Chinese internet users wanting to vent frustration at their government's repression are using a coded language to dodge censorship filters.
According to an unofficial lexicon of online political slang, there are at least 25 phrases in China
secretly loaded with taboo meaning. For example, saying that someone is checking the water meter means that police are knocking at the door. The term playing hide-and-seek is used to discuss dying in police custody, whilst many Chinese
bloggers refer to their own country as West Korea alluding to its authoritarian neighbour, North Korea.
According to Perry Link and Xiao Qiang, the authors of Decoding the Chinese internet: A glossary of political slang, the terms are rife
among the 198 million users of Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
The Hamburg Data Protection Authority said that Facbook could not force users to replace pseudonyms with real names, nor could it ask to see official identification.
The order came in response to a case where a woman complained to the watchdog after
Facebook blocked her account, requested a copy of her ID and unilaterally changed her name.
Authorities of Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands are now all working together to investigate the privacy policies of Facebook.
Facebook claims that because it has its European offices in Ireland then Irish law should govern its service. Buy Germany courts unsurprisingly disagreed and ordered that German laws applies in Germany.
Russia's internet censor Roskomnadzor has threatened to block another news website over an informational article about the internet currency bitcoin..
Officials today told Zuckerberg Pozvonit , or Zuckerberg Will Call, which focuses on news
related to Internet entrepreneurialism, that it must delete or edit within the next three days an article it published about bitcoins. If the website refuses, Roskomnadzor will block it.
The suddenly controversial article, titled What Are
Bitcoins and Who Needs Them? was published more than two years ago in April 2013.
Roskomnadzor's warning is a response to a February 2015 court decision in Astrakhan, which determined that the article contains:
The propaganda of tax crimes in the area of legalizing [money laundering] income obtained in a criminal way and has a negative impact on the legal consciousness of citizens."
The government has said in a press release that ministers are calling youngsters to have the automatic right to demand the deletion of pictures and information held about them online.
Ministers are backing proposals for a string of internet rights
for the under-18s to prevent them being embarrassed later on in life.
Indiscreet pictures or texts can blight job prospects, university offers or school places. However, even if potentially compromising content is deleted from a post, it can
still turn up on search engines such as Google or on other websites. The former managing director of Google in Europe and one-time Facebook boss, Baroness Joanna Shields is to lead the new internet rights policy group.
The rights that
businesses and groups are being urged to sign up to include giving every youngster the right to easily edit or delete all content they have created .
The move comes as the European Union also prepares to allow adults to demand any online
images or text posted by them when they were under 18 be taken down. It will be known as the right to erasure
Under the UK plan, websites will be encouraged to have 'delete buttons that young people will be able to use to request information about
them be removed.
The American entertainment website, www.vice.com has a page for video articles, mostly international, but a with a few of UK interest.
www.vice.com/en_uk/videos . The website also has staff working in the UK for a company called Vice UK.
ATVOD considered that this was sufficient UK interest for the video
service to be liable to ATVOD censorship which comes with a hefty price tag but absolutely nothing in return for the money.
As the website is under US editorial control and hence out of UK jurisdiction, Vice appealed ATVOD's decision to Ofcom who
are the ultimate authority for censoring internet video.
Ofcom looked into the location editorial control of the website videos, which is one of the legal fundamentals of deciding the jurisdiction in charge of censorship. And Ofcom concurred with
Vice, that the website is controlled from the US and so overturned ATVOD's decision.
This rather leaves ATVOD hunting around for new victims to try and pay for its expensive 'services' of looking into a trivial 55 complaints in a year about UK
internet video. Existing non-adult internet video companies are rationalising and declining in numbers, whilst adult services are either closed down or driven offshore by ATVOD's impossibly onerous age verification requirements.
It seems pretty likely that my visibility as a campaigner has made me a target. In other words, ATVOD are punishing me for speaking out against them. My priorities as a loud-mouthed activist have, it seems, ended up conflicting with my priorities as a
creative artist. If I'd kept my head down and stayed quiet, and not attended any protests, or argued against the regulations on the news, or done interviews with the press - if I'd not written a lot of angry blogposts or fundraised £3826 to help Backlash
fight the laws - maybe I'd have been left alone a bit longer.
As noted in the recently published Annual Report, the BBFC are adjudicating on appeals against unfair website blocking by mobile service providers.
There's a few interesting decisions mainly in areas of age classifications for PC sensitive website
For instance one of the early decisions was about banter on a sports forum featuring a 'rape gallery' highlighting attractive girls. The feature seems to have been deleted from the current forums on offer.
The BBFC reports:
A member of the public was concerned about several chat forum threads on not606.com which were available on an operator's mobile service, ranging from jokes about the Bin Laden family, to images with a sexual element, and
a thread encouraging members to post pictures of people they would rape, described as a 'Rape Gallery', alongside written comments about raping these individuals.
The BBFC reviewed the
content on 5th November 2013.
We partially upheld the complaint. Much of the humorous content was aimed at adolescents and was suitable, under BBFC Guidelines, for 15 year olds and above. This content therefore did not require
restriction to adults only. However, we took the view that, while the Rape Gallery might have been intended to be funny, many would not find it so, and, moreover, that it posed a non-trivial harm risk by presenting women as rape targets.
We concluded that it would be classified at least 18 or R18, and might potentially be refused classification.
More than 11,000 people are protesting a proposal which may ban private domain name registrations for millions of websites. The changes would make it easier to identify owners of pirate sites, but the commenters warn that this may have disastrous
A new ICANN proposal currently under review suggests various changes to how WHOIS protection services should operate.
The changes are inevitably welcomed by copyright holders, as they will make it easier to identify the operators
of pirate sites, who can then be held responsible.
However, several domain registrars, digital rights groups and the public at large are less enthusiastic. They fear that the changes will also prevent many legitimate website owners from using
private domain registrations.
At the time of writing ICANN has received well over 11,000 comments , most of which encourage the organization to keep private domain registrations available. A few dozen comments have been filed by special interest
groups, but most were submitted by ordinary Internet users who fear that they will have to put their name, address and other personal details out in public.
Commenters note that the proposals would encourage crime by providing the criminals with
more information. Others warn that the proposals will leave the door open for all sorts of harassment , or even aid oppressive regimes and terrorist groups including ISIS. One writes:
Please do not make it easier for
these oppressive regimes and terrorists to identify and target the brave men and women who risk their lives by writing and blogging about what goes on in those dangerous parts of the world.
It will be interesting to see how the public
consultation will influence ICANN's proposal and the future operation of domain name privacy services. The commenting period closes this coming Tuesday and will be followed by an official report. After that, the ICANN board will still have to vote on
whether or not the changes will be implemented.
A French MP has started the ball rolling on internet censorship on the grounds that children need to be protected from X-rated sites.
MP Jean-Jacques Candelier of the Democratic and Republican Left said that he'd had enough of the scourge of freely available online pornography. He wrote to Laurence Rossignol, the Secretary of State for the Family, Elderly People and Adult Care, asking for the government to introduce
an access code in France, meaning that adults who want to see pornographic content online must manually opt-in to gain entry.
Failing that, Candelier suggested a default blocking of all pornography online, a move he said was inspired by
David Cameron's controversial internet filters that came into effect in the UK last year.
The MP told France TV Info:
I don't condemn the existence of these sites, but they have to be reserved for adults. We
need to put in place a system of access codes that will be asked for every time someone tries to connect to these sites,
In a decision of great potential importance, the Divisional Court (a Lord Justice and High Court Judge sitting together) have declared section 1 of DRIPA, an Act of Parliament passed in 2014, to contravene the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as it was
interpreted in the Digital Rights Ireland judgment of April 2014.
Digital Rights Ireland declared invalid the Data Retention Directive of 2006, an EU measure which had been promoted by the UK and which required all Member States to retain
telecommunications data for periods of between 6 and 24 months.
DRIPA (enacted under emergency procedures in July 2014, in only four days) was the UK's reaction to Digital Rights Ireland. Its purpose was to provide a statutory basis, replacing the
now-invalid Directive, for the requirement that service providers in the UK retain certain categories of data (e.g. sender/recipient, date/time/duration of communication, but not content or web browsing history) for 12 months.
The Divisional Court
judgment applied the Digital Rights Ireland principles to DRIPA, disapplying the Act of Parliament to the extent that it failed to respect the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
It remains to be seen whether the Government will appeal and,
if so, how quickly that appeal will be heard.
Sky Broadband has issued a strange press release boasting of the uptake in its internet website blocking service whilst not revealing the relevant stats that underlie the claim. The press release leads with the paragraph:
Millions more families across the UK are enjoying the internet in safety following the successful roll out of Sky Broadband Shield. Sky's award-winning free internet filtering and safety tool is now active in over 70% of the homes in the roll-out to customers who had not previously made a choice, with the majority of families keeping the parental controls in addition to the malware and phishing protection Sky Broadband Shield provides.
One would suspect that 70% of subscribers are opting for some level of website blocking, but this does not necessarily mean that all of these are blocking adult content. Sky Broadband Shield includes the option to just block malware
and phishing sites, which is probably a popular option.
On the subject of blocking the likes of porn, then Sky just says that the majority of families select this option. The Daily Mail notes that the ISP TalkTalk said that about 36% of
subscribers are families with children, so Sky's comment about the 'majority of families' probably means something over 18% of total subscribers selecting the adult content blocking levels.
Sky also make the point that far more people have turned on some level of blocking because they were forced to make a decision, than before when they were merely told that options were available.
Following the introduction of Sky Broadband Shield in 2013, Sky initially asked its existing customers to choose whether or not to turn Sky Broadband Shield on, and new customers were required to choose
whether or not to turn it on at activation. Beginning in January 2015, Sky then rolled Broadband Shield out to all customers who hadn't already made a choice about whether to activate it or not.
Sky took the decision to roll out
Sky Broadband Shield to customers after the Government challenged ISPs to look at how they protected children and families online. By making the default position of Sky Broadband Shield on and making it easy to adjust or decline at any time, Sky
gave customers a choice about whether they wanted the protection whilst making their online safety a priority.
Sky's decision to give customers a choice about Broadband Shield whilst making the default position on meant
that many more customers took an active interest in what the product offers. When customers were previously emailed and asked to choose, less than 5% engaged. This evidence supports Sky's unique approach as the safest and easiest way to protect families
WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat could all potentially be banned under the latest revision of the Government's Snoopers Charter that's being drafted at the moment.
The Investigatory Powers Bill, mentioned in the
2015 Queen's Speech , would allow the government to ban instant messaging apps that refuse to remove end-to-end encryption.
Home Secretary Theresa
May reportedly plans to push the bill forward as quickly as possible, putting it in front of the Government by the Autumn.
The unconfirmed ban has caused an outcry on social media with reactions ranging from anger to disbelief that the Government
would be able to take on companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.
David Cameron hinted at such repressive measures earlier this year in the aftermath of the Paris shootings when he claimed that when implementing new surveillance powers he
would have no problem banning services like Snapchat if they didn't comply. He threatened:
In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremes, with a signed warrant from
the Home Secretary personally that we cannot read.
My answer to that question is no we must not. If I am prime minister, I will make sure it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorist safe
spaces to communicate with each other.
In a damning report on government surveillance however ,
leading computer experts at MIT have claimed that the proposals by both the US and UK governments have 'failed to account for the risks' that are inherently associated with removing encryption. The report states:
proposals are unworkable in practice, raise enormous legal and ethical questions, and would undo progress on security at a time when Internet vulnerabilities are causing extreme economic harm.
New rules for Internet providers across the European Union could eliminate adult website blocking in the U.K.
The telecoms single market rules, approved June 30, will go before the full European Parliament for a vote this fall. If the legislation gets
a green light, it will trump existing national laws. Censorship provision were more laterly debated in Council on July 8.
Despite the best efforts of UK Conservatives in the Parliament, the EU-wide regulation will put an end to Internet service
provider-level filters for adult content, which will mean new U.K. laws by the end of next year.
Currently in the U.K., the major ISPs give users the option to block pornography or gratuitous violence. Consumers are prompted to choose whether to
turn on the blocking filter when they first use their Internet connection.
While an exception for parental blocking tools was debated, it was not included in the final text.
There will be no restrictions on watching porn within the confines of your own home, the Indian Supreme Court has said. The apex court declined a plea to pass an interim order to block all porn sites in India.
Hearing a petition by advocate Kamlesh
Vashwani, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said: Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article
21 [right to personal liberty].
To get around social media websites' bans of pictures showing female nipples, Micol Hebron, from California, has created a simple campaign that allows women to cut out a picture of a male nipple and Photoshop it onto their bodies.
Here you go -- you can use this to make any photo of a topless woman acceptable for the interwebs.
Use this 'acceptable (male) nipple template', duplicate, resize and paste as needed, to cover the offending
female nipples, with socially acceptable male nipples (like a digital pasty). You're welcome.
Despite originally posting the image in 2014, it has recently gone viral after artists Our Lady J and La Sera shared it on their Facebook
Lawmakers have passed a bill enabling further internet under Russia's version of the 'right to be forgotten'. The bill was rushed through parliament after only being submitted on May 29.
The new law, passed despite objections from Yandex, Russia's
largest search engine, will allow people to censor search links about them that they do not like. i
The legislation is reported to be broader than the European Union's right to be forgotten initiative.
Yandex, after failing to get
amendments incorporated, said it had major objections to the final version of the law said:
Our point has always been that a search engine cannot take on the role of a regulatory body and act as a court or law
enforcement agency. We believe that information control should not limit access to information that serves the public interest. The private interest and the public interest should exist in balance.
The European Union has said an exception to net neutrality rules, covering spam filtering and blocking porn, was part of its new compromise deal.
The deal included four instances when net neutrality rules need not be applied.
One of the
four exceptions was filtering spam as well as allowing parents to set up parental filters that block pornography or gratuitous violence from children.
However, the commission now admits that this exemption was announced before it was actually
The three other exceptions were the blocking of illegal content; preventing the misuse of networks, for instance viruses, malware or denial of service attacks; and finally to minimise network congestion that is temporary or exceptional
Over blocking on Westminster's internet network is denying MPs the basic tools to do their job properly.
The press have had a field day about a particular website being blocked called sexymp.co.uk which rates politicians by sex appeal and presents
visitors with photos of two randomly selected parliamentarians and asks which one would be preferable in bed.
Clearly some parliamentarians are given privileged uncensored internet as the Telegraph bemoans that more than 50,000 views to the
sexymp.co.uk website were allowed compared with 484,683 attempts to view which were censored.
The next most popular banned website was the Urban Dictionary, with 155,000 attempted views, of which 8,180 were successful. Visitors can learn the
meanings behind ghetto slang with phrases such as rich rolling - or showing one's most ornate materials .
Overall the MPs made more or less zero access to content termed porn in 2014 with the reported total access count
being just 394.
A member of the IT staff spoke about the partial availability of uncensored internet feeds:
The intention is that all computers are subject to the same website filtering rules. As highlighted in
the response to the FOI request, these rules had not been correctly applied to some connections, this has now been rectified.