By Nick Robinson of the BBC's Today programme. An interesting article but note how the BBC thinks its news is 'unbiased' when it so actively suppresses aspects which are inconveniently politically incorrect
A man who sold VPN software via a website has been sentenced to nine months in prison by China's Supreme People's Court. The decision otes that the software supplied by the man allowed the public to circumvent China's Great Firewall while granting access to foreign websites.
Back in January, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that it would take measures to strengthen network information security management and would embark on a nationwide Internet network access services clean-up.
One of the initial targets was reported as censorship-busting VPNs, which allow citizens to evade the so-called Great Firewall of China. Operating such a service without a corresponding telecommunications business license would constitute an offense, the government said.
Then early July, a further report suggested that the government would go a step further by ordering ISPs to block VPNs altogether. Apple then banned VPN software and services from its app store.
With an effort clearly underway to target VPNs, news today from China suggests that the government is indeed determined to tackle the anti-censorship threat presented by such tools. According to local media, Chinese man Deng Mouwei who ran a small website through which he sold VPN software, has been sentenced to prison. He set up a website to sell VPNs. Just two products were on offer but this was enough to spring authorities into action.
An open letter signed by 122 organisations including Save the Children, Greenpeace and Christian Aid says campaigning is being lost from public debate due to the draconian requirements of the Lobbying Act. The letter reases
To Ms Tracey Crouch MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Enhancing civil society participation in the democratic process
Congratulations upon your appointment as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society. We are writing to you, as organisations for whom campaigning is fundamental to achieving our mission, to express our concerns regarding the Transparency of Lobbying, Non - Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014, also known as the Lobbying Act, and its impact on the ability of civil society to participate in the democratic process.
Civil society is a vital part of a healthy democracy. It has a long and proud tradition of campaigning in the UK, and has been the driving force behind many of our great social reforms, from the abolition of slavery to the extension of the franchise to women. In more recent times, charities and non - partisan campaign groups have worked with parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to achieve equal marriage and tackle modern slavery.
While we recognise that regulation is necessary to ensure that no one individual or organisation c an exert undue influence at an election, the Lobbying Act has had a disproportionate impact on civil society campaigning. We are concerned that it caused many organisations not to engage in the run up to the recent general election, and resulted in some important voices being lost from public debate.
Charities and non - partisan campaign groups have spent significant time attempting to understand the legislation and how to comply. However, many of the rules are vague and confusing, especially for smaller organisations. While some organisations have sought legal advice to help them interpret the legislation, this can be expensive and is simply not an option for many. The rules on joint campaigning are also a concern for smaller charities, and have made organisations more hesitant to collaborate.
A Government-commissioned review of the Part II of the Lobbying Act, conducted by the Conservative peer, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, found that it fails to get the balance right and proposed several changes to the legislation. The House of Lords Select Committee on Charities described his recommendations as “eminently sensible” and called on the Government to implement them “in full”.
We are writing to you as the Minister responsible for civil society, to ask you to work with your colleagues in the Cabinet Office to ensure sufficient parliamentary time is devoted to allow revisions to be made, which would protect and enhance the ability of civil society to engage in the democratic process.
The Lobbying Act is a confusing and burdensome piece of legislation that weakens our democracy, rather than strengthens it. We look forward to working with you in your new role to ensure that much-needed changes are made to this law.
Rupert Murdoch has taken the rightwing US channel Fox News off the air in the UK after 15 years.
The decision came as Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, is set to return her verdict on whether to ask the competition regulator to launch an investigation into the Murdochs' adherence to broadcasting standards in the UK as part of an inquiry into Fox's £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky.
[Fox] has decided to cease providing a feed of Fox News Channel in the UK, a spokeswoman for the company said. Fox News is focused on the US market and designed for a US audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the UK. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.
The spokesperson said that Fox News only reached about 2,000 average daily viewers in the UK, however figures from the Broadcaster's Audience Research Board (Barb) suggest that the number was closer to 60,000.
Fox News has become increasingly troublesome for the Murdochs as they attempt to buy Sky. The channel is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal that led to a string of high-profile figures leaving, including the chairman Roger Ailes , who has since died, and leading presenter Bill O'Reilly .
The Director of public prosecutions has announced plans for more prosecutions and harsher punishments for online insult. Prosecutors will be ordered to treat online hate crime as seriously as offences carried out face to face.
Alison Saunders said the Crown Prosecution Service will seek stiffer penalties for abuse on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Saunders says the crackdown is needed because online abuse can lead to the sort of extremist hate seen in Charlottesville in the United States last weekend, which left one person dead.
Writing in the Guardian, Saunders said:
Left unchallenged, even low-level offending can subsequently fuel the kind of dangerous hostility that has been plastered across our media in recent days. That is why countering it is a priority for the CPS.
The new policy documents cover different strands of hate crime: racist and religious; disability; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic. They also say that victims of biphobic hate crime, aimed at bisexual people, have different needs and experiences compared to those suffering anti-gay and transphobic offences.
Offsite Comment: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored