UK News

 2011: Oct-Dec

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27th December   

Update: Getting Propaganda Cake and Eating It...

Whingeing at UK action against Iranian Press TV whilst jamming the BBC
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Press TV logo 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.

Some 45% 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.

 

27th December   

The Olympic Sport of Internet Policing...

Police report that 2000 sites have been closed for fraud prevention
Link Here

Olympics 2012 logo 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.

 

23rd December   

For Fear of the Daily Mail...

ITV axe Woody Allen Jesus song from the Jonathan Ross Show
Link Here

tim minchin on jonathan ross video 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..

But he 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 .

Update: Clergy Relaxed

24th December 2011. See  article from  theaustralian.com.au

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.

 

23rd December   

Update: Undiplomatic Blocking...

Iran blocks UK embassy website
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

uk in iran logo 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.

 

20th December   

Explicit Warning...

Parental advisory of explicit lyrics extended to online retailers
Link Here

parental advisory explicit lyrics logo The music industry's parental advisory scheme has been extended to explicit content in music and video downloads.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) scheme has applied to physical music and video since 1995, with logos attached to material deemed offensive or inappropriate for children.

The logo now signposts unsuitable files on sites including iTunes and Amazon.

The updated scheme states that UK digital music retailers and streaming services use the Parental Advisory logo or the word explicit alongside files that could be considered unsuitable.

The BPI said that while some sites already flagged up explicit content, the scheme, introduced on Tuesday, would provide consistent labelling.

 

16th December   

Updated: Another Block in the Wall...

Sky blocks Newzbin website in response to court order
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Sky TV 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.

 

15th December   

Update: Dangerous Songs...

SNP push their football sectarianism bill through parliament
Link Here

The Scottish Parliament 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.

 

10th December   

Offsite: A Century of Film Censorship...

On the cutting room floor:
Link Here

David Cooke 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.

...Read the full article

 

7th December   

Update: Police Take the Law into their Own Hands...

Authorities persuade Nominet to consider taking down websites without judicial oversight
Link Here  full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

Open Rights Group logo 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

In 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.

 

6th December   

Update: Important News Rightly Uncensored...

Ofcom decide that complaints about news coverage of Gaddafi's capture and killing do not warrant investigation
Link Here

gaddafi captured video 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 .

 

4th December   

Offsite: Spirit of the Age...

Outrage! Outrage! Oh, Let Me Be Outraged!
Link Here

outraged 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.

...Read the full article

 

1st December   

Update: Unbelievable...

Ofcom's unenviable job of being a political censor of a foreign propaganda channel whilst not being able to admit to diplomatic input
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Ofcom logo 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.

 

1st December   

Updated: Secret Pakistan...

BBC World News taken off Pakistani cable systems after showing documentary deemed critical of the state
Link Here  full story: BBC Censored in Pakistan...BBC news banned after disputed documentary

bbc world news logo 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.

Update: Summoned

1st December 2011. See  article from  google.com

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.

Update: BBC Called in from the Cold

3rd February 2012.  See  article from  bbc.co.uk

The Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has said he wants to see BBC World News back on cable television in his country after the recent ban.

He told the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he was absolutely in favour of giving more freedom to the media. We definitely... want the BBC to be operating in Pakistan.

 

30th November   

Offsite: Monitoring of the Press...

Former Press Council chief talks about press regulation
Link Here

index on censorship dark matterAs 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.

Any form 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.

...Read the full article

 

29th November   

Obituary: Wrestling with the BBFC...

Film director Ken Russell dies aged 84
Link Here

British Picture Autobiography Ken Russell 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.

The Devils

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 problems.

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 loses details.
  • Grandier's tongue torture loses details
  • Shots of a priest being assaulted by nuns after the King's visit are missing
  • Jeanne 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

See article from criterionforum.org

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.

UK 2012 BFI R2 DVD at UK Amazon for release on 19th march 2012

 

28th November   

Offsite: Kite Marks for the Media...

Future press regulation must recognise multi-platform content
Link Here

Regulating Trust Journalism Standards Regulation Who are the press? What is the media? What defines journalists? These are questions Lord Leveson will have to address before he can move on to consider questions of press regulation.

How do we identify the press when it's not just in print but online? Where are the boundaries between traditional and citizen journalism? What differentiates the broadcast, print and online worlds of the media now that they all provide video and text based content across PCs, smart phones, tablet devices and, shortly, internet-connected televisions?

Why are journalists subject to comprehensive rules, including impartiality, when they broadcast? And yet when their material is accessed on catch-up services, or as originated video-on-demand content, or on newspaper websites, they are bound by no such rules.

...Read the full article

 

26th November   

War on Cyber Crime...

Government announces measures against cyber crime
Link Here

cabinet office 1 logoThe 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.

Encourage the 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 .

 

24th November   

Update: Human Rights Heroes...

Liberty Awards
Link Here

Liberty logoHuman 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, said:

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:

Cerie 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:

Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas 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 years.

 

21st November   

Update: Police Distressed by Court Judgement...

Police unlikely to be harassed, alarmed or distressed by the word 'fuck'
Link Here  full story: Public Order Act...Enabling police censorship

Old BaileyThe 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 his swearing.

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, said:

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.

 

20th November   

Offsite: Morality in Revenge...

Adam Rehmeier speaks of the reception so far to The Bunny game
Link Here  full story: The Bunny Game...Banned by the BBFC

The Bunny Game posterBrutal 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 thought.

...Read the full interview

 

19th November   

Update: Back in the Domain of Courts...

Nominet develops its domain takedown powers to provide defences against over zealous police
Link Here  full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

NominetNominet 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.

Update: LINX Concerns

29th November 2011. See  article from  theregister.co.uk

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:

A domain 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.

Update: Further Consultations

30th June 2012. See  article from  publicaffairs.linx.net

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.

 

18th November   

Updated: Court Internet Censorship Begins...

BT blocks Newzbin 2 website
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Old BaileyBT 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.

Update: Inevitable clamour for more blocking

18th November 2011. Based on article from out-law.com

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.

 

12th November   

Offsite: Oz...

The censorship trial that changed Britain
Link Here

Trials Oz Tony Palmer 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.

Their 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.

...Read the full article

 

11th November   

Dangerous Terrestrial TV...

Man prosecuted for video clips of children recorded from terrestrial TV
Link Here

Walkabout DVD Jenny Agutter 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.

Waters was found not guilty.

Comment: In a Different Context

19th November 2011. From Harvey on the Melon Farmers Forum

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 hard drive.

 

9th November   

Mine's a Stiffy...

UK drinks censor bans Stiffy's Jaffa Cake vodka drink
Link Here

stiffys jaffa cake kola kubez webA 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 responsibility Code.

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 Portman Group.

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.

 

7th November   

Updated: Minor Sideline...

The IWF describe their role as internet censors of supposedly obscene adult porn
Link Here

IWF logoThe 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 remit.

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.

Offsite: Interview with Susie Hargreaves, IWF Chief Executive

7th November 2011. See  interview from  theregister.co.uk by Jane Fae

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 .

...Read the full interview

 

1st November   

Offsite: Graphic Justification...

Yes, yes, yes - publication of Gaddafi death pictures was justified
Link Here

sun on gaddafiChris Elliott, The Guardian's readers' editor, has waded into the contentious matter of whether it was right to publish pictures - especially on the front page - of Muammar Gaddafi's bloody corpse.

He points out that many readers and some members of the paper's staff objected to their use in print and online.

When I asked my City University students last Monday I was surprised to discover that many of them objected too.

...Read the full article

 

31st October   

Updated: Last Minute Suggestion...

New intervention in the legal case requiring BT to block Newzbin2
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Old Bailey Media industry copyright representatives returned to court to hammer out the final details in the pioneering web-blocking case against Usenet indexing site Newzbin2.

Although BT had already lost their case opposing the action, there was a last-minute development when a Newzbin2 and BT user stepped up to intervene in the proceedings.

The individual, known only as DM , had already come under legal pressure from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) trying to prevent the intervention.

TorrentFreak understands that DM asked that the full block on Newzbin2 should be avoided, and the MPA should specifically identify which URLs point to infringing material and have those removed instead.

The judge felt that DM's submission should be aired and he allowed that to go ahead. Whether it has made any difference is yet to be seen. And because he won his submission he won't have to pay the costs of the MPA opposing him.

The court has reserved its judgement on details considered in this latest hearing.

Update: Court confirms block on Newzbin 2

31st October 2011. See  article from  xbiz.com

Britain's largest ISP, BT, is being forced to use its Cleanfeed blocking capability to stop users from accessing a website enabling movie piracy.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported that as a result of a case won by Twentieth Century Fox and five other studios last July, a  judge told BT that it had to use the Cleanfeed content-blocking system to block Newzbin. This is a website that indexes Usenet content that is commonly posted without copyright consent.

BT has argued against the court order saying it would be inappropriate because Newzbin isn't a customer of the company.

 

29th October   

Bound to Cause Calls for Censorship...

Violent porn implicated in the murder of Joanna Yeates
Link Here

HM Courts Service 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.

 

28th October   

Updated: Google Transparency Report...

Google reveal the number of requests for them to remove or hide content
Link Here

Google logo 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.

UK

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.

US

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.

Update: Occupying the High Ground

28th October 2011. Based on article from readwriteweb.com , thanks to Nick

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.

 

27th October   

Olympic Word Games...

London Olympics News Service claims that competitor sound bites will be uncensored
Link Here

Olympics 2012 logo 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.

We will 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.

 

27th October   

Updated: Good News from Theresa May...

Proposal to withdraw much abused police censorship power from the Public Order Act
Link Here  full story: Public Order Act...Enabling police censorship

theresa may 2010 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 consultation closes on 13 January 2012.

Update: So What About Section 4?

22nd October 2011. Based on article from secularism.org.uk

National Secular Society logo 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.

Stephen Evans, 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 insulting

27th October 2011. See  article from  libdemvoice.org by Juilan Huppert MP

Lib Dems logo 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 .

...Read the full article

 

26th October   

Updated: Mostly Good Work...

IWF marks its 15th anniversary
Link Here

iwf 15th anniversary logo 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.

 

23rd October   

Updated: Not Nice...

Ofcom receives complaints about images of Gaddafi's death
Link Here

gadaffi killed video There has been plenty of coverage about the death of Gaddafi, particularly as it was somewhat more graphic than usual news coverage.

UK TV censor Ofcom said it had received complaints about numerous broadcasters that aired the images of a dazed or dead-looking Gaddafi being manhandled by his captors.

Media commentators debated the unusually graphic images in Britain's Friday morning papers.

The BBC defended its use of the images as crucial to dispelling the swirl of rumour as conflicting reports emerged about Gaddafi's state. BBC newsroom head Mary Hockaday said:

We do not use such pictures lightly. The images of his dead body were an important part of telling the story to confirm reports of his death.

By contrast, American newspapers tended to shy away from the stronger images.

Update: BBC response re graphic news pictures

23rd October 2011.  See  article from  bbc.co.uk by Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC newsroom.

BBC logo 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

 

22nd October   

Update: The Good Outweighs the Bad...

Twitter boss explains his decision not to help police with their enquiries into the identification of users
Link Here

Twitter logo 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.

 

21st October   

Update: Unacceptably High Costs for Defending Libel Cases...

Parliamentary committee finds that libel reforms don't go far enough
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

houses of parliament at night 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.

Recommendation that websites be held responsible for anonymous comments

See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Rubies Costume Co Vendetta Mask 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?

 

19th October   

Updated: Dangerous Insults...

Glasgow man set to be jailed over insults on Facebook written after football incident
Link Here  full story: Social Networking Censorship in the UK...Internet censorship set to solve Britain's broken society

Facebook logo 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.

Update: Jailed for 8 months for Facebook insults

18th October 2011. See  article from  scotsman.com

Scottish Courts logo Stephen Birrell, who posted sectarian comments on a Facebook page about Celtic manager Neil Lennon, has been given what is thought to be the toughest sentence for a football-related internet insult.

He was jailed for eight months for posting religious and racially-motivated comments on the social networking sit.

Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell that the courts had to send a clear message to deter others who might be tempted to behave in this way .

One of the comments, posted a day before the Old Firm clash, read: Hope they all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.

Two days after the match, Birrell wrote: Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers.

Birrell was also handed a five-year football banning order at Glasgow Sheriff Court for writing the comments on a Facebook page titled Neil Lennon Should Be Banned .

Offsite Comment: I don't believe in censorship...BUT...

18th October 2011. See  article from  lallandspeatworrier.blogspot.com

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.

...Read the full article

 

18th October   

Offsite: One for the Lawyers...

A crucial week for the cause of free expression
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Uk Supreme Court 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.

...Read the full article

 

16th October   

Impartiality and Revolution...

Ofcom censures Aden Live TV for its programming about South Yemen
Link Here

aden live tv logo Aden Live
27 October 2010 to 16 November 2010

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.

Background

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.

Complaint

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 behaviour.

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 Rule 3.1.

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.

 

15th October   

Offsite: Island Mentality...

Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers was banned in Guernsey in 1995
Link Here

Natural Born Killers Directors Cut 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.

...Read the full article

 

14th October   

Update: Disappointing, Worrying and Sad...

Distributors, Trinity X, comment on the BBFC ban of The Bunny Game
Link Here  full story: The Bunny Game...Banned by the BBFC

The Bunny Game poster 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.

Trinity is currently considering its options

 

14th October   

Inciteful Books?...

Book publisher on trial for extremist material
Link Here

maktabah logo 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 radicalised.

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.

 

13th October   

Update: The Bunny Game Banned...

Unremitting sexual and physical abuse of a helpless woman
Link Here  full story: The Bunny Game...Banned by the BBFC

The Bunny Game poster 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.

 

13th October   

Offsite: Ofcom Bans Press TV...

But who knows what to believe when everything comes across as propaganda
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Press TV logo 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

 

11th October   

Update: ParentPort...

UK government to solve all society's ills with internet blocking and a website for parental complaints
Link Here  full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report

parentport logo 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.

The 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:

  • ASA
  • ATVOD
  • BBC Trust
  • BBFC
  • Ofcom
  • Press Complaints Commission
  • VSC

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 website

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 schools.

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.

 

11th October   

Update: Vandals...

Banksy mural removed from London street
Link Here

One Nation Under CCTV 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.

 

11th October   

Offsite: Treading Carefully...

In vindicating al-Jazeera's publication of diplomatic documents, Ofcom is supporting truth-telling in a turbulent region
Link Here

aljazeera palesti papers 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.

Today 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.

...Read the full article

Comment: The A Team

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.

 

9th October   

Updated: A Serious Chill...

Alex Salmond's nasty bigotry bill under fire from many sides
Link Here

philip tartaglia 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 line.

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.

Update: Freedom of Speech Clause

8th October 2011. See  article from  thescotsman.scotsman.com

alex salmond 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.

Afterwards, Bishop Philip Tartaglia acknowledged the concession by the government.

Update: Review to check how crap the law will be

9th October 2011. SSee  article from  scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com

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.

 

7th October   

Updated: Human Centipede 2 Unbanned...

BBFC agree to grant an 18 certificate after cuts
Link Here  full story: Human Centipede...Hype spreads mouth to arse

human centipede 2 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

6th October 2011. From press release from bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo 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

When we 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.

Update: The BBFC list their cuts

7th October See  article from  bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo 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.

 

5th October   

Offsite: Are our Kids Oversexualised?...

Or is it the adults?
Link Here  full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report

The Independent 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 generation.

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.

...Read the full article

 

2nd October   

Update: Take a Liberty...

Rival football factions unite to recognise their government as the common enemy
Link Here

take a liberty t shirt 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.

 

2nd October   

Update: Talk of Selfish!...

Theresa May would like to drop human rights because one of them causes her problems
Link Here  full story: Human Rights Act...Government for curtailing human rights

Theresa May 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.

 

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