The South Korean government has laid out plans to install software on teenagers' smartphones that will block supposedly 'illegal [and] harmful information.
The horrendous sounding Ministry Of Gender Equality And Family believes that installing the software will block swear words and slang, as well as prevent cyber-bullying on social and messaging networks such as KaKao Talk, Facebook, and Twitter.
The governmental body will also require a compulsory filtering service for mobile carriers that will block harmful information that includes pornography and nudity.
China's legislature has approved new rules that will further tighten government control of the Internet by requiring users to register their real names, and
demanding Internet companies censor online material.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency says lawmakers approved the measures Friday at the closing meeting of a five-day session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
The move seems to be in response to the runaway success of Weibo, a micro-blogging service similar to Twitter, which has exposed corruption and other abuses of official power.
China has long tried to get Internet users to register their real names rather than pseudonyms with service providers without total success. The new rules lay the groundwork to police companies that are not complying with the government's censorship
29 police forces have revealed statistics about crimes involving Facebook and Twitter in a Freedom of Information request.
In 2008, a total of 556 complaints were made to police about social media postings on these 2 site. This had increased to 4,908 reports last year.
The figures also show 653 people were charged for social networking crime in 2011.
Greater Manchester Police charged the highest number of people, at 115.
Lancashire Police received reports of six threats of murder and there were numerous reports of sexual offences and fraud. But presumably the large part were claims of insult, offence or political incorrectness.
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:
These figures show just how badly some police forces had lost all proportion when dealing with social media.
So many arrests was clearly undermining freedom of speech and while the new guidance should reduce the problem, hundreds of people now have criminal records for the rest of their lives when it is far from clear they should do.
The law around speech crimes is still in need of a total overhaul as the legislation that led to some of the more absurd prosecutions remains in place.
Chief Constable Andy Trotter, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on communications, said forces must prioritise crimes which cause genuine harm, rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression.
Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC announced the new guidelines on how people who post offensive messages on Facebook and Twitter should be dealt with. Hopefully reducing the number of people prosecuted for trivia.
Robert Sharp, campaign manager for English PEN, which lobbies on free speech and art internationally, said the prosecutions for hate online had been:
All young men between the ages of 18 and 22, they are all from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the things that they have been prosecuted for have been immature and inarticulate. There's almost a criminalisation of adolescence, and of poor literacy, that's
one issue that seems to have emerged.
The communications laws being used are for grossly offensive messages. Offence as the trigger for prosecution is still a big problem. The case that is the most important is that of Azhar Ahmed, he is the only case of an ethnic minority. He posted
something silly and illiterate about how soldiers were going to hell. He was prosecuted because far-right activists made a co-ordinated campaign to have him arrested.
So by using offence as the trigger for prosecution, you are putting the power of censorship into the hands of people who may chose to be offended for political gain. That's a big deal for censorship.
An Italian court has overturned the conviction of three Google executives found guilty of breaking Italian law by allowing a video of a bullied teenager to
be posted online.
The clip was uploaded in 2006 and the employees were given six-month suspended jail sentences in 2010. Google had appealed against the ruling, saying it had removed the video within two hours of being notified by the authorities.
The offending video clip was a mobile phone upload showing four students at a school in Turin bullying the victim. Prosecutors had highlighted that it had been online for two months despite several users posting comments calling for its removal.
A Google spokesman said:
We're very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues' names have been cleared.
Of course, while we're all delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family who have been through the ordeal.
Giovanni Maria Riccio, professor of IT Law at the University of Salerno, described the ruling as a landmark decision :
Another condemnation for Google would had jeopardised investments of big internet players in Italy and would had a negative impact also on small operators and ISPs [internet service providers], which are not in the condition of monitoring contents on
their service, he told the BBC.
It is a happy news not only for Italy, but for the whole internet.
Saudi authorities should immediately drop all charges against the detained editor of a website created to foster debate about religion and religious figures
in Saudi Arabia.
On December 17, 2012, the Jeddah District Court, which had been hearing the case against the editor, Raif Badawi, referred it to a higher court on a charge of apostasy, which carries the death penalty. The charges against him, based solely to Badawi's
involvement in setting up a website for peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures, violate his right to freedom of expression.
Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said:
Badawi's life hangs in the balance because he set up a liberal website that provided a platform for an open and peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures. Saudi Arabia needs to stop treating peaceful debate as a capital offense.
A member of Badawi's family told Human Rights Watch that during the December 17 hearing, Judge Muhammad al-Marsoom prevented Badawi's lawyer from representing his client in court and demanded that Badawi repent to God. The judge informed Badawi
that he could face the death penalty if he did not repent and renounce his liberal beliefs, the family member said.
Badawi refused, leading Judge al-Marsoom to refer the case to the Public Court of Jeddah, recommending that it try Badawi for apostasy.
Prior to the December 17 hearing, Badawi had been charged with insulting Islam through electronic channels and going beyond the realm of obedience, neither of which carries the death penalty. A different judge presided over five sessions of
the trial but was replaced without explanation for the December 17 hearing by Judge al-Marsoom.
Security forces arrested Badawi, a 30-year-old from the port city of Jeddah, on June 17. Badawi in 2008 was co-founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, an online platform for debating religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi court sentenced Raef Badawi to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up a "liberal" network and alleged insults to Islam, activists said.
A judge had referred Badawi in December to a higher court for alleged apostasy, a charge that could lead to the death penalty in the ultra-conservative kingdom. But thankfully the charge of apostasy was dropped.
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced the editor of an internet forum he founded to discuss the role of religion in the country to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, according to reports in the Saudi media.
Raif Badawi, who started the Free Saudi Liberals website, was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial.
Apart from imposing a stiffer sentence on Badawi in his retrial, the judge at the criminal court in Jeddah also fined him 1m riyals. Badawi's website has been closed since his first trial.
His lawyers said the sentence was too harsh, although the prosecutor had demanded a harsher penalty, the news website Sabq reported. The ruling is subject to appeal.
When the Department of Education last week released the results of its public consultation on whether or not pornography should be automatically banned by internet providers, the overriding message was clear. There was no great appetite among parents
for the introduction of default filtering of the internet, the Department declared. What parents wanted, instead, was the option to filter content and better knowledge of how to do that in order to protect their children from online porn.
After months of threatening internet providers with an automatic porn ban, the Government seemed to relent and recognise that policing the internet was primarily a job for parents, not the state. Yet in the course of just a few days Downing Street
appears to have swung back the other way after receiving a mauling in the Daily Mail.
Cameron envisages is a system whereby anyone installing a new computer at home and connects to the web will be asked whether there are any children in the home. If there are, parents will be automatically required to tailor their internet blocking. If a
parent skips too quickly through the filter process the highest restrictions will automatically remain in place. It will be the job of internet providers, rather than computer manufacturers, to come up with the blocking software.
Downing Street officials insisted that the announcement was not a U-turn on porn filters and that Cameron's announcement was simply a way of illustrating what the Government has planned to give parents more control. But the onus is nonetheless firmly
placed on internet providers to come up with mandatory blocking with Whitehall sources indicating that a legislative backstop would be brought in they refused to co-operate.
That has caused concern among web providers, most of whom already offer content filters to their customers as a matter of course. One source involved in negotiations with the Government described Cameron's announcement as an example of goal posts
being moved .
This is a back-of-the-fag-packet policy reversal announced after the Government's own public consultation decided just a week ago that further filtering wouldn't work, said Jim Killock, from Open Rights Group, which campaigns against digital
Nick Pickles, from the Big Brother Watch, added: Mr Cameron seems to be suggesting a combination of network filtering and device filtering that isn't even available at the moment, let alone possible. The danger here is it will alienate the ISPs who
thought they'd been involved in the consultation process.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has published interim guidelines setting out the approach prosecutors should take in cases involving communications sent via social media.
The guidelines are designed to give clear advice to prosecutors and ensure a consistency of approach across the CPS to these types of cases.
These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law.
They make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual or which breach court orders on the one hand, and other communications sent by social media, e.g.
those that are grossly offensive, on the other.
The first group will be prosecuted robustly whereas the second group will only be prosecuted if they cross a high threshold; a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide
audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.
The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to
those subjected to it.
We want the interim guidelines to be as fully informed as possible, which is why we held a series of roundtable discussions and meetings with Twitter, Facebook, Liberty and other stakeholders, police and regulators, victim groups, academics, journalists
and bloggers, lawyers and sports organisations ahead of drafting them. I would now encourage everyone with an interest in this matter to give us their views by responding to the public consultation.
As part of their initial assessment, prosecutors are now required to distinguish between:
Communications which may constitute credible threats of violence
Communications which may constitute harassment or stalking
Communications which may amount to a breach of a court order
Communications which do not fall into any of the above categories and fall to be considered separately i.e. those which may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false.
Those offences falling within the first three categories should, in general, be prosecuted robustly under the relevant legislation, for example the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), where the test set out in the Code for Crown
Prosecutors is satisfied.
Cases which fall within the final category will be subject to a high threshold and in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest.
The high threshold
Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 engage Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, therefore prosecutors are reminded that they must be interpreted
consistently with the free speech principles in Article 10.
Prosecutors are also reminded that what is prohibited under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 is the sending of a communication that is grossly offensive. They should
only proceed with cases involving such an offence where they are satisfied that the communication in question is more than:
Offensive, shocking or disturbing; or
Satirical, iconoclastic or rude comment; or
The expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.
The public interest
In line with the free speech principles in Article 10, no prosecution should be brought unless it can be shown on its own facts and merits to be both necessary and proportionate.
A prosecution is unlikely to be both necessary and proportionate where:
a) The suspect has swiftly taken action to remove the communication or expressed genuine remorse;
b) Swift and effective action has been taken by others, for example service providers, to remove the communication in question or otherwise block access to it;
c) The communication was not intended for a wide audience, nor was that the obvious consequence of sending the communication; particularly where the intended audience did not include the victim or target of the communication in
d) The content of the communication did not obviously go beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in an open and diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.
The age and maturity of suspect should be given significant weight, particularly if they are under the age of 18. Children may not appreciate the potential harm and seriousness of their communications and as such prosecutions of
children are rarely likely to be in the public interest.
The Daily Mail is claiming a victory in spurring David Cameron into supporting its cause in getting parents to opt for internet blocking albeit not the
overly blunt default ISP blocking. (But the Daily Mail clearly aren't quite fully committed to the anti-sexualisation cause. They have done a fine job traumatising all the 'sensitive' young girls who worry that they will never be as sexy as
Kate Moss in bikini showing a bit of nipple)
In an article for the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister says it is utterly appalling that so many children have been exposed to the darkest corners of the internet, adding: A silent attack on innocence is under way in our country today and
I am determined that we fight it with all we've got.
He announces that Conservative MP Claire Perry is to be appointed as his adviser on reversing the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. She will be in charge of implementing the new web blocking system, which will also require internet
providers to check the age of the person setting controls.
Cameron explained why he does not go along with the idea of default ISP blocking.
Some might ask why, then, this Government has not taken the route of default on filters for new computers, so that each one that is bought comes with blanket filters for all unsuitable content. There's a simple reason why we haven't done this: all
the evidence suggests such a crude system wouldn't work very well in practice. With the system, when people switch on their new computer, a question will pop up asking if there are children in the house. If there are, then parents will be automatically
prompted to tailor their internet filters
With the system, when people switch on their new computer, a question will pop up asking if there are children in the house. If there are, then parents will be automatically prompted to tailor their internet filters (posed by model)
Take the experience of one parent I met. She has a tablet computer which her young daughter sometimes plays games on. It's got straightforward on/off filters, so she turned the filter on to protect her daughter.
However, the filters were so wide-ranging that she then found she couldn't access things like TV stations on demand; they were blocked too.
The result? She just switched the filter off again, as it was becoming annoying.
The point is we need a more sophisticated system than this -- one that allows parents to tailor exactly what their children can see.
Ministers are understood to have imposed a timetable on internet providers, who will be required to produce detailed plans by February on ensuring that all parents are giving the option of imposing filters.
Cameron says that when people switch on a new computer, they will be asked if there are children in the house -- and if they answer yes, they will be automatically prompted to tailor internet filters. They will include options to block particular kinds
of content, individual sites or restrict access at specific times of the day. If parents click through the options to set up a new system quickly, filters against pornography and self-harm sites will be automatically left on.
Perry said effective checks on the age of a person setting up filters -- probably using credit card details and the electoral roll -- would be vital to ensure children could not get round the new system.
The idea behind WCIT was to revise and update a treaty governing international telecommunications services. These are known as the International Telecommunications Regulations -- the ITRs. As one of the UK delegation put it in her own blog, this was a
treaty that wasn't about the internet, but really it was.
It all harks back to another century, in fact, and as far as telecommunications is concerned, that's another age -- pre-liberalisation, pre-privatisation, before the great boom in mobile telecoms and, of course, before the internet transformed the way we
communicate and conduct business. It was concluded in 1988, had never been revised since that time and, to no one's great surprise, there was much about it that was ripe for revision. The UK and most developed countries could, in fact, for the most part
have lived quite happily without the ITRs. But the position of other governments, particularly those from developing countries, was that they needed these regulations to be able to conduct telecoms business on a secure legal basis and -- more to the
point -- they needed them updated for the 21st century. We accepted that position in good faith and that's why we sent such a large delegation - a multi-stakeholder team of 25 people drawn from government, business, the academic community and civil
Running into trouble
And, to be fair, a lot of progress was made in the two weeks of the conference. Provisions were included on roaming. The provisions of the treaty that deal with charging were modernised -- allowing for the old settlements system but explicitly
acknowledging the role of competition and commercial agreements. But what the UK team kept running into were proposals to include the internet, content issues, spam and so on -- and that's what ultimately made it impossible to sign the treaty.
Governments know best?
The point is that the internet has grown up outside a model of government control and regulation. That's not to say that there is no regulation of activity on the internet -- a pretty good rule of thumb is if it's illegal in the real world, chances are
that it is illegal in the online world. But the rules governing the way the internet is run -- for example which domain names should be permitted, who should run them and so on -- have been developed by a community of engineers, business, civil society
and governments working together in what is known as the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. This, though, is in sharp contrast to the approach being advocated in the ITRs where only governments had a voice in the negotiations, and where very
few nations involved other stakeholders in the way we did in the UK.
We value a free and open internet
So when it came to the crunch, the revised ITRs, with provisions on security, on spam and with an unacceptable resolution on internet governance was not a treaty that I could let my delegation sign. The UK -- together with the US, EU member states and a
number of others (55 in total) -- could not sign it because we value an open internet too much to see it hampered by excessive regulation.
The WCIT, however, is not the end of the battle -- these issues will be debated again in numerous international meetings in the coming months and years. And in those debates we will continue to fight for the approach that we know works -- and that is to
keep the internet free and open.
Israel's Justice Ministry is drafting legislation that would allow the police to block access to child pornography and gambling websites without a court
The state is currently awaiting a related Supreme Court ruling on the same issue. The government is appealing a district court ruling concluding that a police power to bar access to physical locations without a court order can be extended to internet
The ministry's bill would allow an authorized police officer to order an ISP to block access to any gambling or pedophilia site. A website could be blocked even if it also conducts legal activity, as long as the illegal activity constitutes more
than a marginal portion of its total activity. The police order would be in effect only for a limited time period.
Attorney Jonathan Klinger, an expert in the intersection of law and technology, said that, as written, he didn't think the law could survive a court challenge:
But above all, this is a bill that seeks to bring us down to the level of countries like Qatar, Pakistan, Iran, China and others. We have yet to see any country in the world that has censorship but doesn't use it for political purposes.
If there was ever any doubt that the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was the wrong body to run the internet, you only needed to look at its handling of its own World Conference. By Rohan Jayasekera
China appears to be tightening its repressive control of internet services that are able to burrow secretly through what is known as the Great
Firewall , which prevents citizens there from reading supposedly inappropriate overseas content.
Both companies and individuals are being hit by the new technology deployed by the Chinese government. A number of companies providing virtual private network (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to learn, discover and
block the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.
China Unicom, one of the biggest telecoms providers in the country, is now killing connections where a VPN is detected, according to one company with a number of users in China.
Users in China suspected in May 2011 that the government there was trying to disrupt VPN use, and now VPN providers have begun to notice the effects.
Astrill, a VPN provider for users inside and outside China, has emailed its users to warn them that the Great Firewall system is blocking at least four of the common protocols used by VPNs, which means that they don't function. But the company
added that trying to stay ahead of the censors is a cat-and-mouse game -- although it is working on a new system that it hopes will let it stay ahead of the detection system.
Ministers have stepped back from forcing telecommunications companies to filter websites for online pornography after parents rejected the idea in a
A report released by the department for education and the home office instead said that internet service providers will be asked to advise and steer parents towards making an active choice by offering software that blocks out pornography and
The decision follows a 10-week public consultation process. David Cameron had indicated as recently as last month that he wanted firms to follow the lead of TalkTalk, which was the first big name internet service provider to introduce network-level
filtering of websites for its customers.
The report, released with little fanfare, said:
It is... clear that in accepting that responsibility, parents want to be in control, and that it would be easier for them to use the online safety tools available to them if they could learn more about those tools.
They also want information about internet safety risks and what to do about them. There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP: only 35% of the parents who responded favoured that
In fact the figures for all those that responded to the consultation showed:
14% in favour of default ISP blocking
85% opposed to default ISP blocking
The campaign for greater curbs against online porn had been led by the Tory MP Claire Perry, and was followed up by the Daily Mail.
The industry pointed out that Perry's plans were unworkable.
The Government will now go to work with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents with the knowledge and tools required to provide flexible and workable parental control.
The US, Canada and UK have refused to sign an international communications treaty at a conference in Dubai.
The three countries had objected to calls for the UN to take over aspects of the governance of the internet, especially as several countries had been pushing for this with a view to increasing censorship controls.
Russia, China and Saudi Arabia were among those pushing for internet censorship. Many attendees believed it was an anachronism that the US government got to decide which body should regulate the net's address system as a legacy of its funding for Arpanet
- a precursor to the internet which helped form its technical core.
It marks a setback for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which had said it was sure it could deliver consensus. The ITU had organised the 12-day conference in order to revise a communications treaty last overhauled 24 years ago. Dubai
conference centre 193 countries have been debating changes to a communications treaty in Dubai
Negotiators from Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Kenya have said they would need to consult with their national governments about how to proceed and would also not be able to sign the treaty as planned on
A proposal from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Sudan calling for equal rights for all governments to manage internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources was eventually shelved. But there was fresh controversy on
Wednesday night after an alternative non-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency's leadership should continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the
multi-stakeholder model of the internet.
Ministers signalled they will rewrite the Snooper's Charter which gives police, security services and anyone else the government nominates new powers
to snoop on communications. An influential parliamentary committee branded it overkill and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it needed a fundamental rethink .
Home Secretary Theresa May accepted the substance of a highly-critical report by the committee set up to scrutinise the draft version of the Bill, which would allow a range of official bodies to monitor emails, web phone calls and activity on
social networking sites.
The committee of MPs and peers said the legislation would give the Home Secretary sweeping powers to issue secret notices ordering communications companies to disclose potentially limitless categories of data . And they accused the
Government of using fanciful and misleading figures to support its case for the legislation.
Clegg said he was ready to block the Bill in its current form, and called on the Home Office to go back to the drawing board :
I believe the coalition Government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation.
We cannot proceed with this Bill and we have to go back to the drawing board. We need to reflect properly on the criticisms that the committee have made, while also consulting much more widely with business and other interested groups.
The Russian government which has decided that gambling whether online or off is not a good thing and prohibits the activity in all but brick and mortar
casinos in zones at the very edges of Russia’s domain. Since 2009 the Russian authorities have closed and dismantled thousands of parlour casinos and underground poker rooms.
A decree that online gambling is a prohibited activity and the responsibility is up to the ISPs to block access to gambling sites now has the Supreme Court backing it up.
A recent lower court ruling exonerated ISP company executives from an area close to the Estonian border who refused to comply with the order to deny service to gambling patrons.
The Supreme Court however said the ISP must block the gambling site that is now on the government blacklist of over 1500 supposedly illegal web sites. The Supreme Court also extended its definition of bad, to include the dissemination of information
related to the implementation of activities of gambling, which makes it necessary to disconnect even sites that contain only information about gambling portals.
An unexpected new proposal for international internet censorship left a global conference on the issue on the edge of collapse.
The deep divisions over treatment of the internet came after a group of Arab states put forward a plan late on Friday that would require countries around the world to explicitly regulate internet companies. The proposal inevitably won the backing from
repressive countries including Russia and China. The plan would extend current regulation of telecommunication companies to internet service companies.
The pitch for direct regulation came as an unwelcome surprise to delegations from the US and other countries that have supported the current light system of regulation for the internet. The conference has been hijacked by a group of countries that
want to extend regulation of the internet, said one person familiar with the US position: This is completely unacceptable to the US point of view.
Tariq al-Awadhi, head of the Arab states delegation, said that it made sense for internet companies to be included in the regulations since this would help force them to work together with network operators.
The call for new regulation could lead to a break-down in the talks, according to people involved in the discussions. The US delegation will refuse to support anything that extends regulation in a way that damages internet freedom and has full backing
from Washington to walk out on the talks if necessary, said the person familiar with the US position.
The United States Congress may be a mess and the most unruly and uncompromising bunch in the land but they all apparently think that the UN should not be
setting policy on the Internet. To that end, members of the House of Representatives - Democrats and Republicans - voted unanimously (397-0) against the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations' efforts to push increased
government control over the Internet.
The vote is a declaration against the goings-on at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai. The goal of the conference is to update telecommunications regulations that haven't been updated since 1988. Those International
Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) do not address the Internet and other growing technologies.
The fear among advocacy groups is that counties that want to control their population's access to a free internet such as North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, and Syria will use the conference as a way to push their own agendas. Those agendas include
eliminating anonymity from the Internet, limits on free speech and the surveillance of internet traffic they deem to be bad. This also includes everything from prohibitions on copyright violations and pornography to prohibitions on defamation and
The US Fedarl Trade Commission has announced a settlement with Epic Marketplace, an online advertising company that had abused a security flaw in popular web browsers in order to covertly sniff other websites visited by consumers.
A new sex club which sparked 'outrage' after opening in a quiet city suburb has been ordered to close by miserable council chiefs.
The property has been reinvented by owner Martin Millar, who has installed two superbly equipped dungeons and a kinky room . The building also features five themed playrooms , a UV room and a mirror room
But a planning committee at Southampton City Council today unanimously refused an application for retrospective planning permission after receiving a 1,000 name petition and 150 letters of objections from miserable neighbours.
Planners vaguely claimed that the change of use had the potential to cause harm to the residential amenities and character of the area, recommending that events should cease as soon as possible .
However Millar said he plans to appeal, and events will continue in the meantime.
Southampton City Council has vowed to fight tooth and nail to make sure Club Kiss is closed. But, the new venue's website is already boasting a stacked programme of events throughout November and December.
Martin Miller answered his critics:
The events we will be holding do not attract large numbers of people, so will not cause any traffic or parking problems. The average age of those attending will be 40-plus - it is not going to be youngsters who may get drunk
Following the conclusion of the first round of applications to ICANN for the creation of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), ICANN has published
the Early Warnings of objections from governments.
Australia has objected to a suite of generic names on the grounds that a private entity should not be able to gain exclusive control of a generic term for commercial gain. Its objections included .baby (applicant: Johnson & Johnson), .makeup
(applicant: L'Oreal) .video and .tunes (applicant: Amazon), and .grocery (two competing applicants, Safeway and Walmart).
Australia also objected to the creation of a set of domains with an overtly negative or critical connotation (including .fail, .sucks, .wtf and .gripe), saying that brand owners may seek to protect their reputations and the gTLD needs
a plan to limit the need for defensive registrations.
Other objection include .islam and .halal by UAE, .army, .navy and .airforce by US and India.
Artwork of nipple tassel-clad women has adorned the walls of the recently rebranded She Said Emporium since last week. The new
painting was part of Tickles' rebranding as part of the local She Said chain.
But the women were made to cover up after nutter complaints to the shop's owner that the art was somehow 'offensive'.
Owner Nic Ramsey said she was forced to paint over the artwork after two women complained.
A painting of Laura Nixon, a Brighton-based Marilyn Monroe look alike, with nipple tassels and a multicoloured fan has adorned the wall for years. So has an animal mural of the Garden of Eden with insects bonking and bugs having threesomes.
Ms Ramsey said:
It breaks my heart and for the artist Req to have to cover up his work is horrible.
If it was a canvas or we hung a picture it would be a piece of art. They are sexy images but there is no nudity on
About 20 women donned nipple tassels to protest against the loss of the mural before it was painted over.
Increasing influence of Islamist groups within Egypt has led to state prosecutor, Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, ordering the blocking of all pornographic pictures
or scenes inconsistent with the repressive values and traditions of the Egyptian people.
The prosecutor cited a 2009 that ordered all porn sites to be banned, and another this March, when an Egyptian judge decreed that all pornography on the internet was illegal.
Critics of the rise of Islamic parties in the country warn that the move will inevitably be a pretext to censor other speech, as well. Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist, tweeted: '
I'm not arguing with anyone about porn but know this: 'ban' porn sites today, ban your sites tomorrow.'
The UK [website blocking] proposal involves an independent regulator which would be tasked with setting clear parameters of what would, and what would not be, acceptable on a clean feed . Websites which felt they were
being unfairly blocked would have a right to appeal any decision.
Earlier this year we found that our website and blog were being blocked by filters designed to offer a safe browsing experience for children on mobile devices. These filters are applied as a default on all mobile devices which
access the internet unless adult users choose to remove them. Although neither our blog nor our website include pornography such material is alluded to in the context of our campaign and our sites were being filtered out.
We contacted the Mobile Broadband Group and pointed out the misclassification and it was a simple matter to get the restrictions lifted.
Australia abandons its general internet blocking policy in favour of blocking child porn only
9th November 2012
After a long explanation, Ofcom concluded that, overall and on the specific facts of this case, the news bulletin broadcast at 10:00 on 12 July 2012 was not presented with due impartiality in respect of its treatment of the Syrian conflict. Ofcom
therefore recorded a breach of Rule 5.1 of the Code.
Ofcom noted that this breach follows other breaches of Section Five recorded against the Licensee in Bulletin 213 . Ofcom is therefore requiring the Licensee to attend a meeting to explain its compliance procedures in this area.
A law professor here was acquitted in South Korea on charges that he posted a series of photographs showing male genitals on his blog.
Kyungsin Park was charged in February with violating the country’s online obscenity law. Park, at the time, was a commissioner of the South Korea Communications Standards Commission, a government agency with an authority to delete Internet content
it considered harmful.
He had taken it upon his own to post the photos on his own blog after the commission deleted an Internet users' photos without giving its original owner a chance to defend himself.
Park posted the photos on his own blog, called Censor’s Diary , and invited a debate of the commission’s decision.
An appeals court reversed a lower court's guilty ruling. The appeals court said Park’s posting could not be ruled indecent because the photos should be viewed in the context of his attempt to criticize the government’s regulations on online
India's cabinet has approved the introduction of an amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of 1986 in the forthcoming
winter session of Parliament. This increases the penalties for making supposedly indecent exposure of women and extends the scope of the law to cover audio-visual media including SMS, Internet, etc. The original law was limited to the print media.
The key amendments include raising the penalty to a maximum of three years of jail and fine of Rs 50,000-Rs 1 lakh. The second conviction will entail imprisonment of two to seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
The law was enacted in 1986 to prohibit supposedly indecent depiction of women through advertisements, publication, writing and painting. Officials claim the proposed amendments were finalised after extensive consultations with the stakeholders,
including lawyers and civil society representatives.
Police have gotten involved in 4,000 petty squabbles on Facebook and Twitter. Statistics from 22 out of the 43
police forces in England and Wales show arrests for insulting messages are averaging three a day.
The police say they are wasting valuable time and resources tackling internet users directing abuse at each other. In most cases, police simply tell victims to delete their tormentors from their networks, but the Crown Prosecution Service says a few
dozen incidents have led to court, with the figure growing rapidly in recent months.
An policeman from North Wales said:
You will always have one or two serious incidents of harassment and bullying on Facebook and the like but for the most part it's petty stuff. It takes up a lot of time and the normal result is advice from us to all parties to grow up.
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said:
We have concerns that we don't have the resources to police everything that's said on the internet. We can't have people getting upset in a one-off situation and involving the police. I do think this could be the thin end of the wedge. If we show too
much willingness and get involved in every squabble, we're setting ourselves up to keep doing this because it will be expected.
Statistics from 22 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales show there were at least 4,098 arrests under the relevant laws between the start of 2009 and the middle of 2012, averaging three a day. More than 2,000 people were either charged or
given an out-of-court fine or caution.
While most of the Internet governance world's focus is on the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) coming this December, which will
renegotiate the International Telecommunications Regulation treaty, the ITU has already begun preparations for another global conference next year, the World Telecommunications Policy Forum (WTPF). WTPF will consider a broader range of issues, certainly
including Internet governance and public policy, including Internet content.
Up until now the internet has been formalised as:
A decentralized and open system, which must be allowed to enable the world's citizens to connect freely and express themselves consistent with fundamental principles of freedom of expression, while taking into consideration national security or of public
order, or of public health or morals.
However Saudi Arabia is not impressed be the definition about the limits of freedom of expression, and has published a contribution suggesting increased censorship:
Freedom of expression is a recognized fundamental principle but is subject to considerations of national security, public order, public health and public morals (Art. 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -1966, and Art. 34 of the
ITU Constitution). It is also recognized that national mores differ -- what may be considered acceptable free speech in one country may be considered an offensive and unacceptable in another. Bearing in mind that countries cannot apply their own laws to
acts in another country, there is a crying need for international collaboration to address freedom of expression which clearly disregards public order. An obvious example is the current anti-Islamic film on YouTube which was created with the clear
intent of conveying hatred. Any reasonable person would know that this film would foment violence and, indeed, many innocent persons have died and been injured with this film as a root cause. Yet neither the authors nor the content provider are being
held accountable for their responsibility to maintain public order. This behavior, along with other malicious and criminal activities such as child pornography, identity theft, spam, denial of service attacks, and malware aimed at destroying or crippling
businesses, inter alia, must be addressed by states in a collaborative and cooperative environment and strongly underscores the need for enhanced cooperation.
'Enhanced cooperation' seems to be a UN term for 'cooperation' enforced by governments.
US-funded programs to beat back online censorship are finding an increased demand in repressive countries. More than 1 million people a day use online tools to get past extensive blocking programs and government surveillance
World-famous Turkish pianist Fazil Say has appeared in court in Istanbul charged with inciting hatred and insulting the values of Muslims.
The indictment against him cites some of his tweets from April, including one where he says:
I am not sure if you have also realised it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it's always an Islamist.
Dozens of the pianist's supporters gathered outside the courthouse with banners, one of which called on the ruling Islamist-based AK Party to leave the artists alone .Say has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and
others, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the EU.
Egemen Bagis, Turkey's minister in charge of relations with the EU, suggested the case against him should be dismissed, saying the court should regard his tweets as being within his right to babble ...BUT... Bagis also criticised the
pianist for insulting people's faith and values .
Fasil Say appeared in an Istanbul court on October 18 and was charged with hate speech and insulting religion for Twitter messages mocking the conduct and beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists.
In one tweet, he commented on a muezzin, who calls Muslims to prayer, for his hurried style. Apparently reflecting his distaste for the spread of fundamentalism in Turkey, Say tweeted a complaint about a call to prayer that lasted only 22 seconds, and
added, Why such haste? Do you have a mistress or a glass of raki [Turkish liquor] waiting?
In another message, he quoted the classical Persian poet Omar Khayyam, who asked if heaven should be considered a tavern or whorehouse, since it is described in the Koran as a place where wine is served by virgins.
A third tweet by Say remarked, I am not sure if you have also realized it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it is always an Islamist.
The Turkish prosecutors in the case argued that Say's tweets threatened public order. Say's case was adjourned until next February.
About 100 people demonstrated against his indictment in front of the court in Istanbul, and members of the German Bundestag from across the political spectrum expressed their concern at the repressive attitude of the Erdogan regime. Many prominent
Turkish personalities, including Egemen Bagis, Erdogan's cabinet minister for relations with the European Union, have also called for the case to be dismissed.
The Government will announce details this month of a controversial national identity scheme which will allow people to use their
mobile phones and social media profiles as official identification documents for accessing public services.
People wishing to apply for services ranging from tax credits to fishing licences and passports will be asked to choose from a list of familiar online log-ins, including those they already use on social media sites, banks, and large retailers such as
supermarkets, to prove their identity.
Once they have logged in correctly by computer or mobile phone, the site will send a message to the government agency authenticating that user's identity.
The Cabinet Office is understood to have held discussions with the Post Office, high street banks, mobile phone companies and technology giants ranging from Facebook and Microsoft to Google, PayPal and BT.
Ministers are anxious that the identity programme is not denounced as a Big Brother national ID card by the back door, which is why data will not be kept centrally by any government department. Indeed, it is hoped the Identity Assurance Programme,
which is being led by the Cabinet Office, will mean the end to any prospect of a physical national ID card being introduced in the UK.
The public will be able to use their log-ins from a set list of well known private organisations to access Government services, which are being grouped together on a single website called Gov.uk, which will be accessible by mobile. A cross-section of
social media companies, high street banks, mobile phone businesses and major retailers has been chosen in order to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.
Major web sites are able to recognise individuals by their patterns of use, the device they are accessing from and its location. Facebook, for example, asks users who sign on from an unusual location to take a series of security questions including
identifying friends in photographs.
The Philippines' top court has suspended a repressive new law supposedly targeting cybercrime, following protests by critics who say it stifles free
The new law, called the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, came into effect earlier this month. The law predictably cited child pornography, identity theft and spamming but also made libel a cybercrime punishable by up to 12 years in jail.
The act is also adopted a heavy hand to prevent cybersex, defined as sexually explicit chat over the internet, often involving cam girls performing sexual acts in front of webcams for internet customers. Government officials would also have had
new powers to search and seize data from people's online accounts.
The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the act from being enforced after 15 petitions questioning its legality were filed.
But protesters say the legislation would be used to target government critics and crack down on freedom of speech.
Despite the fact that Twitter and Facebook are technically blocked in China, the two services are still widely used, according to data from market
researcher GlobalWebIndex (see graph, bottom).
When asked which services they had contributed to in the last month, 25% of surveyed Chinese users said they had used Google+, 15% used Facebook, and 8% accessed Twitter. Local equivalents are Qzone (66%), followed by Sina Weibo (61%), and Tencent Weibo
GlobalWebIndex has been tracking the growth of social media use in China since 2009. At that point, there were 11.8 million Twitter users there, a number that grew to 35 million in the second quarter of 2012. Facebook use, meanwhile, jumped from 7.9
million to 65.2 million during the same time period, said GlobalWebIndex founder Tom Smith.
So how do Chinese users access Facebook and Twitter? According to Smith, people are using virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual cloud networks (VCNs), or internationally routed connections, meaning users won't be picked up by analytics and won't
actually register as being in a Chinese location.
In short, Smith said, the 'Great Firewall' is not as solid as many people think.
Social media monitoring becomes next big thing in law enforcement. John Cooper QC said that police are monitoring key activists online and that officers and the courts are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to social media
Internet users in Kashmir were unable to access Facebook and YouTube after the Indian government had issued orders to ISPs to block access to the websites,
The move is believed to be in response to the protests against the anti-Islam video on YouTube but it now seems that access to the entire websites have been restricted , IBNLive reported.
In late September, reports indicated that the Jammu & Kashmir state government had told service providers to ensure that the controversial YouTube video was not accessible by users in the troubled state. Mass protests broke out in Kashmir in
September over the anti-Islam film posted on YouTube.
Responding to the blocking of YouTube and Facebook, Hameeda Nayeem, chairperson of the Kashmir Centre of Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), told Al Jazeera:
Surveillance of social media websites in Kashmir was not new. In 2010 (during the protests), Facebook was monitored and many boys were arrested because of their activities on Facebook.
There has always been surveillance ... the latest move is based on that blasphemous film, but it is just another excuse to monitor and block communication services. For instance, SMS services have often been turned off in the state.
Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a
new study released by Freedom House.
Despite these threats, Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.
Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House said:
The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier---but no less
dangerous---methods for controlling online conversations.
Freedom on the Net 2012, which identifies key trends in internet freedom in 47 countries, evaluates each country based on barriers to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.
The study found that Estonia had the greatest degree of internet freedom among the countries examined, while the United States ranked second. Iran, Cuba, and China received the lowest scores in the analysis. Eleven other countries received a ranking of
Not Free, including Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Thailand. A total of 20 of the 47 countries examined experienced a negative trajectory in internet freedom since January 2011, with Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia registering the greatest
Several downgrades, particularly in the Middle East, reflected intensified censorship, arrests, and violence against bloggers as the authorities sought to quell public calls for reform. In Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and China, authorities
imposed new restrictions after observing the key role that social media played in the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
At the same time, 14 countries registered a positive trajectory, with Tunisia and Burma experiencing the largest improvements following dramatic political openings. The remaining gains occurred almost exclusively in democracies, highlighting the crucial
importance of broader institutions of democratic governance in upholding internet freedom.
Countries at Risk: As part of its analysis, Freedom House identified a number of important countries that are seen as particularly vulnerable to deterioration in the coming 12 months: Azerbaijan, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.
New laws restrict free speech: In 19 of the 47 countries examined, new laws or directives have been passed since January 2011 that either restrict online speech, violate user privacy, or punish individuals who post content deemed objectionable or
Bloggers and ordinary users increasingly face arrest for political speech on the web: In 26 of the 47 countries, including several democratic states, at least one blogger or ICT user was arrested for content posted online or sent via text message.
Physical attacks against government critics are intensifying: In 19 of the 47 countries assessed, a blogger or internet user was tortured, disappeared, beaten, or brutally assaulted as a result of their online posts. In five countries, an activist or
citizen journalist was killed in retribution for posting information that exposed human rights abuses.
Paid commentators, hijacking attacks are proliferating: The phenomenon of paid pro-government commentators has spread over the past two years from a small set of countries to 14 of the 47 countries examined. Meanwhile, government critics faced
politically motivated cyberattacks in 19 of the countries covered.
Surveillance is increasing, with few checks on abuse: In 12 of the 47 countries examined, a new law or directive disproportionately enhanced surveillance or restricted user anonymity. In authoritarian countries, surveillance often targets government
critics, while in middle-performing countries, safeguards for user rights and oversight procedures are lagging far behind governments' technical capacities and legal powers, leading to abuse.
Citizen pushback is yielding results: A significant uptick in civic activism related to internet freedom, alongside important court decisions, has produced notable victories in a wide set of countries. Advocacy campaigns, mass demonstrations, website
blackouts, and constitutional court decisions have resulted in censorship plans being shelved, harmful legislation being overturned, and jailed activists being released. In 23 of the 47 countries assessed, at least one such victory occurred.
Other Significant Country Findings:
China: China is home to the world's largest population of internet users, but also the most advanced system of controls---one that has become even more restrictive. In 2011, the authorities abducted dozens of activists and bloggers, holding them
incommunicado for weeks and sentencing several to prison. The government also tightened controls over popular domestic microblogging platforms, pressuring key firms to more stringently censor political content and to register their users' real names.
Meanwhile, China's influence as an incubator for sophisticated restrictions was felt across the globe, with governments such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Iran using China as a model for their own new internet controls.
Iran: The Iranian authorities used more nuanced tactics in a continued campaign against internet freedom that began after disputed elections in 2009. These tactics included: upgrading content filtering technology, hacking digital certificates to
undermine user privacy, and moving closer to establishing a National Internet. Iranian judicial authorities also meted out some of the harshest sentences in the world for online activities, including imposing the death penalty on three bloggers and IT
Russia: The internet is the last relatively uncensored platform for public debate in Russia. However, since January 2011, massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and smear campaigns to discredit online activists have intensified. After
online tools played a critical role in galvanizing massive anti-government protests that began in December 2011, the Kremlin signaled its intention to further tighten control over internet communications.
Pakistan: Disconcerting recent developments in Pakistan include a ban on encryption and virtual private networks (VPNs), a death sentence imposed for transmitting allegedly blasphemous content via text message, and a one-day block on all mobile phone
networks in Balochistan province. Several other initiatives to increase censorship---including a plan to filter text messages by keyword and a proposal to develop a nationwide internet firewall---were officially shelved in response to civil society
advocacy campaigns, although some suspect that the government is still working on them behind closed doors.
Egypt: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintained many of its predecessor's tactics of internet control, while intensifying others. Mobile phones, the internet, and social media remained under vigorous surveillance, bandwidth speeds were
throttled during specific events, and SCAF-affiliated commentators manipulated online discussions. Several activists and bloggers were intimidated, beaten, shot at, or tried in military courts for insulting the military power or disturbing
social peace. Despite recent elections, the future trajectory of internet freedom in Egypt remains precarious and uncertain.
United States: Internet access in the United States remains open and fairly free compared with the rest of the world. Courts have consistently held that prohibitions against government regulation of speech apply to material published on the internet, but
the government's surveillance powers are cause for some concern. In early 2012, campaigns by civil society and technology companies helped to halt passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were criticized for their
potentially negative effects on free speech.
Azerbaijan: As the host of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in November 2012, the government of Azerbaijan has been eager to promote itself as a leader of ICT innovation, but has also slightly increased restrictions on internet freedom. Rather than
significantly censoring online content, the government has employed tactics such as raiding cybercafes to gather information on user identities, arresting politically active netizens on trumped-up charges, and harassing activists and their family
members. In a worrisome development, the authorities ramped up their surveillance capabilities of mobile phones in early 2012.