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Online Safety Bill


UK Government legislates to censor social media


 

Offsite Comment: The Online Safety Bill would treat us all like children...


Link Here 25th April 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The UK government is actively encouraging Big Tech censorship. By Matthew Lesh

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Perhaps drug dealers will find a new sideline in selling memory sticks full of porn...

Surveyed porn users indicate that they will be unlikely to hand over their identity documents to for age verification


Link Here22nd April 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
So what will porn users do should their favourite porn site succumb to age verification. Will they decide to use a VPN, or else try Tor, or perhaps exchange porn with their friends, or perhaps their will be an opportunity for a black market to spring up. Another option would be to seek out lesser known foreign porn sites that van fly under the radar.

All of these options seem more likely than users dangerously handing over identity documents to any porn website that asks.

According to a new survey from YouGov, 78% of the 2,000 adults surveyed would not be willing to verify their age to access adult websites by uploading a document linked to their identity such as a driver's license, passport or other ID card.

Of the participants who believe that visiting adult websites can be part of a healthy sexual lifestyle, just 17% are willing to upload their ID.

The main reasons for their decisions were analysed. 64% just don't trust the companies to keep their data safe while 63% are scared their information could end up in the wrong hands. 49% are concerned about adult websites suffering data breaches which could expose their personal information.

Director of the privacy campaigner Open Rights Group, Jim Killock explained in a press release that those who want to access adult websites anonymously will just use a VPN if the UK's Online Safety legislation passes, saying:

The government assumes that people will actually upload their ID to access adult content. The data shows that this is a naive assumption. Instead, adults will simply use a VPN (as many already do) to avoid the step, or they'll go to smaller, unmoderated sites which exist outside the law. Smaller adult sites tend to be harder to regulate and could potentially expose users204including minors204to more extreme or illegal content.

 

 

Censorship monstrosity...

The UK govenment's Online Censorship Bill will get a 2nd reading debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday 19th April


Link Here18th April 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Repressive new censorship laws return to Parliament for their second reading this week.

Online censorship legislation will be debated in the Commons Comes as new plans to support some people and fight  deemed falsities online are launched Funding boost will help people's critical thinking online through a new expert Media Literacy Taskforce alongside proposals to pay for training for teachers and library workers

Parliamentarians will debate the government's groundbreaking Online Censorship Bill which requires social media platforms, search engines and other apps and websites allowing people to post content to censor 'wrong think' content.

Ofcom, the official state censor, will have the power to fine companies failing to comply with the laws up to ten per cent of their annual global turnover, force them to improve their practices and block non-compliant sites. Crucially, the laws have strong measures to safeguard children from harmful content such as pornography and child sexual abuse.

 

 

Online Censorship Bill...

Sex workers speak out against the upcoming censorship of their trade


Link Here16th April 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

The Online Safety Bil l was published on 12 May 2021 with the stated aim of cracking down on harmful content online. A clause has now been added to the bill to include the offence of inciting or controlling prostitution for gain as one of the priority offences that tech companies have to look out for -- firms would then be obliged to remove any content from their platforms that could be construed as committing this offence.

This would be disastrous for sex workers as it would undoubtably lead to advertising platforms clamping down on sex workers' advertisements.in order to avoid any chance of being prosecuted -- essentially criminalising the online advertising of sex work.

Controlling prostitution for gain is interpreted very widely in the criminal courts. Some women in the ECP have been prosecuted under this offence just for helping a friend build a website or place an advert. Our experience shows that in any crackdown like this, migrant and women of colour are particularly targeted.

Research shows that online advertising has enabled sex workers to work more safely and independently from exploitative bosses, to screen clients and have more control over our working conditions. Preventing sex workers from advertising will increase violence and the risk of attack. Similar legislation (SESTA/FOSTA) was passed into law by Trump in the US in 2018 resulting in an increase in poverty, insecure housing, suicide, murder, isolation, and the deterioration of physical and mental health for sex workers.

 

 

Vladimir would be proud...

UK Government introduces its Online Censorship Bill which significantly diminishes British free speech whilst terrorising British businesses with a mountain of expense and red tape


Link Here17th March 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The UK government's new online censorship laws have been brought before parliament. The Government wrote in its press release:

The Online Safety Bill marks a milestone in the fight for a new digital age which is safer for users and holds tech giants to account. It will protect children from harmful content such as pornography and limit people's exposure to illegal content, while protecting freedom of speech.

It will require social media platforms, search engines and other apps and websites allowing people to post their own content to protect children, tackle illegal activity and uphold their stated terms and conditions.

The regulator Ofcom will have the power to fine companies failing to comply with the laws up to ten per cent of their annual global turnover, force them to improve their practices and block non-compliant sites.

Today the government is announcing that executives whose companies fail to cooperate with Ofcom's information requests could now face prosecution or jail time within two months of the Bill becoming law, instead of two years as it was previously drafted.

A raft of other new offences have also been added to the Bill to make in-scope companies' senior managers criminally liable for destroying evidence, failing to attend or providing false information in interviews with Ofcom, and for obstructing the regulator when it enters company offices.

In the UK, tech industries are blazing a trail in investment and innovation. The Bill is balanced and proportionate with exemptions for low-risk tech and non-tech businesses with an online presence. It aims to increase people's trust in technology, which will in turn support our ambition for the UK to be the best place for tech firms to grow.

The Bill will strengthen people's rights to express themselves freely online and ensure social media companies are not removing legal free speech. For the first time, users will have the right to appeal if they feel their post has been taken down unfairly.

It will also put requirements on social media firms to protect journalism and democratic political debate on their platforms. News content will be completely exempt from any regulation under the Bill.

And, in a further boost to freedom of expression online, another major improvement announced today will mean social media platforms will only be required to tackle 'legal but harmful' content, such as exposure to self-harm, harassment and eating disorders, set by the government and approved by Parliament.

Previously they would have had to consider whether additional content on their sites met the definition of legal but harmful material. This change removes any incentives or pressure for platforms to over-remove legal content or controversial comments and will clear up the grey area around what constitutes legal but harmful.

Ministers will also continue to consider how to ensure platforms do not remove content from recognised media outlets.

Bill introduction and changes over the last year

The Bill will be introduced in the Commons today. This is the first step in its passage through Parliament to become law and beginning a new era of accountability online. It follows a period in which the government has significantly strengthened the Bill since it was first published in draft in May 2021. Changes since the draft Bill include:

  • Bringing paid-for scam adverts on social media and search engines into scope in a major move to combat online fraud .

  • Making sure all websites which publish or host pornography , including commercial sites, put robust checks in place to ensure users are 18 years old or over.

  • Adding new measures to clamp down on anonymous trolls to give people more control over who can contact them and what they see online.

  • Making companies proactively tackle the most harmful illegal content and criminal activity quicker.

  • Criminalising cyberflashing through the Bill.

Criminal liability for senior managers

The Bill gives Ofcom powers to demand information and data from tech companies, including on the role of their algorithms in selecting and displaying content, so it can assess how they are shielding users from harm.

Ofcom will be able to enter companies' premises to access data and equipment, request interviews with company employees and require companies to undergo an external assessment of how they're keeping users safe.

The Bill was originally drafted with a power for senior managers of large online platforms to be held criminally liable for failing to ensure their company complies with Ofcom's information requests in an accurate and timely manner.

In the draft Bill, this power was deferred and so could not be used by Ofcom for at least two years after it became law. The Bill introduced today reduces the period to two months to strengthen penalties for wrongdoing from the outset.

Additional information-related offences have been added to the Bill to toughen the deterrent against companies and their senior managers providing false or incomplete information. They will apply to every company in scope of the Online Safety Bill. They are:

  • offences for companies in scope and/or employees who suppress, destroy or alter information requested by Ofcom;

  • offences for failing to comply with, obstructing or delaying Ofcom when exercising its powers of entry, audit and inspection, or providing false information;

  • offences for employees who fail to attend or provide false information at an interview.

Falling foul of these offences could lead to up to two years in imprisonment or a fine.

Ofcom must treat the information gathered from companies sensitively. For example, it will not be able to share or publish data without consent unless tightly defined exemptions apply, and it will have a responsibility to ensure its powers are used proportionately.

Changes to requirements on 'legal but harmful' content

Under the draft Bill, 'Category 1' companies - the largest online platforms with the widest reach including the most popular social media platforms - must address content harmful to adults that falls below the threshold of a criminal offence.

Category 1 companies will have a duty to carry risk assessments on the types of legal harms against adults which could arise on their services. They will have to set out clearly in terms of service how they will deal with such content and enforce these terms consistently. If companies intend to remove, limit or allow particular types of content they will have to say so.

The agreed categories of legal but harmful content will be set out in secondary legislation and subject to approval by both Houses of Parliament. Social media platforms will only be required to act on the priority legal harms set out in that secondary legislation, meaning decisions on what types of content are harmful are not delegated to private companies or at the whim of internet executives.

It will also remove the threat of social media firms being overzealous and removing legal content because it upsets or offends someone even if it is not prohibited by their terms and conditions. This will end situations such as the incident last year when TalkRadio was forced offline by YouTube for an "unspecified" violation and it was not clear on how it breached its terms and conditions.

The move will help uphold freedom of expression and ensure people remain able to have challenging and controversial discussions online.

The DCMS Secretary of State has the power to add more categories of priority legal but harmful content via secondary legislation should they emerge in the future. Companies will be required to report emerging harms to Ofcom.

Proactive technology

Platforms may need to use tools for content moderation, user profiling and behaviour identification to protect their users.

Additional provisions have been added to the Bill to allow Ofcom to set expectations for the use of these proactive technologies in codes of practice and force companies to use better and more effective tools, should this be necessary.

Companies will need to demonstrate they are using the right tools to address harms, they are transparent, and any technologies they develop meet standards of accuracy and effectiveness required by the regulator. Ofcom will not be able to recommend these tools are applied on private messaging or legal but harmful content.

Reporting child sexual abuse

A new requirement will mean companies must report child sexual exploitation and abuse content they detect on their platforms to the National Crime Agency .

The CSEA reporting requirement will replace the UK's existing voluntary reporting regime and reflects the Government's commitment to tackling this horrific crime.

Reports to the National Crime Agency will need to meet a set of clear standards to ensure law enforcement receives the high quality information it needs to safeguard children, pursue offenders and limit lifelong re-victimisation by preventing the ongoing recirculation of illegal content.

In-scope companies will need to demonstrate existing reporting obligations outside of the UK to be exempt from this requirement, which will avoid duplication of company's efforts.




 

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