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 Update: More EU nastiness...

EU is getting heavy with internet giants who refuse to censor content that the EU does not like


Link Here 17th March 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
european commission logoSocial media giants Facebook, Google and Twitter will be forced to change their terms of service for EU users within a month, or face hefty fines from European authorities, an official said on Friday.

The move was initiated after politicians have decided to blame their unpopularity on 'fake news' rather than their own incompetence and their failure to listen to the will of the people.

The EU Commission sent letters to the three companies in December, stating that some terms of service were in breach of EU protection laws and urged them to do more to prevent fraud on their platforms. The EU has also urged social media companies to do more when it comes to assessing the suitability of user generated content.

The letters, seen by Reuters, explained that the EU Commission also wanted clearer signposting for sponsored content, and that mandatory rights, such as cancelling a contract, could not be interfered with.

Germany said this week it is working on a new law that would see social media sites face fines of up to $53 million if they failed to strengthen their efforts to remove material that the EU does not like. German censorship minister Heiko Mass said:

There must be as little space for criminal incitement and slander on social networks as on the streets. Too few criminal comments are deleted and they are not erased quickly enough. The biggest problem is that networks do not take the complaints of their own users seriously enough...it is now clear that we must increase the pressure on social networks.

 

 Update: Censorship via blasphemy...

Pakistan is getting heavy with internet giants who refuse to censor content that Pakistan does not like


Link Here 17th March 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
Pakistan flagPakistani has threatened to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content considered insulting to Islam. The government's Fderal Investigation Agency (FIA) is also in talks with Interpol to identify supposedly blasphemous content.

The FIA has sent a formal request to Facebook but the company's management has yet to respond. Pakistan's interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan urged Facebook to comply:

I hope that the management of Facebook will respect the religious sentiments of 200 million Pakistanis and tens of millions of users of Facebook in Pakistan and will cooperate in that regard.

These requests come after the Islamabad high court ordered the government to start an investigation into online blasphemy and threatened to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam, lawyers told AFP.

 

 Update: Linked to censorship...

Leaked Report Slams European Link Tax and Upload Filtering Plans


Link Here 11th March 2017

European Parliament logo Earlier this week we explained how the tide is turning against the European Commission's proposal for Internet platforms to adopt new compulsory copyright filters as part of its upcoming Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. As we explained, users and even the European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) have criticized the Commission's proposal, which could stifle online expression, hinder competition, and suppress legal uses of copyrighted content, like creating and sharing Internet memes .

Since then, a leaked report has revealed that one of the European Parliament's most influential committees has also come out against the proposal . As the IMCO committee's report had done, the report of the European Parliament's Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee not only criticizes the upload filtering proposal (aka. Article 13, or the #censorshipmachine), but renders even harsher judgment on a separate proposal to require online news aggregators to pay copyright-like licensing fees to the publishers they link to (aka. Article 11, or the link tax ). We'll take these one at a time.

JURI Committee Scales Back the EU's Censorship Machine

The JURI committee would maintain the requirement for copyright holders to "take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightsholders for the use of their works." But the committee rejects the proposed requirement for automatic blocking or deletion of uploaded content, because it fails to take account of the limitations and exceptions to copyright that Europe recognizes, such as the right of quotation. The committee writes in an Explanatory Statement:

The process cannot underestimate the effects of the identification of user uploaded content which falls within an exception or limitation to copyright. To ensure the continued use of such exceptions and limitations, which are based on public interest concerns, communication between users and rightsholders also needs to be efficient.

The committee also affirms that the agreements between rightsholders and platforms don't detract from the safe harbor protection for platforms that Europe's E-Commerce Directive already provides (which is analogous to the DMCA safe harbor in the U.S.). This means that if user-uploaded content appears on a platform without a license from the copyright holder, the platform's only obligation is to remove that content on receipt of a request by the copyright holder.

We would have liked to see a stronger denunciation of the mandate for Internet platforms to enter into licensing agreements with copyright holders, and we maintain that the provision is better deleted altogether. Nonetheless, the committee's report, if reflected in the final text, should rule out the worst-case scenario of platforms being required to automatically flag and censor copyright material as it is uploaded.

European Link Tax Faces its Toughest Odds Ever

The leaked report goes further in its response to the link tax, recommending that it be dropped from the new copyright directive altogether. Given the failure of smaller scale link tax schemes in Germany and Spain , this was the only sensible position for the committee to take. The Explanatory Statement to the report correctly distinguishes between two separate aspects of the use of news reporting online that the Commission's original proposal incorrectly conflates:

Digitalisation makes it easier for content found in press publications to be copied or taken. Digitalisation also facilitates access to news and press by providing digital users a referencing or indexing system that leads them to a wide range of news and press. Both processes need to be recognised as separate processes.

Instead of introducing new monopoly rights for publishers, the JURI committee suggests simplifying the process by which publishers can take copyright infringement action in the names of the journalists whose work is appropriated. This would address the core problem of full news reports being republished without permission, but without creating new rights over mere snippets of news that accompany links to their original sources. Far from being a problem, this use is actually beneficial for news organizations.

The JURI committee report is just a recommendation for the amendment of the European Commission proposal, and it will still be some months before we learn whether these recommendations will be reflected in the final compromise text. Nonetheless, it is heartening to see the extreme proposals of the Commission getting chiseled away by one of the Parliament's most influential committees.

The importance of this shouldn't be underestimated. Although the above proposals are limited to Europe at present, there is the very real prospect that, if they succeed, they will pop up in the United States as well. In fact, U.S. content industry groups are already advocating for the adoption of an upload filtering proposal stateside. That's why it's vital not only for Europeans to speak out against these dangerous proposals, but also for Internet users around the world to stand on guard, and to be ready to fight back.

 

 Update: Twitter turns grey...

Twitter greys out profiles of users with 'sensitive' content


Link Here 11th March 2017  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
twitter 2015 logoTwitter is continuing its campaign to add controls and warnings to tweets.

It now presents a warning when users click on a profile that may include sensitive content .  The warning greys out the profile's tweets, bio and profile picture, but gives users the option to view the profile if they wish.

Twitter used to only mark individual tweets with a sensitivity warning, but has now expanded this to censor whole profiles unless users agree to view them.

The warning message given with the greyed out profile says:

Caution: This profile may include sensitive content.  You're seeing this warning because they tweet sensitive images or language. Do you still want to view it?

Twitter did not publicly announce the new feature, and tweeters with profiles being greyed out are not informed by Twitter.

 

  Subprime...

Amazon Prime is set to ban horror and adult films from free streaming


Link Here 27th February 2017

harvest lake mong other things, Amazon Prime provides a good many of their digital videos available to stream for free. Well, until now anyway. Many indie horror filmmakers are having their videos removed from the Prime service in an apparent new policy on the part of Amazon.

Amazon says it is cracking down on extreme content and is sending out emails to film makers to explain the new censorship policy.

 Here is an example email supplied by Scott Schirmer in regards to his film Harvest Lake :

Hello,

Amazon Video Direct periodically revises our content policy in order to improve the Amazon Video customer experience. Effective March 1, 2017, Amazon Video Direct will no longer allow titles containing persistent or graphic sexual or violent acts, gratuitous nudity and/or erotic themes ('adult content') to be offered as Included with Prime or Free with Pre-Roll Ad .

We have identified the following titles within your catalog which contain adult content:

Harvest Lake

In alignment with our new policy, the Included with Prime and/or Free with Pre-Roll Ad offers will be removed from these titles on March 1, 2017.

For any title to remain available to customers with an Included with Prime or Free with Pre-Roll Ad offer, its content including cover images, metadata, and/or video content must be free of persistent or graphic sexual or violent acts, gratuitous nudity and/or erotic themes.

For more information, please see our Content Policy Guidelines .

If you have any questions regarding this policy revision and related action, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks for using Amazon Video Direct.

Best regards,

Amazon Video Direct

 

  In the age of political correctness...

Judge indicates that a Californian law banning IMDb from publishing birthdates is likely to prove uncontitutional


Link Here 23rd February 2017

doj logoA politically correct Californian law targeting age discrimination has failed to win the immediate approval of a judge. The law requires date of births or age to be withheld from documents and publications used for job recruitment. One high profile consequence is that the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) would be banned from including age information in the profiles of stars and crew. This has led to the challenge of the law on grounds of unconstitutional censorship.

This week's ruling does not look good for the Californian law as the judge decided that birthday prohibition shall not apply until the full legal challenge is decided. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled:

[I]t's difficult to imagine how AB 1687 could not violate the First Amendment. The statute prevents IMDb from publishing factual information (information about the ages of people in the entertainment industry) on its website for public consumption. This is a restriction of non-commercial speech on the basis of content.

To be sure, the government has identified a compelling goal -- preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. But the government has not shown how AB 1687 is 'necessary' to advance that goal. In fact, it's not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all. And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal antidiscrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end.

Chhabria held that -- because the law restricts IMDb's speech rights -- the site is suffering irreparable harm and enjoined the government from enforcing the law pending the resolution of this lawsuit.