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There are more important harms to be thinking about than Pornhub...

Miserable MPs whinge about an uptick of people entertaining themselves on Pornhub during the coronavirus lockdown


Link Here 27th March 2020
British MPs have claimed that that measures to reform and regulate the porn industry have faltered, putting vulnerable people at risk.

Last year attempts to introduce age verification systems into open access porn sites to stop children being able to access extreme online content stalled, and MPs are warning that regulation proposed in a new online harms bill, currently at consultation stage in parliament, does not go far enough.

Tracy Brabin, the shadow culture secretary, whinged:

The online harms bill doesn't go far enough. We have to get control over this industry, said  We have a duty of care to young people whose videos are being shared who might not want them shared, and ... to potential victims of sex trafficking and rape.

MPs from both sides of the political divide agree. Conservative MP Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, said: These are hugely important issues and [the online harms bill] is taking too long, we have been talking about this for two years now. She said the promised duty of care should include a way to hold companies to account if unlawful material is posted.

Activist Laila Mickelwait, part of a group of activists at Exodus Cry, told the Guardian: Pornhub handing out 'free' premium content is a way for them to cash in on those around the world impacted by the pandemic. Pornhub is collecting an incredible amount of user data including IP addresses by allowing web beacons and other special information targeting technology on all user devices, and monetising it for their own gain.

 

 

Protect Speech and Security Online...

Calling on Americans to reject the Graham-Blumenthal Proposal


Link Here25th March 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are quietly circulating a serious threat to your free speech and security online. Their proposal would give the Attorney General the power to unilaterally write new rules for how online platforms and services must operate in order to rely on Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. The AG could use this power to force tech companies to undermine our secure and private communications.

We must stop this dangerous proposal before it sees the light of day. Please tell your members of Congress to reject the so-called EARN IT Act.   

The Graham-Blumenthal bill would establish a National Commission on Online Child Exploitation Prevention tasked with recommending best practices for providers of interactive computer services regarding the prevention of online child exploitation conduct. But the Attorney General would have the power to override the Commission's recommendations unilaterally. Internet platforms or services that failed to meet the AG's demands could be on the hook for millions of dollars in liability.

It's easy to predict how Attorney General William Barr would use that power: to break encryption. He's said over and over that he thinks the best practice is to weaken secure messaging systems to give law enforcement access to our private conversations. The Graham-Blumenthal bill would finally give Barr the power to demand that tech companies obey him or face overwhelming liability from lawsuits based on their users' activities. Such a demand would put encryption providers like WhatsApp and Signal in an awful conundrum: either face the possibility of losing everything in a single lawsuit or knowingly undermine their own users' security, making all of us more vulnerable to criminals. The law should not pit core values--Internet users' security and expression--against one another.

The Graham-Blumenthal bill is anti-speech, anti-security, and anti-innovation. Congress must reject it.

 

 

Lost Girls and lost minds at the BBFC...

Passed 12 uncut for sexual threat, language, self-harm, sexual violence references and over 20 instances of the word 'fuck'


Link Here17th March 2020
Lost Girls is a 2020 USA mystery thriller by Liz Garbus.
Starring Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie and Gabriel Byrne. BBFC link IMDb

When Mari Gilbert's (Academy AwardŽ nominee Amy Ryan) daughter disappears, police inaction drives her own investigation into the gated Long Island community where Shannan was last seen. Her search brings attention to over a dozen murdered sex workers Mari will not let the world forget. From Academy AwardŽ nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus, LOST GIRLS is inspired by true events detailed in Robert Kolker's "Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery."

Lost Girls is major offering from Netflix that demonstrated a major failing at the BBFC with its automated random rating generator used for Netflix ratings.

A ludicrous 12 rating was posted on the BBFC site, and people started to question it. As described by Neil

It was originally rated 12 and a few of us flagged that the system had failed because the content was above and beyond the 12 bracket (dead prostitutes, domestic abuse, over 20 instances of the word fuck (some directed and aggressively used) along with a continual menacing tone.

Funny because they had just done a press release about their new approach to classifying domestic abuse on screen at the beginning of last week!

Anyway - first thing Monday morning, some poor BBFC examiner went and re-rated it. The original 12 rating was deleted and replace d with 15 for strong language, sex references.

Here's the thread from twitter where the BBFC confesses to how their classifying system works without a BBFC examiner.

The BBFC started the conversation rolling with an ill-judged self promotional tweet implicitly boasting about the importance of its ratings:

BBFC @BBFC ˇ As the weekend approaches, @NetflixUK have released lots of binge-worthy content. What will you be tuning in to watch? Whatever you choose, check the age rating on our website: http:// bbfc.co.uk

  • Straight Outta Compton 36.1%

  • Love Is Blind 8.2%

  • Locke & Key 9.8%

  • A Quiet Place 45.9%

Well Scott took them at their word and checked out their ratings for Lost Girls. He wasn't impressed:

You need to go back to actually classifying Netflix material formally, rather than getting an algorithm to do it. This is rated R Stateside for language throughout, which in your terms means frequent strong language, so definitely not a 12!:

The BBFC responded, perhaps before  realising the extent of the failing

Hi Scott, thanks for flagging, we are looking into this. Just to explain, a person at Netflix watches the content from start to end, and tags the content as they view. Everyone who is tagging content receives appropriate training so they know what to look out for.

Scott noted that the BBFC explanation rather makes for a self proving mistruth as there was obviously at least a step in the process that didn't have a human in the driving seat, He tweeted:

Yeah, the BBFC and the OFLC in Aus now use an automated programme for Netflix content - nobody actually sits and watches it. I get that there's lots of material to go through, but this obviously isn't the best idea. Age ratings you trust is the BBFC's tagline - the irony.

Neil adds:

This film needs reviewing with your new guidance about domestic abuse & triggers in mind. Over 20 uses of f***, some very aggressive and directed. Descriptions of violent domestic abuse (titanium plates, etc) and dead sex workers, sustained threatening tone. Certainly not a 12.

At this point it looks as if the BBFC hasn't quite grasped that their system has clearly spewed bollox and tried to justify that the system as infallible even when it is clearly badly wrong:

These tags are then processed by an algorithm that sets out the same high standards as our classification guidelines. Then, this automatically produces a BBFC age rating for the UK, which is consistent with other BBFC rated content.

Scott adds

Ah, I stand corrected - didn't realise there was a middle man who watches the content. Nevertheless, there's still nobody at the BBFC watching it, which I think is an oversight - this film in particular is a perfect example.

Next thing spotted was the erroneous 12 rating deleted and replaced by a human crafted 15 rating.

And one has to revisit he BBFC statement: processed by an algorithm that sets out the same high standards as our classification guidelines. Perhaps we should read the BBFC statement at face value and conclude that the BBFC's high standards are the same standard as the bollox 12 rating awarded to Lost Girls.

 

 

A censorship struggle...

Amazon UK bans Hitler's book, Mein Kampf


Link Here17th March 2020
Full story: Mein Kampf...Censorship issues with Hitler's book
Amazon UK has banned the sale of most editions of Hitler's Mein Kampf and other Nazi propaganda books from its store following campaigning by Jewish groups.

Booksellers were informed in recent days that they would no longer be allowed to sell a number of Nazi-authored books on the website.

In one email seen by the Guardian individuals selling secondhand copies of Mein Kampf on the service have been told by Amazon that they can no longer offer this book as it breaks the website's code of conduct. The ban impacts the main editions of Mein Kampf produced by mainstream publishers such as London-based Random House and India's Jaico, for whom it has become an unlikely bestseller .

Other Nazi publications including the children's book The Poisonous Mushroom written by Nazi publisher Julius Streicher, who was later executed for crimes against humanity.

Amazon would not comment on what had prompted it to change its mind on the issue but a recent intervention to remove the books by the London-based Holocaust Educational Trust received the backing of leading British politicians.

 

 

Fined for a failed forgottening...

The Swedish government internet censor fines Google for not taking down links and for warning the targeted website about the censorship


Link Here17th March 2020
Full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU

The Swedish data protection censor, Datainspektionen has fined Google 75 million Swedish kronor (7 million euro) for failure to comply with the censorship instructions.

According to the internet censor, which is affiliated with Sweden's Ministry of Justice, Google violated the terms of the right-to-be-forgotten rule, a EU-mandated regulation introduced in 2014 allowing individuals to request the removal of potentially harmful private information from popping up in internet searches and directories.

Datainspektionen says an internal audit has shown that Google has failed to properly remove two search results which were ordered to be delisted back in 2017, making either too narrow an interpretation of what content needed to be removed, or failing to remove a link to content without undue delay.

The watchdog has also slapped Google with a cease-and-desist order for its practice of notifying website owners of a delisting request, claiming that this practice defeats the purpose of link removal in the first place.

Google has promised to appeal the fine, with a spokesperson for the company saying that it disagrees with this decision on principle.

 

 

Worthy but blinkered...

Independent report on child abuse material recommends strict age/identity verification for social media


Link Here14th March 2020
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, was set up because of serious concerns that some organisation had failed and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse. It describes its remit as:

Our remit is huge, but as a statutory inquiry we have unique authority to address issues that have persisted despite previous inquiries and attempts at reform.

The inquiry has just published its report with the grandiose title: The Internet.

It has consider many aspects of child abuse and come up with the following short list of recommendation:

  1. Pre-screening of images before uploading

    The government should require industry to pre-screen material before it is uploaded to the internet to prevent access to known indecent images of children.
     
  2. Removal of images

    The government should press the WeProtect Global Alliance to take more action internationally to ensure that those countries hosting indecent images of children implement legislation and procedures to prevent access to such imagery.
     
  3. Age verification

    The government should introduce legislation requiring providers of online services and social media platforms to implement more stringent age verification techniques on all relevant devices.
     
  4. Draft child sexual abuse and exploitation code of practice

    The government should publish, without further delay, the interim code of practice in respect of child sexual abuse and exploitation as proposed by the Online Harms White Paper (published April 2019).

But it should be noted that the inquiry gave not even a passing mention to some of the privacy issues that would have far reaching consequences should age verification be required for children's social media access.

Perhaps the authorities should recall that age verification for porn failed because the law makers were only thinking of the children, and didn't give even a moment of passing consideration for the privacy of the porn users. The lawmaker's blinkeredness resulted in the failure of their beloved law.

Has anyone even considered the question what will happen if they ban kids from social media. An epidemic of tantrums? Collapse of social media companies? kids go back to hanging around on street corners?, the kids find more underground websites to frequent? they play violent computer games all day instead?


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