Asia Pacific Censorship News

2019: July-Sept

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Distressing news...

New Zealand's TV censor fines Sky News for broadcasting extensive excerpts from Brenton Tarrant's murderous live stream


Link Here 20th August 2019
Full story: TV Censorship in New Zealand...Easily offended Broadcasting Standards Authority
New Zealand's Sky News has been fined NZ$4,000 for airing footage from a live stream of the Christchurch massacre.

The country's TV censors of the Broadcasting Standards Authority fined Sky NZ $4,000 (2,100) for airing extensive and obviously news worthy excerpts from the alleged attacker's live stream video, claiming that the video had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community.

The footage was a retransmission by Sky News New Zealand of a 24-hour feed from Sky News Australia, a separate, independent company.

The chief censor Bill Hastings, said the New Zealand television broadcasters faced unprecedented circumstances in the hours following the attack, and they played a critical role in keeping New Zealanders informed, but they also had to consider their role in protecting the community from undue harm and trauma and they needed to exercise a high level of care and discretion at all times.

Two complaints were also lodged against state funded broadcaster TVNZ who aired short clips from the live stream video but these complaints were not upheld by the authority.

 

 

State sponsored fake news...

Facebook and Twitter close 950 accounts carrying Chinese propaganda against Hong Kong protests


Link Here 20th August 2019
Twitter and Facebook have blocked what they described as a state-backed Chinese misinformation campaign.

Twitter said it removed 936 accounts it said were being used to sow political discord in Hong Kong. It said the accounts originated in mainland China and were part of a coordinated attempt to undermine the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement.

Facebook said it had, after being tipped off by Twitter, removed seven Pages, three Groups and five Facebook accounts. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy said:

Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.

The move came after Twitter was criticised at the weekend for allowing China's Xinhua news agency to buy sponsored posts on the network. Twitter said on Monday it would no longer allow such ads, saying: Going forward, we will not accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities,

 

 

Fake claims...

Thailand sets up an internet censorship centre in the name of 'fake news'


Link Here 15th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand's Digital Economy and Society Minister Puttipong Punnakanta plans to set up a Fake News Center.

The digital minister confirmed that he is looking to create the Fake News Center to:

get rid of fabricated, misleading content on social media which might jeopardize the people's safety and property and violate the Computer Crime Act and other laws.

For instance, content on social media about natural disasters and health care might be fabricated or exaggerated only to confuse and scare viewers. They might be deceived by fraudulent investment scams or lured to buy illegal, hazardous health products online.

He said a dozen government agencies will be asked to cooperate with the Fake News Center such as the police, the military, the Consumer Protection Board, the Food and Drugs Administration and the Public Relations Department, among others.

 

 

Commented: What bright spark thought that it was a good idea for ISPs to decide what to censor?...

New Zealand ISP Spark says it will unilaterally censor 8chan (should it return to life)


Link Here 11th August 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
New Zealand ISP Spark says it will block the controversial website 8chan if it resumes service, because it continues to host disturbing material.

8chan is currently down after its web host pulled out in response to 8chan being used by US mass shooters. However, Spark said if 8chan finds another host provider, it would block access. Spark said:

We feel it is the right thing to do given the website's repeated transgressions and continual willingness to distribute disturbing material.

The 8chan internet forum was used by the accused Christchurch mosque gunman to distribute his manifesto and live stream the attack.

However Spark seemed to realise that it would now become a magnet for every easily offended social justice warrior with a pet grievance and said that the the government should step in:

Appropriate agencies of government should put in place a robust policy framework to address the important issues surrounding such material being distributed online and freely available.

Technology commentator Paul Brislen responded:

It's very, very nearly the edge of what's acceptable for what your internet provider to be doing in this kind of situation.

I'm as uncomfortable as they [Spark] are about it. They do really need to find a new way to manage hate-speech and extremist content on the internet.

It's much like the Telecom of old to decide which phone calls you can and can't make.

The risk was someone would now turn around and say okay you blocked 8Chan because of hate speech, now I want you to block this other website because it allows people to access something else. It might be hate speech, it might be pornography, it might be something that speaks out against a religious group or ethnicity.

You start down a certain track of Spark or any of the other ISPs being forced to decide what is and isn't acceptable for the NZ public and that's not their job at all. They really shouldn't be doing that.

Update: New Zealand's chief censor David Shanks chips in

11th August 2019. See article from classificationoffice.govt.nz

I applaud the announcement by Spark that they are prepared to block access to 8chan if and when it re-emerges on the internet.

This move is both brave and meaningful. Brave, because a decision not to provide users with access to a site is quite a different thing from a decision not to provide a site with the server capacity and services it needs (which is the choice that Cloudflare recently made). Meaningful, because everything I have seen tells me that 8chan is the white supremacist killer's platform of choice, with at least three major attacks announced on it within a few months. There is nothing indicating that upon re-emergence 8chan will be a changed, safer platform. Indeed, it may be even more toxic.

We appreciate that our domestic ISP's have obligations to provide their customers with access to the internet according to their individual terms and conditions. Within those constraints, as the experience post the March 15 attacks show, our ISP's can act and do the right thing to block platforms that are linked to terrorist atrocities and pose a direct risk of harm to New Zealanders.

I know that ISPs don't take these decisions lightly, and that they do not want to be in the business of making judgments around the content of sites. But these are extraordinary circumstances, and platforms that promote terrorist atrocities should not be tolerated on the internet, or anywhere else. Spark is making the right call here.

This is a unique set of circumstances, and relying on ISPs to make these calls is not a solution for the mid or long term. I agree with calls for a transparent, robust and sensible regulatory response. Discussions have already started on what this might look like here in NZ. Ultimately this is a global, internet problem. That makes it complex of course, but I believe that online extremism can be beaten if governments, industry and the public work together

 

 

Uncomfortable historical facts...

Art exhibition in Japan closed down after protesters threaten violence over a statue of a 'comfort woman'


Link Here 7th August 2019

A section of a major art festival, Aichi Triennale 2019, in central Japan featuring a statue symbolizing wartime comfort women shut down on Saturday following protests, the organizer said.

The protesters were taking easy offence at the Statue of a Girl of Peace . This depicted a Korean comfort women, or ianfu in Japanese. The term is a euphemism for the women, including Koreans, who provided sex, generally against their will, for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura, who heads the organizing committee, told a news conference that there are growing worries about safely managing the Aichi Triennale 2019 as it had received a number of threatening emails, phone calls and faxes. One of the faxes it received read: I will bring a gasoline container to the museum.

The statue of the girl was part of an exhibit in the art festival's section titled After Freedom of Expression? Most of the artwork on display in that section could not be displayed in Japan in the past due to censorship or self-censorship, the exhibitor said.

 

 

Culture of censorship...

Rocketman cut by the Malaysian film censor


Link Here 2nd August 2019
Full story: Censored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Rocketman is a 2019 UK / USA musical music biography by Dexter Fletcher.
Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron Egerton and Richard Madden. BBFC link IMDb

The Malaysian film censor has cut scenes which depicted depicted men kissing and having sex with one another. Safaruddin Mohammad Ali, head of the Film Censorship Board explained:

We do not allow any scenes that promote LGBTQ in films that are for public viewing.

Separately the film censor commented that although it is about the real life of Elton John, it is not for him to allow the public to see whatever he does or whatever activities he indulges in that is not our culture,

The film was also cut by the distributors in Russia over fears of the country's anti gay laws. Rocket man was also banned in Samoa.

 

 

Offsite Article: Extreme censorship...


Link Here 31st July 2019
New Zealand seems to be going well over the top in remanding a man in custody over the possession of the banned mosque massacre video

See article from nzherald.co.nz

 

 

Parasite...

The latest cinema film to be banned in China


Link Here 30th July 2019
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids
Parasite is a 2019 South Korea comedy thriller by Joon-ho Bong (as Joon Ho Bong).
Starring Kang-ho Song, Yeo-jeong Jo and Woo-sik Choi. IMDb

All unemployed, Ki-taek's family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.

The film was pulled from the FIRST film festival in Xining for technical reasons, a euphemism for being banned by the film censors.

No explanation was provided but it could be a simple as frosty relations between China and South Korea. No Korean films have been allowed to screen in China in the last two years.

 

 

Updated: Devotion to censorship...

Extreme punishment for a Taiwan games company that included the Winnie the Pooh meme in a game


Link Here 16th July 2019
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
Back in February Kotaku UK reported on a game called Devotion disappearing from Steam , following the discovery of a piece of in-game art that mocked Chinese president Xi Jinping. We checked back in May, and the game had not reappeared .

The Chinese Communist Party, world-famous for its sense of humour, has now decided that merely disappearing this game was not enough. Now it has revoked the business license of one of the game's publishers, Indievent.

Without a business license, you cannot legally operate in China. So that's that for Indievent. worldwide. Devotion was developed by the Taiwanese studio Red Candle, but of course the Chinese market is essential for its economic viability.

And of course another point of this extreme censorship is that it sends a message to game publishers worldwide. Now doubt most of them have an eye on the possibility of sales to China.

Update: Snuffed out

16th July 2019. See article from dailydot.com

It seems that Devotion has been totally sunk by the Winnie the Pooh incident. Red Candle Gamessaid in a statement:

For the past four months, the art asset incident related to Devotion has caused immeasurable harm to Red Candle Games and our partner, (Chinese publisher Indievent),

While mediation is still in progress, Red Candle's co-founders have reached a unanimous decision to not re-release 'Devotion' in the near term, including but not limited to obtaining profit from sales, revision, IP authorization, etc. to prevent unnecessary misconception.

The studio extended its apologies to all impacted teams and personnel, and is taking full responsibility for any and all losses.

 

 

Extract The Hidden Sword...

Chinese film censorship leaves little chance that its films can find international success and the resulting insipid films are hardly setting China's box office alight


Link Here 16th July 2019
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids

The Hidden Sword is a 2017 China action drama by Haofeng Xu.
Starring Qing Xu, Jue Huang and Aoyue Zhang. IMDb

Latest film of Xu Haofeng, a new master of Chinese Wu Xia films, screenwriter of Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster. The new film tells a Chinese Wu Xia story happened in 1930s, but with a new presentation.

Long-awaited martial-arts film The Hidden Sword announced Monday that its theatrical release this Friday in China has been cancelled, presumably the latest casualty of a censorship campaign that is damaging the country's box office.

The Chinese film censors had granted the film at least enough permission to appear at international film festivals and it won awards at Montreal and Taiwan.

However the censors seemed to get cold feet at the domestic premiere. It was banned just 4 days before its premiere.

See Chinese Box Office Self-Harm Continues With Axing of 'The Hidden Sword' from variety.com

 

 

Happytimes at the censor's office...

Malaysia's chief censor reports on 8 films banned in 2018


Link Here 9th July 2019
Full story: Censored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz, chairman of the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) has been interviewed by the New Straits Times.

He reported that eight films had been banned in 2018:

  • Dua -- Dunia Untuk Aku (Malaysia)
  • Padmaavat (India)
  • Iruttu Arayil Murattu Kuthtu (Malaysia)
  • Love, Simon (US)
  • A Fantastic Woman (Chile / Germany / Spain / USA)
  • Bilal (Malaysia)
  • 18.05.2009 (India)
  • The Happytime Murders (US)

He also made a fe comments as to why these had been banned

Any film with LGBT elements, whether directly or indirectly promoting or propagandising this element, will be banned. That was why Dua -- Dunia Untuk Aku was banned.

The animated film Bilal was banned as its portrayal of Islam was not in accordance with the Sunnah practised in Malaysia.

The Bollywood movie Padmaavat , meanwhile, was axed as it depicted Muslims negatively.

The other movies contained LGBT elements or had extreme sexual scenes.

Zamberi also spoke of the board's discussions to add an extra age certificate to Malaysia's line up. Currently, films are classified as U, P13 or 18. Zamberi said most of the time, local distributors and producers seek a U or P13 classification.

He said that there was a significant gap between the P13 and 18 categories and so the LPF is mulling introducing new classifications, like P15 or P16, to bridge this gap.

 

 

Offsite Article: Cold Fear of Cold Fire...


Link Here 7th July 2019
Brave Thai band who criticised their government now living in exile fear for their lives after a string of disappearances and murders

See article from abc.net.au

 

 

VPNs claimed to be unlicensed ISPs...

Indonesia's internet censor to consider a ban on VPNs


Link Here 4th July 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill
VPNs recently came under the scrutiny of the Indonesian government after authorities placed restrictions on social media during the May 21-22 election protests. At that time, the government temporarily banned certain features of social media to censor the communications that it did not like. Inevitably many Indonesians turned to using VPNs to bypass the ban, causing a sharp increase in VPN downloads.

In response, the government claimed that VPNs, especially the free ones, may pose threats to users' private data and that they should be uninstalled.

Now the Information and Communications Ministry (Kominfo) chipped in saying that Kominfo will not hesitate to block VPNs that aren't licensed in Indonesia. The licensing requirement seems to be a tenuous correlation that VPNs are somehow equivalent to ISPs, and ISPs Indonesia must be licensed.

This connection is not quite confirmed as yet and Kominfo is set to meet with the Association of Internet Service Providers in Indonesia (APJII) to discuss a possible VPN provider ban.

 

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