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31st December

 Offsite Article: Why we should be worried about relinquishing our privacy to a secret state...

Link Here
index logoEdward Snowden's lawyer Ben Winzer talks to Index about his client and what the loss of privacy to the secret state means to the future of free expression. By JP O'Malley

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

30th December

 Update: Censorship Unblocked...

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Thai military government allows ISPs to censor what they feel like without requiring approval from the courts
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking
thai blocked websoite screen Thai ISPs have been authorised to monitor and block any web pages that they feel like. Pages supposedly threatening national security or those that may be construed as insulting to the country's establishment may be censored without having to seek prior approval from courts or official censors..

The new measure was approved at a joint meeting between the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), large internet service providers (ISPs) and the police's Special Branch

After an ISP blocks a page, it is to report to the NBTC and the Information and Communication Technology Ministry without delay. Under previous law and regulations, police had to ask a court for permission to block an internet site or a web page. It is not clear who or what agency has authorised the ad hoc, freelance censorship.

The measure will apply to all types of content and not just Facebook, and covers both regular web pages and social-media posts or messages.

The move is partially in response to foreign internet companies refusing Thai censorship requests. According to the latest Google Transparency Report from July to December 2013, the US media giant did not remove any content requested by Bangkok. Among the requests during the six-month period were for 298 YouTube videos by the ICT Ministry which Google turned down because the request was for global removal .

 

22nd December

 Commented: An unpublished ATVOD newsletter reveals further censorship horror...

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UK adult websites are facing the prospect that they will only be able to offer a few hundred BBFC censored titles to compete with foreign websites offering tens of thousands of uncensored titles
Link Here
ATVOD with award for service to foreign industry The UK's new internet censorship rules banning much mainstream porn content don't always ban face-sitting, ATVOD said in a closed newsletter disseminated yesterday.

ATVOD, which censors video-on-demand in Britain, revealed draconian new rules for the porn industry nearly three weeks ago. Under the new rules, introduced through the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, content that would be cut by the BBFC is banned from UK VOD services.

Now as the BBFC cuts at least some content from about 15% of all mainstream R18's then at least this percentage of mainstream porn videos are now illegal to include on UK websites. In addition websites will probably have to self censor another 15% just in case the material may cross undefined lines.

Actually the BBFC cut 50% of R18s in the last calendar week for trivial and largely unpredictable reasons. This unpredictability could leave British webmasters with the only practical option to only include videos with an official BBFC R18 rating and all the trivially prohibited bits obligingly cut out. (Which is probably one of the intentions of the new law). Of course the rub is then that there are relatively few official R18s. A British website offering a few hundred censored videos would be competing with US websites offering a tens of thousands of uncensored videos.

UK media censor Ofcom has issued a revised designation allowing ATVOD the powers it needs to enforce the new rules.

Yesterday, in its newsletter, ATVOD clarified some details of what it will be focusing on while enforcing the new censorship rules:

Contrary to some press reports, the new regulations do not ban outright activities such as 'face-sitting' or 'spanking. ... HOWEVER ... they do mean that pornographic material which focuses on the restriction of blood or oxygen to the brain (which is potentially fatal) or on the infliction of lasting physical harm is now prohibited on U.K.

VOD services, as are pornographic scenarios featuring simulated incest [currently a very popular genre], rape or role playing as a child.

The new discriminatory rules also forbid U.K.-based online adult operators from distributing content that includes acts of female ejaculation, fisting and other types kinky content.

In the newsletter, ATVOD also hinted what might be next for foreign porn sites that allow access in the U.S.: A licensing regime. ATVOD said that it has worked with the U.K. payments industry --- including Visa Europe, MasterCard, PayPal, UK Cards Association, British Bankers' Association and Payments Council --- to design a process which would enable payments to be prevented from the U.K. to foreign porn services that allow children to access hardcore pornography.

Preventing payments from U.K. customers would disrupt the existing business model which is based on providing some content free of charge in order to attract visitors who are then encouraged to purchase premium subscription services. It would provide an incentive for foreign porn websites to introduce age-verification mechanisms in order to restart the flow of funds from the U.K.

The payments industry has made clear that in order to put such a process into place there would need to be greater clarity that foreign websites which allow children in the U.K. to view hardcore porn are acting in breach of U.K. law.

Representatives of the payments industry proposed that a licensing regime for foreign porn websites --- similar to that recently introduced for foreign gambling websites --- would be the best way of achieving such clarity.

Comment: ATVOD Idiocy

22nd December 2014. Thanks to Alan

letter writing Does the arrogance of these scumbags know no bounds?

They are quite open about their wish to impose this age verification nonsense worldwide, and to do so specifically by targetting web sites which behave ethically by offering free samples so that potential customers can assess whether or not they wish to purchase a membership. This is a disgrace. I hope that foreign jurisdictions will move robustly to disrupt ATVOD's idiotic control freakery.

Once again, we have the purported protection of children being used to treat everyone as a child. I can understand why opponents of this nonsense may wish to appear respectable by not directly confronting the notion that young people need to be protected, but I wish that they would do so. I very much hope that young lads (and indeed lasses) in search of a bit of naughty material will be able to circumvent ATVOD and parental controls. How old were these clowns when they first encountered smut? I was about fourteen. Are ATVOD staffers so congenitally thick that they only discovered porn at 40?

Over at Ofcom, the new boss is getting a salary for her censorious activities well in excess of the prime minister's headline pay, and maybe even better than Cameron's package including the rent of Number 10 and Chequers. The lunatics really do seem to be in charge of the asylum.

 

22nd December

  Sorry if this is an inconvenient time, but would you like your internet censored?...

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ISPs start hijacking people's browser sessions to ask them if they want to turn on the ISP's website censorship system
Link Here
BT logo

 

21st December

  Censoring Audiences in an Online World...

Ofcom publishes a report titled 'Protecting Audiences in an Online World'
Link Here

protecting audiences Ofcom commissioned Kantar Media to conduct a series of deliberative research workshops with members of the public to understand what people think of current protections for audio-visual (AV) content delivered on different platforms and on a range of internet connected devices, and what protections they consider they should have both now and in the future.

Within this overall aim, the research sought to explore opinions towards protection and assurance options, namely: standards protections, content information signposts, and access control tools.

Selected key findings

Understanding and perceptions of current regulation

Regulation of AV content was considered to be highly important, yet there was limited understanding of how regulatory arrangements vary by viewing platform Overall (not focusing on a specific device or platform) the vast majority of participants thought that the regulation of AV content was highly important. The majority of participants had a very limited understanding of the current regulatory landscape, and particularly of how regulation varies by viewing platform. However, there was broad understanding that the internet generally was not a protected or regulated environment.

Devices: importance and expectations of protections

The research explored participants' expectations and perceived importance of regulation across a range of devices, drawing on uninformed discussion before participants were briefed on existing regulation and protection frameworks.

The regulation of TV sets was perceived as most important The majority of participants agreed that the often passive nature of TV viewing and potential exposure to inappropriate content meant that TV sets should be highly regulated, in particular, to protect minors and vulnerable individuals.

The regulation of more personal devices, such as smartphones and tablets, was considered less important as they were associated with more active viewing choices By contrast, the majority of participants, and particularly those of a libertarian viewpoint and the more technology engaged, attributed slightly lower importance ratings to the regulation of more personal devices such as tablets and smartphones, with viewing requiring a more active choice.

Similarly, participants also considered the regulation of laptops and desktop computers to be less important than TV sets due to the more active choice of viewing involved.

Games consoles were also perceived as relatively less important when compared to TV sets, with many participants failing to immediately recognise their role in delivering AV content.

However, the perceived importance of regulating personal devices increased when participants reflected on instances where they could be used by children viewing content unmonitored on private devices or via games consoles away from the main living room.

Platforms: importance and expectations of protections

The regulation of broadcast TV was considered most important Reflecting the discussion on devices, the majority of participants rated the regulation of broadcast TV as most important in light of the shared nature of viewing and the often passive choice of scheduled broadcast content. The vast majority of participants perceived broadcast TV as being generally safe, with perceptions founded on previous experience and the presence of well-established channel brands. For the majority of participants, brand perceptions extended beyond broadcast meaning people expected brands to retain the same quality standards regardless of method of delivery or point of access.

Most participants wrongly assumed that catch-up programming was subject to the same regulatory standards as broadcast TV because the content had previously been broadcast.

However, perceptions of the regulation of on-demand and other internet content varied amongst the participants There was broad understanding that the internet generally was not a protected or regulated environment.

However, participants' views on how this might be addressed varied widely. The more libertarian participants stated that on-demand services should not be as highly regulated as broadcast TV in light of the active choices made by viewers.

Conversely, those of more protectionist viewpoints associated on-demand services with TV-like content and thought that regulation was highly important.

For the vast majority of participants, regardless of their broader social attitudes, the greatest concern with other internet content centred on protecting children and vulnerable individuals from viewing unsuitable content. Protectionists favoured content standards as the most effective means of protecting people online, while libertarians were more likely to cite access controls as the best means of protecting vulnerable individuals yet still preserving online freedoms.

However, many participants, protectionists and libertarians alike, expressed doubts over the practical feasibility of offering meaningful protection and assurance online due to the vast volume of AV content and the international origin of services.

 

18th December

 Offsite Article: EU Wants to Dictate What Content Americans Can View on US-Based Websites...

Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
first amndment coalition logoThat is a big step, one that even China, the master of internet censorship, has never taken.

See article from huffingtonpost.com

 

16th December

 Update: Nick Clegg champions people's 'exotic' sexual kicks...

Whilst David Cameron confirms that he is a miserable censorial prat
Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Content Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn
nick clegg Nick Clegg has slammed new porn laws which outlaws British websites from hosting supposedly harmful bedroom acts between consenting adults

Nick Clegg today warned prudish David Cameron to keep his nose out of people's exotic bedroom habits. He said:

The Government is not there to stick its nose in the bedroom, as long as people are not doing things which are illegal. It's not really for us to judge how people get their kicks.

Speaking at his monthly press conference, Clegg made clear the face sitting porn protestors have his support:

In a free society, people should be free to do things that many people might find exotic, at mildest, or deeply unappetising at worst. It's their freedom to do so.

But Cameron made clear last week he backs the repressive and business destroying new laws. He told a conference in London:

I feel that it's very important. In Britain we have rules about how you can buy pornography in the shop. I believe we should try and make sure you apply those rules when you buy pornography online.

The PM said it was part of a broader principle that the same laws should apply online as on the high street. Of course it never occurred to him to achieve this by freeing up  the ridiculous prohibitions inflicted on high street stores. Cameron spouted further: 

We're trying to make sure that when something is a crime, it is prosecuted and convicted wherever it takes place. My view is that should happen whether it's online or offline. We should try and apply the same rule whether you're visiting a shop in a high street or visiting a store on the internet.

 

16th December

  Sharing Legal Arguments...

MPAA pursues existing law to attempt to block the likes of The Pirate Bay in the US
Link Here

MPAA logo The MPAA is in discussions with the major US movie studios over ways to introduce site blocking to the United States. TorrentFreak has learned that the studios will try to achieve website blockades using principles available under existing law. Avoiding another SOPA-style backlash is high on the agenda.

Mechanisms to force ISPs to shut down subscriber access to infringing sites are becoming widespread in Europe but have not yet gained traction in the United States.

TorrentFreak has learned that during 2013 the MPAA and its major studio partners began to seriously consider their options for re-introducing the site blocking agenda to the United States. Throughout 2014 momentum has been building but with no real option to introduce new legislation, the MPAA has been looking at leveraging existing law to further its aims. We can reveal that the MPAA has been examining four key areas.

...See the full article

 

16th December

 Offsite Article: The Guardian view on the freedom of the internet...

Link Here
The GuardianIt's under attack around the world The net is a powerful weapon, and governments don't want it in the hands of their critics

See article from theguardian.com

 

15th December

 Offsite Comment: Can We Stop Being Judgemental About People's Sex Lives...

Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Content Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn
Intimate Games DVD Tudor GatesThere seems to be a tired, frustrating belief in British culture that sex is something that needs to be kept indoors and not talked about, especially if you're a politician or public figure. By Frances Black

See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

14th December

 Offsite Article: Why Google should leave Europe...

Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
Google logoThe company is under relentless attack by European authorities who won't stop until they do real damage. By Mike Elgan

See article from computerworld.com

 

14th December

 Offsite Article: Soon, the internet will be impossible to control...

Link Here
bitcoin logoFrom big companies to governments, the ability to censor what we do online is about to get a lot harder. By Jamie Bartlett

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

13th December

  Sly Foxes...

Internet browser makers to implement website blocking within the browser software
Link Here
firefox logo David Cameron announced a new law this week defining a new offence of over 18's sending. sexual messages to under 16s.

The Government also announced that revenge porn will also become a specific crime.

And perhaps most interesting a small follow up snippet of news that Microsoft, Google and Mozilla will announce plans to directly block people from accessing websites hosting child pornography from software include as an integral feature in internet browsers. So sounds like another censorship tool that others will soon clamour for its extension to their pet censorship requirements.

 

13th December

 Update: Crap website blocking...

Sounds like Virgin media is blocking parliamentary website because they use words also used by extremist groups
Link Here  full story: Crap Internet Blocking...Cheapo automated filters are not up to the job
Account Rendered Extraordinary Rendition Britains At the behest of David Cameron and the Daily Mail, everyone who signs up for an Internet account is asked Would you like to keep 'adult content' blocked on this connection?

It's a misleading question. A more accurate version is Would you like an unnamed third party company to use a secret, arbitrary, ever-changing blacklist to spy on all your clicks and decide which ones are and are not allowed to get through?

Like China's Great Firewall, the UK firewall is a patchwork of rules and filters that are opaque to users and regulators. Every ISP uses its own censorship supplier to spy on its customers and decide what they're allowed to see, and they change what is and is not allowed from moment to moment, with no transparency into how, when or why those decisions are being made.

Case in point: Virgin Media is blocking access to the website of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition . The site hosts Parliament's own documents on extraordinary rendition (this being the favoured government euphemism for sending people to other countries to be tortured ).

There's no way to know why Virgin blocked this. It's probably because much of the vocabulary used, seems to a dumb algorithm, to sound a bit like a website glorifying terrorism. Virgin in fact makes the unlikely sounding claim that the site is serving malware.

Update: Now uncensored

14th December 2014. Thanks to Braintree

The site is now unblocked by Virgin Media.

 

13th December

  Freedom on the Net 2014...

Freedom House surveys the world of internet freedom
Link Here
freedom on the net 2014 Freedom on the Net 2014 is the fifth annual comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe, covering developments in 65 countries that occurred between May 2013 and May 2014. The report finds internet freedom around the world in decline for the fourth consecutive year, with 36 out of 65 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period.

In a departure from the past, when most governments preferred a behind-the-scenes approach to internet control, countries rapidly adopted new laws that legitimize existing repression and effectively criminalize online dissent.

The past year also saw increased government pressure on independent news websites, which had previously been among the few uninhibited sources of information in many countries, in addition to more people detained or prosecuted for their digital activities than ever before.

Key Findings

  • Between May 2013 and May 2014, 41 countries passed or proposed legislation to penalize legitimate forms of speech online, increase government powers to control content, or expand government surveillance capabilities.
  • Since May 2013, arrests for online communications pertinent to politics and social issues were documented in 38 of the 65 countries, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa, where detentions occurred in 10 out of the 11 countries examined in the region.
  • Pressure on independent news websites, among the few unfettered sources of information in many countries, dramatically increased. Dozens of citizen journalists were attacked while reporting on conflict in Syria and antigovernment protests in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine. Other governments stepped up licensing and regulation for web platforms.

Emerging Threats

Freedom House identified three emerging threats that place the rights of internet users at increasing risk:

  • Data localization requirements, by which private companies are required to maintain data storage centers within a given country, are multiplying, driven in part by NSA revelations, which spurred more governments to bring international web companies under domestic jurisdiction. These costly measures could expose user data to local law enforcement.
  • Women and LGBTI rights are undermined by digital threats and harassment, resulting in self-censorship that inhibits their participation in online culture.
  • Cybersecurity is eroding as government critics and human rights organizations are subject to increasingly sophisticated and personalized malware attacks, documented in 32 of the 65 countries examined.

Despite overall declines in global internet freedom, pushback by civil society was amplified this year by reactions to the NSA surveillance revelations. Awareness of the threats to fundamental rights expanded beyond civil society, as ordinary users around the world became more engaged in securing their privacy and freedom of expression online. In select cases, long-running internet freedom campaigns finally garnered the necessary momentum to succeed.

 

13th December

  They'll soon be searching for the nose they cut off...

Most companies in the world clamour to get as a ranking as possible in Google Search and pay big money for the privilege, except in Spain where they want Google shut out
Link Here
Spanish flag

 

12th December

 Update: Life can be fine if we sit on our faces in all sorts of places...

Lively and colourful protest outside parliament over government internet censorship decree
Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Content Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn
atvod taking piss The Guardian reported:

Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.

Protesters chanted: What do we want? Face-sitting! When do we want it? Now! They say the list of banned activities includes face-sitting , and campaigners carried out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song Sit On My Face.

Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions ludicrous and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.

These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware, Charlotte Rose said. They've done this without public knowledge and without public consent.

There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it's not just about sexism, it's about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions.

facesitting protest Mistress Absolute, a professional dominatrix and fetish promoter, said the law was restrictive:

I felt that this was the beginning of something to creep into my sexual freedom and sexual preferences.

Neil Rushton said:

They're very sexist laws. These are very geared towards women's enjoyment as opposed to men's.

Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Jerry Barnett from Sex and Censorship and Jane Fae from the Consenting Adult Action Network were among those making speeches at the protest. Fae called the changes heteronormative , and said:

What is being clamped down on is any kind of online content made by adults who are consenting.

I organised today's mass face-sitting outside Parliament because I'm not willing to give up my sexual liberties

12th December 2014. See  article from  independent.co.uk by Charlotte Rose

charlotte-rose Draconian new pornography restrictions are an attack on our freedom, so it's time to sit down and be counted

I can hear the laughter now. A mass face-sitting outside Britain's parliament: are they serious?

The answer, for anyone who dares think otherwise is: absolutely. Yes. For the new anti-porn regulations censor people without consent. Nobody has the right to take away peoples personal liberties or personal choice.

If we don't speak out now, more and more amendments are going to be added to existing laws taking our personal rights away.

...Read the full article

 

11th December

 Update: Opposing snooper's charters...

Permission granted for judicial review of DRIPA
Link Here

Old Bailey A judicial review of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) has been granted permission by Mr Justice Lewis in the High Court today. Open Rights Group (ORG) and Privacy International (PI) intervened in the case, which was brought by Tom Watson MP and David Davis MP, represented by Liberty. ORG and PI have now been given permission to make further submissions in advance of the next hearing.

Legal Director Elizabeth Knight said:

After the Court of Justice of the EU declared the Data Retention Directive invalid, the UK government had the opportunity to design new legislation that would protect human rights. It chose instead to circumvent the decision of the CJEU by introducing the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), which is almost identical to the Data Retention Directive.

Through our submission, we hope to help demonstrate that DRIPA breaches our fundamental human right to privacy and does not comply with human rights and EU law.

ORG's submission addresses the EU data protection regime in place before the Data Retention Directive (in particular the Data Protection Directive, the E-privacy Directive and the E-Commerce Directive) and why we consider DRIPA does not comply with the requirements of the regime in light of the clear guidance from the CJEU.

 

 

11th December

 Update: Dictatorship Report...

Thailand slips from 'partly free' to 'not free' in Freedom House report
Link Here  full story: Thai Coup 2014...Media censorship prominent in Thai Coup
Thailand flag Thailand's internet freedom has slipped from partly free last year to not free this year, placing it among the ranks of China, Vietnam, Iran and Libya in that category, according to the latest annual report by Freedom House. The report notes:

After the coup, the NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order] made dozens of arrests, stepped up digital surveillance, infringed on online privacy and create a climate of fear where Internet users conducted an on and offline witch hunt against fellow citizens.

Freedom House noted that charges of lese majeste and computer-related crimes brought by Internet users against fellow citizens increased along with political detention:

In the month after the coup, there were at least five cases of a lese majeste charge added when an individual was already in detention. Three notable ones involved digital content.

Even those who use the Internet anonymously have come under threat since the May 22 coup, the organisation noted:

In late May, the MICT reportedly proposed to establish a single national gateway to the International Internet to expedite monitoring and censorship online content that is deemed illegal. Reports in June 2014 said MICT officials were consulting with vendors to implement plans, which would require every Thai citizen to authenticate their identity using their smart ID cards before logging onto the Internet.

 

 

11th December

 Update: Classified as Repressive...

South Africa also plans for the film censors to take control of the internet
Link Here
south africa film censor logo South African film censors from the Film and Publications Board (FPB) plans to extend its censorship control to the digital space and, in a draft policy document, proposes that all online content distributed in South Africa must be censored by March 2016.

However there are concerns that the agency has drafted this online regulation policy without consulting stakeholders and the breadth of its ambit could invite abuse.

The draft policy requires that, as of 31 March 2016, no one will be allowed to distribute digital content in South Africa unless it is classified in terms of the board's guidelines, or a system accredited by the board, and aligned to its classification guidelines, and the Film and Publications Act and its classifications. The FPB logo must also be prominently displayed.

This regulation would clearly apply to major corporates such as Google and Apple, who face sanctions if they don't comply, but it could also affect bloggers or individuals posting video clips online, who in some cases could face legal action.

The draft policy requires that anyone who wants to distribute a film, game or certain publications online will have to apply for an online distribution agreement. A prescribed fee, determined by the minister, will be imposed and, after payment, the distributor can classify content on behalf of the board by using its classification guidelines and those of the FPB Act.

 

 

9th December

 Updated: The government gets a caning...

Gathered comments on the new law introducing internet porn censorship in the UK
Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Content Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn

New powers to censor digital media are a threat to free expression

backlash logo 3rd December 2014.See article from backlash-uk.org.uk

British digital media producers are now subject to some of the most severe content restrictions in Europe. The regulations will shut down websites and criminalise producers of content that remains legal to produce throughout the European Union. This will have a chilling effect on freedom of sexual expression in the UK. It also makes British media uncompetitive within the EU. This will lead to job cuts and lost revenue for the Treasury.

The government’s new porn laws are arbitrary and sexist

newstatesman logo 3rd December 2014. See  article from  newstatesman.com by Lauren Razavi

In a hopeless government attempt to control what Britons get off on, new rules regulating the UK porn industry have come into force this week. The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 imposes restrictions on the content of pornography made and sold within the UK -- and it does so with a perplexing ignorance about the realities of modern technology.

British porn producers and consumers will now be subject to some of the harshest restrictions anywhere in Europe, with speculation that this is only the beginning. Video-on-demand content produced or sold in the UK is no longer permitted to show a vague and arbitrary list of explicit acts.

BDSM's Section 28

strange things are happening banner logo 2nd December 2014. See  article from  strangethingsarehappening.com by David Flint

So what is the point of the new law, then? Are the government so naive as to think that forcing onerous new rules on the rapidly dwindling number of British based porn sites will make any difference to teenagers accessing hardcore? It seems unlikely. But then, in reality, this was never really about preventing children from accessing adult material. Rather, this seems the first step of a cunning plan. First of all, kill of the British industry by regulating it out of existence. Then, when there are rules in place about what is or isn't legal within the UK, it becomes easier to strangle access to foreign sites. ATVOD are already pushing to stop card payments to foreign sites that don't follow their rules (i.e. all of them). The next step after that will be legally enforced blocks, similar to those imposed on file sharing sites.

Government cracks down on Fifty Shades of Grey style sex acts in online porn videos because it's harmful

Daily Mail logo 3rd December 2014.See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

The Daily Mail surprisingly hasn't supported the government censors. Its piece, borrowing heavily from a Guardian article, seemed to mock the arbitrary moralistic R18 guidelines and gave space to the point that Women's Fifty Shades of Grey pleasures would take a knock by the new law. And the Daily Mail didn't even bother with any sound bites from the miserablists of Mediawatch-UK and the like. The piece included the following comments:

Jerry Barnett, founder of anti-censorship campaign Sex And Censorship, told Vice News:

R18 is a strange thing. It's a set of weird and arbitrary censorship rules decided between the BBFC, the police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). There appear to be no rational explanations for most of the R18 rules - they're simply a set of moral judgments designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the British people from watching pornography.

Erotic film director Erika Lust told the Independent:

With this legislation, the UK is in danger of finding itself back in an age where porn is simply the boring, unrealistic, male fantasy of bimbos eagerly pleasing men as if it is their duty, where women are submissive and lack ownership of their sexuality. Women in the industry will now fear the loss of their livelihoods as well as their sexual independence.

Spanking and caning - just two of the sexual acts now banned in British porn films

Telegraph logo 2nd December 2014. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

Not a very convincing piece in the Telegraph but it did throw in the fact that the government know exactly how this will screw adult companies in Britain:

In its analysis of the new regulation, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport recognised that the new system might lead to some loss of British business. A report noted:

Restricting access to R18 material may lead to businesses moving outside of UK's jurisdiction in order to avoid regulation. Nevertheless, there is public value in ensuring that there is consistency for regulation across platforms so that UK based VOD firms are compliant with the UK's views on harmful content.

DCMS also noted that small businesses might be particularly hard hit by the new rules:

There are a number of small and medium sized firms among the UK-based suppliers of R18 content which may be affected by this measure

View from America: United Kingdom Ramps Up War on Porn and Women's Sexuality

avn logo 5th December 2014. See  article from  business.avn.com

At first glance, the news out of the United Kingdom appears like something The Onion might concoct to lampoon the nation's recent devolution into what everyone thought was a bygone sexual morality. But no; like a nightmare from which one cannot awaken, the government quietly enacted new regulations that went into effect Dec. 1, 2014 banning certain sex acts from being produced and sold in the U.K.

Even the Guardian's high priestesses of PC are unimpressed: I'm no fan of the porno-industrial complex but these new rules are unworkable

The Guardian 5th December 2014. See  article from  theguardian.co by Suzanne Moore

Increasingly, we see legislation made in some archaic vacuum where the internet does not exist. Furthermore, many of these now-censored activities are to do with female pleasure and the activities of dominatrices. Why is it OK to show a male ejaculation but not a female one? What are the qualifications of those who cobble together these rules?

And the Guardian isn't impressed with the law from a science perspective

The Guardian 6th December 2014. See  article from  theguardian.com by Dean Burnett

One of the more controversial things banned is female ejaculation. Female ejaculation is a weirdly controversial subject but science doesn't deny that it's a real thing. Many have cited the ban on female ejaculation as a clear demonstration of the sexist nature of the new rules (especially as it's fine to show male ejaculate, and even people eating it). But the BBFC, responsible for enforcing these rules, say the ban is a reflection of the fact that pornographers claim they're showing female ejaculation when they are in fact showing urination.

Showing urination in sex, water sports , has long been banned in British pornography. This appears to be a cultural consensus rather than a scientific one. Despite the myth that urine is sterile so good for cleaning wounds, this is not the case, so urinating on someone could lead to infection. But then, this is true of any fluid produced by humans, many of which are expressed in pornography but not restricted in this manner.

And the Guardian isn't impressed with the law from a feminist perspective

The Guardian 6th December 2014. See  article from  theguardian.com by Zoe Williams

The conformity that it's imposing is to the worst model of porn. It specifically targets and bans acts that are associated with feminist and fetish porn. Pandora Blake, over welsh rarebit and eggs, was explaining to me the new porn laws. They aren't new, exactly -- it's just a new way of regulating online pornographers, via ATVOD (the Authority for Television and Video on Demand) so that they have to comply with the rules for pornography on DVD.

The UK's sexist new pornography restrictions aren't just an act of state censorship, but could be the first step towards something even worse

The Independent 7th December 2014. See  article from  independent.co.uk by Myles Jackman (Obscenity lawyer)

It's not just the depiction of certain sex acts which is under attack --- our freedom is too

As you might have already heard, an act of state censorship has been declared against British pornography in the guise of innocuous regulation. But what you might not know is that it has also marked the first stage in a campaign to impose global trade sanctions. Strangely, this proposition has received less coverage.

The current discussion around these regulations has focused on the absurd restrictions which are being imposed on pornography. For example, male ejaculation is acceptable to shoot; but its female equivalent is absolutely beyond the pale. Bang out of order. It might be urine. We're not sure. Probably best to ban it.

However, ignoring the inherent sexism of this proposition, it is actually the framework in which these regulations have been allowed to emerge that is of greatest concern to all forms of freedom of expression.

Online porn restrictions will lead to UK exodus'

portland tv logo 8th December 2014. See article from bbc.co.uk

Legislation that censors online porn on UK websites will massively disadvantage the UK industry, according to a leading adult broadcaster.Chris Ratcliff of Portland TV said the industry was already disadvantaged compared to overseas competitors. The result, he predicted, would be an exodus of companies out of the UK :

What it does is take out big swathes of material that, albeit on the fringes, are still very popular in this territory and globally.

The big challenge we face operating in the regulated UK sector is the complete lack of parity between us and the unregulated offshore sector, said Ratcliff, whose company operates Fantasy TV and many of the babe channels. Improved age verification tools, he added, are a more effective means of protecting minors from inappropriate material than the tightening-up of regulation in respect to content strength - a move he said was a mistake.

The regulation of pornography on video-on-demand in the United Kingdom

9th December 2014. See  article from  tandfonline.com by Julian Petley

porn studies This article demonstrates in detail how the British government, the Office of Communications and The Authority for Television on Demand have interpreted the requirement in the European Union's Audio Visual Media Services Directive that any material on video-on-demand services which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors must be made available only in a way that ensures minors will not normally hear or see it. By EU standards, the approach adopted has been a strict one, raising questions about whether the UK authorities have gone beyond the requirements of the Directive, and thus whether their policies need underpinning by new legislation at the national level. This in turn poses further questions about the desirability of such legislation, its compatibility with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the advisability of driving abroad the providers of adult on-demand services, and the practicability of attempting to regulate transnational media traffic in an increasingly online world where standards of acceptability vary widely from one country to another.

 

8th December

 Update: Dangerous Blogging...

Iranian blogger sentenced to death for insulting a religious character
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Iran...Repression of free speech
stop execution soheil arabi logo A man in Iran has been sentenced to death for supposedly insulting the religious character, Mohammed on Facebook.

Soheil Arabi, a 30-year-old blogger, was convicted in August after admitting posting supposedly offensive material on eight Facebook pages, under different names.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Arabi now faces imminent execution by hanging after the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of the rights group, siad:

It is simply shocking that anyone should face the gallows simply because of Internet postings that are deemed to be crude, offensive, or insulting. Iran should urgently revise its penal code to eliminate provisions that criminalise peaceful free expression, especially when they punish its exercise with death.

An Arabic Facebook page to protest the decision has been set up, and now has more than 2,400 likes, but so far Iran is holding firm with the sentence.

 

6th December

 Update: Small Business Saturday...

The Government chips in by killing an entire industry of small adult internet businesses (without even having the decency to ask parliament first)
Link Here  full story: UK Internet Porn Content Censorship...2014 law censors content and mandates age verification for porn

mistress whiplash logo The whiplash backlash: it's not as if we're hurting anyone (else)

A new law will outlaw video-on-demand websites which showcase certain sexual practices. Jamie Merrill meets the practitioners with livelihoods on the line

From her secluded studio in Hampshire, Nikki has been running her online business for 15 years. A successful local businesswoman, until this week she would give work to up to 30 different models, actors and actresses.

Few of her neighbours will have known her speciality though; she produces pornographic videos of face sitting and female domination.

Following a change in the law, Nikki, who is professionally known as Mistress Whiplash, has had to close six of her video-on-demand websites after the new rules made her business model unprofitable.

She used to charge visitors to her websites up to £30 to view her niche videos, which she insists are consenting , legal and helping to reduce the stigma for people who have different kinks in society.

Nikki, 30, is not alone. She is one of dozens of small British pornographers who have hit out against a change in the law which means niche paid-for online pornography of unusual fetishes is now regulated in the same way as traditional DVDs bought in sex shops.

...Read the full article

 

6th December

 Update: Ripa abused by police to snoop on journalists...

Surveillance law allows police to act in an unacceptable way, says that Home Affairs Select committee
Link Here
Keith Vaz Britain's surveillance laws, which have recently been used by the police to seize journalists's phone records in the Plebgate and Huhne cases, are not fit for purpose and need urgent reform, a Commons inquiry has found.

The Commons home affairs select committee says that the level of secrecy surrounding use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) allows the police to engage in acts which would be unacceptable in a democracy .

The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said the surveillance law was not fit for purpose:

Using Ripa to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistleblowers from coming forward.

The MPs' inquiry followed claims by Sun and Daily Mail journalists that the Metropolitan and Kent police forces were secretly using the powers to trawl through thousands of phone numbers to detect their confidential sources in high-profile stories.

In response Home Office ministers have claimed they will revise the Ripa rules on communications data requests involving sensitive professions such as journalists and lawyers.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said:

When a senior Parliamentary Committee says that the current legislation is not fit for purpose, then this simply cannot be ignored. It is now abundantly clear that the law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the recording of how the powers are used is patchy at best. The public is right to expect better.

The conclusion of the Committee that the level of secrecy surrounding the use of these powers is permitting investigations that are deemed unacceptable in a democracy, should make the defenders of these powers sit up and take notice. At present, the inadequacy and inconsistency of the records being kept by public authorities regarding the use of these powers is woefully inadequate. New laws would not be required to correct this.

Whilst this report concentrates on targeting journalists, it is important to remember that thousands of members of the public have also been snooped on, with little opportunity for redress. If the police fail to use the existing powers correctly then it is completely irresponsible for the Home Office to be planning on increasing those powers.

Failure by the Government to address these serious points means we can already know that there will be many more innocent members of the public who will be wrongly spied on and accused. This is intolerable.

 

2nd December

  ATVOD wants to be the new BBFC of the internet...

ATVOD consults about setting up as the internet film censor complete with wishy washy rules that could be used to ban anything
Link Here
ATVOD with award for service to foreign industry The UK government has just passed worrying new rules about requiring internet porn films to adhere with BBFC guidelines and for websites to impose impractical age verification requirements.

The internet video censor, ATVOD, is now consulting on a new set of censorship rules to reflect the new law. However ATVOD has also dreamt up a few new censorship rules of its own, seemingly way beyond the law changes about hardcore porn videos.

ATVOD has defined a new rule 14 which lets the organisation act as a new BBFC for internet video material not actually seen by the BBFC. This is not backed up by any change to law that I have spotted.

ATVOD has cut and pasted a whole load of BBFC statement about banning things for made up reasons such moral harm. Now when these statements appear on the BBFC websites, then it is rhetoric to keep moralist campaigners and MPs happy. Knowing what the BBFC actually bans and censors, generally means that we trust the BBFC not to abuse the open censorship enabling rules.

However there is zero trust for ATVOD which seems to glory in its crucifixion of the adult internet industry with unnecessarily onerous age verification requirements.

Anyway ATVOD introduces the consultation as follows:

Consultation on Proposed New Rules and Guidance Proposal to adopt new Rules and Guidance in light of amendments made to the Communications Act 2003 by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 This consultation opened on 1st December 2014 This consultation will close at 5pm on 2nd March 2015

This is a consultation by the Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ), the body that Ofcom designated on 18 March 2010 as the co-regulator for VOD editorial content. The purpose of this consultation is to consult on a proposal to adopt an amended Rules and Guidance document.

We expect to publish a statement on the Proposed Rules and Guidance in spring 2015.

And the new Rule 14 reads:

Rule 14: Harmful Material: Prohibited material

An on-demand programme service must not contain any prohibited material. Prohibited material means

  • (a) a video work which the video works authority has determined for the purposes of the 1984 Act38 not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it, or

  • (b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority would determine for those purposes that the video work was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.

In determining whether any material falls within (b), regard must be had to any guidelines issued by the video works authority as to its policy in relation to the issue of classification certificates.

Guidance

Content whose broadcast complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, or that has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in any category, including R18 , would not be considered prohibited material .

Video works which have been refused a classification by the BBFC, and material which if included in a video work would be refused a classification by the BBFC, is prohibited material and cannot be included on an on demand programme service in any circumstances. All material on the service, including still images and other non-video content is subject to this requirement.

There is no requirement for material being provided on an on demand programme service to be classified by the BBFC, but where material has not been classified, ATVOD is required to have regard to the BBFC Classification Guidelines when determining whether it is reasonable to expect that such material when included in an on demand programme service is material which, if contained in a video work submitted to the BBFC, would be refused a classification.

The guidance below sets out the type of material which may be refused a classification by the BBFC. For further information on the guidelines issued by the video work authority see the BBFC's website at http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/guidelines. Having regard to the current BBFC Classification Guidelines, the following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of material which may constitute prohibited material:

  • Material in breach of the criminal law (including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation39 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959) or that has been created through the commission of a criminal offence

  • Material which risks harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society. For example:

  • Material which may promote criminal activity

  • Portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context

  • Detailed portrayals of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which may cause harm to public health or morals.

  • Material which makes sexual or sadistic violence look normal, appealing, or arousing

  • Graphic images of real injury, violence or death presented in a salacious or sensationalist manner which risks harm by encouraging callous or sadistic attitudes

  • Material which reinforces the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence

  • Material which invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities

  • Material which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk.

  • Material in pornographic works which:

  • Is likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults

  • Portrays sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent

  • Involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for moderate, non-abusive consensual activity o Involves penetration by any object associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm

  • Involves sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game. Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable