China's internet censor has ordered two top news feed sites to temporarily suspend parts of their platforms for
broadcasting supposedly vulgar content and failing to implement censorship measures.
Toutiao and Phoenix News, which hosts news feeds similar to Facebook will suspend current affairs and Q&A sections from Friday evening for up to 24 hours, as ordered by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
The censor claimed that the two platforms broadcast pornographic and vulgar information, had serious issues of misguiding people, and had an evil influence on the ecosystem of online public discourse.
China recently upped internet recently be demanding that internet that internet news providers had to appoint state-approved editors. The censors claim the measures are designed to maintain social stability as well as stamp out violence, nudity
and fake news.
Malaysia's Home Ministry has banned a book written by lawyer and DAP politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
A Federal Government gazette said the book, Assalamualaikum : Observations on the Islamisation of Malaysia , was banned.
The order, citing the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, was signed by the Home Minister. The order said the book was likely to be prejudicial to public order as well as public interest and is likely to alarm public opinion.
A review of the book published two years ago said it explores the nature of political Islamisation, its origins, its chief personalities, how it has grown and what it means for Malaysia.
The BBC's Burmese language service is pulling a broadcasting deal with a popular Myanmar television channel citing censorship,
with insiders saying the partners had clashed over coverage of the Muslim Rohingya minority.
Since April 2014, BBC Burmese broadcast a daily news programme on MNTV with 3.7 million daily viewers. Now the BBC said it was ending the deal after MNTV censored or pulled multiple programmes since March this year.
The spat seems to be that the local channel objected to the BBC's use of the word Rohingya in their reports. Myanmar's government -- and most local media -- call them Bengalis, portraying them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite many
living in the country for generations.
Vietnam's regime has revealed that it has hired an enormous 10,000 people to work in a new cyber warfare unit, known as Force 47. Its main aim is to
battle 'wrong' views being spread online.
The announcement came in a speech on Christmas Day given by Nguyen Trong Nghia, a senior lieutenant-general in the Vietnam Communist Party's People's Army. According to state-run media outlets, Lt Gen Nguyen claimed that enemies of the Communist
party were currently able to create chaos online.
As a result, it claimed it was necessary that in every hour, minute, and second we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views. The new Force 47 has already been compared to the so-called 50-cent army employed by the Communist
regime in neighbouring China, who are paid 50 cents for every website they highlight that breaches regulations.
Fifty film-makers In Singapore have signed call for the authorities to reconsider proposed changes to the Films Act.
A key concern is the expanded powers that film censors of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will have in investigating breaches.
Currently, only a few IMDA officers - a censor, a deputy or assistant censor, or an inspector of films - can enter premises without a warrant, and conduct search and seizure over unlawful films, such as obscene or party political films, the paper
With the changes, these powers extend to any classification or licensing officer, who may enter property by breaking doors and windows, and may do so in investigating any breach of the Films Act - not just over unlawful films.
IMDA have claimed its officers have to act quickly to secure evidence of the contraventions while minimising the chances of the suspected offender fleeing the scene. It added that its enforcement officers are adequately trained to carry out
investigations in a way that stands up to scrutiny in a court of law.
Public consultation on the proposed changes is due to end on Dec 30 after two extensions. But the 50 film-makers called on IMDA to extend the consultation by another four weeks.
Other proposed amendments include a new scheme allowing some video companies to classify video titles up to a PG13 rating, and a new video games class licence.
Another proposed change gives the government minister responsible for media sole discretion - after consulting a panel - over the outcome of appeals for films that are refused classification for undermining national security. Film-makers want the
current framework retained - where appeals are made to a Films Appeal Committee, consisting of citizens.
A Chinese businessman selling VPNs has fallen victim to China's censorship regime and has been jailed for 5.5 years.
Wu Xiangyang, from Pingnan county in Guangxi autonomous region received the long jail sentence alongside a fine of 500,000 yuan (£57,000).
According to a report in the Procuratorate Daily, a newspaper for the Chinese prosecution and inspection agency, he was found to be operating a VPN without the proper license. Of course the authorities would never license a censorship evading
Under reent laws, no VPN is allowed to operate in China without a license. Licenses can only be obtained from VPN systems that implement China's extreme censorship policies and block just about everything.
Wu Xiangyang is reported to have been running his VPN, called TeeVPN since 2013.
Cambodia's Minister of Interior, Sar Kheng, held a meeting with other high ranking ministry officials to discuss introducing a legal amendment banning
insults to the King, similar to the disgracefully repressive lèse-majesté laws in Thailand.
The move comes against the backdrop of a tense political atmosphere that has seen the summary dissolution of the country's only viable opposition party, the jailing of its leader , heightened scrutiny of NGOs and the shuttering of numerous
often-critical media outlets.
A statement on the Interior Ministry website claimed the meeting was focused on protecting the King, and ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak confirmed an amendment is in the works.
Inevitably social media posts that the government doesn't like have triggered the new censorship law. Recently a 'fake' Facebook page representing the Khmer-Vietnamese Association made public posts insulting the King and was subsequently bloacked.
In Cambodia, the Prime Minister is symbolically endorsed by the king, so a broad reading of lese majeste could mean that courts could go after anyone critical of the prime minister and lock them up for several years because of purported violations
of a lese majeste code
US singer Katy Perry has become the latest artist to be banned from China.
The indefinite ban is apparently due to her wearing a sunflower dress at her 2015 concert in Taiwan capital Taipei. The sunflower has become a symbol of the anti-China movement in Taiwan. At the same concert, the singer also draped a Taiwan flag
The singer wore the same dress when performing a little later in Shanghai and so has ended up on China's never again list.
The New Zealand media censors at the Office or Film and Literature Classification have just released their annual report. It includes the interesting observation that its 'banned' category is the most common category used in the year under review:
The most common classification in the last financial year was objectionable, meaning banned. This is a result of a large increase in material being submitted by enforcement agencies. This has coincided with a decrease in commercial submissions.
Along with films, DVD/Blu-rays and games, the Classification Office classifies a variety of material, including computer files submitted by enforcement agencies like Customs, Police, and the Department of Internal Affairs. In fact computer files
make up the great majority of material banned by the Classification Office. Most of these publications were banned for promoting or supporting the sexual exploitation of children and young people.
Apart from that the New Zealand again has a knock at the government for not giving the censors remit over content streamed online:
It is now more important than ever that New Zealanders have the tools and information to allow everyone to take advantage of the freedom and opportunity the digital revolution represents -- while being smart about managing the downsides.
Regulation is lagging behind -- our system does not recognise the changes in the way New Zealanders now consume media. New Zealanders have increasingly borne the consequences of a confusing and out of date approach. The evidence is mounting about
the impacts of consuming violent and graphic media, and technology keeps raising the stakes -- virtual reality and immersive media are now making an impact.
New Zealand was clearly a little embarrassed over the banning of book for young people. Ted Dawe's award-winning novel Into the River , when campaigners called for a review of the book's age classification.
When an interim restriction order was issued in 2015 an anomaly in the law meant there were only two options - leave it unrestricted or ban it entirely until the board of review met. The book was banned for six weeks until the interim order was
reviewed and the restriction was lifted.
A new bill has now been passed by the New Zealand parliament that gives the censor board the ability to issue interim orders based on age or specified classes of persons.
National MP Chris Bishop drafted the bill and n the case of Into the River it would have meant the book could have reverted to its R14 status rather than banning it outright. Bishop said after his bill had been passed unanimously. He added:
It is clear that Into the River should not have been banned - this small but useful change will help ensure such a situation doesn't happen again.
Burmese filmmakers, supported by those from Southeast Asian countries, on Saturday pitched for classification, rather than censorship in
the days ahead.
Joining a debate on film censorship in Myanmar and rest of Southeast Asia as part of the Memory! Festival 2017, they said that when the 1996 Motion Picture Law is replaced by a new law now in the drafting process, it should have very moderate
censorship to control extreme cases of religious incitement, hate speech and obscenity.
Film maker Shin Daewe explained that the 1996 law is outdated and anachronistic and has high hopes for the new law and said:
We have high hopes because our lawmaker Phyu Phyu Tin who provides leadership to the drafting of the new law is a liberal. We hope the new law will reflect the spirit of emerging democracy in Myanmar. We want a transparent classification system,
not censorship that belongs to a world gone by and is unsuited to our times marked by liberalisation and globalisation.
David Shanks responded to a local press article noting declining revenues for the film censors as people watch movies and porn online
rather than DVDs and Blu-rays which require a classification certificate. Shanks writes:
Most people don't realise that we are both government and industry funded. The Classification Office has received just under $2M in government funding since it was established in 1994. This reflects the work we do for government officials --
examining and classifying material that has been seized by the Police, Customs or other authorities.
This material is often extreme. Child rape, animal mutilation and graphic executions are the start of it. Nobody in their right mind wants to see this stuff but someone has to make an official assessment of it in order to prosecute. We do that.
The other side of our operation is classifying commercial film and DVD releases. This is funded through industry. The film and DVD industry pays less than half of one percent of its revenue to have their product classified in order for it to be
exhibited or sold in New Zealand.
Back in the 1990's and up until around 2010 a lot of material was being sold in NZ direct to DVD -- yes, including a fair amount of adult entertainment. Porn. It seems quaint to think it now, but back in those days the Classification Office would
routinely review porn DVDs to make sure they weren't too abusive. As everyone knows this has changed and increasingly people obtain porn - and a lot more besides! - online. Accordingly, commercial revenue has dropped from around $1.3 million in
2009 to around $600-700k today.
It is this decline in commercial revenue that we highlighted in our most recent Statement of Intent. When we drafted this Statement we could see that our expenditure was going to exceed income to the point where we would have used up all our
reserves by 2020.
We have restructured to address this, and we are now in a stable financial position.
During the restructure, I wanted to provide my classification staff with as much choice as possible in the process, and met with all of them individually. In the end, we had no forced redundancy, everyone who left chose redundancy freely. Many of
these people had put in many years of service doing a tough job that many people could not handle. At least one person expressed relief to me that they would no longer have to view prosecution material.
I salute them.
Now as an office we are in a position to recruit some new people with fresh talent, skills and perspectives. This is vital because in truth the future of censorship and classification is not murky -- as described in the article -- but is highly
changeable and dynamic.
The old approaches to regulation will not work in this environment. The future involves parents, children and young people who are better informed and equipped to deal with the digital environment. It involves an industry taking greater
responsibility themselves, using digital tools to efficiently inform the public. I have been talking to my counterparts in Australia and the UK who are doing some very innovative things in this area, presenting ideas that could improve the picture
for both industry and all New Zealanders.
After a huge build up and a year long construction of a magnificent funeral pyre for the cremation of Thailand's beloved
King Bhumipol, the event was an anti-climax, as the burning of the king was not actually shown on TV, or even mentioned.
After hours of traditional ceremonies on TV, building up to the finale, there was a huge anti-climax as about 15 minutes before the big event, all Thai TV channels switched to other events of music, ballet and puppetry. Nothing was said about the
big event which took place at 10pm, leaving mystified viewers wondering what happened.
Interestingly nothing seems to be mentioned in press reports from the event. Jonathan Head, the Thai correspondent tweeted:
After a huge build-up, Thai authorities decided not to broadcast the cremation of King Bhumibol. So people had no idea when it happened.
But this did not get mentioned by the BBC in news reports.
Vietnam's first ever licensed nude photography exhibition took place last month in Ho Chi Minh City. A collection of
portraits was exhibited with the title Tao Tac , which translates loosely to subtle pieces making a whole when put together.
Hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association Headquarters, the show collated over four years of shoots, editing and planning by Vietnamese photographer Hao Nhien.
The most difficult step in organizing the exhibition, he says, was the process of preparing the bare content, but for many of his contemporaries the fact that he was able to lift the curtain on such content was an even greater achievement in
Vietnam's highly censored context.
This is a sign that the door might be opening wider for similar events to be permitted, Hao Nhien's fellow photographer Nguyen A told local media. What makes me even happier is that Ho Chi Minh City [authorities] have taken the lead with such an
In a glass tower in a trendy part of China's eastern city of Tianjin, hundreds of young people sit in front of computer screens, scouring the internet for videos and messages that run counter to Communist Party doctrine