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Having a beef with social media...

Indian state shuts down the internet as locals use social media to criticise a religious ban on beef

Link Here26th September 2015
The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has imposed a 3 day shutdown of the mobile internet because locals are using social media to criticise a state law banning beef on religious grounds. The state is predominantly muslim, and so residents are unimpressed by the imposition of a law grounded in hinduism..

Inspector General of Police of Kashmir as well as Jammu region wrote a letter to all ISPs to extend the termination of data services to 3 days. He said:

In view of the apprehension of misuse of data services (GPRS/2G/3G) by anti-national elements, which is likely to cause deterioration in law and order situation, you are requested to completely snap down the data services through GPRS/2G/3G and broadband till 2 PM of September 27.

The measure has been taken because of apprehension of communal tension in the backdrop of the High Court directive for implementation of an old law that bans slaughter and selling of beef. Some separatist groups have said they will defy the court order, and proceeded to make their case by posting comments and videos on social media.




Bangladesh unbans film showing desperate conditions for factory workers

Link Here9th September 2015
A garment worker's rescue from the rubble of a Bangladeshi factory collapse in 2013 offered a Hollywood ending to one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

But when a Bangladeshi filmmaker decided to make a movie based on the miraculous survival story, a court banned its release claiming that it could negatively affect the country's labor force.

More recently though, a panel of four judges had a change of heart and agreed to lift the ban,. The reversal came at the insistence of the movie's producer, Shamima Akhter, who reasoned that Rana Plaza --named after the now infamous factory--had already been approved by Bangladesh's Film Censor Board.

At the time, Akhter had agreed to delete several scenes that presumably showed uncomfortable truths about how workers are treated in the factories of Bangladesh.

The Rana Plaza collapse claimed more than 1,000 lives and injured 2,500 others, raising international outcry over workers' safety.

The initial six-month ban on Rana Plaza's release was prompted in part by a petition launched by labor union president Sirajul Islam Rony, who objected to the movie's "humiliating" portrayal of workers as a "cheap commodity," according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle . Rony worried that the film might scare the millions of women who labor in Bangladesh's roughly $25 billion garment industry. Western retailers including H&M, Benetton, Zara, and Gap are among the country's biggest buyers.



Battling the Ban of Battle for Banaras...

Indian film censors ban political documentary

Link Here30th August 2015
The Battle for Banaras is a 2014 India documentary by Kamal Swaroop.
Starring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Sikandar Agarwal and Aditya Bhattacharya. Youtube link IMDb

Inspired by Nobel laureate Elias Canetti's book, 'Crowds and Power', the documentary captures the excitement, the madness and the noise behind the high- octane poll battle in the holy city of Banaras, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency. And in the process, for the first time lays bare the equation and politics of democracy called India.

Indian film censors have banned a political documentary, Battle of Banaras. The film studies the high-profile electoral battle between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, who hasn't watched the film, later said:

My officers told me that it's a political satire. It speaks against all politicians and is pro-Kejriwal in the way it has been shot. The people who reviewed it are experienced enough to know what is right and wrong. They found the kind of language that has been used in the film absolutely unsuitable for public viewing. It is inflammatory and flouts the CBFC guidelines.

Defending his film, Kamal Swaroop said it is strictly non-political and doesn't take any sides. He said:

I have nothing to do with AAP or the BJP . It's none of my business as a filmmaker. The film follows the festivities around the elections. I have observed the candidates fighting the election as a physical phenomenon.

Swaroop still has appeal option and he has decided to take the documentary to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).



Updated: A persuasive plaintif...

Indian film banned in Pakistan over claims of defamation by a suspected terrorist

Link Here29th August 2015
Phantom is a 2015 India action thriller by Kabir Khan.
Starring Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif and Rajesh Tailang. Youtube linkBBFC link IMDb

Phantom is a political thriller that unfolds across various countries around the world. The plot revolves around protagonist Daniyal, whose journey to seek justice takes him from India to Europe, America and the volatile Middle East. However, he finds out that in a mission like this, there is always a price to pay, in this case, a very personal price.

The Indian movie, Phantom was set to be released on August 28 both in Pakistan and India, but its screening is now banned in Pakistani cinemas as the result of a case in the Lahore High Court. It follows the pattern of Pakistanis not being impressed by being depicted as the bad guys.

In this case, a lawyer representing a suspected bad guy wanted by the U.S., brought the case over being depicted as a terrorist who is the target of an assassination in the film. The internationally designated terrorist who was the brains behind the 26/11 attacks felt that this movie would somehow mislead the residents of Pakistan.

In the UK, the BBFC has just passed the film 15 uncut for strong violence.

Update: Aid group calls for the censorship of Phantom because they think people believe what they see at the movies

29th August 2015. See  article from

Aid group Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) says it is taking legal action over a Bollywood film, claiming it could endanger its staff in conflict zones.

MSF says the film Phantom depicts an aid worker for a confusingly similar fictitious organisation using a weapon. The film does not mention MSF by name.

The group claims the film could harm its work in places where its access depends on a reputation for neutrality. A statement released by MSF said the organisation became aware of its association with Phantom after one of its actors said

Their character in the film worked for MSF. The same character was also shown holding a gun in the film's trailer, something an MSF staff member would never do.



Offsite Article: One lawyer vs millions of people who enjoy porn...

Link Here18th August 2015
The BBC profiles the morality campaigner who temporarily persuaded the Indian government to block adult websites

See article from



'Among the most vulgar films ever'...

Indian film censors recommend the upcoming Hollywood comedy, Vacation

Link Here15th August 2015
Vacation is a 2015 USA comedy adventure by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M Goldstein.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann and Elizabeth Gillies. Youtube link IMDb

Hoping to bring his family closer together and to recreate his childhood vacation for his own kids, a grown up Rusty Griswold takes his wife and their two sons on a cross-country road trip to the coolest theme park in America, Walley World. Needless to say, things don't go quite as planned.

The film has fallen foul of India's film censors at the Central Board of Film Censorship (CBFC).

It has just been passed by the censors, but with major cuts. While members of the CBFC refused to comment on the cuts, an informed source said there were widespread objections within the censor board to the lewd situation and dialogues in Vacation:

Censor board members said Vacation was the American equivalent of Grand Masti . They felt it was among the most vulgar films ever . Three times it was rejected by CBFC's Examining Committee and Revising Committee. Finally Vacation was passed with an 'A' certificate but with 9-10 major visual and dialogue cuts.

Apparently the CBFC suggested that the Indian distributors Warner Brothers for Vacation should consider not releasing the film at all, as the cuts affect the plot and narration. However the distributors have elected to take the cuts and release the film.



Offsite Article: We must be free to hurt Muslims' feelings...

Link Here13th August 2015
Why we must stand with Bangladesh's vilified secularist bloggers. By Brendan O'Neill

See article from



Updated: Tubes Unblocked...

Indian ISPs unblock porn as the government responds to widespread criticism of its censorship

Link Here11th August 2015
Twitter and Reddit users are reporting that state-owned ISPs MTNL and BSNL and privately-owned ISPs ACT, Spectranet, Tikona, Asianet and Hathway are blocking access to major porn websites. Mobile operator Vodafone is also blocking these websites.

While some users are just getting a This site has been blocked as per the instructions of Competent Authority, others are seeing a message that indicates that the sites are being blocked as per directions received from Department of Telecom, Government of India. Some users are just getting blank pages or Directory doesn't exist, error message.

This move seems to have been somewhat unexpected, with perhaps the notable clue from July, when a Supreme Court bench responded to a request for blocking of porn websites saying:

It is an issue for the government to deal with. Can we pass an interim order directing blocking of all adult websites? And let us keep in mind the possible contention of a person who could ask what crime have I committed by browsing adult websites in private within the four walls of my house. Could he not argue about his right to freedom to do something within the four walls of his house without violating any law?

The bench asked additional solicitor general Pinky Anand why the MHA had not taken any action on the list of websites and also not filed any response to the petition as sought by the court. Anand assured the court that the needful would be done:

The ministry will soon file a response to the petition and detail the action taken. All necessary steps under the Information and Technology Act will be taken.

Update: Government confirmed to be behind the internet censorship

3rd August 2015. See  article from

The Indian government has ordered a large number of porn websites to be blocked, creating an uproar among users and civil rights groups in the country.

The Department of Telecommunications has issued orders for the blocking of 857 websites serving pornography, said two persons familiar with the matter, who declined to be named.

Section 69 (A) of India's Information Technology Act allows the government to order blocking of public access to websites and other information through computer resources, though this section appears to be designed to be invoked when a threat is perceived to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order.

Pranesh Prakash, policy director of the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore pointed out the illegality of the censorship:

The government cannot on its own block private access to pornography under current statutes. Parliament has not authorized the government to ban porn on its own.

However, courts have in the past ordered specific websites to be blocked for specific offences such as defamation, though as far as I know not for obscenity.

Viewing pornography privately is not a crime in India, though its sale and distribution is an offence.

Some porn websites were still accessible through certain Internet service providers on Monday, as some ISPs took some time to implement the order. All the 857 websites will be blocked by all ISPs today, said a source in the ISP industry, who requested anonymity. As licensees we have to follow the orders.

Update: India plans to set up up a government porn censor

4th August 2015.  See  article from

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology has asked Internet service providers to take down 857 porn websites, an official said. The official, however, said it was a temporary measure till the final orders are pronounced by the top court.

Explaining rationale for the decision, a top government official said the government has merely complied with the Supreme Court directive asking for measures to block porn sites. He said that the government would line up for the court to hear an array of views, mostly anti-porn from NGOs, civil society, parental groups, child councillors, ISPs and government, and after hearing the views of all, let the court come with some guidelines. The official spoke of an official porn censor:

Let there be an ombudsman to take a call, like the TV ombudsman is there.

The censor could be a retired judge or somebody from the civil society. The official said all the stakeholders can give their views regarding the censorship mechanism that should be adopted for the cyber content related issues.

Update: An act of Talibanisation

4th August 2015. See  article from

 Many are not impressed by te government censorship, Milind Deora a former Minister of State with the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications tweeted:

And the government takes one more step towards the Talibanization of India,

The latest ban is not about liking or disliking porn. It's about govt hijacking personal liberties. What'll they ban next - phones and TVs?

Privacy is my inalienable, constitutional right.

Update: And the list is...

4th August 2015. See  article from

See India's list of blocked porn [pdf] from

The Indian Government has ordered local ISPs to block access to a list of 857 websites that supposedly link to adult material. The broad blocking order goes further than targeting dedicated porn sites alone though. Torrent sites and are listed too, as well as 9Gag, Liveleak and CollegeHumor.

The Government order is quite broad, and not just because of the high number of domain names involved. A leaked copy which list all of the affected domains reveals some unsuspected entries.

For example, the list contains two of the largest torrent sites, and The first is now operating under the new domain name and the latter site is down, so the effects of the blockade are minimal.

blockedcollegeWhile blocking these torrent sites may be justified as both sites do link to pornographic content, the same can't really be said for CollegeHumor and 9Gag, which are also on the blacklist.

The same goes for Liveleak, which has plenty of immoral videos but isn't really known for its vast amounts of porn. Finally, the list also includes , a site specializing in dirty jokes.

Update: Porn unbanned

5th August 2015. See  article from

India will restore open access to 857 pornographic websites, following widespread outrage over the censorship.

The department of telecoms told ISPs not to block porn URLs. The department tried to save a bit of face by bringing up the subject of child porn but of course none of the major porn websites being blocked have any.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met senior officials on Tuesday to review the ban and decided that internet service providers (ISPs) would be immediately asked not to block those sites which did not contain any child pornography.

News of the ban caused a furore on Indian social media, with several senior politicians and members of civil society expressing their opposition to the move.

Update: Still banned

7th August 2015. See  article from

Porn is still effectively banned in India, for the supposed reason that ISPs erroneously claim that there may be child porn on some of the world's best known and loved porn websites.

The government banned porn over the weekend, but after vast amounts of criticism quickly undid the block. But it came with a catch that sites that allow child porn should not be let back online. The  Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) ludicrously claimed:

ISPs have no way or mechanism to filter out child pornography from URLs, and the further unlimited sub-links.

The ISPs do not have mechanism to check the content, as the same is dynamic in nature. Hence, we request your good self to advise us immediately on the future course of action in this regard. Till your further directive, the ISPs are keeping the said 857 URLs disabled.

Update: Even the BBC wants to tell the story

8th August 2015. See  How the government was forced to reverse course  from

The debate has also sparked concern over what some see as a growing culture of intolerance promoted by a series of actions by the right-wing BJP government, many of whose members are self-professed Hindu nationalists.

...see the full article

Update: Moral policemen say they don't want to be moral policemen

11th August 2015. See  article from

India's Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has appeared in court being quizzed about the short lived government censorship of porn websites. He now says:

How can you stop in on the privacy of your phone? The other thing is that if someone wants to watch it in the privacy of their bedroom, how can we stop that? These are now issues of 19(1).

There are many issues and we don't want to do moral policing. There is also difficulty: the websites can change their names and change their website, and it becomes difficult. We will obey court orders, but we don't want to become a moral police.

Article 19 (1) is about freedom of speech.  That's pretty much what the Chief Justice had told the porn ban petitioners in the first place.

Somebody can come to the court and say, 'Look, I am an adult and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room?' It is a violation of Article 21.

Article 21 is about a right to personal liberty.

So if both were on the same page anyway, why did the government willfully slap egg on its own face and make itself the butt of jokes last week with its 857-site ban which Rohatgi himself admits the department went and blocked without verifying ?



Update: Serial Killers...

Religious extremists in Bangladesh continue working their murderous way through a list of atheist bloggers

Link Here8th August 2015

On Friday, August 7 at approximately 1:45pm, five assailants armed with machetes entered the flat of blogger Niloy Neel and killed him brutally . When his wife and sister attempted to save him, the attackers threatened to kill them too.

Niloy is the fourth blogger to be killed in Bangladesh over the last six months. All those killed were secular and critical of extremist muslim political movements in the country. Many more have been attacked, subjected to death threats and ostracized by religious hardliners for their writing.

The blogger had written under the pen name Niloy Neel in Istishon (meaning station in Bengali) as a member of a Bengali group blog that covered political and social issues. Neel was vocal about secularism and wrote for the platform Ganajagaran Mancha , demanding capital punishment for 1971 war criminals. Neel was also writing in support of women's rights, indigenous peoples, even for all other minorities. He was critic of religious extremism that provoked bombing in mosque and killing thousands of civilians.

The names of these bloggers and others under threat appeared on a list of 84 people submitted to a special government committee by a group of extremist Muslim clerics who accused the bloggers of atheism and writing against Islam. Government officials responded by blocking critical websites and making arrests of bloggers and leaders from the religious right.

Eleven of the bloggers on the list (including Niloy) have now been killed over the past two years.



Updated: Swearing support for Indian film...

Film censors vote to end a ban on strong language in all films

Link Here5th August 2015
India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has withdrawn its controversial list of swear words after a majority of members voted against the list at a meeting on Friday.

It was in February this year when the crazed chairman Pahlaj Nihalani issued a list of swear words to all regional officers in the certification body and directed that films with innuendo, profanities, those glorifying bloodshed or violence against women would not get certification.

The decision did initiate uproar by the film-makers and even the board members against CBFC chairman for his dictatorial approach .

Reportedly, CBFC board members stated that swear words should be seen in the context of the entire film rather than in an isolated manner and the decision be left to the examining committee.

Whilst the list was in operation many films like Highway, NH10 and many others suffered cuts because of the list.

However, in a meeting held on Friday, 12 out of 15 members of the CBFC stood in favour of withdrawing the list. Reportedly, the members also insisted in recording the minutes of the meeting and circulating it within two weeks so as to make the decision official.

CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani refused to comment on the issue.

Update: Chief censor contradicts his team

5th August 2015. See  article from

India's chief film censor Pahlaj Nihalani refutes reports that his infamous list of 28 banned cuss words have been withdrawn. He said in no unclear terms that the list stays put.  Nihalani calls claims to the contrary as irresponsible and damaging. He raged:

First of all, the proceedings of the Board meeting were highly confidential and not meant to be given out to the public. Censor Board members are giving out wrong information to the press.

There was no question of banning the banned words. It is not up to the Board members to make policy decisions. They can only discuss change. They cannot decide or implement changes.



Update: Swearing support for Indian film...

Film censors vote to end a ban on strong language in all films

Link Here1st August 2015
India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has withdrawn its controversial list of swear words after a majority of members voted against the list at a meeting on Friday.

It was in February this year when the crazed chairman Pahlaj Nihalani issued a list of swear words to all regional officers in the certification body and directed that films with innuendo, profanities, those glorifying bloodshed or violence against women would not get certification.

The decision did initiate uproar by the film-makers and even the board members against CBFC chairman for his dictatorial approach .

Reportedly, CBFC board members stated that swear words should be seen in the context of the entire film rather than in an isolated manner and the decision be left to the examining committee.

Whilst the list was in operation many films like Highway, NH10 and many others suffered cuts because of the list.

However, in a meeting held on Friday, 12 out of 15 members of the CBFC stood in favour of withdrawing the list. Reportedly, the members also insisted in recording the minutes of the meeting and circulating it within two weeks so as to make the decision official.

CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani refused to comment on the issue.



Flagged up by Censors...

Pakistan film censors demand cuts to remove images of Indian flags

Link Here13th July 2015
The Indian film ABCD 2 has suffered censorship problems in Pakistan.

The Sindh Board of Film Censors passed the film without any cuts and with a U (Universal) certificate in Karachi on June 18. The Punjab Board of Censors also cleared it without cuts.

However the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) in Islamabad wanted passionate lip kissing shots from the song Dance, excised. The certificate further stated that Indian flags, wherever occur in the film, be excised .

The last diktat posed problems for exhibitors since the Indian tricolour waves across the film and is prominently displayed in the climax song. The only cineplex in Islamabad, after some deliberation, decided not to screen the film. But two other cinemas played it. Nadeem Mandviwalla, a leading distributor and exhibitor in Pakistan, said:

Due to excessive cutting in the film by the CBFC, specially in the end song, resulting in nearly the entire song being excised, we opted not to exhibit the film at our ME--Centaurus Cineplex in Islamabad.



Update: Cuts not allowed...

India's loony film censor unilaterally bans 18 rated films from TV, even after extensive cuts

Link Here11th July 2015
Pahlaj Nihalani, surely the most megalomaniac head that the Central Board of Film Classification (CBFC) has ever had, has resurrected an old rule from 1990 that means that 'A ' (18) rated films can no longer be aired on television even if they have been re-cut or re-censored to be eligible for a U or U/A certificate.

Nihalani claims he's simply going by the book and told 9XE that this is a result of films in recent times becoming more predominantly vulgar themes by depicting sex and featuring double meaning dialogues , which he deems as infinitely more harmful than the violence and horror that would form a staple of Hindi cinema earlier. We cannot possibly edit out a film's theme, he was quoted as saying, so how do we re-censor these films to make them U or U/A?

TV channels are legally not allowed to broadcast adult content but have previously allowed the films to be shown after CBFC cuts to a lower rating. Of course if the CBFC refuse to make the cuts then the films are then automatically banned from TV.

Of course losing TV sales will hit the pockets of producers of such films and may lead to fewer A rated films being made.



Update: Making supreme sense...

Indian Supreme Court dismisses petition to block all internet porn

Link Here10th July 2015
There will be no restrictions on watching porn within the confines of your own home, the Indian Supreme Court has said. The apex court declined a plea to pass an interim order to block all porn sites in India.

Hearing a petition by advocate Kamlesh Vashwani, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said: Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21 [right to personal liberty].



Update: Too much sexual energy...

Indian film censors ban Magic Mike XXL, but there's still an appeal board to try

Link Here9th July 2015
Magic Mike XXL is a 2015 USA comedy music drama by Gregory Jacobs.
Starring Amber Heard, Channing Tatum and Elizabeth Banks. Youtube link IMDb

The continuing story of male stripper, Magic Mike.

There's no kissing, no BDSM, no violence, only lots of male stripping. But the Magic Mike sequel, scheduled to open in India on July 3, is unlikely to arrive.

Pahlaj Nihalani, the loony chairperson of the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC), along with members of the Examining Committee, watched Magic Mike XXL. At the end of the screening, they announced in no uncertain terms, that the comedy-drama could not be per mitted to release in India because of all the sexual energy on display.

Tthe producers then had a second screening for an eight-member Revising Committee. Five of them were ready to clear the film with half-a-dozen cuts, the remaining three rejected it. A spokesman explained:

Since there is a difference of opinion, Warner Bros. will have to go to the appeal Tribunal or not release the film in India.

A Warner Bros. Pictures India spokesperson told Mirror:

The film stands postponed. Once cleared we will definitely release it in India.



Short lived press freedom...

Sri Lank re-establishes oppressive press censors

Link Here8th July 2015
The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about Sri Lankan authorities' decision to re-establish the Sri Lankan Press Council, a media regulatory body which gives the government powers to jail journalists in connection with their reporting.

The Press Council was established under the 1973 Press Council law and is made up of members appointed by the president as well as two journalists chosen by media organizations. Under the law , outlets are forbidden from publishing documents related to cabinet decisions without the permission of the cabinet, as well as some defense and fiscal matters. The law also provides for wide-ranging punitive powers, including the imprisonment of journalists and publishers, according to local press freedom groups.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced the decision on July 2 , and appointed new members to the council that day, according to news reports. The president did not consult any local media houses or press organizations.

The Press Council was dissolved in January 2015 after Sirisena was elected president. During his presidential bid , Sirisena vowed to uphold press freedom. But his commitment to uphold press freedom has proved somewhat short lived.

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