A UN report titled, Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls has been published by members of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender with editorial inputs by teams from UN Women, UNDP and ITU.
It is very manipulative report, starting by discussing internationally reprehensible online behaviour such as making death threats. It then defines these as 'cyber violence' and establishes that such behaviour should not be allowed on the
internet, presumably assuming concurrence by readers.
Then it pulls a fast one by defining a long list of other things as a 'a form of cyber violence', many of which are nothing to do with violence, but are just a wish list of things that feminists do not like. This list includes the adult
consensual sex trade and inevitably, your bog standard porn. The authors claim:
Research reveals that 88.2% of top rated porn scenes contain aggressive acts and 94% of the time the act is directed towards a woman
Hence porn should be banned as 'cyber violence against women'.
British spies have snooped on people's visits to online porn websites, according to documents leaked by CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden .
The files appear to detail a top secret programme - creepily codenamed Karma Police - which has been storing and analysing the browsing habits of every visible user on the internet for seven years.
They revelations were published by The Intercept, who say they obtained the information from Snowden.
The Karma Police system collected and stored records of visits to Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Reddit - as well as porn website YouPorn. GCHQ have been correlating logs of websites visited with associated cookie information to identify the
The Snowden files give some idea of how they mine this data on an unprecedented scale, with the aim of detecting suspicious behaviour by anyone in the world.
The system also allowed spooks to track people who had listened to particular online radio stations, which they say were used to spread radical islamic ideas.
A report included in the leak showed how they selected one listener, from Egypt, and revealed they had also looked at porn site Redtube, Facebook, Yahoo, Flickr, Google, and a website about Islam. The report does not say whether the user was
suspected of a crime or had links to terrorism beyond listening to a radio station.
The Karma Police system shares its name with a Radiohead song, the chorus of which goes: This is what you'll get if you mess with us.
The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has imposed a 3 day shutdown of the mobile internet because locals are using social media to criticise a state law banning beef on religious grounds. The state is predominantly muslim, and so residents are
unimpressed by the imposition of a law grounded in hinduism..
Inspector General of Police of Kashmir as well as Jammu region wrote a letter to all ISPs to extend the termination of data services to 3 days. He said:
In view of the apprehension of misuse of data services (GPRS/2G/3G) by anti-national elements, which is likely to cause deterioration in law and order situation, you are requested to completely snap down the data services through GPRS/2G/3G and
broadband till 2 PM of September 27.
The measure has been taken because of apprehension of communal tension in the backdrop of the High Court directive for implementation of an old law that bans slaughter and selling of beef. Some separatist groups have said they will defy the court
order, and proceeded to make their case by posting comments and videos on social media.
Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the British minister for intellectual property, made an official visit and to sign a memorandum of understanding between Britain's Intellectual Property Office and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. The document
outlined joint efforts between the two offices to protect IP in each other's countries.
Neville-Rolfe told The Straits Times that it would be unwise to ban technology like VPNS, even if they are used to access geo-blocked content, a practice opposed by rights holders. You can't outlaw a key technology, she said.
Recently the Singaporean ISP ViewQwest released a new set top box with a built in VPN-like function so customers could use foreign streaming services. Netflix will, however, launch officially in Singapore next year but concerns remain over the
quality of the catalog compared to the US version, particularly citing widespread local censorship. One Singapore user explained:
I'm paying about US$50 (S$71) a year for my VPN service, which is a small price to pay for full, uncensored content. I wouldn't want to miss out on any parts of the TV show, so I wouldn't switch to Netflix's Singapore service if it is going to
The French internet censor has responded to a Google statement which explains why European internet censorship cannot be applied across the world.
This summer, France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) sent Google an order to not merely delist links from European Google searches but search results around the world, too. Google responded:
This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web.
CNIL's president did not find this persuasive, rejecting Google's appeal of the order. In a statement released today, CNIL claimed that:
Once delisting is accepted by the search engine, it must be implemented on all extensions, because if this right was limited to some extensions, it could be easily circumvented: in order to find the delisted result, it would be sufficient to
search on another extension and this would equate stripping away the efficiency of this right.
CNIL pointed out that delisted info remains directly accessible on the source website or through a search using other terms than an individual's name and:
In addition, this right is not absolute: it has to be reconciled with the public's right to information, in particular when the data subject is a public person, under the double supervision of the CNIL and of the court.
Google must now comply with the formal notice or face CNIL's sanctions committee.
There's no further opportunity to appeal the decision at this stage under French law. But if Google refuses to comply, it could later appeal any sanctions levied by CNIL. Fines would likely start at around € 300,000
but could increase to between 2-5% of Google's global operating costs. The search engine could then go to the Conseil d'Etat, the supreme court for administrative justice, to appeal the decision and fine.
Members of the Kurdistan Region parliament have put forward a draft law blocking pornographic websites in the Region.
MP Bahzad Darwesh from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) revealed that 27 MPs signed a draft law on September 20th , proposing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) block access to online porn.
Darwesh claimed that the draft law has been made to save customs, traditions and social values. He pointed out that along with MPs from Islamic parties, other members of parliament have signed the bill.
The Iraqi parliament recently voted to restrict access to internet pornography in the country, but the newly-ratified law is not enforceable until the Kurdistan Region parliament votes in favor of the bill.
As the head of MI5 launches a push for unparalleled powers, will he answer challenging questions on why banning encryption, or weakening it through compulsory backdoors, won't make us all less safe? By Julian Huppert
Andrew Parker, the Head of MI5, has called for more up-to-date surveillance laws in an interview with the BBC, where he also stated that communications companies have an ethical responsibility to alert the authorities to potential threats
. Parker said:
MI5 and others need to be able to navigate the internet to find terrorist communication, we need to be able to use data sets to be able to join the dots to be able to find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm before they are able to bring
plots to fruition.
We have been pretty successful at that in recent years but it is becoming more difficult to do it as technology changes faster and faster [and] encryption comes in.
The government is currently planning renewed attempts to pass the Communications Data Bill, also known as the Snoopers' Charter . They are expected to bring forward a new version of the Bill in October.
Commentator and encryption expert Bruce Schneier commented:
For most of human history, surveillance has been expensive. Over the last couple of decades, it has become incredibly cheap and almost ubiquitous. That a few bits and pieces are becoming expensive again isn't a cause for alarm.
The government has also been briefing the communication industry about the extended snooping plan.
Theresa May has already met with companies including BT, TalkTalk, EE, Vodaphone, and Virgin Media to discuss plans to bring forward a new draft of the Communications Data Bill in October. Non-ISP networks and civil liberties groups have
reportedly been summoned to separate meetings.
Facebook has announced that it is undertaking steps to counter racist postings by users in Germany after criticism by the Justice Ministry.
Facebook made the announcement just before a meeting with Justice Minister Heiko Maas to discuss the topic. Facebook were 'invited' them to the meeting to discuss what he saw as a failure to act against violent and xenophobic comments which
had proliferated due to the way the refugee crisis is being handled.
Facebook has unveiled several censorship measures including signing up with the 'Voluntary' Self-censorship Service Provider (FSM) a group Facebook describes as a leading organization in the realm of internet security,
Facebook is also setting up a task force to find solutions to the problem of racism on the internet. Thirdly Facebook are taking a few ideas from China with a campaign for counter speech , an Orwellian euphemism which means censoring
criticism through propaganda postings on internet forums.
Facebook Germany's policy manager Eva-Maria Kirschsieper said in a statement.
We have seen how many groups have been organised on our platform aiming to help refugees. But a very small minority have been spreading opinions that cross the line of acceptable behaviour.
Supported by the French Government, several key players in the online payment industry are teaming up with copyright holders to ban infringing websites. The proposed agreement is a key part of the follow the money approach through which
stakeholders hope to decrease online piracy via censorship.
The entertainment industries are lobbying the public and private sector to come to their aid. So far, this has resulted in Government supported voluntary agreements in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
It now appears that France intends to follow the same path. One of the key elements of the French approach is to strangle the revenues of pirate sites by making it harder to run ads and accept online payments.
Earlier this year Fleur Pellerin, France's Minister of Culture and Communication, presented a paper outlining the Government's plans. At the time, it was suggested that payments to and from pirate sites should be blocked where possible.
but the new plan would go above and beyond current measures.
According to Minister Pellerin both parties are working on a voluntary agreement which would see copyright holders create and maintain a pirate site blacklist. The payment providers will then use this list to prevent sites from signing up
or to terminate current accounts.
Some opponents fear that without proper oversight the blacklist may become too broad. This could potentially destroy businesses which are not deemed illegal by any court.
The European Parliament has voted to adopt the conclusions of a report that defends encryption, anonymity and digital freedom.
The report, which was narrowly approved by 371 votes in favour to 293 against, criticised EU governments for supporting mass snooping:
The active complicity of certain EU member states in the NSA's mass surveillance of citizens and spying on political leaders, as revealed by Edward Snowden, has caused serious damage to the credibility of the EU's human rights policy.
However, it's not just the US that has come in for a bashing in the resolution that was drafted by Dutch Liberal MEP Marietje Schaake. David Cameron's ideas about banning encryption or allowing backdoor exploits for spying are also roundly
condemned. The European Parliament said the EU should:
Counter the criminalisation of the use of encryption, anti-censorship and privacy tools by refusing to limit the use of encryption within the EU, and by challenging third-country governments that criminalise such tools.
It also condemns the weakening and undermining of encryption protocols and products, particularly by intelligence services seeking to intercept encrypted communications.
Schaake wants end-to-end encryption standards as a matter of course for all communication services.
In an effort to promote tolerance and equality in Argentina, online censorship could become a reality. Argentina's House of Representatives is currently debating a series of reforms to the National Anti-discrimination Act, a bill that was enacted
in 1988 . The current proposal would require online platforms that allow user comments to monitor and remove any content considered discriminatory according to the vague and ambiguous provisions outlined in the proposed reforms. The
amendments would also make it a criminal offense to publish discriminatory or insulting comments on Internet sites, punishable by fine or even prison time.
This draft proposal is problematic for four reasons. First, the proposal's definition of discriminatory contents is excessively broad and ambiguous, and even considers non-violent speech to be criminal. Second, it requires intermediaries
to publish terms and conditions that say users should refrain from publishing any discriminatory comments before entering the site. Next, it urges intermediaries to take any measure deemed necessary for preventing discriminatory content from
spreading. And lastly, the proposal sets a sentence of up to three years for those who assist or promote a person or organization in publishing discriminatory content.
If this proposal is enacted, it would most certainly stifle free expression and promote self-censorship. We may also see website administrators increasingly monitoring their users in fear of legal retaliation.
Germany has a wide range of opinions on the subject of immigration, and no doubt accepting one million Syrian refugees will be quite a challenge. The German government has been looking to keep the lid on internet comments on the subject.
Unfortunately for the censors, not all of the unwelcome comments have triggered the level of offence/threat/hatred etc set by internet companies that results in comments being removed. So the German government are currently trying to convince
Facebook to be more proactive in acting against comments that the government considers racist.
Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas has warned. In an interview with Reuters, Maas said:
If Facebook wants to do business in Germany, then it must abide by German laws. It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does.
He said that Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred are crimes in Germany wherever they are found, and that he expects Facebook to be more vigilant in dealing with them on its service.
Maas has also made his views known in a letter to Facebook's public policy director in Dublin, Richard Allan. Maas said that he had received many complaints from German users of Facebook that their protests about racist posts on the service have
been ignored. Maas 'suggested' meeting with Allan in Berlin on 14 September to discuss the matter.
Complying with these kind of local laws is hardly a new problem for US companies that do business in Europe.
One obvious solution--censoring the German-language service and preventing German Facebook users from accessing posts made on other parts of the system--is likely to be unacceptably extreme for users. On the other hand, solutions that only
censor comments made on the German-language service, while leaving those posted elsewhere untouched, will make it easy for German users to circumvent the country's laws. Think global, act local, may be great as an Internet slogan, but
it's really hard to put into practice when it comes to the law.