Press TV have issued another propaganda peice suggesting that Ofcom are set to ban the satellite channel from broadcasting with a UK licence.
Press TV writes in a website posting:
London has spared no effort in
its two-year-long battle against Press TV. Its media tool, Ofcom, is now about to revoke the channel's broadcast license, hoping this desperate measure will silence criticism.
And in a coincidently timed piece, the Wall Street Journal
points out that Iran is regularly jamming BBC programmes targeted at Iran:
As uprisings rolled across the Middle East this year, Iran stepped up its jamming of the BBC, Voice of America and other Western networks with
Persian-language news channels. The move is intended to prevent Iranian audiences from seeing foreign broadcasts the Iranian government finds objectionable, five networks protested in a joint statement this month.
to 60% of Iranians watch satellite TV, according to estimates from the state media company and an Iranian research center, exceeding the number believed to use the Internet. Iran so far seems to be winning a struggle to filter out unwanted TV content and
broadcast its own propaganda: The country jams channels like the BBC on Western satellites even as Iran's state media company broadcasts pro-government news on some of the same satellites, and at times has aired forced confessions of political detainees.
Iran is having it both ways, said a U.S. State Department official. While they benefit from the international community's respect for 'freedom of expression' and 'freedom of the airwaves,' they deny that same right to
their own citizens, aggressively jamming Persian-language broadcasts from other countries.
Websites targeting Olympics visitors have been closed down by police. For example sites purporting to sell luxury goods were using the events' signature image of five Olympic rings to make people believe they were endorsed.
Police from the UK's
cyber crime unit have identified hundreds of websites that could be used to dupe visitors to next year's London Olympics. They have already closed around 2,000 sites set up by criminals and purporting to sell luxury goods, and are monitoring hundreds of
others that have popped up on the web with the games in mind.
We think there is some evidence to suggest they are waiting to commit fraud, Janet Williams, the deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan police, said. These websites
have been set up and are in a holding position, and we will monitor them to see if they are used for criminal purposes.
Williams, the head of the e-crime unit, said ticket fraud was just one way criminals would try to exploit the games. We
would be naive to think that it would be the only threat during the Olympics, she told the Guardian. Her unit, which has a staff of 106, is working with other agencies, including the government communications headquarters GCHQ, to intercept traffic
that might point to an attack on London's internet infrastructure, eg via denial of service attacks.
Tim Minchin has blasted ITV bosses after he claimed a specially-written track was pulled from the Jonathan Ross Show for fear of upsetting Christians.
Tim - who is behind West End hit Matilda - has written a furious blog pointing the
finger at the network's director of programmes Peter Fincham, suggesting he was nervous about a backlash.
Tim said compliance staff and lawyers had given the go-ahead to his lyrics long before the recording of the programme..
said the humorous song - which drew parallels between Woody Allen and Jesus - was pulled when Fincham watched the show.
In his blog Minchin said:
Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show.
He did this because he's scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way. I have
to admit I'm really fucking disappointed.
An ITV source lamely claimed that the decision was less about religious sensitivity and more that tonally, it wasn't right for the show .
Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen said he was more frightened about people not talking about Jesus than what they said about him. He said:
Tim Minchin doesn't worry me nearly as much as the people who try to suppress Jesus Christ. I'm more frightened about people who don't talk about him at all and try to censor him out. People talk about the festival
season, doing anything they can to avoid the obvious.
Lutheran Church of Australia Reverend Mike Semmler said a comedian making jokes about Jesus meant he was considered a serious subject worthy of a laugh. He said:
Part of the Christmas message is that Jesus becomes human and if people are trying to relate him to other human beings, while it may not be terribly uplifting for the church, he was after all really human.
Iran has blocked the website of the British embassy in Tehran following a diplomatic crisis last month that led to the closure of the UK mission.
The Foreign Office said that the government's website in Iran, which had continued working despite
the closure of the embassy, had been deliberately filtered by the Iranian authorities.
People inside Iran who try to visit ukiniran.fco.gov.uk, are re-directed to a web page that reads: Access to the webiste is denied according to [Iran's]
computer crimes regulations.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, said: Britain's website in Iran has now been added to the list of thousands of other internet sites deliberately censored by the Iranian authorities. Hague said Iran's
move was counter-productive and ill-judged :
It will also make it harder for Iranian nationals to access information about visiting the UK. And it is further proof to the rest of the world the Iranian
government's dire record on freedom of speech and human rights in general. This action will not deter Britain from continuing to engage with the Iranian people, including through the internet.
Sky Broadband has begun blocking Newzbin2 after receiving a court order telling it to do so.
The ISP is the second major internet provider to block access to the Usenet indexing website, after BT started doing so around the end of October.
However, major rivals TalkTalk and Virgin Media said that they have received no such court order themselves, and are not blocking the site.
We have received a court order requiring us to block access to this illegal website, which we did on 13
December, Sky said in a statement: Moving forward, as and when clear and legally robust evidence of copyright theft is presented, we will take appropriate action in respect to site blocking, which will include complying with court orders.
The European branch of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) representing Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers won a court order in July that forced BT to block access to Newzbin2. In early November, shortly
after BT began blocking Newzbin, the MPA sent letters to all the major ISPs, saying the organisation intended to seek similar court orders and asking whether the ISPs intended to fight against this move.
The MPA has also gone to BT to seek a block
of the Pirate Bay file-sharing website, but BT has said it will not institute further blocks without a court order for each case.
Repressive laws against religious insult at football matches in Scotland have been passed after the Scottish government rejected complaints the rules were unworkable.
The offensive behaviour bill was pushed through Holyrood using the Scottish
National party's overall majority. The bill was opposed by all other parties and attracted widespread criticism from fans, clubs and the Church of Scotland.
Holyrood's four opposition parties, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Tories and the
Scottish Green party, backed by the independent MSP Margo Macdonald, issued a joint statement accusing ministers of railroading the Scottish parliament:
It is of real regret that the first piece of legislation
passed by this new parliament has been railroaded through by the SNP. The SNP has used its majority to force through a bad law that risks doing more harm than good. It sets a worrying precedent for this parliament.
The new measures
introduce two new offences of inciting religious, racial or other forms of hatred in public or on the internet, which will be punishable by up to five years in jail. The offences will cover football grounds, public places and pubs and clubs.
Allison McInnes, the Scottish Liberal Democrats' justice spokeswoman, said the government was creating two new criminal offences without any kind of consensus :
They are unable to answer basic questions about
how the law will be enforced or present evidence as to why it is needed. They can provide only the vaguest assurances that it will not impact people's freedom of speech.
When it was first set up in 1912, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) -- or Film Censors, as it was known then -- concerned itself with the unnecessary exhibition of under-clothing or scenes calculated to afford information to the
enemy . Now, as it heads towards its centenary, it finds itself more likely to be fending off Hollywood studios attempting to shoehorn too much violence into films aimed at 12-year-olds.
Nominet has been suspending domain names at the mere request of law enforcement agencies, without a fair trial. While most of these sites have been dodgy, some should not have been removed. This loophole in the justice system could be exploited and
mistakes are inevitable, leading to deliberate or accidental censorship.
Despite ORG's demands that transparency and evidence remain the foundation of any policy, law enforcement agencies have refused to budge. They say they lack
the resources and powers to use the courts.
ORG, ISPA and LINX all announced that they were unable to support the initial Nominet Issue Group statement. It is incredibly important for justice to be transparent and open to all.
Nominet have asked the Issue group for a further meeting, where ORG will explain why using the courts is a vital safeguard.
Search engines asked to help with copyright censorship
addition to the discussions about a new, faster website censorship plan, Ed Vaizey is now also hosting roundtables between copyright owners and search engines. The aim is to tell search engines to do more to stop infringement by blocking,
promoting or demoting certain sites.
Just like previous discussions about website censorship, these proposals have no basis in evidence, come seemingly at the say so of rights-holders, with no involvement from civil society. We're
urgently looking to tell DCMS why private policing of the Internet is a bad idea.
We have been invited to the next round of discussions: tomorrow, with minister Ed Vaizey. This is a big win for you and ORG. Now we can try to open
the process up to everyone.
Footage of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi badly injured shortly before his death was not too graphic to broadcast.
TV censor Ofcom complaints about the bloody news coverage but has decided not to proceed with an investigation.
The BBC received 473 complaints after the images were broadcast on its rolling news channel and main BBC1 bulletins in the week after Gaddafi's death, of which 197 were in the first 24 hours. A further 136 complaints were made to Ofcom about coverage on
Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News and al-Jazeera.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said the regulator had decided not to investigate after it found that the broadcasts of Gaddafi's final minutes were appropriately limited both pre- and post-watershed
I gave a talk on Wednesday night to the Studienbibliothek in Hamburg. Entitled Left, Right and Islamism the talk explored the ways in which the responses of both left and right to Islamism have betrayed of basic principles of freedom and liberty.
One of the key themes in the discussion afterwards was about how the liberal fear of giving offence has helped created the space for Islamists to take offence. The more that we worry that people will be offended by a book or a play or a cartoon or an
idea or a thought, the more we give licence for people to be so offended, and the more that people will seize the opportunity to feel offended.
It is not just Islamists who live by outrage. Returning to Britain, I discover in the
three days I've been away three incidents that perfectly illustrate how everyone now wants to feel offended -- or rather how the authorities, from the police to trade union bureaucrats, seem to want everyone to feel offended.
Ofcom has reversed its unpublished decision to revoke the broadcasting licence of Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster's English-language outlet, as tensions rise between Britain and the Islamic republic.
Ofcom had apparently told Press TV last
month that it was minded to ban it from broadcasting in the UK after the channel aired an interview with Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned Newsweek journalist, taking his words seriously when in fact the interview had been conducted under duress.
However, after hearing final submissions from the broadcaster, and amidst a crisis in bilateral relations that has seen Britain withdraw members of its diplomatic mission from its Tehran embassy after the building was stormed by protesters, Ofcom is understood to have downgraded the sanction to a fine of
£ 100,000. Details of the sanction are expected to be published this week.
According to the WikiLeaks cables, the Foreign Office told a US diplomat in 2010 that the UK government was exploring ways to limit
the operations of ... Press TV. At the time, the department warned the US that UK law sets a very high standard for denying licences to broadcasters. Licences can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a
licence would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months a case may be able to be made on the
second criterion .
A Foreign Office spokesman said that there had been no government intervention in the process.
BBC world news Pakistan's cable TV association has taken BBC World News off air after screening of a documentary that it deemed anti-Pakistan.
The BBC's World News has been taken off the air in Pakistan after broadcasting a documentary that was
deemed to be critical of the country. Secret Pakistan explored accusations by CIA officials and western diplomats that Pakistan was failing to meet its commitments in the war on terror .
Khalid Arain, president of the country's cable
TV association, said operators had blocked the BBC service as a result.
The BBC condemned the decision. A spokesman said:
We are deeply concerned that BBC World News has been taken off air by the Cable
Association of Pakistan.
We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service. We would urge that BBC World News and other international
news services are reinstated as soon as possible.
Pakistan has said that it was looking at summoning the BBC to demand an explanation over a documentary about the Taliban that has left the BBC World News channel
blocked nationwide. Cable operators pulled the channel late Tuesday amid anger over NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Khalid Arain, chairman of the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan, confirmed that BBC World News was
off-air nationwide and that other Western news channels had been ordered not to indulge in anti-Pakistan propaganda . [That's ok ,there's easily enough anti-Pakistan truth to fill the schedules].
Pakistan's media regulator, PEMRA, said via
a spokesman: The authorities can summon BBC representatives and seek an explanation from them. Pakistan was not legally bound to show any foreign channels and was also monitoring Britain's Sky News for any objectionable content.
As British journalism faces the most significant media public inquiry in a generation, Julian Petley talks to former Press Council chief Louis Blom-Cooper.
Louis Blom-Cooper: What we actually need is an independent body
which carries out monitoring --- independent monitoring of the press. The word regulation implies, I think, to some people, some form of executive power, and what I would propose does not contain executive power.
of public intervention to create such a body would require legislation in the first instance. But one absolutely does not want the supervision to be carried out by government itself, rather the government should establish an independent, standing body by
means of statute, namely a Commission. The statute establishing the Commission would also set up an Appointments Commission which would consist of, for example, the chairmen of the British Library, the British Museum, the Association of Vice-Chancellors
and Principals of Universities, the Lord Chief Justice of England, the Lord President of the Court of Sessions; they wouldn't be specifically named people, but the people who held these offices at the time of selection. One would thus put between the
institution of government and the public itself a wholly independent body, independently selected.
British film director Ken Russell, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1969 film Women In Love , has died at the age of 84. His son, Alex, said he died peacefully in his sleep in a hospital on Sunday.
During his career, he became known for
his controversial films including Women In Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude. He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils and The Who's rock opera, Tommy , in 1975.
Russell frequently crossed
swords with the film censors at the BBFC who took issue with Billion Dollar Brain , Women in Love, The Devils, and Crimes of Passion.
Perhaps a suitable Melon Farming tribute is a summary of
Russell's strength of character in pushing through his outrageous vision for The Devils. He was up against the BBFC, his own distributors and the British establishment.
The Devils was first seen by the BBFC in an unfinished
rough cut on 27 January 1971. At around the same time, this rough cut was also shown to senior executives from Warner Brothers, the film's distributor. Both the BBFC and Warners expressed strong reservations about the strong religious and
sexual context of the film, which seemed likely to provoke significant controversy. Warners and the BBFC therefore drew up separate lists of the cuts they would require before the film could be distributed in the UK. Warners were content with their own
plus the additional cuts requested by the BBFC and a full list of required changes was forwarded to the director.
The cuts were intended to reduce:
(i) the explicitness and duration of certain sexual elements, including an orgy of nuns
(ii) elements of violence and gore during an interrogation scene and the final burning of the
character played by Oliver Reed
(iii) scenes that mixed sexual activity and religion in a potentially inflammatory fashion.
A modified - but still technically unfinished - version of the film was seen again by the BBFC on 8 April 1971, incorporating many (but not all) of the cuts requested by both the BBFC and by Warners. Ken Russell had toned down or
removed what had been regarded as the most difficult scenes, including the entire Rape of Christ sequence in which a group of nuns cavort on a crucifix, whilst hoping that the significant reductions he had already made would perhaps allow certain
other shots to remain. The BBFC requested further reductions in four sequences. Russell responded by complying fully with three of the cuts but insisted that the fourth additional cut could not be made properly because it would create continuity
On 18 May 1971 the BBFC awarded an X certificate to the cut version of the film. Because of the scale of the changes made to the film (including the deletion of one entire scene) it is difficult to
calculate accurately how much was removed from the film between January and May 1971. However, it is safe to say that several minutes were removed.
The resultant version suffered cuts as follows:
A scene showing nuns assaulting an effigy of the cross was deleted (approximately 30s)
An enema scene loses some details
The crushing of Grandier's legs
Grandier's tongue torture loses details
Shots of a priest being assaulted by nuns after the King's visit are missing
masturbating with a chard bone was cut
Whippings scenes throughout were removed
A Timely Tribute to Ken Russell. The BFI re-release of his Masterpiece, The Devils
After much arm-twisting the BFI has indeed persuaded Warner Bros to let them handle The Devils, and a packed two-disc lovingly-curated
special edition will be out next March.
I'll get the bad news out of the way right now: as already spotted, it's DVD only, and it's the 1971 British theatrical cut, not the 2004 restoration. Since BFI DVD Publishing is
demonstrably run by Blu-ray evangelists and has a policy of sourcing the longest available version of the films they put out, you probably don't need to live at 221B Baker Street to work out the reasons for this.
But that really
does appear to be all the bad news. I've seen the full specs, and it looks like an absolute blinder of a release - and hopefully all will be revealed in a matter of days.
The Government has published its new Cyber Security Strategy, setting out how the UK will support economic prosperity, protect national security and safeguard the public's way of life by building a more trusted and resilient digital environment.
Around 6% of the UK's GDP is generated by the internet and is set to grow -- making it a larger sector than either utilities or agriculture -- with the internet boom predicted to create 365,000 jobs over the next five years . We want to create new opportunities for businesses and help build a thriving cyber security industry.
But our increasing dependence on digital technologies has given rise to new risks. For example, there are more than 20,000 malicious emails on Government networks each month, 1,000 of which are deliberately targeted.
Summary of some of the
key actions in the strategy:
Pioneering a joint public/private sector cyber security hub : This will allow the Government and the private sector to exchange actionable information on cyber threats and manage the response to cyber
attacks. A pilot will begin in December with five business sectors - defence, telecoms, finance, pharmaceuticals and energy.
On tackling cyber crime, the strategy sets out commitments to:
Expand the use of cyber-Specials to help
the police tackle cyber crime : The Metropolitan Police's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) has been making use of Police Specials with relevant specialist skills to help tackle cyber crime. We will encourage all police forces to make use of cyber-Specials
. We will involve people from outside law enforcement to help tackle cyber crime as part of the NCA cyber crime unit.
Create a cyber crime unit within the National Crime Agency by 2013 : The unit will help deal with the most serious
national-level cyber crime and to be part of the response to major national incidents. It will draw together the work of the e-crime unit in SOCA and PCeU and provide support to all elements of the NCA, and all police forces.
police and the courts to make more use of existing cyber sanctions for cyber offences : Additional powers are already available when there is strong reason to believe someone is likely to commit further serious cyber crime offences. For example, a
range of terms -- including restriction on access to the internet and prohibition from using instant messaging services -- have been used to restrict the ability of organised criminals to commit online fraud. We will publish new guidance aimed at
increasing the use of cyber sanctions for cyber offences.
Make it easier to report financially motivated cyber crime by establishing a single reporting system for businesses and the public : Action Fraud -- the national fraud reporting and
advice centre run by the National Fraud Authority -- will become the central portal for reporting any financially motivated cyber crime.
On prevention and raising public awareness, the strategy sets out commitments to:
Bolster the role
of Get Safe Online : Everyone has a crucial role to play in keeping cyberspace safe, including the public. Get Safe Online already provides independent, trustworthy advice on staying safe on the internet. We are increasing our investment to make Get
Safe Online the single, authoritative place to go for the public to get the latest information on internet threats and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves.
Develop kitemarks for cyber security software: This will
help consumers and businesses navigate the range of cyber security solutions available, allowing them to make more informed choices and avoid unnecessary scareware .
Human rights heroes from various walks of life were rewarded for their achievements at Liberty's Human Rights Awards last night.
Inspiring young people, artists and campaigners were honoured along with dedicated lawyers, journalists and
politicians at the ceremony at the capital's Southbank Centre.
The event, which was hosted by comedian Marcus Brigstocke, was attended by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and Baroness Hale, as well as senior
figures from the worlds of law, media and the arts. Sir Patrick Stewart, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper were amongst those handing out the awards.
And Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and Director of Liberty Shami
Chakrabarti presented the Norwegian Ambassador Kim Traavik with a special tribute to the people of Norway in honour of the victims of 22 July 2011 and the dignity and humanity of the country's response.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty,
We are full of admiration and appreciation for the dedication and commitment to the protection of rights and freedoms shown by all our winners and nominees.
It's been an interesting year
for human rights and the fight to defend the Human Rights Act, which has never been more vital, is far from over.
But we're acutely aware that we're far from alone in that promotion of human dignity, equal treatment and fairness
and Liberty is immensely proud to honour our candidates' achievements.
The Liberty Human Rights Awards 2011 winners and category nominees in full were:
Human Rights Young Person of the Year:
Bullivant -- for his inspirational and courageous personal campaign against the unjust control order regime and proposed Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill. The other nominees were Zin Derfoufi, Abigail Stepnitz and Chris Whitehead.
Human Rights Arts Award, in association with the Southbank centre:
Penny Woolcock, screenwriter and film director of On the Streets -- for her compassion and commitment to those living and surviving on
the margins. The other nominees were the Iceandfire Theatre Company and David R. Dow for Killing Time: One Man's Race to Stop an Execution.
Human Rights Lawyer of the Year:
Mercer -- for his integrity and courage in the face of dissembling and denial of human rights abuses by British forces in Iraq. The other nominees were Fiona Murphy, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, and Hugh Southey QC, of Tooks Chambers.
Human Rights Close to Home Award:
Janis Sharp -- for her passionate and sustained campaign to protect her son, Gary McKinnon, from facing extradition to the USA. The other nominees were Janet Alder, Davies, Gore
& Lomax LLP and Housing Justice.
Independent Voice of the Year:
Peter Oborne -- for calling to account the most powerful in our country, especially in relation to the shameful history of complicity
in torture during the War on Terror . The other nominees were Joe Plomin, Paul Kenyon & BBC Panorama and Tom Watson MP.
Lifetime Achievement Award:
John Hendy QC , from Old Square Chambers
-- in recognition of a career dedicated to defending and upholding the rights of workers and trade unionists in this country.
Human Rights Long Walk Award:
Private Eye -- for keeping the
powerful on their toes and the public informed and entertained -- and Tony Bunyan & Statewatch -- for dedication to openness, democracy and informed debate about European institutions, keeping us reliably informed and suitably engaged for the last 20
The decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn the public order conviction of a young suspect who repeatedly said 'fuck' while being searched for drugs, was described as unacceptable by police representatives last night. They claimed the ruling
would undermine respect for officers. [They probably meant undermining 'fear' of officers ,who can currently hand out their own brand of 'justice' using the Public Order Act'].
Overturning Denzel Cassius Harvey's
conviction, Mr Justice Bean said officers were so regularly on the receiving end of the rather commonplace expletive that it was unlikely to cause them harassment, alarm or distress .
Harvey was fined £
50 for using strong language while they attempted to search him for cannabis in Hackney, east London. He told officers:
Fuck this man. I ain't been smoking nothing. When the search revealed no drugs, he
continued: Told you, you wouldn't find fuck all. Asked whether he had a middle name, he replied: No, I've already fucking told you so.
Magistrates at Thames Youth Court found him guilty in March last year after hearing that Harvey's
expletives were uttered in a public area while a group of teenage bystanders gathered around.
Appealing against his conviction, Harvey claimed that none of those within earshot, especially the two hardened police officers, would have been upset by
Mr Justice Bean agreed that the expletives he used were heard
all too frequently by officers on duty and were unlikely to have greatly disturbed them. The judge added that it was quite impossible
to infer that the group of young people who were in the vicinity were likely to have experienced alarm or distress at hearing these rather commonplace swear words used.
Peter Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation,
If judges are going to say you can swear at police then everyone is going to start doing it. I'm not saying that police officers are going to go and hide in the corner and cry if someone tells them to 'F' off,
but verbal abuse is not acceptable and this is the wrong message to be sending out.
Brutal as hell have interviewed Adam Rehmeier on the progress of his BBFC banned film, The Bunny Game
Brutal as hell: Can you tell me your reaction to the BBFC decision to ban your film outright?
Adam Rehmeier: I think the BBFC decision to ban the film is quite harsh. Of course, they will let remakes of films like I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left pass uncut. Hollywood remakes, nonetheless, that capitalize
on the notoriety of rape and revenge of the original films and do absolutely nothing to further the genre.
I guess unremitting rape and callous behavior is okay with the BBFC as long as the victim exacts revenge on the tormentor,
which, in reality, is never the case. The Bunny Game is a journey through several days in the life of a prostitute and is grounded in reality. It is grim and, as with most abductions, the ending is far from happy.
The BBFC seems
to think that we are eroticising the torture in the film, encouraging the viewer to join in on the abductor's pleasure. Did they even watch the film? Out of all the screenings we have had in the past year, not a single person has ever expressed that same
Nominet is consulting and developing its procedures for taking down internet .uk domains when presented with claims of them being used illegally.
Under the latest changes, Nominet will be able to deny a site suspension request unless police
provide a court order or the site is accused of putting the public at serious risk.
Early draft recommendations came in for criticism because police would be able to instruct Nominet to take down unlimited numbers of domains without a court order.
Following previous coverage, many El Reg readers were outraged that the proposals didn't seem to do enough to protect ordinary .uk owners from over-zealous cops.
The new draft recommendations state that should a suspension notice be objected to by
a domain's registrant, Nominet would be able to consult an independent expert , likely an outside lawyer, before deciding whether to ask police for a court order.
A new revision also draws a distinction between serious cases of botnets,
phishing and fake pharmaceuticals sales, which pose an imminent risk to internet users, and cases of counterfeiting, which are perhaps not as risky.
Nominet would draw a distinction between the two scenarios. If it received a suspension
request relating to a low risk crime, such as alleged counterfeiting, it would have to inform the registrant, giving them an opportunity to object and/or rectify the problem, before it suspended the domain name.
The policy has stated in all
drafts that it would not be applicable to private complainants, such as intellectual property interests, and that hasn't changed. We're excluding all civil disputes, Blowers said. If the MPAA [for example] wanted to bring down 25,000 domains
associated with online piracy, that would fall outside of this process.
The policy has also been tweaked with respect to free speech issues. To take down an overtly racist or egregiously pornographic site, Nominet would not suspend the domain
name without a court order.
The recommendations are still in draft form but it is intended that the final version will be implemented early in 2012.
A spokesperson for
LINX, representing ISPs said that the organisation fears social networks, online auction houses and similar sites could be unfairly taken down by cops if their users upload dodgy material. Its statement reads:
owner should be allowed to defend themselves in court. We are also concerned that the law enforcement agencies' proposal does not limit suspension to domains where the domain owner had criminal intent itself: this could place at risk any domain with
user-generated content, such as auction sites and social networking.
LINX members are committed to helping the police combat criminal behaviour online, but all such action needs to be balanced and proportionate, and respect the
property rights of legitimate businesses. We would welcome suspension of domains held by criminal enterprises, but to protect the innocent suspension should be ordered by a court.
Nominet will conduct a further round of public consultation before implementing a policy for dealing with domains associated with criminal
activity. The Nominet Board communique states:
Further research and legal advice was presented in relation to the ongoing policy development for dealing with domain names associated with criminal activity. The Board
agreed to conduct a public consultation prior to implementing the final recommendations.
BT has started blocking Newzbin 2 as ordered by a UK court.
Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which indexes material shared in Usenet discussion forums. The site is being blocked via legal actions of the Motion Picture Association, who managed to
get the UK court to block the site.
We've heard that the British Telecom censorship of the free web has begun, the group behind Newzbin 2 told the BBC. It also said that 93.5% of its active UK users have downloaded workaround software
developed by them to bypass the block. The group would not divulge how it worked.
Newzbin2 shall go on, its users shall continue to access the site and its facilities, the Newzbin team told the BBC. Nothing has changed and they [the MPA]
have no change after paying millions of dollars in legal fees.
The Motion Picture Association
(MPA) has asked two UK internet service providers (ISPs) to consent to a court order that would force them to block their customers' access to a copyright-infringing website.
A ZDNet report said the MPA told it that it had sent letters to Virgin
Media and TalkTalk referring to the recent order by Mr Justice Arnold and asked the major UK ISPs whether they would consent to a court order requiring them to impede subscriber access to the Newzbin2 website .
TalkTalk said in a
statement: We are considering our position since there are some objectionable elements to the proposed injunction. We will only block access to a website if ordered to do so by a court. .
Virgin Media also confirmed that it had
received MPA's letter and that it would only act on receipt of a court order. A Virgin Media spokesperson said in a statement: As a responsible ISP, we will comply with any court order addressed to us but strongly believe such deterrents need to be
accompanied by compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, which give consumers access to content at the right price.
It was a cultural turning point for the country. John Mortimer QC --- who went on to create Rumpole of the Bailey --- appeared for the defence and saw the case as standing at the crossroads of our liberty, at the boundaries of our freedom to think
and say and draw and write what we please .
For the prosecution, however, it was a fight to hold back what they viewed as a tide of filth and immorality that was threatening to engulf Britain.
case amounted to a solemn declaration that unless sex took place within the confines of marriage it was kinky and diseased.
Brian Leary QC, the Crown Prosecutor, elaborated on his horror of inflatable rubber dolls and his
amazement at the existence of sundry mechanical aids, advertised primarily for divorcees . He also maintained that rock n roll music was a coded plea for sexual perversion.
A man accused of possessing child pornography has been cleared after a judge heard his videos were taken from terrestrial TV.
Police who raided the home of previously convicted sex offender Neil Waters found a DVD containing 40 excerpts from
films which had been screened on television.
None of the films was pornographic, and they could be legitimately and legally viewed by the public, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
Judge Jamie Tabor ruled that whatever motive Waters had for
gathering the film clips together, they could not be regarded as indecent within the meaning of the law.
On hearing his ruling, prosecutor Virginia Cornwall said the Crown would not continue with the nine charges against Waters of making indecent
images of children between.
Giving his ruling, Judge Tabor said he had viewed a selection of the clips and they were undoubtedly of children but they would not be considered by the public to be indecent nowadays - and probably would not have been
seen as indecent even 30 years ago. If the case went to trial, he said, the jury would not be allowed to consider the motivation for Waters making the recordings and the disc.
The Judge said:
The children shown
in the clips were predominately of children in semi-undressed state. He may well have derived some form of gratification, sexual or otherwise, by looking at scantily clad young children - for example in an aboriginal cave talking to their mother. But if
one removes the motivation for making these clips one is left with the images themselves and one asks oneself objectively are they indecent? They are not.
The charges (9 counts) against Waters look laughable, but only because he could show that the images were taken from broadcast TV. In another context, those
same images downloaded from the internet could easily have been put before a jury and a conviction obtained.
This is similar to images from the Hamilton books which are not indecent when on sale in WH Smith, but are indecent when found on your
A complaint about Stiffy's Jaffa Cake and Kola Kubez vodka liqueur products has been upheld by the Portman Group's Independent Complaints Panel for inappropriately linking an alcohol product with sexual success.
The complaint was made by a drinks
manufacturer which considered that the brand name Stiffy's was an overtly sexual reference which is banned under the Portman Group Code.
In considering the complaint, the Panel noted that stiffy was a common slang term for an erection and
considered that the brand name therefore had strong sexual connotations. The company, Stiffy's Shots Ltd maintained that the brand name had been chosen because Stiffy was the nickname of a person involved in the development of the drink; it had
not been chosen for its sexual connotations. The Panel acknowledged that while the company may not have deliberately set out to link the product with sexuality, the brand name alluded to sexual success and accordingly found the product in breach of the
Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:
It is totally inappropriate for alcohol marketing to allude
to sexual success and following this ruling and our enforcement action, Stiffy's products will be removed from sale in their current form. We would urge anyone who comes across examples of irresponsible alcohol marketing to complain immediately to the
Alcohol companies must be extremely vigilant about marketing their products responsibly and we encourage companies and their agencies to contact our fast, free and confidential advisory service which last year alone
handled over 500 requests for advice.
The company, in consultation with the Portman Group's Advisory Service, has now changed the brand name to Stivy's.
The conviction of Vincent Tabak for the murder of Jo Yeates has thrown the issue of online criminally obscene adult content, sometimes known as extreme porn, into the limelight. The vast majority of the IWF's work concerns the removal of images of child
sexual abuse from the internet, for which we have an international remit, but we also deal with criminally obscene adult material hosted in the UK.
In 2007 the Home Office asked the IWF to allow our public internet reporting
mechanism to be used for the reporting of UK-hosted criminally obscene adult content. Following consultation with our industry members, our Board informed the government of our agreement to fulfil this role, from 26 January 2009, as part of our original
We are able to act on any public reports of online obscene adult content when it is hosted in the UK and contravenes UK Law, we cannot act if the content is hosted abroad and do not action legal adult content. The online
industry fully supports us issuing takedown notices for this part of our remit. However, we receive very few reports of this type of content which satisfies these criteria and enable us to issue a takedown notice:
In 2010 we issued eight notices for criminally obscene adult content.
In 2009 we issued two notices.
In 2008 the number was 39.
The reason there are so few is a reflection that the UK online industry provides one of the harshest environments for hosting criminal material. On those rare occasions when material believed to be unlawful is depicted on a website
hosted in the UK, we work in partnership with the online industry and the police to provide information to assist investigations into the distributers of the content. The material is removed in hours.
The IWF is not an
organisation which makes moral judgements on what is hosted on the internet. We are solely concerned with the prompt removal of criminal content within our remit and we have achieved great successes in this.
Interview with Susie Hargreaves, IWF Chief Executive
In recent years, the IWF has widened its net slightly. To its original concern with child abuse images, and imagery that
breaches the Obscene Publications Act, it has added extreme porn (2008) and cartoon images of child abuse (2009).
Which brings us full circle to the question of whether the IWF is in danger of turning into a net
police ? Hargreaves thinks not: There is no one on the IWF board from the police. Members come from a range of backgrounds, including human rights and some have strong anti-censorship views: the role of the IWF is to implement a takedown and
filtering of material in line with what the industry wants.
And there, she suggests, is the heart of the matter. It is not unusual to hear the IWF praised by government -- or even ministers suggesting, sotto voce, that the IWF
could be used as a solution to this or other problems, namely online bullying, terrorist sites and even piracy.
But so far, all such pressures have been resisted. MPs, she tells us, recognise that the IWF does what it does best
by sticking to a very specific focus .
Vincent Tabak, who has been found guilty of murdering Joanna Yeates, regularly viewed violent pornographic films featuring women being choked.
The Dutch engineer also had images on his computer of a Joanna Yeates look-alike wearing a similar
pink t-shirt to the one she had on the night she was killed.
Other images found on Tabak's home and work computers included a series in which-semi naked women lay bound and gagged in the boot of a car. During the trial it emerged that after
strangling Miss Yeates, Tabak placed her body in the boot of his car before going shopping at Asda.
Detectives who seized Tabak's laptop computer and two hard drives found evidence that he had viewed a number of violent pornographic films, in
which women were abused, humiliated and physically restrained by having hands placed around their throat. Analysis showed he had viewed films from a series called Sex and Submission, featuring scenes of sexual violence towards women. In some of the
scenes, the actors were bound and gagged and in others they were choked before having intercourse. Also it was shown that Tabak logged onto a pornographic website on the morning of December 17, the day he murdered Miss Yeates.
Details of the
Dutchman's interest in violent pornography was only revealed, after the conviction as Tabak's defence team successfully argued the viewing of such material did not provide evidence that he had intended to kill Miss Yeates or cause her serious harm and
that it might unfairly influence the jury.
Google have revealed the number of requests for them to remove content, mostly from YouTube and to hide content from searches. The figures cover the period January to June 2011.
Google received 7 UK court orders to
remove 43 items from searches. 14 on grounds of defamation and 28 on grounds of privacy or security.
Google received 1 UK court order and 52 letters from the likes of police and government requesting removal of a total of 220 YouTube videos.
61 for privacy and security, 135 for national security, 3 for violence and 1 for hate speech.
Google received 24 US court orders and 3 government/police requests to remove 198 items from searches. 188 of these on
grounds of defamation
Google received 6 US court order and 26 letters from the likes of police and government requesting removal of a total of 113 YouTube videos. 62 for privacy and security, and 16 for defamation.
Google also received 5
court orders to remove 379 Google Groups on grounds of defamation. Also 18 requests to remove 47 items from Blogger blogs.
The US requests are a 70% increase over the previous 6 month.
In a show of good faith, Google touted the fact that it has refused to cooperate with law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. who requested the removal of YouTube videos of police brutality and criticisms of law enforcement officials.
Google cited its transparency report from the first half of this year, but to mention it with violent
crackdowns at Occupy Oakland this week, is telling. Google said:
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we
received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.
Tim Barnett, the head of the Olympic and Paralympic News Service, which will provide quick flash quotes to the world's media during the Games, said he strongly refuted any suggestion that there may be censorship of athletes' comments.
report fairly and accurately what happens in the mixed zone [where athletes give quick remarks after events], Barnett told more than 500 of the world's media at the World Press Briefing in London.
Barnett's assurances come after the Olympic
News Service failed to report any athlete opinion or comment about the London riots during the beach volleyball test event. At the time OPNS staff said they were instructed to only report comments made about sport.
An official consultation on public order powers has just been launched.
The home secretary, Theresa May, is seeking curfew powers for the police to create no-go areas during riots. The powers are expected to include immediate
curfews over large areas to tackle the kind of fast-moving disturbances that swept across many of England's major cities in August. May also wants to extend existing powers to impose curfews on individuals and stronger police powers to order protesters
and rioters to remove face masks.
On a more positive note, the consultation will look at repealing section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act, which outlaws insulting words or behaviour . There are claims the provision hampers free speech and
it has been the subject of a strong Liberal Democrat campaign.
Parliament's joint human rights committee has called for the removal of the word insulting to raise the threshold of the offence, citing a case in which a teenager was arrested
for calling Scientology a cult. Evangelical Christians have complained about the use of section 5 to fine street preachers who proclaim that homosexuality is sinful or immoral.
Those supporting the reform say it would still cover threatening,
abusive or disorderly behavour.
The National Secular Society, faith groups and civil liberties groups as well as the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), have long argued that the word insulting should be removed from section 5 of the Public Order Act on the grounds that
it criminalises free speech.
The NSS is also concerned about the use of insulting in Section 4A of the Public Order Act.
In March 2010, Harry Taylor was found guilty of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or
distress after he left anti-religious cartoons and other material he had cut from newspapers and magazines in the prayer room of John Lennon airport in Liverpool. Taylor was charged under Part 4A of the Public Order Act after the material was found
by the airport chaplain, who said in court that she was insulted, offended, and alarmed by the cartoons and so called the police.
In its legislative Scrutiny of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, the Joint (Parliamentary) Human Rights
Committee recommended the amendment of the Public Order Act to remove all references to offences based on insulting words or behaviour. Their report stated: We consider that this would be a human rights enhancing measure and would remove a risk that
these provisions may be applied in a manner which is disproportionate and incompatible with the right to freedom of expression, as protected by Article 10 of the [European Convention on Human Rights] and the common law.
Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society, said: In an open and democratic society such as ours, none of us should have the legal right not to be offended.
The word insulting should be deleted because in the interests of free
speech there must be a higher threshold for criminality than insult . The law needs an urgent re-examination, so we very much welcome this consultation.
Offsite Comment: The Public Order Act: More than a little
What do Peter Tatchell and the Christian Institute have in common? Before you answer, this isn't some deeply unfunny jibe from a Coalition colleague, but one of many unexpected alliances which have formed to oppose Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
This rather insidious Section criminalises all those who use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or
distress . It also applies to those who display any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting .
87,000 child sexual abuse webpages have been removed in 15 years thanks to the work of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
Today the IWF not only marks its annual Awareness Day, but reflects on its 15 years of tackling online child sexual abuse
content. Since it was launched on 1 December 1996, the IWF has assessed almost 370,000 webpages. As a result of the IWF's work with the online industry, the volume of UK-hosted child sexual abuse content has reduced from 18% in 1997 to less than 1% since
2003 and the IWF has kept it that way.
Child sexual abuse webpages in the UK are rapidly removed thanks to the responsible actions of the online industry with whom the IWF works. However there is still a problem with child sexual abuse content
hosted around the world. The IWF statistics spanning the past 15 years show 45% of the worldwide webpages assessed and actioned for removal by the IWF featured children aged 10 years and under, including babies. The is percentage has increased in the
last 4 years reflecting the increasingly extreme nature of the content assessed and actioned by the IWF analysts.
The IWF is the UK reporting Hotline for images of child sexual abuse hosted anywhere in the world. Unfortunately it also the snitch
line for UK-hosted extreme adult pornography. But to be fair, the IWF hasn't really sought to get involved in adult censorship, presumably because it rather dilutes the near total support for the primary task. The IWF is an independent self-regulatory
body which was set up and funded by the online industry and the EU. It has more than 100 funding members.
All reports to the IWF are assessed by a team of analysts who have an exemption within the law to enable them to view potentially criminal
content. When child sexual abuse content is found and hosted within the UK, it is shared with the police and removed within hours thanks to the responsible actions of the online industry. When it is hosted abroad, it is shared with a corresponding
Hotline in the host country and with law enforcement. While actions to remove the content are in progress, the IWF updates its URL list of child sexual abuse content which the online industry voluntarily deploys to protect their customers from stumbling
across the content. This list is updated twice daily to ensure the URLs which contain child sexual abuse material remain on the list until the content is removed.
Since 2004 when the list was first made available, cumulatively almost 63,000 URLs
have been added to the list. Typically the list contains around 500 live URLs on any one day, which is a reduction from 1,200 URLs a day two years ago. This is because the websites hosting the identified content are now taken down more quickly.
IWF Chief Executive Susie Hargreaves said:
To assess more than 370,000 webpages is incredible and the IWF is proud to have played its part nationally and internationally to remove images of child sexual abuse. Although we've had tremendous success domestically,
child sexual abuse content on the internet is a problem the IWF and the industry are eager to tackle wherever it is hosted. With the industry and partner Hotlines' support we've been able to remove 87,000 webpages containing some of the worst content
depicting the rape and sexual torture of young children and babies. Preventing the revictimisation of those children and protecting the public from stumbling across this horrific content is our priority. Through working with the online industry and our
partners we've been able to grow and adapt in order to meet this challenge and we will continue to adapt to tackle this global problem.
When the end came, it came very suddenly. For months, the Libyan rebels, supported by Nato, were striving to end Muammar Gaddafi's rule in Libya. For weeks that goal seemed to be coming closer, but for many Libyans a tantalising
question remained: where was Gaddafi? For days, attention has been on his hometown of Sirte, where Gaddafi loyalists held out. Then yesterday, Sirte fell and suddenly, unexpectedly, Gaddafi was found. A dramatic news day, which posed many challenges. Our
continuing commitment to coverage of Libya means we were able to provide on the ground reporting from Sirte. We are the only UK news organisation to have had a permanent continuous presence in Libya since February and yesterday, our correspondent Gabriel
Gatehouse was the only UK broadcaster in Sirte as Gaddafi was killed, able to provide first-hand reporting of what happened, carefully piecing together the day's events. We gained big audiences for our coverage yesterday across platforms. Col Gaddafi
It was a confusing story. This posed another challenge. In the age of mobile phones, footage of the capture of Gaddafi soon started to emerge. We could not always be clear of its origins so it was important to make
what checks we could and then be very clear with our audiences what we'd been able to verify and what we hadn't. The other challenge was posed by the nature of the footage itself - very graphic, some of it showing Gaddafi alive but manhandled and bloody
and other footage and stills showing his dead and bloodied body. We judged that it was right to use some footage and stills, with warnings about their nature. Part of yesterday's story, especially in the first hours, was the swirl of rumour. The images
of his dead body were an important part of telling the story to confirm reports of his death. Images of him alive but manhandled were also disturbing, but told an equally important part of the story about how his captors treated him and how far he
himself had fallen. As the different footage emerged through the afternoon, it became an important way for us to piece together what happened - what were the circumstances of his death, did he die from wounds sustained in the fighting or was he captured
alive and then shot? As different officials and eyewitnesses gave different accounts, the footage helped us share emerging photographic evidence with the audience.
We do not use such pictures lightly. There are
sequences we did not show because we considered them too graphic and we took judgements about what was acceptable for different audiences on different platforms at different times of day, especially for the pre-watershed BBC1 bulletins. I recognise that
not every member of the audience will agree with our decisions, but we thought carefully about how to balance honest coverage of the story with audience sensitivity. The News Channel faces a different challenge. We know that many people join the coverage
through the day or only watch for a short while. For these audiences we need to keep retelling the story. But we also know that some people watch the live rolling coverage for several hours, and with the Gaddafi story this meant some repetition of the
graphic images. It is a difficult balance to strike. For the website, we chose to use an image of Gaddafi's body in the rotating picture gallery on the front page. We recognise that it is hard to provide a warning on the front page and so while we felt
it was an important part of telling the core story in the early stages, as time passed we found other ways to convey what had happened on the front page, with the most graphic images at least a click away and with a clear warning.
There were undoubtedly shocking and disturbing images from yesterday. But as a news organisation our role is to report what happened, and that can include shocking and disturbing things. We thought carefully about the use of
pictures - which incidentally we used more sparingly than many other UK media - and I believe that overall they were editorially justified to convey the nature of yesterday's dramatic and gruesome events
Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief, has stood by the company's decision not to suspend the service during the UK riots or disclose user identities to authorities.
Speaking at the annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Costolo referred specifically to
the UK riots when talking about the need to ensure Twitter remains a platform upon which freedom of speech is prioritised , even during times of civil unrest:
One of our core values is respect and the need to defend
the user's voice, he explained. In the case of the London riots...the majority of the tweets were more about organising cleans ups [rather than inciting violence].
It was thought that after a number of executives from Twitter,
Facebook and Blackberry were summoned to a meeting with Theresa May, the Home Secretary, after their services were used to coordinate and encourage looting during the UK riots, the Government would try to temporarily suspend the digital networks.
However, Costolo revealed that instead of engaging in shut down talks in such meetings, it told government officials that the hope is the majority of tweets around a hot topic such as the riots, will be geared at trying to help matters, rather
than incite more violence.
Reforms to England's libel laws will not do enough to protect free speech. A powerful parliamentary committee believes further steps are needed to prevent big corporations using their financial muscle to gag opponents by threatening legal action.
It also wants extra measures to protect scientists and academics who are publishing legitimate research, and to prevent trivial claims ever reaching court.
The committee has been scrutinising the Coalition's proposals to end the international embarrassment
that sees rich and powerful foreigners flocking to our courts to silence critics.
The report from the joint committee on the draft Defamation Bill says many of the Government's proposals, particularly a move to end trial by jury except in the
most serious cases, are worthwhile . But it says the plans are modest and do not address the key problem in defamation law, the unacceptably high costs associated with defending cases.
that websites be held responsible for anonymous comments
Websites should have protection from defamation cases if they act quickly to remove anonymous postings which prompt a complaint, a report says. A joint parliamentary committee tasked with examining libel reform says it wants a cultural shift so that posts under pseudonyms are not considered
true, reliable or trustworthy , But it says websites which identify authors and publish complaints alongside comments should get legal protection.
The committee proposes a new notice and takedown procedure for defamatory online
comments - aimed at providing a quick remedy for those who are defamed and to give websites which use the procedure more legal protection.
It recommends that where complaints are made about comments from identified authors - the website should
promptly publish a notice of the complaint alongside it. The complainant can then apply to a court for a takedown order - which if granted, should result in the comment being removed, if the website is to avoid the risk of a defamation claim.
But where potentially defamatory comments are anonymous, the website should immediately remove them on receipt of a complaint, unless the author agrees to identify themselves, the report says. The author of the comment can then be sued for defamation
but if a website refuses to take down an anonymous remark it should be treated as its publisher and face the risk of libel proceedings .
The report also says a website could apply to a court for a leave-up order, if it (is rich
enough and) considers the anonymous comment to be on a matter of significant public interest.
But Mumsnet, a parenting website, says many of its members rely on the ability to ask questions or post comments anonymously. Many of the women
posting messages do so under a user name , rather than their real name - and the site is worried the proposal will mean more people demanding messages be taken down.
Its co-founder, Justine Roberts, said while it was right to stop people
from assassinating the character of others from behind the cloak of anonymity the report did not recognise how useful anonymous postings were in allowing people to speak honestly about difficult real-life situations . The recommendations
could have a chilling effect on sites like Mumsnet where many thousands of people use anonymity to confidentially seek and give advice about sensitive real-life situations.
Under the current law, websites are liable for defamatory statements
made by their users. If they fail to take down a post when they receive a complaint, they risk being treated as the primary publisher of the statement.
So how is a website to know if users correctly identify themselves anyway?
A man is facing a substantial prison sentence after posting sectarian comments on a Neil Lennon hate page just hours after an explosive Old Firm clash, a court has heard.
Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Stephen Birrell was caught during a
special police operation launched to combat bigoted comments on the internet.
Birrell admitted posting the religiously prejudiced abuse on a Facebook site called Neil Lennon Should be Banned . He committed the latest 'offence' a few days
after being released from a previous 12-month jail sentence.
Prosecutor Mark Allan told the court that a police team began investigating hate comments on the web after the touchline clash between Rangers then assistant manger Ally McCoist and
Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Old Firm match on 3 March this year.
Defence solicitor John McLaughlin said:
These postings were distasteful and abusive. However, his postings did not contain threats or
incitement to violence. There was no mention on them of Neil Lennon or the manager of Celtic. It was hackneyed sectarian language.
The language he used was that of his peers growing up in Dalmarnock. He is now committed to
changing his behaviour particularly since his mother is a Catholic.
Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell: What you wrote was vile and hateful there is no place for these kind of remarks in our city or in our country. Adding that
his comments could encourage impressionable people to behave in this way and were unacceptable: You should be under no doubt very real harm does result from this. A substantial custodial sentence will probably have to be imposed in this case.
Sheriff Totten deferred sentence until next month.
I'm struggling to think of the last time I heard anyone in Scottish politics say I believe in free expression , without following it with a but , or some other pious caveat, justifying illiberal legislation to
put peoples' tongues in the vice, fetter their fingers, or otherwise curtail free speech.
For those who care about free expression in the UK, and particularly the reform of our invidious libel laws, this is a crucial week. Today and tomorrow, the UK Supreme Court hears the Times's attempt to overturn an appeal court ruling in a libel case
brought against it by Metropolitan Police officer Gary Flood.
Aden Live is a general entertainment service broadcast in Arabic by Dama Ltd, a company based in the UK. The service is aimed at the people of South Yemen and includes programmes based on news,
political views, South Yemeni culture and entertainment. It can be received in the Middle East and some parts of Europe by satellite, but it is not on the Sky Electronic Programme Guide and cannot be received in the UK on normal satellite equipment. At
the time of the complained about Broadcasts, it was also streamed on the internet.
In 1990 North and South Yemen were united to form the Republic of Yemen ( Yemen ), and Ali Abdullah Saleh became
president of Yemen. The capital of Yemen is Sanaa (sometimes spelt Sana ). Aden is a city and governorate in the south of Yemen.
In October 2010 Ofcom received a complaint made on behalf of the Government
of Yemen about the service Aden Live. In summary, the complaint stated that the channel is encouraging Yemeni nationals in southern Yemen to revolt against the Government of Yemen and to divide the nation into separate states. It stated that the channel
was spreading hatred and calling for attacks on government regional offices, the police and the national army; and its content was affecting the civil peace and stability of Yemen.
Having viewed the Broadcasts and the transcripts, Ofcom considered
that some of the content of the Broadcasts raised potential issues under the Code and warranted investigation. Ofcom consider rules:
Rule 2.4 Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial
behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.
Rule 3.1 Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Rule 5.4 Programmes in the services (listed above1 ) must exclude all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters of political and industrial controversy and matters relating to
current public policy (unless that person is speaking in a legislative forum or in a court of law). Views and opinions relating to the provision of programme services are also excluded from this requirement.
Rule 5.11 In addition to the rules above, due impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy by the person providing a service (listed above2 ) in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.
Rule 5.12 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight
in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes. Views and facts must not be misrepresented.
Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 2.4, 5.4, 5.11 and 5.12
It is not within Ofcom's remit to take a view on the legitimacy or otherwise of the policies and actions of the Southern Movement or those opposed to the
Yemeni government. However, in Ofcom's view, material which condones or glorifies death in support of a cause, revolt against a government and the carrying of weapons can reasonably be considered material which condones or glamorises violent or dangerous
Given that Dama directs its broadcasts predominantly to a South Yemeni audience, many of whose members (given the political context set out above) are likely to support the Southern Movement and oppose the Government of Yemen, Ofcom
considered that the material in examples could reasonably be considered as material likely to encourage others to copy violent or dangerous behaviour. Ofcom noted Dama's comment that the carrying of arms by tribespeople is common in Yemen … and
there are likely to be far more guns than people in Yemen . Ofcom considers that, while this context may to some extent account for the prevalence of references to arms in the examples, it made it more likely that the material would have encouraged
others to carry weapons. In light of the above, we concluded that the material was in breach of Rule 2.4.
However Ofcom found that the example content was not likely to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder and so did not breach
Dama accepted that in relation to the requirement for due impartiality, on two occasions, the presenters may have strayed a little from their roles as presenter. Presenters may express their own views on matters of political
controversy within the limits of the Code. However alternative viewpoints must be appropriately represented. Accordingly, Ofcom considered that the Broadcasts as a whole (as translated and transcribed for Ofcom), due impartiality was not preserved on
matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, and an appropriately wide range of significant views was not included and given due weight. Ofcom therefore considered that for the reasons given above the
Broadcasts breached Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Code.
The views and opinions of the Licensee on the contemporaneous political situation in Yemen, including the policies and actions of the Government of Yemen could reasonably be identified from the
material and representations. These views and opinions were in turn expressed in different ways and to varying degrees in the output of the channel, contrary to the requirements of Rule 5.4. Ofcom therefore considered that the relevant material was in
breach of Rule 5.4 of the Code.
Ofcom Considering Sanctions
The right to broadcast comes with responsibilities. It is important that broadcasters do not use their licensed service to condone or glamorise violent,
dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour, or fail to maintain due impartiality on matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, in contravention of the Code.
Dama has assured Ofcom that it is now
well aware of the need for due impartiality in its broadcasts, and is taking steps to address this going forward . However Ofcom considered Dama's contraventions of the Code to be serious. Dama is therefore put on notice that these contraventions of
the Code are being considered by Ofcom for statutory sanction.
We were asked to see the film. We saw it and we really do not have to give a reason why we reached our decision.
...and so, in February 1995, it was decided by the Forest Constables (parish officials) that Oliver Stone's Natural Born
Killers (1994) would not be shown in Guernsey, making it the only place in the British Isles to overrule the BBFC decision to award the film an 18 certificate.
Distributors, Trinity X, comment on the BBFC ban of The Bunny Game
From Trinity X press release
The Bunny Game is a 2010 US horror by Adam Rehmeier. See IMDb .
The film has just been banned by the BBFC for:
UK 2011 Trinity DVD
The distributors, Trinity X have now issued their comments on the ban in a press release:
Trinity X saddened by BBFC decision to ban The Bunny Game
Trinity X, the recently formed DVD
genre distribution arm of UK-based film distributor Trinity, described the BBFC's decision to ban The Bunny Game as disappointing, worrying and sad .
Mark Sandell, co-director of Trinity, who acquired the film during
Cannes this year, went on to say:
We knew the film was challenging and confrontational, but also felt, as a independent filmmaker, Adam Rehmeir (the director), had a highly original filmic eye and had elicited
powerful performances from the cast. We did imagine that the BBFC might ask for cuts but an outright ban gives the film a twisted notoriety that, quite frankly, it doesn't warrant .
Adam Rehmeier, the director
commented : Rodleen and I didn't make 'The Bunny Game' to glamorise prostitution. It is far from an erotic film. It is a modern cautionary tale grounded in reality.
Ahmed Faraz distributed extremist books and DVDs with the aim of priming people for terrorism , a court has heard.
He is charged with 10 counts of disseminating terrorist publications, nine counts of having terrorist publications in
his possession, with a view to distributing them, and a further 11 counts relating to the possession of information that is likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
He was not connected to any specific terrorist
plot, a jury at Kingston Crown Court, south west London, was told.
Max Hill QC, prosecuting, said:
This case is about the distribution of books and DVDs and other material which we say represent steps along the
road to radicalisation of Muslims to engage in violent terrorist attacks around the world, including the UK. This case is also about the ways and means by which to solidify that radicalisation and provide practical assistance for those who have been
Several of the publications distributed by this defendant did end up in the hands of individuals, many of them now notorious - or infamous - terrorists who have stood trial in English courtrooms such as this in the
last five years and are now serving long prison sentences, having been found guilty of plotting to terrorise the British public.
Faraz denies all charges. The trial is scheduled to finish in January 2012.
The Bunny Game is a 2010 US horror by Adam Rehmeier. See IMDb .
The film has just been banned by the BBFC for:
UK 2011 Trinity DVD
The BBFC explained in a press release:
The BBFC has rejected the sexually violent DVD The Bunny Game . The film follows a female prostitute who hitches a lift with a truck driver. The truck driver kidnaps the woman,
restrains and forcibly strips her, and proceeds to physically and sexually abuse and humiliate her. The abuse of the kidnapped woman takes up the greater part of the film.
The Board's Guidelines state A strict policy on sexual
violence and rape is applied. Content which might eroticise or endorse sexual violence may require cuts at any classification level. This is more likely with video works than film because of the potential for replaying scenes out of context. Any
association of sex with non-consensual restraint, pain or humiliation may be cut . The principal focus of The Bunny Game is the unremitting sexual and physical abuse of a helpless woman, as well as the sadistic and sexual pleasure the man derives
from this. The emphasis on the woman's nudity tends to eroticise what is shown, while aspects of the work such as the lack of explanation of the events depicted, and the stylistic treatment, may encourage some viewers to enjoy and share in the man's
callousness and the pleasure he takes in the woman's pain and humiliation.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:
It is the Board's carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to
this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board's Guidelines, would risk potential harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and would accordingly be unacceptable to the public.
The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, the pervasiveness of the abuse makes it very difficult to deal with The Bunny Game by means of cuts. If the company would like to attempt to cut this
work in order to submit it in a reduced form, they are entitled to do so, but the Board can offer no assurances that such re-editing would be successful.
The decision to reject The Bunny Game was taken by the Director, David Cooke
and the Presidential Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Alison Hastings and Gerard Lemos.
The decision means that the film cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK.
The UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) has succumbed to the British Royal Family's demands to ban Press TV activities despite the Iranian news network's compliance with the law.
The British media
regulator has reportedly decided to remove the channel from the SKY platform. The move is considered to be in violation of the UK media law and the result of mounting pressure on the organization by certain members of the Royal Family and government.
...Read the article for yourself, or perhaps better to wait for confirmation from other sources
The government has set up a website for parents, guardians and carers to either complain about something they see as inappropriate for children, or else just to pass on their opinions.
parentport.org.uk website points out that it is only for parents, guardians and carers, so it will inevitably be one sided ,and now doubt pander to those who shout loudest about
the easiest offence.
Complaints to ParentPort will be allocated to the appropriate censors who are taking part, namely:
Press Complaints Commission
David Cameron in a press release said:
Parents will be able to report products, television programmes or other services which promote images of a sexual or risque nature to young children to a new whistleblowing
The move also comes as the four big ISPs reveal that they will in future offer customers an active choice, at the point of purchase, of blocking adult content. Subscribers to BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin who do
not opt in will have no access to internet porn. There is no mention of the specifications of what will be blocked yet.
Advertising near schools will also be more restricted. Billboards which show sexy images will be banned from close proximity to
There will also be attempt to stop brand ambassadors with ministers saying that they are determined to try and halt the way social media can get to young impressionable children. Apparently some big companies, in the wake of
crackdowns on traditional advertising of certain products to children, have turned to paying children small sums to promote sugary soft drinks and other products through social networking sites and playground chat.
And if this is not enough, as it
surely won't be, Cameron is expected to warn that he is prepared to act if companies do not do more to halt the sexualisation of children.
The valuable Banksy street stencilled wall mural on the side of a London Post Office, which had become a tourist attraction in itself, has been censored. Presumably this was on the orders of some apparatchik at the Westminster Council or the Post Office,
in spite of the fact that such Banksy stencil wall murals are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Incredibly, Westminster Council have installed a WiFi connected CCTV camera overlooking the site, should anyone have thoughts of art restoration.
Nine months ago, when al-Jazeera and the Guardian jointly published the Palestine papers, revealing the scale of concessions secretly made by Palestinian negotiators in a decade of talks with Israeli leaders, we were accused of biased, agenda-driven
coverage. As head of the investigative team that produced the papers, I was accused on live television by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, of being a CIA agent on a mission to destroy the chances of Palestinian statehood.
Ofcom, which was asked by the PLO to investigate whether our coverage had been unfair to both it and to Erekat, published a 19-page ruling that unequivocally vindicates our coverage.
It seems strange to let TV taste and
decency censors loose on seriously diplomatically sensitive issues.
The usual role for the Ofcom censors is to get easily offended by trivial cases of strong language or anything remotely sexy. They must have an A-Team of more
robust intellects to deal with the more difficult cases like this.
Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government over its plans for anti-sectarian speech laws after an unprecedented attack on Alex Salmond by the Catholic Church.
It comes as the First Minister prepares to meet with Bishop Philip Tartaglia at the
First Minister's official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh.
As The Herald revealed yesterday, the bishop, who many expect to be Scotland's next cardinal, warned of a serious chill between the Catholic community and SNP Government. He
also accused Salmond of reneging on a promise to make public statistics on convictions for sectarian offences.
On other fronts, Labour's justice spokesman, James Kelly, has wrotten to Tricia Marwick, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament,
casting doubt on whether the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Kelly, speaking ahead of publication tomorrow of findings from the second stage
of the Bill, claimed the demand was made in light of concerns from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and said the legislation was too broad and risked spawning rafts of costly court cases and compensation claims. He said:
There are serious questions as to whether the Bill complies with the European Convention on Human Rights. My fear is the legislation is drafted too broadly, which may lead to a situation where fans do not even realise their behaviour
is breaking the law.
We must have complete confidence any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament is absolutely watertight to avoid our laws potentially being subject to costly court cases and compensations claims down the
A Tory spokesman said:
All right-minded people want to eradicate the evils of sectarianism, but the best way of doing this is with clear, robust and vigorous legislation. We must guard against
'something must be done syndrome' producing bad law.
Alex Salmond has offered a freedom of speech concession to opponents of his government's anti-sectarian legislation in a bid to appease critics of the SNP's contentious new laws. The announcement of the freedom of expression clause came
after the First Minister held a meeting with the Bishop of Paisley in response to a letter the churchman had written setting out concerns about the government's anti-sectarianism legislation and its plans to bring in same-sex marriage.
Bishop Philip Tartaglia acknowledged the concession by the government.
Alex Salmond is set to agree to a formal review of his anti-sectarianism crackdown to appease critics who claim the measures he is proposing will prove to be either worthless or counter-productive. The First Minister is expected to back a call
from MSPs to put the new laws under review after they get through a parliamentary vote, so sceptics can monitor whether or not they make any difference.
The move comes after Salmond's bid to win unanimous backing was damaged last week when Labour
MSPs announced they were opposing the new laws on the grounds that they might make the fight against sectarianism harder.
6th October 2011. Press release from Eureka Entertainment
Eureka Entertainment is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of the controversial horror film The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) .
Ian Sadler, Sales Director for Eureka Entertainment, Bounty Films' UK distributor said:
We are really pleased that after nearly 4 months of detailed discussion and debate, we have been able to reach an agreement with the BBFC and to produce a very viable cut of the film which will both excite and challenge
its fans. Naturally we have a slight disappointment that we have had to make cuts, but we feel that the storyline has not been compromised and the level of horror has been sustained.
Further details of our plans for the UK theatrical
and DVD release will be announced early next week.
The BBFC has awarded an 18 classification to a cut version of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) after 32 cuts
The DVD of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) has been passed with an 18 classification following 32 cuts made across 8 separate sequences. The cuts total 2 minutes 37 seconds and address all the concerns raised when the Board
refused a classification on 6 June 2011, including those relating to sexual violence, graphic gore and the possibility of breach of the law relating to obscenity.
The President, Sir Quentin Thomas, said
first examined this work earlier this year we judged that, as submitted, it was unsuitable for classification; and, as we explained to the company, we could not ourselves see how cuts could produce a viable and classifiable work. That remains the view of
one of our Vice Presidents, Gerard Lemos, who is therefore abstaining from the Board's collective decision.
The company lodged an appeal against our decision to refuse classification. In the course of preparations for that appeal,
the company proposed a number of cuts which it was right for us to consider. In response, after further examination, we proposed a more extensive series of cuts. These cuts produce a work which many will find difficult but which I believe can properly be
classified at the adult level. The company has now accepted these cuts, withdrawn its appeal and the work has been classified, as cut, at 18.
In its original letter of 6 June refusing classification, the Board made clear that it was
open to the distributor to attempt cuts. The cuts which have now been made are, in the Board's judgement, necessary if the film is to be classified.
Human Centipede Part II (Full Sequence) has been unbanned and passed 18 after 2:37s of BBFC cuts for:
UK 2011 Bounty video
UK 2011 cinema release
The BBFC commented on their cuts:
Company was required to make 32 individual cuts to scenes of sexual and sexualised violence, sadistic violence and humiliation, and a child presented in an abusive and violent context. In this
case, cuts included:
a man masturbating with sandpaper around his penis
graphic sight of a man's teeth being removed with a hammer
graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks
graphic sight of forced defecation into and around other people's mouths
a man with barbed wire wrapped around his penis raping a woman
a newborn baby being killed
graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals' mouth and buttocks.
Few politicians, churchy types or moralists are bold enough to criticize adult sexual behaviour today. Instead, childhood and consumer culture provides a more legitimate site of anxiety and opprobrium. Those who are worrying about the moral
development of little girls are actually worried about the moral degeneracy of adult society, but dare not direct their criticism at adults, retreating instead to what they sense is the more consensual terrain of concern for the welfare of the next
What concerned commentators fail to recognize is that, far from there being an anything goes attitude when it comes to children's bodies and behavior, we are in fact profoundly uncomfortable with children's
physical presence and their latent or nascent sexuality, as anyone who works with children and has been trained in no-touch rules will tell you. Little girls' bodies, how they move them and how they are covered, have thus become the official
object of government concern and public scrutiny.
Campaigners against a proposed nasty new law to stamp out football sectarianism vowed to step up their protest as they distributed thousands of leaflets at the Rangers versus Hibs game.
Take a Liberty (Scotland) also plans to target
Celtic Park and other football grounds, and demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament when the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications bill is debated.
The bill would see those convicted face up to five years in jail for
bigoted behaviour, such as singing or chanting that could incite trouble, at matches or online.
Their campaign intensified amid growing signs that opposition politicians at Holyrood believe the SNP's proposals are becoming increasingly confused
and could criminalise ordinary fans.
Take a Liberty has the backing of former Celtic director and ex-Lord Provost of Glasgow, Michael Kelly, who said the bill is a runaway train . Kelly said:
It is ironic
that our much maligned football fans are the first to stand up to defend freedom of speech and oppose this ridiculous, undemocratic and unenforceable piece of redundant legislation.
The ordinary fan has clearly a much firmer grasp
of what human rights mean in Scotland than a First Minister jumping on a bandwagon which has quickly become a runaway train.
Take a Liberty spokesman Stuart Waiton said fans from a variety of clubs, including Airdrie and Celtic,
helped hand out 5,000 leaflets at Ibrox, demanding free speech in football and an end to the police harassment of fans who are deemed to be singing 'offensive' songs . He said the move was aimed at boosting a petition against the bill,
which has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures. The group has also produced T-shirts with the slogan, after Voltaire: I may hate what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.
Home Secretary Theresa May has used an interview with The Sunday Telegraph to warn that the Human Rights Act is hampering the Home Office's struggle to deport dangerous foreign criminals and terrorist suspects. She said:
I'd personally like to see the Human Rights Act go because I think we have had some problems with it,
I see it, here in the Home Office, particularly, the sort of problems we have in being unable to deport
people who perhaps are terrorist suspects. Obviously we've seen it with some foreign criminals who are in the UK." The Coalition has set up a commission of human rights experts to report on the possibility of bringing in a British Bill of Rights to
replace the Act by the end of next year.
The Home Secretary's words will be cheered by many Conservatives. However, they are likely to be greeted with dismay by leading Liberal Democrats, some of whom have signalled the future of the
Coalition would be under threat if any serious action was taken against the Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
At last month's Liberal Democrat conference, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was loudly
cheered by his party's activists as he declared: Let me say something really clear about the Human Rights Act. In fact I'll do it in words of one syllable: It is here to stay.