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paypal logo PayPal’s clause about taking users’ funds for a violation of its rules has long been established. But, as published on September 26th and to be effective on November 3rd, 2022, PayPal will add restrictions to its acceptable use policy that go beyond illegal activities and fraud and into the realm of policing speech. The updated policy prohibits users from using PayPal for activities that:

Involve the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content, or materials that, in PayPal’s sole discretion, (a) are harmful, obscene, harassing, or objectionable …

(e) depict, promote, or incite hatred or discrimination of protected groups or of individuals or groups based on protected characteristics (e.g. race, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.) …

(g) are fraudulent, promote misinformation … or

(i) are otherwise unfit for publication.

The BBFC signals a very one-sided approach to film censorship…

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Natasha Kaplinsky The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has announced Natasha Kaplinsky as its new President. The newsreader, presenter and journalist is a recognised figure in British public life and is passionate about issues affecting children’s rights and welfare. Natasha will take up the new position in October and will replace current President, Patrick Swaffer, who has held the post since 2012.

As President of the BBFC, Natasha will be a member of the Board of Directors and will chair the Board of Classification, which meets monthly. The Board of Classification is responsible for overseeing all matters relating to classification, including the most complex and controversial of cases.

The President also chairs the BBFC’s Advisory Council on Children’s Viewing (APCV), which was established in 1999 and which meets three times a year. The APCV advises the BBFC on issues concerning children and young people. Its members provide a wide range of skills and expertise connected with child welfare, and contribute to the development of BBFC policy.

The President brings a high-level approach and independence to difficult cases and policy issues. Working with a wide range of external stakeholders across Westminster, Whitehall and the media, Natasha will help to raise awareness of the trusted guidance that the BBFC delivers to UK families. She will also be championing its year-round Education and Outreach activity, and will be meeting with the BBFC Youth Panel in the coming months.

Natasha will provide a sounding board to Chief Executive, David Austin, as the BBFC continues to adapt to deliver its core mission of helping everyone choose content that is right for them and avoid what’s not. Natasha and David will work in close collaboration to uphold the positive culture of the organisation and promote staff engagement.

Throughout her career, Natasha has held purposeful roles across public, private and non-profit sectors. With over 20 years of experience, Natasha has worked within both philanthropic and commercial businesses to support vulnerable people and communities around the world. She is skilled at working in tandem with national institutions as well as local charities, understanding the importance of strong partnerships to create an impact.

Amongst other pro-bono roles, Natasha is currently President of Barnardo’s and an Ambassador for Save the Children, travelling widely for the organisation. In December 2020, Natasha founded the UK Women’s Network, giving women and girls the opportunity to leverage their talents and resources. Natasha is also patron for a number of charities, including The Bevern Trust, a charity that cares for young adults with learning difficulties.

Natasha has an extensive record of achievements, including being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2017 Birthday Honours List for services to Holocaust Commemoration. In 2014, Natasha became a member of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, and in 2015, she was appointed by the Prime Minister to the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation advisory board.

Natasha Kaplinsky said:

I’m delighted to be joining the BBFC in October as the new President. The BBFC is accountable to the Government, Parliament, local authorities, and to people across the UK. It is clear that it takes its accountability seriously, alongside the impartial nature of its role. For over a century, the BBFC has done fantastic work to help families have a positive viewing experience, wherever and however they watch content. It’s crucial that children’s welfare is at the forefront of policy decision-making and this is central to the BBFC’s efforts in the Online Safety space. I am really excited to bring my knowledge and experience to help guide the BBFC in its 110th year and beyond. The challenges that young people face now in the UK are greater than ever before – and I am committed to giving voice to their needs. I can’t wait for the opportunities that this next chapter will bring.

David Austin, Chief Executive said:

We are so pleased that Natasha has been appointed as our next President. She brings a wealth of expertise and a profound understanding of our core audience of parents, carers and families. With Natasha at the helm, I am looking forward to seeing how the business will continue to evolve to improve our offer to meet the needs of our industry partners and UK audiences. The influence, media insight, and vision that she will bring will really help to shape the future of the BBFC. He added: I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Patrick for his invaluable and long-lasting contributions across his ten years as President and the support he has given me as CEO.

Patrick Swaffer, outgoing President said:

As I reflect on the last decade, I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved. The modernisation of the organisation, particularly with the introduction of our cloud-based compliance platform, Horizon, has enabled us to work more flexibly and effectively than ever before. Public trust in the BBFC remains extremely high and as a result we have seen our widely recognised age ratings extend beyond our statutory responsibilities; as encouraged by the Government in their response to the consultation on audience protection standards on VOD services. We now work with 29 online UK services to provide age ratings for content on a voluntary best practice basis, which is a remarkable achievement. As we look ahead, Natasha is the perfect candidate to lead the BBFC through what I’m sure will be yet another transformational phase fully supported by David and the excellent staff at the BBFC who have made my time as President such a pleasure.

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bros poster Bros is a 2022 US comedy romance by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Luke Macfarlane, Billy Eichner and Kristin Chenoweth IMDb

Two men with commitment problems attempt a relationship.

Bros will be making history upon its release as the first R-rated gay rom-com ever made by a major studio, but that historical record certainly won’t include the Middle East. It is pre-emptively skipping any kind of release in Middle East markets due to their cultural antipathy to anything gay.It’s still unclear exactly what markets in the region will be affected, but it’s likely to include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Kuwait — all of which are notorious for censoring movies over even the slightest hint of LGBTQ themes or content.

The film is anything but subtle in depicting gay romance and sexuality, which has previously been censored or toned down by Hollywood.

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free speech union logo PayPal has shut down the account of the Free Speech Union, an organisation which defends people who have lost work for expressing opinions.The US payments company censors were clearly offended by free speech and decided to shut down the accounts of the Free Speech Union, its founder Toby Young, and his opinion and news website the Daily Sceptic with no clear explanation. Paypal merely spouted the bollox explanations that the union had ‘violated PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy’.

The Telegraph reports that a likely explanation is that the organisation has helped to defend people who claim they have lost work for expressing opinions, for example Gillian Philip, the author who said her contract was terminated because she stood up for JK Rowling on Twitter amid a row over transgender rights. It has also challenged universities that have no-platformed gender-critical academics.Toby Young said:

I suspect it’s because in reality PayPal doesn’t value free expression and open dialogue or the people and organisations that stand up for those principles. Withdrawing financial services from dissidents and non-conformists and those who dare to defend them is the new frontline in the ongoing war against free speech.

The Free Speech Union will be lobbying the Government to put new laws in to prevent companies like PayPal demonetising organisations and individuals because their employees disapprove of their views.

Toby Young Offsite article: Why has PayPal cancelled the Free Speech Union?

See article from by Toby Young

It’s left me wanting to do something about this insidious new way of cancelling people. As the switch to a cashless society gathers speed, we need to put some laws in place to protect people from being punished by companies like PayPal for saying something their employees disapprove of.

Offsite article: Big Tech is waging financial war on dissenters

See article from by Tom Slater

spiked logo PayPal’s banning of the Free Speech Union is its most sinister move yet.

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logo_techdirt_0547x0134.jpg Gavin Newsom, who wants to be President some day, and thus couldn’t risk misleading headlines that he didn’t protect the children, has now signed AB 2273 into law.

At this point there’s not much more I can say about why AB 2273 is so bad. I’ve explained why it’s literally impossible to comply with (and why many sites will just ignore it). I’ve explained how it’s pretty clearly unconstitutional. I’ve explained how the whole idea was pushed for and literally sponsored by a Hollywood director / British baroness who wants to destroy the internet. I’ve explained how it won’t do much, if anything, to protect children, but will likely put them at much greater risk. I’ve explained how the company it will likely benefit most is the world’s largest porn company — not to mention COVID disinfo peddlers and privacy lawyers. I’ve explained how the companies supporting the law insist that we shouldn’t worry because websites will just start scanning your face when you visit.

None of that matters, though. Because, in this nonsense political climate where moral panics and culture wars are all that matter in politics, politicians are going to back laws that claim to protect the children, no matter how much of a lie that is.

The bill doesn’t go into effect until the middle of 2024 and I would assume that someone will go to court to challenge it, meaning that what this bill is going to accomplish in the short run is California wasting a ton of taxpayer dollars (just as Texas and Florida did) to try to pretend they have the power to tell companies how to design their products.

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france judiciary logo A Paris court has offered to organize a mediation to find a way to prevent minors from accessing pornography on the internet.Campaigners had asked telecom operators to immediately block several porn websites but French law does not actually specify how this should be achieved.

The decision to order the parties to negotiate will be formally taken soon as the French internet censor ARCOM does not seem willing or able to specify how age verification should be done.

The Cypriot company MG Freesit es, publisher of the Pornhub platform, one of the five sites targeted in this procedure, for its part filed a priority question of constitutionality (QPC) which calls into question the legitimacy of Arcom to act.

The court will decide on October 4 whether or not to send this QPC to the Court of Cassation. If this was not the case, a new civil hearing would be organized to examine the case on the merits.

During the debates, the lawyers representing Pornhub, Tukif, XHamster, Xvideos, Xnxx, targeted in December 2021 by a formal notice from Arcom and which are among the most visited sites in France, tried to prove their goodwill. ” None of the technical solutions that we have tested have proven to be satisfactory.

Recent reports from the Cnil and Peren, the government’s center of expertise in data protectin, have recalled the risks associated with existing majority verification solutions offered by the industry, while by paving the way for a system based on trusted third parties.

The continuingly dangerous campaign to force ALL people to hand over sensitive ID details to porn sites in the name of protecting children from handing over sensitive ID details.

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ico childrens-code logo The UK’s data protection censors at the Information Commissioner’s Office ICO have generated a disgracefully onerous red tape nightmare called the Age Appropriate Design Code that requires any internet service that provides any sort of grown up content to evaluate the age of all users so that under 18s can be protected from handing over sensitive ID data. Of course the age checking usually requires all users to hand over lots of sensitive and dangerous ID data to any website that asks.Now the ICO has decided to make these requirements of porn sites given that they are often accessed by under 18s. ICO writes:

Next steps

We will continue to evolve our approach, listening to others to ensure the code is having the maximum impact.

For example, we have seen an increasing amount of research (from the NSPCC, 5Rights, Microsoft and British Board of Film Classification), that children are likely to be accessing adult-only services and that these pose data protection harms, with children losing control of their data or being manipulated to give more data, in addition to content harms. We have therefore revised our position to clarify that adult-only services are in scope of the Children’s code if they are likely to be accessed by children.

As well as engaging with adult-only services directly to ensure they conform with the code, we will also be working closely with Ofcom and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to establish how the code works in practice in relation to adult-only services and what they should expect. This work is continuing to drive the improvements necessary to provide a better internet for children.

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logo_studio-66-tv_0200x0075.jpg Ofcom has fined 965 TV Limited after an investigation found that it had failed to comply with advertising rules on its Studio 66 TV service.On five dates in March and April 2021, Studio 66 TV featured material which included sexually explicit language and behaviour. Ofcom found that the advertisements were capable of causing widespread offence and had the potential to harm or distress children.

Ofcom has imposed a financial penalty of £15,000 on the licensee 965 TV Limited.

The Breach Decisions noted that the material found in breach of Rules 4.2 and 23.3 included presenters using sexually explicit language which, on several occasions, appeared to be in response to a sex toy, not shown on screen, that had been remotely activated by viewers. This content was broadcast during the daytime between 17:10 and 20:16. The advertising was broadcast at 21:00 and again included the use of sexually explicit language as well as the presenter exposing her breasts on three occasions before 22:00, in contravention of the Chat Service Guidance.

Rule 23.3 of the BCAP Code prohibits the advertising of telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services before 9pm and after 5.30am.Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code requires that advertisements do not contain material that causes serious or widespread offence

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world economic forum logo The World Economic Forum has made a big push for digital identity programs around the world

The article then states (without mentioning numbers) that consumers said they would pick banks and financial firms as the most trustworthy entities to create and maintain a system that controls their identities online.

The WEF write-up adds some doom-and-gloom scenarios and fear mongering into the mix, arguing that with economies around the world heading into high inflation and recession, and the trend likely to continue — digital economy and its potential becomes more important than ever.

But — unless there is a way to identify everybody online, the WEF warns that people will actually stop interacting online.

Meta calls for public comments about the police requested take down of drill music on Facebook

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Secrets Not Safe by rapper Chinx OS In January 2022, an Instagram account that describes itself as publicising British music posted a video with a short caption on its public account. The video is a 21-second clip of the music video for a UK drill music track called Secrets Not Safe by the rapper Chinx (OS). The caption tags Chinx (OS) as well as an affiliated artist and highlights that the track had just been released. The video clip shows part of the second verse of the song and fades to a black screen with the text OUT NOW. Drill is a subgenre of rap music popular in the UK, with a large number of drill artists active in London.

Shortly after the video was posted, Meta received a request from UK law enforcement to remove content that included this track. Meta says that it was informed by law enforcement that elements of it could contribute to a risk of offline harm. The company was also aware that the track referenced a past shooting in a way that raised concerns that it may provoke further violence. As a result, the post was escalated for internal review by experts at Meta.

Meta’s experts determined that the content violated the Violence and Incitement policy, specifically the prohibition on coded statements where the method of violence or harm is not clearly articulated, but the threat is veiled or implicit. The Community Standards list signs that content may include veiled or implicit threats. These include content that is shared in a retaliatory context, and content with references to historical or fictional incidents of violence. Further information and/or context is always required to identify and remove a number of different categories listed at the end of the Violence and Incitement policy, including veiled threats. Meta has explained to the Board that enforcement under these categories is not subject to at-scale review (the standard review process conducted by outsourced moderators) and can only be enforced by Meta’s internal teams. Meta has further explained that the Facebook Community Standards apply to Instagram.

When Meta took the content down, two days after it was posted, it also removed copies of the video posted by other accounts. Based on the information that they received from UK law enforcement, Meta’s Public Policy team believed that the track might increase the risk of potential retaliatory gang violence, and acted as a threatening call to action that could contribute to a risk of imminent violence or physical harm, including retaliatory gang violence.

Hours after the content was removed, the account owner appealed. A human reviewer assessed the content to be non-violating and restored it to Instagram. Eight days later, following a second request from UK law enforcement, Meta removed the content again and took down other instances of the video found on its platforms. The account in this case has fewer than 1,000 followers, the majority of whom live in the UK. The user received notifications from Meta both times their content was removed but was not informed that the removals were initiated following a request from UK law enforcement.

In referring this matter to the Board, Meta states that this case is particularly difficult as it involves balancing the competing interests of artistic expression and public safety. Meta explains that, while the company places a high value on artistic expression, it is difficult to determine when that expression becomes a credible threat. Meta asks the Board to assess whether, in this case and more generally, the safety risks associated with the potential instigation of gang violence outweigh the value of artistic expression in drill music.

In its decisions, the Board can issue policy recommendations to Meta. While recommendations are not binding, Meta must respond to them within 60 days. As such, the Board welcomes public comments proposing recommendations that are relevant to these cases.

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