The Indian state of Uttarakhand has been hearing a rape case and has decided that porn was to blame. So the court is looking to resurrect an internet porn ban first mooted in 2015.
On August 3rd, 2015, three years back, the Government. of India
had passed a notification which ordered all ISPs to ban pornographic content with immediate effect . Around 857 pornographic websites were ordered to be banned, and ISPs were duly informed.
However, the Government faced massive backlash over this
issue and were criticized for banning porn. Some even described this as Talibanization of the Internet. After two days, a new notification was issued; and this time, the responsibility for the porn ban was passed over to the Internet Service Provider and
limited to banning child porn.
Now the Uttarakhand High Court has ordered all Internet Service Providers to immediately ban porn websites, across India. If they fail to do so, then their license can be canceled!
While hearing a recent case
of gang-rape in a school at Dehradun, the bench at Uttarakhand High Court comprising of acting chief justice Rajiv Sharma and justice Manoj Tiwari has asked the Centre Govt. to strictly implement a blanket ban on pornography sites. The Bench observed:
Unlimited access to these pornographic sites is required to be blocked/curbed to avoid an adverse influence on the impressionable minds of children.
Bench of Bombay High Court has ordered the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to initiate effective steps against Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and other private channels on Internet for broadcasting pornographic contents, crudity, sexual or
discriminatory language, and various levels of violence,
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Adv Divya Gontiya requesting the High Court to issue orders aimed at 'urbing the deluge of vulgarity, violent scenes and crude language on
webseries. The screening of pornographic contents, vulgar gestures and talks are overriding the Indian culture and morality.
The High Court has directed the concerned ministries to set up a pre-screening committee for curbing , crudity, sexual
or discriminatory language, vulgar gestures, nudity, sex, immodesty on webseries, monitor the webseries and advertisements before going on online media.
Vera Jourova is the European Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality. Once she opened a Facebook account. It did not go well. Jourova said at a news conference:
For a short time, I had a Facebook account.
It was a channel of dirt. I didn't expect such an influx of hatred. I decided to cancel the account because I realised there will be less hatred in Europe after I do this.
Jourova's words carry more weight than most. She has a policy
beef with Facebook, and also the means to enforce it. Jourova says Facebook's terms of service are misleading, and has called upon the company to clarify them. In a post Thursday on that other channel of dirt, Twitter.com, she said:
I want #Facebook to be extremely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money. Not many people know that Facebook has made available their data to third parties or that for instance it holds full copyright about
any picture or content you put on it.
Jourova says European authorities could sanction Facebook next year if it doesn't like what it hears from the company soon. I was quite clear that we cannot negotiate forever, she said at the news
conference. We need to see the result.
Vera Jourova is the European Commissioner for justice, consumers
and gender equality has condemned a series of hard-hitting front pages in the British press after a recent Sun headline described Europe's leaders as 'EU Dirty Rats'.
Jourová bad mouthed media again in a press release saying:
Media can build the culture of dialogue or sow divisions, spread disinformation and encourage exclusion.
The Brexit debate is the best example of that. Do you remember the front page of a popular British daily
calling the judges the 'enemy of the people'? Or just last week, the EU leaders were called 'Dirty Rats' on another front page.
Fundamental rights must be a part of public discourse in the media. They have to belong to the media.
Media are also instrumental in holding politicians to account and in defining the limits of what is 'unacceptable' in a society.
Offsite Comment: Now the EU wants to turn off the Sun
They dream of stopping populism by curbing press freedom.
The European Commission has come up with a new way to prevent people backing Brexit -- not by winning the argument, but by
curbing press freedom . They want to stop the British press encouraging hatred of EU leaders and judges, and impose a European approach of smart regulation to control the views expressed by the tabloids and their supposedly non-smart readers.
Add a phone number I never gave Facebook for targeted advertising to the list of deceptive and invasive ways Facebook makes money off your personal information. Contrary to user expectations and Facebook representatives' own previous statements, the
company has been using contact information that users explicitly provided for security purposes--or that users never provided at all --for targeted advertising.
A group of academic researchers from Northeastern University and
Princeton University , along with Gizmodo reporters , have used real-world tests to demonstrate how Facebook's latest deceptive practice works. They found that Facebook harvests user phone numbers for targeted advertising in two disturbing ways:
two-factor authentication (2FA) phone numbers, and shadow contact information. Two-Factor Authentication Is Not The Problem
First, when a user gives Facebook their number for security purposes--to set up 2FA , or to receive alerts
about new logins to their account--that phone number can become fair game for advertisers within weeks. (This is not the first time Facebook has misused 2FA phone numbers .)
But the important message for users is: this is not a
reason to turn off or avoid 2FA. The problem is not with two-factor authentication. It's not even a problem with the inherent weaknesses of SMS-based 2FA in particular . Instead, this is a problem with how Facebook has handled users' information and
violated their reasonable security and privacy expectations.
There are many types of 2FA . SMS-based 2FA requires a phone number, so you can receive a text with a second factor code when you log in. Other types of 2FA--like
authenticator apps and hardware tokens--do not require a phone number to work. However, until just four months ago , Facebook required users to enter a phone number to turn on any type of 2FA, even though it offers its authenticator as a more secure
alternative. Other companies-- Google notable among them --also still follow that outdated practice.
Even with the welcome move to no longer require phone numbers for 2FA, Facebook still has work to do here. This finding has not
only validated users who are suspicious of Facebook's repeated claims that we have complete control over our own information, but has also seriously damaged users' trust in a foundational security practice.
Until Facebook and
other companies do better, users who need privacy and security most--especially those for whom using an authenticator app or hardware key is not feasible--will be forced into a corner. Shadow Contact Information
is also grabbing your contact information from your friends. Kash Hill of Gizmodo provides an example :
...if User A, whom we'll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B,
whom we'll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number, which I call shadow contact information, about a month later.
This means that, even if you never directly handed a particular phone
number over to Facebook, advertisers may nevertheless be able to associate it with your account based on your friends' phone books.
Even worse, none of this is accessible or transparent to users. You can't find such shadow contact
information in the contact and basic info section of your profile; users in Europe can't even get their hands on it despite explicit requirements under the GDPR that a company give users a right to know what information it has on them.
As Facebook attempts to salvage its reputation among users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal , it needs to put its money where its mouth is . Wiping 2FA numbers and shadow contact data from non-essential use would be a
Facebook plans to unveil its Portal video chat device for the home next week.
Facebook originally planned to announce Portal at its annual F8 developer conference in May of this year. But the company's scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica data
breach led executives to shelve the announcement at the last minute.
Portal will feature a wide-angle video camera, which uses artificial intelligence to recognize people in the frame and follow them as they move throughout a room. In response to
the breakdown in trust for Facebook, the company has recently added a privacy shutter which can physically block the camera.
A by-law which will allow for Turkey's state-run TV censor to extend its remit to all internet broadcasting platforms has been approved.
The Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts (RTÜK) met on
Tuesday to discuss the bylaw regarding radio and TV programs aired online. The bylaw, which will also require that TV stations obtain a licence from RTÜK to begin broadcasting online.
Under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP), RTÜK took a strict approach with TV stations, slapping channels with large fines for what they say is ''offending societal values.'' Consequently, many Turkish television producers have opted to share their work online, but now face the same
repressive censorship rules that they previously managed to avoid.
Twitter is consulting its users about new censorship rules banning 'dehumanising speech', in which people are compared to animals or objects. It said language that made people seem less than human had repercussions.
The social network already has
a hateful-conduct policy but it is implemented discriminately allowing some types of insulting language to remain online. For example, countless tweets describing middle-aged white men as gammon can be found on the platform.
At present it bans
insults based on a person's: race ethnicity nationality sexual orientation sex gender religious beliefs age disability medical condition but there is an unwritten secondary rule which means that the prohibition excludes groups not favoured under the
conventions of political correctness.
Twitter said it intended to prohibit dehumanising language towards people in an identifiable group because some researchers claim it could lead to real-world violence. Asked whether calling men gammon would
count as dehumanising speech, the company said it would first seek the views of its members. Twitter's announcement reads in part:
For the last three months, we have been developing a new policy to address dehumanizing
language on Twitter. Language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence. Some of this content falls within our hateful conduct policy (which prohibits the promotion of violence
against or direct attacks or threats against other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease), but there are still Tweets many people
consider to be abusive, even when they do not break our rules. Better addressing this gap is part of our work to serve a healthy public conversation.
With this change, we want to expand our hateful conduct policy to include
content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target. Many scholars have examined the relationship between dehumanization and violence. For example, Susan Benesch has
described dehumanizing language as a hallmark of dangerous speech, because it can make violence seem acceptable, and Herbert Kelman has posited that dehumanization can reduce the strength of restraining forces against violence.
witter's critics are now using the hashtag #verifiedhate to highlight examples of what they believe to be bias in what the platform judges to be unacceptable. The gammon insult gained popularity after a collage of contributors to the BBC's Question Time programme - each middle-aged, white and male - was shared along with the phrase Great Wall of Gammon in 2017.
The scope of identifiable groups covered by the new rules will be decided after a public consultation that will run until 9 October.
Ps before filling in the consultation form, note that it was broken for me and didn't accept my submission.
For the record, Melon Farmer tried to submit the comment:
This is yet another policy that restricts free speech. As always, the vagueness of the rules will allow Twitter, or its moderators, to arbitrarily apply its own
morality anyway. But not to worry, the richness of language will always enable people to dream up new ways to insult others.
A federal court considering a challenge to the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, or FOSTA , dismissed the case on Monday.
EFF and partner law firms filed a lawsuit in June against the
Justice Department on behalf of two human rights organizations, a digital library, an activist for sex workers, and a certified massage therapist to block enforcement of FOSTA.
Unfortunately, a federal court sided with the
government and dismissed Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al. v. United States. The court did not reach the merits of any of the constitutional issues, but instead found that none of the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the law's legality.
We're disappointed and believe the decision is wrong. For example, the court failed to apply the standing principles that are usually applied in First Amendment cases in which the plaintiffs' speech is chilled. The plaintiffs are
considering their options for their next steps.
FOSTA was passed by Congress for the worthy purpose of fighting sex trafficking, but the poorly-written bill contains language that criminalizes the protected speech of those who
advocate for and provide resources to adult, consensual sex workers. Worse yet, the bill actually hinders efforts to prosecute sex traffickers and aid victims.
The lawsuit argues that FOSTA forces community forums and speakers
offline for fear of criminal charges and heavy civil liability, in violation of their constitutional rights. We asked the federal court to strike down the law, though the government argued that the plaintiffs were not likely to be subject to criminal or
civil liability under the law.
Facebook's Partnership with US state-funded think tanks
Last Wednesday Facebook announced it would work with two US government-funded think tanks in order bolster the social media giant's election integrity efforts around the
The new partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has been described by Reuters as an initiative to slow the global spread of misinformation that could
influence elections, acknowledging that fake news sites were still read by millions.
But both the IRI and NDI are funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) , which has since its late Cold War era founding defined itself
as a soft power wing of the US government abroad focused on democracy promotion.
Journalist Max Blumenthal recently described the NDI as a taxpayer funded organization that has interfered in elections, mobilized coups, and
orchestrated public relations campaigns against nations that resist Washington's agenda.
The Wall Street Journal released a report that details the state of Apple's yet-to-be-unveiled streaming service. It highlights some of the difficulties Apple has faced in striking the right tone for its content, particularly when it comes to gratuitous
sex, profanity or violence.
The report opens with Apple CEO Tim Cook's reaction to Vital Signs, a show based on the life of Dr. Dre. Apple picked up the show back in 2016 , but when Cook viewed it a year ago, he told Apple Music executive Jimmy
Iovine that it was too violent, and that the company can't show it.
Apple has some big plans for its original content ambitions. It brought in two seasoned Hollywood executives to oversee its video streaming project, and invested $1 billion to
develop new a slate of new projects.
The WSJ report notes that Apple's preference is for family-friendly projects that appeal to a broad audience, and that it's trying to avoid weighing into overly political or controversial territory with the
content that it's producing -- only a handful of those shows "veer into 'TV-MA territory. Apple's approach has caused some delays in its programming. Programme makers have been unhappy with the restrictions on their creativity and have clashed with
Apple, leading to argument and delays.
The new head of the Police Federation John Apter, who represents 120,000 rank and file officers across England and Wales, has said his members were incredibly frustrated because they have been assigned to sorting out social media spats rather than
tackling more serious crimes like burglary.
The new head explained that while resourcing remained the main issue facing policing, there was also a lack of common sense when it came to priorities.
Last week it emerged that Yorkshire Police
had asked people to report insults on social media, even if they were not considered to be a hate crime. Other forces have been criticised recently for using computer programmes rather than experienced officers to decide whether a burglary is worth
investigating. Such initiatives have led to criticism of the police and the observation that the service is out of touch with the public.
But Apter said nobody was more frustrated than police officers when they were prevented from attending
burglaries and other serious crimes. Burglary is one of the most intrusive, horrible crimes that a householder can go through. It makes you feel incredibly vulnerable, but people can sometimes wait days for a police response, Apter said.
The Canadian government is seeking a company that will scour social media and the dark web for data on Canadians' use of cannabis. The request comes a few weeks before recreational pot use becomes legalized on October 17.
According to a tender
posted by Public Safety Canada this week, the government wants a company to algorithmically scan Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and other relevant microblogging platforms for information on Canadians' attitudes towards legal pot and their
The initiative will look for self-reported usage patterns (how much, what kind, and where) and activities such as buying and selling weed. The government will also be scanning social media for criminal activities associated with
cannabis use--driving under the influence, for example. The initiative will also capture metadata, such as self-reported location and demographics, but according to the tender the data must exclude individual unique identifiers.
Public Safety Canada spokesperson Karine Martel about the project but she did not comment on whether information on cannabis-related crimes collected from social media will be shared with law enforcement, but noted that the work will be conducted in
compliance with the Tri-Council Policy Statement which notes that: research focusing on topics that include illegal activities depends on promises of strong confidentiality to participants.
According to a second tender the feds are also
looking to keep track of Canadians buying and selling weed on so-called dark web markets. Both projects are slated to conclude on April 30, 2019.
Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed disgrace details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned.
The memo, authored by a Google
engineer, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location -- and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner, presumably a proxy for the government, who would have
unilateral access to the data. This Chinese 'partner' would be able to edit the data controlling what should be censored.
The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the
censored search system.
The Dragonfly memo reveals that a prototype of the censored search engine was being developed as an app for both Android and iOS devices, and would force users to sign in so they could use the service. The memo confirms, as
The Intercept first reported last week, that users' searches would be associated with their personal phone number. The memo adds that Chinese users' movements would also be stored, along with the IP address of their device and links they clicked on. It
accuses developers working on the project of creating spying tools for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.
People's search histories, location information, and other private data would be sent out of China to a database in Taiwan, the
memo states. But the data would also be provided to employees of a Chinese company who would be granted unilateral access to the system.
The memo identifies at least 215 employees who appear to have been tasked with working full-time on Dragonfly,
a number it says is larger than many Google projects.
Ex Google boss predicts that the internet will split into a Chinese internet and a US internet
The internet will be divided into two different worlds within the next decade -- and China will lead one of them, according to ex- Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
He notes that the control the Chinese government wields over its citizens' online access
means it is incompatible with the democratic internet of the west. This means there will be two distinct versions of the world wide web by 2028, one run by China and the other by the US.
The process is already happening, with the so-called Great
Firewall of China blocking Chinese citizens from accessing several of the internet's most popular websites, including Facebook and YouTube.
China wants to expand a ban on foreign TV shows during the evening prime-time hours, according to the latest proposal by the country's media censor.
Since 2004, China has banned foreign TV movies and serials during the peak 7-10pm viewing hours.
Now the National Radio and Television Administration is considering banning programming all foreign programmes during this peak period.
The rules will apply to free-to-air and paid channels, as well as streaming sites.
speak of ideological reasoning but maybe its also to do with China's trade war with Donald Trump.
As China's TV gets ever more censored, many people now use streaming sites like iQiyi and Mango TV for their kicks and they are increasingly willing
to pay for it. While these sites offer hit western shows such as Game of Thrones, they have also adopted a similar strategy to Netflix by producing their own content.
But as they gain popularity they may also gain more attention from the censors.
The radio host and colourful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been permanently censored by Twitter.
One month after it distinguished itself from the rest of the tech industry by declining to bar the rightwing shock jock its platform, Twitter fell in
line with the other major social networks in banning Jones.
Twitter justified the censorship saying:
We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive
behavior policy, in addition to the accounts' past violations. We will continue to evaluate reports we receive regarding other accounts potentially associated with @realalexjones or @infowars and will take action if content that violates our rules is
reported or if other accounts are utilized in an attempt to circumvent their ban.
PayPal is the latest tech company to ban Infowars. Paypal told PC<ag:
We undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites, and found instances that promoted hate or discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions, which run counter to our core value of inclusion.
InfoWars said PayPal gave it 10 days to find an alternate payment provider before terminating the service. PayPal didn't cite the specific instances of hate speech, but Infowars says the content involved criticism of Islam and opposition to
transgenderism being to taught children in schools.
Nepal's Government will soon ban porn sites in the country. The Ministry of Communication and Information technology (MOCIT) has instructed the internet censor, the NTA, to ban porn websites and any other sexually offensive/indecent content.
government cited an increase in the rate of rape incident in the country as the reason fir the censorship. It also claims that the easy sexual content access increases sexual violence in the country.
The ministry also requests all the ISPs,
telecom operators, social media operators, and Internet users not to distribute, publish and broadcast such sexual content in the country.
Some popular porn sites have been blocked for some years. Whereas some websites are still operating freely.
Attempting to read a censored websites leads to a page simply saying: This website has been blocked as per NTA's Policy.
The UK government is preparing to establish a new internet censor that would make tech firms liable for content published on their platforms and have the power to sanction companies that fail to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours.
Under legislation being drafted by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) due to be announced this winter, a new censorship framework for online social harms would be created.
BuzzFeed News has obtained
details of the proposals, which would see the establishment of an internet censor similar to Ofcom.
Home secretary Sajid Javid and culture secretary Jeremy Wright are considering the introduction of a mandatory code of practice for social media
platforms and strict new rules such as takedown times forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech within a set timeframe or face penalties. Ministers are also looking at implementing age verification for users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The new proposals are still in the development stage and are due to be put out for consultation later this year. The new censor would also develop rules new regulations on controlling non-illegal content and online behaviour . The rules for what
constitutes non-illegal content will be the subject of what is likely to be a hotly debated consultation.
BuzzFeed News has also been told ministers are looking at creating a second new censor for online advertising. Its powers would include a
crackdown on online advertisements for food and soft drink products that are high in salt, fat, or sugar.
BuzzFeed News understands concerns have been raised in Whitehall that the regulation of non-illegal content will spark opposition from free
speech campaigners and MPs. There are also fears internally that some of the measures being considered, including blocking websites that do not adhere to the new regulations, are so draconian that they will generate considerable opposition.
government spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the plans would be unveiled later this year.
Ofcom has published a prospectus angling for a role as the UK internet censor. It writes:
Ofcom has published a discussion document examining the area of harmful online content.
In the UK and around
the world, a debate is underway about whether regulation is needed to address a range of problems that originate online, affecting people, businesses and markets.
The discussion document is intended as a contribution to that
debate, drawing on Ofcom's experience of regulating the UK's communications sector, and broadcasting in particular. It draws out the key lessons from the regulation of content standards 203 for broadcast and on-demand video services 203 and the insights
that these might provide to policy makers into the principles that could underpin any new models for addressing harmful online content.
The UK Government intends to legislate to improve online safety, and to publish a White Paper
this winter. Any new legislation is a matter for Government and Parliament, and Ofcom has no view about the institutional arrangements that might follow.
Alongside the discussion paper, Ofcom has published joint research with the
Information Commissioner's Office on people's perception, understanding and experience of online harm. The survey of 1,686 adult internet users finds that 79% have concerns about aspects of going online, and 45% have experienced some form of online harm.
The study shows that protection of children is a primary concern, and reveals mixed levels of understanding around what types of media are regulated.
The sales pitch is more or less that Ofcom's TV censorship has 'benefited' viewers
so would be a good basis for internet censorship.
Ofcom particularly makes a point of pushing the results of a survey of internet users and their 'concerns'. The survey is very dubious and ends up suggesting thet 79% of users have concerns about
going on line.
And maybe this claim is actually true. After all, the Melon Farmers are amongst the 79% have concerns about going online: The Melon Farmers are concerned that:
There are vast amounts of scams and viruses waiting to be filtered out from Melon Farmers email inbox every day.
The authorities never seem interested in doing anything whatsoever about protecting people from being scammed out of their life
savings. Have you EVER heard of the police investigating a phishing scam?
On the other hand the police devote vast resources to prosecuting internet insults and jokes, whilst never investigating scams that see old folks lose their life savings.
So yes, there is concern about the internet. BUT, it would be a lie to infer that these concerns mean support for Ofcom's proposals to censor websites along the lines of TV.
In fact looking at the figures, some of the larger categories of
'concern's are more about fears of real crime rather than concerns about issues like fake news.
Interestingly Ofcom has published how the 'concerns' were hyped up by prompting the surveyed a bit. For instance, Ofcom reports that 12% of internet
users say they are 'concerned' about fake news without being prompted. With a little prompting by the interviewer, the number of people reporting being concerned about fake news magically increases to 29%.
It also has to be noted that there are NO
reports in the survey of internet users concerned about a lack news balancing opinions, a lack of algorithm transparency, a lack of trust ratings for news sources, or indeed for most of the other suggestions that Ofcom addresses.
I've seen more
fake inferences in the Ofcom discussion document than I have seen fake news items on the internet in the last ten years.
Tony Hall, the BBC's director general, has repeated his call for global streaming companies, Netflix and Amazon to suffer the same censorship as the UK's traditional broadcasters -- or else risk killing off distinctive British content. He said to the
Royal Television Society's London conference:
It cannot be right that the UK's media industry is competing against global giants with one hand tied behind its back.
In so many ways --
prominence, competition rules, advertising, taxation, content regulation, terms of trade, production quotas -- one set of rules applies to UK companies, and barely any apply to the new giants. That needs rebalancing, too. We stand ready to help, where we
Hall will use the speech to warn that young British audiences now spend almost as much time watching Netflix -- which only launched its UK streaming service in 2012 -- as watching BBC television and iPlayer combined.
Citing Ofcom figures, Hall warned that Britain's public service broadcasters have cut spending on content in real terms by around £1bn since 2004. He said that global streaming companies are not spending enough on British productions to make up the difference, while their UK-based productions tend to focus on material which has a global appeal rather than a distinctly British flavour. Hall added:
This isn't just an issue for us economically, commercially or as institutions. There is an impact on society. The content we produce is not an ordinary consumer good. It helps shape our society. It brings people
together, it helps us understand each other and share a common national story.
Tech companies that fail to remove terrorist content quickly could soon face massive fines. The European Commission proposed new rules on Wednesday that would require internet platforms to remove illegal terror content within an hour of it being flagged
by national authorities. Firms could be fined up to 4% of global annual revenue if they repeatedly fail to comply.
Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube owner Google (GOOGL) had already agreed to work with the European Union on a voluntary basis
to tackle the problem. But the Commission said that progress has not been sufficient.
A penalty of 4% of annual revenue for 2017 would translate to $4.4 billion for Google parent Alphabet and $1.6 billion for Facebook.
The proposal is the
latest in a series of European efforts to control the activities of tech companies.
The terror content proposal needs to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states before becoming law.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that the UK's mass surveillance programmes, revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, did not meet the quality of law requirement and were incapable of keeping the interference to
what is necessary in a democratic society.
The landmark judgment marks the Court's first ruling on UK mass surveillance programmes revealed by Mr Snowden. The case was started in 2013 by campaign groups Big Brother Watch,
English PEN, Open Rights Group and computer science expert Dr Constanze Kurz following Mr Snowden's revelation of GCHQ mass spying.
Documents provided by Mr Snowden revealed that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ were conducting
population-scale interception, capturing the communications of millions of innocent people. The mass spying programmes included TEMPORA, a bulk data store of all internet traffic; KARMA POLICE, a catalogue including a web browsing profile for every
visible user on the internet; and BLACK HOLE, a repository of over 1 trillion events including internet histories, email and instant messenger records, search engine queries and social media activity.
The applicants argued that
the mass interception programmes infringed UK citizens' rights to privacy protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as the population-level surveillance was effectively indiscriminate, without basic safeguards and oversight, and
lacked a sufficient legal basis in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).
In its judgment, the ECtHR acknowledged that bulk interception is by definition untargeted ; that there was a lack of oversight of the
entire selection process, and that safeguards were not sufficiently robust to provide adequate guarantees against abuse.
In particular, the Court noted concern that the intelligence services can search and examine
"related communications data" apparently without restriction -- data that identifies senders and recipients of communications, their location, email headers, web browsing information, IP addresses, and more. The Court expressed concern that
such unrestricted snooping could be capable of painting an intimate picture of a person through the mapping of social networks, location tracking, Internet browsing tracking, mapping of communication patterns, and insight into who a person interacted
The Court acknowledged the importance of applying safeguards to a surveillance regime, stating:
In view of the risk that a system of secret surveillance set up to protect national
security may undermine or even destroy democracy under the cloak of defending it, the Court must be satisfied that there are adequate and effective guarantees against abuse.'
The Government passed the Investigatory
Powers Act (IPA) in November 2016, replacing the contested RIPA powers and controversially putting mass surveillance powers on a statutory footing.
However, today's judgment that indiscriminate spying breaches rights protected by
the ECHR is likely to provoke serious questions as to the lawfulness of bulk powers in the IPA.
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:
Viewers of the BBC drama, the
Bodyguard, may be shocked to know that the UK actually has the most extreme surveillance powers in a democracy. Since we brought this case in 2013, the UK has actually increased its powers to indiscriminately surveil our communications whether or not we
are suspected of any criminal activity.
In light of today's judgment, it is even clearer that these powers do not meet the criteria for proportionate surveillance and that the UK Government is continuing to breach our right to
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch said:
This landmark judgment confirming that the UK's mass spying breached fundamental rights vindicates Mr Snowden's courageous
whistleblowing and the tireless work of Big Brother Watch and others in our pursuit for justice.
Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the UK has adopted the most authoritarian surveillance regime of any Western state, corroding
democracy itself and the rights of the British public. This judgment is a vital step towards protecting millions of law-abiding citizens from unjustified intrusion. However, since the new Investigatory Powers Act arguably poses an ever greater threat to
civil liberties, our work is far from over.
Antonia Byatt, director of English PEN said:
This judgment confirms that the British government's surveillance practices have violated
not only our right to privacy, but our right to freedom of expression too. Excessive surveillance discourages whistle-blowing and discourages investigative journalism. The government must now take action to guarantee our freedom to write and to read
Dr Constanze Kurz, computer scientist, internet activist and spokeswoman of the German Chaos Computer Club said:
What is at stake is the future of mass surveillance
of European citizens, not only by UK secret services. The lack of accountability is not acceptable when the GCHQ penetrates Europe's communication data with their mass surveillance techniques. We all have to demand now that our human rights and more
respect of the privacy of millions of Europeans will be acknowledged by the UK government and also by all European countries.
Dan Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, the solicitor representing the applicants, stated as
The Court has put down a marker that the UK government does not have a free hand with the public's communications and that in several key respects the UK's laws and surveillance practices have failed. In
particular, there needs to be much greater control over the search terms that the government is using to sift our communications. The pressure of this litigation has already contributed to some reforms in the UK and this judgment will require the UK
government to look again at its practices in this most critical of areas.
The European Parliament has voted to approve new copyright powers enabling the big media industry to control how their content is used on the internet.
Article 11 introduces the link tax which lets news companies control how their content is
used. The target of the new law is to make Google pay newspapers for its aggregating Google News service. The collateral damage is that millions of websites can now be harangued for linking to and quoting articles, or even just sharing links to them.
Article 13 introduces the requirements for user content sites to create censorship machines that pre-scan all uploaded content and block anything copyrighted. The original proposal, voted on in June, directly specified content hosts use
censorship machines (or filters as the EU prefers to call them). After a cosmetic rethink since June, the law no longer specifies automatic filters, but instead specifies that content hosts are responsible for copyright published. And of course the only
feasible way that content hosts can ensure they are not publishing copyrighted material is to use censorship machines anyway. The law was introduced, really with just the intention of making YouTube and Facebook pay more for content from the big media
companies. The collateral damage to individuals and small businesses was clearly of no concern to the well lobbied MEPs.
Both articles will introduce profound new levels of censorship to all users of the internet, and will also mean that there
will reduced opportunities for people to get their contributions published or noticed on the internet. This is simply because the large internet companies are commercial organisations and will always make decisions with costs and profitability in mind.
They are not state censors with a budget to spend on nuanced decision making. So the net outcome will be to block vast swathes of content being uploaded just in case it may contain copyright.
An example to demonstrate the point is the US
censorship law, FOSTA. It requires content hosts to block content facilitating sex trafficking. Internet companies generally decided that it was easier to block all adult content rather than to try and distinguish sex trafficking from non-trafficking sex
related content. So sections of websites for dating and small ads, personal services etc were shut down overnight.
The EU however has introduced a few amendments to the original law to slightly lessen the impact an individuals and small scale
Article 13 will now only apply to platforms where the main purpose ...is to store and give access to the public or to stream significant amounts of copyright protected content uploaded / made available by its users and that
optimise content and promotes for profit making purposes .
When defining best practices for Article 13, special account must now be taken of fundamental rights, the use of exceptions and limitations. Special focus
should also be given to ensuring that the burden on SMEs remain appropriate and that automated blocking of content is avoided (effectively an exception for micro/small businesses). Article 11 shall not extend to mere hyperlinks, which are accompanied by
individual words (so it seems links are safe, but quoted snippets of text must be very short) and the protection shall also not extend to factual information which is reported in journalistic articles from a press publication and will therefore not
prevent anyone from reporting such factual information .
Article 11 shall not prevent legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users .
Article 11 rights shall expire 5 years after the publication of the press publication. This term shall be calculated from the first day of January of the year following the date of publication. The right referred to in paragraph 1 shall not apply with retroactive effect .
Individual member states will now have to decide how Article 11 is implemented, which could create some confusion across borders.
At the same time, the EU rejected the other modest proposals to help out individuals and small creators:
No freedom of panorama. When we take photos or videos in public spaces, we're apt to incidentally capture copyrighted works: from stock art in ads on the sides of buses to t-shirts worn by protestors, to building facades claimed by architects as
their copyright. The EU rejected a proposal that would make it legal Europe-wide to photograph street scenes without worrying about infringing the copyright of objects in the background.
No user-generated content exemption, which would have made
EU states carve out an exception to copyright for using excerpts from works for criticism, review, illustration, caricature, parody or pastiche.
A final round of negotiation with the EU Council and European Commission is now due to take place before member states make a decision early next year. But this is historically more of a rubber stamping process and few, if any, significant changes are
However, anybody who mistakenly thinks that Brexit will stop this from impacting the UK should be cautious. Regardless of what the EU approves, the UK might still have to implement it, and in any case the current UK Government supports
many of the controversial new measures.
Despite waves of calls and emails from European Internet users, the European Parliament today voted to accept the principle of a universal pre-emptive copyright filter for content-sharing sites, as well as the idea that news publishers should have
the right to sue others for quoting news items online -- or even using their titles as links to articles. Out of all of the potential amendments offered that would fix or ameliorate the damage caused by these proposals, they voted for worst on offer .
There are still opportunities, at the EU level, at the national level, and ultimately in Europe's courts, to limit the damage. But make no mistake, this is a serious setback for the Internet and digital rights in Europe.
It also comes at a trepidatious moment for pro-Internet voices in the heart of the EU. On the same day as the vote on these articles, another branch of the European Union's government, the Commission, announced plans to introduce a
new regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online . Doubling down on speedy unchecked censorship, the proposals will create a new removal order, which will oblige hosting service providers to remove content within one hour of
being ordered to do so. Echoing the language of the copyright directive, the Terrorist Regulation aims at ensuring smooth functioning of the digital single market in an open and democratic society, by preventing the misuse of hosting services for
terrorist purposes; it encourages the use of proactive measures, including the use of automated tools.
Not content with handing copyright law enforcement to algorithms and tech companies, the EU now wants to expand that to
defining the limits of political speech too.
And as bad as all this sounds, it could get even worse. Elections are coming up in the European Parliament next May. Many of the key parliamentarians who have worked on digital rights
in Brussels will not be standing. Marietje Schaake, author of some of the better amendments for the directive, announced this week that she would not be running again. Julia Reda, the German Pirate Party representative, is moving on; Jan Philipp
Albrecht, the MEP behind the GDPR, has already left Parliament to take up a position in domestic German politics. The European Parliament's reserves of digital rights expertise, never that full to begin with, are emptying.
best that can be said about the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, as it stands, is that it is so ridiculously extreme that it looks set to shock a new generation of Internet activists into action -- just as the DMCA, SOPA/PIPA and ACTA
did before it.
If you've ever considered stepping up to play a bigger role in European politics or activism, whether at the national level, or in Brussels, now would be the time.
It's not enough to hope
that these laws will lose momentum or fall apart from their own internal incoherence, or that those who don't understand the Internet will refrain from breaking it. Keep reading and supporting EFF, and join Europe's powerful partnership of digital rights
groups, from Brussels-based EDRi to your local national digital rights organization . Speak up for your digital business, open source project, for your hobby or fandom, and as a contributor to the global Internet commons.
a bad day for the Internet and for the European Union: but we can make sure there are better days to come.
test to businesses than GDPR . It's a regulation that will create a likely deficit in the customer information they collect even post-GDPR.
Current cookie banner notifications, where websites inform users of cookie collection,
will make way for cookie request pop-ups that deny cookie collection until a user has opted in or out of different types of cookie collection. Such a pop-up is expected to cause a drop in web traffic as high as 40 per cent. The good news is that it will
only appear should the user not have already set their cookie preferences at browser level.
The outcome for businesses whose marketing and advertising lies predominantly online is the inevitable reduction in their ability to
track, re-target and optimise experiences for their visitors.
For any business with a website and dependent on cookies, the new regulations put them at severe risk of losing this vital source of
consumer data . As a result, businesses must find a practical, effective and legal alternative to alleviate the burden on the shoulders of all teams involved and to offset any drastic shortfall in this crucial data.
Putting the power in the hands of consumers when it comes to setting browser-level cookie permissions will limit a business's ability to extensively track the actions users take on company websites and progress targeted cookie-based
advertising. Millions of internet users will have the option to withdraw their dataset from the view of businesses, one of the biggest threats ePrivacy poses.
MEPs approve copyright law requiring Google and Facebook to use censorship machines to block user uploads that may contain snippets of copyright material, including headlines, article text, pictures and video
The European Parliament has approved a disgraceful copyright law that threatens to destroy the internet as we know it.
The rulehands more power to news and record companies against Internet giants like Google and Facebook. But it also allows companies
to make sweeping blocks of user-generated content, such as internet memes or reaction GIFs that use copyrighted material. The tough approach could spell the end for internet memes, which typically lay text over copyrighted photos or video from television
programmes, films, music videos and more.
MEPs voted 438 in favour of the measures, 226 against, with 39 abstentions. The vote introduced Articles 11 and 13 to the directive, dubbed the link tax and censorship machines.
Article 13 puts the
onus of policing for copyright infringement on the websites themselves. This forces web giants like YouTube and Facebook to scan uploaded content to stop the unlicensed sharing of copyrighted material. If the internet companies find that such scanning
does not work well, or makes the service unprofitable, the companies could pull out of allowing users to post at all on topics where the use of copyright material is commonplace.
The second amendment to the directive, Article 11, is intended to
give publishers and newspapers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories.Search engines and online platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have to pay a license to link to news publishers when quoting portions of text from
Following Wednesday's vote, EU lawmakers will now take the legislation to talks with the European Commission and the 28 EU countries.
Niche porn producer, Pandora Blake, Misha Mayfair, campaigning lawyer Myles Jackman and Backlash are campaigning to back a legal challenge to the upcoming internet porn censorship regime in the UK. They write on a new
We are mounting a legal challenge.
Do you lock your door when you watch porn 203 or do you publish a notice
in the paper? The new UK age verification law means you may soon have to upload a proof of age to visit adult sites. This would connect your legal identity to a database of all your adult browsing. Join us to prevent the damage to your privacy.
The UK Government is bringing in age verification for adults who want to view adult content online; yet have failed to provide privacy and security obligations to ensure your private information is securely protected.
The law does not currently limit age verification software to only hold data provided by you just in order to verify your age. Hence, other identifying data about you could include anything from your passport information to your
credit card details, up to your full search history information. This is highly sensitive data.
What are the Privacy Risks?
Data Misuse - Since age verification providers are legally permitted to
collect this information, what is to stop them from increasing revenue through targeting advertising at you, or even selling your personal data?
Data Breaches - No database is perfectly secure, despite good intentions. The leaking
or hacking of your sensitive personal information could be truly devastating. The Ashley Madison hack led to suicides. Don't let the Government allow your private sexual preferences be leaked into the public domain.
What are we
asking money for?
We're asking you to help us crowdfund legal fees so we can challenge the new age verification rules under the Digital Economy Act 2017. We re asking for 2£10,000 to cover the cost of initial legal advice,
since it's a complicated area of law. Ultimately, we'd like to raise even more money, so we can send a message to Government that your personal privacy is of paramount importance.
Lucy Powell writes in the Guardian, (presumably intended as an open comment):
Closed forums on Facebook allow hateful views to spread unchallenged among terrifyingly large groups. My bill would change that
You may wonder what could bring Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry, David Lammy, Jacob Rees-Mogg and other senior MPs from across parliament together at the moment. Yet they are all sponsoring a bill I'm proposing that will tackle online hate,
fake news and radicalisation. It's because, day-in day-out, whatever side of an argument we are on, we see the pervasive impact of abuse and hate online 203 and increasingly offline, too.
Social media has given extremists a new
tool with which to recruit and radicalise. It is something we are frighteningly unequipped to deal with.
Worryingly, it is on Facebook, which most of us in Britain use, where people are being exposed to extremist material. Instead
of small meetings in pubs or obscure websites in the darkest corners of the internet, our favourite social media site is increasingly where hate is cultivated. From hope to hate: how the early internet fed the far right Read more
Online echo chambers are normalising and allowing extremist views to go viral unchallenged. These views are spread as the cheap thrill of racking up Facebook likes drives behaviour and reinforces a binary worldview. Some people are being groomed unwittingly as unacceptable language is treated as the norm. Others have a more sinister motive.
While in the real world, alternative views would be challenged by voices of decency in the classroom, staffroom, or around the dining-room table, there are no societal norms in the dark crevices of the online world. The impact of
these bubbles of hate can be seen, in extreme cases, in terror attacks from radicalised individuals. But we can also see it in the rise of the far right, with Tommy Robinson supporters rampaging through the streets this summer, or in increasing
Islamophobia and antisemitism.
Through Facebook groups (essentially forums), extremists can build large audiences. There are many examples of groups that feature anti-Muslim or antisemitic content daily, in an environment which,
because critics are removed from the groups, normalises these hateful views. If you see racist images, videos and articles in your feed but not the opposing argument, you might begin to think those views are acceptable and even correct. If you already
agree with them, you might be motivated to act.
This is the thinking behind Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The Russian Internet Research Agency set up Facebook groups, amassed hundreds of thousands of
members, and used them to spread hate and fake news, organise rallies, and attack Hillary Clinton. Most of its output was designed to stoke the country's racial tensions.
It's not only racism that is finding a home on Facebook.
Marines United was a secret group of 30,000 current and former servicemen in the British armed forces and US Marines. Members posted nude photos of their fellow servicewomen, taken in secret. A whistleblower described the group as revenge porn, creepy
stalker-like photos taken of girls in public, talk about rape. It is terrifying that the group grew so large before anyone spoke out, and that Facebook did nothing until someone informed the media.
Because these closed forums can
be given a secret setting, they can be hidden away from everyone but their members. This locks out the police, intelligence services and charities that could otherwise engage with the groups and correct disinformation. This could be particularly crucial
with groups where parents are told not to vaccinate their children against diseases. Internet warriors: inside the dark world of online haters Read more
Despite having the resources to solve the problem, Facebook lacks the will.
In fact, at times it actively obstructs those who wish to tackle hate and disinformation. Of course, it is not just Facebook, and the proliferation of online platforms and forums means that the law has been much too slow to catch up with our digital
We should educate people to be more resilient and better able to spot fake news and recognise hate, but we must also ensure there are much stronger protections to spread decency and police our online communities. The
responsibility to regulate these social media platforms falls on the government. It is past time to act. Advertisement
That's why I am introducing a bill in parliament which will do just that. By establishing legal accountability
for what's published in large online forums, I believe we can force those who run these echo chambers to stamp out the evil that is currently so prominent. Social media can be a fantastic way of bringing people together 203 which is precisely why we need
to prevent it being hijacked by those who instead wish to divide.
On Wednesday, the EU will vote on whether to accept two controversial proposals in the new Copyright Directive; one of these clauses, Article 13, has the potential to allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to effect mass, rolling waves of censorship across
The way things stand today, companies that let their users communicate in public (by posting videos, text, images, etc) are required to respond to claims of copyright infringement by removing their users' posts,
unless the user steps up to contest the notice. Sites can choose not to remove work if they think the copyright claims are bogus, but if they do, they can be sued for copyright infringement (in the United States at least), alongside their users, with
huge penalties at stake. Given that risk, the companies usually do not take a stand to defend user speech, and many users are too afraid to stand up for their own speech because they face bankruptcy if a court disagrees with their assessment of the law.
This system, embodied in the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and exported to many countries around the world, is called notice and takedown, and it offers rightsholders the ability to unilaterally censor the
Internet on their say-so, without any evidence or judicial oversight. This is an extraordinary privilege without precedent in the world of physical copyright infringement (you can't walk into a cinema, point at the screen, declare I own that, and get the
movie shut down!).
But rightsholders have never been happy with notice and takedown. Because works that are taken down can be reposted, sometimes by bots that automate the process, rightsholders have called notice and takedown a
game of whac-a-mole , where they have to keep circling back to remove the same infringing files over and over.
Rightsholders have long demanded a notice and staydown regime. In this system, rightsholders send online platforms
digital copies of their whole catalogs; the platforms then build copyright filters that compare everything a user wants to post to this database of known copyrights, and block anything that seems to be a match.
Tech companies have
voluntarily built versions of this system. The most well-known of the bunch is YouTube's Content ID system, which cost $60,000,000 to build, and which works by filtering the audio tracks of videos to categorise them. Rightsholders are adamant that
Content ID doesn't work nearly well enough, missing all kinds of copyrighted works, while YouTube users report rampant overmatching, in which legitimate works are censored by spurious copyright claims: NASA gets blocked from posting its own Mars rover
footage; classical pianists are blocked from posting their own performances , birdsong results in videos being censored , entire academic conferences lose their presenters' audio because the hall they rented played music at the lunch-break--you can't
even post silence without triggering copyright enforcement. Besides that, there is no bot that can judge whether something that does use copyrighted material is fair dealing. Fair dealing is protected under the law, but not under Content ID.
If Content ID is a prototype, it needs to go back to the drawing board. It overblocks (catching all kinds of legitimate media) and underblocks (missing stuff that infuriates the big entertainment companies). It is expensive, balky,
It's coming soon to an Internet near you.
On Wednesday, the EU will vote on whether the next Copyright Directive will include Article 13, which makes Content-ID-style filters mandatory for
the whole Internet, and not just for the soundtracks of videos--also for the video portions, for audio, for still images, for code, even for text. Under Article 13, the services we use to communicate with one another will have to accept copyright claims
from all comers, and block anything that they believe to be a match.
This measure will will censor the Internet and it won't even help artists to get paid.
Let's consider how a filter like this would have
to work. First of all, it would have to accept bulk submissions. Disney and Universal (not to mention scientific publishers, stock art companies, real-estate brokers, etc) will not pay an army of data-entry clerks to manually enter their vast catalogues
of copyrighted works, one at a time, into dozens or hundreds of platforms' filters. For these filters to have a hope of achieving their stated purpose, they will have to accept thousands of entries at once--far more than any human moderator could review.
But even if the platforms could hire, say, 20 percent of the European workforce to do nothing but review copyright database entries, this would not be acceptable to rightsholders. Not because those workers could not be trained to
accurately determine what was, and was not, a legitimate claim--but because the time it would take for them to review these claims would be absolutely unacceptable to rightsholders.
It's an article of faith among rightsholders
that the majority of sales take place immediately after a work is released, and that therefore infringing copies are most damaging when they're available at the same time as a new work is released (they're even more worried about pre-release leaks).
If Disney has a new blockbuster that's leaked onto the Internet the day it hits cinemas, they want to pull those copies down in seconds, not after precious days have trickled past while a human moderator plods through a queue of
copyright claims from all over the Internet.
Combine these three facts:
Anyone can add anything to the blacklist of copyrighted works that can't be published by Internet users;
The blacklists have to accept thousands of works at once; and
entries to the blacklist have to go into effect instantaneously.
It doesn't take a technical expert to see how ripe for abuse this system is. Bad actors could use armies to bots to block millions of works at a go (for example, jerks could use bots to bombard the databases with claims of ownership
over the collected works of Shakespeare, adding them to the blacklists faster than they could possibly be removed by human moderators, making it impossible to quote Shakespeare online).
But more disturbing is targeted censorship:
politicians have long abused takedown to censor embarrassing political revelations or take critics offline , as have violent cops and homophobic trolls .
These entities couldn't use Content ID to censor the whole Internet:
instead, they had to manually file takedowns and chase their critics around the Internet. Content ID only works for YouTube -- plus it only allows trusted rightsholders to add works wholesale to the notice and staydown database, so petty censors are
stuck committing retail copyfraud.
But under Article 13, everyone gets to play wholesale censor, and every service has to obey their demands: just sign up for a rightsholder account on a platform and start telling it what may and
may not be posted. Article 13 has no teeth for stopping this from happening: and in any event, if you get kicked off the service, you can just pop up under a new identity and start again.
Some rightsholder lobbyists have admitted
that there is potential for abuse here, they insist that it will all be worth it, because it will get artists paid. Unfortunately, this is also not true.
For all that these filters are prone to overblocking and ripe for abuse,
they are actually not very effective against someone who actually wants to defeat them.
Let's look at the most difficult-to-crack content filters in the world: the censoring filters used by the Chinese government to suppress
politically sensitive materials. These filters have a much easier job than the ones European companies will have to implement: they only filter a comparatively small number of items, and they are built with effectively unlimited budgets, subsidized by
the government of one of the world's largest economies, which is also home to tens of millions of skilled technical people, and anyone seeking to subvert these censorship systems is subject to relentless surveillance and risks long imprisonment and even
torture for their trouble.
Those Chinese censorship systems are really, really easy to break , as researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab demonstrated in a detailed research report released a few weeks ago.
People who want to break the filters and infringe copyright will face little difficulty. The many people who want to stay on the right side of the copyright --but find themselves inadvertently on the wrong side of the filters--will
find themselves in insurmountable trouble, begging for appeal from a tech giant whose help systems all dead-end in brick walls. And any attempt to tighten the filters to catch these infringers, will of course, make it more likely that they will block
A system that allows both censors and infringers to run rampant while stopping legitimate discourse is bad enough, but it gets worse for artists.
Content ID cost $60,000,000 and does
a tiny fraction of what the Article 13 filters must do. When operating an online platform in the EU requires a few hundred million in copyright filtering technology, the competitive landscape gets a lot more bare. Certainly, none of the smaller EU
competitors to the US tech giants can afford this.
On the other hand, US tech giants can afford this (indeed, have pioneered copyright filters as a solution , even as groups like EFF protested it ), and while their first
preference is definitely to escape regulation altogether, paying a few hundred million to freeze out all possible competition is a pretty good deal for them.
The big entertainment companies may be happy with a deal that sells a
perpetual Internet Domination License to US tech giants for a bit of money thrown their way, but that will not translate into gains for artists. The fewer competitors there are for the publication, promotion, distribution and sale of creative works, the
smaller the share will be that goes to creators.
We can do better: if the problem is monopolistic platforms (and indeed, monopolistic distributors ), tackling that directly as a matter of EU competition law would stop those
companies from abusing their market power to squeeze creators. Copyright filters are the opposite of antitrust, though: it will make the biggest companies much bigger, to the great detriment of all the little guys in the entertainment industry and in the
market for online platforms for speech.
Many thanks to my local MEP Athea McIntyre who responded to my email about the rise of the censorship machines
I appreciate your concerns regarding the new Copyright reform proposals. However, the objective of Article 13 is to make sure authors, such as musicians, are appropriately paid for their work, and to ensure that platforms fairly share revenues which they
derive from creative works on their sites with creators. I will be voting for new text which seeks to exclude small and microenterprise platforms from the scope and to introduce greater proportionality for SMEs.
In the text under
discussion, if one of the main purposes of a platform is to share copyright works, if they optimise these works and also derive profit from them, the platform would need to conclude a fair license with the rightholders, if rightholders request this. If
not, platforms will have to check for and remove specific copyright content once this is supplied from rightholders. This could include pirated films which are on platforms at the same time as they are shown at the cinema. However, if a platform's main
purpose is not to share protected works, it does not optimise copyright works nor to make profit from them, it would not be required to conclude a license. There are exemptions for online encyclopaedias (Wikipedia), sites where rightholders have approved
to the uploading of their works and software platforms, while online market places (including Ebay) are also out of the scope.
Closing this value gap is an essential part of the Copyright Directive, which Secretary of
State Matthew Hancock supports addressing . My Conservative colleagues and I support the general
policy justification behind it, which is to make sure that platforms are responsible for their sites and that authors are fairly rewarded and incentivised to create work. Content recognition will help to make sure creators, such as song writers, can be
better identified and paid fairly for their work. Nevertheless, this should not be done at the expense of users' rights. We are dedicated to striking the right balance between adequately rewarding rightholders and safeguarding users' rights. There are
therefore important safeguards to protect users' rights, respect data protection, and to make sure that only proportionate measures are taken.
I will therefore be supporting the mandate to enter into trilogue negotiations tomorrow
so that the Directive can become law.
[Surely one understand that musicians are getting a bit of a rough deal from the internet giants and one can see where McIntyre is coming from. However it is clear that little
thought has been made into how rules will pan out in the real profit driven world where the key take holders are doing their best for their shareholders, not the European peoples. It is surely driving the west into poverty when laws are so freely passed
just to do a few nice things, whilst totally ignoring the cost of destroying people's businesses and incomes].
Offsite Comment: ...And from the point of view of the internet giants
ARTICLE 19 is leading a coalition of international human rights organisations, who will tell the European Court of Justice (CJEU) that the de-listing of websites under the right to be forgotten should be limited in order to protect global freedom
of expression. The hearing will take place on September 11 with a judgment expected in early 2019.
The CJEU hearing in Google vs CNIL is taking place after France's highest administrative court asked for clarification in relation
to the 2014 ruling in Google Spain. This judgment allows European citizens to ask search engines like Google to remove links to inadequate, irrelevant or ... excessive content -- commonly known as the right to be forgotten (RTBF). While the content
itself remains online, it cannot be found through online searches of the individual's name.
The CJEU has been asked to clarify whether a court or data regulator should require a search engine to de-list websites only in the
country where it has jurisdiction or across the entire world.
France's data regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) has argued that if they uphold a complaint by a French citizen, search
engines such as Google should not only be compelled to remove links from google.fr but all Google domains.
ARTICLE 19 and the coalition of intervening organisations have warned that forcing search engines to de-list information on
a global basis would be disproportionate. Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, Thomas Hughes said:
This case could see the right to be forgotten threatening global free speech. European data regulators should not be
allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find when they use a search engine. The CJEU must limit the scope of the right to be forgotten in order to protect the right of Internet users around the world to access information online.
ARTICLE 19 argues that rights to privacy and rights to freedom of expression must be balanced when it comes to making deciding whether websites should be de-listed. Hughes added:
European regulators can tell Google to remove all references to a website, then it will be only a matter of time before countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia start to do the same. The CJEU should protect freedom of expression not set a global
precedent for censorship.
The bill threatens investigative journalism and academic research by making it a crime to view material online that could be helpful to a terrorist. This would deter investigative journalists from doing their work and would make academic research
into terrorism difficult or impossible.
New border powers in the bill could put journalists' confidential sources at risk. The bill's border security measures would mean that journalists could be forced to answer questions or hand
over material that would reveal the identity of a confidential source. These new powers could be exercised without any grounds for suspicion.
The bill also endangers freedom of expression in other ways. It would make it an offence
to express an opinion in support of a proscribed (terrorist) organisation in a way that is reckless as to whether this could encourage another person to support the organisation. This would apply even if the reckless person was making the statement to
one other person in a private home.
The bill would criminalise the publication of a picture or video clip of an item of clothing or for example a flag in a way that aroused suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a
terrorist organisation. This would cover, for example, someone taking a picture of themselves at home and posting it online.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy said: The fundamentally flawed Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
should be sent back to the drawing board. It is not fit for purpose and it would limit freedom of expression, journalism and academic research in a way that should be completely unacceptable in a democratic country.
Pornhub's Age verification system AgeID has announced an exclusive partnership with OCL and its Portes solution for providing anonymous face-to-face age verification solution where retailers OK the age of customers who buy a card enabling porn access.
The similar AVSecure scheme allows over 25s to buy the access card without showing any ID but may require to see unrecorded ID from those appearing less than 25.
According to the company, the PortesCard is available to purchase from selected high
street retailers and any of the U.K.'s 29,000 PayPoint outlets as a voucher. Each PortesCard will cost £4.99 for use on a single device, or £8.99 for use across multiple devices. This compares with £10 for the AVSecure card.
Once a card or voucher
is purchased, its unique validation code must be activated via the Portes app within 24 hours before expiring. Once the user has been verified they will automatically be granted access to all adult sites using AgeID. Maybe this 24 hour limit is something
to do with an attempt to restrict secondary sales of porn access codes by ensuring that they get tied to devices almost immediately. It all sounds a little hasslesome.
As an additional layer of protection, parents can quickly and simply block
access on their children's devices to sites using Portes, so PortesCards cannot be associated with AgeID.
But note that an anonymously bought card is not quite a 100% safe solution. One has to consider whether if the authorities get hold of a
device whether the can then see a complete history of all websites accessed using the app or access code. One also has to consider whether someone can remotely correlate an 'anonymous' access code with all the tracking cookies holding one's id.
The government is amending its Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill with regards to criminalising accessing terrorism related content on the internet.
MPs, peers and the United Nations have already raised human rights concerns over
pre-existing measures in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which proposed to make accessing propaganda online on three or more different occasions a criminal offence.
The Joint Human Rights Committee found the wording of the law
vague and told the government it violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The committee concluded in July:
This clause may capture academic and journalistic research as well as those with
inquisitive or even foolish minds.
The viewing of material without any associated intentional or reckless harm is, in our view, an unjustified interference with the right to receive information...unless amended, this
implementation of this clause would clearly risk breaching Article 10 of the ECHR and unjustly criminalising the conduct of those with no links to terrorism.
The committee called for officials to narrow the new criminal offence so it
requires terrorist intent and defines how people can legally view terrorist material.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy also chipped accusing the British government of straying towards thought crime with
In response, the government scrapped the three clicks rule entirely and broadened the concept of viewing to make the draft law read:
A person commits an offence if...the person views or otherwise
accesses by means of the internet a document or record containing information of that kind.
It also added a clause saying a reasonable excuse includes:
Having no reason to believe, that the document
or record in question contained, or was likely to contain, information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
In exactly one week, the European Parliament will hold a crucial debate and vote on a proposal
so terrible , it can only be called an extinction-level event for the Internet as we know it.
At issue is the text of the new EU Copyright Directive, which updates the 17-year-old copyright regulations for the 28 member-states of the EU. It makes a vast array of technical changes to EU copyright law, each of which has
stakeholders rooting for it, guaranteeing that whatever the final text says will become the law of the land across the EU.
The Directive was pretty uncontroversial, right up to the day last May when the EU started enforcing the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a seismic event that eclipsed all other Internet news for weeks afterward. On that very day, a German MEP called Axl Voss quietly changed the text of the Directive to
reintroduce two long-discarded proposals -- "Article 11" and "Article 13" -- proposals
that had been evaluated by the EU's own experts and dismissed as dangerous and unworkable.
Under Article 11 -- the " link tax " -- online services are banned from allowing links to news services on their platforms
unless they get a license to make links to the news; the rule does not define "news service" or "link," leaving 28 member states to make up their own definitions and leaving it to everyone else to comply with 28 different rules.
Under Article 13 -- the " censorship machines " -- anyone who allows users to communicate in public by posting audio, video, stills, code, or anything that might be copyrighted -- must send those posts to a copyright
enforcement algorithm. The algorithm will compare it to all the known copyrighted works (anyone can add anything to the algorithm's database) and censor it if it seems to be a match.
These extreme, unworkable proposals represent a
grave danger to the Internet. The link tax means that only the largest, best-funded companies will be able to offer a public space where the news can be discussed and debated. The censorship machines are a gift to every petty censor and troll (just claim
copyright in an embarrassing recording and watch as it disappears from the Internet!), and will add hundreds of millions to the cost of operating an online platform, guaranteeing that Big Tech's biggest winners will never face serious competition and
will rule the Internet forever.
That's terrible news for Europeans, but it's also alarming for all the Internet's users, especially Americans.
The Internet's current winners -- Google, Facebook, Twitter,
Apple, Amazon -- are overwhelmingly American, and they embody the American regulatory indifference to surveillance and privacy breaches.
But the Internet is global, and that means that different regions have the power to export
their values to the rest of the world. The EU has been a steady source of pro-privacy, pro-competition, public-spirited Internet rules and regulations, and European companies have a deserved reputation for being less prone to practicing "
surveillance capitalism " and for being more
thoughtful about the human impact of their services.
In the same way that California is a global net exporter of lifesaving emissions controls for vehicles, the EU has been a global net exporter of privacy rules, anti-monopoly
penalties, and other desperately needed corrections for an Internet that grows more monopolistic, surveillant, and abusive by the day.
Many of the cheerleaders for Articles 11 and 13 talk like these are a black eye for Google and
Facebook and other U.S. giants, and it's true that these would result in hundreds of millions in compliance expenditures by Big Tech, but it's money that Big Tech (and only Big Tech) can afford to part with. Europe's much smaller Internet companies need
It's not just Europeans who lose when the EU sells America's tech giants the right to permanently rule the Internet: it's everyone, because Europe's tech companies, co-operatives, charities, and individual technologists
have the potential to make everyone's Internet experience better. The U.S. may have a monopoly on today's Internet, but it doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas about how to improve tomorrow's net.
The global Internet means that
we have friends and colleagues and family all over the world. No matter where you are in the world today, please take ten minutes to get in touch with two friends in the EU , send them this article, and then ask them to get in touch with their
MEPs by visiting Save Your Internet .
There's only one Internet and we all live on it. Europeans rose up to kill
ACTA , the last brutal assault on Internet freedom, helping Americans fight our own government's short-sighted foolishness; now the rest of the world can return the favor to
our friends in the EU.
A number of TV broadcasters, mobile network and internet service providers has urged the UK government to introduce a new internet censor of social media companies. In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, executives from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, as well
as Sky, BT and TalkTalk, called for a new censor to help tackle fake news, child exploitation, harassment and other growing issues online. The letter said:
We do not think it is realistic or appropriate to expect
internet and social media companies to make all the judgment calls about what content is and is not acceptable, without any independent oversight.
There is an urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and
This is not about censoring the internet:[ ...BUT... ] it is about making the most popular internet platforms safer, by ensuring there is accountability and transparency over the decisions these
private companies are already taking. The UK government is aware of the problems on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Last October, it introduced an Internet Safety Green Paper as part of its digital charter manifesto pledge. Following
a consultation period, then digital secretary Matt Hancock (he's now the health secretary) said a white paper would be introduced later in 2018.
And in a comment suggesting that maybe the call is more about righting market imbalances
than concern over societal problems. The letter noted that its signatories all pay high and fair levels of tax. The letter also notes that broadcasters and telcos are held to account by Ofcom, while social media forms are not, which again gives
the internet companies an edge in the market.
Back in 2001, the European Parliament came together to pass regulations and set up copyright laws for the internet, a technology that was just finding its footing after the dot com boom and bust. Wikipedia had just been born, and there were 29 million
websites. No one could imagine the future of this rapidly growing ecosystem -- and today, the internet is even more complex. Over a billion websites, countless mobile apps, and billions of additional users. We are more interconnected than ever. We are
more global than ever. But 17 years later, the laws that protect this content and its creators have not kept up with the exponential growth and evolution of the web.
Next week, the European Parliament will decide how information
online is shared in a vote that will significantly affect how we interact in our increasingly connected, digital world. We are in the last few moments of what could be our last opportunity to define what the internet looks like in the future. The next
wave of proposed rules under consideration by the European Parliament will either permit more innovation and growth, or stifle the vibrant free web that has allowed creativity, innovation, and collaboration to thrive. This is significant because
copyright does not only affect books and music, it profoundly shapes how people communicate and create on the internet for years to come.
This is why we must remember the original objective for this update to the law: to
make copyright rules that work for better access to a quickly-evolving, diverse, and open internet.
The very context in which copyright operates has changed completely. Consider Wikipedia, a platform which like much of the
internet today, is made possible by people who act as consumers and creators. People read Wikipedia, but they also write and edit articles, take photos for Wikimedia Commons, or contribute to other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Content on Wikipedia
is available under a free license for anyone to use, copy, or remix.
Every month, hundreds of thousands of volunteers make decisions about what content to include on Wikipedia, what constitutes a copyright violation, and when
those decisions need to be revised . We like it this way -- it allows people, not algorithms, to make decisions about what knowledge should be presented back to the rest of the world.
Changes to the EU Directive on
Copyright in the Digital Single Market could have serious implications for Wikipedia and other independent and nonprofit websites like it.
The internet today is collaborative and open by nature. And that is why our
representatives to the EU must institute policies that promote the free exchange of information online for everyone.
We urge EU representatives to support reform that adds critical protections for public domain works of art,
history, and culture, and to limit new exclusive rights to existing works that are already free of copyright.
The world should be concerned about new proposals to introduce a system that would automatically filter information
before it appears online. Through pre-filtering obligations or increased liability for user uploads, platforms would be forced to create costly, often biased systems to automatically review and filter out potential copyright violations on their sites. We
already know that these systems are historically faulty and often lead to false positives. For example, consider the experience of a German professor who
repeatedly received copyright violation
notices when using public domain music from Beethoven, Bartók, and Schubert in videos on YouTube.
The internet has already created alternative ways to manage these issues. For instance, Wikipedia contributors already work hard
to catch and remove infringing content if it does appear. This system, which is largely driven by human efforts, is very effective at preventing copyright infringement.
Much of the conversation surrounding EU copyright reform has
been dominated by the market relationships between large rights holders and for-profit internet platforms. But this small minority does not reflect the breadth of websites and users on the internet today. Wikipedians are motivated by a passion for
information and a sense of community. We are entirely nonprofit, independent, and volunteer-driven. We urge MEPs to consider the needs of this silent majority online when designing copyright policies that work for the entire internet.
As amendments to the draft for a new Copyright Directive are considered, we urge the European Parliament to create a copyright framework that reflects the evolution of how people use the internet today. We must remember the original
problem policymakers set out to solve: to bring copyright rules in line with a dramatically larger, more complex digital world and to remove cross-border barriers. We should remain true to the original vision for the internet -- to remain an open,
accessible space for all.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick believes detectives should have access to material from social media companies within minutes. She said UK police forces had faced a very protracted procedure in such cases.
The call comes after a suspect in the
murder of Lucy McHugh, 13, was jailed for withholding his Facebook password from police. Last week, Stephen Nicholson was jailed for 14 months having admitted failing to comply with an order under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act requiring him
to disclose a Facebook password.
Detectives investigating her murder say it is taking an inordinate amount of time to access evidence from Facebook.
Angus Crawford, BBC News Correspondent, explained:
Facebook is a US company and so has to abide by US laws on data protection and due process. This means they have no duty to hand any information over to a foreign police force.
Only a request via the US Department of Justice using something called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty will oblige disclosure, but this is cumbersome, expensive and can take months.
A spokeswoman for the
social media company said Facebook is working closely with law enforcement and following well-established legal mechanisms. Facebook says it already has a team which works with law enforcement and they have been cooperating with Hampshire Police on the
Lucy McHugh case.
[Of course the police should get instant access to social media when pursuing people guilty of a serious crime. But of course they need to be denied the facility when pursuing innocent people being
harassed for a trivial crime].
In July MEPs voted down plans to fast-track the Copyright Directive, derailing Article 13's plan to turn Internet platforms into copyright enforcers.
Yet the fight to stop Article 13's vision of the Internet - one where all
speech is approved or rejected by an automated upload filter - is not over.
On 12 September MEPs will vote once again, but this time as of yet unknown amendments will be added to the mix. Bad ideas like Article 13 - and perhaps
worse - will be voted on individually, so it's not a simple up or down vote. To identify and oppose bad amendments, MEPs must understand exactly why Article 13 threatens free speech.
Many MEPs are undecided. Please write to them
now. You can use the points below to construct your own unique message. IF YOU'RE OUTSIDE THE UK use this tool instead: https://saveyourinternet.eu .
Oppose changes to Internet platform liability. If platforms become liable for user content, they will have no choice but to scan all uploads with automated filters.
Say no to upload filters.
Filters struggle to identify the vital legal exceptions to copyright that enable research, commentary, creative works, parody and more. Poor judgement means innocent speech gets blocked along with copyright violations.
Internet companies do not make good copyright enforcers. To avoid liability penalties, platforms will err on the side of caution and over-block.
Free speech takes precedence over copyright. Threatening free
expression is way too high a price to pay for the sake of copyright enforcement.
General monitoring of all content is technically infeasible. No filter can possibly review every form of content covered in Article 13's
extraorindarily wide mandate which includes text, audio, video, images and software.
If you are part of a tech business, or a creator, like a musician, photographer, video editor or a writer, let your MEP know!
We need copyright reform that does not threaten free expression The controversial Copyright Directive is fast approaching another pivotal vote on 12 September. For the third time in half a year MEPs will decide whether Article 13 - or
something even worse - will usher in a new era, where all content is approved or rejected by automated gatekeepers.
Seen through an economic lens the Directive's journey is viewed as a battle between rights holders and tech
giants. Yet a growing chorus of ordinary citizens, Internet luminaries, human rights organisations and creatives have rightly expanded the debate to encompass the missing human dimension.
Open Rights Group opposes Article 13 - or
any new amendments proposing similar ideas - because it poses a real threat to the fundamental right to free speech online.
Free speech defenders claimed a victory over industry lobbyists this summer when MEPs rejected plans to
fast-track the Directive and a lasting triumph is now in reach. UK residents are in an especially strong position to make a difference because many of their MEPs remain undecided. Unlike some other EU states, voting patterns aren't falling strictly on
party lines in the UK.
This time new amendments will be added, and the underlying principles of Article 13 will again face a vote. They include:
Changes to Internet platform liability
If Internet platforms become directly liable for user content, they will become de facto copyright enforcers. This will leave them little choice but to introduce general monitoring of all user content with automated filters. Companies
are not fit to police free speech. To avoid penalties they will err on the side of caution and over-block user content.
The Implicit or explicit introduction of upload filters
Everything we know
about automated filters shows they struggle to comprehend context. Yet identifying the vital legal exceptions to copyright that enable research, commentary,
creative works, parody and more requires a firm grasp of context. An algorithm's poor judgement will cause innocent speech to be routinely blocked along with copyright violations.
The introduction of general monitoring
General monitoring of all user content is a step backwards for a free and open Internet. It is also technically infeasible to monitor every form of content covered in Article 13's extraordinarily wide mandate which includes text,
audio, video, images and software.
Outspoken Article 13 cheerleader Axel Voss MEP said "Censorship machines is not what we intend to implement and no one in the European Parliament wants that." This is what happens when
copyright reform is pursued with little consideration to human rights.
The proposals within Article 13 would change the way that the Internet works, from free and creative sharing, to one where anything can be removed without
warning, by computers. This is far too high a price to pay for copyright enforcement. We need a copyright reform which does not sacrifice fundamental human and digital rights.
The Five Eyes governments of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have threatened the tech industry to voluntarily create backdoor access to their systems, or be compelled to by law if they don't.
The move is a final warning to platform
holders such as WhatsApp, Apple and Google who deploy encryption to guarantee user privacy on their services. A statement by the Five Eyes governments says:
Encryption is vital to the digital economy and a secure
cyberspace, and to the protection of personal, commercial and government information ...HOWEVER.. . the increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present challenges for nations in combating serious crimes and threats
to national and global security.
Many of the same means of encryption that are being used to protect personal, commercial and government information are also being used by criminals, including child sex offenders, terrorists and
organized crime groups to frustrate investigations and avoid detection and prosecution.
If the industry does not voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products the statement continued, we may pursue technological,
enforcement, legislative or other measures to guarantee entry.