The New Zealand Parliament has passed its third reading in Parliament. The final vote was carried with a 116 to 5 majority.
The Bill will:
Establish an Approved Agency to resolve complaints in a quick and efficient way
Give the District Court the power to issue take-down notices and impose penalties
Provide online content hosts with an Safe Harbour process for handling complaints
Make it an offence to send messages and post material online that deliberately cause serious emotional distress. The offence will be punishable by up to two years imprisonment or a maximum fine of NZ$50,000 for individuals, and a fine of up to NZ$200,000
Create a new offence of incitement to commit suicide that applies where the person does not attempt to take their own life
Amend existing laws to clarify that they apply to communications, regardless of whether tormentors use online or offline means, and future-proofing the laws against technological advances.
Just one party opposed the bill, the right-of-centre Act Party, which says it fears the Harmful Digital Communications Bill will be another case study in bad law-making .
Party leader and MP David Seymour said the Bill creates a strange asymmetry between the virtual world and the real world where different standards apply to online and offline speech. The ten communications principles written into the Bill, he said, would be a good guide to desirable behaviour on a school camp.
The Bill was proposed after the two young women subject to digital bullying committed suicide and in the wake of the Roastbusters scandal, where the police were criticised for their response to online abuse,
TG Storytime is a free community website for transgender authors, operated by Joe Six-Pack, himself a transgender author and publisher. If you look up the
registration details of Joe's domain tgstorytime.com using the WHOIS application, you only see the contact details of a proxy.
If anyone really needs to know Joe's physical address or telephone number, they can apply for a court order or subpoena requiring his privacy service to disclose them.
At least, that is how it works now. But under a proposal currently being considered by ICANN, that may all change. It is proposed that domains used for commercial purposes might no longer be eligible to use proxy registration services. Is TG Storytime
used for commercial purposes? Well, Joe currently covers the site's expenses, but also notes that ads and donations may be used in the future to cover costs , and sites that run ads have been judged as commercial in domain name disputes. If a
similar broad definition is adopted by ICANN, Joe might well be forced to give up his privacy if he begins to run ads on his site.
Joe is far from alone. Thousands of responses have already been received by ICANN on this topic from others who are concerned about how the proposed policy change will affect them. Amongst them is a message from one user who wrote:
I'm a single female and live alone. I don't want my personal address available to every pervert/troll/angered citizen that wants it after visiting my small website. Seemingly innocent topics, like vegan cooking, can spark outrage in certain individuals.
This change is being pushed by US entertainment companies, who told Congress in March that privacy for domain registration should be allowed only in limited circumstances. These and other companies want new tools to discover the identities of
website owners whom they want to accuse of copyright and trademark infringement, preferably without a court order.
The limited value of this change is manifestly outweighed by the risks to website owners who will suffer a higher risk of harassment, intimidation and identity theft. The ability to speak anonymously protects people with unpopular or marginalized
opinions, allowing them to speak and be heard without fear of harm. It also protects whistleblowers who expose crime, waste, and corruption. That's why EFF opposes the new proposal to roll back anonymity.
Australia's Internet censorship bill has been passed by the Senate, and will become the Copyright Amendment (Online
Infringement) Act 2015. The new law provides an accelerated process for rightsholders to obtain court orders for ISPs to block sites that have the primary purpose of infringing copyright, or facilitating its infringement--a term that the law does
During debate the government rejected a series of safeguards that the Australian Greens attempted to introduce to mitigate the risk of abuse of the new law. Besides tightening the definitions, these amendments would have provided affected parties with a
right of appeal, and explicitly protected providers of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), who now may face claims that their services are designed to facilitate copyright infringement.
What were some of the arguments in favor of the censorship law that came up in debate ? They range from less than compelling, to flat-out wrong. Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, stated that:
Provisions of the kind contained in the bill have been used in other jurisdictions, including the UK, Ireland and Singapore, and in these jurisdictions an injunction is often ordered without any opposition from the internet service provider concerned.
That's not quite true--for example, there has not been a single concluded case yet in Singapore (a country that also bans unlicensed public assemblies, and chewing gum). We can also add a couple of other entries to Fletcher's list-- Russia also recently
introduced copyright censorship laws, shortly after its laws banning LGBT propaganda , and Turkey has had a similar provision in its copyright law since 2004, which it exercises regularly, besides also blocking social media sites such as Twitter
and Facebook. Australia can now be proud to join that illustrious club.
Senator David Coleman foreshadowed the movement of web blocking outside of the legal regime established by the new censorship law, and into the darkness of informal backroom arrangements:
I concur with others in this debate in saying that I think the way that this will play out is that in the early days you will probably see a number of court actions initiated. You will see some court orders issued for take-down notices for infringing
material. But then what will happen, logically, over time, is that ISPs and content providers will work together in a sensible way. No doubt they will circumvent much of that court formality and work together in a constructive fashion to take down
offending material, and that is as it should be.
Amongst the minority of Senators who not only spoke against the law, but also voted against it, was David Leyonhjelm who labelled it bad law and said:
Website blocking is a drastic remedy and a blunt tool. The bill has the potential to be used against a range of legitimate sites and has inadequate protections for non-party interests. Meanwhile, placing increased emphasis on enforcement without
addressing the other overdue reforms of the Copyright Act risks a ridiculously unbalanced copyright regime.
Similar criticisms were made by Senator Scott Ludlam, who did at least manage to successfully introduce one amendment requiring the government to finally respond to the Australian Law Reform Committee's (ALRC) report on Copyright and the Digital Economy
, which had recommended that Australia adopt a fair use exception in its copyright law. The government has repeatedly brushed off this recommendation while pursing its own copyright enforcement agenda, but will now at least be required to provide the
ALRC with the courtesy of a formal response by September 17--almost two years after the report was issued.
After bombarding Australians with one heavy-handed enforcement measure after another over the past twelve months--including mandatory data retention and a co-regulatory graduated response code (which is pending registration), the very least that
Australian users deserve in return is for fair use to be given a fair hearing.
Offsite Article: Porn will be next on Australia's website-blocking agenda...
Germans will only be able to buy adult eBooks between 10pm and 6am, according to a ridiculous new law.
Other such media have long been banned during the daytime, and real books that are violent or erotic are kept under the counter of bookstores. But a new ruling means that eBooks will be treated like films or TV, and so can only be sold during the night
The 10pm to 6am window was originally instituted in a 2002 law -- Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag, or Youth Media Protection Act -- that was intended to restrict adult cinemas from showing films in the day. But many have pointed out that applying the
rule on the internet, where products can be bought at all hours of the day, is impractical.
The change has been as part of a legal complaint around a German erotica eBook called SchlauchgelÃ¼ste (Pantyhose Cravings), according to blog The Digital Reader, a memoir of a transgender person which has caused problems because it was readily
available. READ MORE Amazon to start paying authors based on how far readers get through their books Grey: 8 things we learn in new Fifty Shades of Grey book told through Christian's eyes How e-readers took the embarrassment out of erotic fiction
None of the sites selling selling such material are yet shutting down in the day, according to reports. But the law allows for people to be fined up to â?¬500,000 if they are found to be selling the material.
The German booksellers' association is looking to provide a way that eBook stores can be sure that they're not selling the books to young people without having to check through the contents of every book that they sell, according to Boersenblatt the
website for the German book trade. Such systems might require publishers to say whether books are erotic, and then place them in a special section of the website that ensures that they can't be seen by children.
Google has been getting more aggressive about redirecting users from Google.com to the the national versions of the sites.
According to a person close to Google, this move to redirect users is part of the company's attempts to persuade judges and lawmakers that applying any censorship orders on a national level is sufficient. This person, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, suggested the company is hoping to demonstrate that, in countries like France and Germany, relatively few people now go to Google.com in the first place -- which obviates the need for broader orders.
Given the recent decree in France, however, this strategy appears to be coming up short. The fallback strategy, then, is to employ a more technical solution: Using IP addresses (which reveal a person's location) to censor Google.com on a
country-by-country basis. This would entail Google configuring its search results to detect that a person is in France -- and blocking any offending search results accordingly on Google.com -- while at the same time displaying the missing results to
Google.com visitors in Norway, the United States, and elsewhere.
Google is not employing such measures yet, but comments by the company's top lawyer, David Drummond, suggest it is willing and able to do so.
The Australian government has given itself powers to censor the internet starting with websites facilitating copyright
In the eyes of at least one intellectual property academic, the passing of controversial anti-piracy, website blocking legislation in the senate represented a very dark day for the internet in Australia .
The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, introduced into parliament by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in March to curb online piracy of film and TV shows, was passed with Labor's support 37-13.
The legislation allows rights holders to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas websites, or online locations , blocked that have the primary purpose of facilitating copyright infringement. If a rights holder is successful in their
blocking request, Australian internet providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will need to comply with a judge's order by disabling access to the infringing location.
Sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickAssTorrents are expected to be among the first websites in rights holder's sights.
Dr Matthew Rimmer, an associate professor at the ANU College of Law and one of the bill's critics, labelled the bill quite radical :
It's a very dark day for the internet in Australia because there's been bipartisan support for this Luddite censorship bill.
He said sites that don't intend to host infringing material could get caught up and blocked, pointing to file-sharing sites like mega.co.nz and dropbox.com.
Google plans to enable people to flag revenge porn so that it can be excluded from its internet searches in future.
Amit Singhal, a senior vice-president, announced in a post on the Google public policy blog on Friday that the company would soon issue online forms through which members of the public will be able to request that revenge porn content involving them no
longer show up in Google searches.
Links to such images will not be included in Google search results on that person, though images will remain online.
The step is a major shift for the leading search engine, which normally resists attempts at censorship on internet content showing up in searches. But Google decided to make an exception regarding the unauthorised sharing of nude photos, images often
posted by ex-spouses or partners or extortionists demanding money to take down such pictures, all without the consent of the people shown.
It is not clear if Google will implement an appeals procedure for the inevitable false claims that will be generated.
In just a few days EU lawmakers will vote on a new scheme that could facilitate the spread of a restrictive link tax online. This backwards censorship plan is pushed by a politician named Jean-Marie Cavada.
In just a few days, key lawmakers will vote on a new scheme that will facilitate the spread of a restrictive link tax online. The link tax was initially targeted at Google's News service gaining from links to news websites, but its applications
are inevitably wider once the concept is established.
This backwards censorship plan is supported by a politician named Jean-Marie Cavada. A classic Internet villain who wants to hold onto the past.
We know Cavada hopes to usher in new powers that could see links and comments on Soundcloud, Facebook, and WhatsApp to your favorite blog redirected or blocked entirely.
Have you seen those not available in your area geo-block-like messages? Yeah, more of that sort of thing. We hate them too. If Cavada gets his way we'll see much more of that frustrating Internet censorship and it will affect users everywhere.
Let's all send him a message he can't ignore now .
Here's the rub: Cavada's link censorship plan is about to be voted on in a powerful EU parliamentary committee he chairs. Regardless of where you live many of your favourite websites and key web infrastructure will be covered by his irresponsible
As it stands, if Cavada gets his way you could see some of your favourite websites being forced to pay a link tax for pointing to information that's freely available elsewhere.
Get this: he even tried to scrub the input from Internet users from this decision-making process. He then tried to block a UN free expression expert from talking to key decision-makers about the problems with his restrictive plan. Who does that?
For Cavada to back off he needs to hear from as many of us as possible right now. The vote is in just a few days.
Google has 15 days to comply with a demand from France's internet censor to extend the right to be forgotten to all its search engines.
Google has responded to European censorship under the right to be forgotten by only removing the required information for the copy of the search engine specific to the censoring country. And in particular leaves the links live in the global google.com
French censor CNIL said Google could face sanctions if it did not comply within the time limit.
In response, Google said in a statement:
We've been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court's ruling, co-operating closely with data protection authorities.
The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that's the approach we are taking in complying with it.
Russia is to push ahead with a new right to be forgotten censorship law modelled on the EU version. The Kremlin has been eyeing up the European
censorship and wants its own version running by January 2016.
The Russian versions goes a little further and includes an imperative for search engines to comply with requests made under the proposed Russian version rather than decide for themselves about whether de-linking is warranted.
Igor Shchyogolev, an aide of Russian president Vladimir Putin, claimed: Citizens must be able to use the right to be forgotten.
In Russia right to be forgotten censorship will be administered by state internet censors, Roskomnadzor.
AdBlock Plus has successfully defended itself in court for the second time in five weeks. The browser add-on prevents ads from
appearing on websites unless it has given them permission to be displayed. AdBlock Plus has been downloaded about 400 million times.
German broadcasters RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 had argued that browser plug-in was anti-competitive and threatened their ability to offer users content for free .
However, a court in Munich ruled in favour of AdBlock's owner Eyeo. With a rather technical reason that too few people were using Eyeo's products for it to be judged to have a dominant position that might justify the antitrust intervention
requested by the broadcasters.
Ben Williams, a spokesman for the German company, told the BBC:
This is the fourth time that massive publishers have brought legal proceedings against our start-up.
Thankfully, the court sided with users and with compromise. So, we're pleased to say that Adblock Plus will continue to provide users with a tool that helps them control their internet experience. RTL news site RTL's news website features pop-up ads,
which do not appear if the AdBlock Plus plug-in is installed
A spokeswoman for RTL responded:
We are weighing a possible course of action against the ruling and assessing the prospects of an appeal.
Last month Eyeo successfully defended itself against similar claims by two other German publishers - Die Zeit and Handelsblatt - at a court in Hamburg. It still faces a further case brought by another local publisher, Axel Springer, in Cologne.
The High Court internet censors have granted an application by The Publishers Association to have several major pirate eBook sites blocked at the ISP
level. The action, a first for book publishers, requires BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE to block sites including Ebookee, LibGen and Freshwap within 10 days.
The High Court handed down its ruling in favor of the publishers. The outcome was never really in question -- UK ISPs have long since given up defending these cases.
A few days The Football Association and Premier League Limited achieved an extension of the UK blocklist with the addition of popular sports streaming sites Rojadirecta, LiveTV and Drakulastream.
This brings the total number of blocked sites to 128 and more domains are expected to follow in the months to come.
Depending on the outcome of a pending case there that calls the viability of open wireless networks into question. EFF and its partners have
formulated an open letter presenting our views on why a result that threatens open wireless would be a serious loss to innovators, small businesses, travelers, emergency services and users at large.
One of the legal protections that currently supports open wireless is the principle that Internet intermediaries, such as ISPs and wireless hotspot operators, are not responsible for content that passes over their networks. In Europe, this principle
derives from Article 12 of the E-Commerce Directive , which immunizes a so-called mere conduit from liability for communications over their networks, only on condition that they did not initiate the communication, select its recipient, or modify
it in transit. This provision, however, does not shield such providers from various type of enforcement measures in aid of rights holders, such as website blocking. The permissibility of these measures then depends on a simple rule: are they good for the
society at large?
The application of this legal framework to open wireless networks has come under challenge in the McFadden reference (C-484/14) concerning a German shopkeeper whose free open wireless network was allegedly used to infringe copyright. In the preliminary
reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Europe's highest court is asked whether an enforcement practice requiring open wireless networks to be locked is an acceptable one. Germany's Federal Supreme Court in 2010 held that the private
operator of a wireless network is obliged to use password protection in order to prevent abuse by third parties. If the CJEU affirms this finding, the effect could be to extend this bad precedent throughout Europe, grounding the open wireless movement
across the continent. If on the other hand it rejects that finding, German law could be forced to return to sanity, allowing thousands of hotspot operators to open up their networks again.
The main question point in the case turns on whether locking of open wireless networks would be a proportionate enforcement mechanism that advances the public interest. The open letter, co-written with Martin Husovec , Affiliate Scholar at Stanford Law
School's Center for Internet & Society (CIS), points out that prohibiting open wireless networks creates a serious obstacle to legitimate trade, that cannot be justified by the limited potential benefits of locked-down networks to rightsholders. The
letter highlights exact instances of social benefits that will be lost if locking of open wireless networks becomes a standard. Holding wireless network operators anyhow accountable for content that passes over their networks thus should be against
The open letter that we publish today has been supported by a coalition of other organizations from both sides of the Atlantic who support the ideals of the open wireless movement, and concur with our conclusion that an adverse decision in the McFadden
case that requires Europe to lock down its open wireless networks would be a blow to human rights, economic progress and innovation across the continent. We will be updating this post as additional signatories join the call.
The Twitter-like popular Chinese microblogging platform Weibo has just announced it will censor posts featuring images of women in lingerie or swimwear, as
part of an effort to erase erotic images.
The move, announced by CEO Wang Gaofei, is seen as Weibo's move to comply with larger restrictions proposed by the government against vulgar and pornographic content circulating online.
Wang said that 'modeling agencies' that posted images of [models] in swimwear or black lace would be removed from accounts effective immediately. On Weibo, modeling agency is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of services and
'Modeling agencies' who want to continue to have a social media presence on the website must submit accreditation and other identification of a legitimate business. Those who do not go through this approval process will be banned from the site.