Google Music's new scan-and-match feature for its music service means that users no longer need to upload their sounds to their cloud drive. If a song matches one in the library, then the library copy can be used instead.
However complaints began emerging as users discovered that the scan-and-match technology was matching songs with explicit lyrics with clean versions. You might, for example, see your version of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream album (explicit)
replaced with the clean version.
This seems more bug than deliberate censorship though. There's a reason to believe that: Some users are experiencing exactly the opposite, seeing their clean versions of songs replaced with explicit versions.
The South Korean government has laid out plans to install software on teenagers' smartphones that will block supposedly 'illegal [and] harmful information.
The horrendous sounding Ministry Of Gender Equality And Family believes that installing the software will block swear words and slang, as well as prevent cyber-bullying on social and messaging networks such as KaKao Talk, Facebook, and Twitter.
The governmental body will also require a compulsory filtering service for mobile carriers that will block harmful information that includes pornography and nudity.
Europa Editions, a publisher of world literature, wrote on their Facebook page that one of their novels, The Proof of the Honey by Salwa Al Neimi, has been removed from the iTunes bookstore due to the image on its cover.
The erotic novel discusses the role of sex in modern Arabic society, and its cover features the backside of a reclining, naked woman. This may seem worthy of removal, but, as Europa Editions points out, classical nudes by Ingres, Renoir, and
Botticelli, not to mention photography by Man Ray, are not deemed inappropriate by Apple, nor are modern books with similar covers.
The Proof of the Honey has been banned in the author's home country of Syria as well.
For that reason, publishers such as Melville House have called this censorship particularly appalling. Melville House also notes that the timing of the removal is peculiar: the book had previously been available in the iTunes store since
A Danish author's ebooks documenting freewheeling hippie nudity have been rejected from Apple's iBookstore in that country, even after the author and publisher covered up the offending naughty bits -- with images of ripe red apples.
At issue are two ebooks for the iPhone and iPad. These feature 14 images from acclaimed photographer Gregers Nielsen.
Perhaps the choice of apples rather than neutral black blocks offended Apple's pride as much as its prudery
Knudsen's Hippie Company first tried to get uncensored version of the two ebooks Hippie 1 and Hippie 2 into Apple's iBookstore, but as Hippie Company reported in a press release, Apple required the images to be censored. The
publisher then did so by placing red apples over the exposed breasts, penises, and what have you, then resubmitted the two ebooks.
Apple then accepted them, and put them up on its Denmark iBookstore. However, Hippie Company's witty censorship methodology was apparently not appreciated: after four days, they were removed without explanation
A new iPhone app that crawls through your Facebook friends' pictures to find pictures of them in skimpy outfits has sparked 'concern' among some civil liberties groups and internet users.
The Badabing! app uses object detection technology to identify pictures of friends in revealing outfits, then lists them as thumbnails, allowing users to bookmark and share their favourites.
The service is currently only available for iPhone, at a cost of £ 1.49. Billing itself as The only social image recognition app , Badabing!'s homepage states that it helps you find your friends' sexy
pics in seconds.
Big Brother Watch said that the app was intrusive and highlighted the risks of uploading photos and information to the internet. Deputy director Emma Carr said:
This mobile phone application provides a stark warning about the loss of control that you have once you have uploaded photos and information about yourself to the internet. Privacy is clearly at the very back of the designers mind when creating
an application that enables this kind of search to be easier when it, in fact, it should be made more difficult.
Vivid Entertainment, a leading adult film studio, has launched Vivid Touch , a unique browser-delivered, gesture-based web application for Apple smart phones and tablet devices that allows browsing for sexy film clips via Apple's
standard finger gestures. The new web application can be used with the iPhone5.
Steven Hirsch, founder/co-CEO of Vivid Entertainment said:
Up to now it has been notoriously difficult to create adult-related web apps for Apple products, but we have found a way to do it. Vivid Touch is browser-delivered, gesture-based and does not require downloading of an application from a store,
and no programs need to be installed by the user. The unique web application allows the smart phone and tablet user to access content quickly and easily, with amazing clarity. We're rolling it out first for Apple products, but an Android version
is in development.
Google has removed a sex trade app from its Google Play marketplace after pressure from members of the US Congress.
The Udoopi app bills itself as the first Escorts 2.0 app and promises All the paid sex of your city geolocated and always available on your mobile, iPad and computer. JOIN THE SEX CLUB.
Representative Carolyn Maloney raised the issue in a letter to Google's CEO Larry Page:
Apart from Google's donations to large human rights organizations, what is your company doing internally to ensure that sexually exploitative advertisements do not appear?
What is Google's stated internal policy regarding exploitative advertising? What evidence do you have that those policies are being complied with by both Google's internal and external advertising sales teams?
What steps does Google take to instruct its advertising sales managers, consultants, and other employees regarding the evaluation of advertisers of such exploitative marketing?
If Google were to determine that it profits from such advertising, what steps would you take to ensure those profits were publicly disclosed and then disgorged? Would that process require restating Google's earnings for past securities
Google says it prohibits sex work advertising from its Adwords network and co-operates with law enforcement agencies. ?
Apple are censoring an app that sends users a pop-up notice whenever a flying robots kills someone in one of America's many undeclared wars.
Apple keeps blocking the Drones+ program from its App Store, and therefore, from iPhones everywhere. The company claims that the content is objectionable and crude, according to Apple's latest rejection letter.
It's the third time in a month that Apple has turned Drones+ away, says Josh Begley, the program's New York-based developer. The company's reasons for keeping the program out of the App Store keep shifting. First, Apple called the bare-bones
application that aggregates news of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia not useful. Then there was an issue with hiding a corporate logo. And now, there's this crude content problem.
Begley explains that Drones+ doesn't present grisly images of corpses left in the aftermath of the strikes. It just tells users when a strike has occurred, going off a publicly available database of strikes compiled by the U.K.'s Bureau of
Investigative Journalism, which compiles media accounts of the strikes.
The US Department of Justice has seized the domain names of three websites offering pirated Android apps.
With help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com. In their place visitors to the sites now see the familiar FBI seizure banner.
The domain seizures are the first of their kind against rogue mobile app marketplaces.
Leading up to the actions FBI agents downloaded thousands of popular Android apps from the websites without charge. FBI Special Agent Brian Lamkin who led the operation described this type of online piracy as a growing problem that can't be
Police, or anyone with a piece of spying software called Phone Password Breaker, can download all of a device owner's data from Apple's iCloud service. This is used to back up pictures, text messages, emails, calendar appointments, call
logs, and logs of websites visited.
ElcomSoft chief executive Vladimir Katalov said:
While other [phone monitoring] methods require the presence of the actual iPhone device being analysed or at least an access to device backups, this is not the case with iCloud.
In a sense, Phone Password Breaker becomes an alternative way to get access to iOS devices. With a valid Apple ID and a password, investigators can not only retrieve backups to seized devices, but access that information in real-time while the
phone is still in the hands of a suspect.
The majority of iPhone and iPad users use iCloud to back up all of their data, apps and media - with an estimated 125million people using the software as of April.
The researchers at ElcomSoft studied the communication protocol connecting iPhone users with the iCloud, and were able to figure out the right commands to retrieve data stored on the servers. Their job was made even easier as the data is received
in an unencrypted format.
The only way to protect yourself is to either not back up your phone, or do local offline backups on your home computer via iTunes.
Apple in the US considers the word 'jailbreak' to be an obscenity in need of asterixing to 'j*******k. They may consider it an obscenity that people may want to break free of their control freakery and use Apple devices on the network of their
However it does seem a bit much that the Thin Lizzy album of the same name should get subjected to this nonsense.
But there you go!. The odd bit of censorship was first discussed on Twitter and apparently iBooks are also subject to the same j*******k censorship. It also transpires that the 'jailbreak' is only censored in the US, and European products
from their local iTunes are left unscathed.
The German news magazine Focus has announced that it has altered the digital version of its current issue, screening the bared breasts of the female front cover model to avoid a possible run-in with Apple.
The action followed pressure from digital distributor Zinio, an iPad app, to adhere to Apple's censorial requirements regarding nudity. Apple had not actually made any complaints.
Zinio threatened to withhold the issue from the Internet, a Focus spokesman said. He said that censorship stemming from prudery did not comport with the magazine's concept of freedom of the press.
The cover story offered 22 tips on skin care, and the topless model displayed more skin than Zinio was comfortable with. However there is still an uncensored photograph of the model on page three.
The past few days have seen a lot of attention given to the neo Mary Whitehouse campaign for default censorship. It's important to remember that filtering systems are fallible - for example, they catch too much content, whether by
accident or abuse.
Today we happened upon a fine example. Through our reporting website
Blocked.org.uk , we established that the website of anti-violence advocates
Conciliation Resources is blocked by mobile networks Orange, O2 and Vodafone by their child protection filters.
Here's what Conciliation Resources actually do:
supports people at the heart of conflicts who are striving to find solutions. We work with them to deepen our collective understanding of the conflict, bring together divided communities and create opportunities for them to resolve their
I had a look around the site, and I couldn't find any pornography. Or any reason why it would be a bad idea for a young person to have access to the site.
Maybe its blocked simply because it frequently uses the word 'violence', eg in the strapline: Preventing violence, building peace.
This is clearly a mistake. But it demonstrates a key flaw with Internet filtering. It tends to block far too much content, both because the categories of blockable content are so vague and broad (see Orange's categories below) and because the
systems doing the filtering make mistakes. And because the decisions are made on the cheap as there are so many websites to get through.
Anonymizers: These sites allow you to browse the Internet and access content anonymously.
Anorexia - Bulimia: Promoting and instigating eating disorders.
Gambling: Access to online gambling such as casinos and any other online services that let you place bets.
Chat: Where you chat in real time to people you don’t know.
Bombs: Explaining how to prepare, make, build and use explosives and explosive devices.
Dating: Websites for match-making where the user can meet other people - make friends, find a partner, etc.
Forums: Where you’re invited to take part in discussions on predetermined topics with people you don’t know.
Pornography: Websites with a pornographic or sexual content.
Racism: Sites promoting racist behaviour based on culture, race, religion, ideology, etc.
Sects: Websites on universally acknowledged sects. Within this category URLs are included on organizations that promote directly or indirectly: (i) group, animal or individual injuries, (ii) esoteric practices,
(iii) content that sets a bad example for young children: that teaches or encourages children to perform harmful acts or imitate dangerous behaviour, (iv) content that creates feelings of fear, intimidation, horror, or psychological terror, (v)
Incitement or depiction of harm against any individual or group based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, religious or national identity.
Violence: Containing openly violent content and/or that promote violence or defend it.
Perhaps the blocking decisions could be made robust by allowing business and campaigns such as Conciliation Resources a straightforward process to sue for lost earnings and donations from incompetent censorship
Microsoft has announced further censorship of its phone-app store to remove software containing racy or sexual content.
The firm's Windows Phone Marketplace guidelines already ban content that a reasonable person would consider to be adult or borderline adult content .
However, the firm said that it had decided to enforce a more stringent interpretation of the rules. Microsoft's senior director for Windows Marketplace, Todd Brix said:
Specifically, we will be paying more attention to the icons, titles, and content of these apps and expect them to be more subtle and modest in the imagery and terms used.
This is about presenting the right content to the right customer and ensuring that apps meet our standards.
The firm suggested that developers could use silhouettes as a possible alternative to more risky images. It added that app writers who fell foul of its crackdown would be contacted over the next few days.
Indian security agencies have confirmed to Mail Today that the process to access the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service would be up and running soon.
Official sources said they would intercept BBM messages in cases where they suspected that the devices were being used to perpetrate crimes.
Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary R. Chandrashekhar told Mail Today that the arrangements were being put in place and the process had begun for lawful interception of BBM services: Directions can be given to any service provider
for interception of all BlackBerry services.
Here's how Big Brother will snoop on BBMs. The security agency concerned will first have to approach the Union Home Ministry and seek its permission to tap a particular BBM user's number. The agency will then send a request to a service provider
to access the data of the number. This will be followed by the operator connecting to the agency's channel and divulging the user's communication details.
Asked about the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), which gives a smartphone user access to a corporate intranet, Chandrashekhar said: We have found a satisfactory way forward. A plan of action has been chalked out for all BlackBerry services
(including BES) and there is concurrence on how it will be executed. The matter was discussed with the home ministry and other security agencies, and the method has been finalised. He said: It's not that access to enterprise service is not
available. But the process is cumbersome. In order to access BES, the government agencies have to tap into service providers that store emails in decrypted (readable) format before they are encrypted and pushed to the recipient's device. The
government believes BES is not of very high importance to intelligence and security agencies, but has asked service providers to share a list of all servers (approximately 5,000 in India).
RIM reprehensively are refusing to comment on the snooping capability. You'd think that they would let their subscribers know about where they stand with governments being able to intercept their communications.
Something abstract existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence. Visual geometry containing the non-explicit description of sexual organs or activity. Arising in the mind it intends to stimulate erotic rather
than aesthetic or emotional feelings.
GeometricPorn is a project by Luciano Foglia, a multidisciplinary visual artist. He has been working in the design industry for over ten years focusing on interactive design, code based animations and music. His personal time is spent exploring
new ways of expression in music and art, working from his studio in London, Hackney Wick.
Geometric Porn App has been rejected by Apple censors as explained on the website:
Reasons for Rejection:
16.1: Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected. We found that many audiences would find your app concept objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
With millions of sites to get through it is hardly surprising that the block lists are crap. The banned site list must surely be an automated process with perhaps a cursory scan if humans get involved. The censors need to be sued for the losses
incurred when sites are incorrectly blocked.
T-Mobile USA offers a feature to censor access to certain kinds of content. This is called Web Guard. Supposedly Web Guard is supposed to inhibit access to content that falls under the following categories: Alcohol, Mature Content,
Violence, Drugs, Pornography, Weapons, Gambling, Suicide, Guns, Hate, Tobacco, Ammunition.
We were able to extract part of the list of censored content and discovered that sites that do not fall under these categories were also censored. This feature is enabled by default on all prepaid accounts and although it can be disabled by
customers who wish to do so (if over 18 years of age), it is not clearly stated in the error page how to do so.
While most of the censored sites are legitimately categorized, there are certain ones that do not fall under the categories of the block. Here is a list of sites that we found to be censored, but that we don't believe belong to any of the banned
Gavin McKiernan of the Parents Television Council (PTC) attended the Apple shareholder meeting to ask the company to recommit itself to Steve Jobs' pledge that Apple would not facilitate the distribution of adult-only material within its
Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged that Apple would continue the Steve Jobs' era policy.
McKiernan also asked for a commitment from the company to sponsor family-friendly TV programs with its ad buys. Over the past year, supposedly graphic episodes of Fox's Family Guy , and The Cleveland Show , and CBS'
Two and a Half Men , among others, featured Apple advertisements, and Cook received the comments favorably.
The PTC said it was looking forward to continuing to work with Apple to build a strong relationship that will ultimately be family-friendly and serve Apple's bottom-line. The following are excerpts from McKiernan's delivered remarks:
First, I come before you today to praise Apple's commitment to curb the distribution of adult-oriented material within its ecosystem. To his credit, Steve Jobs was a leader and visionary not only in creating amazing products, but in recognizing
his company's responsibility to help parents prevent children from accessing material that is inappropriate for them. In the post-Jobs era, is that a principle parents can count on Apple to continue?
Out of the same concern for children, I must also alert you of your advertising practices. Apple has remained a constant sponsor to problematic shows such as Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, and Vampire Diaries;
shows that consistently feature violence, graphic sexual content and foul language. In the past year your advertising dollars have helped scenes such as Peter firing a machine gun at the Amish on Family Guy and Alan giving his son a penis pump
on Two and a Half Men into the homes of impressionable young minds.
I am pleading with you on behalf of millions of Americans to bring the high standards you have for your Apple products to your advertising practices. I hope you will accept my invitation today to work with the Parents Television Council to find
programming alternatives that will meet your media goals while maintaining the brand image that is so valuable to you and my fellow shareholders.
Through reports to the
blocked.org.uk site, we have established that Orange UK are filtering access to La Quadrature Du Net's website on pre-paid mobile accounts.
La Quadrature Du Net is similar to ORG -- it is an advocacy group that seeks to defend citizen's fundamental rights on the Internet. They have been a leading voice in the growing movement to oppose the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, behind
which so much momentum is gathering. They have provided detailed analyses alongside practical suggestions about how to help with the political effort to oppose the treaty.
Searching for LQDN's website on Orange pre-pay handsets leads to a warning that Orange Safeguard has classified this page as only suitable for people over the age of 18. LQDN's site does not contain any such material. But it still falls
within the parameter of adult-related material.
That La Quadrature Du Net is blocked under such a policy highlights the need for change. The problem of over-blocking is being exacerbated by a lack of transparency (so that it's not clear what is blocked and to whom) and the problems users
experience trying to opt-out.
We're gathering more evidence of the scale of the over-blocking problem through blocked.org.uk site, and you can help by reporting inappropriate blocks you find. We're currently in the process of meeting the mobile operators and the Mobile
Broadband Group to tell them our concerns and outline how we think the problems can be addressed. More efficient measures need to be implemented in order to allow parents to implement tools to try to manage their children's Internet use whilst
ensuring that adults are not subject to unnecessary censorship.
Apple is censoring rap music and other explicit tracks downloaded using its iTunes Match service by replacing them with the clean versions of the same songs.
According to a report in Cult of Mac, confirmed in tests by Mashable, songs uploaded to the service with explicit lyrics are automatically replaced by the clean version of the song.
iTunes Match is an optional service that costs $25 a year. It matches songs in your iTunes library with high-quality versions on Apple's servers, and lets you play and download your choice of those songs to your iPhone, iPod or iPad.
In Mashable's test, a ripped copy of Jay-Z's The Black Album (with explicit lyrics) was uploaded to iTunes Match, where it was promptly replaced by the clean version. Cult of Mac found the problem affected songs by Jay-Z, Kanye West and
The problem does not seem to affect music that was actually bought on iTunes.
According to 9to5Mac, a reader contacted Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, about this issue, and received a response from one of his engineers. The email acknowledged the existence of the problem, and said
Apple was working on a fix.
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps a record of where you go -- and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.
For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010.
Apple has made it possible for almost anybody -- a jealous spouse, a private detective -- with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been, said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.
Although mobile networks already record phones' locations, it is only available to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act.
Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining.
The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner's computer.
Open Rights Group and Tor have established that UK mobile networks such as Vodafone, O2 and 3 are blocking UK users' access to
Tor's primary website (meaning the Tor Project website, rather than connections to the Tor network) on pre-paid contractless accounts.
Tor helps people stay anonymous online. Some examples of how it has been used include those trying to avoid oppressive state censorship in places such as Iran, through to abuse victims in the UK.
There is a
blog post by Jacob Appelbaum with more technical details about the blocking on UK mobile networks over at the Tor blog.
Searching for torproject.org reveals that it is blocked because it falls into the category of anonymiser . (Orange also say that they block content that falls into the anonymiser category - but it does not seem that Tor is
blocked on Orange.) It's unlikely that mobile operators are targeting Tor, and more likely that anonymisation tools generally are blocked.
It was initially established that Tor was blocked initially through the new tool blocked.org.uk.
openrightsgroup.org are asking for help in monitoring how blocking on mobile networks works by reporting when you come across incorrectly applied blocks.
Open Rights Group will be meeting with mobile operators over the next few weeks to talk about making sure that they can both help parents manage their children's mobile Internet use and avoid clumsy implemented blocking. Some are better at
aspects of this than others (Orange provide an overview of the categories they block, for example.) But none implement a transparent and clear policy that puts users in charge.
Open Rights Group (ORG) are researching into the accuracy of the website blocking employed by mobile phone companies. The group wrote in its newsletter:
Last month, we asked ORG supporters to help us find sites that were being blocked by the default Adult filter on their mobile phones. Lots of you replied and asked to get involved. And thanks to that extraordinary team - we've launched a
tool to report what sites are being blocked and by whom.
We are getting regular reports and testing blocks on every mobile network. We're seeing just how bad mobile blocking is, and how bad the networks are at dealing with complaints. Forums and joke sites get banned. So do churches. Some MPs want to
extend default adult censorship to Internet at home as well: but we are already seeing how bad it is on mobile networks. ORG has already been invited to talk to O2 about their systems, as a result of this campaign.
Meanwhile thank to a reader who wrote to MelonFarmers:
Just to let you know; the mobile network Three are blocking access to your site through their 3G networks - The site works fine on Wi-Fi, but on 3G you get asked to contact Three to get a pin to unblock the site, as
they have it listed as an Adult content site.
They charge 99p to allow access to adult sites (And it's not straightforward, takes a while to find the right place to do it.).
They have also blocked Movie-Censorship.com, same reason as above.