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UK Internet Censorship


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Commented: Censored comments...

Comments about the UK Government's new Internet Censorship Bill


Link Here28th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

Comment: Disastrous

11th May 2021. See article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

Mark Johnson, Legal and Policy Officer at Big Brother Watch said:

The Online Safety Bill introduces state-backed censorship and monitoring on a scale never seen before in a liberal democracy.

This Bill is disastrous for privacy rights and free expression online. The Government is clamping down on vague categories of lawful speech. This could easily result in the silencing of marginalised voices and unpopular views.

Parliament should remove lawful content from the scope of this Bill altogether and refocus on real policing rather than speech-policing.

Offsite Comment: Online safety bill: a messy new minefield in the culture wars

13th May 2021. See article from theguardian.com by Alex Hern

The message of the bill is simple: take down exactly the content the government wants taken down, and no more. Guess wrong and you could face swingeing fines. Keep guessing wrong and your senior managers could even go to jail.

Content moderation is a hard job, and it's about to get harder.

Offsite Comment: Harm Version 3.0

15th May 2021. See article from cyberleagle.com by Graham Smith

Two years on from the April 2019 Online Harms White Paper, the government has published its draft Online Safety Bill. It is a hefty beast: 133 pages and 141 sections. It raises a slew of questions, not least around press and journalistic material and the newly-coined content of democratic importance. Also, for the first time, the draft Bill spells out how the duty of care regime would apply to search engines, not just to user generated content sharing service providers.

This post offers first impressions of a central issue that started to take final shape in the government's December 2020 Full Response to consultation: the apparent conflict between imposing content monitoring and removal obligations on the one hand, and the government's oft-repeated commitment to freedom of expression on the other - now translated into express duties on service providers.

The draft Bill represents the government's third attempt at defining harm (if we include the White Paper, which set no limit). The scope of harm proposed in its second version (the Full Response) has now been significantly widened.

See article from cyberleagle.com

Offsite Comment: The unstoppable march of state censorship

17th May 2021. See article from spiked-online.com

Vaguely worded hate-speech laws can end up criminalising almost any opinion.

 

Offsite Comment: Drowning internet services in red tape

 18th May 2021. See article from techmonitor.ai by Laurie Clarke

The UK government has unveiled sprawling new legislation that takes aim at online speech on internet services 203 stretching from illegal to legal yet harmful content. The wide-ranging nature of the proposals could leave internet businesses large and small facing a huge bureaucratic burden, and render the bill impractical to implement.

 

 

Offsite Comment: UK online safety bill raises censorship concerns and questions on future of encryption

24th May 2021. See article from cpj.org

 

 

 

Offsite Comment: Why the online safety bill threatens our civil liberties

26th May 2021. See article from politics.co.uk by Heather Burns

With the recent publication of the draft online safety bill, the UK government has succeeded in uniting the British population in a way not seen since the weekly clap for the NHS. This time, however, no one is applauding. After two years of dangled promises, the government's roadmap to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online sets up a sweeping eradication of our personal privacy, our data security, and our civil liberties.

Offsite Comment: Misguided Online Safety Bill will be catastrophic for ordinary people's social media

23rd June 2021. See article from dailymail.co.uk

The Government's new Online Safety Bill will be catastrophic for ordinary people's freedom of speech, former minister David Davis has warned.

The Conservative MP said forcing social networks to take down content in Britain they deem unacceptable seems out of Orwell's 1984.

Davis slammed the idea Silicon Valley firms could take down posts they think are not politically correct - even though it is legal.

See full article from dailymail.co.uk

Offsite Comment: On the trail of the Person of Ordinary Sensibilities

28th June 2021. See article from cyberleagle.com by Graham Smith

The bill boils down to what a mythical adult or child of 'ordinary sensibilities' considers to be 'lawful but awful' content.

 

 

Offsite Article: Even a Guardian columnist thinks that the Government's Online Censorship Bill goes too far...


Link Here26th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
A Conservative government that boasts it is a defender of free speech against the attacks of the woke is about to impose the severest censorship this country has seen in peacetime. By Nick Cohen

See article from spectator.co.uk

 

 

Censorship on Demand...

The Government is considering extending the TV censorship regime to Video on Demand services like Netflix and Apple TV


Link Here25th June 2021

As part of an ongoing strategic review of the UK public service broadcasting system, the government will review the ownership model and remit of Channel 4 and consider tightening regulation of video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video.

With a fast-evolving media landscape, increasing competition and changing audience habits posing imminent challenges, moving Channel 4 into private ownership and changing its remit could help secure its future as a successful and sustainable public service broadcaster.

The government will also consult on whether the regulation of video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime need strengthening so they are subject to similar rules as traditional "linear" broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Sky.

It will consider whether new rules are needed to protect viewers of video-on-demand services - such as changes to age ratings and addressing impartiality and accuracy rules for documentaries and news content - alongside measures to level the playing field so public service broadcasters can compete with international rivals.

This will help ensure the country has a diverse, free and pluralistic broadcasting landscape with high standards.

The reviews will come ahead of a broadcasting white paper due in the autumn. The white paper would consider the future of the country's broadcasting landscape with the ultimate aim of making sure it serves listeners and viewers on all platforms and across the UK.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

Technology has transformed broadcasting but the rules protecting viewers and helping our traditional channels compete are from an analogue age.

The time has come to look at how we can unleash the potential of our public service broadcasters while also making sure viewers and listeners consuming content on new formats are served by a fair and well-functioning system.

So we'll now be looking at how we can help make sure Channel 4 keeps its place at the heart of British broadcasting and level the playing field between broadcasters and video-on-demand services.

Video-on-demand services

Video-on-demand services available in the UK are not regulated to the same level as "linear" television channels and some services such as Netflix and Apple TV+ are not regulated in the UK at all.

Only content on the BBC iPlayer is subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, which includes enhanced protections to audiences from harmful or offensive material and rules on accuracy and impartiality.

Existing audience protections on UK-regulated video-on-demand services are primarily focused on children and rules preventing content which incites hatred. Some services have introduced their own voluntary procedures - such as Netflix's voluntary age ratings partnership with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

The current landscape makes for an inconsistent, ad-hoc and potentially harmful gap in regulation between video-on-demand services alongside a potential competitive disadvantage between UK broadcasters and their internationally-funded online counterparts.

It is also almost twenty years since the UK broadcast sector's regulatory framework was introduced in the Communications Act 2003, which was designed before the arrival of online companies such as Apple+, Amazon Prime and Netflix in their current form.

The government will also take forward existing commitments to legislate to strengthen public service broadcasters' "prominence" online so that their video-on-demand content can easily be found and accessed on smart TVs and other platforms and devices.

 

 

The government sets out new advertising restrictions to help tackle childhood obesity...

Presumably the thinking is that if the government destroys enough people's livelihoods then the kids will be starved into losing weight


Link Here25th June 2021
Full story: UK Government food censorship...Resticting advertising for junk (pretty much all) food

Following a public consultation, regulations will come into force at the end of next year to introduce a 9pm watershed for advertisements of foods high in fat, salt and sugar ( HFSS ).

The new rules apply to TV and UK on-demand programmes, as well as restrictions on paid-for advertising of HFSS foods online as part of the government's ongoing commitment to tackle unhealthy eating habits at source.

The watershed will apply from 9pm to 5.30am, meaning HFSS adverts can only be shown during these times.

In order to keep the restrictions proportional, these new regulations will apply to food and drink products of most concern to childhood obesity and will ensure the healthiest in each category will be able to continue to advertise. This approach means foods such as honey, olive oil, avocados and marmite are excluded from the restrictions.

The restrictions will apply to all businesses with 250 or more employees that make and/or sell HFSS products, meaning small and medium businesses will be able to continue advertising. The government recognises these companies may be some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and rely on online media as the sole way to communicate with their customers.

Online restrictions will be limited to paid-for advertising, ensuring brands can continue to advertise within 'owned media' spaces online; such as a brand's own blog, website, app or social media page.

Analysis from September 2019 demonstrated that almost half (47.6%) of all food adverts shown over the month on ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky1 were for products high in fat, salt and sugar, rising to nearly 60% between 6pm and 9pm. Ofcom research suggests that children's viewing peaks in the hours after school, with the largest number of child viewers concentrated around family viewing time, between 6pm and 9pm.

The measures set out today form part of our legislative response to tackling obesity. The government is committed to working alongside industry and will issue guidance to help them prepare for this transition.

Offsite Comment: The advertising industry is not impressed

25th June 2021. See article from adweek.com

Ad Industry Say UK Government HFSS Ban Is Set to Fail

The IAB, IPA, AA and ISBA all claim a ban will be ineffective in reversing childhood obesity rates

 

 

The crown jewels of cenorship...

The UK government is set to extend the TV censorship regime to cover internet streaming services


Link Here21st June 2021
Full story: UK Internet streaming censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
The British government is set to extend the remit of UK TV censorship to cover major streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, is due to set out the proposal this week, with other streaming giants including Amazon Prime and Disney+ also brought under the UK's TV censorship framework. The plans will be set out in a broadcasting white paper.

Ofcom will then be able to censor content on the streaming channels and apply Ofcom rules on bias and accuracy.

The Telegraph suggests that a reason for the move was in part down to last year's row over the accuracy of scenes in The Crown , the historical drama based on the Queen and the Royal Family. Amazon Prime was also picked up for hosting anti-vaccination documentaries in the US that it later removed.

Under current rules, Netflix does not fall within Ofcom's jurisdiction because it is based in the Netherlands. Instead, it is subject to Dutch regulation even on its English language programmes tailored to the UK version of its site.

 

 

Cease moralising...

A new anti porn campaigner proposes to take legal action against the ICO for failing to keep children's data safe from porn sites


Link Here18th June 2021
CEASE (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) is a new morality group campaigning against porn and sex work in the UK.

The group was founded in 2019 and describes itself on its website:

We shine a light on what sexual exploitation is, where it occurs and how it contravenes our human rights. We campaign for new and better laws, advocate for policy change and hold the global sex industry to account.

We're building a UK-wide movement of campaigners against sexual exploitation, and we're amplifying the voices of the very best advocates for change: survivors.

Its latest cunning plan is to hold the Information Commissioners Office (the UK data protection censor) as responsible for failing to prevent the world's porn sites from obtaining usage data from under 18s. The group writes on its website:

We are threatening to take legal action against the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for failing to protect children's data from misuse by porn sites.

The excuses the ICO has given for its failure to fulfil its regulatory duties are legally and factually flawed. What's more, it has left children exposed to a profit-hungry industry which is intent on drawing children back again and again to watch violent and abusive pornographic material for its own financial gain.

The group quotes long time porn campaigner John Carr:

I was shocked and dismayed by the Information Commissioner's reply to me in which they refused to act against porn sites which were collecting and processing children's data on a large scale. If the data protection laws weren't designed to protect children ... I am sure a lot of parents will wonder just what they were designed to do.

 

 

Presumably the name Internet 'Safety' Bill was coined by Dominic Cummings...

Internet organisations write to MPs pointing how dangerous it will be for internet users to lose the protection of End to End Encryption for their communications


Link Here15th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

To Members of Parliament: end-to-end encryption keeps us safe

68 million of your constituents are at risk of losing the most important tool to keep them safe and protected from cyber-criminals and hostile governments.

End-to-end encryption means that your constituents' family photographs, messages to friends and family, financial information, and the commercially sensitive data of businesses up and down the country, can all be kept safe from harm's way. It also keeps us safer in a world where connected devices have physical effect: end-to-end encryption secures connected homes, cars and children's toys. The government should not be making those more vulnerable to attack. The draft Online Safety Bill contains clauses that could undermine and in some situations even prohibit the use of end-to-end encryption, meaning UK citizens will be less secure online than citizens of other democracies. British businesses operating online will have less protection for their data flows in London than in the United States or the European Union. Banning end-to-end encryption, or introducing requirements for companies to scan the content of our messages, will remove protections for private citizens and companies' data. We all need that protection, but children and members of at-risk communities need it most of all.

Don't leave them exposed.

With more people than ever before falling prey to criminals online, now is not the time for the UK to undertake a reckless policy experiment that puts its own citizens at greater risk. We, the undersigned, are calling on the Home Office to explain how it plans to protect the British public from criminals online when it is taking away the very tools that keep the public safe. If the draft Online Safety Bill aims to make us safer, end-to-end encryption should not be threatened or undermined by this legislation.

Sincerely, *Members of the Global Encryption Coalition

 

 

Offsite Article: Is government preparing to censor discussions about migration?...


Link Here 13th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
And will the Online Safety Bill enable political censorship by the government?

See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

 

Age of miserableness...

Strident Scottish feminist MSP tables motion calling for the resurrection of failed UK law requiring age verification for porn


Link Here11th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Rhoda Grant is a campaigning MSP with a long and miserable history of calling for bans on sex work and lap dancing. She has now tabled a motion for consideration by the Scottish Parliament expressing concern the UK government's reported failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 seeking to impose age verification for porn but without any consideration for the dangers to porn users of having their personal data hacked or abused.

Grant's motion has received the backing of Labour and SNP MSPs and notes that a coalition of women's organisations, headteachers, children's charities and parliamentarians want the government to enforce Part 3 without further delay. Grant said:

How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK government.

 

 

Lords of Dreams...

House of Lords Private Members Bills seek the restoration of failed age verification for porn and another that demands more perfect age assurance methods


Link Here9th June 2021
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Members of the House of Lords are clamouring for more red tape and censorship in the name of protecting children from the dangers of the internet. Of course these people don't seem to give a shit about the safety of adults using the internet.

Maurice Morrow is attempting to revive the failed age verification for porn in his bill, Digital Economy Act 2017 (Commencement of Part 3) Bill [HL]. The original bill failed firstly because it failed to consider data protection for porn user's identity data. The original authors of the bill couldn't even be bothered to consider such security implications as porn users handing over identity data and porn browsing data directly to Russian porn sites, possibly acting as fronts for the Russian government dirty tricks dept.

Perhaps the bill also failed because the likes of GCHQ don't fancy half the porn using population of the UK using VPNs and Tor to work around age verification and ISP porn blocking.

See Morrow's bill progress from bills.parliament.uk and the bill text from bills.parliament.uk . The bill had its first reading on 9th June.

Meanwhile Beeban Kidron has proposed a bill demanding accurate age assurance. Age assurance is generally an attempt to determine age without the nightmare of dangerously handing over full identity identity data. Eg estimating the age of soical media users from the age of their friends.

See Kidron's bill progress from bills.parliament.uk and the bill text is at bill text from bills.parliament.uk . The bill had its first reading on 27th May

 

 

For sale, a dodgy panacea for all internet ills...

Parasitic age and identity verification companies are lobbying parliament calling forfull identity verification for all open interaction on the internet


Link Here 7th June 2021
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The Digital Policy Alliance is a campaign group most notably lobbying parliament in support of the age and identity verification trade.

The group has just published a lobbying paper sent to parliamentarians calling for full identity verification requirements to use any internet service offering open interaction with other users.

The group writes:

Neither banning anonymity nor absolute anonymity are fit for purpose. The risks posed by anonymity, and requirements for verification, are different for different use cases. Different types of online activity require different levels of accountability and/or different attributes to be verified.

Regulation therefore shouldn't impose a one size fits all approach on all businesses. Instead, it should set minimum standards to ensure that platforms can't just wash their hands of the challenges of ensuring accountability or the risks associated with anonymity. If a platform fails to take an effective know your user approach, or ensure that its users can be held accountable for their behaviour or their content, then the platform should be held accountable instead.


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