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2018: July-Sept

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Miserable Middlesbrough...

Council bans Roy Chubby Brown from performing at the town hall


Link Here 29th September 2018

The comedian Roy Chubby Brown has been banned from performing at Sheffield Town Hall

The comic believes he has been stopped from appearing at the new look venue because his act is too saucy. He says he is angry and gutted over the move insisting his publicity material makes the sort of content clear and anyone easily offended can simply stay away.

Middlesbrough Council claimed the decision was simply based on the fact the programme for the recently relaunched theatre was full.

Teesside Live readers have reacted in force to the news - and almost every one backing the local lad. Posting on Teesside Live 14 said:

Most people are able to make up their own minds about whether they want to see Chubby Brown or not. No need for venues to make that decision for them.  Maybe we should all boycott the town hall!

 

 

UK Surveillance Regime Violated Human Rights...

EFF report on The European Court finding against the UK's mass snooping scheme


Link Here 25th September 2018

On September 13, after a five-year legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights said that the UK government's surveillance regime--which includes the country's mass surveillance programs, methods, laws, and judges--violated the human rights to privacy and to freedom of expression. The court's opinion is the culmination of lawsuits filed by multiple privacy rights organizations, journalists, and activists who argued that the UK's surveillance programs violated the privacy of millions.

The court's decision is a step in the right direction, but it shouldn't be the last. While the court rejected the UK's spying programs, it left open the risk that a mass surveillance regime could comply with human rights law, and it did not say that mass surveillance itself was unlawful under the European Convention on Human Rights (a treaty that we discuss below).

But the court found that the real-world implementation of the UK's surveillance--with secret hearings, vague legal safeguards, and broadening reach--did not meet international human rights standards. The court described a surveillance regime "incapable" of limiting its "interference" into individuals' private lives when only "necessary in a democratic society."

In particular, the court's decision attempts to rein in the expanding use of mass surveillance. Originally reserved for allegedly protecting national security or preventing serious threats, use of these programs has trickled into routine criminal investigations with no national security element--a lowered threshold that the court zeroed in on to justify its rejection of the UK's surveillance programs. The court also said the UK's mass surveillance pipeline--from the moment data is automatically swept up and filtered to the moment when that data is viewed by government agents--lacked meaningful safeguards.

The UK Surveillance Regime

In the UK, the intelligence agency primarily tasked with online spying is the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The agency, which is sort of the UK version of the NSA, deploys multiple surveillance programs to sweep up nearly any type of online interaction you can think of, including emails, instant messenger chats, social media connections, online searches, browser history, and IP addresses. The GCHQ also collects communications metadata, capturing, for instance, what time an email was sent, where it was sent from, who it was sent to, and how quickly a reply was made.

The privacy safeguards for this surveillance are dismal.

For more than a decade, the GCHQ was supposed to comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). Though no longer fully in effect, the law required Internet service providers to, upon government request, give access to users' online communications in secret and to install technical equipment to allow surveillance on company infrastructure.

The UK directly collected massive amounts of data from the transatlantic, fiber-optic cables that carry Internet traffic around the world. The UK government targeted "bearers"-- portions of a single cable--to collect the data traveling within, applied filters and search criteria to weed out data it didn't want, and then stored the remaining data for later search, use, and sharing. According to GCHQ, this surveillance was designed to target "external" communications--online activity that is entirely outside the UK or that involves communications that leave or enter the UK--like email correspondence between a Londoner and someone overseas. But the surveillance also collected entirely "internal" communications, like two British neighbors' emails to one another. This surveillance was repeatedly approved under months-long, non-targeted warrants. Parts of this process, the court said, were vulnerable to abuse.

(In 2016, the UK passed another surveillance law--the Investigatory Powers Act, or IPA--but the court's decision applies only to government surveillance under the prior surveillance law, the RIPA.)

A Failure to Comply with Human Rights Laws

The suit's results can be looked at as a disconnect between the domestic laws allowing government surveillance in the UK and the UK's international human rights obligations.

The court took issue with the UK's failure to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights--an international treaty to protect human rights in Europe, specified in the convention's "articles." The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), a regional human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France, issued the opinion.

Though the lawsuit's plaintiffs asserted violations of Articles 6, 8, 10, and 14, the court only found violations of Article 8 and 10, which guarantee the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression. The court's reasoning relied on applicable law, government admissions, and recent court judgments.

The court found two glaring problems in the UK's surveillance regime--the entire selection process for what data the government collects, keeps, and sees, and the government's unrestricted access to metadata.

How the government chooses "bearers" for data collection should "be subject to greater oversight," the court said. By itself, this was not enough to violate Article 8's right to privacy, the court said, but it necessitated better safeguards in the next steps--how data is filtered after initial collection and how data is later accessed.

Both those steps lacked sufficient oversight, too, the court said. It said the UK government received no independent oversight and needed "more rigorous safeguards" when choosing search criteria and selectors (things like email addresses and telephone numbers) to look through already-collected data. And because analysts can only look at collected and filtered data, "the only independent oversight of the process of filtering and selecting intercept data for examination" can happen afterwards through an external audit, the court said.

"The Court is not persuaded that the safeguards governing the selection of bearers for interception and the selection of intercepted material for examination are sufficiently robust to provide adequate guarantees against abuse," the court said. "Of greatest concern, however, is the absence of robust independent oversight of the selectors and search criteria used to filter intercepted communications."

Along with related problems, including the association of related metadata to collected communications, the court concluded the surveillance program violated Article 8.

The court also looked at how the UK government accesses metadata in so-called targeted requests to communications providers. It focused on one section of RIPA and one particularly important legal phrase: "Serious crime."

The UK's domestic law, the court said, "requires that any regime permitting the authorities to access data retained by [communications services providers] limits access to the purpose of combating 'serious crime,' and that access be subject to prior review by a court or independent administrative body."

This means that whenever government agents want to access data held by communications services providers, those government agents must be investigating a "serious crime," and government agents must also get court or administrative approval prior to accessing that data.

Here's the problem: that language is absent in UK's prior surveillance law for metadata requests. Instead, RIPA allowed government agencies to obtain metadata for investigations into non -serious crimes. Relatedly, metadata access for non-serious crimes did not require prior court or independent administrative approval, compounding the invasion of privacy.

Due to this discrepancy, the court found a violation of Articles 8 and 10.

For years, intelligence agencies convinced lawmakers that their mass surveillance programs were necessary to protect national security and to prevent terrorist threats--to, in other words, fight "serious crime." But recently, that's changed. These programs are increasingly being used for investigating seemingly every-day crimes.

In the UK, this process began with RIPA. The 2000 law was introduced in part to bring Britain's intelligence operations into better compliance with human rights law because the country's government realized that the scope of GCHQ's powers--and any limits to it--were insufficiently defined in law.

But as soon as lawmakers began cataloguing the intelligence services' extraordinary powers to peer into everybody's lives, other parts of the government took interest: If these powers are so useful for capturing terrorists and subverting foreign governments, why not use them for other pressing needs? With RIPA, the end result was an infamous explosion in the number of agencies able to conduct surveillance under the law. Under its terms, the government set out to grant surveillance powers to everyone from food standards officers to local authorities investigating the illicit movement of pigs, to a degree that upset even the then-head of MI5 .

The court's decision supports the idea that this surveillance expansion, if left unchecked, could be incompatible with human rights.

Good Findings

At more than 200 pages, the court's opinion includes a lot more than just findings of human rights violations.

Metadata collection, the court said, is just as intrusive as content collection.

EFF has championed this point for years. When collected in mass, metadata can reveal information so intimate that even the content of a conversation becomes predictable .

Take phone call metadata, for example. Metadata reveals a person's seven-days-a-week, middle-of-the-night, 10-minute phone calls to a local suicide prevention hotline. Metadata reveals a person's phone call to an HIV testing center, followed up with a call to their doctor, followed up with a call to their health insurance company. Metadata reveals a person's half-hour call to a gynecologist, followed by another call to a local Planned Parenthood.

The court made a similar conclusion. It said:

"For example, the content of an electronic communication might be encrypted and, even if it were decrypted, might not reveal anything of note about the sender or recipient. The related communications data, on the other hand, could reveal the identities and geographic location of the sender and recipient and the equipment through which the communication was transmitted. In bulk, the degree of intrusion is magnified, since the patterns that will emerge could be capable of painting an intimate picture of a person through the mapping of social networks, location tracking, Internet browsing tracking, mapping of communication patterns, and insight into who a person interacted with."

The court also said that an individuals' right to privacy is applied at the initial moment their communications are collected, not , as the government said, when their communications are accessed by a human analyst. That government assertion betrays our very understanding of privacy and relates to a similar, disingenuous claim that our messages aren't really "collected" until processed for government use .

Turning Towards Privacy

Modern telecommunications surveillance touches on so many parts of human rights that it will take many more international cases, or protective action by lawmakers and judges, before we can truly establish its limits, and there is plenty more that's wrong with how we deal with modern surveillance than is covered by this decision.

This is partly why EFF and hundreds of other technical and human rights experts helped create the Necessary and Proportionate Principles , a framework for assessing whether a state's communication surveillance practices comply with a country's human rights obligations. And it's why EFF has brought its own lawsuits to challenge mass surveillance conducted by the NSA in the United States. (The European Court of Human Rights' opinion has no direct effect on this litigation.)

This type of works takes years, if not decades. When it comes to any court remedy, it is often said that the wheels of justice turn slowly. We can at least breathe a little easier knowing that, last week, thanks to the hard work of privacy groups around the world, the wheels made one more turn in the right direction, towards privacy.

 

 

The Word Transformed...

Censoring the Sun isn't censorship claims a political event at the Labour Conference


Link Here 21st September 2018
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor
Sun journalists have taken to Twitter to denounce the decision taken by The World Transformed , a political event, to not grant them press passes for our four-day festival of politics, arts and music taking place alongside the Labour party conference in Liverpool next week.

The World Transformed released a statement explaining that this censorship was an act of solidarity with the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, and a show of support for the boycott of the newspaper observed by community groups and businesses across Liverpool.

Campaigners from Total Eclipse of the S*n and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign will appear at the festival.

 

 

PC PCs...

Yorkshire Police asks people to report non-crime internet insults


Link Here 10th September 2018
South Yorkshire Police first tweeted a straighforward poster about reporting hate crime:

SouthYorkshirePolice @syptweet:

Hate can be any incident or crime, motivated by prejudice or hostility (or perceived to be so) against a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability. Hate hurts and nobody should have to tolerate it. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurts

A couple of hours later the police outrageously tweeted again suggesting that people should also report non crimes like online insults:

SouthYorkshirePolice @syptweet:

In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurtsSY

I wonder if they they then explain to burglary victims that they are too busy to investigate such crimes because they are busy investigating non-crime internet insults.

 

 

Culturally backward Thurrock Council...

Two films banned from the Thurrock International 'Celebration' of Culture film festival


Link Here 8th September 2018
Jungle Love is a 2012 Philippines drama by Sherad Anthony Sanchez.
Starring Gloria Morales, Mei Bastes and Martin Riffer. IMDb

A jungle in an undisclosed Philippine location hosts a middle-aged woman who runs off with a baby, two juveniles lost in sexual games, military cadets leisurely wandering about and a guide with an obscure presence. All consumed with the game of their own lives until the jungle comes to play.

The film won an Honorable Mention (Feature Film), at the Porn Film Festival Berlin 2013.

Shadows of Fiendish Ancestress and Occasionally Parajanov on Durian Cialis is a 2017 Singapore / Japan / Philippines romance by Tze Chuan Chew.
Starring Raissa Ai, Karla MC Bautista and Paolo Dumlao. IMDb

With reference to native historical texts and the mythological and religious depiction of the Holy Whore, Chew constructs a mythology of a hermaphrodite who comes to town to impart a wisdom that proves to be too carnal and untimely. Years in the making and strung together with documentary-like footage of orgiastic happenings, punctuated with moments of refrain into randomness, the film soon escalates into a schizophrenic psychedelia of multicultural and polymorphous sexuality.

Two films that were set to be showcased at a film festival in Grays have been banned by Thurrock Council.

The Thurrock International Celebration of Film runs from September 6th to 9th at the Thameside Theatre in Grays

The organisers were stunned to hear that council has refused them permission to screen two of the planned films. One of the festival organisers, Hi Ching, explained what has happened. He said: T

Thurrock Council has banned the films Jungle Love and Shadows Of Fiendish Ancestress And Occasionally Parajanov On Durian Cialis (pictured right) from being screened at the TIC Film Festival at Thameside Theatre because an initial assessment suggests both films would be rated R18 and therefore can only be shown in licensed sex premises.

In both films, sexuality does indeed play a central role, but the BBFC explanatory notes state that the R18 rating is normally intended for works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation of the viewer. These two films do anything but -- and moreover, a rating of suitable only for 18 years and over was already in place in order to make sure that only adults would be able to see these films.

Both films have been screened at other film festivals around the world. One reviewer summed up that Jungle Love accomplishes the nearly impossible task of turning what could be a lewd and perverted showcase into a mirror of our innate desire to venture into the unknown, to abandon the clutches of good taste, and to get lost in the limitless jungle where men are but beasts among other beasts.

By banning these two films, Thurrock Council have the dubious honour of joining these two countries and doing exactly what they have done: performing censorship and stifling discussion. Both films require serious discussion about opportunities and limits of filmic representation of sexuality -- but with its decision, Thurrock Council tried to make such a discussion impossible.

Councillor Deborah Huelin, Portfolio Holder for Communities, said:

Thurrock Council is supporting the film festival taking place at the Thameside by Thurrock International Celebration of Culture (TICC) by providing the Thameside Theatre as a venue.

The film programme includes a number of short and full length films that aim to celebrate diversity. Most of the films have not been given a rating by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) and in such cases responsibility for issuing ratings for films to be shown in a local area lies with the local authority.

Based on an initial review by the council, it was identified that two of the films could likely be rated R18 if a full assessment were carried out under the guidelines issued by the BBFC. These types of films can only be shown in specially licensed sex cinemas or supplied by licensed sex shops. The entertainment license for the Thameside Theatre does not allow them to show R18 films which means that these two films cannot form part of the festival.

Shadows Of Fiendish Ancestress And Occasionally Parajanov On Durian Cialis had previously been banned in Singapore in 2017. The picture had been scheduled to have its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival, part of the Singapore Media Festival , this week. But it was this week denied a public release certificate by Films Appeal Committee, on the grounds that it could hurt Muslim religious feelings.

 

 

Sign in With PolicePass...

Police call for instant login to people's Facebook accounts


Link Here 5th September 2018
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick believes detectives should have access to material from social media companies within minutes. She said UK police forces had faced a very protracted procedure in such cases.

The call comes after a suspect in the murder of Lucy McHugh, 13, was jailed for withholding his Facebook password from police. Last week, Stephen Nicholson was jailed for 14 months having admitted failing to comply with an order under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act requiring him to disclose a Facebook password.

Detectives investigating her murder say it is taking an inordinate amount of time to access evidence from Facebook.

Angus Crawford, BBC News Correspondent, explained:

Facebook is a US company and so has to abide by US laws on data protection and due process. This means they have no duty to hand any information over to a foreign police force.

Only a request via the US Department of Justice using something called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty will oblige disclosure, but this is cumbersome, expensive and can take months.

A spokeswoman for the social media company said Facebook is working closely with law enforcement and following well-established legal mechanisms. Facebook says it already has a team which works with law enforcement and they have been cooperating with Hampshire Police on the Lucy McHugh case.

[Of course the police should get instant access to social media when pursuing people guilty of a serious crime. But of course they need to be denied the facility when pursuing innocent people being harassed for a trivial crime].

 

 

Justice without merit...

Count Dankula's application to appeal against his conviction for an internet joke is refused


Link Here 9th August 2018
Full story: Trivial Insults and Jokes...Authorities persecuting insulting comments on Facebook and Twitter

A man who suffered a miscarriage of justice after being convicted for a joke has been refused permission to appeal against a conviction for supposedly causing gross offence.

Mark Meechan, who blogs under the name Count Dankula, was fined 800 in April after being found guilty under the Communications Act over a  video joke in which he trained his girlfriend's dog to perform Nazi salutes.

A letter from the court claimed the appeal was not arguable and in each of its elements is wholly misconceived. It also dismissed arguments made by Meechan's lawyers over the judge's handling of witness evidence at Airdrie Sheriff Court in March and the meaning of grossly offensive. The letter said:

The appeal against conviction is without merit. Likewise the appeal against sentence is not arguable -- this was a deeply unpleasant offence in which disgraceful and utterly offensive material was very widely distributed by the appellant, it said. This was to the considerable distress of the community in question and -- just as disturbingly -- to the apparent approval of a large number of persons who appear to share the appellant's racist views.

Indeed it must be observed that in the circumstance the appellant was fortunate that the learned sheriff was not considering custody as an option.

 

 

Book burners...

Masked protestors attack left wing book shop wrecking displays and tearing up books


Link Here 6th August 2018
Far-right protesters have ransacked a socialist bookshop in London. The owners of Bookmarks say masked attackers wrecked displays and tore up books.

Posting on Facebook and Twitter, Bookmarks said staff were closing the shop on Bloomsbury Street in central London on Saturday evening when about a dozen people descended on it.

A far-right protest against censorship of the website Infowars took place in central London on Saturday at which protesters were seen with the same placards. Others wore Make Britain Great Again caps.

 

 

Wrong think...

Think tank considers that Brexit is an excuse for the revival of the British ID cards idea


Link Here 30th July 2018
Full story: ID Cards in UK...UK introduces ID cards
Policy Exchange is a think tank that describes itself as:

The UK's leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy.

And now it has been considering post Brexit visa arrangements and has taken the opportunity to call fro the revival of ID cards, or at least an ID number that can be used for to identify everybody in official and unofficial databases throughout the world. Policy Exchange writes:

As national borders are being transformed by new technologies and new thinking about how to manage flows of goods and people as quickly and safely as possible, the UK border needs continuing innovation and reform.

The report's main recommendations include:

  • Roll out ID system for EU citizens . A unique digital reference for interactions with the state is being developed for the 3.6m EU citizens settled here after Brexit. This experiment with a unique number system should be a trial run for an initially voluntary system for UK citizens.

 

 

Offsite Article: British Council accused of censorship over Bahamas exhibition...


Link Here 2nd July 2018
Art, politics, slavery and Windrush prove a heady mix for diplomats

See article from theguardian.com

 

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