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US Censorship News


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31st December   

Update: Freer Free Broadband...

Adult content filtering dropped from US free broadband proposal
Link Here

Kevin Martin, the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission has revised his proposal to roll out a free (and adult content-free) wireless broadband service. In an effort to corral more votes, Martin has already circulated a new version of the plan, one that removes the controversial filtering requirement.

Why the change? I'm saying if this is a problem for people, let's take it away, Martin said: A lot of public interest advocates have said they would support this, but we're concerned about the filter. Well, now there's an item in front of the Commissioners and it no longer has the filter. And I've already voted for it without the filter now. So it's already got one vote.

The FCC's outgoing boss has been championing a proposal to auction off a hefty chunk of the Advanced Wireless Services 3 band (2155-2180MHz) for a free service that (until now) was to come complete with adult content filtering.

The license winner would be required to offer the service at a minimum 768Kpbs; it's obviously not the fastest rate in town, but it meets the FCC's new and improved definition of "basic" broadband. The provider will have to honor a Carterfone-style rule that allows any application or device to connect to the network, and the license will last for ten years, with ten-year renewal periods. The licensee must roll out coverage to half of the US population within four years and reach 95% of the country by the end of the first decade.


29th December   

Comment: In the Name of Fairness...

US Democrats look to censor political views on TV, Radio, cable, satellite and internet
Link Here

Under the guise of Fairness , our Congress Critters are considering forcing radio and TV stations to balance their hourly lineups across the ideological spectrum. One hour of conservative programming followed by one hour of liberal programming would be an example of fairness and balance . The on/off switch would no longer be necessary with the federal government protecting us from speech and thoughts that they think would contaminate our minds.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says in part, Congress shall make no law. abridging the freedom of speech, Yet our Congress Critters are considering abridging freedom of speech. Last year Speaker Pelosi (D-Ca) blocked an attempt that would have prevented the government from resurrecting the practice of controlling ideological speech on the broadcast media. Senator Schumer (D-NY) suggested that regulating political content was the same as regulating pornography. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Il), John Kerry (D-Ma), Barbara Boxer (D-Ca), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca), and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are a few in the Democratic leadership that believes that the federal government should control ideological speech.

But Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Ca) goes even further. She said she planned to introduce legislation to control speech on broadcast stations (AM and FM) in addition to cable TV and satellite radio. Eshoo said, It should, and will, affect everyone.

Once the federal government heads down the path of censoring speech where will it end? FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said that the speech limits may even extent to the Internet. McDowell also warned when you have the federal government dictating content you have a First Amendment problem. Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair.

Be very afraid when the federal government wants to mandate fairness. Censorship is the modus operandi of a totalitarian government.


18th December   

Update: Onerous Records...

US Government updates 2257 record keeping restrictions
Link Here

The US Justice Department has released revised Section 2257 regulations and they are expected to go in effect in three months.

The 167-page draft includes a change that enables for third-party recordkeeping, attorney J.D. Obenberger told XBIZ.

It means individuals and small companies will be able to contract with a third party with the necessary records, giving them added privacy and security and reduction in compliance costs, he said.

The revised regulations are more stringent with the application of Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006, which requires notices to be placed on each page of every adult website.

Webmasters will now need to post a link to the disclosure statement on all pages where 2257-triggering content appears, attorney Larry Walters from told XBIZ. This is a change from the prior method of posting a link only on the home page.

Walters added that there are several other interesting nuggets in the regulations, and the comments, such as the determination that videos embedded on Web pages from sites like need to be accompanied by full 2257 compliance efforts, even if the originating site may be exempt from compliance.


14th December   

Update: Enjoyment Deficit...

Another attempt at a porn tax for California
Link Here
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

With the state facing a dire budget crisis, a California politician plans to introduce new legislation that would tax consumers of adult entertainment.

Democrat  State Assemblymember Alberto Torrico said he plans to push for new legislation that would place a tax on the goods and products associated with the adult entertainment industry.

Torrico's spokesman Jeff Barbosa said the amount of the tax had not been determined, but the legislation could be introduced within a few weeks.

The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of a similar bill's defeat in August. A 25% excise tax on adult products and productions proposed by Assemblyman Charles Calderon gained no traction in the assembly and died in committee.


13th December   

The Ayatollah vs the Ram...

Iran whinges at Hollywood film with Iranian baddy
Link Here

A new target in Iran's long-running grievance about its negative portrayal in popular western cinema is, The Wrestler , a film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Mickey Rourke, due for release in the US on December 17.

Newspapers and websites have alerted readers to the anti-Iranian film by highlighting a scene in which Rourke's character, Randy "the Ram" Robinson, violently breaks a pole bearing an Iranian flag across his knee, after his opponent tries to use it to put him in a stranglehold.

Perhaps to avoid offending Iran's clerical rulers, no mention has been made of the screen name of Rourke's antagonist, the Ayatollah, played by Ernest Miller.

But the Miller character's wrestling attire, a skimpy leotard in the pattern of an Iranian flag with the alef character - representing the first letter of the word Allah - emblazoned front and back on his loins, has been condemned by Borna News, a state-run website.

The pole-breaking scene occurs against the explicitly nationalistic backdrop of an animated crowd chanting, USA, USA. It is intended to represent the final triumph for Rourke's character, who comes out of retirement following a heart attack for one last confrontation with the Ayatollah, a rival from his wrestling heyday.

While there is virtually no chance of The Wrestler being given official screening permission in Iran, many Iranians have become familiar with it through promotional trailers shown on broadcaster, Voice of America's Persian-language satellite television channel.


6th December   

Seeing Red...

Red lights to be extinguished at Ning social networking
Link Here

The social networking site Ning has announced that it will discontinue hosting adult-oriented networks in its Red Light District as of January 1.

Ning was designed to allow anyone to create a social network on its platform. Network creators were allowed to do their own moderating.

Ning claims the decision was informed by the practical, not the philosophical. CEO and co-founder Gina Bianchini described the move as a logical step, taking into account all the problems adult content has caused for the site, including sub-par ad revenue, an increase in illegal adult social networks, and numerous DMCA take-down notices.

We're not discontinuing the Red Light District because we no longer believe in the freedom to create your own social network for anything as long as it's legal. We do. Practically though, supporting adult networks no longer makes sense, Bianchini wrote on the Ning blog.


5th December   

Update: Free Porn Free Wireless Broadband...

FCC near to auctioning off spectrum with onerous restrictions
Link Here

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is apparently ready to vote on a proposal that could conceivably bring free nationwide wireless broadband service to U.S. consumers.

According to a report in USA Today, the FCC, at its Dec. 18 meeting, will vote on whether to auction off a portion of unused spectrum called Advanced Wireless Service-3 (AWS-3) to the highest bidder.

But there are plenty of strings attached to the auction, which is expected to be held in early 2009. For example, the FCC will reportedly require the winner of the AWS-3 auction to devote 25% of the bandwidth to free wireless nationwide broadband with a downstream speed of 768 Kbps.

Predictably, carriers and service providers aren't happy about this, even though they'll be able to use the remaining 75% to sell faster, commercial services.

Clearly, it's the 'free' part of the equation that's keeping C-level service provider executives awake at night. But another thorny issue is the FCC requirement that the winner will have to keep the free wireless service free of pornography and illegal content, a stipulation that has added complex socio-political issues to the technological issues posited by the carriers.


3rd December   

Child Safe Viewing Act...

FCC to inquire into content blocking technology
Link Here

President Bush has signed the Child Safe Viewing Act, requiring the Federal Communications Commission to explore the market for technologies that allow parents to censor the programming their children watch.

The new law requires the FCC to issue a notice of inquiry to examine what advanced content-blocking technologies are available for various communication devices and platforms. It also calls for the FCC to consider how to encourage the development and use of such technologies without affecting content providers' pricing or packaging.

The term advanced blocking technologies is defined in the law as technology that enables parents to protect their children from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by such parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communication.

The FCC will have to report its findings to Congress within 270 days.


1st December   

Dangerous Anime...

US obscenity case about possession of comic books
Link Here

Look through your comic book collection. Do you have Alan Moore's Lost Girls ? Any of S. Clay Wilson's Underground Comix ? Even Neil Gaiman's Sandman series? If the prosecution of manga collector Christopher Handley sticks, all of that and more could be considered obscene, Gaiman told MTV.

I wrote a story about a serial killer who kidnaps and rapes children, and then murders them, Gaiman said, referring to a storyline in The Doll's House . We did that as a comic, not for the purposes of titillation or anything like that, but if you bought that comic, you could be arrested for it? That's just deeply wrong. Nobody was hurt. The only thing that was hurt were ideas.

Gaiman's currently supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's fight to defend Handley, who was arrested in Iowa for possession of obscene material based on his private collection, which included lolicon and yaoi manga. Lolicon focuses on the Lolita complex, where yaoi features male homosexual romance for a primarily female audience.

There is explicit sex in yaoi comics, Handley's lawyer Eric Chase told MTV. And the men are drawn in a very androgynous style, which has the effect of making them look really young. There's a real taboo in Japan about showing pubic hair, so they're all drawn without it, which also makes them look young. So what concerned the authorities were the depictions of children in explicit sexual situations that they believed to be obscene. But there are no actual children. It was all very crude images from a comic book.

Despite the argument that there was no actual children portrayed in the manga, Handley faces felony obsenity charges, including the receipt and possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. The case is going to trial on December 2. The jury will determine whether the manga is obscene or if it has artistic value. If found guilty of the charges against him, Handley faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.


19th November   

Old Censor...

Senator Ted Stevens sacked by his electorate
Link Here

The nutter Senator Ted Stevens, has been sacked by his electorate. He has regularly featured on Melon Farmers calling for FCC censorship of cable television and generally bad mouthing anything to do with sex, violence and TV

Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges….

Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the Johnson administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.


15th November   

Glorified Censors...

YouTube take down videos said to glorify Columbine High School killings
Link Here

YouTube has removed a number of videos 'glorifying' the Columbine High School killers, after a BBC investigation.

Videos found on the site praised Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold - also known as Reb and Vodka - for carrying out the shooting, in which 13 people died.

The killings near Denver, Colorado nine years ago, were romanticised in some of the videos which have now been removed.

The BBC Six O'clock News discovered that nine years on from America's worst high school shooting there is a thriving online community obsessed with teenage gunmen Harris and Klebold.

Many tribute videos found on YouTube 'romanticise' the killers who shot 12 pupils, a teacher and wounded 23 others before shooting themselves.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it was grateful to the BBC for bringing the videos to its attention. Peter Barron, Head of Communication for Google UK, owners of the site said: We do not tolerate videos that glorify school shootings and have removed the videos that fall into that category.


13th November   

Update: Playing a Detailed Rating Game...

ESRB introduce extended explanations of their games ratings
Link Here

The US games rating organisation, ESRB, has begun a new program to add summaries of why each game has earned its rating.

Research shows that the vast majority of parents who purchase games for their kids are aware of and regularly check ESRB ratings, but parents can always use more help when making choices as to which games are right for their children, said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB: With our new rating summaries, which provide exclusive and unprecedented insight into the nature of the content that triggered a given rating assignment, parents will be that much more empowered in making those choices.

Games rated from July 1 of this year will have a summary available, and the ESRB has also launched a mobile site to make these summaries accessible from cell phones. If you want this information while at a game store, simply look up the game on your cell phone.

An example database entry now looks like this

Dead Space

Platform : Windows PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Rating : Mature

Content descriptors : Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Rating summary : Dead Space is a third-person action game that takes place in a mysterious space station. The protagonist searches for clues found in the form of audio/video clips and various other items while avoiding hazards and fighting alien monsters. He uses several types of guns, lasers and flame throwers to defeat enemies. Characters lose limbs and heads, accompanied by sprays, stains, and gushes of red blood. Dismembered alien and human corpses appear regularly. Strong profanity (e.g., "sh*t" and "f*ck") can be heard in dialogue and seen in graffiti.

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