and Bypass Network Services faced action from media giants including Sky and TVNZ for allowing their customers to
access geo-restricted content. Their Global Mode services will be terminated by September 1.
Unlocking geo-restricted digital content is an activity carried out by millions every day, but the practice diverts revenue from local media companies in favour of the US.
In April, media companies SKY, TVNZ, Lightbox and MediaWorks told several Kiwi ISPs that if they didn't stop providing geo-unblocking services to their subscribers, legal action wouldn't be far ahead. Within days and following claims of breaches
of the Copyright Act, Unlimited Internet pulled its VPN service. However, CallPlus and Bypass Network Services stood firm and stated that they weren't going to be bullied .
Now, just two months later, both providers have caved in to the demands of the media companies. The news was revealed in the briefest of announcements posted to the NZX by Sky TV:
The legal proceedings against 'Global Mode' service providers have been settled. As a result, from 1 September 2015, the 'Global Mode' service will not be available to any person for use in New Zealand.
The news will come as a blow to users of the Global Mode service who will now have to find alternatives if they wish to continue accessing geo-locked content. While that will be extremely easy , Global Mode was a free product so it's likely
that additional costs could be on the horizon.
InternetNZ, the non-profit group that oversees the Internet in New Zealand, says it is deeply disappointed by the news. InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter said:
Global Mode was a great example of Internet-based innovation that challenged traditional content distribution models. It was by no means clear that the service was illegal, and we were keen to see the matter go before the courts to provide users
and the industry with clarity.
Withdrawing the service and settling before court seems a worse outcome for all concerned. The media companies have said that they wanted to clarify their own legal rights over content -- a settlement doesn't achieve this, and leaves us all none
Over the weekend of June 20th to 21st, the results of the first three months of the International Age
Rating Coalition trial were dumped into the Classification Board's database. They reveal censorship on a scale never before seen in Australia.
The first mobile game/app is listed as being banned (Refused Classification) on March 18th. At the time of writing, a total of 242 have been banned.
Interestingly, the Classification Board has chosen not to give a reason why they have been banned. Several of the banned apps have innocuous titles so perhaps there is a technical explanation such as not filling in the forms correctly.
Myanmar's authorities are intensifying restrictions on media as the country approaches elections in November, using threats, harassment and imprisonment to stifle independent journalists and outlets, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.
The Amnesty report, titled Caught between state censorship and self-censorship: Prosecution and intimidation of media workers in Myanmar, shows how, despite Myanmar's much-touted political opening since 2011, authorities are relying
on old and new methods to intimidate media and restrict freedom of expression. The clampdown has intensified over the past year, today at least 10 media workers are languishing in prison, all of them jailed in the last 12 months. All are prisoners
Myanmar's media landscape has changed dramatically since the reform process started in 2011. From a handful of media outlets controlled through strict pre-publication censorship, today there exists a vibrant media scene with several independent
newspapers and broadcast channels. Yet widespread repression of media continues in Myanmar, as authorities rely on a range of draconian, vaguely formulated laws to imprison journalists.
Amnesty International's interviews with media workers revealed that the threat of imprisonment and constant surveillance have led to widespread self-censorship. Journalists are well aware of what red lines they cannot cross, mainly stories
relating to the military, extremist Buddhist nationalism and the plight of the Rohingya minority, and often shy away from covering these issues.
The case of the Unity media workers is one such example. Five workers at the paper were each jailed for seven years in July 2014 after their newspaper published a story on an alleged secret chemical weapons factory. Their imprisonment is
frequently cited by journalists as an example of what can happen if they step over the line in their reporting on the army.
Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said:
What we are seeing in Myanmar today is repression dressed up as progress. Authorities are still relying on the same old tactics, arrests, surveillance, threats and jail time to muzzle those journalists who cover inconvenient topics.
As people in Myanmar go to the polls later this year, a free press will be more important than ever to inform the public about the choices they face and strengthen their access to information. The government must immediately release all
journalists jailed for simply carrying out their work peacefully, publicly commit to respect freedom of expression, and repeal all laws used to silence peaceful dissenting voices and critics.
The international community also has a key role to play in pushing the Myanmar authorities to end the repression of media. They must actively and publicly push for the release of imprisoned media workers and all other prisoners of conscience,
while keeping a close watch over the fragile human rights situation in the months leading up to the elections.
Japan has repealed an old law banning dancing after midnight. But of course politicians can't entirely let go of their control freakery and have
retained the ban in low-light venues.
Japan's parliament voted to relax the laws, which date from 1948. The laws were introduced during the US occupation amid supposed concerns that the relatively liberal social attitudes of the Americans were corrupting Japan's youth. It was also an
attempt to curb prostitution.
In recent times enforcement of the law had declined, but after decades of turning a blind eye to the clubs, police unilaterally decided to resurrect the law following the 2010 death of a 22-year-old student after a fight in an Osaka club.
Hit by a wave of raids by police who claimed they wanted to prevent an excessively hedonistic atmosphere at clubs, most of the city's venues were shut down for licensing violations, pulling the plug on Osaka's thriving dance scene.
This ban on midnight dancing drew fierce criticism from dance and music industry figures who said the government should promote Japan's growing, vibrant dance culture.
Under the new law, which is expected to take effect by June next year, dancing after midnight will be allowed if the club has a light level of at least 10 lux. This light level is approximately equivalent to what a movie theatre looks like with
the lights on.
A fine kettle of fish! The women hadn't even undressed completely, and the only pic I've seen has the
men strategically placing their hands like a rugby team in a "nude" charity calendar.
Two points about this. One is the schtick about the "sacredness" of the mountain, and comparisons with hypothetical similar behaviour at a Christian site. See this picture:
No sign of Italian ministers claiming that the tits have made Vesuvius and Etna go pop! (Note the canopy by the way: they seem to be getting ready for a papal ceremony.)
The other, more important point is that much of the world's press has been royally trolled. Emil Kaminski has managed to fool a lot of news outlets, including the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph, into believing that:
1) he was part of the group, and probably the instigator;
2) he was arrested. In fact he was certainly NOT present, NOT arrested and probably NOT in Malaysia. See his YouTube video
Can we rely on anything we read in the papers when seasoned journalists fail to smell a rat when Kaminski praises the wi-fi in Malaysian prison cells? Kaminski's certainly shown up a lot of people as idiots, though I think he should have waited
until the young people were safely out of Malaysia.
Update: The plot thickens
14th June 2015. Thanks to Alan
The press seems to be belatedly waking up to having been taken for a ride. The Telegraph pulled its story, leaving a blank
web page, to the delight of Kaminski. Also possibly noteworthy is that no press outlet seems to have picked up the apparent backing by Richard Dawkins - in a Facebook comment. I rather doubt that Prof. Dawkins was the real author.
Another nice little turn-up for the books is that the Sabah minister who was assiduously spouting bollox about the tits and bums having pissed off the mountain fairies doesn't - I hope! - actually believe this twaddle. His first name is Joseph,
and, as you would guess, he's a Christian: to be precise a Catholic. Kaminski is too kind in calling him a fucking idiot . When the heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone - in this case, a stonking great mountain - I
thought the duty of a Christian was to enlighten him. Instead this guy encourages him to form a lynch mob and go after kids on a gap year.
Update: Floods of ludicrous blame claims
15th June 2015. Thanks to Alan
Another bizarre case of blame for a natural disaster in today's papers. The Patriarch of All Georgia has blamed
the flood which released all the animals in Tbilisi zoo on the use of money raised by melting down bells and crosses to built it in 1928. If you get squashed by a hippo or become a tasty snack for a stray lion, blame it on Uncle Joe Stalin.
At least, Ilia II has the right to spout garbage, as the head man of Georgian Orthodoxy, and I don't doubt that he sincerely believes it. No such excuse for the Christian minister in Sabah calling up a lynch mob on behalf of a religion in which
he doesn't believe.
A bit puzzled by Eleanor Hawkins' statement. I don't blame her for eating a generous serving of shit to get out of Malaysia, but I can't understand why she goes back for seconds once she's safely home in Derbyshire.
The Twitter-like popular Chinese microblogging platform Weibo has just announced it will censor posts featuring images of women in lingerie or
swimwear, as part of an effort to erase erotic images.
The move, announced by CEO Wang Gaofei, is seen as Weibo's move to comply with larger restrictions proposed by the government against vulgar and pornographic content circulating online.
Wang said that 'modeling agencies' that posted images of [models] in swimwear or black lace would be removed from accounts effective immediately. On Weibo, modeling agency is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of services
'Modeling agencies' who want to continue to have a social media presence on the website must submit accreditation and other identification of a legitimate business. Those who do not go through this approval process will be banned from the site.
Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai's runaway hit We're All Different, Yet the Same has been banned from the airwaves and television screens in Singapore, according to Hongkong's Mingpao News.
The ban was ordered by the music censors of the Media Development Authority. It means that television and radio stations will be fined if they air the song or the music video.
Under Singapore's censorship rules, broadcast content must not:
In any way promote, justify or glamorise... lifestyles such as homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transsexualism, transvestism, paedophilia and incest.
Jolin Tsai said in a statement that she was disappointed with Singapore's decision as the song was her way of expressing her support of marriage equality through music. She would, however, respect differences in opinion.
The music video for We're All Different, Yet The Same features a wedding scene -- and a kiss -- between Jolin and Taiwanese actress Ruby Lin. It was inspired by the true story of a lesbian couple who has been together for 30 years. When one half of the
couple was hospitalised and required surgery, her partner was unable to give consent because she was not legally recognised as a family member.
Islamic authorities have set new censorship rules for stage shows and music concerts by foreign personalities.
The new rules set out what kind of personality is required, what kind of artistes may perform, the kind of jokes to be allowed, and forbids extreme laughter or being facetious about serious and mournful matters.
An artiste should have a noble personality and be of good morals, and be dressed decently, covering their aurat. Men and women are now not allowed to interact on stage.
Performances, songs, events and music videos must not insult religious sensitivities, the country and any racial group. Symbolism that went against Islamic teachings and faith was forbidden. Jokes should be sparing, and "toe the line".
Only virtues such as "goodness and pure values , and repentance should be promoted in song lyrics, with music that was positive, bringing peace, and not evoking negative emotions that contradict Islamic teachings.
The rules were relased by Jakim, the federal Islamic affairs department, which has religious authority in the Federal Territories. The new rules were approved by a national fatwa convention in February.
They are not binding in law but federal Islamic affairs minister Jamil Khir Baharom had previously said that approving authorities were advised to ask event organisers to abide by Jakim's rules.
Chappie is a 2015 USA / Mexico action thriller by Neill Blomkamp.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Sharlto Copley.
'Chappie' is a robot, and the first true artificial intelligence, able to learn and develop as a human does. Some want to study him, and others want to destroy him. Kidnapped from the scientist who created him, Chappie becomes part
of a street gang's dysfunctional surrogate family, who decide that he is too innocent and needs to be toughened up. Meanwhile, there are people hunting for him who believe that artificial intelligence is too unpredictable to be allowed to exist. The
latest film from Neill Blomkamp, director of 'District 9' and 'Elysium', 'Chappie' stars Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver.
UK: The cinema release was passed 15 uncut for strong language, bloody violence
US: Rated R for violence, language and brief nudity.
Sony Pictures Japan has released an official statement announcing that Chappie has been cut for Japan to ensure a PG-12 rating. They are open that this has been done to appeal to a wider audience, and imply that the changes were made with the
director's approval. But that's far from the truth.
When fans reached out to Blomkamp on Twitter, he was taken by surprise by the news, calling it disturbing and frankly saying that Sony has lied about his involvement.
At this point, it's unclear what changes were made, but they must be significant to ensure a friendlier rating. The film is rife with swearing and pretty graphic violence (including one climactic scene, in particular).
A Japanese artist who made a kayak modelled on her vagina has denied obscenity charges at the start of her trial in
a case demonstrating Japanese censorship and double standards.
Megumi Igarashi, who calls herself Rokudenashiko, was first arrested last July after distributing 3D scans of her genitalia to people in return for donations to her project to create the unusual kayak.
She was released days later following a public campaign supporting her right to freedom of expression. She was rearrested in December , however, and charged with obscenity.
The artist told the Tokyo district court that her vagina selfies were not obscene. I do not dispute the facts [of the charge], but my artwork is not obscene, Igarashi said.
Igarashi said she had sent the data to people who had donated more than 3,000 yen to the kayak project. She said she was prepared to take her case all the way to Japan's supreme court if necessary.
Malaysia's parliament has approved amendments to the country's oppressive sedition law, giving the government broad new powers to censor online media.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the legislative amendments and calls on the government to stop using the law to threaten and persecute independent journalists.
Malaysian lawmakers aligned with the ruling United Malays National Organization voted to stiffen the penalties of the 1948 Sedition Act, according to news reports . The penalties now include mandatory three- to seven-year jail terms for convictions,
denial of bail for accusations in the name of the public interest, and allowances for authorities to ban and block online media deemed to be seditious.
Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative, said:
The strengthening of Malaysia's already draconian Sedition Act shows how desperate Prime Minister Najib Razak has become to silence media criticism of his government. CPJ calls on Najib's government to repeal these outrageously punitive amendments to the
act and refocus instead on passing laws that guarantee press and online freedoms.
On April 3, Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar, was charged with nine counts of sedition for critical tweets he posted in February about a politically sensitive court decision.\
Earlier this month, police detained three editors and two executives of The Malaysian Insider news portal on accusations of sedition in connection with a report on the proposed introduction of hudud, or punishments meted out under Islamic law, in the
country's northern Kelantan state. They were released without charge, according to news reports .
China's government has threatened to shut down Sina , one of the country's most popular news websites unless it improves censorship , state media
reported via the Xinhua news agency. Sina is the fourth most visited website in China, according to ranking service Alexa.
The censors whose job it is to officially distort news facts, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), claimed that Sina:
Distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media hype.
The CAC will seriously punish Sina, with possible measures including a complete shut down of its Internet news services , Xinhua added.
The report did not provide specifics on which of Sina's news offerings had fallen foul of censors, but said the CAC accused Sina of spreading illegal information related to rumors, violence and terrorism , and advocation of heresies .
The open source code sharing depository, GitHub, has been put under a prolonged distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack seemingly from
It seems likely that the attack were targeting GitHub projects that help circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
cope with the massive load.
Anti-censorship campaign group Greatfire.org said in a blog post the attacks are an effort to shut down its GitHub-hosted project , and an extension of an attack on anti-censorship groups by Chinese authorities.
Greatfire goes on to point the finger for the attacks directly to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The group argues that the CAC is deliberately trying to weaponize its Great Firewall to perform international attacks. The Greatfire team
This is a frightening development and the implications of this action extend beyond control of information on the internet. In one quick movement, the authorities have shifted from enforcing strict censorship in China to enforcing Chinese censorship on
internet users worldwide.
China has upgraded the website-blocking systems, dubbed The Great Firewall, so it can blast foreign businesses and organisations off the internet.
Researchers hailing from the University of Toronto, the International Computer Science Institute, the University of California Berkeley, and Princeton University, have confirmed that China is hijacking web traffic and redirecting advert server requests
so as to overpower sites critical of the authoritarian state.
This weaponized firewall has been dubbed the Great Cannon by the researchers, and typically hijacks requests to Baidu's advertising network in China. Anyone visiting a website that serves ads from Baidu, for example, could end up unwittingly silencing a
foreign site disliked by the Chinese authorities.
A South Korean activist, Lee Min-bok, says he has flown thousands of copies of controversial Sony film The Interview over the North Korean border. He said he had carried out the launches at night four times since January.
The Seth Rogen comedy, about a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, enraged Pyongyang.
Lee, a defector from the North, said he had tied the DVDs to balloons along with bundles of US dollars and leaflets criticising Kim's regime. He told AFP news agency:
I launched thousands of copies and about a million leaflets on Saturday, near the western part of the border.
Lee told CNN that the North hates this film because it shows Kim Jong-un as a man, not a God and that he wanted to tell the truth to North Koreans.
Any North Korean who had access to a DVD player and was found to have watched the film would likely face a lengthy sentence in a prison camp.
After eleven months, the Thailand government finally lifted martial law in the country on April 1, 2015; but it quickly signed a new security law which some human rights groups described as even more repressive.
Thailand's army launched a coup last May, purportedly to end the street clashes between opposition and pro-government forces. It imposed martial law, controlled the newsrooms of major media stations, and banned political gatherings. An interim
constitution was drafted which led to the establishment of a military-backed civilian government led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The new government is known as the 'National Council of Peace and Order'. But martial law remained in effect despite the
appointment of civilian authorities.
Invoking article 44 of the interim constitution, Prayuth signed Order Number 3/2558 (3/2015) which repealed martial law but imposed harsher security measures across the country. The new order provides for the appointment of 'peace and order
maintenance officers' from the ranks of the military who are delegated with sweeping powers to defend the security of the state. These army personnel can search homes, summon and arrest troublemakers, confiscate properties, and detain suspected
individuals in special premises for up to seven days even without judicial authority.
Freedom of assembly is still curtailed as stated in article 12 of the order which bans political gatherings of five or more persons.
The order is also a threat to free speech. Article 5 of the order could be used to stifle dissent. The provision reads:
Peacekeeping Officers are empowered to issue orders prohibiting the propagation of any item of news or the sale or distribution of any book or publication or material likely to cause public alarm or which contains false information likely to cause public
misunderstanding to the detriment of national security or public order. (Unofficial translation by iLaw, the Freedom of Expression Documentation Center)
Reacting to this provision, the country's media giants represented by the Thai Journalists Association, National Press Council of Thailand, Thai Broadcasting Journalists Association, and News Broadcasting Council of Thailand banded together and issued a
statement which criticized the article as the greater threat to press freedom and freedom of expression than the lifted Martial Law."
They urged the NCPO to clarify the intent of the article and provide a more specific definition of 'national security threat' and 'dissemination of false information':
Without any clear definition of national security threat, cause of public alarm and dissemination of false information, the authorities might over-exercise or abuse their power, which is very contradicting to the NCPO order.
They also warned that this particular provision would affect millions of Internet users:
Civilians are also at risk, as people who communicates and discusses topics through online social media that contain information viewed by the authorities as threat to national security, cause of public alarm, spreading of false information or public
misunderstanding will be punished on the same condition.
Referring to the same article, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance asked:
What is the criteria for determining if the content in question 'causes alarm' or is 'false information likely to cause public misunderstanding'? If the content in question is true and factual, can truth be a defense against such a prohibition?
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was more direct when he assailed the NCPO's new order as a measure that would 'annihilate freedom of expression' in Thailand. He added:
Normally I would warmly welcome the lifting of martial law, but I am alarmed at the decision to replace martial law with something even more draconian, which bestows unlimited powers on the current Prime Minister without any judicial oversight at all.
News about the lifting of martial law in Thailand was initially met with skepticism since it was announced on April Fools' Day. But the Thai junta was clearly not joking when it passed a more brutal law to replace martial law.
Book publishers and authors are warning that censorship is increasing in Hong Kong . They say bookstores are returning books connected to authors who
have been involved in the recent pro-democracy protests. Bookstores are reportedly under pressure to not carry books that may offend the central government in mainland China .
Carmen Kwong Wing-suen is the chief editor of the book publishing company Up Publications. She said her company had hundreds of books returned by Sino United Publishing, which oversees several other publishing companies. Sino United Publishing operates
51 stores through its subsidiaries.
Kwong co-wrote a book on the Occupy Central protests. She said the book received orders for only 28 copies instead of the normal 200 copies. She also said most of the books recently returned by Sino United Publishing were not about political topics .
Bruce Lui Ping-kuen is a former reporter and now teaches journalism at Hong Kong s Baptist University. He said the rejection of books by publishers supportive of the pro-democracy movement is part of the increased censorship in the city and is an
example of creative ways to limit or stop voices that are hostile to the Communist Party .
Some of China's biggest video streaming sites have been warned that they face punishment after failing to remove sexy or violent Japanese cartoon video clips. The ministry noted that 12 offending clips on Todou alone had attracted more than one million
China's Ministry of Culture said the firms had hosted anime that glorified violence and terrorism, and contained vulgar erotic elements. Net firms Baidu, Tencent and Youku were among those named as offenders.
The announcement coincides with the introduction of wider restrictions on the use of foreign online clips. Streaming sites are now censored by publication licences required to be able to add other countries' TV series and movies, which will be
censored by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) on an individual basis.
Three specific examples of indecent anime cartoons are mentioned in a statement posted to the Ministry of Culture's website:
Blood-C, a series about a sword-wielding teenage girl who fights monsters in her town. It is accused of containing a particularly bloody beheading scene that would cause extreme discomfort
Terror in Resonance, a series involving two teenagers who carry out a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. Officials said this glorified violence and criminal activities
High School of the Dead, a show about a group of students struggling to survive in a world overtaken by zombies. The programme, which was given a certificate 15 when released in the UK.
The firms involved have been told they will learn what penalties they face at a later stage.