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Commented: Censorship on Demand...

The Government is considering extending the TV censorship regime to Video on Demand services like Netflix and Apple TV


Link Here8th July 2021

As part of an ongoing strategic review of the UK public service broadcasting system, the government will review the ownership model and remit of Channel 4 and consider tightening regulation of video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video.

With a fast-evolving media landscape, increasing competition and changing audience habits posing imminent challenges, moving Channel 4 into private ownership and changing its remit could help secure its future as a successful and sustainable public service broadcaster.

The government will also consult on whether the regulation of video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime need strengthening so they are subject to similar rules as traditional "linear" broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Sky.

It will consider whether new rules are needed to protect viewers of video-on-demand services - such as changes to age ratings and addressing impartiality and accuracy rules for documentaries and news content - alongside measures to level the playing field so public service broadcasters can compete with international rivals.

This will help ensure the country has a diverse, free and pluralistic broadcasting landscape with high standards.

The reviews will come ahead of a broadcasting white paper due in the autumn. The white paper would consider the future of the country's broadcasting landscape with the ultimate aim of making sure it serves listeners and viewers on all platforms and across the UK.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

Technology has transformed broadcasting but the rules protecting viewers and helping our traditional channels compete are from an analogue age.

The time has come to look at how we can unleash the potential of our public service broadcasters while also making sure viewers and listeners consuming content on new formats are served by a fair and well-functioning system.

So we'll now be looking at how we can help make sure Channel 4 keeps its place at the heart of British broadcasting and level the playing field between broadcasters and video-on-demand services.

Video-on-demand services

Video-on-demand services available in the UK are not regulated to the same level as "linear" television channels and some services such as Netflix and Apple TV+ are not regulated in the UK at all.

Only content on the BBC iPlayer is subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, which includes enhanced protections to audiences from harmful or offensive material and rules on accuracy and impartiality.

Existing audience protections on UK-regulated video-on-demand services are primarily focused on children and rules preventing content which incites hatred. Some services have introduced their own voluntary procedures - such as Netflix's voluntary age ratings partnership with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

The current landscape makes for an inconsistent, ad-hoc and potentially harmful gap in regulation between video-on-demand services alongside a potential competitive disadvantage between UK broadcasters and their internationally-funded online counterparts.

It is also almost twenty years since the UK broadcast sector's regulatory framework was introduced in the Communications Act 2003, which was designed before the arrival of online companies such as Apple+, Amazon Prime and Netflix in their current form.

The government will also take forward existing commitments to legislate to strengthen public service broadcasters' "prominence" online so that their video-on-demand content can easily be found and accessed on smart TVs and other platforms and devices.

 

Update: Now the censors are coming for Netflix

8th July 2021. See article from spiked-online.com

The government wants Ofcom to regulate streaming services. This is bad news for free expression.

 

 

Updated: Censored comments...

Comments about the UK Government's new Internet Censorship Bill


Link Here28th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

Comment: Disastrous

11th May 2021. See article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

Mark Johnson, Legal and Policy Officer at Big Brother Watch said:

The Online Safety Bill introduces state-backed censorship and monitoring on a scale never seen before in a liberal democracy.

This Bill is disastrous for privacy rights and free expression online. The Government is clamping down on vague categories of lawful speech. This could easily result in the silencing of marginalised voices and unpopular views.

Parliament should remove lawful content from the scope of this Bill altogether and refocus on real policing rather than speech-policing.

 

 

Offsite Comment: Online safety bill: a messy new minefield in the culture wars

13th May 2021. See article from theguardian.com by Alex Hern

The message of the bill is simple: take down exactly the content the government wants taken down, and no more. Guess wrong and you could face swingeing fines. Keep guessing wrong and your senior managers could even go to jail.

Content moderation is a hard job, and it's about to get harder.

 

 

Offsite Comment: Harm Version 3.0

15th May 2021. See article from cyberleagle.com by Graham Smith

Two years on from the April 2019 Online Harms White Paper, the government has published its draft Online Safety Bill. It is a hefty beast: 133 pages and 141 sections. It raises a slew of questions, not least around press and journalistic material and the newly-coined content of democratic importance. Also, for the first time, the draft Bill spells out how the duty of care regime would apply to search engines, not just to user generated content sharing service providers.

This post offers first impressions of a central issue that started to take final shape in the government's December 2020 Full Response to consultation: the apparent conflict between imposing content monitoring and removal obligations on the one hand, and the government's oft-repeated commitment to freedom of expression on the other - now translated into express duties on service providers.

The draft Bill represents the government's third attempt at defining harm (if we include the White Paper, which set no limit). The scope of harm proposed in its second version (the Full Response) has now been significantly widened.

See article from cyberleagle.com

 

 

Offsite Comment: The unstoppable march of state censorship

17th May 2021. See article from spiked-online.com

Vaguely worded hate-speech laws can end up criminalising almost any opinion.

 

 

Offsite Comment: Drowning internet services in red tape

 18th May 2021. See article from techmonitor.ai by Laurie Clarke

The UK government has unveiled sprawling new legislation that takes aim at online speech on internet services 203 stretching from illegal to legal yet harmful content. The wide-ranging nature of the proposals could leave internet businesses large and small facing a huge bureaucratic burden, and render the bill impractical to implement.

 

 

Offsite Comment: UK online safety bill raises censorship concerns and questions on future of encryption

24th May 2021. See article from cpj.org

 

 

Offsite Comment: Why the online safety bill threatens our civil liberties

26th May 2021. See article from politics.co.uk by Heather Burns

With the recent publication of the draft online safety bill, the UK government has succeeded in uniting the British population in a way not seen since the weekly clap for the NHS. This time, however, no one is applauding. After two years of dangled promises, the government's roadmap to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online sets up a sweeping eradication of our personal privacy, our data security, and our civil liberties.

 

 

Offsite Comment: Misguided Online Safety Bill will be catastrophic for ordinary people's social media

23rd June 2021. See article from dailymail.co.uk

The Government's new Online Safety Bill will be catastrophic for ordinary people's freedom of speech, former minister David Davis has warned.

The Conservative MP said forcing social networks to take down content in Britain they deem unacceptable seems out of Orwell's 1984.

Davis slammed the idea Silicon Valley firms could take down posts they think are not politically correct - even though it is legal.

See full article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Comment: On the trail of the Person of Ordinary Sensibilities

28th June 2021. See article from cyberleagle.com by Graham Smith

  The bill boils down to what a mythical adult or child of 'ordinary sensibilities' considers to be 'lawful but awful' content.

 

 

Offsite Comment: The Online Safety Bill won’t solve online abuse

 2nd July 2021. See article by Heather Burns

The Online Safety Bill contains threats to freedom of expression, privacy, and commerce which will do nothing to solve online abuse, deal with social media platforms, or make the web a better place to be.

 

 

 

 

Internet Harm...

Australia's Online Censorship Bill passes in the Senate


Link Here25th June 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship

A controversial online censorship bill passed the Australian senate on Tuesday night, moving the censorship closer to becoming law.

The Online Safety Bill 2021 forces social media companies, internet and hosting providers to remove supposedly 'harmful' material within 24 hours.

The eSafety commissioner will also be granted stronger censorship powers to block access to domains and URLs where material is hosted.

A senate committee gave the bill the green light after delivering recommendations in March. The committee said the aims of the legislation were strongly supported however, expressed concerns over the commissioner's future powers.

Similar concerns were raised by Google Australia, which worried about the fast rate the legislation was moving. Google Australia added it was often impossible for a cloud provider to remove individual pieces of content, which the internet giant said the bill fails to address.

The Online Safety Bill is expected to shortly pass through the House and take effect six months later.

 

 

Porn portal...

Russia proposes a portal through which all local access to internet porn is funnelled


Link Here23rd June 2021
Russian broadcasting censors, the General Radio Frequency Centre, which is a subsidiary of the internet censor Roskomnadzor has published new proposal which would see X-rated material shuttered away in an adults-only area on the internet.

RT.com explained that Russian lovers of adult content could soon be forced to ask their government for permission before they can access saucy snaps and spicy clips online, with a public services portal acting as the gateway to all legal pornography.

The report indicates that under the new proposal the government will grant itself the power to decide what content is illegal (e.g., featuring minors and depicting 'clearly offensive' themes such as rape) and what are permitted pictures and videos, which would be defined as naturalistic images or descriptions of the genitals of an adult and/or sexual intercourse or comparable sexual activity of a sexual nature involving adults with their consent.

The government proposal would also create a state-run age verification system implemented through a public services portal.

 

 

Cease moralising...

A new anti porn campaigner proposes to take legal action against the ICO for failing to keep children's data safe from porn sites


Link Here18th June 2021
CEASE (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) is a new morality group campaigning against porn and sex work in the UK.

The group was founded in 2019 and describes itself on its website:

We shine a light on what sexual exploitation is, where it occurs and how it contravenes our human rights. We campaign for new and better laws, advocate for policy change and hold the global sex industry to account.

We're building a UK-wide movement of campaigners against sexual exploitation, and we're amplifying the voices of the very best advocates for change: survivors.

Its latest cunning plan is to hold the Information Commissioners Office (the UK data protection censor) as responsible for failing to prevent the world's porn sites from obtaining usage data from under 18s. The group writes on its website:

We are threatening to take legal action against the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for failing to protect children's data from misuse by porn sites.

The excuses the ICO has given for its failure to fulfil its regulatory duties are legally and factually flawed. What's more, it has left children exposed to a profit-hungry industry which is intent on drawing children back again and again to watch violent and abusive pornographic material for its own financial gain.

The group quotes long time porn campaigner John Carr:

I was shocked and dismayed by the Information Commissioner's reply to me in which they refused to act against porn sites which were collecting and processing children's data on a large scale. If the data protection laws weren't designed to protect children ... I am sure a lot of parents will wonder just what they were designed to do.

 

 

A date with repression...

Apple bans sexy dating apps


Link Here11th June 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
Apple on Monday updated its App Store Review Guidelines to emphasise some existing policies and add new requirements for apps. One of those changes, guideline 1.1.4, bans 'hookup' apps that include pornography or are used to facilitate prostitution.

The revised guidelines, as Pink News noted, would ban overtly sexual or pornographic material, defined by Webster's Dictionary as explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.

Apple's new rules around dating apps won't affect non-sexy platforms like Grindr and Scruff.

 

 

Age of miserableness...

Strident Scottish feminist MSP tables motion calling for the resurrection of failed UK law requiring age verification for porn


Link Here11th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Rhoda Grant is a campaigning MSP with a long and miserable history of calling for bans on sex work and lap dancing. She has now tabled a motion for consideration by the Scottish Parliament expressing concern the UK government's reported failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 seeking to impose age verification for porn but without any consideration for the dangers to porn users of having their personal data hacked or abused.

Grant's motion has received the backing of Labour and SNP MSPs and notes that a coalition of women's organisations, headteachers, children's charities and parliamentarians want the government to enforce Part 3 without further delay. Grant said:

How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK government.

 

 

Lords of Dreams...

House of Lords Private Members Bills seek the restoration of failed age verification for porn and another that demands more perfect age assurance methods


Link Here9th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Members of the House of Lords are clamouring for more red tape and censorship in the name of protecting children from the dangers of the internet. Of course these people don't seem to give a shit about the safety of adults using the internet.

Maurice Morrow is attempting to revive the failed age verification for porn in his bill, Digital Economy Act 2017 (Commencement of Part 3) Bill [HL]. The original bill failed firstly because it failed to consider data protection for porn user's identity data. The original authors of the bill couldn't even be bothered to consider such security implications as porn users handing over identity data and porn browsing data directly to Russian porn sites, possibly acting as fronts for the Russian government dirty tricks dept.

Perhaps the bill also failed because the likes of GCHQ don't fancy half the porn using population of the UK using VPNs and Tor to work around age verification and ISP porn blocking.

See Morrow's bill progress from bills.parliament.uk and the bill text from bills.parliament.uk . The bill had its first reading on 9th June.

Meanwhile Beeban Kidron has proposed a bill demanding accurate age assurance. Age assurance is generally an attempt to determine age without the nightmare of dangerously handing over full identity identity data. Eg estimating the age of soical media users from the age of their friends.

See Kidron's bill progress from bills.parliament.uk and the bill text is at bill text from bills.parliament.uk . The bill had its first reading on 27th May


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