UK News

 2012: Oct-Dec



 Update: Insults Beyond Offensive...

DPP updates guidelines to prevent internet users from being prosecuted for trivial insults


Link Here 19th December 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

Keir StarmerNew guidelines could see fewer people being charged in England and Wales for offensive messages on social networks.

The Director of Public Persecutions said people should only face a trial if their comments on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere go beyond being offensive. He claimed the guidance combats threats and internet trolls without having a chilling effect on free speech.

The guidance comes after a string of cases of prosecutions for jokes, and trivial insults, including the prosecution of a man who tweeted a joke threatening to blow up an airport.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had now dealt with more than 50 cases relating to potentially criminal comments posted online.

He said the interim guidelines, which come into force immediately, clarified which kinds of cases should be prosecuted and which would only go ahead after a rigorous assessment whether it was in the public interest to prosecute.

The guidance says that if someone posts a message online that clearly amounts to a credible threat of violence, specifically targets an individual or individuals, or breaches a court order designed to protect someone, then the person behind the message should face prosecution.

People who receive malicious messages and pass them on, such as by retweeting, could also fall foul of the law.

However, online posts that are merely grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false would face a much tougher test before the individual could be charged under laws designed to prevent malicious communications. Starmer said that many suspects in this last category would be unlikely to be prosecuted because it would not be in the public interest to take them to court. This could include posts made by drunk people who, on sobering up, take swift action to delete the communication. Starmer said:

These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law.

The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it.

Although the interim guidance is now in force, its final form is subject to a consultation that runs until 13 March 2013.

 

 Offsite Article: Random Censorship...


Link Here 19th December 2012
Earlier this year, 35 people decided which films it is and isn't okay for you to watch

See article from ultraculture.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Thanking Tookey...


Link Here 18th December 2012
Human Centipede II distributors Eureka thank Christopher Tookey and his cohorts at the Daily Mail for the wonderful publicity they gave to the franchise and the subsequent positive impact on sales.

See article from theraygun.co.uk

 

  Podcast 9: Sexual Violence and Imitable Techniques...

BBFC explains how the inexpert opinions of 35 lay people are used to decide whether a film is harmful or not


Link Here 17th December 2012  full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence

sl500 aa300 The BBFC have released the latest Podcast. Episode 9: Imitable Techniques.

There is the usual interesting current news section and a feature on the censorship of imitable techniques (kids hiding in tumble dryers, hotwiring cars, making light bulb bombs and martial arts weaponry).

There is also an illuminating interview with David Austin, Assistant Director, Policy & Public Affairs, speaking about the recent BBFC 'research' to survey the opinions of 35 ordinary film viewers.

He was a little unconvincing though. He starts off well, explaining very clearly that BBFC censorship for adults is based on removing content illegal by the laws of the land and content that is harmful. Notably Austin did not mention the concept of censoring material on the basis of public opinion.

He explained that a current basis for cutting sexual violence was research by psychologist Guy Cumberbatch, but this was now 10 years old. So the BBFC embarked on a 18 month project to update the guidelines, culminating in a survey of 35 lay people's opinions.

Austin did not explain how the opinion of a small group of inexpert people could possibly define what films are actually harmful. Nor did he offer the alternative that the BBFC now censor according to public opinion, rather than the aforementioned legality and harm.

Then he moved seamlessly into claiming that the surveyed views of 35 people were in fact 'public opinion'. I can't imagine that a statistical analysis of the 'research' would support that idea that a sample size of 35 people would have any statistical significance whatsoever.

Austin was asked the very important question about the practical effects of the new guidelines, especially as there is no practical indication whether the BBFC are 'tightening up' the guidelines or not. Just that the BBFC will take more factors into account, some supporting censorship, and some mitigating the need for censorship. In fact nearly all of the British media has reported a 'tightening up' of guidelines.

Austin was asked what recent decisions would have been made differently as a result of the changes. He answered by urging listeners to take note of the following table in the BBFC 'research' paper.

Film Title BBFC Classification Participant Classification
Wolf Creek 18 uncut 18 uncut
The Killer Inside Me 18 uncut 18 uncut or 18 with cuts
Martyrs 18 uncut 18 uncut
Antichrist 18 uncut 18 uncut
I Spit On Your Grave 18 after cuts Mixed ranging from 18 uncut to rejected
The Human Centipede II 18 after cuts 18 with cuts or rejected
A Serbian Film 18 after cuts 18 with cuts or rejected
Grotesque Rejected Mixed/mostly rejected
The Bunny Game Rejected Rejected

Presumably this is an indication that most films will be unaffected but that the highly controversial or sexually violent may be more strictly censored.

Perhaps we will get to see soon if someone decides to try and release the new Maniac remake.

 

 Update: Appallingly Poor Quality EDM...

MPs belatedly call for the banning of The Innocence of Muslims


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

House of Commons logoSeemingly a little late of the mark, but perhaps just in time for possible renewed flak from the next controversial film, The Innocent Prophet from the likes of Terry Jones. Anyway UK parliamentarians have called for a ban on the previous controversial film, The Innocence of Muslims

EDM 829: Innocence of Muslims Film

That this House notes the anger of Muslim constituents in response to the online video, The Innocence of Muslims;

  • is offended by the vile, Islamophobic slurs it makes about a faith followed by over two billion people worldwide;

  • believes that the film constitutes incitement to hatred on the grounds of race and religion;

  • further believes that the film itself is of appallingly poor quality;

  • and urges the Government to make provision for its banning.

Signed by Party Constituency
Campbell, Ronnie Labour Party Blyth Valley
Cunningham, Alex Labour Party Stockton North
Danczuk, Simon Labour Party Rochdale
Dobbin, Jim Labour Party Heywood and Middleton
Galloway, George Respect Bradford West
George, Andrew Liberal Democrats St Ives
Hopkins, Kelvin Labour Party Luton North
Lavery, Ian Labour Party Wansbeck
McDonald, Andy Labour Party Middlesbrough
Meale, Alan Labour Party Mansfield
Osborne, Sandra Labour Party Ayr Carrick and Cumnock
Wright, Iain Labour Party Hartlepool

 

 Offsite: BBFC Credibility Takes a Knock...

British Censor Board Using Bad Research to Inflict Greater Restrictions on Movies


Link Here 13th December 2012  full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence

film school rejects logoThe website Film School Rejects has written an interesting article about the BBFC's pitiful justification for a policy change.

The article quotes Catherine Anderson of the BBFC defending the board's actions:

We are satisfied that the research methodology was very robust. This was qualitative rather than quantitative research. The research looked in depth at the issues raised by depictions of sexual and sadistic violence in films and videos. One on one interviews and focus groups lasting three hours in length are more appropriate for exploring the issues around sexual and sadistic violence rather than a more superficial piece of quantitative research.

The research does not purport to demonstrate that certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence definitively cause harm. Proving harm from media effects research is always contested. There are difficulties in translating laboratory results to real life. But the public's perceptions of possible harm are important. This is not only because they may have real life experience of harm but also because classification decisions need to be in line with public expectations for regulation to enjoy public confidence and therefore be effective.

Perhaps the BBFC could decypher their unhelpful words describing the new policy by saying how the new policy would affect classifications of the films in the study if they were to be resubmitted today.

...Read the full article

 

 Offsite Comment: T'is The Season To Be Jolly... Angry!...


Link Here 13th December 2012  full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence
Speaking of extreme cinema, the BBFC, torture porn and of course the Daily Mail

See article from cinema-extreme.blogspot.com

 

  BBFC to adjust sexual and sadistic violence policy...

Experts and researchers have provided little conclusive evidence of the harms of sexual violence in film. So the BBFC asked Tom, Dick, Harry and Sharon instead.


Link Here 11th December 2012  full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence

Serbian Film Uncut BBFC is to adjust sexual and sadistic violence policy to take into account key areas of public concern. Recent research has helped the BBFC to respond to concerns about depictions of rape, sexual assault and other sadistic violence in films and videos. 

Research carried out on behalf of the BBFC in 2002 and again in 2012 demonstrates that members of the film viewing public find unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence which, in their view, have the potential to cause harm.

Although the research reaffirms views that adults should be able to choose what they see, provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful. They are concerned about young men with little experience, and more vulnerable viewers, accessing sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women.

Film viewing members of the public support intervention at the adult category, by the BBFC, to remove certain depictions of violence on the grounds that they consider them to be potentially harmful.

The research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2012 highlights concerns about certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence to which the BBFC must respond. Much of the public believe that sexual and sadistic violence are legitimate areas for film makers to explore. But they are concerned by certain depictions which may be potentially harmful to some, including scenes which: 

  • make sexual or sadistic violence look appealing

  • reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy rape

  • invite viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.

Most of those involved in the research expect the BBFC to intervene to remove potential harm from such scenes. The BBFC may also intervene where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

"There is no 'one size fits all' rule for any theme under the BBFC classification guidelines, as long as what is depicted is within the law and does not pose a harm risk. Once again the public have told us that context, tone and impact, and a work's over all message, can aggravate a theme, or make it acceptable, even in cases of sexual and sadistic violence. The decision as to whether and how to intervene in scenes of sexual and sadistic violence is complex, but drawing out and applying these aggravating and mitigating factors is helpful in arriving at a decision which balances freedom of expression against public protection".

SEXUAL AND SADISTIC VIOLENCE: RESPONSE OF THE BBFC TO PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND CONCERNS

A. Introduction

Research carried out on behalf of the BBFC, most recently by Ipsos MORI in 2012, demonstrates that film viewing members of the public find unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence which, in their view, have the potential to cause harm.  This concern is particularly acute in relation to young men, without much life experience, and other vulnerable viewers accessing a diet of sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women.

Further, there is support for intervention, at the adult category, to remove certain depictions of violence on the grounds that many of the public consider them to be potentially harmful.

The BBFC's response to these concerns must strike a balance between, on the one hand, freedom of expression and the principle that adults should be free to choose what they see provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful, and the need to protect the vulnerable from material which may cause harm.

The response outlined below covers situations where the BBFC is considering cutting, or even rejecting, works aimed at adults and containing violence, in the absence of a specific legal prohibition on depiction of the activity.

When considering such intervention, the test the BBFC will apply is whether there is a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk of harm. Research in this area is contested.  There are difficulties both in carrying out such research and in translating findings from the laboratory to society.  However, the difficulty of establishing broad and replicated findings from such research does not mean that there are no harm risks.  The research literature, and reviews of it, often warn that certain works may pose certain risks for certain individuals in certain circumstances. 

What the public considers to be potentially harmful is also important. This is not simply because members of the public may have practical experience of harm risks in operation in society which cannot easily be addressed in the lab. Furthermore, the confidence of the public that the classification system will protect the vulnerable from material that has the potential to cause harm is itself an important indicator of whether the system is effective.

B. The response of the BBFC

This response covers both fictional and documentary (for example "extreme reality" works) which contain sexual and/or sadistic violence.

Intervention is likely in relation to any depiction of sexual or sadistic violence which is likely to pose a non trivial harm risk through, for example:

  • making sexual or sadistic violence look appealing

  • reinforcing the suggestion that victims enjoy rape

  • inviting viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.

Intervention may also be required in cases where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk. 

Material of this nature might also be considered obscene.  When considering intervention on the ground of obscenity, the BBFC will take account of the defence of public good and the significance of the overall nature and purpose of the work in establishing whether or not a work is likely to be found obscene.

The BBFC will also take into account the right to freedom of expression established under the Human Rights Act 1988.

The decision as to whether and how to intervene is complex and subject to a number of aggravating or mitigating indicators which need to be balanced out in order to arrive at a decision. 

These indicators are listed below. They are a guide to assist BBFC Examiners in making recommendations in relation to works which are on the edge of suitability for classification according to the BBFC's Classification Guidelines.

The indicators are not designed to be a tick list. No one indicator will of itself necessarily determine the classification of a work. Examiners will balance the indicators and use their judgement when deciding which course of action to recommend -- passing the work uncut; passing the work with cuts; or determining that the work is unsuitable for classification.  The presence of one or two aggravating indicators will not necessarily lead a work to be cut or even rejected, if the mitigating indicators outweigh them. Nevertheless, if Examiners recommend not intervening, they will highlight any aggravating indicators in their reports and justify why they do not lead to intervention.

Each factor listed below is expanded with possible examples of when the factor might come into play.

AGGRAVATING FACTORS

Does the depiction make sexual or sadistic violence seem normal, appealing, or arousing?

For example, the perpetrators are characters with whom the viewer might identify.  The scene is shot in a way which might invite the viewer to identify with the perpetrator(s).    Violence is glamorised in a way which could arouse the viewer.  The scene places an emphasis on the sexual pleasure of the perpetrator(s). The sequence offers a "how to" guide on how to perpetrate sexual or sadistic violence.  The sequence has the potential to raise concerns about the enactment of sexual fantasies, particularly among vulnerable viewers.

Is the depiction likely to appeal especially to impressionable or vulnerable viewers, including young men and gang members, with the result that it might influence their behaviour or attitudes in a way which may cause harm?

For example, there is a gang mentality at play which suggests that sadistic or sexual violence can be a bonding experience within a group.

Does the depiction perpetuate any suggestion that victims enjoy rape?

For example, the depiction suggests that women may become sexually aroused through being raped or that "no" means "yes".

Is the depiction of sexual or sadistic violence gratuitous, including in terms of excessive length and/or detail?

For example, the depiction is out of step with what is required by the narrative.  The work does not have much of a narrative.    Rape features a focus on eroticising detail, such as nudity.  The scene wallows in gratuitous violence. 

Are children involved in the sequence?  

Participants in the 2012 research felt that the rape of children, or the juxtaposition of images of children with sexual violence to be potentially more harmful than any other form of sexual violence.

Does the depiction amount to an unacceptable degradation of human dignity?

For example, the sequence features strong, including real life, abuse, torture, killing or other violence without significant contextual justification or other mitigating factors to the extent that it offers human suffering as entertainment in itself?  Might the sequence be considered significantly to erode viewer empathy? 

MITIGATING FACTORS

Does the work make it clear that the violence depicted is not condoned? 

For example, the perpetrators of sexual or sadistic violence are punished within a work's narrative.  The narrative is balanced.  (For example, it does not contain 80 minutes of graphic rape followed by two minutes of mild rebuke.)  The viewer is invited to identify with the victim(s). 

Does the work or scene lack credibility in a way which undermines its power?

For example, the work is dated and/or ridiculous.  The depiction of sexual or sadistic violence is comic and unlikely to be taken seriously.  The sequence is otherwise risible.  Low production values can add to the lack of credibility.

Is the scene discreetly shot?

For example, it leaves some detail to the imagination.  The scene only as long as the narrative requires it to be.  The treatment is in keeping with the narrative.

Is the scene narratively justified?

For example, it is based on a true story or carries a strong anti-rape message.  What the viewer sees is necessary to explain character motivation.  The work raises awareness of an issue of public concern in a responsible way. 

Where there is any nudity is it outside the context of rape?

Most participants in the 2012 research felt that merely combining violent images with nudity, even sexualised nudity, was not necessarily a problem in itself. These viewers drew a clear distinction between rape, where eroticising detail could be potentially harmful, and violence which is shot in a titillatory way.

 

 Comment: Strange Things Are happening...

A good summary of the BBFC's risible 'research', unbelievably used to justify policy


Link Here 11th December 2012

strange things are happening logo The BBFC recently carried out what they laughably call research into public attitudes towards depictions of rape, sexual and sadistic violence (so, no leading phrases there...). In this case, 35 people across London. Bristol and Dundee were asked to watched and comment on a number of recent controversial films that had either been passed uncut, cut or banned.

Let's think about that for a moment. 35 people in three cities -- two in the South of England and one in Scotland. No serious scientific researcher or public opinion market researcher would consider this to be anywhere near the number and variety required to use to gain any level of information about public attitudes. You'd probably get greater variety and numbers in a railway station bar.

...Read the full article

 

 Comment: Mail Wail...

Of course the Daily Mail has a few gleeful words at the thought of films being censored


Link Here 11th December 2012

Daily Mail logoThe Daily Mail Spouts:

At last, censors crack down on sexually violent films that corrupt teenage boys' minds

Sexually violent horror films will finally face a crackdown by censors over fears they distort the way teenage boys view women.

The long overdue decision comes following research which found widespread public concern over the increasing number of sexually depraved and barbaric films being fed to British audiences.

The British Board of Film Classification has announced it will tighten guidelines over such films which will see more banned, or scenes cut from the content to protect vulnerable viewers.

Vivienne Pattison, director of campaign group Media Watch UK, said:

This decision has been long overdue.

Films have become increasingly more violent and the regulations have allowed that to happen.

This is what the public wants. People are saying enough is enough.'

I am not sure that the BBFC have quite said what the Daily Mail hope. All the BBFC have vaguely said is that a whole load factors will be taken into consideration.

...Read the full article

Grotesque legacy of censors who failed us

See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

The Daily Mail leader writers also enjoy the opportunity to go into overdrive:

Decades too late, the British Board of Film Classification announces a crackdown on sexually violent films, whose insidious spread it has done so much to encourage.

Ever since the 1960s, the BBFC has been in the vanguard of the permissive society, allowing increasingly graphic material to be seen by ever younger audiences.

Only now, after feeding an appetite for obscenity that has done untold social damage, do the censors acknowledge concerns that such films could normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women .

The irony is that this U-turn comes as the BBFC is all but powerless to stem the corrupting tide.

For in the age of the internet, every child or teenager with a smartphone or laptop has access to grotesque filth at the touch of a button or click of a mouse.

...Read the full article

 

 Offsite Article: Leveson: a licence to police press freedom...


Link Here 8th December 2012  full story: Leveson Report...Proposal to appoint Ofcom as the UK's newspaper censor
The dangers inherent in Lord Justice Leveson's report do not end with the controversy over statutory underpinning for a new press regulator. By Mick Hume

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 Offsite Article: A Century of censorship...


Link Here 7th December 2012
100 years of the BBFC by Kieran Turner-Dave

See article from blogs.independent.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: It is the web, not the press, that must be brought under control...


Link Here 3rd December 2012  full story: Leveson Report...Proposal to appoint Ofcom as the UK's newspaper censor
Presumably Boris Johnson is outlining his ideas in support of a Leveson compromise for his mate Dave. More hassle for internet publishers and a demand for newspapers to set up something themselves, but quickly

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

  The Hunt...

Rare example of a graphic sexual image in a BBFC 15 rated film


Link Here 1st December 2012

The Hunt Jagten Mads Mikkelsen The Hunt is a 2012 Denmark drama by Thomas Vinterberg.
With Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Annika Wedderkopp. YouTube icon IMDb

UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, sex and violence and a brief strong sexual image for:

  • UK 2012 cinema release

The BBFC commented about a rare example of a hardcore image appearing in a non-documentary 15 rated film:

In one scene teenage boys look at a pornographic image and show it to a young girl. The image in question is only briefly seen and depicts a woman holding a man's erect penis. The young girl and the image are never shown together and there is no suggestion the child actress was ever exposed to the image. Although graphic, the image has an important contextual justification in the narrative because when the young girl explains what she's seen, the audience is aware that she's describing this image rather than a real life situation with her teacher.

 

 Offsite Article: Ofcom to be Appointed as UK's Newspaper Censor...


Link Here 30th November 2012  full story: Leveson Report...Proposal to appoint Ofcom as the UK's newspaper censor
The Guardian outlines the Leveson's censorship proposals

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Leveson Goes Too Far...


Link Here 30th November 2012  full story: Leveson Report...Proposal to appoint Ofcom as the UK's newspaper censor
Kirsty Hughes outlines Index's issues with the press inquiry's recommendations. Lord Justice Leveson's report could determine the path of the press in Britain for years to come.

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

released, the BBFC is equipping parents with tools that are timely, intuitive and provide information at a glance, as well as a more in-depth explanation about what their children are going to see. Parents should not have to struggle to find out whether a film or DVD might upset their child or another family member and the BBFC is helping to ensure this is something all families can prevent.

Verity Gill, Founding Director of Grannynet said:

Here at Grannynet we are delighted with the new BBFCinsight tool which we feel adds an invaluable dimension to the already vital support that the BBFC offers to grandparents. Any way in which our members can feel more confident about what their grandchildren are watching will ensure the film selection process is easier and more enjoyable for everyone concerned.

Putting ratings information online

Independent research carried out for the BBFC in 2011 found that 85% of respondents said it is important to have consistent BBFC classifications available for Video-on-Demand content, rising to 90% amongst parents with children under 16. As well as providing detailed BBFCinsight for every film classified, the BBFC's service for streamed and downloaded content, which launched in collaboration with the home entertainment industry in 2008, also provides trusted classifications, category symbols and BBFCinsight to set-top box, video-on-demand and other online content providers. Key affiliates using the BBFC service include Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Europe, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, BT Vision, Tesco/Blinkbox, TalkTalk, Picturebox and Netflix.

Education

The new BBFC website features all the BBFC's educational content, previously available on the Students' SBBFC website. This includes case studies about controversial films, competitions for kids and information about how to book BBFC educational visits. The BBFC has established a number of partnerships with the film industry and cinemas to increase its contact with parents and children. Dialogue with the public both online and through education seminars, is integral to the work of the BBFC and helps inform the issues raised at each review of the BBFC Classification Guidelines. As part of this education and outreach work, the BBFC visited around 130 schools, colleges and other institutions in 2011, speaking to around 12,000 students.

 Updated: Going to the Pictures...

The BBFC update their website


Link Here 29th November 2012

 

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29th November  

 

 Offsite Article: The Leveson Report...


Link Here 29th November 2012  full story: Leveson Report...Proposal to appoint Ofcom as the UK's newspaper censor
An inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press

See article from official-documents.gov.uk

 

Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.

Google has asked web users to add their name to an online petition to support its view.

The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty, it wrote on its Take Action site.

Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.

Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets.

Google added that it was concerned that only governments have a voice at the ITU and not companies or others who had a stake in the net, concluding that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) was the wrong place to make decisions about the internet's future.

The ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference, however a site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has revealed some of the details. Most recently these included a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation.

Parts of the US tech industry have also been concerned by remarks by the ITU's secretary general, Dr Hamadoun Toure, that the meeting should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate way to do so . Gary Shapiro CEA's Gary Shapiro says firms fear having to pay a toll to send traffic through countries' data networks

The ITU is hosting the conference to draw up the treaty between 3 to 14 December in Dubai.

Update: EU warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet

23rd November  2012. See article from bbc.co.uk

EU flagThe UN should not be allowed to take over control of the internet, Euro MPs have warned.

Internet control currently lies largely with US-based groups such as Icann, which regulates the web address system. But reports in the Russian press have suggested the Kremlin and others wanted control of key internet systems passed to a UN agency.

The European Parliament has said the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was not the appropriate body to have authority. Members of the European Parliament backed a resolution which urged member states to reject changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) which would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online .

A site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has published several documents relating to the new treaty. Among them was a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation. Russia said in a document:

Member states shall have equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure.

Update: Ed Vaizey warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet

24th November  2012.  See article from wired.co.uk

Ed VaizeyThe International Telecommunications Union (ITU) should not have a say over the future of the web, according to Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

Vaizey was speaking to Wired.co.uk. The issue is that the ITU was set up to regulate telephony services. Since 1988, lines have blurred between telephony and internet services and as such the ITU wants to amend its rules to extend to internet governance. This is what Vaizey (as well as many other people and organisations including Google) disagree with:

 

  PC Justice Ofcom Style...

40,000 fine for broadcasting blurred nudity, but just a 4,000 fine for broadcasting incitement to the torture of gays


Link Here 24th November 2012

 Offsite Article: The UK Free Expression Scorecard...


Link Here 24th November 2012
Index on Censorship launches its UK Free Expression Scorecard warning there is a worrying outlook for free speech in Britain today

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

Open Rights Group to provide court with arguments against speculative invoicing from Golden Eye (associated with Ben Dover)

  Liberty's Human Rights Awards...

Award winners announced


Link Here 20th November 2012

Open Rights Group logo The Open Rights Group has applied to intervene in the Golden Eye case where the people behind Ben Dover are sending out speculative letters contending copyright infringement and seeking damages.

The Open Rights Group explains:

We want to do more to promote digital rights like privacy through interventions in relevant court cases.

As part of that ambition, we have applied for permission to intervene in the appeal of the Golden Eye International v Telefonica UK decision. And we need your help to take this important case.

Intervening in these sort of cases is expensive. But we also think it's really important that we try to represent the interests of Internet users in these situations. If the decision goes our way, we believe one consequence will be a more robust process for considering the data protection rights of those who pay the bill for an Internet connection.

It would be harder for firms like Golden Eye to represent large numbers of copyright owners. So it would, we believe, be much more difficult for firms to send very high numbers of letters accusing people of copyright infringement and asking for a disproportionate compensation under threat of a court action.

Previous schemes by solicitiors, based on similar revenue sharing arrangements, have been called speculative invoicing campaigns -- you may have heard of ACS:Law, for example. We believe this would be a further blow against such schemes.

Offsite: Right to intervene granted and a detailed explanation of the case

27th November 2012. See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

 

 

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  Stereotypically Censorial...

Steve Bell reported to the PCC over cartoon inspired by skewed coverage of attack on Gaza


Link Here 17th November 2012

Austria flagOne year after a clampdown on street prostitution in Vienna there are still relatively few areas where street prostitution is legal and no further zones have been legalised.

City Councillor Sandra Frauenberger said:

The more we succeed in pulling prostitution out of this social grey area, the better that the women involved will be protected from exploitation, violence and abuse The passing of a new law alone does not suffice -- it must be accompanied by various other changes.

At the centre of the law was the ban on street prostitution in residential areas. However there still are not enough safe areas for street prostitution to dissuade women from working in illegal brothels. Legal areas for street prostitution can be found near the Prater and Auhof regions of Vienna.

Since one year ago, no further zones have been legalised. Requests to have permitted zones in built up areas have been rejected. Hebein has criticised that the reaction from many districts is Not on my doorstep!

Less than 30 Viennese brothels currently have a permit for meeting the requirements set out in the new rules for local prostitution. 250 further brothels have applied for this permit, though it is estimated that there are over 450 such establishments and that this number is set to rise.

There are currently 2,800 registered sex workers in Vienna -- 400 more than one year ago.

 Offsite Article: For God's sake...


Link Here 15th November 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter
The Director of Public Persecutions *still* doesn't understand how the internet works. Meanwhile, he's planning to censor it

See article from blogs.telegraph.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: British film censor faces new challenges after 100 years of horror, killing and sex...


Link Here 11th November 2012
After a century looking out for the nation's sensibilities and a new president taking charge, the BBFC has much to scrutinise, not least its own history

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Football fans need free speech, too...


Link Here 9th November 2012
A man has been jailed for singing a song that mocks a religious leader, yet liberty campaigners have said nothing.

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 Offsite Article: Britain's crackdown on Web comments sparks free-speech debate...


Link Here 9th November 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter
Los Angeles Times reports on the loss of free speech in Britain

See article from latimes.com

 

 Offsite Article: A Tasteless Facebook Update...


Link Here 11th October 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter
More evidence of Britain's terrifying new censorship. Have we got such a debased and demoralised view of freedom that we're now willing to lock up people for posting angry comments on social media

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 Update: Britain's Joke Police Worry about Workload in Policing Jokes and Insults...

And don't give a shit about the devastation that they are causing to people's lives


Link Here 10th October 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

ACPO logoThe director of public prosecutions is exploring whether Facebook and Twitter should take more responsibility for censoring their networks for supposed abuse and harassment in an attempt to reduce the number of cases of people being persecuted for jokes or insults.

Keir Starmer is this week consulting with lawyers, journalists and police in a series of seminars on the subject. He seems keen to ask if social media companies can censor their sites because police are concerned about the volume of offensive posts and tweets they may be called to investigate.

Those attending the panels said Starmer frequently returned to the subject, and he is preparing to draw up guidelines against an almost daily backdrop of arrests, prosecutions and controversy. But there is no immediate consensus on what greater self-regulation for social media would look like.

The growing number of arrests often invoke the repressive section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act, which makes it an offence to send or post grossly offensive material online.

Meanwhile, police are worried about the time spent examining cases and that it will only be practicable to investigate a handful of cases where emotions are running high. Andy Trotter, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers on media issues, said: Many offensive comments are made every day on social media and guidance will assist the police to focus on the most serious matters.

Police would like Facebook and Twitter to act faster in deleting offensive comments to avoid arrests being necessary and to see if it is possible to explore ways of blocking particular individuals from using their networks.

 

 Comments: PC Sheep at UK Court...

Man shamefully jailed for 12 weeks for bad taste jokes


Link Here 10th October 2012  full story: Trivial Insults...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

HM Courts ServiceA teenager who posted bad taste jokes about April Jones on his Facebook page has been jailed for 12 weeks.

Matthew Woods made comments about April and Madeleine McCann. Woods was arrested for his own safety after about 50 people descended on his home.

He pleaded guilty at Chorley magistrates court to sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is 'grossly offensive'.

The chairman of the bench, Bill Hudson, said Woods's comments were so abhorrent he deserved the longest sentence the court could hand down. Hudson added: The reason for the sentence is the seriousness of the offence, the public outrage that has been caused and we felt there was no other sentence this court could have passed which conveys to you the abhorrence that many in society feel this crime should receive.

The court was told Woods's Facebook page was available to a large number of people but there's no mention of how many people actually saw it.

Martina Jay, persecuting, said: He saw a joke on Sickipedia [an online database devoted to sick jokes] and changed it slightly.

Among Woods's comments were: Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid? In another he said: I woke up this morning in the back of a transit van with two beautiful little girls, I found April in a hopeless place. He also wrote: Could have just started the greatest Facebook argument EVER. April fools, who wants Maddie? I love April Jones. Also posted were comments of a more sexually explicit nature.

The CPS has confirmed that it reviewed the case and was content with the prosecution going ahead.

Offsite Comment: No one should be put in prison for making a joke that other people don’t like.

9th October 2012. See  article from  blog.indexoncensorship.org by Padraig Reidy

Offsite Comment: Twelve weeks in prison for sick jokes on Facebook? Really?

10th October 2012. See  article from  ukhumanrightsblog.com

Offsite Comment: Don't make me laugh

10th October 2012. See  article from  openrightsgroup.org

Offsite Editorial: In the end the solution will have to be rewriting or even repealing this law.

10th October 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Update: An insulting reduction of sentence on appeal

15th November 2012. See  article from  lancashiretelegraph.co.uk

A man jailed for posting insults on his Facebook page about missing schoolgirl April Jones has had his twelve weeks sentence cut to eight weeks.

Matthew Woods successfully appealed against his sentence at Preston Crown Court having claimed the twelve week term was excessive and that magistrates should have given him credit for his guilty plea.

Update: Another victim gets a suspended prison sentence

19th November 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

A sales adviser who made a series of bad taste comments about five-year-old April Jones on Facebook has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Magistrates in Worcester chose not to jail Sam Busby despite being told that another Facebook user was sentenced to three months in prison for an almost identical offence last month.

Busby admitted he was responsible for the comments and told officers he thought they could only be seen by his friends on Facebook.

Passing a six-week jail term suspended for 18 months, magistrates said they had taken into account Busby's early guilty plea and remorse.

The chairman of the bench, Gill Porter, told the teenager:

You will realise by the time we have taken to discuss this matter how seriously we view it. You have caused an immense amount of distress, not only to the recipient of this but potentially to April Jones's family and friends.

It happened at a very sensitive time for everybody concerned. You were warned by your friends when they first saw your so-called joke, but you took no notice and you continued to make further even more offensive comments.

Busby was also ordered to pay an 80 victim surcharge and keep to a 7pm-7am curfew for eight weeks.

Update: Insulting Sentence

8th October 2013.  See  article from  walesonline.co.uk

Scottish Courts logoA man who sent insulting messages on Facebook mocking the search for murdered five-year-old April Jones claimed his freedom of expression was breached, a court heard.

Liam Young posted supposedly shocking and offensive remarks online two days after April Jones went missing last year.

He avoided a jail sentence but angered a sheriff after claiming social network messaging should be unrestricted in a democratic society . Young was given 120 hours unpaid work after admitting disorderly conduct by sending indecent and offensive comments.

Sheriff Murphy highlighted Young's remarks to social workers, saying: It concerns me that someone believes they can say what they like on Facebook because they live in a democratic society.

 

 Offsite Article: It shouldn't be a crime to hate the Old Bill...


Link Here 10th October 2012
Convicting a man for wearing an anti-cop t-shirt shows how skewed the balance between state and citizen has become.

See article from spiked-online.com