Under pressure from American and British officials, YouTube have removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, Yemen-based cleric who has played an increasingly public role in
inspiring violence directed at the West.
Last week, a British official pressed for the videos to be removed and a New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, sent YouTube a letter listing hundreds of videos featuring the cleric. The requests took on
greater urgency after two powerful bombs hidden in cargo planes were intercepted en route from Yemen to Chicago on Friday, with the prime suspect being the Yemen-based group Awlaki is affiliated with, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
e-mail, Victoria Grand, a YouTube spokeswoman, said that the site had removed videos that violated the site's guidelines prohibiting dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, and incitement to commit violent acts, or came
from accounts registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization, or used to promote such a group's interests.
Grand said that Google, YouTube's owner, sought to balance freedom of expression with averting calls to
violence. These are difficult issues, she wrote, and material that is brought to our attention is reviewed carefully. We will continue to remove all content that incites violence according to our policies. Material of a purely religious nature
will remain on the site.
Britain's concern over Awlaki and his group rose sharply with two developments. A young woman who had embraced his cause and watched dozens of hours of his videos was sentenced to life in prison for the attempted
murder in May of a prominent legislator, and a top official in the government of Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a member of the Yemeni Qaeda group had been arrested earlier in the year in a previously undisclosed bombing plot against the
Earlier this year ncacblog reported on YouTube's removal and subsequent restoration of videos by dance-artist Amy Greenfield.
At that point NCAC voiced serious concerns
about the lack of an appeals process for individuals who believe that their work has been unfairly removed from the site as well as the absence of art in the list of exceptions to the YouTube community guidelines banning nudity.
now pleased to report that, in response to NCAC's and EFF's jointly voiced concerns, YouTube now has instituted an appeals process and has changed their community guidelines to include artistic purpose as justifying an exception to their no nudity
To provide YouTube reviewers with enough information so that they can make an informed decision when reviewing flagged work, YouTube advises its users to add as much 'artistic' context as possible when posting videos.
applaud the company's responsiveness to the interests of the wide and diverse community of people who use YouTube to access art work. We are also impressed that the company has so promptly acted to protect free speech.
Maryland state police were wrong to arrest and charge a man for taping his own traffic stop and posting it on YouTube, a judge ruled earlier this week.
Motorcyclist Anthony Graber was charged with illegal wiretapping for recording plainclothes
state trooper J.D. Uhler jumping from his unmarked sedan and drawing his gun -- and waiting a good five seconds before identifying himself as a police officer. The tape was shot with a conspicuous, helmet-mounted camera that captured the video and audio
of the confrontation.
On Monday, a Maryland state judge stated in no uncertain terms that the felony charge never should have been filed.
Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately
accountable to the public, Circuit Court Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. wrote. When we exercise that power in a public forum, we should not expect our activity to be shielded from public scrutiny.
Under such circumstances, I cannot, by any
stretch, conclude that the troopers had any reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversation with the defendant which society would be prepared to recognize as reasonable.
After he posted the video on YouTube, police raided his home,
hauled away his computers and the state's attorney charged him under a law that went onto the books before cell phones even existed.
A Madrid court has thrown out copyright infringement charges brought against Google's YouTube by Spanish TV station Telecinco.
The court dismissed charges and found it the responsibility of copyright owners to guard their own intellectual property
and inform Google when it is infringing copyright.
The judgement, translated by AFP, said it was impossible to control all the videos that are made available to users, as there are in fact more than 500 million. YouTube is not a supplier of
content and therefore has no obligation to control ex-ante the illegality of those.
YouTube's chief European spin doctor said in a blog post that it was a big win for the internet . He said the court noted that YouTube offers content
owners tools to remove copyright infringing content and this means that it is the responsibility of the copyright owner – not YouTube – to identify and tell YouTube when infringing content is on its website. This decision reaffirms European law which
recognizes that content owners (not service providers like YouTube) are in the best position to know whether a specific work is authorised to be on an Internet hosting service...
The Australian Sex Party is up in arms over what it claims as censorship from Google. The company reclassified the party's lampoon advertisement Jerk Choices as Adult Only content in spite the fact that it has already aired on primetime on
free to air television.
The campaign, which is meant to highlight wowsers in Australian society, had already appeared on shows such as The 7pm Project and Gruen Nation .
Fiona Patten, the Sex Party's president, says that the
advertisement, which had been considered suitable for general release, was suddenly reclassified as Adults Only two days before the election. Patten says that the change hurt the campaign's viewing numbers.
The reclassification was said to have
taken the ad out of circulation when advertising for the elections was at its heaviest. Google did not give the party any warning about the reclassification. It also did not tell the political party what measures it can take to have the original rating
The hit internet spoof video Newport State Of Mind which parodies Jay-Z has been removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim by killjoys at EMI Publishing.
The clip had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since last
The video, which parodies Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' Empire State Of Mind using the backdrop of the south Wales city, was directed by filmmaker M-J Delaney. Made for less than £100, it also featured rapper Alex Warren and singer Terema
Whilst viewers are blocked from seeing it on YouTube the video is still available on other websites.
A French dancer has caused 'outrage' among Australia's Aboriginal people for performing a strip show on the top of Ayers Rock, which they regard as sacred territory .
The dancer stripped down and put on an exotic show for a friend with a
video camera on the top of the rock - which the Aborigines call Uluru - and posted it on YouTube.
Aborigine John Scrutton, who lives in the Northern Territory city of Darwin, described people who show no respect to the rock as evil . Aboriginal lore and law should be brought into effect - not all of us blackfellas are living in the dirt in humpys (a crude traditional dwelling).
What Miss Sery had done, he said, was the equivalent of someone defecating on the steps of the Vatican.
Google has unveiled its long-rumoured new service for enabling viewers to browse the web while watching TV.
The new Google TV platform will combine the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the internet .
Android operating system, Google TV-enabled sets will allow viewers to search content on the web and download applications via an on-screen Google Chrome browser.
Google TV will be incorporated into television sets and Blu-ray players manufactured
by Sony, with the first products due to launch in the US this autumn.
In a statement, Google said: With Google Chrome built in, you can access all of your favourite websites and easily move between television and the web. This opens up your TV
from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the web. Your television is also no longer confined to showing just video.
Google further intends to tap into the Android developer community for creating a
range of apps specially designed for the TV screen.
Tunisia is carrying out one of the most massive wave of online censorship targeting major social websites, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles. The most recent victim of this wave is flickr, the popular and one
of the best online photo-sharing website, blocked today, April 28th, 2010.
Last week, on April 22, 2010, Tunisia has added 3 more websites to its list of banned video-sharing websites in the country. Blip.tv, metacafe.com and vidoemo.com are not
welcome aymore in the country. In early April, 2010, WAT.TV, another social networking and media-sharing website, which is believed to be the 3rd video broadcaster on the Internet in France, has also been blocked.
The targeting of video-sharing
websites by Tunisian censors started on September 3rd, 2007, with the ban of Dailymotion, then it was the turn of Youtube to be banned from the country's Internet on November 2nd, 2007.
UK video-on-demand providers must pay a combined £375,000 to two bodies that will regulate their industry.
The Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD) was last week confirmed by Ofcom to co-regulate, along with it, the VOD sector.
Ofcom says 150 VOD services must pay the fees - but, despite reviewing the sector last year, it has not published a list identifying the companies affected.
Indeed, singling out those services which fall under the joint Ofcom-ATVOD auspice is
tricky. The EC directive applies to TV-like services, which it says must not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality ; must provide appropriate protection for minors against harmful material and
sponsored programmes and services must comply with applicable sponsorship requirements .
But what TV-like means is open to interpretation, as media continue to converge and innovate. After commissioning research in to the topic,
Ofcom says the scope should extent to services that provide access to programmes that compete for the same audience as television broadcasts, and therefore, are comparable to the form and content of programmes included in broadcast television services
. Only services that have editorial responsibility over their content are covered.
Specifically, Ofcom says catch-up TV websites and set-top box services, TV archives and movie VOD services [doesn't sound very
TV-Like to me!] fall under regulatory scope.
Ofcom has opened a consultation with three options for raising the money:
Option A: Charging based on services' revenue, so as not to disadvantage smaller providers.
Option B: A mixture of revenue-based fee and a flat £1,000 fee.
Option C: A flat £2,500 fee. [Ofcom preferred option]
The Association For Television On Demand (ADVOD) has confirmed a series of senior appointments as it takes over video on-demand regulation from Ofcom.
Ofcom has now officially handed over statutory powers to independent body ATVOD for supposedly
light touch regulation of online video, including all consumer protection standards and guidelines for taste, decency and sponsorship requirements.
In response, ATVOD has restructured its operation. Former deputy chair of Ofcom's consumer
panel Ruth Evans has been appointed to lead the organisation as its new independent chair.
Aside Evans, the five-strong ATVOD board includes former Channel 4 News editor Sara Nathan, Advertising Association chief executive Tim Lefroy, ASA Council
member Nigel Walmsley and broadcasting compliance specialist Ian McBride. Sky's Daniel Austin, BT's Simon Milner, Virgin Media's Simon Hunt and Five's Chris Loweth will provide the ATVOD board with an industry perspective.
The organisation has
further hired Pete Johnson as its new chief executive, after he previously managed VOD and packaged media regulatory policy for the BBFC.
This is a landmark moment for video on-demand services in the UK which offer programmes that are
comparable to those shown on traditional TV channels, said Johnson, who will outline ATVOD's regulatory policy on March 25 at IPTV World Forum: On UK services, children will be protected from the most extreme content, and for the first time use of
product placement and sponsorship will be subject to controls and restrictions.
Recent Ofcom research suggests that there are around 150 operators on the UK market that meet the statutory criteria for providing TV-like VOD services. All
providers must now contact ATVOD before April 30 to outline their service propositions, with any firms meeting the criteria required to pay a fee based on the overall cost of regulating the sector . ATVOD said that it will soon launch a six-week
consultation with Ofcom into the fee structure, in which all stakeholders will be able to have their say.
The Turkish courts banned YouTube in May 2008, and now a new protest campaign launched by the editorial team of the Milliyet newspaper is drawing attention to how long the country has been prevented from using the website.
The initiative, which
was was launched on February 19, is not the first campaign of this type. But it's notable because previous protests came from the blogosphere and, as a result, did not receive international coverage. The current ban is the fourth such action by the
Turkish courts since 2007; hopefully, this campaign will draw attention to this policy of censorship.
The editors of Milliyet were inspired to act by a February 16 piece in the Wall Street Journal by David Keyes, a founding member of
Cyberdissidents.org. Keyes wrote that there is nothing European, let alone cultural, about prohibiting citizens from viewing YouTube. Turkey's status as the 2010 European 'Capital of Culture' should be suspended until this ban is repealed.
In announcing the protest campaign, Milliyet columnist Mehves, Emin said:
Everybody has changed their DNS settings and can access YouTube, just like the Prime Minister does and has said he does. This is why people have become insensitive about this ban. But YouTube is still blocked in Turkey and this affects Turkey's image
negatively and this issue needs to be resolved. So as the editorial team of Milliyet Cadde, we agreed to show everyday how many days have passed since the ban.
Three Google executives were convicted in Italy of allowing film of an autistic schoolboy being bullied to be posted online in a ruling that could profoundly change the way in which video clips are put on the internet.
The three Google executives
— David Drummond, senior vice-president and chief legal officer, George Reyes, Google's former chief financial officer, and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel — were each given a six-month suspended prison sentence, but were cleared of defamation
charges. A fourth defendant, Arvind Desikan, senior product marketing manager, was acquitted.
Alfredo Robledo, the prosecutor, said that he was very satisfied with the verdict in the case, adding: Protection of human beings must prevail
over business logic. Robledo said that the video, which was posted on September 8, 2006, had remained online until November 7 and should have been taken down immediately.
Google said that it would appeal against the ruling. The American
company said that the decision attacked the principles of freedom on which the internet is built. Bill Echikson, a Google spokesman, said: It's the first time a Google employee has been convicted for [violation of] privacy anywhere in the world. It's
an astonishing decision that attacks the principle of freedom of expression.
Italian bloggers also criticised the verdict, with one blogger on the La Stampa website declaring: From today we are less Western and more Chinese.
Sucherman, vice-president of Google and its deputy general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, conceded that the video was totally reprehensible , but said that Google had taken it down within hours of being notified of it by Italian
police and that none of those convicted had had anything to do with it. He said: They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video's existence until after it was removed.
Sucherman said that the ruling by the judge, Oscar Magi, meant that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload. If social networks and community bulletin boards were held
responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the web as we know it will cease to exist and many of the economic, social, political and technological
benefits it brings could disappear.
A boy from Norfolk who posted highly disturbing white supremacist videos online has been given a two-year conditional discharge.
The boy, 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted two charges of inciting racial hatred on or before
22 April 2008 at King's Lynn Youth Court.
The boy was 15 when he was arrested for posting videos on YouTube. The Crown Prosecution Service believes he is the youngest person in England and Wales prosecuted for the offence.
The boy also put
material on a website he had set up himself, the court heard.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer Viv Goddard said: This is thought to be the first time the CPS has prosecuted someone as young as this defendant for incitement to racial
hatred after posting racially-inflammatory material on a social networking site. Young people need to realise that it is not a joke to post hate-filled material on video-sharing websites or sites they set up themselves. The material in this case was not
just offensive but highly disturbing in its violence and imagery.
Viewers to his site had to agree to statements before they were allowed access, the lawyer said. These statements included I do swear and verify that I am of the white race
and I am not or have never been a follower of the Jewish religion . The boy also stipulated that viewers believe in the segregation of the races and have never engaged in an inter-racial relationship .
YouTube have added a Safety Mode feature to the video-sharing site that allows users to screen out potentially objectionable content.
We know that some of you want a more controlled experience, Jamie Davidson, an associate
product manager at Google-owned YouTube, said in a blog post: That's why we're announcing Safety Mode, an opt-in setting that helps screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don't want others in your family to
stumble across while enjoying YouTube.
Activating Safety Mode will not return any results for a search using the keyword naked or sex, for example.
Safety Mode can be turned on or off through a link at the
bottom of the YouTube page.
Google says it will not voluntarily comply with the government's request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad refused classification (RC) content rules.
As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing
ISPs to block a blacklist of banned RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.
YouTube's rules already forbid certain videos that would be classified RC, such as sex, violence,
bestiality and child pornography. But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.
Google said all of these topics were featured in videos on YouTube and it refused to censor these voluntarily. It said exposing these topics to public debate was vital for democracy.
In an interview with the ABC's Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, so we're currently in discussions with Google about ... how we can work
this through . What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws, Conroy said: Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an
enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government.
Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy's comparisons between how Australia
and China deal with access to information were not helpful or relevant . YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can't give any assurances that we would
voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube .
The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any
crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.
Italian lawmakers on committees in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies (upper and lower houses of parliament) have requested sweeping changes in a proposed broadcasting law, particularly in the section governing the internet, which had aroused widespread
Deputy Communications Minister Paolo Romani, who was responsible for promoting the broadcasting law, said the government would take rigorous account of the lawmakers' suggestions.
Blogs with amateur videos,
online newspapers, search engines and the online versions of magazines are free, and editorial responsibility does not fall on providers who host content generated by others, Alessio Butti, the government lawmaker who drew up the text approved by the
Senate committee, told reporters.
The Chamber and Senate Commissions have proposed significant and positive changes to the draft broadcasting law, Marco Pancini, senior European public policy counsel for Google Italy, said in a prepared
statement. Under the original draft of the broadcasting law, which the government says enacts a European Union directive, YouTube risked being treated as a conventional television broadcaster, requiring a special licence from the government and assuming
editorial responsibility for all material uploaded to its website.
Paolo Nuti, president of the Association of Italian internet Providers (AIIP), said he welcomed the change of heart expressed by the parliamentary committees but pointed out that
their recommendations were not binding on the government.
Bloggers were also quick to welcome the government's apparent U-turn. This is a new U-turn made necessary by the incompetence of the geriatric ward that, unfortunately for us, on both
sides of the political spectrum, occupies Italy's seats of power, said Andrea Guida, writing on the blog geekissimo.
New rules to be introduced by government decree will require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to
communicate over the Web, opposition lawmakers have warned.
The decree is ostensibly an enactment of a European Union (EU) directive on product placement and is due to go into effect at the end of January after being subjected to a nonbinding
appraisal by parliament.
Opposition lawmakers held a press conference in parliament to denounce the new rules -- which require government authorization for the uploading of videos, give individuals who claim to have been defamed a right of reply
and prevent the replay of copyright material -- as a threat to freedom of expression.
The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible
limitation on the way the Internet currently functions, opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.
Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet of moving pictures, whether
or not accompanied by sound, requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.
the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea, said Gentiloni's party colleague Vincenzo Vita.
The decree was also condemned by Articolo 21, an organization dedicated to the defense of freedom of speech as enshrined in
article 21 of the Italian constitution. The group said the measures resembled an earlier government attempt to crack down on bloggers by imposing on them the same obligations and responsibilities as newspapers.
The group launched an appeal Friday
entitled Hands Off the Net, saying the restrictive measures would mark the end of freedom of expression on the Web. The restrictions would prevent the recounting of the life of the Italians in moving pictures on the Internet, it said.
Google has announced it will counter regulations being drafted by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government that would police content on Google-owned YouTube.
The Internet measures are contained in a radical package of TV legislation now being
pushed through parliament. The sweeping bills are also drawing fire from TV and film industry workers, who have called a national strike today to protest against other aspects of the package, including the elimination of quotas that support local indie
Google's European public policy counsel, Marco Pancini, has requested an urgent meeting with Paolo Romani, the communications undersecretary who drafted the decree designed to give the government control over video content uploaded
onto the Internet, similar to the authority it already has over broadcasters.
We are concerned over the fact that Internet service providers, like YouTube, that simply make content available to the general public, are being bundled together with
traditional television networks that actually manage content, Pancini told paper La Stampa. It amounts to destroying the entire Internet system.
Children are posting videos on the internet showing them choking other youngsters to the point of collapse, in a craze that doctors warn has led to brain damage and death.
In one, a group of teenagers set out clear guidelines to the practice in an
instructional video , while in several others British voices can be heard.
The problem has been increasingly acknowledged in the United States, Canada and France but campaigners warn that Britain is turning a blind eye. The craze is
spreading on the internet largely without the knowledge of adults.
This is disturbing, highly dangerous, very risky and the practice should be avoided at all costs, said Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General
Practitioners. The American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned recently: Parents, educators and healthcare providers should become familiar with warning signs that youths are playing the choking game.
In Britain, the
Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was aware of the activity and was monitoring the situation closely. There is no authoritative research on the issue in the UK, despite campaign groups compiling 86 cases of young people in Britain who
may have died this way.
Known by a variety of names from funky chicken to space monkey, the game involves hyperventilating or squeezing the carotid artery in the neck for a few seconds to achieve a high. Constricting the artery cuts blood
flow to the brain; when the pressure is released, the resulting rush of oxygen causes the high. Experts say it is most prevalent among high-achieving adolescents who do not want to get in trouble by taking drugs or drink. The practice is different to
autoerotic asphyxiation because it is not done for sexual gratification.
In the troubling footage on YouTube, British teenagers can be seen losing consciousness, their eyes rolled back, as they collapse to the ground to the sound of their friends'
The videos show teenagers applying pressure to the necks of friends. Others try to create the high on their own, using a ligature, with a greater risk of killing themselves if anything goes wrong and help is not at hand.
American entry on MySpace, to background rap lyrics of spaz if you want to , claims to be an instructional video on the different ways of playing the pass-out game and shows different teenagers collapsing among their friends.
Doctors warn the choking game can lead to seizures, head injuries, strokes, heart failure and brain damage. Parents are warned to look out for unexplainable headaches, bruising round the neck, bloodshot eyes or ear pain.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said officials were aware of the activity: Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, we will continue to work with the internet industry to keep young people safe
online, including through reducing the availability of harmful and inappropriate content.
Dozens of videos of children deliberately choking each other to the point of collapse have been deleted by two popular websites.
deleted from the websites: We're grateful to The Independent for raising these videos with us. We'd encourage anyone who sees a video that concerns them to report it to our review team straight away, using the 'flag' button found underneath every
video, said YouTube.