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 2012: July-Sept

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 Update: Easily Offended Manchester Police...

Getting heavy over another football insult on Twitter


Link Here 29th September 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

police manchester logo A football fan who sent a Twitter insult about Premier League referee and cancer survivor Mark Halsey following last weekend's Liverpool v Manchester United game has been cautioned by police.

Liverpool supporter John Wareing tweeted: I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies , after the official sent off Reds midfielder Jonjo Shevley and handed United a late penalty that gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side a 2-1 win.

Commenting on the incident, easily offended DS Tony Lunt of Greater Manchester Police spouted:

Clearly the victim and his family were very distressed by the extremely offensive comments posted on Twitter. We take all reports of abuse on social networking sites very seriously as these remarks can and do have a devastating impact on people's lives.

As a result of our investigation, we have cautioned a man who has admitted responsibility for some of the messages. This individual was very apologetic and realises that in a moment of stupidity he posted deeply derogatory remarks about the victim and completely regrets his actions.

Our inquiries are ongoing to identify anyone else who posted these offensive messages.

 

 Offsite Comment: Self Regulation is all a Big Con...


Link Here 27th September 2012
Social networks cannot be trusted to protect children online Social networking sites cannot be trusted to protect children's safety online and must be independently regulated. By John Carr, member of the UK Council for Child internet Safety.

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Update: Fifty Shades of Outdatedness...

New Zealand book censor passes Fifty Shades of Grey for unrestricted sale


Link Here 26th September 2012  full story: Fifty Shades of Grey...BDSM book scores an international hit

Fifty Shades Trilogy Boxed Set Shades of Grey fans in New Zealand will continue to have unrestricted access to the controversial trilogy following a decision by the chief censor.

The Chief Censor Office of Film and Literature classification has ruled to keep the sale of the book available without an age restriction.

Random House New Zealand managing director Karen Ferns said the decision was a victory for common sense and freedom of expression:

To have restricted publication would have put New Zealand out of step with comparable democratic countries such as the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Books with similar levels of explicit sexual content have been available for years.

The book was given an M certificate which is an advisory 16 rating.

 

  Clean IT...

Leak shows plans for large-scale, undemocratic surveillance of all communications


Link Here 25th September 2012

clean it project logo A leaked document from the CleanIT project shows just how far internal discussions in that initiative have drifted away from its publicly stated aims, as well as the most fundamental legal rules that underpin European democracy and the rule of law.

The European Commission-funded CleanIT project claims that it wants to fight terrorism through voluntary self-regulatory measures that defends the rule of law.

The initial meetings of the initiative, with their directionless and ill-informed discussions about doing something to solve unidentified online terrorist problems were mainly attended by filtering companies, who saw an interesting business opportunity. Their work has paid off, with numerous proposals for filtering by companies and governments, proposals for liability in case sufficiently intrusive filtering is not used, and calls for increased funding by governments of new filtering technologies.

The leaked document contradicts a letter sent from CleanIT Coordinator But Klaasen to Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom in April of this year, which explained that the project would first identify problems before making policy proposals. The promise to defend the rule of law has been abandoned. There appears never to have been a plan to identify a specific problem to be solved – instead the initiative has become little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry.

CleanIT wants binding engagements from internet companies to carry out surveillance, to block and to filter (albeit only at end user - meaning local network - level). It wants a network of trusted online informants and, contrary to everything that they have ever said, they also want new, stricter legislation from Member States.

CleanIT (terrorism), financed by DG Home Affairs of the European Commission is duplicating much of the work of the CEO Coalition (child protection), which is financed by DG Communications Networks of the European Commission. Both are, independently and without coordination, developing policies on issues such as reporting buttons and flagging of possibly illegal material. Both CleanIT and the CEO Coalition are duplicating each other's work on creating voluntary rules for notification and removal of possibly illegal content and are jointly duplicating the evidence-based policy work being done by DG Internal Market of the European Commission, which recently completed a consultation on this subject. Both have also been discussing upload filtering, to monitor all content being put online by European citizens.

Key measures being proposed:

  • Removal of any legislation preventing filtering/surveillance of employees' Internet connections
  • Law enforcement authorities should be able to have content removed without following the more labour-intensive and formal procedures for 'notice and action'
  • Knowingly providing links to terrorist content (the draft does not refer to content which has been ruled to be illegal by a court, but undefined terrorist content in general) will be an offence just like the terrorist
  • Legal underpinning of real name rules to prevent anonymous use of online services
  • ISPs to be held liable for not making reasonable efforts to use technological surveillance to identify (undefined) terrorist use of the Internet
  • Companies providing end-user filtering systems and their customers should be liable for failing to report illegal activity identified by the filter
  • Customers should also be held liable for knowingly sending a report of content which is not illegal
  • Governments should use the helpfulness of ISPs as a criterion for awarding public contracts
  • The proposal on blocking lists contradict each other, on the one hand providing comprehensive details for each piece of illegal content and judicial references, but then saying that the owner can appeal (although if there was already a judicial ruling, the legal process would already have been at an end) and that filtering such be based on the output of the proposed content regulation body, the European Advisory Foundation
  • Blocking or warning systems should be implemented by social media platforms -- somehow it will be both illegal to provide (undefined) Internet services to terrorist persons and legal to knowingly provide access to illegal content, while warning the end-user that they are accessing illegal content
  • The anonymity of individuals reporting (possibly) illegal content must be preserved... yet their IP address must be logged to permit them to be prosecuted if it is suspected that they are reporting legal content deliberately and to permit reliable informants' reports to be processed more quickly
  • Companies should implement upload filters to monitor uploaded content to make sure that content that is removed -- or content that is similar to what is removed -- is not re-uploaded
  • It proposes that content should not be removed in all cases but blocked (i.e. make inaccessible by the hosting provider -- not blocked in the access provider sense) and, in other cases, left available online but with the domain name removed.

 

 Updated: Googling for Repression...

Iran blocks Google Mail


Link Here 24th September 2012

gmail logo Iranian authorities have announced that they are permanently blocking access to Google Mail and would instead create a national email service.

Google confirmed that there had been significant decline in Google Mail traffic to Iran and said this was not due to a technical problem on its part. It also said it was aware that Google Mail users in Iran were having difficulties in accessing the service.

Reporters Without Borders said:

The Iranian government has never hidden the fact that it regards new media, especially the Internet, with the utmost suspicion because of the very visible presence of its opponents on social networks. Its response is to slow or sever connections in an attempt prevent its critics from organising and prevent damaging reports and images from circulating within the country or being sent abroad.

Blocking Google Mail takes the drive to control Iranian cyber-space to a new stage and officialises the war already launched against website-based email services, which are harder to monitor and which have won over the public by their use of Farsi. But this strategy is doomed to failure. Most Iranian Internet users know how to sidestep censorship and access blocked websites and pages.

As for the creational of a national email service, if it really goes ahead, we doubt that it will be a success because no one is fooled. Its aim would be to increase online surveillance.

Update: A timely further reason for blocking Google Mail

24th September 2012.See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Although an Iranian block on Google Mail was already in progress, it has now been repackaged as an action against the Innocence of Muslims video that has resulted in violent muslim protest around the world.

Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice, said Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an Iranian official with the state-run body in charge of online censorship and computer crimes, according to the semi-official Ilna news agency.

Khoramabadi claimed the decision was taken after Iranians pressed the authorities to filter the sites because of links to the film.

The Young Journalists Club, an Iranian semi-official news agency that broke the news, said the move was in reaction to YouTube's refusal to take down the anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims.

At midnight in Tehran, Google was still accessible, according to citizens who spoke to the Guardian, but some said they could not access their Gmail accounts as some internet service providers appeared to have blocked the service.

Update: GMail unblocked

2nd October 2012.  See  article from  rferl.org

Iranian authorities have restored access to Gmail one week after blocking Google's popular email service in the country.

The Gmail ban had sparked complaints from Internet users and officials in Iran.

YouTube is  still being blocked in Iran.

 

 Offsite Article: When the cybermen serve as censors...


Link Here 23rd September 2012
We can't rely on YouTube and co to stand up for free speech. By John Naughton

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Update: Hopefully the CPS to Become Less Prone to Easy Offence...

CPS set to reconsider the definitions of insults before they end up prosecuting everyone in the country


Link Here 21st September 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

Crown Prosecution Service Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecution has made a statement after deciding to pursue a case involving insulting tweets. Starmer said:

On 30 July 2012 Daniel Thomas, a semi-professional footballer, posted a homophobic message on the social networking site, Twitter. This related to the Olympic divers Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield. This became available to his followers. Someone else distributed it more widely and it made its way into some media outlets. Mr Thomas was arrested and interviewed. The matter was then referred to CPS Wales to consider whether Mr Thomas should be charged with a criminal offence.

The Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send a communication using a public electronic communications network if that communication is grossly offensive. It is now established that posting comments via Twitter constitutes sending a message by means of a public electronic communications network. It is also clear that the offence is committed once the message is sent, irrespective of whether it is received by any intended recipient or anyone else. The question in this case is therefore whether the message posted by Mr Thomas is so grossly offensive as to be criminal and, if so, whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.

There is no doubt that the message posted by Mr Thomas was offensive and would be regarded as such by reasonable members of society. But the question for the CPS is not whether it was offensive, but whether it was so grossly offensive that criminal charges should be brought. The distinction is an important one and not easily made. Context and circumstances are highly relevant and as the European Court of Human Rights observed in the case of Handyside v UK (1976), the right to freedom of expression includes the right to say things or express opinions ...that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population.

The context and circumstances in this case include the following facts and matters:

  • (a) However misguided, Mr Thomas intended the message to be humorous.

  • (b) However naive, Mr Thomas did not intend the message to go beyond his followers, who were mainly friends and family.

  • (c) Mr Thomas took reasonably swift action to remove the message.

  • (d) Mr Thomas has expressed remorse and was, for a period, suspended by his football club.

  • (e) Neither Mr Daley nor Mr Waterfield were the intended recipients of the message and neither knew of its existence until it was brought to their attention following reports in the media.

This was, in essence, a one-off offensive Twitter message, intended for family and friends, which made its way into the public domain. It was not intended to reach Mr Daley or Mr Waterfield, it was not part of a campaign, it was not intended to incite others and Mr Thomas removed it reasonably swiftly and has expressed remorse. Against that background, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Wales, Jim Brisbane, has concluded that on a full analysis of the context and circumstances in which this single message was sent, it was not so grossly offensive that criminal charges need to be brought.

Before reaching a final decision in this case, Mr Daley and Mr Waterfield were consulted by the CPS and both indicated that they did not think this case needed a prosecution.

This case is one of a growing number involving the use of social media that the CPS has had to consider. There are likely to be many more. The recent increase in the use of social media has been profound. It is estimated that on Twitter alone there are 340 million messages sent daily. And the context in which this interactive social media dialogue takes place is quite different to the context in which other communications take place. Access to social media is ubiquitous and instantaneous. Banter, jokes and offensive comment are commonplace and often spontaneous. Communications intended for a few may reach millions.

Against that background, the CPS has the task of balancing the fundamental right of free speech and the need to prosecute serious wrongdoing on a case by case basis. That often involves very difficult judgment calls and, in the largely unchartered territory of social media, the CPS is proceeding on a case by case basis. In some cases it is clear that a criminal prosecution is the appropriate response to conduct which is complained about, for example where there is a sustained campaign of harassment of an individual, where court orders are flouted or where grossly offensive or threatening remarks are made and maintained. But in many other cases a criminal prosecution will not be the appropriate response. If the fundamental right to free speech is to be respected, the threshold for criminal prosecution has to be a high one and a prosecution has to be required in the public interest.

To ensure that CPS decision-making in these difficult cases is clear and consistent, I intend to issue guidelines on social media cases for prosecutors. These will assist them in deciding whether criminal charges should be brought in the cases that arise for their consideration. In the first instance, the CPS will draft interim guidelines. There will then be a wide public consultation before final guidelines are published. As part of that process, I intend to hold a series of roundtable meetings with campaigners, media lawyers, academics, social media experts and law enforcement bodies to ensure that the guidelines are as fully informed as possible.

But this is not just a matter for prosecutors. Social media is a new and emerging phenomenon raising difficult issues of principle, which have to be confronted not only by prosecutors but also by others including the police, the courts and service providers. The fact that offensive remarks may not warrant a full criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean that no action should be taken. In my view, the time has come for an informed debate about the boundaries of free speech in an age of social media.

 

  Miserable Philippines...

Repressive new law includes extreme measures against internet sex


Link Here 21st September 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in the Philippines...A miserable attack on web cam girls

Philippines flag Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a far-ranging piece of legislation that was passed by the Senate in June and made official last week. A government official said that the new law is intended to curtail a number of offenses frequently committed on the internet, but that it also prohibits certain content-related behavior.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview that punishable acts under the new law include offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data system, illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference and misuse of devices.

The law also includes offenses such as computer-related forgery, fraud, libel and identity theft, as well as content-related offenses such as cybersex and child pornography.

The Act is particularly miserable in sections defining banning webcam girls, sex video chat or cybersex. The act defines cybersex as the wilful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favour or consideration .

The law states that the regional trial court shall have jurisdiction over any violation of the provisions of this Act including any violation committed by a Filipino national regardless of the place of commission... if any of the elements was committed within the Philippines .

Anyone breaking the law faces a fine of 250,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000; 3,700) and a jail term of up to six months.

One of the authors of the law, senator Edgardo Angara, said the act was needed to detect, investigate and suppress cybercrime such as hacking, cybersex, identity theft, spamming, and child pornography online.

The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police are now meant to set up a cybercrime unit to exclusively handle cases involving violations of this act . To deal with these cases, the authorities are planning to create cybercrime courts with specially trained judges.

Philippine media organisations have expressed concerns that it may also be used to curb press freedom because it lists internet libel as cybercrime. According to the act, someone found guilty of libellous comments online, including comments made on social networks and blogs, could be jailed for up to 12 years with no possibility of parole.

 

  Now Iceland Considers Internet Censorship...

Via a default block on adult related sites


Link Here 20th September 2012

Iceland Iceland is considering internet censorship in the form of a default block on adult related material.

It is reported that the country's two largest ISPs, Vodafone and Siminn kind of like the idea of blocking adult related sites, assuming that technical issues can be worked out.

A Vodaphone spokesperson, Hrannar Petursson, reportedly claimed that it's all in the name of customer safety, and has nothing... nothing! to do with censorship. Viruses and malware, Petursson explained, are often found on porn sites.

He spewed: It's not a big deal, anyway. Customers can always ask the ISP to allow the porn sites, gambling sites, and related sites.

 

  South Korea Recommends...

The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade


Link Here 20th September 2012

The 120 Days Sodom ebook South Korea has banned The 120 Days of Sodom by the 18th-century French nobleman and writer, the Marquis de Sade. It was written in 1785 but remained unpublished until 1905.

The book was banned for extreme obscenity, a Seoul official said. The Korea Publication Ethics Commission, a state review board, told the local publisher of The 120 Days of Sodom to recall and destroy all copies currently at stores, senior board official Jang Tag-Hwan told AFP. He explained:

A large portion of the book was extremely obscene and cruel, involving acts of sadism, incest, bestiality and necrophilia.

The book's extensive portrayal of sexual acts involving minors played a part in designating it a harmful publication, jang added.

The translated version of the book, which details the sexual orgies of four wealthy French libertines who rape, torture and finally murder their mostly teenage victims, hit stores in the South last month. It is the first novel to be banned since 2008.

The publisher has vowed to appeal against what it labelled as a death sentence on the book and to take the case to court if the appeal is rejected. The book will still be available while the ban is under appeal.

 

 Update: Registered as Repressive...

New Jordan law requires all local news websites to register for government censorship


Link Here 19th September 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Jordan...Government push for blocking of internet porn

Jordan flag Jordan's King Abdullah has endorsed a new repressive media law.

The legislation requires electronic publications in Jordan to get a licence from the government.

It also gives the authorities the power to block and censor websites, whose owners will be held responsible for comments posted on them.

Human Rights Watch accused the government of using such legislation to go after opponents and critics . The organisation said the dangers of the amendments to the Press and Publications Law arose from its vague definition of the electronic publications which would be affected, the new executive power to block websites, and the unreasonable restrictions on online content, including comments posted by website users.

The legislation's definition of electronic publication is an electronic site on the internet with a fixed address that offers publication services . Any that publish news, investigations, articles, or comments, which have to do with the internal or external affairs of the kingdom must register with the commerce ministry and get a licence from the culture ministry.

The culture ministry will have the authority to block websites that are either unlicensed or deemed to be in violation of any law, and to close the website's offices without providing a reason or obtaining a court order.

The owner, editor and director of an electronic publication will share the responsibility for comments posted on their website, and be obliged not to publish any containing information or facts unrelated to the news item or if the truth has not been checked , or if they violate laws .

 

 Update: New Internet Censors...

Tunisia claims an end to repressive internet censorship policies known as Ammar 404


Link Here 17th September 2012

Tunisia flag Government representatives in Tunisia have confirmed that the country has officially brought its repressive Internet censorship policies, known as Ammar 404, to an end.

According to Information and Communication Minister Mongi Marzoug this has been brought on by the recent revolution in Tunisia and the interim government will now try to promote access to information and freedom of expression. The launching of the country's National Forum of Internet governance will be the end of Ammar 404, he said.

Tunisia will also try to prove to the world that they have truly ended censorship as he presented the main objectives of the upcoming ICT4All conference to be held in Tunisia.

 

 Update: Selectively Banned...

Google said to be more powerful than Egypt or Libya in deciding whether to ban The Innocence of Muslims


Link Here 16th September 2012  full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie

Google logo Google lists eight reasons on its YouTube Community Guidelines page for why it might take down a video. Being cited as the cause of riots is not among them. But after the White House warned that a crude anti-Muslim movie trailer had sparked murderous violence in the Middle East, Google acted.

Access to  a 14-minute clip from The Innocence of Muslims was blocked in Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia and Afghanistan.

Legal experts and civil libertarians, meanwhile, said the controversy highlighted how Internet companies, most based in the United States, have become global arbiters of free speech, weighing complex issues that traditionally are the province of courts, judges, and occasionally, international treaty.

Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor said:

Notice that Google has more power over this than either the Egyptian or the U.S. government. Most free speech today has nothing to do with governments and everything to do with companies.

...Read the full article

 

 Update: Only Drizzle from Sky...

The Cloud Public WiFi service will be censored for children


Link Here 11th September 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

sky cloud wifi logo Sky has announced that its public Wi-Fi service, The Cloud, will begin blocking adult related content as standard from October.

The move means shops, venues and other commercial buildings covered by The Cloud's network that want a children's internet service will have their wireless broadband filtered automatically.

Lyssa McGowan, Sky's brand director for communications products said:

We believe this will give parents the peace of mind that when their children access content over Sky networks outside the home, where we can't offer individual parental controls, they will be similarly protected as when in the home.

The Cloud will be the first Wi-Fi operator in the UK to take this step.

 

 Update: Getting Dangerously Stressed...

Government threaten ISPs over suicide websites


Link Here 11th September 2012  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

Dept of Health logo Telcos face being regulated by the government if they fail to block websites offering advice on suicide, the health minister Norman Lamb has warned. He said that one of the areas of concern was the lack of awareness about websites offering guidance on suicide.

This week, the government has launched a campaign in England to help prevent people from committing suicide, especially those considered to be in at-risk groups. The Department of Health said that it wanted to work:

with the media, and with the internet industry through members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents ensure their children are not accessing harmful suicide-related websites, and to increase the availability and take-up of effective parental controls to reduce access to harmful websites.

The Sunday Times reported that Lamb had bluntly noted ahead of today's strategy that regulation would follow if internet service providers did not step in to offer protection. He said:

These horrific suicide websites are just one example of the dangerous and disturbing online content which, without proper controls, our children can access almost at any time.

The Register contacted broadband industry lobby group ISPA, which said:

A previous government review found that the law on encouraging suicide was fit for purpose for the digital age. ISPs will remove content they host that is illegal once notified, but are not always best placed to judge on whether content is illegal or not.

 

 Offsite Article: Index opposes ITU authority over the internet...


Link Here 11th September 2012
Index on Censorship joins civil society groups in voicing concerns about proposals made by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that would threaten the openness of the internet

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Safety First Self Censorship...

Russian websites under duress from detailed self labelling law


Link Here 8th September 2012

Reporters without Borders logo Reporters Without Borders reiterates its condemnation of the confusion resulting from a new Russian law intended to protect minors from harmful content. Approved by the Duma in July, it allows the authorities to compile a website blacklist. Reporters Without Borders said:

The law's vagueness and inconsistencies render its repressive provisions even more threatening and are encouraging journalists to censor themselves. The vague definition of 'harmful content' leaves too much room for interpretation and increases the probability of overblocking. How are the media to cover natural disasters, wars and sex crimes with these constraints?

As defined, the requirement to put age ban labels on content is absurd and dangerous. On the grounds of protecting minors, this law is likely to place serious obstacles on the media's ability to provide the public with general news coverage. We urge parliament to clarify this law and to strike out those provisions that violate the constitution and international agreements that Russia has ratified.

Under the final version of the law, the media are supposed to prevent children from seeing content that contains violence, sex or rude words and content that encourages them to smoke or drink alcohol. To this end, every offending story, video or photo will have to be labelled banned for minors under the age of 6, 12, 16 or 18.

Vladimir Pikov, the spokesman of Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) explained that all online media except news agencies were required to put age ban labels on their content but print media that cover politics and current affairs were not. Each individual article or item was supposed to be labelled, but if that proves too complicated, the entire website must be labelled.

To avoid any risk, many online media representatives have decided they may have to label their entire site as banned to those under the age of 18 even if this could have a big impact on their readership and could result in their site being blocked by some Internet Service Providers, public WiFi networks and public institutions such as schools.

The independent newspaper Kommersant's lawyers say its entire website will be labelled banned to those under the age of 16 from today onwards. Although news agencies are supposed to be exempt, Interfax has already decided to label its website only for adults.

 

 Update: The UK is the New Iran...

Wikipedia founder criticises the government's Snooper's Charter


Link Here 6th September 2012

Wikipedia logo Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has sharply criticised the government's snooper's charter , designed to track internet, text and email use of all British citizens, as technologically incompetent .

He said Wikipedia would move to encrypt all its connections with Britain if UK ISPs were mandated by the government to keep track of every single page accessed by UK citizens.

The entrepreneur said he was confident there would be a general move to encryption across the internet if British-based communication service providers were required to collect and store data for 12 months from overseas companies, such as Google and Facebook, for possible access by the police and security services.

He said the British government would have to resort to the black arts of hacking to break encryptions: It is not the sort of thing I'd expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry, he told MPs and peers.

 

 Update: Freedom of Information Blocked...

Pakistan's governments orders ISPs to block all porn and supposed blasphemy


Link Here 4th September 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan flag Pakistan's government has issued a key policy directive to block all blasphemous and pornographic material on the internet by installing an effective modern blocking system.

Following the personal interest shown by the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and after consulting President Asif Ali Zardari, the Ministry of Information Technology has already issued directions to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to update the system for effective monitoring and control of supposedly blasphemous and pornographic material.

Pervaiz Ashraf had initiated the move a few months back as minister for information technology and after having been shown supposedly blasphemous material that is freely available to internet users in Pakistan because of non-availability of blocking systems.

The policy directive has been drafted cautiously to ensure that the move does neither affect the freedom of information in any manner nor allows the authorities to misuse the facility beyond the mandated goal of blocking only blasphemous and pornographic material. Just like Pakistan doesn't allow the misuse of its blasphemy laws.

The dictate requires:

PTA to establish at the earliest a dedicated unit while allocating appropriate funds/budget and human resources, supported by the state of the art technical solutions and upgraded call centre, with the mandate to take requisite measures for proactively and independently blocking the websites displaying the blasphemous and pornographic content.

Update: Monitoring team

15th September 2012. See  article from  onlinenews.com.pk

Pakistan will set up a monitoring team focusing on supposedly detrimental material to Islam and obscene material being released on the internet and being replicated in Pakistan. All anti Islamic sites would be fully monitored round the clock and remedial actions would be taken.

The decision was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Interior, Senator Rehman Malik and attended by Federal Secretary Interior, Secretary Information Technology, Chairman PTA, Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior, Director FIA and other senior officers of the two ministries.

 

 Update: Real Problems...

South Korean law requiring verified real names for website comments is struck down


Link Here 1st September 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in South Korea...Repressive new internet censorship law

South Korea flag A law requiring South Korea's internet users to use their real names on websites has been struck down by a panel of judges.

The country's Constitutional Court said the rule restricted freedom of speech and undermined democracy.

The requirement was introduced in 2007 supposedly to tackle cyber-bullying. But the judges said users had switched to overseas sites where they continued to conceal their identity, putting local services at a disadvantage. There had also been complaints that the system had made it easier for cybercriminals to commit identity theft.

The internet real-name system stipulated that news media sites with more than 100,000 visitors a day had to record the real identities of visitors who had posted comments.

The idea behind the law was that users' details could be disclosed if the victims of malicious reports wanted to sue for libel or infringement of privacy. But the eight judges unanimously voted against the law saying the public gains achieved had not been substantial enough to justify restrictions on individuals' rights to free speech. They said that the policy discouraged people from criticising influential people and groups because of fears they would be punished.

 

 Update: Miserable Jordan...

200 Websites in blackout protest against impending government censorship


Link Here 1st September 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Jordan...Government push for blocking of internet porn

Jordan flag Over two hundred Jordanian websites went dark on Wednesday, in a SOPA-like protest of draft legislation that would allow the government to block and censor Internet content. The action was coordinated by a grassroots organization of tech savvy Jordanians and the editors of various Jordanian websites, with blackout screens on dozens of widely read digital news sites and blogs.

The Internet blackout protest was originally planned for September, in response to the demand of a conservative grassroots group, Ensaf, that the government filter pornography sites. The government's tepidly supportive attitude to Ensaf, combined with the many followers it had garnered for its Facebook page, gave rise to concerns that a wide consensus in favor of banning online porn would provide the government with an opportunity to give itself more power to control the Internet.

When the details of the draft legislation was released last week, the activists' fears were confirmed. The proposed amendment to the existing Press and Publication Law, if passed and enforced, would indeed grant the government sweeping powers to censor and block online content, stifling debate and the free expression of opinion. And so the protest was coordinated and carried out within four days.

The draft legislation includes articles that would hold online media accountable for any comments left by their readers, and would prohibit them from publishing any comments deemed irrelevant to the published article. Moreover, online media organizations would also be required to archive all comments left on their sites for at least six months. However, the most troublesome amendment essentially requires online media to register with and obtain a license from the Press and Publications Department, paying a fee of roughly $1,400 (lowered from an initially proposed $14,000), and giving the government the ability to block sites failing to comply. Bringing online news sites in to the folds of the Press and Publications law would therefore require them to be mandatory members of the Jordan Press Association, and undergo the same regulations governing print publications, including appointing an editor-in-chief who has been a member of the association for a minimum of four years.

Parliament's decision on the proposed new law is pending.

 

  Miserable Gaza...

Gaza set to block internet porn


Link Here 1st September 2012

Palestine flag The ministry of communications of the Hamas government in Gaza has announced that it will block access to pornographic websites starting in September, the Ma'an news agency reported.

Gaza communications minister Osama al-Issawi explained that the move was meant to protect Palestinian society and preserve the fabric of society in the Gaza Strip.

Ministry licensing head Kamal al-Masr said they the authorities had asked the 10 main Internet providers operating in Gaza to block the sites from Sept. 1, after a government decision a week earlier.

 

 Offsite Article: Censoring 8 Hate...


Link Here 1st September 2012
A multitude of online publications have just been handed DMCA takedown notices for seemingly innocuous posts, triggering speculation that Microsoft is trying to censor negative comments prior to Windows 8's official launch

See article from networkworld.com

 

 Offsite Article: The Ends Incited by the Means...


Link Here 31st August 2012  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information
Campaigners condemn suicide websites that provide information about best methods, seemingly conflating 'providing information' with 'incitement'

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: This is not surveillance as we know it...


Link Here 31st August 2012
The anatomy of Facebook messages. Will the government peek at the message data that it has to decode to get at the recipient data that it claims it needs?

See article from privacyinternational.org

 

 Update: Opting for a Children's Internet...

Survey finds support for default blocking of sites for adults


Link Here 30th August 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Telegraph logoA survey commissioned by Recombu Digital for The Telegraph shows that 37% of adults in the UK would support a mandatory block on adult websites.

The poll of 2,000 adults in the UK found that about 25% of respondents join ISPs in opposing such a plan. A further 18% declined to state their position.

Only 7-13% of respondents admitted they would opt to be able to view adult material.

Government consultation drawing to a close

Department for Education logoSee consultation from education.gov.uk closes 6th September 2012
See consultation document [pdf] from media.education.gov.uk
See response form [doc] from media.education.gov.uk

Tim Loughton, Minister for Children and Families, and Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equalities and Criminal Information are joint chairs of the executive board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). They are writing to members of UKCCIS to seek their views and advice on parental controls. The request is to members of UKCCIS and other organisations and individuals, especially parents, who might want to respond.

You can download the consultation response Word form from the associated resources section, and submit your completed response via the online form.

 

 Update: Seizure App...

US authorities seize websites offering pirated Android apps


Link Here 30th August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

us seized domainThe US Department of Justice has seized the domain names of three websites offering pirated Android apps.

With help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com. In their place visitors to the sites now see the familiar FBI seizure banner.

The domain seizures are the first of their kind against rogue mobile app marketplaces.

Leading up to the actions FBI agents downloaded thousands of popular Android apps from the websites without charge. FBI Special Agent Brian Lamkin who led the operation described this type of online piracy as a growing problem that can't be ignored.

 

 Update: Cease and Desist...

German consumer protection group tells Facebook to stop handing over data


Link Here 28th August 2012  full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy

vzbv logoA German consumer protection group has sent Facebook a cease and desist letter that claims the website breaches German privacy law.

Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (Federation of German Consumer Organizations) says Facebook has one week to stop automatically giving third party applications information about its users without their explicit consent.

The group said in a statement Monday that if Facebook fails to comply by Sept. 4 it will sue the California company.

Germany has stricter laws than most countries on data protection. These give consumers significant rights to limit the way companies use their information.

 

 Updated: Disruptive Text...

India bans bulk text messages in response to panic by migrant workers


Link Here 28th August 2012

India flagThe Indian government has banned bulk text messages in an attempt to halt the exodus of thousands of migrant workers from Bangalore and other cities following false warnings of attacks on them.

An estimated 15,000 people from Assam and states in north-eastern India, many of whom suffer racial abuse and discrimination in other parts of the country, have fled India's IT capital and other cities including Chennai, Mumbai and Pune, after receiving text messages warning them of imminent attacks.

The messages spread panic among the minorities who were already fearful following recent clashes between members of Assam's Bodo tribe and Bangladeshi settlers in the state.

A member of the Bodo tribe working as a security guard in Hyderabad was attacked and told to go home . By the time a series of text warnings went viral on Wednesday, thousands of migrant workers from the north-east besieged train stations in Bangalore and other cities.

Two special trains were deployed by Indian Railways to help about 6000 people return to their homes.

Update: India under religious 'cyber attack' from groups in Pakistan

21st August 2012. See article from thehindu.com

Pakistan flagThe Indian government said it would share with Pakistan evidence of its people and organisations uploading inflammatory and objectionable content on the Internet to incite religious sentiments in India, which led to the exodus of northeast people from various States.

Meanwhile, the government blocked 89 more websites on which morphed images and fake videos were uploaded from across the border.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik that New Delhi would share with Islamabad all evidence of the involvement of certain Pakistani groups and individuals in the uploading of morphed images and videos to spread rumours and create communal tension in India, Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists here. Investigations revealed that a majority of these images were uploaded in Pakistan.

The Home Ministry has identified more websites and blogs carrying hate messages, pictures and videos. On its directions, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEIT) has blocked 89 more websites, taking the total number of sites jammed in the past three days to 245.

This episode has turned out to be the biggest instance of cyber warfare against India in recent times. The focus is on a Pakistan-based militant group said to be behind doctoring images and videos and uploading them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Update: Twitter in the Firing Line

22nd August 2012. See article from articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Twitter logoTwitter might face legal action if the popular microblogging site does not comply with Indian government's demand to censor supposedly objectionable content posted by its users.

Stung by the misinformation campaign that spread via SMS, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in past weeks, the Indian government now seems to be moving ahead with its initial threat to tighten the noose around social media.

Update: India censors Twitter imposters

25th August 2012. See  article from  firstpost.com

India flagIn the wake of widespread discontent on the social media over its decision to block certain Twitter accounts, including that of journalists, the government has been spinning a line on censorship.

Following fake messages about the Assam violence, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that social media accounts which have posted objectionable and inflammatory content are being blocked but claimed there was no censorship.

We are only taking strict action against those accounts or people which are causing damage or spreading rumours. We are not taking action against other accounts, be it on Facebook, Twitter or even SMSs. I assure you about this.

There is no censorship at all. We decided on taking action because there were pictures of Myammar etc online, which were disturbing the atmosphere here in India. I am again reassuring you.

The government's clarification came in the wake of it asking Twitter to block some imposter accounts of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and other social media sites. Twitter has agreed to block all fake accounts using the name of the PMO.

Update: India censors images of Muslim unrest in Burma as these were being captioned as occurring in India

26th August 2012. See  article from  abc.net.au

ABC AustraliaIndia has blocked access to certain pages of the ABC's website as part of a crackdown on internet content which it claims incites racial hatred.

The government has blamed internet activity for fanning fears that resulted in thousands of migrants fleeing to the north-east last week from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.

The government says the migrant workers feared they were going to be attacked by Muslim mobs, so it responded by blocking more than 300 websites it says incite hate and panic.

The blocked material includes web pages, images and links on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, the ABC and Qatar-based Al Jazeera.

Among the blocked content were photographs by AFP and other news agencies from Burma in the British Daily Telegraph, a parody Twitter account pretending to be from prime minister Manmohan Singh and dozens of YouTube videos.

India's home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde said that the government sought to block the Burma online photos because they were disturbing the atmosphere here in India . The government said photographs of clashes in Burma were circulating on the internet with fake captions claiming the scenes were from the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, where 80 people have died in recent ethnic violence.

Update: Blunderbuss Censorship

28th August 2012. See  article from  alaskadispatch.com

Indian ISPs have routinely blocked web domains on government orders but there was something unique about the latest blocking that we haven't seen before in India.

Airtel employed keyword based filtering and any web page that had the term youtube anywhere in the URL was being blocked. For instance, the Wikipedia website was accessible but the page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/youtube was not as it contained the youtube keyword.

After word spread on Twitter, Airtel quickly unblocked the site and issued a statement to The Wall Street Journal saying:

Bharti Airtel is in compliance with all government directives on public access to websites. In continuation with this, select URLs as notified by the government have been blocked.

 

 Extract: Searching for Scale...

Google receives 6 million takedown requests in a single month


Link Here 25th August 2012  full story: Google Transparency Reports...Google reveals the scale of copyright claims

Google logoThe massive wave of DMCA takedowns sent by rightsholders to Google in recent months is growing at an astonishing rate. During the past month the number of takedown requests received by the search giant doubled to almost 1.5 million URLs per week. To put that into perspective, exactly one year ago weekly URL takedowns numbered just 131,577 per week, an increase of 1,137%.

During the week starting August 13, Google received takedown requests for 1,496,220 URLs, up 35% on the record set just two weeks earlier and a huge 1,137% increase over the 131,577 URL takedowns requested August 8 2011.

Google says that during the last four weeks it was asked by 1,825 copyright owners and 1,406 anti-piracy reporting organizations to remove 5,733,402 URLs across 32,545 domains, truly huge numbers which on recent trends look likely to increase.

...Read the full article

 

 Update: Harassing Tweeters...

Britain leads the way in persecuting its people over internet insults


Link Here 21st August 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

oxford internet institute logoPolice and prosecutors in the UK are accused of being incredibly heavy-handed when dealing with insulting internet messages.

It follows several cases where young people have been arrested, fined or jailed after posting insulting comments on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Bernie Hogan from the Oxford Internet Institute monitors what happens in other countries. He said that although the UK was leading the way in cracking down on this type of online abuse, by comparison we are incredibly heavy-handed .

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said in a statement: People have a right to publish their views but when these views become indecent, threatening or offensive then the individuals they affect also have the right to report them. The police will assist with any prosecution.

Index, which campaigns for freedom of expression, say the cases are silly and the police only pursues them because they are easy prosecutions .

 

 Offsite Article: The Golden Shield Project...


Link Here 18th August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
The mechanics of China's internet censorship

See article from uncut.indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Internet Black-out Day...

Online protest about internet censorship in Malaysia


Link Here 15th August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flagMalaysian activists and bloggers are staging an online black-out for one day to protest against changes to a law they say restricts free speech online.

They have replaced their home pages with black screens critical of the Evidence Act, revised in April, for Internet Black-out Day.

Critics say the law makes people unfairly liable for content published from networks and personal devices. The revised law means that Malaysians could get into trouble even if their devices or internet connections have been hacked into, critics say.

Premesh Chandran, founder of online news site Malaysiakini, said that the burden of proof on internet users was unfair.

In other words, if defamatory comments are posted on a blog, the blog owner is likely to be sued or charged with criminal defamation, Malaysiakini said in a statement on its website.

 

  Miserable Dominion...

Saudi objects to proposed top level domains about sex and religion


Link Here 15th August 2012

Saudi flagThe Saudi Arabian government is objecting to a number of proposed new Internet top level domains, including .gay, .bar, .baby and .islam.

The country claims that the .gay domain would promote homosexuality and would be offensive to many societies and cultures.   Saudi's internet censor spouted: Many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to their culture, morality or religion.

Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) filed objections to 31 domain extensions with anything having to do with sex, gambling, drinking and religion, primarily on cultural and religious grounds.

Saudi has objected to domains including .porn, .sexy, .adult, .hot, .sex, .dating and .virgin laughably claiming that:

pornography undermines gender equality and threatens public morals.

The country is more sensibly objecting to .islam because the applicant is a private company that cannot represent the whole or even a majority of the worldwide Muslim community. It argues that all religious communities should have a say in any approval of any related domain extensions, or they should be banned altogether.

The suffixes are some of the 1,930 top-level domain names currently being considered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization in charge of managing Internet naming standards.  ICANN opened up the application process to the public, charging $185,000 for each nomination, and announced the list of candidates in June. So far, the group has received 6,185 comments from individuals, organizations, companies and governments, including 166 from the Saudi Arabian government

The public can submit objections until September 26.

 

 Offsite Article: India's face-off with internet freedom...


Link Here 15th August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
Internet censorship by Marta Cooper

See article from uncut.indexoncensorship.org

 

 Offsite Article: Surfthechannel owner sentenced to four years over piracy...


Link Here 15th August 2012
Anton Vickerman, whose surfthechannel.com had 400,000 users a day, sentenced on two counts of conspiracy to defraud

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Beware of Scammers...


Link Here 15th August 2012
The inevitable exploitation of the EU crappy law about websites needing reader permission to use cookies

See article from idea15.wordpress.com

 

  Blogging Judged Dangerous to Impartiality...

UK judges have been allegedly banned from blogging


Link Here 11th August 2012

judges hammerIt has been alleged that this guidance has been issued to the judiciary:

Judicial office holders should be acutely aware of the need to conduct themselves, both in and out of court, in such a way as to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

Blogging by members of the judiciary is not prohibited. However, officer (sic) holders who blog (or who post comments on other people's blogs) must not identify themselves as members of the judiciary. They must also avoid expressing opinions which, were it to become known that they hold judicial office, could damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general.

The above guidance also applies to blogs which purport to be anonymous. This is because it is impossible for somebody who blogs anonymously to guarantee that his or her identity cannot be discovered.

The author of the blog asks:

So long as judges avoid expressing opinions which.... could damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general why can't they blog as judges. They can give interviews, write books, newspaper and magazine articles and lecture as judges so long as they do not compromise their impartiality - why can't they write on blogs as judges?

 

  Just Like Britain Then...

Pakistan invokes internet censorship to block celebrity tittle tattle


Link Here 11th August 2012

PTA logoThe Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block numerous 'scandalous' internet sites, specifically the audio recording of a sensual conversation between two notable opposition parliamentarians.

The footage of a press conference in which a lady TV news anchor, Aysah Sana, claimed that she and a man working with a state organisation have secretly got married and they have a son, is also to be blocked. She made the allegations against the boss of a TV channel who she accuses of betraying her.

This is the first time that the PTA has moved swiftly to order blocking of 'scandalous' websites. Wahajus Siraj, Convener of the ISP Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), said the process on ordering of blocking of websites have become non-transparent and questionable, as it seems that Inter-Ministerial Committee is being used as tool to censor internet for political gains instead of going after the intended anti-Pakistan or blasphemous websites.

One leading ISP said that with five GSM service providers and numerous broadband service providers are to challenge the order.

ISPs also pointed out that blocking popular social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can create major unrest among millions of subscribers which then has a direct impact on the revenue of ISPs.

 

  Torrents of Take Downs...

Searching for what the MPAA wants, not what the user wants


Link Here 11th August 2012

Google logoGoogle has announced that it will lower the search engine rankings of websites that receive a high number of DMCA takedown requests, independent of whether the linked content is lawful or not.

The algorithm change is the result of extensive lobbying efforts by Hollywood and the major music labels, and could severely degrade the rankings of websites such as The Pirate Bay, FilesTube, and even YouTube.

Google's Amit Singhal writes in a blog post:

Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.

The move may also encourage media companies to issue even more takedown notices.

 

  Fair Comment...

Australian advert censor extends remit to reader comments on Facebook brand pages


Link Here 6th August 2012

Facebook logoAustralia's Advertising Standards Board has issued a judgment in which it said comments made by fans of a vodka brand's Facebook page were ads and must therefore comply with industry self-regulatory codes and therefore consumer protection laws. Advertisement

The ruling will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.

Non compliant companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook brand pages.

A media lawyer is warning that the Advertising Standards Board's ruling on Smirnoff's Facebook page will put the onus back on companies to be more vigilant about the nature of the comments people are posting to their company pages. John Swinson, a partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, said the board's ruling turned people's opinions into statements of facts .

Swinson said that if, for example, a member of the public posted a comment on Smirnoff's site that claimed it was the purest Russian vodka and would lead to success with the opposite sex and Smirnoff failed to remove it, the company could be liable on a number of counts.

Although the Advertising Standards Board dismissed the original complaint about Smirnoff, which centred on sexism, under-age drinking and obscene language, it ruled industry codes applied not only to what a company was posting on its Facebook page but to the user-generated comments that followed.

The board's determination also cited a recent case of a health company, Allergy Pathway, which was fined for allowing misleading and deceptive testimonials to remain on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

 Extract: Despicable Legal Decision...

Judgement extends Obscene Publications Act to private internet chat


Link Here 6th August 2012  full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

Old BaileyAccording to the Court of Appeal's Judgment in the recent case of R v GS [2012] private one to one text chat on the internet can be subject to the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA).

This means that anyone using the internet to discuss sexual fantasies may be at risk of committing a criminal offence.

Prior to this judgment it was presumed that the OPA did not apply to one to one conversations between individuals. This position was clearly overturned by paragraph 21 of Lord Justice Richards' lead Judgment wherein it was stated that:

In our judgment, to publish an article to an individual is plainly to publish it within the meaning of the Act.

...See the full article

 

 Extract: Twisted Obscenity Law...

UK judges quietly declare text chat can be obscene


Link Here 4th August 2012  full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

Old BaileyYou could be committing a criminal offence next time you discuss your deepest fantasies with someone online. Alarmist? Only slightly.

A ruling slipped out quietly by the Appeal Court earlier this year, and lurking in the background while the substantive case to which it applied came to court, makes it plain: the act of publishing as defined within the Obscene Publications Act can take place with an audience of just one individual.

That means it is therefore perfectly possible for the content of online chat, should a jury decide that it is capable of depraving or corrupting , to be judged obscene - and as such for one or both participants in that conversation to be guilty of a criminal offence that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, and a stint on the sex offenders' register.

This is legal dynamite - and in one single judgment catapults the UK to the back of the queue on a range of international indices on freedom of speech.

...Read the full article

 

  Just a Link...

US Appeals Court rules that embedded video links are not liable for copyright


Link Here 4th August 2012

doj logoA US Court of Appeals has ruled that a site that embeds copyrighted videos from another site is not committing copyright infringement.

Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter ended with a ruling in favor of the defendant, Marques Gunter, the sole proprietor of myVidster.com. The case began in 2010 when the adult video production company, Flava Works, sued video bookmarking website myVidster,for copyright infringement.

The court ruled that embedding a video that infringes on copyrighted material is not a violation of copyright law. For example, if you found an episode of The Simpsons on YouTube and embedded it in your blog, you would not be violating any copyright laws. The uploader to YouTube carries the responsibility for obtaining the required permissions. The user content host, YouTube could be held liable once informed by the copyright holder.

The court's decision also protects those who watch illegally uploaded copyrighted videos. Judge Richard Posner wrote:

...As long as the visitor makes no copy of the copyrighted video that he is watching, he is not violating the copyright owner's exclusive right ... His bypassing Flava's pay wall by viewing the uploaded copy is equivalent to stealing a copyrighted book from a bookstore and reading it. That is a bad thing to do (in either case) but it is not copyright infringement.

 

 Offsite Article: Dangerous assumptions about clouds...


Link Here 4th August 2012  full story: Cloud Computing...How safe is your dat?...not very
Debunking common assumptions about local clouds, the Patriot Act, and governments' access to data

See article from csoonline.com

 

  Too Much Control Freakery...

US Cybersecurity Bill blocked in the Senate


Link Here 3rd August 2012

US SenateA Democrat-sponsored cybersecurity measure that the Obama administration claimed necessary to protect the nation's infrastructure was blocked by Republicans opposed to what they considered to be undue regulation.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 needed 60 votes to move to a vote by the full Senate, thanks to a Republican filibuster of the measure.

The measure, sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins started life as nasty piece of work that was more about surveillance than security. It would also have enabled substantial internet censorship.

However it was watered down to meet the objections of anti-regulation Republicans who argued that forcing companies to meet minimum security standards would be unduly burdensome. The latest version made the security standards voluntary. Meanwhile, privacy advocates largely supported the revised bill after it was amended to include provisions designed to preserve civil liberties and the privacy of users that might be threatened by increased information sharing between businesses and government.

There were a flurry of late amendments, including one to prevent warrantless tracking of consumers via GPS and one to protect consumers from monitoring by ISPs. But pro-business Republican objections -- and the filibuster -- ruled the day, although a gun control amendment that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) refused to withdraw may also have influenced opposing Republicans.

 

 Update: No Need. There Are Enough Internet Censors Already...

US to oppose UN bid to censor the internet


Link Here 2nd August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

US flagThe United States will oppose a bid to revise a global treaty to bring the Internet under UN control, the head of a US delegation has said.

The U.S. will submit its formal proposal for the December conference held by the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency which set global telecom rules, said Terry Kramer, the special envoy named for the talks.

Kramer reiterated Washington's position opposing proposals by Russia, China and others to expand the authority of the ITU to regulate the Internet.

U.S. officials, lawmakers and technology leaders have expressed concern that the December conference to be held in Dubai could seek changes threatening the openness of the Internet and its so-called multi-stakeholder model. Some in the U.S. say the effort could give governments greater authority to filter or censor information.

 

 Update: Unshared Words...

French Supreme Court bans file sharing terms from Google's auto complete


Link Here 1st August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

France flagThe French Supreme Court has ruled that Google should censor the words torrent , rapidshare and megaupload from its Instant and Autocomplete search services.

Music industry group SNEP asked the court to stop the terms from being suggested in Google's searches because, it claimed, Google was thereby facilitating piracy.

A lower court rejected the request from SNEP because it said that these links did not constitute infringement of copyright in and of themselves. However, the Supreme Court has reversed the decision, saying that the relief sought by the group was likely to prevent or partially stop infringements.

The search firm actually already blocks piracy-related terms from Autocomplete, but on its own terms. The web giant announced back in December 2010 on one of its blogs that it was taking steps to stop copyright infringement, including blocking search terms closely associated with piracy.

 

 Comment: Obscene Legal Manoeuvre...

Man pleads guilty to an obscene private online chat


Link Here 31st July 2012  full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

Old BaileyKent Police have set a legal precedent after successfully prosecuting a man for making lewd comments about children during a private online conversation.

Gavin Smith was charged in 2010 with nine offences of publishing an obscene article. Under the Obscene Publications Act, it is an offence to supply material ( interpreted as distribute, circulate, sell, hire, give, or lend) , that tends to deprave and corrupt those view it.

When the case first came before magistrates, it was discharged on arguments of no case to answer. However the CPS said they had received new evidence in this matter and, following a review, decided to re-charge Smith.

At his first trial at Maidstone Crown Court in November last year, the court heard that Smith had online conversations in which he spoke about molesting and spanking children. His counsel claimed Kent Police were on a moral crusade by prosecuting Smith under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The jury in the trial was discharged by Judge Charles Macdonald QC after hearing legal arguments.

His barrister Roger Daniells-Smith told the court on that occasion: This is a test case. We say it is part of a political campaign by Kent Police. We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the law, to try to get this material included as extreme pornography. But their arguments to have online conversations included fell on stony ground , he said: They therefore had nothing other than to try (to prosecute) under this act.

But the court decision was subsequently appealed by the Crown Prosecution Service, with the Court of Appeal ruling in their favour.

Smith was due to go on trial for a second time this week. But after being given a Goodyear direction , in which a judge indicates what the likely sentence would be if a defendant pleads guilty, Smith admitted all nine offences after being told that the sentence would likely be a suspended jail term or community order.

Adjourning sentence for reports, Judge Philip St.John-Stevens described the case as unusual .

The case could now open the doors for police forces across the country to charge suspected offenders for online conversations.

Comment: Private conversations considered publication

12th July 2012. Thanks to Angelus

Disclaimer: I am not a legal professional, but...

> Kent Police have set a legal precedent...

Kent Police have not set a legal precedent - to my understanding, only a judge in a Crown Court or higher can set a binding legal precedent.

>...after successfully prosecuting a man...

They did not successfully prosecute anyone in this case - the accused pleaded guilty, which is a very different thing.

This case mirrors very closely recent cases in the USA, where despite strong constitutional protection of freedom of speech, people are regularly threatened with ridiculous sentences unless they plead guilty.

A private conversation is just that - private - and should in no wise be considered publication . To say that such a conversation could constitute the giving of obscene materials is outrageous, and this approach should have been stamped on by any half-competent counsel.

Comment: A private telephone conversation may now also be regarded as a publication

29th July 2012. Thanks to Angelus

Well, it seems I have been completely wrong-footed by this latest judgement, which does set a legal precedent. The section of the OPA in question, 1(3)(b), For the purposes of this Act a person publishes an article who ... in the case of an article containing or embodying matter to be looked at or a record, shows, plays or projects it or, where the matter is data stored electronically, transmits that data is clearly and unambiguously intended to apply to audiovisual material ( record meaning a gramophone record), not text. In order to be able to apply this section to online chat, a chat session must effectively be treated as an audiovisual experience, which given its capability of exchanging audiovisual data (even something as simple as a smiley) is perhaps not too much of a stretch for a legal mind.

However, online chat did not exist when the OPA was first enacted. So, in cases like this, it is part of the duty of the higher courts to examine laws to determine Parliament's clear intention when the legislation was first enacted and reinterpret it for the current situation. Although the OPA's definition of publishing is drawn very widely, it was clearly and obviously never intended to apply to private, interpersonal behaviour, and in this respect the Court of Appeal has now committed a grave error. So grave that it now raises the possibility that, because telephone systems are now all digital and store audio data (albeit temporarily) at several points along the signal route, a private telephone conversation may now also be regarded as a publication .

Comment: Thinking about the consequences

31st July 2012. See video from youtube.com

The subject is the effect of a recent court verdict on England's odious Obscene Publications Act.

 

  Deservedly So...

Indian man arrested for insulting deities after they didn't answer prayers


Link Here 30th July 2012  full story: Blasphemy in India...Hurting religious sentiments

India flagTwo brothers were arrested for supposedly hurting religious sentiment by posting an 'inappropriate' picture of a deity on a social networking site.

The youth who had failed Class X examinations four times in a row was apparently angry with the deity for not answering his prayers and posted the picture of the deity as an act of revenge, police said.

According to senior PI N Mhetar of Shahu Nagar police station,

Mani Tirupati had prayed to the deity to help him clear his class 10 mathematics paper but he failed for the fourth time. With the help of his brother, he posted an inappropriate picture of the deity on a social networking site.

The picture started doing the rounds of the site earlier this week, and police tracked him down. They were arrested under Section 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act. They have been remanded in police custody till July 30th.

 

See article from zdnet.com

 Update: Indonesia claims to have blocked 1 million porn sites...


Link Here 30th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

Indonesia flagIndonesia's communications and information ministry has blocked more than one million pornographic Web sites ahead of Islamic holy month of Ramadan according to a newswire.

However, this does not mean that such sites will be allowed to operate during the rest of the year, Indonesia's miserable communication and information minister, Tifatul Sembiring said.

This measure is also in line Indonesia's electronic information and transaction law, and telecommunications law, which targets negative content --defined as porn, defamatory speech and malicious viruses--within the country, Sembiring noted.

He also called on the public's assistance to block the Internet's two billion porn sites, many of which can still be accessed despite the blockage.

 

 Update: Too Much To Handle...

Pakistan's internet censors reports that its website blocking has maxed out


Link Here 28th July 2012

pta logoPakistan's Supreme Court has heard reports about supposedly growing vulgarity and obscenity in society due to the contents of internet websites and television shows, including Indian channels.

The 'human rights' division of the apex court sought the views of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on the matter.

PEMRA chairman Abdul Jabbar informed the court that the local market was flooded with smuggled and pirated CDs, DVDs, decoders, dishes and cards, which are proliferating obscenity through broadcast media and distribution service .

Jabbar further said PEMRA cannot fully eradicate this menace and it will only be possible with coordinated efforts of all other relevant agencies .

PEMRA has framed a code of conduct for programmes and advertisement whereby no content that is obscene, vulgar, indecent or against cultural values can be aired.

The PTA said in its response that Pakistan could not stop blasphemous and pornographic material as the current filtration system had limited capabilities and could block a maximum of 500,000 web links.

The PTA had received a list of 779,000 porn websites and had approached the Information Technology Ministry for assistance. It has currently blocked the most viewed pornographic websites.

 

 Offsite Article: Ludicrous Judgement...


Link Here 27th July 2012
Court of Appeal's Judgment says private one to one text chat on the internet can be subject to the Obscene Publications Act. This means that anyone using the internet to discuss sexual fantasies may be at risk of committing a criminal offence.

See article from obscenitylawyer.blogspot.co.uk

 

  The Internet Association...

Major US internet companies get together to create lobby group


Link Here 27th July 2012

US SenateGoogle, Facebook, Amazon and eBay are joining forces to create a powerful pro-internet lobbying group in the US.

The Internet Association, as the group will be known, will launch in September and operate out of Washington, handling political and regulatory issues.

The group would educate lawmakers about the internet, said new president Michael Beckerman.

 

 Update: Take Down Orders Taken Down...

French court overturns copyright take down order on Google


Link Here 27th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

France flagThe Cour de cassation, France's highest court of appeal, has overturned two court orders which required Google to remove copyright infringing items and to block users from uploading these items again in future.

The court ruled that such take-down, stay-down orders contravene the e-Commerce Directive, which forbids EU Member States from imposing a general obligation on ISPs to monitor the content stored on or passing through their networks. The orders were also found to conflict with the French Law for Trust in the Digital Economy (2004).

 

 Offsite Article: Spoof Free Speech...


Link Here 27th July 2012
Twitter has warned the owner of an account spoofing newspaper executive that they are to reveal his identity to the company

See article from bbc.co.uk

 

  Citizen Snitch...

Tajikistan set up volunteer body to monitor the internet for insults of president


Link Here 25th July 2012

Tajikistan flagTajikistan plans to create a volunteer-run body to monitor Internet use and reprimand those who openly criticise President Imomali Rakhmon and his government, the head of the Central Asian country's state-run communications service said.

Beg Zukhurov said the organisation, while awaiting official registration, had already brought several Internet users to task for publishing insults against well-known personalities . Volunteers for this organisation will track down and identify the authors of such comments, Zukhurov told reporters.

Asked what would happen to anybody identified by the new organisation, he replied: I don't know. Probably, they will be shown the error of their ways.

 

 Update: An Internet Fit for a Priest...

Claranet ISP appoints religious censors for website blocking


Link Here 23rd July 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

claranet logoAccording to Recombu, Claranet ISP wants to produce a website blocking system to address child protection concerns. But rather than just using common sense to define what should be blocked, it turned to religious groups to decide.

To make matters worse, Claranet wants to use volunteer guardians to decide on the blocking. This means that it will not even be recognised people from churches or religious groups, just those who want to have a go at censorship.

In religious groups, the sorts of people who volunteer for this kind of thing are a special breed who often think that their own religious leaders have got it wrong. These are the sort who think that Jesus tells them to censor all references to ankles, or that other religions are run by demons.

The company says it is recruiting volunteer guardians from a number of different organisations. A statement said that it had an Islamic advisor and that campaigner Sara Payne was on the team.

The Claranet guardians will be asked to choose whether they think 140 different categories of internet content are appropriate for the kids of today. The guardians can choose to add or remove individual websites from the blacklists. The blacklists are created by a third-party company that Claranet refused to name.

And as TechEye says:

Of course, most people who want a religious filter are the types who want to be told about sex or relationships by someone who has sworn not to have done either.

 

 Offsite Article: Shoulder Surfing for Porn...


Link Here 23rd July 2012
Newspaper article on the supposed problem of internet browsing in public places

See article from smh.com.au

 

 Offsite Article: How I was busted by the Olympics Advertisement Enforcement Office...


Link Here 22nd July 2012  full story: London Olympics 2012...Restrictions and control
It was only an innocent double entendre about rings of fire. But even multi-award-winning comics can fall foul of Olympic censor. By Stewart Lee

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Updated: Curtains for the Russian Internet...

A Russian analogue to the Great Firewall of China


Link Here 19th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

wikipedia russia logoWikipedia shut down its Russian-language page on Tuesday to protest at a bill that would boost government control over the internet amid a crackdown on those opposed to the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

The page was replaces with a Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle, and the words imagine a world without free knowledge written in block letters underneath.

The bill, due to be considered by parliament on Wednesday, will lead to the creation of a Russian analogue to China's Great Firewall the website warned in a statement. The bill calls for the creation of a federal website banned list and would have to be signed into law by Putin before coming into effect. Internet providers and site owners would be forced to shut down websites put on the list.

The bill's backers, from Putin's United Russia party, claim that the amendments to the country's information legislation would target child pornography and sites that promote drug use and teen suicide. But critics, including Russian-language Wikipedia, warned that it could be used to boost government censorship over the internet.

Update: Duma passes censorship bill

12th July 2012. See  article from  bbc.com

Russian Duma logoRussia's parliament has voted to approve a law that would give the government the power to force certain internet sites offline without court intervention.

The bill still needs to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law. It must also be approved by Russia's upper house, the Federation Council of Russia.

The Moscow Times reported that deputies amended the law to removed a reference to harmful information , replacing it with a limited list of forbidden content. The blacklist is now restricted to sites offering details about how to commit suicide, material that might encourage users to take drugs, images featuring the sexual abuse of children, and pages that solicit children for pornography. If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers and web hosting companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.

But critics have complained that once internet providers have been forced to start blocking certain sites, the government may seek court orders to expand the blacklist.

Update: Upper house passes censorship bill

19th July 2012. See  article from  theverge.com

Russian Duma logoDespite criticisms and Wikipedia protests, Russia's upper house of parliament passed a controversial draft law today that would give the government far-reaching power over the internet in the country.

The New York Times reports that the Federation Council of Russia passed the legislation 147 to 0, with three members abstaining, and matches the version that passed the lower house, the State Duma, earlier this month.

Strident objections from the Russian-language version of Wikipedia, the country's Yandex search engine, and the Russian social networking site Vkontakte may have been responsible for minor changes to the language used in the law, which saw the blanket term harmful information swapped for the more specific types of dangerous content it now specifies.

The bill will now be making its way to the desk of President Vladimir Putin, and once signed will become law.

 

 Update: Media Control...

Sri Lanka set to drag websites into its censorship system


Link Here 19th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Sri Lanka...Installing ISP website blocking

Sri LankaSri Lanka will amend its current media law in order to bring in all news websites and electronic media into its censorship net, the government said, a week after it raided and temporarily closed down two anti-government websites.

The amendments to the Press Council Law enacted in 1973 will allow the government to order websites and electronic media to follow media codes in addition to print media.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Reuters:

We will bring amendments to the Press Council Law to include the electronic and web media to ensure accountability.

Manik de Silva, a director of Sri Lanka's Press Complaint Commission and a member of the country's Editor's Guild said:

This is obviously to control the media. Any strengthening of media laws will be used to further the interest of political parties in power rather than the national interest.

 

 Update: Negative Thinking...

Jordanian nutters campaign for website blocking


Link Here 18th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Jordan...Government push for blocking of internet porn

Jordan flagA few people, (described as 'dozens') took to the streets in Jordan to urge the government to block pornographic websites in the country, the Jordan Times reported.

Internet in the country has mostly been uncensored by authorities, however nutters have launched campaigns on Facebook calling on authorities to block sites they claim inflict any negative physical or psychological impact on the younger generation, the newspaper reported.

The government should immediately instruct telecom companies and internet services providers to block these websites, spouted Ammar Al Saket, who launched a campaign on Facebook.

 

 Update: Mulling New Blasphemy Law...

Saudi considers extreme punishment for religious insult via social media


Link Here 17th July 2012  full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

Saudi flagSaudi Arabia is studying new laws to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties, a Saudi paper said on Sunday.

Within the next two months the Shura Council will reveal the outcome of study on the regulations to combat the criticism of the basic tenets of Islamic sharia, unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter told al-Watan, adding that there could be severe punishments for violators.

Criticism penalised under the law would include that of the religious character Mohammed, early Muslim figures and clerics, it said.

The (regulations) are important at the present time because violations over social networks on the Internet have been observed in the past months, the sources said. Refering to the case of thw  Saudi blogger and columnist Hamza Kashgari. He was was arrested for tweeting comments deemed as insulting to Mohammad. Kashgari said that there were things he liked and disliked about him.

 

 Update: The Truth is Hard to Find in China...

Tweeting 'the truth' is banned


Link Here 15th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Weibo logoChinese internet users were barred from searching the truth on its leading social media website. Attempts to search for the phrase were blocked on the Twitter-like site Weibo.com, which boasts 300million users.

Users noticed that if they typed in the Chinese characters for the truth , they received a message refusing to display any results. It read: According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for 'the truth cannot be displayed.'

It is not known how long the phrase search was blocked and if China's controlling Communist government intervened. But under Chinese law, social media firms are also required to self-censor.

Qi Zhenyu, head of social media for iSun Affairs, a Hong Kong-based current affairs online magazine that is banned in China, said of Weibo:

It is not unusual but it is quite ironic this time -- you can't simply block the truth.

Whenever there is a word that upsets them, they just go ahead and block [but] most of the time you can't really explain why they censor a certain word.

 

 Extract: Olympics Gets a Reputation for Miserable Control Freaks...

Hopefully they will be a bit too short staffed to enforce restrictions on linking to their website


Link Here 15th July 2012  full story: London Olympics 2012...Restrictions and control

index logoOur attention has been drawn to the terms of use of the London Olympics 2012 website, which make it very clear under what circumstances you're allowed link to the site:

Links to the Site.

You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted.

Got that? You're only allowed link to the official site of the Olympics if you're going to say nice things about the Olympics.

...Read the full article

 

 Offsite Article: The Kremlin makes its Move on Facebook...


Link Here 14th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russian parliament has passed a law establishing a central register of banned websites. The new laws are ostensibly designed for child protection, but the real aim is to take control over the country's burgeoning social networks

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 Offsite Article: Truth Will Out...


Link Here 11th July 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Collapse of Great Firewall of China is inevitable, Google Chairman predicts

See article from computerworld.com

 

  UN Agrees that Internet Access is a Human Right...

And Hilary Clinton blasts countries like Britain for persecuting people over a few tweets


Link Here 7th July 2012

UN logoThe United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimously agreed that access to the Internet is a basic human right, in a resolution stating that access to the Internet and online freedom of expression should be guaranteed.

US ambassador Eileen Donahoe told reporters:

It's the first ever U.N. resolution affirming that human rights in the digital realm must be protected and promoted to the same extent and with the same commitment as human rights in the physical world.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton commented, obviously having a knock at UK's persecution of Twitter users:

This resolution is a welcome addition in the fight for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online.

We are witnessing an alarming surge in the number of cases involving government censorship and persecution of individuals for their actions online - sometimes for just a single tweet or text message.

 

 Campaign: Declaration of Internet Freedom...

A global petition to keep the internet free and open


Link Here 3rd July 2012

declaration of internet freedom logo Launched by a large coalition of privacy groups, Web sites, and individuals, the Declaration of Internet Freedom is the start of a process striving to keep the Internet free and open. The organizations and people who kicked off this process are looking for other Internet users to discuss the ideas, share their own thoughts, and sign the declaration.

The Declaration of Internet Freedom advocates five basic principles:

  • Expression : Don't censor the Internet.
     
  • Access : Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
     
  • Openness : Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
     
  • Innovation : Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don't block new technologies, and don't punish innovators for their users' actions.
     
  • Privacy : Protect privacy and defend everyone's ability to control how their data and devices are used.

See signup for organisations from internetdeclaration.org
See signup for individuals from act.freepress.net

 

 Update: Uneconomic...

The Government set to repeal unused internet site blocking sections of the Digital Economy Act


Link Here 3rd July 2012  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

DCMS logoThe UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said the government will seek to remove two crucial sections of the Digital Economy Act that would have allowed it to impose Web site blocking at the ISP level.

According to DCMS, the department in charge of the Digital Economy Act (2010), the government will seek to repeal sections 17 and 18 of the law.

The two sections are arguably the most controversial elements of the act. Section 17 allows the government to seek a court order against any location on the Internet deemed to facilitate or actively infringe copyright, while section 18 sets out the approvals process the government must go through to get such orders granted.

The decision to seek the repeal of the two sections follows a report in May 2011 by Ofcom, the U.K.'s communications regulator, which concluded that the measures would not work in practice. We do not think that sections 17 and 18 of the Act would meet the requirements of the copyright owners, the report said.

It said using the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 through the courts was a faster and more efficient way to get sites blocked. The government said a few months later that it would not bring forward the site-blocking provisions.

 

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