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2016: June

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Escorted by aggression...

Religious extremist hacks a series of escort websites

Link Here28th June 2016
A hacker calling himself ElSurveillance has targeted at least 26 websites in June for defacement, most of which promote escort services.

According to an interview with website Data Breaches in December of last year, the hacker is citing religious reasons. He spouted:

I have been running an operation under the hashtag #EscortsOffline against the escorts website and agencies, because I strongly believe that our bodies are gifted from Allah to us to look after and not to destroy, and I always hated the idea of people selling their bodies for money.

His campaign has attacked nearly 200 websites since January 2015.



Extract Lack of context...

Social media companies not impressed by algorithmic detection of images associated with terrorism

Link Here24th June 2016
An system to remove terrorist imagery from the Internet has been proposed by a U.S. nonprofit, but tech companies are wary it could expunge journalistic images.

A Dartmouth College researcher and a nonprofit group say they have created a technology that can help Internet companies instantly detect images and videos generated by terrorists and their supporters and remove them from their platforms.

The White House has signaled its support. Lisa Monaco, Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism said:

We welcome the launch of initiatives such as the Counter Extremism Project's National Office for Reporting Extremism (NORex) that enables companies to address terrorist activity on their platforms and better respond to the threat posed by terrorists' activities online.

But a number of major social-media companies are wary of the idea. They say that there is no consensus in the United States or globally on what constitutes a terrorist image, and that they might end up expunging material posted by researchers or media organizations. And, they say, once a database is created, governments around the world will place additional data requests on them -- and some countries will probably demand the removal of legitimate political content under the guise of fighting terrorism.

...Read the full article from



Update: In the name of terrorism...

European Parliament considers EU wide internet website blocking

Link Here23rd June 2016
The European Parliament is currently considering EU wide website blocking powers.

The latest draft of the directive on combating terrorism contains proposals on blocking websites that promote or incite terror attacks. Member states may take all necessary measures to remove or to block access to webpages publicly inciting to commit terrorist offences, says text submitted by German MEP and rapporteur Monika Hohlmeier.

Digital rights activists have argued that it leaves the door wide open to over-blocking and censorship as safeguards defending proportionality and fundamental rights can be skipped if governments opt for voluntary schemes implemented by ISPs.

Amendments have been proposed that would require any take down or Web blocking to be subject to full judicial oversight and rubber stamping.

Last week, Estonian MEP Marju Lauristin told Ars she was very disappointed with the text, saying it was jeopardising freedom of expression as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of EU.

The measure will be up for a vote by the civil liberties committee on 27th June.



Updated: Just correcting a typo...

Now the US authorities are working on getting their own snooper's charter

Link Here23rd June 2016
Full story: US Internet Snooping Post Snowden...Internet snooping continues in the US
The latest surveillance battle gripping the technology industry is focused on a rewrite of US surveillance law that would mean the justice department would be able to access a citizen's web browsing history, location data and some email records without approval from a judge using a so-called national security letters (NSLs).

The FBI contends that such data is covered implicitly under current statute, which was written years ago and only explicitly covers data normally associated with telephone records.

Director James Comey now is lobbying Congress to extend the current definition to include internet data.

Technology companies including Google, Facebook and Yahoo have sent a letter warning Congress that they would oppose any efforts to rewrite law in the FBI's favor.

This expansion of the NSL statute has been characterized by some government officials as merely fixing a 'typo' in the law, the companies wrote:

In reality, however, it would dramatically expand the ability of the FBI to get sensitive information about users' online activities without court oversight.

Update: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

11th June 2016. See  article from

A sly attempt to grant the FBI warrantless access to people's browser histories in the US has been shot down by politicians.

Unfortunately, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) Amendments Act of 2015, which would have brought in some privacy safeguards for Americans, was cut down in the crossfire.

The bill was halted because of an amendment tacked on by Senator John Cornyn on Tuesday that would allow the FBI to obtain someone's internet browsing history and the metadata of all their internet use without a warrant. If Cornyn's amendment was passed, the Feds would simply have to issue a National Security Letter (NSL) to get the information.

The bill's sponsors, Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee, told a session of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary that Cornyn's amendment had wrecked years of careful bipartisan negotiations and would seriously harm US citizens' privacy. As such, they weren't prepared to let the bill go forward.

Update: And again

23rd June 2016. See  article from

The US Senate has struck down an amendment that would have allowed the FBI to track internet histories and communications without judicial oversight, but a re-vote could be called under Senate rules.

The amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act would have given the FBI the right to use National Security Letters (NSLs), which compel communications companies to hand over a customer's transactional records, including their browsing history, time spent online, and email metadata, but not the content of messages.

In addition, it would have made permanent a provision in the Patriot Act that would allow the same powers for those deemed to be individual terrorists to be treated as agents of foreign powers, a measure aimed at tracking so-called lone wolf operators.

It was introduced on Monday by Senators John McCain and Richard Burr. Senator John Cornyn has named the issue the FBI's top legislative priority and has tabled a further amendment to allow similar powers to law enforcement.



Offsite Article: Searching for blacklists...

Link Here23rd June 2016
Google has 9 of them and is the World's Biggest Censor. Its Power Must Be Regulated

See article from



Update: Aggregated censorship...

Russia's Duma passed law to require that large news aggregators submit to state censorship

Link Here20th June 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has passed a bill that would censor the distribution of information by news aggregators with more than one million visitors a day.

Under the news censorship law, news aggregators such as Yandex will have to check that news is validated by state censors before it can be distributed. Russia's communications censor, Roskomnadzor, will have the power to ban news items. News aggregators will not be liable if 'unreliable information' is textual quotation from any media outlet.

The bill stipulates that only a Russian national or company may be an owner of news aggregators.

The law is expected to take effect on 1 January, 2017.



A new age...

Windows sets a deadline for app developers to adopt the international age ratings scheme

Link Here18th June 2016
\Microsoft has announced that Windows Store apps face removal if they are not updated for the International Age Rating Coalition's (IARC) rating system by 30 September 2016.

The new IARC rating system was introduced by Microsoft at the start of the year as a way to simplify the age rating process. Developers must fill in a questionnaire with general descriptions of age related issues. Software will then generate age classifications for each relevant region, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) for North America, Pan European Game Information (PEGI) for Europe and the Classification Board (ACB) for Australia.

It is expected that many apps will be culled more for being no longer maintained, rather than any refusal to provide the required rating information.



Internet heroes and Villains...

UK ISP trade group announces its nominations for the heroes and villains awards

Link Here16th June 2016
Surveillance, privacy, broadband and cyber security all recognised at the ISPA Awards in Hero and Villain nominations

Donald Trump, Apple, the Internet troll, the Web Foundation, Mossack Fonseca, Jo Cherry QC MP and Sir Keir Starmer QC MP are amongst those shortlisted for Internet Hero and Villain at the 2016 ISPA Awards, the 18th UK Internet Industry Awards. The nominations, based on crowdsourced suggestions from the public with a final shortlist determined by the ISPA Council, recognise those who have done the most to help or hinder the Internet industry in the last twelve months. David Davis MP and Tom Watson MP were joint winners of the Internet Hero award last year with Home Secretary Theresa May MP named as Villain.

Internet Heroes

Once again surveillance and privacy are the dominant themes in this year's awards. Jo Cherry and Keir Starmer MPs have been nominated for their sterling efforts to improve the Investigatory Powers Bill, as has their parliamentary colleague and chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Nicola Blackwood MP . The fundamental principle of encryption and customer privacy has been featured, with Apple nominated as a hero for its role in defending privacy, whilst the FBI are recognised as villains for undermining encryption.

The shortlist also goes beyond surveillance, recognising the Web Foundation for helping connect some of the most remote global communities, and to ThinkBroadband Editor, Andrew Ferguson , for years of tirelessly informing consumers about their broadband options.

Internet Villains

The Internet Villain shortlist is one of the most diverse ever. Donald Trump is nominated for famously calling on industry to 'close down parts of the Internet', showing a perceived complete lack of understanding of how the web works. Mossack Fonseca (of Panama Papers fame) are nominated for their poor cyber-security, TCYK LLP are nominated for their 'speculative invoicing' campaign aimed at alleged copyright infringers that an MP described as 'ludicrous'. The "internet troll" is nominated too for making the Internet a hostile space for some people, completely overstep the bounds of reasonable behaviour and free speech. The FBI also receive a nomination for their efforts to undermine customer privacy and cyber security.

Announcing the shortlists, ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said "The Internet Hero and Villain awards go to those who have helped or hindered the Internet industry. These nominations, many from the public, reflect the importance of privacy, cyber security and great broadband and the work many MPs have done scrutinising the Investigatory Powers Bill. These awards are light-hearted in nature, but do contain a serious point, and I look forward to finding out who won in July."

The 2016 Internet Hero shortlist
  • Nicola Blackwood MP -- For her Committee's report into the Investigatory Powers Bill, which contained sensible recommendations around encryption, equipment interference and a commitment to full cost recovery, to limit the Bill's impact on the tech sector
  • Jo Cherry QC MP & Sir Keir Starmer QC MP -- For their continued scrutiny of the Investigatory Powers Bill as the legislation passes through Parliament at a fast pace
  • Apple -- For defending the fundamental principles of encryption and customer privacy
  • Andrew Ferguson, Editor, ThinkBroadband -- for editing an invaluable resource that explains and maps out broadband to inform consumers
  • Web Foundation -- For working to extend the basic right of connectivity to the 60% of the global population unable to connect to the internet and enjoy the myriad benefits of internet access
The 2016 Internet Villain shortlist
  • Donald Trump -- For calling on industry to 'close' parts of the Internet
  • Mossack Fonseca -- For demonstrating poor cyber security practices
  • The FBI -- For attempting to undermine security by compelling technology companies to bypass existing security features
  • ' The Internet Troll' -- For overstepping the bounds of free speech, threatening the principle of an Internet for all
  • TCYK LLP -- For its heavy-handed 'speculative invoicing' campaign aimed at alleged copyright infringers
About the ISPA Awards

The 2016 ISPA Awards are the 18th Annual UK Internet Industry Awards. The awards event will take place on 7th July 2016 at The Brewery in the City of London. There are sixty organisations nominated across the seventeen awards .



Searching for censorship...

Religious conservatives in Indonesia protest against pornography on Google and YouTube

Link Here15th June 2016
Hundreds of people from the Indonesian Islamic Organization, Muhammadiyah, demonstrated in Surabaya, East Java province to urge Google and YouTube to remove pornographic content.

A demonstration coordinator, M Arif An, said that the protest was the first step taken by Muhammadiyah and its affiliated organizations to act decisively in combating pornography.

Arif claimed porn content has destroyed younger generations and was causing immoral behavior:

A lot of crimes involved influence of pornographic content.

Any content considered propagating radical Islam is very quickly blocked by the ministry. We urge that porn content must also be removed immediately.

For some reason he did not mention the infinitely greater amount of misery and violence around the world directly attributable to religion.

Muhammadiyah is an influential and conservative islamic organisation with about 29 million members.



Update: Escorted out of India...

Indian internet censors try a new angle

Link Here14th June 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
India's internet censors have demanded that local ISPs block 240 escort service websites.

The communications and IT ministry on Monday ordered the censorship of,,,,,,,, and

About a year ago the government tried to block notable porn sites but it caused an uproar, and the government reversed its censorship. Escort services are not likely to be widely supported so no doubt the government will get its thin edge wedged in.



Offsite Article: Jigsaw and uProxy...

Link Here14th June 2016
Censorship and the Future of the Internet According to Yasmin Green

See article from



Offsite Article: Hulking bullies...

Link Here11th June 2016
Bankrupting Gawker over a grudge isn't justice. It's censorship. By Nicky Woolf

See article from



Theresa May...This means you!...

Secretary General of the Council of Europe warns about internet censorship in Europe

Link Here2nd June 2016

Clear, transparent and adequate safeguards are needed to protect the free expression of internet users and ensure their access to information, according to ThorbjÝrn Jagland.

The Secretary General expressed his concerns following the 1 June publication of a study, commissioned to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, on the regulations governing blocking, filtering and removal of Internet content in the organisation's 47 member states.

Jagland wants European governments to ensure that their legal frameworks and procedures in this area are in compliance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He said:

Governments have an obligation to combat the promotion of terrorism, child abuse material, hate speech and other illegal content online.

However, I am concerned that some states are not clearly defining what constitutes illegal content. Decisions are often delegated to authorities who are given a wide margin for interpreting content, potentially to the detriment of freedom of expression. On the basis of this study we will take a constructive approach and develop common European standards to better protect freedom of expression online.



Speech is now less free...

EU introduces requirement for social media companies to censor 'hate speech'. No doubt the internet companies will censor first and ask questions later and then find its not worth their while to investigate further

Link Here1st June 2016
The European Union has signed a censorship deal with four of the world's biggest tech firms which will see content censored in just 24 hours should someone claim that the content is 'hate speech'.

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google have all committed to new rules designed to ensure that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally .

All four firms have committed to quickly analyse and remove content involving public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin .

Vera JourovŠ, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said, The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. She didn't mention how important it is to let people criticise groups behind those terror attacks

Eurocrats have claimed the laws are not about stifling freedom of expression, but making sure social media isn't used to spread extremist messages of hate.

But not everyone is buying this claim. Keith Porteus Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, issued a statement condemning the hate speech laws . He wrote:

The public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin will create a chilling effect on freedom of expression and will be misused to muzzle it

On Twitter, one person insightfully observed that Brussels was intent on banning speech we don't like by calling it hate speech .

Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship chief executive, noted:

Hate speech laws are already too broad and ambiguous in much of Europe. This agreement fails to properly define what 'illegal hate speech' is and does not provide sufficient safeguards for freedom of expression.

The agreement once again devolves power to unelected corporations to determine what amounts to hate speech and police it. There have been precedents of content removal for unpopular or offensive viewpoints and this agreement risks amplifying the phenomenon of deleting controversial, yet legal, content via misuse or abuse of the notification processes.

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