Internet News

 2015: February



 Updated: More Evil...

Google bans porn from websites and blogs hosted on Blogger


Link Here 28th February 2015  full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
Blogger.com logoGoogle has announced that as of March 23rd, porn will be banned from public view on blogs hosted by Blogger. Google said As of that date:

You won't be able to publicly share images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity

As some sort of trivial concession adult material is still allowed on private blogs where readers are individually signed up to the blog.

From March 23rd any Blogger blogs hosting racy video or pics will be made private. Which usually means that only the owner will be able to see the content.

Nudity will still be permitted on public blogs if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts.

Google's not saying why it's made this decision, or why it's given Blogger members just a month in which to act.

Update: Google backs off

28th February 2015. See  article from  movie-censorship.com

Google logoGoogle has changed its mind about banning sexually explicit blogs on its Blogger platform.

After a ton of feedback the firm has decided to continue with its current policy instead, it says.

Explicit blogs must continue to identify themselves as adult . This means a warning page is shown before readers are transferred to the site. Google also reserves the right to add an adult tag to Blogger blogs if it feels the description is appropriate.

The acceptable use policy link currently redirects users to a posted message which reads:

We've had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities.

So rather than implement this change, we've decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.

As long as bloggers have correctly identified their adult blogs they need take no further action, the message adds.

 

  Licensed to Discriminate...

EU official speaks out against licensing by region enforced by internet geolocking


Link Here 28th February 2015
EU flagAndrus Ansip, Europe's Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, wants to abolish geoblocking. Restricting user access to content based on their location, which Netflix, YouTube and others do, is discrimination, he says. I want to pay -- but I am not allowed to. I lose out, they lose out, Ansip notes.

Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library. The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube.

These regional blockades are a thorn in the side of Andrus Ansip , Vice-President for the Digital Single Market in the European Commission. In a speech this week he explained why these roadblocks should be abolished.

Far too often, consumers find themselves redirected to a national website, or blocked. I know this from my own experience. You probably do as well. This is one of many barriers that needs to be removed so that everyone can enjoy the best Europe has to offer online. It is a serious and common barrier, as well as extremely frustrating.

The EU is currently discussing how copyright legislation in Europe should be overhauled and the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market hopes that measures against geoblocking will be part of the new rules.

 

 Offsite Article: Google's role in global sex censorship...


Link Here 27th February 2015  full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
Blogger.com logo While you were busy freaking out about government surveillance, censorship blossomed at the one corporation that has the most power to fight, or enable, suppression of speech. Google. By Violet Blue

See article from zdnet.com

 

  Common Sense Prevails...

European Court says that it is legal for internet users to watch streaming videos without worrying about copyright provided that any copies made in the process are transient


Link Here 24th February 2015
European Court of JusticeInternet users who look at copyrighted material online aren't breaking copyright by doing so, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has declared. This is a useful ruling that will now apply across the EU.

The declaration was part of the British Meltwater case. Meltwater is a Norway-founded media monitoring service that sent out daily digests including the headlines and the first bit of the article of the newspaper stories, together with links to the full online articles. It did not pay for these snippets. The company found itself sued in the U.K. by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). The case was really about whether Meltwater could use headlines and portions of articles in a commercial service without copyright holder's permission but a side issue arose about whether web surfers are allowed to view content without copyright permission.

The NLA claimed that when you look at online content, you're making 2 copies, one on the screen and one in your browser's cache. The agency claimed that this required the authorization of the copyright holders.

But the CJEU ruled:

Article 5 of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the copies on the user's computer screen and the copies in the internet cache of that computer's hard disk, made by an end-user in the course of viewing a website, satisfy the conditions that those copies must be temporary, that they must be transient or incidental in nature and that they must constitute an integral and essential part of a technological process, as well as the conditions laid down in Article 5(5) of that directive, and that they may therefore be made without the authorisation of the copyright holders.

 

  Hard Facts...

The NSA has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, allowing the agency to snoop on the majority of the world's computers


Link Here 22nd February 2015  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
Seagate Barracuda inch Internal Drive

 

 Update: The Insecurity Services...

US and UK spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe


Link Here 20th February 2015  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
sim card

 

 Offsite Article: Channel 4 News Recommends Twitter...


Link Here 18th February 2015
channel 4 news logo Don't miss out, there's free porn on Twitter

See article from business.avn.com

 

 Update: Go to Prison for Sharing Files?...

That's What Hollywood Wants in the Secret TPP Deal


Link Here 17th February 2015  full story: TTP Trade Restrictions...Trans Pacific Partnership

Electronic Frontier FoundationThe Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) poses massive threats to users in a dizzying number of ways. It will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States' excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. It contains extreme DRM anti-circumvention provisions that will make it a crime to tinker with, hack, re-sell, preserve, and otherwise control any number of digital files and devices that you own. The TPP will encourage ISPs to monitor and police their users , likely leading to more censorship measures such as the blockage and filtering of content online in the name of copyright enforcement. And in the most recent leak of the TPP's Intellectual Property chapter, we found an even more alarming provision on trade secrets that could be used to crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers who report on corporate wrongdoing.

Here, we'd like to explore yet another set of rules in TPP that will chill users' rights. Those are the criminal enforcement provisions, which based upon the latest leak from May 2014 is still a contested and unresolved issue. It's about whether users could be jailed or hit with debilitating fines over allegations of copyright infringement.

Dangerously Low Threshold of Criminality

The US is pushing for a dangerously broad definition of a criminal violation of copyright, where even noncommercial activities could get people convicted of a crime. The leak also shows that Canada has opposed this definition. Canada supports language in which criminal remedies would only apply to cases where someone infringed explicitly for commercial purposes.

This distinction is crucial. Commercial infringement, where an infringer sells unauthorized copies of content for financial gain, is and should be a crime. But that's not what the US is pushing for--it's trying to get language passed in TPP that would make a criminal out of anyone who simply shares or otherwise makes available copyrighted works on a commercial scale.

As anyone who has ever had a meme go viral knows, it is very easy to distribute content on a commercial scale online, even without it being a money-making operation. That means fans who distribute subtitles to foreign movies or anime, or archivists and librarians who preserve and upload old books, videos, games, or music, could go to jail or face huge fines for their work. Someone who makes a remix film and puts it online could be under threat. Such a broad definition is ripe for abuse, and we've seen such abuse happen many times before.

Fair use, and other copyright exceptions and limitations frameworks like fair dealing, have been under constant attack by rightsholder groups who try to undermine and chip away at our rights as users to do things with copyrighted content. Given this reality, these criminal enforcement rules could go further to intimidate and discourage users from exercising their rights to use and share content for purposes such as parody, education, and access for the disabled.

Penalties That Must be Sufficiently High

The penalties themselves could be enough to intimidate and punish users in a way that is grossly disproportionate to the crime. Based upon the leak, which showed no opposition in key sections, it seems TPP negotiators have already agreed to more vague provisions that would oblige countries to enact prison sentences and monetary fines that are sufficiently high to deter people from infringing again. Here is the text :

penalties that include sentences of imprisonment as well as monetary fines sufficiently high to provide a deterrent to future acts of infringement, consistently with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity;

Already in many countries , criminal punishments for copyright grossly outweigh penalties for acts that are comparatively more harmful to others. So the question as to what crimes copyright infringement corresponds to in gravity is obscure. What's more alarming is that countries without existing criminal penalties or whose penalties are not sufficiently high to satisfy the US government, may be forced to enact harsher rules. The US Trade Representative (USTR) could use the certification process , at the behest of rightsholder groups, to arm-twist nations into passing more severe penalties, even after the TPP is signed and ratified. The USTR has had a long history of pressuring other nations into enacting extreme IP policies , so it would not be out of the realm of possibility.

Property Seizure and Asset Forfeiture

The TPP's copyright provisions even require countries to enable judges to unilaterally order the seizure, destruction, or forfeiture of anything that can be traceable to infringing activity , has been used in the creation of pirated copyright goods , or is documentary evidence relevant to the alleged offense . Under such obligations, law enforcement could become ever more empowered to seize laptops, servers, or even domain names.

Domain name seizure in the name of copyright enforcement is not new to us in the US , nor to people running websites from abroad . But these provisions open the door to the passage of ever more oppressive measures to enable governments to get an order from a judge to seize websites and devices. The provision also says that the government can act even without a formal complaint from the copyright holder. So in places where the government chooses to use the force of copyright to censor its critics , this could be even more disastrous.

Criminalization of Getting Around DRM

We've continued to raise this issue, but it's always worth mentioning--the TPP exports the United States' criminal laws on digital rights management , or DRM. The TPP could lead to policies where users will be charged with crimes for circumventing, or sharing knowledge or tools on how to circumvent DRM for financial gain as long as they have reasonable ground to know that it's illegal to do so. Chile, however, opposes this vague language because it could lead to criminal penalties for innocent users.

The most recent leak of the Intellectual Property chapter revealed new exceptions that would let public interest organizations--such as libraries and educational institutions--get around DRM to access copyrighted content for uses protected by fair use or fair dealing, or content that may simply be in the public domain. But even if it's legal, it would be difficult for them to get around DRM since they may not be equipped with the knowledge to do it on their own. If someone else tries to do a public service for them by creating these tools for legally-protected purposes, they could still be put in jail or face huge fines.

Conclusion

Like the various other digital copyright enforcement provisions in TPP, the criminal enforcement language loosely reflects the United States' DMCA but is abstracted enough that the US can pressure other nations to enact rules that are much worse for users. It's therefore far from comforting when the White House claims that the TPP's copyright rules would not change US law --we're still exporting bad rules to other nations, while binding ourselves to obligations that may prevent US lawmakers from reforming it for the better. These rules were passed in the US through cycles of corrupt policy laundering. Now, the TPP is the latest step in this trend of increasingly draconian copyright rules passing through opaque, corporate-captured processes.

These excessive criminal copyright rules are what we get when Big Content has access to powerful, secretive rule-making institutions. We get rules that would send users to prison, force them to pay debilitating fines, or have their property seized or destroyed in the name of copyright enforcement. This is yet another reason why we need to stop the TPP--to put an end to this seemingly endless progression towards ever more chilling copyright restrictions and enforcement.

If you're in the US, please call on your representatives to oppose Fast Track for TPP and other undemocratic trade deals with harmful digital policies.

 

  More people to be persecuted for extreme pornography...

More nasty laws generated by crap politicians who seem to get a kick out of jailing innocent people


Link Here 12th February 2015
David Cameron'Justice' Secretary Chris Grayling has been speaking of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which was expected to get Royal Assent today,

This bill extends the definition of extreme pornography to include the depiction of rape with vague definitions that will surely see hundreds of people likely to become victims when police make commonplace and routine computer searches.

The government has also increased the maximum penalty to 2 years for those who send internet insults that the authorities deem to be abusive.

 

  New Curbs on Internet Sleaze...

Thailand blocks the Daily Mail, but not to worry, there is a workaround


Link Here 11th February 2015
daily mail internet sleazeThe Daily Mail is always campaigning for the censorship of internet 'sleaze', and it seems to have got its message across in Thailand.

The Thai internet police have recognised the sleaziness of the newspaper, notable for its sidebar of shame, and blocked it accordingly.

Thankfully for readers amused by the newspaper's ludicrous takes on moralist issues, the website is only partially blocked.

The main page is inaccessible, but the rest of the pages are available, so for instance starting browsing at www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/index.html should restore the merriment.

 

 Offsite Article: Security services capable of taking control of your computer...


Link Here 10th February 2015  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
Home Offie logo Ddraft code reveals Home Office code of practice spells out capabilities to work around encryption and to hack people's computers

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Offsite Article: Dear David Cameron...


Link Here 9th February 2015  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
David Cameron An open letter to the British prime minister: 20th century solutions won't help 21st century surveillance. By Jonathan Zittrain.

See article from techcentral.co.za

 

 Offsite Article: This won't be forgotten...


Link Here 8th February 2015  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
new york times logo New York Times editorial is unimpressed by the EU wanting to impose its disgraceful 'right to be forgotten' censorship rules on the US

See article from nytimes.com

 

 Offsite Article: Illegal Sureveillance...


Link Here 8th February 2015  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
gchq logo A court managed what the complicit UK press couldn't: force GCHQ to tell the truth by Trevor Timm

See article from theguardian.com

 

  Nothing a reciprocal agreement with the UK can't work round...

US enacts some restrictions on mass internet snooping


Link Here 5th February 2015  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
US SenateData about innocent US individuals gathered incidentally during intelligence operations must be deleted immediately under new rules from the Obama administration.

However, if the data belongs to a non-US citizen, it can be held for up to five years.

This includes phonecalls, emails and social media activity gathered by American security services.

The monitoring of foreign leaders will also be regularly reviewed.

The new rules were announced in a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence .

 

 Offsite Article: Cyberterrorism concerns are a pretext for governmental hacking operations...


Link Here 5th February 2015
Interview Blu ray UltraViolet James Franco Invoking the threat of terrorism is the most common mechanism used to deny citizens both due process and free speech in the 21st century. By Jeremy Hammond

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Updated: Snooper's Charter Resurrected and Defeated...

Disgraceful attempt by 4 snoop friendly Lords to sneak in the previously rejected Snooper's Charter


Link Here 1st February 2015  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
house of lords red logoFour members of the House of Lords have attempted to bring back from the dead the Communications Data Bill -- otherwise known as the Snoopers' Charter. The entirety of the bill that had previously been rejected (or at least put on hold) by Parliament -- some 18 pages in all -- was added as a late amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill currently passing through the Lords. This is utterly cynical at best, and a total abuse of parliamentary procedure at worst.

The Communications Data Bill is the one which required ISPs (or any telecommunications provider') to keep a log of all activity associated with an individual or IP address. Whilst ostensibly requested for 'security reasons (being played up again in the light of the Charlie Hebdo murders in France) -- this mass retention of data is nothing less than oppressive, unwarranted, mass surveillance of the entire populace.

We know all too well from the Snowden revelations that power is abused by those who hold it -- and that there is mission creep in the data retained and the uses to which it can be put. There is no reason to think that this would be any different.

Previously the bill had been rejected in scrutiny by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for a variety of reasons - amongst them the fact that the Home Office had totally underestimated the cost involved as well as the lack of any evidence that there is any benefit to be had by requiring ISPs to hold this data. It was also requested that the Independent reviewer on Terrorism legislation, David Anderson, reviewed and commented on the bill and Parliament is still waiting for his response to the initial proposals.

Given all that, it is shocking and simply unacceptable that four unelected Lords are attempting to pass this draconian legislation, not in its own right, but as a late amendment to a current bill. It is a total abuse of parliamentary procedure and means that this legislation will not suffer the intense scrutiny that a new bill would, but instead would be passed in a backhanded fashion without review and consideration by both Houses.

The House of Lords is intended in our parliamentary system to be a revising chamber -- adding a totally new bill as an amendment to an existing one completely goes against that entire principle. The very fact that they feel it is necessary to bring the bill in this underhand manner shows that they clearly don't have any faith in the ability of the legislation to stand up to proper scrutiny.

The rushed passing of the #DRIP legislation set the worrying precedent for this kind of action by parliament when seeking to pass contentious legislation that avoids scrutiny. As a party we warned of the dangers of Parliament passing controversial and oppressive surveillance laws without appropriate time or scrutiny. Despite the calls of both ourselves and others, that bill passed into law.

Update: Defeated

1st February 2015. See  article from  publicaffairs.linx.net

The House of Lords has rejected amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill which would have introduced substantial parts of the Communications Data Bill, more commonly known as the Snoopers' Charter .

The amendments were withdrawn at the request of Lord Bates, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office, who argued that including the amendments at such a late stage could jeopardise the entire Bill.

Lord Bates promised to investigate the possibility of sharing more widely a redrafted version of the draft Communications Data Bill, apparently written to take into account the Joint Committee's recommendations , but which has so far been kept under wraps by the Home Office.

 

 Updated: Virtual Prohibited Networks...

China blocks VPNs


Link Here 1st February 2015  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
astrill vpn logoChina is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook.

The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. The popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services such as Gmail this year.

China-based entrepreneur Richard Robinson said the controls have particularly hurt small- and medium-sized foreign companies that depend on VPNs. Many larger companies can afford direct connections to servers outside the country, he said.

Over the past weeks, Chinese censors have already blocked what remaining access there is to Gmail and other Google products. Google services have been periodically blocked or limited since 2010 when the company said it would no longer co-operate with China's censors. Robinson explained:

These smaller businesses, they're dependent on Gmail. And it's all in the Google services that people are really screwed.

Xiao Qiang, a professor with UC Berkeley's School of Information gave a little insight into the stepped up censorship.

We all know that China is in the middle of a very ferocious power struggle or political cleansing under the name of an anti-corruption campaign, Xiao said. That to me is a very clearly related fact with the amount of political rumours and information related to China's high politics showing up in websites outside of China.

And while the controls hurt businesses that depend on online information and tools, Chinese censors are more worried about restricting political information

Update: Not all VPNs

1st February 2015. See  article from  mashable.com

Not all hope is lost for Chinese users trying to get around the Great Firewall. In fact, the block has affected only popular, commercial VPNs such as Astrill, StrongVPN and Golden Frog. Other alternative, less widespread tools, such as Psiphon, Lantern, Tor, and other VPN services, in fact, remain active. Moreover, on Friday, two of the affected VPNs announced that they were able to fight back and restore their services, at least partially.

China has always had the ability to block at least some VPN traffic, according to experts consulted by Mashable, so the reasons behind this latest crackdown might be political. And perhaps it was something to do with the VPNs getting a little cocky. Astrill, a service that suffered disruptions, seemed to mock China's censorship system just last week.

Perhaps, this was all just a warning to VPNs operating in China, just a way for the Chinese government to assert its power and show that, if they want, they can block some of these services. Tools like Psiphon and Lantern were perhaps spared by obfuscation techniques, which makes it harder for censors to detect the use of these tools. Other VPNs, if they haven't already, will have to follow suit in a seemingly never-ending cat and mouse game.