Internet News

2019: July

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YouTube speaks out against the censorship proposed in the Online Harms white paper...

YouTube is reluctant to censor drill music videos


Link Here 13th July 2019
Full story: Drill Music...Drill music videos banned by UK police
Ben McOwen Wilson the head of YouTube UK said that the website not remove drill music videos from the platform saying that they provide a place for those too often without a voice.

He Said that YouTube must work with government and regulators to find a balance on removing content.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, McOwen Wilson had a knock at the vague government internet censorship plan outline in the Online Harms white paper. He said it was right that anything which is illegal offline should not be permitted online, but added that deciding when to remove videos which were legal but could be considered potentially harmful was a greater issue facing the tech industry.  He said:

Drawing a line on content that should be removed isn't always clear. For example, as communities are working to address the issue of gang violence, we too find ourselves developing the right way to play our part.

While some have argued there is no place for drill music on YouTube, we believe we can help provide a place for those too often without a voice.

To strike this balance, we work with the Metropolitan Police, community groups and experts to understand local context and take action where needed.

 

 

Twitter recommends...

The Soska sisters' Rabid


Link Here 13th July 2019
Full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs

Rabid is a 2019 Canada Sci-Fi horror by Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska.
Starring Laura Vandervoort, Greg Bryk and Stephen Huszar. IMDb

An aspiring model suffers a disfiguring traffic accident and undergoes a radical untested stem-cell treatment. The experimental transformation is a miraculous success, leaving her more beautiful than before. She finds her confidence and sexual appetite is also strangely increased resulting in several torrid encounters. But she unknowingly sets off a spiraling contagion, and within 24 hours her lovers become rabid, violent spreaders of death and disease. As the illness mutates, it spreads through society at an accelerated rate causing an ever-increasing number of people to rampage through the city in a violent and gruesome killing spree.

Twitter has banned the account of the Soska Sisters after they posted promotional images for their forthcoming horror Rabid. The image appears on the cover of the Rue Morgue magazine.

The directors commented on their Facebook page:

Bad girls. We'll be back. But man, those @mastersfx1 prosthetics in #Rabid must be medically accurate to get us suspended for advertising our World Premiere with a FrightFest banner. I like how that makeup could be on the cover of @ruemorguemag & @fangoria, but shut down on Twitter. Wild world we are living in.

 

 

Offsite Article: An always on home microphone is always going to be too tempting for snoops and spooks...


Link Here 12th July 2019
Belgian researchers reveal recordings from Google's home assistant that are clearly not activated by an 'OK Google'

See article from theregister.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: Streaming online pornography produces as much CO2 as Belgium...


Link Here 12th July 2019
Climate campaigners already want to take away your car, holidays abroad, and your Sunday roast, now they've got their beady eyes on your porn and Netflix

See article from newscientist.com

 

 

Twitter bans the clergy from tweeting about their flock...

Twitter has updated its rules and will now ban tweets dehumanising religious groups to animals


Link Here 11th July 2019
Twitter has blogged about its recent censorship rules update:

Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk. As a result, after months of conversations and feedback from the public, external experts and our own teams, we're expanding our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion.

Starting today, we will require Tweets like these to be removed from Twitter when they're reported to us:

Religious groups are viruses. They are making this country sick.

It is always one of the unintended consequences of censorship is that it often applies most to those that are supposed to be in need of protection. Eg religious groups are the ones that are most likely to be pulled up for hate directed at other religious groups.

So will Twitter ban such bible quotes as:

But [Moses] made his own people go out like sheep -- Distinguishing between them and the Egyptians, as a shepherd divideth between the sheep and the goats, having set his own mark upon these sheep, by the blood of the Lamb sprinkled on their door-posts. And they went forth as sheep, not knowing whither they went. And guided them in the wilderness -- As a shepherd guides his flock.

(Psalm 78:52-54)

 

 

Ethical censorship...

Danish education minister proposes the establishment of a censor board for influencers on social media


Link Here 11th July 2019

Denmark is considering the censorship of social media after an Instagram influencer's suicide note kicked off a controversy.

Instagram personality Fie Laursen posted a suicide note which received 30,000 comments and 8,000 likes. The public suicide note remained online for two days before Laursen herself took it down, having received treatment in a local hospital for an attempted overdose.

In the aftermath, Danish Minister of Children and Education Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has proposed that influencers and bloggers must adhere to press based rules to avoid 'harm' to the wider public. Rosenkrantz-Theil said:

All journalists are familiar with the press ethics rules that, for example, that one must be careful about talking about suicide in the public space. When managing popular blogs with hundreds of thousands of followers, I think we can make the same demands.

Rosenkrantz-Theil proposes the formation of a governmental censorship board to enforce such rules which would be granted the authority to remove material in breach of whatever guidelines were created. The politician also outlined a scenario whereby the influencers would have to designate three people to have the password for their accounts. These people can then remove a post if they believe it violates the press ethics.

The proposed Press Board would be afforded the right to criticize and ultimately, to censor, offending posts that broke any potential ethical guidelines. The censor's remit would be limited to those influencers with more than 5,000 followers.

 

 

Updated: I nominate ISPA for ISPA's Internet Villain award...

UK ISPA trade association colludes with the state censors and claims that heroic Mozilla is an internet villain for implementing censor evading encrypted DNS in Firefox


Link Here 10th July 2019
Full story: UK Concerns over Encrypted DNS...UK internet censors vs DNS over HTTPS
The Internet Services Providers' Association has announced the finalists for what its members consider as the 2019 Internet Hero and Villain.

The Internet Hero nominations this year include those campaigning to improve trust and confidence online; mapping out the UK's evolving broadband landscape; and working on global internet governance issues. While, the Villain nominees take in the impact of new technical standards on existing online protections, the balance between freedom of expression and copyright online and the global telecoms supply chain.

This year's nominations for the 2019 Internet Heroes and Villains in full are:

ISPA Internet Hero

  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee -- for spearheading the Contract for the Web campaign to rebuild trust and protect the open and free nature of the Internet in the 30 th anniversary of the World Wide Web
  • Andrew Ferguson OBE, Editor, Thinkbroadband - for providing independent analysis and valuable data on the UK broadband market since the year 2000
  • Oscar Tapp-Scotting & Paul Blaker, Global Internet Governance Team, DCMS -- for leading the UK Government's efforts to ensure a balanced and proportionate agenda at the International Telecommunications Union Conference

ISPA Internet Villain

  • Mozilla -- for their proposed approach to introduce DNS-over-HTTPS in such a way as to bypass UK filtering obligations and parental controls, undermining internet safety standards in the UK
  • Article 13 Copyright Directive -- for threatening freedom of expression online by requiring content recognition technologies across platforms
  • President Donald Trump -- for causing a huge amount of uncertainty across the complex, global telecommunications supply chain in the course of trying to protect national security

The winners of this year's Heroes and Villains will be chosen by the ISPA Council, and will be announced at the ISPA Awards Ceremony on 11th July in London

Update: Villainous ISPs decide that colluding with censors and snoopers is bad PR

10th July 2019. See article from ispa.org.uk and article from techdirt.com

The villains of ISPA have withdrawn their nomination of the heroic Mozilla as an internet villain. ISPA writes:

Last week ISPA included Mozilla in our list of Internet Villain nominees for our upcoming annual awards.

In the 21 years the event has been running it is probably fair to say that no other nomination has generated such strong opinion. We have previously given the award to the Home Secretary for pushing surveillance legislation, leaders of regimes limiting freedom of speech and ambulance-chasing copyright lawyers. The villain category is intended to draw attention to an important issue in a light-hearted manner, but this year has clearly sent the wrong message, one that doesn't reflect ISPA's genuine desire to engage in a constructive dialogue. ISPA is therefore withdrawing the Mozilla nomination and Internet Villain category this year.

TechDirt noted that the ISPA nomination was kindly advertising Mozilla's Firefox option for DNS over HTTPS:

ISPA nominated Mozilla for the organization's meaningless internet villain awards for, at least according to ISPA, undermining internet safety standards in the UK:

Of course Mozilla is doing nothing of the sort. DNS over HTTPS not only creates a more secure internet that's harder to filter and spy on, it actually improves overall DNS performance, making everything a bit faster. Just because this doesn't coalesce with the UK's routinely idiotic and clumsy efforts to censor the internet, that doesn't somehow magically make it a bad idea.

Of course, many were quick to note that ISPA's silly little PR stunt had the opposite effect than intended. It not only advertised that Mozilla was doing a good thing, it advertised DNS over HTTPS to folks who hadn't heard of it previously. Matthew Prince P (@eastdakota) tweeted:

Given the number of people who've enabled DNS-over-HTTPS in the last 48 hours, it's clear @ISPAUK doesn't understand or appreciate @mmasnick's so-called "Streisand Effect."

 

 

Offsite Article: Who Has the Most Censored Internet?...


Link Here 9th July 2019
After China and North Korea...obviously...

See article from gizmodo.com

 

 

Vice nannies join the intimacy supervisors at Netflix...

Netflix vows to stub out smoking in its productions


Link Here 8th July 2019
From chain-smoking time traveller Nadia in Russian Doll , to frazzled single mom Joyce Byers rarely seen without a pack in her shaking hands in Stranger Things , Netflix's characters love to smoke. But that looks set to change.

Anti smoking campaigners, the Truth Initiative, published campaign material noting that Stranger Things was among the programs that showed most smoking on screen. Other series that featured were Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Orange Is The New Black.

Netflix is now vowing to curtail the appearance of cigarettes on screen in all its new projects. In a statement to Variety, Netflix pledged to make all their programming aimed at young people -- anything with a rating below PG-13 or TV-14 -- smoking and e-cigarette free, except for reasons of historical and factual accuracy. Meanwhile, for their content aimed at older viewers, there will be no smoking or e-cigarette use unless it's either essential or character-defining.

 

 

Offsite Article: Why TikTok social media app is facing greater scrutiny...


Link Here 8th July 2019
Because adults don't get it and they aren't policing the children's playground

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Aborting right wing views...

Given that Google are clearly censoring right wing commentators, then it seems entirely plausible that they are similarly interfering on other political issues, including abortion in Ireland


Link Here 7th July 2019
Full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites

Google has been accused of blacklisting pro-life YouTube search entries ahead of last year's vote in Ireland on legalizing abortion. Pundits call it a deliberate manipulation and demand that the company be held accountable.

Allegations that Google's manual interference with YouTube search results may have played a role in the 2018 referendum on abortion in Ireland surfaced last week, when Project Veritas website published an insider-based article on the matter. Blocked terms reportedly included abortion is murder, Irish Catholic, pro-life and other terms.

Google responded, saying that there was no distinction between pro-life or pro-choice queries on YouTube at the time and that their whole procedure was transparent.

This is hardly a credible response from Google, their processes are never transparent, so how can one believe the other half of the statement?

 

 

A new blasphemy law...

The National Secular Society Government online harm plans could curb free expression


Link Here 6th July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

The National Secular Society has warned that government plans to require social media companies to censor hateful and offensive content could act as a de facto blasphemy law.

In its response to the government's white paper on online harms , the NSS said efforts to confront and challenge hateful speech and behaviour must not undermine free speech on religion.

The white paper outlines plans to create a regulator with the power to fine online platforms and block websites. The regulator will be required to create guidance for social media companies, outlining what constitutes hateful content online.

The guidance would include content which is not necessarily illegal, content which may directly or indirectly cause harm to other users and some offensive material in that definition.

The NSS said censoring content that could be considered offensive would severely restrict freedom of expression, including the freedom to criticise or satirise religion. The society added that the question of offence was an entirely subjective matter.

The NSS also noted that a requirement on companies to demonstrate 'continuous improvement' in tackling hateful material could encourage them to be more censorious.

The NSS also challenged a claim in the white paper that offending online is just as serious as that occurring offline. The NSS said this line lowered the threshold for hate crimes, because people's ability to commit such crimes is much more limited online than offline.

The society raised the example of a man who was recently arrested on suspicion of hate crime after publishing a video on Facebook of himself mocking Islamic prayer in a hospital prayer room. The NSS noted that threats of death and violence were made towards the man and were reported to the police, but no action appeared to have been taken against the perpetrators to date.

The NSS also criticised the government's definition of hate crime which is contained within the white paper. The definition says hate crimes include crimes demonstrating hostility on the grounds of an individual's actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

The NSS said this definition was too broad, meaning any incident in which an individual demonstrates hostility toward another individual based on the listed characteristics could be treated as a hate crime.

The society said strong critics of religion or Christians who preach that gay people will go to Hell were examples of those who risk being charged with hate crimes.

NSS spokesperson Megan Manson said the white paper had given too much ground to those who attempt to shut down legitimate expression, including on religion.

The government should treat the fundamental right to free expression as a positive value in its attempts to promote social cohesion. Instead it has proposed cracking down on what people can say on social media, based largely on vague and broad definitions of what constitutes 'hateful' material. In the process it risks significantly undermining free expression for all and stirring social resentment.

Ministers must not treat the civil liberties of British citizens as an afterthought in their efforts to tackle online harms.

 

 

The pirate flag reaches top mast in Brussels...

Pirate Party MEP has been elected as a Vice-President of the EU Parliament.


Link Here 5th July 2019
Full story: Pirate Party...The Pirate Party starts up arund the world
The Pirate Party political movement owes its early success to sticking up for The Pirate Bay, following a raid in Sweden. In recent years Pirates have delivered many excellent politicians and Marcel Kolaja, one of the new MEPs, has just been elected as a Vice-President of the EU Parliament.

4 Pirate MEPS were elected at the last European Election with one from Germany and three from the Czech Republic.

During the last term, the excellent Julia Reda was at the forefront of many lawmaking discussions, particularly with regard to the new Copyright Directive. While Reda recently left Parliament, the new MEPs obviously have similar ambitions.

With 426 votes, Marcel Kolaja was elected with an absolute majority in the second voting round. He will serve as one of the fourteen Vice-Presidents tasked with replacing the President as chair of the plenary if needed, as well as a variety of other tasks.

 

 

The ICO has a Baldric inspired 'cunning plan' to require age verification for nearly all websites...

But the News Media Association points out that it would force websites to choose between being devoid of audience or stripped of advertising


Link Here 4th July 2019
Full story: UK age verification for social media...ICO calls for strict age verification for social media access
For some bizarre reason the ICO seems to have been given powers to make wide ranging internet censorship law on the fly without needing it to be considered by parliament. And with spectacular incompetence, they have come up with a child safety plan to require nearly every website in Britain to implement strict age verification. Baldric would have been proud, it is more or less an internet equivalent of making children safe on the roads by banning all cars.

A trade association for news organisations, News Media Association, summed up the idea in a consultation response saying:

ICO's Age Appropriate Code Could Wreak Havoc On News Media 

Unless amended, the draft code published for consultation by the ICO would undermine the news media industry, its journalism and business innovation online. The ICO draft code would require commercial news media publishers to choose between their online news services being devoid of audience or stripped of advertising, with even editorial content subject to ICO judgment and sanction, irrespective of compliance with general law and codes upheld by the courts and relevant regulators.

The NMA strongly objects to the ICO's startling extension of its regulatory remit, the proposed scope of the draft code, including its express application to news websites, its application of the proposed standards to all users in the absence of robust age verification to distinguish adults from under 18-year olds and its restrictions on profiling. The NMA considers that news media publishers and their services should be excluded from scope of the proposed draft Code.

Attracting and retaining audience on news websites, digital editions and online service, fostering informed reader relationships, are all vital to the ever evolving development of successful newsbrands and their services, their advertising revenues and their development of subscription or other payment or contribution models, which fund and sustain the independent press and its journalism.

There is surely no justification for the ICO to attempt by way of a statutory age appropriate design code, to impose access restrictions fettering adults (and children's) ability to receive and impart information, or in effect impose 'pre watershed' broadcast controls upon the content of all currently publicly available, free to use, national, regional and local news websites, already compliant with the general law and editorial and advertising codes of practice upheld by IPSO and the ASA.

In practice, the draft Code would undermine commercial news media publishers' business models, as audience and advertising would disappear. Adults will be deterred from visiting newspaper websites if they first have to provide age verification details. Traffic and audience will also be reduced if social media and other third parties were deterred from distributing or promoting or linking titles' lawful, code compliant, content for fear of being accused of promoting content detrimental to some age group in contravention of the Code. Audience measurement would be difficult. It would devastate advertising, since effective relevant personalised advertising will be rendered impossible, and so destroy the vital commercial revenues which actually fund the independent media, its trusted journalism and enable it to innovate and evolve to serve the ever-changing needs of its audience.

The draft Code's impact would be hugely damaging to the news industry and wholly counter to the Government's policy on sustaining high quality, trusted journalism at local, regional, national and international levels.

Newspapers online content, editorial and advertising practices do not present any danger to children. The ICO has not raised with the industry any evidence of harm, necessitating such drastic restrictions, caused by reading news or service of advertisements where these are compliant with the law and the standards set by specialist media regulators.

 
The Information Commissioner's Office has a 'cunning plan'

Of course the News Media Association is making a strong case for its own exclusion from the ICO's 'cunning plan', but the idea is equally devastating for websites from any other internet sector.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham was called to give evidence to Parliament's DCMS Select Committee this week on related matters, and she spoke of a clearly negative feedback to her age verification idea.

Her sidekick backtracked a little, saying that the ICO did not mean Age Verification via handing over passport details, more like one of those schemes where AI guesses age by scanning what sort of thing the person has been posting on social media. (Which of course requires a massive grab of data that should be best kept private, especially for children).  The outcome seems to be a dictate to the internet industry to 'innovate' and find a solution to age verification that does not require the mass hand over of private data (you know like what the data protection laws are supposed to be protecting). The ICO put a time limit on this innovation demand of about 12 months.

In the meantime the ICO has told the news industry that age verification idea won't apply to them, presumably because they can kick up a hell of stink about the ICO in their mass market newspapers. Denham said:

We want to encourage children to find out about the world, we want children to access news sites.

So the concern about the impact of the code on media and editorial comment and journalism I think is unfounded. We don't think there will be an impact on news media sites. They are already regulated and we are not a media regulator.

She did speak any similar reassuring words to any other sector of the internet industry who are likely to be equally devastated by the ICO's 'cunning plan'.

 

 

VPNs claimed to be unlicensed ISPs...

Indonesia's internet censor to consider a ban on VPNs


Link Here 4th July 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill
VPNs recently came under the scrutiny of the Indonesian government after authorities placed restrictions on social media during the May 21-22 election protests. At that time, the government temporarily banned certain features of social media to censor the communications that it did not like. Inevitably many Indonesians turned to using VPNs to bypass the ban, causing a sharp increase in VPN downloads.

In response, the government claimed that VPNs, especially the free ones, may pose threats to users' private data and that they should be uninstalled.

Now the Information and Communications Ministry (Kominfo) chipped in saying that Kominfo will not hesitate to block VPNs that aren't licensed in Indonesia. The licensing requirement seems to be a tenuous correlation that VPNs are somehow equivalent to ISPs, and ISPs Indonesia must be licensed.

This connection is not quite confirmed as yet and Kominfo is set to meet with the Association of Internet Service Providers in Indonesia (APJII) to discuss a possible VPN provider ban.

 

 

Offsite Article: How about exemptions from Government censorship for ALL internet forums?...


Link Here 3rd July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Press Gazette apposes the government's internet censorship proposals in the Online Harms white paper but only calls for the exemptions for themselves

See article from pressgazette.co.uk

 

 

Facebook loses count of the number of censorship requests...

Germany fines Facebook for a transparency report that did not detail the amount of claims of illegal content that Facebook received


Link Here 2nd July 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany has fined Facebook for failing to detail the number of complaints received in a transparency report.

The Federal Office for Justice (BfJ,) a subdivision of the German justice ministry, announced that it had issued Facebook a fine of 2 million euro for failing to meet the requirements of Berlin's Network Enforcement Act, a law against illegal content, in its transparency report for the first half of 2018.

In the penalty charge notice, the BfJ reprimands in particular that in the released report, the number of received complaints about unlawful content is incomplete, the office said in its announcement, adding that this is creating a distorted image in the public about the extent of unlawful content [on the platform] and the way the social network is dealing with it.

 

 

Offsite Article: The UK Is Trying to Censor the Internet...


Link Here 2nd July 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Here's what the Online Harms White Paper means for UK internet users

See article from pcmag.com

 

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